Thursday, July 31, 2008

Help Wanted--Math Skills Not Required

Welcome to Sonic; may I take your order?

Yeah, can I get a Route 44 Strawberry Limeade?

That'll be $2.15.


I consider swiping my credit card right there at the ordering kiosk but decide to pay cash instead. After a few minutes a young carhop walks up to my window.

Here's your limeade. Would you like your credit card receipt?

I didn't use a credit card.

Oh.... (She looks at the receipt in confusion.) The total was $6.57, right?

"$6.57?! Are limeades now petroleum-based?" I refrain from asking.

No, I just got the drink. It was $2.15. (I hand her $5 and some change and decide to be helpful.) I'll just need $3 back.


She hands me the $3 and I wonder how much I could have gotten away with asking her for. Maybe I could've made money on this deal....

Double double toil and trouble

Double double
Zoodle had his 4 month appointment yesterday and has officially doubled his birthweight. He was 7 pounds 8 ounces at birth and is now 15 pounds 1 ounce.

Toil and trouble
Thankfully he does not provide us with a lot of "toil and trouble". In fact, we've been blessed with an easy baby....aaaaaah, bliss! Chickie was not a terribly difficult baby but definitely has always had a stronger will than Zoodle. As my dad would say, "She has 'leader' written all over her." At age two that means she has "challenge" written all over her, too!

Having the second one be the easier one is definitely the way to go. If the first had been easy, we might have patted ourselves on the back and said, "Wow, we must be great parents!" When the second one is easy, we just breathe a sigh of relief and say, "Thank you, God!"

Oh, and for the record? Even an easy baby hates getting shots.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Albert & Zoodle

Okay, I used to have a really awesome picture of Albert Einstein sticking out his tongue here. It looked a lot like the photo of Zoodle below. Alas...that image is trademarked, and in partnering with a blog ad company I have to be really careful about trademark and copyright laws. Of course, I guess obeying the law is a pretty good thing all the time, though it kinda takes the wind out of the sails of this post Anyway, if you want to see this really cool picture you can check it out at this link.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I wasn't ready to hear those two words....

"Chickie," I said this morning, "Grandpa doesn't want you getting into the cabinets.

Her response was new yet frighteningly automatic.

"Why not?"

I think I'm going to hear that phrase a lot in the next 16 years....

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

An Inconvenient Poop

Zoodle poops pretty infrequently. Considering that fact, his inappropriate timing on this trip has been pretty amazing.

Part 1: Da Plane! Da Plane!

Yes, our little guy who will go days between poops timed that bodily function just wrong, giving us a nice surprise on our flight here.

Changing diapers on the top of a closed toilet in a Southwest Airlines lavatory is a little inconvenient. And it was a stinky one, too--just ask the flight attendant who knocked on the door to offer me a plastic bag for the toxic waste my sweet little guy produced.

Part 2: Oops! He Crapped My Pants!

Thanks to another unexplained fever on Zoodle's part, we headed into town today to get him checked out at the Urgent Care. (He's fine; it's probably a virus.) I had him standing on my lap, diaperless, since he'd just peed into the little stick-on bags they use. He was only without a diaper for a few seconds, but that was enough time.


Our trip home was filled with the commingled scents of baby poop and antibacterial wipes, all emanating from my jeans.

He made up for it, though. After I cleaned up as well as I could, as we sat in the doctor's office waiting on the urine results, The Engineer was holding Zoodle and "flying" him toward me repeatedly. "Super pooper!" The Engineer was saying. "Coming to get Mommy!" Zoodle rewarded us with his first real laughs. That amazing, musical sound of a baby's first giggles gave me happy tears and lifted my spirits.

Too bad it didn't lift the stains out of my pants, too.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Battle

The Location: Grandma & Grandpa's House

The Fighters: Chickie's Good Side vs. Chickie's Bad--um, I Mean Curious--Side

The Casualties: A photograph of Grandpa's mother as a child (over 100 years old), a pretty painted duck figurine, and Mommy's sanity.

This trip has actually been really good so far, but I am definitely getting frustrated with the drawbacks of being in a place that has a lot of interesting objects and is not entirely childproofed. When she's not breaking things, she's often finding other ways to test the limits. I don't think Chickie's ever been in time out so much in the span of three days.

But the weather is pretty close to perfect; I've read 2 books; the food is delicious; and the company is great; so I guess I can put up with some toddler antics.

But, really, if she's going to break something, couldn't it be, like, a chipped freebie coffee mug or something? I guess she has an eye for quality. One day I'll appreciate that.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Another vacation

We head out in the morning to visit The Engineer's parents. We'll be gone about a week and a half. I will probably post occasionally, but not as often. I'll be too busy reading novels, sitting outside in the cool mountain air, and eating too much.

It's a rough life.

A love poem

Ode to My Honda

I purchased you six years ago
Your miles were 50K
Your engine is six cylinder,
Your paint a silver-gray

I loved your soft tan leather
Caressed your clean dashboard
Showed off that flippy-open thing
Where sunglasses are stored

I've watched the digital odometer
Creep higher every year
When we hit 150K
I rejoiced, my dear

Your seats have scratches now
Your engine makes some noise
And underneath two carseats
Are crackers, crumbs, and toys

But we live in sweet Accord
Although your paint is dull
Why are you so adored?
My dear, you're paid in full.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Other blogs to check out

I added a blog list to this page--see it on the right side of the screen? These are most of the blogs I keep track of. If your blog is more of a personal one that you only share with certain people, I've left it off the list.

I thought I'd highlight a few you might want to check out. And if you're a blogger on my list, and I don't talk about your blog in this post, it's not because I don't like your blog (or like you). I mean, your blog is on my list which means I like it, and, heck, I probably even like you, too. But here are a few blogs I'd like to highlight:

Cheaper by the half dozen: Caroline is a mother of six which pretty much puts her in hero territory. Add that to the fact that her sense of humor is FANTASTIC, and she's in goddess territory. Be sure to check out her blog.

it's the little things: Look at Lisa Leonard's blog if you like great photography and really cool handmade jewelry.

wilkinsonquints and Quintuplet Dad: Rachelle & Jayson have two older kids plus five (yep, five) almost-one-year-olds. As if that weren't impressive enough, they both blog about it.

I could go on and on about other cool blogs on the list, but I'll just let you check them out yourself. Have fun!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"That hair!"

Nearly everyone who "meets" Zoodle (and a good percentage of strangers in the grocery store) comments on his hair. I realize in the pictures I've posted here it's hard to tell just how crazy his hair is.

You see, we have a big ol' cowlick gene in my side of the family--and boy, did I pass it on to Zoodle. He has distinct cowlicks in the front and the back, and it's hard to effectively work with both.

So, while the front is a preppy pompadour...

...his profile makes him look like a wannbe '80s rocker.

But he's my little rocker, and I think he's adorable.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tacos, anyone? No? Well, how about some tropical fruit?

I'll start this post with a confession. Yes, we sometimes eat fast food. Yes, even our toddler eats it. Taco Bell and Taco Cabana are both popular in our household. Taco Bell is decent and dirt cheap. Taco Cabana, though, is far better--much better food and still affordable. Mmm...Taco Cabana....

"Chickie," I said this morning, "We're going to go pick up Auntie Sis and go to lunch."

"Where we going?"

"I don't know."

She pondered this then came up with a suggestion. "I think we going to Taco Bell."

"No," I responded. "I don't think we're going to Taco Bell."

Pause, then another suggestion from our three-foot-tall food critic.

"We going to Taco Banana!"

Monday, July 14, 2008

Two and a half

Chickie is two and a half years old today! In honor of her (semi-)milestone, here are two and a half of my favorite things about my big girl:

1. I love how she memorizes parts of books and then "reads" them with enthusiasm. There's nothing like hearing her toddler voice reciting "Wama Wama Wed Pajama" (Llama Llama Red Pajama).

2. I love how much she loves her brother. Right now she's not always as gentle as she should be, but I can see how much fun it'll be when he gets older and she gets to really play with him.

2 1/2. I love how

Since that's only half a thing I love about her, you can finish it for me. If you know Chickie, feel free to leave a comment on what you love about her. I'll read them to her...and if I do it often enough, she may "read" them to herself soon!

Adventures in Internet Bureauracy

For the last two Christmases, my grandma has sent me $25 checks and asked me to buy Chickie $50 U.S. Savings Bonds.

The first check was sent to me in December 2006. Here it is July 2008 and I haven't bought the bonds. I know--BAD granddaughter!

In my defense, I also procrastinate terribly on buying gifts, getting haircuts, getting oil changes, and pretty much anything else that constitutes "running an errand." Since the advent of the Internet, things like gift purchasing have become easier.

So recently it hit me.... I might be able to avoid a trip to the bank by buying Chickie's bonds online. A quick Google search confirmed that bonds can be purchased on the fabulous World Wide Web. Woo hoo!

Today I entered the Treasury Direct website where I expected to quickly and easily purchase a $100 Savings Bond for Chickie. Little did I realize I was exiting the relatively simple world of mommyhood and entering the pointlessly complex world of...

Internet Bureaucracy.

First I had to create an account. Simple, right? Not quite. To create it I had to provide the following:
  • My Social Security Number.
  • My name.
  • My address.
  • My phone number. (Fields were also open for work and cell numbers, which I chose NOT to disclose.)
  • Driver license number.
  • Driver license expiration date.
  • Bank account information.
  • Permission for any government official processing my information to seamlessly assume my identity.
I carefully filled out the form, clicked the "NEXT" button, and was greeted with the same data entry page along with this notification: "You have entered a character that is not valid for one or more fields on this page. Please re-enter and click Submit."

Hmm.... It would be nice to know a little more detail. I proceeded to remove a comma and periods from my bank's name, the period after an initial in The Engineer's name, and one or two other possible culprits. This time the "NEXT" button worked.

The next step was to create a password and answer security questions that they might wish to use to confirm my identity.

The password was easy (or so I thought.) But instead of one simple security question such as "What is your mother's maiden name?" I was greeted with around eight options and asked to choose three. Options included, "What is the location of your dream vacation?" and "Who was your best friend in high school?" I managed to find three security questions I'm pretty confident I'll remember the answers to.

"NEXT" button.

Another error page. This time my password wasn't sufficient; I guess I didn't read the directions carefully enough. "Use at least one letter, one number, and one special character, excluding < \ >." So I added an "@" sign into the password, and I was good to go.

Done with the registration.

Ready to buy the bond.

Or so I thought.

Upon clicking the "FINISH" button I was greeted with this cheerful message: "
We are now sending your account number to the e-mail address you provided on your application. You will also be receiving an Access Card in the mail shortly. Your account number, password, and Access Card are needed to log into your TreasuryDirect account."

Seriously? An Access Card? So that I can use a website? But I've waited over a year and a half since the first check my grandma sent; what's two more weeks, right?

Okay, Uncle Sam. I'll wait on my snail mailed card so that I can use my high-speed Internet to order something.

Bureaucracy in action, my friends. Bureaucracy inaction.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I definitely deserve a pat on the back for this!

I've had various accomplishments in my life...personal, vocational, academic. But this tops them all.

I cut my daughter's bangs.

And they don't look freakish.

I'm telling you, this is big stuff. I tried cutting my bangs twice when I was growing up. Both times were disasters--I had to wait for the too-short bangs to grow out before I was fit to be seen in public again.

I insisted I would never cut my daughter's bangs, that I had learned my lesson. So for the last year I've been letting her hair get too long and taking her to get it professionally cut--lately just taking her with me when I get mine done. But that seems like a waste of money, and I am now growing out my own hair and won't be getting it cut as often.

So I spent $6 on a pair of haircutting scissors at Wal-Mart, Googled "how to trim bangs", and pretty much followed the instructions in the first link on the results list.

I should have taken "before" pictures of my poor girl with her hair in her eyes, but I didn't. I do have a photo, however, of the imperfect but passable finished product.


Of course, the "how-to" link above didn't include a very important kid-specific instruction...bribery.


And just because I think it's cute, here's how the back of Chickie's hair looks today.


I'm thinking I may even try trimming the rest of her hair which is getting split-endy. But first I need to stock up on Dum Dums...and courage.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Annual Meeting

I left the kiddos with The Engineer last night so I could attend our Home Owners' Association (HOA) annual meeting. This being our first year in the house, it was my first meeting.

It was the perfect balance of boredom and entertainment. I've heard about the drama of HOAs and experiencing it for myself was actually kind of fun.

Items of business included...
1. What a yield sign means at those darn traffic circle roundabout things. (It means yield.)
2. Why your teenagers can't play at the lifeguard-less neighborhood pool by themselves. Even though you do think that middle school-aged kids are better-behaved than 18-year-olds.
3. Why one person can't have a commercial trailer at his house no matter how pretty it is.

This last item was the most dramatic. Here we go.

We were discussing the various violations of deed restrictions (such as unmowed lawns, unapproved basketball hoops, etc.) There is a neighborhood homeowner--we'll call him Ron--who has a mobile car detailing business and also a fence power washing/staining business. In fact, several weeks ago he gave us an estimate on staining our fence, but we decided to do it ourselves and save the money. He has a very attractive red trailer that has his equipment on it such as his power-washing tank. It's really nice looking but is clearly a trailer.

Ron raised his hand and started asking about the letters he's getting regarding his violation of our deed restrictions. Apparently his letters have referred to this portion of our restrictions: "No article deemed to be unsightly by the Architectural Committee shall be permitted to remain on any Lot.... [T]railers...shall be enclosed structures or screened from view...."

As Ron described the letters he's receiving, his feelings became more than apparent. "So I'm getting these letters about my trailer being 'unsightly,'" he said in barely repressed anger. "This trailer is stored on my lot but is moved all the time because I use it for work. It's a very nice trailer--It's been featured on ESPN!"

One of the meeting moderators explained that the restrictions don't allow trailers and that's why he's getting the letters. They didn't argue that ESPN has no input into our neighborhood restrictions though I think that would have been a valid point.

Ron turned to his wife, seethed, "Let's go!", and he, his wife, and their preschool-aged daughter left their seats. In his hand Ron had the paper handouts we'd all been given, and he angrily threw them over a table and into a trashcan. Some people know how to make an entrance. He knew how to make an exit.

My first thought? "I am SO glad I didn't give that guy my business." So not only did Ron fail to get the answer he wanted; he also lost a potential customer--and I'd wager he lost the respect and potential business of many others in the room too.

Next time I want to shoot my mouth off about something I'm angry about, even when it's just with my husband or kids, let me remember Ron--and let me remember that being unreasonable and having an adult temper tantrum always has negative effects.

As entertaining as the meeting was...I may send The Engineer next year. After all, if we discuss what the eight-sided red signs in the neighborhood mean, I want to make sure he's there to get that important information.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Chickie's favorite healthy, easy lunch

I'd like to share with you what Chickie and I had for lunch today. This is something I make frequently. It's healthy, easy, cheap, lasts for several meals, and, best of all, my somewhat picky 2-year-old likes it pretty consistently. You can alter the "recipe" however you'd like; it's hard to mess it up!

Chickie's Rice and Beans
4 servings instant brown rice*
2 cans of beans (whatever variety you like except refried), one drained and one not
1 can of diced tomatoes (again, whatever variety you like, even Ro-Tel if you like spice), not drained
1-2 can(s) veggies of your choice, drained
Salsa, to taste

1. Cook the rice according to package directions.
2. Stir in the other ingredients.
3. Heat further (stovetop or microwave) if desired. (It's just the right "hot-ness" for Chickie if I stir in the canned ingredients as soon as the rice is fully cooked. I like to heat my own a little more.)
4. Season with salsa if desired.

*Instant brown rice is just as healthy as the slow-cook stuff; it's simply pre-cooked. The texture may not be quite as good, so if you are better at planning ahead than I am, go ahead and make the slow-cook variety. Either way, keep in mind that brown rice is very healthy and white rice is not nearly as good for you.

Isn't it pretty? Today I made it with black beans, garbanzo beans, and carrots.

I leave the salsa out and put it only in my serving so that it's not too spicy for Chickie. And while we're on the subject of salsa, here are my two current favorites:

1. Cookwell & Company Tomatillo Salsa. This is gourmet stuff. They had samples at the grocery store along with a buy one, get one free coupon. My jaw dropped when I saw the $6 price tag but I figured with the coupon it would be $3 a jar, which isn't bad. Of course, I've fallen head over heels for this awesome green salsa and will probably fork over the $6 when our two jars are gone...which shouldn't take long.  This is a regional brand, so you may need to find a different type of tomatillo salsa.  My sister says Trader Joe's makes a great one, and it's cheap.

2. Valentina Salsa Picante. We buy the big jars of this stuff because I eat so much of it. It's smooth (similar to Taco Bell's sauce) and oh-so-yummy. And it's dirt cheap, about $2 for this huge, 34 oz. (1 L) bottle. Looks like it's time to add it to the shopping list, huh?

Enjoy your rice and beans!

Zoodle's quilt

My mom makes a quilt for each grandchild. I requested a full-sized quilt for Zoodle so that he can use it on his bed when he gets older; that way he won't outgrow it soon. She gave it to us at the reunion, and it is AWESOME--I love it! My artistic sister designed it--thanks, Becki! Here are pictures:

The front:

A close-up of some of the machine quilting on the front. I LOVE the pattern--see the stars and boots quilted in? I should disclose that my mom "outsourced" the quilting on this one though she usually does the quilting herself (and she is darn good at it):

The back of the quilt:

One of the two matching pillow shams (which were an awesome surprise!)

THANK YOU, Mom! I love, love, love it!

We're back!

Well, we survived the drive to and from Kansas, and the reunion was a blast.

The trip there was 14 1/2 hours including lots of stops. Less than a third of the way into it, we stopped at a rest stop and Chickie exclaimed, "We at Uncle Ray's house!!!" I had to explain to her that we had a LOT more driving to do. By the time we got there at about midnight we were a tired bunch.

The trip home was about an hour shorter thanks to being able to avoid some construction traffic we'd encountered on the way there.

The highlight of the car trip was that we got to go to Braum's three times. Braum's is a regional fast food and ice cream chain. I don't know where all of their locations are, but it seems every town in Oklahoma, and north Texas has a Braum's. Unfortunately they aren't in Austin. Boy, is Braum's AWESOME. The burgers easily beat Sonic in taste, and prices are fantastic. The ice cream is excellent and a huge scoop on a waffle cone is only $1.25. The Engineer fell in love with their chocolate malts. We may have to drive to Kansas again just for all the Braum's stops on the way there!

The reunion was at my Aunt Dironda and Uncle Ray's house. And "house" is a stretch; there should be a different word for a 12,000 square foot home. ("Mansion" sounds too uppity, and it's really a homey, livable place. Maybe "country estate"?) There was so much for everyone to do, from taking rides in the cart being pulled by drafthorses, to swimming in the indoor pool, to playing pool and ping pong. Ray's fireworks show rivaled those put on by many cities, and the food was awesome. Of course, I ended up spending as much time as possible playing pinochle since the only time I get to play is when I'm with my immediate family and my mom's side of the family. (Local readers, anyone interested in putting together a monthly pinochle game? It's great fun and I'll teach you how to play!)

As promised, here are pictures:

Greystone (the house) reflected in one of the ponds:

Chickie & Grammy in the pool:

Chickie (on the right) kissing Cutie Cousin (my sister's daughter):

Me with my parent's three grandkids--Cutie Cousin, Zoodle, & Chickie--on the 4th of July. Getting these three "Little Firecrackers" to sit for a picture was a feat in and of itself.

Chickie wiped out, napping:

And Zoodle snoozin' with Papa (my mom's dad):

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Family reunion

We are headed out to Kansas on Thursday for a family reunion. We'll be there until Monday. We're driving (supposedly 10 1/2 hours but I'm pretty sure Google Maps doesn't take a toddler and infant into account, so...we'll see how long it takes.) Wish us luck.

I've got quite a bit to do to prepare for the trip, so I may be MIA for the next week or so between preparations and the trip itself. I promise some great pics upon our return.

I've learned from experience that preparing for vacation is more difficult when there are also kiddos to take care of. Where are my live-in nanny, housekeeper, personal chef, and personal assistant when I need them? All on strike wanting to be paid, I guess. Sigh....

Happy Independence Day!