December 28, 2009

Luck o’ The Irish

T-Bone is one lucky, lucky so-and-so. Really, he is. And I don’t mean just because he got me for his bride. HA. I mean he is lucky in contests, sweepstakes, and all-around games of chance. Basically, he wins shit all the time. And as his aforementioned bride, I often reap the benefits of his aforementioned luck.

His latest Major Award? A week for two in Steamboat Springs for the Music Fest! He entered ONE time on the Shiner website, and he won the whole damn shootin’ match. They pay for airfare (which includes First Class on the way back! How obnoxious is that?!) and the hotel (which is right in the thick of the Fest), plus ski rental, lift tickets, and Fest tickets. We just have to pay for grub and extras, but since the only “extra” I’m really interested in is SLEEP, guess who’s coming out ahead on that deal?

Now, I will have to buy some stuff to protect my delicate constitution from the Arctic Elements, but judging by the weather we’ve had lately, I may actually get some use out of it around here, too. I’ve got to wrap up a couple of things at The Job, but Peach and Olive are set for great adventures with Mama Turista for the week. So, other than an appropriate anniversary gift for T-Bone (it’s lottery tickets for Year 12, right?), I think I’m ready to go. In one week!

December 25, 2009

An Oldie But A Goodie

What a wonderful day we had over here. I hope you and yours are as fat and happy as we are.

I love Christmas carols, and while I'm pretty familiar with most of them, I've never read the full lyrics to this one, nor did I know it was based on a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Thanks, Public Education. Anyway, it really spoke to me the other day, so I wanted to share. Peace, y'all.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

December 21, 2009

High Gear

So I just survived hosting three very festive parties in seven days. And I've got the random leftovers to prove it. As well as the "sour stomach," as Abuelita Turista says. I just can't resist ANY of it.

Tomorrow afternoon, I'm off to Mama Turista's to fetch Peach and Olive, who have been encamped there since Thursday. Before we hit the road for the ATX however, we're surprising them with tickets to The Lion King! Peach has seen it, but Olive hasn't, and I know she's going to love it. Who doesn't, really?

When we get home Christmas Eve, all the presents will have magically appeared under the tree since they've been gone, and the enchiladas and tamales will be ready and waiting for dinner. And the Traditional Christmas Lasagna will be on deck in the icebox for Friday.

Basically, I think we're all set, save for the Annual Christmas Light Pilgrimage around the neighborhood, wherein we drive around in our pajamas and look at lights. Not sure how that started, but it's always a big hit.

So if I don't talk to you before then, have a Merry Merry Happy Happy! And please pass the Tums.

December 14, 2009

Making a List

The tree is done. The other decorations are done. The outside lights are ... well, if I have the energy to tackle the one tree that refuses to work (which is currently residing in the garage), then they're done, too. And the shopping is thisclose to being done, I think, as Peach and Olive have finalized their respective lists.

Olive is sticking with the old standby (horse/unicorn stuff), as well as a set of break-your-own geodes and a play rabbit hutch for the farm. But you know what her Number One Item is? With a bullet? That barely-functioning Snoopy Snow Cone Machine we all had for about two weeks until it split in half whilst trying to "crush" ice cubes or got overrun with ants when we failed to get all the Blue Dye #666 flavoring off of it before leaving it outside for three days. Yes, they still make those, and yes, we are soon to be the proud owners of one. And yes, it's going to fall apart.

This year, I'm pretty sure Peach is just playing along with The Santa Thing for Olive's (and my) sake. Thankfully, she's still wanting actual "toys," not just clothes, or, for heaven's sake, MONEY. In a nutshell, she's after various medical-, detective-, and fashion design-type items, plus two very elusive Barbies. There's always something, right?

I'm trying to remember what I wanted at Peach's age (almost 10), and I'm pretty sure my list started and ended with "Rabbit Fur Coat." Oy. Papa Turista picked it out himself, and he was so excited when I opened it. It was soft and quite warm - and totally scared the shit out of me. While it seemed like such a wonderful thing in theory, the reality of having Peter Cottontail's little pelt on my back was very disturbing, and that's when I decided that maybe the Cool Girls at school weren't so cool after all. That is, until 7th grade, when I just HAD to have that Space Bag purse. So The Coat didn't get worn a whole lot and eventually went the way of our neighbor's tiny maid, Manuela. And ya know what? I think we all learned a little something that Christmas. Indeed.

Lo siento, Pedro. Lo siento.

December 7, 2009

Ho Ho Huh?

Pretty short on time, but I had to share this with you, my loyal reader(s?). So in the spirit of giving, and to further illustrate my completely justified fear of people in red noses, stop by here.

December 1, 2009

Anticipation

Well, Happy Advent to you! I love this time of year because Peach and Olive jump, nay LEAP, out of bed every morning to open their Advent calendars, without any objection whatsoever. And these are the same Advent calendars we use every year (from Playmobil), so it’s not like there’s candy or any actual “surprise” involved. I will not question the logic, however, and will just enjoy the next 24 stress-free mornings. Which is okay by me, because the rest of the days and nights are gonna be BEARS, y’all.

I have so much to do this month, it is Certifiably Insane. This week, I have but a few moments of peace (including a haircut/color, Peach’s first guitar recital, and Olive’s teacher conference), because starting this Saturday, it’s all Nutcracker, all the time, for the next week, including FOUR performances, all of which I’m going to. If I make it through that week, I’ve got my annual ornament exchange that Sunday, then two parties at The Job and two school assemblies the next week. That weekend, we’re hosting T-Bone’s work party on Saturday and a neighborhood party on Sunday, then I’m surprising Peach and Olive with tickets to The Lion King on the 23rd. And then it’s all downhill from Christmas Eve, straight through to Peach’s 10th birthday on the 30th, and our anniversary on the 31st. Dang!

In the meantime, I have: to finish decorating (entering hour 15 on The Tree. Yes, just the TREE. It’s the illness, y’all.); shoot off some Christmas cards; schedule the handyman, piano movers, and the carpet people; clean up after said people; clean up after my OWN people; buy everything for Christmas; and, oh yeah, WORK. So, tis the season, and all that jazz.

P.S. Overheard from the back seat this morning:

Olive: Mommy, there’s someone at school who says that Santa Claus isn’t real.

(Peach: Silence, with a look of panic. See here.)

LT: Who said that?

Olive: Well, someone asked me if I thought Santa was real, and I said, of course, he’s real, how else could you ever get the first thing on your Christmas list? And then he said that someone else said that Santa wasn’t real.

LT: Well, I think that’s sad because that person is going to get coal in his stocking, and how fun is that?

Olive: (pause) But wait – coal is a rock, right?

Me and big mouth, forgetting I have a stone-cold rockhound sitting behind me.

November 25, 2009

Muchas Gracias

So we're off to the in-laws for Thanksgiving. They're actually moving here in two weeks, so this is the Last Hurrah in the old house. They've been talking about moving since I was pregnant with Peach, so yeah. It's time.

Also, we've got this going on:

Fort with Cat and Books


Somewhere, I'm sure the Pilgrims are smiling. And probably coughing, because that first Thanksgiving? It was wicked cold.

Happy Happy to you and yours!

November 19, 2009

Clean Sweep

Why oh why do I always choose the holidays to reorganize the house? Right in the middle of decorating? Yes, I started last weekend. Shut it.

Actually, it’s the perfect time to tear the house apart because I’m already dragging everything out of the closets to get to the decorations anyway. AND what better time to go through the toys then right before we’re about to add some new ones? So really, it makes a lot of sense, no?

Peach and Olive are pros at the Keep/Pass game – we play it so often around here. Certain things I’ll keep forever no matter what, but, por ejemplo, they decided they were ready to let go of Strawberry Shortcake and her posse of fruit-flavored friends. Also, about seven blond Barbies are hitting the road – including the three that “talk,” praise Jeebus – them and the Volvo station wagon they rode in on. We’re left with Cinderella and Tinkerbell plus a multi-cultural rainbow of gals and, of course, the fabulous Ken. Peach is really my Barbie girl – Olive has this thing about doll hair, specifically blond, in that she says “it stinks” and it totally makes her gag. It’s the weirdest thing. She really cannot be around that “stinky hair” or she gags to the point of almost puking. Sweet Peach always warns her if a blond is coming out of the box, so she can busy herself elsewhere, but if it were me and my brother, back in the day? I would SO be using that to my advantage. He HATED Barbies, any Barbies, so evil little La Turista would chase the child down with them, line the doorway to my room with them, and once, even put some in his bed for a joke. I seem to recall Mama Turista not thinking it was so funny.

Anyway, we’ve got seven bags of stuff for the women and children’s shelter, two bags of stuff for the kids’ resale place, and a couple of bags for the book resale place. AND we may have a buyer for the piano. Long story. But now where in the hell are all my Santa lights going to go, hmmm?

November 5, 2009

Where’s Waldo

In this Age of The Internet, and especially the social networking explosion, I find myself wondering how it is that some people can still remain completely hidden from view. And I mean people who would seem to have some access to a computer or, at least, other human beings. I’m thinking specifically of people who were once part of my life and now I have absolutely no idea, not even a general sense, of how or where they are.

Obviously, as we go through life, our inner circles bend and even break over time. People move on, move away – but it would seem that that “thing” that brought us together in the first place still remains. Somewhere. Right? And it would seem that through common friends, places, or interests that we would have to cross paths at some point, virtually or otherwise. Right? It’s a small world after all.

I realize losing contact with people is a fact of life, but when I can find out in an instant what my second grade teacher ate for breakfast this morning, I would think I could find that girl I took ballet with for eight years who was destined for New York and The Great White Way. I mean, did she make it? And what about that guy I went to school with who said, every day, K-12, that he wanted to be President of the United States? Does he still say that? Because that’s the kind of guy that actually does it.

So random, I know. But T-Bone and I discussed this over beers at The Highball the other night, and I’m still trying to sort it all out. He, BTW, is on Facespace but is perfectly content to never update his status or request friends or do anything other than share music with his regular cronies. And even though I’m not on Facespace myself, I’m in regular contact with plenty of people who are, as well as many other living, breathing human beings, so if any of The Missing I’m thinking of really wanted to find me, they totally could.

November 2, 2009

Blur

Friday, I awoke with what I thought was more of The Strep Throat, but it just turned out to be The Sore Throat with the Hacking Cough. Which the crisp night air at our block party did wonders for - by 10 pm, I was voiceless. But we met some cool new neighbors, and I was able, through sign language, to say how much we enjoyed having them all over.

Saturday, I took Peach to Nutcracker rehearsal and tied up some loose ends in preparation for Halloween and T-Bone’s birthday. After Mama Turista’s homemade cheese ravioli dinner, costumes were donned, and battle stations were manned. Peach was dressed as an obstetrician, with regulation scrubs, cap, stethoscope, and a newborn baby doll with the standard-issue hospital knit cap. Olive was a bumblebee, although she was very tempted to wear her pony costume from last year – apparently once a week, every week, is not quite enough.

We usually have quite a few trick-or-treaters, including some truckloads from points beyond the neighborhood, and this year was no exception. We ran out of candy around 8:30, but that didn’t stop the boldest of the bold from ringing and knocking until 10 pm. BTW, isn’t the International Sign for “No More Candy” a pitch-black porch? Thought so. And when did the ringing of the doorbell become accompanied by the immediate beating down of the door? Back in the day, we NEVER went to houses without porch lights on and we rang the doorbell ONCE, NEVER knocked on top of that, and LEFT after patiently waiting about 30 seconds. So what’s with all the urgency? Also, to those of you parents who insist on dressing up your babes in arms (fine) and strolling them around to “trick or treat” (please), I just have to say – really? We’re not giving out stacks of money here, y’all, it’s effing CANDY. Which, from the looks of things, many of you have a year-round relationship with anyway, so quit using your baby to extort Smarties from me and just calm the hell down. P.S. I love Halloween.

Sunday was T-Bone’s birthday – the Big One – and Peach and Olive made him breakfast in bed (cinnamon toast). I gave him a certificate for a Level Nine tour at Space Center Houston this spring. Fingers crossed, we’ll break bread with some real astronauts, for whom I’m sure he’ll have muchas preguntas. After that, Mama Turista and I ran some errands and went to see “This Is It” – which I LOVED. I wore one of my MJ pins even. Later, T-Bone and I met the Televisions for a joint birthday dinner at Lambert’s (meh), and stopped by The Highball* for drinks afterward (hoppin’ for a school night). The Boyz have big plans for Friday night (it’s Mr. Television’s birthday, too), after which I’m sure they’ll feel officially “in their 40s.” Lord knows I do, after this weekend.

* Note to Temperance Society girls – the fries and rings are now “reduced” to 7.50 a bowl. Think of the savings! And we saw Karrie having drinks with the chef and presumably discussing the difference between chicken and dumplings and matzo ball soup. Ahem.

October 29, 2009

I See Dead People

Y’all, is Kelly Rippa okay? Because I had the most realistic dream last night that she took a flying cell phone to the noggin and bought the farm right there. Regis was taking it really hard at the press conference. So sad. I could swear it was true, but the night before last, I had a dream in which three different mermaids (three!) told me I was pregnant, so, grain of salt and all that.

Anywho. Los muertos. Today was the annual Ghosts of the Past assembly at GGMS, and you had your usual suspects: Einstein, Galileo, Lewis and Clark AND Sacagawea, and, of course, Maria Montessori. Then there are always a few wild cards – sports figures I’m not familiar with, random inventors, and the odd musician (this year, we had Elvis, Johnny Cash, and a very nervous Michael Jackson. Sweet angel.). It’s quite a thing to see, I have to say.

After previously reincarnating my great aunt Ruthie, Rosie the Riveter, and Lady Bird Johnson, Peach made the next most logical choice for this year – John Muir. Of course. Not that she was the only transgender ghost, but she was certainly the only one with a giant Billy Gibbons beard. She handled it well, and I’m just sure everyone in that muggy auditorium was inspired, educated, and entertained by her portrayal.

What else? Well, in the next three days I have to prepare for, endure, and clean up after a neighborhood potluck I had the big idea of throwing at our house on Friday, the Great Halloween Extravaganza of 2009 on Saturday, and T-Bone’s Big 4-0 on Sunday, which mostly just involves dinner that night because he’s got Big Plans with The Boyz for the next weekend, which include AC/DC and Mojo Nixon and not ME. Which is good because I think I feel something coming on (NOT FLOOO! NOT FLOOO!).

October 27, 2009

No Mas

Ten words or phrases I could go the rest of my life without ever hearing again:

1. hoax
2. swine
3. vampire
4. ear bud
5. fist bump
6. fauxhawk
7. 80s-inspired
8. statement game/style points
9. suck, sucks, sucked
10. Kardashian

October 25, 2009

Hurts. To. Type.

Y'all. I can barely lift my arms, I'm so sore. I spent the better part of the past two days trimming the bushes, and I think I might croak. Never one to boast about any amount of upper body strength - like ZERO upper body strength - my shortcomings were only too apparent as I grunted and groaned my way through 10 bushes, some of which had grown to be taller than me. I know. I let it go too long. But it was HOT this summer, y'all. And we've only recently had rain, so the bushes had massive growth spurts in the last few weeks. At any rate, this plus four lawn bags is only a fraction of what me and my flabby guns took down:


Those ain't twigs either. Big-a-round as your thumb.

Lucky me, though. The neighbor urchin across the street entertained me for several hours with a recorder "concert" while she jumped on her trampoline, her little Bad Seed head bobbing up and down behind the fence as she screeched. Lovely.

October 21, 2009

All In The Family

We were given the first Harry Potter book when Peach was about 2. Seeing as I could barely stay awake for three pages of People magazine, I put it away, intending to read it with her when she was older. As the subsequent books came out, I was either knee-deep in reading 24/7 for LawNerds or dozing off after Olive’s umpteenth request for Goodnight Moon, so we never bought any more of the books or saw any of the movies.

Then, when Peach was in her first year at GGMS, she found the first book in the school library and recognized it as “that book that Mommy always says we’re going to read together,” so she scooped it up and finished it in two days. Without me. After that, it was game on, and she blew through the rest of them in a matter of weeks. Without me.

The good thing about waiting as long as we did to even start the series was we never had to endure the agonizing wait between books – Peach just went one to the next, right through to The End. However, she read them SO fast that I, her weary mother, am still on Book 5, and she so wants me to finish that she can barely contain herself and keep from spoiling anything. Still, I’m lucky that I have such a wise and enthusiastic guide because that’s a fat lot of characters to keep up with. I’ve been reading the series aloud since Book 2, usually during bath time, so both Peach and Olive have been tutoring me in all things Hogwarts and just think it’s hysterical that I can’t get it all straight in my feeble Muggle mind. And as for the movies, once we determined that they weren’t tooooo scary (because, let’s face it, they kinda are), we’ve screened them all at home, with the exception of the latest release, which we ventured out to see on my birthday.

All this to say, I love these books* and these characters so much, I wish they could continue on forever. And live next door to me. And while I bit the bullet and saw the Book 6 movie before reading the book, I was still surprised by The Big Event therein because while I already knew it was coming (thanks to some a-hole DJ who blurted it out as I was flipping by his station one day), I assumed it was coming in Book 7. So I cried anyway and was in no way disappointed in the semi-lack of surprise – other than that The Big Event had to happen at all. Sniff.

And so it was that this morning, Mama Turista, the most ferocious of all readers, called me in tears on her way to jury duty. She just finished Book 6 in the wee hours last night, and I had to put Peach on the phone to talk her down.

* OK, J.K., I just have one criticism. Sometimes, your wonderfully imaginative descriptions tend to run on and on and on – all in one sentence. Which is difficult to follow if a: you’re dumb, like me, and can’t keep it all straight; and/or b: you’re trying to read aloud and not pass out in the middle of a most-critical Quidditch play or self-aggrandizing monologue by You-Know-Who. Just sayin’.

October 7, 2009

Of Antiquities and Infectious Disease

I spent Friday and Saturday debit card-deep in field after barn after circus tent of antiques and crapola. Love! My taste level is always much bigger than my wallet, but I seem to be able to find some small bits of affordable grandeur – all about the illusion, doncha know. Like, I found this so-called “Bejewelled House” that has no idea the amount of embellishing I have in store for it:


Sweet, right? But it needs some attention, mainly of the German glass glitter variety. Big plans.

And I have lusted after this woman’s jewelry for several shows, and I finally found The Piece that spoke to me the loudest:


It’s called “Upward - the best place to look for guidance.” She displays everything on old photographs and then puts the name and what items she used on the back. Mine includes a crucifix from a Victorian rosary, for which I bent my no-rosaries-as-jewelry edict because it was just the cross after all. I wish she had a website to share, but I did find this. I predict more purchases in my future.

I also bought Peach a long-desired GIANT electric red petticoat, which I would photograph for you if she weren’t twirling around in it (again) as we speak. The search continues for a smaller one for Olive – all they had was pink, and I’m pretty sure we’ve got that covered.

So there I was, having a very successful solo outing Saturday morning, as the rest of my crew (wisely) hit the road before the impending deluge we all knew was coming. I was armed with my umbrella and mucky shoes, ready for the rain. And I made it through eight or so tents, no worse for wear, in about two hours. I’m fast like that. It was all going swimmingly, until … until. I got back to the car and couldn’t, for the life of me, find the GD key.

When I tell you I am anal retentive about losing, well, ANYthing, I’m talking Outer-Limits Loca, y’all. I’m still lamenting a baby sock of Peach’s that T-Bone lost at the laundromat almost 10 years ago. (It’s yellow, if you see it). So to say that I have ever, EVER, lost my keys, in 25 years of driving? Never even “misplaced” those sumbitches.

After frantically searching my bag (which only had four things in it to start with – sunglasses, wallet, lip balm, and car ke… shit), my pockets, and the surrounding area, it hit me. In my uber-preparedness, that of donning my mucky shoes as I sat in the back cargo area, I must have locked the car, set the key down to change, and left it there when I shut the hatch. I think. Right?

Fortunately, I was parked in the front row, right across from a gaggle of local gents who collect the parking/ticket fees. Included in the group was a local sheriff’s deputy, who I approached about a “tool for unlocking cars,” thinking it wise not to ask for a “Slim Jim,” lest I sound too “street.” Seriously. That’s the kind of shit I think about. Fast forward 90 minutes, during which time I’ve called T-Bone 17 times and become close personal friends with every member of The Gaggle (“I sure wish I could help you, darlin’. If your husband gives you any trouble about this, lemme talk to him.” As if.), and two more deputies show up – on horseback, of course - with “the unlock tools.” After a few kisses for the Appaloosa I was holding on to, they got it open, and all three of them converged on the car, looking for that GD key. Which, by this point, I had decided was in fact NOT in the car, but lost somewhere amongst the rows and rows of pretties I had spent two hours wandering through. And indeed, I was right. No GD key in the car.

They suggested I try the Lost and Found in the show office, but really, what was the point? That key was literally like a needle in the haystack because guess what they put all over the ground in the tents? And add more of when the first layer gets muddy because of all the rain? Yup. NOT needles.

But because I had about two hours to kill before T-Bone and las ninas could get there, and because it was across from the cafĂ© tent where I intended to drown my sorrows in a basket of fried potato, I stopped by the show office. And as I was going in, an official-looking woman with a walkie-talkie was coming out, and she asked if I needed help. I said, “Well, I’ve lost my car key, and did any…” And she said, “Was it for a Kia?” And had it IN HER HAND. I almost started crying.

It’s all a blur now, but I just keep saying thank you and she kept saying it was her pleasure and something about she had just gotten it or something, meaning, even if I had gone straight there two hours earlier, the GD key wouldn’t have even been there yet. I think I hugged her, too. Not sure. Anyway, I galloped off, and when I got back to the top of the stairs leading down to the parking lot, I just stopped and held up the key. And The Gaggle erupted in cheers. Thanks and hugs all around, and I got the hell outta there.

And after all that excitement, imagine my delight when I woke up Sunday morning only to discover that I have The Strep Throat. Actually, I didn’t know it was The Strep Throat at first because I’ve never had it before, and I thought I was probably reacting to the flu shot I got on Friday. But by Monday, when my main symptom was that it felt like someone was shoving their fist down my throat every time I tried to swallow, and their fist was on fire and shooting needles into my neck, I decided to call in the professionals. The rapid test said “way positive,” so I’ve been on antibiotics ever since. No longer contagious, but you may want to wash your hands after reading this. And maybe I should have told you that to begin with.

October 1, 2009

Miss October

Okay – ready? Riiight NOW. 12:11 pm (as I write this). Six years ago, at this moment, Olive came bounding into the world, and she’s been trailing our hearts behind her ever since. What a funny, precious, funny, smart, and funny girl she is. And “big,” too, as of today. She told me herself this morning.

As per usual, we started the day with a tiny heart-shaped chocolate cake in bed, then moved to birthday cards and a boot-shaped gift bag I threw in while ordering party favors for next weekend’s Cowgirl Extravaganza 2009. The bag came pre-packed with a few treasures, and I added some extra horses and cupcake lip gloss to the mix. I’m sure you’ll agree with Olive, as I did, when she pronounced this particular item “so creepy:”


We hauled Birthday Circle Treats to school and will have a celebratory dinner of veggie corndogs later. We’ll follow that with another cake, presents, and the Annual Treasure Hunt, at the end of which will be Olive’s own personal music player, loaded with the same 60s Dance Party tunes and Christmas carols as Peach’s. I mean, how cute is this thing?


So overall, a pretty awesome day, one that I know Olive will really enjoy. Thank Jeebus. After refusing to turn five last year, until I tempted her with riding lessons that you have to be six to take, she has talked of nothing else these past 12 months – so now I have to “pony up” (whaa, whaa) on my promise. We’re starting with four lessons, and we’ll see where it goes from there. Me and my big ideas.

Happy Happy Birthday My Love!

September 28, 2009

Yawn

That’s me. Right now. Exhausted, y’all. It was all I could do to get out of bed this morning. I’m just beat.

Mostly because I got exactly 26 minutes of sleep Saturday night, out at the ol’ GGMS campsite. Barely. Controlled. Chaos. Start to finish. We’ve been before, and we’ve had fun before. But I think we’re done with the camping portion of the weekend. From here on out, we're going for the potluck and the sing-along and then we're gettin' the hell outta there.

First of all, there are a ton of kids. TON. And lots of space for them to run. And rocks to fall over and fireant beds to step in and puke-inducing berries to eat. All of which I’ve seen happen at least once in our past adventures. Plus there’s water, out of sight and way down a rocky hill, so the potential for danger is pretty good, in my estimation. And before you say it, I’m a sport, I really am. I love to go camping, and I don’t expect Peach and Olive to be tethered to my body at every moment when we’re in the Great Outdoors. It’s just that there’s a lot going on at every moment, and it’s hard to keep track of everybody amongst the throngs.

And for a community so focused on respect, it’s amazing to me how many parents let their kids run buckWILD all day, and leave it up to the rest of us to tell their mouthy urchins that 12:30 is a bit late to be screeching at each other around the campfire, especially since the great majority of the rest of us (including, conveniently, their parents) turned in around 9. Honestly.

So between the screeching urchins, the shushing parents, the overnight lows in the 50s, and the giant GD rock in my back that followed me wherever I rolled, I didn’t exactly wake up reborn. That said, I'm hitting the biscuit early. 'Night, y'all.

September 25, 2009

Mother’s Little Helper

Seventeen times a day, I hear Olive say, “Can I help you in any way?” Really. She LOVES to help. She always has. In the kitchen. With the laundry. Scooping the cat poop. The list goes on.

I always have a little shadow following me around the house, dusting and straightening right along with me – even RE-dusting and RE-straightening things I just did! I am so ill with the OCD, this we know, but I think I may have met (birthed) my match.

The child’s feet have barely touched the floor in the morning before the bedsheets are pulled up, the quilt straightened, and the menagerie placed. Nearly every day, she painstakingly arranges her various treasure boxes and can recall in an instant where every rock, shell, and coin can be found. And the folding. My God, the folding. When I ask her to pick up her clothes or invite her to help with the laundry, it’s like observing an origami master class. And the other day, she sighed after spotting the stack of cloth napkins in the pantry because “somebody didn’t face them all the same way.” This after she proclaimed that “Daddy needs a lesson on how to load the dishwasher – this is a mess.” Okay, so maybe she overheard and just repeated that last one. Maybe.

And I know she’s the same way at school. This year especially, she’s been pouring on the assistance, helping with everything from extra gardening duties to Official Condolence Card-making for a series of pet losses the school staff has endured. She’s even taken to reading to “the little kids” before their departure, while the other “big kids” prepare for lunch. Her teachers have both pulled me aside to say what a huge help she is – always volunteering, always happily.

So this weekend is the GGMS campout, and knowing Olive, she’ll have the tent pitched, the fire built, and the marshmallows roasted before we can say “Kumbaya.”

September 21, 2009

Last Week in Random Pictures


Ta-dah! I wanted “the one that flushes a bucket of golfballs,” and by God, we got it. And for a particularly disturbing video demo of its capabilities, go here.

Peach and Olive have magnetic notepads on the icebox for any lists or musings they need to record. For whatever reason (and who needs one, really?), this is currently on Peach’s:


This box used to contain four delicious cupcakes from Sugar Mama’s, which we devoured last week in celebration(?) of my One-Year Anniversary at The Job. The box now houses Olive’s paper airplane collection – that’s “Cherry Bomb” there on top.



Yeah, I decorated this weekend. Six weeks early. Shut it.

And finally, for Bookhart:


Two months later, and still flying high. I’m terrified it’s going to pop and deafen us all.

September 14, 2009

Growing Pains

Right before school started, we did a routine closet overhaul and discovered that none of Peach’s tennis shoes fit. In fact, unless she could wear flip-flops or cowgirl boots to school, she would have to go barefoot. Like I did. In the snow. Uphill. Both ways. You, too?

So we set out to shoe this child and ended up with three pairs of Converse – two pairs of One-Stars (one brown, one black glitter - thanks, Target for the BOGO deal) and one pair of Chucks. She really wanted brown Chucks, but they didn’t have her size, which is 7.5(!), so I came up with the brilliant idea of getting white ones and letting her – as a one-time deal – draw all over them with fabric markers. She was sold, and we now have a darling pair of Special Edition Peach Chucks, which she ties up with a pair of my old rainbow shoelaces from junior high. Because I was cool like that. And they matched my Mork suspenders. You, too?

I see this rapidly growing flower of mine, and while she may look like she’s 12, she’s every bit of almost-10. When she isn’t buried in a book, she still plays – really plays – with Olive. They create the most awesome games and stories, and you can’t believe the outfits that go along with them. She plays with her dolls and other toys, none of which ever have to be plugged in. She’s not parked in front of a computer or asking for a phone or otherwise behaving any differently than I did at that age, despite our current culture’s best effort to turn her into a mini-adult.* She is just a joy to watch. And watch her we do, all the time, giving her the time and space to be a kid who is genuinely excited by the simplest things – like getting to draw on her tennis shoes.

* BTW, Big Media, I will fight you. I will fight you to the death if you keep this up.

September 11, 2009

Stinks Like Team Spirit

Look, I love the Longhorns as much, if not more, than the next gal. I bleed burnt orange, and I truly revel in the knowledge that the Eyes of Texas are forever upon me. Really, I do. HOWEVER, I refuse to sell out my beloved alma mater (or my soul) every Friday during football season for “Jeans and Jersey Day” at The Job. Yeah. And are we going to have a GD pep rally in the quad, too?

First of all, somehow I think the team would be less-than-inspired by the sight of you in your burnt orange tanktop with the Longhorn head Bedazzled across your sagging, 60-year-old boobs, even if you pair it with your burnt orange spray tan and jaunty, bootleg baseball cap. Yes, a CAP. With a TANKTOP. At an allegedly professional place of BUSINESS. That TAXPAYERS are paying for.

Second, I realize that the thoughtful creators of Jeans and Jersey Day took great care to not limit the acceptable attire to just Longhorn gear, which allows my thriftier, fiercely independent co-workers to snatch up whatever NFL knock-offs happen to be on sale at Walmart that week. BUT wearing your torn-up “I’m a Buckin’ Broncos Mom” or “My Kid plays for the Screamin' Meamies Tetherball Team” t-shirt is really pushing it. Especially when your “kid” is now old enough to be serving in the military.

Finally, and probably – no, definitely – the most important point, how exactly is Jeans and Jersey Day different than any other GD day for you people? The only distinction I can see is that you actually dress UP for Jeans and Jersey Day, as a welcome break from those constricting sweat pants and glorified yard clothes you wear every other GD day.

Hear me now – I am no fashionista. I could give a flying fig, to a point, about other people’s fashion choices. I think Casual Fridays are a great idea, and I’m thrilled beyond measure that I can have a job in The Law and not have to wear pantyhose everyday. But the range of what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable work attire is far and wide over at The Job, and I’m telling y’all, having to witness the constant parade of “Business Slothful” roaming the halls, as a matter of daily course, just may be the end of me.

Hook ‘em, indeed.

September 3, 2009

Back To The Future

One, ONE, good thing about The Job is that when I leave for the day or the week or for lunch even, I can turn “it” off and not think about “it” again until I return. Sometimes until well after I return. This makes for a clear mind while I’m away and makes it feel like I’ve been gone much longer than I actually have.

Por ejemplo, I checked out on Thursday, August 20th and checked in on Tuesday, September 1st, and I could swear I was gone a month. I was met with about 47 emails, most of which fell into the Someone Died, Someone Retired, Someone Was Promoted, Cake Party, Cake Party, Potluck, Cake Party categories. The one voicemail I had was counteracted by the one substantive email I had telling me to disregard the voicemail because it was misdirected to me. Of course it was. So other than the fact that one person was transferred to another department and a couple of new temps showed up, it seems to be business as usual at The Job.

At La Casa, however, we are in full-swing Back-to-GGMS mode. Peach and Olive started on Monday, and Peach’s review of the first day in her new classroom was, “It was so fun sometimes, it was like a dream. It’s going to be a great year – I’m going to have so much fun with math.” With MATH, people. And she likes Barbies, too, so there. Olive jumped head-first into her leader role and has decided to make it her personal mission to ensure that “the little kids” understand “the lunch protocol.” That girl.

During our little staycation (aren’t I trendy?), we had a jam-packed week of swimming, shopping, crafting, and lounging. We (re-)organized closets, filled our recycling cart with old school work (what little I could bear to part with, that is), and planned lunch menus from here until Christmas. We got the front door refinished (Praise Jeebus), bought a new toilet (glamorous!), and shopped for a new couch (maybe leathah?). And after all of our hard work and general busy-ness, we were rewarded on Friday with the arrival of our new sista-cuzzin, Baby E (named after my grandmother, Sweet E). We’re going to meet her this weekend and gift her and Opie with the tie-dye t-shirts T-Bone and Co. made for them. I mean really, is there anything better than New Baby Smell?

All in all, I had a wonderful time, reminiscent of the Good Ol’ Days – which are now almost a year ago! At this time last year, I was recovering from the Near-Deadly Seashell Incident and just generally kvetching about starting The Job and this new chapter in The Book of Turista. It’s turned out much better than I could have imagined, all things considered, but when I see folks around The Job getting their 20-year plaques and Cake Parties, all I can think is, “God help me. Don’t let that be me.” Stay tuned.

August 19, 2009

Peach and Olive’s Big Adventure

Our First Summer Without Mommy At Home has almost come to a close, and I must say, it was a huge success. And nearly-pain-free, to boot (Emotional pain, I mean. Mine, to be exact.).

To recap: Peach and Olive first enjoyed a couple of weeks of dance camp and one week of Information Bible School. They kicked ass in their first horse show. They spent lots of quality time with both sets of grandparents and both great-grandmothers – the latter of which included assisting Mama Turista in the complete dismantling, painting, and reassembling of Abuelita Turista’s kitchen and living room (No small feat, that.). They traveled by car, boat, train, and Mule. And finally, they swam and swam and swam some more in the ocean, several rivers, and the nearby pool we joined for the summer.

They were on the go quite a bit, to the point that Peach told me she felt like “such a mommy” this summer, happily “taking care” of Olive when they were away. But thanks in large part to Mama Turista and my MIL, I was able to work 3- and 4-day weeks most of the time, without using vacation time, which means I’ll able to take off the WHOLE week next week to prepare for the Great Back-to-School Calf Scramble of 2009.

Peach is beyond excited about moving up to the Upper Elementary class (4th grade) this year, and Olive is more than ready to embrace her role as a Third-Year Leader (Kindergarten) in her Primary class. When I think we could potentially be darkening the doors of GGMS for six more years after this one (if Olive went all the way through Upper El), I am so thankful. Because beyond the loving arms of that place, I have no idea where we’ll end up, and I am, as they say, scared shite-less about it. I’ve got one year of peace, and then the work begins for finding the next perfect place for my precious little hearts and minds, and I pray (quite literally) that there is such a place. Even still, I’m mentally girding my loins as we speak.

For now, however, I’m just going to grab my girls and enjoy these last few lazy, hazy, crazy days. Stay cool, y’all.

August 17, 2009

You And Me Both, Sister

As Peach and Olive and I squeezed onto The Tiny Couch upstairs (as opposed to The Window Couch in the kitchen or Mommy's Big Nice Couch in the living room) for a viewing of last night's Design Star, Olive plopped her little tootsies in my lap and said,

"Mommy, will you massage my feet? (pause) I need proper care."

KinderSpa, anyone? I'm looking for investors.

August 3, 2009

I Heart Big Government

Thanks to President Rock Star, my Dogs in the Lege, and my 12-year old, 16-MPG-gettin’ Jeep Cherokee, T-Bone is the proud owner of a new coche.

We had to go to Big D to do the deal, but it was worth the headache and the AC-free drive up there to save a bunch of dough. See, The Bandit had been suffering from some age-related and cosmetic maladies for a while now (aren’t we all?), but when the AC went kaplooey, to the tune of several hundred dollars more than she was actually worth, we had to face facts. And then, Jeebus heard our prayers and created the CARS program (T-Bone gets mighty offended by the earlier “Cash For Clunkers” nomenclature), instantly raising The Bandit’s value to $4500. So how could we refuse?

Even still, I have a lot of sentimental value attached to that car – shocking, I know. I bought her right before we got married, and we traveled a lot of literal and figurative miles in her. We moved to our first three homes in her, and we brought Peach home from the hospital in her. In fact, The Bandit was our go-to car until Olive was born, and Papa Turista gifted us with The Beast, his behemoth Ford Expedition, which I love so much, I will drive until the wheels fall off – 14 MPG, be damned. Since then, The Bandit has served mostly as a commuter vehicle for T-Bone, just another in a long line of hand-me-downs he has happily driven over the years. He has never EVER had a brand new car of his very own – when I met him, the doll baby was driving his grandmother’s giant 1976 Buick, with a bumper sticker that said, “I’m an Aggie’s Grandma.” Instant love, I tell you. And that was only the FIRST grandma car he had, because later, he drove his other grandmother’s car for a while, which was in between driving my dad’s old company car and … The Bandit.

So we’ve all come a long way to get to this moment, and I was reliving a lot of it on the long, sweltering ride up to Dallas. I felt much like you do when you have to take a beloved pet to the vet for, you know, and they have no idea what’s about to happen, but you know it’s the best thing for them, and while you’re totally torn up about it, you feel a tiny bit of relief, too. Well, imagine that your pet has no AC, two jacked-up front windows that don’t roll down anymore, and a hatch door with blown-out hydraulics that keep it from staying open so that it literally tries to eat you every time you go to put something back there. Time to go that great Jeep Jamboree in the sky? I think so.

So, RIP dear Bandit.


And welcome to the family Soul Train.


P.S. Having just been through this experience, guess who's looking SO forward to seeing The Goods? Now, Used Cars is the gold standard when it comes to car biz movies, really any movies, so they Better. Bring. It.

July 30, 2009

Headin’ For The Hills

Well, we made it through the birthday party, and it was so much fun, I could do it all over again this weekend. T-Bone transformed the backyard into a magical fairyland, and Karla May gifted us with some delicious food and her unique vocal stylings. You had to be there. We had a nice mix of old friends, neighbors, and new friends from T-Bone’s work, all of whom enjoyed a break from parenting for the evening. It all just felt so grown-up, but in a good way. Let’s do it again real soon, shall we?

This week has flown by, and now we’re blowing this popsicle stand for the Hill Country tomorrow. We’re going to Fredericksburg, by way of Dallas (yes, that Dallas – long story), to meet up with a smattering of the Turista Contingent for the weekend. Then next week, I’m taking a couple of days off to just hang out with Peach and Olive. No real plans as of yet, which is awesome. They’re both so excited about school starting, but we’ve still got a whole month to go, so I’ve got to keep this party going a while longer.

In other news, it’s HOT. The End.

July 23, 2009

She’s 41 And Her Daddy Still Calls Her Baby*

He really does, all the time. So I love that song.

After not really wanting to celebrate the Big 4-0 last year, I’m over it and gearing up for a fun-filled weekend. First off, yesterday, the ladies at The Job made me a cake and got me the BIGgest birthday balloon you’ve ever seen. Like, weather balloon size. It requires two of those balloon weight thingies to hold it down. That big. I left work early to get my hairs did, and then we had an early celebratory dinner with my MIL. And it was Mama and Papa Turista’s 46th anniversary, so here’s to them as well.

Today, I’m gettin’ this birthday party started by refinancing our house! Whooo! Do I know how to throw down or what? Afterwards, Peach and Olive and I are going to hit the mall for a bit, where I’m thinking a Double Doozie cookie with icing may be in order. Later, we’re meeting T-Bone for dinner at, wait for it, Chuy’s, and then we’re off to see Harry Potter at the Drafthouse, with Butterbeer and the Hogwarts Express Candy Cart. Peach and Olive planned the whole evening themselves, and I think it’s perfect. I heart them so. And Dumbledore.

Fast forward to Saturday, and we’re having a real live grown-up party at the house. We haven’t had such a soiree since I was pregnant with Peach, so 10 years later, I thought we were due. All your favorites will be here – Karla May and BH, the Bookharts, the Televisions, and new homeowner, and now my neighbor, Miss Jaye. Las ninas will be spending the night with my in-laws, and while they’re looking forward to playing with their sista-cuzzins, they do love a party and want me to take note of all the goings-on. And because we’ve spent a lot of time preparing, when the (figurative) smoke finally clears on Sunday, I imagine I’ll be pretty spent, fat, and happy.

Hmm. Spent, fat, and happy. Words to live by, my friends.

* Delta Dawn. Obviously.

July 20, 2009

I Want Your Text. Not.

While not exactly a Luddite, I am very technologically-challenged. Mostly by choice. Or out of laziness, whichever. Short of Internet surfing, emailing, and work stuff, the most “high-tech” thing I can do is send an evite. I know. I don’t have a smart phone. I don’t do Twitter or any social networking. And I don’t text. Call me crazy, but if I want to TALK to someone, I, um, CALL them on the PHONE. And really, just when did everybody get so GD important is what I want to know.

Again, it’s not that I’m against technology per se, and I can see the value in some of those things, but it’s all just so time-consuming. And the minute you learn one thing, they “improve” it, and you’ve got to buy/learn a whole new thing. I can barely work our DVR, and I’m still fascinated by Call Notes, so honestly, I think my plate is full.

Por ejemplo, Saturday, T-Bone went to Big D for his aunt’s funeral (the third person we’ve lost to cancer in as many months – however, Aunt J had been kicking lymphoma’s ass for 10 years. 10!). He left his phone behind, and while I was making breakfast for las ninas, it buzzed or chirped or whatever, and I saw that he had a text message from Rudy From Work. I haven’t met Rudy From Work yet, but I’ve heard a lot about him, and apparently, he loves T-Bone and considers him his Work Dad. Ouch. Anyway, the message was asking about an event they had on Friday that Rudy From Work missed. I thought, I don’t want him to think T-Bone is ignoring his message, surely I can figure out how to respond. Yeah. No.

First of all, it was not my phone, so I could hardly open or activate it, let alone find any kind of menu button. Next, it doesn’t have a keyboard that shoots out anywhere, so I had to find everything on the number buttons. Finally, I had to compose and re-compose the message in my head several times because, sometimes, I tend to be a little long-winded. Ahem.

Anywho, here’s what happened:

RFW: How was the event yesterday?

LT: Okay, I’ll start with “Rudy.” Now where are the punctuation buttons? Should I put a dash or a period? Maybe an exclamation point? How do I capitalize? Wait, what’s this button? Shit! All I sent was “Rudy.”

RFW: Is that a question?

LT: Dangit! Okay, starting over. “Sorr…”

RFW: And yes, it’s Rudy.

RFW: I can’t believe I’m gone for a few days, and you’ve already forgotten who I am.

By that point, with all the rapid fire buzzing and chirping, I was so flustered and laughing so hard, I was a crying mess in a heap on the floor. With Peach and Olive standing over me, surely considering if they should implement their 911 phone training. A few seconds later, T-Bone’s phone rang – how novel is that?! – and yes, it was Rudy From Work calling. I had to pull myself together to answer, and I know I confused, and probably frightened, the hell out of him as I explained the situation. He laughed and was very sweet, but his first impression of Work Dad’s old lady is probably not the greatest, I’m thinking.

So there you have it, children. Tune in next time for “Reasons Why I Hate Facebook.”

July 16, 2009

Sweatin' To The Oldies

Here's how much I love my children. And musical theatre. We're heading off right now to see the OUTdoor production of The Music Man at the Zilker Hillside Theatre.

Current temp in the ATX: One-OMG-Two.

July 13, 2009

To The Victor

Goes the golden trophy. Actually, two golden trophies and two big ribbons. The horse show was a great success – albeit a four-hour test of will and personal constitution as we were sitting on backless bleacher seats in a sweltering roping arena for most of the day. It was covered, and there were fans, but still. Sweat dripping down into all my nooks and crannies. The time really went by pretty fast, considering, and Peach and Olive had a ball watching the other classes, especially the DRIVING classes, where they hook the little minis up to carts and grown people in costumes drive them around. It was awesome.

Olive took first and second place in her classes, and Peach took second in hers – which was really amazing since hers were open classes, meaning she was competing against adults with a lot more experience. The horse they showed was a total hambone, so he ended up taking Grand Champion in several classes, and they covered him with ribbons and kisses. I was so proud of them, and I swear Olive would have slept with her trophies if I let her. God help me, I even entered a raffle for a horse, which is about the only way we’ll ever become the proud owners of one. They come with live-in stablehands, right?

I was so glad Abuelita Turista could join us for the weekend, and we took our trophies and our tales over to my other grandmother, Sweet E, Saturday evening. That girl – 97 years old – and still sharp as all get out. As soon as she saw me, she said, “Well, how do you think Sotomayor’s going to do in the hearings?” Amazing. Honestly, how lucky am I that I have these two wonderful women in my life and that Peach and Olive get to know them and love them as much as I do. Methinks we’re all winners here.

July 9, 2009

Over. It.

Enough with the heat, already. I mean, 106? Really? 100 plus for several days – weeks, even – and rain is just a distant memory. So yeah, we get it. It’s HOT. Move on.

One of the worst by-products of all this heat, besides my absolutely pathetic yard, is my extremely PUNCHY mood. While Peach and Olive have been living it up with Mama T at Abuelita T’s the past week, T-Bone and I have been trying to tackle some things on the Never-Ending Home Improvement List, most of which are, of course, outside. So it’s been a real crapstorm of fun up in here, I have to say. We get one thing done, but then it only makes something else look like hell, so there’s hardly time to bask in our accomplishments before I’m raging about our corner-cutting builder and their all-star team of incompetents. Seriously – did you really think the grass would grow where you laid the sod on top of leftover concrete? Because it’s thriving so much more over there, on top of the broken glass and re-bar. And I really love, LOVE!, your keen ability to get overspray on every inch of trim and window on the house – such a joy to clean! All of this to say, I am out for BLOOD, y’all.

The good new is, Peach and Olive are coming home today, just in time to gear up for their Miniature Horse Show this weekend. Yes, MINIATURE. And honestly, I may just scrap any further plans for the backyard and turn that mutha into a pasture. With a tank I can fill with shaved-ice, 24/7. Ahhh.

June 28, 2009

Still Processing

I've tried writing this post several times over the past few days, but I just couldn't decide what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. I still can't decide.

I've loved Michael Jackson since I was a little girl, sitting in Abulelita Turista's den, listening to my aunt's Motown 45s. I've grown up with him - sang with him, danced with him, screamed for him, cried for him, and through it all, I've marveled at his talent, his passion, and his power.

I remember skating to Off the Wall tracks and later watching MTV all night just so I could pick up a few more steps from the Thriller video. I wore out a Jacksons Live double cassette (yes, children, cassette) when I first started driving, and I paid $20 for a ticket STUB from the Victory Tour:



Yeah, so the face value was $28, but I was at camp and so sad to miss the show, so it was worth it in 1984 dollars. A few years later, though, I finally got the chance to see him live, and it was better than even I, the one crying in the cheap seats, could have ever imagined:


Songs that I had heard at least a million times sounded fresh and new, and the whole place was captivated by the spectacle. "Human Nature" still really stands out in my mind - mostly because it was never one of my favorites, but it became one that night. And as much as that other MJ, Mick, works the stage from start to finish every night, Michael worked it AND transported you. It was truly awesome.

I'm still not sure what to think - or how to feel - about all of this, but I've made a point to watch exactly ZERO coverage of anything remotely related to it. T-Bone was the first to alert me of the news, and besides reading a couple of initial reports on CNN.com, I've tuned out the rest of the bloodsuckers. Which is odd for me, because up to this point, I've probably seen every interview, report, and special that's ever aired. But now? I've got my own memories and my own favorites, and I don't need to be reminded of the equal-parts circus and tragedy that his life had become.

In my most fervent fan days, when my best friend P and I wanted to marry MJ, I wore one or both of these pins nearly every day:

So talented, so handsome, so seemingly normal. I've been missing him for a while now, which makes this new development that much more upsetting. And confusing.

June 23, 2009

My Two Cents

Y'all know I've had my problems with Kate, right? I mean, homegirl has changed a lot in the last year or so. I used to love it, back in the day, in that tiny house, when she was SO anal about organization and schedules, and there were post-its papering the walls. I LOVED that.

Then came the book deals and the obnoxious product placement and the tanning and the heels with every outfit and, as always, The Hair - now with more spikes! Even so, I genuinely believe she is hurting, and after The Announcement episode last night, I am totally on her side.

As for Jon, good luck with that mid-life crisis at 32. And nice diamond earrings, douche. Also, you're bald under those plugs.

June 19, 2009

Stunted

That’s how I’m feeling at The Job these days. Of course, I’m so happy to have a job in this market and am thrilled to be working part-time. But the actual work itself? Meh, with a capital MEH. I pretty much learned everything I’ll ever need to know within the first two weeks. After that, it’s just rinse, repeat. For close to year now, can you believe it?

Now, if they were paying me a boatload of money, I might not be complaining. I could just punch in every day, keep my head down, and wake up 20 years later and be ready to retire. Which is what a lot of folks do around there. The air is thick with complacency, let me tell you. And that’s why I think, I hope, that even if they were paying me a boatload of money, I would still feel restless. I mean, if I’m going to do this whole Working Mom thing, I don’t want a Job, I want a Career.

To that end, I’ve never quit searching the job postings and putting out feelers for a Career. I kind of fell bassackwards into legal writing, so Drama degree and awesome courtroom antics aside, legal writing is my thing, specifically appellate law. I always did well on my writing assignments in law school, but I wasn’t on law journal, and I graduated nowhere near the top of my class. Even so, I somehow landed my first job based on my writing sample and jovial interview, and I loved every minute of it. I quickly learned that there are a lot of crappy writers making bank in the legal world and that, quite often, prisoners are better writers than attorneys. See, legal writing is not that glamorous, unless you get to present oral arguments, so most people do it begrudgingly, for better or worse. Which is kind of funny, actually, because oral arguments are really just a big show, a chance for judges to ask questions about what you or other people have written. What’s written is what gets laws made, not the dog-and-pony act. So I decided that if a person has any aptitude for good legal writing, they should do humanity a favor and pursue it. And that’s how I found my wheelhouse.

And that’s what led me to LawNerds. And that’s what led me to The Job. And that’s what, hopefully, will lead me to The Career. Actually, I’m a bit frustrated with that last part because there have been some opportunities over the past few years that I feel like I wasn’t properly considered for, especially since my area of expertise is so specific. At the state level, there are really just two Top Prizes in this type of law - one of which I've already worked for, and one, perhaps foolishly, I’ve had my eye on for years. Again, wasn’t on law journal, wasn’t in the top of my class, didn’t go to a “top tier” law school (however, we are nationally-recognized for our social justice programs, which I find makes for a very low Future Asshole Lawyer Rating, which really should count for something). BUT I can write my way around anything and managed to land a pretty prestigious gig right out of the gate, so gimme a break. I’ve applied a handful of times over the years, as have millions of others I’m sure, and I can’t help but feel like my transcript is what does me in every time. Not so much what’s on it, but what’s not on it. It doesn’t bear the crest of some ivy-covered institution or even my beloved undergraduate alma mater, and it sure as hell doesn’t say “cum laud” of any variety. But, really? That’s all you’re looking at Top Prize Prize Patrol? Not my PUBLISHED writing sample? Not my STELLAR references? Not my resume of TWICE the years of DIRECT experience preferred for this position? And I don’t even get an interview to charm you with my nerdy legal anecdotes? I know they have to cut down the field somehow, but I defy you, Prize Patrol, to find someone who will work harder, work faster, and work better than me. NOT possible. And while my crippling lack of self-confidence usually keeps me and my crazy aspirations pretty well in check, I ain’t playin’ around on this. You will have me, Top Prize. Before I am old(er) and gray(er), you WILL have me, and you will see what you’ve been missing. And I will laugh my ass off.

Okay, Universe. Make it happen.

June 15, 2009

So Far, So Good

We made it through the First Week of Summer ’09 with flying colors. Dance camp was a great success, we hit the pool a couple of times, and we enjoyed a quick but violent dousing of rain Thursday night. My crunchy grass was so thankful.

Speaking of, I hate Bermuda grass (which the builder planted in the green space that butts up to our yard). I also hate St. Augustine grass (which the builder did a craptacular job of planting in our front yard and which I would love to set fire to). So you can imagine my disdain for the effing Bermuda that has invaded my GD St. Augustine and now has designs on my flower beds. Really, I’m all about organic gardening, and we’ve had great success with it up to this point, but I will not hesitate to go hardcore chemical on that shit if it doesn’t BACK OFF. We’ve pulled, we’ve dug, we’ve covered, we’ve cursed, and STILL, it wants to get up close and personal with my roses and lantana. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit back and let it happen. So, you’ve been warned, Bermuda grass.

Also, T-Bone has been working his little patootie off getting our porches ready for painting. Because June in Texas is the perfect time to undertake big outdoor projects. We’re just doing the floors at this point, but it takes a lot of prep work, so my BIL lent us his powerwasher to make semi-quick work of it. That thing is awesome! I’m just looking around for more things to powerwash before we have to give it back.

So between yard work, porch work, and a ninja cleaning of la casa on Sunday, this old gal is hurtin’, y’all. My MIL is here helping us out for a few days, and I may have to defer my pool duties to her this week. As great as the water would feel, I literally don’t have the strength to wrestle with my bathing suit, which is a whole ‘nother story. Nightmare, really.

June 8, 2009

Summer Job

So today marks what I consider the first day of summer and the first summer EVER that I haven’t been home with Peach and Olive. Even when I was working for LawNerds, I was at least working from home, so this is the first time that I’ve really felt like a Working Mom since I started The Job in September. Up until now, they’ve been at school while I’m at work, so I had a pretty good idea of what they were doing every minute of the day. But for the next three months, not so much.

We’ve started off The New Normal(?) with a week of dance camp – Disney Princesses for Olive, Broadway Divas for Peach – which culminates in a “show” on Friday. Next week, “Information” Bible School (per Olive), which wraps up with a family picnic after Mass on Saturday. Then, the REAL fun begins.

With a schedule more managed and obsessed over than Obama’s, Peach and Olive are hitting the road this summer, with stops in all parts of the Lone Star State. They’re spending time with grandparents, great grandmothers, brutha- and sista-cuzins, and a brand spanking new cousin, due to arrive in August. Part of the time, they’ll be here entertaining their visitors, and part of the time, they’ll be living out of suitcases. And they couldn’t be more excited. Luckily, since the Powers That Be at The Job let me cut back to 30 hours a week (which I’m still thanking my lucky stars for) AND they’re pretty flexible on when those hours are, I’ll be able to condense my weeks, and then join them for 3-day weekends wherever their tour happens to stop. We’re not going to Colorado this summer (sniff), so I’ll be taking days off here and there instead of in a clump. And the way it looks now, I’ll be working, at most, 4-day weeks for the majority of the summer, without using much vacation time, which is kind of awesome I have to say. But of course I’d rather be at home with Peach and Olive, planning fun-filled days on our wide open schedule, but duty (and law school debt) calls …

June 4, 2009

And The Painted Ponies Go Up and Down

Well, it’s official: Peach is a 4th grader and Olive is a Kindergartner. Yesterday was the last day of school and the annual GGMS “Gates of Life” ceremony. Every year, we gather in the auditorium, a group of parents form a tunnel for the “graduates” to run through one at a time while the rest of us chant their name, and then they land in the open arms of their teachers. After everyone who is “moving on” goes through the Gates, the teachers serenade us with Joni Mitchell’s The Circle Game. And everyone weeps. It’s adorable.

Olive will be in the same class next year, but Peach is moving upstairs with the “big kids,” so she actually took a stroll through the Gates this time. Her teacher called her name last, and a roar came up from the crowd as she made her way to the front. I really thought she might cry because she LOVES her teacher so, but she was just too excited and probably taken aback by the reaction when her name was called. I got some cute pictures and video (natch), and then we waved goodbye to GGMS for the next three months.

T-Bone and I took the day off, and Mama Turista came up for the festivities, so by noon, we were ready for a celebration. First stop, Molly’s Sno Cups! Yeah, it was lunchtime, so what? See, we had to kill some time before our 1:45 movie, and we didn’t want to spoil our popcorn appetite with anything stupid like LUNCH, so shaved ice covered in sugar syrup was an obvious choice. We hadn’t hit this particular stand before, mostly because their parking situation is horrendous, but I have to say, they know what they’re doing over there – nice texture to the ice, judicious amounts of juice all the way to the bottom – I’d give ‘em a top score of Five Brain Freezes. Plus, they donate all profits to the Children’s Hospital, so swing by sometime this blazing hot summer.

Next, we went to the Drafthouse to see Night at the Museum II. I loved the first one, and I think I love this one just as much, if not more. Plus, before the show, the Drafthouse always shows random clips somehow related to the movie, so for this, they had several sketches from the old Ben Stiller show, including B-Minus Time Traveler with Janeane Garofalo – hilarious.

After the movie, we hit Hobby Lobby for some craft supplies and the teacher store for some summer workbooks. Honestly, is there anything more awesome than a store full of school supplies? I didn’t think so. In fact, Peach and Olive were so excited, we had the lady at the counter sharpen their new pencils so they could crack open their workbooks in the car on the way home. THAT excited. A mere three-plus hours after school ended for the summer.

We ate an early dinner at the delicious Hyde Park, and dangit if those french fries aren’t still some of the best you’ve ever had. I don’t know how they do it, but God love ‘em for it. We left there fat and happy and ready to settle in for the night.

After such a full day, I expected to have some late sleepers and lazy bums at home today, but as I left at 6:45 this morning, there was Peach, in her bed with her booklight on, tackling another page in her new workbook. With Olive looking over her shoulder.

And the seasons they go round and round.

June 1, 2009

MIA

Our home phone is apparently on the fritz, which I found out last night when, while talking to his mom on his cell, T-Bone informed me that MY mom had called his brother and his mom looking for us because she hadn’t been able to reach us for two days. I realized then that I had turned my cell off at Mass yesterday morning and forgot to turn it back on, and T-Bone had left his cell in the car for most of the weekend. Anywho, the whole thing set off a Turista Family APB because if you ever want to throw my people into a tizzy, appear to be missing for a few hours.

I have to say, however, part of it stems from the fact that my aunt was actually kidnapped when she was 18, so nothing sets off Abuelita Turista more than not knowing where you are, or where she expects you to be, at any given moment. (As for my aunt, she escaped from the guy, unharmed, about 12 hours later, and when they finally got him, her testimony helped put him in the pen, which happened to be in the exact same town the genius was taking her to. Oh, the irony.).

The other part of it stems from the fact that I talk to Mama Turista at least once a day, and Abuelita at least once a week (she’s got a tight schedule, y’all, what with Bridge, Chicken Foot, Kiwanis, and Altar Guild), so if they can’t get me by home phone OR cell, that could be considered cause for alarm. Especially if you’re a worrier Drama Queen like me. Plus, Peach has been ailing with unexplained stomach pains for the past week (no, it’s not her appendix, and the doctor just recommended that she throw back some Tums for a few days – thoughts?), so when I finally talked to my mom last night, she said her first thought was that we might have gone to the hospital. And as she had been on the Hotline with the rest of The Clan throughout the week, as per usual, everyone was on high alert, and there were NINE messages on our Call Notes, just from Mi Familia Loca, from the past 24 hours. Three of which were from Abuelita, all of which sounded something like this:

Peach? Peach, this is Abuelita. I was just looking for your mommy. I’ve been trying to get in touch with y’all. Are you ever home? Tell your mommy or your daddy to call me. This is Abuelita. Okay. Be careful. Love you. Be careful. Okay. Bye bye.

Peach’s voice is on our message, so every time Abuelita calls, she addresses her message to Peach. Much like she did to T-Bone when his voice was on our message. Every time. I know she knows she’s not really talking to them and that she’s leaving a message, and I’ve told her on MANY occasions that I’m pretty much the only one who ever actually listens to the messages, but do I ever get a shout-out? Hells no.

But we’ve got it all straight now. Everyone is present and accounted for, all being careful. Now all I have to worry about is those two “solicitors” who were roaming the neighborhood this weekend, who I didn’t entertain when they rang our doorbell on Saturday, who were probably casing the joint as I stared at them through the upstairs blinds, and who probably cut the phone line and are cleaning us out as I type this at The Job, knowing the alarm will alert no one since the phone line is down. Perfect.

May 26, 2009

Hairstory

For the most part, Peach has always had a chin-length bob, save for the last couple of years when she grew it out over the school year for Perfect Ballet Bun purposes. As soon as she came off the stage at her recital on Saturday, she declared, “I can’t wait to get my hair cut!” So off we went the next day, and she returned home with the Hairdo of Her Youth.

As a baby, she was pretty much bald until she was 2. Then, when her hair finally came in, it was in ringlets. We’re talking Shirley Temple, folks. It was adorable and quite surprising, at least to me, because I always just assumed my children would have stick-straight hair like I did (until this very unfortunate Ted Nugent thing happened a few years back. Gah.). Turns out, T-Bone was one of those pretty-boy babies, with the big eyes and the big curls, who was constantly mistaken for a girl. So Peach got those genes (plus the dimple in the chin), and we went about our days with people always commenting on her curls.

As she’s gotten older, her hair has gotten thicker and more relaxed, so we’re down to a nice amount of body and twice as much hair as I could ever dream of having. When it’s longer, she mostly wears it in a ponytail or headband, but she’ll still indulge me when I want it up on one side with a big ol’ bow, just like the old days. She’s good like that. And it somewhat distracts me from the sobering fact that the child is officially 5 feet tall. Have I mentioned?

So Sunday, after much fixing and admiring and tossing of the hair post-cut, Peach came to me and said:


Mommy, when I look in the mirror now, I see the girl in all those pictures in my old scrapbooks. This is the girl on her first day of preschool. This is the girl riding her little pink scooter. This is the girl holding her newborn baby sister. This is that girl!


Could you just weep? Well, apparently, so could Olive, because at bedtime that night, she started to get upset, and when I asked her what was wrong, she said:


O: Well, (sniff) I’ll tell you. I was just looking at Peach, (sniff) with her new haircut. And well, (sniff) I just started remembering (sniff) when I was younger, (sniff) when I was a baby, (sniff) and she had that hair. (sniff) It just brings me back to memories (sniff) of my younger days, (sniff) when she would hold me, (sniff) and it just makes me cry.

LT: Oh, me too, sweet angel. But happy tears, right?

O: Yes, (sniff). Happy tears. (sniff) It just takes me back to memories.


What to do with these sugar lumps of mine. What to do.

May 21, 2009

Mad Granola Love

We’re in End-of-the-School-Year mode around here, as are many of you, I’m sure. Last weekend, Peach had a ballet demonstration, and this weekend, she and Olive have a dance recital of the more dog-and-pony show variety. And guess who volunteered to be the Backstage Mom? Yup.

This week, we had two Cultural Challenges at GGMS. Olive’s class program was “inspired by the presidential election, and the promise of change,” so they sang “This Land is Your Land,” an MLK song, and, a GGMS favorite, “We Shall Overcome,” with the handwaving and the swaying and everything. Individual performances included a cello piece, counting and naming the colors in Chinese, a jump rope routine, and several gymnastics demos. They tied the whole thing up with a square dance to “Zippity Do Da” and a conga line out the door.

For her class, Peach chose to recite “I Carry Your Heart With Me” by e.e. cummings in honor of her last year in Lower Elementary. We also enjoyed stilt walking, jokes with puppets, a traditional Indian folkdance, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” in French, and, my favorite, a brother/sister duo opening the show with “Redemption Song.” How cool is that?

Do you see why I LURVE this place so? Sigh.

May 11, 2009

Yes, It Goes Without Saying

I hate cancer.

Last month, we lost a dear friend of the family to lymphoma. Sharon was a vibrant mother and grandmother who literally lit up the room, and she hugged you like she meant it.

Yesterday, one of my oldest school pals lost his beautiful daughter after an 18-month battle with a brain tumor. Bailey was smart as a whip and so funny, and she loved to dance. She was 12.

I know all of us have been touched or, more likely, hurt by cancer, and on a day like today, that just makes me so goddamn mad.

May 8, 2009

The Week In Bullets

Not that anything THAT exciting has been going on the past week or so, but I feel that my latest experiences and ponderings can best be delivered in bullet point format. Also, I’m lazy.

  • Last Wednesday, we hosted T-Bone’s parents the night before they were due to leave for Ireland for two weeks. The morning of their departure, at 5:30 AM to be exact, my MIL realized they had left their PASSPORTS at home. A mere 3.5 hours away. Each way. And their plane was at 11:50 AM. Long story short, my FIL met their neighbor about halfway there and beat it back here just in time for them to board. It was all quite exciting – albeit a tad baffling. How do you NOT have your passports with your tickets? – but it all worked out, and they’re so enjoying the Emerald Isle. God bless anyone within earshot of them though, because they’ll have to listen to that whole story, over and over. And over.
  • GGMS was closed Friday – not because of the Swine Flu, relax – so Mama Turista kept Peach and Olive at her house for the weekend. After work, T-Bone and I hit some of our old haunts, worked in the yard, and caught a movie at the Drafthouse. We picked up las ninas on Sunday at Opie’s belated birthday party. Baby pool + slip-n-slide + post-cupcake sugar crash = two tired and dirty birds.
  • Lots of action at The Job this week. Some of which was planned, some of which was not. None of it really effects me (does anything at that place?), other than that I might have to move out of the Fortress (which, except for the frostbite, I would actually miss). And it stings a little when we get dogged in “that GD liberal media of ours” (or, so I’ve heard in the breakroom). Whatevs.
  • Peach and I spent Tuesday at the lake with the rest of the GGMS 3rd years, celebrating the end of school and their last weeks in Lower Elementary. Peach LOVES her teacher something awful, so even though she’ll just be upstairs next year, I know she’s going to miss Miss C a bunch. We had a great day, swimming and running about, and at the Official Nicknaming Ceremony, Peach was christened, “Grasshopper.” I can’t imagine why. The tradition includes some sailing, but after great effort was put into assembling the sail and readying the boat, the boom fell off and snapped in half, right in the middle of The Safety Talk, which quickly turned into The Lesson About Flexibility and Perseverance. In the end, we decided on “parade rides” around the campsite, which looked a little something like this:

See that blue stuff, kids? That's called a "lake."

  • This weekend, we’re gearing up for a Beatles cover band show tonight and Peach’s ballet demonstration tomorrow. Sunday is Mama’s Day, so be sure you do something sweet for yours. And if anyone’s asking, yes, a tub of vanilla icing would be perfect.

April 28, 2009

My Big Fat Fiesta Weekend

Well, we did it and we did it up right. We ate more Mexican food in three days than I have in several weeks – and I loves me some Tex-Mex, y’all, but DANG. On Sunday, M and I snuck in one last beany, cheesy lunch before I put her on the plane, and my teeth actually hurt from crunching so many chips. THAT much Mexican food.

We started at Chuy’s (natch) for lunch right after they landed on Thursday and then wrapped up that night at The Oasis. I haven’t been there since The Fire, and my stars, that place is huge now. The food still stinks (whatever, new “chef”), but the view is still worth the drive – even though the lake is SO low. We saw lots of little sandbars that are normally underwater, and I thought, who KNOWS what kind of stuff surfaces out there when the levels are down like that. Especially considering we were a stone’s throw from Hippie Hollow (NSFW, that one). Eww.

Friday, we stopped by to wish Opie a Happy 2nd Birthday and to rub my SIL’s belly for luck. We followed up with lunch with one of our old crew (always good for a laugh) before a drive around town, the Memory Lane Tour, if you will. We cruised the old neighborhood, the old schools, the old haunts, and recalled the old characters we used to know. It was fun, if not a little sad, and at times, it felt like we had just been there. Weird. We took a few minutes to decompress and then girded our loins for the evening’s trip to NIOSA.

Having M and T here reminded me of two things: how much fun we have together and how much I heart Sand and Stonio. The city is so beautiful and the people are so friendly – granted, most of them were about half in the bag the entire week, which may have affected the vibe a wee bit. But with as many people as there were crammed into downtown, and with as much cerveza as there was a-flowin’, it’s pretty amazing that we didn’t see any fisticuffs or other nefarious activity. We did see one pretty gnarly lovers’ quarrel going on right next to one of the 8 billion Roasted Corn booths at NIOSA, and M alerted the rent-a-deputy standing nearby because we really weren’t sure which one of them was going to start swinging first. We also nearly lost our lunches (and our lives) in a human traffic jam somewhere between the Anticuchos and the Churros – it was like, out of nowhere, everybody in La Villita decided to hit this particular intersection at the exact same time, and we literally could not move. And how lucky that we were nose to nose and privates to privates with half the city right in the middle of the Swine Flu outbreak. We left soon after.

Saturday, we spent the day at the King William Fair, which I haven’t been to in a month of Sundays. It’s like a daytime NIOSA, but with dogs and crafts. And every fabulous guy in town. It’s awesome. That neighborhood reminds me a lot of the Garden District in New Orleans, so I just walked around pointing at houses, “I want that. I want that. I want that, too.” Even among the throngs, we ran into one of my best friends from high school, so it really felt like old home week.

After a spin through El Mercado (You can all relax. I finally found that plastic papel picado I’ve been looking for. The one with the horse!), we hit the legendary La Fogata to celebrate T’s birthday (she’s 29 – again. And again. Plus 10.). Mama and Papa Turista joined us, and I swear, those two had more fun than anybody, just hanging out and catching up with their prodigal daughters. Plus, they really are a comedy show themselves, what with Papa and his food issues (I have never seen ANYone have so much trouble at a restaurant. He’s so predictable, I could make big money betting that something will be “wrong” with his food. EVERY time.) and Mama and her patience of Job. We shoveled in some chocolate cake back at la casa and called it a night after that. Come Sunday morning, it was time to face facts and pack up for home.

Olive has been singing that “Make new friends, but keep the old …” song at school, and it is so fitting for M and T. We live states apart, and only see each other every few years, but we can pick up right where we left off and laugh and laugh until the cows come home. When I woke up Monday morning, I really missed them not being here, and I’m already looking forward to our next adventure. Because while I do love silver, these two are my gold.

April 22, 2009

They're At It Again

Tomorrow, M and T, of Vegas fame, are coming to town for the weekend. We haven’t seen each other since that fateful trip, but we keep in regular(?) contact via email. In the interim, T had a baby, M started a catering business, I went back to work, and we’ve all turned 40, so we’ve got a lot of kvetching to do.

We’re headed to SA on Friday for Fiesta, and we’re staying at Casa Turista. Mis padres couldn’t be more excited - two of their “own,” returning to the nest. Now the last time we all did Fiesta together, it was 19-8-frickin’-4(!), and I seem to remember that one night, after several contraband wine coolers at NIOSA, one of us flashed passersby from the car as we were driving home. I believe one of us was still sporting a sweet rattail at the time, and one of us was marching in a parade. I'll leave it for y'all to sort through that.

Can't wait to see how it all shakes out. Viva Helio Vasquez!

April 21, 2009

Love Your Mother

In honor of Earth Day, an original poem by Peach, age 9.

Magic

The trees are magic
They can change colors.
Gray in winter winds,
Brown in summer sun,
Red in autumn fun.

The birds are magic.
They sing sweetly, shrilly,
Angrily, tenderly, sadly.
Clouds are magic.
They can be circles,
Wisps, or large masses.

The sea is magic.
It will crinkle, wrinkle,
Bump and rage.
And now, yes now, I shall
Reveal the point of this poem:
Mother Nature is magic -
Keep her alive.

What she said.

April 20, 2009

Weekend Re-Cap

Peach had a change of heart about the big musical audition – and I can’t say I blame her. I HATE musical auditions. Really, auditions in general are worse than job interviews, even though that’s kind of what they are. There’s a lot of secret science to it, most of which is totally beyond your control, and you are fully aware of that every time. So why in the hell do we do it? “They” know within about 10 seconds if they’re even going to pretend to listen to you for the next two minutes, let alone give you a part in their precious production. It’s very adversarial if you ask me. And at no time has anyone ever in the history of the theatre been as afraid about a performance as they have about an audition. Okay, maybe if they were about to be thrown to the lions as part of the “show.” But otherwise, never. Anyway, if she had gone through with it and gotten a part, we would have spent the majority of our summer living The Music Man everyday, so it’s probably for the best.

Seeing as we had more free time on Saturday than I had planned on, we had a craft extravaganza – lots of painting and drawing and gluing – while I dismantled the Easter decorations. GGMS’s annual spring campout was this weekend, but after the rain we’ve had, we decided against going out there and setting up our tent in the knee-high mud. I’m a sport and all, but gimme a break. Plus, I had plenty to do in preparation for a very special event later this week, which I will save for another post.

We spent yesterday celebrating the Television Twins’ First Communion. When we got to the house, they ran out to greet us in their fancy duds. I asked the first twin (the sensitive sugar bear), “Were y’all waiting for us to see your suits before you changed?” And he said, “Oh, no. I don't mind.” (even though you could tell he did) While the second twin (the all-boy whirling dervish) answered with an emphatic, “Yes! Now we can get out of these clothes!” And they had the coolest little ties I’ve ever seen – instead of the old clip-on, they have a zipper hidden in the knot, so you just put it on and zip it up – perfect knot every time. How awesome is that? I played with one all afternoon. The end.