Monday, June 30, 2008

#4 Nephew Visit: Day One

We arrived home last night after a quick 2-day trip to SE TX to attend an event for FIL and pick up the middle nephew. He'll be staying with us all week; on Saturday, we'll take him to Houston to meet his parents and drop him off.

I was kindof freaking out about the visit before he arrived. I know the visit is a good idea, and I know I agreed to it without hesitation when K and I taked about it, but yikes! Young teen in my house! Unsupervised for the morning hours while K is at work! Yikes! As it turns out, this visit may be very well timed. Some kids at school claim they saw the kid take drugs, and they told his cousin (nephew who is younger by 1 year). Cousin reported it to his mom. His mom hasn't told the kid's parents yet. K may be having a "don't do drugs/don't have sex" talk with the kid. Certainly the kid's dad isn't a shining example on either of those topics. Yikes! Maybe keeping track of how it's going will help me calm myself down about the visit. So far:

* He tried to secretly keep his mom's cell phone for the trip, which he uses to obsessively text his friends all the time. K told his parents that one of the conditions of the visit would be that he not bring the phone, because K doesn't want to compete with the constant (annoying) texting. I busted him as we were getting in the car, and he coughed it up.

* He will actually respond to direct questions. In the past, any interaction with the kid has involved a lot of shrugging and "dunno" or "I guess." We've discovered that the trick is to remember to ask questions that do not require a yes/no response. Sometimes we still get a shrug and a dunno anyway.

* Movie he wanted to watch most w/ K when presented with our entire collection? Spinal Tap. haha! K was thrilled. Of course, later, while they were watching and I was taking a shower, I wondered if it was appropriate for his age. Whoops.

* K & I plotted last night to encourage him to sleep in as much as possible so there's less chance of him getting into trouble when he's home alone. We have a portable DVD player, and we moved it to his room. K let him pick out a movie (or more than one, dunno, I was asleep) to watch after we went to bed. This was my idea--I told K "the later he's up, the later he'll sleep." Wow, real positive influence I am there.

* K & I had a brief discussion about whether we'd be secretly searching his bag for drugs. I offered to do it sometime when they're out of the house, and K agreed. Not sure if he was serious. I did take a peek in one of his bag when I was putting sheets on the guest bed. Didn't see anything suspicious. Need to revisit w/ K.

* He prefers red drinks. Strawberry fanta at dinner on the drive home, pomegranite tea before the movie (that I forgot was in the fridge). Now I'm worried about red beverage spillage all over the house. I purposefully bought less stain-y drinks that I hope he'll try.

* Do 13 year old boys need to be reminded to bathe?

* Found out that spicy sandwiches for dinner + 13 year old boy = really stinky toots during a movie later. haha! They were watching in K's man room, and K told me this morning that a few times he had to breathe through his mouth. I find this funnier than probably appropriate.

* Trips to the grocery store? 1 Meals I've provided? 0 I expect this tally to change again tonight. . .on both counts.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I've seen this link on a couple of blogs, so I thought I'd see how many on the "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die" I've read. I have been a big reader all my life, and was an English minor in college, so I thought I'd have a pretty good number. Turns out, no so much! I've read 70 of the books on the list. Many of those I can chalk up to a 19th Century Literature class at UT, AP English classes in high school, or the book club I've belonged to for about 3 years.

I noticed two books on the list that I started and could never finish: Infinite Jest and The Corrections. I know I'll never pick up Infinite Jest again, but I guess it's possible I could give The Corrections another try. I definitely don't think I'd be interested in trying to read the entire list (esp. based on my memoires of hating many of the 19th Century Literature books I had to read!), but I'm going to give the newer books I haven't read a second look in case some of them might be good suggestions for my book club.

#64: Visit Churches

Since we've regularly been attending church since Easter, I'm going to go ahead and mark this off the list.

We ended up only visiting two churches. One was beautiful yet felt unfriendly. The other is plain but very friendly. I had a third option on the list, but it wasn't close enough to our current home or the area where we hope to move to really be a viable option.

We haven't officially joined the new church, but I like that we're at least attending regularly. Not only that, we're almost always on time lately!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

#9: Weekly Dinner

Last week was our bacon delivery, so I made breakfast for dinner (brinner)--bacon & scrambled cheese eggs.

I was excited to see this month's bacon was from a local source: New Braunfels Smokehouse. This was our first bacon from Texas! I think this order actually went from New Braunfels to CA, and then to us in TX. Honestly, I'm not sure how the bacon of the month delivery process works, since K always has the bacon unpacked and in the fridge by the time I get home from work. I know the bacon comes from around the country. So far, since April 2007, we haven't had any repeats. It's like magic.
*Photo from NB Smokehouse website. Our bacon was neither peppered nor that fatty.
**Living in Austin most of my life, it drives me nuts to hear people pronounce it "New BraunSfels." No "s" in the middle, people!

Monday, June 23, 2008

#4: June Other Nephews

I think this update (and what I cooked one night for dinner last week) will catch me up. . .just in time to probably get busy and behind again. Ah well, such is life.

In early June, K and I headed back to his hometown to see his sister's oldest boy (18) graduate from high school. (I'll be referring to these nephews by their ages, because 2 of them have the same first initial as the nephews on my side.) We arrived into town in time to get changed and get over to the football stadium. . .almost an hour before the program was slated to begin. And we weren't even the first people there! Apparently, the whole town turns out for graduations. I guess I'd assumed that it would be like my HS graduation, which was in Austin at Burger Center. Nope, this one was outside in the SE TX heat. Clouds were looming to the East. I asked K what would happen if it rained, and he said "We get wet." Ahhh. (Sure enough, we did get sprinkled on a few times.)

The ceremony started pretty much on time, though my butt was numb from sitting in the stands for so long by about halfway through. We made a lot of noise when 18 crossed the stage; I hope he heard us. I also had a chance to observe another tradition that wasn't around when I graduated--some of the families of grads released handfulls of balloons when their loved one's name was called. Some of the balloons had signs for the grads hanging from them. I don't know if the grads even saw the balloon releases, so I'm not sure what the idea behind these displays was. Maybe this is a common smaller town/outdoor graduation ceremony tradition? K didn't remember it from his graduation (in the same football stadium, many years ago).

Like every graduation, everyone swarmed the grads afterwards. 18 is so polite--he thanked us for being there, and we had a chance to give him his card. We'd seen him the week before when he was in Austin for his girlfriend's softball tournament, and so we knew he still was uncertain about where he'd attend college. He really wants to play baseball, but unfortunately hasn't yet received any scholarships or invitations to join teams in Texas. About a year and a half ago, he injured his pitching arm, and after his surgery & recovery was moved to first base. But this most recent season, he's spent a lot of time on the bench due to some questionable moves by his coach. (for example: the kids--underclassmen--of the coach's buddies are getting all the playing time, even when scouts are in attendance at the games). K's sister has done a lot of driving around TX so 18 can try out for teams, and he's waiting to see what happens. If nothing works out, he'll go to the local university and study to be an accountant. Well, he'll study to be an accountant either way, I think. But, it's a stressful time for him, because he really wants to chase his dream of college baseball. The entire time we were in town, each time we saw him, he was polite and thanked us again for being there. He's such a good kid; I know great things are in store for him.

While we were there, we had a chance to see 18's younger brother (13) play his last little league game of the season. We were only there for the first half of the game, but in that time 13 managed to turn being walked to first base into stealing all the way to home and a run scored. He's an excellent baseball player. It's just a shame his asshat father pressures him to play year-round--even going so far as to drive him to neighboring cities to play on their teams. I wouldn't be at all surprised if 13 gets burned out or injured before college. It's fun to watch him play, though. He's tall for his age, and at the oldest end of the age range for players, he's often the only kid on the field who is as tall as some of the coaches. The first pitcher he faced in the game we watched was exactly half his size. He gets walked a lot; most of the league pitchers who know him refuse to pitch to him. 13 is always hustling, too. Right now he's saving up for an IPod, and his grandmother (MIL) pays him $10 for every home run he hits. He's always looking for ways to earn extra $$, and I'm glad he's working for it and saving rather than just getting his way. . .MIL & FIL are not shy about spoiling their grandsons. In fact, I happened to catch MIL slipping him $50 towards his IPod savings while we were there. I see a career as some sort of salesman in 13's future. He's outgoing, funny, and really has a way of endearing people to him.

The 3rd nephew (14) is K's godson, and son of K's only brother. K, his brother, and 14 decided to have a guitar jam session the night after graduation. Music is one of the few things K & his brother have in common, and I know K would love to see 14 continue his interest and improve his skills. 14 has a ton of natural talent, and participates in the Jazz & Marching Bands at school. Unfortunately, he's also a teenager. He'd rather spend time texting his friends than participate in much of anything else. Even during their jam session, he was texting when he wasn't playing. K got frustrated a few times when he was trying to show the kid something specific or teach him something new.

I know K is trying to be a good male role model for the kid, since the kid's dad isn't stellar in that (or any) department. After our last visit (in April), K & I talked about inviting 14 to spend some time with us in Austin this summer. Since we're headed BACK to SE TX this weekend, I suggested this might be a good time to bring 14 back with us. We'll know by Thursday whether he'll be visiting, and I'm just a tiny bit freaked out about a 14 year old staying with us for a week. Like, aren't 14 year old boys messy? And he'll probably expect evening meals! Every evening! And what do 14 year old kids like to eat and drink? Already K has been telling me about rules he's going to institute for 14. Like, no caffinated sodas. We don't drink soda at home, so he doesn't want to buy something special that he thinks is bad for 14. And no texting. 14 is to leave his cell phone at home, and if he wants to get in touch with his parents, they'll call K. K will be working in the mornings (we assume 14 will want to sleep in) and has been brainstorming ideas of all the things they can do together, including: filling up 14's IPod with "good" music, helping 14 record a song, taking 14 to see a live music show, going to museums, etc. K's very excited. It's cute.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fun Break

I saw this on one of the blogs I enjoy reading, and thought it looked fun, so I'm playing along.

The Rules

1. Put Your iTunes/ music player on Shuffle.

2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.

3. You must write that song name down, no matter what!!

The Questions

1. If someone says “Is this OK?” you say –
“Trust in Me" by Etta James

2. What would best describe your personality?
“Jailhouse Rock" by Elvis Presley

3. What do you like in a guy/girl?
“I Belong to You" by Lenny Kravitz

4. How do you feel today?
“I Feel Free" by Cream

5. What is your life’s purpose?
“Till it Happens to You" by Corinne Bailey Rae

6. What is your motto?
“If You've Got The Money (I've Got the Time)" by Willie Nelson
haha! That is so not my motto!

7. What do your friends think of you?
“Feeling Good" by Michael Buble

8. What do you think of your parents?
“Walking on the Moon" by The Police

9. What do you think about very often?
“Fly Like an Eagle" by Steve Miller Band

10. What is 2+2?
“They Get Together" by Doyle Bramhall II

11. What do you think of your best friend?
“Love My Way" The Psychedelic Furs

12. What do you think of the person you like?
“C'Mon Yeah" by Sunshine

13. What is your life story?
“Mean Woman Blues" by Elvis Presley
I think my ipod hates me!

14. What do you want to be when you grow up?
“Save the Last Dance for Me" by Michael Buble

15. What do you think when you see the person you like?
“"Candle in the Wind" by Elton John

16. What do your parents think of you?
“Jingling Baby" by LL Cool J

17. What will you dance to at your wedding?
“Rebel Yell" by Billy Idol
This would've been a funnier choice than that Frank Sinatra song we actually danced to.

18. What will they play at your funeral?
“Closer" by Ian Moore

19. What is your hobby/interest?
“Gratitude" by Beastie Boys

20. What is your biggest secret?
“Shoot the Moon" by Norah Jones

21. What do you think of your friends?
“Don't Be Cruel" by Elvis Presley

22. What should you post this as?
“Mirror in the Bathroom" by The English Beat

This was a very random sampling on my music--I'm actually surprised it wasn't more 80's heavy, since my music collection has mostly 80s music. If anyone else tries this out, leave me a comment. I'm off to charge my ipod, so she stops thinking I'm mean (see q. 13). haha!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

#31: Reading

My book club's selection for June was Motherless Brooklyn, by Jonathan Letham, which is a National Book Critic's Circle Award Winner.

I'm a little surprised my book club chose this novel--it turned out to be the type of book I'd normally read on my own: mystery? (check!), detective? (check!), quirky main character? (check!). Naturally, I really liked it. Of course, the only other gal at the meeting had only read about 100 pages in, and she was ready to throw it down. The third gal at the meeting hadn't even started it, and none of our other members were able to attend. I, on the other hand, used the meeting as an excuse for K and I to rush back into Austin from spending three days at the in-laws'. heh.

But, back to the book. The main character, Lionel, grew up as an orhpan with Tourette's Syndrome. When his mentor/father figure is killed, he decides he'll solve the case. I thought his character was very well-written without becoming a caricature. I would even read another book starring Lionel, and it would make a great movie. (Edward Norton supposedly acquired the movie rights and is working on a script for a movie he'll star in--I'd definitely watch that!)
From Kirkus Reviews:

A brilliantly imagined riff on the classic detective tale: the fifth high-energy novel in five years from the rapidly maturing prodigy whose bizarre black-comic fiction includes, most recently, Girl in Landscape (1998). Lethem's delirious yarn about crime, pursuit, and punishment, is narrated in a unique voice by its embattled protagonist, Brooklynite (and orphan) Lionel Essrog, a.k.a. "Freakshow." Lionel's moniker denotes the Tourette's syndrome that twists his speech into weird aslant approximations (his own name, for example, is apt to come out "Larval Pushbug" or "Unreliable Chessgrub") and induces a tendency to compulsive behavior ("reaching, tapping, grabbing and kissing urges") that makes him useful putty in the hands of Frank Minna, an enterprising hood who recruits teenagers (like Lionel) from St. Vincent's Home for Boys, to move stolen goods and otherwise function as apprentice-criminal "Minna Men." The daft plot—which disappears for a while somewhere around the middle of the novel—concerns Minna's murder and Lionel's crazily courageous search for the killer, an odyssey that brings him into increasingly dangerous contact with two elderly Italian men ("The Clients") who have previously employed the Minna Men and now pointedly advise Lionel to abandon his quest; Frank's not-quite-bereaved widow Julia (a tough-talking dame who seems to have dropped in from a Raymond Chandler novel) at the Zendo, a dilapidated commune where meditation and other Buddhist techniques are taught; a menacing "Polish giant"; and, on Maine's Muscongus Island, a lobster pound and Japanese restaurant that front for a sinister Oriental conglomerate. The resulting complications arehilariously enhanced by Lionel's "verbal Tourette's flowering"—a barrage of sheer rhetorical invention that has tour de force written all over it; it's an amazing stunt, and, just when you think the well is running dry, Lethem keeps on topping himself. Another terrific entertainment from Lethem, one of contemporary fiction's most inspired risk-takers. Don't miss this one.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I'm a Jackass

I'm taking my "I'm behind!" list chronologically, and next up on the list is the story of that time (recently) when I was an idiot.

One of my closest friends is having a baby in a couple of months, so I and two other friends offered to host a baby shower for her. Initially, I was irritated during the baby shower discussions by one of the other hostesses--I've mentioned this before--but I really want to have a nice party for my friend. The annoying friend, who I'll call Ann for the purposes of this story, let me know she was planning to look around for invitations. She didn't find anything, but the PG Friend emailed me around the same time to tell me she'd been out shopping and picked up some invites that she liked. Super--I ended up just needing to pick up a couple of more packages when she finished the guest list. Since Ann was about to head out of town, she asked me if I minded printing the invitations again (this has been one of my duties for past parties I've hostessed with these gals). I have a pretty nice printer, and I was happy to do it. I double-checked with the other hostess to confirm the phone number she wanted to use and all was well.

Just over a year ago, we three threw a wedding shower for PG Friend at the same place, so I simply cut and pasted the old info into the new invitation. I changed the time, the "wedding" part to "baby" and updated the phone number. I looked everything over again, and it looked fine. Time to print! Except. . .my printed refused to recognize the paper. If it did print, it printed portrait on a landscape page. Nothing I switched or fixed allowed me to print. Fine, fine, I recruited K to help me use his computer & printer. Smart graphic designer man quickly realized that one problem we have is the invitation size is listed incorrectly on the package. The invitations are not 5 x 7 (as listed), they are 4.5 x 6.5. He thought changing the page size would appease the printer, and he did get the invite to print on his printer. Except. . .it printed one, and then thought it needed more paper. Each invitation had to be fed through at least three times (and sometimes six or eight times) before it would print. With 35 invitations to print--and at midnight on a Sunday night--this solution wasn't feasible. I resolved to fix it the next evening on my printer.

The next evening, I realized I was just going to have to tape each invitation to a plain piece of printer paper so my printer didn't freak out. Yes, it was time consuming, but it worked. Two hours later, I finished. I put the little sticker things on each invite, stuffed them into envelopes I'd hand-addressed, and dropped them in the mail the next morning on the way to work.

I mention the lengthy back-story mainly to emphasize the point that both K and I spent a lot of time looking at the invitations.

A day or so later, the PG Friend called me. She received her invitation, and thinks it's funny that I sent one to her. I thought she'd want one for her baby book. She asked if she received a "special" invitation, and started laughing. I didn't know what she was talking about. She thought I was kidding. She continued laughing.

She told me I used her maiden name on the invitations.

No no NO!

Oh, but yes. I am a jackass.

She said it wasn't a big deal--she thought it was funny--but I am crushed. I realized right away that people might think her registry is under her maiden name, but it won't be. I feel like the world's worst friend. I know better than to make a mistake like that! Heck, my job requires strict attention to detail and something like this has never happened at work. Ugh.

Anyway, right away I emailed both the other gals to let them know about my screw-up. I knew they were out of town, but I wanted them to know right away. I'd sent invitations to them, too, so even if they didn't see the email, they'd see my error. I stewed about it all night and most of the next day, too. Finally, I decided to email as many people on the list whose email addresses I had access to and alert them to the problem. I had contact info for just over half the list, so I sent an email explaining the error in case they wanted to find her registry info under the correct name. One of the other hostesses emailed me when she got back into town to tell me she thought I handled the situation perfectly and assured me that worse things could've happened. Ann hasn't spoken to me or emailed me since I agreed to print the invites, even though I know she's back in town. I know she couldn't be more upset/irritated with me that I am with myself, but I hope this doesn't make for any difficulties with the remainder of the planning.

**edited to add: At least one good thing has come out of my mistake & the subsequent email. One of the gals I emailed has not received her invitation, and we discovered that PG Friend had provided an old address on her guest list. (Which I probably should've caught, since I've been to the gal's house twice.) So, there's that.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

#4: More May Nephew Time

My brother's oldest boy turned 3 towards the end of May, so they decided to have a party at Cabela's to celebrate. I did find myself wondering who actually wanted the party there, since I think all my nephew really wanted was balloons and cake. But it's my brother's favorite place, close to their house, and there are conference rooms available for meetings/parties/etc. so Cabela's was set.

My SIL did a great job decorating his cake--she went with a camping theme and even made a little log cabin out of tootsie rolls. Of course, later, I debated whether I'd eat any cake because as soon as any kid arrived, they went over to look at and try to sneak licks from the cake. My inner germaphobe was cringing!

Before the party, I wasn't sure what a Cabela's birthday party might include, particularly for the under-5 set. Turns out that everyone gets a little cup of fish food to throw into the pond, and a couple of tokens for the "shooting" range. The shooting range is basically like laser tag. . .there's a room set up with a fake log cabin facade, fake covered wagon, and stuffed (taxiderm-ied?) animals. There are little targets set up all over the room, and a bar across the front of the room where people stand and take aim with the fake guns. My mom refused to take part in this portion of the party, since she hates hunting and doesn't like to see her grandkids being encouraged in that manner. Instead, she took the younger nephew to the fish pond to feed more fish. That was his favorite part of the party, even though he didn't exactly have great aim or distance to his throws. I really only got to see him during the cake-eating portion of the party, when I took my turn walking him around the room while letting him hold my hands for extra support. I bet he'll be walking on his own by the next time we see him.

The birthday boy was in a very good mood, although not long after we arrived, he started playing with something and called over his other aunt to see what he was doing and my heart broke a tiny bit that he wasn't looking for me. That other aunt--who is married to my SIL's brother--didn't actually hear him, so I made sure to scoot on over and play with him. I guess she must see him more than I do, since she isn't working and she takes their daughter (who is about a month older than youngest nephew) to see the ILs quite a bit. Of course, I still want my nephews to like me best.

During the party, SIL asked me to help her when it came time to open gifts by writing down the name of who gave my nephew which gift. He received a lot of gifts--her extended family lives in the Austin area, so there was quite a crowd at the party. I'd say there were 10 - 15 kids and probably 30 adults. The kids swarmed during gift opening, and I was caught in the middle. Apparently, they ALL want to help open the gifts and then play with each one immediately. At various times, SIL and I each asked all the kids to take a step back and sit down, but that would only last a minute or two. This was good training for me for any future kid parties. We'll wait to open gifts until after the party! Really, it would be my first choice for guests to not bring gifts. How much plastic crap does one kid need, ya know? I'm not anti-toy (or even really anti-plastic toy), but I just think so many toys are a waste. I read a blog a while back about having book parties for the kid's birthdays: each guest can bring a favorite book, and one of the party games is trading around the books until they each have something new. Or, the birthday kid gets all the books as gifts. I actually wouldn't mind doing that for my own birthday!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

#42: Process Started--Doing Something w/ Wedding Dress

Item #42 isn't on the catch up list I posted below--but I actually started working on it and am feeling a little proud of myself.

The road to #42 begins with several items on the list alluding to selling our house sometime soon. We're slowly but surely making progress--I decided it would be easiest to work room by room. I'm 95% finished with the guest bathroom, which needed the most work. K and I painted the walls & cabinets. We replaced the faucet. All that is left is repairing a weird spot on the tub and painting the outside of the door.

Next room on the list is the guest bedroom. The closet in the guest bedroom is an auxiliary closet for my clothes, including my wedding dress. (And our Christmas decorations, and random other crap in boxes, etc.) I never had my wedding dress cleaned after the wedding. . .which was 3.5 years ago. I'm so ashamed! I know, I know, but it didn't get very dirty. And, I am lazy. But, I do want to do something with the dress, instead of just keeping it in the garmet bag in the guest closet. AND, one of the things I need to do to get the guest room ready for showing is clean out the closet. It's time! Time for wedclean.

I made my order today, and decided to also add my veil to the order for preservation. The veil is as special to me as the dress because my mom made it. It's beautiful--chapel length, with tiny crystals sewn around the edges and scattered throughout the veil. Hard to explain, but it's just a little bit shimmery and extra special. One of my best girlfriends borrowed it for her wedding, and it looked lovely with her dress, too. I even took it to Minnesota last year for another good friend's wedding, but she decided to go without. Since her wedding was exactly a year ago yesterday, I think I'm finally out of friends who might want to use it. Who knows what I'll end up doing with it--and my dress--but at least they'll be clean and preserved and out of that spare closet. (Probably moving to the area under the bed, once they're in the special preservation box!)


I'm behind!

When I think of one thing I need to write about, I always think of at least one more.

Soon, I'll be updating about:

--Local nephew's birthday party (end of May) at Cabela's

--Out of town nephews, who we visited with during a recent long weekend in K's home town

--The book I finished recently, and maybe the other book I've started but am not enjoying (I don't even remember the title of the new book!)

--How an error on my part made me feel like a total jackass, and how it's still weighing heavily on my mind. . .even though parties involved assure me it's not a big deal.

--whether I actually cook dinner this week during the week. Or maybe I'll just report on the delicious dinner I made on Sunday night. . .which we ate for leftovers on Monday, and might be finishing tonight. (Unless husband ate it all for lunch, sneaky!)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

#9: Weeknight Dinner

I love to read cooking blogs, but I don't manage to make nearly as many recipes as I have saved. Lately, K has been talking about enchiladas, and I know what I most wanted to try: Creamy Green Chile Enchiladas from Delish.

I was already cooking some chicken to use in salads for lunch through the week, so I just cooked a extra, and chopped my onions in advance. So on Wednesday night, it was really quick and easy to mix, assemble and cook the enchiladas. The enchiladas were delicious! K rated them the best enchiladas he'd ever had, and I have to agree. I can see why these enchiladas are one of the most popular posts on Delish!

I'll definitely be making these again. They were even better for leftovers the next day.