Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Break

We were a week late to the Spring Break game, but we definitely made the most of it when it got here. I dropped the kids off with my MIL on Wednesday morning, and she and my FIL took them out to the Davis Mountains for a few days of fun, mountain air and mud puddles. Jeff was working in Houston, so I was truly on my own. So, after dropping the kids off, I headed to Belton to visit a friend I've had for twenty years. You heard me right; I said 20 years. Is that crazy or what?! It was a wonderful visit, and such a bonus to get to see, not only her, but her lovely family, too! Afterward, I invited my mom to share in a big Sam's trip, so I would have company and another set of hands for pushing the other shopping cart! Then, I had dinner with my parents before heading home to a very silent house. I can't remember the last time just the three of us had dinner together. It was nice.

 I had to work on Thursday at CC. I was filling in for the director, who was out of town, in addition to tutoring my regular class and facilitating the afternoon program for the little kids. It was a busy day, but still very enjoyable (and a little odd, since I didn't have my own crew to keep up with). I just love being a part of that community! My mom had planned to sleep over on Thursday night, so she was waiting for me when I got home. After a little chit-chat and a couple of glasses of wine, we headed in to Marble Falls for pedicures, followed by dinner at a fun little wine shop/bistro Jeff and I had recently discovered on a date night. The dinner was wonderful, and the company was delightful!

We slept in on Friday morning, had some coffee and then headed in to town for breakfast at the French bakery, one of the Watts family's new favorite places. The atmosphere is fun, and the food is absolutely to die for! With our bellies full, we decided to get down to the serious business of shopping. There are quite a lot of cute local shops and boutiques, and Mom and I had so much fun poking around in all of them. The find of the day may have been the western-style, zebra-striped matching rain boots, at 70% off, that we bought for Ruth and me. I think we had gotten our money's worth out of them before we ever even got out of the store! We finally took a break mid-afternoon for some lunch at a wonderful, local deli. After lunch, we drove over to Johnson City, where we popped into one cute little store, drove by LBJ's birthplace a couple of times, and visited the dollar store, before heading back to the house, so Mom could get her things together and be on her way home. It's been a really long time since just my mom and I had so many uninterrupted hours together, and we had a blast! Shortly after Mom left, I threw together a couple of appetizer plates, and joined some of the neighbors for Friday Fun Night--a weekly neighborhood gathering out in the street. We hadn't made it to one of these events in a while, and it was nice to get to catch up with some of the neighbors and enjoy the incredible weather.

I spent almost the whole of Saturday in a classroom, doing a training class for CC. And when I was finished, I was pooped. So, I came straight home, warmed up some leftovers, and watched The Blind Side. That movie is so good. Every. Time.

Sunday was an absolutely gorgeous day, and I wasn't interested in wasting it indoors, waiting to be reunited with my family. So, I took myself over to Wildseed Farms in Fredricksburg, where I listened to live music, enjoyed peach ice cream, bought some herbs, and took no less than 200 pictures of the amazing flowers. It was a heavenly day! And by the time I got home, in the middle of the afternoon, I only had to wait about 30 minutes for my peeps to walk through the door. There were hugs and smiles and stories all around. I loved my little vacation, and they loved theirs, but it was so very good to all be back together again!

(poppy field at Wildseed Farms)

...and the beasts!
(the big boys, after a mud bath)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Spring!

~from our family to yours~

Monday, March 19, 2012


I am usually a super-stong, do-it-yourselfer, who does not cower in the corner or ever ask for help. But there are two things that turn my spine into jello. Every. Single. Time. They are cockroaches and tornados. (Actually, even just the threat of either one). The cockroach business we'll save for another therapy session. But, tonight, with a tornado warning flashing at me in another tab, we'll address this particular issue of mine.

As a young child, I lived in a small town in northwest Texas, that hosted a fair amount of tornados over the years. Many homes had basements or cellars, but ours did not. So, we would gather at the homes of friends and neighbors whenever The Threat was issued, day or night. With all the excitement in the air and the crowd of familiar faces, I might have thought these gatherings were parties, but for the adults' grim faces and grave examining of the dark sky. More than once, I caught a glimpse myself of the ominous clouds, producing their funnels in the distance. Though it was terrifying, it was also a bit exhilarating. I instinctively respected these storms and knew they contained a power that could not possibly come from man.

In the Spring of 1991, at the end of one of my eighth-grade school days, as I waited for my mom to finish the after-school responsibilities that go along with any teaching job, I gained a more intimate fear and respect for tornados. As we watched the sky darken through the computer lab windows, where my mom was trying to shut down all the machines in the face of the stormy weather, we heard the briefest sound of one of the town's tornado alarms before the power went out completely, and we realized we needed to head for cover. Our initial reaction was to strike the "tornado drill position" in the hallway--a drill we had practiced many times during our school years, always accompanied with giggles and excitement at escaping class for a few minutes. This time, I felt no such giddiness, though I did have the impression that everything was moving in slow motion. We hadn't been in the hall long, when the janitor came along and remembered he had the key to the school basement, where old school play costumes and props were kept and where rats were known to roam freely. As we, and the handful of other people left at the school, made our way down the hall--again in slow motion--I turned my head to the right just as we passed the large windows at the front of the school, and I saw It. The swirling abyss of blackness was just outside the door, traveling casually down the street that ran in front of the school.

I don't know how long we endured the hell of the basement and the not knowing, but when we finally emerged, at the firefighters' urging, it was like  stepping out into a very unpleasant dream. Nothing seemed based in reality, and yet, everything seemed so incredibly real. The football stadium and field house just a parking lot away from us, were completely gone. And there were stories that "things were bad" on the end of town where our house was situated. I'm not at all sure how my mother managed to control the shaking of her hands or the beating of her heart (which as a child, I never noticed, but as an adult with kids of my own, know for certain must have been the case) to coax our car to move in the general direction of our home. The signs of the monster's passing were evident everywhere--mangled trees, crumbled buildings, downed power lines. The road to our house was closed, but we were finally able to snake around on back roads to get there. The main house was still standing, but the playhouse my grandaddy built with his own hands--the one I had lamentably become too cool to play in in recent years--was upended across the neighbor's fence, and the garage sale items my mom had been storing inside were strewn across what seemed like every inch of the neighborhood. And all the buttons had simply been plucked off all the clothes, as if the tornado had some great sewing project to tackle and couldn't be bothered to visit the fabric store for supplies. A neighbor's garage had collapsed. Houses and businesses all over town were destroyed. The power was out for days. And every night for a week, we holed up in another neighbor's basement, watching the clouds taunt us over and over by dipping down little funnels that never quite reached the ground. It remains, to this day, one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. Even now, just the mention of a tornado watch is enough to send shivers down my spine.

Several years later, I had another close encounter with one of these beasts. Just home from college for the summer, at the end of my Sophomore year, I waited out another terrifying storm, alone in my parents' bathtub. That one traveled unabashedly up I-35, taking out whole towns in its wake. Just a mile from where I was hunkered down, the lake's marina was obliterated.

So, tornados are my Kryptonite. And, I'll admit, I can be downright silly about it. My first order of business in every home I've ever lived in has been to establish a tornado plan. I have been known to decree a home unfit for purchase if I can't come up with a "safe room." That's why my sweet husband drew a true safe room into the floor plan of our house, and then saw it through to completion. He did a great deal of research and came up with something that should withstand just about anything. So, if you're looking for the kids and me tomorrow and can't find us, come knock on the pantry door. We may be in there warding off the effects of the Kryptonite.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

No one to blame but myself

I have often heard parents blame teachers for a child's academic difficulties. I have also heard teachers blame parents for a student's lack of progress. But, as both parent and teacher, I have no one to blame but myself when things go awry in the school room, which they did a bit this week. When that happens, I don't have the luxury of trying to pin the blame on someone else. I simply must figure out where things went wrong, retrace a few academic steps and then move forward in a way that, hopefully, best helps my students/children reach their full potential.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Pi(e) Day!

It's 3-14, which means it's Pi Day, for all you Math nerds out there. And, you don't live in a town with a restaurant famous for its pies and let this particular holiday slip by unnoticed. Now that I think about it, this could possibly be my favorite of all the holidays!

The pie case at the Bluebonnet Cafe

Two of Weston's favorite things make this day possible: Math and Food!

mile-high meringue

Nom, nom, nom

...And a sweet little helping of "Cutie Pie"

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dream House Complete

We bought our land in July. In Texas. In the middle of a long drought. And, we thought it was just about the most beautiful property we had ever seen! A year and a half later, our house is finished, and we are settled nicely into it. I love everything about this house! But the land. Oh! The land! In March. After some glorious seasons of rain. The land has made this truly my dream house. These ten little acres are peppered with wildflowers and foliage in every shade: purple and yellow and pink and green. And, my personal favorite, blue! There is a beautiful blanket of bluebonnets lining my driveway, and leading visitors right up to my front door. I love it so much!! It's just what I've always wanted! And, I get to share it with the people who mean the most to me. Can life possibly get any better than this?!

Home, Sweet Home

A Texas Welcome

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year


The cutest bluebonnet posers of all time!

Look out, ladies!

Beautiful Ruth

Monday, March 05, 2012

10 Months

Our Little Bitty (a.k.a Claycito) is 10 months old today! He has been very busy this past month growing two new teeth, standing straight up from the floor without holding on to anything, raising his arms in delight, dancing whenever he hears music, holding the sippy cup himself (and finally guzzling the liquid inside) and eating like a horse. He has finally given up the "army" crawl, but he still isn't executing a traditional crawl. He goes along with one knee down and one foot down, making it seem as if he could stand up and walk at any moment. What he has not been doing is packing on the pounds. He only gained 2 ounces over the course of a month, so he is now scheduled for a little blood work later in the week, just as a precautionary measure. He is happy and healthy, so I'm sure all is well. He is still in size 3 diapers and mostly 3-6 months clothes, with the occasional 6-month outfit thrown in. He does seem to be getting too tall for some of the smaller clothes, but the bigger ones done quite fit him in the waist. He is such a sweet, sweet baby, who just adds so much joy to every day! We just love this little guy so much!

showing off the pearly whites

standing on his own two feet

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It's off to State we go

Ruth spent the day competing at the district PSIA meet in New Braunfels. Her four events were Ready Writing, Poetry Interpretation, Spelling and Music Memory, and she placed in all of them. She got 2nd in Writing, 1st in Poetry, 4th in Spelling and 5th in Music. Those first two earned her spots in the State competitions in May, in Ft. Worth. She has worked so hard preparing for each of these contests, and we are just so very proud of her!

Taking home the blue for Poetry Interpretation

A story about red-streaked hair earns her a red ribbon

Fourth place in Spelling

Different color ribbon, same beautiful smile!

Friday, March 02, 2012

Texas Independence Day

I can't tell you how amazing it was to celebrate Texas Independence Day at the Alamo! It just brought chills. A huge thanks to our CC field trip coordinator for planning the whole day--from the viewing of the IMAX movie about the Alamo, to the picnic on the Alamo grounds, to the fabulous guided tour. I have visited the Alamo several times, but this was, by far, the very best it's ever been. I'm so proud to call myself a Texan, and I sincerely hope that I've got some of that "Come-And-Take-It," "Victory-or-Death," line-in the-sand spirit within me. Happy Independence Day, Y'all!

Our wonderful tour guide

With all the hubbub going on for Texas Independence Day,
 it was impossible to get a traditional shot of the Alamo.  But, I thought a shot of this
outbuilding was still nice, especially with the Mountain Laurels framing it.

The boys were very excited about all the canons and guns.
(Moments before I snapped this shot in the gift shop, they almost sent this one
careening into the John Wayne display behind it).