Thursday, March 28, 2013

Off the Beaten Path

There is a sinewy little boy I know, clad today in denim shorts,  a very dressy suit vest, a fancy cowboy hat, tough-looking work gloves, his red-topped cowboy boots and a bright turquoise Tow Mater t-shirt that reads, "Ah, Dang!" He also has a serious-looking weapon shoved in his front pocket and a Color Run tattoo on his left cheek. He is the very picture of perfection!


After lunch, I asked him to go up to the street and bring the garbage cans back to the house. He enthusiastically embraced his mission, as I watched from the garage. He rocketed up the driveway but suddenly veered off into the "wilderness." That's when my heart skipped a beat, and I was reminded again how much I love this little life--full of passion, lacking fear and always running off the beaten path. I have much to learn from him, and I'm thankful for an opportunity to study under such a master.



Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Office Space

When I renewed my contract to continue to be the director for our local CC campus, I decided to make myself seem a bit more official. So, I recently had professional head shots taken. 


And got some legit business cards. 


I don my business attire and straighten my hair on Tuesdays, so I even look the part. I love my job, and I work hard to make our programs successful. But there is one little piece of the puzzle that doesn't quite fit, and that's my office space. Our original house plans called for "his and her" offices. Private offices, unaccessible to children. But through numerous conversations and tweaking for budget and space and what-have-you, we decided it just made more sense to have just a "his" office and set up an office space for me in the homeschool area, so that I could do computer/paper work and still do my main job, which is to mother and teach our children. At the time I did not have my current paying job, and, of course, Jeff said I could use his office anytime I needed a private space. That's all well and good until I need the private space at the same time he needs the private space. It gets a little distracting (and not-so-private) when we are both crammed in there, trying to have separate phone conversations. But, because I have ADD under certain circumstances and because my children are loud enough to wake the dead (especially when I am on the phone), sometimes it is necessary for me to find a quiet place to conduct my business, especially phone calls. So, I have procured an alternative office space: The passenger seat of my van, which is parked in the now-clean garage. 


It is the very picture of glamour and professionalism. But, hey, it's quiet and climate controlled, and I can lock the doors to keep the bloodhound children out when they ultimately track me down. (Because everyone knows that a child couldn't care less if he even has a mother, until the moment a phone touches her ear, in which case he NEEDS her immediately and will use every trick in his arsenal to get her attention and make her look like a fool in front of whoever she happens to be talking to).

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Blood, Sweat and Tears

We ran the Houston Color Run this morning. It was our very first 5K, and the whole family participated, including Mimi and Grandpa. Despite it being touted as "the happiest 5K on the planet," we had a fair amount of crying from several members of our group. We also had one injury that  ultimately eliminated three contestants. So, that's where the blood and tears came in. And, even though it was a little chilly for me to work up a good sweat, I do believe there were members of our team sweating. Clearly, it was a very colorful race, even in spite of the various splashes of color along the way.

Team ¡Colorifico! before the race

Watts at the starting line

Weston getting his color on


Feeling a little blue

The poster child for the Color Run

Race finishers

Recovered from his injuries and happy again

Clay got as much color from lunch as his brief time in the race

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Living in the Arctic

The weather here in central Texas has been amazing the last couple of weeks. It's been warm and sunny outside, like any perfect spring should be. But inside the energy-effecient, concrete-floored, open-windowed house, it has been like the Arctic. I wake up in the morning shivering. I have a brief reprieve in my scalding shower. And then, I just keep adding layers and drinking coffee and closing windows all day long, while never really dispelling the bone-deep chill. Now, I will admit to being extremely cold-natured, but I have also seen my always uncomfortably warm hubby put on the occasional extra layer, as well, which is how I know I'm not just making this up. He told me today I could turn on the heater, but that just seems wrong when it's close to 80 degrees outside (and when the thermostat says it's 70 inside the house)! I know those of you who live in places where it truly gets cold must just be shaking your heads at how ridiculous this all sounds. I absolutely don't know how you manage to survive. You have my complete respect. I could not do it. I would not even want to try. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go get cuddled up under a pile of blankets before I freeze to death.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bye-Bye Bridgey

We left our house at 6:20 this morning, so we could make it across the bridge before they closed it to through traffic. We then picked up doughnuts and made our way to the park, with the rest of the population of Burnet County, to watch the spectacle. Around 8:00, they lit the fuse, and down she went. It was so fun to be part of this historic event!
Waiting for the action

Before

After
video

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Spring Break

We did not take the week off from school and work, since we are planning to vacation during most of May and want to have have things wrapped up before that time. But we did have a break from most of our extracurricular activities, and we managed to work in some out-of-the-ordinary fun. Here's a run-down:

  • Two lunch outings
  • One dinner outing
  • A viewing of the Pan-STARRS comet
  • Disney vacation planning
  • Delivery of a beautiful bouquet of tulips to me from my Sweetie
  • The singing zoologist concert
  • Donating no-longer-needed/wanted items from a closet cleaning project
  • Pi Day
  • Mom's Night Out
  • Time with grandparents
  • Several games of Checkers
  • A story written for and about Max by his new favorite author: me
  • Siting on the porch, enjoying the beautiful spring weather
  • A much-needed pedicure
  • Hanging out at Starbucks with friends
  • Girls-only shopping trip
  • Some driveway baseball
  • A few games of War
  • Windows open
  • Video viewing 
And, tomorrow morning, we get to watch the implosion of the 281 Bridge in Marble Falls! What a great week! 


Friday, March 15, 2013

¿En Fuego?

At 1:15 am, the smoke alarms in our house went off. Because these kinds of things never happen at reasonable hours of the day, like 8:00 am. Jeff and I sat bolt upright, and Jeff promptly got out of bed and made his way to the bedroom door, ready to fight fire. I, on the other hand, just sat there. Because, I had no arms.

In the few seconds it took me to clear the sleepy fog from my head, I realized that I did, in fact, have arms, but they were both asleep. Fortunately, that little disability cleared up quickly, and I was able to join Jeff in the kitchen to assess the situation. He already had every light on and was inspecting the various cooking implements. There was no smell of smoke, but we were pretty unsettled, so we began a room-by-room search of the house, including the attics, and we even took our pajamaed selves outside to inspect. Just as we were about to declare the whole thing a mechanical malfunction, the alarms went off again. So, we searched again. When we still didn't turn up any smoke or fire, we began frantically looking for the owner's manual and searching online to see if we could determine, by the secret code of flashing or non-flashing lights, which smoke detector was impaired. It was another fruitless search. After a few more brief bursts of noise, the alarms finally fell silent, and we decided to call it a night. Sadly, all of our children died in this fire drill. Not one of them roused their sleepy little heads. Which is great, since it turned out to be a false alarm. But, seriously, not one of them managed to even groggily ask what was going on, which was maybe more unsettling than the thought of a fire in the first place. Today, there will be a mass changing of the smoke detector batteries, if anyone is looking for a good time.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I want some bugs, bugs, bugs in my chimichanga...but not in my pie

A couple of years ago, we saw Lucas Miller in concert, and my kids literally wore his CD out. He is, by far, our favorite singing zoologist, so when we heard that he was going to be putting on a performance at our local library today, we couldn't wait! He sings about nature and animals and is VERY entertaining...for kids and parents alike! You can check out his "chimichanga" song (from which the title of this post comes) here. If you like it, you can find several other of his songs on YouTube, as well.

Waiting for the show to begin

Doing a little pig jig
 And, in case you didn't know, today was also Pi Day! This is probably one of our family's favorite holidays, because, I mean, it's pretty much all about pie! (And, Math. But, mostly pie!) This year, Jeff's parents hosted a Pi Day party, and my mother-in-law made Shepherd's Pie for dinner and four different sweet varieties for dessert! Days just don't get much better than this!

Shepherd's Pie and weird backlighting

Now that's something to celebrate!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Happiest Place On Earth

Before I get down to business here, did you notice the new blog title and the new tabs at the top? I was really tired of the extremely boring blog title I picked many moons ago, when I started this blog and didn't know a thing about what I was doing. I've been wanting to change it forever but just never got around to it until today. This one seems to more accurately reflect what's going on here, plus it is taken, in part, from a great quote of Deepak Chopra: "All great changes are preceded by chaos." Don't worry, the URL isn't changing, just the title. I'll still be here, where I've always been, reporting on the Watts Life. 

And now, for the insanity you came here for, and I'm not just using that word loosely. It seems that Jeff and I have officially lost the very last shreds of our minds by booking a family vacation to Disney World at the end of May. Neither of us have ever been much for amusement parks (or lines or crowds or wrangling kids through all that), and we have always vowed that Disney was one we didn't want to touch with a ten-foot pole. But, as we started talking to the kids about what family vacation they would like to take this summer, we got a unanimous vote (from those who can clearly express their thoughts in English) for Disney World. A unanimous vote! In our house, that is some kind of miracle. We have all manner of built-in coping strategies for who gets to pick what, and when (like whoever uses the broken headphones in the van gets to pick the movie), because these people cannot agree on anything most of the time. They all want to watch a different movie, go to a different restaurant, get different cereals at the grocery store, etc, etc. But, it was a unanimous vote for Disney World, so what could we do?! We were powerless to refuse them and thereby wreck the miracle. So, come May, you can find us at the Happiest Place on Earth, and after that, you might want to try the Loony Bin.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Real Boy Mom

When Jeff came out of his office this evening, he proclaimed that I finally seemed like a "real boy mom." It was hard to know whether he was referring to the pile of books under my feet, which had recently been swept off the bookshelf, or the smear of someone else's lunch on my sweater, or the makeshift baby gate I made out of painter's tape. He must have seen the puzzlement on my face, because he felt the need to further enlighten me. He said he knew I was finally a real boy mom by the 5 gallon stock pot bubbling on the stove with our dinner, that I had to stand on a stool to reach into to stir.

And here I feel I need to give some background information. Jeff grew up in a home with big guys, who were big eaters. I did not. Jeff's mom would make one pan of meatloaf per male inhabitant, and those would be eaten for afternoon snacks while the boys were asking what was for dinner. One (smaller) pan of meatloaf would last several meals at our house. So, when Jeff and I got married, he thought I was kidding around when I would make enough for the two of us for one meal. He wanted to know where all the food had gone, and I didn't understand what on earth he was talking about. He has been teasing me about my small servings for almost fifteen years. But, as I watch my seven-year-old go back for seconds and thirds at almost every meal, and clean up everybody else's leftovers, I am beginning to finally understand. Doubling recipes is essential. Tripling them is even better. 20-quart stock pots are not novelties. And trips to Sam's are not optional. I am finally starting to become a real boy mom.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Trying to find my voice

With the new slate of the new year, I had grand ideas about what I would accomplish or attempt to accomplish. One of the things that was burning in my heart was a desire to write. I wanted to write more consistently on this blog. I wanted to write in pen and ink on paper. I wanted to write something meaningful. Or funny. Or useful. Or beautiful. I had even hoped that there might be something publishable that I could pull out of the fleeting words floating around in my addled head. I have heard that many people give up on their New Year's resolutions by March. And, though I don't want to give up, I just feel like I haven't quite found my voice. I'm intimidated by the many truly beautiful and wonderful words I read in books and other people's blogs. And, when I do try to write, I just feel like I completely lack focus, and my words come out stilted, like I'm trying too hard. My mind, like my house, is not a shrine to tidiness. The words are in there, but they are hard to find under all the clutter. They are harder yet to express when I do find them. And, sometimes it makes me tired even to try. So, I don't. But, I don't want to give up, which is why I'm writing this post. It is purely an act of will right now to sit and put words together into sentences. But, usually, before something can come easily and be done for pleasure, it has to come by force. I am redoubling my resolve to write, even if it I must make myself do it for now. I hope that in so doing, I will find my voice and it will speak for itself.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Inflatable Wonderland

We are so thankful to finally have an indoor play place close by! This was the perfect thing for three energetic boys on a cloudy, drizzly day! (Our girlie wasn't with us, but she would have loved it, too!)




 

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Dino Park

We had a fun field trip with our CC group to the Dino Park near Austin today. The weather was gorgeous, and the kids (and their chaperones) had a blast! My kids are already asking when we can go back.
T-Rex satisfying his sweet tooth

Ruth with the baby longneck. She is standing on Mom's footprint. 
The gentle giants

Striking a pose with Stegosaurus

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Smarties

Ruth and Weston competed in the District PSIA meet today. This was Weston's first meet, and he competed in Creative Writing and Storytelling. He didn't place in Creative Writing, but he got very wonderful feedback on his story. The Storytelling competition consisted of prelims and finals. Weston won 1st place in the prelims, to advance to the finals, where he won 2nd!

Ruth competed in five events: Ready Writing, Spelling, Vocabulary, Mathematics and Listening Skills. These last three were brand new events for her. She walked away with 5th place in Math, 4th place in Listening, 3rd place in Writing and 1st place in both Spelling and Vocabulary, which will allow her to attend the State meet in May in Ft. Worth!

We are so incredibly proud of these kiddos!