Thursday, December 23, 2010

I made it!

I made it, I made it, I maaaaaade it!  I'm dancing a little jig because I can't contain myself!  This morning when I weighed myself, I was down 10.0 pounds.  Then I did it again and it was 10.2 pounds.  Then I made the mistake of trying again, which resulted in my weight loss being only 9.8 pounds, so THEN I had to try again and I was back to 10.0.  I'm calling that a success.  :)

Today is my last day at work for the next 11 days.  I'm so excited to have that much time off.  The last time I had that much time off in a row ...I was on maternity leave.  Yikes.

Our plans for the holiday vacation?  Organize the house.  I know that doesn't sound like much fun - and really, it's not - but I just can't stand the clutter in the house anymore.  The husband hired a professional organizer for me for Christmas and our first session was last Friday.  I have some "homework" to do before she comes back after the New Year, but I'd like to do a little more than just the minimum she asked me to do.  It's such a good feeling to finally be doing something about the "Pit of Despair", as I lovingly refer to our house.

Tomorrow the plan is to finally go to a Mexican restaurant and pig out on chips and margaritas- something we haven't been able to have for the last month.  (way too many calories just one chip!)  Mmmmm...  Chuy's...

P.S.  The husband made it to his goal of 15 pounds lost, too.  Together that's 25 pounds of fat that is now missing from our house.  Yay!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

This exercise business is really getting in the way.

So I've been exercising religiously for the last few weeks and must continue doing so this week if I want to lose those last couple of pounds.  However, this is really getting in the way of getting ready for Christmas!

In previous years, I've been able to go Christmas shopping at lunchtime during the couple of weeks leading up to Christmas.  And to make it worse, a couple of months ago, my company banned shopping websites from our internet access.  It's made Christmas extremely difficult this year.

The husband and kids are out shopping for gift cards and other miscellaneous presents today, but there are still a few things I need to get.  Well, where there's a will, there's a way.  I just have to find it...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Getting there...

Today was weigh-in day and I'm slowly getting there.  Actually, last week on Thursday, I was at a lower weight than today, but this past weekend of socializing with friends did me in.  I'm down about 7.5 pounds today.  And I only have three days left to lose that last 2.5.  Somehow, I'll make myself do it, though.  I've gotten used to starvation!  :)

So, on Thursday morning last week when I weighed myself and found that I had finally broken that elusive goal-weight I've had in my head for the last couple of years, I immediately went and scared the crap out of the husband by waking him up and yelling, "I made it!!  And look, if I stand sideways and suck in my tummy, I almost look skinny!  And, and look!  When I pinch my fat, there's so much less there!!!"

After he figured out that there wasn't an intruder in the house, he calmed down and said, "Yes, you look great, dear."  Good husband.

And I'm off to drink some more water...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sodium is not my friend

I stepped on the scale this morning (just because I like torturing myself) but today I was met with a pleasant surprise: I was three pounds lighter this morning than yesterday morning!  I must have been retaining a lot of water yesterday, I guess.  So, I need to remember next week before the final weigh-in that sodium is not my friend.

Last night was supposed to be our bi-weekly date night, but the nanny couldn't make it, so we spent a quiet evening at home.  It was probably a good thing, too, because Marxo's throat started hurting and she seems to have a swollen tonsil on one side.  We put her to bed and spent the rest of the evening helping Fellan to finish his homework for the week.

You would think, then, that we would have been able to go to bed early, right?  Well, at least, that's what I was fantasizing about.  But, no, we had to pick up the house and put away clothes and wash the towels and finally made it to bed at about 10:30.  I'm still recovering from the weekend, I guess - I'm still tired.

So, I'll be calling the doctor this morning to see if we can get an appointment.  Seems like the kids have been sick a lot this fall...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Really? REALLY?!!

I weighed myself last night and after starving myself for a second week in a row with only one evening of decadence, I've gained a pound since last week.  Sometimes it just doesn't pay to be female...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Need sleep...

I need some sleep after this weekend!

The husband and I went to a Christmas party this past weekend in Midland, TX!  It was fun, but it basically took up the entire weekend.

My husband does quite a bit of consulting work and the company he works through had their Christmas party this past weekend.  They usually have it here in Houston, but last year, the Midland folks suggested that they hold it out there instead.

So, we all flew out there and tore up the town.  Not really, but we did stay out much later than our normal bedtime.  :)

And, on Friday night, we were up late, entertaining friends at our house and then getting ready for the trip.  I'm really ready for a nap.

But!  No rest for the weary!  I must work out today to attempt to undo some of the harm that the tenderloin topped with lobster butter (yum!), potato cakes (yum!), wine (yum!), and flourless chocolate mint cake (yummy, yum, yum!) did to my "diet" over the weekend.  It's not going to be good news tonight when I weigh myself.

But it was worth it.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Fed Up With Lunch: Eat Along Challenge

Mrs. Q over at Fed Up With Lunch posted a challenge for this week.  (apparently, I just can't turn down a challenge!)

This week, she's asking everyone who packs lunch for their children to post pictures of those lunches.  So, this morning, I set them out and took these inspiring pictures.

Marxo's Lunch
Fellan's Lunch
Actually, after setting out their lunches and looking at them, I really found nothing inspiring about them.  But, this is what they have every day.  It is what it is - and at least there are no preservatives, artificial colors, or flavors.

Marxo's lunch is always either a Babybel cheese OR yogurt, half a sweet peanut butter sandwich on home-made bread (natural peanut butter mixed with honey), water, fruit OR vegetable (typically cucumbers and carrots), and a cookie (which many times she doesn't eat because she doesn't have time or she's full).

Fellan always eats his full lunch.  His lunch is always a cheese stick, a toasted american cheese sandwich on home-made bread, Pringles, fruit (most of the time, the kids choose to have grapes), 2% milk, and a cookie... or two.

This year, we've been making the kids pack their own lunches.  They get their fruit, cookies, and Pringles ready the night before, we make their sandwiches for them in the morning, and then they're responsible for packing it all up before they leave.

They've also been going to after-school care this year at the school and if they want a snack (they're not allowed to usually have the snack from the school because it's generally crap-food), they're responsible for packing that the previous night, too.  Fellan usually chooses a mandarin orange cup and a package of Annie's Homegrown Bunny Crackers (similar to teddy grahams - chocolate is, of course, his favorite flavor, but we've been out of those for awhile...).

Marxo says she never has time to eat a snack after school, but I've been trying to make sure she has something in her bag, in case she gets hungry.  There's currently a smashed Kashi granola bar and some raisins in her bag.  And they've been in there since the beginning of the school year.  :o

I wouldn't consider these to be in the same class as the very original, cutsie, all-wholesome lunches and snacks that others provide for their kids, but I do think they serve the purpose and they're still relatively healthy.  And it works for us.  :)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


We live in Houston.  A place that does not require a coat for probably 9 months out of the year.  Yet, we've got coats.  Lots of coats.

So many coats that they can't all fit on the coat hanger.

... and also a tire.

(Notice the "energy particle" I captured in that photo.  You know, the things they're always pointing out in those TV shows about hauntings and ghosts.  "We suddenly felt a presence and a cold draft of air came across the room.  We didn't see anything, but when we reviewed the video later, an obvious energy particle can be seen shooting through the air!")

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Last night when I got home, the husband and I went upstairs and ripped off our clothes and headed to... the bathroom to weigh ourselves. We both laughed at how funny this would look to anyone else.

Good news, though - I've lost 3.4 pounds! All that starving is doing some good! :)

I don't think this is a good long-term plan in the slightest - losing this much weight in this short of a time is just not a good idea, but I think it's going to help me finally get some motivation to keep it going and I think I should really be able to hit my goal of being fit and healthy by the time I'm 40. Yay!

UPDATED: Oh, and the best part is that the husband has lost 6 pounds, so I figure at least one of us should have a very good shot at being in the running for all the prizes. There are lots of guys who have already posted that they've lost at least 7 pounds. Us poor women are having a bit of a harder time, though...

Monday, December 06, 2010


Well, tonight I get to find out if I'm making any progress. I feel like I should be - I'm really embracing this gnawing in my stomach... odd as that may sound.

About 10 years ago, the husband and I got in very good shape and lost quite a bit of weight in the process. I'm trying to do the same thing now as I did then - only I'm kind of stepping it up a notch on the food part of it, tracking every calorie and severely limiting them.

At that time, I had heard about people who were using prayer to lose weight. It was an interesting catch-phrase that made it national news at the time, but it turned out what they were really doing was just waiting until their stomach growled to eat - which is really the point, right? You should only eat when you're actually hungry. But then they used prayer to help themselves get to the point that their stomachs were growling.

So, I tried to implement that idea along with the idea that calories out must equal calories in and suddenly the pounds started melting away. I'm hoping that if this "crash diet" gives me the kick-start I needed, I'll be able to keep up the weight/fat loss for awhile. I'll be 40 next year and it's my goal to be fit and healthy again by then.

So you know what can really help out in the "calories in" part of the equation? If you go for a bike ride that should only take a couple of hours, but then it ends up taking four hours and by the time you get home, you've entirely missed lunch! Which is what happened to us yesterday. (but I don't really recommend it)

We decided to take the kids mountain biking at Double Lake Recreation Area. We've been here before and it's a great place to mountain bike - and it's only an hour away from our house! The problem is that there are quite a few rolling hills on the trail and Marxo's little bird-legs just don't have the muscle-strength to get up them. She has to get off and walk in many places, so our average speed ends up being about 3 miles per hour. And since we haven't been riding much lately, the kids' tolerance level has decreased and their whining index has increased and then the 1st of Newton's laws comes into play: things at rest tend to want to stay at rest. Ugh.

Since a cold front came through Saturday night and it was significantly colder on Sunday morning, we didn't want to get out too early. But then we ended up getting to the park a little later than we probably should have: Noon. That's Ok, though, I thought - we'll be done and home by at least 3:30 or so. We'll have plenty of time to eat a (very) late lunch, clean up the house, have dinner, and still have time to finish putting up the Christmas decorations.

Hrmph. After taking two snack breaks and noticing that the sun was starting to get low in the sky, I was getting rather worried about our plans for the rest of the day! We finally made it back to the car at 4:00, which meant we got home at 5:00, we missed lunch and went straight for dinner.

Calories in yesterday = 1250
Calories out yesterday = 609 (approximately - hard to tell, we were going so slowly!)

I think by that calculation, I should have lost about 2 pounds just yesterday! (kidding) But, we'll find out for sure tonight when I weigh-in...

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Another day, another (not) pound

So I managed to make it through the day without cheating and made it to bed before my stomach started grumbling too badly. I was surprised this morning that I wasn't more hungry. I even made it to work before I really started feeling hungry at around 7:15 or so. I normally try to hold out until 9:00 to eat my granola bar for breakfast and today it was a struggle. I was actually shaky right before and after I ate. It's going to take a little while for my body to get used to this few calories - in the meantime, I'm sure it's going to protest.

Last night it took me an hour and forty-five minutes to get home. There was apparently a fuel spill on the highway that I take on my way home and it was closed. It was a nightmare.

There was a small up-side to this, however. It meant that we didn't eat supper until almost 8:00, so after my measly portion, I didn't have much time to get hungry before I went to bed!

I did make the mistake of weighing myself last night before I went to bed. I gained a pound. I don't know how that could be possible, but, for real, this time I'M NOT WEIGHING MYSELF UNTIL MONDAY!

My one concern in undertaking this challenge is the message that we're sending our kids. I don't want them to be concerned in any way about their weight while they're growing up. Fellan is a very healthy, very muscular boy, which means that according to the BMI scales, he's bordering on the label "obese". He is not in any way "obese" and our daughter doesn't have enough body fat to keep her warm during her swimming lessons! So, I don't like talking about my weight in front of them. We include the kids in our weekend exercise (bicycling) and the husband and I usually try to talk about being fit and healthy, but I know we occasionally refer to ourselves as being fat. Just an observation and something for me to think about.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

And day one went down in flames...

Like I said, I knew there probably wouldn't be a chance that I could lose 10 pounds before Christmas, but I was hoping to at least get some sort of weight-loss or fitness-enhancement started through this challenge.

If yesterday is any indication of how seriously I'm taking this, then I will have gained 10 pounds before Christmas.

Last night was "Date Night" for the husband and me. We let our nanny go at the beginning of this school year, but since the kids love her so much (and we do, too), we didn't want to cut all ties to her. Instead, we have her come every other Tuesday night so that we can have a Date Night.

So last night, we decided to go check out an Indian restaurant we've never been to before. And when I got to work this morning, I started putting in everything I ate and drank last night, but after the vodka martini, saag paneer, and saffron rice, I gave up. I was well over my limit and I didn't even get to the gigantic King Fisher beer I drank and the other two entrees! I weighed myself this morning. I'm up more than a pound. Nice.

However, I put in all the food that I plan to eat today and the exercise I plan to do at lunchtime. If I don't eat any extras, I'm under my caloric limit.

I'm going to make sure to have more resolve today. And I'm not going to weigh myself again until next week. There's definitely such a thing as too much data. :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kick in the pants

I've been working out during lunchtime for the past several months, but I just can't seem to get in shape fast enough - or AT ALL!

I was recently moved to a different project within my company, but it happens to be located in the office building farthest from my house. I was not very happy about this since I would have to join the leagues of people who really commute every day to work, however, after I got here and checked out the workout facility, my mood brightened.

I have since been down at the fitness center every single day and I'm loving it. It's not because they have treadmills with individual TV screens for you to choose which program you would like to watch (which is really cool and would mean that I wouldn't have to watch Fox News while working out like I had to at the other office building) and it's not because they have elliptical trainers with individual TV screens. It's because they have one of these.

I'm totally hooked. I get a good workout and I'm not continuously checking how much time I've been working out, or how much time is left on the machine. I just ride and listen to the music (which is set to the XM satellite 80's music station) and remember what I was doing when each song was popular and then I climb another hill and check out the sheep or horses that they have programmed into the scenery. The people who did the programming must have a sense of humor, too - on one of the circuits, they included the abominable snowmonster off to the side.

So it has seemed that my pants are starting to fit a little better, but every time I weigh myself, I'm not making any progress. It's possible that I am losing some fat and gaining muscle, but Thanksgiving pretty much wiped out any progress I had been making!

However, I'm a reader of the Fat Cyclist blog (look over to the right on my "Blogs I Read" list) and it seems he has just given me the kick in the pants that I needed. He's laid down a challenge to lose 10 pounds before Christmas and I've signed up! I really have no hope of actually achieving that goal, but I might as well try.

I've started tracking my food intake through the Livestrong MyPlate website again and I might even use it for more than a couple of days this go-round. So far today, I've eaten 418 calories and burned 238, so I have 729 left for snack this afternoon and dinner tonight. (And I'm starving! Time to drink some more water...)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tune in next time, when our topic will be... Rice

There's a skit on Saturday Night Live called The Delicious Dish that always cracks me up. The most famous episode, apparently, is the one where Alec Baldwin is playing a character called Pete Schweddy and he makes cheese balls for the holidays. The best line from that particular skit is when one of the lady hosts says, "I can't wait to wrap my lips around your Schweddy Balls." They do such a great job with the double entendre and never once break character. I think the sign-out for that sketch was, "Tune in next time, when our topic will be (they pause, smile, and together say...) Rice."

Which brings me to the topic of the post: Rice. Fellan finally tried and loved some whole grain rice earlier this week. How can you go through 7 and a half years of life without trying and liking rice? Really. Rice. The most important food staple in much of the world? Boggles the mind, doesn't it?

Well, that's not to say that Fellan has never been forced to try rice before. It's just that he would eat one grain of rice and refuse to eat the rest.

The stars must have aligned, however, earlier this week. He took a bite and literally gobbled down the rest.

We're going to be having rice again tonight. I'm interested to see if he has finally acquired the taste for rice, or if that was just a strange anomaly.

Thursday, November 04, 2010


I've been lazy this week and haven't posted a picture of the kids from Halloween yet! Well, here it is:

The kids decided to go with an Asian theme this year, I guess. I sprayed Marxo's hair with black temporary hair paint and put a little bit of makeup on the corners of her eyes and then wondered if this would somehow be considered being politically incorrect for some reason. I'm actually not sure why it would be, but I'm certain someone could come up with a reason. Instead, I just decided I wouldn't worry about it. :)

I was also lazy and didn't post anything about Marxo's birthday party. It was very fun and much less work that last year. My mom was very happy to find out that we wouldn't be making anything in the middle of the night like last year!


Well, I went to Whole Foods to order the cake on Friday after lunch and they told me it was too late to order something for Sunday. Actually, what they said was, "Well! It's a little late, isn't it?!" Uh, obviously I didn't think so, but I guess you've answered my question.

So! I set about trying to figure out how we were going to make the butterfly cake that Marxo had requested for her birthday. She wanted a cake with a blue butterfly on it. I knew I could make a chocolate cake and put chocolate chips on it, but I wasn't sure how to frost the cake, or make anything that looked like a butterfly.

Luckily, on Saturday, we went to Arne's (I love that place! My mom thinks it's a very strange place, though. She's right, but I still love it.) and found a cake pan with 6 butterfly molds and the husband insisted I get it to make Marxo's cake. I ended up making 3 butterflies and then outlining them with "blue" frosting (all-natural food coloring doesn't make nearly the good colors that artificial coloring does!) and I think it turned out OK. It tasted good and that was the most important part.

I'll try to be a little better about posting more frequently, but I say that all the time... :)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

I should have known

Really. I should have known. I can't entitle a post with the word "Glorious" and not start singing that song from Ice Age 2. You don't know the song? It's really a catchy tune - and that's the problem. I now have it running through my head all day long!

Food, glorious food,
We're anxious to try it.
Three banquets a day,
Our favorite diet!

Just picture a mammoth steak,
Fried, roasted, or stewed
Oh, food!
Wonderful food!
Marvelous food!
Glorious food!

Apparently, this song was written for the musical Oliver!, but I guess I've never seen Oliver!, so the only thing I associate it with is Ice Age 2. (Which is OK, because oddly enough, the Ice Age series are movies that I can watch over and over without getting tired of them. I don't know why - I get sick of pretty much all of the other movies we watch/listen to on car trips, but hearing the kids pick out the Ice Age movies in the back of the car always makes me perk up. Strange, huh?)

Anyway, I've had to resort to playing my "office mix" of music that I have on my computer. It's a good easy-listening mix of Lyle Lovett, Jack Johnson, Susie Arioli, and Sting with a little Nine Inch Nails thrown in to keep me awake. I think it will work as long as I don't scroll down on my blog page and read the next title.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


The weather over the past week here has been absolutely glorious. There's no other way to describe it! The oppressive heat was just suddenly lifted about a week ago. Amazing.

But, have we been able to take advantage of it? Nope.

We had hoped that we would be able to go mountain biking sometime this past weekend, but Marxo had some minor surgery on Friday (oral surgery), so we didn't want her to do anything really strenuous for the rest of the weekend for fear of causing bleeding.

On Sunday, we did walk over to the Black Lab for brunch, though, and played some chess with the kids at the outdoor chess board.

This coming weekend is Marxo's birthday party and I'm hoping that the weather stays pleasant for the weekend. My family is coming to town and it would be extra-nice for them to experience Houston in October when it's not beastly hot and humid! Wouldn't that be something?

This year, we're going fairly low-key for the party. Nothing like the butterfly extravaganza from last year. We're just having her party at a paint-your-own-pottery place and inviting the girls from her class. (See? I'm learning in my old age!)

Hmmm... but that reminds me - I need to order the cake and get some plates and napkins for the party. Marxo requested a butterfly on the cake again. I guess I'd better figure out what she has in mind.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Getting our lifes back

There's a commercial out there where the guy who invented *whatever it is he invented* talks about how it has helped people get their "lifes" back. Every time that commercial came on, it would absolutely drive me crazy! It's "lives", you idiot!!!

(My husband would like to get me a shirt that says, "I'm the grammarian about whom your mother warned you.")

But this commercial now serves as an internal joke between the husband and I when we talk about getting the house back in order. "Ahhhh, it feels so good to be getting our lifes back, doesn't it?"

It's still like we're on vacation. And it's really nice. Last weekend, we finished dumping out all the accumulated boxes and containers full of parts of toys that had been separated from the main toy and put everything back together and organized the kids' room. We expected that we would have to get rid of lots and lots of toys in order to make room for everything, but guess what? When you put all the bits and parts of toys together and put them where they belong? It doesn't take up nearly as much space! Imagine that. We ended up with only one small trash bag full of broken toys to throw away. Well, that, and a clean room!!!

I think next on my agenda is my side of the closet. It's gotten a little cluttered in there lately, but I think I can knock it out in probably three 15-minute increments.

Why 15 minutes? Well, in our quest to get our lifes back, I decided I would finally join FlyLady. I'm not really doing everything that she suggests since I'm spoiled and have a cleaning lady, but I am trying to use her timer idea in order to break things down into small, manageable increments. The whole idea is that "you can do anything for 15 minutes". Very true. And it's amazing what you can actually accomplish in 15 minutes when you're focused on your task. So, little by little, the house is getting back under control. I'm hoping that by Christmas, we'll be "fly"-ing on autopilot. Har, har, har. :)

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Henna Hands

About 10 years ago, a woman with whom I worked showed up one day with orangish brown swirly patterns all over her hands. She told me that she had just gotten it done for fun over the weekend - I think she said something like it was a good excuse to have a cup of tea and relax while she was having it done - but that it's typically done for brides of Indian heritage right before their wedding.

I thought it was really pretty, and that's when my desire to have my hands henna'd started.

Finally, this past weekend, at our Fantasy Football draft, a friend of ours brought her henna. I had mentioned to her that I really wanted to have that done sometime, so she spent the entire afternoon giving almost all the women and little girls henna tattoos.

Here are my hands. I thanked my friend profusely and she said that I should have gotten it done by her sister - apparently her sister does this for brides and is very skilled. Here are some pictures of some really fancy ones. But I still think mine turned out beautifully!

Lucky for me, I work in a very international industry and nobody has really thought it was too strange. Everyone at work just keeps asking me if I was in a wedding over the weekend. I have to admit to them that I had it done just for fun at our Fantasy Football draft. That gets some strange looks.

They've already faded quite a bit. And by next week, I'm sure it will all be gone. But it was good while it lasted and I can finally say that I've had it done. :)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Since I last posted, we pretty much went through summer and the school year started. Wow. That's pretty bad.

Well, I'll just fill in with the highlights. We went on a trip up to Nebraska to visit my parents, we went on a trip to Chicago to visit my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and to celebrate our niece's second birthday, and we went on a trip to Colorado to visit the cool weather. It was a great summer.

And now, the school year has already started. Here are the kids on their first day of school. It's the second week of school now and they're still excited about it.

The husband and I are still excited about it, too. We feel this sense of freedom that we haven't had for the last 7 years - and it's not because both the kids are out of the house. It's because we've reclaimed our house to be our own!

I should explain. For the past 7 years, we've had a nanny/babysitter that came to our house every weekday to take care of the kids. She's wonderful with the kids, but, as I think I've talked about before, she's not as detail-oriented about putting things away as we might have hoped.

However, since both the kids are now in elementary school, we decided that we don't need her babysitting services on a daily basis. We're still going to have her come and babysit every other week so that the husband and I can have a "date night", but other than that, there will no longer be someone at our house every day.

And so we have this overwhelming sense of freedom suddenly. I don't have to worry that my cleaning up and organizing will go to waste. I have cleaned up a few containers in the kids' room so far, and they haven't filled up with miscellaneous stuff again. I can't describe the sense of peace that I get from thinking about getting our house back in order again. I'm taking it in baby steps, but at least those baby steps are not going to get wiped out every day again. *sigh*

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Marxo's new bike

Last weekend we partook in the REI sale and bought Marxo a bike! She had only gotten hand-me-down bikes before, so she was extremely excited about getting a bike specifically for her!

We knew that it was going to be a little too big for her, but took her to the park with it that afternoon anyway. Well, we had nothing to worry about. She took off and never looked back. We're now dreaming about the day that we'll head to our favorite mountain-biking ranch with the kids riding their own bikes. Can't wait! :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fellan's Sick Day

Fellan got sick on Sunday evening. He ended up with a fever that lasted almost all day on Monday and since you're supposed to be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to school, that meant he had to stay home from school on Tuesday, too.

By the afternoon, he was apparently desperate for some sort of mental stimulation. He and the babysitter went out to "catalog plant species" and he apparently spent some time writing on the driveway and creating recipes in the kitchen. I always cringe when I see that the kids have been making "soup" with my spices because I know that I have some things in there that cost and arm and a leg, but I can't remember which ones! Anyway, here are some pictures of the evidence that he was bored yesterday:

If you look closely you can see the Start and the Finish. And apparently, "if you win you get 100$". I was home before the family got home last night from Marxo's gymnastics class, so I asked him for my $100. It didn't work.

This is a recipe he was creating. He must have gotten interrupted because next to this paper was a bowl full of water, paprika, smoked paprika, some empty pea pods that he must have stolen from the organic garden, and I don't remember what else. I cleaned that up before I thought about documenting his creativity in the kitchen. I'm not sure what you can make with "black barys, flouers, bazle, and res..." but I'm sure it must be good!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bat Project

The end-of-the-year project for the first grade at our elementary school is to choose an animal and do a research project on that animal. Each child must choose at least three sources (can not include Wikipedia) and must include information from each source in the report. The written report may be either be in the form of a five-paragraph document or in the form of a book with a table of contents included. Additionally, an art/craft project is to be completed for the project. It can be either a picture or a diorama of the chosen animal in its natural habitat.

Are they nuts?! Don't they realize they're giving this project to a bunch of 6 and 7 year olds? And yet... Fellan loved it!

His chosen animal was the bat. This happened to be quite an easy animal for him to do - we have a "Magic Schoolbus" book about bats (Source #1), we found a website about bats (Source #2), and we visited the Waugh Bridge Bat Colony (Source #3).

The husband was in charge of helping Fellan write his report and he, of course, chose the "book" form of the report. (ugh!) Fellan finally completed it at about 8:30 last night, but we still had to do the craft project.

We had originally thought that we would just have Fellan draw some pictures and write some bat facts and put them on a presentation board. However, over the weekend, we heard several parents talking about making their animal out of clay or making some other kind of craft project, so we figured we'd better step it up a notch.

Enter the build-it-yourself bat house kit! The husband went out yesterday morning and found one of these so we could build it last night. Luckily, it was a very quick and easy project. We taped an "actual size" bat to it and called it good.

Man, if this was a first-grade project, I'm dreading what the coming years are going to hold...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

7-year-old in the House!

As of yesterday, we now have a seven-year-old in the house! Fellan's birthday was yesterday and it's hard to believe what a big boy he has become.

Sometimes I worry about him because he is such a nice, naive little boy (compared to the other first-graders who seem to already be mean-hearted much of the time), but I think he's finally coming into his own.

He has finally developed his first obsession with an activity. About a month ago, he dug out the skateboard that Santa brought him for Christmas of 2008 and he has been practicing riding it every chance he gets.

There's a really nice skateboard park in Houston now, so we've been there once with him, but the bearings in his wheels were so bad, he couldn't roll very far.

So, for his birthday, we got his bearings replaced, got him a "cool" skateboarding helmet, and got him some "skateboarding shoes", as he calls them. (They're like "Vans" shoes that we found at Target.) He's also taken to wearing a t-shirt with a plaid button-down shirt on top of it. I think he thinks that makes him look more like a cool skateboarder. :)

It's fun seeing him develop this interest. Up until now, he really hasn't had anything to call his own - he likes biking, but that's only because we like biking.

I am a little worried, however. When we go on vacation to Colorado, we like to watch a channel called RSN because they're always playing shows we call "ski porn" - it's not what you think! They show all these semi-homemade videos of people doing crazy stunts on skis, snowboards, and the last couple of years, they've been showing crazy skateboarding stunts. I really wonder what he has in mind to do with his new skateboarding prowess...

Friday, April 09, 2010

Easter 2010

Last weekend, we went on a little outing to Buescher State Park for some hiking again. I think the last time we went there was this time.

The kids are almost two years older now and I guess since they didn't whine about the long hike the last time, they figured they'd better make every single minute of this hike full of whining. It was very pleasant.
After we had done the "loop" part of the hike (and confirmed that the hiking trail map is horrible), we headed back towards the car. Fellan was walking next to me when he suddenly took a funny step and ran 10 feet ahead of me yelling, "Snake!!!"

He narrowly missed stepping on this little fella. We weren't sure what kind of snake it was when we saw it, but I thought that since it didn't have a rattle, it was probably OK. I showed the picture to the people at the ranger station and they told me it was a copperhead. (YIKES!) But, on further review by some guys here at my office, I'm pretty convinced now that it was just a rat snake. (Whew.)

After the hike, our plan was to head up to Austin and check out Mellow Johnny's bike shop and then try to find the original Chuy's for dinner.

But, since the bluebonnets were amazing, we just had to make a stop along the way for the obligatory Texas Bluebonnet picture:

Hmm.... After seven miles of hiking, the kids didn't really seem too into it. Still, it was a fun day! :)

Thursday, April 01, 2010


The azaleas in our neighborhood have exploded over the last week or so. I know that this happens every year, but for some reason, this year I'm just more amazed with the amount of flowers and the fact that they're everywhere in our neighborhood.

We walked to a local restaurant for dinner last night and on the way, I took some pictures of them.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


One of the reasons they've been working on our street was so that they could replace all the utility lines as well as fix the drainage in our neighborhood.

However, ever since they hooked us up to the new water line, the water pressure in our third floor (where our bathroom and shower are located) has been severely lacking. We've asked them several times what the problem could be, but they don't know. We've also asked our neighbors if they've had the same problem, but they haven't noticed anything different.

This is not a new problem for us. Pretty much everything that could go wrong with our house has gone wrong. I wrote about it here.

And the problems just seem to continue. They broke our water line on four separate occasions when they were installing it and digging around it, so we think that probably has something to do with the low water pressure, but the workers still seem to be stumped. It's probably time to bring in a plumber.

BUT, we found out one thing that they did do correctly when they built our house. They actually connected our sewer line to the main sewer line that runs under the street. (we must celebrate these small victories.)

You know how I told you that the worker always told my husband "that ain't water" about the mud bog in our street before they laid the concrete. Well, it turned out to be more than true.

As they were digging up our driveway and sidewalks, they discovered a line running from our neighbor's house towards the street. But it didn't connect to anything. And... Get this. It was her sewer line! The ground under our street has basically been a septic system for our neighbor's house for the last 10 years.

The only saving grace is that the two people who have lived in that house over the last 10 years were single women who traveled a lot and weren't home very much. Otherwise, I just can't imagine.

They have since connected her line to our line, which is definitely connected to the main sewer line. I'm sure, though, now that her house isn't contributing to the ground moisture that we're going to have some kind of subsidence problem and our big oak tree will probably die. Imagine all that good fertilizer that has been pumped directly to its roots for years! (ick!!!)

Yep, Houston has got some real winners when it comes to house contractors and inspectors. I sense that we're going to need Holmes on Homes to come to our house someday soon.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Coming up for air

Urgh. I'm on a new project (my old one got cancelled - as are a lot of projects in engineering these days - and there aren't a lot more coming, either) so I'm happy to be on a new project, but I'm now sitting right next to my boss in a cubicle setting and he has his computer facing towards me, so there's no time except lunchtime to write in my blog and since I've been trying to work out every lunchtime, that means I just don't have time to update.

But anyway. I'm on a new project with a really short schedule. And I was also asked to work on a presentation for a training session, and my other part-time project deadline was today with another one next month and then the big deadline the following month. Why does everything have to happen all at once?

I'm also the assistant coach of Fellan's tee-ball team this season and we're having practices twice a week. I think we have something planned for every single day of the week now.

But, in other wonderful news, there's this:

That's right! They poured the cement for our street on Tuesday this week! We're allowed to park on it in front of our house tomorrow!!! (the street is still going to be closed and we won't have access to our garage because they're ripping out our sidewalks - probably as I'm writing this - and they'll pour those at the beginning of next week)

My husband sent me this picture on Tuesday and said, "I feel almost as privileged as when we got power back!" Indeed.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Everything today!

It's everything today! Our nephew's birthday, Valentine's Day, Chinese New Year day, tomorrow is President's Day, and it's Mardi Gras weekend in a town that just won the Superbowl. Was that just last week?

Since it's President's Day tomorrow, the kids have the day off from school tomorrow, so we get to stay in New Orleans today and head back to Houston tomorrow.

The husband and I got up at 5:00 this morning to come set up the ladders on the parade route. And I'm now sitting here, holding our spot. I took a pictue with my cool new phone, but can't figure out how to upload it...

Ah, my reinforcements have arrived with some banana bread that I baked at 6:00 this morning. Time for breakfast!

Have a great day, whatever you're celebrating today! :)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

A picture is worth 1000 words

I finally took a picture of our mud bog!

When I took this picture, it hadn't rained in a few days. And yet, there is always standing water on either side of our "driveway", but according to one of the guys who works for the construction company, "That ain't water."

They're replacing the sanitary sewer lines on our side of the street and apparently had a little bit of a problem with the line one day. In case you're not familiar with the term sanitary sewer, it means the exact opposite of "sanitary". My husband is deathly afraid to get anywhere close to anything out there now. Luckily, it doesn't smell.

Also note the 2-inch white pipe running under our driveway. They added that about a week ago. Right after it rained so hard one morning that our entire side of the street got filled up with water.

It was a Friday morning and my husband had to get up really early that morning to head out of town. He called me at one point to tell me that he was pretty sure the end of the world was approaching, based on the amount of rain he was driving through.

We have to leave our house by 7:45am at the latest on school days in order to get Fellan to school on time and not get a tardy slip. So, at 7:15 that morning when I looked out the front window and discovered a pond in front of our house, I was fairly concerned.

It may not look very deep, but it's probably a foot and a half to two feet deep at the lowest point there. I spent quite a bit of time looking out the window and trying to figure out if I would be able to gun the car - in reverse, mind you - fast enough to make it through the two feet of water and pull out into the other side, timing it so that I wouldn't have to stop for a car coming up the street, without getting the exhaust pipe too full of water and killing the car in the process.

To my great relief, at around 7:30, I heard a pump start up outside. The construction workers had shown up to work in order to drain the street-pond. By 7:45, it was down to only about 6 inches of water and we were able to easily get out of the driveway.

And since they installed that white pipe, it hasn't filled up like that since. I think they must have finally created a drain system for the entire side of the street, or hooked back up the drain line, or something.

Thank goodness - we had to make use of our driveway last night during another huge rainstorm and there was relatively little standing water across our driveway. But, of course, the mud is back to being caked on my tires.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Mud Bog

It's been awhile since I posted anything about our street deconstruction. They did finally pour the cement for the other side of the street right before Christmas, so for Christmas vacation, we had fairly clean cars and didn't have to worry about the continuously reappearing mud marks on the backs of our pant legs. I guess I'll count that as my Christmas present from the construction company.

But the mud is back. And it's worse than before because it's now on OUR side of the street. Every time we pull into our garage, the tires get caked with mud. (really, it's probably 1/2 an inch thick) And then when we leave, we back through the mud again and then for probably a mile or so, we can hear the mud splattering all over the back of the car and the wheel wells.

And the mud is making me angry. One day, a fairly nice Mercedes was coming up the street as I was backing out and didn't want to slow down for me to get backed out completely, so I purposely slowed down and then when he got close, I gunned it and slung mud up onto him! I was sliding across the street as the mud slowly worked itself off the back tires, smiling an evil grin. I must have looked like a complete maniac. Shame on me!

I'll try to take a picture of it and post it soon. And maybe I'll take a picture of the side of my car, that has had mud on it for a few months now. The mud has worn off from the area around the door handle, but the splatters are still very distinct. I look at it like it's a nice decorative feature of the car at this point.

Now you know why I haven't been posting very regularly lately. This is the excitement of my life! *sigh*

Monday, January 25, 2010


Little girls are so interesting. They have such life in them.

Not that I don't think my little boy has life in him. Fellan has LIFE! in him. Marxo has life. It's a subtle difference.

Fellan had tee ball tryouts this past weekend. Yes, I know, you're asking yourself, "Tee ball tryouts? Isn't he only six?" Yes, you read it correctly. And don't get me started. Luckily, for us, though, we're in the non-competitive league. The other is way worse.

Anyway, he had such a great time. He ran the bases, he "fielded" the ball, he hit the ball, he was in tee ball heaven for an hour and a half during tryouts. He was all boy for that hour and a half and absolutely loved it.

And then he had to come home and play with his little sister - who is such a girl. She likes to play mind games with him and will intentionally disagree with him just to make him mad. Or she'll refuse to play one small part of whatever imaginary thing they're playing and it will send him into a tizzy. She gets great joy from this and I definitely wonder what the future holds for us.

I never considered myself a very girly-girl. I took great pride in it, in fact.

I grew up in the times of Title IX and I remember distinctly singing "Anything you can do, I can do better" whenever I was told by someone that I couldn't do something due to my gender. (which was usually my dad - but in a completely joking way and I always knew that he meant the exact opposite.)

Marxo, on the other hand, is growing up in what seems to be a girly-girl time. Princesses are back in full-swing. She only wears pink and purple and she absolutely loves to dress up in her best and most beautiful clothing. It makes me worried sometimes at how girly she's becoming because I know that girls can be absolutely horrible to each other.

But, I'm trying to embrace (for the time being) this girly life that she has in her. She loves to write her name in "cursive" which actually just means adding curly-q's to all the parts of the letters in her name.

She also loves putting on makeup and having me paint her fingernails for her. Grammy gave her some eyeshadow for Christmas and she applies it with abandon (if given the chance) until she looks like she's been in a 12-round boxing match and ended up the loser.

Since she's only five years old, she didn't have any kind of makeup case in which to keep the eyeshadow, so I found something suitably small (I didn't want to encourage the purchase of anything additional!) that came with some lip gloss for her. All day yesterday, she applied and re-applied lip gloss and then talked with a fixed smile and tried not to make her "lipstick" come off. I don't even wear lipstick, so I'm not sure where she learned this behavior! Some things just seem to be innate.

She has also decided recently to change her name. It happened right before Christmas when she started calling herself "Jana" but when she wrote her new name, she would write it "Jena". And now all the little girls at the preschool have chosen pseudonyms. Brittany, Jessica, and Caroline are a few of the names that have been chosen.

Marxo decided however, to re-change her name to "Sakya". Which she pronounces "sah-kee-ya". I'm not sure where she came up with that name, but it's a pretty name, even if I do want to break out into song every time I say it. (Just try saying it and see if you don't start singin, "Zaccheus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he...")

Yesterday she asked me if I was skinny. I told her, "I guess comparitively speaking, yes, I'm skinny. Why do you ask?"

"Because you look skinny to me."

Well, I don't care what she calls herself. That little girl is a keeper.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Engineers are...

so amazingly oblivious to other people sometimes it's humorous.

I came in to work for a little while on Friday and also took advantage of being here by working out at the Fitness Center. I usually ride the stationary bike machine thing because the elliptical trainers are always all being used, but on Friday, I figured I'd have the place to myself.

I was wrong. There were a couple of other "regulars" there - one on a stationary bike and another came out to run on the treadmill after I had started on the elliptical machine.

I had only turned one of the four TV's on before I started working out and the treadmills are in the row in front of the elliptical machines. I'm sure you can guess which treadmill the other guy chose to run on. Yes, the one that obscured my view of the TV.

At first, I couldn't believe someone could be that dense. But then I remembered that I work with a bunch of socially inept engineers. It made perfect sense.

P.S. The Fitness Center is pretty much back to just being the "regulars" again this week. There are a couple of hangers-on, but nothing like the first week of the new year. You know, I guess can't say that I blame them too much - I've always told my husband that I generally don't like working out. I like the feeling afterwards that I have worked out. I suppose if you never get that good feeling during or after any workout, there's not a whole lot to motivate you, huh?

Thursday, January 07, 2010


Marxo got a reprieve from her shot today at the doctor's office.

She has been dreading this date for a month now. She knew that January 7th was the day that she would have to go for a checkup to the doctor and that she would probably get a shot. Every day this past week, she has informed us as to how many days were left until her checkup.

So, it's not really surprising that she started crying when they called her name and then kept crying as the nurse told us that she was due for her chicken pox vaccine.

The nurse gave me a puzzled look, so I explained to her that the "Buzzy" didn't get to us in time for her appointment and she was worried about getting the shot without it.

The nurse then parted the clouds and a bright ray of sunshine fell down upon Marxo, "You don't have to get your shot today. You can come back later when you get the Buzzy and just get the shot without an appointment."

Of course, this made everything better and the nurse was pretty happy about that too since she was going to take Marxo's blood pressure and didn't want the numbers to be skewed by her apprehension about the shot.

Marxo checked out as a healthy little girl. Tall and skinny - and good blood pressure, too.

I checked on the shipping status of the Buzzy when I got back to work: "Out for delivery". Of course.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Full again

Today the fitness center was full again and my faith in humanity was restored. Kind of. It was full of all the normal people plus a few new - but different - people. I guess all those Resolutionites are really just working themselves into it, right?

But tomorrow I'm going to miss working out because Marxo has a doctor's appointment at lunchtime - her 5 year checkup. Yes, it's nearly three months overdue.

Well, you see, I made her 4 year checkup late last year and since the insurance company won't reimburse you for a "checkup" if it hasn't been a year since the last one, I waited to make her 5 year checkup. And then I got caught up in the December craziness, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah... I couldn't get her in until January.

But anyway.

I ordered one of these things early last week, thinking that it would make it here in time for her checkup, in case she ends up getting any shots, but they apparently took the order, held onto it for a week, and finally shipped the thing yesterday. Too bad, too. We already told Marxo that it was coming and that any potential shots she would get tomorrow wouldn't hurt. That'll teach us.

Next on my list of things to order from my Wishlist is one of these handwriting manuals. (I've become a little obsessed with Fellan's handwriting skills - or lack thereof - lately and plan to spend some time with him each night working on it.) And that, along with the Buzzy, and the space heater that I got for my office will use up my Christmas money. Thanks Mom and Dad! :)

Til next time...

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Well, that didn't last long

I had a hard time trying to decide if I should go to the fitness center yesterday at lunchtime in order to establish myself as a "regular" so that my presence on my favorite exercise bike would be noted and therefore would be semi-retained for me.

Or, if I should just skip going to the fitness center altogether for a couple of weeks to make sure that all the Resolutionites (new word that I just made up in order to describe the people who make New Year's Resolutions) would get the exercise bug out of their system and quit going.

I eventually decided I'd better go and I figured I'd better get down there early so that I could stake my claim with sufficient time to spare. When I got down there at 11am, all the elliptical machines and two of the bikes were already being used! There was only one empty bike left, so I ran into the locker room to change and decided it would be better to risk peeing my pants than losing that last exercise bike to another newbie.

Lucky for me, nobody else beat me to the exercise bike, so I got in my 31 minutes of exercise (if I choose 30 minutes, the program stops in the middle of a hill and that's just annoying), finally got to the toilet, showered and made it back up to my office by around noon.

Today, I was nervous when I headed down there because it was 11:05 by the time I left my office. I was dreading the fact that I would have to use the treadmill to get in my workout today, so when I rounded the corner and saw one person in there, I was overwhelmed with relief... and disbelief. Seriously? One day is all they lasted?

Maybe they're taking it slow, doing the every-other-day thing and they'll all be back tomorrow. I kind of hope so - for their sake! Geesh!

Monday, January 04, 2010

What I did over New Year's break

Last night as we were headed to bed, the husband and I agreed that it has been a nice break the past couple of weeks. We had a really nice visit with my family and the New Year's weekend was fairly nice and relaxing, too.

The festivities started on Wednesday evening (even though I had to work on Thursday) with the Huskers game and the first ever shutout for them at a bowl game - they were on the winning end of it, by the way! While we watched the game, Marxo drew me some pictures:

Those are supposed to be footballs that the players are holding, however, they look suspiciously like ears of corn, which would still be apropos, I guess!

On New Year's Eve, they let us leave from work at around 2pm, so I was home and enjoying some wine and cheese by 4:30. We cooked a nice dinner, watched a few episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and we were all in bed and asleep by midnight.

The next morning, we slept in and I eventually got around to cooking the Lucky Black-eyed Peas, which is more like a stew than the traditional black-eyed peas that you eat with cornbread. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I really look forward to this traditional southern meal of black-eyed peas because this recipe is so darn good. And it's even better the second day!

We went to some friends' house on Saturday afternoon for a kick-off-the New Year get-together and yesterday, we had some friends over. As always happens when we invite people over, we wait until just before they get there to attempt to clean up the house, which proves to be an impossible undertaking, but I was able to organize a small portion of the house next to the kitchen, so at least I felt better about that. This attempt at organization was catalyzed by the fact that the previous day, I organized our tupperware cupboard, so I'm hoping that the reaction will continue through the house for the next couple of months and maybe by my birthday in April, we'll be living in an organized oasis. Baby steps, right?

Anyway, I managed to cook a fairly good meal yesterday for the friends that we invited over. We had beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes, and green beans (which I was particularly proud of because I had no idea how I was going to cook them, but ended up first steaming them and then putting them into a little seasoned oil and semi-sauteeing them and they turned out really tasty!). As the husband and I were trying everything - and marvelling at how it actually turned out pretty well - we had to explain to our friends that we rarely cook, so when something turns out well, we're very surprised!

We exchanged gifts with these friends and as one of my gifts, I received a Tamalera and a promise to come over and teach me how to make some tamales. I can't wait to take her up on the offer!

Before the economy tanked, we had been thinking that 2009 was going to be our "break-out" year. But since that didn't happen, we're hoping for great things from 2010. And I think that's the general mood for everyone these days. Bring on the good luck and prosperity - and here's hoping that the Tiger will protect us this year (when the Chinese New Year finally gets here on Feb. 14!). :)