July 28, 2006

My mama, the BOI*

So, I'm off for 10 days for a tour of the Galveston area. We're spending the weekend at a "resort" in League City and then moving to my grandmother's in Hitchcock for the rest of the week. And T-Bone and I have tickets to see Tom Petty at the Woodlands amphitheatre next Saturday - think there will be any "ba-skeetos," as Olive calls them? Nah ...

I have a homework assignment for you while I'm gone, should you choose to accept it. The many times aforementioned GD high school reunion is coming up in a couple of weeks, and I'm making a compilation CD for my "crue." I've scanned the great hits of the 80s and all of our old favorites, but I'm still missing something. The idea was hatched because somehow I ended up with a tape we made at one of those "studios" at Six Flags on our senior trip featuring me and the girls singing, no, yelling, "Jose Cuervo" and, of course, "That's What Friends Are For." I'd like to say we were drunk when we made it, but, it was a school-sponsored trip, and because it rained the entire day, we were forced to be creative as we waited for the buses to come back and get us at 5. Hence, the "I Cut Tracks in Texas" studio was rocking that day. I believe I also sang backup for somebody on "Purple Rain." Anyway - I'm adding those two songs as a surprise ending, but I want some random stuff to add to the usual suspects.

So, give me a couple of your favorite tunes from 82-86. Please! I'll be your BBFF.

* BOI stands for "Born on the (Galveston) Island." Now my grandmother and two aunts live on ranch property 13 miles inland that's been in the family over 170 years. And, yes, that causes all the drama you would expect, so it's always fun to visit.

July 26, 2006

Yes, I am that crazy*

Having recovered from the birthday festivities, I am now in full fall planning mode. I'm leaving town Friday with Peach and Olive for 10 days, and several deadlines will be cropping up during that time, so today and tomorrow are my days to cross things off my list:

  • Take Peach's tuition and medical forms to school - check
  • Sign Peach and Olive up for fall dance classes - check, check
  • Sign Peach up for fall basketball - tomorrow
  • Purchase Peach's Halloween costume - check

Don't judge. I know it's over 3 months away. But, Halloween is a big deal around the Bone household, and the costume is the biggest part of the big deal. Plus, Peach wants to be a witch, and when I saw the array of slutty/gothy/what-does-that-have-to-do-with-Halloween witch costumes available for little girls, I jumped on this one:

And it was half-off. So at least I'm thrifty. Now to find the perfect bat/spider/kitty/puppy costume as requested by Olive ...

* Update: Check.

July 23, 2006

Yeah, Mommy - You'll be 40 in two years!

That's what Peach told me this morning when I said that turning 38 wasn't so bad, based on the pre-celebration we had last night. After much anticipation and planning on the part of T-Bone and The Shorties, I was blindfolded and literally driven in circles to my surprise birthday dinner destination - which turned out to be Chuy's. Yum. Ugh. I have eaten more in the last two days than I have in the last two months. Seriously. T-Bone's parents and brother and sister-in-law joined us for the feast, which was followed by a Baskin Robbins ice cream cake. Sure, why not?! I was serenaded for the second time in a week, thanks to my crazy mother and her attempt to embarrass me at dinner last weekend at another gut-busting feast. I haven't seen Peach this excited about a surprise since she chose a pink dress shirt and matching pink tie for T-Bone for Christmas. I have the cutest pictures of her watching him open them.

Speaking of presents, I am the proud new owner of my own MP3 player, which came adorned in a cute pink rubbery jacket thingy. And T-Bone surprised me further with tickets to see the Dixie Chicks in October. Here's the map he included that shows where the seats are:

He's had the tickets since a super secret presale in May and said it was so hard not to tell me about them. How cute is that. And if you want cute, check out the cutest birthday card ever, complete with 38 candles:

Today, the actual day of my birth, we started out with breakfast at Jim's, followed by more groaning and button popping, and, this afternoon, I skipped off to see "The Devil Wears Prada" all by my own self. THEN, I treated myself to four adorable patio chairs that I'm praying will hold the weight of my ever-expanding ass. Fat and happy. That's me.

July 22, 2006

Quick! Read this NOW!

I am so proud to announce that, as of this fleeting moment, my entire house is clean. In my usual whirling about before company comes (T-Bone's parents are on the way as we speak), I run out of time to do everything, so something always gets missed and then done a couple of days later. Like cleaning my bathtub, vacuuming the playroom, organizing the spices - you know what I mean. But today - TODAY - I did it! Well, WE did it. A feat like this takes teamwork, and I have a lot of people to thank. And if I leave anybody out, you know who you are.

Let's see - first off, I want to thank God, through whom all things are possible. I want to thank my family - T-Bone, you really came through for me on those kitchen cabinets. Thanks, man. It means a lot. Peach, Olive - amazing job on those Legos. You rock. I want to thank the good people at the Clorox Company for your All-Purpose Cleaner with Bleach, your Toilet Bowl Cleaner with Bleach, and your Disinfecting Wipes without Bleach. I want to thank S.C. Johnson for your Extra Moisturizing Pledge, your Windex, and your amazing Scrubbing Bubbles Flushable Toilet Brush. I HAVE to thank Colgate-Palmolive for their incredible Ajax. You guys really saved me that time I spilled oil-based paint in the tub, and I haven't forgotten it. And finally, I have to give a shout out to Procter & Gamble for your Mr. Clean Magic Eraser - quite possibly the greatest cleaning product every made.

Oh - they're flashing the "Wrap it Up" sign! I know I'm forgetting people! I am so lucky to have so much support and encouragement. I couldn't have done it without every one of you. Thanks to this incredible team, you can now eat, sleep, and perform surgery on any surface in my house. Oh, SNAP! Except for the pantry floor. Gotta get the broom. Peace.

July 19, 2006

Your Girl for All Seasons

I've spoken before of Peach's artistic talents, and one area of great interest to her is fashion design. She's six. Anyway, for Christmas, she got a design kit with a bajillion templates to create forty bajillion outfits. And this ain't no Fashion Plates, yo. She has to trace each piece separately - choosing a hairstyle, upper body, lower body, and shoes, THEN adding accessories, texture, and fabric patterns, and THEN coloring the whole thing. And she doesn't half-ass it at all. She works for hours. Each look is complete and ready for the runway. The kit is supposed to be for "9 years old and up," but I can't believe many older kids would have better skills or more patience than my little genius, er, fashion maven.

All this to say, Peach has discovered Project Runway. I was a Janie-come-lately to the show and only started watching halfway through last season. I thought Peach might go for it, but I was a bit concerned about all the bleeping and the bitching. And then the new season started last week, and I let her watch a tape of the first episode. So now we're both hooked - her early favorite is the guy who designs for Barbie (natch). I'll be "previewing" the show for her tonight, and we'll watch and discuss tomorrow.

For now, I'll leave you with some of her freehand work: "The Four Seasons."

July 17, 2006

Baby Love

I love toys. Hell, I used to work here. But now that I have children, I have a better excuse for regularly cruising the toy aisles at Target and other places. Peach and Olive enjoy it too, even though we rarely buy anything - just lots of looking, which they are totally cool with. They have a nice amount of toys - enough to have lots of variety but not so many that they are overtaking our house or being neglected. In fact, it seems that everything gets thrown into the rotation at one time or another. That said, one thing that will never, NEVER enter this house is anything associated with Bratz. I hate the name, I hate the idea, I hate the whole damn thing. The blogger mamas have all discussed how inappropriate and offensive these skanky dolls are, but I think the brand has hit a new low with this. I just don't get it. First, they made hoochie Barbie rip-offs, now they make baby hoochies? That wear makeup and gansta jewelry? What the hell is that about? Frankly, if I saw that when I was 3-5, or whatever age they're targeting with these, I would have been terrified. And yet steeled by the strength of my little moral outrage.

July 14, 2006

And ... I'm Back

I hate shopping. I have to really REALLY be in the mood before I can even think about going. And on the rare occasion I am in the mood and actually need something, I can pretty much guarantee I won't find anything. So I should have known better when, after I got my hair cut today, I had a slight hankering for a shopping excursion. Could I have gone straight home and enjoyed the afternoon with my family? Sure. But I would rather be humiliated, frustrated, and completely ignored. So I went to the mall.

I unknowingly walked right into the belly of the beast because Nordstrom was having a huge ass sale, which started today, so every W.A.M.* in town was there, furiously combing through the racks, looking for the latest and greatest in boho chic and animal prints. Yikes. I got the hell right out of there and hit the usual chain stores. What with my GD high school reunion coming up, I thought I might get something new. Something that makes me look 10 years younger and 30 pounds lighter. They make that, right?

No. No, they don't. Today's little adventure was a complete and utter failure. THREE times I grabbed a few things to try on in different stores and got so frustrated and worn out by all the looking and the asking for big girl sizes that I put it all back and took off. I went into two stores where I was the only person in the place who didn't work there, and the salespeople didn't even acknowledge me. Sweetie - you're working at a store in the mall. You're not curing cancer. Lose the attitude.

And here's a question: Where have all the short sleeve T-shirts gone? And don't try to fool me with those GD cap sleeve pieces of shit. Those are NOT short sleeves. Those cut across the meatiest part of my arm and make me want to tear my limbs off, so go ahead and shove those right up your size 0 ass. Seriously. When did this happen? I just want some cute, throwdown T-shirts that don't have stupid, ironic sayings on them, and all I can find are baby tees I couldn't, and wouldn't, put on my children.

I did however find a pair of pants that I will probably be wearing the next time you see me as they are my new go-to uniform. Bless you, J.Jill, whoever you are.

And lest you think I've been totally neglecting my children this past week while working on my Trip posts, here's a little conversation from this morning, around 6 am:

Olive: Mommy! Wake up! Wakeupwakeupwakeup!

LT: I'm awake.

Olive: No. Your eyes are not open, and you are not out of the bed.

LT: Busted.

Peach: (still half-asleep) Olive! It's not a competition.(?)

* West Austin Mom = uber Republican Soccer Mom

July 13, 2006

The Final Leg

Two more pictures, and I'm back, I swear. Thanks for indulging me for the past week. I'm sure it was painful at times, but, I am LA TURISTA, ya know. Gotta represent now and again.

My favorite picture from Paris:

Having never been there before, I didn't realize how friggin' HUGE the Eiffel Tower actually is. Those little specs are peeps, yo. We went back late at night, and man, do the freaks come out. Judging by some of the things we saw, I'm pretty sure there's some kind of Mile High Club for the Eiffel Tower. Eww.

We only spent two days in the City of Light, one of which we spent at Disneyland Paris - or EuroDisney, as it used to be called. Yes, I'm just that much of a dork. This was our last stop before we took the Chunnel Train to London to spend one night and catch our flight home. We figured Paris and London were places we might actually get back to someday, but Lisbon? Not so much. So I'm pretty proud of our travel planning on-the-fly and the time we got to spend in all of these great places. We got home broke, exhausted, and dirty - just in time for my 10 year high school reunion the next night. Flash forward a decade ... see where I'm going with this? And here we are on the eve of my GD 20 year reunion. Gawd! More on that later ...

My final favorite picture from The Trip of a Lifetime. I call it, "Sleepy Man Putting on Shoes By Sink":

I think this captures just how SMALL our "room" in Vienna was. I really think it was a closet that they put a window and a sink in, but it served its purpose - cheap and convenient lodging. It was as wide as you see here and the length of two twin beds end-to-end. Somehow, they crammed a ceramic heater and a big ass armoire in there, too. The building looked like it hadn't had any work since The Big One, and the proprietors were a really weird dude and his equally weird mother. Every time someone went in or out of the building, they cracked the door to their apartment and then slammed it the moment they were spotted. Needless to say, I slept with one eye open and my passport in my underwear.

July 11, 2006

The Rain in Spain - and Portugal

It's a toss-up between Venice and BAR-thelona for "My Most Favoritest Place I've Ever Visited in my Whole Life Ever." Barcelona was beautiful, clean, and so easy to get around. The subway system was the best we encountered, probably because it was completely overhauled for the '92 Olympics. The people were very friendly, and the food was awesome. We went to one restaurant where they gave us a choice of seating: fumado o no fumado. We chose the no butts section, which was basically the one table in the whole place without an ashtray. And then there was this:

It is a requirement when touring Barcelona that you visit at least one of Gaudi's incredible structures. I can only liken his style to those drip sandcastles you used to make on the beach. Amazing. This is his apartment building, Casa Mila. And here's the rooftop garden:

Sigh. T-Bone had to pull me away so we could catch our train to Madrid, where we spent a couple of days before moving on to Portugal. Upon arriving at the Madrid train station, we found out that there was a strike and that we would be riding a bus to Lisbon. Shit. It turned out to be an awesome charter bus, and we sat right up front where we could hear the driver's tunes - a random mix of American soft rock. I vaguely remember hearing "Afternoon Delight" right before I dozed off. When we arrived at the Lisbon train station at 5 AM, a strike had just been called there, too, so the place was empty. About an hour later, station workers started showing up, saying, "No more strike. Strike over." Apparently, they play this game a lot.

It's a toss-up between Lisbon and Juarez, Me-hico for "Place I Felt the Most Like a Vulnerable Tourist Ripe for the Picking and the Robbing." Dude. Lisbon was rough. We were offered hash on the street. At noon. In front of a church. More than once. We saw a drunk homeless guy getting the crap beat out of him after he spit in some people's food at a sidewalk cafe. We saw very young prostitutes trolling the train stations for tourists. Creepy. And yet, the architecture and the TILE, especially in the Alfama area, were incredible. We also took a day trip to Estoril, a resort town with beautiful, sandy beaches. There was a pottery place out that way that I had read about, but of course it was closed the day we were there. I had to feed my tile fix with pictures of these awesome street signs:

From Madrid:

From Lisboa:

And from Alfama:

July 9, 2006

Viva Italia!

In honor of Italy's kick ass (get it?) showing in the World Cup Final today, here are some pictures from Roma, Venezia, and Firenze. In Rome, we were totally taken care of by a friend of a friend who knew the best spots to stay, to eat, and to absorb the city. I ate and drank myself silly and tossed way more than three coins in the Trevi fountain. The highlight for me was visiting St. Peter's and the Vatican Museum. Unbelievable. I'll just leave it at that.

Somewhere right up there is the Pope's apartment. RIP JPII.

If I thought I could have gotten away with it, and not gone straight to Hell, I would have ripped this baby down and shoved it in my backpack:

Moving on, I have to say, I just wanted to go to Venice for the sheer novelty of it, but once we got there, I didn't want to leave. People say, "It's sinking, it's dirty, it stinks." I say, "Shut up, shut up, shut up - all of you." It was absolutely magical, and I will fight to the death anyone who says otherwise. Please observe this:

And this:

And here again with the stealing and the threat of Hell. Except this time I wanted the street sign, too.

Finally, Florence was beautiful, but not exactly what I expected. I was thinking more "A Room with a View," like this:

Which half of the city does look like. But Florence is a "city" in every sense of the word, and it was the only place we were accosted by gypsy children, which was very upsetting and irritating at the same time. I saw them coming with their cardboard, and I just started swinging my arms wildly around me, and yelled, "No! No! No!" as I cut threw them like a band saw. They moved on to some other poor saps. T-Bone was mortified. That said, he must have felt really great later on when I nearly had to throw down with this OBNOXIOUS bitch from New York who was making a huge scene at the Uffizi because a museum worker didn't speak English. Imagine that?! In a FOREIGN country, a local didn't speak Ugly American.

July 7, 2006

Sweet sweet $witzerland

Moving on - we spent a weekend in Grindelwald, Switzerland, a charming, yet insanely expensive, mountain town. Seriously. One night for dinner, I had about 2 tablespoons each of 3 variations of congealed shit salad, 4 chicken "nuggets," and a hockey puck roll, and it was 15 bucks. We ended up eating a lot of chocolate and whatever free stuff we could get at the hostel. The high prices apparently did not phase the tons of Japanese tourists there - in brand-spanking new, full-on traditional Alpine hiking gear. Some with the tags still attached.

This picture makes me want to yodel and eat chocolate.

Notice here that the hills are indeed alive:

Speaking of, let's head to Salzburg and "The Sound of Music" Tour! I'm telling you, these people love their Mozart and they LOVE their VonTrapps. Damn. There were several tours to choose from, but, of course, we chose the one that played the soundtrack ON ELEVEN on the bus the whole time. Behold, Casa de VonTrapp:

That's it, y'all. The real deal. As is this:

Good ahead and sing. You know you want to. We all did. Above the broken-English screeching of the tour guide and the crackling of the blown speakers on the bus. By God, we sang. Especially these two little South African cherubs:

Too bad the Japanese guys they were singing to seemed more frightened than charmed by their performance.

July 5, 2006

High on a Hill Was a Lonely Goatherd

Ten years ago this week, T-Bone and I embarked on the Trip of a Lifetime, beginning with six weeks of summer school in Innsbruck, Austria, followed by nearly three weeks of aimless travel and living out of our backpacks. The required Immigration Law classes were SO beyond me, and while International Art Law sounded interesting on paper, listening to the professor just read to us from the textbook everyday wasn't really what I had in mind. Not surprisingly though, the Death Penalty in International Law, taught by this guy, rocked my world. All this to say, I didn't exactly make the program's honor roll, but I had a helluva time.

T-Bone and I had been dating for about six months, and although there had already been talk of gettin' hitched, we knew (as did everyone else in the free world) that the Trip of a Lifetime would also be the True Test of the Relationship. I'm happy to report that not only did we make it through, but The Trip solidified our plans for the future and gave us a host of great memories well worth the extra loan we each had to take out to pay for it - a paltry sum really, but one that my in-laws feel compelled to remind us of ALL the time. But that's a-whole-nother story ...

SOOO - Here we are a decade later, and I have a new scanner and an insane case of the Travelin' Jones. I am also way jealous of Ms. Karla and all of her awesome travel stories, so I will now bore you for a few posts with some of my favorite pictures from The Trip. Warning: If you don't give a shit about architecture, religious iconography, and random shots in general, you will hate these pictures. But, it's my blog, so screw you. Check back in about a week. Or don't. I'll be here.

First up: Austria. We were based in Innsbruck (which we came to adore) and took three- and four-day trips on the weekends while the program was in session. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Vienna, and "The Sound of Music" Tour we took in Salzburg on my birthday totally kicked ass. Shut up.

This is one of the main squares in "Downtown" Innsbruck. I took SO many pictures of statuary and religious icons, it's ridiculous. Everywhere we went, I got shots of the retablos and frescos people had above their doors. Loved it. Case in point:

I call this "Mosaic with Feet." It's hard to tell here, but the mosaic had lots of shiny gold pieces, and the dude in the window thought it was a nice day to air his feet. They are crossed and resting gingerly on the window sill.

This is the Innsbruck train station, and if you look closely, you can see the Olympic ski jump in the background. Innsbruck hosted the Games twice, and if you are so inclined, you can take a bobsled ride down the actual track used for the Olympics. I, however, was not so inclined, as I happen to like my teeth right where they are, safely rotting away in my own mouth.

Tune in next time for more of Austria and Switzerland. Or not.

July 4, 2006