Sunday, December 27, 2009

I... Must... Finish... This... Movie.

Everybody has them. For me it is more than one. They are movies that if you start watching you must finish. Even if you have seen it twenty times. Even if you have missed the first hour, if you see it is on you must watch. It doesn't matter if it is going to end at one o'clock in the morning and you have to be up at five. It must be finished. I have several that fit in this category. You've Got Mail with Meg Ryan, A League of Their Own, cutesy films really, but by far the most grand is Gone With the Wind. It dazzles. It mesmerizes. I must simply get to the end with that grand staircase and hear Rhett say "Frankly, Scarlett...".

This, unfortunately, is not always beneficial. I always seem to come upon it on a Thursday night at 10:30 with three hours left to go and I have to work the next day, but it is no matter. There is something special about "happening" upon Gone With the Wind. A feeling of unexpected surprise. "Oooh, I love that movie" It is not just the senses filled experiences of the movie but a sense of fate, of destiny.

Thanks to my father I know have four disc commemortive DVD set, but I am not sure it will cure of me of the compelling desire to watch it when I see it listed alluringly in the TV listings. Oh well, " I can't think about that right now. I will think about that tomorrow." ; )

Dreaming (no it really happened) of a white Christmas

A white Christmas. Yes, it really happened here in Texas. I have lived here for 17 years and my husband his whole life and neither of us have ever seen a white Christmas. We have had a white Thanksgiving and a white Valentines day, but never Christmas. It was really beautiful and welcome. I am sure it ruined many a plans as it ruined ours. We did not want to risk the drive to Dallas to celebrate Christmas Eve but there was something magical about our little family being warm and snug in our home. The kids tucked into bed with their jammies and the husband and I sitting by our fireplace watching the snow fall outside. We also got on our coats and hats and went outside slipping in sliding on our neighbors icy driveway and making tracks through fresh snow. Owen earlier in the afternoon was taught the art of the snowball and catching snow flakes on his tongue. It just really felt like the Christmas of my childhood ( I grew up in Indiana) for one magical evening. Most of it melted the next day and chances are it will be back to 70 degrees in a week but it was a memory that will last and be fondly remembered.

Our yard looking so peaceful and serene with the snow.

The tradition with my husband's family is we get together on Christmas Eve and have an "appetizer"meal . Everyone brings various appetizers and we just snack and spend time together and give the kids their gifts. Since my husband and I could not join everyone due to the icy roads we had our own little appetizer dinner and spent time together with our boys. My veggie Christmas tree came out quite cute.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Around the corner!!

I really can't believe Christmas is almost here and even though my husband and have most of the shopping for the kids out of the way I still so much to do. I need to make the gifts for my son's teachers and preschool classmates . I completely forgot to bring gifts for Owen's Sunday school teachers this morning and it was the last class until after the new year. I felt like such a slacker mom!).

And to add more spice to the bowl of punch that is the holiday season, it is the last week of school before the break and high-schoolers smelling a breeze of freedom are a little restless, as am I. The week is even more exciting because my students are turning in their research projects that they have spent the last four weeks on and are worth a gazillion points towards their grade. I having a student teacher this year is handing their entire lot of 1oo+ projects over to him with a very cheery "Merry Christmas". So that will be one less cookie on my plate (actually more a piece of mince meat or fruitcake both which have never received rave reviews from my pallete.) Although I have no doubt their will be a few pleasant surprises among those essays as some of my students picked some very interesting research topics but they will be much more enjoyable to read without having to worry about that critical red pen.

To me one of the most enjoyable parts of Christmas is decorating the house. Sitting watching the fire by the glow of the tree with all the whimsical decorations really lifts the spirit.

Here is our card display. Usually it is packed with Christmas cards but friends and family are probably just like me, procrastinating! I haven't gotten mine out yet either. I love the vintage reading card I got a few weeks ago.
My other vintage flash card tucked in my vintage toast rack along with the adorable photo of my mother and aunt.
My dining buffet. I love, love, love, grapevine decorations. I must add a new one each year. The sleigh was the new one this year. You can't tell in the picture but the sides are woven grapevine. Love my new banner as well. Tarnished and Tattered, the seller on etsy, has some others for sale as well!
A close up of my favorite vintage Christmas post card. I think the post mark is 1922!
My vintage Christmas cards on display!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

We are the loud one's behind the glass..

Went to church tonight. Got our God on... Then I remembered why we don't make it every week. We are Catholic and since having children I have started to envy other churches with their blessed nursery. For the most part, Catholic churches do not have a nursery at every service instead they have the cry room. You would assume from the title that it is the room where parents taking their crying children. In reality it is the room where parents take their screaming children and parents go to cry . It is a glass fronted room where you can see the service and supposedly hear through a speaker, but really you hear nothing but just follow the cue of others, sitting, standing, sitting again, kneeling, "oh, are we getting up for communion?"; but are about as engaged as one can be while trying to keep your four-year old from standing on the seats, and and occupying a baby with puffs because if you don't keep his mouth full he feels he needs to show everyone how talented he is by screaming na-na-na-na at the top of his baby lungs. I am pretty sure we won't be there next week.

Now if you ask "why don't they have a nursery program" and any reasonable person would ask is because the church feels that children are part of the family and should experience the church with the family. True in theory but not in reality! You have room full of families you are simply trying to maintain and in our case maintaining ineffectively. The four year old makes is 20 minutes then he is done. So for the next forty minutes is a series of threats and the eventual time out where I or my husband drag him screaming from the "cry" room.

He is simply not ready to sit through a 60 minute service quietly despite my best efforts to come fully armed with books and coloring books and small cars. I leave feeling like a horrible and ineffective parent. In my opinion it is a real issue with the Catholic church and an issue that keeps young families from feeling fully included in the community.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Am I Boring?...I feel kind of boring?

I am new to the blogger world and my understanding of the blog was apparently very limited. I thought of as a journal, a simple page to post your thoughts so that is was I started to do. Simply (as my husbands calls them).. my musings. My blogs skills consisted of knowing how to do three things.... write and post, post a picture, and insert a hyperlink. Pretty basic. But I have been exploring the world of blogger and am feeling a bit........boring.

A co-worker's blog was a featured blog on the SITS blog and she let her friends know via facebook. That post led me to the SITS blog and through exploring their page led to a whole world of blogger I didn't know existed. Decor, poetry, motherhood, literature.. anything imaginable and I was floored.

I went back to my page and felt a little inadequate. "I need to post a some pictures. How do they get three columns? Where did they get all those cool buttons? Is the stuff I'm writing even interesting?"

A little insecurity can get the best of us, but like high school doesn't last forever. I am proud of my little start. My drop in the bucket of thought and idea. Maybe nobody reads it (except my devoted husband :) and that is OK. They are my thoughts and this is a place to put them and that itself is empowering.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Visualization Shouldn't Include the Word "Squishy"

Motherhood is humbling. My son is four-years-old and apparently four is the age of "saying the darnedest things". So along with cute phrases or mis-pronunciations such as "Mommy, look at all the American flags" (except he can't say the "L" ) he also has an acute power of observation. Today he wanted to go swimming so we changed into our swimsuits and headed to the pool. As I took off my cover-up to join him in the water he says "Mommy, your legs are squishy" Funny, funny, laugh, laugh and then he moved on to more important things like the bug on his towel (thankfully). Squishy, that only made me think of other places on my body that would qualify as squishy which led to a huge desire to eat some sort of sweet which I then thought would only lead to more squishy places, so I did abstain, and tried to visualize me being not squishy which is my ultimate goal. So motherhood is humbling, very humbling. A talking mirror didn't do Snow White much good and it certainly wasn't on my Christmas list, but I got one. Throw in a talking scale and a refridgerator that oinks and I have a trifecta of self-esteem. Oh, well. He loves me anyway as done my bouncy 7 month old baby. The day will come, I can hear it, when he will say "Mommy your tummy is so flat!".

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Baby food and Baby stepping...

I am trying to keep up with my goal of one entry per week and while my Dad is probably saying "yeah, right" since I have attempted such a goal in the past, I have found doubt and skepticism is frequently what motivates me to succeed.

Since there are so many various things that float through my head you might find this to be a week in summary but better they are covered briefly than not at all!

The baby food experiment is going quite well. I have been proud of my efforts and have found the it quite a learning experience. The main thing I have noticed between making my own baby food vs. buying commercial baby food is that the homemade variety is much more palatable. Upon testing the concoctions I discover they are actually quite tasty! That is a statement I would NEVER make about commercial baby food. Today I made Aidan potatoes and carrots mashed with unsalted butter and chicken stock with apples and blueberries for dessert. The potatoes and carrots were a hit but he seemed unsettled about the apples and blueberries even though this morning he devoured mashed bananas and blueberries. I am thinking it might be the texture. That has been the biggest learning process for me. My idea of a smooth texture does not exactly match his. Something I think smooth proves to be too chunky for him.

Summer is coming quickly to a close. It always does. I have started thinking about school starting and what I will teach the first six weeks. The first six weeks is the toughest for me. Over the summer, as expected, I get out of my groove. I have to get back into the flow of teaching, of knowing how long an activity will take, and how to transition smoothly from lesson to lesson. My biggest mistake usually is I overestimate my student's capabilities. I always assume they know how to do something and then I discover usually through frustration and grumbles that they don't know what I am talking about. The first structured piece of writing I do is an analysis paragraph. Really, just a paragraph. We start with short stories and after reading one they write a short analysis paragraph. A topic sentence, supportive sentences and a closing statement. Really, just a paragraph. I always model one, go over the structure of my topic sentence and how I found support and how to close. Then they are supposed to write one of their own and the usual response is blank stares. " How do I start? What am I supposed to do? " Then I remember, " Oh yes, they know nothing". Grumbling does nothing, saying " I know you did this last year" makes no difference. I must backtrack and baby step them through it. I must walk them through writing a topic sentence, walk them through finding support. Two- three hours of teaching time devoted to a paragraph. But that's all right. They have to get their groove back too and they always do.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Our Round Top Escape

Food Stop Lockhart:
According to my husband, any Texas road trip isn't complete without a stop at some hole-in-the-wall BBQ joint. Therefore we hit Smitty's BBQ in Lockhart, Texas. You walk into Smitty's and order your meat right there at the pit. The heat from the exposed fire warming my legs on the already 103 degree day. They serve your meat on butcher paper with a couple of knives and good old white bread (absent are any forks). You then head inside to order you sides . I was skeptical at first. " I don't get a plate. I have to eat with my fingers! Where is the sauce?" I thought for sure I couldn't eat without sauce but I was wrong, plain wrong. I scarfed it down. The sweet pickles were home-style thick-cut and tasted exactly like the ones my mother canned each summer. Cold sweet tea served in one-size only massive cups- we both got refills. The ribs were by far my favorite, but the sausage and brisket were by no means disappointing.

Also worth mentioning is Lockhart's picturesque downtown. It is a traditional downtown square with various storefronts its gorgeous courthouse taking the center spot. It was straight out of To Kill a Mockingbird and I fully expected to see an incarnation of Atticus Finch leaving that courthouse and if I had looked hard enough would have surely found Boo Radley's house and maybe even a Scout and Jem.

Even though Lockhart added about an hour to our drive to our destination of Round Top and forced us to deal with Austin traffic it was well worth it!

Final Destination- Round Top:

Each spring and fall Round Top holds a massive antique fair spreading over 15 miles. Round Top, which has a population of like 81 (the sign said 77 but I am giving it a little room for growth :) apparently gets 20.000 visitors. Kevin and I both talked about how we would like to go to a spring or fall show but decided it might be nice to get a feel for the area by going during a less busy time and therefore decided to plan our weekend getaway during the summer when they have a much smaller antique weekend.

I found the town and the area absolutely charming and refreshing. Not just refreshing because we got relax, sleep-in, nap ( I took a two hour nap!!) and leisurely eat dinner, but refreshing regarding basic humanity! We rented an adorable refurbished farmhouse which was furnished straight out of Country Living. The proprieter, Beverly, had emailed telling us the key would be in the lock and it was! Dangling in the lock for all the world to see.

Further adding to this belief was Royer's Cafe. Royer's is a busy and popular cafe which only seats 38 people and so frequently there is a wait. Well on the porch is a cooler of cold soda and beer which operates on the honor system. Drink as many as you want while waiting and when you get your table give the waitress your bottle caps or soda tabs so she knows how many you drank. At the gas station the sign said "Customers, let us see your face so we can turn on the pump for you." Apparently all it takes is an honest face to get gas. Everybody waved to you as you drove on the roads. For a over-citified girl like me it was wonderful!

Overall the trip was wonderful. We looked at the stars. I read my book. Had some good eats. We searched for vintage treasures and came home with some fun finds. The place had no TV reception (we did watch a DVD), no cell phone signal (had to go into town), no internet connection. We were unplugged and we loved it!

Monday, July 13, 2009


Aidan has been eating solids for about two months and has proved to have a voracious appetite! Owen, my four-year-old is a picky eater. His repertoire of food choices is very narrow: PB&J, ham and cheese, applesauce, and the occasional hotdog and chicken nugget. We are constantly battling dinner time because frequently Owen does not want to eat what I have cooked for dinner. My goal with Aidan is to try to incorporate some of the flavors from the family dinner and thus have been experimenting with making my own baby food.

My first attempt involved zuchinni and summer squash. I was making a favorite of Kevin's and mine, Grilled Vegetable Tostadas. This recipe includes grilling zuchinni and summer squash, so I took a portion of both, steamed them in the microwave and pureed them with a hand blender. I then blended them with a little of left over sweet potato. Aidan eagerly ate the concoction while Owen complained and nibbled on a tortilla! Now I guess I shouldn't get too excited, Aidan is only seven months old but with motherhood, it is the little victories that sometime make a stressful day a little brighter.

Another issue I have been facing as I take on the challenge of making my own baby food is equipment. I had been eyeing a remarkable gadget called the Baby Beaba. This is European creation that steams and puree's in the same bowl. This concept has me mesmerized and if it hadn't been for the steep price tag I would have purchased immediately, but the $150 price tag kept me at bay. So instead I took stock of what I had at home. I have frequently steamed vegetables, especially the long-baking squash, in the microwave and found it very convenient, time-saving and not detrimental to the taste. So knowing this and then discovering while cleaning out my cupboards my hand blender which I picked up years ago at a garage sale I was able to solve my problem without any extra expense! I can steam in the glass bowl and puree in that same bowl!

In all my experience preparing my own baby food has been very rewarding. While I will still continue to use some commercial baby food occasionally but at the same time blending in flavors from the dinner table I hope to create a less fussy and sensitive eater.