Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Part 3 or Mr. McDowell Goes to the Capital

Oh well....I tried to get the link.  Actually, I did obtain it but it was not working.  I'll add it at the end anyway.  I watchd their video last night though and it was poop.  It's very fuzzy and the audio was poor.  Typical government quality product.  Ha!

But here is what happened:

After a lot of dancing around in the Rotundra of the capital, it was finally time to get the kids to the Senators office.  We first wanted them to see where we were sitting.  We all went to the gallery.  (By "we" I mean: my sister, Dawn, Lesley and Rodney, my friend, Tiffany and her son (and Gabe's best buddy) Preston, my mother, and Aaron and I.) 

We stood at the elevator for a long time....While we waited the boys told everyone who would listen why they were there.  My mom fretted wether our decision to leave the boys ties in the car was wise. 

"They found them too uncomfortable," I told her.  "Plus the instructions I got just said they needed to have on a suit coat.  It didn't say they had to have ties."

"I don't know..." my mom warned, "I don't see anyone here with out one." And then to her grandsons: "I'm sure you will both remember to say 'Yes, Ma'am, No, Ma'am' and 'Yes, sir and no, sir.'"  They both promised.

After finding our seats, Aaron and I left the rest of the enterouge there and he and I escorted the boys to  Senator Tommy Williams office.  We walked in and Reta, his assistant, greeted us with a glorious Texas accent.  She is a petite, kind, and mature woman.  You can tell that she runs a tight ship there. 

"These must be our Cupcake Boys!"  she declared.

Others came out of their offices to meet the boys.  Those who didn't were beckoned/ordered out and we were told that so-and-so, "has been wanting to meet you boys!"  You could tell so-and-so could care less but you did whatever Mrs. Reta said with her Sweet-Tea voice.  We also met Chelsie, who has been the one holding our hands through this whole process.  She is a beauty!  I had been feeling bad for her all day.  She had probably big asperations for her time working in the Senators office and today she was to be a glorified babysitter.  She was all professional though and smiled to the boys and treated them as serious as anything else that may be going down in the Senate.

"Do they have ties?" she asked.  Poop.  Aaron ran all the way back to the parking garage to get them.

The boys were offered goldfish and water while they waited.  Gabe dropped one and quickly snatched it up.

"Five second rule!"  he shouted.

The office erupted in laughter.

"Germs are good for them," Reta assured me.  Drew regalled them with his story of his one hour bath to be clean for his Senate appearance and then Senator Williams came out to meet us. 

"Cupcake Boys!" he exclaimed.  He is a pillar of a man with grey hair.  He wore a dark blue suit with a sky blue tie.  He has a pleasant look about him but I'm guessing he could be a mean cuss if you crossed him.  He also had a big gold nugget on his right hand.  An Aggie ring.  Whoop!  He shook hands with the boys and welcomed them warmly. 

"Let's get a picture!"  another employee emplored.

Gabe and Drew moved in close to the Senator.  He got down on his knees to be at their level and wrapped his arms around them.  The boys put their arms around the Senator too and, in synch, put Bunny Ears behind the Senators head!  We were all cracking up!! 

"Oh this is perfect!"  exclaimed the gal taking the picture.  About that time Aaron returned with the ties.  There was a little bit of complaining and the Senator agreed with them but rules was rules.  Aaron and I left the boys in their hands and headed back up to the gallery.

Also in the Senate that day were Miss Texas Pageant Contestants.  (This explained why Miss Austin was there at the start...)  A section of the gallery was full of beauty queens dressed in red or blue and wearing beautiful tiaras.

I leaned into Aaron and whispered, "I told you I should've worn my tiara!"  The ladies were there because March 28th, 2011 was to be declared Miss Texas Day.  I don't know why.  Just to explain a few things, because I don't want people getting irrate about the frivolity of the Senate when our state is in dire need of some real corrections being made.

For reasons I do not know or understand, by law, the State Senate does nothing but these resolutions and declarations for the first 60 days that they are in session.  Once that time is up they will get down to the nitty gritty and hopefully respond to my many letters regarding our educators being laid off left and right.  (Havc you contacted your representative about this?)  So please don't be dismayed about the beauty queens and cupcakes.  This is all they do for 60 days.  By law.  These resolutions and declarations will also not cost you anything.  They are just read.

After roll call a bishop prayed for Texas and over the meeting and then the session was called to open.  (Or something.)  I forgot who the first group was that was brought to the floor but a Senator stood and  made a declaration and commended the group.  He then gestured to the gallery where we were sitting and asked that those in the gallery please stand to be recognized.  Nearly everyone in our section rose, including our little group.  We all quickly realized though that he meant, those in the gallery that were related to the represented group on the floor to rise.  We were not with that group! We cracked up and all sat down as quickly as we could.

Then it was the pageant queen's turn.  Two queens were invited to the floor to represent.  A Senator declared the day Miss Texas Day and they then asked the other pageant queens to rise and be recognized.  I leaned into to Tiffany, Sissy, Les, and Mom and tried to get them to stand up with me again.  "We are beauty queens too!"  They held me down in my seat...

Finally it was time for the Cupcake Boys!  The boys were escorted out on to the floor along with Lisa Britton, the maker of the Berry Pecan Cupcake.  The boys solemnly stood there in their suits.  As the resolution was read, Drew began to wave to the Senators and then to those in the gallery.  He turned from left to right to be sure and acknowledge all.  Everytime the moderator (or whatever...) said Gabriel and Drew, Gabriel would point to himself and then Drew respectively.  They smiled and waved as they were then praised by the Senator for all of their hardwork and interest in their state.  Then Senator Shapiro (Dallas Rep.) stood and also praised the boys and Lisa.  You will have to visit the link to hear the amazing things that were said about them.  So sweet!  I do recall that the Senator said they were "bright and fun-loving boys."  After the accolades were over the Lt. Governor restated the resolution, asked for objections, (which there were none) and hammered his gavel down with finality saying "Done!" 

Many of the Senators rose and moved to the front to shake hands with the boys and congratulate them.  Several asked for pics.  All who posed with the boys were Bunny Eared.  The gallery was a-titter with laughter! 

"I reminded them to mind their P's and Q's," mom said.  "I did not think to tell them not to put Bunny Ears on the Senators!"

One smart (and sort of a fuddy-duddy of a beurocrat) wrapped his arms around the boys in such a way that they would not be able to Bunny Ear him.  Boo!  Lame-o!  After the Senators were through congratulating them the boys turned to each other and gave one another a huge hug!   "Awww" went the gallery and a few applauded.

After we all stopped laughing and crying, our group gathered our things and went to pick up the boys at the Senators office.  I was so proud of them!  They did a great job!  Once we were all down in the Rotundra again, we were all slapping their backs and telling them how proud we were of them.

"Mom," Gabriel said, "I don't know why everyone was honoring us when you were the one who really did all of the work."  Such a heart that boy!  He's so thoughtful.  I did not miss all of the comments made by the Senators of the boys "hard work" but the work was never done for a cupcake.  It was always for them.  It was so freakin' worth it!

P.S. Please excuse misspelled words, gramatical errors and incorrectly used vocabulary.  I am not at home with my dictionary and thesaurus.  For some reason the computer I am using does not have spell check working either....very odd. :/  Go here to view the video:  http://www.senate.state.tx.us/avarchive/?yr=2011

Part 2 or From Rug Rats to Bureaucrats

The boys have some long standing traditions with their Great Uncle Larry and Aunt Nancy.  One is that Aunt Nancy makes ginormous breakfasts (and lunches...and dinners).  This breakfast entails of pancakes, eggs, toast, cantaloupe, blue berries, grapes, pineapple, and.....SAUSAGE!  Drew loves the sausage and we have to give him a two patty limit.  But Aunt Nancy loves the Drew and wants to let him have as many as he'd like. 

The other tradition stemmed from the boys getting up way too early and sneaking into Uncle Larry and Aunt Nancy's room to wake them up.  To deter them, Uncle Larry started making Rug Rat traps.  These usually consisted of some sort of paper plate, string...contraption and evolved over the years. 

On our way into Texas, Drew called Aunt Nancy to be sure she had not forgotten the "sawl-sage" and to see if Uncle Larry was ready for his Rug Rats.

When we woke up Sunday morning I saw the most elaborate Rug Rat trap that I'd ever seen Larry make.  Across the doorway to the kids room was a web of string.  Signs hung from the web warning Rug Rats (especially sausage eating ones) to stay out.  In front of the door was a couple of cardboard lean-toos.  String was attached to the poles holding them up and an empty box of Jimmy Dean Sausage tucked under the boxes to lure the Rug Rats in.  (The actual sausage was safe in the freezer.)

When Gabriel got up, he slipped under the web and around the trap.

"Ha ha!  Uncle Larry!  You didn't catch this Rug Rat!"

Larry and I knew the other RR would soon wake up.  We both hid around the corner and waited.  We could hear some bumbling about and then a Drew Rat appeared in the door way.

"No Rug Rats A...llow..ed," he carefully read.  "Especially...Sausage...eating...ones."  He then knelt down to crawl under the web.  At that vantage point he noticed the sausage box under the trap.

"What the...?"  He reached under the trap and examined the box.  "Wait a minute...this is empty!"  Just then Uncle Larry pulled the string and *SNAP!* caught him a Rug Rat!  Drew howled with laughter and false cries for help.  Larry, Gabe and I rolled with laughter!

That morning we were to have our interview with Channel 8 in Dallas.  I had prepared the boys that this may not happen.  (Please see my blog titled "Tiny Town Tragedy" for further explanation...) 

"The story could get bumped.  There are lots of important things going on and though your cupcake is really cool, it could be dropped for a bigger story," I warned.

"Yeah," Drew agreed.  "Like if the President dies."

"Um...yeah.  That could possibly be more important then your cupcake story."  They are so humble.

As it turned out they did get dropped.  I received a call from a guy there.  PJ had scheduled him too tight and he would not be able to make it from one story to another.  He said their sister station in Austin may try to contact us.  I thanked him and knew we would not be hearing from the sister station.

"Boys, there is good news and bad news.  The bad news is that your story has been dropped.  The good news is that we get to stay and play with Uncle Larry and Aunt Nancy longer!"

"Yea!" cried Drew.  Gabriel was not as thrilled but Drew reminded him, "It's not important that we were dropped, Bubba.  What's important is that we are having FUN!"  With that the boys grabbed Larry and Nancy and roped them into a game of Trouble.

In Austin we checked into our room at Embassy Suites.  The boys thought it was the most amazing place they had ever stayed at, with it's fountain filled courtyard and glass elevators.  There was the added luxury that we were staying on the 10th floor! 

We had plans to meet various family and friends at Baby Acapulco's for dinner.  When we arrived, Aaron's cousin Jenny (Larry and Nancy's daughter) was already there waiting.  She looked ethereal in her bohemian style maxi dress and her strawberry blond tresses blowing about her!  The boys hugged and kissed their Jenny!!  Soon after, my dear friend Lesley arrived with her boyfriend, Rodney.  There was more squeezing then hugging happening.  It was so good to be with my girl again!  Finally, Sissy joined our party and we all settled in for a lovely time together.  At the end of the meal Drew invited everyone back to our room.

"There is a glass elevator!"  He promised them.

"It's a once in a life time opportunity,"  Gabriel encouraged.

"Yeah...like being a guest on the Senate floor...." Dawn quipped.  We all laughed and everyone agreed that they could not pass up the opportunity to ride on a glass elevator for 10 stories.

Back at the suites the fun continued with a round of hide-n-seek.  My sister brought her shears and fixed Drew's hair.  I had cut it myself for picture day at school.  Dawn was greatly offended by the results.  I didn't think it was that bad until I saw how much her cut had improved it.  After the boys had their baths and brushed their teeth we all called it a night and bid our guests goodnight.

In the morning the boys got all gussied up in their new threads and we met our friends at Kerbey Lane for a big breakfast.  We then all caravaned out to the capital together.  We planned to pose for pictures on the stairs of the capital.  We struck luck when also posing for pics was Miss Austin herself.  Gabriel did not want to take pictures with her but Drew was all too thrilled to pose with this cupcake! ;)  There were scads of pics with cannons and Aaron and Gabriel did their own thing....reading every plaque they could find.  Never waste an opportunity to learn, nerds!  Before heading into the capital, Rodney did the sweetest thing and bought the boys lapel pins for their suits.  They were little gold state seals.  Rod and Aaron pinned the boys lapels.  They looked so official and dapper!  Les and I took pics and got teary eyed watching our men dress up the little men.  Too sweet!

I fear that Part 2 has gone on a bit long.  Not to tease, but I think I will end here and finish the rest a bit later.  Plus I have to see if I can add a link to the video of the senate to my blog....there must be a way....

Sunday, March 27, 2011

On the Road Again and other LAME Roadtrip Anecdotes

For Spring Break we are headed to Texas!  This has been the plan since The Move was set in motion and solidified when our State Representative e-mailed to inform us that the Texas State Cupcake Resolution would be read on March 28th.  (The official first day of the boys Spring Break!  Perfection!) 

If you can recall, about a year ago the boys were reviewing the various state symbols.  Drew, my Foodie, asked "What is the State Cupcake?"  I doubted there was one at all.  He continued for months to inquire about the state cupcake until I finally told him we would find out.  After a quick Google search we learned that there was indeed, no state cupcake.  New Mexico, however, did have a state cookie.  The Biscochito.  We could not be bested by New Mexico and so began this odd obsession to right this wrong.  We contacted our state representatives to learn what would need to be done.  This was followed by a statewide cupcake bake-off that doubled as a fundraiser for cancer research.  In the end the boys and I (along with a small team of other great friends) raised $2600 for cancer research.  We also determined that the Berry Pecan Cupcake made by Lisa Britton of Sugar Queen Cupcakes in Plano, TX, was THE cupcake for Texas.

Senator Tommy Williams found the whole project absolutely delicious and he wrote up a resolution to the effect.  The boys were invited to be on the Senate floor of the Texas State Capital for the reading of said resolution on Monday.  An e-mail from the Senators assistant requested that the boys be at their office 10 min. prior to the beginning of the session.  She would then escort the boys to the back of the Senate until time for their resolution to be read.  At that time she would escort them to the Senate floor.  The Senator would make some comments and the boys could have pictures taken. 

"Absolutely with out exception can anyone enter the Senate floor with out a suit coat," the e-mail read.

Seriously?  I had thought it would be nice for the boys to dress up some but I was thinking more along the lines of khakis and a polo shirt.... Hm.  I tried to round some blazers up from my neighbors.  We found one but it was too big.  Aaron said we could shop for them in Dallas. 

Friday afternoon, I showed my neighbor how to care for Drake.  Poor-bub!  He knew we were leaving.  Leaving him would have been so much easier had he not.  He pouted all day, wanting to stay in his mud room.  Alone.  I finally got him out as we were leaving.  We pulled away and my eyes (I'm embarrassed to say) welled up.  Aaron glanced over at me.

"You've gotta be kidding me," he laughed.

"I know!  I'm so lame," I said, dropping my head in shame.

We picked up the boys from school and I set the tone of the trip by cranking up Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again."  (More proof that I am lame...)

In January we took a road trip to MO for a friends 40th birthday.  Drew was a Royal Turd the whole way there and back. 

"Why aren't we flying?  How much longer?  I'm bored!  I'm hungry!  Brother is looking at me!"  and of course.....*drum roll*..."ARE WE THERE YET?!"

We braced ourselves for this trip.  But Jesus was smiling on us because Drew had decided to have a "No Trouble Trip," God bless him!

"This is great Dad!  Thank you so much for taking us to Texas!  I love road trips!  Brother, would you like me to read you a story?  I'm having a great time!"  It was a forced Polly Anna but much better than the other choice.  The ubiquitous "Are we there yet?" still held it's place in the repertoire.

So why Drew and Gabe happily recorded tally marks for every red car they saw, I snuggled in and devoured "The Guernseys Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society."  Absolutely delicious novel!  Get it. Love it. Your Welcome.  When it was too dark to read, I stared out the window conjuring up my own tale of visiting London.  Alone.  Just as I was stepping out of a rented flat in a floral frock and galoshes, we arrived at our destination for the night.

"I love hotels!"  Drew shouted.

In the morning we cranked up Willie again and, indeed, got back "On the Road Again."  I grabbed my book and smiled as one of the characters began to fall in love with a quiet, responsible type.  I held the hand of my Strong-Silent one who spoke maybe 3 words the whole trip.  How?  Men.  I decided "still waters run deep" and left it at that.

As we sped along the scenery began to change to expanses of FLAT.

"Look at the green grass!"  Drew cried out.  "Look!  There are buds on the trees!  It's Spring Time here!!!" 

On we rolled.  Gabriel quietly watched his favorite History Channel documentary on George Washington and Drew continued to keep his tally on red cars.  My book ended and I shuttled my mind off to London again, this time for tea in the back of a quaint and forgotten book shop. 

Finally we made it to the Red River.  Aaron alerted us and we looked up and cheered as we crossed into Texas.  As ridiculous as it is....I cried again.  Aaron laughed and patted my knee and the kids cheered again to see the six flags over Texas that are posted just across the border.

We were to stay that night at Aaron's Aunt and Uncle's place.  I have dear, dear friends in Dallas but it had been so long since we'd seen Uncle Larry and Aunt Nancy that the choice was simple.  Plus....I needed more time with my friends then one night. 

I had called one dear one in particular because I felt I could not come into town with out her knowing it.  Last year we were both going through high stress changes in our lives.  In the throws of the move I texted her:

"I know we have agreed to retire to the same old folks home when the time comes but I regret to tell you I will most likely be committed to a Loony Bin before that time arrives."

"I might beat you to it," my friend replied.  Due to stress she had lost tons of weight and was losing her hair.  On one particular visit, I noted that she was still gorgeous despite looking like a Concentration Camp survivor with mange.  I on the other hand do not lose weight when stressed.  I gain.  Thank God I kept my hair because a bald cap on my newly rounded out figure would have had me arriving in Colorado looking like Jason Alexander.

"Well...that would work.  While our house mates watch I Love Lucy re-runs, you and I can sit in the corner rocking and eating each others hair."

"That sounds so...relaxing right now.  Sadly, I probably won't have any hair left."  She then sent me a picture of a big mass of hair that her vacuum had picked up.

"Mmmm....Yummy!" I text back.

I call this sort of friend a Lifer.  An hour with a cup of coffee would be completely insufficient with a friend like this.  In fact, I think it would wreak more havoc on the soul then do it good.  So we decided to wait until a time that we could have uninterrupted DAYS on a couch with a bottle of wine.  As we drove by my friend's exit, I touched my finger tips to the window of the car and sent prayers and thoughts her way.  I felt like Yentl.  "Papa can you hear me...?"

We finally arrived at Uncle Larry's!  Drew jumped out of the car, took a deep breathe and sighed, "Ahhhh!  Warm sun, a cool breeze, and green grass everywhere!"  You'd think we kept him holed up in a basement.  Well....

We got settled and then while Aunt Nancy prepared dinner, we decided to crank out this suit shopping thing.  First we hit Ross and Target.  Ross had nothing.  At Target we scored khaki's for Drew (Gabe already had a pair), shoes for them both and shirts.  I had not considered what they would wear under the blazers.  I guess a t-shirt?  Anywhoo, Drew also wanted a tie but I just wanted to go.  So we made our purchase and headed out to the mall.  On the way Drew campaigned for the tie.

"I want to look like a fancy Senator," he said.

"Oh!  Drew would you like to grow up to be a Senator?"

"Nope.  Still a chef."

"Of course.  Hang on to your dreams, Bug-o.  What about you Gabriel?  Would you like to be a Senator?"

"No.  I'm going to make video games.  Or movies."

"Really?  Would you like to produce or direct?"

"Which ever one is more in demand."

Aaron laughed and complimented Gabe on such a wise answer.  Ha!  That kid!

We found blazers at the mall and I about choked.  They were $60 each.  Why were there not cheap school uniform blazers anywhere?  Aaron entertained the kids elsewhere while I took the coats to the cash register, drenched in buyers remorse before having even bought them.  There I was tended to by the female version of Ben Stein of Ferris Bueller..."Bueller...?  Bueller...?"

"Do you want to purchase these separate?"  she asked nazeled and slow.

"Um...why would I do that?"  I carefully asked.  She made you feel like you had to be slow and careful too.  I wondered if she was stoned. 

"Because I have this coupon," she said as she slowly and deliberately raised a wrinkled and tattered coupon.

"Um...Sure.  Thanks."

She scanned the coat. 

Then the coupon.

"You saved $25."

"Awesome!  Thanks!"  Just then Aaron brought over two clip on ties.  "Really?"  I asked.

"They're only $2,"  Aaron said.

"OK."  Turning back to Life of the Party I asked, "Do I have to ring these up seperate from the coat in order to get the discount on the coat?"

"Nope."  Then with earnest concentration she scanned the tie.

The other tie. 

The coat.

"You saved $44."

"Wow!  Thank you so much!!"  She said nothing and slowly, so slowly, she bagged our goods.  With her coupon we essentially got the blazers at a buy one get one free!  Yea for angels!!!

On the way back to our Aunt and Uncle's, the car was silent.  I looked in the back seat.  Gabriel was reading and Drew had his eyes closed.

"Oh Baby,"  I said to Aaron, "Drew is asleep." 

"You've gotta be kidding me!"

"Nope he's asleep."  And then Drew cracked a smile.  "Oh wait...nope.  He's faking it."  With out opening his eyes he said, "No I'm not."  We all had a good laugh about that one!

Back at the house I got a call from WFAA news.  They wanted a Feel Good piece and thought the boys cupcake story was a great one.  We were to meet them in the morning at Sugar Queen Cupcakes for an interview!  The boys are so excited!  As I tucked them into bed I asked Drew, "What will you say when they ask you why you wanted Texas to have a State Cupcake?"

"Because!"  To him it was quite obvious.  "A state without a cupcake is just LAME!"

Oh my.  Part II of this adventure is sure to be a doozy!

Monday, March 21, 2011

How Beautiful

What. A. Weekend.  I am so tired but there will be no rest for the weary! 

Tuesday morning, the boys and I got up early squirrely to take Aaron to the airport.  He had business in Calgary.  Afterward I took the boys to school, then went home to clean house.  That afternoon, I took the kids out of school a tad early and we went back to the airport to pick up my mother.  The plan was for mom to spend her Spring Break with the boys while Aaron and I went to Austin for Lauren and Ryan's wedding.

My time with mom was so nice even though it was brief.  We walked through my daily routine together and drew maps to the grocery store and school.  She promised she could handle the boys and Drake.  She did great!  (I also must mention that she looked great as she has dropped a lot of weight!)

Thursday finally came and my "escape" was a go!  Aaron and I had not had a trip alone since we lived in MO 5 years ago.  Poor Aaron got up at 4 a.m., boarded a plane in Canada and met me at the Denver Airport around 9:30 a.m.  I was cutting it close as our flight was to leave at 11 but we were able to get bags checked and through security in just enough time.  Once on the plane, I slept.  Aaron couldn't.

This week in Austin was their big South by Southwest Festival.  It's a huge music and film festival that artists from all over the world flock to Austin for.  Due to this it is very hard to get any kind of room in the city or surrounding areas.  All over the Austin airport were musicians with their guitar cases.  Apparently to dress like a rock star also means to dress like you are homeless.  Homeless Chic.  Not that there is anything chic about it.  Still, it was amusing.

We weaved our way through the airport crowd and hopped into our rental car.  As we headed to the B&B I soaked up the glorious humidity and sights of spring all around us!  Redbuds were in bloom and grass was green!  Spring is the hands down best time to be in Texas!!

Unfortunately neither Aaron or I had printed out directions to the B&B.  Using a map in the rental car I navigated us right past our exit.  Lucky that Austin is so small because it was nothing to drive from the airport to the other side of the city, U turn and make it back to near the center of town in Hyde Park.  We pulled up to an adorable little cottage home.  I was so please that Aaron had booked us there.  This would be the only night that would just be ours since the rest of the weekend would be all about the wedding.

Aaron checked us in and immediately we could smell disaster looming.  Long story longer, the inn keeper had double booked our room.  Aaron pulled up the e-mail from them saying that we had a room but obviously, the couple who's bags were in the room could surely do the same.  My husband is a pillar of self control.  His face was filled to the brim with anger but he calmly asked the inn keeper if he knew of there being anything possibly available in or around the city of Austin.

"With SXSW going on, I'm sorry to say there is not."

"Well....thank you," Aaron calmly replied and we walked out the door.

"That's it?!"  I could not believe how cool he was being about it.  I wanted to chew that guy out.  This was completely unacceptable!  I had been anticipating this night alone with my husband for months and now it seemed we would be bunking at Casa Little Sister.  (Sorry, my limited Spanish can only translate "house.") 

"Where would that get us, Dear?"  Oof...he called me "Dear."  That's a big sign to shut it.  Aaron only calls me "Babe" or "Baby."  "Dear" or "Woman" means he is pissed.
We got back in the car.  We were supposed to go to Lauren's after checking in so I called her and told her our problem.  She said she would get on line to see if she could find anything as we headed her way. 

I was disappointed and starving as I had not eaten since breakfast and it was now 3 p.m.  I did not want to complain though because I knew Aaron was mad and running on very little sleep.

And then his phone rang. 

From his end I gathered that the Inn Keeper who screwed us over found a room for us at a B&B that was only 3 blocks away from the place we were supposed to stay at.  They had a last minute cancellation (You know how to work it God!) and the room was now to be ours! 

As Aaron got the details from this guy my phone rings:

"Mrs.McDowell?  This is the school...." 

Drew had a bloody nose at school.  Seemingly no big deal but Drew has a thin or exposed capillary in his left nostril that often bleeds.  When it does it flows like a faucet and takes a long time to stop.  Many a night Aaron and I have woken up to Drew walking into our bedroom with blood all over his face and chest.  It's not a good way to wake up.  We have become accustomed to dealing with it and are now unalarmed with how long it takes to get it manageable.  The school however, was a little freaked out.   I talked the nurse through our management routine and made sure that Drew was OK.  They said he was very brave.  (It's old hat for him.)  They were not comfortable with him riding home on the bus though in case it were to start bleeding again.  So while Aaron turned the car around and tried to find the new B&B, I called mom to see if she could pick the boys up from school.  She was apprehensive and I offered to call Caren but she assured me she could do it.

The new B&B we stayed at was very nice.  I think it was even better then the original one and it was less expensive!  (Yea God!)  We checked in, changed clothes and headed to Lauren's where cheese and fruit were being served.

We had a great time hanging out with Lauren and meeting her Matron of Honor and her family.  Aaron really hit it off with the MOH's husband.  I could not get over how much he was talking.  Typically Aaron is very reserved and must be prompted for conversation so much to the point that Lauren had nicknamed him Wax Aaron because he will sit there, while we are all laughing and talking, still as a Wax Statue of himself.  Sleep Deprived Aaron is apparently quite social!  Who knew?  Aaron claims it had nothing to do with sleep deprivation but with the MOH's husband.  He really was a cool guy.  They both are an awesome couple of people with an adorable little girl!  One of the best things about this trip was meeting this sweet family!  (Well done Lauren!  Your friends are stellar.)

That night we all hung out around the fire pit in Lauren's back yard, until 3:30 a.m.  By the time we got back to the B&B and got to bed it was after 4 a.m.  Aaron had stayed up a full 24 hours! 

The next day Aaron and I woke up to the smell of breakfast being prepared.  We literally rolled ourselves out of bed and dressed to come down.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch:  My mother woke up to about five inches of unforecasted snow.  While the boys watched cartoons in the basement, she went out on the front deck to snap some photos.  She turned around to go back in and...click.  Click, click, click.  The door was locked!  Our door stays locked on the outside even though you can open it from the inside.  So she banged and banged on the door, yelling and hollering for the boys.  But they never came.  So mom had to walk down stairs and around to the sliding glass doors.  In the snow.  Barefoot.  Gabriel saw his Nana standing outside in the snow and opened the door.

"What are you doing out there?"  he asked.

Back in Austin there were a few other snags.  You would think that Aaron and I had never traveled before.  It was ridiculous but we ironed it all out.  When we got to the resort our room was not yet ready and so we decided to get lunch at.....WHATABURGER!!!! 

People, I miss Whataburger almost as much as I miss TexMex!  My Whataburger Jr. with cheese and jalapenos was HEAVENLY!!!  Finally I could let loose and be free of my diet!  I ate without shame.  It was also fun to listen to the conversations being had around me.  The tales of hunting and "if they ever trespass on my land again..." being told in that Texas accent....YES!  One guy walked in with his Wranglers being held up by a belt that matched his boots and that a matching holster for his cell phone dangled from.  God bless 'im.  A mother, hands full of a toddler and her lunch to go, headed for the door.  A good Texas gentleman foresaw her dilemma, jumped up mid-meal from his table and swung open the door for her.  I have missed that so!!!

Back at the resort, we got ready for the rehearsal.  I could not wait to wear my new dress and show off how all my hard work of diet and exercise had paid off.  (My shoes!!  I love my "raspberry syrup" shoes!!)  At the venue Aaron and I reunited with the brides family.  It was so good to see her parents and her brothers.  I was standing near her brother, Michael, when Lauren walked on to the scene. 

"Michal!" she exclaimed, "You. Look. Stunning!"  Just as I am about to thank her she quips, "oh, and you too Mrs. McDowell."  Ahahaha!  Her brother and I had a good laugh at that. 

At rehearsal I got to meet the rest of Lauren's fabulous bridesmaids and then we headed to dinner.  Lauren changed for the dinner into the most adorable cocktail dress ever! Her shoes were so cute!!  I have to share this because they are just too fun:

The food was so awesome.  I think food is generally better when you have just come off of a diet.  Half way through the meal I thought My word woman!  Slow down!  I made my self set my fork down.  I planned to set it down after every bite but I think I only set it down that one time.  Poop. 

Everything was lovely.  The rehearsal dinner was followed by a reception for the other guests who had come in from out of town and were staying at or near the resort.  Aaron and I followed that up by another run to Whataburger with my Sweet Shalah Who I Missed So Much and her date, Jay.   We finally crashed to our bed sometime after 1 a.m.

The next day was Wedding Day!!  The guys golfed and the bridal party met in a suite to get ready for FIVE HOURS people!  This baffled me.  I get ready every day of my life in an hour or less.  I only spent one hour of my own wedding day to get ready.  It took that long for all of us to get ready as we had to take turns with the hairstylist and make-up but mostly we lounged around the room eating salads and keeping the bride calm.  We steamed dresses and took lots of pictures too. 

Lauren kept it together very well.  After her sister-in-laws make up and hair were done, Lauren caught sight of her and the tears fell.  Her sister-in-law is a radiant beauty.  The only other time the bride spilled tears was when she finally got a look at herself.  After hours of hair, make-up, dressing, veiling, and pictures someone asked her if she had looked at herself yet.  Lauren stood in front of the mirror with her veil trailing down about her.  Hair perfect.  Make up perfect.  Woman perfect.  And she cried.  We all did. 

The thing that always moves me about weddings is the picture of the church as Christ's bride.  It has always been easy for me to embrace the concept of God the Father but God our Lover....that was missed on me until I was preparing for my wedding.  As every detail fell into place I saw God's hand in it and recognized the wooing of a lover.  Seeing Lauren full with love and anticipation to be presented to her groom, to see her glowing love highlight her beauty, brought it all to heart again how beautiful the church is to Christ.

It was truly a blessed day.  I had a lot of fun and I am worn out.  I felt like the whole weekend was a bit of a tease though because I did not get a lick of TexMex and spent only a limited amount of time with my friends and sister.  The boys Spring Break starts in about 4 days though and we will be back in Texas again.  Someone call Lupe's and have them get my old table ready for me.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

For the Love of Dog

I was literally wasting time at the computer (avoiding the laundry) when Drake just dropped his big old melon in my lap.  I swiveled my chair and attention towards him.  As I was petting him and hugging that trunk of a neck he purred.  (Drake makes this deep rumble in his throat when you snuggle him.  When we first heard it we thought it was a growl but now we realize it means he is happy and so we call it a purr.)  When he purred I thought, Man!  I love you buddy!  I gave him another big hug and said, "Drake, I'm gonna love you forever!"

I don't know what prompted that statement, but it did get me to thinking:  Drake will not live forever.  In fact, he is a big boy and will probably not have a long life (in people years anyway.)  So why do we get pets?  Knowing that our time with them will be brief; why do we knowingly and willingly bring an animal into our home, treat them like family and then grieve for them like friends when they pass?  Why do we do that to ourselves?  Even Theodore, who was not our dog of choice and was rather thrust upon us, was a heart felt loss. 

Gabriel told me the other day, "I can't wait to get old and die so that I can see Theodore again!"  Really?  Kind of morbid...but alright. 

I have shared a lot about Drake's antics but I'm not sure I've told of why he is so easy to forgive.  Even though he has now torn up three doggy beds, one of my feather pillows, a throw pillow, a basket, a pair of ski goggles, his cast, eaten numerous Baking Day products, terrorizes our cats, has cost us $500 to repair his broken foot, physically causes me pain when he rips his leash away from me to chase down deer, eats like a horse and has wretched gas....he is the sweetest little lover we have ever met!

Drake can not get enough affection and ladles his out in monster size portions!  He is not an obsessive licker which is good but he will give your cheek or hand a small kiss or two from time to time.  If you are sitting on the couch or floor, be prepared for Drake to curl up with you.  Not near you.  ON you.  He thinks he is a lap dog.  He has climbed up onto my little bitty lap and sat his ginormous butt on it as if he is nothing but a chihuahua. 

He desperately wants to be where the people are.  He does not want to be an outside dog.  Unless...that's where you are.  He likes to hike and play out of doors.  He loves to roll in the snow and bury bones BUT if you are in; he must be in.  When inside, he is quite well behaved.  He is not hyper and jumping all over you.  No, he just wants to lay down next to you while you cook, watch TV, sort laundry, or write a blog.

He does not beg at the table.  At dinner (if he is in) he will lay under the table so still we often forget he is there.  The only time that he helps himself to the people food is when he has been left inside unattended.  No matter how brief a time.

It is suspected that his previous owner has taught him to hug.  He is pretty good about not jumping on you.  When he first comes in the door he does give it a try and I give him a knee in the chest.  He'll try twice and then he sits so that I can pet him.  (Drake does not get the affection he so longs for unless he is "settled.")  Every now and then though he will just jump up for a hug.  He holds you tight with his paws until you give him some lovin' and a squeeze and then he hops right back down.  He especially likes to do this if music is playing.  I call this dancing.  Anytime I have music on Drake jumps up and puts his paws on my hips.  We then proceed with one of those awkward, high school prom, slow dance moves.

He is loving and tolerant of the children.  He is mildly obedient.  It takes a lot of instruction and sometimes physical pulling to get Drake to go outside. 

His biggest problem is learning to walk with out pulling and not chasing the deer.  I have had everything suggested to me from a harness to a shock collar.  I've been told to send him to Obedience School and I've been told (by the vet no less) that you can't train his instincts out of him.

So here we are with this big beautiful beast!  Sometimes....he makes me miss old Theodore.  (Theo never chewed up ANYTHING!)  The Old General had his own trouble areas though.  There were the diapers, the blindness, the deafness....the death breath.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Rocky Mountain Oysters (A Crass Mountain Tale)

A friend of Aaron's from Texas came to visit this weekend.  We took his family out to eat at a restaurant here called The Fort.  It's a replica of an 1800's fur trading fort.  They serve all kinds of wild game like bison, rattlesnake, quail and elk. 

When you enter the courtyard there is a huge campfire that guests gather round.  There was a lady there who was rather toasty (and not from the fire if you catch my drift).  She was very intrigued by Drew and all of his knowledge (that he was volunteering to all who would listen) regarding forts.  She saw Gabriel quietly staring into the fire and said, "You must be the big sister."

Gabriel is a beautiful boy.  With his full ruby lips and eyelashes that women would kill for, I get how....perhaps...one could mistake him for a girl.  He was wearing a camouflage jacket with the hood up.  He pulled his hood back to reveal his uber short haircut and said, "No.  I'm the big brother."  To his credit, he was unoffended.  He may have recognized that the lady was just not quite right...


As we walked into the restaurant Drew announced "Wow!  Candles!"  I promise we have taken the boys to dining facilities with candles before.  Good grief.

Once seated we enjoyed a serenade by a flutist (floutist?) who played the soft winds of  Native American tradition.  Later a Buffalo Bill looking character came by.  He was dressed all in leather, rifle tucked under one arm and hatchet tucked into his belt.  Gabriel and Drew riddled him with questions regarding his weaponry.

Aaron ordered us an appetizer sampler plate.  Our server brought it to the table and described each item.

"You have peanut butter stuffed jalapenos, Huckleberry sauce for dipping, guacamole, buffalo sausage, tongue and here," he gestures to the middle of the plate, "are Rocky Mountain Oysters.  Enjoy"

"Excuse me," I alert him with a raised finger, "I'm assuming those are not oysters?"

"No ma'am."

"May I ask what they are then?"

He looks up the table at the rest of the guests.  I can see Aaron shaking his head "no" in my peripheral.

"Do you really want to know?"


"They are bison testicles."

"Ah.  Thank you."

"Enjoy ma'am."

The first thing any of us went for were the peanut butter stuffed jalapenos.  These are served cold.  I believe it's a pickled jalapeno, sliced in half and filled with peanut butter.  The result is something like a spicy Thai peanut sauce.  YUM!!  The buffalo sausage was no big deal.  The guac was excellent! 

Then we all sort of hemmed and hawed around the tongue and "oysters."  The funny thing was that most of our trepidation was towards the tongue.  The waiter came by to see how we liked things so far.

"Very good.  We love the jalapenos!"

"And how does everyone like the 'oysters?'"  I looked at the deep fried, grape-sized bits.

"I'm guessing these were not tiny bison?"

"No ma'am.  Believe me, they dice these down to bite size."

One of our guests noted that it was either that or they actually belonged to well hung squirrels.  After some consideration I decided that I'm no stranger to "oysters."  Plus they are deep fried.  Being from the birth place of the corn dog and fried Twinkies, I am well versed in the benefits of deep fried batter.  With these things in mind I forked an "oyster" and plunged into some Huckleberry sauce.


After everyone had gone around and tasted them we all stared at the tongue.  This looked like brisket served on Melba toast.  Oddly enough, it tasted like brisket on Melba toast!  It was delicious!

Later I got a text from a friend in Texas:  "So...how were the 'oysters?'"

"They were OK," I responded, "No big deal.  As always, the tongue was better."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Stags and Studs

Poor Drake has not even had a walk to the bus stop in weeks.  When he greets Aaron he is full of pent up energy and starts wrestling with him.  Aaron, of course, loves this but I see it as a sign that Drake has got to get moving.  He needs his walks and play time with Caren's pack.  So this morning I decided to strap on Drake's boot and take him down to the bus stop.

Right as we got to the end of my driveway there was a big beautiful deer crossing the road.  I gave Drake's leash a yank and he sat down.  His haunches were fidgeting beneath him and he was whimpering; his whole being full of desire to chase that deer!  As the deer leaped away, Drake stood up and pulled.  I pulled back and he sat again and cried until the deer was out of sight. 

Whew!  We dodged a bullet!

After the kids were on the bus we headed back up the hill.  Caren was with me and we stopped at the bottom of my drive to talk.  While talking, a herd of TEN freakin' mule deer came out from the back of my property!  Curses!!!

I pulled on the leash but Drake did not sit.  He stood there whimpering and stomping around in aggravation.  The deer timidly crept through the yard.  Seeing Drake at the bottom of the drive, they decided to cut through my next door neighbor's yard.  His boxers ran up to the fence barking and snarling at the big beautiful deer.  Seeming confused, the deer turned away from the boxers and kept coming closer.  Caren could not believe it.  She said she'd never have deer approach her like that.

Finally, someone in charge in the herd, made a decision.  Two big deer bolted to our left and the rest of the herd dispersed back up the hill.  Drake broke out after the two that volunteered to be decoys.  The leash that was wrapped around my hand, unraveled.  I had to again choose my safety over the dang dog and let him go.  My arthritis is pissed off!

Aaron has always wondered if Drake could bring a deer down.  I can tell you that he was right on the heel of one of the big guys that took off.  He is so lucky that he did not get a hoof in the face!  I am also very pleased that, after losing the deer, Drake came back. 

The vet says his foot is not healed well enough to go for his walks yet.  Really?  He looked healthy as a horse tailing those deer.  I think if a fawn was trailing back, Drake could bring it down.  Please don't Drake ol' boy!  Ew.