Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thirty One

That's how many pictures I took over the holidays. Thirty one! I usually take that many in a single sitting!

How pitiful.

Slim picture pickings aside, we've had a great Christmas. Santa was very good to us (even if he didn't think the knitting kits all the way through...who did he think was actually going to teach TWO six year olds to knit?). The kids were spoiled (oh my!), my liver got pickled and my belly expanded in direct proportion to the latter two.

It's just disgusting.

I will be a strict diet and exercise regimen come Monday. I know I've previously threatened to take before and after pictures, but I think I'm really going to do it this time.

Anyway, back to the cherubs (cough, cough). Here's Libby at the Gingerbread Town at school. Each child in her class was positioned behind his or her masterpiece while the rest of the school traipsed by in single file. She was ever so proud.
Maggie's class made gingerbread people which were displayed in the hall outside her class. We took the assignment very seriously and her candy laden person needed extra reinforcements to stay up on the wall.
Jack's teacher is exceptionally patient and created a holiday party the kids won't soon forget. She organized games for the group, one of which was a relay race opening Hershey Kisses with mittens on. Jack has some how earned the nickname "Soup" at school, and it was so much fun watching him scramble to open candies while all the boys chanted "Soup, Soup, Soup". Here he is on Christmas morning (a picture I had to crop as he was in his underwear for most of the day...can you imagine what he'd do to me if I posted a picture of him in his underwear!?).
The folks down south (Dallas-ites) also had a great Christmas Day together. They claim to have missed us, but judging from the pictures I've seen our absence went entirely unnoticed. Brighid sent some gorgeous pictures of the 'rents. This one is of Dad, soaking it all in and looking ever so handsome.
This is a great picture of Mom and her fifth grandchild (Wilson-The-Dog). She has weathered a rough couple of years, but you'd never know it by how beautiful she looks.
Speaking of Wilson, here is a disgusting public display of affection between him and his new boyfriend,Justin. Fellas! Get a room!
And that's it from me! I hope you all have a safe and happy New Year's Eve, and that the best things in life come to you in 2009!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Maybe Next Year

My neighbor arrived shortly before noon, with a bottle of Merlot. It was gone by 12:26pm...thus cancelling the Santa retrospective and house cleaning (thank God).

Such a shame, too. Maybe next year.

I have been so richly blessed. I have an amazing family, amazing kids and husband, and a great network of friends who truly care about me and mine.

What more could I ask for?

So, for you all, for Christmas and for 2009, I hope for the same. To feel loved, to feel blessed and to life your best life.
Merry Christmas!

Edited to add Wilson, who was to be included in the Santa retrospective.He's asking Santa for a bigger ding-a-ling. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Postage Budget

This will not be my last post before Christmas....didn't haul the crew to get pictures taken with Santa yesterday NOT to post a Santa retrospective...but had a small revelation this morning.


I've got a lot of nerve.

A big set.

Complaining bitterly about the lack of Christmas cards when sitting not two feet from me is a giant envelope filled with my overseas cards. They are addressed and licked shut. And sitting in a giant envelope. That's because I bought several books of stamps to send them in the first week of December, but forgot to weigh the cards before calculating how many stamps each would need. Before I left the post office I weighed one and after pushing my eyeballs back in their sockets ($.95 for EACH...I had over 20), I told myself I'd bring them back to be metered, thus saving the stamps (and extra postage) for the eighty plus cards I was sending State side.

Yes, a very well thought out plan...with very poor execution.

So, without further ado, to my friends and family in South Africa, New Zealand, Canada and 2008 Christmas card.

The front:

The back:

Merry Christmas and may the blessings of 2009 be bountiful!

Friday, December 19, 2008

1, 2, 3

Christmas is now literally around the corner. How did that happen? I have so much on my mind and have completely neglected my obsessive list making. Very unlike me. So, 3 quick lists to catch up.

Things I have lost track of are as follows:

1. What I have to bring for the kids "holiday" parties (they are not "Christmas" parties anymore). They each have a separate party at a separate time (which is so much easier and yet impossible), and I have volunteered to bring something to each (cookies, Hershey kisses, or something like that), but did not write anything down. I think I'll have to buy a few different things and just show up with a full Wegman's bag, open it up at each party and just say "take what you need".

2. Who I have left to buy for. All out of town gifts are on their way, but I still have 2 charities to donate to. I have 2 stocking stuffers left to buy and a couple of gifts. Which seems like, hey, I do know who I have to buy for, but the problem is it changes from moment to moment when I remember what I've ordered, where I've hidden boxes, etc. Which brings me to number 3.

3. Where I've stashed the goods. I have a couple of things hidden in my closet, under my bed, and in the basement. The closet and the bed are very manageable. The basement, not so much. There are things hidden in totes, bags and boxes that look remarkably like the ones we packed when we moved. I can see it now, rushing to the basement on Christmas morning to retrieve forgotten somethings or anothers. Libby is already very stressed out that I have not bought any more wrapping paper (she has no idea that I wrapped presents until my knees when numb on Monday). She keeps saying "Mommy, you're gonna need to buy A LOT of wrapping paper to wrap all the presents. Right? All the presents? Right?". She would be blown away if she knew how much was hidden in place sight!

Things that are irritating me:

1. Christmas cards. Don't people send them anymore? I love opening my mailbox and seeing a big pile of cards. Love it. But not this year. Very disappointing. Oooh...which reminds me. Tami, I went to the post office this morning to mail the other Webkinz that arrived yesterday...and found your Christmas card from us (the second one) still in my purse. It's on it's way!

2. The economy. Without launching into a debate, I'm just beyond stunned at the level of incompetence in both the private sector and the government. Scary times.

3. A little shit head at Jack's school has implicated him in an unseemly incident. Asked him to lie about something pretty serious and (thank God) Jack refused (and promptly told me). I thought it was appropriate to let Jack's teacher know what went down, and now it looks like Jack will need to give his version of events to the principal. He is in no way, shape or form in trouble...I just know that that kind of attention is very stressful for him and now I'm wishing I'd kept my mouth shut.

Things I'm floating on air about:

1. The results of my Dad's surgery. First of all, the surgery itself was not nearly as traumatic as previously predicted and he was home in less than half the time expected. His pain levels have decreased, and he has already resumed his regular life (putting himself back on the work schedule after the New Year). The results of the pathology reports were all encouraging (4 of the 5 were negative, the 5th showed some cancer cells, but they were unable to determine if they were live or dead). So really, we got the best possible outcome and have much to be grateful for!

2. I'm going to have a house full of Aunts in a couple of months! Hoping to see my Mom's two sisters in March/April. Very, very exciting!

3. My kids. They are so excited and so cute about Christmas. I can't wait! I hope Christmas is always this much fun.

That's it for today. Oh, a quick funny story. The kids have those advent calendars that have a little piece of chocolate under each day of the month. Libby came downstairs a couple of mornings ago and says,

"WHAT?! 24 is GONE! Wait, 18 is gone, too! MOOOOMMMMMY!"

Turns out Maggie snuck downstairs and ate everyone's chocolate. Every last day was in her belly. It was so naughty, and the other two were SO mad...but, damn...that's funny!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dear Gramma and Grampa

Suffice it to say we are thinking of you tonight, on the eve of Dad's second major surgery. You must know that you are in our hearts, in our prayers and in every thought. Dad, we will say a prayer for your speedy recovery and that this is the last time you ever need to see inside of a surgery suite again...ever. You have endured enough, and I feel very strongly that this will be it. Your cancer marathon will be done and the rest of your life will be waiting for you on the other side. Mom, we'll pray for your strength and perserverance to keep going, even went it seems too impossible.

The above is a quick word from your grandchildren, who miss you and will be sending their own brand of healing energy and love!

We love every sense and depth of the word.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Little Elf

A little preview for you. I've started gathering pictures for a retrospective of sitting on Santa's lap. I'm missing at least two years, but I know they're here somewhere. If I get the time this weekend, I'll scrounge around and scan them for Monday. In the meantime, here's Jack at about six months old.My God! I just wanna eat him!

Have a happy weekend!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Libby got off the bus and announced that she wanted to shovel the driveway. We'd had about an inch of the heavy, slushy stuff and she wanted to help Daddy by having the driveway clear before he arrived home from work. Steve pulled into the driveway to Libby wielding a giant shovel, wearing her knee high pink boots and a Santa hat.

What a welcome sight!

Once back inside, Libby settled in for a little after school TV, only to be harrassed by her twin. Maggie flitted about, obstructing Libby's view often and relentlessly enough that she lept up from the couch, tackled her and gave a her a closed fist punch to the back. They were both sent to their rooms immediately...Maggie for taunting and Libby for the back-to-front knuckle sandwich. Libby stomped off, begrudgingly accepting her punishment. Maggie flailed about the family room floor until I started to count to three, threatening to double her room time. To which she slammed the TV remote onto the coffee table, realized she meant to be more dramatic, picked it back up and threw it on the floor. For good measure, she turned around and kicked my Christmas candle off the table across the room.

She didn't come out of her room until dinner.

And Jack just sat there, doing his spelling.

I'm leaving all my riches to him.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Linkedy Goodness

I have a long list of blogs I read regularly. Someday when I figure out how to do it, I will link them all in my sidebar, like real bloggers do, so that you can share in their literary goodness. But until then I'll just shamelessly steal ideas from them and occasionally link to something I think you shouldn't miss.

Like this.

**Ok, I have now typed "like this" 10 times and attempted to hyperlink or some such shit, but clearly I don't know what I'm doing. So, please, copy and paste the URL into your browser and read this blog entry. It is the single funniest piece of casual writing I've ever read (and I've revisited it several times in the last couple of years). I reread it this morning and laughed til I cried. Then I cried til my contacts leaked out of my eyes. Stick with it until the end. It's some funny shit (ha! ha! ha!). I promise.


**Edited to add that I will not let Blogger beat me. I finally figured it out. I linked! I have linkedy goodness! But, I was too lazy to clean up the rest of the post. So I left it.

Looks like I wasn't done writing! I got my Christmas presents yesterday! And I couldn't resist! I told Steve we'd wrap the packages up to put under the tree (hence giving him a major break in the gift buying catagory), but when I opened the boxes I knew I had to take everything out immediately and set it up. What is "it", you ask? Well, first let me remind you what my bedroom looked like just 9 short months ago. Ouch. It hurts my eyes to look at the hideousness. Except the comforter. I like the comforter. It's the sea foam green that makes me wanna hurl.But look at it now! Isn't it spectacular? Don't you love it? The walls were painted a couple of months ago in preparation for someday, maybe, just possibly splurging on the comforter set I'd been coveting from...drum roll, please...JCPenny's (sorry, Mom...couldn't resist). Mom casually mentioned last week that on one particular day she could get an additional DEEP discount (not the five finger kind), was there anything I needed? Yes, I needed to work my husband over to convince him that NOW was the time to act. I may, or may not, have had to do dirty things to make my point...
...but wasn't' it worth it?!

Next is a simple iron headboard and some big art for over the bed. I have some "work" to do.

Angels at Marketplace

Mondays are typically days I can plan on running errands and staying off the computer and phone (my phone whoring day off). So this morning I rushed out to Marketplace to spend my $10 JCPenny coupon because if I didn't I would have felt like I just wiped my ass with $10. I also had a pair of pants to return to Ann Taylor Loft, where the sales clerk managed to completely piss me off and make me break into a cold sweat (or a hot sweat...I refused to take my wool coat and scarf off because I didn't want to carry I was roasting). She refused to credit my mall gift certificate (which I fucking USED to buy the stupid cuffed jeans. Yes, cuffed jeans) and instead made me take a store credit. And I had a receipt! I stomped out of there like a child and proceeded on to Dicks where I lost my shit in line behind a woman returning a pair of baby poop colored Uggs. Really. How long DOES it take for you to find the credit card you used to purchase those attractive boots?

I hate shopping.

Anyway, I was making my way back to my end of the mall, the end where I parked my car in such a way as to make the quickest getaway possible (I know myself too well), and witnessed two random scenes that put a lump in my throat and made me want to go back and so I was sorry to the Ann Taylor lady. I was so moved that I grabbed my cell phone and called the home phone and left a message to remind myself to blog about it. I could barely get the words out without crying (I quickly deleted it when I got home so Steve didn't have to wonder if I'd finally lost my marbles).

The first was right when I walked out of Dick's and was just gaining speed with my long, purposeful, get-me-the-hell-out-of-here strides when I had to slow down for an older couple holding hands. They were two men, in their late 50's, I presume, and of different races. As I passed them, I glanced back and saw that one was profoundly mentally challenged. They were strolling through the mall, hand in hand, checking out the sights and watching other people. I suppose the "normal" guy was used to second glances. But he seemed oblivious to anyone and held the other mans hand so sweetly that it made me want to stop and hug them both. And buy them ice cream.

The second was only moments later. I was walking much slower by now...and hopefully didn't look quite so bitchy anymore. I wasn't exactly sure which way to go, so I stopped to look at one of those "You Are Here" maps (my quick getaway plan did not account for my poor sense of direction). Right behind the map was the North Pole and Santa was seated at his throne for pictures. Sitting on his knee was a woman who was 95 if she was a day. She had her picture taken, and, hunched over so low her head was near her cane, she was gingerly helped down by a woman in her 50's. The younger of the two quickly told Santa she'd be back, then turned her attention to the little old woman, and brightly told her "You looked beautiful". She slowly lead her back to the line, where three other old women stood waiting. They, too, were waiting to get their pictures taken with Santa.

Oh my God. I wanted to pick them up and put them all on Santa's lap, then take them for ice cream, too. I truly do hate the mall. I hate shopping. I hate the crowds. I hate sweating. But today I was reminded that you don't have to look too far to find the goodness in people. That there are people so willing to be at the service of others, who will endure the madness at the mall during Christmas to help someone far less fortunate enjoy the holidays.

Don't get me wrong. I like to think that I am kind and have a generous spirit. I frequently embarrass Steve by following older folks to their cars with their groceries. I've helped elderly or handicapped people into their cars and taken their carts back the coral. Helping other people does actually make me happy. I try to be a good person. And for some reason the grocery store doesn't bring out the worst in me quite like the mall.

And today I forgot that there are all kinds of people trying to get things done at the mall. People who challenges far exceed my need to get in and out. People who deserve my patience and respect. I was embarrassed with my short temper.

I will avoid the mall (and other places full of shopping crazed people), but if I find myself back in the same situation, I will remember those two angels at Marketplace today. And I will be patient and kind...and patient.

And you must, too.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that before I left I had to go back and eat crow at Ann Taylor. I had $37 of store credit, with no intentions of visiting the mall in the near future, so I wanted to be done with it. First of all, Ann Taylor's clothes are heinous, and secondly, they cost a small fortune. I scrounged up two t-shirty things and found out at the register that I still had $7 dollars to spend. Without thinking, I told the sales clerk that I'd quickly find something else to buy because "I will not be stepping foot back in this store".

I guess you can't go cold turkey on bitch.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A New Tradition

Last year my friend, Beth, and I arranged a craft night in lieu of exchanging gifts. She contributed these giant wooden Christmas trees that she'd scarfed up from the Michael's 90% off Christmas sale the year before, which the six kids painted and decorated. My contributions were six Haunted Gingerbread Houses that I snagged after Halloween at Aldi's ($2 each! How could I not?). I just bought a couple of pounds of Christmas candy and we were in business! It was a great evening and made Beth and I feel so much better about not spoiling the kids.

Trouble is (or was) that Maggie, Libby and Jack assumed that we had started a new Christmas tradition. A tradition of rushing to Aldi's after Halloween to grab the clearance gingerbread kits. A tradition of spending a small fortune on candy and a powdered sugar/super glue concoction. A tradition of 14 (no lie!) tubes of hot glue to hold the structure together and about 30 minutes of table and floor clean up time once we were done.

But it was so worth it! We had such a fun night. They were a joy to watch.They each focused on their own house and asked for help only when they needed it. And they tolerated my interventions when I couldn't keep my mouth shut or my hands to myself. They were EVER so proud to pose with their masterpieces when the last candy cane was slathered in place.So, yes. I guess we do have a new family tradition. Some day it will be fun to look back on the progression of their imagination, patience and willingness to NOT eat the candy!
God help me if Aldi's stops selling Haunted Houses!

PS. It was 15 degrees today. Libby dressed herself.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I'm cranky.

Being sick sucks. I got myself a raging case of strep throat on Monday, followed quickly by a wicked cold. Spent most of Tuesday in bed, felt slightly better yesterday, but got another kick in the pants today with relentless sneezing and nose dripping. I'm a hot mess.

But...I'm also a trooper and I ventured out this morning to get my hair highlighted. My hair dresser is pleasant and easy to talk to, and she tolerated my sneezing and snot fountain without comment. And since I'm not particularly picky, and hair is just hair, I don't ever tell her when I'm not 100% happy. Last time she over highlighted my hair...I looked like a beach blond, and over time my roots looked horrendous. This time it's not light enough. But...I like it, it will grow in nicely over the winter and it improved my mood significantly.

Worked for the rest of day the with moderate success, and called it quits at 4pm. Sweet Mother, where the fuck I am going with all this? I can't quite complete a thought. Mmmm, let's see. We rushed through a hastily prepared dinner so as to get the girls to Brownies on time. Tore out the door, pulled right up to the door at school, raced up the empty cafeteria. Fucking Brownies. Wrong week.

So I blew my diet and stopped to buy some Cherry Panda Paws Ice Cream. Ah. So nice.

And that's it. No, no it isn't. Steve can't find his wallet. Hasn't seen it since Tuesday. You can see why this might be a problem. His accounts haven't been touched, so we're not freaking yet, but will cancel his cards tomorrow if we don't hear back from the church gym where Jack had practice on Tuesday.

Tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It speaks to Maggie

So I was putting laundry away (if you've read from the beginning, you know that putting laundry away sucks the very life out of me) and Libby's was first. I put her things away, leaving a pair of pajamas on her bed for her to put on. On my way to Maggie's room, where I planned to repeat the process, I yelled down the stairs to Libby to come up and get changed.

This is the conversation that followed.

Me: "Libby, come up to your room and put your pajamas on."

Libby: "What about Maggie? Why doesn't she have to put her pajamas on yet?"

Me: "Uh. Ok. Maggie come upstairs and put your pajamas on."

Maggie: "WHAT?"

Maggie: "What do you need, Mommy?"

Me: "I need you to come upstairs and put your pajamas on."


And that, my friends, is Maggie in a nutshell.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Three Years

So suddenly. So unexpectedly.

So missed.

We love you, Gramma.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Post Parental Visit

Ah yes. We are alive and well. Just watching the sky fill with big, fat snowflakes as I type. The kids just left for school, Steve is in the woods and I am in my sweatpants. Live is good.

Not much to report (or little time to report). Mom and Dad's visit came and went with a flash. As always, it was a happy visit...with little to do, but enjoy the company (and eat and drink and eat some more). The kids love having them here and it's always a bit of an adjustment when they leave (and I have to go back to folding my own laundry!). We are looking forward to the day when going home means they drive a couple of blocks instead of boarding a plane! Anyway, we did a very shabby job taking pictures while they were here, but this is a nice one of Mom and Dad with the kids.
Halloween quickly followed their departure and we sent two little witches and a hunter off the forage for candy. Our night started out at a friend's house with adult beverages aplenty and games to keep the kids from interrupting the overindulgence. Not surprisingly, my kids did very well at the donut eating contest."What are you lookin' at? Don't make me track you down."

"Eh, you seen my donut?"

"Gulp. I WIN!"

Let's see. After Halloween the girls had their official Brownie induction ceremony...a combination of so freaking adorable and batshit crazy corny. It was very official (I thought maybe they were being awarded the Purple Heart) and they were so proud...but it was hard to keep a straight face. They have earned six badges already (which means I have still have twelve badges to sew before Thursday) and are really enjoying their meetings.

Jack is playing basketball in the Catholic Youth Organization league. He practices up to twice a week and has weekly games through March. His height makes basketball a good fit for him and makes up for his lack of aggression. It's been a lot of fun watching him gain confidence and see the awkwardness give way to more natural athletic ability. And let's face it, with three kids to educate, we're grooming a scholarship here! I'll take pictures at his game this week and will post them soon.

And I think that's it. In the time it's taken to type this post, the snow has completely covered the grass (for the first time this season). And now I have a second cup of coffee to drink and a bed to warm back up!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Letter From Swaziland

Hello All from a wet and cold Swaziland!
Nice rain! Now for the normal farmer's complaint - we have just started harvesting the last of the sugar cane and the tractors are mucking up the field and the road. The rain is very welcome, but just not on that field!
Attached are pics of our holiday with Em and Mark. We had such a happy time with them! And there is always an added little something, like you can't just play boulle, but you have to wear funny hats. Anything for a laugh! We went to a fantastic restaurant called the Goat Shed, and you can see the goats tower in the background of one pic. You can also see just what a happy time we had.
I have had to work quite hard at work this week (funny thing that - working at work!) because I have had to learn a lot for the meeting I am going on tomorrow to Windhoek. I have a sore tummy. Mick (my young boss) is meeting me early tomorrow and he flies with me all the way to Windhoek, but then he carries on to Walvis Bay for a different meeting. I feel better about not travelling on my own - have a better chance of meeting someone on the plane going to the same meeting and Mick can introduce us and I will not feel like a raspberry. I have such a sore tummy... It is a hunting forum, and although we don't hunt in our parks, Ted wants us to be represented there (we always are, by Mick), and it is essentially about lions. As I run the CITES office, I will learn more because that is also coming under discussion. Will be back home on Friday night. My tum does hurt so. Joe will pick me up and drive me home. I am sure it will be fun, and that I will enjoy myself, and the meeting part I can cope with quite easily, but the thought of walking into the dining room and not knowing anyone to sit with is what I think is hurting my tummy. All will be well once I am there. Anticipation is not always a pleasurable thing!
And that brings me to another little problem. Little... Well, we have had a truck coming to the filling station pulling a little tank and filling up with fuel - about R14 000 at a time. Wigs was a bit concerned because of the amount, and it was on credit card, so he phoned the bank and was told that the card was fine and clear, and that he could relax. Well, three weeks later, another filling station phoned to say that they had been told by their bank that the card was a fraud, and the bank wanted their money back. We have now discovered that this has happened to several other stations, and the cards have been cloned, therefore they don't come up as hot cards until the company who owns the number discovers that they have spent a small fortune on petrol. Our friends have been taken for over R200 000 and us for R140 000. Wigs has moved our money to another account so the bank can't just access it back, but it seems that what they then do is just put you into overdraught! There is a huge fight in the offing, because we now feel that we can't trust any card except those with a chip, and there are not many of them around. Wigs is arguing that after checking the card, and all the transactions going through, it is not our responsibility, but should be the bank's and the owner of the card's, and they must find the culprits. How can we run any sort of business if we cannot trust the cards and the banks? But all will be fine - I don't mean for you to worry! It's not all black!
My emails are so full of negatives these past few weeks - I'm sorry! On the positive, my garden is so pleased with the rain! My seedlings are running a little late and will only be ready at the end of the month, and the ones in the garden have done their stuff. Today's maximum is 16 and I am pleased!
Christmas shopping coming up...Is that another negative? Hope not! My boss has suddenly woken up to the fact that he can buy his presents over the internet through his secretary. I spent a blissful moring browsing the book sites, printing out ones I thought he would be interested in and will do the ordering when I get back.

Love, love, love... you all!
Winks/Kath/Mummy Darling, Young and Beautiful!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Brighid!

Happy Birthday! We all hope it's the best yet! We love you!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Trouble In Paradise. Please Pray.

I'm not sure how to begin this post, so I'll just jump right in. I have suspected that something wasn't quite right with Dad since they landed. He's had moments of spaciness...somewhat glassy eyed and behaved suspiciously at times. There have been bouts of sniffiness and an altered, almost nasally, voice. Since it's clear my siblings have ignored these puzzling symptoms, I decided to do some investigating myself.

And my findings are not pretty.

It's pot. And it's big. And I caught him in the act.

Here he is, doing pot. At my kitchen table. From my best soup pot. He says he's inhaling "Vicks Vapors". Something about severe allergies and a blocked nose. Sure, Dad. That's steam above your head. Yeah, I get it. He even tried to blame me for boiling the water too long and scalding his delicate skin. The nerve!
And to make matters worse, he has an enabler. See her in the background, taking pictures? Looks like she trying to document what must have been a pretty good batch.

Makes me sick.

So, please pray for him and his unseemly habit.

And while you're at it, please say a quick prayer for another upcoming biopsy. He received a call from his oncologist a couple of days ago with the results of his last PETscan. The glowing that was previously seen and biopsied in late June/July is still there, possibly a little bigger and perhaps a little more intense. As you know, the results of that biopsy were negative for cancer cells, so we expect the same again, but his docs want a deeper investigation to be sure. So, oncology appointment on 11/5 and surgical consult on 11/18. Please keep them both in your thoughts.

Even if they're potheads.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

In Brief

We're here...we're here! A week ago today we picked Mom and Dad up from the airport in Buffalo, and we've had 7 solid days of run-and-relax since then. The kids have had activities each evening, and the weekend was filled with the errands that keep life running smoothly. So today has been the first opportunity to stay in sweat pants and post something (anything!) to the blog.

We are having a great time together. The 'rents look great and don't seem to mind what must be a giant leap from the quiet of their apartment into the chaos of my house. If meals around my kitchen table hasn't scrambled their brains yet, I don't think anything will! There is no shortage of noise and mischief around these parts and I think they, too, have come to appreciate BEDTIME!

The weather has been iffy all week, so we've not had a chance to take many pictures (and Mom doesn't want any pictures taken of her until she gets her hair cut tomorrow...and I don't want any pictures taken of me until I get liposuction, which leaves Steve and of them to follow shortly), but we did get a few of the kids carving their pumpkins yesterday.

Pumpkin carving is messy business, but as they get older they are able to do much of it on their own. Libby was determined to it ALL by herself, and Maggie was equally determined to have ME do it all by myself! And Jack was going for the speed record...carve, carve, scoop, scoop, light the candle. Done.

As you can see from this picture, the leaves are just gorgeous right now. The change of color is probably slightly passed peak, but the last of the maples look like they're on fire. Today is so sunny and crisp, and we will be sure to get out for some pictures again (and who knows...perhaps we'll have TWO posts in one week!).

Stay tuned!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Oh, the envy.... by Em

So, who wants to know more about our fantastic holiday in Mozambique?? Okay, okay, don't all shout at once.

In short it was FANTASTIC! I'll start from the beginning so I don't miss out anything. Uh oh, this could be a long one. Make yourself a cup of tea and settle in.

And we're off!
We arrived in Swazi full of unspent giggles, ready for a glorious two weeks. However, the giggles quickly disappeared when we found that NOT ONE of our bags made it to Swaziland. Oh joy. And there was a queue of people who were trying to locate their luggage from a week ago. A week! Bloody marvellous. Luckily I'm married to 'Mr Charming and Fantastic' (self proclaimed) and he managed to track down some poor baggage handler's number at Johannesburg International Airport who literally turned around his little baggage handler's cart and went searching for our bags. Two day's later and in the nick of time they arrived. Whew!

This was nearly the last we saw of our precious cargo. Oh, and let me introduce you to Suzie, the Isuzu. She was our holiday mascot. That's the minature car, 'nana. The blonde on the left is me, the one on the right is Lianne.

Mum and Dad were super generous and lent us the Isuzu (big Suzie - see the connection?) for our travels along with fishing rods, big plastic boxes to pack all the food in, beach blankets, first aid kits and even a frozen lamb stew! Honestly, that woman is magic. A magic piece of loveliness.

Okay, back to the trip: first stop, Tofu, which was about an 8 hour drive. We stayed on the beach front in a newly constructed A-frame reed cabana with a sea view and a generous verandah which was perfect for soaking up some sun without being battered by the sand. I've been to Tofu before and it's got quite a lot more commercial than I remember. The fish are quite pricey if you don't do some serious negotiating, but the fact is you're buying fish right out of the boat, so it doesn't get much fresher than that. And we ate like kings! Crayfish, prawns, fresh fish - delish. And, of course, we didn't have to clean any of them thanks to the wonderful services of our (first) houseboy, Marco. The days were uber-leisurely. We woke up late, poured our first G&T at lunch, swam, fished (albeit unsuccessfully) and emulated old French men by spending hours playing Boulle on the beach.

One of the lovely idiosyncracies of this place was the shower with a built-in radio so we could listen to Portuguese FM while we soaped up. Especially funny in a house made of reeds with barely any hot water!
The local beer, 2M, was a firm favourite. See Suzie on Chris' glass.

Next stop, Vilancoulos. The road was great fun - driving was just like playing a Nintendo game where you had to dart left and right across the screen just to survive and reach the next level. In this case, if you didn't do some serious dodging you'd be swallowed whole by the potholes on the 'road'. Once we finally got there we were absolutely blown away by our accommodation, which far surpassed our expectations. Lap. Of. Luxury. Huge 4 bedroom-4 bathroom house with a massive kitchen and sprawling verandah overlooking the turquois ocean. With a plunge pool. Ridiculous.

AND to add to the ridiculousness we had a dedicated houseboy, Bernado, who absolutely loved trying to do everything under the sun for us. He'd greet us upon our return from ANYWHERE (even popping out for lunch) with chilled facecloths on a tray adorned with flowers. Oh yes, you read that right. Flowers. And scented facecloths. He was brilliant - with a smile that shone from the inside out. In fact, he was helped out by another houseboy, Gildo. Yup, two people who wanted to make us happy. Oh, how I miss them.

Meet Bernado and Gildo. The kings of all houseboys. And look how sweetly they hold hands.

Off the coast of Vilancoulos are 4 islands, most of which are untouched. Paradise. We did a spot of island hopping where we braaied our prawns on the beach, snorkelled a bit and had long walks on the beach. Chris and Li managed to squeeze in a few dives too. Honestly, four days of heaven.

Last stop, Bilene. Only about a million miles from Vilancoulos, but moving in the general direction of Swaziland, so technically heading back home. Bilene is a small town/village on a lagoon about 3 hours from Maputo. The 'sea' is therefore pretty flat and the beach is white sand, so it's gorgeous but lacks the drama that comes with the ocean. We stayed in a Cape Cod style house right on the beach, but the weather turned here and one day was too windy to get onto the beach followed by another day that was overcast and yucky for most of it, only clearing up later. So here's where we played one boardgame after another culminating in an 'Olympics' which was made up of Bat and Ball, Boulle, Connect 4, Speed Scrabble, Hats (throw cards into a hat about 5 metres away), 30 Seconds and Pictionary. Only problem is that Chris and I were teamed up against Mark and Li-Li and Chris is training for the Cape Odyssey (a 5 day race where you run a full marathon each day), so he's super fit. He also thinks he can handle his alcohol. We lost the first 3 games and had to drink as forfeits. In short, Chris was a mess after 4 beers. Lightweight.
And with that it was back to Swaziland, a quick pop in with Mum and Dad and the flight back to Cape Town. I can't believe it's all over. Or that it was a month ago. Sorry about the late post.
Anyone want to come and visit us now?

Friday, October 17, 2008

3rd Race at The Honeymoon Is Over Downs

OMG...this is so funny! I've watched it at least 5 times and laughed til I cried each time! Not for the uptight...plenty-o-foul language.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Wilson and Other Stuff by Bird

I’ve been meaning to blog for a long time now. However our lives have been consumed (more than usual) by work, specifically because of the elections. And the closer we get, the more desperate our customers get. Everything is backordered, creating a panic amongst the campaigners and vendors who have just 3 weeks left to get their point across on a button. Our sales to both sides are fast and furious. And I don’t need to look at an electoral map to see what the battleground states are. Between Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Florida we’re keeping plenty busy! When it comes to making money, we are bi-partisan. I will note however, the “Red State” people (McCain-ers for non-us) are a hell of a lot nastier to deal with than the Blue Staters. They are just plain mean and rude. Manners people!!
Sometimes I want to ask them what Baby Jesus would think if he could hear them now….
We’re so busy we finally came to our senses and hired a young man to work part time. He’s supposed to be learning how to ship product by now, but we’re running out of stock faster than we can count it, so he spends his days over a counting scale while I spend my days in the shipping room. To give you an idea of a typical delivery we get from the factory – here’s one we got this Friday. 58 boxes, 2500 pounds of steel - note the box inspector….

Speaking of Wilson. This weekend we took him on a field trip to Dallas Heritage Park, just south of downtown. It’s this beautiful 13 acre park in the middle of the hood that features “old timey” life with houses, banks, general stores, settlement that depict life from the 1800’s to the early 1900’s. Kind of like a super mini Colonial Williamsburg. We packed all the essentials (water, dog treats, portable water bowl, poop bags, extra leash) and made the great trek. Wilson couldn’t have had more fun. He saw his first chicken, first cow, first sheep and first donkeys. He was most impressed with the chickens and I had to fish more than one giant rooster feather out of the back of his throat, much to his disgust. The donkeys, they just scared the crap out of him. They were very curious about him, he much the same at first. Until they came nose to nose, then Wilson didn’t think it was so cute. One snort from the donkey that blew his ears back, covered his face with donkey snot and he was tail down, whining and trying to melt into my chest. I just can’t picture this dog hunting badgers….. A good time was had by all, despite the donkey assault.
Chickens! I smell Chickens! I see Chickens! What the hell is a Chicken?!?

How you doin?!

Seconds before the Donkey Snot Assault.

Once the elections are through we are off for a 3 day retreat from the real world. We’ve rented a house out in East Texas, in the middle of a pine forest right on Lake of the Pines. All we need to bring is food. 3 days with no phones, no computers and no cable TV. Just long walks with Wilson, fishing off the dock, reading, eating, sleeping and recovering. Here’s a pic of the cottage we’re staying at:

That ends my blog for now. Happy Halloween!

PS - 17 days til my birthday, 22 days til elections, 73 days til Christmas and 99 days til Bush is out of office - Hallelujah!!

Monday, September 29, 2008


Time to catch up. Where to start...

With the kids, of course.

All three have settled down very nicely in their respective classes. Jack, who dreaded it the most, has been pleasantly surprised with lots of nice kids in his class. The was something funky about last year's group...all good kids, but very segmented...Jack included. The pokemon card players stuck together, the sporty kids only played with each other, etc...very strange for third grade. But this class is much more inclusive (maybe it's the teacher?). He is doing very well academically, so we've added a new activity to the mix. He'll be playing basketball this winter, with one practice day a week and one game day a week. He attended an evaluation on Saturday...and didn't suck!! In fact, he was one of the better players! Do I smell a scholarship? He's playing with a good friend and we're all looking forward to watching them play.

Our school district just completed the Fun Run for 4th graders, a one mile run around a local pond. There were no winners...everyone's a winner, dontcha know...but it was all very official. It was sponsored by a local company that provides the timing devices for international races, so all the kids were provided a number for their shirts and a computerized ankle band that recorded their running time. Over 600 kids ran (in 4 flocks of birds) was so cool to watch (and I cried...I know, I'm a loser). Anyway, here's my big kid after the race...tired and sweaty.

The girls have adjusted to a full day of school (as opposed to the half day last year). Libby needs a little time to decompress when she gets home...tends to be a little short tempered when she gets off the bus. I suspect she's very intense when she's at school. She is competitive and very driven...and my guess is she's 100% engaged in the classroom and totally focused. By the time she gets home she's exhausted and needs to figure out how to switch gears. Fortunately she loves school, does very well and can't wait to go everyday. She has now lost FIVE teeth...the last being a top front one...a regular haas beck (feel free to correct spelling). She is hoarding her tooth fairy money (I think I've mentioned before that the tooth fairy brings $5 per tooth...can you imagine? It's a wonder we aren't all wearing dentures). Here she is...showing off the gap tooth grin for Gramma and Grampa. Cute, eh?
The girls are also getting involved in activities outside of school. They started gymnastics last week...and loved it! Libby has some natural talent...and the same drive and focus that she demonstrates in the classroom. She is very eager to learn, pays attention and was able to keep up with little girls who've been at this a lot longer. Every once in a while she'd glance my way and give me a little smile...but then it's right back to business. Maggie on the other hand, totally lives in the moment...tried everything because it looked like fun, with little or no regard for her performance. I could hear her yelling "Mommmmmy" from across the gym, waving furiously to me and pointing at whatever piece of equipment she was about to mutilate. I'm not sure that I have any Olympians out there on the mat, but they are having fun and that's enough for me.

In addition to gymnastics, we've also joined Girl Scouts. I assure you that this was nothing I encouraged. In fact, quite the opposite! And for good reason. The first meeting was filled with cookie marketing techniques. They divided into teams of three and did a role playing exercise, each taking turns to be the Girl Scout, the cookie buyer...and the door. I kid you not. When that mercifully came to an end, they got to have a cookie snack. Not to enjoy the cookies, mind you, but to taste test them in order to answer customer questions. Yes. Really.

By the time we left, Libby was filled with Girl Scout spirit...can't wait to hit the ground running and sell a million boxes (stay by the phone...we'll be calling). Maggie, on the other hand, was just plain pissed off. It was boring, she said. And I have to agree.

Maggie, as I may have mentioned before, has a tendency to whine. She quickly reverts to whining whenever things aren't going her way, and can be a giant pain in the ass. But, I'm learning that she is a remarkably happy little thing. She is almost always smiling, always ready to play anything you want, and laughs easily and freely. I had lunch with her and Libby at school, and I was struck by how different they both are. Maggie sat at a table with her little friends, smiling, talking...totally focused on the social aspect of the cafeteria. I had to remind her over and over again to eat her lunch (I wonder what she does when I'm not much of her lunch does she throw away?). I split my time between the two of them, so I could see them each from a distance. Libby was studiously eating her nuggets, talking only when necessary and only when she was done. She, too, was surrounded by friends, and when the food was gone, she was totally engaged, having fun and obviously well liked.

If I haven't said it lately, having twins (and a big kid) is amazing. I'm am so damn lucky.

Back to Maggie. She has yet to lose a tooth. Poor little thing is ready to knock a few teeth out, just so she can put some money in her piggy bank. She does have a very loose bottom tooth, with the adult tooth half way out already (we call it her shark tooth) I should make sure I have some cash around in the next couple of weeks for the, eh, bill. Here she is...with a mouth full of toofers.
So that leaves the Mister and I. Same old, same old. Goose hunting has ended and bow season for whitetail is only a couple of weeks away, so he'll be spending much of his free time in the woods. Which is fine. At least when he's in the woods, we can't bicker about politics (fucking McCain).

Work is fine with me. A bit of a roller coaster, but at this stage I need to be grateful that I have a job! I'm counting down the days until Mom and Dad visit (October 21st), and starting my ritual list making and menu planning.

And that's it. I think we're all on the same page again.