Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A 'Toe'-st to the New Year...

I pictured my last blog of 2008 going a little differently. I thought I might impart a few words of wisdom…a few things that I learned about myself this year… recalling some of our adventures over the course of this crazy, lightning blasted, novella writing, soul-searching year of growth.

Instead, I’m talking about my toe. Yep. My pinkie toe on my right foot. How undignified.

This morning, I took a trip to H.E.B. with all three kids, to pick up a few of the things we need for our little New Year’s Eve get-together. I threw on some clothes and a baseball cap for the quick trip, and slid my feet into my flip-flops. Now let me just tell you, I am a flip-flop fanatic… I wear them almost constantly. That is, until the temperature drops down into the thirties, and then I just can’t swing it anymore.

After filling our cart with junk, and alcohol (hey, it IS New Year’s Eve!), stopping to visit with the multitude of people we knew who were ALSO shopping in H.E.B. (of course, ALWAYS when I’m looking like crap) and picking out Lunchables for the kids (they love those stupid things, and they are a very rare treat), we headed back out to the van. Libby, my sweet little angel, was ‘helping’ me push the cart, standing in front of me, with her hands on the cart handles. And then she stopped for no apparent reason, which she occasionally does. And I kept walking. And I totally whacked my toe on the heel of her shoe. It hurt, but I’ve stubbed my toe before. I even managed to not swear in front of the children.

Then I looked down and saw my little pinkie toe jutting out at the craziest angle. Well, damn… what’s a girl to do? After loading all the kids and groceries in the van, driving past my doctor’s office (just to see it closed for the day), yelling at my husband on the phone (sorry, honey!) and going home to unload the groceries, I called my wonderful friend, Sarah, to see if I could drop the kids off at her house, in order that I might go to the clinic.

Now, I know what you might be thinking… the doctor really can’t do much with a broken toe. Just tape it and go on. Well, I might have considered that if my toe hadn’t been stuck at an almost 90 degree angle. In fact when I got to Sarah’s house, she took one look at my toe, and insisted on driving me to Urgent Care. It didn’t really hurt too much, and I actually couldn’t stop giggling about how ridiculous it looked, which prompted Sarah to ask me if I was in shock. We left the kids with her husband, and she took me to the clinic (and even left and brought me back a diet Coke… now, that’s a true friend!)

So a few hours, one trip to Urgent Care, a cutie pie doctor, a dislocated (not broken) toe popped back into place, a $30 band-aid wrapped around my toes, and a prescription for 800 mg Ibuprofen, later… I’m ready for the New Year’s festivities to begin.

Thank goodness our theme tonight is a ‘PJ party’ game night, and I can just wear my fuzzy slippers. Which just so happen to look like flip-flops. Will I never learn?

Happy New Year, everyone!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

10 Things I Love...

10 Things I Love (other than the obvious... 'family, friends, wine, etc.' ;)

1. The smell of fresh cilantro.

2. Really good dark chocolate.

3. Taking a nap in the afternoon, covered up with a blanket, especially when it's raining. Especially when it's a thunderstorm. (and I've remembered to unplug the computer!)

4. Lip gloss

5. Making someone laugh.

6. The theme song from that cheesy 80's show, 'Greatest American Hero'. I can sing it word for word.

7. Wearing flip-flops

8. A brand new fountain Diet Coke (You HAD to know that would be on the list! C'mon, people.)

9. Making lists ;)

10. Mad Libs

Monday, December 29, 2008

10 Things I Hate

10 Things I Hate.

1. Rap music

2. Hominy

3. Bread pudding (um... soggy bread? hello?!)

4. Morning sickness (no, silly, I'm not having it now... just remembering it.)

5. People who are dishonest, or who are just basically full of crap.

6. The little wrinkle in my forehead from years of squinting (because I was too vain to wear my glasses).

7. People who are always negative. (Now, I KNOW this is a list of things I hate, so that might sound kind of weird... but I'm usually a VERY positive, upbeat person. I am, dammit!)

8. Being outside when it's cold and windy.

9. When someone reads over my shoulder.

10. That shivery, achy, tired, 'I might be getting the flu' feeling... which is about where I'm at right now.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

'The book is better..."

To me, it is practically sacrilege to see a movie without first reading the book. I just can’t bring myself to do it. I remember slogging through Gone With the Wind in high school before I would let myself watch the movie. Same thing last year with Charlotte’s Web (or was it two years ago?). I read it to the kids in the weeks before the movie came out, and then we went to see it. And no matter how many times I’ve read that book, I just can’t get through the part where Charlotte dies, without crying. So if a movie comes out that was based on a book (especially a kids’ book), the book MUST be read first. It’s just kind of our rule. Okay, take that back… it’s kind of MY rule, and everyone else just falls in line.

So in that vein, I started reading The Tale of Despereaux to the kids tonight. The movie based on this book came out last week, and I know they want to see it… but I wanted to wait until after the craziness of the holidays was over before I began the story. And the bonus of waiting… by the time we are finished with the book, it may actually be at the dollar movie… Hah!

We are through the first six chapters, and Davis and Josie are already completely enchanted, and can’t wait to find out what happens next (oh heck, neither can I.) Libby, on the other hand, was too busy brushing my hair and putting barrettes in it while I was reading, to be too concerned about the big-eared little mouse. She did perk up, however, when she heard about the Princess, who oddly is named ‘Pea’ (we’re not very far in yet, maybe we’ll get an explanation later.) Libby nodded her head, and said matter-of-factly, “She must pee in her bed.” Yes, I’m sure that explains it. ;)

Friday, December 26, 2008

My kingdom for a damn guinea pig...

Now, I ask you... would you think that it's difficult to find two short haired guinea pigs that are female and 'youngish'?

Prior to today, I would have said, 'No'. Well, my friends, I was wrong. Dead wrong.

More later. This search for guinea pigs is enough to wear a girl out. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I believe in Santa...

My boy is a bit of a skeptic. He’s always been very analytical, and at the age of six and a half, the question of ‘Santa’ is no exception. He’s already trying to figure out how Santa does all he does in such a short amount of time, and how he will get down the chimney (see picture above)… “There’s a blocker in there, Mom!” I assured him we would open the flue tonight.

It stands to reason that ‘Mr. Black & White’ would be the first to call into question why P.J. the Pajama Elf wrapped his Christmas pajamas in the same paper that other presents were wrapped in. My surprised answer… “Well, gosh, I guess P.J. found the paper in Mommy’s room, and used it!” He smiled, and said, nonchalantly, “Or maybe you did it.” Holy jingle bells, Batman! Gotta start being more careful, I guess.

Josie has NEVER questioned the validity of Santa or P.J. or any of the wonderfully woven tales of Christmas legends and traditions. She is a believer. She knows that such magic is real, and my heart soars to see her help her little sister with her letter to Santa, and get so incredibly excited about everything that is Christmas.

Davis, on the other hand, stalks around the tree like a miniature detective, trying to sort things out in his own head, attempting to logic out why there is a Santa in the mall, a Santa at the ‘Christmas in the Park’, and a Santa at my grandparents’ house each Christmas Eve. I reassure him that they are the ‘Real Santa’s Helpers’, but I’m not sure he is convinced.

But just today, just when I worry that this might be the last Christmas that all three of my kids are believers, I noticed a sign on our Christmas tree. A letter to Santa from my son. (see the picture on the side of the blog) ‘To: Santa … From: Davis… I BLEV IN YOU’. I’m not sure if it’s an 11th hour, last ditch effort to convince Santa that he really HAS been a good boy this year, but it made me smile.

And it made me wistful because it reminded me that these early years are so fleeting. My children will only be small for so long. Hug those little believers, my friends. Those sweet children that believe that anything is possible…and remember that the magic of Christmas exists for all of us when we take a moment to look into the eyes of our kids and delight in their wonderment.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

All decked out...

So in yesterday’s blog, I mentioned going to the Zilker Trail of Lights. What I didn’t mention was that is was COLD. You might have noticed in the picture at the top of the blog that Davis looks just a teensy bit like Randy (Ralphie’s little brother) from the movie, ‘A Christmas Story’. It looks like at any moment, he could just roll right off the Yule Log, and lay flat on his back, flailing his arms, unable to get up, due to the heavy coat.

It was cold. Technically… it was freezing. I think the weather guy might have actually used the words, ‘frickin freezing’ (or maybe I just imagined that.)

The wind chill was in the 20’s, and even though we bundled up, and even though 2/3 of our children were actually BORN IN COLORADO, we are all Texas winter weenies now. We walked so quickly through the trail that even I was willing to forgo a lot of the cutesy pictures that I demand every year.

And, yes, we DO go every year. I guess that’s why they call it a tradition. Phil said last night, “Think you could just take those pictures and dupe ‘em for the next thirty years?” (I swear, sometimes he forgets who he married…) But honestly, the trail doesn’t change very much each year. The displays are the same, the music is the same, and you know when you go through the tunnel of blue stars, that you are nearing the end (last night, we were pretty glad to see the tunnel…)

But don’t you think that’s what we want in a tradition? The kids look forward to spinning under the Tree of Lights every year, seeing the trees that light up in time with the music from ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’, and eating kettle corn.

We all have our favorite displays, which are sponsored by various businesses around Austin. One of my favorites is the Nativity, (sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Austin, I believe), and I like to stand there, listening to the strains of ‘O Holy Night’… that is until one of the kids shakes my arm and asks, “Mommy, why is the Baby Jesus so big?” Seriously, it looks like he’s about to climb out of the manger, shrug on a backpack and head to the nearest Bethlehem kindergarten class. It’s a bit out of proportion, I guess.

Last night, though, when we walked past the Nativity, I was appalled to see a red Santa hat perched on the head of the Baby Jesus. Now it wasn’t like some jokester had just plopped it on top… it was actually fitted down on the head of the figure, like it was meant to be there. Um… whaat?! Guess I’ve been reading that verse in Luke all wrong… “She wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and a red polyester hat with a pom-pom on top…”

And it’s not just the anachronism that bugged me. Seeing the image of the Christ child (albeit a gigantic one) being linked so obviously with the trappings of the conventional ‘consumer driven Christmas’ bothered me. Yes, I know… I was willing to forgive the fact that there were displays of Santa on either side, and lights strung through the trees… yeah, yeah…Trust me, I’ve got my own little ‘Hypocrite’ t-shirt wrapped up under my tree at home. I guess I just had that feeling… you know the one… ‘Is nothing sacred?’

Of course, last night, it was so cold, that He probably could have used a jacket and a scarf, too.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Weekend Wrap-up...

Highlights of the weekend...

1. 'Mamma Mia'... hanging out with girlfriends and watching the movie. Love, love, looove it! 'Take a Chance on Me' has been blasting from my speakers all weekend, and Josie keeps begging to hear 'Dancing Queen' over and over. (Thank God we decided to get her an IPod Shuffle for Christmas.) And there's nothing quite like singing with your 8 year old daughter, "Gimme, gimme, gimme a man after midnight..." Egad! We're driving Phil crazy. I had no idea my kids would be so 'into' a musical soundtrack... I'm bustin' out 'Grease' next week.

2. 'Christmas with the cousins' in Temple... good times... the kids playing together... eating... hanging out... decorating cupcakes... playing Cranium with the fam...
My dorky brothers can still crack me up. Nobody can sing 'Like a Virgin' in the voice of Slingblade quite like my big brother, Rusty. hah!

3. Zilker Trail of Lights... now THIS is an Austin tradition! Never been? Oh, you must go! You must! If you've never spun around under the tree, had a cup of hot cocoa, and warmed up near the Yule Log, it should definitely be on your list of "Things to do in Austin, Texas"... right up there next to visiting the Tower (you know the one!), going to the SRV statue (okay, I admit, I've never done that), eating Amy's Ice Cream, and buying one of those 'Keep Austin Weird' t-shirts. I might be just a little nostalgic about it, considering that was one of the places that Phil and I went on our first date waaaay back in December of 1990. (If you're doing the math, yes, that was EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO!) Dressed in formalwear, no less, on our way to his fraternity's winter formal. Wow, if you've never spun under the tree in a cocktail dress and heels... um, actually, I don't recommend it. Makes me a little dizzy just thinking about it.

4. Even more CHRISTMAS CARDS in my mailbox! people have some cute kids! ;)

Hope you all had an awesome weekend, as well!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's in the mail...

Among my least favorite chores… checking the mail. I’m not sure why, except for the fact that the mailboxes are around the corner from the house, and whenever I get the mail, a good percentage of it (the junkie stuff anyway) ends up in the floorboard of my van. Why is it that in newer neighborhoods, there is no mailbox at the end of the drive? That was the way we used to get our mail when I was a kid. You remember? The little mailboxes with the red flags? Maybe it’s a small town thing, but now we have the big community mailbox with the individual locked units. You know the one... where you sit in your car until that neighbor that lives two doors down that you don’t much care for gets THEIR mail, and then you do the ‘smiley nod’ thing to them as they pass you. Wow. That might have been too much information. ;)

And my mailman must hate me. I mean, he’s always very friendly to me whenever we happen to cross paths at the mailboxes, but I just know that secretly he wishes that I would check my mail more often than once every two weeks. Well, maybe not so secretly. He’s left a note in there before to let me know that it is too full. But with electronic bill-pay, and being able to access all your accounts on-line, I just forget that there is paperwork piling up in there, and I need to at least pick it up, open it, and leave it on the kitchen counter for a month. Oops… I mean, pick it up, open it, discard the trash, and file the bill neatly in the uber-organized filing cabinet. Yep, THAT’S what I meant.

So, yes, usually I hate to check the mail. Except in December. In December, this month of all mail months, I’m at the mailbox EVERY DAY, waiting for my mailman. Just to see him pull up in his little truck, I practically start bouncing from one foot to the other, as he unloads his little packets of mail. Why?! Two words… Christmas cards.

Oh, Christmas cards… how I love them! I love to send them, to receive them, to look at them, to hang them up and display them, and finally, when the holidays are over, to scrapbook them. Just the pictures I receive, mind you. Because isn’t that what we all love best? The pictures of the new babies? The pictures of the growing kids? The pictures of the vacation? Or the pictures of the new house, or the new puppy, or the new guppies? I do. I love them. I always like to see how my friends and family, both nearby and far-flung, have changed, and what they are up to.

I love the clever cards, the mushy cards, and the ‘cutesy’ cards. I really like getting the ‘newsy’ little family newsletters that people fold up and put in their cards, as well. Well, that is, I usually like them. Occasionally, you get the one that is a detailed account of how everyone has gotten a big job promotion, all the children are in the Gifted and Talented class at school, their dog won Westminster, and their family picture was taken in front of the Eiffel Tower on their month-long vacation. Sorry…not very much in the spirit of the season, but… gag!

So, hope you got my Christmas card, and I’m looking forward to getting yours. If you’ve already sent it, it is being displayed in my home, as we speak. But if it doesn’t get here before Christmas, rest assured that I will pick it up from the mailbox, oh... approximately, the middle of March.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nicknames… Part 2…

Okay… clearly I just don’t have enough to talk about since I’m talking about nicknames for the second day in a row. Thank you to those of you who sent me emails reminding me that I do have a few OTHER names, as well. Hah!

One of my mother has always called me ‘Ladybug’. She’s the only one that calls me that. And have you ever noticed that that’s the way a lot of nicknames work? For the ones that really ‘stick’, there is oftentimes just that ONE person that calls you that? From anyone else, it’s just not quite right. Nobody else can call me ‘Ladybug’… it’s a special name my Mom has for me.

Josie will tell you in a heartbeat that ‘Josie-Bear’ is her Daddy’s special name for her. And my mom is the only one who calls Libby ‘my Liblet’. I, on the other hand, call her, ‘LibbaLoo’. Davis gets to just be ‘D’ or ‘D.C’. My poor kids…. They are going to have such an identity crisis. We have so many little names for them.

But you know, I honestly think nicknames are a way to tell someone that you care about them. Okay, a silly, funny way to tell someone that you care about them, but a ‘language of love’, nonetheless. My grandfather has always been famous for giving out nicknames to his grandchildren. Some names stuck, others not so much. But my little brother has been ‘Slick’ for the last thirty-three years. He was bald as a cue ball when he was a baby and PaPa has never called him anything else. Keep in mind that over the course of 33 years, he has not only grown hair, but he has turned around and even lost a little (love ya, hon!)…no matter, he’s still ‘Slick’ to PaPa. That’s love, right there, my friends.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nicknames... gotta love 'em...

I love nicknames. Some people hate… I mean, really HATE nicknames. They give their child a certain name, and they expect people to call their child by their given name, by golly. Which I can totally respect. I, however, love diminutives… nicknames… as evidenced by the names of my daughters. I gave both of them what I thought were very classic, beautiful, timeless names. The names in fact, of two of the sisters in one of my favorite books: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Josephine and Elizabeth. Yet we call them Josie and Libby. I guess I just figure I get two great names for the price of one. ;-)

So, yes, I love nicknames. I love the stories behind nicknames. And even though it’s hard to shorten ‘Staci’, I’ve had my share of nicknames, too. In high school, it was tradition that when you were on the varsity cheerleading squad, the sponsor, Ms. Bray, would give you a nickname. Sometimes it would take Ms. Bray longer to choose some girls’ nicknames than others. But once you were given a name, THAT was your name. Evidently, mine was pretty easy. I was dubbed ‘Miss Priss’ practically from the beginning… which was shortened to ‘Priss’ almost immediately. Of course, I was in good company with Grumpy, Huey, Christmas Tree, Gabby, and Gumby, among others. So ‘Priss’ was my name, and it stuck. Ms. Bray never called me anything else. And when I saw her years after I had graduated, she still called me Priss. I guarantee that if I saw her tomorrow, I would still be her ‘Priss’, even though it has been over 21 years since I was first christened with that little moniker. (Jeez… I feel old now!)

At the scrapbook store where I work a few hours a week, teaching classes and spending any money I might actually make, I have been given the dubious nickname of ‘Cyclops’. Why?! Because I’m ‘Staci with just the ‘I’…. Get it?!! To differentiate me from the other two Staceys that work there. Do I mind? Of course not… it actually makes me laugh. It’s even funnier that customers have been known to call the store to sign up for a class, and they check to make sure that ‘Cyclops will be teaching’.

I do have to admit, though, that I haven’t always loved my nicknames. When I was little, my oldest cousin, Kenneth, loved to tease me when we would visit them in Mississippi, and he gave me a nickname which made me so mad, and made me cry more than once. He called me…are you ready for this? ‘Staci the Tasty Pastry’. I know… it’s soooo horrible, right?! NOW, I know it’s not that bad… that’s it actually kind of cute, but when I was a kid, just the sound of that could send me into a whining fit so fast; it’d make your head spin. “Maaake hiiim STOP!!” The grownups would reason with me, "He calls you that because you're so sweet." Nope. Still hated it.

It’s funny how time changes things. I’d love to see Kenneth… it’s been years since we’ve seen each other. And I just know he’d resurrect the nickname I haven’t heard in a long time. This time, though, I’m pretty sure I’d smile.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I have sparkles on my butt.

Yep, you read that right. I have sparkles on my butt. And it’s not just me… the rest of the family has sparkles on their butts, as well.

Before I tell you anymore, let’s flash back for just a moment to the spring of 1991. Oh, I know… waaaaaay back. I was a freshman at UT, living in the dorm, preparing to go to a spring formal. I can’t remember if it was a Lambda Chi formal (my future hubby’s fraternity) or a Texas Spooks formal, but the theme, if I’m remembering correctly, was ‘Black and White’. I had the perfect dress. I had actually worn it to my junior prom in high school (and if I could ever figure out how to work my scanner again, I’d upload a picture!). It was classic late 80’s with a black velvet top, puff sleeves, and a little flouncy skirt with black velvet dots on the white satin. Super cute. I even wore my hair in a rockin’ side pony tail, curled within an inch of its life. My bangs were high, too, of course. Oh, the 80’s! My mother had made it, as she made ALL of my prom dresses, and I planned on recycling it for the college formal.

About a week before the formal, as a favor to me, Phil took the dress to Jack Brown Cleaners to get it dry-cleaned. The day before the formal, he called me… with terror in his voice. (Keep in mind, we’d only been dating a few months… he had only BEGUN to experience the terror of life with me!) He said, simply… “The cleaners called. The spots fell off your dress.” Whaaaaaaaat?!!

As if turned out, the black velvet spots came off the white satin in the dry cleaning process. Who knew? My mother had made the dress, so it didn’t come with care instructions, and I assumed that having it dry-cleaned would be fine. Now, not only did the spots come off, but the cleaners was angry because the spots had stuck to all the other clothes that were being cleaned at the same time. I was full of righteous indignation, pissed that they had ruined my dress, and I vowed never to darken the doorstep of another Jack Brown Cleaners (which I have not, to this day.) I ended up just borrowing a black dress from a girl that lived on my dorm floor for the formal. It wasn’t nearly as cute, and I had to cinch the back of it with a safety pin, but it would have to do.

Now, I’ve been pissed about that little incident for the last 18 years. That is, until last week. Last week, I washed Josie’s Halloween costume. If you saw the pictures, you know she was Sharpay Evans from High School Musical 2 (she looked adorable!) We had thrown the dress in the ‘dress-up box’ and Libby has taken to wearing it, complete with the golfing glove. Of course, since she’s four years old, she spilled something on it (juice, milk, baloney…who knows?) Not really thinking, I threw the dress in the washing machine. It was covered with little silver sparkle dots…. half of them came off… and GUESS where they went?! That’s right. On everyone else’s clothes.

So, I’m feeling a little more understanding of Jack Brown Cleaners’ dilemma, all those years ago. And I’m hoping that you’re a good enough friend that you’ll tell me when I have sparkles on my backside.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Davis the dictator...

Okay, I’m back to the blog, after letting my mini-Mussolini do the blogging yesterday.

Davis was VERY specific about what he wanted ‘his blog’ to say. He would tell me exactly what to type, and then at the end of each sentence, he would say, “Period. Mom, put a period right there.” He didn’t want me to add anything to it, and you know how much I wanted to. My witty little commentary was just hankering to come out. It was a giant acorn, for heaven’s sake! That just cries out for snarky comments. When I tried, though, he just glared at me, pointed to the keyboard, and said, “That’s the backspace. I need to push it.” (darn school computer lab.)

And when he was finished, and I showed him that I’d put it on the blog, along with a picture of his beloved acorn… was he excited? Well, yeah, he was, but he was also pissed because the Daisy Duck cake picture was still on there. “I don’t want that on there! I just want the picture of my acooooorn!” (In case you can’t tell, that’s whining…) So, did I reason with him? Did I firmly tell him that all of the pictures on the blog were equally important? Did I stamp my foot, and say, “I worked hard on that stupid cake! The picture is staying!” ?

Nope…I finally just told him that no one else would be able to see it on THEIR computer. That they would only be able to see the picture of the acorn. So sue me, people! Jeesh…

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

One heck of an acorn...

In the interest of this being the ‘family blog’, I turned over the blogging duties to Davis today. He decided he’d like to tell you about his giant acorn.

Transcribed to Mommy: (with reminders of where to put each period, even!)

“My acorn is very big. I found it in my backyard. I lifted a rock up and it was pushed in the rocks. I pulled it out and it was a big acorn. It is from a burr oak tree. We googled it, and we saw a picture of it. It is very special to me because it is so big.”

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Now that I'm officially in my late thirties... ;)

Thanks everyone for all the fab birthday wishes, calls, cards and emails!

I had a wonderful birthday weekend, starting with dinner with my hubby on Friday night at Trudy's (Thanks Bonnie & Drew for keeping the three gangstas). Hadn't been there in forever, and we even went to the one that was just down the street from the school where I used to teach. I spent many a 'Happy Hour' at that location! The food was delicious, as usual, and the Mexican Martinis were strong (just like I remembered... or rather, 'didn't remember'?!) Anyway...

Saturday, I got to hang out with a couple of girlfriends, scrapbooking and having lunch, and then when I got home... the tree in the family room was lit up and decorated! Courtesy of my little family. We had already decorated the tree for the front room together, so I didn't feel like I missed out on any 'tradition', and appreciated that it was done as a surprise for me. Next time you're at my house, though, make sure you look back in the family room. The tree is so overloaded with ornaments in the front and on the bottom part, it's a wonder it doesn't just tip over from the weight. The kids gave me a gift card for a massage, and when I went to give Phil a hug, Josie said, "Don't thank him! It was us!" Heehee.

Phil also gave me a special silver ring that I'd been wanting which is stamped with each of our kids' names. Well, technically, he gave me the ring sizer, which they sent him after he ordered it because they need an exact size. The ring cannot be resized once its been etched, so there's not really room for any guesswork...anyway, the finished ring should be here in a couple of weeks. Yay!

And tonight we went to the new Salt Lick with some of our college pals. In case you didn't know, there is a new Salt Lick next to the Dell Diamond, and we hadn't tried it out yet. The friends we went with are, of course, the same ones we used to make the yearly (well, more often in college) pilgimage to Driftwood with, and it's always been a bit of a tradition for all of us. So, we were fully prepared to deem it as 'not up to par' with the original location. Well, let me tell you, it was every bit as delicious, without that LOOOOOONG drive! So, I think we may have just started a new tradition. ;)

Awesome birthday... um...looking back at this post, it appears that I ate my way through it. Oh well! Guess the kids get cake on their birthdays... I get alcohol and barbecue. I'll take the alcohol and barbecue any day...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My last NaNoWriMo post... promise! ;)

Okay, I promised ‘more later’, so here’s my last post about NaNoWriMo, at least until next November when I do it all over again (?!) I even have a few people that have agreed to try it with me. (I’m going to hold you to it!)

I hit the 50,000 word mark on Saturday night at around 9:00 p.m., and then I promptly stopped what I was writing and took a picture of my wordcount stats on the computer (yes, I know, I’m a doofus!) I entered my manuscript on the website to have my numbers verified, and when I did, the screen immediately changed to the ‘winner’s circle’, and it said that I had officially won NaNoWriMo 2008 (took a picture of that, too.) And then I cheered, took a few more pictures, and danced just a little, much to my husband’s amusement.

I had an extra day, so I could have easily gotten more words in, and waited until Sunday night to verify, but the way I looked at it was that I just needed to get to 50,000 words to ‘win’. I guess it’s kind of like having a baby. Nobody gets a medal for NOT getting the epidural and having a ‘natural birth’, and I didn’t get some kind of extra prize for writing 52,000 words vs. 50,000 before midnight, November 30th. So, I’ll just go ahead and get verified, and take pictures, and be done. And in case you couldn’t guess, I got the epidural all three times, too.

And no, I’m not done. I did not get my story finished. Not yet. The story still has a few thousand words left to go, and few more trials for my characters to conquer. And then of course, lots of editing and re-writes. I did NOT do what the website suggested and get a complete ‘story arc’ written. As much as things have changed as I have written, I wanted to see where this might go without pinning myself into an ending. I will finish it, I’m just not ‘under the gun’ so much, so to speak. Jen would kill me if I left her hanging. ;) My goal is to finish in the next week or so.

A few numbers to ponder: 119,301 authors signed up on the website to go on this crazy month-long journey, and 21,683 people got their numbers verified at 50,000 words (or more) and ‘won’. That’s an 18.2% ‘win rate’. And I have to say, I’m really not surprised that more people don’t complete it. It’s much more difficult than I thought it would be, initially. But once I got the momentum going, and got past about 15,000 words, it was easier to follow through. And I think it helps that I just REALLY hate to lose. Really, I do.

So, if you check the website, do an author search, and enter my author name (withbothfeet), you will see an awesome purple ‘winner’ bar on my author’s page.

Thanks again to all my lovely friends and family that listened to me go on about it this last month, probably to the point of splitting headaches. Sorry if I’ve been… what was the word you used, S.H.? ‘Obsessed’?! Yep, I have been, kind of. But I’m so glad I did it. I feel like I found a little piece of myself I’d forgotten about. The piece that isn’t just a wife and a mom and a volunteer (not that those aren’t wonderful things to be)…taking this personal challenge made me feel like a creative, complicated, artistic person. I guess I just needed a little kick in the pants to remember that. And what a month-long, caffeine-fueled, amazing kick in the pants it turned out to be.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Birthday Girl

“Am I still four today?” Libby asked me first thing this morning. I assured her that she WAS still four and that she would be for the next 364 days. That seemed to satisfy her. I’m not quite sure what she thought, though. Maybe when I have my birthday later this week, I’ll only have to be thirty-seven for a day, and then I can revert back to being thirty six for another year? I might like the logic of the newly four year old.

She had a great birthday yesterday with a par-tay in the park, her Daisy Duck cake, of course (yes, I’m leaving that dang picture up), snacks, presents, bubbles and a ‘Pin the Tail on Daisy' game, where I suspected the blindfold mask was a bit faulty when the first four children all stacked their ‘tails’ directly on top of one another. Hmmm…. We added a ‘spin’ for good measure, and the game was on!

Last night for dinner, we took her to her favorite restaurant, Mama Fu’s, where she got her usual teriyaki chicken and white rice which she loves to douse in soy sauce. When we got home, she opened her ‘big gift’ from us, which was a… are you ready for this?… a ‘Baby Alive Learns to Potty’. I’m not kidding. Or as Philip was calling it when we were shopping… ‘Little Baby Sh*ts Herself’.

Libby was soooo excited. She promptly named it ‘Emily’ and wanted to give her a bottle. Cute, right?

Now if the title is not enough to explain what it is, it’s a doll that ‘eats’ and ‘drinks’ and then…yep, pees and poops. Hopefully in the little potty chair that came with it in the box. More likely in the diaper that the doll is wearing. And she has a plethora of little phrases that she says when you push the button on her bracelet, a couple of the most memorable being, ‘Oooh… tinkle, tinkle!’ and ‘Uh-oh, I made a stinky!’ Think I’m joking?! I wish I were.

Had I known what was involved with this doll, it would have stayed on the shelf at Wal-Mart. Did you know that each time you feed the doll, you have to completely rinse her when you’re finished? But here’s the kicker… she’s not a tub toy. It specifically says that in the instructions. You just have to ‘flush her system’ with water to remove all the traces of ‘food’. Little did I know that I was going to be spending my late thirties giving doll enemas.

Let’s just hope Santa doesn’t bring the other doll she’s asking for... ‘Baby Alive has Smallpox’.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ace of Cakes has nothing on me!!!

Okay, let me just give you a minute to absorb the awesomeness...

Good? Heck yeah, it's good! So good, in fact, that even though it's 10:30 on Sunday night, the day before Libby's party, and I JUST finished the Daisy Duck cake (and I'm still wearing my freakin' apron!), I had to post the picture. And oddly, in the picture, it looks a bit like a mylar balloon... but it's not! It's a cake. A delicious cake, coated in pure awesomeness. Or at least I hope it's delicious.

I can't wait for her to see it! I'm tempted to wake her up right now just so she can look at it. Even though 2 days ago she DID say, 'You know, Mommy, I think I'd like a Tinkerbell cake for my birthday!' After my head was finished imploding, I talked her out of it. I showed her the cups and plates and napkins and tablecloths I had bought, and the 'Pin the Tail on Daisy' game I had made, and we were TOTALLY back on the Daisy bandwagon. (thank God!) And even though Phil said she looked a little like Daisy's slutty, drugged out cousin (Ditzy Duck, I presume?), I still love her. (Dammit, Phil!) That's right, I said it. I am in love with this cake.

So, that's it... I just wanted to share with you all my first foray into the world of fondant. It's a tricky little medium, but I think my first attempt turned out just ducky!'s late and I'm tired... ;)

Sarah, whaddya think? Definitely not a CakeWreck!

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I did it...

Look over there to see my awesome little badge. ;)

More later...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving...

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

So many things for which to be thankful... my wonderful husband, my awesome kids, my home (although it's not so clean right now), my family, and my amazing friends... and right now, I'm thankful that November is almost done. ;-) ...Current word count: 46,074 words

I love all of you- and I'm very thankful that you're a part of my life.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Getting closer...

Current word count: 41,785 words


(those are big smiles! yep, definitely smiling big... I'm in the homestretch now.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Oh boy... 'you're-in' trouble!!

Today was a day I was longing for diapers. Doesn’t happen very often, but when Libby and I walked out of Target today and finally got back to the van, she decided she needed to 'go potty right now, Mommy!!’ Oh man, what I wouldn’t have given for a Pamper... or a Pull-up...or heck, even a patch of grass.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve looked at a calendar lately, but Christmas is just a month away (I know, makes me a little light-headed just to say it), and we were aaaallll the way at the end of the Target parking lot. Evidently other people have decided to knock out some of that pesky Christmas shopping, and weren’t just there for a nail buffer and chocolate. We were parked so far away, we were practically OUT of the parking lot, at that point (I think the actual latitude and longitude were ‘BFE’).

“Mommy, Mommy, I have to go NOW!” Of course, she couldn’t have gone when we were in the Target bathroom, which was WHILE WE WERE IN THE STORE JUST FIVE MINUTES AGO. I even asked, as all good mommies usually remember to do, “Do you need to go potty?” (yet another word that has sadly become a routine part of my vocabulary… i.e. ‘Phil, could you stop at the next rest area? I need to go potty.’ Seriously…) Of course she didn't need to use the bathroom, but decided that she DID need to wash her hands. For approximately 6 to 7 minutes.

Nope, she needs to go NOW, when the store is so far away, all I can make out when I look at it is that little red and white target on the side of the building. Egad! So, I quickly get her out of her carseat, and grab her hand to start the long trek back into the store. Well that won’t do… “Mommy I have to go NOW!! I’m gonna pee-pee in my pants!” I ask you…what’s a mommy to do?!

Well, I don’t know about you, but I resigned myself to standing next to my van, holding my child by the arms, so she could squat to pee in the parking lot. (Okay now, no comments from my college pals about, ‘like mother, like daughter’, mmmm-kay?! No one would believe that anyway… ahem ;-)

I kept looking around, whispering frantically, ‘Hurry up!’, as if I expected someone to come along and say… say what? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe something along the lines of… ‘Omigod! This lady’s letting her kid urinate in the parking lot! Security! Call Child Protective Services!

No, today was not my most shining ‘motherhood moment’.

Makes me think… maybe I was little premature in taking the little potty out of the back of the van. Makes me think… maybe I need to be more insistent when we’re in the bathroom, that she needs to at least try to go.

Makes me think… I’m DEFINITELY throwing out these flip-flops.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Give me a U-P-D-A-T-E! (Shaking pompoms...)

Hard to believe, my friends, but this is the last week of the crazy 'write a novel in one month' journey I've been taking. A week from today, I will hopefully be getting my numbers verified on the nanowrimo website, at which point, I will be officially declared a 'winner'. Okay, no, you don't actually win anything, except for bragging rights.

I'll be able to say that I wrote a novel in a month. And trust me, I plan to say that alot. ;-) Plus, if I decide to re-visit the madness next November, I'll have a neat little badge next to my name on the website.

My current word count is... drum roll, please... 38,525 words. I'm on track to get to 50,000 by Saturday, which will leave Sunday for me to get ready for Libby's birthday party and making the Daisy Duck cake that she wants. How does that saying go? Is it 'no rest for the weary?' or 'no rest for the wicked?' Either way... there's no rest.

My novel will NOT be finished at 50,000 words, I'm almost certain, as I appear to be especially 'wordy'...which of course, you all knew. But I will attempt to write through to the conclusion of the story, and I can just go back and fill in later. That is the suggestion on the website, and I think its a valid one. What do I know? This is my first novel, and they've been doing this for awhile. At this point, I'll take all the suggestions I can get. ;-)

My reading team is doing a great job of keeping me motivated, and the e-mails saying, "Next chapter, please!!" give me hope that I'm weaving together a story for someone other than myself.

This is really a lot harder than I thought it would be, which I guess is why so many people kick off the month with great intentions, but so few actually finish. 1700 words a day doesn't sound that difficult when you say it out loud, but when you consider that it's 1700 fresh, brand new words that I have to pull out of my head everyday, forming them into dialogue, description, and plot development, it's a bigger challenge than I had initially thought.

But I will finish. And I will continue to love it. And I think I might have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. ;-)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Flub with the Sub

Current Wordcount: 33,424

My phone rang this morning at around 8:15. The caller ID listed the kids’ school, and as always when this happens, I began to wonder who has a fever, or who threw up, and I picture my day starting to re-arrange itself and whatever plans have been made, to take care of a sick kiddo. And you know as well as I do that those plans have now been altered to include a few extra loads of laundry if the culprit is a stomach bug. In my head, I begin to plan a quick trip to HEB to pick up an extra bottle of kids’ Motrin, and 7-Up… all this before I even pick up the phone. Phil always says I assume the worst… I say I’m a realist.

So, when I hear my 1st grade son’s voice, “Hi Mommy,” I immediately panic, and say “What’s wrong?!” Usually when one of the kids is sick, it’s our sweet little school nurse with the apologetic voice who is calling.

“Sweetie, what’s wrong? Why are you calling?”


For some reason, I start to imagine that he is hiding somewhere in the school, in an empty classroom or closet, and just decided to give me a quick buzz to let me know that even though the principal, his teacher, and half the fire department are ransacking the school searching for him, that he’s okay and just wanted to say ‘Hi!’

“Honey, where are you? What's wrong?!! Are you sick?” As it turns out, nobody was sick. Nobody was hiding. Nobody was doing anything…
...other than having to call Mommy to tell me that he had to sign the ‘Behavior Book’ when he had a substitute for his class. Not once, but twice. Keep in mind that if we had one of these books at home, this is the child that would have to sign it everyday… heck, we’d probably have to just attach it to his belt loop, so he didn’t miss a step when he signed it, yet again. But he very rarely misbehaves in school. In his teacher’s words, he’s very ‘happy-go-lucky’… who knew?!

So, I will absolutely take this seriously, and he will receive consequences, but I also have to admit that part of me is thinking… “It’s a substitute teacher, Staci. Everybody misbehaves a little for the sub.” (Okay, well maybe not Josie. SHE’S the kid that reports back to the teacher when she gets back, and has the list of offenders written on a piece of notebook paper in her desk... and the list is alphabetized.)

I just always kind of had that expectation back in the olden days when I was a teacher. Kids aren't always on their best behavior for substitute teachers. And the longer the sub is there, the more likely kids are to misbehave. And evidently Day #3 with the substitute just put it over the top for my kid. I guess what I'm saying is that I've decided to just take it all with a grain of salt. And I think his teacher feels the same way, but still felt obligated to have all the ‘guilty parties’ call their parents (oh yes, she assured me that he was definitely not alone in his antics). And I am very glad she had him call and take responsibility for his actions.

So now the question…what is a fitting punishment for throwing food on the floor of the cafeteria? Losing a toy? Being grounded? I’ve thought long and hard about this, and I think I’ve come to a workable solution that will help him learn his lesson.

He will be mopping our kitchen floor tonight. Sounds fair, right? It will hopefully remind him that someone has to clean up the cafeteria, and that throwing food on the floor is not only wasteful, but makes someone else’s job harder.

And maybe if I play my cards right, he’ll have to sign the Behavior Book next week, too. ;-)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time...

Just about 400 words from 30,000. I am soooooo tired right now, I seriously could just fall asleep sitting at the computlkj;dszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Monday, November 17, 2008

Never mind...

Disregard the last blog...


Discovered her asleep at naptime with LuLu... thumb in the mouth. She'd found her in the playroom, I guess, when she was finished looking at books and ready to actually go to sleep at naptime. My heart's a little happy. What can I say? She's my baby.

Libby-Lu and LuLu

Today is one for the history books. Okay, maybe just for the Linson scrapbook, but I am honestly sitting at this computer right now, completely stunned.

Many of you may have met my fourth ‘child’, LuLu. If you have not had the privilege, let me tell you a little about LuLu. She is a little stuffed lamb blankie/ lovey (you know the ones that are half blanket/ half animal?! Sounds creepy, but she’s oh-so-cute) that used to be soft and snow-white, with the sweetest little button eyes, and with Libby’s name embroidered on the front. A gift from the Coxes when Libby was first born, LuLu has pretty much been Libby’s constant companion.

LuLu has been well-loved, been dragged through the dirt, been through countless wash cycles, and been forgotten in a cart at HEB, at the playscape at McDonald’s, and various other places. But we always manage to locate LuLu because honestly, Libby has never been able to go to sleep without her. We’ve always said that if she would just give up LuLu, she’d probably give up the thumb-sucking, too, because they seem to go hand in hand.

In the last year or so, we’ve managed to keep LuLu in Libby’s room, to minimize the episodes of misplacing her (LuLu, not Libby!) Last year, though, when it was time for Libby to go to preschool, each day, she would have to put her best pal in the dryer to wait for her until she got home. Don’t ask me about the logic of a preschooler. So even though we can get through the day now without taking LuLu everywhere, she has always been right at Libby’s side in bed.

Until naptime, today.

Libby: “Mommy, you need to wash LuLu. Put her in the washing machine.”

Me: “Okay, don’t you want me to wait until after you have your quiet time?” (note: LuLu was not really dirty, she is just covered in fuzz, and pilled up like a sweater. I have to shave her regularly… yep, that’s a weird sight.)

Libby: “No, wash her and I will get her after I wake up.”

Me (in shock): “Um, okay…”

I closed the door, and waited for a couple of minutes for her to change her mind.

Nope. Nothing. I checked on her about ten minutes ago, and she is laying on her bed, looking at an Eloise book, snuggling with her Daisy Duck that she got in Disneyworld. And maybe it just boils down to the fact that she’s planned on not napping today, so she doesn’t need her sleepin’ buddy, but regardless, it’s a big day. And more than a little bittersweet.

Silly, I know...but if you’re a mommy, you'll understand why right now I’m using LuLu to wipe my tears.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Over the halfway mark...

Yay! Yay! Yay! I'm over the halfway point, both in words and days. Not yet into the 'home stretch', but getting there.

My current count is: 26,589 words. I SOOO TOTALLY ROCK! I am kickin' ass and takin' names...

Okay, sorry 'bout that. Just wanted to get that out of my system because I know it's gonna be a busy week, and it will be a challenge to keep up with my daily word count. It might be my last chance to be a shameless self-promoter (um, or 'braggart', if you prefer.)

Have a fab Monday, my friends.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Wintry Weather?

Current Word Count: 24,595 words

This morning I am sitting at the computer wrapped in my robe, and wearing fuzzy slippers. Why? Because that’s what all the hot suburban moms are sporting these days (yeah riiight!) And because baby, it’s COOOOOOOLD outside! We woke up this morning with the temperature in the low 40’s, and I have to say, it’s about damn time. I am ready for a little bit cooler weather… ready for jeans and long sleeve shirts… ready for chili in the crockpot…ready to watch t.v. snuggled under a blanket on the couch with my hubby (and usually all 3 kids...sigh!). Still not ready for the holidays, but that’s a whole other blog.

Winter in Central Texas is just my speed. Not crazy cold, and the few times it does actually get crazy cold or ices or (oh my God!) actually snows, most of us can pinpoint the exact date. “Oh yeah, remember the ice storm of ’93?!… we were housebound for two days!” Having been born and raised in Central Texas (and yes, we DO capitalize the ‘C’, thank you very much!), these are the kinds of winters I grew up with, so I was in no way prepared for our move to Colorado in the winter of 1998.

The day after Phil and I moved into our (3rd floor!) apartment in Denver, it snowed. I was almost in a panic…we were unpacking, were knee-deep in moving boxes, and we still had not had a chance to shop for groceries. I just knew we would starve before the snow could melt and we would get out.

My darling husband ,who spent his formative years in Indiana, KNOWS what real winter looks like. He still tells stories about walking to school in the snow. Uphill. Both ways. ;-) He just looked at me in disbelief, and said, “Stace, people actually DRIVE in the snow here.” Well, THEY might, but I sure didn’t, and it took me a couple of years to feel comfortable driving while it was snowing. It was after one particularly disastrous commute during a snowstorm that I pulled over to the side of the road, sobbing and practically hyperventilating because my windows kept fogging up and I couldn’t see. In my panic attack, I’d forgotten about that nifty little ‘Defrost’ button on my dashboard (hey! It’s a lot of pressure driving in the snow!).

As it turns out, that first day it only snowed about 2 inches, but I remember that despite Phil’s reassurances, I still felt completely like a fish out of water. Or more like a homesick Texas girl who wondered what in the heck she’d gotten herself into.

I did finally get used to winter in Colorado and actually began to love those early season snow storms. But even after six years of living there, there were times when I would wake up, see the snow coming down and coating our yard in a blanket of white, and I still could not shake the feeling that it would be a good idea for everybody to just stay home in their robe and fuzzy slippers.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Counting words... and counting... and counting...

Current Word Count: 18,345 words....... whew!

That officially means that I am about 37% of the way toward my goal of 50,000 words. Yep. Had to get the calculator out for that one. (I think that's right... math has never been my strongest subject! Correct me if I'm wrong, oh 'Great Learned Mathematicians'.)

Not sure if the book will actually be finished at 50,000 words, but the guidelines didn't say it had to be finished, just that it should be at least 50,000 words by midnight on November 30th. And then I can take my sweet time finishing it, I guess.

We'll have to play it by ear. My characters, much like willful children, keep saying and doing things I don't quite expect, and the story takes me off in a direction I had not anticipated.

Have I mentioned that I'm loving this? :-)

p.s. Several of you have asked me how I go about counting my words. It's pretty tedious and time consuming, and occasionally I'll lose my place and have to start over. That sucks. You know I'm kidding, right?!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Birthday Baloney

Current Word Count: 16642 words

Libby has hit on the perfect way to drive her brother and sister crazy. I mean, besides her well honed method of going into their rooms while they are at school, and moving things ever so slightly to make them wonder, “Was someone in my room today?” Yep, she’s a bit devious.

So, every night at the dinner table, we each go around and tell about the best part of our day, and one thing we would change (I know… it’s so very ‘Walton’s Mountain’ of us). Davis’ best part usually consists of something that occurred on the playground, like making it all the way across the monkey bars, and Josie’s is usually something along the lines of, “I wrote a new story today!” Not sure what’s up with that kid and her love of writing ;-)

Well, it just so happens that a couple of weeks ago, Libby’s favorite part of her day was going to lunch with Mommy and her girlfriends for another friend’s birthday. Davis and Josie heard ‘birthday’, and said, “You went to a birthday party?!” And that was all it took:

Libby (thinking): Um… yes… it was a birthday party! It was fun. And…um… we went swimming.

J & D (simultaneously): Noooo! That’s not fair!

Libby: And we had cupcakes.

J & D: Cupcakes?!!

Libby: with sprinkles. And presents, and there was a Ferris wheel and a rollercoaster, and we went swimming. (yes, Libby, you mentioned that part!) In a pink swimming pool.

J & D: Aaaaaaaahhhh!!!

Libby: What else, Mommy?

Me (sarcastically): Don’t forget the pony rides.

Libby: Oh yeah… we had pony rides!

J & D (wailing): I hate school! I want to stay home and go to a birthday party!

Libby: Oh, and Indiana Jones.

J & D (& Me): Huh?! Indiana Jones?

Drove them absolutely crazy. After a couple of nights, though, they wised up to the fact that we didn’t actually go to birthday parties every day while they are toiling away in school. And truth be told, I think Libby has run out of outlandish things to tease them with (she is, after all, not quite 4 years old… her experiences are fairly limited).

Just the other night, when we asked her about her favorite part of her day, she said, in a bored and nonchalant way, “Oh, you know… ponies, cupcakes, and Indiana Jones.”
Ho-hum… such is the life. ;-)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Another booooring update! Sorry, folks, I'm tapped out...

Current Word Count: 15042 (yay!)

Busy, busy weekend around here... I'll post more later. The peppermint tea, the bubble gum, and the pulse throbbing 80's music (Motley Crue, anyone?!) are only going to keep me going for so long.

Fortunately, I'm still on track with my daily word goals, and have managed not to fall behind... even though there are days when I don't know how I'm going to eke out another 100 words, much less 1667 (daily allotment). Then I get to a part that I'm super excited about, and before I know it, I'm there.

Now that they've re-enabled the author search on the NaNo website, I might post an excerpt later this week. Um, I MIGHT... ;) I'll check with my two editors to see what they think!

Have a lovely Monday! (Oh, and I posted the new weekly menu on my other blog!)

Friday, November 7, 2008

And now...

Current Word Count: 11694

Yep, that's it for today's blog. Sorry! But maybe if YOU commented more, I'D have more to say. ;-)

Truth be told, I'm just tired. And I think I might be developing carpal tunnel, and a serious case of 'what the heck was I thinking?'... I'm not sure yet. I'll keep you posted. haha

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Update... oh yes... an update.

Okay, consider yourself warned... this post is about NaNoWriMo... yet again! So if your eyes were glazing over at the last post about my in-the-works 'speed novel', you may just want to check back tomorrow.

You can't see me right now, but I'm doing the happy dance!
Oops! Tripped... I'm notoriously clumsy.

And WHY am I doing the happy dance? I hit the 10,000 word mark today!! Yay, me! (it always helps when you are your own best cheerleader!) Technically my goal for today was like 10,005, but I stopped at exactly 10,000. It just felt better...more even. I feel confident that I can easily make up those extra five words tomorrow.

I spent this entire morning (when Libby was in school... finally!) working on my story. Granted, it would probably go a lot faster if I stopped IM'ing with my pals while I'm trying to write, but hey, even 'serious novelists' need a break, and a little gossip every now and then.

Think you're sick of hearing about this? You have no idea... poor Jen and Sarah are probably screening their calls this very minute. If you're reading this, I LOVE YOU! haha

That's all for today... to recap:

Happy Dance
Pumping fists in the air
Spinning around

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Um... candles, anyone?!

Current Word Count: 6592 words

Okay, breathe, Staci…

Yesterday, when I went to drop Libby off at preschool, the school’s assistant director was in the parking lot, flagging down cars as they pulled in. Seems that for some reason, there is no electricity in the preschool building, and they had tried calling everyone (I didn’t get the message because I was in yoga) to let them know that there would be no preschool… I kind of tuned out the rest of the explanation (hey! I’ve got a lot on my mind right now!), but I perked up when I heard, “But it should be back on tomorrow. See you then!”

Now, don’t get me wrong… I love my kids. I love spending time with them. They crack me up on an almost daily basis. But I also like for them to go to school. I really like being able to run an errand or two, ALL BY MYSELF! I’m pretty sure it doesn’t make me a bad mom that I was disappointed that preschool was cancelled yesterday.

Libby was disappointed, too. She gets to go spend time with her friends and her teacher three mornings a week, and is always so excited when Tuesday morning arrives. So, no school? Hey, but that’s okay… I’m flexible… I can roll with the punches. Libby went with me to meet some girlfriends for lunch, and to run an errand. We had a fun lunch with the girls, and enjoyed our little break, but today it was BACK TO SCHOOL!

Right? Right?!!

Wrong. The assistant director just called. Still no electricity. Now, I’m irritated. Not at anyone in particular… just at the situation. I know… crap happens.

Personally, I think they should use it as a teaching lesson… Maybe have an impromptu ‘Pioneer Day’. The pioneers didn’t have electricity, either. What a great learning experience for our preschoolers. I think I’ll suggest it if the power is still out tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Losing my mind, just a little...

Current Word Count: 5052 words

Entering Day #4 as a ‘serious novelist’ (insert laughter here). What I’d like to know is…

Who is the sadist that picked November as the perfect month for National Novel Writing Month?!

It’s crap. First off, it starts at midnight on Halloween. Go ahead... you sit at the computer and write, and just try NOT to eat all those adorable little mini candy bars out of the kids’ trick or treat bags. “300 more words, and I’ll let myself have just one more mini Snickers!” The tagline of their website should say, “Write a novel AND gain 5 pounds in a month.”

Plus, here it is just weeks before Christmas. I’ve done no shopping. I’ve not finished even one of the gifts that I’d planned on making for the holidays. What was I thinking?!

I can think of at least 4 other months that would be better suited to do this. What about February? Talk about a waste of a month, there. It’s cold outside, nothing’s going on… February would be perfect! Maybe I’ll suggest that on the website. Of course, since February is a short month, the daily word count would have to increase. Crap…never mind.

With all that being said, I’m 1/10th of the way to my 50,000 words, I’m 1/10th of the way through this month… and I hope I’m about 1/10th of the way through my story. (I like for things to come out evenly. I’m a little ‘Monkish’ about it.)

Now that I’ve hit the 5,000 mark, I will now start to obsessively ‘backup’ my work. Not because it’s one of the great novels of all time, and it would be a travesty for it to be lost, but more because it represents multiple hours of work for me. The last few things I put that much labor into are all currently at school. And some of you may remember the little ‘lightning episode’ we experienced this last summer?!

Huge bonus… I am having a great time, writing, and I really like my story a lot. I logged onto the NaNoWriMo website, and my region had a board where you could post the first line of your story. It was hilarious to read everyone’s first lines! My personal favorite was: “It was a dark and stormy night.” Yep… evidently, Snoopy has finally decided to write that novel on top of his doghouse.

Well, I better get back to my story. I refuse to let Snoopy beat me in my word count.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Off the hook...

Phil loves the show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on the Food Network. If you haven’t seen it, the host, Guy Fieri, travels around the country, visiting off the wall eateries. If you don’t know who he is, he’s the guy on the T.G.I.Friday’s commercials. Big guy with spiky bleached blonde hair and a little beard. He says ‘off the hook’ a lot in the show and wears sunglasses. He’s very cute… but then again, I think I might have a penchant for big guys with blonde hair… ;)

Anyway, last week we happened to be watching it and Guy was in Austin. The theme that week was ‘Spicy burgers’ or some such thing. So, I’ll just say… the Linsons love some spice. The spicier the better. Even the kids eat salsa and that spicy jalapeno ranch dip like it’s going out of style. And when I say ‘salsa’, I mean chunky pico de gallo with onions and jalapenos… not that namby-pamby tomato sauce crap that our neighbors to the north call ‘salsa’.

Guy was at a place on Sixth Street called ‘Casino el Camino’, which of course, we had to go to for lunch yesterday. It certainly wasn’t a diner, nor was it a drive-in. That leaves us with… yes, my friends… it was a ‘dive’.

A dark, dingy little bar situated between two tattoo places. Of course, the kids were all clamoring that they wanted to go in and get a tattoo. Until I explained that THESE tattoos weren’t of the ‘wet the back with a sponge and peel off’ variety.

I almost went back to the car when we first walked in. It smelled smoky and was very dark, even at noon. I thought, “McDonald’s, here we come.”

But imagine my surprise to discover that they had a beautiful little enclosed patio, painted to look like Mayan ruins, with iron patio tables and chairs, and a little fountain. The weather was beautiful and the patio quickly filled with that eclectic sampling of people that you only get in Austin, Texas. Families, college kids recovering from their Halloween weekend with the ‘hair of the dog’ (bet they just loved my kids! Haha!), a few older folks…

And the food? Yummy. And spicy, as promised by Guy. Phil and I ordered the two recommendations they had featured on the show. The Buffalo Burger and the Amarillo Burger, both of which we cut in half and swapped. And of course, no visit to a ‘dive’ is complete without a basket of chili cheese fries (yes, I'll be eating salads the rest of the week!) Which were so super good, that Libby threw a fit because everyone was eating ‘her’ French fries. (Once again, I just know those kids with hangovers were re-thinking their lunch establishment choice…)

So, I have to give the Casino el Camino a thumbs-up… their ambience is a little questionable, and our waitress was a bit surly (maybe she had a hangover, too? And that lip ring had to hurt.), but the patio and food made up for it. Guy was right… it’s ‘off the hook'.

Oh, and if you order the Amarillo Burger, I HIGHLY recommend scraping off the serrano peppers before you take your first bite! Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday, 8:00 pm update

Current word count: 3369 words

Yay me! :)

My Word Count...

Update on my current word count:

As of 5:00 pm on Sunday evening, my current word count for my novel is 2557 words. I kicked off at midnight on Friday, and only got as far as about 300 words (it was more of a ceremonial thing anyway.) Last night, I finished up at midnight with a total of 1648 words for my first official day as a ‘novelist’ (about 19 words shy of my initial goal. I’ll take it!)

My goal by midnight tonight is about 3300 words, and I think I should be able to get there. I’m pretty pleased with how it’s going so far, considering that we went to Halloween parties on both Friday and Saturday nights, and that yesterday, I watched a heartbreaking football game, which had the potential to completely rob me of my creativity and zest for life.

I did make the mistake of logging onto the NaNoWriMo website and noticed that some of the other authors who were posting on the boards were already in the thousands on their word counts, but I just told myself that they were clearly losers with no social lives. Hey, it made me feel better! Don’t judge me.

I’m excited so far at the shape my story is taking. But no, you still can’t read it. ;-) If you’re lucky, I MIGHT post an excerpt on the NaNo website later this week. Please remember that it is a rough draft!

Love you people… all my wonderful friends… and just want to say thanks for the encouragement, the comments and the e-mails. You guys are the bomb.

Friday, October 31, 2008

I can't believe I'm telling you this...

Today is Halloween, and tonight at midnight is my ‘witching hour’. Nope, not for tricks and treats. Oh heck… I can’t even believe I’m putting this out there (even though Sarah already ‘outed’ me on her blog! Heehee!). Are you ready?

I am going to write a novel. Okay, I should say, I am going to ATTEMPT to write a novel. I am taking the month of November to write a 50,000 word novel (about 175 pages), as part of the National Novel Writing Month challenge.

A friend sent me the link, and when I first checked it out, my reaction was… “Um, right. This is for crazy people that have too much time on their hands.” No big deal, right? But for some reason, this last week, I checked it out again, and thought… “Maybe I could do this.”

The rules? Very simple, really. Just write. Starting at midnight tonight, write. Write with complete abandon. 50,000 words by midnight on November 30th. No editing… no second guessing… just write. You don’t win anything except to be able to say that you did it. And if you’re one of the lucky few, you might actually have a first draft of a ‘not horrible’ novel. That’s pretty much what I’m shooting for… ‘not horrible’.

Because if you’ve ever thought that you wanted to do something like this, it’s always been a ‘someday, I will…’ sort of thing. Well, I guess today is my ‘someday’, and the imposed deadline is what finally gave me the courage to just jump in with both feet.

And how does being a former English teacher, now stay at home mom who’s only recent writing experience is a blog that a dozen people read, qualify me to write a novel? Well, it doesn’t. Not even remotely. That was one of the biggest hurdles for me. But my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Cox, once told me that I had real potential as a writer, and she now has an elementary school named after her. That’s got to count for something, right?!

Why am I telling you this? Well, a couple of reasons. First off, the founder of “NaNoWriMo” (Chris Baty) says that telling people about the project will keep up our motivation. In other words, I will be incredibly embarrassed if I quit before I reach my goal of 50,000 words (nothing like the specter of public humiliation). Secondly, you will understand if I don’t get around to blogging as much as I normally do, or that if you happen to come by my house, why there is dirty laundry spilling down the stairway, or why my kids are complaining, “Pizza for dinner? Again?!”

I even signed a ‘contract’ that came with the kick-off kit. I read it over and signed it, feeling a little like Ariel from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” when she signed the contract with Ursula, the sea witch… ‘Take a gulp, and take a breath, and go ahead and sign the scroll!’ However, instead of beautiful legs, all I got were nerves and butterflies in the pit of my stomach.

So when you see me in the next couple of weeks, feel free to ask me about my word count, just to keep me on my toes (the goal is to write about 1600 words a day). Feel free to ask me how it’s going (I’ll try not to cry in front of you). You can even ask me how many hours are left until midnight, November 30th (chances are, I’ll be able to tell you the number with unnerving accuracy.)

Just don’t ask me if you can read it. ;)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sweatin' on the poll

I just finished exercising. And, as usual, when one exercises, I got a little hot and sweaty, and I could feel my heart beating faster.

What amazing new workout program did I undertake, you may ask? I just exercised my civic duty. That’s right, my fellow Americans… I voted.

It was a bit hot and crowded in there. The line was out the door (for early voting!), and I had to wait awhile before it was my turn to get up to the flashing screen to cast my personal vote… my voice… my selection for races being run, both the ‘bigguns’ and the more local ones.

My heart did start to beat a little more quickly when I got up to the voting booth (which technically is not a booth. I remember voting in the election in 2000, and I actually went inside a little cubicle and pulled the curtain to cast my vote. I remember this because Josie was just a tiny baby, and I carried her in her infant carrier to vote with me, and that it was a pretty tight squeeze for me, a giant diaper bag, and a carseat in that tiny little space. But I voted, and we proudly displayed our “I Voted” stickers… one on my shirt… probably hiding a spit up stain, and one on Josie’s carrier. But I digress…)

I’m always a little nervous casting my vote… and it’s definitely not because I’m uncertain about who to vote for. I’ve known THAT since the results of the primaries. I always get a little shaky that I’m going to push that “VOTE” button, having accidentally selected the wrong candidate. It is a computer, you know, and I’m not the most techno-savvy person around…

So, I reviewed… and reviewed… and checked and double checked (no wonder that line was so freakin’ long! It’s people like me!)… and sweated it out before I hit that flashing red “VOTE” button at the top of the machine, which feels so final. And then? Well, a little anticlimactic… just a flashing screen that said, ‘Williamson County thanks you for voting’.

The first time I ever voted in any type of election, I remember feeling a little letdown after it was over. Thinking, ‘What’s the big deal?’ I’m not quite sure what I expected. Confetti to explode from the top of the voting machine? Bells and whistles to go off…an announcement? “Another proud American has just cast a vote for change.”

And still, years later, no confetti, or announcements… but I can appreciate it so much more now. I won’t tell you my party affiliation (even though those of you that know me even remotely can probably figure THAT one out!) because it doesn’t really matter (well, it does to ME, but not for the purposes of this blog). What does matter is that voting is important to me. Important enough to carve time out of my day (and my blog writing!) to do it. Important enough that it still makes my heart beat faster, and my adrenaline surge to be part of this historic event.

I am now wearing my little oval ‘I Voted’ sticker (will they EVER change this generic design?!! I’ve worn the same sticker for the last 12 years!), and I’ll answer my kids questions about it when they get home from school today. I even snagged an extra sticker if I decide that I want to wear one on election day, too (hey! It doesn’t say WHEN I voted… just that I did!)

On Tuesday evening, I’ll be watching the results, along with millions of others, and know that I did have my part in it, small as it may be. I made my choice.

So, don’t forget to vote… it’s a great workout!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My new blog...

Okay, friends... I'm back on the wagon.

Yep... I'm back to making my weekly menus, and thought since I'm caught up in the blog craze that I'd post it as a weekly blog, rather than emailing it to everyone (yay! smart me!) Just click on 'view my complete profile'... (it's over there on your right... your other right!), and it will take you to my profile and my blog list... "This Week's Eats (Planet Linson style)".

I'll try to include recipes, and give credit where credit is due for a particular recipe. That way if you make it and it totally sucks, you'll know who to blame. The menus are typically from Sunday through the following Saturday. So here goes nothing...

Disney Day 5

Oct. 24th Blog… Disney Day 5

Call me crazy. Call me a doofus. Call me nostalgic. Call me whatever you like when I make this little confession.

It was very hard for me to keep from crying when we walked out of the Magic Kingdom this afternoon to get in the van to make the loooooong drive back home. And no, it’s not just because I’m dreading the drive back (and the many hours of bickering and feet kicking the back of my seat that I have to look forward to!) No, I just felt a little sad to say good-bye to it all, not knowing how soon we’d be back… definitely within the next 3 years, according to Phil. I’m trying to bargain it down to 2.

Were the kids angels all week? Well, no. Was the drive ideal? Guess again. Parts of our vacation were frustrating (seeing the shuttle drive off, just as you get to the stop!), but on the whole, it was pretty terrific. Great fall weather, spending time with each other, not having to cook (yay!), and no lines. I mean, seriously… NO LINES! When was the last time you walked right up and got on Space Mountain? The longest we waited was to get autographs and even that was typically no more than 10 minutes.

We literally got to do everything at every single park at least once. We rode practically every ride, met tons of characters, watched parades, shows, and fireworks, ate way too many of those Mickey ice cream bars, spent too much money on souvenirs, and bought $40 worth of plastic rain ponchos for the off/ on rain showers today.

I don’t think there’s a single thing we feel like we missed out on.

So, excuse my tears because yes, I am a dork… and one of the worst kinds. A sentimental dork. But, I’m a sentimental dork with excellent powers of persuasion, especially where my beloved husband is concerned. I’m angling for Disneyworld ’09!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Disney Day 4

Oct. 23 Blog... Disney Day 4

Today in a nutshell…

…spent the day at Epcot (did you know that’s an acronym for ‘Experimental Prototype of the Community of Tomorrow? I didn’t… oh stop! You didn’t know that!)

…Princess lunch in ‘Norway’, where we got to meet Belle, Cinderella, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty and Jasmine (that Jasmine had implants, I’m almost positive. Either that or she had her own brand of Disney magic working under that skimpy little top. )

…Test Track (loved it!)… Soarin’ (totally loved it!)…Mission: Space…meeting more characters and getting autographs…evening rain showers… souvenir shopping… skipping out on the fireworks show, due to the rain and sheer exhaustion…

Yes, I’m tired. Guess that’s what prompted Libby to tell me at around 7:00 p.m., “Mommy, you need a beer!” Yikes. Lucky for me, we’d just passed through ‘Mexico’, so I settled for an overpriced margarita in a plastic cup, instead. Must have been prices from the future, too.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Disney Day 3

October 22nd Blog… Disney Day 3

Emboldened by his success on Expedition Everest yesterday, Davis began the day at Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM) with early and persistent nagging (guess that IS the definition of ‘nagging’) that he wanted to go on the ‘Tower of Terror’. Now I’ve been on the ‘Tower of Terror’, and Phil and I just kept thinking… “Bad idea… Danger, Will Robinson…Danger…” It’s pretty intense, with a ‘Twilight Zone’ theme, and some terrifying drops in an elevator from 13 stories high.

But all day long, he kept at it (have you met Davis? The most ‘one-track mind’ kid ever born?!), so we went ahead and got FastPasses, and waited until our time slot came around. We saw lots of other kids about Davis’ age coming off the ride, so we decided to give it a go. We were about 2 minutes from boarding the ride (yes, actually getting ON the elevator… not just going INTO the ride) when Davis says, “I’ve changed my mind.” Whaaaaaat?!!

Now it was me, Josie & Davis in line because Phil was outside with Libby. We had kind of gotten to the ‘point of no return’. So, I started to talk it up… “D- it’s gonna be great! You’re gonna love it! It’s not as scary as Everest, and you did that one!” Josie was cheering him on, as well, mostly because she didn’t want to miss out on her chance to ride it. And I have to admit that the somewhat sadistic part of me wanted to remind him that he HAD been begging and nagging all day to do the stupid ride, and it was now 4:45, there were no more FastPasses being issued, etc.

So, God bless him… he sucked it up, buckled in, and grabbed my arm so tightly that I couldn’t even hold my own handrail. It didn’t help that there was some idiot in front of us telling his teenage daughter, “Good luck in that seat… I’ve heard that people have died in that seat.” Thanks, buddy.

How did it go? Funny you should ask. Not well.

At the first big ‘drop’, Davis burst into tears and wouldn’t stop crying. And even though my stomach was in my throat, I had to force myself to say, “Wheeeeee!” through the whole thing… repeating, “Mommy’s here! It’s okay! See, I’m laughing! It’s okay! It’s just pretend! Wheeee!” Jeez.... talk about feeling like a total shitheel.

When we finally came to a stop, he yelled as loudly as he could muster, “I NEVER want to do that again!” Josie, on the other hand, turned right around and went again with Phil, and has since proclaimed it as her favorite ride that day.

My guess is that this has probably adequately scarred Davis to the point that he will never seek a job that requires him to ride an elevator to get to his office on the 13th floor.

And I am now out of the running for the “Mother of the Year” award. Oh well…

Disney Day 2

Tuesday, Oct. 21 Blog… Disney Day #2

(Okay, are you all still with me, here? It’s Sunday afternoon, and I’m posting all these from last week… which is doing it chronologically on my Blogspot, but is totally screwed up on my MySpace. Oh well…you peeps are a smart crew)

Another fun day at Disney… well, technically another rough morning and THEN a fun day at Disney! (We seem to be developing a pattern… we’ve got some morning grouches who then snap out of it and get on like wildfire until we stumble back to the hotel at around 9:30 p.m.)

We started our day with a character breakfast at Chef Mickey’s… well worth it! The food was just ‘okay’ (picture: semi-warm 3 cheese egg omelets and mildly greasy sausage links), but getting to meet Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto? Yep, well worth the crazy scramble to get to the Contemporary Resort at an ungodly hour. (Yes, Ricci, next time I’ll do what you tell me, and schedule it as a brunch, instead.) I got some super cute pictures, too, so don’t be surprised if that shows up as our Christmas card this year. ;)

We spent the rest of the day at Animal Kingdom. The highlights? Well, certainly, I have to include the 3-D interactive movie, ‘It’s Tough to be a Bug’, in which I had to rush out of the darkened theater with a screaming Libby. Seems our little arachnophobe didn’t like all those giant spiders that came down from the ceiling to dangle menacingly just above our heads. Go figure. At every attraction for the rest of the day, she asked, “Does it have poison spiders?” Thanks for the nightmares, Mr. Disney.

Josie loved the Kilimanjaro Safari and was so excited to ‘finally’ get to see real animals. Of course since we’d just taken the Jungle Cruise at the Magic Kingdom the night before, which is chock full of very realistic looking animatronic animals, she was understandably skeptical about the animals we were seeing on the safari. “Um… is that lion real? What about that elephant? How about that elephant poop?”

The highlight of Davis’ day had to be Expedition Everest. Haven’t been on it? Well, I have. And it’s scary as hell (at least I thought so.) Before we got on, I was teasing Davis just a bit that he could ‘re-think’ going on the ride if he wanted because it was pretty intense. “Davis, we don’t HAVE to ride this… if you don’t want to.” His response? “Mom, if you’re too scared to go… I can always ride with Daddy.” Damn, that kid’s got my number.

At the Lion King show (which is spectacular! Seriously.), all 3 kids were chosen out of the audience to participate in the musical finale. They were given maracas and shakers and they then paraded around the stage with the performers and a handful of other (less cute) kids that were also chosen from the audience. (Oh come on… we all think we have the cutest kids!)

Phil and I were amazed at how much Animal Kingdom has changed in the 10 years since it opened. We were there on our honeymoon just months after it opened in the summer of ’98, and it’s grown like crazy. Guess a lot can happen in 10 years… (jeez, just look at the Linson family for a testimony to that.)

We finished out the day at Downtown Disney, shopping and eating (la, la…these are a few of my fa-vo-rite things…) The kids were still going strong, running around, checking out all the Lego creations, petting a Lego Dalmatian (that’s the kind of dog we need! Lego dog poo is sooo much easier to clean up), when Mommy finally just cratered. Time to call it a night… and yes, it’s time to call it a night.

Disney Day 1

Monday, Oct. 20th Blog.... Day 1 in Disney

Today was amazing. We started off our day at the Magic Kingdom and arrived just moments before it opened.

Everything is completely festooned with fall decorations, orange and pumpkins, and we fit right in our UT burnt orange. Yes, we wore matching t-shirts. I know, I know… and after you all gave me such a hard time ;) But we DID look pretty cute and got tons of comments from people… “Let me guess… you’re from Texas?!” The only downfall was that guys kept stopping Phil to talk about Longhorn football (there’s a time and a place, fellas!)

It wasn’t all smooth sailing from the get-go. The kids were still pretty tired from going to bed so late the night before (not to mention that Florida is an hour ahead) and a couple of times this morning, Phil and I gave each other ‘The Look’. Oh you know, ‘The Look’… the ‘He gets that from YOUR side of the family’ Look.

But once we met a few characters, got some autographs and rode some rides, we started hitting our stride. (p.s. FastPass… best invention ever!) Everything the kids got off of was declared their ‘new favorite’. Not to sound incredibly cheesy, but Disney really is so magical and it just gave me the warm fuzzies to see my kids fall so completely in love with everything, and have them enjoy all the same things Phil and I enjoyed 10 years ago when we were here for our honeymoon. (Note: We were given ‘Happy Anniversary’ buttons when we checked in and we were told approximately 500 times today, “Happy Anniversary!” Guess they knew we belonged together… you know, what with those matching T-shirts AND matching buttons.)

So, I was reminded of a couple of things today: first off, that’s it a bad idea to eat shrimp scampi for dinner and then go on Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride (spinning?!) Ugh… needless to say, Phil took Josie and Davis on Space Mountain by himself.

Secondly, I was reminded of how incredible my family is and how unbelievably blessed and lucky I am to have them, even when they drive me completely crazy. And I admit, that during the fireworks over Cinderella’s Castle tonight, I got a little teary-eyed, watching my kids with their faces tilted up, lit up from the display, taking it all in. Who am I kidding? I was more than just a little teary. And while I snapped a few pictures, after a couple of moments, I put away the camera and focused on just taking it all in, as well. Because I want to remember this. I want to remember this day and how today was a day where it felt like dreams really do come true.

Oct. 19th... 30 miles outside of Disneyworld

Oct. 19 Blog… 30 miles outside of Disneyworld

(okay, let's everyone try to follow along... these are blogs from our adventures last week. Hope this is not too confusing!)

I’m writing this blog in pencil. Still in the van… kids watching their 2000th DVD… I’ve finished my 2nd novel in 2 days… Phil’s been listening to college football on the radio… and so have I, since my IPod died out about 4 hours ago. (Don’t get me wrong… I am a football lovin’ girl, but I just can’t listen to it on the radio! I’m a visual person.)

Aaaah…. Long car trips. We’ve eaten too much junk, completely trashed the van, and tried to complete some of the homework the kids’ teachers sent with them. My left arm has a pinched nerve from reaching into the back so often to hand out snacks, pencils, pick up dropped things, etc.

I’ve peed in a few too many public toilets this weekend and my thighs are sore from all the ‘hovering’ (gilrs, you know what I’m talking about here!) I have gone through a bottle of antibacterial hand gel and have tried very hard to limit the ‘touching’ of anything in the restaurant/ gas station/ rest area bathrooms, which prompted Davis to tell his dad, “Did you know that Mommy opens all the doors with her butt?” Phil’s response? “Wow, I had no idea that Mommy was so talented.” Har har…. Very funny.

Fortunately the last 2 days have been fairly free of meltdowns and bickering, both on the parts of the kids and the parents. Libby did have a ‘moment’, however, when we crossed over into Florida and stopped to take the obligatory picture in front of the ‘Welcome to Florida: The Sunshine State’ sign. Phil said, “Well that’s what we came for. Now we can go back home.” When we drove out of the welcome center/ rest stop, we heard wailing from the backseat… “We turned around! I don’t want to go home! I want to go to Disneyworld!” We assured her that we were, in fact, still going to Disneyworld. She glared at us, and said in her most accusatory voice, “Why did you trick me?”

We are now 20 miles outside of Disneyworld, and we can see the fireworks from Epcot (yes, that’s how late it is.) The excitement level has ratcheted up quite a few notches now, and the kids are practically singing, “Disney, here we come!” Davis was even so charitable as to say, “Tomorrow when we get up, all our friends will be doing boring stuff at school, and we’ll be having fun!” (sorry, suckahs)

We’ve just caught our 1st glimpse of Cinderella’s castle, illuminated against the night sky, so I’ll be signing off. It’s been a long couple of days but it will all be worth it, come tomorrow morning, seeing the faces of my kids seeing it all for the very first time.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I missed youse guys!

I missed youse guys!

That’s right. I will now be speaking with a Jersey accent from here on out. Why? Because there were plenty of samples to choose from at lovely ol’ Disneyworld. I will occasionally be swapping it out for a Wisconsin accent… “Oh yeeeah, you betcha.” How about this for an accent? “You’re makin’ me wicked angry!” (we actually heard a mom say that to her kids)

With that being said…. We had a totally fantastic time!!!!! (the people watching, alone, was a hoot!) But I am very glad to be home.

It’s about 10:30 pm, the van is scarcely unloaded, the kids are collapsed in their beds, the hubby is checking the college football scores on T.V., but I had to get back to you… my lovely, loyal blog readers!

So, my friends, we have some catchin’ up to do. Or as my kids like to say… “Ketchup, mustard!” (don’t ask me why they like to say that. I think they heard it at school. That, and an assortment of other things that make me say, ‘Where did you learn that?!)

But never fear because for you, I did the unthinkable. Yes, for you, I wrote a blog entry each day in PENCIL!!!! (and by the end of the week, it was a pretty sad looking little pencil. I didn’t have a sharpener with me.) Just so I could transfer it later when we got back home. I’m a damn junkie with this blog, I swear.

Over the course of the next couple of days, I’ll get them posted, so read them if you like, and experience the world of Mickey and Minnie with the Linson gang.

It’s gonna be fun. Oh yeeeah…. You betcha’.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hitting the road... hard.

It's been a long day. Kids to school... kids picked up from school approximately an hour after they were dropped off (gotta get counted on the attendance sheet!)... van loaded... van unloaded (did we pack enough socks?!)... van re-loaded... last minute things taken care of... alarm set (that's right, potential burglars who read this blog! We have a top-notch alarm system... so don't even think about it!)... READY TO GO! Time to hit the road...only to return 10 minutes later because we'd forgotten something.

We also had to stop by Phil's office for him to finish up a couple of things, and of course, for the children to mildly entertain his co-workers for the first 5 minutes ('Omigosh! They're so cute!')... that is, until they get utterly annoying, spinning around in everyone's chairs, and 'borrowing' Post-It Notes off of people's desks ('Wow...shouldn't you guys be on the road by now?')

How far did we make it today? To Houston. To my mother-in-law's. Yep, that's it, and I'm already exhausted. I swear to God in Heaven that my son started this about 20 minutes after we left... "Are we there yet?" "How many more minutes?" "Mom! Why aren't you answering me?! Are we there YET?"

I wanted to throw something (or someone) out of the window. Instead, I clenched my teeth and said, "Not yet, honey" and downed a couple more Ibuprofen. Right around Bastrop, I was wondering what the hell we had gotten ourselves into. Was it really that expensive to fly?! (yes... yes, it was.)

Fortunately after lunch, everyone assumed the 'position'. Josie & Davis, glassy-eyed, with headphones on, watching something on the DVD player; Libby sleeping, with her thumb in her mouth, and LuLu tucked up under her chin; and me, asleep and drooling, with an incredible crick in my neck. Phil, of course, was thankful that everyone had finally just shut the hell up.

I have now had a glass and a half of wine (God bless my mother-in-law's little heart... always prepared!) and it is 4:30 in the afternoon ('it's 5:00 somewhere', right?!) The kids are watching yet another movie ('but we haven't seen this one!'), and Phil has already escaped to go get a 'haircut' and interestingly enough, there must have been a six-pack of Bud Light on sale at the salon.

Tomorrow, onward to New Orleans... and then on Sunday, to Orlando. Disneyworld or Bust, baby...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Just a little white lie...

Yesterday I blogged about the brutal honesty of children, which is a little ironic, considering that as parents, we are often not very honest with our children. Well, don’t let me lump you into that ‘lying sack of doody’ category… let’s just say that, I, personally, am not always completely honest with my children.

I firmly believe that you can be too honest with kids. A little mystery is good. For example when my oldest asked me how the baby got in my tummy when I was pregnant with the youngest, I gave her as honest an answer as I could... “Jesus did it, honey.” Seriously, no 4 year old needs THAT much information.

However, not all of my evasive, only borderline truth answers are a result of uncomfortable questions I’m not ready to face. Sometimes they are borne of necessity… and an inability to find a matching pair of socks.

This morning, I searched in vain for socks for Davis. Socks, socks, everywhere, but not a single pair for the boy could be found. And he had to wear socks because 1.) he had Wellness today (P.E. to everyone else in the civilized world) and 2.) It was actually quite cool this morning, and sandals or flip-flops were not going to cut it. (Yay! Fall in Texas… gotta love it!)

And actually, the drama of the missing socks is not because I haven’t done the laundry… I’m a bit of a laundry schedule freak. If it is a Tuesday, Thursday, or Sunday, the washing machine is running. (Hear that? Yep… it’s Thursday).

The lack of socks is proof positive that we’re leaving on vacation tomorrow. I have packed so many pairs of socks and underwear that it’s a wonder my kids actually have any on right now. You can never take too many socks and underwear on vacation… who knows what sort of ‘undies emergency’ you might run up against when you’re away from home? And if you do know, I don’t want to hear about it. I’ll just plan to be prepared, without hearing your gruesome stories, thank you very much.

So everything is packed, and short of raiding my neatly sorted piles of clothes that are already loaded in individual Zip-loc ‘Big Bags’ labeled for each day of our vacation (I KNOW! I KNOW! I’m a freak… please know that I DO know this, and that I genuinely cannot help it), my only option is to give Davis a pair of Josie’s socks to wear. No big deal, right? I can just explain the situation to him… the socks, being packed for Disneyworld, his mother’s OCD, etc.

Clearly you have not met my kid…. “Mr. Black and White”… “Mr. Future Litigator Because I Can Argue till We’re Both Blue in the Face”… “Mr. I’d Rather Cut Off My Own Feet Than Wear My Sister’s Socks To School”…

So, here’s the scene at our breakfast table this morning…

Davis: “Whose socks are these?”

Me: “Um… they’re yours.”

Davis: “I don’t think so.”

Me: “Yeah, they’re new ones I bought for you to grow into.”

Davis: “They’re short.”

Me: “They’re a new style. You’ll like them.”

Davis (suspiciously): “Why do they have pink writing on the toes? Are they for girls?”

Me: “Nope. Pink is the best color for the brand name (in this case, Hanes) to show up on white socks. Didn’t you know that? So no, they’re not for girls. Anyway, no one will see the writing because it will be inside your shoe.”

Davis: “Did it say ‘for boys’ on the package?”

Me (pretending to think back): “Um. Yes. Yes, it did.”

Josie: “Heeeey! Why is Davis putting on my socks?!!”


Note to self: When telling your child a little white lie, do it out of earshot of his sisters. And be prepared to find his flip-flops for him to wear to school.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Can I be honest with you?

Brutal honesty. If you have a hard time with people being honest with you, and you’re one of those people that need your feelings ‘spared’, I highly recommend that you never become a parent. Just when I’m feeling pretty good about my mothering, and feeling like I’ve got some pretty ‘mad skillz’ in that department, my kids come along and club me up-side the head with something that I’m just not expecting.

This afternoon I was helping Josie practice piano before her lesson. She really has a great ear for music, and has a natural rhythm. So, don’t ask me why I was helping her. I lasted in piano lessons all of about 6 months, at which point I begged my parents to let me quit, even though they had already bought a piano for me. But Marge, the world’s worst piano teacher, called me ‘Tracy’ for every single lesson of that looong six months, even though I corrected her week after week. No wonder I hated it.

Anyway, during practice, I was counting out the notes for Josie, trying to help her keep the beat by snapping my fingers with the count. She finished her song (“Windchimes”), and said, “You know, Mom, its kind of hard when you’re snapping like that.” So, I asked her, “What can I do that would help you?” thinking that perhaps I was going a little too quickly. Her nonchalant answer? “Um…you could probably help by being quiet.” Ouch…

And last week? When the kids and I were dancing around the kitchen to ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ by Depeche Mode? Yes, I know… major flashback…but they love that song. (Who am I kidding? So do I.) The very same child was sweet enough to tell me… “Um, Mom? Your dancing is kind of freaking me out. Just thought I’d mention it.” OH MY GOD!!!! She’s only 8 years old. Surely it’s too early for her to be that embarrassed by her mother? Well, she’d better just get ready… now I can’t wait to chaperone all those junior high dances.

Sometimes, it’s a compliment that is delivered in such a way as to knock you down a peg or two. A few nights ago, Davis asked his dad to draw a scorpion for him. Phil did what he usually does when a request is made for him to be artistic…. “Why don’t you ask your mom to draw you a scorpion? She’s much better than I am.” (too true) Now, I am a fairly decent artist. I have been known to paint a mural or two in my time, and on occasion, people have actually paid me (actual money!) for said mural. So I took pencil in hand, and using my vast memory of arthropods (ahem…that’s what a scorpion is), I drew a damn nice looking scorpion.

Pretty proud of my efforts and expecting effusive praise from my son (seriously, can YOU draw a scorpion?), he took one look at it and marveled, “Wow, Mommy, you’re really not horrible at drawing scorpions!”

Gee, um… thanks? Can’t you just feel the love?

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