Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Here's the weather report for my hometown:

Tonight: Windy with snow showers. Dangerous wind chills approaching -25F. Low around -5F. Winds NW at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of snow 50%. About one inch of snow expected. Winds could occasionally gust over 40 mph.

Tomorrow: Snow flurries early. Then partly cloudy by the afternoon. Cold. Wind chills may approach -15F. High around 10F. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph.


Happy New Year, Eskimos!


The boys and Husband are watching a show on Greece - beautifully photographed and showing all kinds of picture-perfect villages:

Two: "I'd rather have my house built of soda cans."


Bellaire, Texas: Stuck in the 1950's

Here's a lovely story about a police shooting in Bellaire, TX, a small city completely surrounded by Houston and close to us:

"Tolan and his cousin Anthony Cooper, 20, were returning from a trip to a fast-food restaurant when he pulled up to his home ... A Bellaire police patrol car raced up when Tolan and his cousin got out of the 2004 Nissan Xterra and walked toward the front door. "They're in the driveway and (a Bellaire police officer) gets out of the car yelling, 'Stop. Stop," Morris said. "They didn't know who it was because the spotlight was on them." A Bellaire police sergeant and a backup officer ordered both men to the ground. They dropped to their knees then were told to lie on the ground, family members said. The commotion on the front lawn roused Tolan's parents, who came outside. The sergeant told them the Nissan had been stolen. "My sister was telling them, 'It was not a stolen vehicle. It's ours," said Tammy Morris. Family members said one of the officers pushed Tolan's mother up against the wall of the home. When that happened, Tolan leaned up and complained about the treatment she was receiving. "That's when the (sergeant) shot him," Tammy Morris said. White, the city spokeswoman, confirmed that the shooting happened when Tolan attempted to rise to his feet... A Bellaire High graduate, Tolan was working the late shift at a local restaurant the night before he was shot. He also once played in baseball's minor leagues with the Washington Nationals organization, family members said.""

The Bellaire police better hope there's another side to this story, since what it sounds like is that an innocent black man was just shot in an almost-100% white neighborhood. Criminal assault, Section 1983 violations - anything else you can think of?

The only contact I've had with the Bellaire police was appearing in court for a ticket. There were maybe 70 people there; 2 of us were white: a teenage boy and me. Everyone else was black or Hispanic. But seriously, I wouldn't live in a neighborhood like this, even being white. I'd rather take my chances with HPD - they seem to know the difference between real crime and imaginary offenses. Living in the city itself, I'm much less likely to find one of the boys spread-eagled on the hood of his car in our driveway someday. That makes me feel a little better, I have to say.

The. Best. Chocolate. Shake. Ever.

This shake is uber-milky and wonderful; give it a try.

12 oz lowfat milk
2 scoops unflavored whey powder
1 1/2 T raw cacao powder
1-2 bananas, preferably broken in several pieces and frozen
1 tsp vanilla
a shake or 2 of cinnamon
big squeeze of agave nectar

Throw everything in the blender and blend until smooth. This will make 2 big, fluffy shakes.

Some extras to note:

*You can add ice if you want it Frosty-like
*Breaking up bananas into several pieces and throwing them in the freezer in a bag is the best way to deal with them when they are ripe and no one wants to eat them. They work great in any shake.

This shake is loaded with all kinds of goodness, especially a whopping dose of protein. It will keep you and your kids away from sweets and other nasty carbs for hours.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Michael Kelly on Happiness

Michael Kelly, who was one of my favorite writers of all time, once wrote this on happy families:

"Tolstoy wrote in Anna Karenina one of the great founding untruths of the intellectual age, 'Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.' This was exactly, entirely wrong. Happy families are all idiosyncratic, each with its own unduplicatable history, each with its own cherished oddities. Very nearly every unhappy family is very much alike, the same tedious, awful story of selfishness and dead love and the destruction wrought by the fall of one of another family member into the grip of one or another vice.

Reject Tolstoy and all his minions. Look around the table on Christmas night, or as you light the menorah, and regard your doddering parents and your annoying siblings and your dotty aunt and your insufferable uncle and your cousin the schnorrer and your nephew the nose-ringed, and rejoice in your magnificent wealth."


Catty-Corner v. Cater-Corner

Husband and I had a spat over this at dinner last night and, marvelously so, we were both right.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Fighting For Middle School

A NYT story on the application process public school kids go through for middle school in NYC. A gift from the city that can turn even public education into a rat race.

HT Instapundit and Ann Althouse.

Emmie Yelding: August 14, 1919 - November 26, 2008,

A number of famous people have passed away recently, and the papers are full of obituaries for Harold Pinter and Eartha Kitt, among others. But I like my Sunday obituaries quirky, and so I give you Emmie Yelding, circus performer and zoo owner.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Why I Don't Go to the Movies Anymore (warning: spoiler alert)

Because even if I went to what looks like a cute holiday movie, it would be ruined for me by its creators.

Why do they have to kill off the dog? What makes us want to go see that? How is my heart warm when I leave the theater with my sobbing children (who are soon to lose their own dog, thank you very much)? Why can't I go to a "family movie" and leave feeling good? Is that so hard for Hollywood? Apparently it is.

And I'm actually glad people are vandalizing these movie posters in LA. Yup. I am.

Temporary Repreive

Oscar is much better today, so we are holding off on calling the vet for now. Not permanent good news but a nice reprieve all the same. I'm glad to have my smelly puppy around for a little longer!

Two: On Exercise

Two (at the dinner table Christmas Eve): "Gaga, you should have never stopped exercising."

Gaga (my MIL): "You're right, little one. I need to start walking soon, at least."

Two: "No. It's too late for you. You're already floppy."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Bittersweet Christmas

This has been a wonderful Christmas. We started out yesterday at a beautiful church service, then went to MIL's for dinner and presents. This morning the boys slept in, and then we had fun opening presents and eating, eating all day long. MIL came back for dinner, and we feasted on filet, butternut squash soup, asparagus, and parmesan artichoke risotto. Oh, and chocolate mousse brownie cake for dessert. Friends came by on their walk mid-afternoon and carolled us, we stayed in pajamas all day, and the boys played with almost everything they'd been given (above is One's book swag). All in all it was a beautiful, peaceful Christmas.

Except for this:

My baby Oscar has had his last Christmas. In fact, he's had his last full day. The past week has been very bad for him - he's slipping away very quickly - and before he gets into pain and suffers more humiliation we're taking him to the vet. Tomorrow. I want him to go so badly -he needs to go -but I am so selfish in my pain. I want to have him forever. I can't bear the thought that next week when I come home from work he won't be in his "comfy place" close to the front door waiting for me.

I'll write something more about him tomorrow. Tonight I'm going to snuggle up with him as much as I can, whisper in his ear, and enjoy my puppy one last time.

Merry Christmas!

Blessings on the birthday of the King of Kings!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa's Favorite Cookies

These chocolate chip oatmeal cookies are taken from David Waltuck's Staff Meals cookbook; not only are they healthier, they are more interesting than plain old Toll House cookies. We'll be baking them today for Santa to eat tonight.

2 sticks of butter at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups old fashioned oats (not instant)
2 cups mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 and either butter baking sheets or use parchment paper.

Cream butter and sugars in stand mixer until fluffy. Add salt and baking soda and mix. Add eggs and mix. Add flour one cup at a time - mix more each time (and scrape down the bowl if needed). Add oats one cup at a time (ditto on the scraping). Add the chips, stirring carefully.

Bake 10-12 minutes and eat as soon as they are cool enough to not burn your mouth. Milk required. These always work for everyone in this house.

Another Gift Wrap Idea

I recently ordered some fabric gift bags and have been loving them. Not only are they "green" they look really great under the tree. Here's another option from The Container Store:

My boss found these and put our Chrismas presents in them: double-extra cool if you ask me. And what works for me? I can use it myself now!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

One Quotes

One: "Do you know what we heard today on the radio? The fastest talking woman in the world."

Me (in a foul mood): "Did she talk as fast as Grandmommy?"

One: "Oh yes, almost twice as fast."


Me: "Look! Look! My college roommate got married! Here's her Christmas card with her wedding picture!"

One: "You and she are the same age? 'Cuz she looks much younger."

Reasons Not to Believe in God

Amanda Witt linked to this great list of over 300 arguments why God does not exist.

My favorite:

1. Check out this video segment.
2. Now how can anyone watch that and believe in God?
3. Is the caller there?
4. Therefore, God doesn’t exist.

Can't you hear his voice now? Is the caller there? Brings back memories, so many memories ...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fall in Pictures

We're still having fall in Houston - check out Wordless Days to see some pictures of it.

Breakfast Bliss

Someday soon I'm going to break down entirely and buy this on my way to work:

I'm not saying I won't be sorry afterwards, but I'm going to do it anyway.

Did you notice where it says country gravy? Those words get me in a special place every time, y'all.

The Trip to the Mall

We had a happy trip to The Galleria last Friday; it wasn't too crowded and we didn't buy too much. What could be better?

Actually, what was better was that the boys beat the down escalator. I always wanted to do this and only ever received a firm "NO" when I tried it as a child. But no one was around on our way down to the second level basement parking lot, so the boys ran up the down escalator and won. Three cheers!


One of the joys of Christmas vacation in Houston.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Quote of the Day

Two: "I really love explosions."

Helping Hannah

Here is a request from the very-talented Chris Muir of Day by Day:

Click on the image to easily read the story, and please help Hannah have Christmas by sending her a card.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Worth Wearing Glasses For

We have our new HDTV set up, and tonight I started re-watching Band of Brothers on DVD. Even though they aren't Blue Ray discs, the picture quality is so remarkable, I'm even wearing my glasses in the house.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What I Don't Miss

Michele has a great post on what makes her miserable at Christmas, and it has me thinking about what I want to do at Christmas and what I definitely don't want to do anymore. No, I don't want to turn Christmas into "buy nothing" season; some presents are nice and, while the boys get a great kick out of emptying their banks for Living Water each year, they also get a lot out of something under the tree. But otherwise, there are a whole host of things I've culled out of my Christmas routine over the past few years, and I am so much more relaxed because of it. Here is my list:
  • Set up the tree - but let the boys decorate it themselves
  • Put up a few decorations - but leave the outside lights to the neighbors
  • Bake for Santa with the boys on Christmas Eve day - but not for the neighbors or teachers or co-workers or anyone else
  • Buy some presents for my immediate family - but skip most of the adults (by mutual agreement), and rein in my urge to buy the boys 14 things each
  • Work out a present limit ahead of time with grandparents and hold them to it
  • Spend as much time at church as possible during Advent
  • Attend only one Christmas party
  • Make room for an Advent Conspiracy contribution in my Christmas present budget
  • Take as many spontaneous opportunities to do "Christmas" things that the boys and Husband want to do - for example, It's a Wonderful Life was on last Saturday night and we let One stay up to watch it. I gave up getting up for early church and we slept in and went to 5:30 instead
  • Use cloth bags for lots of presents to avoid spending hours wrapping everything
  • Rest on Christmas Eve day as much as I can, to be ready for both 5pm church with the boys and 11pm church with my MIL (a special present to her - no one else will go with her)
  • I did send tons of Christmas cards this year, but I used labels, put together photos from the past year rather than spend an afternoon torturing the boys into posing for new pictures, and ordered the pre-printed cards. Not the most personal thing, I know, but to me the pictures mean the most so I focused on that
I think there's so many things you can cut out of Christmas. Not just shopping and spending money kinds of things, but the activities that wear you out and prevent you from focusing on the few things you like best. Have a better Christmas!

Blessings, y'all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


"Britain's prime minister announced Wednesday that his country's soldiers will leave Iraq by the end of May ... the end of the mission could be a political boon to Brown if he calls, as expected, a national election for June 4."

It's one thing to make a decision that will cost lives based on the highest principles; it's another thing altogether to make such a decision solely for personal, political gain.

Bragging about my Husband

A co-worker of mine reports that a mutual friend told her yesterday:

"That man knows more about Texas law than any attorney I've ever met."

It's why I married him. Honest.

New Christmas Carols

Michele has a list of new-fangled Christmas carols - here are some of my own:

What Child Is This? (and what is he doing in a barn - can somebody call CPS?)

Oh Come Oh Come Amorphous Being Who Might or Might Not Be With Us (depending on your view of things)

Decorate the House/Condo/Apartment

Arriving at 12AM Under Clear Skies

Once in a City Purportedly Belonging to a King (who as a child threw stones at others who were different than him)

I Saw Three Ships (and they all looked like The Rainbow Warrior, mommy!)

Here We Come Drinking Non-Alcoholic Beverages so as not to tempt those with substance abuse problems

Depression-filled Holiday Season

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ball and Chain

The work Blackberry is hooked up - I am officially chained to my job until further notice. Which, considering how slow things are, might be sooner than I think ...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cookies and Gin

I read this and spit Diet Coke on my computer screen. So pretty.

Thanks Michele.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

We're Getting Ready


There's something pretty cool about snow on bougainvillea and palm trees.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Oh My!

This is a variation on The Princess and the Pea; it's called The Lambchop and the Snowflake:

Chapter One: Snow sticks in the backyard.

Chapter Two: What is this white stuff, mommy?

Chapter Three: My toes are cold, mommy.

And oh! My arthritis!

The End.

The Great Blizzard of 2008

I know, all y'all back home can laugh and laugh and laugh. And when it's still snowing where you are at Easter and we're grilling out back in shorts, it will be my turn. But I'm calling this a blizzard - and it is, Houston-style.

Gathering snow from the palm trees to make snowballs:

A glimpse of the Christmas tree:

The precious snowball:

It's actually sticking to the neighbor's car!

We love snow.

Snow Flurries

Right this minute, outside my window.



Isn't it interesting that in this entire AP story on IL governor Rod Blagojevich, they never once mention his political affiliation? The writer points out several times the political identity of others in the story - good Democrats who are "shocked, shocked to find gambling going on in here", of course. But there's not one reference to the fact that Blagojevich is a Democrat too, not anywhere in the close to 1,000 word article.

Anyone have an explanation for this puzzling circumstance?


We might get snow flurries this evening!

If we do I'll have pictures.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


One of Husband's outside counsel went over the top today and sent us 2 of these sweet, wonderful friends for Christmas:

I'd like to tell you I took a picture of them when they were all cooked and ready to eat, but I had scissors in one hand and a fork in the other: no room for camera - sorry!

Friday, December 5, 2008

My Real Christmas List

Melanie has a list of what she really wants for Christmas - I like the idea so I'm stealing it. We'll try 12, for the 12 days of Christmas of course.

More than anything else, I want:

1. to wake up and find that the slight beginnings of my double chin have disappeared

2. aspartame not to be poisonous

3. every variety of CSI/Law and Order/etc to disappear from my TV forever

4. a large, fashionable Spring wardrobe to appear in my closet, because from where I sit right now, ain't nothing going to fit come March

5. my five year old to decide veggies and fruit taste like chocolate

6. a phone that isn't full of static

7. clients with brains (this is a new wish - never had clients quite this dumb before)

8. my odometer to stop working so I won't be over my lease mileage in 18 months

9. self-washing dogs

10. the ability to go back in time and kill the person who would later invent reality TV

11. leg-shaving to become riotiously unfashionable


12. the ability to give Husband his true Christmas wishes - all 12 of them

Choppy Choppy Bang Bang

That is Husband's new nickname for Two - can you tell why?

He wouldn't let me take a picure of his bangs while her was awake, so I waited until he fell asleep.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Lunchtime Singer

One and his friends got into a music discussion yesterday at lunch, and he took it on the chin for some of his choices. In particular, he announced that he liked Amazing Grace, and proceeded to belt out the first verse. Twice. Thank goodness they eat outside. He sang to hoots of derision, but he sang all the same, and hadn’t changed his opinion by the evening. He told me his friends liked “modern rock” and he didn’t know what that was and wasn’t sure he liked it. I gave him some examples and he realized he did have something in common with them, even given their hatred of Amazing Grace. So he’s off to school today to announce that he didn’t realize they meant Green Day, No Doubt, Good Charlotte and Everclear, because he likes them too. But he wanted to add he also likes The Lads, Van Morrison and Bob Marley, and he’s not going to give up liking Amazing Grace any time soon.

I’m so proud of my dorky child who sticks to his guns! And to him, Amazing Grace isn’t a stuffy hymn – it’s something that Robbie sings most Sundays these days, and if Robbie sings it, it’s on One’s list. Then again, Robbie could stand on his head and sing The Chipmunk’s Christmas Song and One would be all over it. Seriously though, my son thinks of music as an act of worship as well as something enjoyable and fun: how can I not be proud of that!?

How Do You Feel Today?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

That Little Acronym

One has been visiting with a therapist for a few weeks now, mainly about his occasional inability to control his reaction when angry or hurt. There have been a few typical-boy incidents at school and the teachers suggested he spend some time with a therapist - and we readily agreed. In fact, two years ago he spent some time with the same therapist working on some basic anger management skills and it helped a lot. So we're back and we're pleased so far.

But today, today - the therapist said those magic letters to mom. Yup. A ... D ... H ... D. I flew at least a foot in the air in surprise. And then he followed up with that magical word ... medication. Once again launching mom into space for a brief moment.

Okay, what he really said was that, on the subject of impulse control, One was somewhere between normal and a diagnosis of ADHD. The doctor couldn't say how close he was to either end of that spectrum until he worked with One some more and we saw (or didn't see) some behavior modification. He then said if there wasn't modification then medication could likely help. So no, he didn't announce off the bat that my kid needed drugs, and therefore I did not slap him and stomp out of his office. Sorry to deprive you of a good story.

Seriously though, I was so completely floored with the idea that my almost-always-under-control eight year old boy might (in someone's opinion) need drugs. He's eight. He acts like an eight year old boy. He reads for hours on end. He always finishes his school work in time to go outside for recess. He never forgets to brush his teeth, take his vitamins, pick up his room at bedtime - he just doesn't. And yes, he gets maaaaaad sometimes. And he kicks mulch and stamps on a foot now and again. Once he even lost control of himself so completely he stuck a friend in the tummy with a ruler. Not maliciously, just a little bit over the edge in some complicated sword-fighting game (in class when he'd been told to put the ruler away, okay?) This is borderline ADHD? This is possible medication territory? This is non-remediable behavior?

Did I mention that he's eight years old? E-I-G-H-T. Onetwothreefourfivesixseveneight. As in: he learned to walk somewhere right around the Bush inaguration. 8.

I am proud to say that I have not melted down over this one. I called a wonderful neighbor when we got home, a psychologist who decided that home schooling her delightful boys was more interesting than therapy, and who is a great resource on all things psychological and educational. We had a wonderful 45 minute visit (bless you Mary Ann!) and worked out some strategies that Husband and I can work on some more and perhaps take to One's therapist and the school as well. The goal is, of course, to help One meet this challenge and overcome it, and for him to grow older and wiser in the process. So instead of the shock and awe I felt coming out of the therapist's office, I now feel peaceful, positive and dedicated to helping my child work this out.

If You're in Houston this Saturday ...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I Forgot to Mention

The boys and I lit the first Advent candle at church this Sunday night. So cool to be asked! The best part? When One took a look at the crowd in front of him and pulled his hoodie up over his head. Yup - that was the best part, hands down. :)


I went to the dentist today and had my very first cavity filled. The dentist did a great job and it barely hurt at all. At the time. And now?

I wonder if there's some Tylenol 3 in the medicine cupboard ...


The Mumbai Muslim cemeteries are refusing to bury the terrorists who attacked the city.

Monday, December 1, 2008

To My Boss

Dear Boss,
If I'm late for work this morning, it's because, when I got out of the shower, this was in my bed. And it called to me and told me I hadn't had enough sleep. And I believed it. I'm sorry.