Saturday, December 30, 2006

Go, Mizzou?

Missouri played in the Sun Bowl yesterday. My friend in California mentioned that she was hosting the alunni gathering; when I told her we would just watch at home, she sent me the info for the Houston party. So, thanks to directions by way of Orange County, California, we went.

I've never been all rah-rah about my alma mater. We give some money, and we certainly watch the games. But I've never felt a strong need to relive those days. However, the party was fun. I would have known none of these people while I was in school - they were all about 15 years older or 15 years younger. Fun, none the less. The table where we sat was filled with former Greeks; they weren't obnoxious or overbearing, but one woman mentioned consistently, Yes, she was my Kappa roommate; she was a Kappa. Lots of comments about, Yea, he was a Beta, lived in the annex. HAHAHA. When you weren't Greek, it's hard to get into that mindset. (Not that there's anything wrong with that ...)

Interrupting the game to show us Gerald Ford's funeral? What was that about? Come on - he was 93, it wasn't a tragic death. And it's a bowl game! Fortunately they didn't stay very long. One guy hollered out, This is why you're not a major sports network!

The game itself: Heartbreaking. How do you go from 12 points up with six minutes to go to losing the game? Aaargh. Profoundly disappointing.

So now I'm thinking this might be a fun group. We've never been involved before, but why not? You take this group of people with nothing in common except that they went to the same school, a university with 20,000 undergrads. And it's amazing how you bond, how you get along with this eclectic group.

Went to dinner at the neighbors, which was fun. I don't know them well, but I like them. Our eldest daughter insisted on leaving and coming home; she was bored. Must work on her social skills.

Today, much work to do. Usually I resent having to work on Saturday, but since I've played all week, it's hard to feel that sense of injustice.

And now, to work. Later!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Post-Christmas downtime

Not at this house. All the kids are home, the husband is home. First I was cleaning for Christmas, then Christmas was here and we had company. Then we exchanged a couple gifts, spent some gift cards. Following that outing, we got ready for our next visitor (Maddie's best friend from Indiana), and now she is here, so we are running around.

Maddie has an aggressive agenda: Show Megan every square inch of Houston between now and Sunday. Science musuem, IMAX, zoo, Galleria, Carl's BBQ, La Madeleine. I'll drop dead of exhaustion (and bankruptcy) before it's all over.

Note to self: Science museum is packed when there is no school. The lines for the women's restroom are long, the restroom smells, and people like to hang about, waiting for their party, taking up valuable floor space. And we're not talking those with small children; at least they have an excuse.

But the butterflies are still wonderful, breathtakingly beautiful. I've never seen such a vivid blue before.

And why, if you're spending the day at the museum, does one need to yak on the mobile the entire time? Just curious ...

To bed; I'm beat. More tomorrow!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Work is a drag

It's no fun when everyone else is home and I have to work. But it must be so; I had to do the shopping while the kids were still in school. So now I must play make up. I am nearly done; one more story and I'm finished with phase I and can take a pause. Then I still have some other stuff to coordinate and edit (school notes, blah, blah and calendar items, more blah blah). Then I'll be done and can take a real break ... ti it's time to start the whole process over again. Sigh ...

I like getting paid, and I like writing the stories. But as for the rest of if? The title editor sounds so glamorous, but as with everything, there is a lot of crap you have to do. No guts, no glory.

Kind of like life, huh?

Monday, December 18, 2006

I've been tagged

Yet another of these quizzes. I think they're fun. So. ABC Tag.

A - Available or single: Nope, not for ... well, a long time. Which is OK.
B - Best friend: I'll say Helen. She gets me. (What does this say about her?!?)
C - Cake or pie: Cake, but I like both.
D - Drink of choice: Drink? A glass of red wine. Or, when I need it, a Cosmo. Or does this mean beverage? In that case, water. Coca Cola.
E - Essential item you use everyday: My computer (I can define essential any way I want).
F - Favorite color: Depends ... we'll say red today.
G - Gummi bears or worms: Ick. Don't eat either one.
H - Hometown: Springfield, MO, but I was born in Lincoln, NE, and always considered it home, since my grandparents were there (in Crete, though, not Lincoln). My children would say Lafayette, IN.
I - Indulgence: Chocolate.
J - January or February: January. We have a birthday, and winter isn't a drag yet. Here in Houston, I imagine that will be different.
K - Kids & names: Alison, 15; Madeleine, 12; Sylvia, 8. Whew.
L - Life is incomplete without? Laughter. A sense of whimsy. Good friends.
M - Marriage date: August 13. Why is this question here?
N - Number of siblings: 3 brothers. One older, two younger.
O - Oranges or apples: Apples
P - Phobias or fears: Bats. Snakes. Creepy.
Q - Fave quote: Like anybody could even know that, Napoleon.
R - Reason to smile: My daughters. Vacation.
S - Season: I love summer, being *off* for a time.
T - Tag 3 or 4 people: Tammy. Peter. Gale. Helen.
U - Unknown fact about me: Well, if I answered that, then you'd know it. I like to maintain some mystery.
V- Vegetable you don't like: Though I like them all, I'm least fond of cauliflower. But I'll eat it.
W - Worst habit: Procrastination.
X - Xrays: At the dentist, once a year.
Y - Your fave food: Any good pasta dish, tiramisu for dessert, baked brie.
Z - Zodiac sign: Gemini.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

80 degrees in December

There are some things I need to learn about living in Houston. One of the important lessons is: Don't count on cool weather for the holidays.

I love Christmas, and, paradoxically, I hate snow. But I don't mind it for that one day of the year. However, I would be satisfied with coolish weather (below 60, below 50 even) for this time of year. Instead, we are in the middle of a heat wave of sorts. It is near 80 these days. Yesterday we went Xmas shopping, all wearing capri pants and shorts. Weird. The windows are open, which hampers the operation of the newly repaired Weihnachtspyramid, which relies on heat from the candles in order to rotate; apparently, the breeze from the open windows interferes.

Yet it sill looks like Christmas, with the decorations and what not. I can still play the music, I'm just not drinking hot chocolate. But rest assured, the forecast is changing here shortly.

I blew off church today; I have a cold, cruddy eyes, congestion. So the warning is out around here, no sharing of beverages. One of the many advantages of being a UU is that skipping the Sunday service is no reason for guilt. One of the many reasons being a UU makes me happy. Gary took Alison and Sylvia; after the service the youth have a YRUU phone conference with a district rep to discuss an issue of great importance. I admire the way they're handling their complaint. So Gary will take Sylvia to lunch and to see the Christmas trees at the science museum. Next week we'll all go. Maddie stayed home with me, and I will take her to an afternoon meeting for a school group. She is not liking this church; she needs to make a friend. She will, in time. In the interim, I figured she could have a week off.

The raclette party was fun. No one had ever had it before, and it went well. The tiramisu was wonderful. The decorated cookies looked ... interesting. I can't really bring myself to eat any of them. But the kids had fun and were remarkably well behaved. I had planned to wear a sweater; instead, I wore sandals. Who knew?

Looked at my calendar yesterday at 1 p.m.; Girl Scout cookie training was at 10 a.m. Eeek. However, my co-chair went, so she is happy to be the front-woman, as it were, and I can work stealthily behind the scenes. I'm afraid to cross those Girl Scout people; the sort of scare me.

Alison told me her finals schedule for the week, which includes staying home til noon tomorrow. This thwarts my Christmas shopping plans. Curses.

Happy day, all!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

It's not my fault, so why the guilt?

Ran to the store today to pick up a few items. How $85 can go through the 15 items or fewer lane is a little frightening .... managed to dump the entire contents of my coin purse as I was trying to put away my Visa, so as I scrambled to collect my change off the floor, the bagger put my groceries not into my cart, but into another cart. Unfortunately, as I was getting my act together (let's face it, it took a few minutes, as my drivers license and credit card were floating loose, having just been returned to my big purse from my evening bag of last night), the bagger also put the next customer's groceries into my new cart. I told him, and he grabbed them. Or most of them; as I started to leave, I glanced at the bags and noticed one that wasn't mine. So I told him, and he went to the parking lot to try and find her.

He was unsuccessful, and I was feeling bad. But it wasn't my fault, was it? He should have been paying attention. Small thing, really; she'll get him, notice that she's lacking a bag of stuff and come back to get it. But it's inconvenient for her. Still, I didn't will it to happen, so why do I feel badly for her? I guess because I'd be pissed if I had to go to the grocery twice in one day. It's bad enough having to go there once. And I know I'll be back in the morning; I couldn't quite get a handle on everything I need for dinner tomorrow evening.

The work party was lovely. A tad boring, but very chic. Luckily, Gary's boss's wife sat next to me, and her I can talk to. They moved here about six months before we did, with a sophomore daughter who had just made cheerleader at her old school. I don't even want to picture the scenes at their house. I figured if they could make the sacrifice, we could. I opted for the short dress and should have gone long. Oh well; once again, not an issue of real importance. Perhaps had my husband been in a tux it would have made more sense.

There were, naturally, a couple of very bad dress choices. Men almost always look good in a tux, or even a good suit. Women, on the other hand, can go wrong quickly. The red belt added to the black cocktail dress was one such choice; the black pump that looked like a penny loafer on heels, also worn with a cocktail dress, was yet another. Sigh.

One guy joked that his tux cost $55,000; he bought it for his daughter's wedding. He told his daugher and her fiance, when planning the wedding: "Fact is, 50 percent of these end in divorce. I'll buy you a car, I'll put a down payment on a house. Have a small wedding, I'll send you on a big trip. Those things I'm happy to pay for." The daughter didn't go for it; she had the huge wedding. She's still married, but I'm sure he's right; statistics don't lie. With three girls, these numbers are already making me nervous. We likely won't have three weddings, much less three extravagant ones. But I'm sure we'll have at least one. I can guarantee it.

The office did $1 billion in business last year, so all the employees were given small gifts last night: iPods. Not big ones, just the little shuffle (they are cute). We are already a four-iPod family. But the gesture was still very nice. They also got those credit card Victorinox knives, with the company logo. Kinda cool.

Read to Sylvia's class as a parent reader today. I don't really go to read to the entire class; I go to read to her. But it is sort of fun.

Now I must make cookie dough for the kids, so they can decorate cookies tomorrow night. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


With the Christmas cards comes news. Some cards bear just a signature, others have a photo. Some let me know that friends have moved, or are planning to relocate. And others let me know of births or deaths. A veritable circle of life in my mailbox at this time of year.

Today, sadly, brought news of a tragedy: the son of Gary's colleague died. He was an 18-year-old college freshman and died of alcohol poisoning. Words cannot describe the grief. We've also had news of a friend's cancer this holiday season, and news of the death of a friend's mother.

All right before the holidays. Though I don't suppose there's ever a good time for these events, surely right before Christmas must be especially painful.

Any complaints I might have feel trivial, as do any joys. Once again, this gives me pause. I am so grateful for my healthy children, for all the good fortune my family has had this year.

My heart goes out to those who have not been so blessed.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Only 14 shopping days ...

And I need to hit the stores. I have purchased two major gifts, a handful of small ones. But much remains to be done. I have nothing for my husband, and no good ideas. Some small ideas, but nothing really exciting. Unless he wants to share the set of cookware that I'm hoping for ... suddenly I know just what to get him. But on the off chance that he takes a peek here, I'm going to keep it to myself.

We're having friends for dinner Friday. So, along with writing some stories for the magazine, editing the submisssions that come in, and Christmas shopping, I have to get the house in order, shop, and cook. Fortunately we are having raclette, which means minimal actual cooking. All I really need to do is fix dessert and chop up all the stuff, make potatoes. Best news of all is that Kroger has raclette cheese. So no trip inside the loop to pick up cheese at a gourmet shop. But I need to make cookies for all the kiddos to decorate; it's a little task that will keep them out of our hair for, oh, 15 minutes.

I also signed up to read to Sylvia's class. Thursday. Sigh. And the college PR office is having its open house - you guessed it - Friday. I'd love to pop in, but I'm guess I won't make it. Too bad.

Wednesday is the big soireé for Gary's office. I have it narrowed down to two dresses, both of which I already own (not as if anyone here has seen either one of them). No. 1 is long, black, elegant. My hard word has paid off: I can get it on and zip it up (keep in mind that it predates at least one of my daughters). No. 2 was meant as the back-up dress, in case I couldn't quite fit into No. 1. I put it on today, and I had forgotten just how much I like it. It's short but quite stunning. So now I have to decide: long or short? Black or midnight blue? I'll go to the expert: Maddie. She always knows.

The party will be lovely, very elegant. But dull. It's with my husband's colleagues. I don't work there; they're not my friends. The other spouses are, well, they're fine. But we're not friends in the truest sense of the word. They are all pleasant, but not really my social circle. I think I've adapted to the German standards: Why would you bring your spouse/date to a work function? They don't work here. Makes sense to me.

Time to get the child off the bus. Cheers!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

You've got to be kidding

Yesterday took the two younger girls to a Brownie Christmas party — lunch at La Hacienda and a production of Cinderella. It was geared toward the very young - very juvenile humor, but it wasn't unbearable. The girls seemed to like it. The ugly stepsisters were obnoxious and funny. One little girl, feeling brazen, asked the obviously in drag stepmother if she/he was a man; he/she replied, in mock horror, of course not! We were giggling about it, standing in line to get autographs signed, and another cast member said they'd actually had complaints from some parents; they were apparently upset that their children would suffer gender confusion.

Get serious. Stepsisters/stepmother in drag goes way back; it's funny. It's the theatre; it's called make believe. Besides, don't they know anything about Shakespeare?

Life in the ultra-conservative suburbs of Houston. Egads.

Thank goodness for the That Girl marathon on TV Land this weekend. My earliest feminist role model - and I still love Marlo Thomas. The girls are loving it, too, just as I thought they would. Dare I say it, but I love her more than Mary Tyler Moore. I know, I know, but it's true. Plus, the outfits she wore in those early seasons .... how she afforded those clothes and that apartment as a barely employed actress I'll never know, but hey, I can suspend reality. I'm coveting that pink dress from when she met Donald's parents, I really am.

And we set up the final Christmas tree, the reject tree from my in-laws, circa 1969. Doesn't look remotely real, but it brightens up the game room.

Holiday atmosphere is complete. Time for hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

How time flies ...

It's December 6. Only six days into the month, and already I am out of time. Frankly, considering how much time I have to myself, this is difficult to comprehend. It is, none the less, true. Most of the Christmas decorations are up, but it's a new house, which means new game plan, and I have no idea where to put things. Slowly, slowly, it's falling into place, but the house is sill sort of in decorating purgatory.

And where, where is the right place for the Evergleam? Is there a proper place for an Evergleam?

I went to Hobby Lobby yesterday to pick up a few items (Maddie desperately *needed* lights for her room (?); I figured for a buck ninety-nine, she can have lights. Yesterday was Dec. 5. You'd think it was Jan. 5; the Christmas stuff was so picked over. Another woman walked by and commented, this will teach us to wait until the last minute. I should say; what was I thinking waiting until the month of December had officially started?

Bought new greenery for around the front door, but not enough, so right now it just looks stupid. No lights outside yet, so it looks ignored. At this rate, we'll never keep up with the Joneses (literally or figuratively). I am bursting with holiday sprit; alas, no one can tell. That Dean Martin Christmas music in the background keeps me afloat.

Much, much work to do ... and I'm lagging woefully behind. But I'm getting some stuff done each day.

Today I went to lunch with another Cy Woods (that's the high school) parent; we were shocked to find out how much we have in common. Kind of fun, as I've been feeling like such a suburban misfit. She filled me in on all the others like me; they're out there, but they're disguised as ordinary suburban folks. You just have to know where to look. Apparently, the Cy Woods Drama booster club is full of them; I'll make a note to get more involved on the next play.

Only 19 more shopping days ... and I'm planning a dinner party ... what is wrong with me???

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Damaged Christmas

We're working on the tree today; though I'm taking a break from assembling branches. Yes, it's true: we have an aritificial tree. Always have. We both grew up with one, so it just seemed like the right thing to do. For years we used a hand-me-down from my in-laws; it didn't look remotely real, but it didn't take up a lot of space, and the price was right. And once decorated, it usually looked OK. But finally, a couple years ago, I broke down and decided it was time to upgrade. So now we have a fabulous new-ish artificial tree. I wanted a pre-lit tree, but they were not to be had for my budget when I was shopping. So, this one it is. It is hung with white lights and a collection of ornaments that grows every year. There's the one that Sylvia made at school last year that the dog tried to eat (apparently uncooked pasta that is spray-painted gold is that tempting to a dog), several that we purchased in Germany, all the new baby ornaments, Our First Christmas Together (circa 1988 — eeek!), my high school tree ornaments, and many more, from art sales and craft shows and travels.

We unpacked the German Weihnachtspyramid, a hand-made wooden pyramid with wooden figurines; when the candles at the bottom are lit it rotates and is lovely. It was packed away just the way it was when I purchased it, and it had survived the move home from Germany. When I picked up the box and it rattled I knew it was a bad sign; I opened the lid and the cardboard insert was upside down. It came out in pieces — the movers apparently opened the box and repacked it WRONG. It has all come apart. It can be reglued, but I am livid — that kid had no idea what he was doing, so he re-packed something that was properly packed away, and now it is in pieces.

Such a drag ... as I said, it can be reglued. But we shouldn't have to repair it. The movers will be hearing from me this week ... and it won't be pretty.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Christmas Quiz

If you read this, tag! You're next.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Not big on the egg nog; a drink with raw eggs? Ick. Hot chocolate it is, with peppermint schnapps.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?
Both, but big ones are never wrapped.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
I like white on the tree in the living room, red on the other tree (it's ancient but we put it up anyway), and colored on the little tree in the playroom. We're still debating on the exterior color; I'm voting for red or white.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No, but I'm not against it. My college roommate and I made sure to have it handy.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
First or second weekend in December. Maybe this Saturday.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Cranberry chutney, and we always have fondue.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child?
For years and years we drove back to Nebraska to visit my grandparents. I remember looking out their living room windows and seeing the decorations hung on the utility poles. I also loved unpacking the ornaments every year, remembering where each came from, who made the one with the backwards felt N, the unbreakable red and white beach ball ornaments purchased when we were very young to hang at the bottom of the tree.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
My older brother told me (meanie). I ran crying to my dad, asking if it was true. He asked, Do you believe in Santa? Of course I said yes.Then a year or two later I found my bicycle hidden in the shed. That pretty much wrapped up any lingering doubts.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Never have.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
With all three of the girls here with us. Last year the husband was traveling, so we did it and took pictures. The girls act just like I did, reminiscing about each and every ornament, like the little wooden snowman with two tiny blobs of glitter on it, made by 2-year-old Maddie.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
It's pretty on Christmas, but other than that, I hate it. In some ways, Texas may turn out to be OK.

12. Can you ice skate?
Better than you might think; people are usually surprised. Including me.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
Not necessarily my favorite, but one year my brother bought me an album, Spandau Ballet, and I know he really hated them, but he bought it for me. Another year, pre-eBay, my husband searched and searched for two out of print Mike Royko books. He ended up checking them out of the library and wrapping them up.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Creating memories for my girls. Enjoying the goodwill of the season.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Christmas cookies and fudge, made here at home.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Singing Christmas carols. Watching Charlie Brown.

17. What tops your tree?
A star on one, a choirboy on another.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving?
I love giving, but I truly love receiving gifts that the girls have made for us at school or purchased with money they have saved. They are so proud; the looks on their faces are priceless.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
Sleigh Ride by Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. Favorite CDs? Christmas with the Rat Pack, Harry Connick Jr.'s album, Johnny Mathis Winter Wonderland, Brian Setzer, and on and on ...

20. Candy Canes?
The ones from McCord's candy store in Lafayette, IN. Mmmm.

21. Favorite Christmas Movie
It's a Wonderful Life. Love it. Also love White Christmas and Holiday Inn; low on plot, but full of Irving Berlin. TV specials: The Grinch, Rudolph, and Charlie Brown.

December is around the corner ...

There is sooo much to dooo ... the cards are half addressed, but lacking stamps and photos; need to haul out the holly and deck them halls (and mistletoe and presents for pretty girls ... ), start the gift buying, and wrapping, and mailing. Need to run to the post office to mail long-overdue letters/magazines to friends. Bills in the mail. Hair appointment. Proper foundation garment for perfect party dress (found hanging in my closet, no less!).

Oh — and I have work to do. Real work. The kind I get paid for. I like my job. I like the title, the perks, the recognition, the money. And I don't mind some of the work. Being an editor sounds much more glamorous than it is; I like writing some stories, don't mind assigning some, editing them as they come in. But I don't like dealing with the corrections, compiling the calendar and the briefs. Ick. More importantly, I like the idea of work getting done. But the actual doing of the work? Not so much fun. I want to be able to snap my fingers and bask in the glory.

Not in this life. Must run — time waits for no one. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It's too early

I realize Thanksgiving is past, the holiday season has officially begun. But my neighborhood looks like a bad scene from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. And it's not even December.

Gary offered this weekend to pull out the Christmas boxes, go through the decorations. Frankly, I didn't have the heart. The fact that it is in the mid-70s isn't helping. This, of course, is my problem; I have to readjust for the weather here. One of the many concessions I have to make in order to live in Texas.

Keeping up with the neighbors isn't even an option. This is what happens when you move to a yuppie suburb, and I'm not sure I care for the direction we're headed. It's not enough to hang lights; people call in professional Christmas light installers (though the term "professional" here is used in the loosest sense of the word). I'm fairly certain these houses would show up on a satellite image. Behind us glows like Las Vegas.

It doesn't stop at lights; imagine, if you will, large inflatables on the lawn, surrounded by lighted deer and spiral trees. Mailboxes are topped with bows and greenery; yards and driveways and edged in lights. Luminaria lead the way up the front walk.

I shudder to think what's next.

I'm only competitive in board games and bowling; I can let the Christmas glory be had by others. We will put up our tree, and I plan to use the greenery and bows that formerly festooned our front porch on our indoor stair railing. We'll hang our wreath, address the cards (into which I shall enclose a much-abbreviated Christmas letter) and call it a holiday. We shall bake and decorate cookies and listen to carols on our ever-growing collection of Christmas CDs (though Gary disagrees and thinks that it is, in fact, possible to have too much Christmas music).

I like Christmas as much as the next gal; I'm no Scrooge. But I don't need 200 feet of flashing lights to tell the world that I believe in Peace on Earth.

All the same, I'm looking for the number of the light hangers. Just in case; December arrives on Friday.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

So much to be thankful for; suffice it to say, I am, indeed, grateful for the little things. More tomorrow ... or Saturday? When the company is gone.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Down two kids ...

... with only one daughter left at home. It's a different feeling. But I don't feel as lost as when all three of the girls are gone. The last time they all went to stay with their grandparents I felt completely ill at ease. Yesterday I drove to Austin and we spent the day with my parents, visiting the LBJ Library and eating runzas (thanks, mom!). I left Maddie and Sylvia to spend a couple of days, then I came home. The drive home wasn't so bad; I don't particularly relish nighttime driving on the Interstate (or 290), but at least I could listen to the music I wanted, as loud as I wanted, with no back-seat heckling. So that part was OK.

Today I made some cranberry chutney, then Gary came home early. We went to lunch at a little sushi place, where the menu included the Cypress Roll, whose ingredients included — I kid you not — spiders and cream cheese, wrapped in avocado. Sounds tasty ... we passed.

Then we did a little shopping; big event on the horizon, as Gary's office is celebrating $1 billion in sales with a swanky soirée next month, at a chic eatery near the Galleria; the dress code is specified as "cocktail/formal." Big dilemma: New dress? Wear a dress I already have? Be radical and wear pants? I welcome suggestions ... keeping in mind that a) no one here has seen any of the dresses hanging in my closet; b) all the dresses currently hanging in shops are black and too long for me (I need at or above the knee, being of slight stature), and black is so ... ordinary; c) I am not a teenager, or even a 20-something, and don't want to look as if I'm trying to emulate one; d) I do not want to go nuts buying accessories, and I already own perfectly acceptable black shoes, bag, and pashmina; e) black pants with a cocktail-like top would be lovely and dressy, and might stand out more than a dress; and f) I want to look fantastic, but I want the look to belie all the effort I've put in.

See what heppens when one has too much time on one's hands? As previously stated, comments and/or suggestions are welcome.

Tomorrow it's just me and Alison. We plan to cook much of the day, getting ready for Thanksgiving. We love the preparations, getting all our favorite foods together. The menu includes: turkey (of course); dressing w/apricots and prunes; sweet potato casserole; Gullivered corn; mashed potato casserole; green beans; cranberry chutney; rolls (Alison's specialty); pumpkin ribbon bread; pumpkin pie; poppyseed cake. Mmmm ...

Just the three of us tonight; that is different. Should be nice.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Weekend Update

Saturdays are usually slow days. This morning, however, was an exception, as I attended a mini-class at the UU. Had to miss Sylvia's soccer tournament, but I think she understands. The class was good — learned the history, both local and national (which I already knew; I'm not really a newcomer). And I got to — snore — hear the spiritual journey of every class attendee and facilitator. Yep, all 15 of us. Makes it not so special, as well as lengthy; it took up more than half the class period.

But it was still good. It's the UU, after all. We had a nice lunch afterwards. And I now know who to call for what. I'm still considering my options, what groups to join.

(How fun to attend a UU with a budget: cloth napkins! water goblets! fancy snacks! a real sanctuary! My Lafayette friends are green with envy, I'm sure ...)

Sylvia won her first game, lost the second. It's not an actual tournament, per se; more a chance for the girls (or boys) to play more than one game in one day. It's a rec league; we don't have real winners or losers. The girls got medals and were thrilled. Tomorrow they get a pizza party and little trophies. Sounds like adequate positive reinforcement to me.

Need to do my Thanksgiving shopping. In order to do most of it ahead of time, I need to start Monday. Sadly (well, not really), Monday I will be in Austin. So I need to do something tomorrow. But I haven't been to the store yet. And we're having this party tomorrow. But I should be able to make one easy dish tomorrow — maybe two if I'm lucky. I can get a bunch done on Tuesday, then there's still Wednesday. I need to clean at some point, but I'm leaving two of the girls with the grandparents on Monday, so I'll have some time to get it all together. Plus, my guests are just family, so I don't have to get too strung out. I'm not trying to emulate Martha Stewart, just have a nice dinner. I truly do have a lot to be thankful for. Yes, there's a lot on my no-so-thankful list, but I'll be putting those gripes away for the day, focusing on what's more important.

And Mah Jongg. My mom will be here, so we'll get to play a bunch (ha! JoAnn; I'm getting so-o-o-o good, much better than you!). Not to mention football; Nebraska plays Colorado on Friday, and we all know what a game that will be. None the less, my family will be glued to the set.

As for tonight: the hot tub is heating, the movie is waiting. Here's to a quiet Saturday night in, complete with all the girls (as soon as the absent daughter gets home; I expect her shortly).

There are so many things I could blog about, including, but not limited to, our goofy neighborhood Yahoo discussion group. I'll have to remember to fill you in.

For now, it's back to my book. Cheers!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Little bits of nothing

I've been a little bit busy, a little bit sick (both Alison and I), had a little bit of car trouble. (We have to buy a new tire ... annoying.)

As I sat yesterday, waiting 30 minutes for the emergency road service folks to show up, change my tire, even then I knew that this was a minor inconvenience. I wasn't stranded in the middle of nowhere; I was in a CVS parking lot, a major intersection. Sylvia was with me, the older two were home. I had my mobile phone, and CVS has a restroom. It was all OK, really. In light of the news from Lafayette this week — the shocking, tragic death of the husband of one of my girls' beloved teachers — this was small stuff.

It's all about perspective. I didn't drive the car much today (other than to pick up Alison at school), and it will get fixed tomorrow.

All the same, I'm glad it's the weekend and that my prodigal husband comes home tonight.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Day at home

Weather today: High of 85. Lafayette, IN: 47; Peoria, IL: 44; Springfield, MO: 57; Lincoln, NE: 53; Kiel, Germany: 12 C/54 F

After being gone all day yesterday, today I was home. Good thing, because I'll be gone all day tomorrow, and at some point, stuff needs to get done.

Yesterday I rearranged and juggled in order to get Sylvia to the book fair to shop and to see Junie B. Jones. And get to gymnastics. And pick up Alison. And take the neighbor girl. And feed the girls at a reasonable time. Sorted it all out — by ditching gymnastics — got the girls to the book fair ... and the phone rang. Alison was ready, 45 minutes earlier than the schedule said. So, lucky that we had run into a friend on the way in, I left the girls with her, and she took them to see Junie B. It was an illicit performance; we were not to go until 6.30, as we are M's. Got Alison, took her home, and caught the last half of Junie B. When I sat down, my friend, the other mom, rolled her eyes at me, as if to say, "This performance is so lame." At the same time, Sylvia's friend looked at me and said, "This is so good." I stifled laughter.

Then the little girls next to me whispered to me; I couldn't understand what she was saying, so I nodded and smiled. Note: Do not nod and smile, silently acquiescing, when you have no idea what the other party has just said. The next thing I know she was standing up, grabbing my hand, and she looked at her mother and said, "It's OK, she'll take me." Her mother looked bemused and slightly embarrassed, saying, no, no, if you need to go, I'll take you. The other mother and I — whom I do not know — smiled and laughed. A lot. I have no idea where she wanted to go; merely to escape the wretched Junie B.? The June B. who said y'all? The little girl was cute as can be. And not shy.

Got home, even cooked dinner. Helped Sylvia review her math, read her a chapter from Laura & Mary. Then Maddie asked, Did we forget my flute lesson today? Arrgh! Flute! And I thought I was so on top of things. Guess not.

Today I spent much of my day on hold with customer service people. But took care of those details. Talked to my parents, planned our one-day mini-trip to Austin.

A very nice e-mail about the magazine — the first of many, perhaps? And flowers, too — I'm basking in the success. And starting the next issue ... no rest for the wicked.

Monday, November 13, 2006


The launch of the brand-new Cy-Fair Magazine was a huge success ... well, at least for members of the Chamber of Commerce. Today we officially kicked off the magazine, complete with a ribbon cutting and luncheon. Christine the PR Queen was thrilled with 55 RSVPs; easily twice that many people showed up (and to their credit, the folks at Lauren Lakes responded to the overflow crowd by quickly and quietly setting up additional tables, and no one went hungry). Readers seemed to like the magazine and advertisers are happy (not that I have anything to do with that side of the publication; let's keep it that way).

I hate being told what to wear (or not), but I donned my leaf-green sweater without complaint; it was unseasonably warm, but it was my best option. The boots, circa 1989 (an early purchase when I went to work at the Observer in Peoria) were hurting my feet; clearly I would have to purchase a half-size bigger these days (these are probably a size 6 — eeek!). Yet I got compliments on them — no one had to know how dated they are.

So I spent my day networking (hate it), smiling for photos (not big on that either), schmoozing and shaking hands. But I got some very nice feedback on the magazine, and my colleague said some very nice things that, out of modesty and discretion, I'll not repeat. Suffice it to say I am feeling pretty good. There are some things I would change, that's for sure, and a couple of things I am not very happy about at all, but no one has to know about those niggling details; I'll never tell what they are!

Time to go to the school book fair and see Junie B. Jones. Just what I want to do ... the sacrifices I make for my children. Later!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Random Saturday

• Here in Texas, fall is sudden and fleeting, Cool temps are here then just as quickly gone. It was 87 yesterday; I wore shorts. It was hotter than ... well, you get the idea. I don't mind it in August and September, but November? I didn't turn on the AC only because I knew it wouldn't hit 70 today. As I uncomfortably made my way through the afternoon, I tried to keep it all in perspective. We were hit with a thunderstorm around 8 p.m. yesterday, and that took care of the heat. Relief.

• I don't miss the cold per se, but I do miss the cool. And I'm not enjoying mosquito bites in November.

• KIrstie Alley weighs 145 pounds? I missed her debut on Oprah Monday, but I did catch the recap. Sorry, but at 5'8", she is not 145 lbs. Rosie (O'Donnell, The View) pulled a 5'8" audience member on stage the other day and asked her weight. Brave woman. She was neither fat nor thin, really, just right, and she weighed 168. Sorry Kirstie, I cannot believe you. I respect her weight loss and more power to her (though I still find her incredibly annoying), but she needs to be a little more upfront about what she weighs. She misleads women and gives them more body issues. If she weighs 145, then put me down at an anorexic 95.

• Congrats to Sylvia, who scored not one, but two goals in her soccer match today. They still lost their game, but the team scored four goals and had at least four other excellent shots on goal. Way to go, Sylvia! It was nice to cheer for once.

• Can't quite get a read on my neighbors; since none of them reads this, I can say pretty much what I want, but I prefer to exercise caution. Suffice it to say, I was getting really weird vibes from a woman I sort of know, and then suddenly she paid me an amazing compliment, totally out of the blue. Not quite sure what to make of it, especially since I sat and stewed over it, our "friendship" as it were, for a long time, more time than the situation warranted, that's for sure. I am humbled, to say the least, and now I am back to wondering. Maybe I'm not such a suburban misfit; maybe I have a chance here after all. Or maybe I just analyze things way, way too much. Perhaps the unexamined life is worth living; some people probably ease right through life without getting all worked up over a sideways glance, a double entendre.

Someone should save me from myself.

• I find myself longing for life in Europe these days. Memory conveniently clouds all the unpleasant aspects of my life abroad, but I am suddenly nostalgic, anxious to return. If we did, all those annoyances and inconveniences would hit me like a ton of bricks. I still think we'll do it again. But not in Russia, where one of Gary's colleagues is moving. Life on a foreigners compound? No thanks.

• After two and half glorious days with an in-house husband, tomorrow sees the launch of another week of single parenting. I am so, so lucky to have easy children; how would I manage if the girls were ill-behaved or hard to manage? Still, I miss having their father/my husband around. I didn't really sign up for the single parenting gig; his travel crept up kind of slowly and before we knew it, he was gone all the time. Or, to be more accurate, half the time. On the hright side, it does mean more Ritter Sport dark chocolate coming my way.

• Went to a holiday gift mart in the neighborhood, where I purchased a third (!) Pampered Chef baking stone. Maybe this one won't get busted. Sigh ... the first one was my own fault; one should make sure one turns on the correct burner, even when the baking stone is not sitting on top of the stove. But the second one — I told Gary not to leave it sitting there as we unpacked, that it would get broken. You can guess what happened next, much like the day I told him not to leave his coffee cup on the end table while simultaneously twirling Sylvia around in the chair.

At least the coffee didn't hit the rug.

• Just finished Tom Perrotta's Little Children. Another book about infidelity — what a disturbling trend. Very well written, but I'm not sure I need to explore the darker side of suburbia again for some time. A week, at least.

• I'm getting my own iPod. I figured I could just use Gary's, but lately he is never home. And yesterday, even when he was home, he left the iPod in his briefcase, so I walked without a soundtrack. That's it — tomorrow I plan to hit the Apple store.

Out tonight, dinner and a movie. Gary and I will see one movie, the girls another. Wow. Life has changed in good ways as the girls have gotten older. I loved them as infants, have really loved every stage of their lives. Sometimes I miss the toddler and preschool years, but as the girls get older, they are so interesting;they are beoming fascinating, thinking people. I love to watch movies with them; Maddie and I thoroughly enjoyed our screening of Mildred Pierce a couple weeks ago. But I think tonight's choice is a bit much for the girls, so they will see Flushed Away while Gary and I choose more adult fare.

Not a bad weekend, all in all, and it's only half over. I am suddenly filled with optimism. More random thoughts on the horizon ... stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Oh what a night!

What a night, indeed! Control of the House! First woman Speaker the House! The majority of governorships! Possible control of the Senate, but even without it, a severe blow dealt to the status quo. In other words, a message was sent by the American people that the war in Iraq has been mishandled and that it's time for some new leadership.

It looked early on as if Claire McCaskill in Missouri was not going to beat Jim Tallent, but she pulled it off. (I continue to follow races in Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana fairly closely — everyhwere that I've been registered to vote.) I was shocked to see Chris Chocola and Jon Hostettler in Indiana lose. Chocola didn't lose by much — 54 to 46 percent or so — but Hostettler was soundly beaten, 61 to 39 percent. Wonder what he did that so angered voters?

On a side note, I ended up watching CNN most of the night; it had the best coverage. And I was not impressed with the Comedy Central show for the most part, although I did like that Jon Stewart had Dan Rather on as a pundit, making all sorts of whacko comments. I like people who can laugh at themelves, who have a sense of humor.

But I digress.

Let's just hope that the Democrats don't screw things up. When they say things like they are above corruption, or that this Congress will be the "most ethical" Congress ever, I fear that they are setting themselves up for disaster. The GOP has no exclusive hold on scandal, that is for sure.

And the kickiest race of all? John Hall, Democrat from New York, upset the Republican incumbent and was elected to Congress. His claim to fame? Founder of the '70s pop group Orleans. "Dance with Me." "Still the One." What a hoot. Apparently he's a committed environmental activist. Now Congress can have musical entertainment other than Singing Senators, which weren't faring so well with the departure of John Ashcroft, anyway.

Exciting stuff in store. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Who would've thunk it ...

We never saw this coming. Or maybe we all did, just not today.

I mean really, did she have to fight with the midterm elections for headlines?

Tonight I'll be watching CBS, ABC, and NBC for early returns. But at 10 p.m, I'll be all over the Comedy Center Midterm Midtacular. Who can sum up the changing Congress better than Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert? Mid"tacular" indeeed.

Stayed Up Too Late

And today I am tired, moving slowly. I stayed up because Gary is out of town and after the girls go to sleep, the house is mine. And there is something magical about having the house to yourself. So, I read a bit, and finished watching Woody Allen's Match Point, which I had to interrupt with the Colbert Report. Pre-election coverage, you know.

***SPOILER ALERT*** The movie was great — though I should point out that he is one of my favorite directors, thus I generally love his movies — and at the same time, I was profoundly disturbed. It's the same theme as Crimes and Misdemeanors, where the guy gets away with killing his mistress. You're not sure he will; it looks for a while as if he will get caught. But in the end, he gets away scot-free. And she (in this case, along with an innocent bystander) is dead. Even worse, in this film, I genuinely liked the guy to begin with. He was a good sort. And he has to go and foul up his life by having an illicit affair (I was really rooting for him not to do it — please don't sleep with her! You're only making it worse for yourself!) and then events spiraled out of control.

Need to write some e-mails. Need to tidy the kitchen. Need to vacuum downstairs. Need to make my bed. And there's more. Always more to do. Need to buy a birthday gift for a friend.

Though I did exercise today, time on the elliptical. The scale says good things these days; makes me happy. Let's hope writing about it doesn't jinx it.

Two of my daily blog reads are out of commission. One is in Europe celebrating her birthday; the other is MIA for reasons unknown. Too bad, as I enjoy catching up with them.

It's Election Day; I am totally jazzed about spending my evening in front of the television watching the returns. All signs point to the Democrats taking control of Congress, maybe even the Senate. But it's too early to say; best not to be too optimistic. I need to remain cautious, keep my guard up. I am really rooting for Nancy Pelosi to be the next Speaker of the House, Harry Reid to be the new Senate Majority Leader. I know Rick Perry will be re-elected governor here, but I've known that all along, so I won't feel the letdown. I'm saving my energy for the big picture.

Yet it could all play out very differently. I'll check in tomorrow, either rejoicing or mourning the outcome. Til then ... but make sure you vote. Even if you're not voting the way I did, you have to do it. It's your responsibility.

Happy Election Day, all!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Monday, Monday

... and a boring one at that. Changed my mobile number over to a Texas number; is this a sign that I am assimilating? I shudder to think ...

Gary left town today, headed for Peoria. He's there til Thursday, when he'll come home, spend a few days, and fly to Germany on Sunday. You'd think I'd be used to it by now, but I'm not. It does mean I don't have to cook much, which is fine with me.

After buying all sorts of fab fall clothes, it is supposed to be in the 70s, maybe even 80s, this week. I can't believe Thanksgiving is only two weeks away. We still have mosquitoes!

I need to find an outlet for my pent up energy. Maybe volunteer work. I even briefly — briefly, I repeat — considered signing up to teach a section of rhetoric & comp at the local community college. But I think I've gotten over that impulse. The thought of grading all those essays just about does me in. Plus I had a sick child home one day last week, which always brings me back down to earth on committing my time too much outside the house. I am trying to exercise more, with some success. But I am home an awful lot, by myself, and I think I need to get out more.

There. I've said it: Alone. It is how I spend my days. In some ways, it isn't all bad; I quite enjoy having my days to myself with no real pulls on my time. And sometimes I enjoy the quiet. But in my heart of hearts, I think I'm just not a solitary being. John Donne and all. And I think I'd feel better if I felt as if I were contributing more. Yes, editing a quarterly magazine makes some sort of impression on society, but not in the same way that doing some tutoring or even shelving library books at the schools would.

But I'll leave those answers for another day. Tonight my book awaits, and with Gary gone, I have two whole hours to read, uninterrupted. Somehow the evening is different than the daytime hours. How I can't quite say; it's a nebulous quality that only applies to the evenings, when somehow the laundry and dishes don't beckon. Evenings are meant for reading, or relaxing. I'm happy to do both.

Friday, November 03, 2006

What (not) to wear

Spent my afternoon out shopping; it is down in the 60s here, so fall has arrived and my wardrobe is lacking. I am having a hard time finding anything to wear to church. I don't exactly go to the dressiest church in the world, keep in mind, but for me, it's a chance to dress and get out of the house. Thus I needed something other than black pants to wear.

(These complaints from someone who used to go to work four days a week? Where are all those clothes? Let's not go there.)

Suffice it to say styles change. And I caught part of What Not to Wear yesterday and felt inspired.

I am conflicted over that show. Stacy and Clinton bug me on occasion. Or often. They are a bit holier-than-thou, and if I have to hear the words "seaming" or "structure" one more time I may gag. They dress everyone the same. That said, the people they get are in need of serious help. They have awful hair and tend to dress without a clue. They always, always come out looking 200 percent better and about 10 years younger.

But it struck me yesterday, watching them dress a young mother: I wouldn't meet all their criteria. In the summer, I wear jean shorts and Tshirts. I wear overall shorts. I also wear skirts with black tights and loafers. I do not wear skirts with blazers and low heels to get groceries; khaki capris and sandals are my uniform of choice.

They would crucify me. Me! Imagine — I fancy myself quite well dressed. I can't quite find it in me to spend $70 on a pair of pants or over $200 for a suit, but I find clothes that work. I search for bargains, scour the sale racks, browse TJ Maxx on occasion. I frequent Ann Taylor, Macy’s, Dillard’s, Talbots, DSW, the Gap. Somehow it all comes together.

And I think I look pretty good. Most of the time. Yet I am quite sure the WNTW people would take issue with my wardrobe. Ouch; painful reality.

But they wouldn’t complain about what I got yesterday, as I went for new fall colors, a whole new look. Bought brown pants, sweaters in camel, burgundy, and orange. Found a really cute jacket in an orange plaid and a tobacco skirt. A couple of tops in shades of brown and tan (one with a shimmery look). A brown leather jacket to top it all off.

Now I need shoes.

I know that WNTW is a television show. They have advertisers and sponsors to satisfy. I also know they do not live like the rest of us. “Casual” means something entirely different for a television host than it does for me, a freelance writer/editor who works from her home and drives the kids to soccer practice.

Heap on the criticism, Stacy and Clinton. I can handle it. You may know what looks good on television, but I live in the real world. And trust me, I know how to dress the part.

End of the week recap

It's Friday. I am exhausted. I'm not sure what I do that makes me feel so busy, but I know emotionally what is going on.

And it exhausts me. Rearing children makes me weary. They are good kids — don't get me wrong — but still, it requires a tremendous amount of mental energy to keep them on the ball. How people with more children, or spouses who do not help, manage is beyond me. I am blessed to have well-behaved daughters (for the most part — they are normal kids, after all) and a husband who, even when he is physically absent (which, sad to say, is fairly often) is there for me in spirit. He's always just a phone call away ... or a voice mail, or a page, or ... you get the idea. He is supporting us in the manner to which I have become accustomed, so I really can't complain.

Yesterday he went to work late so that we could see Sylvia in the Storybook Character Parade. She was Eloise, complete with book, short black skirt, clicky black shoes, and beribboned hair. I acquiesced and packed her an alternate outfit for the remainder of the day and it made all the difference in her mood. The parade was cute, but I shoud issue a caveat: Scooby Doo, Disney Princesses, and Star Wars are not books. Yes, you can buy a book that features them as characters, but they're not books. I know, this occurred the same week as Halloween, and it is a lot to expect parents and kids to come up with not one but two costumes in one week. And I know what it's like when your child tells you they will dress as a Stormtrooper and nothing else will do. But I think the spirit of the parade was to encourage reading, and somehow SpongeBob Squarepants violates that intent.

(Wish I had a dollar for Junie B. Jones I saw; I'm surprised my daughter wasn't dressed as her as well! Eloise was her choice.)

Did some shopping, came home, promptly got sick. Just as I needed to go and pick up two of the girls; it was a painful drive to Sampson and Cy Woods, with a stop at CVS in between to run to the restroom. Came home, hit the couch, called it a day.

But all is better today. There's a (slight) chill in the air. Met Gary for lunch and we exercised the right to early voting. There was a huge line — who knew? I was nervous because I had never heard where I am supposed to vote; panic was setting in as I feared that I would not know on Tuesday and wouldn't be able to cast my ballot. Gary will be gone, so we figured we should go get it taken care of today. So it's done. No vote for Kinky — I realized weeks ago that he is really not up to the task of governing. And my vote is not a novelty.

Made a 20-minute stop at neighborhood Happy Hour before I had to go get Alison; next week she may have to ride the late bus home. I need a social life.

Still on tap tonight: tickets to the theatre to see Proof. Soccer tomorrow, neighborhood garage sale; we didn't officially sign up, but we may stealthily sell a few items. Ssshhh ...

Happy weekends, all!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Though I swore I wasn't going to watch it anymore, I have The View on right now — I couldn't resist watching Barry Manilow. (I don't own any of his albums, but I would go see him in Vegas should the opportunity arise. Plus he was really funny on Stephen Colbert the other day.)

Anyway, Barbara Walters is wearing black hose and tan shoes, with a skirt. Ick. Remote, please.

The morning after

Trick-or-treating .... such fun. Though we didn't have nearly as many trick-or-treaters as I had anticipated. Thus we have much leftover candy — not so good for me. I'll have to send it to the office with Gary.

The blog site is not cooperating; photos to come ...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pesky Internet

I wrote a little yesterday, pontificating on this, that and the other. It was short, ruminating on being home with a sick 8-year-old (she wasn't too terribly sick, just getting over a Sunday-night fever), catching up on the weekend.

Went to hit post, and POOF! it was gone. Got a message that there were problems with the site, it was being looked into by engineers.

But I lacked the energy to recreate yesterday's musings. So, today is a new day. Halloween!! One of my favorite days. I remember well those school parties, trick-or-treating. I usually went with my brother, though at least once or twice I went with friends. I love dressing up; Gary and I got a lot of mileage out of our Bill & Hillary costumes. We also went as Wayne & Garth one year (that was fun), and as Aladdin & Jasmine.

Sadly, no party invitations for us this year. So I"ll settle for enjoying my girls (a diva, a devil and a Grecian princess). I have not even purchased the candy yet (horrors!) so I am off to the store. More later? Check back — I'm not making any promises.


Friday, October 27, 2006

It's 6.15 a.m.

And I'm up. I'm working on my World Cultures project.

OK, well, it's not mine, exactly. But I'm helping. Someone was exhausted last night, fell asleep around 5.30 p.m., then woke up around 8, totally confused and disoriented, very upset. So we did the math, agreed to get up early and finish the project. It was nearly done, anyway.

So here we are. I'm up; it's OK, as I have to tidy up for my parents and brother (Jim), who are visiting today. It's Jim's first visit to see us here in Texas, though not his first time in the state. He went to Padre Island for spring break his senior year of high school. My parents paid. For the record, none of my other siblings got an all-expense-paid spring break ... ever. But when you're the youngest, life is different.

Mostly the house is clean, so I just have to put a few things away, change some sheets.

Hope I have time to take a quick nap.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Makes me feel useless. I'm a whiner. But it hurts, you know?

Had a nice dinner out with Sharon, a friend from Lafayette who is in town on business. (Keep in mind that "in town" still means 40 minutes from where I live ... ) We picked her up at the hotel and went to dinner, caught up on friends, her daughter. It was fun.

Went to a luncheon today; could not get the address to work in the GPS in the car (grrr ... a frequent occurrence, unfortunately), but I knew roughly where it was (at 290 and 610). Got misguided not once, but twice, but I still made it there. Despite Mapquest's claims that Houston is the most unnavigable city in the country (like the double negative?) I can generally find my way around without too much trouble, or even anxiety. It has dissipated some over the past several months.

Chalk it up to progress. And time.

Plus the luncheon was nice, for Reach Unlimited, an organization the sponsors a group activity center, job coaching, and assisted living for adults with mental retardation. It is an incredible place and the presentation, mostly by family members, was moving. I am so glad I went.

The magazine is planning its big kick-off event Nov. 17. Gary will, naturally, be out of town. I was hoping for some spousal support for my career; I know it's there, in spirit, but to have him there in body would have been nice. Maybe in another lifetime.

I'm glad he is doing well. But success is a double-edge sword.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Grey skies; flashing back

Rain in the forecast, though the temps are still in the mid-70s. Not too bad, but my mood matches the clouds. I need a pick-me-up. Not sure what, but I'll come up with something.

The cool nights make the hot tub wonderful. The perfect way to end the day.

It's Red Ribbon week in the schools here. So Maddie and Sylvia have theme days every day: Spirit Day. Twin Day. Crazy Socks Day. Monday was '80s Day for Maddie. She found me Sunday evening and said we had to plan her outfit.

The 1980s, the years when I came of age. I know that the 80s encompass 10 years, but when I think of that decade, I think of high school. Those are the fashions that stand out for me: plaid skirts, knee socks, monogrammed crew neck sweaters. The "preppy look," penny loafers and topsiders, straight leg jeans.

I described several looks to Maddie, then she and I pored over my high school yearbooks — a trip down memory lane that, frankly, I could do without. (Not that high school was wretched; just that I've moved on. Way on.) Maddie giggled but was amused by photographic evidence that teenagers did, in fact, dress the way I said.

She was also fascinated by the lengthy ramblings from my friends and classmates "Why do they write so much? Who takes up the entire back page?" And why did one friend (whose identity I'll protect) draw a unicorn next to her name?

So, based on her preferences, she and I put together quite an ensemble: black & white houndstooth skirt (the closest we could come to a plaid skirt that would fit her), knee socks, penny loafers (actual vintage shoes, Bass Weejuns, circa 1982), black hair bow (also vintage 1980s, purchased at Harrod's in London, 1986), pearls, and the piéce de resistánce: a grey crewneck sweater, monogrammed in burgundy — another vintage piece, monogramming courtesy of Anne Johnson, Tammy's mother.

Wish I could have found the little IZOD earrings and barrette set, but apparently I no longer have those. Which begs the question: Why have I held onto any of this stuff? I have a handful of sweaters and dresses, beloved items from high school and college, clothes that I will never, ever wear again. Let's face it, even if I could cram myself into those things, why am I keeping them? Penny loafers? The dress I wore to my high school graduation? Several vintage dresses (from the 60s, purchased at thrift shops) that I used to wear to go out in college. A sweater that Gary gave me when we were dating; sadly, I no longer have the complementary jeans, that had a giant floral pattern on them — they were all the rage ... albeit briefly.

The answer, of course, is to help my daughters when they have to dress for such an occasion. They will be quite authentic when they need to look like a 20-year-old vision of their mother.

Monday morning arrived. Maddie had laid out everything, tried on the entire combination Sunday night. She looked adorable. She came downstairs at 6, wrapped in a blanket, and said she didn't want to wear the outfit.

No worries, I reassured her. I told her to wear only the pieces she wanted to. She chose the pearls and the hair bow, wore her own jeans and shirt. She said she wasn't sure anyone else would be totally decked out.

I suspect she's right. She was happy enough with her hair bow and her faux pearls (also vintage 80s). Teachers were way too into it, she reported, reliving their glory days — I guess they're old like me.

Sometimes it's fun for me to go back, look at where I was 20, 25 years ago. Mostly, though, I need to live in the present. My life now is not about what I was like as a teenager — even though those experiences contributed to making me the adult I am. My focus now is on where I am now. Today. It takes way too much energy to worry about what happened way back when; I have to concentrate on the present.

Grey skies overhead. They'll clear up soon.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I'm not above plagiarizing for a good cause.

The title of this post was borrowed ("stolen" is rife with ugly connotations) from Sarah's post, and it is apropos for today's ramblings, "In Which She Lets Off Steam in Describing A Fellow Suburbanite."

I've referred before to my favorite PTO mom, whom we shall refer to hereafter as PM (as in, Perfect Mother). As a disclaimer, I should say that she is probably a pleasant person. I never said she was mean or nasty or someone people don't like. She is loud and sort of overbearing, the kind of person who likes to be the center of attention. Thus she bugs me. But only a little.

Well, I was at her house recently. In order to protect the innocent, I am not going to reveal the circumstances. Suffice it to say, I was there.

And it is huge. I mean gi-nor-mous. Obnoxiously big.

True enough, we live in the same subdivision. But there are variances in the sections. One area has what are referred to as "cottages," another area has patio homes, yet another is the gated, estate section, where the homes start at half a mill.

I think the houses in my area (Section 26 of the 1200-acre, 2900-house neighborbood, for those who are keeping up) are big enough. They start around 3000 sf; we have around 4100, and ours is not the biggest around here by far. Yet with our three children and the dog, we feel quite comfortable.

But these people — PM and her family — have taken big to a whole new level. Their ceilings are higher, the rooms are more palatial, the backyard is like a football field (complete with tennis court ... and room for another one ...). A 14-seat mini-theater upstairs is decked out with a huge screen and leather recliners on graduated platforms. Lots of little extra rooms line the corridors — rooms that are so small as to have no apparent purpose, other than yet another opportunity to use designer paint colors and decorator touches.

Not that any of this is really that big a deal; I guess I just need to have a nemesis. Lots of time on my hands these days, you know.

But the plot thickens ... the other day Maddie had a friend over. They were discussing an issue that had occurred at lunch when her friend, L, mentioned a classmate and Maddie said, "You know PD?" (Perfect Daughter, of course.) Not the girls' favorite person, as they — unprompted by me — described her as spoiled. According to these girls, PD has been known to say, "You know, my house is so big I get lost in it."

Rearing children with lots of money and privilege is not inherently evil. Rearing children without grace or humility is. If I ever found out one of my children were using what they perceived as our supposed wealth or status to intimidate or humiliate others I would be very disappointed.

Despite what I've written here, I don't have it in for PM. I used to be sort of amused and entertained. Now I catch myself thinking that something must be up; no one's life is that perfect. And judging by the behavior of her daughter, it isn't; well-adjusted children do not feel a need to make others feel inferior by brandishing about the fact that they have more than others.

Life in OverAchieverville. It takes all kinds. Thus it remains my job to keep my kids grounded. They need to be reminded that there will always be families with more than we have and with less than we have. They need to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner when they are around any other people, regardless of where they live, what school they attend, or what social circumstances they inhabit. In short, they need to live their lives with class.

And that is something money can't buy.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Fall in Houston

When you live in this part of the country, I take it that 70 degrees qualifies as autumn. So I acquiesce. I did not adorn myself in the full fall look: sweater, jeans, boots with a heel — but I did wear tennis shoes with my cropped pants and a three-quarter sleeve Tshirt.

The weather is lovely. Perfect. It was 50 this morning at the bus stop; yesterday was only in the 60s (so I was outfitted in fall finery, boots included). I love the slightly cooler temps, the slight nip in the air mornings. The swimming pool is definitely off limits; you'd have to much braver than I to touch that water. But the hot tub is a different story ... I love fall (or whatever facsimile of it we get here). I love jacket weather with sunshine; I like to wear long sleeves and jeans, leather jackets but no hats and gloves. I think I am going to like this part of the year.

And I think I will love this about Houston; I am happy to bid snow farewell. Forever; we can visit Colorado if necessary.

We checked out First Church yesterday, down in the museum district. It's only 30 minutes from here. Northwoods was 45 minutes; Northwest was 20 or 25. I think this is a fair trade off. The church is older, well-established, with over 500 members, a well-run youth group. We liked the people at Northwest, but the youth group was not well organized, and the RE program wasn't what the girls wanted. The service was good, and most importantly, Alison is happy. Emerson apparently is also well run, lots of great stuff for kids, but they are so together that they don't necessarily participate in the Houston cluster youth activities, and that is important to Alison. Yesterday she said she actually prefers the First Church youth group to Northwoods. Sounds like things are progressing the way they should.

Plus, church in the museum district means that we can turn Sundays into outing days. Yesterday meant a trip to the IMAX at the Museum of Natural Sciences. Enjoyed by all, it was a movie on ancient Greece. Lots of options for future outings: the zoo? MFAH? Children's Museum? The possibilties abound.

My work — the paid kind — is mostly done. I think I have turned in my last stuff for the fall magazine, so now I have a couple of weeks off, save for some PR duties — lunch this week, for example. Eating lunch I can handle.

The new season is holding lots of promise. With each day I try just a little harder to feel as if this is truly my home. Progress. The steps I take are infinitesimal, but measurable none the less.

Here's to the change in the weather; may it mean a change for me as well.

Get to Know You Quiz

I confess: I love these. Thanks, Helen; I replied to her personally, but I'll post the answers here, too; if you have a blog, answer these in your own blog and I'll check them out.


Maybe the song (Get along home, Cindy, Cindy? How embarrassing ...)

Reading to Sylvia, "By the Shores of Silver Lake," when Jack the dog dies, last week

Sometimes; it could be worse. But even my friends tell me it can be hard to read.

Roast beef. Yet I order chicken salad when I eat out. But I rarely eat sandwiches these days.

6. KIDS?
Yes, 3. Alison is 15, a freshman, loves theatre, Tae Kwon Do, and whatever her current passion is, which occupies her 110 percent (at present: Greek Mythology). Madeleine is 12, sixth grade, loves middle school, plays flute, is very social, quite the fashionista. Sylvia is 8, second grade, loves her friends, Brownies, soccer, is very easy going, still a little girl.

I think so.

Yes, but it's kept up very sporadically. These days I have a blog, but it isn't the same as a journal. Not nearly as honest; some stuff you just can't blog about.

Not me ...

Yes. Though my mother dragged me to every doctor in town to get them removed; it wasn't the trend at the time, so they remain.

Don't know; I rappelled in high school and it was amazing.

Never eat it. Grape Nuts if you force the issue. Does instant oatmeal count? Apples & Cinnamon. Mmm.

Yes. I try to put them away, with varied success.

I hope so. I'm not sure I've truly been tested; let's keep it that way for a while.

Dark chocolate. Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie. Haven't bought it in ages, for good reason.

6 1/2

Red. Maybe pink? AAAHH — can't decide.

Short temper.

Are you kidding? All my friends, especially the ones in Lafayette. Or Germany. Or Missouri ... moving is lonely.

Why not?

Jeans and white sneakers

Had a cup of tea when I got up.

Classical music on the public radio station.

Green — I am environmentally friendly.

Clean laundry, baking, the beach.

My neighbor.

Friendliness. I like chatty people.

Of coursse — she is one of my favorite people in the world.

Water, champagne, Coca Cola.

NCAA football, basketball; watching my girls play soccer


Do they have sizes? Small, I guess; whatever fits.

Yes. But not at the moment.

Pasta ai frutti di mare (seafood pasta), tiramisu for dessert.

Greece: Secrets of the Past at the IMAX at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, yesterday.

Sweatshirt and jeans

Summer. I love the beach, the pool.

Hugs. Nothing better than a spontaneous hug from Sylvia.


Hmmm ... Tammy?

Everyone else (!)

Trying to finish Hotel New Hampshire, Adam Bede, Are Men Necessary

Solid blue ... boring

Desperate Houswives (not live, TiVo'd)

My children ... or, alternately, the quiet house


Moscow and Leningrad (now St. Petersburg)

Writing. But there are so many writers better than I.

1966, Lincoln, Nebraska

50. Who sent this to you?
Helen (Hi, Helen!)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Now look what I've done ...

Now I owe all of the truly wonderful people in my life an online tribute. Jessica was chosen at random — well, sort of, as it was her birthday. But I fear that by not mentioning everyone that is blog-worthy, I have inadvertently ignored soneone who is important.

Who have been my best friends over the years? Let's see if I can name them all.

(And a preemptive apology to those who will be overlooked — I do my best, but I am bound to forget someone.)

Debra C. Jane S. Lorinda G. Janet A. Jill B. Amy P. Christine M. Cindy R. Shawna A. Gina P. Tammy J. Jessica M. Dawn H. Jane H. Vicky H. Christy G. Susie G. Camilla P. Rachel P. Karla H. Jami S. Don W. Pat R. Eric W. Lois H. Maria M. Candy T. Shelly P. Peter G. Amy S. Denise K. Ann O. Carol L. Beth G. Marc E. Helen S. Terri J. Cheryl K. Susanne W. Heike B. Birgit K. Claudia Y. Megs P. JoAnn D. Gale K. Edie P. Gail W.

Each one of those names represents someone who was, or is, very special in my life. The list, chronological, reflects people that I know had that sort of "kindred spirit" feeling. I didn't list my brothers, but I could, because I consider them friends as well. Nor did I list anyone from Houston yet. But I'm sure I will; I am working on cultivating those relationships. It just takes time.

I'm still in touch with 23 of those names. Mostly from the latter part, but not necessarily; some go back to grade school.

A life of good friends; now that's an accomplishment. Something to be proud of.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Happy Birthday, Jessica!

One of my oldest and bestest friends has joined the ranks of those of us in the new "40 and over" demographic. I have known Jessica since grade school — fourth grade, in fact — and my family will tell you that among their fondest memories of her is the image of us all lined up in front of our living room window as she and her family came to pick me up for a skating party driving their eight-door limousine. Apparently, the story is, her dad bought is so their five kids would quit fighting about who would get to sit next to a window (!). Gotta love a parent with a sense of humor.

Jessica is one of the smartest people I know. She was our high school valedictorian and made it through college with one B. Only one. I was impressed. High school fun times include, but are not limited to:

• Watching Jeremiah (her brother) dancing to REM in ballet slippers.
• Her speeding ticket as she drove over to study with me (a long-kept secret from her mother).
• Taking her brother, my brother, and his friend to the drive-in, sneaking Andy and Pat in under the lawn chairs (because we didn't have enough money to pay for all of us) but forgetting to get the money until we were already in line at the drive-in, thus seeing Pat's hand emerging from the pile of lawn chairs, dollar bills in hand (I think maybe you had to be there ...).
• "An anonymous percolator and an REM fan."
• An evening spent in the company of ... well, some friends, shall we say, listening to Black Flag.
• "Hessica" (and for the life of me I cannot remember the origin of this ...)
• Sharing tales of our respective fast food careers.
• That after-prom party, involving poetry and a wheelchair. It defies explanation, trust me.

And then there are the college memories, many involving live music at the Blue Note — Steve, Bob & Rich, Pianosaurus, The Elvis Brothers, Nick Lowe, Alex Chilton .... too many strange roommates — hers and mine — and the sudden realization that her football game cadet partner (who appeared, at first, to be personality-free) was, in fact, the roommate of my boyfriend; he was suddenly very entertaining. I'm not sure I even want to know what kinds of secrets those two shared.

She was the first person to congratulate me on my first pregnancy ... the first person to tell me I looked big (I believe the word she used was "huge"). She drove three hours to attend my baby shower, attended a going-away party when we moved to Germany, and served as Godmother for my youngest daughter.

These days even our daughters are friends. They are a year or two apart, and they (Maddie and Rachel) get along great. We clearly do not see one another often enough.

A frienship that goes back 30 years — amazing. She is among my favorite people. There are others — you know who you are (Tammy, Helen, JoAnn among others), and I can't believe I haven't written more about them. Maybe I'm being cautious? Don't want to invade others' privacy?

To heck with that; more tributes to come.

Happy Birthday, Jessica. I wish you many more.

Slipping away

Another piece of my childhood is gone. Christopher Glenn, the voice behind CBS's "In the News" has died. If you are my age and spent your childhood watching cartoons on CBS on Saturday mornings, then you would recognize his distinctive voice. He told stories about the wide world in an attempt to broaden our collective horizons.

We only watched CBS because it got the best reception. This is back in the olden days — you remember, the days that preceded remote controls and cable. We didn't always even have color TV. Remember how you'd have to turn on the set and wait for it to warm up before the picture appeared? Remember how your dad (well, mine anyway) said getting a new picture tube would be too expensive? We had — yes, kids, hold onto your seats — get up out of our chairs to change the channel or the volume. And we grumbled when the picture was flipping.

NBC was only OK, and ABC was on UHF. (Do my kids even know what that is?) So we watched CBS on Saturday mornings. And Christopher Glenn did news updates throughout the morning — which ended with the CBS International Children's Film Festival, hosted by Kukla, Fran and Ollie.

I know we all get older and have to watch idols from the past die, fade away. Maybe I didn't think it would happen so soon.

Here's to you, Christopher Glenn. Thanks for all you did — from my entire generation.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


My time is valuable. Seriously. I know I am only employed part-time; I know that I have time to whip through two books a week. I know that I work at home, that I have minimal outside commitments.

None the less, my time is worth a lot. A. Lot. And while I can appreciate that those of us who have committed to teach Junior Achievement in the elementary school classes need training, I want that training to be worthwhile. I resent that the two-and-a-half hour session could have been accomplished in 30 well-organized minutes.

It's not the facilitator's fault that some participants asked stupid questions. (And for the record, all those teachers who said there's no such thing as a stupid question were so wrong; they are definitely possible. I witnessed several today.) But we sat and watched a video that consisted of smiley kids, teachers and JA leaders singing the praises of Junior Achievement for a non-essential 10 minutes. You know, if I didn't believe this program was worth my time, I woudn't be here. Stop preaching to the converted.

Other than the tips on how to manage class time, the entire session felt like a JA cheerleading session. I think the material is well planned and organized; any questions I have are dealt with in the handbook. I didn't need the corny humor of the guy who referred constantly to "kin-DE-garten."

This waste of time took up half my day. So I went to the library, came home, and watched most of "A Raisin in the Sun." Who wouldn't enjoy a movie starring Sidney Poitier?

The in-laws left this morning. They thought they might stay til 9, but they didn't realize I would be leaving the house early. Tomorrow my day is my own again.

Back to my routine. I've grown used to it. I rather enjoy some of my alone time, enjoy the parts that are relaxing. I have some work to do, and I like to do it on my own time.

If I am going to waste time, I'll decide how to do it on my own, thanks.

Monday, October 16, 2006

On rain and flooding

When it rains in Houston, it really rains. No middling showers here; we get torrents of rain, complete with extreme flooding. Today the Katy Freeway was affected, along with several Interstate underpasses. This I know not because I was out and about (I had sense enough not to drive) but because Gary took his parents out to see more of Houston. I stayed home under the pretext of having work to do.

Which, in truth, I did. More importantly, I wanted — needed — some time to myself. I vacuumed, did some laundry, did some actual work (yes, it's true), caught up on one TiVo'd show ... a good day.

The humidity is back up to, oh, 99 percent. On went the AC. You'd think that by mid-October we'd be done, but no-o-o-o ... tomorrow is supposed to be 90 degrees. Yikes.

Went to neighborhood ladies night Friday, sponsored by the Witches of Ormonde Crossing Drive. Her outside decorations exceeded ours, that's for sure. And inside? She — Andrea, the hostess — had cranked it up a notch. Or 10. Cobwebs hung from the chandeliers; light bulbs were replaced with purple bulbs and black lights. The walls were draped with fabric and more cobwebs, some yielding actual spiders. The bathroom played screechy music; the dining room table was set with creepy place settings, also covered in cobwebs. Lights accented the stairway and railings.

And that does not even begin to capture the ambience therein. Mostly it was a fun evening. I chatted with all the women in the neighborhood, some whom I know, some I'd never met before. (For the record, networking and cocktail party chatter are not my strong suit ... but I did it.) Lots of people commented and had questions about the magazine, all very positive. Wore my Halloween T-shirt and ghost earrings. Had fun. Jell-o shots were served — man, I thought, brownies with pot and this would feel just like college ... all in all, a pretty good time.

So, today I am watching the rain. I need to take some books back to the library, but I'm not sure I'm ready to venture out. But I will, eventually. Some would say it's just rain, but here that just isn't true. Like everything in Texas, even a little rain is big. So big.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Company and such

My personal space has been invaded. We have Gary's entire family — parents and sister — visiting, and last night my parents were here, as well. We have plenty of beds so things upstairs are a bit cozy but not too bad. But downstairs I am feeling as if people are right on top of me. All. The. Time.

Mostly I just want people to stay out of my kitchen. I am fine with putting the dishes away myself, with taking care of things. I actually prefer it that way. I'm a big girl now and truly can handle it.

We cooked all day yesterday while watching Missouri lose to A&M. Sad ... no more undefeated Missouri Tigers. Last night we sat outside; my dad sat inside listening to the Nebraska game (they won) and Gary was checking the score on the baseball game. Gary cooked a Tex-Mex extravaganza. And we roasted marshmallows and ate smores. Mmmm.

So, today we are heading to the Museum District. Have to show off our new home.

Must run! Have a happy, albeit rainy, Sunday!

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Company arrives tomorrow. I was busy busy busy all day, getting stuff in order: cleaned all the bathrooms (and that, my friends, is a LOT of toilets), changed sheets, bought some new towels, straightened up, vacuumed upstairs, put away laundry, and on and on.

And the list for tomorrow is long: vacuum downstairs, mop bathrooms, tidy the kitchen, grocery shop, get out the touch-up paint. I had wanted to get my nails done, and I'm not sure that activity will make the cut.

All this for relatives who probably won't notice or care. But it gets stuff done that wouldn't get taken care of otherwise.

I've invited my parents to join us for dinner Saturday night, so we'll have the whole crew here for one night ... I'll just remain calm; after all, I did invite them to join us.

Yesterday I started to write about a minor work issue, then thought I'd better not. I doubt my boss reads this, but I'll err on the side of caution. No need to ruffle any feathers unnecessarily.

Just found a friend in Lafayette is expecting her first baby. I am so happy for her — I know they've wanted this for a while now. News of a new baby always makes me happy.

I am so tired. No rest for the wicked; I have to get up early to get some stuff done tomorrow. I can sleep next week. Tuesday. Feels like a long way away.

For now, time for bed.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

All in a day's work

What happened to Monday?

Oh, I remember; I lost Monday. The girls were home from school — nice, but not very eventful. But it means I lost a weekday. And considering that this week I actually have stuff to do ... eeek! How will I get it all done?

So, yesterday, I did find time to go to lunch with a friend. She is heading out of town for two weeks (her family is in Barbados). Ran by Target to search for exterior Halloween finery. Inside looks charming — we are properly adorned with little pumpkins, ghosts, and witches. But outside, save for a door wreath and orange lights, is really sub-par for our neighborhood. I'm waiting for a letter from the Homeowners' Association.

It rained yesterday. A lot. (Maddie's poor desk, which sits under her window, bears the proof.) But it was over before 2 p.m. When I returned from Target at 5 p.m., the answering machine was full; half the messages were from Maddie's friend, but several were from parents on the soccer team. So I called one dad to confirm that we were practicing.

He: Really? It's pouring here.
Me: Well, it's not raining here. It rained earlier and it's a bit muddy, but the rain stopped hours ago.
He: It's pouring here.
Me: (???) Well. It's. Not. Raining. Here.

But what I wanted to say was, Really, buddy, what do you want me to say? There is no rain here, so the practice goes on as scheduled.

Company coming over the weekend, so I need to get the house in order. Really in order; it's the first time my in-laws have visited, so I want things to like nice. I may as well wait til tomorrow; these girls can't keep things in order for three whole days. And their rooms are the problem. As always.

And I'm off. Much to do ... clean my desk (OK, it's not always the girls' rooms that provide our mess). My office doubles as the guest room, so I'll need to tidy up. But since I officially put the magazine to rest today (yay!) I think I can clear away my paper pile.

Have a wonderful day, all!

Monday, October 09, 2006

No school!

No school today; we had parent/teacher conferences. I only had one with Sylvia's teacher, which went well.

All in all, not a very eventful day. Mostly we just hung out. Sylvia had a friend spend the night, and they spent the entire day together. Gary came home at noon for the conference and we ended up taking the older two out to lunch. I finished a book, went grocery shopping, inventoried the Halloween decorations.

Here in the 'hood they seem to take Halloween very seriously. We are sadly lacking in seasonal finery; we'll need to get on the stick. If we don't get busy, we are going to look like poor relations, and we can't have that. Must keep up with the Joneses (whom we actually know ... hi Sarah!). They have a very cool street, where all the trees in the entire cul-de-sac have coordinating orange tree lights. Very classy; we pale in comparison. I heard on the news tonight that Halloween is second only to Christmas in decorations (no surprise there) and that the average person will spend $59 on accoutrements. That will be easy enough, trust me.

Gary got the hot tub working; I think we'll be trying it out tonight.

Went to a nice dinner party over the weekend at our friends up the street. They served a middle-eastern meal: hummus, baba ganoush, tabouli. Mmm. It helps that he is from Palestine. The high schoolers abandoned us, opting to attend the Rock Against Racism. Alison had fun. I was up til nearly 2 a.m, which is very late for me. It was fun, but I felt useless on Sunday. I was very careful to not drink too much, because I really pay for that. I know my limiit these days; I'm no 21-year-old anymore.

So, tomorrow is back to normal. I need to catch up on some favorite programs from last week. We invested in TiVo, which is making this much more fun. I can't really watch anything before 9 p.m. (kids! grrrr), and I was tired of watching shows I like on poor quality VHS tapes when we are paying for HDTV. No more searching for blank tapes; no more setting the unreliable timer on the VCR. Gotta love advances in technology.

Sigh. Materialism. I think I just need to embrace who I am; why deny it?

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Just a little mental health vacation here for the past week, and I feel s-o-o-o-o much better these days. For my many (!) fans who asked, yes, I'm here. And I"m back, blogging with a vengeance.

And, as if my maintained sanity were not enough, my middle daughter has a freshly painted bedroom. It is a lovely, soothing shade of pale green.

Can't wait until we add the fuschia polka dots. What can I say? It's her room, not mine. It's just paint. And life is short — we should live a little. Thus pink dots it is.

I'll post a photo when it's completed. Stay tuned ...

Thursday, September 28, 2006

What's the deal?

Tired. I am just tired. In some ways I don't mind when Gary is gone — evenings to myself, minimal dinner preparation. But I am the full-time chauffeur, full-time disciplinarian. No relief, no off-duty time.

Consequently, I am exhausted. I've had little, niggling details to take care of for work; I've gone to two (yes, two!) goofy networking lunches this week. I've done the usual around the house. I've read a book. I need to see if my movie is due at the video store. If so, I'll need to return it yet tonight.

And I'm tired.

I'm ready for a low-key weekend. I'll go to a soccer game, see a school play, supervise the hanging of the laundry room shelves. Clean the garage. Assemble more shelves. Hang out by the pool.

But I won't do it alone. And that's a good thing.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Two More Days

... and I'll be a single parent no more. I am ready to give up this gig, even though it will only be for two days. Yes, he'll be leaving me yet again.

It gets old, this job of parenting solo. And the last two days have been rather trying. Nothing terrible or tragic, just trying. Tonight I plan to curl up on the couch and watch a movie, what with no season openers to cheer me up.

But it is a week of new episodes of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Thank goodness for the little things.

Back to parenting, the job that never ends.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Don't know if that is even word.

What's worse is, I don't care.

It's that sort of day, that sort of week. The weather is beyond fabulous — sunny and 80 — yet I am in a funk.

How else could I explain that I ate popcorn for lunch?

Sigh. This, too, shall pass.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


So, today I spent the day working the booth at the Cy-Fair Chamber Business Expo. I dreaded going — I am really, at my core, incredibly shy and don't necessarily enjoy making small talk with people I don't know well; I have a hard time at cocktail parties as well, which is why I avoid them unless I know the attendees well.

My anxiety was unnecessary; today wasn't so bad. People were very friendly, very receptive to the magazine. I made several good contacts. And — as if that weren't enough — I filled my bag with all kinds of freebies, from pens and pencils to a nifty highlighter and very cool penlight/laser pointer/keychain. The girls were the lucky recipients of said loot; they loved it.

So, now I have to get the house in order. Tomorrow I must get groceries, finish cleaning house, and really clean up my office — my parents will be sleeping in here. Assuming they come — my mother has hurt her foot so we're awaiting a final verdict on whether she is nimble enough to make the journey from Austin.

Trying to keep up with these girls is like herding cats. For every item I pick up and put away, they respond threefold in the opposing direction. It is enough to make a normal person insane, and when you figure I am the parent involved ... well, enough said.

Plus I'm on my own this weel and next. When Gary called last night to share with me his time spent sight-seeing in Paris, it was all I could do to hold my tongue.

As for me, last night I spent my precious free time sewing patches on Sylvia's Brownie vest. All I could think of was my dear friend Tammy and the fact that she has no children, thus she will never get to enjoy this task, which I was completing for the third time (both older girls were Girl Scouts as well). Sigh ... I wouldn't trade my girls for anything, yet, on occasion, I have momentary flashes of envy for that totally adult lifestyle.

So, rather than cleaning bathrooms or putting laundry away, I am here, writing. Well, I rationalize, it's easier than seeking therapy. A few minutes here sorting out my demons beats an hour at the analyst probing my innermost thoughts.

Cheaper, too.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The week thus far: The truncated version

Busy week — much to do. Here's what's been going on at Chez Gerlach-Mueller:

• Work. I am wrapping up the magazine this week, so I've been busy finalizing calendar items, etc. It's just busy work, but it needs to get done.
• Kids. Homework, activities, chauffeur service. Drove Sylvia to gymnastics, then came home for an hour and took her to soccer. Made a run to Wal-Mart (ick) to buy her Brownie uniform. Made mental note of less than desirable state of the superstore.
• Chamber of Commerce. Went to a luncheon yesterday ... but first I had to go get new shoes to go with the outfit (and return the shoes that Alison got for her birthday that are the wrong size). Found the shoes, but was almost late to the luncheon. But it was worth it — the shoes look fantastic. The 7-year-old next door complimented my outfit at the bus stop — I must have looked great (!). Networked at said luncheon. Not my favorite activity.
• Business expo. Tomorrow I will spend the day working a booth for the Chamber business expo. I wouldn't mind so much except that they are making us wear matching shirts. I really hate stuff like that. I'd rather wear an outfit of my choosing, not declasse polo shirts in a color that doesn't flatter me. Sigh. What I put up with for employment.
• Book. Of course there is a book — there always is. Seldom am I without reading material. I kind of like John Irving, but The Hotel New Hampshire is just weird and unsettling. I don't like some of the characters, and I have real problems with their behavior. But I want to finish it; I can't really judge the book unless I read to the bitter end. I hope I don't regret the time vested.

Before Friday I must clean, get groceries, sew the accoutrements onto the Brownie vest. My parents will be here for the weekend and things need to look presentable (certainly the bathroom they will use).

I excavated the top of my desk — it looks fantastic. Progress.