Thursday, November 19, 2009

My greatest flaw

I know, it's hard to believe, but I do possess some imperfections. Perhaps the most embarrassing and most obvious flaw I have is my lack of tidiness, er cleanliness, um ability to pick up after myself, eesh, I am basically a down right slob. Seriously. I have read the Messy Manuals, self help on learning how to de-clutter and clean, made vows to myself, lived with roommates that forced me to clean, I have even gone so far as to schedule visits with people so that I am forced to clean up, but alas, I still seriously lack the clean gene.

Enter the magic of friends. I know I have blogged on this before, but it's worth repeating. My friends are awesome. I have always had someone who could help me clean. My BFF as a child cleaned for me, my sister cleaned when we shared a room, my college roommate (couldn't have done college without her) kept our room tidy all four years, and well, my husband has seriously failed in this department. He is just as big a slob as I am. I am grateful that here in TX I have found my enabler, a hem, clean friend. We have worked out a deal, she and I. She cleans my house in a way that I couldn't even envision and I pay her. So far so good.

Seriously guys, we spent all of last night cleaning the upstairs and the kids' rooms. I mean we organized, we unearthed, and we cleaned. But apparently Brenda (clean friend) went into their rooms and created some sort of magic. The kids walked into their rooms with oohs and ahhs. Jacob was so excited he called me into his room so I could see how, "she made my bed!" For real. I spent nearly an hour on our art table that seemed just as bad as when I started. She spent 10 minutes over there and it looks like an organized studio. I could hate her for her clean brilliance.

So, for a few minutes tonight, I am sitting back and enjoying my clean house. Just a few minutes though because I think we were already on our way back to our previous state the minute I let the 3 shedding dogs back in the house.

And this is just a picture of my adorable children from like 4.5 years ago because I don't actually have any photographic evidence of my clean house. It does exist though, for now.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sarah and Brian + 8

Okay, so first of all, Brian would like to know where our TLC contract is. Second of all, all 8 kids are not ours really, so you can all breathe a sigh of relief - we have not lost our minds, totally. We did, however, have 8 children here overnight and all day today between our two biological children, our two foster children and my friend's four kids (the ones that lived with us this summer). Regardless of how you count it up, 8 is still a lot of kids.

When you have 8 kids you might miss that one of your kids is wearing a sleeveless sundress in the middle of November. Or you might not see that one child has his dress shirt on inside out and even managed to button it that way. If you had 8 kids one of them might have lice and you might have to go to Walmart at 11pm to get lice shampoo so that you can de-louse all of them - lots of lice shampoo by the way. When you have 8 kids probably 2 or more of them could be getting into trouble without you seeing it until it was too late and someone might have already called someone else stupid or something worse. When you have 8 kids you might banish 3 boys to the backyard for-some-peace-and-quiet-for-crying-out-loud, and they may or may not string the hose up over the jungle gym and try and use it as a tight rope to the deck. When you have 8 kids you might have to do like 500 loads of laundry even using your new giant size super sweet LG washing machine and dryer. When you have 8 kids probably a few of them will spill at each meal. When you have 8 kids, more than likely 3 of them will hate whatever it is you made for the meal that the other ones spilled something at. When you have 8 kids you have to take two cars to church - even though you have one of those nifty SUVs that has a 3rd row that seats 3 - unless of course your vehicle is bright yellow and seats 70. When you have 8 kids the gate you installed to keep the little ones off the stairs and the big ones upstairs might end up broken by one or the other going over it. When you have 8 kids and they all are asleep, you probably will be drinking a BIG glass of wine and writing a really long blog post about it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I like staying with y'all

Foster parenting has been on my heart since I was a young woman. It seems that I have always known in the depth of my soul that I was supposed to love children. I felt a drive to have children in my home that were not my biological children almost as strongly as I desired my own Jacob and Reba. As a 15 or 16 year-old I was expressing my desires for many children to my mom (a woman who has dedicated her life to loving children as an educator). With her love and wisdom she pressed on my heart the first memory I have of desiring a large family that may or may not share my genetic makeup. "Have children of your own, if you are able. But there are many children in this world that do not have someone to love them. " And there it was. I knew instantly I would open my family to these children.

I have been blessed generously with my Jacob and Reba. We actually just had their parent conferences with their respective teachers. Of course every parent wants to believe things about their children, they are smart, they are confident, they are good kids. It is so affirming when someone else believes this too. Jacob's teacher added his humor to his list of strengths (we get this every year - we are afraid, very afraid) and we know he is funny because he pulls some great one liners at home. He is just funny enough to get in some big trouble - uh, does this sound like someone else we know (eh hem, Brian). Reba had too many strengths to list, her weakness is perfectionism (she only looks just like me - clearly I don't suffer from perfectionism, eh hem, Brian and mom). Most importantly each teacher confirmed our greatest hope for our children, they are nice, loving children. But then again, we knew that.

Life could be complete and fairly tidy with these two. I could easily live forever knowing I had a Jacob and a Reba and things could go along mostly uncomplicated. There would always be one kid for each parent, one boy, one girl, Jacob looks like Brian, Reba looks like me, a bedroom for each, we could easily fit at our small kitchen table, and we would always have enough seats in a regular car. In many ways they more than fulfill my need for children. But after that moment so many years ago, I knew that it wasn't going to always be about my need for children but rather a child's need for me (though I feel more blessed than ever). Who needs tidy and uncomplicated?

Along comes S and I (I am not going to use their real names and can't post pictures here because this blog is not password protected). S is 3 and I is 1. This is our first official foster placement. I am overwhelmed - with love. I is as cute as can be. He brightens our days with his baby laughs and smiles. We marvel at the milestones he has already hit in just one month. Having a baby in our house again is fun. S is very active and high energy and there are times when I want to pull my hair out. But for every moment I am going potentially bald, she makes up for it with words or actions that melt my heart. Ah, 3, I remember you. The magic mercurial age of 3. You are just cute enough that your parents won't kill you. Bless her little heart. She looks up at me with her cockeyed pigtails at least once a day and says, "Momma, I love you. I like staying with y'all." And this is when I remember - have children of your own and love them and then open your heart and home to the children in this world that need a momma to love them. In the end, the love you give to a child gives back 1000 fold.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Legitimate questions

Right before we left on vacation the kids and I needed to do some essential Target shopping. Pretty much we just had to buy underwear because the 1 year old yellow lab puppy has decimated our underwear supply and you can't very well go on vacation without underwear. I digress...

We were walking into Target just past dinner time and the kids hadn't eaten. We were entering famine stages and the kids were launching into a full fledged whine. Jacob, in his ever theological and introspective way asks the epic question:

"How come they say, 'If you believe in God you will never be hungry and if you believe in Jesus you will never be thirsty.' And I am BOTH right now?"

Ummm... What 7-year-old thinks of that? Don't ask me for my answer to that. I am sure it was not nearly adequate for the question.

How to stalk your favorite blogista

1. Believe if you met your favorite blogista you would most definitely be best friends.

2. Drive to blogista's current city of residence (aprox 14 hour drive) without alerting said blogista in advance.

3. Arrive anonymously at blogista's favorite coffee house and buy coffee.

4. Blatantly introduce yourself as a huge fan.

5. Suddenly realize how creepy your stalking has become and admit it out loud.

6. Proceeded with hour long conversation which confirms you and your favorite blogista were meant to be friends.

7. Meet up with blogista for Popsicles later in the week like your stalking her wasn't weird at all.
8. Buy souvenir mug and t-shirt from coffee house like a big huge nerd.

Thanks Annie from AnnieBlogs for not thinking I am a complete weirdo. Come see us in Austin and I promise to find you next time I am in Nashville and maybe even call ahead of time. I am grateful for the time we were able to spend together. I'll do seven minutes with you at the Popsicles place any day! Our pic is on Brian's camera so I will post that as soon as he gives it up.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tobago, why don't we go...

We are BAAACKK... from a Caribbean vacation of our dreams. God bless best friends and destination weddings. Kate, my BFF from forever got married last week to her perfect match, Nick. Nick's family is originally from the island of Trinidad, Tobago's neighboring island and under the same flag. Because of Kate's love of the island and because these two are as unique as they come, they decided to have their wedding on Tobago. Thus, as the Matron of Honor, I HAD to go. Did you hear my arm twisting? Right.

So, after 8 years of marriage Brian and I finally got to take that Caribbean vacation (sans kids) and contemplated never coming back. Everything about the island says slow down. I actually don't think I saw a clock the entire time I was there. Though we were coming from Texas (unlike those coming from Los Angeles and NYC), we noticed a definite pace change. Don't order breakfast and expect it before you are hungry for lunch, in other words. The beaches were beautiful. The water was clear and warm. The snorkeling was awesome (I didn't even scream out of my snorkel this time). The locals were lovely. The rum was strong. The 30ish people we traveled there with were incredible company. And I loved it!

We had the distinct advantage over other tourists as we had some semi-local help. Trinidadians travel there for vacation often and those whom we were with were quite knowledgeable. We stayed in rental homes, near the beaches, with people that were used to driving on the wrong side of the road. Uncle Oscar (Nick's Godfather) was the ultimate tour guide and often the life of the party. Brian and I felt like part of the family (we stayed in the family house) and by the end of the week had invited ourselves back.

The wedding itself was beautiful - I absolutely cried through the entire thing. I am not sure why I was so emotional - perhaps it was purely because Kate, my BFF, had found her perfect match and was experiencing the happiness I had always prayed she would find. Kate was shining, absolutely shining, lit up from head to toe. And regarding Nick, a finer man would be hard to find.

Enjoy some pics (most of these are Brian's - I was too caught up in vacationing to actually use the camera much) and dream of your own Caribbean Vacation.

Belated Father's Day

What words can I even say about my husband this Father's day that aren't overshadowed by his actions.? Two weeks ago when we were in Tobago I heard over and over again from the other wedding goers (men and women alike) that Brian was a good man and I had chosen wisely. "Yes," I'd say, and then I'd correct them, "Brian chose me." This fact continues to astound me as I see him grow year by year. I knew I had a good man when I married him 8 years ago. What I assumed, but didn't know, was that he would be such an amazing father.

When we arrived home from being out of the country we got news that a good friend of mine was in need. She had four kids and needed an immediate place to stay and childcare for up to two weeks. Brian said, without hesitation, that she could come stay with us - no questions asked.

Father's day, after church, Brian spent it at a ballgame - which I was working - with 6 kids, 4 of which were not his. Though my sister came along for support and their mom joined them a couple hours later, he shouldered the responsibility like the man I knew he could be. Did he complain about not being able to sit back in a recliner (which we don't own) watching his 52" flat screen (which we also don't own) with a beer in his hand (no way he would drink with that many kids to keep track of)? Not a peep. I would say, "What a man!" but really, I know how much better than the average man he is.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Illegal in 7 States

My husband, Brian, is a random man. He has hidden gifts and talents. One gift we discovered this year (much to my waistline's detriment) is his gift for baking. At this very moment he is making from-scratch waffles - who does that? I don't bother to take the time - that's why they made Bisquick, right? Whatever, he makes things from scratch and as long as I don't have to, I am a happy woman.

Last year sometime we were introduced to a cookbook called The New Best Recipe from the editors of Cook's Illustrated. We came by this miraculous cookbook through a good friend famous for her baking and jamming skills and known as a collector of cookbooks. Brian, ever looking for the next best cookbook was immediately taken with this epic book. This book is right up his alley coming from America's Test Kitchen the editors have taken the best recipes and experimented to make one best way to make something. Oh. My. Goodness. It's like consumer reports for recipes. Brian is in recipe heaven.

So, short story longer, Brian's amazing cookies come from this book. I mean to tell you, these suckers are seriously addicting. As soon as he starts getting out the familiar ingredients I start salivating. When they come out of the oven I start to hallucinate and can actually hear them calling my name. The addiction is only fed by each cookie I eat. You know how sometimes you can eat something unbelievable and then by the third or fourth one you are way over it. Not these things, boy howdy. The only thing that stops me from eating the whole batch right then and there is the thought that I could possibly run out and running out would be bad - withdrawals can be nasty.

I have deemed these cookies (due to their addictive nature) Illegal in 7 States Cookies. Bake them if you dare.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (from The New Best Recipe)
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until just warm.
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (don't skimp on these, buy the name brand)

1)Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.

2) Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

3)Either by hand or with and electric mixer (Brian uses our stand up electric) mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Ad the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips to taste (and taste a lot if you are me when Brian turs around to get the other bowl).

4)the next step has some weird direction about making a ball then pulling it apart and putting it back together or something. Brian at this point has lost interest in directions and just scoops up some balls of cookie dough, throws them on a sheet (we actually use baking stones that are well seasoned) and tosses them in the oven.

5)Bake until the cookies are light golden brown, the outer edges start to harden, and the centers are still soft and puffy. 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time (you would think that this is a direction past the last one and Brian wouldn't do this but trial and error has proved this direction to be key). Cool the cookies on the sheets. Removed the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a wide metal spatula. (Brian discovered that if he removed the cookies and placed them on the rack too soon that they are SO fabulously chewy that they would droop down through the grate of the cooling rack. So, seriously, let them cool - this is also important before putting them in your mouth and subsequently burning your tongue on crazy hot chocolate.)

That's it gang! Remember, I warned you. Any illegal possession of cookies is on you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Another man's treasure...

Last week we had an impromptu yard sale. Basically, Friday night the neighborhood put up a sign saying that the neighborhood yard sale would be the following day. I read the sign at about 9 o'clock Friday night. At about midnight, after surveying the attic and the closets, I decided that we could, in fact, have a yard sale the next day. I pulled some seriously ridiculous things out. I mean to tell you, I have no idea why we have had an "extra" TV in our attic for 2 years and in storage for a year before that. What I am capable of accumulating is amazing.

In my excitement to get rid of things I pulled out an old Christmas present from my husband. It was a gift from our first Christmas married. He was being so thoughtful when he gifted me with a bubble machine for the bathtub. I think it was supposed to feel like jacuzzi jets, but really it only managed to cool my bathwater off too quickly and ultimately I didn't have the time or the patience for baths and gave up on it all together. I was eager to finally purge this useless item.

My husband, finding sentimental value in the ridiculous machine, pulled it out of the heap. "The kids would love this," he said and claimed that their enjoyment was worth more than the maybe 5 bucks I could get from it. I begrudgingly gave in.

Since then, we have never had two kids more eager for bath time. This just goes to prove the old adage, one mamma's junk is her kiddo's treasure - or something like that. Oh, and I made about $160 in about 3-4 hours; not too shabby for not really having too much stuff out.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Did you know that Gruene has the oldest dance hall still operating in Texas? Yup. Looks like these girls were fixin' to dance. If only they could figure out how to get in...

We had a great time with my family (Molly we missed you) and a great meal at the Grist Mill (a turn of the century cotton mill turned restaurant). The lovely old homes and quaint little stores are right up my alley. Gruene (pronounced green) is one of my favorite spots in TX. Take a tube ride down the river and you will soon understand why.


Oh, those Shriners. They are still at it - continuing to brighten the lives of children and their parents. Bravo Shriners for all your years and years of work supporting those children in need of medical attention. As a school nurse I have a special place in my heart for those wonderful folks who work tirelessly to raise money for children who otherwise could not afford their medical care.

As a parent, thanks for the face painting and the balloons. You made their day!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Never say "I can't"

This year, with great trepidation, and some serious convincing to an admissions office, I started graduate school. I don't actually have a really clear idea of what I will do with this when I'm done, I just knew that it was time for me to get my master's in nursing. Now, if you had asked me 8 years ago if I would be going back to school I would have said NEVER. And I would have meant it, especially to further my education in nursing.

I wrestled with my identity as a nurse since day 1. I even had a professor tell me I would never make it as a nurse. I carried her voice with me around in my head through my first several years. I questioned myself, was this really my calling? Only after school and emergency room nursing, years into my career did I begin to feel like I fit in to this profession. But, still, why grad school?

After course work began I was seriously doubting I had made a good decision. Still, week after week I seemed to still be in the game. Then the paper came up. Now, you have to understand scholarly papers were the bane of my college existence. I could not write them. More importantly I could not write them and turn them in on time. I would write a questionable paper and turn it in so late that I would lose ridiculous amounts of points. Put me in creative writing circles and I had an easy A. Make me write a thesis driven research paper, Lord help me. I wrote my professor an overly dramatic email about how I was completely paralyzed and could not write the paper.

Despite the overwhelming odds against me, I began that paper. I turned in several drafts the week before it was due and my prof helped me do just some minor tweaking. Then, I took a deep breath, and 24 hours before it was due, I turned it in - a complete and hopefully articulate paper. I know, you can all fall over in disbelief now. I did.

Now, I would have been OK with just the accomplishment of writing and turning in the paper alone. Mission accomplished. I had done the impossible. But, it gets better! I got an email from the professor returning my graded paper. 100%! I think now that you know, I will have officially told everyone. This is how amazed I am. I guess I will stick with grad school for a bit longer. Perhaps you will see that day when I become an advanced practice nurse. So much for never making it... If I never do anything else with my Master's Degree, one thing I know for sure, I will have conquered a long time belief that I could not do something that apparently I can.

The Post Office Miracle

April 13 at 3:37 pm I sent a package from my local TX post office to Pasadena, CA PRIORITY. This package contained my BFF's (Best Friend Forever for those of you that haven't had a BFF since your pre-school days) laptop computer (recently repaired by Brian) wrapped in some packing paper wrapped in a quilt that I made for her. This was no ordinary package. This was a very important package. I told the post office lady this several times. We agreed that Priority was the best way to mail it. I got a tracking number to be on the safe side.

Fast forward to April 21. I get a text from BFF. "Should I be concerned that I haven't gotten the package?" YES!!! PANIC!! Several phone calls later I get to the Pasadena post office guy and he says to wait a couple more days - like 2 - like the amount of days it should have taken for the package to arrive at it's destination. Arrgh. I wait.

Then I prayed. Yes, I prayed that my package would get to her. We teach our kids to pray about everything that concerns you, but how often do I do it myself? I am not sure what I was more concerned about, the computer or the quilt. She wanted the quilt. I already had plans to make her another one. I worried about the computer, identity theft, the cost, the inconvenience... Then I prayed. Why, oh, why didn't I pray first?

Today I got a phone call, "I got the package! And I scared the post man half to death!" What do you know? Answered prayers. About a package. A PRIORITY package filled with hours of love and hard work so that the person on the other end would know how much I care.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Relay for Life

In memory of Grandpa Bill, we lost you too soon. In honor of Cheryl, fight on. We walked for you last night.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Haircut Documentation

The haircut process... Sorry it took me so long. These were on the iPhone and I just took forever to email them to myself. Pathetic, I know.

Bunny Ears

I am definitely delinquent on posting about this - sorry Grandma. A couple of weeks ago (just before the haircut and the tooth pulling) we were on our way to COSTCO (I have a whole other post on why COSTCO is my favorite place) and we stopped to get the mail. In the mail we found a key to a package box! These are the days we live for around here. A package box key is cause for great elation among 5 & 6-year-olds (also 30-year-olds - if you want to know the truth).

This package was a special delivery from a CA great-grandma. Leave it to Grandma Luce to fill a box full of little wonders that my kids would love. There were chicks and Easter hats and coin purses and bunny ears. The kids were tearing through the box getting all excited. Brian and I were happy they were entertained on our 20 minute car ride to COSTCO.

Suddenly I realized that more than one car of folks had passed us just laughing hysterically. What the heck was so funny? The radio? A conversation? What? Then I looked behind me and in my very own back seat I saw this:

Ah yes, hysterical. They wore these into COSTCO and then on several other trips out as well. Seems we leave a trail of laughing people in our wake. Grandma, you have brightened not only the day of these two but many more who shop where we do.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Attack of the killer tooth

We are coming off of an eventful or uneventful spring break depending on how you view it. It was uneventful in that we didn't have 8 (count them 8) softball or baseball commitments during the week. There were no meetings, no tennis league, no alarms going off at 5:45 am. There was, however, Sea World, picnics, hair cuts, and dentist visits. It's the latter that I will discuss here.

This is perhaps the most awkward stage I have seen my child in yet (though judging by his father and I, I am sure there are plenty more to come). Jacob is in this funny place between really cute and completely funny looking. Our recent trip to the dentist and family salon has furthered this juxtaposition.

Jacob's long locks were finally too much. Although quite cool among the boys these days, the long hair was becoming an eye sore. There was much discussion in our house about hair cuts and subsequently some tears shed regarding this as well. Daddy would cut it but Jacob didn't want it that short. I would take him to the salon but they would use scissors (apparently we have a fear of hair cutting scissors). Finally one day last week after a delightful picnic I swung into the salon before we reached our house. Surprise attack! The hair would be cut.

After scowling through the entire haircut, Jacob was ultimately very pleased with the result. Fred, the hair master, had done the impossible. Jacob had a hair cut that he was thrilled with! The grin that spread across the boy's face at the final twirl in the salon chair was priceless. The ladies I was sitting with all commented on how adorable my little man was.

Fast forward to the following day. Jacob has been to the dentist and the dentist has deemed that two teeth must be pulled. Jacob has one adult incisor tooth on the top, a left incisor missing, and the two teeth in question are the other front incisor and right incisor. I want you to have the clear picture here (oh right, just look at the photo). Among Jacob's top teeth he has one giant adult tooth front left, a gap to the left of that, then two teeth that need to be pulled immediately to the right. I am thrilled that we are pulling the center tooth that has been dead since he took a header into the bathtub at age two. Though I am suddenly becoming more aware of what this child's mouth is going to look like.

Welcome to the attack of the killer tooth. One giant tooth remains in the front of this boy's mouth. He plays with it now, putting it on the outside of his lips furthering the hilarity of how it looks. Lord help me, I can't help but laugh.

So, Jacob is the most adorable kid I have ever seen until he opens his mouth and bears his pearly white. Just the one. We are calling it his killer tooth.

On watching daughters:

I have never felt such tugs on my heart strings as I watch my little girl on the softball field. She is the smallest girl on her team and the only one who has never played before. To say she was a skilled player would be an untruth. She is, however, enthusiastic and pays close attention to whatever the coach tells her to do. She may not hit hard or run very fast but she does it just like she is told - and she is darn cute when she does it.

Last week we saw her unreasonable confidence shaken. Coach got a new tee. The old one was broken and could be completely shrunk to an appropriate Reba size. With this new and improved tee at home plate, Reba struck out, twice. She put on a brave face and walked back to the dugout, defeated. I wanted to throw up, knowing the kind of feeling she must be experiencing and yet unable to change things or protect her. I would not be the kind of mom that never lets her kids experience disappointment. What would they ever learn otherwise?

This week I watched yet another strike out on the too tall tee. Fearing that this might finally squelch the spirit of my softball player I suggested they might use the other tee for Reba. Actually, I made Brian ask the coach if she could. Apparently I still don't want to seem like a meddling mother. Two hits later on the old tee we were well back on the road to confidence. As we walked away from the game with one happy little girl I was still perplexed - which battles are for mom and what must my baby endure? How much can her spirit take before it is crushed? Apparently we were safe with the three strike outs as she announced she "would probably get a sticker from coach for her helmet seeing as how I played so well today." Uh, huh. We will have to work on perception next.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Big Texas Sky

Nothing like an awesome sunset in Austin to remind you of how big that Texas sky really is and how blessed we are to live here.

3am, it's been a while old friend...

Here we are again, 3am. It's been a while. How are you old friend? Can't say I've missed you much. I was getting quite used to sleeping. Ah, well, if it's just for a short visit, I guess I don't mind.

Where have I been, you ask? Oh, well you see, I joined the world of normal people who work normal hours and sleep at night. You know, it's funny, I always joked I liked mornings coming around the other end much better. I am going to have to disagree now. Morning is pretty awesome to wake up to. No, offense, of course, to you, the wee hours of morning that I don't see very often anymore.

Why this short visit, you wonder? Right, well, some things never change. Day life was taking a break. It's called Spring Break. I am thinking that most folks are on vacation, sleeping late, or at the very least taking it easy. I saw the opportunity to sneak in some night shifts at the hospital. Work, work, and more work. Still burning the candle at both ends...

Now I have you worried? Oh, don't be. I am OK. Our little visit here is reminding me to slow down and enjoy life. The Emergency Room will still be there this Summer if I get lonely for you. We can always catch up with each other then. Gotta go, now, 4am is calling.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

For Reba

When you turned five you could...

Read like 3rd grader
Tie your shoes
Play softball
Work the iPhone
Memorize your parent's phone numbers
Recite your address
Count to 20 in Spanish
Count to 100+ in English
Ride a bike with training wheels
Dress yourself
Take care of your dolls
Draw fabulous pictures
Get your own water from the refrigerator
Buckle your own seat belt
Make anybody laugh
Melt my heart with a smile

*note the Cabbage Patch Doll Reba is carrying - a gift from the Queen. Apparently this is the 25th anniversary of the Cabbage Patch - which only means that I was exactly her age when I got my first Cabbage Patch Doll - one of the originals. I smelled this one - they still smell the same. I forgot to check the butt for the signature... I always thought that was weird.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

On being 30

That massively significant birthday arrived for me last week. 30 years on this earth. And, honestly, I don't feel a day older than I did before. Probably more significantly I feel like my chronological age finally matches my internal age. I was probably born 30.

As this birthday approached, I looked forward to it. Not too long ago I came across a goal list I had written more than a few years ago. On it I had written things like: own a home, have two happy and healthy children, be making enough money to live comfortably, be happy working in my profession, complete requirements to foster or adopt, all by my 30th birthday! I had no idea then how this list would come to pass - nor had I even seen it in at least 3 years. A little over a year and a half ago we became home owners in one of this countries best places to live. I am currently working as a nurse (this is what my degree is in) and not making a fortune but living comfortably (most of the time) and happy to be going to work (most of the time). Now, just days before my 30th birthday we sat down with a social worker to do a home-study - the final component for our license to be foster parents. I could only dream about these things several years ago and here they are - just in time for my birthday!

I am most grateful for this birthday. Not only have I been able to have great personal satisfaction I was able to share it. Since I was about 3 years old I have known and loved my best friend, Kate. Kate is a constant in my life. We have played in our mothers' classrooms, shared many awkward years, learned to ski together, vacationed together, worked together, worshiped together, seen each other through heartache and finally soul mates, she stood behind me at my wedding and I will at hers, when each of my kids were born she was there at the hospital to welcome them, we have grieved loss together, my best friends know and love her and I hers (I hope), and most importantly we celebrated birthdays together. My 30th birthday was no exception. Kate was right by my side as I entered my real adult decade.

What did we do? Oh, I know you all are dying to hear that I did something incredibly exciting. Nope, not really. We enjoyed a leisurely weekend, beer and barbecue at the best BBQ restaurant in central Texas, wine and cheese at home, shopping, and massages. Really we could have done anything or nothing and it still would have been a wonderful birthday because I was able to share it.

Here's to 30 - a year of adding to our family: a Butcher/Adams wedding, a Van Benschoten baby (I really can't wait to be an auntie!!), and a foster baby for us. Who knows what all is in store, but it looks promising! And one more thing, here's to Brian, who's birthday is today and who is experiencing much more trepidation than I about this transition to real adulthood. Love you, babe!

This is us this year. The photographer was having a hard time - but I liked the effect.

This is us from a few years ago at Kate's birthday. I don't think we ahve changed much...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Just because she's cute!

Just in case you were worried that Reba was having more bad hair days than good - here's what she looks like just after bath time when I dry her hair. And, well, being serious only lasts so long with her so here's what we usually see, below.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


It snows in New Jersey.


I made a quick getaway last weekend to New Jersey. I know what you are thinking, "You got away to NJ." Yes. I was honored to be asked to assist in hosting my college roommate's baby shower. Momma Puz (that's what we call her in reference - though she probably wouldn't mind it to her face) generously paid for, organized, and truly hosted this wonderful baby shower, but asked me to help in the actual execution of it. I was delighted to.

Kristin, my roommate (as we still refer to her - and they me) lived (put up) with me for all four years of college. We came to be roommates after both our original living circumstances came crashing down around us. Her original roommate was the alcohol and drug supplier for the Freshman junkies and mine was a nudist who ended up threatening me physical harm - good times... Anyhow, we were then placed together and never looked back. After four years we were more than roommates she was another sister.

I have to admit. I am seriously excited for this baby. I am FINALLY going to be an auntie! Well, close enough, at least. As soon as I had solidified plans to attend the baby shower I started in making baby VB (the last name is ridiculously long and hard to say and spell so we shorten it with the initials VB) burp cloths, diaper bag, bibs, onsies, a sling, and one goofy updated version of a sock monkey. Alas, I took no pictures of any of it, but rest assured there will be more things made and I will remember to take pictures before I ship them off.

The shower was beautiful, the mom to be was glowing, and dad to be (Eric) was appropriately excited. Kristin was literally overwhelmed with gifts. The amount of gifts just reflected how truly loved this baby will be (not that my little foster babies that come with nothing will be any less loved - just SO many people were SO generous to Kris). I got to see the other 'Nova girls. And I was so blessed to spend time with my East Coast Family. So, see, I really did get away to NJ.

The only down side to the entire trip was the startling realization of my current size. Now, I was well aware that I had, in the last year or so, put on some pounds. What I didn't realize was just how many inches that equaled. Well, folks, when measuring Kristin's girth for the "how big is the belly" game, I joked that she was probably the same size as me in my normal state. Guess, what? It's no joke. The two people who won that game measured my waist (I originally wrote waste as my husband so tastefully pointed out) as reference. Yeah, guess who signed back up for Weight Watchers. I will let you know how that goes - minus all the gory details