Sunday, September 30, 2012

Controlling the Chaos

The last couple of weekends have been about trying regain control of the space we occupy. It's amazing how quickly things things can get out of hand (or how they never were under control to begin with, in some cases). So here's what we've been doing:

  • Jeff acquired a very nice executive desk for his office, to replace the plastic folding table he's been using for the last three years. It actually has drawers and everything, which I'm sure he'll use eventually. 
  • I unburied the bench, counter and one of the dryers in the laundry room, and I'm amazed at how much usable space I have in there now! 
  • The big boys and I also took on the garage (not for the first time!) and were able to clear a not-quite-van-sized path. But, it's close, and I have faith that I may actually be able to park a vehicle in there sometime in my lifetime. And the kids were totally impressed...because now they have so much more room to pile up their myriad toys. We'll work on that later.
  • Making no small mess, I changed the filters in the water filter system all by myself. As a bonus, the floor in the utility room got a nice bath.
  • I claimed a small section of the home school room for myself, which I set up with a desk and a bookcase, giving me a workspace that keeps me accessible to the kids during the day but clearly segregates their stuff from mine. 
  • I found the floor in the storage closet upstairs, though that room still needs some serious attention. But a victory's a victory, no matter how small, so I'll take it. 
  • Jeff installed some fabulous racks in the garage for storing our plastic folding chairs, further clearing up floor space in the garage and making his wife very happy indeed. 
  • When we had to relegate one of the bar stools to the garage (this may be why it never quite seems to to reach it's full car-parking potential) because it was deemed unsafe for children to sit in, I decided it was finally time to bite the bullet and get some new ones. They should be arriving in the next couple of weeks, and in the meantime, the current stools and the table they go with will find a new home (freeing up a bit more space in soon-to-be-clean garage).
  • Jeff changed all the AC filters. You know, you should really do that once in a blue moon, whether it needs to be done or not.
  • The furniture in Clays' room received new positions, to prevent him from further damaging the blinds while he waits for someone to get him out of his bed. 
  • We have talked to a landscaping company about coming out and giving us a consultation. In this case the chaos is not actively being controlled, but we've taken the first step, and that's something.
What do you do/have you done/will you do to control chaos at your house? And don't act like you don't have it, 'cause I know you do.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Favorite things--Edition: Too busy for words...but not for pictures!

I love the subtle sparkle this lotion offers.
It has been discontinued for sale in stores, but may still be purchased online.

My parents gave us this luggage set for our anniversary, and I think it's just about perfect.

Jeff picked out this purse for me without my input and gave it to me for my birthday.
It goes with every possible outfit and has a place for anything I might want or need to carry around.

I received two pair of these amazing flip flops for my birthday: the red ones shown,
and some gray ones with pink checkered lining. The sole is made out of yoga mats,
making them the most comfortable flip-flops I have ever owned.
I wear one pair or the other almost every day!

This year I finally jumped on the pumpkin spice latte band wagon. I'm addicted.

As a rule, I'm not a fan of wearing swimsuits, and I know we are getting out of swimsuit season, but this just had to be mentioned. I actually bought it a couple of years ago, but I get compliments every time I wear it. I feel like it covers the things I want covered without being frumpy. 

We're sort of obsessed with the blood orange olive oil we bought at the Grapevine Olive Oil Company on our anniversary get-away.  I made pesto chicken pasta with it the other night, and Jeff said it was like I had prepared crack, since he (and everyone else) simply could not stop eating it.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Funny guy, here!

A couple of weeks ago, the kids were instructed to tell a joke or funny story during their presentation time at CC. Since then, everyone's a comedian, and our house is one hilarious place to be . This one was too good not to preserve. Check it out:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Just 'cause we wouldn't want to leave anyone off the list...

The critter craziness continues. Tuesday evening, my neighbor reported that she had seen a "fairly large" rattlesnake slithering from the road into the heavily treed area at the front of our property. The mother of that baby Jeff killed, out for revenge, no doubt. Sweetly, my neighbor did try to run over it with her car, but it was just elusive enough to slip by her.

Yesterday, I swept up a (thankfully) dead centipede in my bathroom.

And this evening, Max reported that there was "a big, black thing out by the sand pile." My efforts to extract information were almost completely futile, but he was willing to take me outside so he could show me. This made me nervous in the the way it always does when one of the boys wants me to close my eyes and hold out my hands for a surprise. From Max's description, I had surmised that the creature I was about to encounter was a black, quarter-sized insect or spider that we "saw once at the ranch." What I found instead, was a house-sized (or possibly more like hand-sized) tarantula on the side of my house. I did not get close enough to confirm whether it was actually black or just a dark brown or gray. Just looking at it from ten feet away gave me the heebie-geebies!  I rushed back in the house, throwing instructions over my shoulder for Max to leave the thing alone and the cat to do its job and attack. That's when Max wondered aloud if he should stop trying to bash it (while it sat on the side of the house, very near a window) with a baseball bat, like he had been doing prior to coming in to get me, tying us right back in to yesterday's post.

If I survive this season of my life, it will be a miracle!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

If things continue to get worse, I am going to have to ask you to stop helping

We developed this little saying when we lived in Brazil and well-meaning people insisted on "helping" us in ways that often ultimately made our lives a little more difficult. The saying has proven true in other situations as well. Recently, it has played out in our own household:

  • A couple of weeks ago, Clay was helping with the laundry. He loves to put things in when I'm taking things out, and take things out when I'm putting things in. It's very helpful. Usually, he is happy just messing with the clothes or maybe trying to sneak in whatever ball he is holding at the time. But on that particular day, he stepped up his game, and I'm sure you won't believe this, but I somehow got distracted. When the load of colors was finished in the dryer, I found that it was loaded with actual colors. As in, crayons. So very helpful.
  • Earlier in the week, Max spilled a glass of water. Spills of a stickier nature are usually overlooked completely, but this one seemed to require every ounce of clean-up power he could muster. So, he got a stool, turned on the kitchen sink, soaked a couple of dishtowels and began sloppily sliding them over the already-wet area. I believe he then may have slipped in the wetness and fallen on his rear end.
  • Weston was working on a paying chore today--cleaning the counter, sink and potty in the upstairs bathroom--when he suddenly appeared downstairs to report that "it was just an accident." While trying to return the soap dispenser to its rightful place on the counter (and possibly not paying a great deal of attention to what he was doing), it slipped out of his hand and crashed against the corner of the counter, spilling its contents all over the counter, floor and toilet. Truly, that bathroom has never been so clean. 
  • In an effort to combat our pest problem, we got a cat. Jeff and I are not pet people, so this was a HUGE decision. The kids were thrilled, and our most zealous animal lover immediately volunteered to take care of the cat, so I wouldn't have to. It really seemed like a win-win. And, then, the next morning, she woke up with her eyes almost swollen shut and hives all over her body and was promptly banned from having any other contact with the cat. Whether we will even be able to keep the cat, at this point, is still up for debate, though Ruth seemed to be doing much better when she went to bed tonight. 
So, yeah, I've got some great helpers around here. But, if things continue to get worse, I may have to ask them to stop helping. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Eager Reader

Max completed his first reading poster today! It contained five books, which he read almost completely on his own, in about a week. He has been such an eager reader, and we are all so proud of him! We celebrated with dinner and McFlurries at McDonald's.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Critter Crazy

There have been some very unwelcome guests around my house lately, and, they are just about to drive me crazy! I love our house and its rural location, but I just don't know how much of this I can take. You already know about our little mouse problem, which I believe has finally been resolved. But we've had some other problems as well:

  • Ants--We have had a crazy infestation of ants. They started on the floor in Weston's room. I sprayed and cleaned and gave an excellent lecture on not taking food into the bedrooms to avoid any stray crumbs. Then, they showed up on the floor in Max's room. If you've seen his room, you wouldn't be surprised to find out that almost anything had taken up residence in there. But, there was nothing to do but clean and spray and revisit that fabulous lecture. Time passed, but after a while, Ruth started complaining about getting ant bites in her sleep. This seemed far-fetched to me, and I explained she had probably gotten them while playing outside and just didn't notice until morning. But one morning when she put on her clothes, she reported that there were ants "all over the place," and truly I could see one or two crawling on her top. This led to an investigation, which led me to find that not only was her bed completely covered in ants, but one of the built-in drawers in which she keeps some of her clothes was also alive with the conniving critters. We stripped her bed and emptied her drawers and repeated the previous process for ant extermination. Then, we were crazy-busy and I didn't have any time to put away the clean laundry, so it piled up on the bench in the laundry room. When I finally got back to it, I found the entire pile crawling with ants. And the very same day, I found ant bites on Clay while giving him a bath. Sure enough, there were ants in his crib and all in the twin bed that lives in his room.  Certainly, there are enough crumbs dropped in our house on a daily basis to make Hansel and Gretel proud, but I was (and am still) having a hard time understanding the burrowing of the ants in the clothes and linens. I then found a trail of them on the floor from Clay's room to the boy's bathroom, and another moving diagonally across the kitchen. Insanity was so close, I could smell it! But, come to think of it, it might have just been the ant spray. The problem definitely seems to be getting better, as I have now sprayed 3/4 of our house with ant spray, but it has not been entirely eliminated. If you have any sure-fire ant elimination tips, I'm all ears. 
  • Scorpions--As I was making the bed one day last week, I found a a scorpion leisurely making his way across the covers ON MY SIDE OF THE BED. Thankfully, he didn't find me. But, in my house, just crawling on the bed like that warrants the death penalty. I hope he had a chance to send out a silent warning to all his relatives before the whirlpool pulled him under.
  • Cicadas--Our yard was inundated with these noisy creatures early in the summer, but they generally seemed to keep to their own territory and finally discerned it was time to move on. Except for the few stragglers. Who apparently decided they'd rather live INSIDE the house than outside. They haven't really been that bothersome until I opened the pantry door the other day and dead one came floating down on me. Ick!
  • Snakes--On Tuesday morning, as we were getting ready to leave for CC, I noticed that the lid of the electric box was off at the water well. Experience has taught me that these kinds of things need to be investigated. So, off I went, in my dress and heels, to see what was going on. I saw no evidence that any little boys had been messing around over there, but I did see plenty of cow evidence. So, I scratched the planned lecture, replaced the cover and turned to go back to the van. I took one step, and then, half-way through the next step, realized that I had just stepped over a small, coiled up snake, which I instantly suspected was a rattler. Racing back to the van, I desperately tried to calm my breathing and trembling enough to dash off a text to Jeff (who had left for an early meeting) to let him know we needed to move immediately about this life-threatening problem that needed to be taken care of with all haste. He pulled into the driveway as I hit the send button. Somehow he figured out through my blubbering what had just happened, sent me on to CC and marched off with a shovel to attend to the menace. Minutes later, he called to confirm that it was indeed a rattler, but that at least it was now dead. He saw no sign of mom or dad, but I knew they and their passel of children could not be far away. I had a knot in my stomach the rest of the day, and I subjected the children to yet another lecture about the hazardous world in which we live and the need to be ever vigilant. And, then I turned them over to the Lord once again. 
  • UF(S)Is--That's Unidentified Flying (and Stinging) Insects. I was already awake at 5:30 this morning, but not yet out of bed, when I felt a little prick in the vicinity of my left knee. Remembering my recent encounter with the scorpion, I threw back the covers as if they were on fire. I did not find a scorpion, but rather, a sinister looking black, winged creature. Jeff was standing at the foot of the bed and shooed the evil little thing away. Later, I found it washing down that bit of my knee with water from my bathroom sink. I honestly did not even think twice before I turned on the tap and drowned that little sucker in hot water. A woman can only take so much harassment before she snaps!
I told Jeff a couple of nights ago that I thought it was probably time for us to move. He erroneously believed I was joking, and very rationally suggested we just get an exterminator instead. I'm willing to try that, but all I know is, the critters have to go or I do.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Viva San Antonio

Early Friday morning, we headed over to San Antonio so that we could eat an insane amount of Mexican food Jeff could attend a real estate conference. The kids and I were pretty much just there for the Mexican food along for the ride, so we decided to make a mini-vacation out of it. We were living it up on the club level of the San Antonio Gunter Hotel, so we felt like royalty all weekend. Since it was supposed to be hotter than blue blazes on Friday, we opted to spend the better part of the day in the air conditioned children's museum, which was just about a block from the hotel. This is one children's museum we had not been to previously, but we had so much fun, I suspect we will be back again the next time we are in town. The kids' favorite activities were the ball factory and the mini HEB. And, it was extra fun because Nana was able to be there with us. At the end of the day on Friday, we met up with Jeff and Papa for dinner at Iron Cactus on the river and a night viewing of The Alamo, at the special request of Weston.

Having a ball at the children's museum

Job training

Remember The Alamo!

On Saturday, we took a short time-out from San Antonio to attend Weston's first football game in Wimberley. It was such a fun game, and we were so proud of Weston for playing with all his heart. And, as a special surprise, my sister and nephew were able to add their clapping hands to ours in the stands. After the game, we got back to the Mexican food, with lunch at Cascabel. After lunch, the kids voted for another round at the children's museum. Nana showed up about an hour before they closed and suggested a river boat ride, which is probably the only possible thing which could have pulled the kids away. And since it was snack time, we had some gelato to fortify us for the trip. Jeff met us at the end of the ride, and off we went for more Mexican food. Still full from our gelato, we opted for just drinks and appetizers at Casa Rio.

Number One on your program, and Number One in your hearts


The kids voted for swimming at the hotel on Sunday morning. After dousing everyone in sunscreen and getting five people into their swimsuits, we spent no more than thirty minutes at the pool. The hot tub was cold. The pool was freezing. And there wasn't the slightest glint of sunlight in which to warm ourselves. But we still made memories filled with laughter and chattering teeth. Plan B consisted of watching PBS in our room for a while and then wandering down to The Alamo and mall to kill a little time before Jeff was out of his conference for the day. We had lunch at La Paloma, and then divided up for some fun at River Center Mall. Jeff and the big boys went to an IMAX movie and the dinosaur exhibit, while Ruth and I (and a sleeping Clay) flexed our shopping muscles. We reunited in the middle of the afternoon for Orange Julius and Andean Fusion on the river. From there, we headed to The Buckhorn Museum, which was another first for us in San Antonio, and another hit. The kids loved all the stuffed critters, the shooting game and getting to order drinks at the bar in the saloon. But their favorite part, by far, were the funhouse mirrors. They laughed until they couldn't even catch their breath, which was worth the entire admission price! From there, we headed back to the river for one last Mexican food hurrah at Rita's on the River.


Relaxing at The Alamo

What'll it be, pal?

Big-headed baby

After  getting everything loaded up into the van on Monday morning and collecting my mom and a family friend, we embraced our final San Antonio adventure (for this trip; there will certainly be others in the future): the zoo. Let me recommend that any time you want to go to any zoo, you pick a relatively cool school day! No crowds, no lines, no embarrassing sweat rings. It was perfect. We were able to stay most of the day, wearing the kids out completely, before picking Jeff up and heading home. This was a different kind of San Antonio experience for us (except for the ridiculous gorging on Mexican food), but it was absolutely wonderful.

Hippo Max

How do you measure up?

A piggy pal


All aboard!

Thursday, September 06, 2012


Our big kids are involved in some pretty neat extracurricular activities this fall. (And our little guy is just super-cute, so you get a picture of him, too)!

Thursday 4:00--Max Swim Lesson

Thursday 5:00--Ruth Riding Lesson

Thursday 6:00--Weston Flag Football Practice

Any day, any time--Clay hanging out with his " beary" best friend

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


Before braces
After braces

One happy girl!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Going Coastal

We spent the Labor Day weekend in Port Aransas with my parents, playing in the sand and surf, splashing in the pools at the condo, eating one delicious dish after another and, making the most of our long weekend.

Bombs Away!

Little fishy

Fun with Nana

"I own this beach"


Beach Baby

A tasty treat

Grillin' and chillin' with Papa