Wednesday, August 27, 2008

WFMW- Cooler Luggage

My works-for-me-Wednesday tip today does not refer to getting luggage that has pink polka dots on it to which you child responds, "That's way cooler luggage than that old black suitcase I have!" No, I mean cooler, like the cooler you put your drinks and ice in. We were recently over at a friends house and he just happened to mention he packs all his clothes for trips in one of those long coolers with wheels. Then when he gets to where he's going he unpacks his clothes and goes out to buy ice and goodies for his cooler to keep in his hotel room. I think that is a genius idea! I could easily pack my three kiddos clothes in one of those large, long coolers or even just the baby's clothes in a smaller one. Now I'm wondering how he got so smart?!! Just, kidding! But I do wish I had thought of it myself:)

For more great tips head over to Shannon's!

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day of School-MMM


Today was Em and Soph's first day of school. They both had a great day and there were no tears this year, no not wanting to get up and go. I was so happy it went smoothly. They both have teachers they love, yippee! Little One was a grump today, probably missing her sisters, but she is now happily playing with them since they are home.
That was my Memorable Moment for this Monday, what was yours?

Friday, August 22, 2008

My Secret Plans

I've been harboring some secret plans for awhile now and I figured I'd go ahead and share them with you. Even though we live on just two acres it seems like an enormous amount of space to me. Maybe it's because two sides of our property border rolling canyons of ranch land. Maybe it's the fact that the several acres across the street is not developed by its owner. Maybe it's because I've been a city girl most my life. Whatever it is, I LOVE it. So much so that I really don't ever want to leave. WB assures me I'll love the next place too. He tempts me with living in the Garden District of New Orleans in some historic home, a suburb of Houston close to family, and on and on it goes.

And this is where WB and I tend to veer off onto separate paths. He lived almost his entire life in one place. I lived my entire life moving from place to place every couple of years. I've been there done that, I want some roots. WB on the other hand seems to hear the call of the wild and he's ready to roam. I don't mean he doesn't love it here, he does, but he could also love it somewhere else. And if he continues on his career path he needs to move around, experience different refineries etc. Even a few moves up on the management ladder here would mean he would need to live closer to his work. And I have no desire to move back to where we've come from. I miss our old town, but going back would seem like a step backwards or like we were going in circles.

Okay, here's where I'm going with this. If we could stay here, at least for several years, my plan would work better and that's where I try not to let reality seep into my dreamlike state. So just forget all the above. My secret plans are to build a guesthouse on the far side of our property. Not for guests but for my parents and my in-laws. They wouldn't inhabit it at the same time, mercy no, but at different times of the year. I've got it all planned and the beauty is no one has a clue, well until now. To be honest I'm not sure why all of a sudden I would want my parents and WB's parents living in my backyard, We've been pretty independent these 11 plus years living nine, ten hours from the nearest relatives. Heck, I've lived away from my parents starting my senior year of high school because my Dad got transferred and I didn't want to move right before I graduated. Then I went to college ten hours away...

But I'm older now and with three kids of my own and I'm thinking how cool it would be to have them around. All the things they could teach my girls, all the fun we could have, someone within screaming distance when WB is away, and heck I might even have another baby just to add to the excitement!

I've even picked out this:



And wouldn't that just look so quaint right here:


Do you see that mowed piece of land where the light is shining? That's the spot.



See, it's beyond our gardens and down by that little grove of mesquite trees.

Now the funny thing is I haven't really mentioned it to WB. Well, except for: "How about we build a guesthouse?" or "I'd really love to have a little writing studio somewhere." or "Look honey, our new neighbors are building guest quarters, what a great idea!" But last night I briefly mentioned my secret plans. I sort of waved my hand in the direction of where we might put a guest house. And today I let him finish up the mowing (yes, I love to mow) and when I looked out our upstairs bathroom window I screeched. He had mowed a large square just exactly where I want to put the house. We normally leave that side of the property unmowed except for a few little "nature" paths. I tripped and jumped down the stairs to find him.

"How did you know that is where I wanted to put the house?" I asked him while taking big gulps of air.

With a knowing smile he just shakes his head, "Well, I just knew."

And you see that is why I love this man. The house may never get built, we may move in two years, our parents might think we're crazy to even suggest such a thing, who knows. But that little plot of mowed grass tells me that he not only listens to my dreams, but he wants them to come true. Even if he does sometimes roll his eyes at me when I come up with such plans:)

Random Tag

My friend Amy has tagged me. I must list 6 random things about myself. I believe I have done this before, but because I am full of randomness I'm sure I can come up with six more:)

1. I just got back from the ear doctor and found out the eardrum that has been sucked back into my head for the last several years has now developed a hole in it. Which, I believe is a pretty random occurrence.

2. I talk to myself. Soph has confessed to me several times that she does this. Sometimes she's talking to dead people and dogs, sometimes herself. Before you call social services the dead people she "talks" to are my grandparents and Champy. Anyways, I do this too, so I am not alarmed.

3. I make up plots in my head constantly. It's the writer in me but every odd character, any weird or even everyday occurrence I come across has a story. The poor toads in our garden even have their own little fable. Now sitting down and actually getting to write it is a different story.

4. I've just learned how to text, yes really!

5. I hate sleeping on my stomach.

6. I hate diet drinks. Give me a coke or a caffeine free coke and I'm good to go, but please don't ask me to do the diet thing, yuckeeepoo!!

Okay, instead of tagging six of you I'm going to ask anyone who wants to to please join in. Just let me know so I can read your randomness.
Thanks Amy for tagging me!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Horny Toads...An environmental tale!

The wildlife around here keeps our kids, and well the adults too, on our toes. You can't live in Texas without knowing about the Horny Toad. They are an endangered species actually, and there are all sorts of rumors about them. WB loves to tell the kids they squirt blood from their eyeballs, but come on, really! George has been seen with a few in his beaks, which always raises a loud cry of protest from the girls...."NOT the horny toads, they are endangered!!" And I'm sad to say that I never really thought it was that big of a deal if George or whoever decided to snack on one for lunch until this:


I mean look how cute he is, in a lizardly kind of way.

Actually, his little beady black eyes look very intelligent and watch you as you press your nose close to his face. He lets you hold him and seem to be as curious about you as you are about them. I'm going out on a limb here, but I think they are sweet and would make a great pet, if that was allowed, but it isn't. I think the Horny Toad Patrol or someone would come to your door and demand it's release. This probably would come with a fine and public humiliation. Who knows, you might even be forced to deal with some governmental agency and you know how I love those experiences! I can't take the risk of any of that happening.

WB, who is full of knowledge by the way, says that the disappearance of the Horny Toads is due to the disappearance of the Harvester Ants. This being their main source of food. Cold chills swept through my body at this little bit of information. Because I realized I, myself, am responsible for major environmental havoc. I'm admitting this to you because I feel like I need to confess (yes, the Catholic in me comes out in such weird ways). Here's how I've single handily tried to destroy this little creature. I asked the pest man to get rid of the Harvester ants on my sidewalks and driveway. They bite, which my kids found out shortly after moving here. So you see it's people like me that are destroying the habitat of the Horny Toad!
I apologized profusely to this little guy and told him I'd put up with the Harvester Ants if he'd keep visiting. He just looked at me with those eyes. But I think I was forgiven because we have seen him several times since this first visit and he lets all my kids hold him and make kissy faces at him!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Give-Away Winner and Dancing Fairies

I asked my Random Integer Generator to pick a number between one and five for my give-away. She was a little shy this morning and refused to have her picture taken so I asked her to hold up the number of fingers, she refused. But she did agree to this:


She counted out the number using her breakfast raspberries. So the winner is number four , who just happens to be my friend over at The Fritz Facts! If you'll just send me your address I'll get this right out to you. Thank you to all who entered and I loved reading about your useful tools, gave me some ideas.


Now for the Dancing Fairies. Yesterday they performed a dance where:
The good, resting fairy

had to deal with this mischievous, out-of-control fairy.




So the good fairy dusted off her wand



spun around and around chanting "No, no Sissy."



While the third fairy ran from the paparazzi refusing to comment on the whole situation.




Friday, August 15, 2008

Frugal Friday- Getting the Most out of 2 for 1 Sales

Today we ventured forth to buy some school clothes for the girls. I was armed with some coupons and a strict budget. We've recently started shopping at a certain department store that always seems to have buy one get one for a dollar. Last year the girls went crazy at this store buying 7 dollar tops, 15 dollar shirts etc. But as I sat and the dressing room and added up how much it would all cost it dawned on me. All the most expensive items are going to ring up full price and the cheaper items will end up being the dollar items. This would not do, so I decided that I would bunch the more expensive items together in one transaction and the cheaper ones in another. At the check-out I simply explained that I wanted to ring up the two groups separately. If you're worried about holding up the line just go to an out of the way, not busy register. Today I actually rang up three separate transactions and instead of paying 72.97, I paid 57.98 that's 15.00, which would buy my kiddos two more tops. I do the same thing with buy one get one for half price as well.
And I always leave the store feeling like I'm actually putting those math skills to use, the ones that almost kept me from graduating from high school!
That's my frugal tip for this Friday, head over to Biblical Womanhood for more great tips!

Don't forget to sign up for my give-away!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Listen to This!

My brother-in-law Mark sent this to me. These girls are between the ages of 6 and 8 and will take your breath away as they sing the National Anthem. It was performed at my Alma Mater before a basketball game. The arena stays completely silent during the song. The pictures not great, but the sound, well just listen.


video

Thankfully, no one told them they were not cute enough to perform in front of the crowd!

Don't forget to sign up for my give-away!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hanging Shelves And The Give-Away

Whenever I hang pictures, shelves, etc. I usually end up with one side a little off balance. No matter how much I try to keep it straight it ends up slightly crooked. WB always shakes his head and grins at me when such a simple task turns into a major headache for me. Whatever, I know I am horizontally challenged. I can say it, I'm a big enough person to admit my flaws, well, this one at least. And even sometimes WB needs a little help hanging things:

This is the look he gives when asking, "Like this?"


Now he wouldn't have to look at me that way if he had used my give-away. Actually he has one but he does not consider himself horizontally challenged so he doesn't use it. But I find it very handy. It's.....


And it's wonderful. It sticks to any surface and projects a red laser line across your wall up to 50 ft. Just stick it to your wall and hang away, easy and fast.

So here's the deal. To enter just leave a comment telling me what tool helps you out around the house, because I'm sure if I don't have it I need it! If you don't have a blog that is fine just leave your e-mail so I can contact you. I'll draw a winner on Saturday morning!

Monday, August 11, 2008

MMM- Breakfast in Bed

This morning Soph came into my room early looking for medicine for her bug bite. I told her where to find it because I just couldn't move. Little One had a bad night and we had just settled down around 3:00, both in my bed. I woke up briefly at 4:00 to greet WB as his alarm went off and he searched around the room for his goggles. I'm assuming he was going swimming this morning, because otherwise he will look really silly wearing his goggles while doing weights.
Any who, I really expected Soph to crawl into bed with us and toss and turn and thump on the bed until the baby and I were fully awake, but she didn't. A half hour later I heard Soph and Em coming up the stairs. When they entered my room they were carrying a tray with breakfast on it. Soph had even put a little heart vase with a yellow flower in it that she picked from the front yard. They had made cinnamon toast (toasted bread and sprinkled cinnamon sugar on top) and leftover waffle. They know not to use the stove or oven without me so they always get creative. I say always, because they have done this before. Sweet cherubs, aren't they?
"Soph said you had a rough night so we made you breakfast", Em told me.
"I picked the flower", Soph smiled sweetly.
"Thank you" I whispered, "You are both so sweet."
I chewed my lukewarm waffle and chilled cinnamon toast, it tasted better than anything I could have gotten at a five star restaurant.
"Mom, you'll have to make us breakfast when you come downstairs because we gave you the last waffle." Em lets me know with a grin.
I finish chewing and smile. "Would you like to finish mine?" I ask.
"Alright." They both giggle and take my breakfast away to eat as I wait for Little One to rouse.
Ahh, the joy of parenthood.

That's my memorable moment for this Monday, do you have one you'd like to share?


Tomorrow I will post my give-away, yee haw!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Congratulations Mark!



This weekend WB's little brother graduated. I say little, yet he stands at 6 feet 7 inches tall to WB's 5'11. The gene pool, it's a funny thing isn't it. Anyway, I must say I am very proud of him because, well, he's been like my little brother for a long time. Seems like just yesterday I sat down across from him in his family's living room and listened to him tell me about being on his high school swim team. I remember when he graduated from high school, went straight into the Coast Guard for several years, became a firefighter, got married, had two sweet babies (one being my newest nephew), and through all this did a long distance study program so he could get his degree! He has grown into quite the man under my watchful eye. Okay so others have been watching and advising as well. He does have three other brothers, parents and a wife he gets to listen to. But I've been like a mother hen too, can you hear me clucking.

So here's to Mark...I know whatever else in life he sets out to do he will be a success because he just doesn't know what it means to give up! Or work just one job for that matter.


Congratulations!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Big Bummer

So Em has been waiting until she turned 8 because when she's 8 she gets to enroll in the fencing class at the local college. Actually, the coach is nationally known and a young girl from here is the reigning champion. WB took her to a demonstration over a year ago and she was captivated. Now she is eight and registration started on the 1st. We've been so busy and I lost the class catalog until today. I hurriedly found the class and guess what, yep, it's full. All 18 spots in the beginning class is full, total bummer. I feel like I dropped the ball and am thinking of crawling under my bed for the rest of the day and sulking. I even called to make sure the computer wasn't lying, but the sweet lady said, "No, hon, it's full."

Poo, double poo...The bright side is they will offer the class again in the Spring and I will be at my keyboard first thing as soon as registration begins to get her enrolled.

Did I mention our washer went out. Yes, because I have loads of laundry and company is coming tonight. Isn't that always the way?!! But I found a deal last night and WB and I brought home a new washer. He hooked it right up and I've been doing the wash ever since. He's such a handy man to have around.

Lastly, I've been working on a give-away! This is one that will come in handy for you and your hubby and anything you may have laying around that needs to be hung. So keep checking it will be coming up in the next few days, I promise:)

Okay, I'm off to crawl under the bed and maybe clean out some cobwebs while I'm at it.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

MMM- Making Doughnuts










Em has been begging me to make doughnuts so this morning we ventured forth into the land of flour and sugar to mix up some of the little treats.



Fried them up in our iron skillet. These were the donut holes.

This is when a little fryer would be nice because regulating the temperature on an electric stove in a pan is not so easy...some turned out browner than others.

We sprinkled them with cinnamon-sugar and in Soph's case some icing. Then they gobbled them up!
We found the recipe for Salvation Army Doughnuts and made the revised version. We didn't need 250 doughnuts this morning! There is a neat history behind this recipe and I always like to sneak in a little learning when my kiddos least expect it.
That's our Memorable Moment for this Monday, what's yours?,?


There is another give-away coming soon!

Sunday Morning Blessings

We enjoy the evening mass at our church and so we have taken to having leisurely Sunday mornings. The weather is usually still cool early on and the whole family likes to get out and about.Here Soph and Little One are enjoying sitting on the front lawn helping to scatter the sunflower seeds for the birds.

Can you see the little campfire and chair in the background. Last night we had some friends over for a cookout and while we were finishing up eating inside Em ran in to tell us the yard was on fire. One of these plastic chairs fell into the smoldering embers. All was well though, we had two very able-bodied men on the scene!!
Here comes WB back from his 10 mile bike ride. He's training for a triathlon in September.

I'm just looking at his legs...and I'm thinking I need to take up bike riding to get some shapely calves.

Are you wondering where my first born is? Me too! Oh, I found her....
Catching up on her viewing of the Food TV channel.

Our Sunday morning blessings!


Saturday, August 2, 2008

My New Nephew

Nothing is sweeter than a newborn baby fresh into this world! Baby Colton born Friday, Aug.1 at 12:01 pm!

I am fighting major baby fever here and this sweet face has sent me over the edge!!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Barn Raising

This month we will celebrate 2 years here at Cotton-Top Hills. We didn't actually move in until December of 06, but the work began on fixing things up the minute we closed on the house. So I've decided to devote a series of posts to the remodeling, revamping... whatever you want to call it of the old homestead.

One of the first projects we deemed necessary was a storage building to store all the boxes we would soon be moving. We also needed a place for WB's tools and such, because in our old house we had sacrificed part of the garage for this and we (I) didn't want to do that again.
The storage building we picked out was shaped like a barn, which is why we refer to it as the "Red Barn". Whenever I refer to it as the red barn to acquaintances, dear WB always feels the need to explain, "Well, it's actually our storage shed." I guess he doesn't want to offend the people out there who have actual barns:

Anyway, we started this project when the fall weather was beginning to get unpredictable. So for one weekend it was so cold and the guys were so bundled all I could see was their eyes peeking out from under their caps. And the weekend we estimated it would take to raise this barn, stretched into a month of weekends.During my marriage to WB I have become very familiar with chalk lines and the "staking of future projects". Here one of WB's coworkers and friends helps to lay out just where the concrete will be poured for the foundation. We decided on a sort of pier and beam approach, I believe.
That red thing is called an auger and it drills down into the soil. In this case it took two men to handle it, which was entertaining to watch. This was used to make holes to pour our concrete into for beams. See, I've learned so much...


Then the floor was laid. I believe this was done in one weekend. Two of Scott's coworkers came this weekend to help us out. Thank Goodness!! Did I mention I was pregnant during this time, so I was on kitchen duty.

Then we got real and realized if we were going to get this thing built we needed more help! So one weekend a team of young engineers that WB works with came to help. They were lively and questioned every board that went up. Made sure things were level, boards were straight etc. There was a lot of talk on just how things should progress, you know the usual engineer behavior.

There's WB in his tool belt, wears it well doesn't he...Okay, working a whole day, a team of six engineers managed to get the frame up. Now, I might have been setting my sights a little high, but I expected some walls to be up at least after all that work.

That evening our next door neighbor came over to give some help. It was just him and WB and they worked maybe an hour or two. I'm sorry to say this to all those engineers, but in two hours they accomplished more than the engineers did. Don't worry I still love you guys. You worked hard, you ate my food enthusiastically, and were very sweet! And no our neighbor is not in construction, he's a CSI Detective, go figure!And finally a couple more weekends and waa laa it was finished! It made me feel all warm and fuzzy knowing so many people helped to raise the walls on our little red barn. And remember I was pregnant so I might have even shed a tear or two.