Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Beauty Giveaway!

Update: This contest is closed, but I hope to have another giveaway very soon--keep checking the blog!

I love Avon's Glazewear Liquid Lip Color! So I'm going to give away two of these non-sticky glosses. Hopefully your lips will love it too. (Thanks, Karen, for suggesting the giveaway!)

Here are the rules:
1. Post a comment below. You can say whatever you want; just comment.
2. Tell your friends about this giveaway. Post it on your blog, send out e-mails, rent a billboard, whatever. When your friends enter the contest, make sure they list your name in their comment. If your friend wins, you'll get a free gloss, too.
3. In a few days, I'll randomly choose two winners. I'll give you a link so you can choose from the 16 available shades.

If you comment multiple times (because you just love commenting or because Blogger is messing up again), only your first comment will count as an entry.

If this goes over well, there will be more giveaways in the future.

Good luck!

By the way, these fabulous little glosses were recently on sale for $1.99 each, but you'll have to backorder to get that price. Here's how:
  • If you don't have an Avon Rep, you can order through my grandma at her website.
  • Click "Shop Now".
  • Scroll down and on the left side of the page click "Shop by product line."
  • Select "Glazewear" and check out the shades of the "Glazewear Liquid Lip Color" (3rd product in the left column).
  • Then to get your special price, click "Shop by line #" at the top of the page.
  • Select CAMP # 20.
  • Search for "Glazewear Liquid Lip Color". You can then select your shade and add it to the cart.
  • Use the code "FSANY" to get free shipping. And while you're at it, see if there's anything else you want--there are some good Avon deals going on right now, as always.

Hodge Podge: The Sequel

Another post of somewhat random tidbits. Here we go!

Backing up your computer files:

Do you back up files on your computer? Or are you like I was for years, knowing I should be backing up, but not getting around to it...and dreading the day when your hard drive goes kaput, and you lose pictures, documents, and e-mails?

You might want to check out Carbonite, an online backup service. After an initial backup, updated files are automatically saved to Carbonite's servers. It's only $50 a year. Enter offer code "Kim" or "Rush" to get a special deal. (Carbonite advertises on Kim Komando's and Rush Limbaugh's radio shows.)

A little over six months ago I signed up for the Carbonite free trial. About a week later, my computer died. I can't tell you the immense relief knowing I'd saved all those files and pictures. Restoring the files to my new computer was pretty easy.

Some people aren't comfortable using an online backup service. If that's the case with you, look into getting an external hard drive and using it for automatic backups. I like Carbonite because it's so simple, and I don't have to think about it.

Zoodle update:

Zoodle had his six month checkup today. His stats:

Weight: 17 lb. 13 oz. (Yes, Laurel, that's mighty close to 18 pounds, so I'll do the honors for you--You told me so!) 50th percentile.
Height: 17.5 inches. 75th percentile.

As a comparison, Chickie was 16 pounds at six months and 18 pounds at nine months.

Zoodle tried his first solid foods yesterday--smushed bananas. He loved the flavor but still has a strong tongue-thrust reflex, so he didn't actually swallow much of it.

Whoa, that picture makes me realize it's definitely time for me to wax my arms.

(Just kidding, that's my manly man The Engineer.)


Freecycle allows members to request things they need. I found this post particularly funny:

WANTED: Large, thick, soft foam pieces (egg crate style)
I need foam, like that egg crate stuff you might put on your bed, or
something similar to it. I need somewhat large pieces to lodge into my window openings, so it needs to be soft, rather than rigid. I need it to shield my neighbors as much as possible from noise I will be making.

Um...your guess on the "noise" is as good as mine.

For bloggers only...

Backing up your blog:

After my last Hodge Podge post, did you get your blog backed up? Well, thanks to a helpful comment that Megan posted, I'm using a fantastic free blog back up service, Blog Backup Online. It takes about three minutes to set up; then it will backup your entire blog, and perform daily backups. It's free. Do it. Now.

Why are you still reading? Back up that blog.

Backing up your Blogger template:

If you're on Blogger, you'll want to backup your template each time you change it. Just to go Layout-->Edit HTML-->Backup/Restore Template. Save the file somewhere you'll remember it. If your Blogger site is the victim of some bug, you can restore the template without rebuilding it.

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Six months old

My sweet boy, six months ago you decided to enter this big world.

Labor and delivery were painful, but intensely beautiful. That day was full of firsts--hearing your first cry, holding you for the first time, Daddy's first snuggles, that first sweet nursing session, meeting your proud big sister. Every one of those moments was part of our joyful introduction to you, our Zoodle. I knew from your first hours here that you were a perfect fit into our family.

But, oh, how you've changed! You were such a sweet little newborn, but just like all newborns, you really didn't do much. You slept a whole lot, and ate, and made sure to fill your daily diaper quota.

Now your wonderful little personality has emerged, and I am enamored with you!

I love that you respond to my singing. When you're fussy, sometimes it just takes Mama's voice singing some silly little song, to calm you down. It's adorable when you're so tired that you can't quite stop crying, but you want to laugh too, and the result is your funny giggle-sobs.

Speaking of laughing, yesterday you just let out those little baby guffaws, one after the other, as your big sister blew raspberries at you. It was a preview of the silly sibling times we'll be seeing more of as you get older.

You bring joy to the people around you, strangers and friends, when you give them your willing, sunny smile. You have no idea how happy your smiles make people.

Sometimes you really get mad, especially when you're sleepy, and especially in the evenings. You've really given Daddy some rough times lately. But even when we dull grown-ups just can't seem to figure out exactly what you need, you don't hold a grudge. You get over it, and then you're ready to smile, cuddle, or play again. We adults could learn a few lessons from you.

Little guy, you're getting less little every day. I'm aware that you may very well outgrow me before you hit your teens. But while I can, I'm going to keep holding you in my arms, enjoying the gift that is you.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chickie, you've got mail!

Yesterday Chickie was hanging out at Lowe's with Daddy, and on the way home they picked up the mail.

From the back seat, Chickie said, "Daddy, can I have a piece of mail?"

Daddy found a piece of junk mail and handed it to her. To his surprise, under that postcard was a card addressed to Chickie! He handed it to her, and she got to work opening her very first "just because" card from Grammy.

It was a hit! Grammy even included stickers. I guess Chickie's still in her stickers-as-body-art phase.

We don't live close to any relatives, so we're always wanting ways to help Chickie feel connected with her grandparents. Webcams are fabulous, but having a real envelope to open, with a card and stickers just for Chickie, was such a fun way for her to connect with someone special. Thank you, Grammy!

And thank you to JL from The Toby Show for the great idea. Grammy very quickly took my not-so-subtle hint when I sent her your link.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


There's a donut shop just outside our neighborhood, and occasionally our morning walk takes us there. After all, I wouldn't be a good American mom if I didn't ensure that my toddler filled up on fried bundles of sugar and bad carbs every so often, right?

Today was one of those special mornings. Daddy enjoyed sleeping in (much-deserved) while Chickie, Zoodle, Hammer, and I made the trek to and from the donut shop.

Do you think she liked her hand-picked donut with chocolate icing and sprinkles?

Now, I do draw the line somewhere. When my 27-pound child asked for a third donut, I wisely refused.

On a side note...how cool is it that my almost-three-year-old will still willingly wear a bib? Please don't tell her that most kids this age have given up bibs. I'm sticking with this as long as I can.

EDITED TO ADD: On a more serious note, a friend of ours named Brent was in a head-on collision yesterday. He does not have life-threatening injuries; in fact, his injuries are less serious than originally thought, which is wonderful. However, he has torn some ligaments (knee and elbow) and they believe has broken his pelvis or hip bone. He had surgery on his ankle which had been torn open. We are so thankful that he is expected to recover fully, but The Engineer and I know how hard rehab and recovery are, for the patient and the caregiver. He is a newlywed, and his wife Lindsey is in her first trimester of pregnancy, so this is a very stressful time for them. If you pray, please pray for Brent and Lindsey. Thanks!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Let's have some fun

I'd like to share with you a couple of great ways to waste your time today.

1. lost in translation website
This site takes any text that you enter and uses translation software to translate it back and forth between English and five other languages. The results are unrecognizable. Here are some examples. Read them, then go play on the site and post your favorites in the comments.

"Time to make the donuts!" -Old Dunkin' Donuts commercial
Hour to the form toric the impulses!

"I just want to bundle him up in my arms." -Cecily Pigeon in Neil Simon's The Odd Couple.
It would wish disc battery exactly inside ignited in my handspikes that ascend.

"The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout." -Traditional children's song
Itsy bitsy of the spider is magnified to the expensive outpost of entrerrosca of the water.

"Rock a bye baby, on the treetop." -Traditional lullaby
Oscillations he a secondary boy, in the stop of the tree.

2. Lyndsay posted a link on her site to the Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator. Governor Palin's children are named Track, Trig, Bristol, Willow, and Piper. Pretty unique, right? Go to the site to enter your family's names, and find out what you'd all be called if you were part of her family.

My husband is now Commander Coalfire Palin, and I've been blessed with two beautiful children, Fog Piles and Recoil Zoo.

Have fun!

Nam Guadalupe Palin

Thursday, September 25, 2008

She has Elmo on speed dial, too

We don't have cable, so Chickie watches PBS Kids. Great shows, but I wonder if we're overdoing it.

Why? Well, she likes to play around the house, reciting, "PBS Kids doc ord." Over and over and over.

That's toddler speak for "pbskids.org", the website that's heavily touted in between program segments.

Hey, at least it's educational. Right? Right....?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I love footed PJs. Not for myself, of course--for my kids. They're practical (no socks falling off feet) and adorable. The thin knit ones are just the right weight, even during the summer. When we stopped swaddling Zoodle a few weeks ago, it was exciting to start using little footed jammies for him.

When Chickie hit 12 months or so, it was suddenly a lot easier to find two-piece jammies than my preferred one-piece variety. But I could still find the good stuff at Carter's and Children's Place. At Christmas I even got matching drop-seat PJs from Pajama Gram for Chickie and her cousin Molly. (Cute but expensive--and not the best quality.)

Chickie will be three in January. Am I still subjecting her to such juvenile jammies? Here she is this morning:

(Lovely pose, isn't it?)

As you can see if you look closely at her left heel, her size 2T PJs are wearing out. She's starting to outgrow them too. 3Ts, here we come.

I think I'll keep putting Chickie in these practical jammies as long as I can get away with it. I can just imagine her therapy sessions when she reaches adulthood. "Why can't I seem to grow up? I don't know, but my mom was still dressing me in footed sleepers at the age of 17...."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Screaming, crying, kicking, whining. Don't you wish you were at my house right now?

Chickie is relegated to the upstairs until she can calm down, but, you know, she is loud. The girl can project her voice.

Of course, I guess it all makes sense. I mean, Mommy didn't let her wear the white shorts today. Wouldn't you be screaming too?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Lessons learned

From the KVUE News website:

"Police have arrested an Austin massage therapist accused of improper photography. Austin police investigators have confiscated a computer . . . that contains 120 files of his clients, and police say they may contain pictures or video of women getting dressed and undressed before and after massages."

I had a hot stone massage two years ago. It was done at the spa where the suspect worked. I don't remember my massage therapist's last name, but the first name is the same as the suspect's. I think it was him. Police want to hear from anyone who has received a massage from him in the last five years, so I called and left my information on the tip line. I'm sickened to think photos or video of me, secretly taken, may be on that computer.

Whether or not I'm involved, it certainly has me a little freaked out. And it has me thinking.

See, there was something odd that happened during that massage. I was laying on my stomach. I was already covered with a drape below the waist, but my back was bare. The massage therapist said, "I'm going to do some abdominal massage now. Do you want your breasts covered or uncovered?" A little embarrassed, I said, "Covered." He made sure I was covered, then and for the rest of the massage.

Now, I'd never had a massage therapist ask me that before. It seemed weird, but I hadn't had a lot of massages. I figured it was normal. I thought about asking other women if they'd ever been asked that, but I was embarrassed, afraid I'd look like a prude.

Of course, now I realize how silly that was. Yes, it was a strange thing for a massage therapist to do. My instinct told me that. And I should never be afraid to bring up something that makes me uncomfortable. Isn't that what I'll be telling my daughter?

I'm angry and sickened and while I hope I'm not involved, I know if I'm not it means some other woman is. The pictures are there; I just don't know if I'm one of the unlucky ones or not. Either this suspect or someone else (since he's still presumed innocent) appears to have grossly violated the privacy of many women. It's disgusting.

But here's what I'm determined to take away from it. If I'm uncomfortable with something that could possibly be inappropriate, I want to say something. No more convincing myself that something wrong is actually normal, just because I'm embarrassed. If I'd complained to management, maybe this would have been stopped a lot earlier. I know nothing about it is my fault, but I'm ready to be proactive in the future. I, and the women around me, deserve to be protected.


I get really excited about free stuff. In my purse right now you can find coupons for free Wendy's Frosties and free McDonald's lattes. (Hmm, I guess I also get really excited about sweet drinks.) But it's also fun to give stuff away for free.

Freecycle allows me to get and give free stuff. Freecycle groups are local organizations run through Yahoo! Groups.

Here's an example of how it works.

Yesterday an OFFER post popped up that included this item:

Wood shoe rack on rollers. It's low and holds about 20 pair of shoes depending on size.

I sent out a quick response.

My husband would love if I could...
1....put my shoes on a rack instead of leaving them strewn around the closet floor.
2....get rid of enough shoes that I only have 20 pairs left.
I guess #2 is up to me, but if the shoe rack is available, maybe you can help me with #1! I can pick up today. Either way, thanks for Freecycling!

Well, I got an e-mail letting me know the shoe rack was mine. Score! I have to say, this is one of the best things I've received on Freecycle--second only to all the boxes we were given when we moved.

And, true to my word, today I posted an OFFER for all of these:

The Engineer will be so proud.

To find a Freecycle group in your community, just visit the Freecycle website. If you live in a large metropolitan area, I suggest finding a group that serves only your part of town, if available. It keeps the number of posts manageable, and you don't have to drive far to pick up something.

I love Freecycle. Getting away from the commercial mindset all around me is so refreshing. Best of all, when Chickie and Zoodle get a little older, I have a great threat for them: "Stop fighting, or I'll stick you on the porch and Freecycle you!"

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Home away from home

I adore the nursery at our church. The people who work there love my kids. When you drop off your 2-year-old and ask her for a kiss and she presents her hair to be kissed (not her cheek or her lips--that would require lifting taking her attention away from her toy), you know she's comfortable. When you tell her goodbye and she doesn't respond, you know she loves it there. And when you come to pick her up and she doesn't want to leave, you know how lucky you are.

Zoodle likes it, too. Even in his current Mommy phase, he is comfortable back there with workers who love him. And it's always meant so much to me that if my baby is crying and isn't quickly comforted, they come to get me. I'm respected as the mom, so I know I can trust the teachers.

It's just what an "infants, toddlers, and twos" class should be. Most of the time is spent playing. There is a very short, simple Bible story and a craft, usually coordinated with the Bible story and involving coloring and/or stickers. And mostly, there are involved teachers who freely give their time to my kids.

As moms, we love our children so deeply, and it can be hard to leave them with people who don't have the same absolute devotion to them. But it's not hard to leave Chickie and Zoodle with the teachers in the nursery at The Bridge Church. The genuine love they have for my kids is beautiful, comforting, and a true gift--to Chickie, Zoodle, The Engineer, and me.

Kendra, I know you're probably reading this. Thank you for lovingly handling the children's ministry at our church. You are the arms of Christ, embracing our church's children, and the mouth of Christ, teaching them. You sow into their lives, and I pray you'll reap tremendous rewards.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Opening night

Opening nights are usually fun and high-energy but also often have a good number of mistakes. Last night had great energy without lots of flubs--it was a great opening night for The Odd Couple! The audience laughed a lot, and they were very kind after the show. I love it when an audience genuinely enjoys a performance.

My personal theatre tradition is to make personalized cookies for the cast and crew. I use an excellent sugar cookie recipe supplied by my friend Betty.*

I play Cecily Pigeon, and a talented fellow actor plays my sister Gwendolyn. We Pigeon sisters had a ball onstage last night. I am thoroughly enjoying having a purely comedic role. Our characters don't have any deep messages to deliver to the audience; we're there to make people laugh. Here's a picture of us from last night.

I'm on a little bit of a high today. It's so, so good to be back onstage.

*My recipe friend's last name is Crocker, and her recipe consists of adding 3 ingredients to a mix. Seriously, it's a really good sugar cookie mix and beats my from-scratch sugar cookies by a mile.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Big day for my budding artist

Chickie's really enjoyed creating art lately. She tends to create abstract pieces--understandable since fine motor skills have a long way to go when you're 2 years, 8 months old.

But today was a big day. She told me she wanted to draw me--and she did it!

This is her first piece of truly representational art. That's my face, the big circle in the middle, complete with short hair. Chickie's face is on the right, much smaller than mine. I'm not quite sure which direction she is facing. Eli is on the left, being held by Mommy. His hair is the scribble on the left side of his head, so I guess he's laying down.

I don't know a whole lot about analyzing a child's work of art, but it doesn't take a genius to notice that Mommy is FAR bigger than both kids. I think that says something about authority. Or possibly she just thinks Mommy has a big head.

As for the wide open mouth, I'm open to opinions on what it might mean. The Engineer says it looks like I'm yelling. Ugh, I hope that's not it, though I'll be honest enough to tell you that sometimes I do yell. I prefer to think that right now she draws all facial features as somewhat round shapes (which you'll observe in the strange little Chickie and Zoodle faces, too). Or, who knows? Maybe I'm yawning, gaping at something unseen, or trying to catch flies. Isn't that the beauty of a true artistic masterpiece such as this? It inspires deep conversation as we all try to interpret it.

Yeah, yeah, I know--this is just a kid's scrawlings. But I'm that kid's mama, and I gotta tell you--in my eyes this is a fine work of art. I'm proud of my girl.


By the way, opening night of the play went well. I'll post about it tomorrow...or rather, later today. My clock tells me that midnight has passed, and I think I'm turning into a pumpkin. Nighty night, all.

Thursday, September 18, 2008



Edited to add...

Well...it worked! As you'll see in a previous post, I have had some posting issues since last night. Looks like they are resolved. Scroll down to see any posts you may have missed when my blog was stuck in a time warp.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Yesterday Chickie was "riding" around the house on a big stuffed dog, holding its ears like reins.

And what do you say instead of "giddyup" when your animal of choice is canine rather than equine? Chickie knew just how to get that dog to go faster.

"Doggyup! Doggyup!"

I think I'm in LOOOOOVE

I go through breakfast phases. For a couple of months I'll eat a lot of one type of cold cereal; then I'll switch to hot cereal; then I'll get on a yogurt kick. When I was in my third trimester of pregnancy with Zoodle I ate a LOT of eggs thanks to the high-protein Brewer diet I was on. He came out healthy, but I didn't ever want to see another egg. (Luckily I got over that.)

Thanks to my friend Laurel who gave me some of her food when she moved, I am in love with my new breakfast discovery--Quaker Simple Harvest All Natural Instant Multigrain Hot Cereal. (Yeah, that's a mouthful.) I've tried the Apples with Cinnamon and Maple Brown Sugar with Pecans flavors. Both are excellent (and they're also good mixed together.) The second flavor actually has real diced pecans in it!

I usually shy away from instant oatmeal. According to Quaker's website, their traditional instant oatmeal, Maple and Brown Sugar flavor, contains artificial flavors, guar gum, and caramel color. It also contains 13 grams of sugar.

The Simple Harvest Maple Brown Sugar with Pecans, on the other hand, only contains 9 grams of sugar. The calorie count is the same as the original version (160 calories), and the fat is actually higher (thanks to the real pecans). The ingredients make me quite happy. They are "Whole grain rolled oats, whole grain rolled wheat, rolled barley, whole grain rolled rye, sugar, pecans, whole flaxseed, oat flour, natural flavors, salt, molasses." The nebulous term "natural flavors" probably isn't the greatest thing, but it beats the traditional instant oatmeal's flavor list, by far.

At my local Wal-Mart, the Simple Harvest instant oatmeal costs the same as the traditional (around $2.85 per box) but contains eight packets instead of the 10 packets in the traditional box.

I also tried Kashi's GoLean Hearty All Natural Instant Hot Cereal with Clusters (Honey & Cinnamon flavor), which only has 7 grams of sugar. I wasn't crazy about it, but if you like less-sweet hot cereal you may enjoy it. It does have a nice texture and at my local Wal-Mart it cost around 20 cents less less than the Quaker Simple Harvest.

What foods make you fall in looooooove with breakfast?

Blogger problem--any ideas?

Fellow bloggers--I'm having a technical issue. As I type a post, the autosave isn't working, and it takes multiple clicks on "PUBLISH POST" to do publish successfully. An error pops up: "Your request could not be processed. Please try again."

Then when it does finally post, everything is showing up as having been posted yesterday, Wednesday, at 2:22 p.m. This has been a problem since I posted last night. I think 2:22 p.m. is the time I wrote my FIRST post yesterday.

Any ideas??


ETA--Did a search on Blogger's help forum and a lot of users are having this problem today. Yippee. No answers from Google/Blogger yet. Anyone else experiencing this?

I STILL haven't backed up my blog (thanks for the reminder in your comment, Becky!) and I will do that today just in case this is a harbinger of some big crash that's coming....

You mean...I can get PAID for this?

Confession time.

I spend far too much time blogging.

But I just love it. I've always enjoyed writing, but it's the first time in my life I've kept up with a daily journal like this. All I needed was an audience--who knew?!

It's a great hobby...but hobbies don't generally pay the bills, do they? Wouldn't it be nice if they did?

That's where blog ads come in. Today my blog looks a little different. You'll find an ad on either side of my posts. They are from BlogHer, which is a network for women who blog. The ads are targeted to women, which is great for my readership. (Honestly, are any men other than my dad and brother reading this thing?)

Now, I'm not going to beg you to click on the ads. My payment is based on the number of visitors to my page. If you think the product looks great, then of course, click! But most importantly, just keep reading the blog--the more often, the better! And if you come across a post you think a friend might like, click the little envelope below the post--it will allow you to e-mail it. Maybe your friend will become a loyal reader, too!

Thanks for reading C. Beth Blog. It makes my day when you write a comment! And I won't be making my fortune with these ads, but it's because of people like you that I can get a little bit of income doing something I love. Cool.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oops, I did it again

Yesterday's post was later than usual. Want to know why? Sure you do.

Both kids were down for an afternoon nap. (Woo hoo!!) I wanted to take a bath and try to figure out my '60s hair. So I started running the tub water. I dug out my old hot rollers and plugged them in. Then I thought I should find some good pictures of short '60s 'd0s, so I went into the dining room where I my laptop was sitting, and I spent some time on Google Images.

You see where this is going? Please tell me that at least a few of you have already forgotten what I wrote three sentences ago: "So I started running the tub water." Please tell me I'm not the only one who forgot that.

I found some good photos, then went back into the bathroom. As I approached, I heard the water. "Oh, no, oh, no," I said. "Not again!"

Sure enough, water was everywhere. After turning it off, draining the tub, and taking a picture (because I knew I'd be blogging about it), I set to work with the wet/dry shop vac. Two hours later the carpet around the bathroom (which soaked up a lot of water) was at a point of dryness that I was pretty confident it would air dry quite well over the next few days. And the tile? Well, I guess I've already cleaned it this week, so that's a plus!

Did you catch my reaction, "Not again"? Yeah. I did this very same thing a week or two after we moved into this house, just under a year ago. That time I was getting clothes for Chickie and got distracted. How embarrassing is that?! I mean, I guess it was good that I knew exactly how to handle it, but I'd hoped to never again draw on my experience in cleaning up a totally unnecessary bathroom flood.

The Engineer was on Amazon yesterday looking for some alarm he's heard of, that beeps when the tub is about to overflow. I'd prefer one that sets off a siren whenever the ditz switch on my brain has been flipped on--now that would be useful.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Remember when I told you I was going to be in a play, and I spouted all these lofty sentiments about how theatre makes me feel more alive?

Well, forget all that. Really, I'm just an adult who likes to play dress up.

Starting tonight we get to wear costumes at rehearsal!! For a modern-day play, costumes tend to be pretty boring, but in a play like this, when I get to wear vintage early-1960s dresses, I am in heaven. Well, except I don't suppose we'll have to wear girdles and pantyhose in heaven. (And if we do, my view of God is seriously wrong.)

Here I am, as Cecily Pigeon (minus some accessories and full stage makeup.) This is my first attempt at big '60s hair, and I think it probably needs to be bigger.

The black dress is definitely my favorite; I just love it. I wear it for my first scene, which takes up the bulk of my stage time. The blue is fun and casual and will work for the 45 seconds or so that I'm wearing it onstage during my second scene.

Interesting tidbit about how much dress sizing has changed in the last 45 years or so. I wear a size 3. The vintage blue dress fit me without alteration (except shortening the hemline), and it is a size 9.

Difficult truth

There comes a time in every mother's life when she must confront a difficult truth about one of her children. For me that time came yesterday.

I looked at Zoodle and faced the fact that he is...

(insert deep sigh and a couple of sniffles)


Remember the post about Zoodle's crazy hair a couple of months back? Well, over the last couple of weeks, his hair has decided to gradually calm down. Yesterday I looked at him, and this is what I saw:

Oh, it's painful to share my heart-rending moment of realization with my readers. There's that hair, laying down against his head like normal hair should do.

I know I should be glad. I know when he's 35 he won't want to have to deal with hair that sticks up as if it's been rubbed by a balloon.

But I loved that quirky part of my boy, and it's a pity to see it gone. I actually liked all the comments from strangers. I liked combing his hair only to see it pop back up as if it were spring-loaded.

As I brace myself for more difficult truths that will confront me as Zoodle grows up, I guess I'll just have to take comfort in his abnormally cute smile, gorgeous eyes, and copious amounts of drool.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Hurricane Ike is here.

By "here" I mean Texas. Galveston and Houston have been pummeled. All we're getting so far in the Austin area is cloudy skies, wind, and evacuees. Thousands of evacuees.

I am proud of the Austin area. Just as we did for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita three years ago, schools around the city have opened their gyms for evacuees. Relief organizations like the Red Cross are donating food. I'm so glad that those who had to flee their homes in fear have free food and shelter available.

And that's the key word--free. Of course, it's not really free; it's funded by donations, and there are many, many volunteers keeping the shelters going--over 450 volunteers according to local radio station KLBJ.

And yet as I watched local news last night, I was bothered by the negative coverage. While I heard one evacuee saying she was thankful for the shelter, much of the rest of the coverage was focused on the complaints--possible slight overcrowding, hard floors for sleeping on, and a rumor of food running out before all evacuees were fed. Of course I hope any food shortages are taken care of quickly, and I sure wouldn't be comfortable sleeping on a gym floor with strangers either.

But let's be honest--When thousands of people are fed and sheltered for free, without a whole lot of notice, accommodations will not be five-star. One thing that is clear from watching the coverage is that this has been a very well-organized rescue effort, as organizations and volunteers attempt to anticipate and meet genuine needs.

I bet there are many evacuees who are thankful to have a roof over their heads, and grateful not to have to spend money on food while gone from home. I'd appreciate more news stories focused on the hundreds of volunteers and the thousands of thankful evacuees. The positive aspects of the effort far outweigh any problems, but that positive stuff is just too boring to be the focus of the 5:00 news.

Friday, September 12, 2008


I've always prided myself in not being a diva-type of actor. (Yes, I recognize the irony in that sentence.) But trying to be in a play when I have a little baby has proven challenging, and I'm afraid I'm turning into that diva who expects special consideration to be made for her.

See, here's the thing. When I agreed to be in The Odd Couple, I had a baby who usually did really well with Daddy, babysitters, anyone. Sometime in the last 5 weeks or so, little elves switched that baby for one who wants Mama and will accept no substitutes. Especially in those emotional evening hours.

You can imagine how totally frustrated Daddy is--while I go to the theatre to have fun, he's been left with a screaming Zoodle. Not every night, but often enough lately that it feels like every night. Zoodle's figured out that Daddy doesn't feel like Mommy, and he certainly doesn't smell like Mommy. (I'm considering pumping into a squirt bottle so I can spritz The Engineer's chest with eau de breastmilk before leaving. Think it would help?)

Finally The Engineer and I had a good talk. "Family should always come before a job," he insisted. "And this isn't even a job!" And as hard as it was to hear, he was right.

So I've e-mailed my director to let her know that I either need to bring Zoodle to rehearsals with me next week (the last week of rehearsals), or come to rehearsals late (since I don't come onstage until about 2/3 of the way through the play.)

Honestly, I should have set this boundary already, but confrontation isn't my favorite thing. And really, that's not fair to anyone--I've been stressed about leaving Zoodle; The Engineer has been awesome but is now teetering on the brink of insanity; and my director deserves an actor who trusts her enough to be honest. I'm pretty sure she'll respond positively, and I wish I'd given her the opportunity to do so earlier.

We open next week. Hopefully my request for special consideration will make the next seven days pleasant ones. And during curtain call I'll push all the other actors behind me while I bow repeatedly for five minutes. I might as well be the very best diva I can be.

Edited, 7:44 p.m.
My director sent back a very nice e-mail. I'll be going to rehearsal an hour and a half late next week. Yeah!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I was half asleep in a hotel room in Dallas when I got the phone call telling me to turn on my TV. Either my sister called me, and I then called The Engineer, or vice versa. It is the message, not the voice delivering it, that I remember. I picked up the remote, and my eyes were glued to the television as I got ready. I watched at least one of the Towers fall.

I was an Admission Counselor for Grand Canyon University, and we had college fairs scheduled that day. The events went on, but attendance was low. One of the recruiters had a television, normally used to play a promotional DVD, but on this day it was tuned to a news station.

I recall that collective state of quiet shock and confusion, followed by grief and anger. I remember talking to my dad and the words he spoke--"Life as we know it will never be the same." Seven years later, his words ring profoundly true. It was a blow that forced our country to grow up quickly. For better or worse, it changed the way we handle terrorists and the countries that support them. Many died that day, and many more have died since. How I wish there was an easy, risk-free way to move forward in safety and security.

Oh, God, bless and comfort the families and friends of those who were lost on that day, and those who have died in the subsequent wars. God, please bring healing to those who are still injured in body and spirit.

If you'd like, please share where you were seven years ago.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Look at these lips!

WARNING: This post is rated "E". That's not for "Everyone"; that's for "Estrogen". If you're one of my very few male readers, it's unlikely you'll find anything of use here.

That being said...

Girls, let's chat.

I am tired of being a mommy who all too often "lets herself go". Just because I don't often work outside the home anymore doesn't mean I shouldn't like what I see in the mirror, right? So I've been trying to put a little more effort into hair, makeup, even...gasp...accessorizing. (That one's a challenge for me.) I still get ready quickly; but a very few extra minutes can make all the difference in the world.

So I thought I'd steal a page from beautiful blogger Sasha and share with you my new favorite beauty product. It's AVON's Beyond Color Plumping Lipcolor in the shade Divine Wine. (I totally want the job of naming makeup colors.) Here's a picture of my smackeroos wearing this great lipstick:

Photobucket Image Hosting

Oh, goodness, don't look too closely--I think I needed to floss when I took this picture. Oops....

The lipstick is supposed to make your lips look plumper, which honestly I don't notice happening at all, but I really like the smooth feel of it on my lips, and it's got SPF 15, which is a bonus.

So, how can your lips look this great? Well, if you have an AVON Representative, just contact her. If you don't have one, send the business to Mamma, my maternal grandmother who has been selling Avon for over 45 years.

You can shop on her website by clicking here. The easiest way to see this particular product is to scroll down on the left side of the page and click the dropdown list "Shop by Product Line". Then choose "Beyond Color". I know it's scary to check out colors online, but everything is returnable if you don't like it--and hopefully you'll be just as lucky as I was.

Here's a little tip. This lipstick was recently on sale for $3.99, and for a short time you can backorder it to get that price. Find your color by following the directions above, but don't actually order on that page. Click "shop by line #" at the top of the page, then select camp. # 18. Enter "Beyond Color" in the search field, and you can find the product you want, click on it, and add it to your bag.

Be sure to also click "online brochure" at the top of the site; they always have some good sales, and it's fun to scroll through the catalog. (Their Glazewear Liquid Lip Color is on sale for $1.99 right now. It's a gloss I really like because it doesn't glue my lips together. It's nice to be able to actually open my mouth when I'm wearing a gloss without my lips making a smacking sound.)

And lastly, use the code FSANY for free shipping. I just bought another Divine Wine so I can have one for my makeup case and one for my purse. With free shipping, why not?

So, pucker up and shop!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sweet Robot Love

About a month ago, we went to see the animated film WALL-E, and Chickie hasn't stopped talking about it. She loves pretending that her toys are the brilliantly animated robots WALL-E and EVE. So yesterday when I saw purple WALL-E shirts, I made Chickie's day by buying her one. Even before she put it on this morning, I think her pure enjoyment just holding the shirt and playing with it had already justified the $5 price tag.

As I put Zoodle back into the car in the store parking lot, Chickie was sitting in the shopping cart holding her treasured shirt. She referred to it as a birthday gift, and I said, "No, Chickie, it's not your birthday. Mommy just got that for you because I love you!"

Chickie was gazing down at the shirt and speaking softly, but I heard her sweet little voice say, "I love you, Mommy."

My heart sang! An unsolicited "I love you" from Chickie is a rare event indeed. "Oh, baby," I said earnestly, "I love you too!"

She repeated her statement more loudly, in a tone of voice that clearly told me she wanted to correct me.

"I love you, WALL-E."

Thanks a lot, Disney.

Stuck on you

Let's take a little trip inside Chickie's mind....

Ooh, stickers! Shiny stickers! Fun! What should I do with them? Put them on paper? Nah, too ordinary. Put them on the dog? No, might get me in trouble. Oh, wait, I've got a great idea!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hodge Podge

Today's post will just be a hodge podge of things I've been wanting to mention.

Brownie in a cup
My Crock Pot has been getting lots of use lately due to a great blog called A Year of CrockPotting. The other day she posted directions for making brownies in the Crock Pot--in mugs. Pretty cool. Tried it last night. Haven't eaten them yet--started too late and they were cooling off when we went to bed--but I think it's such a cool idea, and it looks like they turned out great. And you can use a store-bought mix, so even the domestically-impaired would have a hard time messing up this one.

New game for Chickie
I came up with a fun new game for Chickie. Lay your toddler on the ground on his or her back with feet in the air. Put an object (book, toy, diaper, whatever) in between your child's feet and tell him/her to try to hold onto it. Tickle those tiny toes to try to get them to let go. Enjoy the giggle fest as you try it over and over and over!

Blog surfing
Ever used that "NEXT BLOG" button up at the top of my page? It's fun to scroll through the sites of other bloggers. A majority don't interest me but occasionally I come across a gem. Here are a couple I discovered the other day:
The Foolish Artist--A high school senior who is smart and artsy and promises to reveal the teenage angst she's experiencing? What a fun way to live vicariously through someone experiencing a pivotal year in growing up.
Michelle Brunner--Another artist. I just really like the look of her stuff, which is sold affordably on Etsy.

These next two topics are tips for fellow bloggers.

Backing up your blog

Fellow bloggers, be sure to check out this link on how to back up your blog posts. I haven't actually done this yet, but I plan to this weekend--I can't imagine losing all the posts I've written.

New favicon
Ever heard of a favicon? Neither had I, until yesterday. It's that teeny tiny icon up at the left hand side of the address bar in your browser. Lookie, lookie, I've got my very own favicon now! Gone is my boring Blogger "B"; enter my stylized "C". I created a JPEG on my photo editing/graphic program (Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2) and then the Icon J site converted it to a favicon, is hosting it for free, and generated the HTML code for me. (Looks like you can even create the image on that site too.) The Rumbling Lankan blog turned me on to Icon J and helped me figure out where to paste the code into my blog's HTML.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thanks, Chickie. Love you, too.

We went to The Engineer's office last night. They were having a get-together with companies they're currently working with. Of course I jumped at the chance to show off the kids and eat some free food. Once Chickie warmed up, she was in true toddler form, running around and being generally nutty.

She somehow found some dollar bills and was carrying them around proudly. She was also planning how to spend her newfound wealth, and when she'd figured it out, she ran up to me. Fists clutching the bills, she proudly told me her plan.

"I'm going to buy a new mommy!"

Won't be buying Saks of clothes from them....

I've recently ended up on Saks Fifth Avenue's e-mail list. How they got my information is a mystery; I mean, have OldNavy.com's clearance shoppers suddenly become the target audience for a designer department store?

But then again, I also don't know why for the last couple of years I've been getting invitations in the mail to join AARP, along with the advertising that comes with being on that list. If you need information on Central Texas health and hearing screens, senior rates on TIME magazine, etc., I'm the one to talk to.

Back to the Saks e-mails. I usually delete them immediately, which is faster than actually unsubscribing, but today I decided to check out the e-mail, just for fun. After all, it included a coupon code for free shipping with an order of $200 or more. What a tempting deal!

Today's e-mail is highlighting Tory Burch's fall line. Apparently Tory is a designer--sorry, but if she hasn't been on Project Runway, I haven't heard of her. I clicked the "Shoes & Handbags" link. Here are a couple of the deals you can take advantage of at Saks:

Click here for a photo.
This fabulous little brown patent flat boasts a shiny gold heel sure to get scuffed the first time you wear it on the street, so be sure to stay off the asphalt and have your chauffeur drop you directly at the front door of your day spa. Your freshly pedicured toes will peep out the top, accented by the creative color combination of royal blue and orange. Yes, blue. And orange. On a brown shoe. Only $295. And that's the price for both shoes, not just one! What a steal.

Not wearing blue or orange? Have no fear; they've got a fantastic little green and navy sandal too.
Click here for a photo.
What's that? You don't like it? Need more arch support, and less tackiness? Well, sorry, what do you expect for a bargain-basement price like $225?

On to handbags. Now, I think I've heard in the last few years that handbags no longer have to match shoes. Which is a relief since I never followed that rule anyway. (Incidentally, after typing yesterday's post, I remembered I've seen retro-style black athletic shoes with white socks recently too. Come on, folks, it takes me long enough to learn one style rule; please stop changing them on me.)

But since matching is no longer de rigueur, this snazzy bag should work with whichever shoes you choose.
Click here for a photo.
It's the kiss of death for all your girlfriends who think you are boring and cheap. The crystals and pink suede ensure you'll be seen for miles, and at $375, you certainly aren't a penny-pincher. If that price is a little steep for you, don't worry; you can make the money back--it's nearly a foot and a half tall and wide, so take it to Saks and casually throw a few freebie Hermes scarves in there to be sold on the black market.

Hope you enjoyed your trip into Designerland today. And if you need that free shipping code, just let me know--I want to make sure you get a truly good deal on the classy merchandise at SaksFifthAvenue.com.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I'm a recovering nerd.

You know how sometimes you hear a gorgeous celebrity talk about how they were nerdy as a teenager, and you think, "Yeah, right. 'Nerdy' to you probably meant one zit on the top of your nose that didn't stop you from being prom queen."

Well, I'm certainly not a celebrity, and you can trust me when I tell you I am a genuine, recovering nerd.

Fellow blogger Lindsay's post on her love of reading brought me back to junior high. One day I heard someone talking about nerdy kids, the type who read books as they walk down the school's hallway. And suddenly I realized, no matter how good that book is, people think I'm a nerd because I can't put it down as I walk between social studies and math. The scary part is, I honestly didn't realize that was a geeky thing to do. So I stopped...unless the book was really good. Then I occasionally peeked at it as I strolled to my next class.

Fast forward to college. College, folks. I mean, my junior year. Of college. A friend had to inform me that, no, white socks should not be worn with black shoes. With shorts. Oops. (And it was a guy. That I had a crush on. Gah!)

Convincing you yet? Or should I tell stories about...
  • getting lost repeatedly in the hallways of my high school?
  • writing notes back and forth--in poetry format--to a friend in my chemistry class?
  • checking out books from the library about Star Trek: The Next Generation and devouring them excitedly (and thinking that was cool)?
Thankfully nerdiness is far more acceptable when you grow up and the ability to think is suddenly valued. That makes me feel comfortable holding onto some of my geeky past. So when I engage you in a one-sided conversation about the merits of Battlestar Galactica (the new series, not the old one, and the best television show ever), just nod, smile, and be glad I'm not wearing white socks with black shoes.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


September 2, 2008

20 months ago, on January 2, 2007, they shaved a strip of hair on the top of the patient's head. Other little spots around his head were also shaved. "Targets" (described to him as looking like little Life-Saver candies) were attached to the little shaved spots.

An anesthesiologist put the patient to sleep. A bright, youngish surgeon cut out a small portion of the patient's skull, on top of his head. The doctor separated the two halves of the brain. An MRI machine worked along with the targets to help the surgeon get to just the right spot, where he made a small incision, then drained the abscess that had been growing in the patient's brain, affecting his motor skills. The piece of skull was replaced and reattached with small titanium screws. The skin was sutured neatly.

The patient slowly came out of his drug-induced sleep and was transported to the ICU, where he was surrounded by other patients, most of whom were probably at least twice his age.

A little while later, I met the surgeon in that ICU room and was told that my husband The Engineer's surgery had gone well. But when it's brain surgery, recovery can still be a bit dicey. I remember The Engineer waking up the next day, unable to move most of the right side of his body due to swelling at the surgery site. I vividly remember my heart racing as I called a nurse into his room a day or two after the surgery, when The Engineer's smile suddenly was lopsided and for a couple of minutes he had an odd numbness on the right side of his face and body.

I remember the frustration of finding out that he'd be in a rehabilitation hospital for three to four weeks, working on walking and using his right hand, and all other sorts of things that should be easy for a 37-year-old man to do. I recall his frustration, as he realized that the trauma of the surgery itself meant that his body was far less mobile than it had been the day before the surgery. I think how amazing it was that the day after The Engineer had taken his first post-surgery steps, Chickie took her very first steps. I remember the elation and pride when my hard-working, determined husband was released from that rehab center after only 13 days.

And mostly I am joyful, remembering how incredibly supported I felt during the most difficult time of my life. I couldn't afford to doubt God; I needed Him too much, and He was so real to me. Friends became family as they fed us, cleaned our house, took care of our one-year-old, and encouraged me every day. Family became so precious as my parents dropped everything to fly out for the surgery, then flew directly to my sister to meet their brand new grandbaby.

In the midst of the crazy stress of an unexpected health crisis, I felt more loved than I had ever felt before. I was joyful even as I was going a little bit crazy.

As I look back on that time, 20 months ago, I find myself wanting to recapture some of the positives. Think God could spare me the stress but give me some of that intense love? I bet He could. I know that I sought God deeply during that time, and He was there. I bet if I sought him that deeply now, I'd recapture some of the miracle of His presence. I was amazingly touched by friends who were there when I needed them most. Maybe if I can put a little more effort into my friendships now, then I and my friends will reap joyful relational rewards.

I've decided to try to journal every month as we approach the second anniversary of The Engineer's surgery. For almost a year and a half, life has been back to normal. The Engineer's healthy without lasting physical effects of the abscess in his brain--the brain's capacity to recover is truly amazing. He doesn't even have to see the neurosurgeon again; the abscess shouldn't ever return.

We've added a child to the family and honestly, most days we're just in that rut of living our everyday lives. I experienced the miraculous during our time of crisis--miracles of love and support and healing. As we get closer to the two-year milestone, I want to learn to see those miracles more in my every day life. I wouldn't think it was fair if I emerged from such a crisis without being changed permanently, without actively seeking to hold onto the gifts I was given during that time.

I'll post about this again at the beginning of October. Let's see what God can teach me in the next four months. I'm excited.

Oh, and my goal of making my blog posts shorter? Consider that suspended for these monthly posts. Just thought you deserved fair warning.

Six words

One of the bloggers I really enjoy (and really relate to!) is MommyVern. Recently in this post she tagged me--gave me a challenge to respond to in my blog.

Here are the rules:
  1. Write a six word memoir.
  2. Post it to your blog, maybe with a pic.
  3. Link to the person who tagged you.
  4. Tag a few folks.
  5. Leave a comment for them with an invite to play.
Okay, a six word memoir. Here goes.

Passionately seeking God and loving family.

For a picture, I'm posting one that was taken right after Zoodle was born--it was one of the most passionate moments of my life as I praised the Creator and fell in love with my new son. It's not a pretty picture, but it was in incomparably beautiful moment.

So, time to tag three other bloggers. I'd like to tag three people I've lived with in the past--my brother Sean, and two of my college roomies, Rebecca and Karen. Hope the three of you will take up the challenge. And I'll extend the invite to all the other readers here; let's see your six-word memoirs! If you are a blogger please link to your post in the comments; if you don't blog you can put your memoir right into the comments.

P.S. I just noticed this is post #100 on my blog. Yippee!

Monday, September 1, 2008


Man, isn't it annoying when people broadcast to the world that it's their birthday, just to get attention?

But isn't it sweet when someone tells you about someone else's birthday so you can send along your best wishes?

With that in mind, I'd like to announce that today is my twin sister Becki's 31st birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Becki!

Let's take a little trip back in time....

This is my mom, 35 1/2 weeks pregnant with twins (2 weeks before we were born.) Didn't she look great?

Here are the newborn babes (me on the right, Becki on the left), 9/2/77 (1 day old):

Here we are celebrating our second birthday. (I'm on the left.)

In honor of my...um, I mean, Becki's...birthday, I had a little party last night. Becki, sorry you couldn't come to "your" party, living halfway across the country and all. Crazy folks at Baskin Robbins put my name on the cake instead of hers. Weirdos. (By the way, don't you think everyone should have an ice cream cake from 31 Flavors for their 31st birthday?)

I was quite proud that my old lady lung capacity is still capable of blowing out four candles.

Lastly, I realize many of you have never met Becki. People always wonder if we look alike. We are identical twins, but we don't look as much alike as we did as children. I'll let you judge for yourself. (And let me take this opportunity to confess that the 1.3 MB webcam on my Toshiba PC is green with envy looking at the picture from Becki's high resolution Mac webcam.)

Becki, hope your day is great, and as always I wish we were together to share it!