Sunday, January 31, 2010
For this Bob Chronicle, I was there and I was personally involved so this will contain no hearsay or second or third retelling. I lived it and can vouch for its accuracy. Here is a little background information.
My mom and dad come to visit us in Texas a couple times a year. We LOVE having them here, not just because they are fun and entertaining, but because we always get some home improvement projects done. I am the home improvement person in our house. My hubby doesn’t even like to change a light bulb, much less change an entire light fixture. He would rather have teeth pulled – REALLY. My hubby really enjoys their visits, but dreads the Home Depot and Lowe’s bills that rack up when they are in town.
I will give you a quick summary here of some of the heavy projects we have tackled together:
We replaced the decorative tile in the master bathroom. Busted out some really outdated country blue diamond tiles and replaced them with plain white. It was so hard. We pulled up the carpet in the same master bathroom and replaced it with those lovely tile squares. We painted over the wallpaper, patched a hole in the wall, replaced the faucets and shower head. It was a complete overhaul. About midway through the project I would have taken those blue tiles and crazy floral wall-paper back and loved them forever if someone would have offered to come in and clean up the mess we made. Turned out great but it was hard work getting there.
Here is a glimpse of the chaos before:
Here is a classic vacation picture from one of their trips:
Some vacation, huh? Makes you want to pack your bags and head to our house right away doesn’t it?
Honestly, we have a ball doing these projects. We laugh until we cry, but we also cry until we laugh sometimes when we get involved in some of the more complicated projects.
There is one thing you can be sure of when the three of us are working together on a project and that is my Mom is the brains of the operation. She has an uncanny ability to put things together, figure out hard stuff and is an insanely talented seamstress. She pretty much has to hold our hands and tell us what we need to do on just about every single project. To Bob’s credit, as he has entered retirement and worked as an apprentice under my Mom, he has gotten quite a bit more talented with a drill and is often left unsupervised to do some easy things like change out a light fixture.
That is how this story takes shape - the two grunts were left to their own devices to replace a light fixture in the guest bathroom. Bob makes sure the wall switch is turned off, he takes down the old light fixture with no one getting shocked or electrocuted. I am his right hand man. Holding the screwdrivers and light bulbs as he removes the old fixture. Keep in mind that with the old light fixture out it is a little dark in the bathroom. There is a small window in there and we have the hallway light on, but no direct light in the small bathroom. There is also a kinda busy wallpaper on the walls. Nice, but definitely busy.
We take the new fixture out of the box. The first step is to put up the bracket to hold the new light fixture. No problem. This is about the third or fourth fixture we have replaced in this house alone.
The bracket is a flat piece of metal with two holes. You are supposed to mark inside the holes where you want the bracket to go on the wall. Bob is in charge and puts the bracket on the wall, pulling all of the wires through the hole in the middle so it will lay flush on the wall and he can mark where he is going to drill to secure this baby to the wall. I hand him a pencil to mark the holes and he puts a small tic mark, hands me back the pencil, pulls the bracket down, picks up his drill to make the pilot hole. Whoops, he sees the pencil mark on the right, but not on the left. Dang, didn’t write hard enough. We do it again. Bracket up, wires through the middle, right hole over the previous pencil mark – now hand me the pencil again. He gives it a firm, hard press this time to make sure the mark will show up. Undo it all again. Hands me back the pencil, pulls the bracket down, picks up his drill to make a hole. Whoops, he still can see the pencil mark on the right, but not on the left. Well, darn.
This is not alarming at all to us. Every project we ever take on requires two or three attempts, at least two trips to Lowe’s or Home Depot, and/or multiple undos and redos.
Bob remains calm and suggests we use an ink pen, maybe the wall paper has a slick spot right there that the pencil just isn’t showing up on. I find an ink pen and we go through the whole exercise again. This time, when he marks the hole on the left he really gives it a good solid mark. Confident that we have this figured out he takes the bracket down, picks up his drill…and damn, still no mark.
Now we are really puzzled. He asks for a flashlight to look for the mark in the darkened bathroom. He can’t find it. He starts to give me a look like I have given him a faulty ink pen. I say, you saw it writing, it isn’t the pen. He says, give me a Sharpie that will work for sure. Off I go and we do the whole exercise again. This time the mark he makes in the left hole is ridiculously large. Bob is a little frustrated so he fills up almost the whole space on the bracket. He pulls everything off and goes to put his drill up there and still cannot see the mark on the left.
We are baffled so we do what we always do and he starts hollering for my mother. We obviously need some help. As she is walking toward us, he holds up the bracket to explain to her what the problem is and just starts cracking up. There on the back of the bracket, covering the hole on the left is the manufacturer’s UPC scan sticker. In the light of the hallway, you can see all the angry tic marks with all the various writing instruments. So every time he made a mark, it was on the sticker and never on the wall.
After we laughed ourselves into complete and utter exhaustion, we pulled the sticker off and finished up the job. A job that should have taken 15 minutes has taken well over an hour, but I wouldn’t trade anything for the times we have shared doing projects just like this. It is these memories of my parents that I cherish the very most. I love that I can walk into just about every room in my house and see the results of a project we have worked on together. My house is prettier for it and my heart is full to know how blessed I am to have such wonderful parents. I am a very lucky daughter!
Friday, January 29, 2010
First, Roof Guy comes over to give me the final estimate on getting the roof, screens and gutters replaced. We had to go outside to measure one more area of the roof for gutters and that involved him walking through the backyard with his little measuring wheel deal. After we are done, we come back into the kitchen and the first step he takes on the floor we realize he has stepped in dog poo. Big ole' boot print of doggie poo on the kitchen floor. Great - I am embarrassed and he is totally mortified. I am all "It is no problem, I have two boys, this happens all the time, etc." I stumbled all over myself and I think made it sound like I practically enjoyed having dog waste on the floor of my kitchen. He is apologizing all over himself. I am wetting paper towels to wipe it up and he is taking off his shoes and walking sock footed to the front door to put his shoes outside. It was a bit awkward and uncomfortable.
Thanks Astro - appreciate your little deposit creating that moment for me. Little did I know that "uncomfortable" would be the word of the day.
This afternoon Chip had a new little friend over to play after school. They got along great and I thought for sure they would play together again. That is until the boy's mom came to pick him up. She was lovely, very nice to talk to and she came early and we visited for probably 20 minutes or so. The bad part came when Astro, our beloved family dog came over bugging her for some attention. He is adorable and she was loving on him and he was eating it up. He had already cause me one bit of embarrassment today, but little did I know he was about to do it again. What I start to notice as she is petting and scratching him is that wads and wads of his hair are coming out. The hair is all over the floor and all over her. Enormous amounts of hair. She was petting his back and raking big wads of hair onto the floor. He was leaning up against her pants and massive amounts of dog fur was sticking to her pants. MASSIVE - like a solid sheet of hair.
I said "Get out of here Astro, she is going to be covered with hair." What I am thinking to myself is Good Lord, don't look down at your pants, you will not believe the amount of hair that stuck to your legs. What do you do? She acted like it didn't bother her, but she probably went home and went straight for the lint brush.
Thanks Astro for having such a luscious coat of fur. New rule at our house - no one pets the dog. EVER.
To wrap up Uncomfortable Friday, we went out to eat at a local little Mexican restaurant. It isn't our favorite, but there wasn't a wait and really we just wanted to get in and out. As we are sitting enjoying our meal, the Mariachi band comes into the room where we are seated and starts belting out some music. Why is that so uncomfortable? I don't ever know whether to look at the band, talk to the people I am eating with or stare at my plate. You just keep eating, right? It is supposed to be entertaining, but for me just uncomfortable. Thankfully, this situation didn't involve my dog, but honestly I couldn't wait to get out of there.
All I can be thankful for is that it is Friday. Uncomfortable Monday or Weird Awkward Wednesday would be too much to bear. Friday, even weird and uncomfortable, isn't too bad!
Have a terrific weekend!
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Seems that SIL and her two boys were running some errands for SIL's mom and stopped by her mom's house to drop off a few things. While they are carrying the groceries and whatnot to the kitchen my SIL's mother let's out a scream. SIL goes running to the den and her mom says "A mouse ran under my recliner. Get it out of here." Well my SIL is not a fan of the mouse. Never mind she lives in the middle of nowhere with cows practically in her backyard and coyotes visible some nights from the kitchen window. Mice, she does not do. This is a predicament. SIL's mom is not putting one foot back in the den while that mouse is under foot. Problem is that SIL can't even hardly look in the direction of the chair because she is petrified of seeing the mouse.
What they seemed to forget is the two whippersnappers that were in the house. Those boys hear the commotion and come a running. My SIL's mom hands them both a Walmart bag and tells them to go get that mouse. A Walmart bag - seriously! Make no mistake about it, I use Walmart bags for lots of things, but catching a live mouse is not one of them. Well, my SIL has a better idea that does not involve her sweet boys bagging a mouse in a Walmart bag. She knows that her boys are both terrifically obsessed with hockey. Ice Hockey, Roller Hockey, Street Hockey, Garage Hockey, Hallway Hockey, Table Hockey - if it has the word Hockey in it - they play it.
Well, SIL hands them both a broom and tells them to play a little mouse hockey. She said their eyes lit up and they were on it. A couple of sweet, perfectly timed passes from the oldest to the youngest whippersnapper and they shot that mouse right out the door onto the driveway. The mouse scampered off, a little stunned, but probably happy to escape relatively unscathed. The whippersnappers celebrated like they had scored the winning goal. Probably hitting brooms together and high fiving each other.
So the next time you have the misfortune of finding some vermin in your house, think hockey. It is surely cheaper than calling an exterminator and way less disgusting than setting a trap. I think they may be on to something in that sweet little southern Tennessee town.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Outside of the litter box, lets learn a little more about our family feline. Here is a little synopsis of our pet cat Rosie and her idiosyncrasies. She is a nine year old grey tabby cat that cuddles only when she feels like it and lets you know she is done by biting you. She sheds hair like crazy and has a nasty habit of cleaning her privates when ever and where ever she pleases. In caring for Rosie, the number one rule is that you must make sure that her food bowl never becomes empty. It must always have food or she consider it her sole responsibility to notify you of its depleted state. She does this with one of two methods that she has perfected over the years. She will either scream and cry like her tail is being stepped on by a two ton elephant OR heaven forbid she eats the last bit of kibble during the night then she must implement method two. Method two requires that she immediately trot upstairs to a darkened bedroom. Once there she must begin pulling on all the metal dresser drawer pulls so they click and clack until one of her people wakes up screaming in a fit of rage. It can get kinda ugly, so it is best to give her a little extra food before you go to bed. She also has a small problem with water in bowls and the drinking of that water. The problem is that she doesn't like drinking directly from the bowl. She first likes to fight the water with her paws. Picture a cat putting its paw in a goldfish bowl and rooting around to catch a swimming fish. This is what Rosie does each and every time she drinks, resulting in a huge wet mess all over the floor. Once she has adequately soaked the floor and beaten the water into submission, she gently licks the water from her paws. Outside of those few quirks, she is great and you almost don't even know she lives here.
Why isn't there a Cat Whisperer? Why can't Cesar Millan have a sister that knows cats?
Here is a quick picture I just snapped this evening of our snoozing Rosie under my desk. She apparently hasn't picked up on my bad vibe because she is constantly under foot and in close proximity to me. Perhaps the old adage, keep your friends close and your enemies closer is in play here. Animals are pretty savvy in the ways of survival.
Monday, January 25, 2010
5:00 - Alarm goes off. Try to focus on the number and remember why in the world I set the alarm for so early. Realization hits. Groan. Why, why, why did I agree to this. I want to stay in bed.
5:02 - Feet hit the floor. Feel old. Why do I hurt so much? Oh yeah, played stupid tennis with the boys yesterday. Seriously, that little bit of exercise has me this sore. Oh, God don't look in the mirror. Ugh. What is up with all those wrinkles and all those chins. I need plastic surgery desperately.
5:05 - Teeth brushed, eyes open a little bit more. Where are my clothes? Did I not lay out any socks? Crap. Sorry hubby for all the dresser drawers opening and closing.
5:10 - Nuked a cup of coffee left over from yesterday. Seems kinda gross, but I am desperate and it is not that bad. Alright, lets get these clothes on.
5:15 - Astro sees the shoes and starts breathing heavy. I will not pick up the leash until the very last moment so he doesn't tear down the front door trying to get going. Feeling a little bit more lively. This feels familiar.
5:20 - Coffee gone. Shoes on. More heavy breathing from my walking partner. I wish I could go from zero to ninety miles an hour as fast as he does. It has only been twenty minutes but I am actually ready and looking forward to this. I am up and I am going to walk for exercise! Proud of myself for making it this far.
5:28 - Grab my coat. Pick up the leash. Heading out the door. Let's do this.
5:29 - Dang it is dark, seriously dark. It is a little cold too. Doesn't seem like such a great idea at this point. One foot in front of the other.
6:30 - I did it, I did it, I did it! Walked for a solid hour - feel so good! More mentally than anything else. My left arm is slightly longer than my right arm after Astro tugged on me so much, but all in all feeling super good. What a great way to start the day!
We are going to try to meet every morning and get into a good routine! I am sure tomorrow at 5:00 I will be hating it, but I just have to make it to 5:15 and then I know I can turn the corner! Will need to get to bed a little earlier than usual, but should be a problem I will be pooped!
Hope your day is fantastic!
Saturday, January 23, 2010
We could not have been more wrong!!! We found the nest and we saw the eagles! We actually saw them fly in and out of the nest about seven times in the thirty or so minutes we were there! It was majestic and spectacular and awesome.
So Llano is about 60ish miles away from our house. Like I mentioned, we didn't really have any specific directions, so we just headed that way. When we got close to where we thought it might be there were several cars pulled off the side of the road. We were not sure, but stopped the car to check it out.Is that huge mass in that tree the nest? We are not sure. Oh wait, something is moving on top of the nest. ZOOM IN.
Oh my goodness, it is a bald eagle. Just sitting there looking around. We were thrilled. We thought that would be the high point of the viewing and we stood there staring at it for a long time. Kids start losing interest after about four or five minutes and they start wandering down the fence line. Pretty soon they come screaming back with some exciting news.
Next up, they find the leg of the poor deer. Seriously gross! What else is out in these woods besides eagles. Do we have some mountain lions or something we should be on the lookout for?
Hubby says "Everyone say it together now. Thanks Dad for bringing us out here - it was really cool." It was. He was right.
Hope your Saturday was also spectacular!
Anyway, before school Chip (new name for 7, because 7 just isn't working for me!) was filling me in on how awesome his swinging skills have progressed. Last thing out the door in the morning he said "Mom, can we go to the park right after school so I can show you?" I said...Sure - it is Friday!
Of course, the minute he lays eyes on me after school he wants to go to the park. I have an important teleconference at 3:15 and tell him I need about 30 minutes. He gives me the skunk eye and pouts for about 15 seconds. He tells me he will have a snack and then we will go. Good plan. In fact, it was a great plan.
About 3:45, we are hand in hand, walking to the park. My trusty new camera around my neck. It was absolutely the most beautiful weather EVER!!! About 75 degrees, sunny, no humidity, breezy - GORGEOUS!!!
Chip has been able to swing for a good long while, so I was a little curious as to how he felt he had improved. He gets on board.
He pumps with more gusto than I have ever seen. That is certainly one improvement. Then he shows me the real awesomeness...
I asked him to pose in a tunnel for me. He was very compliant and didn't even fight me on it. I think this fresh spring like air is good for everyone's attitude. Mine included.
Complete concentration on building up a big pile of rocks to launch himself into.
Dirty knees and dirty hands usually means Chip had a great day. I am so glad he made me join him. It was the highlight of my day too! Maybe we can go back again today!
Friday, January 22, 2010
Got to the airport in plenty of time for my flight. Wander down to my gate and look out the window. Oh crap – it is a little plane. That is not good. Seriously, raining and a small plane. Dig out my pill and swallow in hopes my heart will slow and I won’t run from the terminal. We are delayed boarding the plane by about 15 minutes because of bad weather in Atlanta. I am good with that. Finally, they let us board and I settle into my seat in the way back of the plane. We push back from the gate and the pilot comes on and says, folks we are on hold for about 10 minutes. Those 10 minutes pass and he comes back on – in the polar opposite voice of the happy pilot I had on Monday – and gives us the bad news. Folks we are currently grounded. Next report will be in 45 minutes. Sorry for the delay. Crap. I start doing the math in my head and it is obvious I am going to miss my connection in Atlanta. I hold out hope that maybe all the planes are delayed there too. Read all of my magazines and resort to listening to my ipod and wondering if it is okay to go to the bathroom while the plane is on the ground. What happens when you flush an airplane toilet exactly??
About 50 minutes or so later, he says, we are cleared for departure and we will try to make up some time in the air. What??? What did he say??? Make up time in the air! That can only mean he is going to try to go faster than normal. NO THANK YOU!!! He is on my nerves in the worst way. It is totally turbulent and if I had a book I am certain I would not have been able to focus on the page with all the rocking and rolling, bucking and jostling we were doing. I want off please. I said please. Against all odds, I was able to hold the plane up and we landed safely in Atlanta. I think I said “damn” about four times under my breath during flight. Actually, I don't "think" I am pretty sure I did.
I arrive in Atlanta and my flight to Austin already departed. Crap, crap, crap! I check in at the desk and they have me rebooked on a flight departing in about three hours. I call Hubby to give him the news. He has been to the doctor and is on his way for a chest xray. Either bronchitis or walking pneumonia is the guess. Dang, poor guy - wish I was home. I grab some lunch, wander around the airport.
Finally, we board and I take the very last row seat again. The sun is shining, but it is still a rocky, rocky, ride. Was absolutely thrilled when the wheels touched down in Texas. Thank you LORD!!!
So happy to see my boys and sleep in my own bed! Hubby does not have pneumonia so that is great! Kids were alive and well! House took a beating while I was gone, but I can whip it back into shape in an hour or two. Best news is that it is FRIDAY!!!! We made it to another Friday! I have tons of work to do today and even more laundry, but I am home and that is good.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
"Heeeelllllloooooo folks! I am yooooooooouuuuuur captain today and my name is Tom Something or Other (details are hard to retain on the little white pill!). It is going to be a BEAUUUUUUUUUUUUUTIFUL day today". Really dragging out words like he was a game show host or something.
It was at this point that the stewardesses were rolling their eyes like they were in pain and would like to bust down the cabin door themselves and throw him out the cockpit window. It only got worse, which may have been why their eyes were already rolling! He gave us a very detailed weather report, including what he watched on The Weather Channel when he woke up that morning. He may have mentioned something about lake levels and included the number of feet they were low. As a bonus, he also gave us a trivia question - What is the biggest city in Texas that does not have an interstate running through it?" For any of you trivia buffs, the answer will be at the bottom of this post. I would put it upside down like they do on cereal boxes, but I don't know how!
Anyway, lots of folks were getting kinda perturbed with this pilot fellow, but I loved it. It brought me some comfort to know the man flying the big metal bird was in a terrific mood. Folks like that don't want to plunge 25,000 feet to their death. I hope I get him on the way back!
In addition to dreading the flight, I was also dreading training on the new work system in the office. Turns out, that wasn't terrible either. The absolute worst part of my entire day was putting on pantyhose. Seriously, who invented those damn things and why haven't they been banned already? Outside of that, the training went really well and although I am a bit overwhelmed it wasn't as bad as I feared. That is nice, when things aren't as bad as you thought they might be.
I talked with my hubby tonight and they are holding down the fort. Not really. They are so busy with school, lunches, practices, homework, grocery shopping, pictures, etc. they have hardly been at the fort! Things might be a little worse than he thought, but I am sure there is a cosmic rule that it can't be nice for everyone!
I have had a relaxing visit with my Mom and Dad in the evenings. It is not often that I get them to myself. We have gone out to dinner both nights and neither night was to a place with a drive thru! That is living! One night at dinner, my Dad got to telling stories about the fist fights he used to get into as a kid. Fresh stories for me that I had never heard. It was comical and may have to make an appearance in another Bob Chronicles blog!
For now, I am going to head to bed. Need to rest up to wrestle with those pantyhose tomorrow!
Trivia Answer: San Angelo.
Monday, January 18, 2010
It was basketball for 7.
Flag football for 13.
Weather actually cleared up and it was downright lovely! Reeled in the eating a little bit and actually wrote down what I ate. Novel idea, right? Here's hoping I can get a handle on the eating and get back to some regular exercise in the near future!
Might be hard to do that this week because I have to go into the office for the next few days for a training class. Dreading it! I only have to go in a couple of times a year, but trying to find something to wear, getting the boys organized for a few days without me, worrying about the dang flight. Mostly worrying about the flying. I HATE to fly - really, really hate it, hate it, hate it. Is that clear enough? There is not one thing that I like about it - except the getting there so fast and not having to drive 14 hours. That I like, but every single other thing - not so much. My stomach starts getting in knots the minute the Airport Control Tower comes into view. I start making phone calls, saying Good-byes and I Love Yous. It is part of my routine. Don't let the boys forget how much I love them. If this plane goes down, my life was awesome and I wouldn't change a thing. I want you to re-marry, but only someone who loves the boys like crazy. Don't let her trick you either. She must REALLY love them. Let them talk about missing me, play our family videos, tell them how much I loved them.
Lord, I could just lay my head down and cry right now.
Can you only imagine what it is like to be on the receiving end of my morbid phone calls? It is a wonder hubby will even answer the phone when I call.
Anyway, I have my little white pill that gives me the fortitude to walk down the tunnel and into a seat on the aircraft. Taken one hour before flight and then my feet will move forward although every fiber of my being is saying "Why are you doing this? You realize in about 15 minutes this metal bird is going to be hurdling through the sky at 25,000 feet. Run. Turn around and RUN!". I don't though. Not sure what is in those pills the doctor gave me, but it is pretty powerful stuff.
I have a good book I have been saving to read on the plane. I will start reading it immediately when I get in my seat. From all outward appearances it will appear that I am a calm, frequent traveler, who did not require a firm internal talking to and a little white pill to get on the plane. It has gotten better over the years. The more I fly the easier it gets. Facing those fears, over and over and over again. I think eventually you are just exhausted from the whole process of being scared.
So, wish me luck. If the plane goes down just know I TOLD YOU SO - those things are dangerous!
Love, love, love everything about my life and really hope I make it back to see how the rest of it plays out! I leave you with one more peek at what I miss when I am gone.
I might need two pills today.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? Well Norman Rockwell it isn’t. The Chicken Soup is finished and on the stove, that much is true. But 13 really only likes the chicken, 7 only likes the noodles, and I am the Chicken Noodle Surgeon that tries to fish out their favorites from the pot. I know I should force them to eat it all, but it is Friday and life is good, so I will allow them their pickyness. Hubby will eat it all. For me, I am trying to starve myself after another stalled week at Weight Watchers. I may have to actually stop eating so much and exercise. Makes me so damn mad!
On this fabulous relaxed Friday evening, our oldest son has just given us a play by play of the first fight he has ever seen in middle school. Sadly, it happened today in his classroom between two guys that he is friendly with. Not sure how it escalated, but boy did it. There were punches thrown, tables overturned, campus police officer called, YIKES! Stop talking - that is not relaxing, that makes me very, very tense.
Thank goodness we have our energetic younger son who was able to lighten the mood. How you ask? Well, first he stripped down to his undies. Then he proceeded to demonstrate all of the new gymnastics moves he learned in PE today. I swear there are only so many times you can watch a donkey kick and still act excited. Watching him try to do something called the tripod was almost painful. I think he was trying to balance on his forehead, one arm and one leg. It was a hot mess and it looks like something was going to snap. He must have not listened very well to how to do that move. He does have down pat the diving rolls which really seem to be his best move. He nailed the move several times, but I could really do without him diving on the couch so hard. It moves like six inches every time he dives on it. It will be out in the front yard shortly. The hands down winner for funniest gymnastics move this evening has got to be the one he calls the pencil roll. Lay flat on the ground, arms stretched way above your head, toes pointed and you roll sideways across the floor. I am sure it will work your core tummy muscles like nobody’s business, but jeez it looks weird. I think the PE teachers made that one up. Good for some laughs that is for sure.
I am going to wrap up this post, go break up the Xbox Basketball tournament that 13 and his Daddy are having and see what movies are playing. Keep your fingers crossed that there is something even remotely entertaining in the PG arena. Cannot watch Alvin and the Chipmunks again or I will shoot myself.
Happy Weekend! I hope your Friday night is fabulous!!
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Let's take a look at the boys in the house and see if we can try to understand their complicated relationship with fruit. I should start with my hubby. His relationship with fruit is awful, although in the last six years or so he has expanded his fruit horizons a bit. Prior to 2003, he would eat an apple and/or applesauce. Didn't really love either, but he would eat them on a rare occasion. At 38 years old he ate his first banana. His entire life he loved all things banana flavored - banana bread, banana pudding, Banana Twin Little Debbie's. But at 38 he took his first bite of a fresh, real, whole Banana. He ate the whole thing. It was a sight to behold. I won't go into how much he struggles with taking the peel off of a banana - we will save that for another post all on its own! So as of this posting he will eat bananas, applesauce, an occasional apple, and for the first time ever last Thursday night at 44 years of age he ate a fresh blackberry. His first fresh berry EVER. I called his sister, my mom and dad, and countless friends with the news. It is like I need a baby book to write down his introductions to food - but he is FORTY FOUR!!! I made a huge deal out of it too - trying to get the little men in this house on board with how fabulous and rewarding the eating of fruit can be. Now let's look at their walk with fruit.
The idea for this post is actually because of my oldest son, who on this blog I call "13". This afternoon after school 13 walks into the house and immediately turns up his nose and says "What is that awful smell?" I am sniffing all around trying to find the source of the odor that has attacked his nostrils. He finally narrows it down to "That thing!" That thing was a sweet little innocent grapefruit half sitting on the kitchen counter that I hadn't yet consumed. 13 eats zero fruit - none - zip - he seems to think it is physically impossible for him to eat fruit. He might be right because his relationship with fruit has been bad for as long as I can remember. Even at baby food stage, he always preferred the carrots, sweet potatoes and squash over any of the fruits. Surely he would eat at least the applesauce? Can't recall. Anyway, I can remember once when he was about 2 years old or so and we were down at my parent's house for a visit. There were some green grapes sitting on the counter and my mom cut a few in half for him. She handed them to him and he picked up a half and licked it. All hell broke loose, he was spitting, choking, licking his arm and the counter top trying to get the grape taste out of his mouth. It was hysterical. A couple of years ago he was in the grocery store with me and said "Mom, I think I want to try a banana." I picked myself up off the floor, grab the closest banana to me, paid a cashier and tore out of that store. In the privacy of our car, he peeled that banana and took a honest good bite. Then he barfed. It was not hysterical, it was maddening. I shared this story with some of our friends and they just found it impossible to believe that this kid would not eat fruit. One night they were over for dinner and some friendly wagers were offered up for 13 to give a strawberry a go. He bit it - he barfed. It is just ridiculous. It must be the texture, because fruit tastes great!!! Here is his saving grace - he will eat lots of veggies. It is because he eats veggies that I can sleep at night.
Moving on to our youngest son, that we will call "7". He is an eating machine. He loves food in general - carbs in particular seem to be his favorite. Pasta, rice, bread, those are what make his heart sing. On the fruit front however, he will eat raisins. That's it - just raisins. Are raisins even considered a real fruit? In this house we call them a fruit. We also consider NutriGrain Strawberry Fruit Bars a fruit, because he also eats those. He also eats some veggies, although not nearly as many as I would like. Food challenges abound in this house.
In the end, I will blame my hubby's genes as the reason my children have such fruit phobias. I will take the blame for them being bad jumpers - those are my genes for sure. Maybe they will outgrow this phobia. As I have typed this blog, I have decided to redouble my efforts to introduce fruit to my children's bodies. Maybe I will try blending up some fruit with frozen yogurt and act like it is an ice cream treat. Might just work with 7! 13 not so much - he doesn't like ice cream. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE CHILDREN!!!!
Wish me luck!
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Off topic a little bit - I have come to realize that my stress food is chips. I had a pretty stressful day today and I kept finding myself pulling out the chips. Over the last couple of weeks, I have tried a couple of the Weight Watchers techniques like phoning a friend when you are stressed instead of eating. I have called my girl Mary (names have been changed to protect the innocent!) with chips in my mouth. She yells through the receiver for me to put them down, but I am crunching too loud to be able to hear her. I have also tried choosing something different, like baby carrots in place of chips. Not the same. Not even close to the same. As also suggested by Weight Watchers, I have documented that when I am stressed I am reaching for the wrong food. I know it is not because I am hungry, but because if I don't eat some chips I might put my head through my computer screen. Anyway, mental note made - chips are what I reach for when my day is getting out of hand. What I do with this mental note remains to be seen. For now, just know that chips are the devil and should be banned from this house forever.
Back to the hole in the yard...Plumber Joe gets busy digging this hole. He looks up at one point and I am standing there with my new, fancy, smancy camera. Let's just say that he wasn't thrilled. I had honestly tried to take some pictures from inside the house, but it felt so weird to be snapping shots from inside. At one point I was pointing my camera at him through the living room window and he looked up right at me. I wanted to drop to the floor and hide. Then I thought, well this is just ridiculous - walk out there and take a picture. So I did. I didn't disturb him too much and he thought my camera was nice.
He uses this opportunity to tell me what a difficult job it has been to dig this hole and tells me it is full of roots and rocks and an even an old plastic cup. I tell him to keep it up and I head back into the house to work on the proposal that has me more stressed than the leak in the yard. About 20 minutes later there is a knock on the door. It is Plumber Joe and surprise, surprise, he says the words that I just knew were coming..."I have heard of this before, but in the ten years I have been a plumber I have never seen it. I think the roots are inside the pipe and working their way out instead of in." Give me my award - put it in the books - we have another one for the Wall of Fame! If it paid to get awards like this we could have retired by now!
He gives me the options, one of which is thousands of dollars and requires digging a whole new line and replumbing a bunch of stuff. I nix that one. Not enough chips in the world to deal with that. Then he says he can cut this repair a little larger and see how invasive the roots are. This option won't cost any more and then he can get a good close look at it. After a quick call to hubby, we go with Option 2. I give Plumber Joe the decision, grab a few chips, and get back to work.
So, Plumber Joe goes about the business of cutting and refitting, repairing, regluing and refilling the hole. The roots were just right inside the fitting and don't appear to be as invasive as he thought. The repair is done.
A handshake and a sizeable check later, I am thanking Joe for his efforts. He gives me one final parting bit of advice. The next time you call someone out to do repair work on your house you might want to take that Alabama flag down. My father-in-law is a plumber and he always jacks the prices up on people who root against his team! Thankfully, Plumber Joe had a set price list and was not a Longhorn fan! It would have been good advice given a little too late!
I am off to find a frame for our latest award! Have a great day and stay away from the CHIPS!!!
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
This story is going to be forever referred to as "Driving with Thumbs". Again, many of you may already be laughing to yourselves because you know this story too! Follow along as I recount the story of Bob and his introduction to Cruise Control.
First of all, most people hate buying a new car. All the haggling and negotiating. It is just uncomfortable and you are never quite sure if you got a good deal or got scammed. As I have mentioned before, Bob is not most people. He LOVES buying a car. He enjoys lots of things in life, but negotiating a deal on a car ranks right up there with watching football on Saturday afternoon. Well, Bob hasn't had many new cars in his life. You have to understand that he is a bit on the "cheap" side for lack of a better word. Back in the mid 90’s he was having some trouble with his back and he was in the market for a minivan that would be easier to get in and out of. As I said, he is very practical (is there any other way to say that Bob does not like to part with his money?) and just wanted a bare bones, no frills, minivan that had some doors, a windshield, a motor and those nice high seats that he barely had to stretch up or crouch down to get into. After he worried the poor people at the Dodge dealership half to death, he walked out of there with a Dodge Caravan that had some spiffy, high tech bells and whistles. They really would have probably thrown in a sun-roof, curb feelers, spinning rims, anything to get him off the lot! The particular piece of technology that intrigued Bob the most was the cruise control! He was totally jazzed about that feature. Especially, since he and Mom were planning a 1,000 mile road trip up to Baltimore on Phase I of the Retirement Travel Bonanza!
Dad and Mom take off on the road trip a couple of days after the purchase of the new van and Bob is finding that he just about able to drive “feet free”. He is accelerating, braking, cruising along all using his thumbs – no feet required. He may even be able to control the radio from the steering wheel, but I think that was a van upgrade a couple of years later. He is pretty pleased with himself and kinda challenges himself to see how far he can drive with just his hands. My mom, his copilot and navigator, is a little peeved with this obsession. She says at one point he is frantically pushing the accelerate button on the steering wheel to get out of an 18 wheelers path that is bearing down behind them. She finally yells – USE YOUR FEET!!! He is able to snap out of his cruise control stupor and successfully deliver them to their hotel in Roanoke, where they plan to stay the night, before finishing up their drive the next day.
That night, they go over to Shoney’s for a quick bite of dinner. As he is eating, and picking up his utensils Bob starts to experience some serious pain in his thumbs. He keeps talking about how they are burning. Could it be arthritis? He can’t for the life of him figure out why. Well, I know you can already see where this is going. His thumbs are sore from all that frantic pushing of buttons during his nine hours of driving time. He goes back to the hotel, gets the ice bucket and the little plastic liner. He fills them both with ice. One hand goes in the ice bucket, the other is covered by the plastic bag filled with ice. He spends his evening with both thumbs surrounded by ice to try to take away the swelling and the pain. He takes some aspirin and has a terrible night sleep with his throbbing thumbs. My mother is not amused. Who gets injured from driving? Bob, that's who.
The next day, they hit the road to finish up the trip and Bob is all feet all the way. Doesn’t even turn on the cruise control. I don’t know if there is a lesson in this story, except maybe everything in moderation – even cruise control!!!
This is fun, documenting some of my Dad’s funnier moments. He really got a kick out of the initial Bob Chronicles and I hope he does this one as well. Hopefully, I am recalling them with some accuracy and resemblance of events that actually happened. I think it is pretty close to the truth. If it is not exactly how it happened, it is at least what has morphed into reality in my mind after years of Bob embellishing this story as he told it time and time again.
Thanks for the laughs Dad!
I also hit the floor and did 50 crunches and 50 butt lifts. I am sure there is an official name for butt lifts, but I don't know what it is. Probably something with the word "glute" in it.
As a finale, I got out the old resistance bands and pulled and twisted and stretched and moaned. At one point I was doing some arm lifts over my head and I think I was holding the band incorrectly. The reason I think that is because my elbow almost snapped in two at the joint. It hurt. Would have hurt worse though had I let go of the band and smacked myself in the face with it.
Anyway, the whole affair probably took 20 minutes or so, and I looked like a doofus the entire time. However, it was moving my body against its will and I am satisfied with that. I am a little sore across the top of my arms so mission accomplished.
What exercise did you do yesterday? What have you got planned for today? Fill me in!
Monday, January 11, 2010
First of all, SPAM is one of those things that I am kinda sorta embarrassed to even put in my cart at the grocery store. SPAM has gotten such a bad rap that most people turn up their nose at even the mention of the word. I grew up eating it in my mom's super fantastic family favorite fried rice recipe and never realized it was such a scorned, cheap, processed meat until I was much older. I always just thought it was good. Served with a side of dill pickle and it was a delectable delicacy in our house. Now I am going to post for all the world to see that my family eats SPAM and we LOVE IT!!! I am ready to stop hiding my SPAM behind a big box of cereal when I check out of the grocery store. We should celebrate the SPAM that is so easy to keep as a staple in your pantry. With just a few other ingredients that I always have on hand I can make one of my boys favorite meals in just a few short minutes.
The second reason this post makes me laugh is that I am huge fan of Pioneer Woman's website and she does these amazing recipe posts with step by step pictures. Well, you all know I got my handy, dandy new Nikon for Christmas, so guess what??? What follows is a step by step tutorial on making the Wish it Didn't Have SPAM In It - SPAM Fried Rice recipe. I wonder if Pioneer Woman would be proud of me or deeply embarrassed that I am using her technique to demonstrate SPAM!!
As I mentioned, my mom made fried rice often when I was growing up. I am not even sure where she got the recipe or if she made it up herself. I will have to ask her! Her recipe was filled with tons and tons of veggies. Sadly, over the years the massive amounts of vegetables that my mom used to include in her recipe have faded away at our house. Before we had kids, my hubby used to eat the original recipe that was my moms. One day he said, I would really like this better if it didn't have onions in it. Out went the onions. As my oldest son has aged, he has requested the elimination of the cabbage and carrots. Now it is down to just a few ingredients. What follows is their very current favorite version of this dish.
You start with a can of SPAM! Don't be embarrassed - let's start a revolution. It is cheap, keeps forever and seriously tastes great!
When you take the SPAM out of the can it will be a solid chunk. For this recipe, you should slice it and dice it until it is in really small cubes. Toss it into your skillet and set the heat on medium high. No oil or grease required in the pan - it will cook up kinda like bacon. When it starts cooking I start hearing calls from all over the house "Are we having Fried Rice tonight?"
You should stir it around until it starts to get a little golden brown on all sides. Don't overcook it - it should look something like this.
Also have on hand, the other stars in this recipe. REAL salted butter and...
Light Soy Sauce
Scootch the meat to the side of the pan, add a little pat of butter and let it melt. Dump in the scrambled eggs and get to cooking them. Try to keep them separate from the meat. It just doesn't look as nice if the meat and eggs get mixed together at this stage.
Once the eggs have set up pretty well, you can mix the meat and eggs together. It is at this point in my cooking that the boys have made their way into the kitchen and asked for a piece of meat. I usually fish a couple out of the pan and feed them like birds. They do this with all kinds of things. Just need a taste to hold them over.
Check on the rice, make sure it is good and done. If your kids are standing next to you, you will probably have to give them each a mouthful of this too!
Dump the rice into the skillet. See, it is alot of rice.
Add about a 1/3 stick of butter and as much soy sauce as you like. Stir it all together until the butter is completely melted and all the ingredients are combined.
At our house, the finished product looks something like this. Now yell "Dinner's Ready!" and get out of the way.
Boys like this one....
and this one will knock you down getting to the table.
I hope you venture into the Secret SPAM eaters club! You don't know what you are missing until you try it!!!
What happened? I am trying to reach back in my memory to get back to that place. You know that feeling you get after you have exercised? The one where you are so proud of yourself and excited to have accomplished something? Why isn't that enough to get me moving? I feel better when I exercise, both mentally and physically. I have my new BodyBugg on my arm that I am sure would appreciate having some significant "burned calories" to report. A quick walk, jump some rope, do some sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks, swing my arms around like a windmill...SOMETHING!!
Today is the day I am turning it around. Saying it out loud, setting a goal, right here, right now on this blog! Even though I have already showered and gotten dressed for the day, that is not going to be my excuse. Even though I have a solid ton of work to do - proposal deadlines to meet, invoice payments to make, mods to issue, teleconferences to dial in to, also not going to be my excuse today. Even though I really, really don't want to - MARK MY WORDS - today I am going to move with some purpose. I am going to burn some calories. I am going to get back on the exercise train. I am going to be sore tomorrow from something I do today.
Sounds like I mean it, doesn't it?
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Of all of those, the water leak is certainly the unexpected smack in the face from life that is inevitable. The rest is just the regular stuff. Help is on the way for the water leak and hopefully we haven't drained the local water reserve with the water we are leaking out into the street. I don't think it is too bad cause the water pressure inside seems to be fine. Of course, I know absolutely zero about plumbing and probably jinxed the entire repair by even uttering the words "don't think it is too bad". If history serves as any indication, the leaking pipe will be under massive tree roots, under a boulder, through the sprinkler system, require some dynamite, a back hoe and a crane. We are notoriously lucky at getting the "that has never happened before", "it doesn't usually take this long", "whoever set this up did it wrong" awards. We collect them.
I also took the opportunity this weekend to get someone to come out and check the roof. Every other home in our cul-de-sac has already had their roof replaced after a terrific hail storm we had last spring. I have been dragging my feet on this one, but it is time. Hopefully, it will go smoothly and require only one really hard day of enduring the endless hammering. Poor dog is going to go crazy! While I was on the home repair kick I also called for a regularly scheduled maintenance check on the a/c units. Crazy, I know! May as well get it all done while I am thinking about it. Could be a recipe for disaster or it could be that some necessary items get marked off of the "TO DO" list. I love marking things off of a list. I get that from my Dad.
So I hope the rest of your weekend is wonderful and that your week ahead is not too painful. For me, I hope we don't add any new "awards" to our collection and that the house is in better shape after we work on it than before we started!!! Wish us luck!
Friday, January 8, 2010
Youngest son might have gone a little crazy with the eye black, primarily because he missed his eye and circled his sweet little mouth instead. Pre-game jitters will do that to you sometimes!
There was food - there were balloons - there was screaming (lots and lots of screaming), yelling, cheering, telephone calls, texts, jumping, cavorting, maybe a little bit of praying. In the end, even as bad as they played, the Alabama Crimson Tide beat the Texas Longhorns and went home with the National Championship Trophy! A glorious 14-0 season.
My little Tide fans were absolutely, completely, EXHAUSTED!
As the saying goes back in Alabama: