Whatever Happened to Cake and Ice Cream?

And maybe a balloon or two?

I am about to discuss a very contentious subject. Prepare yourself.

Children's birthday parties.

You know what I mean. I don't even need to describe it, because you know. Three words: Over The Top. Or one word: Extravagant.

Please don't throw anything at me.

We like parties. A. loves parties. Parties are fun. In fact, her potential birthday party looming on the horizon is what has caused my brain to spin and my blood to boil. We have entered the seventh circle of Hades, otherwise know as planning an age appropriate birthday party, without of course, bankrupting ourselves. There's the kicker.

Here are a few facts: She will be turning 5 next week. We plan to celebrate with a family supper, cake, ice cream and presents. At a later date to be determined, at a venue still to be decided, we would like for her to celebrate with her little friends as well.

Here are a few more facts: It's HOT in southern Texas in September any way you slice it. In the past we have hosted 2 fairly simple parties in our backyard. The kidlets have had a great time, however I've always felt extreme guilt about making their parents melt in the glow of our fading summer.

Possible options include these ever so popular Rent-Some-Fun in exactly 90 minutes places. With your very own teenage host. These are usually fun, the kids love them, they are fed and entertained. They are EXPENSIVE. There is a bouncy place, a place with a costumed rat and games, and an indoor entertainment place where you can bowl or play glow golf along with food and games.

Bless her heart, she's only turning FIVE. If we do these types of parties now, what on earth does our future hold?

I'm at a loss.



A Slow Learning Curve

It has taken four days, but we finally did it. I must say I'm a little bit proud of our little selves. We left for school this morning IN A REASONABLE TIME and arrived--are you ready for this--FIVE minutes early.

I said a prayer of thanksgiving in the car. Really.

A. gets up in plenty of time, but bless her little heart, she's a piddler. A dawdler. A wool gatherer. She knows she is supposed to potty, brush her teeth, get dressed and make her bed. You wouldn't think those tasks would require close to an hour with many vocal nudges along the way, but it does.

This morning though went much more smoothly. And more smiley. See?

Of course I didn't have my face on yet, but at least we weren't late.

And I was dressed in real clothes, so that's progress.

This has been A.'s first year to go to PreK five days a week, for 3.5 hours each morning. She LOVES it and, I must confess, so do I.

But what have I done each day in those golden 3.5 hours of kidlet free time?

Let's see...

A bit of stamping and card making. I brought a few things down to our dining table to work on because my craft room is uninhabitable. Make sure you have had your shots before you enter. Clothes, bags and boxes of miscellany have taken over. I'm not brave enough to post a picture, but use your imagination. It's seriously embarrassing. Instead of tackling it, I'm still in the denial and avoidance phase right now. Once anger hits I'll get busy. Maybe.

Yesterday I watched this from Netflix. It was really good.

Have I vacuumed? No.
Laundry? Yes.
Reading? Yes.
Blogging? Yes.
Gone to the grocery store?Um...no. See...

We are getting by on milk, eggs yogurt and a few other basics. Very basic. I'm so proud.

I think I'm treating this first week of school as MY own little (selfish) vacation and I haven't wanted do do anything I didn't absolutely HAVE to do.

Obviously the appearance of me being a well-adjusted, mature grown-up has been a SHAM.

Now...when can I squeeze in that pedicure?


Public Service Announcement #452

When you get a moment...

Read this:

Then go ahead and read this:

Drink this:

or this if you're on the go, go, go:

Then let me know what you think. I think you'll thank me.

Warning: Haven Kimmel has been known to cause hysterical laughter and cherry pomegranate might just stain. Read and drink at your own risk.


School! (Warning: Excessive Use of Exclamation Points to Follow!!)

Oh my goodness! It's the first day of PreK and I am ready to go! I can hardly contain myself! Let's go, Mom! (I'm using exclamation points because I am almost 5 and am So Incredibly Excited!)

What? You want to take my picture before we go? Well... all right, but hurry!

I packed my cool new pen Mrs. Kim sent me for my first day of school. Thanks Mrs. Kim! I am also packing exactly three sheets of blank copy paper and a star eraser. I need to be prepared for anything and everything.

I am wearing my backpack like some of the bigger kids do. Of course it's only a regular backpack and not a super-cool-ultra-hip messenger bag, but I can adapt.

We made it to school! I can't wait to go in and see my new teacher and new friends!

What? Okay Mom, but hurry!

Day 1 of school was a hit all around. I can't wait to go back tomorrow! Mom and Dad even took me to lunch at Panera to celebrate. Hmm...I wonder if I can milk this new school thing a little bit longer...
How was your first day of school?


Party Hearty

We don't have much of a social calendar, but our daughter does.

Exhibit A: Two birthday parties on Saturday

The first party was for two darling twin boys that recently turned 2. Their mama, Kim went all out with a precious Sesame Street theme and everything was FABULOUS. They hunted for Big Bird's eggs...this is A.s classic "I can't be bothered to take a picture, I'm busy looking for treats" pose.

They also threw trash in Oscar's can to win Slimey worms, fished for Ernie's Rubber Ducky, and helped pin the nose on Elmo to win Dorothys (goldfish). It was so, so, so CUTE.

Then it was time to open presents (notice all of the eager help) and enjoy cake and ice cream. Wheee! Happy birthday Jacob & Rylan!

We immediately shifted gears and headed to Party #2. We didn't tell A. where it was until right before we arrived. PetsMart and Chuck E. Cheese are right next to each other, so we told her the party was at PetsMart.

Yeah, she didn't like that.

At almost 5 years old, A. had the impressive distinction of never visiting the Rat (AKA Chuck E. Cheese). We wanted to avoid it as long as we could. Aren't we fantastic role models?

A. could not contain herself once we stepped inside. Games! Kids! Pizza! all packed into one place and seething with over stimulation.

A. was so proud to have her very.own.cup. of tokens. She had no idea how to play some of the games, but got down to business anyway. I had to admire (and laugh at) her determination.

Her favorite game was the mock rollercoaster ride, which she rode no less than 5 times.

After games, pizza, root beer, cupcakes, fascination with a costumed dancing rat, more games, tickets, prizes and a favor bag, she was...how can I put this...WIRED.

And Scott and I were...how can I put this...tired.


I Felt a Bit Like Henry

As in Thoreau*.

And Lake Livingston State Park was my rustic Walden.

Can you picture it?

Our cabins were reminiscent of the original Parent Trap (sweet Hayley Mills, not scank Lindsey). Of course you never saw cockroaches in the movie.

Once I resigned myself to the sweltering heat, the bugs, the trek to the ever so hygienic potties/showers, and general state of funk, I was okay with the whole camping experience. I didn't look or smell so pretty, but I guess that goes with the territory.

Because sunset chats and photo ops with friends go with the territory too.

Sunset photo op with some of the girls from our cabin. Aren't they cute?

Oh, let me introduce you to someone...her name is Lady.

And she is a horse.

Here I am sitting on Lady. I hope she didn't mind. I felt kind of sorry for all of the horses. Don't get me wrong, they seemed very well cared for, but bored beyond belief walking the same trail through the same trees several times a day.

Lady was a bit grumpy. We bonded.

Saturday afternoon I had a SMASHING headache. It was probably a combination of caffeine withdrawal (we were roughing it after all--no coffee pots), the heat, and sleeping on the floor. Thank goodness for large doses of ibuprofen.

Camping would not have been complete without cooking hamburgers, hot dogs and late night s'mores over a fire pit. Yum!

We struggled with hordes of pesky flies though whenever we set out the food. We tried hanging bags of water over the food tables, but the flies just mocked us. It was rather like Amityville Horror.

The purpose of this weekend was for the older girls (Big Sis) to bond with the younger girls (Little Sis) in our youth group and strengthen their relationship as an overall group. There were lots of fun activities to choose from during the day, like swimming, paddle boats, canoeing, etc. They also played team games each evening and won spirit awards. There were even some late night pranks after lights out (shhhh). I'd say a good time was had by all.

The teen girls held a devotional each night and then conducted the worship service Sunday morning under the pines.

It was so encouraging to see the girls participate, many of them stepping out of their comfort zones and leading either a song or prayer or even sharing the devotional message. I was really proud of them!

As school begins, I am very thankful they have created strong bonds of friendship and will be able to support each other during the challenges of the school year.

I can't end without sharing a picture of the Ultra-Awesome-Super-Fabulous Counselors:

(Aren't we cute?)

Even though I don't have a daughter in the youth group yet, I will in the near future. It was encouraging to be around the other moms and see how they interact with their daughters and the other moms. My little mental video camera was whirring away and I learned a lot just being around them. I feel so blessed to have been able to participate in this weekend with these outstanding ladies and all of the wonderful girls.

*Confession: I have never read Walden or anything else by Thoreau. I hope we can still be friends.


Five for Friday: The Snippy Version

1. Y'all. I don't know what exactly has happened to me, but I feel out of sorts with myself. Quite. I am blaming late night Olympic watching, camping (post coming soon), late nights this week with the Stampin'Up! party and bunco and a poor, okay, downright pitiful diet. (I so bailed on WW this week. I am an ostrich, head buried in denial.) I am also snippy. All I want to do is sit and consume large quantities of chocolate. Hmmm...I'm sensing a pattern here.

2. A. and I were an embarrassing 20 minutes late for her Meet the Teacher this morning. Yes. These late nights are NOT doing me any favors. She will be going to her Pre-K class 5 mornings a week this year, so we better get ourselves together by Monday. I am going to reserve judgment, but her little class is all boys, plus one other girl. I'm trying not to be concerned, but one boy has a reputation and another was constantly getting his pin pulled last year. I hope too much boy-ish behavior doesn't spread our way too much. I might get snippy.

3. This afternoon we went to see the Russian-American Kids' Circus. One of the things I regret not doing (among many) while we were actually in Moscow, was seeing the Moscow Circus. This act was not affiliated with them, but it was the same style. They did not allow pictures, so imagine lots of acrobatics, unicycle tricks, mind-boggling balancing, rapid fire juggling--you name it, they juggled it. It was a neat show.


A. could not get past the fact that there were no elephants. In fact no animals at all.

She felt slightly jipped. And snippy.

However, chasing bubbles from the blower out front of the convention center redeemed the overall outing.

Obligatory family portrait, yet separate. I tried to do a self-portrait, but people kept asking if I wanted them to take our picture. Nice, but I wasn't handing Baby over. So I have to settle for this. It was hot and we were hungry. And I was snippy too.

4. The approach of a new school year calls for new shoes. After much spirited debate and multiple styles tried and rejected (bless your sweet, patient heart Dillard's sales lady), we walked out with these. Yes, they are pink. There was no room for negotiation once A. slipped these on. Pink goes with everything, right?

5. I received this in the mail today:

I still can't believe someone asked little ol' me to review this book and sent me a free copy. For a snippy bookdweeb like me, it's the pinnacle of cool. Once again, these pesky late nights have messed up my reading routine too. I think I have been reading the same three pages of The Historian all week before passing out. Pity.

Time for a refill on chocolate. Otherwise I might get snippy.


Get Your Stamp Groove On

So I finally got my respective creative self together and hosted a little Stampin' Up shindig the other night. We ooh-d, ahh-d and drooled over the new catalog and made mental wish lists. Then we got our stamp groove on. There was plenty of stamping, cutting, gluing, chatting, coloring, punching (paper, NOT each other), laughing, stapling, inking and snacking.

All the necessities for a fun evening.

I think I'll like this demonstrator gig.


In Which I Feel Slightly Famous

Do you know Gabi?

Consider yourself fortunate if you do, and if you haven't met her yet, scurry on over to her blog soon. It's a treat! Really.

Ever so often she shares her eclectic circle of family, friends in real life and bloggy friends through her GabTalk 7 Question Interviews. Topics are wide reaching, from military marriages, throwing the perfect party, moving, dealing with health challenges, important hair decisions (we are always up for a good hair discussion, right?), serving in your local community, and many more interesting subjects. They are always a joy to read, and it's fun to "meet" more of her social circle.

Are you sitting down?


This week she interviewed ME about my reading obsession and all things bookworm-y. I Know!

Grab a glass or mug of your favorite beverage and pop on over to An Interview with a Bookworm. (Totally not related to Anne Rice. At all.)

Then feel free to jest and mock to your heart's content.

P.S. Another moment of feeling slightly famous: Imagine my bewilderment when I received an email from a publicist asking me if I would like to receive a free copy of Beth Gutcheon's new novel Good-Bye and Amen and then review it on my blog. I Know!

Um...how fast can I say YES?!?


In Which I Commune With Nature

And mosquitoes as large as my head.

This afternoon I will be venturing out into the deep Piney Woods for the weekend. I'll be helping as a chaperone for the Big Sis/Little Sis camping trip for our teen girls from church. The weekend will be rife with hiking, canoeing, chatting, horseback riding, game playing, laughing, campfire devotionals and of course...s'mores.

Wish me luck.

On another note: Like most everyone else, I have been enthralled by all of the wonderful Olympic drama this week. The swimming! The gymnastics! The athlete profiles! (Now, the beach-volleyball-in-skimpy-scanty-bikinis...not really my thing.)

However, I have found something quite distracting while trying to watch the Women's Gymnastics. It's very disturbing.

In the words of David Spade, 1992 called and wants its scrunchies back.


Ruminations on a Run

Not crazy about alarm waking me up at 4:00am Saturday morning.
Brief thoughts of staying in bed.
Quick realization that the MCM is 2 months away. No excuses.
Glad for early start (5:15) to beat back the sun a bit.
How many times did I listen to Viva La Vida by Coldplay? No less than 3.
Started out slower, that did help on return trip.
Gu at 5 miles and at 10. This was MUCH better than last week. I felt like I still had some fuel in my tank at the end.
Thankful for the ice cold water jugs along the course. Very. Thankful.
Nice change to run by the marina, twice. I imagined what it would be like to go out on one of those yachts or giganto sailboats. I have no frame of reference.
Shades of salmon seem to be popular among the older male golf set this summer. I was envious of their carts.
Finished 15 miles.
Collapsed in sweaty puddle. But a slightly proud puddle.


Five for Friday

1. After a 2 week hiatus, the prodigal weight watcher returned to her meeting. That would be me. Mentally, I think I needed that break and now I feel a bit more focused on WW. The good news is I lost 4 more pounds, which equals a total 23 pound loss over the last 5 1/2 months. Yes, it's been painfully slow, and at times frustrating, but worth it. I am now working on reaching my overall goal. Except I'm still unclear as to what that is. Possibly 10 more pounds. Possibly.

2. I stopped by A.'s school yesterday to pay her tuition and left with this:

Her darling teacher made a wonderful scrapbook for her! It is full of her work throughout the year, along with art projects and lots of pictures to remember her Pre-K3 year.

Did you know you small children can paint with almost anything? You name it, they probably used it as a paintbrush. I just got tickled as I looked through the pages and thought, "Oh. Corn cobs. Neat! Marbles? Who knew?" and on and on. Bless her sweet teacher's heart!

This is such a treasure to me since I am dreadfully behind on scrapbooks. This one is chock full of memories and is ready to enjoy. A. has looked at it several times so far and seems quite delighted with "her book". Thank you Mrs. O!

3. Speaking of A., she has been talking more and more about missing her MeeMaw. She passed away two years ago, and A. is processing her death and absence more now than she did then. I think the fact that her Pappo (my dad) recently remarried has stirred up feelings and questions, which is only normal. We've tried to be laid back about Pappo and Miss Peggy and want to let A. develop a relationship with her, yet still remember MeeMaw.

The other day A. drew this picture and explained it was MeeMaw up in heaven looking down over A. playing in the yard. Oh my goodness, my heart almost burst y'all from the sweetness.

Any ideas or suggestions to help her work through missing her MeeMaw and adjusting to Miss Peggy?

4. Look! Scott is going to read a book!

I had to document this because I'm thrilled. He claims he used to read, and I know he can, however he chooses not to. He has been "reading" Red Dragon off and on since 2001. Yes. He did read a John Grisham book on the airplane from Russia. That was 2004. Maybe Steve Martin will be a spark. I refuse to give up hope.

5. What on earth am I going to do now that SYTYCD is over? My head is still spinning by the amazing talent of those dancers! Oh, I know...watch the Olympics. I can't wait to soak up the sports, spirit and inspirational stories. I'll be sure to keep my Kleenex close, some of their profiles twist my heart into knots.


In Which I Channel Van Halen

Running With the Devil, to be precise.

Or even Running on Empty by Jackson Browne.

In other words, my long run on Saturday was rather difficult. Quite.

The first half, I may even go so far as to say three-quarters, was bearable. Somewhere though during the last 3 or 4 miles I fell apart. The heat. The life sucking humidity. The sidewalk. The sweat dripping from my skirt. The people leisurely driving by to pick up doughnuts. You name it, I probably hated it and strongly resented it during those last miles. Instead of 14 miles, I managed 13 and called it a day.

On the positive side, I finished. And I enjoyed my music along the way. I recently freshened up my iPOD with a few new tunes which were well received, I might add. Just in case you are wondering, I'll share a few with you:

In honor of So You Think You Can Dance, Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis and The Garden by Mirah (By the way, how much did I *heart* Mark? Um...lots. He was so quirky and fun.)
Pocketful of Sunshine by Natasha Bedingfield
Viva la Lida, Clocks and Violet Hill by Coldplay
Won't Go Home Without You by Maroon 5
And I'll just go ahead and admit this...extended dance mixes of Situation and Don't Go by Yaz. Clearly I didn't hear these enough in the late 80s and early 90s.

Next Saturday calls for 15 miles. I am already psyching myself up. Or out. My plan is to start even earlier to beat more of the heat. I also need to make sure I start out slower (yes, even slower than usual) to conserve my energy for the second half. I am also going to experiment with taking my Gu (Espresso Love) a little earlier than I usually do and take it more often (2 instead of 1). I hope that helps me sustain my energy better.

What songs are playing in your ears lately? What do you eat on longer runs? Who are you rooting for on So You Think You Can Dance?


My Addictive Personality Strikes Again

In a bold move, I have put the Outlander series aside for a while in order to read some books that have been whispering to me from my Goodreads list and my nightstand. Have no fear, I will return to Clare and Jamie Fraser's 18th century adventures soon.

Yesterday evening Scott and A. went to see a Houston Dynamo game. That's soccer by the way. They were sweet enough to let me stay home.

You should have seen my own personal happy dance as they drove off.

I piddled around a bit and soon realized I was hungry. Can you guess what I did?
I quickly grabbed my book and my purse, hightailed it out the door...

and took myself out on my own dinner date to La Madeleine. Spinach salad with chicken(dressing on the side), steaming cup of tomato basil soup, mini lemon tart combined with a table for one and a book...well, it was DEE-lightful my friends.

About the book though, I am just beginning Leeway Cottage by Beth Gutcheon. I have enjoyed most of her books; More Than You Know and Domestic Pleasures are my favorites. There is a semi-sequel to Leeway Cottage titled Good Bye and Amen that I'll probably read after this one.


As if the books stacked on and around my nightstand aren't enough to keep me occupied, I begged to stop by the library after church and lunch today. I was feeling a strong surge of I-Must-Get-My-Hot-Little-Hands-on-These-Books-Now mania.

My family kindly obliged.

Then Scott slightly gasped when he saw me lug this diverse stack to the checkout counter.

I tried my ever so effective Innocent Face on him. And reminded him at least we were at the library after all.

So in all actuality it may be a while until I finish the Outlander series. I am pretty sure I'll be renewing several of these too, since a few are quite hefty.

Oh, and before I forget...what should I do about this?

Do I make room for it in the rotation? Hmm...I remain on the fence. I'll probably break down and elbow my way through the teen girls in line to get my own copy. I don't really care about Bella, but I feel obligated to check in on Edward and see how he is faring. That's all. Purely altruistic. Promise.

Have you read any of these? Aren't you proud of my going to the library instead of spending $$$? Do you suffer from Must Get My Hot Little Hands on These Books Now mania too?

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