Monday, December 29, 2008

Odessa...How Do I Love Thee?

Let me count the ways:

1. Libby, Lacy, Lilly, Lucy...whatever
My PawPaw cracks me up! He lives with my mom, step dad and little sister in an apartment-like house attached to theirs. He is probably one of the wittiest people I know, and he always makes us laugh. Most the time we are laughing at the comments he makes under his breath, but over Christmas he couldn't seem to get our dog's name right, and it cracked me up! Poor Lexi was called every other name in the book, except Lexi. He is a huge animal-lover, but his dog + my mom's dog + Ella + Lexi = too many names to get straight. Hey, if it started with an "L" and ended in the "y" sound, whatever. It made no difference to Lexi who got a treat from him every couple of hours. Which brings me to another point...

2. Nutcracker Not Required
My mom has a couple of huge pecan trees in her backyard that have made holiday baking easy for our entire life. When my grandmother, Margaret, lived in that house, she would pick up the pecans and have them sent somewhere to be shelled and packaged. After that we had huge freezer bags full of pecans for the next two years, and Christmas gifts for all our teachers. Anyway, this year my mom didn't have a chance to pick them up so Ella and Lexi discovered their new favorite thing about Odessa...PECANS! They don't really know how it works, so they would just go outside, find the things and start chomping. Shell and all. I understand that it's hard to stop eating something when it's so good, but the little canine brain doesn't comprehend that you have to stop eventually. So, every night we were in Odessa (except for one) our dogs were hurling pecans in the middle of the night. Awesome.

3. The Matriarch of All
I think it's safe to say my Mimi is the matriarch of my dad's side of the family (and possibly the city of Odessa since she owns a bonding company). Things will be her way, for there is no other way. She loves all of us so much and wants the best for us. I don't know what my life would be like without my Mimi! Anyway, she did something really funny on Christmas day. We were all out at my aunt and uncle's and there were a lot of people...I think someone said there were about 40 of us including the kids. Anyway, my Aunt Kerri was told to make about three dozen deviled eggs. As most family meals go, we had some of the food sitting out while we made the final preparations. People would just walk in the kitchen and grab a deviled egg or a pickle from the relish tray. Well, Mimi did not like that. She got the other tray of deviled eggs and secretly hid them in the pantry so they wouldn't be gone by the time we ate lunch. Then, when we started getting our food, she got the tray out and she became the keeper of the eggs. If someone wanted an egg, they had to go through her. She kept track of who had an egg and who didn't. There would be no seconds on the deviled eggs and if your spouse didn't want his, that did not mean you could have it. One per person...period. Mimi said so and that's that. Oh, and if you went the wrong direction in the food line you had to forego your egg.

4. Taco Villa
Yummmyyyyy! Bean (B-E-A-N) burrito with red sauce. Need I say more?

5. Colors of the Wind
I tried to be disciplined over the holidays and stay on the training schedule I made for the half-marathon. I did okay except for Saturday when I was supposed to do a 6-miler. Jeremy ran with me for a mile or so and then he went home, so I have a witness to confirm that running that morning was HELL! I can handle cold weather (that's what the cute little headband is for), but cold + wind = some weird place in hell where the weather is like opposite day. I kept thinking when I turned the next corner it would stop and the houses would block the wind. Au contraire. It got worse and I felt like my legs would be swept out from under my body at any moment. (A totally different feeling from when Jeremy did it...ahhhh isn't that sweet?) Anyway, I made it three miles and went home slamming the door when I went in. I was in a bad mood for the next few hours, and my face hurt from the wind burn/dry air combination. The funny thing is that the next day the weather was sunny and mild...perfect running weather. Gotta love it.

I love being at home. I still call Odessa home and I probably always will. I love my family and I love being around the place I grew up. It has changed a lot and I am not sure I could ever live there again, but I love visiting. I was in a huge funk Sunday when we left because I didn't want to leave my family. I wish they would all just move to Austin, but I better be careful what I wish for! :) Jeremy and I like living here in our own city. We have family in West Texas and family in East Texas, so Austin is the perfect central location. Plus we have a group of friends here to whom we have grown very close, so we do have family here!

We are headed to Houston/Livingston/The Reservation tomorrow, so I am sure I will have more family stories to tell. Stay tuned and until then, Happy New Year!

A few other pics from our time in Odeezi...

Emily and I sang at the Christmas Eve service and my mom bawled her eyes out.

Mom w/ her Crate and Barrel dishes.

Our first married Christmas!

My Nana (great grandmother) with her five kids (Mimi is the one standing, in black and white).

My Nana was happy to be with all her kids, grandkids and great grandkids for Christmas.

Chillin w/ Dad and Tobi Nin.

This is the first time I have seen Jeremy hold a baby! Amanda and Cody Sam's new little girl, Rory, is the happiest cutest little button!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Toys Worth Talking About

At our Tribe (weekly Bible study at our house) the other night, the question was asked: If it were common for adults to play with children’s toys, what toy would you most like to play with? I quickly had to point out that video games were not legit answers to this question since at least 50% of the people (eh-hem, guys) in the room still unashamedly play them. Anyway, we talked about Barbies, Lincoln Logs, Big Wheels, Creepy Crawlers, pogo sticks and other fun childhood toys from the '80s. It got me thinking...remember when toys weren't so complicated and corrupt. Let me make a couple of comparisons knowing that I am going to sound like an uber-conservative mom (or just a snob):

Barbie vs. Bratz
-C'mon...these new Bratz dolls are far from the new trendy, modern Barbie. I think they are just Barbie's ghetto cousins who show up at Christmas dressed like they are going to a bar at the age of 10. They wear way too much make-up, and although Barbie isn't necessarily proportional, what girl's lips and eyes are that big in relation to her face?! Oh, and don't get me started on their clothes and fashion accessories. Something about them reminds me of the trashy girl Halloween costumes. Not really what I want my little girl to be playing with. When I was a little girl, I used to pretend I was the Barbie and we would make up stories and play pretend. What are the girls who play with Bratz dolls pretending to be?? By the way, if any of you know girls who play with Bratz dolls and they like them, I apologize. Feel free to comment and tell me about the redeeming qualities of the Bratz doll I am overlooking.

Super Mario Brothers 3 vs. Grand Theft Auto
-The names really say it all. Have you ever played GTA? It was made for children to get a thrill out of killing, robbing and stealing from others. Oh, and don't forget about the way the women are dressed in this video game for children. They must have been Bratz when they were growing up! :) I get the whole playing with guns and shooting the bad guy thing that little boys play. But, this game is the opposite. It teaches kids to be horrible people, and that if you commit crimes you will have a lot of money and power. Oh wait, that's sort of like the real world. No, but seriously, what happened to some good ole Mario. The scariest thing about that game was the fire pit level. I totally beat that game several times by the way!

The point is that I am not sure what kind of toys I will buy my children one day, but said toys will not promote dressing like a street hooker or killing people and stealing their money. That's all really.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Vacay in NYC Part Two-A Little Parade

"Did you see the parade?!" That's the first question I got anytime someone asked me about my trip to NYC over Thanksgiving. The answer...HECK YES! I have wanted to see Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (in person) my whole life. I have even entered contests to win a trip to the dang thing. So when I had the chance to wake up at 6:30a.m. and head down to the street in Times Square to stand in the cold for five hours, I totally jumped on it! Who wouldn't, right?!

Before I go into the highlights, I have to tell you what happened pre-parade. My aunt, cousin and I got down there at 7a.m. and stood in front of the Bank of America. There were cops everywhere. Seriously the ratio of cops to people had to be 1:5. Well, maybe not, but there were a lot. Anyway, none of the cops really knew what was going on with the "standing barriers." They kept moving us around. At one point they made everyone totally clear the area and move to a different location. Mind you, the different locations were already taken by others who had also patiently been waiting since 7a.m. Needless to say, this ticked some people off so Thanksgiving morning was filled with a little yelling, screaming and cursing at the cops. My aunt and I had the brilliant idea of sneaking in the Bank of America lobby thing where the ATMs are and waiting it out. The cops found us there too, but we ended up being able to stand right outside the lobby with a great view. My aunt eventually snuck back in to escape the cold, and by that point there was not stopping anyone...the parade was about to start.

I would like to give props to the NYPD for being so organized and on top of things. Despite the yelling, crazy people all the cops were super nice and they tried to accommodate everyone as best they could...they were just doing their jobs. Apparently last year, some crazy lady sued the city because a stop light blew down and hit her on the head. It was really rainy and windy last year. So, this year we had to all stand under a ledge of some sort so that if a stop light fell it would hit the ledge and not our heads. ANYWAY...

Here are some of the highlights of the parade:

Right before the parade came through, they were clearing the streets and this truck came speeding up and came to a screeching halt in front of us. It was kind of weird, like Jack Bauer was going to jump out and tell us all to duck for cover. But then the window opened and it became the NYPD roach coach. It even had coffee dispensers coming out of the side of the truck and tons of doughnuts for the hard-working cops.

These pilgrim people made me laugh so hard I cried! The fact that they are so disproportionate with their fat heads cracks me up to begin with, but Mr. Pilgrim was having a hard time that day. His fat head wouldn't stay straight on top of his shoulders. He looked like he had some sort of condition, or he had been drinking a few too many early morning Thanksgiving cocktails. The funniest part of this story is that when I watched the DVRed version when I got home, he was still walking like this when he entered Herald Square! He had walked the entire length of the parade with his head all caddywompus.

The OCD in me loved that all the balloon holders had matching uniforms that coordinated perfectly with their balloon. For example:

Dora's friends wore reddish-orange.

Abby Cadabby's friends wore pink and baby blue.

And of course, Kermit's friends guessed it!

So, all in all the parade lived up to its expectations. It really wasn't that cold and it made for some great people-watching! People kept asking me if I would ever do it again. I would normally say no to something like that w/ such a huge crowd...your typical once-in-a-lifetime events. But, I would love to take my kids to the parade one day. It was made for kids (and kids at heart, like me). So give me a few years ( and I will head back to the Big Apple on Thanksgiving day. Until then, I will look forward to some southern cornbread dressing and yummy pies. The hotel lunch was okay, but they had purple mashed potatoes and no cornbread dressing! For real....

All that said, I can't wait to head home to Odessa for Christmas. I am homesick right now for my family, hanging out by the fireplace, playing card games, eating Rosa's and no traffic! At this point I welcome the 5.5 hour drive w/ Jeremy and the dogs. YAY for Christmas!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Vacay in NYC Part One

Thanksgiving this year was different but really great! I spent Wed. - Sun. in NYC with my Mimi, Aunt Kerri, and Cousins Brady and Tobi. It was weird being away from family, and especially weird being away from Jeremy. Don't worry...I baked for him before I left and his Mom came to Austin to hang out for Turkey Day.

I must say, NYC is probably my favorite place on the planet (and I have done my fair share of traveling). I love the diversity of cultures, food, shopping and of course BROADWAY SHOWS! I think I vicariously live out my dream of being a Broadway star every time I go to a show. This trip we saw six shows in three days:
White Christmas-such a wholesome, festive musical that got me even more excited about the holidays. I eventually got over the fact that I had "Blue Skies" in my head for three days, and the bitterness that I will most likely not have a white Christmas.
Shrek The Musical-this was probably the most entertaining show because of the goofy jokes. There might have been a few too many bodily function noises used, but it was great. Unfortunately, there were a few things that kept us distracted during this show.
1) Teri Hatcher was sitting right behind us...yes, the Desperate Housewife herself. She laughs just like on the show and she is much prettier in person.
2) Some guy behind us picked a fight w/ another guy and at one point the f-bomb was dropped.
3) There was a teen couple sitting in front of us (maybe 14yrs. old) who wouldn't keep their hands off of each other. They kept leaning in, kissing, rubbing, etc. so my poor aunt and cousin had to shift in their seats every five minutes to see the stage. GEEZE! Other than that, Shrek was great...not Tony Award-winning, but fun.

Rockettes Christmas Spectacular-again this was good, wholesome family fun. I was surprised that it had a whole act featuring the Biblical Christmas story...NYC isn't so p.c. after all! As great as this show was, my 8-yr. old cousin, Tobi, (who happens to be the target audience for the show) slept through the whole thing.

All My Sons-(with Katie Holmes and John Lithgow) this is an Arthur Miller play. It was pretty depressing, but it was a great play. The actors were excellent and Katie Holmes is much thinner in person. That's about all I can say about this one because what happened afterward was much more exciting! So, we were waiting outside the stage door hoping to catch a glimpse of Katie and Baby Surri when I turned around and physically ran into Idina Menzel and her HOT hubby Taye Diggs. They were both in the original cast of Rent and she was the original Elphaba in Wicked. I don't normally get starstruck, but OMG.

In the Heights-this is the first Broadway musical I have seen that incorporated some major hip-hop. Several of the songs were sort of rapped and it had a Latino flair. LOVED this musical and it was the only soundtrack I bought while I was there. The guy who wrote it (Lin-Manuel Miranda) actually wrote it while he was a sophomore in college...random trivia for the day.

Sleepwalk with Me-Mike Birbiglia is one of my new favorite comedians. He is so matter-of-fact about his comedy and he cracks me up. Sleepwalk with Me is his one-man, off-Broadway show that was produced by Nathan Lane. If you haven't heard of Birbiglia, go read his "Secret Public Journal"...dang funny stuff!

As you can tell, going to shows took up A LOT of our trip, but there's more. Stay tuned for more from the NYC Vacay. I promise entertainment, and if you have met my Mimi, you know what I mean. I love that lady!

Until is a preview of what's to come------>

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Moronic Oxymoron

I work at a country club so I have to drive through a "country club" neighborhood to get to work. Some of the most annoying things about that drive include:

-Way too many speed bumps (hilly Northwest Austin)
-Stay-at-home moms who run/walk with their strollers in the street (c'mon, safety people...there's a perfectly good sidewalk right next to you!)
-Slow drivers in really expensive cars who are obviously not in a hurry to get to work

But, today I saw something I had never seen before. It made my day! Let me preface by saying that I live in Austin where we take our "being green" pretty seriously. So, when I see a hybrid Toyota instead of a luxury SUV in a rich neighborhood, it's not such a weird thing. Even wealthier folks here are earth-lovers.

Anyway, I was driving along, trying to avoid whiplash as I went over a speed bump and I realized the Prius in front of me was just creeping along. The kind of slow that makes you want to go around them. The kind that makes you think they are just out for a drive, or they can't read the home addresses very well so they have to slowly go by each one. Not only were they going 15mph, but they were also hanging their arm out of the window holding a CIGARETTE! Ew. My husband recently ranted about this exact subject and I will second his emotions!

So my friends, I have affectionately given Mr. Prius Driver a new name. From this day forward, he will be called an oxymoron: Chain Smoking Environmentalist. In honor of CSE I found some fun pics of other visual oxymorons. Enjoy...and don't let yourself be caught a walking (or driving) contradiction.

Visual Oxymorons

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A New Form of Contraception

Oh little Ella Belle...the cutest dog you will ever meet. She has a smooshy face (incidentally, that's her Native American name; Little Smooshy Face), floppy ears, puppy energy and sweet little Precious Moments Eyes. She has been an adventure ever since the first day we brought her home. She is so loving and she wants to be close to us all the time. That makes it hard to keep her off the bed at night since we are trying to teach her to sleep on the floor with her sister, Lexi. She loves us unconditionally and always feels so bad when we get on to her. She doesn't want to disappoint us, but she just can't help but chew the couch pillows, carpet, tissue from the bathroom trash or my shoelaces.

Having said all that, Ella has taught us that we are not ready for kids. Oh dear Lord, we are not ready. I mean I think if I accidentally got prego (Mom, don't you dare pray for that!) we would deal with it, get excited and jump into parenting. But, being that we are both a little bit Type A, we are planning on having kids in a few years after things have settled. Here is a list of things Ella has taught us and the incident that brought about the teaching moment:

Poop in the crate-somehow when Ella would poop in her crate it got everywhere. It wasn't just a little mess in the corner of the crate, it somehow managed to climb the walls and get to the roof. It was like it had a life of its own, and its goal was to make me hurl.
Lesson Learned: We need a few more clean years before we start cleaning up messes from baby bodily functions, or any other weird kid messes.

Lack of Sleep: As I am sure many new mothers experience, Ella didn't come with a functioning internal clock. When she was younger, she had to go potty several times a night. Now, she just thinks it's okay to get up in the middle of the night and play. These are the nights when Jeremy gets up and happily (and by happily, I mean not-so-happily) gets up to put her in the crate hoping she will chill out.
Lesson Learned: I have an amazing husband. He knows I will be grumpy, tired and downright unpleasant if I don't get sleep. Plus, let's be honest, I sleep through the whimpers, jingling collar and that awful noise that Ella makes when she's gnawing on a bone. Also, we learned that we need a few more years of sleeping in (that's 8a.m. for us) and hanging out in bed. I don't think it's appropriate to put a crying baby in a crate in the middle of the night to make it stop. In fact, I am pretty sure Jeremy prosecutes people for crap like that.

Dog Budget: I think it would be an understatement to say our budget for kids would be slightly higher than the one we have going now for the dogs. We buy food about every three months, take them to the vet about twice a year (now that Ella is older) and buy them toys every once in a while. Financially, our dogs are pretty low maintenance.
Lesson Learned: (from Ella and Lexi) Kids are expensive. How do you people afford them? For that matter, how did our parents afford us? You don't even have to spoil them to spend a lot of money. I almost bought a friend diapers for a baby shower once and decided against it when I saw the price. Are you kidding me? Anyway, the point is that even the necessities cost a lot. Our budget needs time to prepare. :)

As I read back through this blog I laughed out loud. I realize that one day when I do have a little bundle of joy, I will read this and laugh. I mean, the truth is no one will ever be fully prepared for kids and that's part of the fun. Jeremy and I will learn together and it will be a wonderful experience. But for now...I would like to thank Ella Belle Sylestine for providing me with a little glimpse of what it will be like. For now, we will wait.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Birth of a Blog

It seems like any time I am by myself I wish I were with someone else. Ideally it would be my sweet husband, but really anyone would do. I don't lack confidence or fear being alone, nor do I avoid moments of silent reflection and meditation. I just have a lot of thoughts about everyday mundane things, and I want to say them out loud to someone who will respond. My thoughts aren't always profound and many times they don't even make sense. I don't want to look like a crazy person, so a blog seemed like the next best thing. So here we go...the birth of my blog.

Thoughts I have had recently:

-Why does that guy think he is cool enough to have a license plate that reads P.M.P Z. Seriously? If you are going to brand yourself like that, at least drive a Cadi or a sweet ride, not a Miata.

-When I run in the mornings, I see lots of fun things. Some of the regulars include:

1) A cute little Asian guy who stands just outside his garage doing calisthenics. He is pretty bouncy when he does his stretches, and it makes me a laugh a little every time I run by. Add to this scenario the mountains of trash bags full of coke cans in his garage. I am not kidding. Mountains. These people like their cokes. I just always wonder why they don't put them in the single-stream recycle bin and get rid of them. Thoughts?

2) Awkward middle school kids waiting for the bus. They remind me every day of my awkward, fat junior high days and the fact that I will one day have an awkward (possibly fat) middle school kid to love. The kids I see in the mornings are funny with their huge band instruments that they most likely suck at playing, and the division of guys and girls. BUT, get this! I ran by one bus stop the other day and it was a little early for kids to be out. There was a boy and a girl sitting on the ground just chilling and talking. I think they are bus stop g/f & b/f. I think they look forward to seeing each other every morning, and one day in high school when the girl grows up and gets pretty, she will forget about her bus stop boyfriend and date the quarterback. Is that cynical of me to think? Have I been watching too many goofy teeny-bopper movies? More run-sightings later.

-Why do onions and garlic make your hands smell for three days, and how is the Rub Away bar any different from just rubbing your hands all over your stainless steel sink? I think we could save $7.50 here folks...I'm just saying.

Well, that's all for now. I hope people read this. I already have a topic for my next post so I will give you a sneak peek: My new puppy Ella has been excellent birth control.

Later gators!