Friday, December 23, 2005

I Can Exhale Now...

As I mentioned in my previous post, no matter how well I think I've prepared, something (or several somethings) always come up! The Cub Scout trip to the nursing home went well. We had a relatively small turnout (11 scouts) so we recruited their parents to sing too. The residents seemed to enjoy it and I think the kids did, too. I know mine did.

The party for my RCIA group at church went well. I had stopped by the church office earlier in the day on an unrelated matter and ran into the priest who leads our group. I asked him if we were all set for plates, napkins, etc. and he had this 'oops' look on his face. He said he was going to ask the secretary about it. Now having been a secretary in a past life, I know the last think she'd want to hear, is "Can you scrounge up 2 doz. plates, napkins, cups, and some tablecloths - and can you make it a Christmas theme while your at it? And oh yeah, we need them tonight."

But the priest is new to our parish, so I'll cut him some slack (seriously, he's great). I ended up volunteering to go to the party store to buy the necessities. Now, I suppose there's an unwritten rule where if you volunteer,you forfeit your right to whine...BUT this is *my* blog, so here it goes:

I learned that you cannot go into Party City on Dec. 20 and expect to find two dozen coordinating Christmas anything. Fortunately, there were still solid red and solid green items so I could supplement. And never mind the fact that no one at our party would really feel slighted that he got the solid green plate while someone else got the poinsettia plate. The good news is that my spinach dip seemed to go over well (I'm culinarily challenged.)

My 3rd grader's party at school went well Wednesday. I baked 2 dozen plain cupcakes for the kids to decorate as reindeer - they came out cute: chocolate icing, broken large pretzel twists for antlers, a small Reese's peanutbutter cup for the muzzle, holiday M&Ms for eyes (green) and nose (red of course). The red M&M goes on the upside down Reese's, held in place with a tiny dab of icing. After all was said and done and cleaned, stress finally got to me and I ate the remaining icing straight from the can. So much for my diet.

So - for now anyway - I can relax and enjoy the last day and a half leading to Christmas. Until I 'volunteer' for something else! Happy Holidays, all!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

How Did I Get So Busy?

I know it's inevitable this time of year, but we decorated the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the cards were addressed weeks ago (and are in the mail), and I finished my shopping in November (mostly online). I planned it that way so I can spend the week or two before Christmas really focusing on what the season means to me.

Turns out I'm not as well organized as I thought. Now I'm fulfilling my co-room mom duties - the party at school is next Wed. Dec. 21st. Somehow I sort of forgot to add it to my list. Anyway, I'm in charge of our cupcake decorating activity. Of course, I have to complicate things by spending a couple of hours on the internet searching for the cutest reindeer face cupcake. I still haven't narrowed it down from the three pictures I downloaded, but I need to do so soon so I can shop.

In addition, I volunteered to bring veggies and spinach dip to the party next Tuesday for a church ministry that I belong to. A small contribution, I know, but I'm "culinarily challenged."

To top it off, our cub scout pack will be Christmas caroling at a local nursing home so I have to make a compilation CD, download lyrics and print song sheets. It's harder than it seems - there are a lot of great Christmas songs out there, but trying to find a basic version that the kids can keep up with is a challenge. I'm not sure the 8 year olds can hold a note as long as Mariah Carey, know what I mean? Finding a traditional instrumental CD has proven near impossible. There won't be much time to practice, so we want to keep it simple.

Then the scouts are going to hand out handmade Christmas cards to the 120 residents. Some dens have already made cards but since we're expecting a small turnout of scouts, my kids, my neighbor and I will have to make, oh about sixty, to supplement.

'Tis the season...

Monday, December 05, 2005

Back from Vacation...

I just returned yesterday afternoon from visiting my mom in Washington, DC (northern VA, technically). I had been there since late Tuesday night. I try to visit her twice a year, usually in March and September. My most recent trip, scheduled for Aug. 29 - Sept. 5, was postponed due to Hurricane Katrina.

My flight to DC was at night. It was surreal to see the city of New Orleans. There were still big patches of darkness. In other areas you could see street lights lining the highways but you didn't see any moving lights (cars). The flight back, during the day, was equally weird. You really get a sense of the destruction when you see an aerial view of all the blue tarps on the rooftops.

The visit itself was nice. We do what we usually do: dine out and shop - a lot! Even though I'm an adult - or so I've been told - we do slip back into mother/daughter mode. Case in point: the woman likes to pay for everything. I feel a little funny about people spending a lot of money on my account, but there really isn't any arguing with her. (And I do end up with a lot of cool stuff that I'd otherwise pass over because I'm too stingy with my money.)

I also managed to squeeze in a lunch with some friends (former coworkers). It's nice that they make time to see me when I visit twice a year.

Mom has cable TV, which I don't at home, so I'd stay up way too late watching things like "Forensic Files". The earliest I went to sleep on my trip was 2:15 a.m., 3:30 a.m. was typical. We'd usually get up around 8:00 a.m. I never seem to have that kind of energy at home...I wonder why? My theory: kids just suck the life right out of you! I'm kidding.

It was a nice trip, but it's good to be home. I missed the boys terribly (incl. Dear Hubby). As a nice surprise, they had the entire house cleaned before I returned. Laundry done, beds made, dishes cleaned, floors vacuumed and mopped and (insert drum roll here) the bathroom cleaned! Maybe I ought to go away more often. ;-)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Such an Eccentric Child...(Meet Peanut Butter)

Son #3, age 3 1/2, is playing with his "new best friend." (Those are his words.) "I just love him," my son says. Care to guess what - no, not whom - he's talking about? His friend, Peanut Butter. I am not making this up. Heck, I don't have the imagination to come up with something like this!

I was making Son #3 a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, when he stuck his index finger into the peanut butter and declared it his New Best Friend. Now, I can't very well allow my child to go through life with a dab of peanut butter on his finger. He'll smear it everywhere...and then there's the dog.

I tried to convince him to eat Peanut Butter (the friend, as opposed to the stuff on his bread) so that "he'll be with you always." That didn't fly. I explained that if he did, Peanut Butter would magically reappear in the peanut butter jar. No dice.

So there was my son on the verge of tears. Finally, inspiration hits...sort of. I convinced him to put Peanut Butter into the little cap of a 2-liter soda bottle. Peanut Butter's own house! So now Son #3 is walking around the house, talking to a soda bottle cap with a tiny dab of peanut butter smeared inside.

They later fell asleep together on the sofa while watching TV. Just in case you're wondering, Peanut Butter is on the right (see the white cap?).

I've got to get this boy around some children his own age. Or to a pediatric psychiatrist. ;-)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's 10 pm, the kids and dear hubby are tucked into bed and I'm enjoying a little quiet time to myself. It was a nice day. I did my cooking yesterday: Stovetop stuffing and a green bean casserole. Today we converged on my sister-in-law's house. Hers is big enough to accommodate the extended family of 16 or so. Each sibling bought a side dish or two, and my father-in-law cooked and brought the turkey. As always, I overate but only once.

As 2005 rapidly comes to a close, we have so much for which to be grateful. Here's my Top 5:

1) family
2) friends
3) our health
4) surviving Hurricane Katrina
5) all of our troops overseas working to ensure the safety of the U.S. and to bring peace to others

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Ooooh! I've Been Tagged (& Now I'm Tagging ~D)

I've been tagged via blog by Jules! Below are my answers. Hey, ~D, I can't wait to read yours!

Two names you go by:
1. LB
2. my given name

Two parts of your heritage:
1. Irish
2. French (those are on my mother's side. There's quite a mix on my dad's side.)

Two things that scare you:
1. Not seeing my boys grow up
2. Public Speaking

Two of your everyday essentials:
1. Contact lenses
2. Brushing my teeth (stealing from Jules)

Two things you are wearing right now:
1. Jeans
2. a Claddagh toe ring (that's not *all* I'm wearing - justing listing two)

Two of your fave bands or artists:
1. Eric Clapton
2. Josh Groban (am I a geek? I love his voice)

Two of your favorite songs:
1. Knockin' on Heaven's Door (either Clapton's, Dylan's or Guns 'n Roses' versions)
2. She (Elvis Costello)

Two truths:
1. I'm not a risk-taker
2. Sometimes I don't feel like the person that most people believe me to be

Two physical traits in the opposite sex that appeal to you:
1. Eyes
2. Smile

Two Favorite hobbies:
1. Gardening
2. Reading

Two things you want really badly:
1. For my boys to grow up to be happy, confident, secure and kind
2. To continue to grow in my spirituality

Two places you want to go on vacation:
1. Tuscany
2. Scotland

Two things you want to do before you die:
1. Learn to play the violin
2. Learn how to do something artistic - paint, maybe...or act in a play

Two ways you are stereotypically a chick/dude:
1. I find comfort in chocolate
2. I love to shop

Two things you are thinking about right now:
1. My diet, and how I'm tempted to blow it just 30 mins after eating a healthful lunch
2. My upcoming vacation

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I Know a Kid...

He's not feeling very good about himself these days. I've known him for a long time and he's had quite a bit on his plate that he's had to deal with. He was diagnosed as developmentally delayed/speech impaired when he was three and a half, and was immediately whisked into the public school system so he could start receive speech therapy and other educational resources via a non-categorical (meaning mixed abilities/needs) special education class.

The tonic-clonic seizures (formerly called grand mal) began when he was 5, but thankfully they were far between. He was on anti-seizure medication for two years, but was weaned off of it a few years ago. So far, the seizures haven't recurred, but they can at anytime. He was 6 when he was diagnosed with ADHD. No surprise there.

He's 10 now, still struggles with speech issues. He acts young for his age, which I think can discourage the other kids in his class from including him. This 'social immaturity' as one teacher put it is probably a combination of his developmental delays and the fact that his siblings, cousins and neighbors are all younger than him, by at least a couple of years.

He spends a lot of time by himself, which is usually his preference, but sometimes he feels left out if his brother is invited somewhere and he's not. His brother is very outgoing and developing quite the active social life.

He's also the smallest kid in the class, so not only does he act younger, but he looks it too. He's wondering if he'll ever catch up. No one can really predict sizewise, but I've read that it's not unusual for kids with ADHD to reach puberty up to a couple of years later than their non-ADHD peers (this statistic is true for those kids on stimulant meds and those not taking meds).

In the past year or so, he started to realize that his is different from most of the kids in his grade - prior to that, he was happily oblivious. He's been evaluated so many times over the years, always to find out what is 'wrong' or what might be the 'problem'. That doesn't sound very positive, does it? Now, however, he's wondering what's right. He actually asked the other day "what are my gifts?"

How does one find out what one's gifts are?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

My Kid Rocks!

There are times that it seems my precious Son 2, bless his heart, doesn't have a lick of common sense.

Me: "What were you thinking???!"
Him: "I wasn't (thinking)!"

Apparently, he does have quite a brain, though. (I really never doubted it.)

Yesterday, his teacher sent home a letter in a sealed enveloped. My first thought, uh oh - what did he do? (Isn't that terrible?) However, the letter was asking my permission to have him tested for the school's Gifted Program. Well, I'll be damned! He's always done well in school, but in the past he seemed happy to put forth the bare minimum effort - and yet he'd still get A's. I'm so proud of him, even if he doesn't meet the school district's criteria for the program.

However, Son 1 is feeling a little jealous, I think. Although we never consciously label our kids, they seem to have taken it upon themselves to assume certain roles. Son 2 will usually tell you he's sociable and athletic. Son 1 describes himself as smart (which he is - "A" honor roll) - but wait! Now Son 2 is smart too??? What's up with that?

I knew this day would come. Son 1 busts his butt to do well in school and it comes so easy for Son 2. It was only a matter of time before Son 1 (and others) noticed.

All those years when Son 1 got the extra help with his school work because of his challenges, Son 2 just quietly worked on his own. Not requiring extra assistance so really not getting any... He wasn't the child with special needs, nor is he the baby. He's the poor invisible middle child. It's his turn to shine now.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Me? A Room Mother? HA HA HA HA!

Okay, anyone who truly knows me will tell you that my intentions are good, but that I'm just too easily distracted. So of course it makes perfect sense that I sign up as Room Mother for my middle son Sam's 3rd grade class. Oy!

Actually, I didn't really sign up. And I'm not the sole Room Mother. I was more or less drafted by another mom. Her son is Sam's best buddy in class. Anyway, no one volunteered to be Room Mom so Sam's teacher enlisted another mom and gave my phone number as someone 'who might be interested in being a co-room mother.'

The mom who called me seemed so nice, plus her son and Sam are 'buds', AND she happens to have another son who is my oldest boy's could I say no? Neither one of us really has any idea what we've gotten ourselves into. Of course it's not about us - it's about the kids.

So it's too bad that I'm not the slightest bit 'domestic.' I am so going to suck at this. If you have any ideas/suggestions how I can be the Best Room Mother Ever, I'm all ears!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Finally - Autumn!

...Or as close as we get in southeast Louisiana. No changing leaves, but today's high is supposed to be 60 degrees and it feels great! Yesterday was also cool. Breezy, too. I was completely unprepared as I walked Sam to the bus stop yesterday morning. I was wearing a short sleeved t-shirt, had wet hair, and was carrying a cup of Diet Coke. Oh well, at least Sam was better prepared. He was wearing a heavy sweatshirt.

I'm ready for the cooler weather. Those 90 degree days were getting pretty old. Unfortunately, I'm sure we'll have a few more of them before the end of the year. Who wants to be wearing shorts at Christmas time?? (Well, probably my northern buddies who, by then, may be tired of snow...)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I Gave Away The Crib Today

My youngest moved into a big boy bed this summer so we stored the crib in the attic. I had been planning to get rid of it for months. A friend of a friend of a friend lost everything to Hurricane Katrina so when I heard they needed a crib, I thought, perfect....

As soon as my friend and her friend pulled out of the driveway, the tears started. It's not the crib itself - although I'll miss seeing the little spots where Drew teethed. Fortunately, it's a light pine finish so it's not really obvious. (Silly crib manufacturers! They put a plastic strip on the side rails to prevent babies from crewing. They couldn't outwit my Drew who chose, instead, to gnaw on the headboard.)

We bought the crib at Burlington Coat Factory a little over 10 years ago* shortly before Drew was born. It was his bed for nearly two years before becoming Sam's eight years ago. We kept it, even moving it cross country, just in case... It was one of the few baby items that I still had when Zack was born 3 1/2 years ago. And today it's gone.

Not that we were planning on using it again. We considered trying to have another baby (I'd love a fourth boy!), but my age and my husband's health are just two factors why we've decided that our family is complete. We decided. It's settled. I haven't given it much thought since.

But seeing the crib in someone else's van really puts the nail in the coffin, so to speak. No more beautiful babies for us. But at least there'll be one more beautiful baby to sleep in - an perhaps chew on - the crib.

* I checked the websites for the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Assn. ( and the Consumer Product Safety Commission ( and the crib still meets the recommended safety requirements.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

So Now What?

A friend and I were just talking about how awkward it seems to make small talk here in southeast Louisiana in these weeks after Hurricane Katrina. The main topic of discussion is - and as it should be - the hurricane. It's impossible to go anywhere without being asked "so, how did you make out with the storm?" She and I are among the very lucky ones. Minor issues aside, our homes are intact, our families' incomes hasn't been radically altered. But it feels weird to say, "Just fine, thanks. And you?"

My friend mentioned that it feels like survivors guilt - which is a fitting description. (She has clearly thought this out more than I have.) Everyday there are reminders of Katrina's wrath. This morning I received an email from a friend who I know lost every physical possession in the storm. His home was in the Lakeview area of New Orleans where the levee breached. He evacuated to his in-law's house in Virginia and like most of us, thought he'd be able to return a few days later. As it turns out, he's not returning at all. At least not to live. His children are enrolled in school in Va., his wife is looking for work. He himself will return only for work since he accepted a position with a FEMA contractor to help assess the storm damage. Although it's a job, his career as a free lance writer has been swept aside, one more casualty of the hurricane. I felt a little awkward telling him that all's well here in my little part of the world.

A few days after we returned home following Hurricane Katrina, my older two kids and I went to our church and its school to assist with the cleanup there - removing sheetrock, throwing away moldy school books, toys, backpacks, removing tree limbs and brush. When they asked why were doing this, I just blurted out that it was because we didn't have to do this at our house, dammit, and we're grateful for it! (Their own public schools were spared, but our church and its school was located a couple of blocks from the lake so it was one of the few areas in our town that flooded. The boys really worked their butts off and I'm proud of them.)

For me, I don't know if it's so much guilt, as it is the feeling that although we've come through this unscathed, I don't believe we're intended to come through it unchanged. I just don't know what to do with it all yet...

Friday, October 14, 2005


Taking a page from Sugar's, Jules' and Danna's blogs....

20 Years Ago (1985)
I'm playing and partying my way through college. Is it any wonder why it's taken me six years to get a degree (as a full-time student no less!) ?! This is my Making Stupid, Stupid Choices Phase. Fortunately, it is short-lived.

15 Years Ago (1990)
I married Dear Hubby just after the start of the new year, after dating for three years. It's probably no coincidence that Stupid, Stupid phase pretty much ended when I met him. Not sure I can say it was *because* I met him, but still it was time to grow up - even if just a little. We move to the Washington, DC area about a year later.

10 Years Ago (1995)
Still in the DC area, can't imagine ever leaving. We bought our first home a couple of years prior. Son One arrives. I'm spending my six-week maternity leave searching for a new job. No way I'm staying with a company that laid off my mother (who also lived with us at the time) on the very day I went into labor. Sheesh!

5 Years Ago (2000)
Dear Hubby, Son One (now 5), Son Two (now 3) and I moved back to Louisiana a year ago. We're renting a little townhouse type apartment not far from where I grew up. Hoping to buy a house across The Lake. We say that here as if there's only one lake in the state. Dear Hubby's mother is diagnosed with a brain tumor. She has surgery and radiation treatments. She still manages to keep her sense of humor. (She dies a year later.) Dear Hubby starts a job that seems promising after taking a year off to be Mr. Mom, while I worked various secretarial jobs. It's not that he doesn't want to work, but his 7 years as a police officer in Va. apparently isn't considered an asset. Law enforcement doesn't get the same level of respect here that it did in the areas surrounding D.C. Son One has a seizure at school.

1 Year Ago (2004)
Dear Hubby has triple bypass surgery, after two previous attempts at using stents to keep his arteries clear. His first stent was put in a year and a half ago on the same day that his sister suffers a massive heart attack after one of her four stents clogs up. Of course, her situation is more dire, so the rest of the family is holding vigil at her bedside while I sit in the cardiac waiting room (different hospital) with Son One (8 at the time), Son Two (6 at the time) and Son Three (six months old at the time). Sister-in-law died about a month later, just shy of her 41st birthday. Dear Hubby had three more stents put in on the one-year anniversary of his first procedure, but six months later, he was being filleted like a catfish. This time, though, I had plenty of company as the family comes to hold vigil at Dear Hubby's hospital. It's almost too much, though. The surgery took several hours longer than planned. After 5 or 6 hours, I finally persuade the rest of the family to go home and have dinner (it's around 6 pm at this point). They go, and take Sons One through Three with them. Just one sis-in-law, who's a nurse, and I are left. Finally we get the word that all is well.

We've been in our house for a few years now - we really like the area where we're living. Son One's seizures are under control and he is eventually taken off his anti-seizure medication, but is taking medication for ADHD. I've been a stay-home mom since Son Three was born in '02.

A Month Ago
Home Sweet Home! After a two week evacuation, we return to our home which weathered Hurricane Katrina with minimal damage.

The older boys are back in school. Son Two hasbaseball practice in the evening, but Dear Hubby arrives home early enough to take him. I don't mind going to the park but the coach keeps them at practice for two hours, which is hard at that time of the day. Everyone (incl. me and Sons One and Three) starts getting a little hungry and cranky, not to mention eaten by mosquitos. Besides, my mother the mall rat, sent me two boxes full of clothes that she picked up at various sales over the past couple of months so I'm having a one-woman fashion show at home. My strut-and-pose music? The theme to "Tom & Jerry" (yes, the cat and mouse) accented by Zack's machine-gun cackle. Life is good.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I'm Back! (Again!)

And this time for good, I hope. Phone service has been intermittent at best. Just 5 days after having it restored the last time, a large moving truck knocked down the line (which was hanging low). Service was restored yesterday, only to have it cut off again this morning. It was restored at 3:45 this afternoon.

Of course, now that I'm back I can't think of much to say...

We're settling into our routine and life is slowly returning to "normal" (whatever that means). The older boys returned to school last week and are actually happy to be back. I hope that's not a reflection on my talent as a homeschooler.

Sam is playing baseball again, with practice on Thursdays and games on Saturdays. His team won the first game of the now-shortened season this past week.

CCD (religion) classes start tonight for the older two, and cub scouts will be gearing up soon.

I'll close here - before my phone service poops out again and I lose my internet connection.

More later...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Taking a Page from Jules' and ~D's Blogs....

I saw this thread on Jules' and Danna's blog, and since I'm currently at a loss for words (a rarity), I thought, 'why not?'

7 things I would like to do before I die:
1. Dance at my sons weddings - all 3 sons (and hopefully only 1 wedding each).
2. Lose another 20 lbs.
3. Find my 'art' (am I painter? writer? actress?).
4. Get over my "house-envy"and learn to love the little tiny, dinky box I have that, by the way, stood up admirably to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
5. Find a really good fitting pair of jeans (see previous posts).
6. Learn to read - and understand - the Bible ... or at least parts of it.
7. Quit worrying so much about what 'other people' think.

7 things I cannot do:
1. Cook.
2. Remember shit.
3. Keep my mouth shut (but I'm getting better).
4. Dance. Elaine Benes on 'Seinfeld' (Julia Louis-Dreyfous' character) has *nothing*on me!
5. Speak in public - sweaty palms, knots in the stomach, nausea....
6. See without glasses or contacts (stealing Danna's reply. I'm legally blind.)
7. Let go of the past.

7 things that attract me about other people
1. Sense of humor
2. Honesty
3. Compassion
4. Openness to other peoples' ideas
5. Sense of adventure
6. Intelligence (but not the hoity-toity kind)
7. As old fashioned as it seems, a sense of honor, duty and loyalty (as long as it's not misplaced).

7 things I say most often:
1. Zachary Daniel!!!!!
2. Go to Sleep!!!!
3. I'm sorry.
4. I love you.
5. I don't THINK so!
6. Give Momma a kiss....
7. "Dear God, (fill in the blank)".

7 Favorite Celebrities:
1. Ioan Griffudd
2. Billy Boyd
3. Christopher Meloni
4. Sean Connery
5. This is a hard subject!!!!!

7 Guilty Pleasures
1. Cha-Cha-Chocolate ice cream. Save-1 Grocery's generic brand. It had chocolate brownie chunks, chocolate bits, and a ribbon of cinnamon - I ate a lot of it during my evacuation to Lafayette, LA.
2. Iced Caffe Mocha (decaf and skim)
3. Watching "Dancing with the Stars" - John O'Hurley and Charlotte were robbed!
4. Watching "RockStar INXS" - I can't believe they picked JD over Marty or Mig!
5. Tom & Jerry Cartoons (better yet, The Pink Panther)
6. Bubble Baths
7. Gift-with-Purchase Time at the make up counter of my favorite dept. store

7 people I want to do this list:
1. Jules, who already did
2. Sugar
3. Danna, who already did
4. Renee
5. Lisa
6. Erika
7. Andy (good luck with that one)

Monday, September 26, 2005

Getting a little tired of this....

We were blessed to make it through Hurricane Katrina unscathed and Hurricane Rita wasn't anything more than a little windstorm. Still, it's disconcerting to pack up your kids and pets and leave home not knowing whether you'll have a house to return to. We were very fortunate this year (and last, with Hurricane Ivan). Dear Hubby is ready to throw in the towel and head elsewhere. Where, you ask? Any place that doesn't have any major disasters. Does such a place even exist?

He thought New Mexico sounded pretty good. Hurricanes don't make it that far, lots of land is still available, it doesn't appear to be on the Tornado Belt. But the word "volcano" in the name of one of its national parks gives me pause.

Next, he suggested Maine or Vermont. Hey, I love autumn folliage and snow. But did you know that there are earthquakes in Maine? I didn't. The state apparently isn't on a fault line, but still.... Then again, I look at the real estate listings and see a "charming cottage built in 1700" (in my price range nonetheless!) so the earthquakes can't be that bad if they haven't ripped apart a 300-yr old house, can they? The problem is the parts of the country with the jobs have a million other people so housing is expensive. Find a place with a little space between you and your neighbor and it's a given that there aren't any decent jobs available. Go figure.

Anyway, I think he's just indulging in a little harmless fantasy. And if the fantasy includes me, all the better. At least he's not fantasizing about moving to New Mexico with Jessica Alba or Pamela Anderson, right?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

I'm Baaaacccckkkkkk!

After evacuating from Hurricane Katrina, we returned home on the afternoon of Sept 9th. My sister-in-law, who lives two blocks away from our house (she returned home the day before), called to let us know that electricity had been restored to our homes. We packed up our things, bid adieu to Uncle Harold in Lafayette, and returned home.

First thing I noticed – or rather, didn’t notice - was the patch job Andy did to the roof. We lost a bunch of shingles, which he replaced on one of his day-trips back. You really can’t notice the spot unless you’re looking for it. Our fence is leaning, but it isn’t completely down. We hope to have it fixed this week.

We went through Hurricanes Katrina and Rita for the most part unscathed. Our neighborhood has a lot of trees down – some of them on top of houses. Many other neighborhoods in Mandeville, LA have experienced the same. I see some of the larger homes in our area – the big brick and stucco houses that I envy (heck, I envy anything over 1400 square feet) - and many of them have trees through them. Yet here we are, in our tiny little house, safe and sound. I’ve never been so happy to see my little 1,163 square foot, vinyl siding home in my life. With all the giant trees in our neighborhood, I really didn’t expect to see it intact.

It was soooo nice to take a bubble bath that evening without having someone knock on the door – Uncle Harold’s house has only one bathroom and had eight evacuees. Sleeping in my own bed? Not as great as I imagined. I hoped it would be just Andy and me so I’d have a little room to spead out (rather than Andy, Sam, Zack and me as we slept on Harold's sofa bed) but it was not to be. I thought Zack might have enjoyed being back in his own bed amongst his 20 stuffed animals, but nope, he wanted to cuddle with me instead. He's adjusting to sleeping alone again.

Our old cat, Sebastian (age 16), is doing well. He lives outside and survived the wind and rain by camping out under Andy’s car. The turtle is okay, too. We brought home three geckos that we caught from Anne and Bobby’s house (our cousins – Harold’s daughter and son-in-law). They're also fine.

We’ve been getting settled into our new routine. I’ve been home schooling the older two boys until their public school re-opens on Oct. 3rd.

Our phone service was restored today, Sept. 25, and with it our internet service (yes, I’m still on – GASP! – dial up!). I’ve really missed the internet these past few weeks.

I’m a real web-browsing, emailing fanatic. Email has kept me in touch with people that I might ordinarily not hear from – former co-workers in another state, the friend who lives 15 miles away but is also a busy, busy mom, the sister who lives across the country and keeps farmer’s hours (up at dawn, in bed by dusk – more or less).

Increasingly I’ve come to rely on the internet for information. I think I’m pretty good at figuring out which sites are reputable versus which ones have bogus info. One of my favorites is, a site devoted to debunking urban myths. You know the emails: “Women: Be on alert! This *really* happened in (insert state here)” or “Deodorant causes cancer!”

I’m also an eBay junkie. I shop sometimes, but I browse way more often than I should. Some of it is funny (a potato chip with the image of Jesus, anyone?), some of it is educational (there are discussion boards devoted to teaching people how to avoid bidding on fake designer items), some of it is a trip down memory lane (I recognize that Holly Hobby doll!)

I also get most of my news online – has my local news, and I visit the Washington Post’s website to catch up on what’s going on in my mother’s part of country.

I missed blogging – I’ve only been at it a month or so prior to Hurricane Katrina, but I've met some really great people.

I’ve missed to miss my daily emails from my mom. I’ve missed the silly jokes I receive from Mom, Uncle Harold and Rick in Virginia. I’ve missed hearing about Lynda’s latest art showing (she did two episodes of “Simply Quilts” on HGTV). I’ve missed hearing from everyone, actually.

It’s great to be back!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Thank You, Lafayette, Louisiana

I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you to the wonderful folks in Lafayette, La...not only my husband's Uncle Harold who allowed 8 of us (and 2 dogs) move into his home, but the people we encounter everyday during our stay.

Think about it: here's a town that's opened its doors to thousands of evacuees from Hurricane Katrina. We're creating long lines in their groceries, using up all the gas from their stations, causing all sorts of traffic problems, but everyone I've come across so far has been polite, friendly and sympathetic. I appreciate your hospitality, Lafayette.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

My House Seems Okay...

I had a brief phone conversation with Dear Hubby. He's just packing up a few things and will be leaving our Mandeville home to return to us in Lafayette, LA. The call kept disconnecting, but the gist is this:

Our house seems to be missing a bunch of shingles - he went into attic and it's dry, so he put a few buckets in there to catch water in case it rains and put a tarp on the roof. Parts of our fence are leaning, but otherwise most of our street looks good. There are some trees leaning on houses, but they haven't crashed through the roofs. A couple of my neighbors have stayed behind and will keep an eye on things.

Thanks Jules for posting an update that ~D and family are okay and that their house didn't sustain any significant damage, either. I've said it many times, and I'll say it again...We're blessed.

I Can't Watch The News Anymore...

As I sit in Lafayette, LA, I realize how lucky I am. We have family to stay with. A comfortable, albeit crowded, air conditioned home. Access to a washing machine and dryer. Good cooking (thanks, Uncle Harold). A nice hot shower. My dogs are here, although they're not happy about the amount of time they're spending in their crates - at least I know they're safe.

I don't know if I'll have a house to go back to. My area has heavy wind damage but no flooding. But houses can be re-built and things can be replaced. We're safe, we're lucky and we're thankful.

Then I turn on the news and I'm outraged. Disasters tend to bring out the best in many people and the worst in others. There are stories of lootings, people shooting at the helicopters that are trying to evacuate the Superdome (they have no air conditioning, running out of food and the sanity conditions are deplorable) and other mayhem. A vehicle trying to deliver supplies and medicine to a hospital was hijacked. A bus that was to take retirement home residents out of town was carjacked (busjacked?).

And it doesn't end in N.O./Jefferson. There are reports that certain evacuees are causing trouble in Baton Rouge and at the Houston Astrodome (where many Superdome evacuees were transported). Are these people not grateful to be alive? Are they not thankful that someone is trying to help? What in the hell do they think they're entitled to?

I hear that certain stars like Usher, John Cougar Mellencamp, etc. are planning to stage a benefit for the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, much like the one held last year for the tsunami victims. But when I see the mayhem and lawlessness, I can't help but wonder why bother. I know it's only a small percentage of evacuees who are causing problems, but they're certainly not helping to paint a sympathetic picture of our plight.

I'm so disgusted....

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Update - Wed. 8/31

No real news to report. Not much is being reported about West St. Tammany Parish, because it doesn't seem to be as catastrophic as Slidell, Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard.

This is what I've heard from various online forums, and news reports:
  • Most of the flooding in Mandeville occurred between the lake (naturally) and Monroe Street.
  • Madisonville experienced flooding at the Tchefuncte River, but I haven't heard that the Hwy. 22 drawbridge was damaged.
  • Most of the subdivisions in Mandeville have some type of wind damage - fallen trees blocking roadways, trees going through houses, downed powerlines. It seems intermittent, though. Most reports I'm hearing, from the eastern part of Mandeville at least, are that one house might be devastated but the one next door might be fine.

Dear Hubby and brother-in-law are going to try to visit Mandeville tomorrow. They're not planning on staying - just long enough to look around and perhaps secure our houses if there's damage. I'll post more news when I have it...

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

We Evacuated...

Just a quick post to let those of you who may be concerned know that my family and I evacuated from our home in Southeast Louisiana. We're safe and sound in Lafayette, La., awaiting word on when we can return home to assess the situation.

Our home is in St. Tammany Parish which saw significant wind damage, but fortunately not a lot of flooding. Our neighbors across Lake Pontchartrain in Metairie, Kenner, New Orleans aren't so lucky. We're watching the news coverage and those areas look like Venice, Italy - streets completely underwater.

Keep us in your prayers. More to follow...

Saturday, August 27, 2005

OUCH! Sam's Baseball Injury

Last night Sam, age 8, was injured by a baseball and he wasn't even playing the game. Our family was at a pro baseball game (a farm team). DH and youngest son were in the concession line, older two sons went to the men's room and I went to the ladies' room. As I was washing my hands, I could hear a child crying. I thought, that sounds like Zack (my youngest), but I knew he was with his dad waaayyyy over there getting snacks. I heard the crying again and said, darn it, that's one of mine! So I leave the restroom in a blaze and sure enough, there's Sam laid out on the ground with quite a crowd gathering around.

Oldest son Drew explained that Sam was hit by a baseball. What are the chances? We're on the second tier of the stadium, when a player hit a foul ball past the third base line, over the first level of seating and nailed Sam right in the hip/thigh as he was leaving the restroom. It didn't hit the ground and bounce first. An inch and a half over, it would've hit him in The Spot No Man Ever Wants To Be Hit (although at the time, we weren't sure it hadn't). Poor baby!

There was a really nice man in a bright yellow shirt who was asking Sam all sorts of questions to distract him while someone else went to fetch ice and summon the paramedics. We carried him to the first aid room so the medic could check him out in relative privacy. Sam started feeling better and paramedic took some ice from the giant bag and put it in a latex glove and tied it off so he could tuck it more discreetly inside his shorts. A representative from the team gave Sam a souvenir baseball (Drew managed to retrieve the foul ball, but Sam had seen enough of that one!). After we completed the incident report, Sam felt well enough to stay for the game. He has a bruise and his leg feels a little stiff so we're skipping his own baseball practice this morning so he can rest.

Never a dull moment with this crew!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Neighbors...Gotta Love 'em (or do we???)

A new family moved on to the block this summer and I'm having a difficult time warming to the parents. They have two kids, one of whom is autistic (we rarely see him), the other is a little girl probably 7 or 8 years old. The girl has been over to play with Sam before and seems nice.

The family is a little 'different' than most on our quiet little street in that they're not exactly quiet. I was working in my yard a couple of weeks ago and I could hear the wife lay into the hubby. She was in their front yard yelling at him that it didn't "take (expletive) 45 minutes to go to the (expletive) store, you (expletive expletive)!" I live two houses away and I knew she had to realize that Dear Hubby and I were outside and could hear every word. Heck, people six blocks away could hear every word. Thank goodness none of the neighborhood kids were outside or I would've had to say something. In retrospect, I probably should have.

School started last week so we're seeing the parents at the bus stop in the morning. There's usually six adults out there with the kids. The potty mouth lady started hinting that she's starting a new job soon and will have to leave for work a little before the bus comes but that she figures "there are enough adults around that someone should be able to watch (daughter) get on the bus?" The husband doesn't work, but he has to drive the son to a special school and doesn't always make it back home in time for daughter's bus.

Another mom and I pretended to not to hear her, but this morning Mrs. Potty Mouth flat out asked me if she could send her daughter down to our house on certain mornings so that her daughter could walk to the bus stop with Sam and me. I asked what time she had in mind, and it seemed to be only 15-20 minutes before we leave the house anyway so I said okay.

I'm kicking myself for being a doormat, but I really do feel badly for the daughter. I'm sure that since the mom doesn't care if neighbors hear her cursing and yelling at the dad, she's probably doesn't tone it down in front of the kids.

Here's the other thing, though. This couple already has a reputation of taking advantage of the neighbors. For example, daughter was at another child's house playing and her dad asked if friends parents could keep an eye on her while he ran to the store "for half an hour." Sure, no problem. Until two hours passed and the dad still hadn't returned. Once they even left the house to run an errand without even telling the other parents they were leaving. It came time for the other family to eat dinner so they tried to send the little girl home, but she said she couldn't go because "no one was home." Sure enough, there wasn't. (At that point, I would've considered calling the authorities.)

Oy vey! What am I getting myself into?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Turtle Funeral

Yesterday, I looked into the turtle tank in my older boys' room and discovered that Zippy, a little female box turtle, had died. My older son had already left for school, but my middle boy was home. So the tears started. He managed to pull himself together in time to catch the bus, but only after making me promise to bury Zippy in a place of honor in my garden. (By "place of honor," I mean a location under a statue, prickly plant or some other garden ornament where her resting place is less likely to be undisturbed by our insane cat.)

I gave the turtle tank a thorough cleaning just in case Zippy died of illness - it looked fine, though. She and her tankmate, Shellshocker, are the Felix Ungers of the turtle world, apparently. Zippy came into our lives in June 2004 when my husband came home from walking the dog and claimed the turtle "followed" him home. I figured any turtle that could keep up with a grown man and a greyhound must have the kahunas to survive in our house. ;-) We adopted Shellshocker a couple of months ago. She's bigger than Zippy, and much more sociable, but the two got along well.

I broke the news to our oldest son when he got home from school. He too got a little teary eyed, but handled it well in general. I got my garden shovel, dug a nice deep hole, placed Zippy inside, and we took turns replacing scoops of dirt before saying a prayer. She's buried in the very front of the garden in front of our porch, in a gravesite marked by a wrought iron cross on a stake. (If you double click on the righthand photo in yesterday's blog entry, you'll see a tall ornamental tree -- slightly in front and to the right of it is a clump of plants. Zippy's buried among them, but you can't see the cross in the photo.)

It occurred to me that there are a number of animals in my two gardens. Our parakeet and numerous lizards are buried in the garden in front of my living room window (the photo on the left in yesterday's blog). Zippy is the first to be interred in the newer garden; however, the cremated remains of two dogs were mixed in with the garden soil.

So rest in peace:
  • Zippy (box turtle, came into our lives 6/04, died 8/22/05)
  • Buddy (parakeet, adopted 1999, died 2002)
  • Lizards 1-4 (summer of 2004)
  • Cherie (toy poodle, born 12-7-81, died 4/15/95)
  • Annie (small mixed breed dog, adopted 1979, died 1996)
  • countless tree frogs who unwittingly crossed paths with my cat (2004-)

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Finally Finished My Garden

More or's always a work-in-progress, but I put a few more plants in and added mulch, which to me, means it's completed. Until something dies and I have to yank it up and replace it. Or until I see some cool fall plant that I think might look interesting. But for now at least, I'm out of money and out of energy. Two things you should know about me: 1) I don't know anything about gardening, 2) I don't have the attention span to learn - just let me play in the dirt, and 3) I have a "black thumb."

There's no rhyme or reason at all to my hodge podge of plants. I don't like to spend a lot of money (see #3 above), so I buy plants on sale or at the end of their season when they're reduced 75% and hope they'll re-sprout next year. I've actually had pretty good luck with this.I started my first garden at this house when we first moved in 4 yrs ago. This garden is in front of my living room window. I added a second garden in front of my front porch 2 years ago.

This summer I got the crazy idea to pull up the scalloped garden edger and build a retaining wall instead. And while I'm at it, why not make the gardens bigger.In May, I had the double split retaining wall stoned delivered by Lowe's. I spent a week moving my sidewalk, which is limestone rocks. I raked and raked those little buggers until I cleared out enough space to make a semi-circular garden that extended an additional 3' feet away from the house.

After that, I worked on the porch garden. Rather than ending at the edge of the porch, I decided to extend it to the edge of the house. This entailed ripping up a considerable amount of my lawn so I could built my retaining wall - this one is a little serpentine shaped. It looks nice (I think). The photos of my two gardens before adding mulch (if I did it correctly, the photos are clickable thumbnails so you can view a larger pic).

Thursday, August 18, 2005

You Won't Believe What Drew Ate!

A little background: my oldest, Drew (age 10) is the World's Most Finicky Eater! He truly does hold the title. He has been this way since he was about 18 months old. That was the last time he ate scrambled eggs, which he used to enjoy. He was around that same age when he had his first - and last - McDonald's hamburger. Wolfed it down completely, said he liked it, and would never agree to eat another one again.

I'm sure his diet is part of the reason he's so small. I do try to introduce him to healthful foods but I learned long ago [WARNING: the rest of this sentence is not for the squeamish! You may want to skip to the next paragraph. Still here? Don't say I didn't warn you!] - he can barf at will, without any silly tricks like using a finger. That's pretty much when I gave up the Food Fight. Meanwhile, none of the doctors he's ever been to have been particularly concerned about his finickiness.

He likes sugary breakfasts: waffles and pop-tarts, especially. I can, sometimes, get him to eat slow cook oatmeal, sweetened with just a touch of cinnamon and sugar. This summer at camp he discovered French Toast. He doesn't like the way I cook it, though (I, too, am a title holder: World's Worst Cook), so I end up buying the Eggo frozen kind.

He loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made on whole wheat bread. He'll eat chicken nuggets, but not chicken tenders. You see, once you bite a chicken tender it's no longer covered by batter on all sides so it loses all appeal. A nugget he'll pretty much eat whole. This is the only meat he'll eat, other than the occasional hotdog (which he'll eat begrudgingly). He'll eat macaroni and cheese only if it's made from the foul orange powder! Nothing that looks like real cheese, please. He'll eat cheese pizza, though. His favorite all time food, though, is pasta with marinara sauce.

He does sometimes eat raisins, apples, grapes and the occasional banana. He very rarely eats candy and despises soda. The only 'sweets' he'll eat (besides breakfast) are the cheap iced oatmeal cookies from WalMart. He'll drink milk, Hawaiian punch, lemonade or fruit juice. This past year, he actually added broccoli to his diet. He used to eat only the teeniest florets, he's now started to eat the stems.

And now to the point: Yesterday afternoon he says, "Mom, next time you and Dad have sushi, can I try some?" After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I called Dear Hubby who raced to the local grocery to pick up some California rolls for dinner. Our favorite sushi place had already closed for the day. I sat across the table and watched - with tears in my eyes - my picky baby eat four (!) California rolls. Heck, six filled me up. Granted, he ate them with his fingers and dipped them in ketchup but's sushi! (more or less) He said he liked them - and this is the kicker - he'd like to have them again sometime! Woo hoo!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Raindrops on Roses, Whiskers on Kittens...

It seems I either have nothing much to say, or I can't tame my scattered thoughts long enough to write a coherent sentence. So instead of my usual rambling musings, I thought I'd steal a cue from the old Julie Andrews song from the Sound of Music.

These are A Few of My Favorite Things, in no particular order:
  1. snow
  2. fireflies
  3. an expensive bottle of champagne - or an inexpensive bottle of Asti Spumante
  4. fresh peaches
  5. picking blackberries with my kids
  6. a perfectly broken-in pair of jeans
  7. Harry Potter books
  8. email - more immediate than a letter, but not exactly like a phone call where you have to pretty much stop what you're doing and focus on the conversation. Know what I mean?
  9. InStyle magazine - pure fluff: no true crime stories, no scary health articles, no 'how to save your relationship' articles - just eye candy
  10. dragonflies - we used to call them 'mosquito hawks' when we were little...
  11. looking for 4-leaf clovers
  12. 80's music for the memories
  13. chocolate (how did this end up so low on my list?)
  14. hunting for fossils in ordinary rocks with my boys
  15. waking up in the morning to find Zack, age 3, curled up in bed next to me (when did he sneak in?!)
  16. the sound of children laughing
  17. leaves changing color in the autumn - I'm going by memory here from my decade spent in Virginia. We don't have autumn in southeast Louisiana.
  18. perfume - esp. Burberry Brit and Angel by Thierry Mugler
  19. feeding ducks
  20. I love it when it rains when the sun is still shining.
  21. a really, really good hamburger
  22. Tab - remember the sickeningly sweet diet drink in the pink can? Yes, they still make it.
  23. reading a suspense-thriller novel
  24. staying up late, and sleeping in the next morning - the latter rarely happens.
  25. unsolicited hugs and kisses from my 3 yr old - and my 8 yr old for that matter (my 10 yr old isn't a big hugger)

More to come another time...

Saturday, August 13, 2005

First Day of School

My older two boys started school yesterday (on a Friday!). Sam is in 3rd grade at an elementary school that runs from K-3. Drew is in 5th grade at a middle school which runs from grades 4-6. I had never heard of this until we moved to this parish. Although our state ranks among the bottom two in the country for public education, our parish ranks first in the state, so that should count for something, right? They both had good days.

I worry a bit more about my older son. He's small for his age and tends to act younger than most of his peers. He's also speech impaired, plus he struggles with ADHD, so I'm always worried that he'll be 'an easy target.' To the credit of the teacher and administrators at both schools, however, he has never been made to feel different from or less than the other kids. I hope that continues to carry through. He works really, really hard to maintain an A-average and is really an extremely bright boy. Quite a deep thinker.

My middle child - bless his heart - things just come easier to him with little effort. Perhaps in some way this is poetic justice for all those times that we were so busy helping big brother. Still, his accomplishments - no matter how easily attained - are no less valid. We're very proud of him too. He seems to be well liked by his peers, especially the girls. He's not as introspective as his brother, but he's witty and fun.

I know you should never compare your kids, but sometimes it's hard not to. I don't do it because I want to see who doesn't measure up, or who is 'better' (answer: none). But rather, if I were to write down a list of the traits that I admire most in a person, I find that I'm blessed to find them in one form or another in each of my children. Each one is unique. Uniquely irritating sometimes, uniquely lovable all of the time. Keeping my fingers crossed for a great year for each of my kids.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Still on the Quest for a Great Fitting Pair of Jeans

Last Friday's blog described my experience with The Gap's new line of jeans for curvy figures. It seems, at least for me, that they're not cut curvy enough. So here I sit in my Lee Classic size 6P jeans. They're fine - really they are. It's just that they're...well, classic. The style hasn't changed significantly since I started wearing them in the early 80's (and maybe that's a *good* thing!). Still, I find myself craving something a little more stylish, more contemporary.

Well someone mentioned that Lee also makes a line called One True Fit jeans. They're lower rise, bootcut, different washes ("whiskering" and so forth). I read the testimonials on the website and was so excited. No gapping! Stretch denim that hugs your curves! One of the testimonials was from a woman who described herself as 5'2", 115 lbs , with a small waist and big hips - and she loved them, she wrote! She's only an inch taller than me and a few pounds lighter so I thought, maybe.... I visited a local department store that carries the line. No luck there. On me, the short length is still too long and the gapping was terrible.

Nearing desperation (well, not quite - it's only jeans, after all), I recalled that several years ago Levi's had a line - I think it was called Original Spin - where you'd visit a Levi's store, the associate would measure you, enter your dimensions into a computer and a pair would be custom-created for you. You're measurements would be stored into the computer so you could re-order (or adjust them) at a later date. Unfortunately this program was discontinued, according to the nice person from the Levis website who responded to my question. She suggested that I try other Levi's styles - certainly I'd find one that I'd be happy with (oh yeah?).

I emailed her back explaining my dilemma (namely my misproportioned posterior) and told her that I didn't have the patience or the attention span to try on 3 sizes (I'm usually a 6 or 8, but not having ever worn Levi's, perhaps the sizes run differently?) in each of the gazillion styles they make. Okay, so gazillion may be a slight overestimation. So I asked the Levis gal to be honest: will any of their jeans fit short curvy women? I explained my problem with gapping, plus the fact that some of my curves are on my belly so very low rise is not an option.

Here, in part, is her email reply:

"Honestly, we do have various styles that sound like they will suit your needs. I highly recommend that you try the 515 (tm) misses boot cut jean .This is a slim fit, boot cut jean very popular this season. Now, it is a low rise, BUT, it only sits nicely on the hip area and is very flattering to the belly area, so in no way are they offensive :):):) "

How cute is that? I may just have to try a pair of 515s. More to follow.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Thoughts About Friendship

First some "me" time (Monday/Tuesday), now a girls' evening out. This never happens in the same quarter, much less the same week. Anyway, my friend, Renee, invited me out for coffee. We spent the next couple of hours just chatting away. Even though we're at very different stages of our lives, we're somewhat kindred spirits, I think.

She's young (mid-20's), single, in her first real professional job...I'm not-so-young, married, a stay-home mom. Yet we both have a BA in Communications from the same alma mater, neither of us knows what we want to be when we grow up, and we're both considering returning to night school to get a teaching degree.

I can completely relate to her hopes, dreams and disappointments even though I'm a decade and a half older. Am I young at heart or immature for my age? Sometimes there's no rhyme or reason why we bond with the people that we do.
Take ~D, for example. She's married to my hubby's dear friend. Is that why she and I hit it off? No, hubby has other friends whose wives I just don't get. With ~D, it's her sense of humor (somewhat twisted at times), her love for her family, the fact that she doesn't try to make it all look easy...but most of all, she puts up no pretenses. What you see is what you get. Is it always pretty? Perhaps not, but always refreshing, always welcome.

With Renee, she seems a bit like I imagine I might've been at age 25, had I not made some really stupid, boneheaded mistakes. Plus she's fun. I've encouraged her to start a blog of her own. If she does, I'll add a link to my sidebar.

Then there are other 'friendships' that are harder to explain. Maybe it's an email buddy in another state who offers the best advice (and sends the funniest off-color jokes). Maybe it's the fellow blogger who just seems to *get it* (whatever "it" may be - hi Jules!). I don't get mushy often, but here's a big hug to my friends near and far.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A Little "Me" Time

As I mentioned in yesterday's blog, my dad-in-law picked up the boys yesterday and took them to his house to spend the night. Hubby and I enjoyed a nice dinner at an inexpensive Mexican place. Nothing fancy, but one of those places the kids would never enjoy.

Today, I slept as late as I could, waking at 10:20. I took a long shower (no speed-shaving and nicking my ankles!), then headed for the haircut place for a trim. I planned to do some shopping and mapped out 4 or 5 places I wanted to go. Here's what I discovered. At my leisurely, kid-free pace, I still managed to browse every rack in about 15-20 minutes. I grabbed a Starbucks iced mocha for lunch (just because I can) and realized at 2:15 I had already gone through my list of places to shop.

Fortunately the caffeine kicked in and I caught a 'second wind'. I managed to find a few other places to shop. I didn't buy much: two pairs of sequinned ballet flats - one gold, one dark brown, and a top.

It's 6:00 and the boys are home now - let the chaos begin! ;-)

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Sound of Silence

My father-in-law called this morning to say he'd be in our area (he's picking up my nephew to take him back to his house to spend the night since camp ended, and both my sis-in-law and her husband work). Dad-in-law stopped by the house to invite the boys and I to have lunch with him and the nephew at IHOP. I'm not one to turn down free food.

While we're having lunch, PawPaw decides, hey, wouldn't it be fun for *all four boys* (my three plus nephew) spend the night at his house? I'm also not one to turn down free, reliable babysitting.

After lunch, we came back to our house so I could get the boys packed (backpacks, pillows, sleeping bags, etc.). We swapped keys so I have his little Saturn and he has my minivan. I now have approximately 24 kid-free hours and I hardly know how to fill them. I could finally get my hair trimmed - it's only been 4 months since my last haircut. Perhaps browse the little boutique that's having a going-out-of-business sale. Visit an art gallery. The possibilities are endless.

First on my non-agenda, however: a nap. More to follow...

Friday, August 05, 2005

So the store advertises "jeans that fit every body" - except mine!

There's a retail store that claims to have a style of jeans for every figure. This month, they've even launched a line for "curvier" women. I was so hopeful...

I'm carrying a little more weight than I usually do (I'm working on that!), but nothing outrageous. I'm just a little out of proportion: my waist is small and my hips aren't. I've always been that way, whether I was a size 4 or a size 10 (right now, I'm mostly a 6, occasionally an 8).

My biggest pet peeve is pants that fit in the front, but gap at the waist in the back. I've been wearing Lee classic fit jeans since highschool. They seem roomier in the hips and smaller in the waist than most brands. The only problem is they haven't changed their look since I was in highschool. I'd like a more contemporary wash, or perhaps a boot cut.

Anyway, at the store today, there was a real nice sales girl who helped me pick a bunch of different sizes and lengths to try on. "One of these will work - I just know it!" she said. I should have asked her to placed a bet.

I found that the sizes run small. At least that's what I'm telling myself because size 8 was snug. I'm only 5' 1" so I tried the 'ankle length.' Oh they were ankle length alright - if you're five-foot-nine! What's the point of buying boot cut jeans if you have to hem them to the point that the boot part is gone?

These jeans for curvy women come in two rises: low and ultra-low. Excuse me, but some of my "curves" are in my abdomen - do I really want that hanging out there for the world to see?

Oh well, as a consolation prize, the store gave me a coupon for a free download from iTunes. (Actually, they give one to anybody who tries on jeans.). I'll end here...I'm hopping on iTunes' website so I can pick my song. Perhaps Queen's "Fat Bottom Girls' - because we "make the rockin' world go 'round." ;-)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Another late night...

I've struggled with insomnia off and on throughout most of my life. As a baby, my mother said, I was a 'night owl.' My oldest son is the same way... Neither of us falls asleep easily. My husband and my middle son are the exact opposite. As soon as their heads hit the pillow, they're *out*.

Thursday nights are especially difficult because my dear hubby (DH for short) volunteers for an hour each week at our church's perpetual adoration chapel. He sets the alarm for 2:21 a.m. and spends the hour from 3:00-4:00 a.m. at the chapel. He's the sort who can fall asleep as soon as he's in a horizontal position. I on the other hand take 45+ minutes to doze. On Thursdays, he turns in around 9:30 p.m. I'm not ready to go to bed that early so I stay up to the point where I wonder 'why bother?'. For example, right now it's 11:30 p.m. here. If I turn in now, I might - if I'm lucky - fall asleep by 12:15 a.m. The alarm will go off 2 hours later - why bother? The alarms goes off at 2:21 and I wake too. If I'm lucky, I'll doze off again around 3:10 a.m. DH will be home an hour later. So why bother? He gets home around 4:10 or so and will either exercise or go back to bed (because he can fall asleep within 5 minutes). I, on the other hand, will be awake until around 5:00 a.m. His alarm for work is set for why bother?

It wouldn't be so bad if I'd just give up altogether on the idea of sleeping on Thursday nights.

On the plus side, Drew (my oldest) and I stayed and worked on his crossword puzzle book - good for boosting vocabulary and brain power. We also watch the DVD of a favorite movie of mine, "Waking Ned Devine." Not appropriate for children but so much of it was over Drew's head - plus he wasn't paying close attention. I don't know why the movie touched me - perhaps it's the breathtaking Irish countryside, or the naked old man riding the motorcycle. (Sends me in fits of giggles every time!)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Motherhood & Identity

Journal Entry - November 1, 1994: I found out yesterday I'm going to be a mother. It hit me like a ton of bricks…oh my gosh, I’m going to lose my identity…I’m going to become “so-and-so’s mother.“ Am I trading my identity for that nondescript title of Mom? After all, it had been only recently that I began to see the PERSON who is my own mother.

Fast forward ten years. I now wear the title like a crown. Have I lost my identity? Some who knew me “when” might think so, but I’ve gained something more. My vocation of motherhood is one that on the surface has no glory, yet will impact the world for generations to come.

How I raise my children will have a direct bearing on who they will become and what they’ll contribute to the world. What an awesome responsibility…and privilege! I’ve learned more about myself since becoming a mother than I thought possible. What a surprise to learn that the person who existed before was only the outermost layer – she didn’t cease to exist altogether. Rather, she’s grown into the person I am now.

Do I live through my kids? Sure. Right now, they’re young and need me near (as much as I need to be near). But I live … I live, feel, love more deeply. The time will come when my children need me less and the person I am now will grow into the person I will become…

Sign me “Mom”

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Someone will let me know if that little picture to the left gets too obnoxious, won't they?

It's the only semi-decent photo taken of me in years... Thank you, D, for taking it. (You can read D's blog at cowbell35 - there's a link at the lower left.) Anyway, I thought it would be fun to include a photo, but there it is - attached to every comment I make. It's kind of odd, because I don't associate the photo with the face I see in the mirror every day. Maybe that's the appeal (to me).

I'm the one behind the camera 99.9% of the time. In fact, if you looked at our family album - if I had one - you'd swear my kids were mother-less. "There a shot of Andy and the boys. And there's another of just the boys. Wait, what's that? Can it be? Yes, it's a thumb! By golly, the woman *does* exist!" (Re: the lack of a family album: I bought all the stuff to do a scrapbook, but got so overwhelmed trying to figure out where to I didn't).

Anyway, I hope you don't tire of seeing my little mug. Not that I get much traffic here, but I don't want to scare anyone away. ;-)

I'm the type who needs 'closure'

In May, I ordered some materials to be delivered so Andy and I could work on a couple of outdoor yard projects. It took me three weeks, but I managed to re-do the two gardens I have in the front yard. It was a royal pain, but I'm happy with the way it turned out. I extended my garden space and built a retaining wall. I'm not completely finished, but all that's left is the fun stuff - adding plants and finally deciding what type of mulch I want to use. Lowe's has this wood-look mulch that's actually made out of recycled rubber but they sell out as soon as they get it in and I don't want to order it without seeing a sample first. Anyway, the point it, it looks pretty much finished.

Project #2 isn't faring so well. We're reclaiming some of our front yard that we're losing to erosion. I live in an area where drainage is an issue so the homes in our neighborhood have ditches in the front yard. A lot of people hate them, but boys and I kind of like them. We get to watch frog eggs hatch and see tadpoles develop into frogs. We have a lot of little fish (they look like minnows) and some water snails living there. We'll see an occasional live crawfish or turtle, all without leaving the front yard.

Anyway, we've used landscape timbers to build a bulkhead for our ditch. I don't know if 'bulkhead' is an official term but that's what folks around here call it - it's essentially a retaining wall to prevent erosion. Andy worked all day a couple of Saturdays ago to build the the bulkhead. It looks pretty good but we need some fill dirt brought in so we can re-build the part of the lawn that washed away.

The problem is it has been raining nearly every day - pretty typical weather for summers in southeast Louisiana - but I can't get the dirt until things dry out a bit. I know I should be grateful that after 2 1/2 months, I've finally got the landscape timbers and rebar out of the driveway, but it's driving me nuts not to be able to finish.

I want dirt! I want some sod! I need closure! ;-)

Monday, August 01, 2005

So now I'm deliberately trying to shrink my laundry...

School starts in a little less than two weeks and both my older two boys' schools require simple uniforms - khaki pants or shorts, and navy blue polo-style shirts. Sam's school also allows plain navy t-shirts, while Drew's allows plain white polos. Fortunately, we have plenty of shirts left over from last year (thank you, Mom!).

The problem is pants/shorts. Sam just turned 8. I would consider him regular size for his age, compared to most other 8 year olds I know. Drew just turned 10 and is very small for his age. He is the same height as Sam, and weighs about 7 lbs less. Neither of them, however, can fit into size 8 shorts or pants.

My mother, bless her heart, sent a bunch of brand new size 8 pants last year but they were at least 6 inches too long so I set them aside. The boys tried them on today - well, the length is much better (only a few inches long), but the waist? Both of them could probably fit into one pair. It's crazy!

It seems there is a big gap between the little boys department (sizes 4-7) and the young men's department (sizes 8-20). So now I'm trying to shrink a bunch of size 8 Slim pants. Wish me luck. (And why, oh why, can't they make a size 7 Extra-Long?)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Echo's Story...

As I mentioned in my profile, one of my 'men' includes a retired racing greyhound. His racing name was "Echol's Guard" but his foster home shortened it to "Echo" and we never changed it. He was born on January 29, 2002 and trained at a racetrack in Florida. His maiden season of racing ran from October to December 2003. Let's just say his heart wasn't in it.

Of 11 races, he came in 2nd three times. Doesn't sound too shabby, right? Unfortunately, he finished 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th once each and came in 8th (that's dead last) 4 times. If you'd like to see info re: his bloodline and racing history, visit the following website: You'll need his name (above) and his ear tattoo number, which is 10626.

At some point in his career, he suffered an injury in which his tail was caught in the starting gate. To this day he's still skittish whenever someone is right behind him. The boo boo which he had when we adopted him in May 2004 is completely healed now, but the hair hasn't entirely grown back.

We first became familiar w/ the greyhound breed in April 2004 when we met several representatives of our local chapter of Greyhound Pets of America ( at a Books-A-Million store. We have a young, hyper beagle but these giant, majestic, laid-back creatures were more my style. I did some research about the breed, filled out the adoption application and sent it with a nominal fee (which includes vet checkup, neutering, shots and more) to our local GPA chapter. After a home visit by a GPA rep, we were deemed worthy to adopt.

A couple of weeks later we received the call that several "greys" were being transferred from Florida to Louisiana. My middle son, Sam, and I went to the animal clinic to meet the greyhounds. I had it in my mind to adopt a smallish female but it didn't work out that way. Sam and I spent a lot of time in the pen with approximately 8 other dogs. Other families were there, some brought their other pets to find a compatible match. Ultimately Echo chose us. Everywhere Sam went, Echo went. Everything Sam looked at, Echo checked out. Echo wasn't interested in performing for the other potential adopters. He already made his choice.

So that's how I ended up with the largest male in the bunch. Just over a year later, I can tell you this: he's enjoying his retirement. He's not completely housebroken - altho' I think perhaps his problem might be related to nerves. Today, for example, he left a small puddle on my bedroom rug but it was during a major thunderstorm. He's very sweet, very gentle and a little shy. He doesn't climb on the furniture but loves to follow me around the house. He leans on you, which is the dog equivalent of a hug, I think. The first few times he 'hugged' Zachary (age 3 1/2), he nearly sent Zack through the wall.

Echo gets along great with his foster brother, Scout (a blue-tick beagle), but he doesn't understand the ways of a domestic dog since that's not the way Echo was brought up. I think Echo finds it undignified when Scout chases a frisbee or retrieves a ball. Although you should see Echo and Scout "race". Echo will run a few laps around the yard and Scout, bless his heart, will try every shortcut he can think of to beat the dog who can still run in excess of 40 miles per hours. (Greyhounds are built for speed but typically don't have a lot of stamina so they don't make great jogging partners unless it's a short run.)

Greyhounds sometimes sleep with their eyes open so if you move to pet one that's not fully awake, it's not unusual for a grey to snap. Echo is no exception. However, my boys learned early on not to approach Echo if he's laying down with his head on the ground.

Most greyhounds make excellent indoor pets (because they have such a low percentage of bodyfat, they're not suited for long stretches outdoors). I've also heard of greys referred to as the smallest large dog, and it's true. Our home is less than 1200 sf, yet Echo, despite his 70+ pounds, doesn't take up a lot of space. Keep in mind though, that these dogs have not had a typical 'puppyhood' and may have a few issues.

Echo likes to counter-surf, which is easy because of his height, but he responds to a gentle warning. If you're thinking about getting a pet, consider a greyhound. They do well even in condos and apartments as long as you take them for regular walks. And they really need the love and attention.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Man, am I dragging today...

I'm just exhausted. I think it's a cumulative effect of Zack's adenoidectomy and my most recent bout of insomnia about a week ago. For the record, Zack is doing well on his second day post-op. He doesn't seem to be in much discomfort, but he does hate the anti-pain med so he might not complain even if he was. He slept well last night and had a nice long nap this afternoon. No snoring at all, so I'm cautiously optimistic.

I felt fine all day yesterday. Even in the waiting room of the outpatient surgery center, I wondered why I wasn't more worked up. I think it finally hit me around 10 p.m., nearly 11 hours after Zack's procedure. It was like, oh my gosh, what did I let them do to my baby??? He's doing great though. Not much memory of the ordeal although he does remember "that man" (the anesthesiologist) taking him away from me. Lovely. I'm sure the memory will fade. For him, anyway.

Zack's energy has returned full force, while my energy has pooped out completely. Perhaps tomorrow I'll be able to string together a coherent sentence.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Bye Bye Adenoids

Son #3, age 3 1/2, had his adenoids removed today - primarily because he snores like crazy, so loudly that he often wakes himself up at night but also because he suffers from frequent ear and sinus infections. I've been told that it's a "common outpatient procedure" but is it ever really common when it's your child?

The pre-operative instructions state that Son #3 could not eat or drink after midnight last night and his procedure wasn't scheduled until 11:30 this morning, so we decided to throw a Bye Bye Adenoid party. Sons #1 and #3 and I stayed up late, read books, watched TV and ate snacks (Son #2 tuckered out around 10:45). Son #3 had his last snack of the evening at 11:30 p.m. and fell asleep 10 minutes later.

This morning I woke him at 9:50 - another benefit of having stayed up late the night before. I dressed him, he bid a tearful farewell to Paw Paw and ten minutes later we were out the door. We arrived at the surgery center at 10:30. Get this: as soon as you walk in the facility, there are two vending machines to your immediate left. Who thought of that plan? Of course, Son #3 remembers that he didn't have breakfast (no eating after midnight) and starts screaming for Cheetos.

He wasn't in the least bit interested in the coloring sheet they gave him. He just wanted to go home, adenoids intact. Next we were lead to the linen closet so he could choose what color hospital gown he wanted. Answer: none. He absolutely did not want to take off his red Power Ranger t-shirt.

Next it was on the pre-op room where it took me and one nurse to hold him down while another nurse squirt some 'happy juice' (a sedative) down his throat. After that ordeal, I sat in the rocker with my baby on my lap, while the nurse put on his bracelet, and started affixing different things onto him. The little thing to measure blood pressure was attached to his big toe and glowed red (the instrument, not the toe). That amused him for a moment until he realized that his socks had been removed, which sparked another round of hysterics.

He was getting a little loopy and I managed to take off his t-shirt but he didn't want to put the gown. The nurse gave us a blanket to put over him. At 11:30 the anesthesiologist came and said "it's time" so he took him (who was screaming again) off to do his thing, which involved placing a mask over Son #3's nose/mouth to make him sleep, then inserting an IV in the top of his hand.

The adenoidectomy was over 30 minutes later. The doc said Son #3 did fine. They brought me back to post-op about 15 minutes later where he was now awake and very cranky. This is not unusual for little kids when coming out of anesthesia. He tried pulling the IV out of his hand and got upset when the nurse stopped him. The nurse explained to him that the IV provided liquids to the body and that when he could drink liquids on his own (specifically Gatorade), then she'd take out the IV. At first he resisted, then he grabbed the cup, guzzled the Gatorade and said "take it out - NOW!" The nurse complied. I got him dressed and we were allowed to leave.

All told, we were there just 3 hours. His mood improved considerably over the next couple of hours. He's supposed to have soft foods for the next 3 days and engage in only "light activity" for the next 2 weeks. Excuse me, but he hasn't engaged in "light activity" since before he learned to walk.

Judging by how he's fussing and yelling at his big brothers, I'm guessing his throat isn't very sore at the moment. However, the nurse did say that he might feel a little worse this evening as the anesthesia works its way out of his system. It's a relief that it's over.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The blotches are back!

The dot themed template I've selected seems particularly fitting today. If the ones on my blog background were pink, they'd match the ones on Zack's arms and legs. Zack (he's 3) had a bout of hives that started on July 8th and got progressively worse. Hives can be triggered by any number of things: allergies, bug bites, stress, hidden illness. Fortunately, his aren't the itchy kind. Benedryl helped only slightly.

I took him to the doctor on July 11th and he couldn't find any sign of illness nor had Zack been exposed to anything new that we could think of. He's been eating the same favorite foods, and we've been using the same household products, laundry detergent, etc. Doc recommended Clarinex Redi-Tabs. Those buggers are expensive but they only need to be taking once a day and they really worked!

After several blotch-free days, the doc said to discontinue the med, which we did on July 20th. No problems until last night. To compound matters, Zack is having his adenoids removed tomorrow. "A minor outpatient procedure," they say. Yeah, right - until it's YOUR kid. His surgeon says that the hives wouldn't affect the outcome of the surgery so we're proceeding as planned. It's scheduled for noon. Zack can't eat after midnight tonight, so he's going to be one cranky, hungry - not to mention, blotchy - baby tomorrow afternoon when he wakes up.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Took me a week to get this far...

...and now I have writer's block. This is unusual, since in person I'm rarely at a loss for words.

I'll start simple. My pet peeve of the day is school supply lists. In past years, my son's school allowed you order Supply Packs (pay a fee at the end of the year and the supplies are ready and labeled with your kid's name on the first day of school in the fall). They discontinued that this year, which in itself doesn't bother me. I don't mind shopping for school supplies - I enjoy it even - by why turn it into a scavenger hunt?

Why does it have to be box of Crayola brand crayons (24 ct)? Why not Rose Art (24 ct) brand? Why does it have to be 2 red BIC pens, rather than simply 2 red ballpoint pens? I visited 3 stores before I found twenty-four "American-made #2 pencils" (most I came across were made in China). I hope they didn't have to be yellow. The list didn't say, so I bought natural wood unpainted, not-made-from-rainforest-trees pencils. I feel like such a rebel!