Saturday, June 27, 2009

I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as soon as I could

No matter how far we may wander, Texas lingers with us, coloring our perceptions of the world. –Elmer Kelto

When I stepped off of the plane on my first visit to Austin the humidity washed over me, I remember saying "it smells like vacation!". We came out for a house hunting trip in late March 2007. We had left Salt Lake in a veritable blizzard and magically over a three hour plane ride the temperature rose thirty degrees and the air got humid.

I anticipated sand. Tumbleweed. Rattlesnakes. Half naked men in suspenders and cowboy hats. What I saw was green. Trees, rivers, the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen.

I remember in Junior High going on vacation with Laurie and we would always stop at the first palm tree we saw to take a picture. We loved palm trees. Palm trees are in happy places, fun places, palm trees mean no worries.

Do you know how many palm trees are on my street?

Me neither.

But it's a lot.

And not just palm trees, I have a new found love for crape myrtles and the other flora of Texas.

Bluebonnets! Wildflowers. In the spring the sides of the roadways are painted purple and yellow because they are so thick with wildflowers. I love that we can go wild flower picking and don't have to fear a penalty of a hefty fine : ) Wildflowers are free for the taking, fields and fields of them.

I love looking out the upstairs window to a sea of green trees. It is so green here! There are green belts all over the place, tons of trees. Forests of trees.

Speaking of looking out of windows - I love looking out my bedroom window on Friday nights in the summer and seeing fireworks from the local baseball game.

I love that the sky stretches on forever. And ever. And EVER.

I love that the birds here make it sound like we are on a tropical island. Though I don't enjoy the vast quantities of poop they leave on the porch (nor that they eat more of Swiper's food than he does), they sure do sound pretty!

I love my neighbors. I love that they pull out their lawn chairs and chat the hours away while the kids run around in their swimming suits. I love that when one of them heard I was about to pay a hundred dollars to get my sprinklers fixed, he fixed them for me instead.

I love keeping Austin weird. I enjoy grabbing onion rings at the Shady Grove. Downing a Flip Happy Crepe, or a Hey Cupcake. Nothing beats Round Rock Donuts. I love sitting on a dock at the Hula Hut and enjoying a "submarine burrito". And we all know my new favorite thing is a Kawaii shaved ice. There is a strong will here to support the little guy, there are a million restaurants and stores with local flare.

I love going tadpole hunting and seeing big bullfrogs on our lawn. I love the bunnies that scamper off when we pull in the drive and the geckos that congregate on the side of our house each night. I love the fireflies (a recent discovery on a late night walk!).

I love getting out of a swimming pool and not freezing. We don't need towels, we just hop out and are dry in a few minutes, likewise there is no shock factor when you run and jump in a pool.

Speaking of swimming pools. I love that every neighborhood has one, or two, or three. Ours is hardly ever crowded, feels like our own giant pool.

And neighborhoods! Nothing fosters a sense of community like having an HOA. We have nieghborhood Easter Egg hunts, Halloween parties, pool parties and garage sales.

I love how close we are to such fun things to do; Schlitterbahn! The River Walk! Six Flags! SeaWorld! All less than an hour and a half away. I went to SeaWorld last summer more than I had been in the entire 26 years proceeding that. And I've been pregnant the past two summers or else I would have hit up Schlitterbahn and Six Flags. And is there a more magical place than Port Aransas, TX? The ocean is just four hours away from us.

The toll roads. Bless the toal roads! They are big, they are nice, they save tons of time. Love them. And I love the access roads. It took a bit of getting used to but man, the freeway system here is amazing, conveneint and makes a lot more sense than most places.

I love the warm! Two Christmases ago I got a double jogger and we were able to go take a family walk on Christmas day. If kids get new bikes they can ride them right then and there on Christmas morning.

Speaking of Christmas, have I told you about Burnet Bethlehem? Now THAT was the most amazing experience last winter. A whole, functioning, living breathing Bethlehem. It takes an hour to walk to through the city and explore. This is no "living nativity". It really feels like a step back in time to walk through the streets, hear the talk, smell the camels, and eat the bread, etc.

And while we are on the topic of religion, I love the churches here. Big, beautiful, breathtaking churches. They all have fun activities around Christmastime. I love the variety of religions represented here and have had fun attending different church functions with friends. I've enjoyed learning their beliefs and sharing mine. I love that Texans are church goers.

I am grateful that Gwen got a chance to go to a Lutheran preschool, and for all of the friends she made there. I have never, ever, met so many loving people. Every single person at that preschool knew my name and my children's names and what was going on with my life. Amazing quality people.

I love that here I feel unique because of my religious beliefs. I feel weird. I get a chance to explain why it was ironic for me to get a flask as a Christmas gift and why I wear capris and shirts with sleeves even though it is 110 dgs outside. I like being a missionary by simply living my life and having the proclamation hanging on the wall.

I love my ward. I love that we stick together and help eachother out. Most of us are far away from family but we all have somewhere to go for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I've had two babies here and have had so many meals brought in and people to watch my kids. I completely 100% look forward to ward activities. The ward talent show ranks up with Christmas on my list of favorite days of the year. I love going to church. I love that I know everyone's names. I love my calling. I love that our friends from church come from all walks of life. Lots are converts, lots are transplants from BYU or Arizona and plenty are just from Texas.

I love hearing "y'all".

I love Zilker park. The nature center with the dino dig, the train rides, the people running on the trails. Did I tell you once two older women were just sitting behind a card table on the trail with a sign that said, "free advice".

There are so many fun and free things to see and do here. Sprinkler parks, museums, trails, lakes, rivers...

The schools are exceptional.

There is full day kindergarten. I was so worried about that when we first got here, but now that I have to lug two babies with me wherever I go it hardly seems worth it to drop off a kid at school for less than four hours : ).

I love that children call adults by "miss [insert first name here]" or "mister [insert name here]"

It's safe. I feel so completely safe in my house. My neighbors look out for each other. I don't feel nervous at all going to downtown Austin.

I love that HEB sells tortillas that they make right there in front of your face. When you buy them they are still warm.

There are miles and miles of hike and bike trails. I haven't had a chance to use them since I have been pregnant for the last two years, but I have been looking forward to it.

I love who I am here. I had a lot of insecurities about myself before, but I feel like out here I have come to my own and figured out who I am. I know who I am as a parent, who I am as a wife, as a friend, etc. I still have insecurities but I also have a fair amount of confidence too.

I love our friends. I love going to the gym with them. I love getting together with them. I adore them.

Ralphie is my brother, er... sister. There are few people in this world that I love more than her. Very very few. I think it comes with knowing that she is the only person in the world who will photoshop out blemishes on my huge schnauz on her 500 inch computer monitor.

I used to think it weird when people would adorn their homes with a Texas star. The whole Texas pride thing was lost on me. But I get it now. Texas is magical. It grabs you by the heart and wraps itself around in there until it literally becomes a part of you. The people, the places, everything. I've only been here for two short years, but I will forever consider myself a Texan.

After several moves around the country and feeling like I had no place of my own in this world, I finally found where I fit in, where I belong. Texas feels like home.

Yes indeed there is something magical about Texas, and I knew it the very first time I stepped off the plane.

"A Texan outside of Texas is a foreigner". –John Steinbeck

*um, I realize this post kind of makes it sound like we are staying in Texas. We're not and it is breaking my heart into a million pieces, hence the absence of blogging. Sorry that you had to read this whole blubber fest, I have a feeling my blog is going to be a bit weird for a couple months until I can figure things out again.*

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Remember how I got one of these at a garage sale for $10?

They retail for about $110 and are easily going for $60 used, but the one we got was BRAND NEW in the package! The cheapskate in me really wanted to hock it on craigslist, but the mom in me wanted to keep it. I've always wanted a baby monitor and now more than ever it would be convenient to have one. Plus it had that cool SIDS pad where you place the sensor under the mattress and if they don't move for twenty seconds an alarm sounds, how comforting!

Blaine was not convinced, he still thought we should sell it and get a less expensive monitor.

I won. I kept it!

It's been nice having it, and a little annoying.

Every single time Ivy cries in the night I run to her room, get her out of her crib, sneak back into my bed with her with me and about three seconds later. . .


that stinking SIDS alarm goes blaring off in Gwen's room and nearly wakes the whole neighborhood. I ALWAYS forget to turn it off and it always goes off twenty seconds after taking Ivy out of bed and scares the begibberies out of me.

So tonight that alarm went a blaring and jolted me out of sleep, but....this time Ivy wasn't in my bed. She was in her crib where she should be.

At first I just laid in bed thinking how weird it was the alarm was going off

till it hit me


and I raced to her room and scooped her up in my arms and juggled her back and forth until she was perturbed enough to cry.

* long, poingnant, somber, thoughtful, contemplative silence *

You know, I been wanting to post for a while now. I wanted to blog complaining about our big decision. I wanted to blog about what a stupid thing it was for us to buy our house when we did as we are now in so deep over our heads that even if we were 100% sure about moving we financially can't do so, I wanted to blog about how I've spent the last three days cleaning my house for the realtor to see it but the realtor didn't get much past the front door before they dropped the "you would have to bring fourteen grand to closing" bomb.

But tonight Ivy's SIDS alarm went off.

While she was in bed.

Did the SIDS monitor just save her life?

Would today have been Ivy's last day on Earth if I hadn't gone to that garage sale?

All I want to blog about is how I am so glad that I won't ever know. And I have to blog that now at 3:00AM because I can't bring myself to go back to sleep.

And all of the sudden I know what is important.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


It's hard to believe that a year ago today (alright, a year and a day ago today), I wrote this post....

June 17, 2008

It was an emotional day. Heck, it has been an emotional year! Even at the time I wrote the entry I knew, I just knew that one day I would look back and know that it was all for a reason.

I am here today to say that Ivy Jane is the best mistake I've ever made. I am grateful that I got to be the .01%. Not saying I want it to happen again by any means, but I'm glad she is here because life would be so sad if she was not! And I am so glad that the time has passed and that I made it through the last year!

What is the best mistake you ever made?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Stetson Man


How I wound up smelling like a man, looking like a hobo and sitting next to Bart at a movie.


As a general rule I don't shower in the summer. I know what you are thinking, gross, right? Wrong. You should be thinking "brilliant!" "genius!" etc. Hear me out...

In the summer in Texas you have two options of what to do every day. 1- Swim and 2- Die of heat exhaustion. Seriously, the lowest high temp in the next ten day forecast is 97 dgs. Add 5 dgs for humidity and let's just say...

I choose to swim.

And since I choose to swim everyday I see absolutely no need to shower. Just about the time I start feeling gross it's time to go swimming again. I've been using this system for two years now and there is a reason for that, it works. No one has ever told me I smell bad or anything ( to my face). Besides the only time I even see other people during the summer is at the pool so if they look repulsed I just jump in and instantaneously look and smell the same as them, if not better!

So today, like any other summer day, we had plans to go swimming. I made a command decision to not shower, but thought I would spruce up with a little deodorant, a thorough face washing and some antibacterial hand sanitizer for good measure.

Good as new.

Except for I couldn't find my own deodorant, so I had to borrow Blaine's. It smelled pretty manly, but it was better than nothing and I wasn't going to see anyone who would notice until I was at the pool. No worries.

Then I remembered how our fridge had no food. Literally, none. For breakfast Blaine scrounged up some orange juice from the back of the freezer. He might have dipped some graham crackers in it, not sure. Since I've been reading "The Glass Castle" it seemed extra important that I go to the store today to get some grub; lest this turn into a habit and Gwen grow up to write her memoirs which include stories about how she had to eat questionable orange juice and grahams for breakfast (yesterday she had Trix in questionable chocolate milk, we're on a roll!)

Anyway, I took it upon myself to invite Ralphie to Costco. She agreed and we were off. And I smelled like a man. But it was okay because we were going to go swimming later.

But then by the end of Costco Bentley was tired. So we came home for a nap, but we were going to go swimming after dinner, no sense in showering now!

But then Ralphie called and said that she was bailing on swimming and was instead going to go see a movie. A movie that she has been begging me to go see with her forever. A movie that simply would not be the same without me there.

I wanted to go support her, but had promised Gwen we would go swimming. Since I live in fear of Gwen's bitter memoirs I decided to stay home and keep my promise to Gwen, and also I hadn't avoided showering all day for nothing! I was going swimming!

But then I thought of Ralphie there in the theater, with only three other friends to watch this movie with. I thought of the countless times she had asked, nay pleaded, for me to go with her. And I decided to sacrifice my relationship with my daughter to go to the show.

No shower, men's deodorant, going out for a girls night out. Luckily I would probably sit by Ralphie who has likely grown used to my "summer aroma". Nope, sat next to Bart.

Lucky, lucky Bart.

P.S. I have some things I really want to blog about, but cannot because I have been forbidden to talk about them. They are the types of things, however, that consume about 98% of my daily thoughts, and not being able to blog about them has rendered me as kind of a useless blogger. Hopefully the ban will be lifted and I will be able to speak of said things soon. Or I just might burst from lack of self-expression regarding aforementioned things. The end.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Family Resemblance

I am pretty confident that we all have things that we want to do better than our own mothers did. I, for one, have a great mom. I don't know that I realized it during my childhood but as I grow older I am starting to understand that my parents were pretty amazing.

That being said, I do have to say there is one thing that I hope to do differently than my mom.

And it all has to do with this picture.

See it?

If I were tricky I would do a little text art on there with an arrow pointing right to it. My nose. Not my entire nose, just the part where there is a giant bump in it.

You know you've noticed it. You probably thought it was just hereditary or something. Would you believe that my parents and ancestors all have perfectly normal, bumpless, quite lovely noses?

That giant bump in the middle of my nose is the result of a broken nose left to heal all by itself.

I remember the day clearly. We were across the street playing basketball. I was looking down, probably watching the potato bugs or something, someone bounced the ball right underneath my face and it slammed up into my nose.

The details are a bit foggy after that. All I know is that at some point in high school (a decade later) I noticed I had a weird looking nose, then looked back through school pictures and finally pegged that my nose must have gotten broken during that basketball incident. Awesome. Seriously, I had a decent looking nose until the unfortunate events of early 1989.

I thought it couldn't be so! I mean, surely my mother would have noticed if I had broken my nose, right? Right? Broken bones don't go unnoticed...

And then a couple months after my startling discovery I was trying on roller blades at the store. I stood up and slipped backwards and landed on my hand hard.

[Okay, so as to not sound like a totally lame and uncoordinated idiot, I have to say that the reason I was trying on new roller blades was because the day before I had been playing roller hockey; my friends (ie Blaine & Co) had the bright idea to hold on to the back of a car while others drove wildly across the parking lot. So, not to be outdone by my male companions I held on to the bumper. The driver said something to the effect of "be sure to let go if I gotoo fast" but I heard "Don't let go EVER." I thought it was a little weird, and a bit wimpy, when Blaine and the other boys let go of the bumper. I was excited at the chance to prove that I was the coolest girl ever and could hang on to the bumper forever. That vision qiuckly faded when my rollerblades broke right off of my feet and I went crashing down on the asphalt. Amazingly I was unharmed, except for the fact that I needed new rollerblades. So can we please just agree that while I may not be the smartest cookie on the block, I am at least coordinated enough to play rollerhockey and not fall down, even though I apparently cannot try on rollerblades at the store without great personal injury. I still have insecurities about how I hurt my hand, can ya tell?]

Okay, on with the story...

I had landed hard on my hand. I whined about it all the way home. My mom inspected the injury once we were at home and declared that I was fine. It wasn't swollen at all. No need to go to the doctor, just sleep it off and for heaven's sake quit whining.

The next day I woke up with a hand about twenty times its original size. Mom felt real bad. My hand was totally broken and she made me tough it out for a day and a night.

As I was getting my hand casted I realized the irony of the situation and all of the sudden it seemed more than likely that she hadn't noticed the broken nose nearly a decade before. My fears were confirmed. I had broken my nose and no one had noticed.

So what does this have to do with my parenting style now?

Well, Bentley fell down the stairs two days ago. Actually, if we're going to be technical about it, he fell down the stairs TWICE.

The first was the most brutal. My parents have killer stairs with a sharp curve in them. I helped Bentley down the scary part and then put him down to do the rest by himself while I helped Gwen.

*Thump, thump, thump, waillllllll.....*

He fell down the last four steps. I picked him up and noticed the blood gushing out of both of his nostrils, and his mouth.

After several moments I drifted back into consciousness and cleaned off the blood and got him settled down. He seemed okay. I was gross and all but he was happy again.

Then I put him down for a nap.

When he woke up his nose was three times its original size and turning a reddish purple color.

Then at dinner at my sisters house he fell down another set of three stairs and landed plop on his nose.

Would it be possible for us to come to Utah, like one time even, without going to the emergency room? Seriously.

Except for that I didn't actually take him to the emergency room. It's still swollen but I think it's fine. I mean, I touch it occasionally and he doesn't freak out, that means it's okay, right?

Is he doomed to have the cursed bump in his nose? I would hate that! Except for at least it actually would be hereditary if he had it. He would have my nose. My totally awesome, crooked, confidence inspiring, bump-in-the-middle nose.

We all become our mothers don't we?

Um, but seriously, does anyone know anything about broken noses? Should I take him in?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

All I Ever Need to Know About Raising Kids I Learned From...... (by Gretchen)

[Hi, Kristi here, to understand why I love this post soooo much it is vital that you substite "Gwen" every time you see Claire and "Bentley" every time you see Scott. Okay, thanks. Enjoy]


All I ever really need to know about raising kids I learned from.....

Jurassic Park

I suppose you'd like me to explain?

You sit down to watch Jurassic Park for the first time. What do you think you're going to be afraid of?

Tyrannosaurus Rex, right?

You finish watching the movie. What do you actually have nightmares about?


T-Rex is gross and big and scary, but in the end he's easy to outsmart. But those raptors have got the brains.

Let's just say I have myself a little Scott-osaurus Rex. At first glance, I'm sure most people think Scott is something fearsome. He's big for his age. He's loud. Really, really loud. He's a big slobbery mess. He knocks things over. He can be scary in his own right. (It's like he's a two year old little boy, or something.) But in the end, you can usually outsmart him (as long as it's not about getting him to eat what's been served for dinner...)

Meanwhile, Claire comes across on the surface as quiet, polite, and agreeable. Don't be fooled. Just call her the Ve-Claire-oraptor. Trust me, I know the truth. Don't fear the rambunctious child. Fear the calculating child. (I've only blogged about a small taste of the full wrath. I try not to blog about the nitty gritty of all that is Claire because it's almost like I love her or something and don't want to bag on her in public too much.)

In my parenting nightmares, the Scott-Rex goes out and smashes jeeps but the Claire-tor is outside my door with her menacing face pressed against the glass, fogging it up with her vicious snorts. The Scott-Rex will get distracted by something moving on the other side of the room, but the Claire-tor methodically checks fences for weaknesses, baits you with a decoy, and opens doors.

Guest Post: Gretchen

Apparently Gretchen does not post pictures of herself on her blog. Ever. But I did find this one of her, she normally has a face though, and incredibly thick luscious black hair. And also she looks a bit different now because she is going to have a baby in two weeks, woo hoo!
Gretchen was in my ward for about a month when we moved to Texas but then she moved across town. Luckily she and Ralphie are tight and so I got to know her at playgroups, etc. And then we found that we both have an affinity for internet communication and a hatred of phone calls, so we decided to be friends.

I wish I could be as well-spoken as Gretchen. Her posts are written in such a way that I can hear her tone in my mind as I read. I can't explain it but she writes things exactly how she would say them and that makes her entries very fun to read.
I asked her if I could repost my favorite entry from her blog on mine this week as a guest post, and was excited that she said I could, thanks Gretchen! Keep your baby inside until I get back!

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Haiku, a Couplet, and a Black Eye by Kayla

What to write as guest?
Will Kristi accept haiku?
Does she have a choice?

Perhaps a nice rhyming couplet

Man, I am in such a writing rut

Um, and then I tried to write a sonnet about the ideas other people gave me and failed miserably.

I am, of course, thrilled that Kristi asked me to guest post. It makes me feel important! And skilled! And like I possibly have the ability to say important things skillfully!

Except I've had some serious writer's block lately and even begged post ideas off my readers in hopes they would jump start the flow of creativity. It's only sort of working, which isn't their fault. My brain is just temporarily out of order (have an idea for me? Leave it here! And yes, I just shamelessly begged for inspiration from someone else's readers).

So then I thought I'd look through Kristi's archives and try to write a post that would fit in here at The Little Things. It didn't take me long to find a common theme.

Black eyes.

Kristi writes about failure and almost-failure. She writes about things going awry and the narrow misses. In a blogworld full of sunshine and rainbow mommy blogs, she paints a real picture of the ups AND downs of life and motherhood. It's refreshing, ya know? And it's part of what makes her so charming.

And so, in honor of Kristi, one of my recent black eyes:

Last Sunday was the fifth Sunday of the month and in our church that means the men and women are combined and there's usually some sort of special lesson. Last week my ward did a "hymnimony," which is where anyone from the congregation can go up to the podium, talk a bit about their favorite hymn, and select a verse from that hymn for everyone to sing.

We did the same thing once in one of my student wards and it was pretty much my favorite thing ever. Before they even finished explaining the concept I had my hymn book open to #214, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.

I love that hymn but rarely get to sing it since there's such a limited number of Sundays between Thanksgiving and Christmas when we can sing Christmas hymns. And since it's one of the less common ones it doesn't even get sung every year.

So I was THRILLED at the prospect of forcing it upon everyone. I prepared my little spiel and picked verse 4:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."
As soon as the 2nd counselor invited us up I shot out of my seat and edged by Aaron and Wes toward the aisle.

In my excitement, I knocked Wes over.

I didn't stop to help him back up. I wanted to sing my hymn, dangit, and he wasn't going to stop me!

Wes started crying. I finished climbing over Aaron, shot him an apologetic look, and headed up to the podium.

Somehow, another guy beat me and was the first to introduce his favorite hymn. The crying from our row grew louder. Finally, as the organ began to play the opening strains of I Need Thee Every Hour, Aaron had to take Wes out.

After the selected verse, I stood. As I spoke a bit about I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day being a hymn of hope and comfort, I could hear Wes screaming outside the doors. It added a nice note of irony.

But then the organ started and I couldn't hear him anymore. And my theory is, "if I can't hear him then he's not crying." And I sang my heart out and loved every second of my hymn and didn't feel bad at all.

(until Aaron came back in 3 songs later and gave me the stink eye)

(it was worth it!)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Guest Poster: Kayla

I was thrilled when Kayla agreed to write this blogs first official guest post. If I could write like anyone I would choose to write like Kayla. Her blog is a pleasure to read, her entries always make me laugh out loud. Be sure to check out her blog, because you most certainly will not be disappointed.

And I have to apologize to her because I promised her a smokin' bio for the guest post, but it's 1:00AM and we just completed our 24 hour pilgrimage to Utah, my head is pounding and I've been living off of Funyuns and Cherry Coke for two days. I want to go to sleep for about 30 hours.

But I'll tell you this....about a year ago I realized I was obsessed with reading too many blogs and did a purge of my google reader. I kept only blogs of people who I had actually met in person, except for Kayla. I simply could not give up reading her blog. It's the highlight of my day.

Thanks Kayla for the guest post, I can't wait to read it tomorrow!

Friday, June 5, 2009

hard knock life

In an email sent out to our entire family, Blaine's aunt mentioned that she was excited to see us during our upcoming trip to Utah and then went on to say...

"This time, we need to get pictures of little Ivy Jane. I can't believe we skipped almost entirely getting pictures of that darling little waif of a girl while you all were here!"

Which I didn't think much of until her son responded to the e-mail with...

"I know that you didn't mean anything rude by your comments, but isn't a waif a street orphan?"

And so I took the liberty of looking up "waif" and found that indeed a waif is "a person, esp. a child, who has no home or friends."

And then there was riotous laughter.

It reminded me of when Blaine's Grandma called me "the cutest little hooker" she had ever seen, but that's another story for another day.

Really though, I've got to get packing...

Life is a highway

Since this is a professional blog now I thought I would update you on the measures I am taking to ensure that you have a professional experience while visiting.

* For the sake of the blog I am going to cram the fam into the van tomorrow morning* at four in the A.M. and driving across the country. It's bound to be a pain, but also will likely inspire lots of creative blog fodder (you know as there is so much to see and do between here and Utah), so I am doing it all for you dear blog readers. And also a little bit so that I can go to my brothers wedding and indulge myself at Cafe Rio, but mostly for the sake of the blog.

* During the drive I plan to sharpen my blogging skills. As such I will be reading "Thirty Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary" en route. I never gave it back to my AP English teacher on the last day of high school and it has since been sitting on my bookshelf gathering dust. It will gather dust no more!

* All professional blogs have guest posters while they are away on vacation. As such I have already lined up two like minded individuals to write guest posts while I am away (I also have some pre-written posts that will pop up too. Who am I kidding, it's not like Utah is a black hole, I'll probably blog from there).

So you can see I am taking this professional blog thing seriously, thanks for staying with me during the construction phase, I'll be sure to send on your profit sharing portion of my google ads.

Wish me luck!

P.S. If you've come up with a catchy blog title for me (that is also available for a domain name) let me know! I am also in the market for anonymizing nicknames for my children.

* I have talked to the homeboys down the street and the will be patrolling my house, don't mess.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Look before you leap!

I pride myself on being able to get a good deal. I know the ins and outs of websites like priceline better than I know the back of my hand. Recently I booked a three star hotel in Washington D.C. for $40 a night (we have family also staying in D.C. at a similar quality hotel for $149/night). So you can see how priceline works well for me. I love priceline. I can't live without priceline.

So I've been trying to weasel a deal so that our trip to Utah will be more than us driving there, waving to our families, hopping in the car and driving back. As such I have been bidding on airfare for Blaine to fly back to Texas to work for a week and then to fly back up to drive home with us (poor Blaine gets to be the pawn in my travel chess game). But really, three kids in the car for 24 hours just to stay in Utah for less than a week? Gag me.

At the end of today's relentless bidding session I placed one final bid. Two hundred bucks to extend my Utah trip for one week. After all I did put back nearly two hundred dollars worth of clothes at Maurice's, so it seemed a small price to pay to be able to bask in Utah's 75 dg weather for an additional week.

When I placed my final bid it came back saying that it would email me the answer, which I thought was weird because normally it lets you know instantly. I chalked it up to the system being sick of my tireless requests ( you can rebid if you add options like "willing to have more than two layovers" and "willing to fly on a non-jet aircraft" what the? What kind of trick is this? Are they sending you in the back of a sky diving plane or something? Regardless, it's Blaine not me, so I clicked that option. No skin off my back)

I was getting quite impatient so I checked my status again. This time I noticed something. Now...see if you can notice it too... and keep in mind priceline tickets are not refundable. At all. Ever. No exceptions.

Name Your Own Price Offer History (most recent offer on top)
departing returning departure airports arrival airports bid
06/X/2009 06/X/2009 Austin - Bergstrom Intl (AUS)
Salt Lake City Intl (SLC)
departing returning departure airports arrival airports bid
06/X/2009 06/X/2009 Austin - Bergstrom Intl (AUS)
Salt Lake City Intl (SLC)

What a stinkin' lot of good it would do me to have a round trip airline ticket for Blaine to fly to Utah from Austin when we are already in Utah.

I nearly died of heart failure right then.

Luckily after several minutes I called and my offer had been declined.

I have never been so happily rejected!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Blowout Sale or The Day I Was Nearly Arrested for Shoplifting

Since Blaine and I have taken it upon ourselves to single handedly stimulate the economy, we decided it was high time we bought Bentley some new pajamas. I was perfectly content to wait until I found some at a garage sale but Blaine came to bed last night with smoke puffing out his ears because he couldn't find any pjs for Bentley.

So today I went to the outlet mall in search of pajamas. I had a coupon for Carter's for an additional 20% off of their already reduced "blowout" prices. Sweet.

Things started heading South shortly after my arrival at the outlet mall. Ben is a boy, through and through, and something in the depths of his DNA has made it so that the simple act of walking in to a clothing store makes him start to scream in protest. I am not kidding. You could walk in the doors, he would scream, walk out and he would be fine. I anticipated this though and had crackers and cars in hand.

I made the mistake of stopping at a store on our way to Carters, so he was kind of at wits end when I had the audacity to walk in to a SECOND store in one shopping trip. He was wiggling and whining and I was shushing and making witty remarks to try to ease the social tension that comes when you have screaming kids at the store.

The problem was that I had to spend $40 in order to get my 20% off and there weren't many pajamas his size on the clearance rack. So it took a bit of time to get my priorities in order (size vs price) and figure out how to spend exactly $40 and not a penny more. This whole time the fussing was growing at an exponential rate.

There was a mom and toddler looking through the same rack of clothes that we were and I heard the toddler talking about the crying, er...screaming, little boy. Finally when that little girl had had enough she asked her mom, "Mom can you ask that lady with the little boy to leave?".

You know it's bad when the other children want you and yours to leave the store.

So I hustled, got my goods and in the checkout line started to notice a certain -- aroma. I thought I would just hurry to the car but then glanced down and noticed that Bentley was 100% covered in poop. Shorts, shirt, hands, stroller, everything.

It must have been sad to be Ivy, as the designers of Bjorns didn't really design their product with this particular situation in mind. As I was tackling the Bentley situation in the restroom I noticed that her head was dangling precariously close to Bentley's poop covered behind. I readjusted her but then noticed that I hadn't acted quickly enough. My poor, sweet, innocent baby had her brother's feces on her head.

The clothes were shot and I couldn't put them back on him, and he couldn't sit in the stroller as it also was tainted with the stuff; so I spent a few moments pondering the social repercussions of carting around naked children. Then a light bulb went off!

I just bought him new clothes! I was saved!

I have to admit that something felt a bit off as I glanced up at the security camera in the restroom and yanked the tags off of his new pajamas. I couldn't decide which was more likely; a policeman waiting outside to arrest me for theft or an FBI officer outside waiting to arrest me for child abduction (isn't that what abductors do? Take kids to the bathroom and change their outfits?), both seemed pretty legit.

I fashioned a stroller cover out of hand drying towels, washed the poop off of Ivy's head, gave Bentley one more scrubbing for good measure...stuck him in the somewhat unsanitary stroller and was on my way.

Oh and thanks to me buying garage sale clothes I made the command decision to just throw his clothes away. They were that disgusting.

Kind of gives new meaning to the term "Blowout Sale" doesn't it?

A little secret...

Trying on clothes has always been a bit of an emotional experience for me. I've never really been that pleased with my personal appearance and have never tried something on and felt amazing. In fact, after we had been married for a while Blaine gave me the green light to buy ANY clothing I wanted no matter the cost, because that is how rare it was that I found something I actually liked.

Lately I've been feeling that I dress like a bruise, a pregnant bruise no less. Black shirt, dark blue maternity pants. Drab. Lifeless. Once in a while I would spice things up and wear khaki's, but that's about it. All of my black shirts combined with still wearing maternity clothes was really starting to weigh me down. It's hard to feel good about yourself when you've forgotten how to do up a zipper and button buttons. Wouldn't you agree that I am way too young to succumb to wearing elastic waste pants for the rest of my life?

So I had finally had it. Last week I was going out to buy clothing. Just some solid color t-shirts, but of the not black variety. I set out and went to three stores, THREE just trying to find a simple t-shirt that actually fit me. I hate trying on clothes but at each store I anxiously grabbed handfuls of shirts and tried them all on eagerly. My giant smile would always quickly fade as I saw the muffin top protruding. I shrugged off the disappointment and ran to the next store...surely, SURELY there would be something. It's not like I was trying to win a fashion prize, I just wanted one shirt to help me not look like dying flesh.

Tears started welling as I left the second store and headed to my third and final destination. Target. Surely a target t-shirt from the old hag section would fit. Plus, it wouldn't be a total wash, I had a rain check for some cheap carrots to get while I was there. Got my carrots and walked over to try on some shirts. I was feeling a little confident so I also picked up a swimming suit to try on.

Went to the dressing room and, wow. That swimming suit was the last straw. Couldn't really hold back the tears. Already somewhat of an emotional mess I went to the checkout and handed the lady my five bags of carrots.

Then I rummaged around for my rain check that I had had in my hand five minutes earlier. * rummage rummage * "oh, huh, it's got to be in here somewhere". * Frantic panic looking * "No, really, I just had it!". The store employee was not amused. And when I was sure that the rain check could not be found, I just couldn't take it any more. Big fat alligator tears.

And then more tears on top of that because I felt so stupid feeling sorry for myself over something as silly as clothing and overpriced carrots. Am I really that vain?

Big sigh.

I found Blaine at home all big eyed and anxious to see my new attire. It certainly must be no fun being married to the bruise lady.

He stopped halfway through his sentence.."I can't wait to see a fashion showwwwwohhh shoot, are you okay?"

Tears, wailing, gnashing of teeth and ripping of maternity panels.

Then Blaine had an epiphany. "Maybe," he said as carefully as if he were walking barefoot on broken glass, "maybe the reason you can't find anything is..."

"BECAUSE I'M FAT" I wailed

"No, maybe it is because you aren't willing to spend more than four dollars on a shirt. Maybe if you went to a nice store and didn't look at the price tag, maybe you could find something you like"

Pick your jaws up off of the floor ladies, he's all mine!

So the next day with renewed spirits I walked in to a newly opened Maurice's. I didn't look at price tags (well, I did but tried to not think about it). It was so amazing, I found many many shirts and pants that fit me well! No muffin top, no shirts stretched to the point of ripping! Buttons and zippers and colors!

I knew it would be expensive but it was worth it. I deserved it. Anyone who has identical twins born 16 months apart deserves a shopping spree. I can do this. Just don't think about it, hand over the credit card, we'll find a way to pay for it.



"Uh...I'm going to have to put some of this back" I explained as I tried to restrain myself from vomiting on the counter top.

I put back most of the things but still wound up with several really cute shirts. I was thrilled!

The next day, in an attempt to get some non-maternity pants, I hit up Kohl's Memorial Day sale.

I tend to gravitate to the junior's section, after all, I am not really in to sequins and stuff.

Tears. I tried on pants that were two sizes bigger than my fat pants and I couldn't get the dang buttons to do up, my muffin top was THAT bad.

After an hour of trying to cram myself into Juniors clothes I reluctantly meandered over to the fuddy-dud section (ie "womens"). I found some that didn't look too ridiculous and as I was trying them on I saw a tag pop out that said something about "secret slimming panels".

Secret, slimming panels? Seriously? Praise you fuddy-duds, praise you!

I started out trying on the size that is two sizes bigger than my fat pants and...voila! They were huge, ginormous! I went back and wound up getting the capris that were a size smaller than my fat pants and, thanks to my secret slimming panels and regular waist height (as opposed to "ultra-super-ridiculously low rise" in the juniors section), there is no muffin top! Non!

And the moral of the story is that as much as I don't like to think of myself as a fuddy-dud, having three kids was my one-way ticket into that club.

But the fuddies are really on to something with those secretly slimming panels and now I am embracing my inner (or should I say outer?) fuddydudness. Seriously, if childbirth has left you down and out (pun intended), go check them out. Just shoot me if I ever start wearing sequins and embroidered sweaters before I am 50, no no, make that 80.