Sep 30, 2010

A New Round of Reviews

I meant to review these books for you as I finished them but alas, I failed at that. But a few reviews here and I'll be all caught up!
Bound South by Susan White is one that a southern gal can appreciate it. The story focuses on a mother-daughter pair from a wealthy, conservative Atlanta neighborhood and the trials of growing up and especially breaking away from your roots. There is a secondary mother-daughter pair with their own story line but for me, they were harder to relate to. While any mother or daughter can say "oh yeah been there," if you live in the South, you can say it that much more often and laugh that much louder. Verdict: Good, easy fluffy read. I think Anna and Jess should especially read it, given their new-found Southern roots.

The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory is a lot like most her other books, in that John Grisham can't-read-too-many-back-to-back-because-they-are-all-the-same way. So if you like royal European historical fiction, grab it! If you don' I would suggest reading this before reading books like The Other Boleyn Girl and the others about King Henry's court. This one is how his wife, Catherine of Aaragon, comes to the throne and is essentially the pre-quel to all the others. But if you read them out of order as I did, no harm done. Verdict: only if its your preferred genre.

Feast of Roses by Indu Sundurasen is the sequel to The Twentieth Wife and suffers the same shortcoming: too wordy. The story is good - how Empress Mehrunnisa rules India through her husband - but at some point there began to be too much description of the political climate and not enough action. Do I really care if the prince's elephant fell during his rebellion? No. I haven't quite finished the book yet, about 20 pages to go, so if things turn around and the end wows me, I'll let you know. Verdict: eh, pass.

I'm about to start Mockingjay, the third and final book from the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. Cannot wait! Will let you know how it is, but "wonderful" "page-turner" and "thriller" are all words I expect to be using.

Side Note
Upon proofreading this I found many embarrassing typos. All communications professionals should be mildly ashamed of me.

Sep 28, 2010

If I ruled the world...

Brittney recently posted a letter to men re: elevator etiquette. It got me thinking of all the things that need correcting. And since at age 25, with less than a year of marriage under my belt and no kiddos, I am obviously the most qualified person to correct these, I thought I would start by writing them down. So...

When I am Queen of the Universe...
  1. Men will hold doors. Forgive me if you have heard this story but it is quite possibly the most horrifying example of dead chivalry I ever saw. In Australia there were two young couples, both with babies in strollers, leaving the hostel I was at. Instead of the men opening the doors for their wives and babies, the women used the strollers to push open the doors and then held the doors for their husbands. OMG. ABSOLUTELY NOT. It's bad enough when a hubby doesn't hold the door for his wife but when he makes her open it using their child's stroller!?!?
  2. Brittney's elevator etiquette will be observed.
  3. Children will wear shoes in public places. I mean really, just gross to have your toddler running all over the grocery store barefoot. Children restrained by strollers are exempt.
  4. People will not rubber-neck at car accidents. No reason to slow down the unaffected side of traffic. Tell me you disagree with this. I dare you.
  5. my local traffic light,
    every morning before work
  6. Traffic lights will allow more than one car to pass through before turning red again.
  7. The whole world will embrace one form of measurement. And I doubt it even matters which one. We could go back to measuring things in hands as long as we all did it the same.
  8. People will say "thank you." Didn't we learn this in kindergarten? (Ladies, especially important to invoke when a man implements # 1 or any other similar act. It's only fair.)
  9. We would all have our birthdays off of work. Thank you GSCTX for my million days of vaca that enable me to implement this one now.
  10. Parents of young screaming children will be cut some slack. Trust me, they want their child to be quiet too. It isn't for a lack of trying that said child is screaming.
  11. And finally, teleportation will replace driving, making numbers 4 and 5 irrelevant. I should have thought of this several rulings earlier.
Recommendations for things I missed?

PS Perhaps I shall tackle the more serious list of healthcare, early childhood education, student loan debt, bankruptcy laws, etc at a later date. I feel that might require additional research.

Sep 27, 2010

New 'Do

Have I told you about the new hair salon I go to now? It's a riot. It's called "Trashy Roots" and the primary decor is skeletons. And no, not skeletons because Halloween is somewhat close. This is just their thing. The walls are bright pink, which really highlights the black and white skulls. And most the stylists are exceptionally tattooed. Walking works of art they are.

Now please imagine me, preppy skirt or dress and a brightly colored Coach purse, walking in to get my cut. Talk about a fish outta water.

But they always do a great job so I just kinda giggle at how out of place I look and keep going back. Today, while surrounded by hot pink and skeletons, I had quite a lot of hair cut off. See?

iphone_picIt isn't the best picture but I am not having a very photogenic day (perhaps has something to do with not putting any make up on, taking self-portraits and solely using my iPhone. And yes, this was taken in a dressing room. I wanted to show my hubby but was out shopping and was too impatient to wait until I got home). But I think from the picture you can gleam that my hair is about chin length now.

Big thanks to Monique from the land of skeletons for hooking me up with this hot new 'do!

Sep 25, 2010

Bark Park, Georgetown

iphone_picYesterday we took Lexi to explore Bark Park in Georgetown. We went fairly early, around 2:30 so before most people were out of work. There was not a soul to be seen! (Ok well eventually one lady and her dog showed up. They were nice but not very playful.) We're hoping to go on a weekend sometime and hopefully find more puppies to play with.

As for a review, plenty of space, big oak trees, really pretty, water fountains, little kiddie pools for the puppies and a cool obstacle course. Though I can say, Ross and I definitely used the obstacle course more than Lexi. She was a very hard sell. Even with treats to entice her on the other end, she was just not into going through hoops or walking on ramps.

I really liked that it is part of this wonderful string of parks. There is a playground, baseball fields, dog park, jogging path and more all connected to each other. It's a wonderful big green space fairly close to the town center and right next to the Rec Center. I definitely think we need to return and hopefully find more pups there to play with.

Also I'm famous now. Wednesday Rosetta Thurman, a young NPO hotshot was in town from DC to speak at Greenlights' Texas Nonprofit Summit. Since she is active in YNPN, our local board took her out to dinner when she arrived. And she blogged about it - see it here. So like Haila said via Twitter today, I'm totally famous now.

Sep 24, 2010

Plan B

In the days BBI (Before Break In) I had all my lovely blogs saved in Explorer's RSS reader. It was lovely. Well of course when the jerks took my laptop they also took that lovely helpful list.

You may notice the "Blog-o-rific" list to the right becoming longer. It's my Plan B. As long as I'm using a loaner laptop, I need a virtual space to save my blog reading list. And this gets to be it. Maybe it is some kind of divine intervention so that I may share all the blogs I love with you. Maybe? I'm really reaching here, trying to find a silver lining to Shitstorm 2010.
Amanda and new baby Taygan

Oh yes, and to share with you, this became an increasing need this morning because Amanda, my college roommate who is a new mom and also the best chef I know, started a food blog! Yum! And I'm pleased to report it isn't exclusively food; she also promises baby inclusions. Food and babies! What's not to love!?

PS Omigod I blogged twice in less than 12 hours...most of which were sleeping hours. What is wrong with me!? The compulsive need to write is taking over!

Sep 23, 2010

Fall in Texas = Best Thing Ever

I'm definitely not one of those people that gets all excited about the first day of a season. I mean really, compared to the weather its so arbitrary. You just cannot tell a Texan that summer doesn't begin until the end of's been well over 90 for at least 5 weeks at that point. And you can't tell a New Englander that fall doesn't begin around Labor Day or that winter doesn't begin until nearly Christmas. What-evah.

But today is the first day of fall and coincidentally, it's the first day that actually feels fall-ish here in Austin. Of course by that I mean it's definitely below 95 and maybe even below 90. After dinner I took Lexi to the mailbox and it was just beautiful outside! The kind of weather that makes you really think about how in the world you are going to go to the gym after being in your office for 8 or 9 hours. How could you possibly spend more time inside??

(I did. An hour pilates class. And I'm feeling it in my infrequently-worked-out abs.)

Fall in Texas is quite simply the best thing ever. No, it doesn't have the changing leaves of New England but having never really experienced them...remember I lived in the city when I was up there, not tons of trees on Comm Ave, I don't crave them.

What I do crave though is football in the air. High school stadiums lit up on Thursday and especially Friday nights. College games on Saturday evening and the Texans beating the snot out of everyone on Sunday. BBQ scenting the air all weekend long. Kids on bikes all over the neighborhood. Over-the-top seasonal decorations adorning every house in the neighborhood. The unnecessarily long countdown to Christmas which begins roughly in October. The perfect evenings that just demand porch sitting. Pumpkin bread baking in the kitchen. Seriously considering taking off random days from work just to be outside in the amazing weather. Windows open at night, cool breeze blowing in. And one of the things I'm looking forward to as a home-owner, sipping a glass of wine on the front porch while passing out snack-sized Snickers and Milky Ways to hundreds of dressed up little people on Halloween. Oh and more pumpkin bread.

If you've not been to Texas in the fall, I highly recommend you get right on that. Do not delay. Book a flight to Austin in October and make a reservation at the Black Inn in Pflugerville.

In the meantime, I'll be revisiting my gym-four-times-per-week workout commitment so that it can include more outside exercising. I just can't be inside a second longer!

(On a side note - this has been a busy week! First, it is a full five-day work week for me. Let me tell you, lame. Five day work weeks are for the birds. I am so over it. And two evening commitments. I think this is the first night Ross and I are both at home relaxing together. Nice change of pace.)

Sep 21, 2010

Kids Today!

I grew up in an idyllic little bubble. Married parents, two kids and a puppy. I'm not being snobby here, just telling you how it was. I knew kids whose parents were rocket scientists...literally. I never saw a pregnant girl at my school. When we weren't with Mom and Dad we were with Grandma, our best friends' parents or the day care run from the local Methodist Church. Mom and Dad weren't perfect but really darn close.

I had my first "what? this isn't the whole world?" moment my senior year of high school when a group in my English class reported on a research project stating that in our area, there was an incredibly high number of college educated people: 25% of adults had at least an associates. I was shocked! I couldn't believe that only 25% of Clear Lake adults had college degrees! Of the people I knew, maybe a quarter of the parents' didn't have degrees. Talk about a wake up call.

I had another wake up call in college when I heard religious jokes for the first time. I never knew that people made fun of other religions. Naive, sure, but I genuinely had never heard a religious stereotype before. I suppose not terribly surprising given that just in my Texas family we have Catholic, Methodist and Jewish. And my Boston family is even more diverse religiously. But retrospect I'm surprised I never even heard classmates make tasteless religious jokes. I was shocked at how many strong stereotypes there were.

(I'll just call myself on another one: I didn't know how common it was to need more than four years to get a bachelors degree. But I chalk this up to being at a $40k a year university where you didn't dare take more than four years since even your loans from four years had you and your parents eating Raman noodles for a decade. And I swear, I'm not being a snob. I just didn't hardly know anyone in this boat.)

At Girl Scouts, I've had lots of wake up calls. In fact, you could call it an awakening there have been so many. High schools with day care centers for the students' children. (That any school had so many pregnant teens they need a day care center is still possibly one of the most frightening things I've ever heard.) Schools with 90+% of students on free or reduced lunch. Volunteer groups trying to help feed kids during the summer when that free or reduced school lunch isn't available because families can't afford three meals per day for their kids. Parents unable to sign permission slips because they are only fluent in Spanish. I realize somewhat how naive it is...but I just had such a happy, sheltered childhood.

What made all this come to mind was my walk with Lexi today. We're going along the sidewalk, happy as can be, and I see this sweet little boy with his equally sweet little puppy. I assess how we are going to keep the puppies from interacting, easy since I'm on the sidewalk and he's in the park. And then I realize THERE IS NO ADULT with this child. He was being watched by elementary students. If this little boy was older than four, then I'll be a monkey's uncle. Four! Four years old, outside without adults and being watched by kids who haven't even reached double digits! Kids who are letting him run into the street!

I'm not saying this sweet little boy's parents are bad people. I'm sure they love this little boy more than life itself. They probably have him properly cared for by adults most days. Maybe today someone was stuck in traffic. Maybe the sitter called in sick. I'm not passing judgment on these parents at all.

What I am saying though is: Wow. This is how kids get stolen. This is how kids discover {enter troubling item like cigarettes or guns or heck, I dunno, rusty nails}. It gives me, who thought myself to be a cool latchkey kid at 10 when I stayed home for two hours in the afternoon with the neighbor-lady checking the house and several phone calls to my mother, a whole new definition of "latchkey kid."

Four year olds playing unsupervised, day cares in high schools and so many similar things make me realize just how passionately I feel about how my own kids are raised. (Specifically, by me, Ross and adult family members.) And goodness, I just sorta figured these wonderful childhoods like I had happened. I mean I knew parents had to actually parent but I never realized how common it was for parenting to be absent or somewhat failing (again, despite best efforts).

I'll probably shelter my kids way more than many think is advisable. I'll run the risk of being called "over-protective," "helicopter mom" and maybe even "close-minded." As of now, I'm totally OK with that. I suppose I don't have any profound statements to end with. But I am curious, as you've become a grown up, are there things like this that just blow you away? Things you had no idea were so prevalent with kids today?

Sep 19, 2010

Gooooooo Texans!

Ross: Honey, you sure are vocal during your games.
Me: Yup. See you should watch more Texans games with me. I'm fun.
Ross: Yeah you are. You don't always know what's happening but you're yellin'.

Later in game

Me: Schaub! Getting sacked does not win us games!
Ross: Time to give it up babe. Turn it off and spare yourself.
Me: Never! The second I turn it off they'll have the comeback of century! No way!

Go Texans! 2-0!

Sep 18, 2010

Best Bridal Registry Advice

I got my best piece of bridal registry advice from Susannah...which is kinda funny because I think her mom and sister actually did her registry for her. But either way, she gave me the best advice:

Register for two sets of all your stemware.

Mikasa Cheers collection
I did and wound up with two sets of my wine glasses. One set has been sitting in my closet. Until now. A couple weeks ago I went to do dishes and in the sink was my favorite wine glass but now it was broken. I have no idea how it happened but it was very sad.

Last night when I wanted a glass of wine after dinner, I really just wanted my favorite glass. (My wine glasses aren't all matchy-matchy. It's a set of four that each have a different etched in design. So my favorite one is the one with horizontal stripes really close together because it doesn't show finger or lip prints. LOVE IT. Also oddly enough Sus and I have the same stemware collection but I think she has different types than I do.)

I was so glad Sus recommended registering for two sets because I just went right up into the closet, got out the other "favorite" wine glass and enjoyed my glass of wine.

Brides - register for two sets! You will be so thankful when you inevitably break one but your set isn't ruined.

PS The other best piece of wedding-related advice I received was to take a day off between the wedding and the honeymoon. I'm so glad we did because otherwise I think we would that slept through the first day of our honeymoon.

Sep 17, 2010


Jane did this a week or so ago and I thought it was neat so here I am, doing the Friday5. Except I didn't like this week's theme - nagging. How...irritating right? So I'm doing last week's.

  1. What is the field nearest your home like?
    Rifled with punk teenagers, probably including the ones who broke into our house. Watch out punks, we're on to you.
  2. How did you get into the professional field you’re in? If you’re not working, what field are you most likely to find yourself in some day?
    If "Girl Scouting" is a field then it goes way back to Brownie Troopo 1048 and winds up with me sitting on I-35 looking at the Girl Scout building thinking "if I worked there I'd be to the office already and not in traffic." If fundraising, which is definitely a field, is what we want to address, well, I'm chipper and people seem to like that so I suppose that's how.
  3. What’s the most interesting sight within your current field of vision?
    Gold sequin shoes on my shoe calendar, gift of Nancy.
  4. Where were you the last time you fielded questions from several people in turn?
    Every minute in the office.
  5. How are you feeling right now?
    Like this question is totally not about fields. But also jazzed that I finally unearthed a clean sports bra and can go to the gym...that is AFTER I have a margarita with Nichole since she just called suggesting such. Yes, the gym can wait until after that.

Sep 16, 2010

Dear Hubby

DSC00523Dear Hubby,

Thank you for dealing with the home owner's insurance claim. (Thank you also for CCing me on the email.) When I said "I think I'll take $250 of our claim check to buy new jewlery," thank you for saying "you should take more than that." Seriously, thank you big time for that one.

Thank you for working a couple extra days this month to replenish our bank account after Shitstorm 2010.

Thank you for commiting ant-rocide throughout our home and yard. The bites I suffered today on my foot suck but I know you're on the case. Those suckers are going to pay!

Thank you for "fixing" the living room lamp...or ya know, turning the bulb a quarter turn and making it magically turn on again. Wish I had thought of that.

Thank you for helping Jon and Erin move tomorrow. We owed them and now our debt will be paid.

Thank you for telling me I looked so hot in my new dress today (and I have to admit, I did), that I should go buy another one, same cut, new color. On your dime. I will take you up on that offer Saturday.

And last but not least, thank you for the thing I thank the gods for every day, for being my amazingly hot, funny, loving, puppy-kissing, sexy firefighting, really good-looking hubby.


Sep 15, 2010

36 Hours To Illinois

Monday-Tuesday was a 36 hour advenuture (19 in Illinois, 17 en route) to the Quad Cities on the Illinois-Iowa border for Gramma's service. I'll spare you the flight details but suffice it to say, neither the departure or the return went as they were supposed to; all my cell phone minutes were sacrificed to American Airlines and we went to significantly more cities than expected.

When in the Quad Cities though, I met many many members of Ross' family, some of whom I don't even think he had met before. I especially liked his cousins Jen and Andrea who I had not met before. They are great.

Nancy planned a perfect service Tuesday morning. There was an hour visitation at the funeral home, closed casket, with lovely flowers and photos of Gramma. The minister did excellent, especialy for not knowing Gramma. Though he didn't know her, he was the current minister at the Methodist Church she was a lifetime member at so I think it was still great that he is who presided over the service. As Gramma was a Navy veteran (their accounting department), the service included the National Anthem and an American flag over her casket.

Ross and the other men in his family were the pallbearers, six in total I believe. They carried her to the bagpipes playing in the background. At the cemetery she was buried with her husband. As a veteran she received the honor of a 21-gun salute. The flag was folded and presented, with the shell casings, to Nancy. Gramma would have been very pleased with the service. Nancy did a wonderful job.

In addition, hats off again to our friends. Jon and Erin took Lexi and I'm sure she was spoiled and loved to pieces. Ryan and Sus helped us when flights were delayed but Lexi had been returned to the yard and we needed her let into the house. I'm so thankful we have so many great friends here in Austin who could lend a hand as we went through this incredibly eventful week.

Sep 12, 2010


Pflugerville Pflag reports that an upcoming feature story will introduce Chef Patrick's Pals, a healthy eating program at PISD.

Hmmm....I wonder who the reporter could be?

Update, 2 minutes later

The article isn't upcoming - it's here!

Sep 11, 2010

Thanks y'all

I've always known I had great friends (duh, that's why they are my friends) but guys, y'all are really great. I've received countless texts, emails and phone calls from y'all. I've gotten some really good advice for how to hide my jewelry (haha theives, suckers, you aren't finding it again!). Nichole and Stephen had Lexi and I  over for a slumber party that first night. Nichole and Hanson got together to get me a loaner laptop from GSCTX. Brittany's been checking on me consistently. Jon and Erin are watching Lexi while we travel for the funeral.

We really appreciate the help from everyone. Thanks y'all.

Sep 10, 2010

Yesterday Sucked

Gramma, Christmas 2008
Yesterday sucked. Big time.

A little after two, Megan (sister-in-law) called me from my mother-in-law's house. As soon as I realized it was Megan and not Nancy I knew it couldn't be good. I mean why wouldn't she just call from her own phone if nothing was wrong?

Megan told me that Ross' gramma was dying. Gramma had been unwell since Christmas, in and out of hospitals constantly. This summer she was in the hospital more than out. Unfortunately, that things had taken a sharp turn for the worse wasn't too surprising to anyone.

Given the decline, Megan and Nancy were making plans to go to Tennessee to see Gramma and Ross and I might want to do the same. She really didn't know much in the way of details though so I said I would give them a few minutes and if they made any progress to call me back. I'd wait to call Ross at work with the news. Ross ended up texting me that he couldn't get the day off we were hoping for in November to visit Gramma (weird huh?). So even though I hadn't heard more details from Megan yet, I called Ross and filled him in.

Within an hour Megan called me back to tell me that Gramma had passed. Then she called Ross to tell him. Gramma died peacefully in her sleep and for that we're all thankful. Ross and I are also both very thankful that he spoke to her as recently as Tuesday.

The funeral will be in Illinois but yesterday, and really as of right now, that's all we know.

I was supposed to work a late day yesterday, came in late and was leaving late. But in light of everything, I decided to go home. Ross chose to finish his shift as the station would have been shorthanded otherwise.

I got home at about 4:30 and as I was getting out of the car I heard the jingle of Lexi's dog tags, sounding mighty close. And there she was. Right behind me in the garage. I hung up with Melissa to punish my very bad escape artist puppy. I looked for holes but only discovered that the gate hadn't latched so she must have pushed her way out. I let her back into the yard, latched the gate and went in the front door.

The first thing I noticed was Ross' backpack on the kitchen floor and water bottle spilled out of it. Then I noticed the back door open. I thought Ross changed his mind and left work (and being upset about Gramma, had just kinda left a mess behind him), especially when I saw the light in his gameroom on. I called for him and started looking around the house for him (yes even know the jeep wasn't home, stranger things have happened). I even called his phone to see where he had left to since the time he had come home and left his stuff in the kitchen; he didn't answer. When I walked into the master bathroom I discovered that my jewelry box was missing. There was no explanation that included my husband as to why my whole jewelry box would be gone. That's when I realized someone broke into the house.

I went back into the kitchen and grabbed a butcher knife. For the record, I was pretty ticked that my chef's knife wasn't in plain sight and I had to just grab a chopping knife without a sharp tip. And then I realized my laptop was gone. I had left it on the counter that morning when, since I went in late, I had been playing around on it while watching GMA.

I checked the rest of the house, determined that I was alone and called 911. Let's insert here that 911 told me to call someone else! Can you f-ing believe that?! Hello! I am in a state of hysteria I do not have the ability to remember another number and I can't find any damn pens in my recently broken into home. Damn 911. I did remember the other number long enough to dial it and then those turds had to transfer me to another person (they also tried to give me another number to call but I told them NO). Finally I got through to the sherriff's office and they sent a very nice deputy to me.

Somewhere in all this I called Nichole who was already on her way over to greive over Gramma with me via a bottle of wine. I also talked with my Mom and then the deputy arrived.

The deputy FINGERPRINTED my house. Yes, my house was fingerprinted. He also asked if I knew anyone who would want to hurt us. That kinda pissed me off. I understand why he asked and I don't fault him but at that moment, it made me feel like he was blaming me. As if we hung out with such sketchy people that OUR OWN FRIENDS might be inclined to rob us. I told him quite clearly that we were a Girl Scout and a firefighter and no we did not have bleeping sketchy friends...and then I apologized for overreacting.

Ross finally texted me back saying he couldn't call but what was the emergency. I told him via text message and his replied asking about Lexi. Lexi being hurt hadn't even dawned on me as a possibility since she was the first thing I saw when I arrived home and was happy as a lark.

While the deputy was here, Nichole showed up. She let herself in, as we both always do at each other's houses and I have to tell you, the deputy's face was pretty damn funny. He looked like he thought the burglar was returning and like he would have a heart attack.

I inventoried everything with the deputy. Nichole had the presence of mind to point out that I had photos of some of the jewelry in the wedding album that arrived a couple weeks ago so the deputy was able to take photos of the photos to supplement my descriptions. (Hats off to Nichole for such quick thinking.) I realized that I knew exactly where the person had been in the house because we are meticulous about closing doors to keep Lexi out of certain rooms and almost just as meticulous about turning off lights. Whoever it was had either opened a door that I shut that morning or turned on a light that had been off. I know every damn place that bastard was.

Brittany also left work early to come check on me. She, Nichole and I spent about 30 minutes just saying "what the hell." The neighbor lady, Cindy, also came by to check on us and though home all day, unfortunately did not see anything. Without hardly talking about it, Ross, Nichole and I all decided I was taking Lexi and sleeping at Nichole's. It was a nice surprise that when anyone one of us said something the other's had already made arrangements or decided the same thing.

among the stolen
Of what was taken, the monetary value is very low (won't inventory what was not taken since I don't need to make a laundry list of what is still available for stealing, but I can count what they took on one hand and the laptop was by far the most expensive item). But I did lose three pieces of jewlery that have sentiemental value and cannot be replaced. Two rings, one from each grandma and if you don't know, my mother's mother passed away when I was in elementary school so that one particularly hurts. I wore both those rings on our wedding day and now they are gone. I also lost a necklace from my Grandma (dad's mom), my Tiffany earrings from Amanda's Aunt Pam, my TriDelta pin.

I hate knowing someone was in my house. It creeps me out and makes me feel unsafe. And I genuinely don't think we live in an unsafe neighborhood. No it isn't gated and yes we have stupid teenagers who probably smoke pot in the park but come on, what neighborhood doesn't have punk teenagers.

I keep being told bad things come in threes. I know everyone who says that is just making harmless commentary on the bizarre way both things happened in such close time proximity. But y'all, I'm gonna be honest. Only two bad things happened so I don't want to hear about threes because that means something else sucks and I can't handle something else sucking. Especially not something of that caliber. I'm going to assume that either 1 - bad things do not happen in threes or 2 - the light bulb in the living room lamp burning out is bad thing number three.

So that's it. Our really shitty day.

Sep 8, 2010

My Eyes Are Bigger

Remember when you were little and you just had to have three scoops of ice cream instead of two? And when you couldn't finish your mom had the right to tell you that your eyes were bigger than your stomach?

Well I'm going through the extra-curricular activities version of that. It's like flashbacks to when I was 15 and in every extra-curricular known to (wo)man.

I try not to over-commit myself and as of late, I try to diversify my activities. Both are more difficult than they should be since 1) I really hate not being busy or being bored and 2) what I do for work is exactly the kind of thing I love and wouldn't mind doing for play. Still though, I truly think that despite my gut urges, I'm happiest and most successful when I don't over-commit and when there's a little variety.

So currently, I'm on the board for YNPN Austin. That term ends with 2010.

I'm also writing for the Pflag and Leader. This can be as much or as little as I like and really has no end date.

I have an application in for Leadership Austin's Emerge program. That would be a late October through early January commitment.

I'm still very interested in joining the Junior League of Austin in January. If I recall correctly, that would be one meeting and a few hours of community service per month. Two of the things I really like about Junior League is someone else could be the boss and I can do more in-the-trenches volunteer work and less somewhat-removed-from-the-mission planning.

I've also considered becoming more involved in the Austin TriDelta alumnae chapter. I think I will definitely do this but in a less formal manner. I'd like to get to a few more happy hours each year but I don't think the volunteer opportunities it presents are really what I am looking for.

And I'm considering serving on the planning committee for the 2011 Cattle Barron's Ball (American Cancer Society). Specifically there is a Children's Art Project committee that works with kids in the oncology program at Dell Children's creating an art project that will be part of Ball's live auction. I think this would be the perfect way for me to be involved with the ACS as I can do some in-the-trenches work, get involved with what has somehow become my personal mecca of fundraisers and not have a conflict of interest with GSCTX.

(Oh yes, and I also have a job that includes a fundraiser in November and the grandmother of all Girl Scout fundraisiers in late April. And I have a hubby, puppy, home and lots of vacation time that I am very serious about using all of. Oh right and a dinner-and-wine club that I plan on joining if I don't get into Leadership Austin. And maybe a social life? Maybe?)

It really sounds like I'm going to do it all doesn't it? It may be hard to believe, but I have actually eliminated some choices. The Dell Children's Trust, United Way Williamson County's Women's Leadership Council, the 501Council at GreenlightsRelay for Life and United Way Capital Area's Young Leader's Society though all outstanding groups that I encourage others to investigate, just didn't really fit my bill for one reason or another.

Ya know, besides piling too much ice cream in my bowl as a child, I am reminded of what my hubby said to me during wedding planning: "what will you do with yourself once this wedding is planned???" Uh apparently, everything.

Anyways, suggestions? How do I pick? Or do I just do it all?

Sep 7, 2010

Shift 1 in Review

As part of his probie year, Ross has a shift log that the ranking officer will complete each shift for him. When he got home this morning, he busted out with the binder that contains this log and we very happily read the following together.
And I quote...
1st day, good job fitting in, very attentive...studies most of the day, participates in station activities, chores and duties. Asks questions, participates as a team player on calls. Will be an asset to GFD and Station 2.
I am so proud of him. Like a bursting-with-pride kind of proud.

There's always first-day jitters at any new job and even though he's been training for a month, the first day with actual calls is enough for a few jitters. This evaluation was a great note to end the shift on. I'm so proud (just in case I hadn't mentioned it).

DSC00645Oh yeah, and it's wet here. It isn't scary hurricane like rain but definitely the wet don't-want-to-be-outside kind.

Lexi is not into it at all but I think the lakes, the heat index, our yard, the electric bill (as it also brings a little bit of a cool front) and the water bill are all very into it. Unfortunately for Lexi, those elements, when combined, trump her.

Sep 6, 2010


My Labor Day weekend labors:

Finally decorating the guest bathroom. It may have been the first functional room in the house, but it has been the slowest to feel really decorated. I decided to go with flow blue accents, hopefully in a hip-chick way as opposed to the grandma's-house-with-doilly-accents way. Ross also labored on this...more than he intended due to my incompetence with shelf hanging.

No hubby for dinner tonight so it was my very first at-home shrimp cooking! Scampi over angel hair pasta; well-cooked as far as the shrimp goes but not too flavorful. Ended up adding alfredo sauce.

And to promote another kind of labor, business cards to get my freelance writing going a little more. I ordered them a decade ago it feels like but they finally arrived this weekend.

Oh yes, and Ross is doing the old-fashioned kind of labor: at his job. First 24-hour shift at GFD. I can't wait to hear all about it tomorrow!

Sep 5, 2010

Ross in the News

An email from the chief told us this picture will be used in an upcoming article about the new class of probational firefighters. We're not sure which publication it will be in (my guess is the Williamson County Sun) but if we do figure out which one, we'll let you know.

GFD training
at GFD training

Start at 3

Ross is the absolute baby in his family. No cousins to speak of (some estranged but nobody close like my 13), no younger siblings, nothing. Thus he has always had a sort of fear of kids.

We've always been very clear: we will have our own children. That doesn't mean kids don't freak him out though. They totally do. He hasn't the faintest idea what to do with them. Hold a baby? No way. Change a diaper? Only with an SCBA mask. Play with them? How??

Yesterday we party-hopped for football games and he headed to round 2 before me. I called for directions and out of nowhere he says "Hey, I like kids."

HUH? What?? What do kids have to do with which street light I turn at?

Turns out round 2, which was his closer group of friends (round 1 was mine) ended up including more kiddos than ever this weekend. I never really think of this bunch as having kids but I suppose that's wrong. Two of the guys have their little girls every other weekend, and one of those (Nick) has a new baby (Blake) with is wife (Kristi), another couple has a three year old but who is usually with grandma-babysitter for parties and another couple who I don't know as well apparently has two with one on the way. And all these kids were at yesterday's football festivities.

Usually this would make Ross run for the hills. He just doesn't know what to do, poor guy. But there was no running for the hills this week! The two first grade girls apparently leached onto him when he arrived. And the three year old followed suit like a good younger child. Apparently at one point he had a child in each arm and one attached to his leg. Like everyone's favorite uncle. I wish I had pictures!

And you know what - he liked it. He said it was fun. And he was head over heels for little Madison (the three year old). Late in the night he even tried to put her in bed to a movie...she told him no and being inexperienced with kids, he didn't have a reubttal so she won. God help us if we have a daughter as cute as her. Ross will be a goner!

Right now he's hoping we can have kids who just start at three years old. (I don't know who he thinks will birth him this three year old.)

To go from being scared of kids to liking them at ages 3+ is a big step. I mean we may be on the road to him even liking newborns by the time we get around to having our own. Kiddos 1, Ross 0.

Sep 3, 2010

My Baby's a B

This is once in my life where I am so glad he got a B and not an A. SO GLAD.

And obviously I mean B shift. Yup, today finished up his four weeks of training and he was assigned his shift at GFD. He begins in B shift starting Monday. This is excellent because it means for 2010 he is off on our anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Eve.

Initially I was going to immediately book a night in Horseshoe Bay for our anniversary but when I went online to do such today, they had increased their rates. It was already the very top of our price range, especially since we've renewed our commitment to visit Gramma in Tennessee this year, so a rate hike just put it over the top.

If you remember, Horseshoe Bay was going to be 2010 vaca #2 but like I mentioned now we are committed to Tennessee thus that is vaca #2. Our anniversary is back to the more traditional and initially expected plan of things in Austin. We're thinking massages and a surf-n-turf dinner out, maybe on the lake. But no matter what, the good news is Ross is off for our first wedding anniversary! Hurray!

(Note: It was only recently that the idea of him having to work on that day even came to me. I must admit, I spent a few days really praying that would not be the case. In all the sacrifices I figured I would have to make as a firefighter's wife - Christmas, birthdays, Thanksgivings, general MIAness - never did being alone on our first wedding anniversary cross my mind. I am REALLY happy I'll be able to spend it with him.)

Now the plan this week is to inquire about PTO for a November trip to Tennessee, pick a weekend to go to Houston to see Kevin before he leaves for boot camp and draw straws for which holiday we'll do in Houston and which we'll do in Austin. What a happy, busy fall!

Sep 2, 2010

S'more Money Please

School in and around Austin started the middle of last week. Thus everyone is back in town now and they've finished the first day of school madness. Everyone...including prospective sponsors.

This week alone S'more Soiree brought in $5,750. Actually in less than a week, in just Tuesday-Thursday. What a week!

All those big bucks also meant a personal milestone for me. I have now brought in more than my annual salary in donations and grants. That's a big deal since it really proves I am worth my weight in gold...and happened during the notoriously slow summer fundraising months.

I'm pretty pleased with our revenue right now and I expect it to only grow. After all, everyone is home from vacation and back into the real world. The next 8-9 months ought to be very busy and full of funding for Central Texas' best girl leadership programs. I'll keep you updated. Or better yet, why don't you update me through an old-fashioned donation.

Side Note
For the second day in a row a whole slew of neighborhood kids stopped by the house just now to take Lexi on a walk. They are so fun and energetic! Lexi loves the extra attention. And yesterday, haha I laugh just thinking about it, one of them, who I hadn't met before said "you're young" and I thought she was talking about Lexi so I said "yeah she's about two and a half." The girl looks at me and says "No. YOU'RE young." The funny little kid caught me off guard...and of course Ross wanted to know why nobody said he was young. Just call him Old Man Black he said. Hehe.

Sep 1, 2010


Like Anna, I've become increasingly "into" blog reading. And I have to say, my amigas are doing a great job at feeding the need. All in the past week new blogs have exploded out into the blog-o-sphere. Here they are...
    Bloggers & Bridesmaids,
    Val & Brittany
  • Challenging Mind & Body by Val is her adventure in exercise of the physical and law school kinds. And it all happens in Seattle, which is my fav part.
  • The Beauty Nut by Brittany chronicles her never-ending hunt for the perfect beauty products, techniques and inspiration. If you eye eyeshadow or lust for lipstick, this is for you.
  • Red River Romance by Brittney, a Romeo and Juliette anaology. Brittney's UT loyalty is to Chad's OU loyalty as the Montagues are to the Capulets. Oh yeah, and she's moved from H-town to Little Rock to be with the enemy.
  • Pflugerville Pflag is...oh you can probaby guess, is shameless promotion by yours truly to follow the maiden voyage of my career in journalism.
Happy blogging!