Birthday Weekend

Scott started his birthday weekend doing one of his favorite things, mowing the yard. I kid you not, he gets such satisfaction from seeing a freshly mowed yard. I don't understand that, but certainly appreciate his efforts.

We soon scurried out to our favorite Tex-Mex place for fajitas. It's a birthday tradition. Or just a weekly tradition.

Then we prepared snack bags of M&Ms to sneak in my purse to take to the movies.

We went to see Night at the Museum:Smithsonian Adventure. We all gave it two thumbs up and really enjoyed it. We tried to take a self-portrait as we were leaving beside the movie posters outside, but they never replaced them after the hurricane so we just took one in front of the ticket window. Not that you can really tell that's the ticket window or anything. Oh well.

Sunday morning, Scott's actual birthday, started with freshly baked but not homemade at all, cinnamon rolls.

After church we ate lunch at Cheddar's then popped in to Academy to buy Scott's birthday present. While we were there I noticed Annelise's mirror fascination, this cracked me up and kept her quite busy while Scott tried on different shoes.

Here he is posing with his new Dri-Fit shirt for golf, a new pair of nice yet still casual shoes and a card from Annelise.

Obviously we had not consumed enough food or sweets in the last 36 hours so we had birthday cake and Blue Bell vanilla ice cream. Scott asked for a yellow cake with chocolate frosting and Annelise and I were happy to oblige. Time to make a wish...

We hope your birthday was wonderful!!


Dear Annelise

In just a few months you will start Kindergarten. Of course, this school year is not yet over and we still have a lazy dazy summer to do first, but summer is really only a handful of weeks anyway. Gone in a flash of swimming, playing, lazing, maybe a tiny trip here or there, and then you will be a Kindergartner.


I think I'll be ready. I think. I know you will be ready. You take every new challenge with such zest, willingness and full throttle energy I must wonder if Kindergarten is ready for you.

These last few weeks of school you have asked more questions about what it will be like and I know you are testing the waters a bit. Warming up to the idea. It's hard for you to realize you will be in school all day. Me too, sweetie, me too. You seem to be most excited about taking your lunch every day and eating in the cafeteria. I'd be all about the food too.

You have even been doing your own version of homework on your own initiative.

You declared you wanted to practice math and science the other day. Sorry I couldn't put together something science-y, but you happily settled in solving some math problems.

I am also in awe of your personality. You are confident, outgoing and friendly. Thankfully, you are not a moody girl, generally you are upbeat and cheerful, quick to laugh and silly-it-up.

Of course you know your strengths, even at five, and use them to your benefit. Especially when you and Daddy go out on errands and you come home with surprises. Like last weekend when you and Daddy found a new pair of sneakers at Academy, which you needed.

But somehow you came home with a tent as well as the sneakers.

I'm guessing it's pretty fun to go shopping with Daddy.
It's also a lot of fun to play with Daddy too, and I love seeing y'all play together. It warms my heart. I love that you are a mix of rough and tumble sporty girl and princess-y girly girl.
For example, you recently discovered my little wooden decoupaged purse from when I was four years old and started using it yourself. To carry your Star Wars figures and a package of Swedish Fish.

This week I was so happy to sit with you in your last chapel of this year and watch you lead the pledges,

and see you receive your character certificate. You and your friends* were each given a Fruit of the Spirit trait and yours was love.

Your teacher got it right, you are full of love.
And I'm full of love for you, sweet girl.

*The little boys in your class, who are shall I say full of life (the same ones you always report to me as being "moved to red"), received the trait of joy. This made me giggle.


Could Someone Please Pass My Cover-Up?

Memorial Day is of course the day we pause to reflect on the sacrifices made by the men and women in our armed forces.

It is usually also the first time my body attempts to don a swimsuit each summer season. This day is one of the hardest because there just ain't no pretending what's been going on all winter and spring once I squeeze into my suit (I'm a fan of Land's End tankinis and swim minis). It's not just the squeezing, random necessary lifting, tucking and pulling that assaults my fragile self-esteem, it's also the blinding white skin that hasn't seen too much light of day in many months attempting to make its debut. See, I'm a firm believer that even flab looks better tanned, so I've got to make more dates with Mr. Sun soon (yes, with sunscreen). And of course continue my dedicated balanced diet and exercise regime. Ahem.

Thank goodness today was just family.

I still made Scott suffer through The Conversation. You know the one. "What do you think of my swimsuit? Do I look like Moto-Moto? Should I wear the other one? Am I offensive? Yada yada..." Bless his heart, he tries to say the appropriate answers that will pacify my anxious state yet not set me off on a hide all the sharp objects ranting rage. He walks a very fine line.

Today, as Annelise made her third trip to the restroom followed by laborious tugging to pull her one piece suit back up and untwist the straps, Peggy said I needed to get her a two piece. I nodded rather absent-mindedly and kept trying to untwist straps. Then I started thinking about it, two pieces are easier and I could probably find a modest tankini style at Land's End. And yet. Still. I have to admit I'm scared to go down the bikini road, my rationale being if I don't want her to wear bikinis as a tween/teen I probably should not introduce the possibility now. Whatever guidelines we hope to have for modesty as a tween/teen we need to lay the groundwork now I suppose.

So, being a naturally curious person and also quite indecisive, I'd like to know what you think about my one piece vs. two piece self-imposed dilemma for Annelise's next swimsuit. Let's discuss...


She's Got No Strings

After a year of practice strengthening her ballet and tap skills, Annelise was ready for her big performance last Sunday afternoon. This year she danced a tap routine as a precious Pinocchio. Or a Pinochioette, since she's a girl and all.

Her performance was in Act II, so she was able to sit with us until intermission. She was absolutely entranced watching all the girls from itty bitty first years, tweens, teens and even adults perform their routines. Miss Jill wanted all the costumes to be covered until they went on stage, so A. wore one of Scott's shirts. We snapped a quick self-portrait before the lights went down for Act I.

Every year the little girls have a big sister to keep them company while they wait for their turn on stage. This year A. was over the moon to have her big girl friend, Kelsey, be her big sister. A. was almost more excited about that than the actual recital.

Here is a little video of her routine for your viewing pleasure (sorry, no popcorn). There is a bit of the play before the tappin' Pinocchios come out, so please be patient.

This was her third year in dance and believe it or not, there has been much growth and improvement since her first year as a tiny little thing in a tutu. Needless to say, we were bursting with pride for our sweet little Pinocchio!


Square One

As in starting back at square one. Uno. As in starting over.

After a hiatus so embarrassingly long I'm not quite sure how long it lasted, I blew the dust off my running shoes (Mizuno Creation in case anyone cares), hooked my sports bra and hit the street. Don't worry, I was wearing normal running attire as well.

For the first mile or so I felt every last doughnut, brownie, slice of pizza, basket of chips and salsa, and other assorted junk that I have chosen to eat these last several weeks. Or is it months? Um, didn't I reactivate my Weight Watchers membership at some point?

Y'all. It was hard. My legs were like lead. Lead covered with sugar and cheese.

In an effort to just survive, I changed my run/walk intervals from 5:1 down to 3:1. Good call. I survived 4 miles at an average pace of 12:15. I'll take that.

Highlights from the run:
Lovely evening, not too hot, no skeeters. Scott and Annelise keeping me company for a while on their bikes. Wishing I was on a bike. Watching a hang-glider as the sun set. Feeling my legs moving, my breath laboring, my body jiggling, sweat dripping actually felt pretty good, all things considered. To the people in their boat in the canal, sorry if I startled you. Pressing stop on my Garmin the second I reached 4 miles. Stretching.

Since I believe almost every life experience can relate to an episode of Seinfeld, I wanted to close with a quote from Kramer in honor of my first run in a long time and being out there, Jerry and loving every minute of it. (Strictly related to running of course).

But I couldn't find it. So you'll have to settle for this compilation of all time favorite scenes and catch phrases. Enjoy. And go ahead, laugh a little, it's good for you.


Catch and Release

In a fluke of nature yesterday we were blessed with a visit of true spring. Since we typically jump from winter directly into the evil throes of summer, spring days are often only a dream. Monday was an exception with a delightfully cool breeze in the morning, followed by a warm, clear, non-humid afternoon.

I almost forgot I live in South Texas.

It was pure bliss to sit outside and read without melting or being carried away by those pesky skeeters. Annelise occupied herself with swinging, climbing, neighbor cat petting, digging, ant watching, sandbox playing and cartwheel perfecting, not necessarily in that order.

The highlight of the day was finding her very own frog. She named him Eric.

She declared that having a frog was a big responsibility and she was ready for whatever that entailed. This proclamation was followed by grass gathering, frog toting and frog gazing (on her part, he really just wanted outta there). Within about an hour and half of acquiring Eric, and after a little gentle parental persuasion, she decided to let him go free so that he could find the bugs he needed and live a full froggy life.

Needless to say Scott and I were quite pleased with her decision.

I was thankful not only for the gift of beautiful weather but also for the memories of watching my little girl play her little heart out. And give a piece of it to her frog.

Be sure to pop over & visit Chatting at the Sky for more Tuesdays Unwrapped stories.


The Non-Date Date

We are blessed with a 5 year old with strong manipulative skills. Her skills are especially useful when she applies them to Pappo and Grandma. Friday afternoon, as we drove in from school, Annelise asked to run over to say hi to them. About 2 minutes later she ran back over here, bursting through the door short of breath and gasping something along the lines of, "Grandma is about to go swimming! Can I go too PUH-leeease? Where's my suit? I don't care if it doesn't still fit, I promise I won't complain! So can I? Huh, can I?" I gathered her suit, cover up and towel and in a jiffy she was on her way back over to their house.

I'm so thankful our neighbors don't mind her wearing a trail across their back yard. They're sweet that way.

A couple of hours later we got a phone call from Annelise asking to spend the night. There was even talk of swimming before breakfast Saturday morning. Who are we to refuse?

Suddenly Scott and I were left childless for an evening, thanks to her clever negotiating skills. We weren't quite sure what to do with ourselves.

So Scott mowed the yard. Then we went to Fuddrucker's.

Are you jealous?

We ended up watching Fireproof on Dish on Demand. Have you seen it? The message is really good and applicable to all marriages. If you haven't seen it, put it on your list. It's definitely worth watching with your spouse. I think practicing the Love Dare would be beneficial too, even for stable marriages, by making more of an effort to show love for your mate daily for 40 days. Most of the daily challenges are simple, but are possibly things we take for granted or don't make much an effort to practice. I'll let you in on a little secret, I'm thinking of picking up a copy just to give it a whirl. Why not? While I liked the message of Fireproof, I wouldn't feel true to my inner nitpicker if I didn't complain about the acting, which was honestly a little on the cheesy side. Sorry.

So parts of Fireproof were emotional. To top that off, we DVRd Farrah's Story and watched it later. Did y'all see that? Her story of her battle with cancer was so honest and moving. Cue more tears. Buckets. The part that got me the most was when she visited her dad and when he talked about her, because to him she wasn't Farrah the Star, she was his daughter, his little girl who was sick. So sweet and sad at the same time.

After all of this emotional TV and movie viewing on our spontaneous date night that really wasn't a date, there was only one way to soothe my frayed heart strings.

Ice cream.


in my mirror

i see:

a fresh haircut and color to strengthen my resolve to let my hair grow

even though it's taking it's own sweet time growing, i am thankful to have thick hair, so what i lack in length, i have in width (note new spike-ey sides i'm still adjusting to...hmmm)

the off exposure, glowing light that pleasantly washes out any skin imperfections and makes my teeth look whiter than they actually are

and the fact i'm still experimenting with Bare Minerals makeup and deciding whether i'm a true devotee or not

the wider hair-do seems to balance my glasses (maybe)


polka dot earrings worn for a dash of fun

my fun camera i should use daily to practice & improve my photography skills

someone that snapped a jillion shots to get an angle where my face doesn't look so corpulent

a girl still making poor food choices and not exercising

that same girl who sees (and feels) what is happening doesn't like herself when she is like this and yet...continues

a girl still trying to be content with herself

i see me


Of Blankets and Barstools

As I washed up lunch dishes and straightened up the kitchen, I heard a bit of commotion in the family room. Seems a clubhouse of sorts was being constructed and she needed my help stretching a blanket over the barstools.

I was happy to oblige.

Did you know it's much more entertaining to watch your afternoon show through dangling fringe?

It is, if you're 5.

Her newly constructed clubhouse was also the perfect spot to color, hang out with Leppy (her faithful pink leopard) and lazily leaf through a stack of books.

She was quite content, peeking out only occasionally, to request sustenance.

I was happy to oblige.

There will come a day, probably much too soon, where she will scoff at a barstool and blanket clubhouse and other things will capture her fancy. While I'm sure I will savor those new moments as well, I don't want to forget moments like these either.

Kindergarten is a slippery slope, I'm told.

Be sure to visit Chatting at the Sky to read other Tuesdays Unwrapped posts.


Mother's Day in Review

Friday morning I was Annelise's honored guest in her classroom for a Mother's Tea. Imagine my heart swelling as she greeted me, curtsied and then gently took my arm and led me to our table.

We enjoyed tea together (though she preferred apple juice),

along with an array of delightful treats.

The celebration soon drew to a close and it was time to leave, but not before receiving my very own hand painted blooming pot of purple pretties. I hope I don't kill them.

Mother's Day was low key (my favorite) with church, lunch at La Madeleine and a lazy afternoon around the house. Before naps, basketball playoff watching and reading, I gathered the troops for a family photo. I don't know why we don't do this more often, it's not that hard to set up the tripod and use the remote clicker, but we don't. After many snaps of silly faces, odd snarly faces, tickle breaks and A.'s turn with the clicker, we got at least one semi-keeper. Whew.

As I was doing A.'s hair before church, she asked the very deep philosophical question, "If there is a Mother's Day, why isn't there a day for me?" I smiled inside and gave the deep philosophical answer told to me when I was about her age and posed the same question, "Well that's easy, every day is your day because you're a kid."

Not so sure she swallowed that hook, line and sinker.


The 'Ville Weekend: The Flip Side

So what did the mice do to keep themselves busy while the mama cat was away? Plenty!

Friday night they ate at their favorite deli which is conveniently located right next door to a Marble Slab. Saturday morning they went to Putt-Putt so A. could finally ride the bumper boats. After seeing them on an earlier visit, she had been talking, dreaming, pestering to go back sometime to ride them. Mama's weekend trip away was the perfect opportunity!

Of course she selected a pink boat. Later she got a hole in one on the 18th hole and was mighty proud. Maybe she'll grow up to be a golfer like her daddy.

Later that same afternoon they stopped by the Village Fair that was in town that weekend to play and spend too much $$ for tickets to ride rides. Oh well, it was worth it because she had a blast.

Cars, bikes, elephants...it didn't matter, they were all fun.

Scott said she liked this mini rollercoaster the best. I think it was a gator. Or a dragon.

Looks like they had fun while I was gone! I'm so thankful Scott is willing to take on solo-parent duty occasionally so I can enjoy time with my girlfriends. I'm also pleased he documents their adventures for The Blog.


The 'Ville Weekend: The Souvenirs

Of course a few pretties and cutesies HAD to come home with me as a keepsake of our wonderful weekend. This bird's nest looks perfect under my glass dome thing-a-ma-jig.

Take a peek at this...

Isn't this wire thing FAB? It's perfect for clipping cute notes, cards or photos. I haven't decided on a place to hang it yet, so it's propped on the red dresser in our family room. I don't know...since I'm lazy and all, it just may have found it's permanent home. I clipped on an old postcard from a Smithville parade in the 1940s that Lynn generously shared and the little teapot invitation for the Mother's Day Tea Friday morning from Annelise.

You will also see scattered in the bowl some of the blue and green eggs in with the pine cones already living there, along with a little clay bird nestled in her new home. Yeah, I'm not so sure about the pine cones AND the eggs, but I went with it anyway. This bird likes to live on the edge.
I must also point out my recent bribery to myself, the orange lilies. In order to make myself go grocery shopping I've been treating myself to flowers from HEB these last few trips. What can I day? They make me happy and the shopping a little more pleasant. I usually wheel my buggy over to the flower area first then proceed with my drudgery shopping.

I also could not resist a teeny tiny bird's nest for glass thing-a-ma-jig #2.

Finally, this darling fan came home as a little gift for Annelise.

She was quite infatuated with its pinkness and its featherness. Doesn't every girl need a pink feathered fan? I think yes.


The 'Ville Weekend: Part Deux

The girls and I spent our weekend enjoying the perks and quirks of small town Texas. Smithville is Heather's darling hometown and most of her family still calls it home. Every time I visit a place, I always want to move there (and I always think I'm serious), and Smithville is no exception. The pace is slower, the people friendlier, the number of streetlights--two.

In 1997 Smithville was the setting for the movie Hope Floats, which is one of my all time favorite chick flicks. This is the house where Sandra Bullock called home. Isn't it GORGEOUS?!?!

One of the sweet neighbors took some time to tell us some stories from when the actors and crew were set up in her side yard. I think her name was Gladys and she was a hoot!

Plus I liked her choice in footwear.

Earlier that afternoon we ate delicious BBQ at the world famous Zimmerhanzels. Well, I don't know if it's world famous, but it did make Texas Monthly's list of best BBQ joints.

Don't let the deer on the wall (plus one small cheetah) alarm you, this place serves up mouthwatering BBQ. We each got a chopped beef sandwich, small potato salad and iced tea for $4.01!! Delicious and easy on the pocketbook.
Downtown has lots of character and charm. This is Mary-Catherine's deli and gift shop in the old Mobil station. Isn't it cute?!?!

Heather, Kim, Robyn and I lined up to greet Lacie as she drove into town. We were SO excited to see her!

We stayed in The Nest, which is a bed and breakfast in the back of this delightful gift shop.

The shop is filled to the brim with all kinds of pretties and cutesies. A few things definitely came home with me at the end of our trip. We called this the Magic Door because behind it was the B&B, also filled to the brim with pretties and cutesies.

There were three bedrooms, a den, kitchen and bathroom, each room decorated within an inch of its life. Here we are in the little nook I slept in.

We spent Friday afternoon popping in and out of all the cute antique shops in downtown. They have the cutest pharmacy that got me tickled because there is only one of each item on the shelves, when they sell it then they put out another. Love that!

After an afternoon of sightseeing, window shopping, giggling and picture snapping, we were treated to a delicious supper at Pockets by Lynn, Tawana and Becky.

I had a tasty green chile burger with sweet potato fries. YUM! The restaurant is filled with memorabilia, like the Snappy Shots sign from the photo place where Sandra Bullock worked in the movie. Check out how they serve the fixin's for your burgers. Love that!

Saturday, after Ladies' Day, we stopped beside a field of pretty (yet quite prickly and itchy)wildflowers for a photo.

Once we were back at the B&B, we settled in to debrief about the day and our talks. It was so funny because obviously the adrenaline from earlier had worn off and as we were chatting we each started to nod off (except for Heather and Kim--what's up with that?) and we fell like dominos. We later woke refreshed and headed out for a tasty Tex-Mex supper at...

Sunday morning we went to the local nursing home where Heather's parents and a few others conduct a short worship service for the residents. It was so touching and uplifting to sit, sing and hear the Good News with them. The church members come early to help them get dressed and down to the main room, help them turn their song book pages and assist them with the Lord's Supper with such love and respect (some of them are not physically able to take it by themselves). What a wonderful ministry and service they are doing!
After that, we went to worship service at the Smithville Church of Christ. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, it made me long for small congregations. I know there are benefits and side effects of both large and small churches, but coming from a larger one I certainly could appreciate the more personal flair.
We went back to Heather's sweet Nana and Poppy's home for lunch, which was affectionately called Hog Dinner. Can you guess what that was? A huge taco salad that was delicious (I think they call it Hog Dinner because everything gets dumped in one large bowl, then when you add the dressing it gets, well...sloppy) served with sweet tea and homemade pecan pie for dessert. Oh my goodness it was sooooo good!

Aren't Nana and Poppy precious? Oh YES they are! They are in their 80s and have been married for 67 years (I think). Thanks to them, I was again reminded of the impact and importance of hospitality. Nana has been recovering from open heart surgery these last several weeks, yet she did not let that stop her from inviting us all over for Sunday lunch together. We all pitched in, it was simple food served on paper plates for convenience, all that matters though is time together talking, sharing and laughing over a meal. Priceless memories!
The day was quickly ticking away. Too soon we had to pack up, load up and head out of town. But not before a little more shopping...

and one last picture together. In the middle of the street no less. Did I mention that I LOVE small towns?!?!

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