Friday, April 29, 2011

A Mexican Chihuahua Fiesta....gone awry

My oldest turns 9 on Monday, so this weekend we had his birthday party.  He requested a Mexican Chihuahua Fiesta.  I don't know why.  It's weird.  Of course there are no Mexican Chihuahua party supplies that you can go out and get so I got creative.  Thank God Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner because I was able to find all kinds of things for the "fiesta" part.  I found some puppy paw print streamers and made chihuahua cupcakes to incorporate the dog part of it. 

Cupcake instructions can be found under my Recipe tab.

I also made Pedro.  Pedro was our pinata.  I started out making a traditional Estrella (globe shape with four cones attached to sides, lot's of colors and streamers hanging from the cones) but when I was attaching the cones I had an epiphany.  I raised the cones up a bit and had chihuahua ears!  And so Pedro was born.  Twice he nearly did not make it full term.  To understand I have to explain a touch on how one makes a pinata.  To start, a balloon is blown up.  Then it is paper mached.  THEN you can attach extremities such as the cones. 

All was well and I began to paper mache.  This is done by dipping strips of newspaper into a mix of water and flour and then applying the soggy strips to the balloon.  You have to let the layer dry before applying another. After about 3 layers have been applied and dried, you pop the balloon.  The orb shape remains and then the decorating begins. 

As I was finishing the second application of paper mache I realized I had made a perpetually colossal mistake.  For some dumb reason I had attached the cones (chihuahua ears) and milk carton (snout) directly to the balloon!  I began to walk through what would happen when the balloon was popped.  I could envision the extremities collapsing into the pinata.  Aaarrgh!

I taped the outside of the cone to the outside of the pinata and did extra layers of paper mache to the outside of them as well.  I said a prayer that they would stick.  The next day I began applying the last layer and noticed areas that were sinking in.  I looked through the opening at the top and found that the balloon was deflating.  Son of a...  Since it was already on it's way out, I cut the top of the balloon off, expediating the deflation of the balloon.  Everything remained where it should!  VICTORY!  I felt like an evil genius!

The party went really well.  All the kids were given mustaches to wear.  They took turns wearing the sombrero and taking pictures with Pedro. 

Even evil genius has minions.  Caren had suggested that I use the sombrero to display/serve the chihuahua cupcakes.  Tiffany suggested a fun time of having a jalapeno eating contest.  I kicked up the evil (and genius) and called it a HOWLapeno eating contest.  No one had to play if they did not want to.  Participants each ate one jalapeno slice.  The one who ate the most (with no water/milk/honey to soothe the burn) won a box of Hot Tamale candies.  We cut them off at 5 because we did not want anyone getting sick to their stomachs. 

Another game we played was a Chihuahua Toss.  We could not find anyone to volunteer a real chihuahua and so we used a stuffed one that Gabe had.  They took turns tossing him into the sombrero.  The winner won a mini football.

Finally it was time to bust Pedro.  This was bitter sweet for me.  Pedro's whole life had been preparing him for this moment but his life was so short and we had forged a bit of a bond while conquering the obstacles in his creation.  He was a big "hit" with the kids.  Boo.

After the basic festivities were over, female guests and others who were not able to stay over night, headed home.  We had two more friends that were to arrive after their baseball game was over.  Once they did it was like Lord of the Flies broke loose!  It was not these two boys in particular who set it off, it was just something about their arrival that signaled Sleep Over Time!!!

I've never been a fan of sleep overs so it was hard enough for me to say "yes" to it.  Gabriel has a few new friends who are into the WWE (World Wrestling...something).  I made it clear from the get-go that there was to be NO WRESTLING!  Normally, this is something I permit but with these numbers and the sugar in take...I did not find it to be a wise idea.  Despite the line I had drawn, one boy took down a girl earlier in the evening.  Said boy was pulled aside for a talking too.  Same boy then took down one of the newly arrived boys and had some sort of choke hold on him.  Wrestle Mania Boy was then told that another violation of the House Rules would send him packing home.

The poor boy who had been choked wanted to go home.  As would I!  I called and had to leave a message.  I thought that was good though because I figured that by the time his parents called back he would be playing and happy again.  And he was.  He was so comfortable that he reached down in his pants, pulled out his protective cup and sat it on the kitchen table while he ate his cupcake.  I was more freaked out about this then the choking incident.  He later showed the other boys his cup saying, "Hey guys!  Check out how long I've been wearing my cup!  It's all sweaty!" 

"EWWWWW!"  the boys all shouted.

Ew was an understatement.  I ran to Aaron to tell him what had occurred.  He had a good laugh.  Shortly after this the boys were playing in my sons room.


"OW!!  I told you not to turn on the fan!!!"

I ran in to find Gabriel with a huge egg forming on his head.  He was in the top bunk of the bunk beds and got hit in the head by the ceiling fan.  I then took the "conch" and had a Coming to Jesus with all of the boys.  If they could not follow house rules everyone would go home.  Gabriel cried and said it was the worst party he ever had.

About this time Caren text me:

C: How's the party?

M: Not so great.  The party part was good and now it's the sleep over.  It's complete Lord of the Flies.  Several injuries.  I told Aaron it's his party now.  I am going to my room with a bottle of wine.

C:  Funny.  We have an extra bed in the basement.

I then relayed "the cup incident." 

M: I would much rather chance your hubby's flu then deal with this.

C: Yuck.  I knew there was a plus side to girls.

M.:  Same kid with the cup also has very bad aim in the bathroom.

C:  I'm laughing out loud!

M: Yeah, well laugh it up.

C:  Oh, I am my dear.  I am!

Still upset with the whole thing I text my sister (who did not believe me) and Shalah about what I was enduring all to make my 9 year old happy.

Me: This is the last sleep over.

Shalah: Who needs nasty boys!

M: Janet Jackson.  I am staying in the corner of my room, rocking and drinking my wine.

S: Stay in the fetal position and let Aaron handle it.

I then over heard the boys saying that another kids house was more fun then Gabe's because they were allowed to wrestle there.  Boo.  I'm the mean mom.

All is well now.  They are snuggled in their sleeping bags watching a movie with Aaron watching over them.  I went down for a peak.  Found another protective cup on the floor...

Mad Hatters

I do love to dress up and accessorize!  Hats are a fun and daring addition to an outfit.  Aaron has twice been invited to the Kentucky Derby and has twice turned it down due to interference with our oldest sons birthday celebrations.  This was particularly disappointing to me because I really wanted to sport a fancy hat!  A neighbor recently invited us to a Kentucky Derby party.  Alas...I will be unavailable for that one too.  (The invite said nothing about hats but I was going to take full advantage of the theme!)

This morning, on, they have a photo album of some of the wild hats that were donned at the Royal Wedding.  It's all so My Fair Lady!  I have that little song playing in my head as I peruse the photos.  (Wish I knew how to add music to this thing..) You have to check out the full link here:,,20395222_20485864,00.html

Here are some highlights:

Photo Credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty
These are the...lovely...Princess Beatrice and Eugenie.  Eugenie is the one in the Scarlet O'Hara looking gown.  Wow!  I feel bad for whoever had to sit behind her.  At least there are plenty of peek-a-boos through Beatrice's hat.  She looks like she just arrived from Who-ville.
Trust me, TOTALLY hot!
I imagine Eugenie and Beatrice had a conversation similar to that above.  The Beckhams know how to do it though!  Thank you Posh Spice.  (She's certainly never been known as Smiley Spice.)  And thank you David just for being alive.  He could've arrived in his soccer uniform and it would've been quite fine.  I dig the top hat.  Hot! 
credit: PA/Landov
  Next up is Zara Phillips.  I think her hat is daring and chic.  It's also a little Star Trek-ish but I still like this hat very much.

Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty
 Introducing Princess Letizia of Spain!  She went classic and elegant.  I like the dress, the hat and that it all matches her lips.

credit: Bauer/Griffin
 I am mostly including this next one in the hat parade because she is Princess MICHAEL of Kent.  I had no idea!  I love it.  And her hat is very nice.  Nothing too crazy but very nice and very regal.

Credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty
 Lady Frederick of Windsor aka Sophie Winkleman.  This hat is very similar to Zara's but I think I like this one better.  Very modern and sleek.  Not to mention she herself is a beauty!

credit:Chris Jackson/Getty
 Oh Lord.  I think the mink really gives it a Someone Was Playing Dress Up In Mum's Closet feel.  And Tara Palmer-Tomlinson, there in the blue....sigh.  Her hat looks like it can open giant beer bottles.  At least it is useful.

credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty
 This was Harry's date, Chelsy Davy.  Harry, she bares a strong resemblance to Lindsay Lohan.  Be leery of this one.  I am disappointed in her hat.  Her pallor could use some color and she could have nabbed it from her lid.  Instead she is washed out.  The hat actually looks like it is a small bowl wrapped in aluminum foil.  I can appreciate that maybe she was trying to be understated...
Pacific Coast News
The best is last!  This is everything perfect!  The make up, the dress and of course the HAT!!!  This is Meriam-Gonzalez.  I don't know who she is but she is everything stunning and spectacular!  She is an inspiration.  Oh the gloves!!!  She may have out done the bride...

credit: Pascal le Segretain/Getty

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gadgets and Gizmos!

I am sure you have noticed that my blog has had a Spring Time Makeover.  Even though I live in The Land That Gets Snow At Easter, there are still signs of Spring showing up and I am Twitter-painted! 

I'll give you a quick tour of all the bells and whistles!

Most noticeable is the new bright and cheery back ground.  Makes you want to run through a field of wild flowers, doesn't it?  Or put on sunglasses...too bright?  Across the top of the page, tickled by the blades of grass, are newly added Tabs.  I thought it would be a nice way to display some of my art with out cluttering things up.  Another friend also suggested a recipe tab maybe with some of the treats the Baking Day Ladies and I make.  What do you think?  Any other things you'd like to see there?

Down the right hand side of the page you will see a Blog List.  These are blogs that I like to check out.  I highly recommend you take a peak at my friends blog, April Mae Creative.  She is an amazing photographer down in the Houston area.  Fabulous work!  Check it out!

Under that are my most Popular Posts of the month.  (I didn't like my overall most popular.  For some reason the blog on our first day of house hunting gets tons of hits.  Just weird.)  To the right of that is a little graph and count of the blogs Total Page Views.  Below that is my Blog Archive.  You can peruse the titles there for things you may have missed if you are a new comer to the blog.

Below the Popular Posts is the About Me (which most of you personally already know all about) and below that are my Followers.  There is a tab there that says "Follow."  If you click that you will be listed as a Follower.  You won't get e-mail notifications or anything like that.  It will enable you to comment directly on the blog.  My blog averages 40-50 page views a post.  I know the 11 people listed are not re-reading my stories 4-5 times each...  Who are you creepers?

The real fun is at the bottom of the blog.  These gadgets are for you!  There is of course a place to comment.  There are little tabs to click if you would like to share my blog on your Facebook page, Twitter, or e-mail.  The share tabs are also available on my Tabbed pages. So if you don't want to share my whole Story of the Day but really want to show Aunt Bea the rocking chairs I've painted you can just share that page with her.  Wa-la!  There is also a place where you can share your Reaction without having to make a full on comment.  I think you can even do that if you are not an official Follower.  Same with sharing.  I think.

I did have a Feedjit feature and removed it.  If you have been on this past week you may have seen a list to the right that showed where people were from that were reading the blog.  I removed it for a couple of reasons.  One is because I had a friend who just got hooked to my blog.  She said she would love to go back in the archives and catch up on my stories but then realized that everyone would see this same city and state popping up over and over and over like a crazed stalker.  Good point friend... ;)  The other is because I noticed that some people have blocks to it anyway and so it doesn't really show where all the readers are from.  The blog got 9 hits from China this week.  Wild huh?  But it never showed on the Feedjit.  Neither did my faithful Austrailian.  :* (Kiss to you kid!)  I really wanted that feature to see all of the different flags but...alas. It was futile.

So, there you have it!  As always your feedback is welcome.  Like it.  Hate it.  Love it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Joy of Motherhood! No...Seriously.

A friend of mine recently shared with me her plans to start a family.  I then shared with her the good, the bad, and the ugly of motherhood (with maybe a little too much emphasis on the bad and the ugly....)

I hope, dear readers, that I do not grouse on the subject too much.  I hope that I have managed to hit the highlights as well.  Mother's Day is fast approaching and so is my first born's birthday so I've been reflecting on my roll as a mother.  For my sake and for the sake of my friend, this blog will be about the parts of motherhood that make it all worth while!

First there is the pleasure of carrying a child.  I'm serious!  I loved being pregnant!  Even the uncomfortable things were a joy to me because of what it meant was happening inside.  Yes, carrying a baby is a bit like having a parasite.  I mean, my doctor told me, "prenatal vitamins are not for the baby.  They are for the mom!  The baby gets everything they need from you.  If it needs calcium, it will take it right from the mom's bones."  Your baby will literally be sucking your essence right out of ya!  ( encouraging.)  Feeling the baby move, watching my body change...oh and intimacy is out of this world when pregnant!  Truth.

Most newborns look more "other worldly" then ethereal at first.  Still, the first time you see your babys face...speechless.  Gabriel was a real beauty!  He actually did not have that wrinkled old man face that most new borns have.  He was such a cutie!  (Aside from the warped head but it goes back...mostly.)  Drew...was a little funky and swollen but such a love bug from the get go! 

I did not have a good start with Gabe and the breast feeding was an ordeal.  (Ladies with a low milk supply: try Blessed Thistle and Fenugreek.  Both are herbs at the grocery store that will have the bar open with in 12 hours of taking them.)  Drew was very easy to nurse and very easy to make happy.  I was so thankful for an easy second go-round.  He and I had a tender moment our first night together.  I don't know if it was the soft glowing light or the drugs....probably the drugs...but it was so sweet and I can see it in my mind as clear as that day!

The first year with our first was hard.  Not gonna lie. My favorite time of his babydom was from 1-2.  The leaps and bounds that boy made!  That was such an exciting time for he and I both. 

It was during this time that I realized that my children were not mine.  I mean, from the get-go I knew they were the Lords to give and take but even here in this world, they are not mine.  I will have 18-20 years with my sons and then they will be their own men.  They each have another woman waiting for them some where out there.  They will be hers.  She will be their priority.  So I realized I had to celebrate as they gained skills and became independent of me.  If I tried to hold them back and keep them my little boys they would turn into turds.  I don't want my sons to seek out a mother in their wife but a lover and a partner.  That has been the bulwark of my parenting motives ever since.  I'm not raising good kids.  I'm grooming great men.

Gabriel is so philosophical, prophetic, black and white.  Justice is of up most importance to him.  He has a gallant heroes heart.  He is an old soul who began to seek God from a very young age.  He is often the one teaching me instead of the other way around.  His intelligence is one of his greatest gifts but could also be one of his greatest downfalls.  It's hard for him to make a mistake or be wrong.  I apologize to him a lot because I legitimately need to and because I want him to see how to handle making a mistake.  (Something I don't always handle well myself.)

Drew (God love him) is me.  Why God?  Why oh why do you do this?  It's not funny anymore.  He is gregarious, out spoken, LOUD, funny, charismatic, dramatic, charming, and a foodie!  He is independent.  Tell him "no" and he will show you "Oh yes."  He is also ultra sensitive.  If he thinks someone is unhappy with him or does not like him it hurts him greatly.  It physically aches.  I know, because I am the same way.  He is going to be a chef.  He decided this long ago and stands by it.  He is not a foodie with out purpose.  (Well...not always.)

They bring joy to everyone who meets them.  They impress airplane passengers, teachers, Sunday school teachers, state senators, other parents, cashiers, the ladies....everyone they touch.  I swear this!  My friends tear up when they speak of them.  They are a blessing!

They tell me they love me, they are proud of me, that I'm beautiful, that I'm "not lame."  Drew holds my face and says, "Oh Mommy!  You are my one and only mom!  You are my angel!" Gabriel says that he is so glad that God decided to give him to me.

I appreciate my time with them and my time away from them.  It's good for me to miss them and, like wise, for them to miss me from time to time.  Take breaks mommy's!  I think this is especially important for stay home moms because you are 24-7 in kid world.  Even when they are in school, most of what I'm doing is for them.  The laundry, the groceries, PTA, the carpooling.  Your world literally revolves around them.  Family vacations are not vacations for moms.  I am so grateful that I have a husband who recognizes that and happily makes these breaks possible for me.  Usually. ;)

Since they were born I have been helping them grow up and apart from me.  Make them more self reliant and capable.  That's what parenting is.  That's the job.  My sons are 8 and 6 now and don't need me to do all of the little things so much anymore.  They can blow their nose, wipe their butts, bathe, tie their shoes and the like.  The hands-on stuff was the easy part.  Now it is more about life lessons.  Now I'm thinking I might would like to go back to curling up in my recliner with a suckling little baby in my arms...


Monday, April 25, 2011

My Mommy Has a Dancing Heart

My sons come home every week with a Friday Folder full of their graded papers and important notes for parents.  Proof that I am such a "with it" mom, I checked my sons Friday Folder...Sunday.  Luckily we did not miss anything pertinent this weekend. 

What I did find though was a paper sack puppet that my youngest had made.  He explained to me that they had read a story in class called, My Mommy Has a Dancing Heart.  The children then made paper bag puppets of their mothers.

Um...what kind of dancing is this puppet doing?!  I'm assuming it's not just her heart that's dancing.  What?  Were they out of tassels?

A few blogs back I had promised an African Peanut Soup recipe and never delivered.  Here it is:

2 onions, chopped
1 TBS peanut or vegetable oil
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ginger root peeled and grated
1 cup chopped carrots
2 cups diced sweet potatoes
4 cups vegetable stock or water
2 cups tomato juice
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 TBS sugar (optional)
1 cup chopped scallions or chives

In a large soup pot, hear oil and saute onions until transparent.  Stir in the cayenne pepper and fresh ground ginger.  Add the carrots and saute two more min. Mix in the potatoes and stock or water, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 min.

In a blender or food processor, puree the veggies with the cooking liquid and tomato juice.  Return the puree to a soup pot.  Stir in the peanut butter until smooth.  Taste the soup.  Its sweetness will depend upon the carrots and sweet potatoes.  If necessary, add a little sugar to enhance the other flavors.

Reheat the soup slowly, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. To thin soup, add more water, stock or tomato juice.  Serve topped with plenty of chopped scallions or chives.

The results were delicious!  A little bit of sweet and spicy.  Reminded me of the peanut sauce I make for my spring rolls.  YuM!  I was curious about the calories in this and did some research on-line.  The recipes were a smidgen different from mine so I could not get an accurate calorie count.  What I did learn is that some versions include rice.  Others throw shrimp in as well.  So you can be creative with it.  I think rice would be an excellent addition!

Now I need to go have a "sit down" with my youngest son about dancing mothers....

Friday, April 22, 2011

Resurrection Rolls and other Easter Traditions for Kids

I love Holidays and love to do all sorts of things to celebrate them.  At Christmas we have scads of traditions that must happen or Christmas just isn't Christmas.  I have probably ruined my sons for any woman as keeping up with all of these things are just not fun unless you love it.  It has gotten to the point that my kids expect something grand and special every holiday.

"Good morning's Veterans Day!  Where are the Veterans Day decorations?"

"What?  Hm?  We don't decorate for Veterans Day.  We call our family who has served and thank them."

"But we have to have decorations!  Or a cake!  How about a cake?"

Last night before prayers Gabriel asked, "What are we going to do for Earth Day tomorrow?  Isn't it something that Earth Day and Good Friday are both tomorrow?  What are we going to do?"

"We are going to take our recyclables down to the fire station," Aaron said.  Thank goodness he had an idea because I had not planned on anything for Earth Day.  I did however have a plan for Good Friday.

Every Easter we always dye eggs and get a basket from the Easter Bunny (next to the leprechaun, one of the creepiest of Holiday characters if you ask me.)  We also have two other traditions that are not as widely practiced. 

One is the Easter Watermelon:

When Gabriel was about 2 (3?) we were talking up all of the things we would be doing for Easter.  We were at the grocery store and he saw a watermelon and thought, based on  my descriptions) that it was an Easter Egg.  I explained that it wasn't but then an idea struck me.  We bought the watermelon.  At home I stripped that baby boy down to his diaper and set out some paints.  He finger painted the watermelon to look like a very colorful Easter Egg.  Actually, it was a mess.  Most years it is.  A few times the boys have mixed the colors into this disgusting brown color. : / 

Every year I hope it will look like an Easter Egg with beautiful color and design.  Last years was very nice.  Looked like an impressionist painting.  There was lots of color but not too blended.  This year, the boys got a little help from a friend, 13 year old Erik.  I could just kiss Erik because he got the boys to do what I have never been able to do: a REAL Easter Watermelon!  (Erik, I may have to have you do the gingerbread house with them next year.  Those are never very attractive either...)  But seriously, part of the fun is seeing what their own creative genius comes up with. 

Our other fun (and yummy) tradition is the Resurrection Roll:

This is a demonstration for the kids of the death and Resurrection of Christ.  You start with large marshmallows, sugar, cinnamon, melted butter, and crescent rolls.  (Mix the sugar and cinnamon together.)  Read the directions on the crescent roll container.  Preheat your oven for the temperature given.

The marshmallow represents Christ.

"Why is Jesus the marshmallow?"  Drew asked me today.

"Because it's all white and Jesus was pure and without the mark of sin."

Then you take your Jesus-mallow and prepare it for burial.  First He is dipped in the butter.  This represents the oils that were used to prepare His body.

Next, roll Him in the sugar and cinnamon mix.  These represent the spices that were also used to prepare a body for burial.

Then you roll your prepared mallow in crescent roll dough.

Finally seal the tomb.  This is crucial.  If you don't pinch the open ends of the dough well, then the demo won't work.

Ready for the oven! 

Just follow the baking instructions on the crescent roll container.  Ours said 12-15 min.  Go for the longer time.

Ideally, they will look like this:
But since baking is not my forte (even something as basic as this) ours turned out like this:

OK, this is not supposed to happen.  You do not want Jesus oozing out all over the place.  It ruins the surprise and it's very difficult to clean up.  FAIL!!!

However...the point still gets across.  Look inside:

The tomb is empty!!!  Hooray! 

Where'd He go?

To prevent Mallow Seepage I recommend using the large crescent roll dough and then seal, seal, seal it up really good.  There are some other resurrection cookies and stuff but they take a long time and are not as tasty as these.  These rolls taste a little like a cinnamon roll but not nearly as sugary sweet.

So that is what we did for Good Friday.  Tomorrow we will dye our Easter Eggs.  Sunday we will wake up to Easter baskets and spend church and lunch with a dear friend. 

Oh I have to add one more idea because it really made us laugh!  This same friend that is hosting us for Easter called me last week.

"I need a creative idea," she said.  Her sons Christian Preschool was having an Easter party.  She signed up to do the games.  The school sent a reminder to the parents involved in the party planning to please keep the treat, crafts, games, and decorations Christ centered.  No bunnies, no eggs, etc. (Or as my friend put it "so that we are sure to really slap them upside the head with what the Holiday is really about." Ha!)  I do love making sure that our children know what Christmas, Easter, St. Patty's and the like are truly about but I am all for balance.  Anywhoo, she and I brainstormed various ideas.

"I know,"  I finally said, "how about instead of Pin the Tail on the Donkey you do Pin the Jesus on the Cross?  The kids can't go wrong!  If they miss the cross and Jesus is up in the clouds or walkin' about on the hill, it's still all good.  Everyone wins!  And we know how schools like to be sure and have a class full of winners."

We had a good laugh over this idea.  For some reason she didn't run with it.  I don't know...

I would love to hear your clever Easter traditions!  Feel free to share below in a comment.  In the mean time, my family and I are off to the recycling station!  Happy Earth Day, ya'll!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Am Going To Be On Dancing With The Stars!!!

I love Dancing with the Stars.  Fanatical.  Crazy for it!  I watch every episode and cry nearly every time.  It took me awhile to figure out why I cried every time.  Then I realized it's because I want to dance!

I am a terrible dancer.  I was in Color Guard in high school which requires a touch of dance skill.  My mom and Aaron would sit in the stadium and laugh at me.  I was that bad. 

When I tried out for a production of White Christmas, they were starting with dance auditions.  I was so bummed.  I thought if they heard me sing first then maybe I would have a chance to read.  The audition was tragic.  Everyone else had experience and so they would say something like,

"OK, we will do a pas de barre, fan kick, body roll, box step and pose.  And 5,6,7,8!" 

And then people did it!  I did not want to just stand there and so I tried to do what the people in front of me did.  It was SOOO bad!  Strangely, I was not scared or embarrassed.  I just thought it was hilarious.  What was I thinking?

They called us up 3 at a time to show our stuff.  The judges did not even look at me.  They did at first, but then they quickly realized I was a disaster and kept their eyes on the other two dancers.  They couldn't look at me again or they might laugh.  I am not making that up.  I later talked to one of the directors who judged the audition and she confirmed that that is indeed how it went.  I guess they were baffled as to what in the world I was doing there because they did not ask me to leave and I got to do a singing audition and later a reading.  I scored a small non-dancing part.  In the final chorus the whole cast dances together.  Simple steps and such.  Regardless, the director was sure to post the two tallest performers in the cast directly in front of me.  I'm certain this was strategic.  I'm not complaining.  I was grateful for it!

Still...I would like to dance.  It terrifies me though.  I did take Belly Dancing for about a year.  It was a great fitness regime.  No skill was ever obtained though.  Boo.  My belly dancing instructor also taught a Zumba class that has various Latin dances combined to provide a great cardio work out.  She encouraged me to come to a class. 

"You know they are not inviting you to a salsa cook off right?" my sister asked.

"So don't bring chips?"

She was right.  There were no chips and dip.  I went to classes for about a month and then decided to quit since I was on the verge of tears through every class.  Can't even do the dance of my peoples.  Ug.

It was either this past summer or fall, after bawling through another season of Dancing with the Stars, that I decided to write the show.  It would take hard core professional help to get me to dance.  It seemed unlikely they would go for my idea but...if you never ask you'll never get anything.  I suggested that they try a season with Every Day Stars such as firefighters, police men, teachers, nurses, EMTs, military personnel and...moms.  I never heard back.

A few months ago, during the Academy Awards, there was a commercial for Dove.  They would be partnering with Dancing with the Stars in a contest called the Dove Challenge.  The winner would be flown to CA for a week to be taught a dance by one of the Dancing with the Stars dancers and would perform the dance in the finale.  All you had to do was send in a 60 sec. video saying why you like Dove and why you want to be on Dancing with the Stars.  I was immediately gripped with fear and cried.  (Can  you believe?  I am such a dork!)  When ever I feel that sort of reaction it is the signal to me that I have to do it.  I don't want anyone to tell me that I can't, including myself. 

I dragged my feet on making the video.  I pushed it back everyday until it was the day before the deadline.  I recorded a "bit" with my camera set up in my living room.  I didn't tell anyone.  After I got the piece sent out; I went over to Caren's.

"What's the matter with you?  You're not being yourself,"  she said.

"I'm not?"


"Hm."  I couldn't tell her.  I was too embarrassed and too nervous.  A few weeks later I finally confessed.

"I KNEW there was something off about you that day!"

I feel quite certain they are going to call me.  I know it is silly but I really do!  One day I was doing laundry and I thought, this is how it will happen.  I will be doing laundry and my phone will ring and it will be Dancing with the Stars.  And phone rang.

Oh my gosh!  It's happening!

I looked at my phone's caller ID.  The number was Unavailable.

Holy smokes!  It's them!


"Is Tia there?"

"Sorry.  Wrong number." (P.S.  Why do we apologize to people who have the wrong number?  And to Tia: stop giving my number out.  Grow a pair and just turn these guys down with some grace instead of lying to them.  You have been rerouting guys to my number for 9 years now!)

Little by little I revealed my secret to various people.  My mother, sister, friends, grandma...

"Oh!  You just have to tell me if they call you," my Grandma said.  "I will need to tell all of my friends to watch!"  I love her faith.

On our Spring Break road trip, I told Aaron.  He did not say much.  I think he said that it was "nice."

One Monday night I was making dinner and getting excited about watching DWTS.  Aaron was in the kitchen helping me get things ready.  I threw my leg up on the counter and started stretching.

"What are you doing?"  he asked.

"I'm stretching.  I've been thinking I should be getting my body ready.  Get more limber for the show."

"You are a dork."

"But when they call me I have to be ready!"

"Call you?  What?"  I reminded him about the contest.  It was like I was telling him for the first time.

"You can't leave for a week," he said.

"You do!"

"But I go to make money.  Are they going to pay you?"

"They will pay for the trip!"

"What about the kids?  I can't take a week off from work to take care of them."

"My friends would all do anything to make sure I am on the show.  They will help with the kids.  Get out of my way.  I'm stretching here."

The next week Aaron came home from work.  I had been praying and daydreaming every day since sending the video in that I would be on the show.  I was feeling good about my chances that day and I greeted Aaron with a hug and kiss and said, "I'm going to be on Dancing with the Stars."

"So they called," he said.  He was very unsurprised.  It wasn't "Did they call?"  Or "So they called?"  It was a matter-of-fact statement.  "So they called."

"No.  I'm just saying.  You know...heads up.  They are going to call."  He hugged me and pet my hair like I was a special case.

"I love you.  You are a weirdo but I really, really love you."  I think he knows I'm going to get the call.  He really thought they had called.

On another day I was out and about town and I saw a store for dance wear.  I text Shalah.

Me: I found a store that sells dance clothes.  I am trying not to go in and buy stuff.  I'll need like a weeks worth of dance clothes for the practices.

Shalah: No ma'am.  Why don't you buy a pair of high heels instead?

Me:  Not a bad idea.  I need to break my feet in.  I love to wear heels but I don't know if my feet can handle 7 days a week dancing in heels. 

Shalah:  You'll fit right in with the Mountain People in your heels.

Me:  Right.  *sigh* I have to get on this show. 

 I'm such a 12 year old.

Shalah:  You really are.

I know it seems far fetched to think that I'll get on the show but I have 4 friends who have been on various reality TV programs.  One was a bachelorette on Who Wants To Marry a Millionaire, another was on a HGTV bathroom make over show and then of course there are my friends, Olivia and Hannah, on this seasons Biggest Loser.  It really could happen people.

Monday night's show was an hour and half long.  When I found that out I nearly peed my pants!  It was awesome!  They said repeatedly in the show that they were half way through the season.  I checked my calendar.  If my calculations are correct I should be hearing from them in about 3 weeks.  That should give me time to buy my dance clothes and make arrangements for the family.  If not...well, they will.  They have to call.

Note: After writing this blog I decided to do some research to see when the winner would be notified.  The suspense was just killing me!  Found out she was notified back in April and has been working on her dance with Damian Whitewood of DWTS and filming commercials for Dove.  I had a good cry and Aaron had a good laugh.  (Not because I didn't get it but because I really thought that I would.)  I am a million shades of ridiculous.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Oh Mammy!

For quite some time I have had some tenderness in one of my breasts.  During a self-exam, in the same breast, I found a lump.  This made me realize that I had not had a Well Woman's Exam since my hysterectomy three years ago.  (Was it three?  I don't know...ah well.)  When I called for an appointment I let them know that I have no more Baby Making Parts and just needed a breast exam.

"Oh well you still have to have a pap smear."

"Of what?"

This is quite unfair.  I thought I had gotten out of all of the gross and painful "rights of womanhood" when I gave up those parts.  Well...I didn't just give them up.  There was a medical issue and then once in there they decided that one of my ovaries was no good.  I do have the one somewhere floating around I guess. 


Upon my exam the doctor did find the lump that I had.  He said the size, shape and the fact that it was tender to touch indicated that it was likely a cyst.  It was on the underside of my breast.

"This is a typical place that women will get lumps and things because of the way the breast hangs," he so eloquently said.

"Wow.  Thanks.  In the future you may want to refrain from using 'hang' and 'breast' in the same sentence."

He laughed and continued the exam.

"There does not seem to be a lump in the other....hmm...they usually both have them because of the..."

"Their posture?  That would be nicer then 'hangs.'"  Apparently one of The Girls has better posture than her more laid back, Bohemian sister.  He requested a mammogram.  My first.  Boo.

"If it's a cyst what will we do about it?"  I asked.

"We stick a needle in it and drain it."

"It really doesn't bother me all that bad.  It's annoying but I've had headaches that are worse."

"Let's just see how it comes out."

I IM'd Aaron when I got home:

Me: Had my appt. 

Aaron: How'd it go?

Me: Fine.  I need a mammogram but not to be alarmed.  Cyst.

Aaron: I don't know why I am paying these guys.  He should be paying me for not killing him after he felt up my wife.

Me: Please.  I'm the one who needs compensation.  Dinner at least.

Aaron: Again, It should me that gets the dinner.

Me: If it's any consolation it is very unsexy and unromantic.  It's cold, clinical and quick.  There is a nurse in the room to watch.  You know...for added kinkiness.

I have been dreading having to have a mammogram for years.  I know of a gal who has actually passed out when she had one!  Most of the women I talk to have had nothing good to say about it.  I did have two friends who said they did not know what the fuss was about.  They claim that it's no more painful or more uncomfortable then ones annual "woman" exam.

This afternoon I checked in for my appointment and began reviewing my doctors order.  I noticed he checked a box giving permission for them to treat the problem if it's minor.  This totally freaked me out remembering how he said that if it's a cyst they would drain it with a needle.  I need time to mentally prepare myself for that!  My palms started sweating at that point. 

It was finally my turn.  I changed into their pink open scrub type thing.  I had a nice lady to do the screening.  I was so glad!  She set my breast on this tray and arranged it how she wanted.  Then a big paddle came down and it got tighter...and tighter...and tighter.  When my poor boob was as flat as a hamburger patty she said, "now take a breathe and hold it."  The thing is, I was breathing through all of the tightening and I could not even take a breathe in to hold.  We did this three times on the questionable boob and then two times on the other.

After this they wanted to do an ultrasound as well.  This was not as bad but still painful because everywhere the tech pressed the wand-thingy, was sore.  After my breast's photo shoot, the tech let me dress and went to see the radiologists with her findings. 

"Breasts have all kinds of things going on inside," she said when she returned.  "There are milk ducts, blood vessels, lymph nodes....all kinds of workings.  This makes it hard to tell what is a foreign lump and what is anatomy.  Some breasts feel like a meatball."

Really.  That is just gross.

"Your breast is fine.  One of your breasts has more fibrous tissue then the other.  They can be tender and they can be hard to tell the difference between a cyst, tumor, or healthy tissue when doing an exam."

Evidently.  I mean my doctor couldn't even tell the difference.

"See you for another mammogram in a year."

Well that was great news but I hate to have stuff like that done to find nothing.  And apparently my boob will just hurt from now on.  Nothing to do about that.  Funny how it was something I could live with when they were considering sticking it with a needle but now I find it unacceptable.

I came home and told Aaron the good news.

"See," he said, "I told you that guy just wanted to feel you up."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April Showers Bring May Flowers

I am having such an odd week.  It seems like its been bad but the blessings are so obvious at the same time.  Kind of like the Spring time scenery here.  It's all yellow and dry here but there are little bursts of grass and flowers starting to blossom.  Good stuff has been hiding under the surface all along.  Not like my "troubles" are so great (I use quotes not because they are not legitimate but because they are relative) but they have been pecking at me all week.

We went out to lunch on Sunday and I noticed a family at the table next to ours.  There were three older people and two young men that looked to be college aged.  They were very obviously brothers dining with their parents and perhaps a family friend.  (I can't believe I am now at the age where I refer to college men as "young men."  Sad day.)  These two guys had expressions and postures that implied that they were enduring this meal with their folks.

"Is that going to happen to us?"  I asked Aaron.

"Oh it will."

"I don't want it too.  I don't want our sons to just 'put up' with us." 

Last week Gabriel came home and told me about an incident at school.  I promptly went to the school and straightened the matter out with a talk with the principal.  Monday Gabriel came home and told me that the story he told was a bit fabricated.

"I both misunderstood and lied," he said. 

I was embarrassed and confused.  Not that I am a mother who thinks her kid would never do such-and-such but this was certainly a first for Gabriel.  I could never quite get a straight story from him and think he is at least being honest in that he misunderstood something and then took "creative liberties" with it when he relayed the events to me.

"What is going on with you bud?  Where is this coming from?" 

Also last week he decided to do a puppet show for his school project.  He told his teacher that his mom would probably not let him use any of our socks to make puppets.  She brought socks from her home for him to use.  I felt like we were some "special case."

"Why did you tell your teacher that?  Why didn't you ask me first?  You act like you are afraid to ask me or tell me things."

"Well...I know you won't like this but...I am."

"You're afraid of me?" I asked.


"Afraid of what?"

He shrugged.  Said he was afraid to disobey me. After I tucked him into bed I went down to the basement to finish folding clothes and have a good cry.  Just last week Drew told me I was so mean.

"You're even meaner then Daddy!" he sobbed.  Then on another occasion, "Mom!  You are the WORST!  You are the worst and the BEST!"

In those moments I thought Good.  I'm doing my job then!  I have never been a parent delusioned with the idea that being my child's friend was more important then being their parent.  After Gabriel confessing to being afraid of me however, I had visions of us one day having lunch together and my boys looking at me with their eyes glazed over and trying to make subtle glances at their watches.

Aaron came down on his way out to the gym. 

"I'm going to work out."  I looked up from the laundry.  "Why are you giving me that look?"  he asked defensively.  I cried harder.

"I'm not giving you any look!  Doesn't anyone in this family like me?!" (Oh yeah.  It was high drama people!)

"We like you,"  Aaron laughed and hugged me.  "We LOVE you."

"I know ya'll love me but you can love someone and not like them!  Gabriel is afraid of me and Drew hates me!  Waaaaaaagh!  This is my whole life.  My WHOLE LIFE!  I'm going to do nothing but take care of my family and then they will leave and do everything they can to avoid me."

Aaron held me and let me cry.  He assured me that I was a great mom.  I told him why I thought that kids were unhappy with me and he said my responses to them were legitimate. 

"Go work out," I sniffed.  "I'm going to watch Dancing with the Stars and have a glass of wine."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah.  I'm not playing a game or testing you or anything.  I really will feel better after watching my show." 

So he left.  Two minutes later he came back in, went up stairs and came back down with a bowl of ice cream.

"I thought you were going to work out."

"I decided I would rather eat ice cream and watch Dancing with the Stars with you."

"Liar.  You hate this show."  I snuggled into his body and all was well again. 

*I wish I could insert a little tuft of grass here*

The next day a special friend came by.  We had not talked in awhile and it was good to catch up.  She is one of those friends where you can pick up where you left off.  At some point I am telling her about my tragic parenting skills.  She confessed she does the same things I do.  We both laughed at each other, relieved that we were not alone.  Neither of us actually ever agreed that we were good mothers or bad mothers.  We just knew that we were normal mothers.  On her way home she called me crying.

"Thank you so much for today.  I had no idea how badly I needed that time!"  We promised to get together soon.  Maybe even for a girls weekend or something.  It was funny because I had shared my story with her (a good mom, wife, woman) expectant for her advice and ministry.  Instead we ministered to each other and bounced various ideas of how we can better manage our households. 

*a little yellow flower*

After Drake and I's last walk, I decided we would not go for anymore walks until he is trained.  (Training starts April 30 and I can't WAIT!)  Yesterday I thought we could at least go down to the bus stop to get the boys.  Part way down the hill I saw a fox across the road.  I sat Drake down and loved on him and he did not seem to notice a thing.  About that time I could hear the bus coming around the bend.  Drake and I proceeded to the bus stop. 

At our stop is a home with a horse name Stormy.   Stormy is not new to Drake but for some reason he decided he needed a closer look.  Due to past experience regarding Drake and Stormy I thought I could reign him in.  I was wrong.  Drake charged the horse and I was dragged through the gravel.  I released the leash (too late) and sat in the middle of the road trying not to cry and assessing my damage.

The kids had just got off the bus as all of this happened.  Caren's daughter was so upset.

"Are you OK?  Do you want me to get my mom?"

"No Sweetie.   I'm OK.  I just need a minute."

"I'm going to get my mom!"

Then my sons ran over.

"Mom are you OK?!"

Not really.

"I'm fine.  Just give me a minute."

"We'll go get Drake!"

But Drake was in the horse corral foolishly messing with a nervous horse.  I got up and sent Gabriel up to the house for the sausage dog treats.  I needed something tempting.  Drew and I stood at the fence calling to Drake to return to us and screaming in horror when he started eating horse poop. 

"Mom, I'm little enough that I could crawl under the fence.  I love Drake enough that I won't mind the horse poop."

"NO!"  I screamed, "Do NOT go in the corral Drew!  That horse is upset and he could really hurt you."

"I'll go see if I can't get Mr. Pete then!"  he said.

"Much  better plan."

Drake sniffed the horses butt and the horse pulled up his leg like cocking a gun.  I was certain I was about to see my dog kicked or stomped to death by a horse.

"DRAAAAAKE!"  I yelled for him but he was too damn stupid to leave the horse alone.  Stormy went into his stall and Drake followed.  I could not see what was happening but could hear the horse snorting and stamping and giving Drake all kinds of warnings.  Drake just barked back.

What am I doing on a mountain trying to get my dog out of a horse corral?!  Never expected to be in this position EVER.

"Drake!  Come here buddy!"  I called sweetly.  "DRAKE YOU TURD!  GET OVER HERE!"  I tried everything.  Then Gabriel arrived.

"Here mom!"  He said panting and holding up ONE little sausage treat.  It's the size of my thumb.

"Seriously Gabe?"


*sigh*  "Thanks Buddy.  This is not gonna cut it though.  Could you please go back and get the WHOLE bag of sausage treats?"

The previous scene of me yelling for the dog and the dog ignoring me was repeated.  Drake was in the corral for about 15 minutes.  I considered climbing in myself because I could probably grab his leash....but then Stormy came galloping out of the stall flustered and mad and I came to my senses.  Then Caren's daughter came running down the hill.

"My mom is picking up my sister from practice!" she called to me as she ran waving a big piece of turkey.  "I brought this!" She waved the turkey again.

"Atta girl!  Drake!  Drake!  Come on buddy!"  And he finally did.  I leashed Drake and began to limp back up the road.  Just then Aaron pulled up in the truck.

"What's going on?"  I opened the door and pushed Drake in.

"Here.  Take him home."

"What happened?  Are you OK?"

"No.  He dragged me down the hill when he went after Stormy."

"Stormy?  That's weird.  UG!  He smells!"

"Yeah.  He was eating horse poop.  See you at the house."

The incident left me with two cut knees, a skinned elbow and skinned hands.  There is the bonus of a torn pair of jeans.  (I love when my jeans have holes due to love and wear instead of forking out money for a brand new torn pair.)

That night was pizza night.  I sat on Caren's couch eating pizza and drinking wine with my Mountain Peeps.  It started to snow great big heavy wads of white! 

*tree buds*

Today I ache all over.  Mountain living makes me feel old.  We woke up to about 5 inches of snow.  The mountains were gently veiled in fog.  Gorgeous!  The boys and I had a pretty good morning getting ready.  We headed down to the bus stop.  Out of the corner of my eye I could see something galloping towards me.  It was Drake.

"How did you get out?!"  I eventually got the dog and the boys where they should be.  At home I did more laundry (I'm telling you it's never ending) and soaked my wounds in a hot shower. 

This afternoon I left the house to get my hair cut.  Before leaving I looked out side to see how the weather was.  There was still snow but the sun was out so the roads were clear.  When I stepped outside I could hear rain.  I looked up at the blue sky, confused.  The snow was melting so rapidly from the trees and roof tops that it sounded like rain falling!  Everything was wet and it sounded like it was raining but the sky was blue and the sun was shinning.  It wasn't raining at all!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

How to Make Successful Children and African Peanut Soup

This week I am going to make an African Peanut Soup.  I am going to attempt this dish for two reasons: 1. I received ginormous sweet potatoes in my co-op and 2. because I am still hoping to obtain a reader from Africa.  It's the only continent that I have not had a reader.  (If you can believe that.)  So I am hoping someone over there decides to Google African Peanut Soup and stumble upon my blog.  I just think it would be neat.  Realistically, I will probably just have to wait for one of the 30 or so followers that I do have to visit Africa.  Then I have to hope that they have some moment of down time in an area with wi-fi and that they are bored enough to peek into my life.  This is a small little goal of mine in some pathetic attempt to feel like I am a successful blogger.  That goal is a little more exciting to me then my daily goals of catching up on laundry, running the vacuum, cleaning the kitchen, etc.  Also, not to yell at my children.  Those goals are real and important but so boring. 

About a month ago Aaron came home to fill me in on his stellar evaluation at work and announced that he got a bonus.  I think I've already admitted it in a blog but it still shames me to say; it sort of pissed me off.  I was happy for him and for what it meant for us as a family but I was jealous that he gets recognized and rewarded for his hard work. 

There is no quarterly evaluation for Mothers.  No one sits you down and says, "though you burn dinners, have little patience for your children, and have yet to remember to make iced tea for your husband (though oft requested) the company has been very pleased with the way you defended your sons at school, how you get them ready for their day and help with their homework.  You went above and beyond with that whole State Cupcake thing and in light of that we are going to send you on a vacation to Europe."  That would be awesome. 

Feeling low on the totem pole of life, I complained to my sister.  She wisely reminded me that my success lies in my son's success.  When they achieve goals, like using the toilet on their own and a tissue for their nose instead of a sleeve, then I have too.  That is my pay day.  My European vacation will likely have to wait until they graduate high school (at the very least.) 

I had this in mind when, earlier this week, Drew tied his own shoes for the first time!  I was so proud of him!

Way to go Mom! I said to myself. 

We had been working on this since Christmas.  I think the delay in achievement was due to having to wear snow boots more than half of the time.  I took a picture of the tied shoe and sent it to every relative on my phone.  The caption read: "Drew tied his shoe!"  But I meant: "Look what I did!!!" 

Drew was proud and Gabe was proud.  He grabbed a hairbrush.  Holding it under his chin like a microphone he said, "Drew!  Drew!  What are you going to do next?"  He thrust the "microphone" in Drew's face.

"Um..." he answered.  The mic was pulled away.

"Are you going to pull your tooth?"  prompted Gabriel as he thrust the mic back at his brother.


I have no idea how I ended up with such dramatic children.

Yesterday I checked the mail and was thrilled to see a big manila envelope sticking out.  I had been waiting for the pictures from the Senate meeting to arrive and was certain this was it!  It was!  I have to say they went all out.  Inside were two matted pictures of the boys with Senator Williams and another Senator whose name I did not catch.  The mats were signed to the boys by both Senators.  There was another envelope with several pictures of the kids posing with various Senators; including the bunny ear pics!  Also included were two red folders with the gold state seal on the outside.  Inside were copies of the cupcake resolution.  Very nice!  We will have to frame them.  I re-read the resolution. 

The day we were there I was so excited for the boys and paying much more attention to their adorable antics then actually listening to the resolution's reading.  As I re-read it yesterday I realized that the cupcake is not even mentioned!  We were jipped!  Resolution No. 574 tells of the boys efforts and praises them for it.  There are about 4 paragraphs of accolades and then it ends with: "now, therefore, be it resolved, that the Senate of the State of Texas, 82nd Legislature, hereby commend Gabriel T. McDowell and Drew C. McDowell on their initiative and resolve and extend them best wishes for continued success in their quest for knowledge."

What?!  We basically just have a resolution from the State of Texas acknowledging that my sons are kick ass.  I'm disappointed and will be looking into this further but I'm not gonna lie...I'm still pretty thrilled!  I don't know any other parent who has such a document to prove their child's worth.  Ha!  It's sort of my job evaluation.

My next blog will include the recipe for African Peanut Soup and of my results.  Please check it out Africa!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Great Drake Strikes Again

The Great Drake is a turd!  Oh how I love this dog but he is killing me!  First of all he has lived here for 3 months and he is still not used to the cats.  He wants to eat them and Aaron kind of wants him to.  My cats are mean and they taunt him.  When he is peering into the window they go up to it hissing and they box at it.  Something they would never do if there was not double paned glass between them and the dog.  Thank God it's double paned because I'm pretty sure he could go through it. 

Last night Drake was in the mud room (his room) eating and getting ready for bed.  Smee went up to the door and hissed and pounded on it.  I mean, really!  How rude!  That's his room!  His space!  Aaron wants to just let the door open and see how brave they are then.  In a way I get his train of thought.  It would serve those mean cats right but...he would eat them.  I would never see Drake the same.

One of my friends bought him a Gentle Leader to help him on his walks.  It works wonderfully!  It has immediate effects and keeps him from pulling.  Since the break, we had only taken walks to the bus stop and on our hill.  Today is beautiful and his foot is healed so I thought we would do the 3 mile loop we used to do.  Drake was so excited he peed on my shoe while I was leashing him.  Thank God he did not release the whole tank!

The Gentle Leader did it's job and Drake did not pull.  He did stop to sniff some things.  As an experiment, I thought I would see what it would take for me to pull him away from such a spot.  He was sniffing.  I held the leash and completely leaned back like a water skier.  It did not budge him.  He is so strong!  Anywhoo, we continued our walk.  Caren drove by and waved.  A few seconds later she called my cell.

"How'd we look?"  I asked.

"You guys looked great!  I'm calling to warn you though, there is a herd of deer between Laurel's and Victoria's."


"I just wanted to warn you.  You  might want to turn around."

"K.  Thanks."

"I just saw a blue truck drive by.  Maybe it will scare 'em."

I did not want to turn around.  We were only about a half mile into the walk.  I decided to just sort of test it out.  We walked on.  As we approached Laurel's I saw the blue truck pass.  I slowed down a little.  We were on a hill and on the other side of the peak I could just see the tops of the deer as they were crossing the street.  Drake did not see them.  I waited and "let" him sniff around a bit.  I was hoping to give the deer time to cross and travel on a little deeper into the wood.  After a bit, we pressed on. 

Drake started to pull some but the way the Gentle Leader works is that when the dog pulls, it turns their head.  Kind of like a horse lead.  So he would pull and his head would turn.  I could tell he could smell the deer but he had not seen them.  I did though.  There was one just on the side of the road but he was camouflaged pretty well.  I think Drake's struggle with the lead was distracting him too.  And so we made it past the deer with out incident!  Drake continued to walk by my side, loose leashed.  No pulling!

I was so thrilled and was penning a letter to Gentle Leader in my head, thanking them for their miracle product, when Drake started to pull a bit again. 

Oh great.  He smells something.  This time I could not see what it was.  He started pulling and looking back behind us so I thought we had passed whatever it was.  (In hind sight, I think he was looking back because the lead was turning his head back.)  We turned a corner and there they were.  About 6 deer in a meadow that is sort of bowl shaped.  We were on the top edge of that bowl and off he went.  I was not going to be dragged down the edge and so, once again....sigh....I let him go.

I finished my walk home, pissed, trying to figure out a way to convince my husband to let me enroll Drake into obedience school.  Pete saw me on the road.

"Didn't you have a dog with you?"


"Don't give up.  He's a great dog, just extremely strong."

"Tell me about it."

"If I see him I'll bring him in."


At the house I armed myself with sausage treats.  I got in the car and went out to hunt him down.  I called for him all over the loop.  (I drove from the house to the spot he got away and clocked it.  That's how I know we only had .6 miles left when he escaped.)  I saw a jogger and asked if she'd seen him. 


"If you see him, he's very big but he's a lover."

I drove all over and could not find him.  I asked everyone I passed and no one had seen him.  Finally, I talked to a guy in a truck who had spotted him.

"Big yellow dog?  All muscle?"

"That's him!"

"Someone tied him to some mailboxes up the road.  Just keep going around the loop."

"Hooray!  Thank you!"

I drove on and sure enough, there he was.  He was laying by the mailboxes, panting.  He didn't even get up when I pulled up.  I got one of my treats and walked over to him.  My guess is that the jogger found him because she had unhooked his leash from his lead and passed one end through the handle of the leash and then latched it back to the lead.  If you did not know Drake I think you would be afraid to approach him let alone get down on the ground and do all of that.  He ate his treat and I "untied" him.

"What am I gonna do with you Bud?"

I just couldn't resist those deer!

"You have to get over it.  You have to get over the cats and the foxes and the skunks and the deer.  You are going to break your foot again or get sprayed by a skunk or kicked by a deer."  Drake hung his head and tucked his tail.  "Come on.  I love you.  I just don't want you to get hurt.  Or to hurt me."  He slowly got in the car, either too tired or to ashamed of himself to move with any urgency.

We pulled into the driveway.  I held his leash while I opened the door.  As soon as I opened the gate to our yard, Drake jerked the leash out of my hands again and sprinted into the yard!  There were 4 deer in our yard!  They all leaped the fence.  It was beautiful!  I totally see why people would think they could fly.  They don't even need a running start!  Just gorgeous!  I was so glad that they were in the yard and not out.  Drake ran along the fence, frustrated that he could not jump it too.  (Though I'm surprised he can't.)

After he saw that they were not coming back, he returned up the hill where I had a huge bowl of water waiting for him in the shade.

*sigh*  What to do about Drake?

Monday, April 4, 2011

From Sunshine to Snowflakes

Our time in Texas was insanely lovely.  Insane schedule.  Lovely time.  I have realized that I can not go to Texas for vacation.  I go to Texas to visit and I need LOTS of time for visiting.  Our trip this summer will be longer to ensure that I don't just catch glimpses of my loved ones but have quality time with them! 

Regrets: I wish I had set up a coffee date with April.  I am sad that I did not get to share some laughs with Stephanie.  It was so good to see Claire but what I really would like is for our complete families to be able to get together.  We have not been able to achieve that in years.  I was very tempted to stop by Janice's for time out on her back patio with iced tea as only she can make it.  Who knew a Canadian would make the best iced tea in Texas?  I did not get enough time with my old Pizza Night Crew.  I forgot to ask Jen and Michelle how the boys are liking kindergarten and I think Rob and Mike took it a bit easy on the insults with me.  I miss their abuse and I miss dishing it back.  No one in CO gives me a hard time like those two but then nobody here is like a pesky brother to me.  And then there are my Dallas Peeps.  Completely missed out on them this week!

Highlights:  FAJITAS AT LUPE'S!!!!  This was a double shot of awesome because I dined with my girl, Lesley!!  We started at her home and dipped fruit into chocolate (because it's the only way to eat fruit.)  Then we went out for pedicures.  Fun!  The gals doing our feet talked to each other in...I don't know...Korean?  I do hate that part.  I'm pretty sure my girl said "Holy $#*@!  Have you ever seen bear claws like these?"  And Lesley's gal was like, "Yeah...that'  Sorry about that." 

We walked into Lupe's growling and drooling.  The silly people handed us menus!  We began with queso and swirled margaritas.  Mistake.  I had hardly any room for my beloved fajitas!  I I tried...but it was not to be.  Les and I boxed our meals.  I wrote "The Essence of Life" across the top of my box.  "Tomorrow my love," I whispered.  "Tomorrow."

The other awesomely awesome thing was that we were in Texas in the SPRING!!!  The bluebonnets were in bloom!  I have to say though that they are a bit sparse this year.  I'm not sure if it's the cold weather or if we arrived a bit early but there were still enough for us to pop a squat and get some pics.  Last year I had sown some bluebonnet seeds in our front bed.  We got about 3 blooms from it.  When we pulled up to our house this year I was thrilled to find a gorgeous display!  I really hope they spread to the yard!

My garden needed some attention and I was all too happy to give it.  I got in the dirt Tuesday.  I weeded and even pulled out a few of my plants that were growing where I did not care for them to.  I got the shears and cut back the spent growth from the fall to allow the plants to focus their energies on the new growth.  We lost a couple of plants from the freeze this winter but mostly everything is growing along splendidly!

I had almost forgotten about CO and that I did not live in TX anymore.  I was back in my old home, that still had some of my old furniture and decor in it.  Things that would not fit in our home here.  When at a friends home it was even easier to forget that we were just visiting.  Nothing was foreign.  I knew exactly where I was driving and what to expect of the people and places that I ventured.  I was really missing Drake, and Baking Day, and then Caren called...

She asked how are visit was going and then said she had a little bit of bad news.

"Drake got out."

"What?  Oh great."

"He's at one of our neighbors.  She called me..."

"I got him a tag before we left.  I wonder why she didn't call me?"

"I don't know," she said, "but I have her information.  Do you have a pen and paper?"

I was in a car full of kids and could barely hear her.  I tried to get them to pipe down while I dug a pen and paper from my purse.  (I wasn't driving BTW.)

"OK, I'm ready,"  I said.

"Her first name is April,"

"OK," and then to the kids, "Guys, guys!  I'm on the phone.  Shhhh!  I'm sorry Caren I did not get the last name.  Could you spell it?"


"Caren M!  You are going down!"  She burst into laughter and I was homesick for my friend.

The drive home was such a chore.  Aaron really wanted to crank those 16 hours out in one day.  He reserved a room in Amarillo just in case.  Both the boys were tired.  They did not complain much but there was an incident where a helium balloon WHOOSHED out the window at a rest stop.  Drew burst into tears.  Poor bub.  He was pooped.  Late in the afternoon Drew started to claim that he could "smell the hotel!"  He would rub his little hands together in anticipation!  He couldn't wait!  Aaron gave in and we stopped for the night at the room he had reserved.  "But we are leaving early tomorrow.  I mean 3 a.m."

And we did.  The boys and I slept in the car until about 6 a.m. while Aaron pushed us through Dalhart and the last bits of West Texas.  When the kids and I did wake up we were just past Raton, NM and in the mountains of CO.  We stopped for breakfast and Gabriel begged Aaron to buy him a newspaper.  My son with the Old Soul, read just the headlines.  He then passed the rest of the paper to his Daddy and dove into the Comics.  Yea!

The only evidence of Spring in CO was the wind.  It was crazy strong, bending the antenna on the car.  Tumble weeds raced across the road.  One Tumble Weed was so big that it made a THUMP sound when it hit our car!  As the winds howled I notice the aches in my hands starting to return.  At some point in the trip I traded my Texas allergies for my Colorado arthritis.  I don't know which is more bothersome. 

I put my nose in a book and read; looking up periodically to see how the scenery had changed and to check on Aaron.  His eyes were intense, ball cap low, unshaven face.  He was a man on a mission.  We passed through Colorado Springs and Castle Rock and then...I could see them.  Our mountains.  Aaron must've too because I felt we picked up speed.  The only thing that slowed us down were the cyclists and bikers.  Aaron hit the steering wheel as a particularly slow motorcyclists pulled in front of us. 

"What is this guy doing?!  He's riding a damn Crotch Rocket and going 30 mi/hr!"  Aaron ranted under his breath.

"Calm down.  Back off of him.  It would be a shame to have an accident or get a ticket this close to home."  I chuckled, Crotch Rocket!

As we pulled onto our hill we could see Drake laying in the yard.

"I don't think he knows it's us yet," I said.  But then he stood to his feet.  As we pulled up the drive he ran to the fence.  They're home!!

Once out of the car we all ran to the fence to love on him and promise him play time as soon as we were settled.  The boys and I played fetch with him while Aaron unloaded the car.  He looks a little pudgier and he played more aggressively.  He had a lot of pent up energy. 

After unpacking and having lunch, we all relaxed in our own way.  Aaron worked on the computer, the boys played the wii and I finished my book.  As I sat on the chaise reading, snow began to fall.  At first I was disappointed.  I just came from 80 degree weather where flowers were blooming and my friends were planting tomatoes.  Then I just let the soft drifting snow soothe me.  The view from my home is beautiful and it's a real sight when everything is covered in white.  This is not Texas.  It's a whole other bit of country with it's own ways and idiosyncrasies, like snowing in April.  There are things "here" that I would miss if I was "there."

Still, when the boys were getting ready for bed I heard Drew ask Gabe, "What was your favorite part of the trip Bubba? Mine was the elevator rides at the hotel in Austin!"  And then when we tucked them in Drew began to cry.  "I just want to go back to TX!"  I reminded him that we would go this summer.  He shuddered back the tears, wiped his nose and began making his plans for the next visit.