Wednesday, December 17, 2008

1 MORE day...AGAIN

What is wrong with me!??? I can't seem to remember ANYTHING these days, really, it's bad. I find myself walking around in circles trying to remember what exactly it was that I was doing... that bubbling sound, what is it...it's the pasta overcooking in WATER on the stove top, oh yeah, dinner. You have a basketball game? What, you mean TODAY? OH yeah. See the four bowls on the counter over there... you were feeding the dogs, REMEMBER??? Oh yeah, that.

And then there's today. It was after noon and Mark had still not called to say he was on his way home, I was getting a little worried. A hunting trip with four children pretending to be adults (three of which are brothers), I have to admit, does scare me a little...so it's late, he still hasn't called. I'm imagining things I really don't want to be imagining so I send him a text: "When do you think you'll be home?"
Seconds later, I get his response "Tomorrow in time for dinner."

HUH?? Am I really THAT bad?? How did I forget what day my husband, my best friend, with whom I've missed dearly is coming home?? That's beyond sad, it's just plain pathetic. Last night I told the kids daddy would be home this afternoon and they made him huge signs and put them up in the garage where he'd see them as soon as he got home. They were both anxious to see their daddy today. And now I get the wonderful job of telling them that their mom is a moron and can't remember jack.
Maybe I need to start taking my vitamins again.

On a happier note, here's the adorable sign Ashley made on huge post it poster paper:



In case you can't read it, it says:

Dear Daddy,

While you were gone we made friendship mix! Yummy! (and ate it all without you!) Haha!
Alex went to a party for Connor at Jags! He hurt his toe very badly (obviously) But he had fun :D
He got 100 on his math/shapes test. Dudley farted about 10 million times, Abby never stopped barking.
Sarge slept with Sissy. Sadie was a good girl, of course, and Ashley read A Christmas Carol.
Alex can successfully sing all of Jingle Bells! Haha…again! Ashley played in her basketball game against
Running Brushy. They owned! Her team went shopping and wrapped presents for the family they adopted and much,
Much more!

Love Alex and Ashley!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wierdness

I really didn't plan on going to Ashley's tournament this weekend...the drive, the time, the not being able to watch my child play due to injury, BUT, she calls me this morning from the tournament to tell me that two of my buddies from high school were there, and both of their daughters were playing in the tournament. Whaaa???? Alex and I high tailed it to Leander and got to hang out with these two crazy ladies, and now I officially feel OLD. What the crap? How is it possible that we're watching our middle schoolers play middle school ball together?? Wasn't that long ago that WE were out there on that court with our dorky parents watching...guess who's the dork now. Looovely. Sorry mom and Andy, sorry Ruthie and dad. Teenagers are mentally ill, really they are.

After they played Ash took me aside and begged like she's never begged before, to play in the next game...which was in about an hour. I said no way. Not giving in. Not a good idea. Forget it.
She proceeds to cry her eyes out and all but threaten to hate me the rest of her life (not really) and storms away. Phew, good, I won, right? Nah. Over the course of the next half hour just about every girl from the team came to beg on her behalf that I allow her to play. Nope, not working. And then Jake walks up. Sweet Jake, whom Ashley is convinced I love more than her, whom I really do like a lot and would like to adopt as my own. He diplomatically explains to me that this injury cannot get worse, and that the worst that could happen is that she'd have a longer recovery time if she worked it too hard. And then he tells me "that should be her choice". Geez! This kid is only 12 (maybe 13) and in my eyes has earned his spot on the debate team in high school.

I didn't win. She won. I let her play, despite the cloud of guilt hanging over my head, and the shame of sitting up in the stands with all the parents who I'm sure thought I was a horrible mother for allowing her to play. Oh well. Life goes on.

She played better than I've ever seen her play before, she WANTED that game, and she got it. She was fine. In the end, she scored 4 of the teams mere 8 points and despite loosing the game for the third place tropy, my girl won. And in a smallish way, I did too.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Winter Wonderland!

We spent the evening listening to Christmas music and decorating the tree. Mark made us all hot cocoa, and we sat around chit chatting about our favorite Christmas traditions. It started to get late, so we read to Alex, tucked him in to bed and jumped in our swim suits (somewhat reluctantly) for a chilly dip in the hot tub.
We opened the back door bundled up in our robes, towels in hand when we noticed a peculiar white fluff falling from the sky. BIG white fluff. Flaky white fluff. Back inside we go, wake up the kiddo and spend the next hour playing in our "Texas" version of snow. I am convinced that our Christmas spirit brought us the early gift of SNOW!

Down and out

Lastnight, Ash had her second basketball game of the season, and possibly her last. During the third quarter she tied the ball up with a girl from the other team when the girl whipped the ball around taking Ashley's arm with her. After a quick visit to the emergency room we were happy to find out that nothing is broken, she only hyperextended her elbow. She's in a sling for an undetermined amount of time, but meanwhle will have to sit out during basketball and volleyball. The good news is that it's her left arm, so she won't have any problems doing her school work. THANK GOODNESS! All we can do for now is wait it out and when she's feeling better, she can use it as much as she feels she comfortabale with.
She's pretty bummed about it all, and all the way to the ER she couldn't stop crying and saying how unfair it was that she just got over her ankle injury and doesn't want to sit out again. It just kills her to have to watch and not be able to get up and play. I'm so proud of her though, she got injured in the third quarter and had played the entire game up to that point and was still giving it all she had.

I took some pretty good shots of the game and will TRY to find some time to upload them soon.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Traditions

It's official, I'm in the Christmas spirit! Alex has been really pushing me to get out the decorations, and after several days of "Maybe, if we have time" tonight I was finally talked in to it. I guess this is a perfect example of what kids can do for the Christmas spirit. After putting on a nice Christmas scent, begrudgingly, I made my way up to the attic and started hauling out the tubs of decorations and after about 5 minutes of of "OH, I FORGOT ABOUT THAT!" and "OH MOMMA, LOOK!" I was thoughroughly enjoying myself. Now a couple of hours later, I'm giddy with excitement about all of the fun times ahead of us. In a few minutes we'll sit down with our hot cocoa and continue listening to Christmas music. And maybe, just maybe, we'll put on A Christmas Story. Oh how I love this time of year, it brings back so many warm memories and I can't help but want to do it all over again with my children.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

And suddenly it's December

Wow, it's been so long since I've blogged, it's hard to know where to begin! About two months ago my hard drive crashed, FINALLY, I'm back up and running and have so much to blog about. I really need to get back to blogging more often, aside from family and friends being out of the loop, I MISS IT!

So, I guess in order to get caught up, I should just run down the list of things going on in the Urben household. For starters, YES, the pool is complete, and has been for quite some time, however, we are STILL waiting on the right retaining wall blocks to be delivered. Meanwhile, the wrong blocks are still taking up a large portion of the driveway. A few weekends ago, Mark and I sodded the backyard, and nearly killed ourselves doing so. Let me just say, that is something I will NEVER do again. We worked for over ten hours straight taking no more than 15 minutes here and there for breaks. It took me days to recover...just another reminder that I am completely out of shape. But hey, the grass looks fantastic. We decided to go with Jamur Zoysia, a drought tolerant, traffic tolerant and slow growing gorgeous turf that should save us a whole heck of a lot of time and money in the long run.
We also decided to rock the back stretch of yard in lieu of trying to keep sod alive. During heavy rainstorms we have a full on flowing river that runs the back four or so feet of the yard. We decided to just let it do its thing and now it can run freely through the rocks without tearing up our yard, or creating a mud hole for the dogs to play in. We used about 10-12 truck loads of 2-3 inch rock which equates to about 10-12 tons. Another project we're so thankful to be done with!

I'm not sure what I've updated about the kids, so if I repeat myself, forgive me.

Ashley was on the A team for Volleyball and finished her season a couple of weeks ago. She had such a blast playing for the team, and now can't decide which sport she loves most, basketball or volleyball. Basketball tryouts were last week and we are so proud of our girl for once again, making the A team! Her first game is tonight and I am really looking forward to it.
Along with basketball practice every morning at 7:15, she's also doing training with Magic Volleyball, a club out of Round Rock that practices 4 hours each week. She has already made soooo much progress with this group, I can't imagine all that she'll learn between now and April.
As for school, she's doing SUPER. 7th grade is typically a tough year for kids, but so far that hasn't phased her a bit. On her first report card she had all A's and two B's (an 88 and 89). While this is her first time to not make honor roll, I'm so so proud of her holding it all together so well with sports, friends and boyfriends (ugh, yes, I said boyfriends).

As for Mr. Alex, he just finished his NFL flag football season and his team ended up with the Super Bowl win. He's so proud of his trophy, he seriously didn't put it down for an entire day. He loves riding his new bike that we bought him for his birthday and spends a lot of time playing wii and his Tony Hawk X Box game. He's doing well in school, no problems to speak of. Now that football is over he's itching to try something new. He's mentioned BMX and Boy Scouts, both of which I have no clue about. I've tried looking in to BMX, but I'm not sure I get it. It seems that you just show up to the track, practice and then jump in on races? If anyone knows anything about this HELP!

Mark is still at Apple...thank goodness! I think he's meshed well with the Apple crowd and is enjoying himself as much as one possibly can going to work each day.

He's still hosting poker every other Thursday with the same group of guys. They are still having a blast pretending they're not old farts for one night every two weeks.
He's also still working out regularly and looks and feels better than he has in his entire life. His dedication to his health and fitness such and inspiration to me. And I must say, I'm certain that I have the best looking husband ever.

Ahhh, that feels better even if it is only a half ass update. Now at least I can start fresh update as things come up without feeling like I can't because it's been so long!
At some point I need to upload pictures...maybe I'll find some time this weekend.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

President Obama's beautiful speech

America has spoken!

This speech from last night brought me to tears and I'm copying it and saving it here for posterity.


Obama:

Hello, Chicago.

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It's the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.

A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Sen. McCain.

Sen. McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he's fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.

I congratulate him; I congratulate Gov. Palin for all that they've achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation's next first lady Michelle Obama.

Sasha and Malia I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the new White House.

And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother's watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you've given me. I am grateful to them.

And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe, the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best -- the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.

To my chief strategist David Axelrod who's been a partner with me every step of the way.

To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.

It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.

It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.

This is your victory.

And I know you didn't do this just to win an election. And I know you didn't do it for me.

You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime -- two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.

Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.

There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage or pay their doctors' bills or save enough for their child's college education.

There's new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem.

But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.

This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Let's remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

To those -- to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

That's the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we've already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight's about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons -- because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves -- if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.


This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

Monday, September 01, 2008

BS Obama Emails

If you've received the recent anti-Obama email referring to bogus tax increases, it's crap. Unfortunately, morons are passing this crap around as if it were fact. Please, before you click send, or come up with an uninformed opinion, DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH, and as always, check snopes.com.

Snopes on the bogus Obama tax increase email.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

School and then some

Yes, I'm still here. Nope, I'm not too soggy from swimming to sit my toukus down and blog... more on that further down. School started on Monday, and our schedules are slowly getting back to "normal"...whatever that may be. They are both very happy to be back at school, although they certainly wouldn't complain if they had just a wee bit more time to sleep in and enjoy the nothingness of summertime. We met all of their teachers...Ash has 9, YES 9 teachers that we met at open house, and Alex has a sweetheart of a teacher whom he has really taking a liking to. On Thursday, Miss Ash turned 12 years old, and on the same day, learned that she made the 7th grade Volleyball team. She is just thrilled as can be. She's finally old enough for school sports! We've waited a long time for this, and can't wait for it to begin. This fall we'll be busy with Volleyball, and then Basketball shortly thereafter, and meanwhile, we're also waiting on Alex's flag football season to begin. I signed him up a few weeks ago, and he's anxiously awaiting the phone call from his coach.

I'm working about 6 hours a day, and currently I'm on a project that requires more than 6 hours a day, so I'm working from home in the afternoon/evenings. It's certainly a busy time for us.

On the not so soggy toukus front..The pool is STILL not complete, believe it or not. We're still waiting on the decking to be poured, at which time we'll begin building the retaining wall and deciding what on earth to do with the dirt we had them leave behind. For now it makes a great playscape for the dogs. Abby has made it crystal clear that SHE is the Queen of the HIll.
The pool, better known as the muddy puddle, is still not completely full, not for lack of water pressure, but lack of contractors living up to their promises. For two weeks now, we've had it 3/4 full. For two weeks now, we've been collecting leaves, mud, mosquito larvae and at least 50 different types of bacteria. Our last promise was that we'd have our concrete poured on Friday and have the holiday weekend to enjoy our new COMPLETE pool. Wrong again. Our crap pit still sits full of crap pit type stuff.

Meanwhile, yesterday Mark installed outdoor speakers by the pool and a massive spotlight to light the pool area. I'd say we're a weeee bit anxious, don'tcha think?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

To Ashley on your 12th Birthday

Today is your 12th Birthday! Yesterday, we celebrated your last year as an 11 year old, and now you will take your first steps in to your 13th year of life. The past 12 years have been bittersweet every step of the way. From the first day of preschool, to your first day of 7th grade you have grown and changed so much. You're now almost 5' 6"! The scared little girl standing in the middle of the playground, shy as anyone can imagine, has blossomed in to a kind, and sincere young lady. Yesterday was the second day of 7th grade, and you came home to tell me about the two new girls at school that you invited to sit with you at lunch. As much as you've changed these past few years, your heart is the one thing that stays constant. Who you are continues to shine through year after year. Ashley will always be the sweet, kind hearted girl from years past.
Your interests have grown from ponies and dolls to phones, sports and boys. One year. Just one year, and here we are watching you transform in to a responsible little lady. You have a passion for writing, and watching your passion grow in to talent is amazing, sweet girl.
Your confidence is up there with the birds, hovering for all to see. In the way you walk, talk, smile and share, I can see the confident young woman beginning to bloom.
Basketball and volleyball are your favorite past times, and you are determined to be the best you can be at each of these. You always have either a basketball or a volleyball in your hands, and if you don't, you're setting laundry, or dribbling anything round. I am SO proud of how hard you work at practice, your determination is an inspiration to not only me, but those around you. Even if you decide to move away from each of these sports someday, I know that these years with them in your life will prove to be a major part of the woman you will someday become. The goals, and self discipline, not to mention the relationships, and self confidence they bring you is certainly a measurable indication of what may come.

To my amazing young lady on her 12th Birthday, I love you. Keep on Keepin on.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Testing, One, Two

Friday's progress proved to be just enough for a little fun. Since they're still working on backfilling, we could only fill the pool to the level of the backfill....which proved to be JUST enough. Alex and his two neighbor friends had a BLAST swimming, and I had just as much fun watching. THIS is what it's all about!


Friday night: Excuse the poor quality...I was using a cheapy camera.







Saturday Morning, crack of dawn, 6:30 to be exact, my darling husband set out to purchase the remaining tools and supplies for building the fence. With the help of Joe the magnificent, we spent the next 14 hours building our fence. And believe it or not, we actually had FUN. My husband is amazing. I'm just in awe at his abilities. No problem was too complex. And every solution turned out to be a masterpiece. I'm dead, I'm sore, I'm weak, but more than anything I'm SO PROUD of us!!!


Friday, August 15, 2008

Day 7 of Pool Construction

Wow. Absolutely AMAZING! Here are some pics of our morning:














Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Day 6 of Pool Construction

Wednesday. Sweet Wednesday.
I left for work at 8:45 as the worker bees were making their way to the backyard. I HATED to leave and not be there to watch the improvements unfold. I was so anxious to come home!!! I drove up at 1:15 to find a COMPLETE HOLE! By the time they left for the day, the dirt pile had been removed and the bottom of the hole was leveled with pea gravel.

Wednesday night Mark spoke with the salesman, who informed us that they were having some issues lining up the sky track, which is the crane that we need to lower our pool on site. If we're lucky, it will be Friday before the pool is delivered.

Some pics. from Day 6: Notice the fantabulous fence posts that Mark, his AMAZING brother, Frank, and too cool for school friend Joe worked their patooties off installing all weekend in the 100+° weather. I love them so!


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Day 5 of Pool Construciton

Monday the pool peeps were no shows. By Tuesday, we were anxious and beginning to feel a bit of frustration at the time schedule. They showed up at 8:00 and were working when I left for work at 8:15. By the time I made it home, around 12:45ish, the pool peeps were gone. The rain (yes RAIN...the first we've seen in AGES) made its way to Georgetown and scared the worker bees away. And there's the end of Day 5.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Day 4 of Pool Construction

Today, the pool peeps shocked us by showing up at 7am to begin work. The shock ended there. By 9:30 am they were on the road to another job and said they wouldn't be back until Monday. Ugh.

With Day 4 came little progress. A little more digging on the deep end, a little more rock breaking, but that's about it.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Day 3 of Pool Construction

And Jamie said "Let there be no rock!" And the heavens opened up...and there was rock. Uuughhh.

They definitely made some progress today when they broke out the pneumatic poker thingy. It was surprisingly much easier than I thought hitting rock would be. I logged their time using the pneumatic at 1 hour and 15 minutes. The benefits of watching are that I get to make sure I'm being charged accurately.

I'm pretty sure they're done with the shallow end, and should start making their way down to the deep end tomorrow. The deep end is 6ft. If we're lucky, we won't hit anymore rock. Cross your fingers and toes!


Here are the pictures from the day. The first is of the rock breaking ceremony. Ha!
The rest are the end of the day.




Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Day 2 of Pool Construction

As I mentioned in my previous post, the labor didn't show up until 2:30, and then didn't begin digging until 3:00. Day 2's progress is only an hour and 45 minutes of work, so these pictures don't look a whole lot different. They did remove the stump from the tree Ash and I cut down, and that was a bit of a challenge. They also moved the huge pile of dirt to the back corner of the yard to make room for more dirt. I've asked them to leave a good amount so I can level out the yard, and build a retaining wall around the existing concrete patio under the deck.
Moving on. Here are the pictures for Day 2:



Monday, August 04, 2008

Catch Phrase

We've been in to playing Catch Phrase lately. Basically, Catch Phrase is a game where you try to get the other people on your team to guess the word you're trying to describe before the timer goes off. The three of us play a modified version, where we all guess, while one person describes. No points. Just some fun.
Alex gets a word and here's how it went today:

Alex: Ok, the first word is frozen water.
Ash: ICE!
Alex: YES!! Ok, second word is a three dimensional square.
Ash: CUBE!...ICE CUBE!!!!
Alex: YES!!!

(Mom Picks jaw up off the tile floor)
WOW! THREE DIMENSIONAL SQUARE??!!! 6 years old I tell ya, SIX!

Work Woes...maybe not

Where did I leave off on Friday... interviewed with two preschools last week and applied for a 90% perfect job on Saturday. Fast forward to Monday (today),
I log on and start my routine of searching want ads.
Once again, nothing.
Only it was worse; the job I applied for on Saturday had mysteriously disappeard. And there I sat, once again starring at screen full of jobs that I'm not qualified for. So there's the start of my day, as it has been for weeks. I sit, I ponder, I drive myself deeper in to dispair. Maybe I will read some more of my History text, for the class I haven't even started. (Yes, that is pathetic, I know)

It's not that I NEED this job.
But really, I do NEED this job. I need something. The kids are getting older, need less of me, and I NEED something more.
Fortunately, I was preoccupied with the notion that the pool worker bees would be showing up "any minute now", and that helped me not get too deep in my funk. So I paced from window to computer screen, to window and back again to computer screen, thinking somehow, one or the other will provide me with some sort of hope. Neither prevailed. It's amazing how busy one can be doing absolutely nothing. 2:30 rolls around, and low and behold, a work truck appears. YES! We will make progress today!
Or so it seemed. The guys pile out, spend 30 minutes repairing the broken backhoe and then get to work. Finally, I have something to preoccupy myself. So I sit. And I watch. And I watch some more. By 4:45 they decide to call it a day, and they pile back in to their truck and they're gone. **Sigh** I'm pathetic. Just pathetic. Unmotivated, unstimulated and in need of SOMETHING.
And then it happens.
I notice I have a voicemail.
It's the Castleberry.
After being "on call" for what?? 3 months I guess it was, he calls! He's ready for some help. He needs me 3 to 4 hours a day asap.
And finally, I can exhale.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Pool Progress

I updated my Day 1 post for anyone that's interested. End of Day 1

Today mark and I finished putting the back fence up. I'm soooo proud of Mark. He built the fence himself, installed the post holders in to the concrete retaining wall and all I had to do was help him put the segments in place. He did an excellent job of measuring, the segments went in trouble free and took no time at all.

Some before and afters of the fence:

Before: (Yeah, not such a pretty site, eh?)




After:

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Work Woes

This past week I interviewed at two preschools in the area. The first was at Primrose School, a private preschool (not sure I understand what that is supposed to mean), and Private Kindergarten. This school is awesome...classrooms are oversized, bright, cheery with plenty of play and work stations for the children. Each room has their own door leading to age appropriate playgrounds. The cirriculum was excellent and chock full of fun. They integrate sign language and Spanish at every age level, from babies to Kindergarten. Anyway, the interview went well, it mostly consisted of me observing a few rooms for about 30 minutes each. I was very impressed with the program and anxious to sit and chat with the director. "Interviewing" with the director was a bit surprising, she was really much more interested in finding out if my hours would work than finding out about how I teach, discipline and react to certain situations. I don't believe she asked me a single question pertaining to children. A bit of a let down. As we got further in to the "interview" I realized that this "competitive pay", "flexible schedule" (as stated in their ad) job was not for me. Number one, they were not flexible with the work schedule, not at all. And the pay, well, I did expect it to be low, but was amazed to find out that $8.50/hr is competitive. It makes me so sad to see the way our society views the important job of caring for and teaching children. It has to be one of the most important jobs, yet, even at a professional level, pays so, so poorly. Obviously, those that work with children do it for reasons other than pay, thank goodness, but really our priorities are so screwed up in this country in regards to educators. It's so disheartening.

Pros:
Awesome cirriculum. Beautiful school.
Cons: Director not as "warm" as I would like, and not up to par as far as I'm concerned. I also forgot to mention that I did speak with an assistant teacher. I asked her about how she liked the job. She doesn't. I'm sure it's all relative, but I got a bad vibe about management from her.

On to the next school. The Goddard School, just blocks away from our old house. I was impressed with their entry system. They have a fingerprint scanner, and unless your fingerprint is on file, you cannot enter the facility. The director was wonderful. Very caring, good natured and welcoming. She was very different than the previous director I interviewed with. She gave me a tour of the facility, which was nice, clean, no "day care" smell, and the employees seemed to be happy and enjoying their jobs. Good sign. After the tour we sat down and talked a bit. She asked several questions relative to caring for children, and followed through with explaining their procedures. Very thoughrough. She was interested in hiring me, however, there was not a current opening for the hours that I am willing to work. She said she'd try and adjust some things and see what happens in the future.
Pros: I know I'd be happy with management. Willing to work with my schedule.
Cons: 15 minute drive, and low pay. Education philosophy is not entirely on board with my philosophy. They seem to be a bit Piaget based than I care for...but I don't know that for sure. They don't believe in timeout either, which I found a little strange.

So the search continues. This morning I did my regular job search and ran across an ad for an Admin. Assistant for the drafting department at a manufacturing company here in Georgetown. The job description and requirements could have been quoted from my resume. The position would be perfect for me AND it's right here in G-town. The pay is much, much better, however, this is an 8-5 job. Not so good. I went ahead and shot off my resume, how could I not. I'm sure they'll want to at least interview me for the position, since there's nothing on the ad that I don't have documented experience in. I figure if I get far enough to receive an offer, I can see about negotiating a little with the hours. If that's not possible, I have a lot of thinking to do.

Cell Phones

I just received this email from my mom, and thought I'd pass it along. Ironically, I have felt the same thing when using my phone.

Jamie,
I have been using the cell phone alot lately & have been complaining about it to Andy everyday. I kept saying that it gets really hot & feels weird, somewhat like a low voltage shock & actually hurts the side of my head & face. Just yesterday I told him that I don't want to use it at all anymore without an earpiece because it was bugging me so much. I checked online & found that our immediate neighborhood is in a low signal area. Just a few blocks East the signal is better.
Then today this news shows up on MSN.com. I copied it for you below.
It's a Bummer, but please read it.
Love ya,
Mom

When Vini Khurana, PhD, an Australian (and Mayo Clinic–trained) neurosurgeon, announced that the link between cell-phone use and cancer was irrefutable--the result of his analysis of more than 100 studies--it set off alarm bells around the world. Use a cell phone, he said, and you increase your risk of developing a malignant brain tumor by two to four times. Until recently, the majority of research indicated little or no link between cell phones and cancer (the World Health Organization and the American Cancer Society maintain that cell phones pose no threat), but several new long-term studies have cast doubt about their safety. Given that cell phones and PDAs serve as lifelines for so many people--24 percent of 10- and 11-year-olds carry them--it raises urgent questions. To find out what precautions you should take when using your cell phone, we dialed the nation's leading experts.
Do cell phones cause cancer?
Maybe…with extended use. Mobile-phone users are twice as likely to develop malignant, difficult-to-treat brain tumors called gilomas, according to a first-of-its-kind study that analyzed the effects of cell-phone use over 10 years or more and was published last year in the journal Occupational Environmental Medicine. The Bioinitiative Working Group, an international coalition of scientists and public-health experts, recently published a hefty report detailing the link between the nonionizing radiation caused by a cell phone's electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and cancer, DNA damage, Alzheimer's, and other diseases. "The cells in the body react to EMFs in cell phones just like they do to other environmental toxins, including heavy metals and chemicals," says Martin Blank, PhD, a professor in bioelectromagnetics at Columbia University and one of the report's authors. The study found that risk from cell-phone use starts at 260 lifetime hours.
Do cell phones emit radiation only when you are talking?
No. "Cell phones give off radiation any time they're turned on so that they can communicate with base stations," says Lou Bloomfield, PhD, professor of physics at the University of Virginia and author of How Everything Works: Making Physics Out of the Ordinary. "The radiation emitted, however, is stronger and more frequent when you're talking or messaging." Also, the greater distance you are from a base station, the more radiation your phone must emit in order to get a signal, which is why your phone feels hot when you have low reception. That heat you feel is radiation. The Bioinitiative study found that adverse effects to DNA can also occur before the phone heats up. To reduce your exposure, make calls only when you have strong reception, hang up before your phone heats up, and store your phone away from your body when it's not in use.
What is a phone's SAR value and why does it matter?
SAR stands for specific absorption rate, and it refers to the rate of radiation exposure from radio frequency and microwaves measured in watts per kilogram of tissue, says Bloomfield. The FCC limit on any cell phone sold in this country is 1.6 watts per kilogram. To find the SAR value for your phone, go to fcc.gov/cgb/sar/. At press time, the phone with the lowest radiation was the LG KG800, at 0.135 w/kg. The highest: Motorola V195s, at 1.6 w/kg. The Apple iPhone is in the middle, at 0.974 w/kg.
What is the range of the radiation?
Exposure to radiation from your cell phone drops off slowly for the first three to four inches from your body, and then it falls dramatically, says Bloomfield. To reduce your exposure, invest in a hands-free headset and limit the amount of time you spend talking on the phone. Khurana recommends using the speaker mode and holding the phone about eight inches away from you. Also, limit your use of Bluetooth devices. While it's true that they emit the least amount of radiation (one study found they can operate as low as 0.001 watts per kilogram), even that can add up fast.
Is it risky to carry a cell phone in your pants pocket?
Maybe. One 2006 study found no link to testicular cancer, but other researchers suspect a link to male infertility. Ashok Agarwal, PhD, director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, recently completed a study in which cell phones were set down for one hour in talk mode, next to sperm samples in test tubes. He found that the sperm's motility and viability were significantly reduced, and levels of harmful free radicals increased after exposure. Agarwal suggests storing the phone in your jacket pocket to reduce exposure to cell-phone radiation. Pregnant women need to take precautions too, because a recent study found that cell-phone use while pregnant is linked to behavioral problems in children.
Are kids more at risk?
"Yes, since children's nervous systems are still developing, and they have thinner scalps and skulls than adults, they should use cell phones only in emergencies," says Gene Barnett, MD, professor and director of the Brain Tumor and Neuro-Oncology Center at the Cleveland Clinic. The association between childhood leukemia and exposure to EMFs like those from cell phones has led the International Agency for Research on Cancer to classify them as a "possible human carcinogen." The medical establishments in Germany, France, and the United Kingdom all recommend severe restrictions on children's cell-phone use, with some experts going so far as to say that children under 16 shouldn't use cell phones at all. Make sure your kids opt for landlines when they're at home, and if you must buy them a cell phone for emergencies, get one with a low SAR number.
What about texting?
It's actually a safer way to communicate, says David O. Carpenter, MD, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany. Since kids hold phones away from their bodies when texting, they're exposed to less radiation than when they have the phones to their ears. "We are very concerned about teen cell-phone use, fearing that we face an epidemic of brain tumors 10 to 20 years from now, and there are so few who are raising warning flags," says Dr. Carpenter. Make sure your teen keeps his cell phone turned off and stored in his backpack when it isn't in use, which will dramatically reduce exposure.
The 10 worst cell phones according to their SAR numbers:
1. Motorola V195s 1.6
2. Motorola Slvr L6 1.58
3. Motorola Slvr L2 1.54
4. Motorola W385 1.54
5. Rim BlackBerry Curve 8330 (Sprint) 1.54 6. Rim BlackBerry Curve 8330 (Verizon) 1.54 7. Motorola Deluxe ic902 1.53 8. T-Mobile Shadow 1.53 9. Motorola i335 1.53 10. Samsung Sync SGH-C417 1.51

The 10 best cell phones according to their SAR numbers:
1. LG KG800 0.135
2. Motorola Razr V3x 0.14
3. Nokia 9300 0.21
4. Nokia N90 0.22
5. Samsung SGH-G800 0.23
6. Samsung Sync SGH-A707 0.236
7. Nokia 7390 0.26
8. Samsung SGH-T809 0.32
9. Bang & Olufsen Serene 0.33
10. Motorola Razr2 V8 0.36

Source: CNET.com, current as of May 22, 2008

Friday, August 01, 2008

Day 1 of Pool Construction

THEY'RE HERE, THEY'RE HERE!!!!

The machinery has arrived, and soon they'll be breaking ground on our swimmin hole!

Here are some before pics. I'll take some at the end of the day and post them later.





Update: End of Day 1

The boss man came out to the house today for the first time, and I have to say, he got me VERY nervous. He stared at the site for quite some time shaking his head, and finally when he spoke he said, "I think this is the toughest job we've ever had to do." Joy. Warm Fuzzies. NOT. After he was here for about half an hour the pin that connects the shovel thingymabopper broke. They had to cut their day short and order a new pin. Thankfully, this won't set them behind too much, since they didn't plan on working over the weekend anyway. They'll be here first thing Monday morning, and once again, I will probably get abosolutely nothing done, as I can't seem to pull my self away from watching and waiting to find out whether we'll hit rock or not. That's where the big bucks come in. So far so good, but there's no telling, one dig could be beautiful black dirt, and right underneath could be solid rock shelf.

Here are some pics of the progress:





Thursday, July 31, 2008

400 posts! Plus one!

Post #401. So, I'm trying to come up with a funny way to include my latest endeavor of chopping down a tree (ie: POST)...but for some reason it's just not that funny. I'll 86 the atempt at humor and just cut to the chase.

The pool guy came out today and spray painted the shape of our pool in the precise location...which we are just exstatic about...so that the machinery and worker guys can come dig our swimmin hole tomorrow. It turns out that the edge of our pool came about 6 inches from a 8" diameter oak tree. Sad as it is, it had to go. After borrowing the "chainsaw-on-a-stick" from Grams' house and being lectured on making sure someone was watching me work (in case I chop off a limb or something, there has to be SOMEONE to acurately tell my story to the Darwin Award folks) I found myself on the second story deck, atop the ladder, reaching for the ridicuously high branches of this 20-ish foot tree. Once I figured out that I couldn't hold this thing up, AND pull the trigger unassisted, I employed my darling daughter to assist me in my attempted suicide. Picture me, on a second story deck, on ladder, holding the middle of the 10 foot chainsaw-on-a-stick, while I yell "NOW" and she pulls the triger. Yeah, probably not my most intelligent stunt, but hey, we got the branches down that we were after and managed to avoid injury.
But that was just the beginning.
We made our way down to the yard and pondered what we were about to embark upon...wondering if this is a job that maybe we should just leave for Mark...in fact those were my darling daughters exact words.
Nah, we can do it.
Up goes the chainsaw-on-a-stick, me in the front, child labor in the back...
"NOW!"
Slowly, the chainsaw-on-a-stick works its way through the "what appears to be a not so big limb, but is actually quite huge" limb, and eventually, a massive limb comes crashing down with an incredible thud! Mind you, this "limb" is probably ten times bigger than the TREES at our last house. Ashley and I look at each other with a look as if to say "HOLY CRAP"...although neither of us speaks a word. We just stand there with huge eyes wondering what on earth we've gotten ourselves in to.
We spend the next 15 minutes cutting it in to smaller managable pieces (once again me in the front, child labor on trigger duty), and wow, we're done with half the tree. At some point we realized that looking up in to flying shards of wood chips probably wasn't the best idea, so we dug up some protective eye gear and got back to work.
We went through two massive limbs, and an 8ish foot tall trunk in about 45 minutes, including clean up. I was so proud of my girl, never once complaining, even with her friend Ava staring in horror, shock, or possibly just complete pity.
What a good girl I have, she even helped drag off the logs without me even asking.

I think I'll reward her efforts with a pool. I think that sounds fair, don't you think?

Dad, I can see you shaking your head in horror as you read this. I promise, I won't do it again. ;)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Easy come, Easy go

I can't believe I forgot to post this!

While the kids and I were visiting Nana's last week we spent a great deal of time swimming in the lake, lounging in the sun. All week the kids begged and begged for me to take them out on the boat for a tube ride. Fine. Lets do it. So I'm weaving all over the lake, submitting to their pleas for me to go faster, when suddenly both kids scream STOP! STOP! Frightened that I'd just injured a child I throw it in neutral, and turn around to see Alex screaming and blood flowing down his chin. All OVER his chin. As you might imagine, I was horrified at what I might find at the end of the rope once I finished pulling the kids in. About halfway through pulling them in, my adrenaline began to settle when I realized that they were LAUGHING, not screaming with fear.

They're finally at the back of the boat, where the blood is clearly visible, and clearly flowing and I can't for the life of me figure out why he's laughing and not crying! Finally, he yells, "I lost my tooth!!! I lost my tooth!" And proceeds to hand me his little sliver of a tooth, jump back in the float, bloody face and all, and yell, "lets go!".
And so I went.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mid Summer

I'm still trying to figure out how this summer has gone by so fast. It's late July, and already time to start school shopping. Good grief, where does the time go!

So here I am, once again, on an endless search for that perfect part time, close to home, no nights, no weekends, all school holidays off kind of job. In case you're wondering, NO, IT DOES NOT EXIST! Everyday, first thing in the morning I start my search, craigslist, Monster, Statesman, etc. And each morning, I end my search wondering if I'm just disillusioned by my hopes of finding that perfect job. The jobs that don't require weekends are the ones that run in to the evening hours, both of which I won't even consider. I've been applying for jobs through the school district for over a year now, with no luck. In fact, today, I applied for another Pre-K assistant position at a local elementary. This time I included a cover letter, all but begging for the chance to work with children. Problem is, (I'm assuming) I don't have any "formal" experience working with children. Nevermind the two amazing well adjusted children that sit in the next room. I've even resorted to searching for preschool jobs. I called up the private school down the street only to find out they're fully staffed. My other options are a bit frigtening. How can I work somewhere that I wouldn't even consider taking my children? And nevermind the pay.
I never imagined myself in this sort of predicament...unable to find a low paying job working with children. Huh?

Anyway, back to summer. The kids and I (plus Savannah and four dogs) just got home from Dads. In between the time I was lounging and playing in the lake, I painted their bathroom cabinets and installed new hinges and hanldes. They definitely look better, but I still need to do some fine tuning when we go back this weekend.

While we were gone, Mark spent a majority of his time building a privacy fence in order to bring the yard up to code for the pool. I'm amazed at what this man can do. I really don't think their is a single project he couldn't tackle on his own. Am I the only one who finds that extremely attractive?? I am so proud of this husband of mine.

As for the pool, just as we suspected, the 25th was too good to be true, and they've bumped it back a few weeks. Apparently, both crews have hit rock on their current digs, and this has put us behind schedule. We're not worried about it, in fact after our experience with contractors and their "estimated dates" we fully expected it.

That's it for now, we're off to the orthodontist.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

le pool

Yesterday, I opened my email to find this:

July 16, 2008

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Urben,

THE INSTALLATION DATE FOR YOUR POOL HAS BEEN SET FOR_____7/25/08______(approximately). DEPENDING ON WEATHER, WE WILL STAY ON SCHEDULE AND KEEP YOU UPDATED OF ANY CHANGES.


I am just so giddy with excitement I can't stand it!

We have a lot of work to do once this puppy gets here... Mark and I will be installing a privacy fence on a large portion of our yard, and because we're on a hill we'll also have to build a retaining wall around the pool area. This will certainly be a challenge, but one I'm sure we can live up to. I'm planning on documenting the process from start to finish, so you guys can follow along and enjoy in our excitement.


On Tuesday, I took Miss Ash and three of her friends to Claire's and we all got second ear piercings. Yeah, I said *we*. And for the record, Nana started it. (Oh yes you did!) While she was visiting for the 4th she gave me a pair of diamond hoops and told me I should really get second holes. And that's when the wheels began a turnin'. I'm not sure why it had never occurred to me before then to get second piercings, it's just something I never thought about I suppose. Maybe somewhere in my subconscious I knew that this was something my 11 year old daughter and I could share someday. Ha! That's it!

So now imagine the four of us girls driving down the road, I reach for the radio and turn the blaring top 40 music all the way down to silence, which also silences the backseat full of pre-teen American Idol wannabes...what mom, whydja do that?
All right girls, it's time!
Everyone turn and jiggle!
And on cue, the four of us reach for our sensitive new additions and together we turn and jiggle our new jewelry.

Silly girls.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Basketball Slideshow

Here's the slideshow I made for the end of season party for both of Ashley's teams. It's a joint party, since most of the players are on both teams.

Warning: It's long, but worth it!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

News

Mark and I have been engrossed in research these past few weeks, and it looks like if all things go as planned, we'll be sporting one of these before too long.

Happy 4th!

This was by far the most laid back 4th we've had. It was a little strange not having Miss Ash with us...she's off on a trip with her good friend Maddi and won't be home until Monday. Despite missing our girl, we had a fun time.

Nana showed up in the early afternoon, and by about 5:00 we were on the road to meet Carol (Nana's bestest friend) and the John's. We parked in Nana's building, which is right across the street from the Town Lake festivities...excuse me, the Lady Bird Lake festivities (I'll never get use to that change). We met up with the others at Spagetti Warehouse and had a remarkably pleasant dinner. How 5 small children were able to stay calm, QUIET and well behaved is beyond me, but I'm sure it has something to do with some awesome parenting, and smidge of luck. Renae's four kiddos range in age from 1 to 6, and are by far some of the most well behaved kiddos imaginable. My dinner was nothing to brag about, but the Sangria was muy delicioso.

After dinner we headed back over to the building and set up camp atop the roof of the parking garage. I was concerned about the amount of time we were going to have to wait with NO TOYS, but the kids managed to do an excellent job of entertaining themselves running around and scoping out the view. Another smidge of luck? I dunno, but two plus hours is quite a long time for kiddos this age to entertain themselves with no altercations or whine-fests. By the time dark set in, we'd passed out the glow sticks, Renae had passed out her special snack and the kids were anxiously awaiting the show. And the show, it was A-MAZING! We were close enough to hear the live band playing in unison to the fireworks, which was a MAJOR bonus that we hadn't counted on. And the grand finale, good greif, it was remarkable. The best and longest I've ever had the opportunity to see. By the time it was over, I realized that my cheeks were aching from the smile I hadn't noticed that had been plastered to my face for 23 straight minutes. Listening to the kids dialogue along with the itty bitty ooh's and ahhh's brings a sort of happiness that I can't quite put in to words. They loved it. WE loved it. I'm certain that had we been in a crowd of hundreds, as opposed to the maybe 30 that were up there with us, our enjoyment would not have been half of what it was.

Even with the political unrest, and trying times we're going through in this country, we are so fortunate to be able to call this place Home. Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Starting Over

Yesterday was Mark's first day at Apple. He left at 7:45, and was home a little after 6. As much as I missed him, I have to say, it was such a relief for me to get my routines back. Since he's been home, we've all been a little out of whack, with no real routine to speak of. No real defined roles...we just sort of flew by the seat of our pants. That was fun. For a while.
While he was home, we both did an incredible amount of nothing. With two of us responsible for keeping the household running, there was much more down time than either of us have ever had in our own home. If you know me, you know that when I'm at home, I'm typically on my feet. I don't sit back and relax, and really, I wanted to, I just didn't know how to let it all go and allow myself that luxury. Nothing a crash course in relaxation couldn't fix.

So, here we are, back to normal, and ever so thankful for the opportunity to have it all back. I broke out the Fly Lady checklist on Sunday. God I love checklists. This is my list of chores broke down in to daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. It's fail proof. I've had these checklists for about 3 years now and I've learned that with the checklists momma's happy. Anyway, breaking out the lists was like seeing an old friend again. That checklist and I have a lot of catching up to do, and strange as it may sound, I'm anxious to rekindle that relationship we use to have. Like a slice of normal pie.


Something I thought was pretty cute: Any guesses as to what Mark can get for free all day long everyday from the cafeteria at work?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Nationals...and other juice

Ashley and I made our way to Navasota, TX last Tuesday, along with 11 other teammates and numerous parents to watch our 6th graders play in the Dribblers National Tournament. We fully expected it to be a two day trip considering the talent pool that the tournament brings in, however, two days turned in to four, and four days in to a second place finish.

It was an excited four days that I'm sure the girls will talk about for most of their lives. The opportunity to play the in the Championship game is a rare one, and for Georgetown, it was a first. It was so, so exciting to be a part of.

I took about a thousand pictures that I will post as soon as I can. I'm still working on the photos from Tiesa's wedding that Mollie and I shot last weekend. I have SO much to do. This was my first time to use my new camera and lens for Basketball, and I'm anxious to see the improvements!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In other news...you know what they say about an Apple a day...well, for us, it will be keeping more than the doctor away, it will be keeping the bill collectors, psychiatrists and marriage counselors away. After 4 1/2 months of unemployment, Mark is on his way to becoming an Apple employee. We are all so relieved, excited, anxious and thankful that the wait is over.
They're running background checks and going through all the standard procedures right now, but barring any unforseen circumstances, he's in! I feel like I took a deep breath months ago and forgot to let it go. Finally, we can all exhale knowing that everything is going to be just fine.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sweet little nothings

Yesterday, Alex comes inside with a big grin on his face:

"Momma, I bet you don't know where I just was...
I was in the front yard pulling weeds." *Grin*

"You know, our Susans are falling over?" (Our flowers, the Black Eyed Susans, he calls them our Susans) "I think we need to figure out how to make them stand back up again."

With a proud momma grin, "Ok sweetie, lets go find a stake and see if we can do that."




And this morning he wakes up, makes his usual dash for the bathroom closest to me. (because this is just what he does, I suppose he likes to find me first, then run for the porcelin) Even first thing in the morning he's full of spunk and without fail he tells me something silly in his rough little morning boy voice. His wit never rests.
From the bathroom in the same sleepy voice:

Boy, men sure can pee a lot.
You know, the other morning I peed for like 2 minutes.
I'm sure it was at least a gallon or so.

And then he runs off in his Cars themed underwear to watch some morning cartoons.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Pretty lil bama

More pics from Alabama. It's hard to take a bad photo with such georgeous landscape and colors. Make sure to click on the slideshow to get the full size, these colors are just gorgeous full size.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Finally, PICTURES!

It took me a while, but here they are; pictures from our Spring Break trip to Alabama.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Birthday, Summer and other schtuff

I'm officially in the 30 club...Now that I'm 31, I'm no longer just a newbie, I'm officially making my way to 35 err 40. I'm not sure how this happened so fast, one day you're in your 20's just getting along with all the new changes, marraige, babies, dreams coming to fruition and then BAM! Suddenly, you're the age your mom was when you remember thinking how OLD she was and how that was eons away and truly, you're invensible and that probably won't every happen to you anyway. So here I am, 31, with a soon to be first grader and a soon to be SEVENTH GRADER, going on 9 years of marraige. Wow. I remember being a kid wondering why it had to take sooo looong for that next birthday to arrive...now they just sneak up on me and before I know I'm ANOTHER year older. Time flies when you're having fun I suppose.

Well, the kids are on their first official day of summer break. Yesterday was an interesting experience. I drove Alex to his last day of Kindergarten, his last day with the most precious teacher on the face of the earth, and the last day for me to ever have a kindergartener. I was reflecting back to the first day of Kinder and remembering how uncertain I was that this was the right thing to do. It was probably the hardest day of school I had all year. I did so well, dropped him off virtually tear free...and then I hit the doors leading out of the school and BAM, the emotions took over like a storm and that was all she wrote. The floodgates opened and I felt like I'd just left my soul in that Kinder room with a bunch of complete strangers.

Ironically, the ride to school yesterday was quite similar. Emotions were in full swing, but this time it wasn't momma, it was my little pumpkin. He fought back tears the whole way to school and eventually he lost the battle and wept for his Kindergarten year coming to an end. It touched me to see how special this year has been to him, and to know that I did make the right choice by sending him to public school. He had an incredible kindergarten experience that I know has set the foundation for so much that is yet to come.

Miss Ash, well, as thankful as she is that she can temporarily shut off her alarm clock, she's as equally forlorn that she'll be missing her buddies...girls AND boys. She's changed so much this year, so much that sometimes it's hard to tell if this really is the same little girl I sent off to sixth grade some 9 months ago. I'm so proud of all she has accomplished, despite how hard it is to let go of this little girl. I went to her awards ceremony, where she received awards for all A honor roll, UIL Spelling, and UIL Math. She's an amazing growing girl and I'm still trying to figure out how to hold on to what I know I must begin to let go of. I would like to hold on to this time and refuse to let go, because I can clearly see what's on the horizon, and quite frankly, it scares me to think of what comes next. It feels like our grip is slowly releasing, and as normal as I know this is, it's much harder than I ever imagined it would be.

Since I started this post a day has passed, the kids are now in Florida with Nana ready for their Disney trip at the Animal Kingdom Resort. Mark and I have a week to ourselves. I think we've spent more time asking each other what we should do with ourselves than we have actually DOING something with ourselves. We went to Burger Tex, off Airport for lunch, the burgers were certainly not what I had anticipated, dehidrated beef is really what we ate, next time we'll go with what we know is good and just make the trip to Top Notch...but we were alone and that's what matters, right? We made a trip to Target to pick out a book, since the one I just started just wasn't working for me. I found a book on my "To Read" list, The Bell Jar, by Slyvia Plath. I've spent the last hour or so sipping a rita and reading my book out on the back porch in a lounge chair with the soothing sound of my dripping water fountain settting the mood. Mark's in the livingroom listening to Lyle Lovett and Bonnie Rait live. It's only 8:30 on our first of 7 nights alone.


That's all for now, I'll update with more of our kidless week soon.

Friday, May 23, 2008

...The Brave.

This morning Alex woke up with a mission. He came to me and said that he wanted to learn the National Anthem. I'm not sure where this came from, despite all of my inqiries, and I suppose it doesn't really matter. He asked if I would print out the lyrics so he could practice. I did; he did; and therefore, we were a little late to school, but that's ok, because now my son has a new dream. He took the lyrics to school and is going to ask his Kindergarten teacher if he can sing it to the class, and then his plan is to convince the principal to let him sing it during the morning announcements. From there he plans to practice enough to be invited to sing at a baseball game.

Where did this child COME from? His genetic path has wandered off course a bit. For that, I am thankful.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pitter Patter

After playing X-box, darts and pool alone with his daddy this afternoon, Alex was on cloud nine. Seriously. Later, I took him outside so he could ride his bike, and that happy twinkle in his eye was still present. While riding his bike he tells me "Wow, daddy and I haven't had this much boy time in a looong time!"

Nothing makes me more happy. Absolutely, nothing.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Therapy at my fingertips

To complete my incredibly exciting (sarcasm) semester of college Algebra I will now *DELETE* my most unfavorite favorites folder entitled "Jamie Algebra"...not to be confused with "Ashley Pre-Algebra".

For future reference, because really, I will probably need these links once again when Ashley develops a matching mommy bald spot from pulling her hair out with Algebra, here are the links that I'm tired of looking at in the left hand column of my screen:

Quadradic Solver...awesome site

I don't remember what was so good about this one, but it must be helpful since I did save it

Why Purple?

Lots of good stuff that I hope to never see again

Speechless once again

Last night we sat down to read, as we do most everynight. This night, Alex picked an Aurthur book to read to me. Aurthur and his buddy take a bus to swim lessons and end up getting lost after falling asleep and missing their stop.
After realizing that they're lost, and don't have a clue where they are, the following dialogue went on between the 6 year old and I:

Mom: "Awww, Aurthur's poor momma...she must be so worried about her little boy! I would be so worried if that were you!"

Alex: "OH-COME-ON momma, it's obviously JUST a book...I mean they're talking dogs and rabbits dressed up in CLOTHES!"

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ticky tacky

Recently, I had a conversation with an older child of mine about my choice to "thrift". You see, said older child of mine is growing up, and while she's enjoying the added bonuses of freedom, she's had a bit of a struggle lately. Confession: I BUY USED CLOTHES. Yeah, so it's out there whooptey doo. I don't see the hang up, and why it's so important that I buy a neatly hung, chemical filled garment, that will look just like the one down the street at the xxxx thrift shop in two washes. So, back to the struggle. It seems we have kiddos that are extremely fixated on "where" Ashley gets her clothes. Keep in mind, she goes to school each day looking just like everyone else, the name brands, the stylish outfits, the accessories, you name it. She's happy with her selection of some 60 shirts and countless pants, capris and shorts. The problem: she hates lying. When someone asks her where she gets a particular outfit, she gets uncomfortable. She doesn't want to lie, but she also doesn't want to confess. Sure there are ways around the questions, "my mom bought it", "it CAME from xxxx", whatever. But why oh why is it so imporant to these kids that she bought something at a particular overpriced store? What I would love is for her to respond truthfully and tell them to suck it if they don't like it, but that's not reality. Reality is that she's growing up in a time when stupid crap like this matters.

So how do you teach a child not care what everyone else thinks, and to do their own thing, without other little bratty children shafting their self esteem? I don't know. All I could do was tell her that what she's feeling is normal and that while she doesn't need to care what people might think, it's ok to feel the way she's feeling. And mind you, this is not a little girl that is struggling to make friends, in fact, I believe most of her friends look up to her. I also gently reminded her that I'd be happy to forego the used clothes if it mattered that much to her, but I did tell her to kiss the name brands goodbye. Get use to Wal Mart and Target, because this momma is not going to get sucked in paying top dollar for clothes, just so you can look like everyone else. She stopped me and said no, no, no, she doesn't want me to stop, she loves the things I buy, she's just torn between wanting to be that little girl with no worries, yet at the same time wanting to grow up...which brings on a whole new set of worries. She hates caring what everyone else thinks. And for that I am GLAD. I'm glad she's going through the process of sorting out what's really important to her and what's not. It sucks that she has to struggle, but really, if she wasn't uncomfortable caring what people think, I think we'd have a bigger problem.

My poor sweetie, how do you tell her that this is just the beginning, but that someday, all of this will seem so, so trivial. I hope it will, because that will mean she's grown in to a confident young woman whose comfortable in her own skin and take on anything that comes her way.

If anyone has any pre-teen words of wisdom on the subject, I'd love to hear it.

Adolescence is when girls experience social pressure to put aside their authentic selves and to display only a small portion of their gifts. -Mary Pipher


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Happy Mother's Day to meee



And my gift to myself, this handy dandy wall fountain, that I just couldn't live without. $189.95 here....but for me, $35 on Craigslist. *brand new* teehee!

Back in Black

So, now that school is over, and I have time on my hands, I decided to tackle the master bath cabinets. It's funny, our bathroom remodel has been complete for quite some time now, but in our minds it hasn't been 'complete'. It's incredible what a little bit of paint can do. Our cabinets were all 80's and the rest of the bathroom up to date. Something had to be done. Sooo, after half a quart of Sherwin Williams Black, a nice little sanding block to antique a few edges here and there, and some bronzy spray paint to cover the ugly 1984 brassy handles, we have a kick ass bathroom. Next is the powder room cabinets and then I'm on to the kitchen. Somebody stop me!!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

I hope everyone had a fantastical-icious Mother's Day!

I wanted to share my special gifts from the kiddos.

Alex made me several masterpieces at school, one of which is a tie dyed butterfly magnet that reads:

Butterfly hover
near my mother.
Tell her that
I really LOVE her.

This already has a special place on the fridge and has done it's job of warming my heart time and time again.

Another handmade gift from my sweetness is hand print lilys with a sweet poem and a picture of the handsome little man himself.

And the most precious of all his hand made gifts, a card, written by Alex:

My mom does not have a job
but she still works hard.

Moms are special. I love you.
Moms are sweet because they give hugs.

I love my mom because you sometimes
let me sleep with you.

Love,
Alex

And sweet Ashley wrote me a letter that I have to share. This one had me completely choked up.

Mothers are a special gift.
When you're sad, moms let you cry
but make you feel better,

Moms will always laugh at your jokes even when they're bad.

Even though at times they don't like it,
moms watch you grow up.

Moms cook you wonderful meals.
Moms are there when you get home.

Sometimes moms hit a bump in the road
but moms NEVER give up.

Moms are your worst enemy,
and your best friend.

Moms have big jobs
and even bigger hearts.

But most importantly they'll always love you.

Love,

Sissy

These are the best mother's day gifts a mom could EVER ask for, and I feel so, so fortunate to have two of the best kids around to share my life with.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

How it's hangin

So, it's been a while. Not a lot has changed around here since my last "real" update. It's hard to update when, honestly, not a lot has changed. Mark is still job hunting, I'm still searching for that perfect part time, work from home job, and the kids are still rapidly growing and changing.

I've tried and tried to post a semi-interesting update, but really, I just don't have it in me. I'm feeling a little disconnected lately, not only from the world around me, but also from myself. I'm really counting on some positive changes over the summer with the kids and I being out of school and spending some quality time together. Things will turn around, I'm convinced....and when they do I know I'll get back in to the swing of things.



B is for DAMN IT

Just checked my grades...got a B on the final and a B for the class. Wah. I was really, really hoping to pull off an A, but hey, I did it, I didn't give up, and it's OVER!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Alive and well...alive

Despite the fact that I haven't blogged in ages, we are all still alive and well.

Tonight is my LAST Algebra class, thank jebus. Today I'm cramming for my final in disjoint intervals. Ha ha. Waaayyy to much algebra on the mind.
My days of sitting in PJ's at the table diciphering algebra equations is AL..MOST OVER. At some point I'll actually be able to take the time to process pictures from the past 4 months and post them for the diminishing lurkers that check my blog. This school stuff really gets in the way of life, I gotta tell ya. My social life is suffering...severely!
Anywho, just wanted to check in with the ol' boggysphere and let everyone know that I haven't forgoten my blog, and will get back to my old ways soon.

Ciao