Monday, August 30, 2010

Moving Day

Today was moving day. No, we haven't sold our house in Kingwood. But, we were anxious to step into this new phase of our life, and we wanted to be involved with the local CC group from the beginning. And, my in-laws graciously offered us the use of their currently unoccupied house. We spent almost the entire weekend packing up all the last-minute stuff (of which, there was quite a lot) and loading it in the two vehicles. Then, we hired a cleaning company to come in today (after the boys and I left!), so we could leave the house sparkling. It was a long day of loading and driving and unloading (with a doctor's appointment, some crazy hard rain and a visit with a good friend thrown in there, too!), but we made it, and we're glad to be here. Now, excuse us while we hit the hay.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Anniversary Adventure

Jeff and I had our 12th anniversary last Sunday. But, I had a meeting, and we were traveling back from Lake Buchanan, so we really didn't celebrate then. (Because I DO NOT count eating a cold chicken sandwich from Dairy Queen, in the truck, hours after Jeff and the kids ate there, a celebration). So, we celebrated last night. It was my year to plan our outing, so I picked some place really special: Churrasco's. This is the place Jeff and I ate on the night we got engaged!

So, the sitter arrived and Jeff and I headed downtown. We ran into a traffic situation, but we were still able to arrive at the restaurant in time for our reservation. We sat in a cozy little booth and enjoyed an appetizer and some lovely conversation. Then, our main courses arrived, and I had just taken about three bites, when I noticed some movement over my right shoulder. Turning my head to get a better look, I found a two-inch long water bug running very quickly along the back of the booth straight toward me! Now these bugs (along with their evil cockroach relatives) are absolutely the thing that make me cringe the most. I. Can. Not. Stand. Them. I hopped up out of my seat like greased lightening and all but ran right out the front door of the restaurant, fighting the urge to surrender my appetizer to my napkin. Meanwhile, Jeff calls the waiter over to have him "take care of the situation."  He is appropriately mortified, and deals with the bug. Eventually, I re-enter the restaurant, but cannot sit in my spot and can barely choke down my dinner. Shortly thereafter, the manager appeared, apologizing profusely and offering to comp our meal. We left without dessert and will not likely ever return.

So, feeling that our date had been cut a little short, we headed over to Central Market for dessert. We purchased goodies from the bakery and then went over to the little coffee bar to round out the treat. I like coffee more than I used to, but it's pretty rare that I order it out. It's usually too strong for me. Plus, I really like Chai lattes, so I usually order one of those, which I did last night. When the drinks were ready, we found a table and began another lovely conversation about our new house. I took a big sip of my Chai and could hardly keep from spitting it out. It tasted just like coffee! Jeff tasted it, too, and agreed. So, he took it back, thinking the guy had only heard the "latte" part of the order, but was quickly assured that "all the Chai lattes come with a shot of espresso." So, Jeff ordered again: "A chai latte, without the espresso." This one came out a little less than lukewarm. By then, we were just tired of messing with it, so I drank it as it was, and we called it a night.

But despite all the craziness, we still had a wonderful anniversary! I'm so thankful that I get to be married to my very best friend, and I love how the years just keep getting more fun! We are filing this date night in our "adventure" file and will be laughing about it for years, no doubt--once I stop having nightmares about that bug!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Bedtime Story

Our house. Friday night.

Mom and Dad put kids to bed, and Mom heads to the store for milk. Mom returns, and the minute she walks in the door, she hears Kid #2 (who is, ironically, out of bed) yelling, "Mom, Max is out of his bed!" Mom runs upstairs to put everyone back where they belong and finds Kid #3 sitting on the landing in his flotation suit. Mom stifles a smile, herds the wee one back to his bed and tells him he needs to take the suit off. Kid #3 starts crying and begging to wear the suit to bed. Mom throws up her hands and says, "Fine." (She has learned to pick her battles and this one just isn't worth it).

Mom and Dad sit down to watch a movie and shortly hear all manner of thumping and bumping coming from upstairs. Dad takes a turn and comes back reporting that it was the boys wrestling on the floor--Kid #3 still wearing his suit.

A few minutes later, there is more unauthorized noise upstairs, and Mom goes up to find Kid #3 lying on the landing, kicking the stair rails, without his suit on.

Finally, everyone is back in bed and, eventually, sleeping soundly.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

She writes like a champion


Sometimes I dream of cheetahs
Galloping after a gazelle.
I also dream that I'm riding a horse
Fast across the sand.
There are even times when dreams are scary,
And I wish they would leave me alone.
Sometimes dreams rock like a baby's cradle,
And that makes me happy.
Sometimes, my dreams are lonely or sad. 
There are times when dreams remind me of trees or giraffes
That are so, so high.
Sometimes, they remind me of the beach, 
With rolling waves, soft sand, pleasant sun and seagulls soaring overhead.
I don't know what dreams are to you, 
But I hope they make you happy.

Ruth's assignment for Writing Class today was to brainstorm words and phrases that come to mind upon hearing the word "dream," and then to write a poem using some items off her list. She wrote the above poem, which I think is beautiful. But, since we haven't worked much on the pre-writing process, and because she is my daughter, she actually used the brainstorming time to write another poem, which is at least as good as the final draft (in the humble opinion of the mom/writing teacher). It's no wonder the girl has the state champion title for creative writing!

Dreams (Pre-Writing Exercise)

Sometimes, dreams remind me of cheetahs,
Other times turtles.
On other occasions, they remind me of giraffes,
Looming up, up, up.
Sometimes, they're black, blue, green, even red!
There are times when they rock. 
There are days when they are happy, sad, lonely or mad.
Sometimes, I wish dreams would leave me alone. 
There are times when I dream that I am riding a horse,
Fast as the wind.
Sometimes they are scary.
They remind me of the beach.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dear Potential Home Buyer (whoever you may be):

I really want my house to be nice for you. I want you to walk in and be completely wowed. And, goodness knows, I am trying to make it so. But the thing is, the small people who currently live in this house have made it their mission to destroy this place bit by bit--and to chip away at my sanity while they are at it. From the moment we put the sign in the yard, it seems they have ramped up their destructive forces, and I'm afraid that I will be overwhelmed by them completely in the very near future. I'm not really sure how many surfaces remain to be colored upon or how much elbow grease I have left. But, I believe you can save this house from total destruction. You can give it new life--or if you have small people of your own, perhaps step into the demolition zone without flinching. So, if you could just hurry up your decision-making process a little and buy this house, that'd be great. Also, we will become very serious about building a new house before too long, and it would be nice to hand this one off to you before that time. All that to say, we are ready when you are, and the sooner the better!

Most Sincerely,
Mandi Watts

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Can I call you back in about 16 years?

I cannot even begin to tell you how many hours I spent talking on the phone when I was in high school. And don't even get me started on my home-sick, long-distance-relationship college years. All I know is that it was a lot, and it was fun.

These days it is anything but pleasurable. If I have to talk on the phone, I sort of seize up on the inside, knowing that a whole other level of chaos will ensue around me. (And that's saying something)! I have not found the magic button on the phone (or I would certainly disable it!) that magnetically pulls my children to me as soon as the phone touches my ear, but I know it exists. And I know that every phone has one. The kids can be playing happily in the furthest reaches of the house or even outside--unaware of my very existence--and they will come running (and screaming!) the moment I put the phone to my ear. It happens, without fail. Every. Single. Time. When I'm on the phone, all manor of emergencies break out, food is stolen from the pantry, a million messes are made, there is bleeding and crying and top-of-the-lungs talking, and people needing me NOW!--all taking place, literally, under my feet. And I cannot escape it. These kids are pros, and they will hunt me down, with all their chaos, if I try to hide in my closet or out on the back porch. And this is why I am certain that anyone I have talked to on the phone in the last eight years thinks I am a complete idiot. I cannot form words or coherent sentences. I cannot ask questions, and I certainly can't answer them. All I can think is that I need this phone conversation to end, so I can kill corral the children. But the minute I hang up, the questions start: "Who was that?" "What did she want?" "Why were you talking to him?" Etc. Etc. And then, they all disappear again, back to the happy place they were before I picked up the phone.

So, if you are wondering why I don't call more often (or at all!) or why I haven't returned your call, you now have your answer.  It's not because I don't love you or because I don't value our relationship; it's just that my sanity is precious, and I can't afford to whittle it away with frivolous phone calls. But, I promise, I do want to talk to you and I will get back to you...probably in about 16 years. In the meantime, send me an e-mail or an FB message or comment on my blog. The chaos can't touch cyberspace...yet.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Weston Scissor Hands

Dear Weston,

You made it through this day alive, and so you have much to be thankful for. For some reason, which I cannot begin to comprehend, you have become obsessed with cutting things. Last week, you got up from your "nap" with huge holes in your shorts and shirt. We had a serious talk about cutting at that time, and discipline followed, but you cannot seem to stop yourself. And, I'll be honest with you, today almost put me over the edge.  In a quiet moment, you found a stray pair of scissors (which I admit, I left out while packing boxes, though even when I think all scissors are accounted for and in a safe place, you still manage to find them) and went to work. You cut your shorts, your hair, the basketball net, a library book, one of Ruth's socks, one of Max's socks, a handmade baby blanket Ruth uses for her dolls, a cardboard block, a beaded necklace, and I'm not even sure what else. In a way, it's sort of impressive that you can bring so much destruction using kid scissors that will hardly cut a piece of paper. I don't think you truly mean to be destructive. I think you just want to know what happens if you cut this...and this, and this. So, I'll explain it to you: things get holey! And it drives your poor mom crazy! So, could you please STOP IT?! Thanks.

I love you no matter what,

Monday, August 16, 2010

3rd and K

Today was the first day of school for Watts Homeschool, and we were all super-excited! This is our first year to have two different grades. Our veteran is starting 3rd grade and will be studying the following subjects: Math, Spelling, Writing, History (Early Modern Times), Science (Chemistry), Latin, Grammar, and Music (Piano).
History reading
Science Experiment
Our newcomer is starting Kindergarten and will have only Math, Writing and Reading on his schedule, with an art class thrown in from time to time just for fun.
Working on "A"
Reading is fun!
We are so looking forward to this school year and hope you will stick around for our journey.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"Orange" You Glad

Our (extended) family is in charge of one of the cook sheds at the camp we go to every year in the Davis Mountains. And, every year we divide up the food that's left over and bring it home. Even divided up, it's an obscene amount of food, so then we have to figure out what to do with all of it. It's like having Iron Chef's "secret ingredient" (or in this case, several secret ingredients). Some of the large quantity items we brought home this year included two 5 lb. containers of cottage cheese, one 5 lb. container of sour cream, more than 2 dozen biscuits, almost two dozen oranges, 3 large watermelons, maybe 20 cantaloupes, 10 lbs. of carrots, 4 lbs. of celery, a half gallon of ranch dressing, around 40 lemons, a dozen or more apples, about 60 limes, at least 25 lbs. of onions and a roast that looks more like a side of beef. Earlier in the week, I dove into the cottage cheese and came out with a Jell-o salad and a lasagna. Jeff has also been eating it every day for breakfast, so now we are down to just one container. I also used some of the apples in my Chai Apple Cake, though there are still half a dozen left. Today's secret ingredient was oranges. So far, I have made Chocolate-Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies, Orange Ginger Carrot Soup, Orange Honey Muffins, and Mexican Orange Thins. I think there is just enough zest and juice left for one more dish. It might be an Orange Pound Cake, but I really haven't decided yet. I might want to go the savory route instead. My freezer is full of the baked goods, and the soup is on the menu for dinner. If you like orange-flavored things, you should plan to stop by sometime. If you prefer some of the other citrus fruits, you may want to check back in a few days.

Friday, August 13, 2010

What a Week

  • Visited the land we hope to buy in Marble Falls to see where a house would go
  • Arrived home from an almost two-week vacation
  • Did gobs and gobs of laundry (I actually just oversaw this work, as it is Ruth's job)
  • Took Weston to the dentist to have his "appliance" installed
  • Wrestled with an icky head cold
  • Watched the middle child prance around in winter clothes in the 100+ degree Houston heat
  • Finalized the school schedule
  • Bought school supplies
  • Ordered CC materials
  • Visited the library--for story time and school books
  • Organized the homeschool room
  • Celebrated a birthday at The Downtown Aquarium
  • Scrubbed orange crayon off the walls and carpet at the top of the stairs
  • Made homemade lasagna
  • Explained to the 4-year-old why it's a bad idea to cut huge holes in the clothes you are wearing (or ANY clothes) with scissors
  • Double-paid the car payment (accidentally)
  • Worked on some rough draft house plans (Jeff did all the drawing and calculating, I just added my two cents every once in a while)
  • Signed a contract for the land, which we plan to close on before the end of September
  • Researched flooring and appliance options
  • Observed the youngest child learn a powerful lesson about how spicy cinnamon can be when poured with gusto directly from the jar into the mouth
  • Searched for recipes that will best use up all the food we brought back from Campmeeting
  • Experimented with a chai apple cake
  • Found our youngest child running around COMPLETELY naked, covered in *stuff* after attempting to change his own diaper, and of course, not even trying to go to the potty
  • Facilitated a treasure box decorating session
  • More-or-less finished an essay for a magazine contest

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

It's my birthday! I'm 33. I have received e-mails and FB messages and snail mail and phone calls and drawings and plastic necklaces and a night out to remind me how very loved and blessed I am. I'm so very thankful for the special people in my life and for another year on this earth. I will admit that between my last birthday and this one I haven't always been the best me I can be. Sometimes I have been the worst one. I have experienced grief, anger, frustration, confusion, jealousy, stubbornness, and low self-esteem--and not always gracefully. But I have also cried tears of joy, laughed until my sides hurt, let go of hard feelings, loved and been loved in ways I didn't know were possible, tried new things, made new friends, and been proud of those I love and of myself. And I wouldn't trade a minute of it--good or bad--for each experience has been a shaping one. And I rather like what I'm turning into! 

Thanks, everyone, for all the birthday wishes! You have all made me feel super-special!