Monday, July 23, 2012


I've been purposefully staying away from my blog this summer.  It's not that I don't love ya'll, because I totally do. 

It's just that I don't have anything to say. 

Pause.  Pause.

Hmm.  Can't sell that one, can I?

Truth is, time is precious, and my little girl went and turned five, and now she is getting ready to start kindergarten in a month (a month, ya'll), and she has to be there at 7:45 and doesn't get out until 2:45, and that's seven hours of her day she's going to spend with someone else and not with me - seven precious hours some blessedly patient teacher gets to spend in the presence of my spectacular, spirited daughter - and ohgreathereitcomescuethewaterworks, I'm freaking out just a little. 

See, I don't ever want Aria or Caroline to look back on their childhoods and have memories of mom tapping away at the computer while Scooby Doo blares in the background.  I want them to have memories of their mom reading to them, singing to them (maybe not singing - humming - humming to them), swimming with them, hiking/biking/sliding/swinging/shopping with them.  Planting a garden, icing (eating) cupcakes, dancing to loud hiphop music (Club Mommy - Chris' personal fave - snicker). 

You get the idea.

My yoga teacher said the other day, "There is no such thing as an unimportant day."  As I ruminated on that for awhile trying to hold Crow Pose, I felt like I had myself a little epiphany.  Right before I fell forward onto my face.

I want to be PRESENT. 

My Presence is my present.  To them.  To God. To Chris.  To me. 

Awwww.... Group Hug.

Ergo, I'll see ya'll come September.  When you'll have to listen to my kindergarten Boohoos or Yahoos.

Kiss, kiss.



Friday, March 16, 2012

Stoned - Round 2

Caution:  the following post is not for the squeamish.  There are some candid details about the genitourinary system in this blog, because A)  I'm a nurse and I like to talk about this kind of thing; B)  I have a four-and-three-quarters year-old who asks a lot of questions; and C)  Well frankly, it's been consuming me for the last few weeks and totally putting a kink in my shopping budget spring plans.

As a reference, I'm providing a very technical diagram of my insides.

Yes, I wish my hips really were that close together.

Okay, so to save some time... Go read this.  And this.  There.  Now are you up-to-date on my medical history?  No, it's not just a way to get more hits on my blog, it's just because I'm lazy and have no energy to tap it all out on my keyboard right now. 

The long and the short of it:  my pee parts are full of rocks.  Big rocks.  That need to come out.  Because they're starting to cause some problems, not to mention some P-A-I-N. 

But because of the bleeding thang, (try to keep up with my issues, okayyyyy?) I'm not a "desirable candidate" for the standard treatment, lithotripsy, so instead I have to have this horribly barbaric procedure called a ureteroscopy, where the urologist inserts a -- CAUTION!  THIS IS THE ICKY PART.  And, of note, any assortment of words that follow the term insert will usually be icky.  Just sayin' -- camera/tube/laser/scope/torturedevice thingy (shudder) through the urethra (read:  pee exit) up through the bladder (read:  pee container) through the ureter into the kidney (read:  pee maker) to locate the stones, laser them to break them up and retrieve as many pieces as possible.  For those that remain, she leaves a stent in place (shudder again) to keep the passage open so they can make haste and get the heck on out of my body.

I know, so gross.  And so horrifying to think of cameras going in to places that are, for lack of a better term, exit-only

I told you, right?  Ick.  So ick.

Confession:  I'm a little bit skeerd.  It seems like I always have some sort of dramatic hypotensive/hives/hemorrhaging crises after minor procedures, so I'm a little on alert.  But I know I just need to pull up my Spanx, take it like a big girl, and trust God to take care of all my pee parts.

Good news is, I'll have lots of time to indulge in my newest obsession, Downton Abbey (swoon).  Oh buggah, how I love that show.  I think Chris is a little tired of me always talking in my fake British accent.  By the end of next month, the majority of these stones will be gone so I'll be able to get back to enjoying my shopping spring.

Just so you don't have a lingering image of my insides on your mind as you read my blog, I'll offer a few pics of my beauties to erase the icky illustration from your brain.

Rain Day

Preschool wedding between letters "Q" and "U"
(My princess was the flower girl)

Western Day

Sister love -- my favorite!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Athletes, Atrophy, A Good Cleanse, Việt Bài Học, and Pinterest

Well, well, well...


It's been awhile, no?  I took some time off blogging over the holidays and found that, much like any other muscle or organs in our bodies, the corpus callosum and prefrontal lobes of the brain can shrink and atrophy with disuse, which is exactly what I think happened to mine when the red and green decorations started demanding to be put up around our house. With that said, much like any other muscle, with constant hard work and attention, I also believe those creative areas in my brain can be restored, much like I seem to be under the crazy notion that with enough pilates and carbohydrate restriction, the derriere of my 20's might also be restored in this body of a 40-year-old as well. 

That's probably a blog post for another day.

Anyway, how's it going?  Did everyone have a good Thanksgiving?  Christmas?  New Year?  Gotcha Day?  MLK Day?  National Oatmeal Day?  Festival of Sleep Day?  And two of my personal faves:  National Thesaurus Day and National Blonde Brownie Day?

Yes, I've been gone awhile.  Yes, I spent some most excellent quality time with my family.  And yes, I kinda missed blogging. 

So yes, I'm back.

Here's a quick rundown on the family.

The kids are fabulous.  FAB.  U.  LOUS.  They are loud and sassy and smart and messy and happy and funny, and they flat wear me out.  EVERY SINGLE DAY.  Which might be another reason my corpus callosum shrunk.  But still, they make me happy.  So, so happy.  In fact, I looked at Chris after dinner last night and said, "My heart is so full.  Just so full." 

Christmas was a magical week sandwiched in between two fourteen-hour drives across the southeast and back with two young children, two pythons zip-tied in a duffle bag (don't ask) and a dog.  Santa was good to us all, but God was GOODER.  The time we spent with my family was beyond spectacular, and we all are more blessed because of it.  The girls spent a lot of time playing dress-up/Barbies/puzzles/rock band with their cousins, and I spent a lot of time working out with my newly-minted fitness fanatic of a father and even managing to schedule in a nap or five (swoon).

We no sooner got back to Texas and back into the groove of work/school/January, that an opportunity arose of which we were incapable of refusing:  a family ski trip to New Mexico.  Quick trip to Academy Sports for deeply discounted kids' skiwear, luggage back out of the attic, Thule back up on top of the car, dog in the back, kids strapped in, and off we went - snake-free, thank you, Jesus - for another cross-country road trip, this time to the snow-capped  Sangre de Cristo peaks to Angel Fire, New Mexico. 

Did we have fun?  Oh, did we ever have fun.

Sidebar:  I don't know if I've ever publicly complained on this blog about my oldest not being quite the athlete, but I know I've grumbled every-so-often in my heart and in my head and sometimes to my friends. 

Most of the time, the conversation went as follows.

Friend:  She's FOUR. 
Me:  I know, but the other kids on the soccer field aren't playing ring-around-the-rosy. 
Friend:  She's FOUR. 
Me:  She falls down all the time.
Friend:  She's FOUR.
Me:  The other girls got most of the steps right in the ballet recital.
Friend:  She's FOUR.
Me:  She essentially walked the whole mile of our (un)Fun Run.
Friend:  She's FOUR.
Me:  Look at that one.  She's can do a somersault like Mary Lou Retton.  The only kind of roll mine is interested in is a tootsie roll.
Friend:  What is wrong with you?  Don't you have a life?  Why don't you start blogging again?

(Okay, maybe that last part didn't happen, but you get the gist).

Well, can I just say, for the record, all that stuff I may or may not have thought/said about Aria not really being my athlete... I TAKE IT ALL BACK!

Know why?  See for yourself.

Look at her go!  My girl can ski.  My FOUR-year-old baby can SKI!  She can ski, she can ski, she can ski!  We are so proud.  She did ski school every day, and was a little rock star.  By the end of the trip, she was riding the lift by herself (gulp), and ultimately beginning her training for the 2026 Olympic women's downhill.  One cold, winter day fifteen years from now, Bob Costas will be sitting in his big velvet club chair by the fireplace, interviewing my daughter, this picture will flash up on the screen, and y'all can say you saw it here first:

I have some ski video which I will hope to upload here one of these days.  Otherwise, you can just wait for the human interest story at the Opening Ceremonies.  Either way.

Hmmm.  What else have we been doing? 

Work, Pinterest, yoga, Pinterest, lake, Pinterest, shopping, Pinterest.

Did I mention I like Pinterest?

I'm not a big believer in New Year's resolutions, so I won't go so far as to say I've made resolutions for myself, but I've definitely set some goals for 2012, which from hereafter in our house, is referred to as The Year of the Cleanse.  That's right.  I'm determined to purge our home of clutter and uncleanliness and needlessness, of anything unnecessary or unused.  Over the holidays, my brother told us about the 100-item challenge, which is essentially an experiment to see if one can pare one's life down to only 100 things.  ONE HUNDRED THINGS.  Can you imagine?  Obviously, the person who developed this plan does not have small children, because we all know one Polly Pocket Disney Princess Playset would wipe out every single one of those 100 items.  And I think I'd be out of the contest on the basis of my shoe closet alone, but I have to admit, I'm intrigued by the concept, and it provided a lot of dialogue between my husband and me on our long, looooong drives in the last few months.  Ultimately, it would not be possible to pare my belongings down to 100 items, but I really like the idea of simplifying, decluttering, and cleansing our life.

This cleanse also translates to our diet as well.  I'm trying very hard to limit my family's exposure to processed food, and specifically, artificial colors and dyes.  As you can imagine, this has made me very popular among the other three members of the family.  But really?  Have you SEEN the stuff out there on Yellow 5?  It's terrifying!  And it's ubiquitous too, even in deodorant, shampoos and soaps.  I had to search high and low the other day to find Chris a tube of toothpaste that didn't have stinkin' Yellow No. 5 in it!  I mean, who has time for that?  Not me, I have a blog to write.

Lastly, a goal I've had for three years now is to begin Vietnamese lessons with Aria.  As of this week, we have lined up our tutor, a wonderfully patient woman named Lily, and have started learning the basics via DVD.  It's extremely overwhelming to be learning a new language at forty, but I'm determined to keep her culture alive for her, and I hope that she, we both, will appreciate this one day.  My goal is minimum 30 minutes of practice a day.  How hard can that be, right?  Answer:  Kho Khan!  (Hard). 

Don't you just love that face she makes at the end?  She's precious.

And you'll probably need to keep reminding me of something:  she's FOUR.

Glad to be back!  And chúc mừng năm mới!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Your Kidding

Me to Chris on our first date. :)


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Snap Shots

Really, ya'll?

I haven't posted in six weeks?  Can it be?

Shame on me.  What could I have possibly been doing these past six weeks?

Oh, I know!  I might have been... planning and executing CC's second birthday party, conceptualizing Halloween costumes based on the ever-dynamic whim of my four-year-old, turning Forty, cheering on (and weeping for) the Tigers and the Rangers, wiping snot from the noses of every member of our household, costume tea parties, and, per doctor's order, trying to fatten up my very petite baby.  Sprinkle in a full-time job, pee-wee soccer practice on Thursdays, games on Saturdays, choir on Wednesdays, and writing the newsletter for our adoption ministry, and you have a recipe for exhaustion.

So while I regroup, let me give you a quick recap.

Sweet Caroline turned two.  (TWO?!?!).  We heated the pool and celebrated with a swim party from 2-4.  The last guest left at 7:30. 

Chris tells me it's a sign of a good party.

Apparently this is also the sign of a good party:

Next, Chris took me to Sedona, Arizona to celebrate a milestone birthday.  We had the time of our lives hiking, climbing and rejuvenating in God's majestic, wondrous landscape.  Last day of our trip, we rented bikes and biked the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. 

Oh.  Em.  Gee.  Experience of a lifetime.

Did I mention soccer?  That's my little dynamo in blue, in the middle:

Because we're Baptist and Baptists don't technically celebrate Halloween, our church preschool got around it by celebrating Noah's Ark Day at school.  Cute, yes.  But creates a bit more work for the mother who has already planned non-animal-style costumes for her children.  Therefore, my kids had TWO costume changes late October this year.

Number One for school, the Lion Cub and Princess Mouse:

Costume Two:  Cindy-Lou Who from the Grinch and Dora the Explorer:

The kids really enjoyed Trick-or-Treating (don't alert the Baptists), and had a blast bouncing on several of the 48 (!!) bounce-houses at our church's Fall Festival this year.

I promise I'll try and be better about blog postings.  I still have a lot to say, just not a lot of time to say it.  But I should have more success now that Starbuck's new holiday flavors are out (Helloooooo Skinny Peppermint Mocha). 

Although, remember, I'm forty now, so you'll have to cut me some slack.  I need longer periods of rest than before...



Friday, September 16, 2011

Raiding Paula's Closet

Shopping.  Love it.  Always have.  Always will.  Er, unless you are Chris reading this... and in that case...Shopping.  Meh?  Who needs it?  Shopping is for losers.

I know I have a problem.  But it's something I was born with.  Congenital Shopping Disorder.  Go look it up.  (No don't, I made it up).  It's been that way since I was little bitty bitty.  Always loved shopping.  Always.  Go ahead and ask my mom.  She'll confirm it.  In fact, one of my earliest memories was saving my money to buy my very own pair of red high heels.  Oh, those red high heels.......

I was probably around 7 or so.  I saved and saved and SAVED my allowance to buy those shoes.  See, they were in the display case of this ladies shoe store that was in the same strip mall shopping plaza as my ballet studio.  So every week, I'd dreamily press my nose to the window of that store on my way to dance class, fingers drawing circles on the glass, gazing longingly (read:  shoe stalker) at my prize, picturing all the fun I'd have tottering around in those red high heels. 

Exhibit A:

Not exactly they, but it was the closest picture I could find.  (Word of advice:  be careful when you google red satin high heels.  Especially if you are on a work computer.  Just saying.) 

So where was I planning to wear them, you ask?  I wasn't.  There was no planning.  No reasoning or rationalizing.  Was it a good investment for a 7-year-old to spend all her hard-earned money - we're talking hours of dishwashing and tablesetting and bedmaking - on a pair of hooker heels, you ask (sorry, Mom, but you know it's true)?  Decidedly not.  But none of that mattered.  All that mattered was I WANTED THOSE RED HIGH HEELS.  And my parents were the kind of parents who let us make our own mistakes, within reason.  And I'm guessing my mom saw the prostitute shoe purchase made by her second-grader as a Future Teaching Moment.  So as it was, I saved up my (here is the worst part...) $15 (yes, fifteen dollars) and I bought those shoes, daggummit.  They were a size women's 5, and I wore a 1, but do you think I cared?  It was a proud day when I walked out of that store with that box tucked under my arm and I went home to do what?  Click clack around the house in my hooker heels playing Barbie, teacher, Princess Leia, who knows.  

Fast-forward to eighth grade.  Take one short, skinny 13-year-old.  Add a terrible - and I mean TERRIBLE - short, mullet haircut (well, it was the eighties, ya'll), a pair of glasses, a faceful of teenage acne, some misdirected eye make-up application, and a mouthful of pre-orthodontically-altered malaligned teeth and, voila, you have Adolescent Me. 

Dorky, insecure, Adolescent Me who was desperate to be liked, to fit in, to look like the popular kids.  My mom (reluctantly) handed over her credit card so I could get a bathing suit from 5-7-9 while I was at the mall on one of my marathon eight-hour-hang-out-at-the-mall-Saturdays with my friends, since we were too young to drive and too innocent to know we could do anything else.  Her two stipulations for the card were:  1) that bathing suit better be a tasteful one-piece, and 2) that bathing suit better be the ONLY purchase made with that credit card.

Wanna guess what happened?

Correct.  I got to that mall with my friends, suffered an acute attack of my Congenital Shopping Disorder, and charged every single thing not nailed down.  Did I worry about the wrath I would suffer when I got home loaded down with bags of purchases?  Um, no.  Did it concern me at all that I was blatantly disobeying my mom and violating the tenuous trust she put in me when she (reluctantly!) placed that card in my hands?  Sadly, no.  Did I know what I was doing was wrong?  Yes.  But all reason and good judgment were usurped by the image staring back at me from the poorly-lit dressing room mirrors.  And the underlying fear of being unpopular and my desperation to be as un-geek-like as I could possibly be. 

Because as we all know, cute clothes make everything better.

And... Bam.  Another Teaching Moment for Vivi.

Fast forward to the year 2000.  I meet Chris Thomas, the most decidedly anti-shopper you'll ever meet.  Doesn't like it.  Does not get the point.  Particularly doesn't understand why anyone, namely me, needs to have more than one pair of black shoes.  And when those shoes wear out?   You don't buy new ones, you take them in and have them resoled!  Resoled.  Umm...resoled?  What is that?  Isn't that when you sell something on consignment?  No, you take your shoes to a cobbler.  Umm...a cobbler?  Isn't that a dessert?

Surely you see the paradox.

It's kind of a bone of contention between us.  A tiny one.  Not big, like a hambone or anything, but little.  Delicate.  Petite.  Like a fishbone.  Which can be really annoying if it gets stuck in your throat.

Sure, I've tried to convince him that inside I'm still the scrawny, pimply, bespectacled 13-year-old that simply has to have the Jimmy-Choo-clutch-J-Brand-skinny-jeans-Vera-Wang-boots to fit in with the popular kids, but he's not buying it.  At all.  Pun intended.

Therefore, in an effort to maintain the peace, we have a tacit agreement:  I limit the symptoms caused by my shopping disorder to sales and consignments and extreme bargains and he, in turn, politely ignores the furtive rustling of bags in the hallway after my "errands" and the surreptitious UPS packages deposited by our front door.

Which brings me to this.

The other day I was stalking on-line sales/business as usual, when I came across this cute little blog written by a girl who is a vegetarian.  And since I am always trying to find ways to force incorporate vegetables into my kids' diets, I was all about the tasty vegetarian recipes on her blog.  She also happens to be really into fashion, and tries on all the latest trends, then photographs herself wearing them so you can get an idea of what they look like on the average person.  One thing leads to another, I'm jotting down healthy meal ideas for my family, critiquing her fashion choices, yada yada yada, and then...  I notice a link to an online designer consignment website.  Hmmm.  Interesting.  I click. 

Lo and behold, I discover fashion designer resale nirvana!  This website sells super ritzy items at super good prices.  And all the stuff is authenticated original, so no fakes.  AND... best of all, they give you a history of the item, like, these shoes were worn by so-and-so to the 2009 Emmy awards.  A marriage of my two favorite worst obsessions:  shopping and celebrities. 

So of course I make haste and sign up on the mailing list with my shoe and dress-size so I can start getting email updates of sales of cool items available in my size.  The first email that popped into my inbox this morning?  A sale.  A ton of designer clothes, shoes, and bags in my size worn by none other than only one of my biggest idols back in the eighties when I was gawky, bespectacled, snaggle-toothed Sarah...

Miss Paula Abdul

Paula Abdul, ya'll!  Straight up!  Her closet.  On sale.  To the general public.  So essentially you can cyberly go through her closet and look at all her clothes.  Isn't that so cool?

And wouldn't my geeky self look so cute cooking spinach-mushroom crepes in that black-button D&G pencil skirt?  Or tottering to Aria's soccer games in those sky-high Gucci clogs?  Or those Chanel pearls draped around my neck as I vacuum the house? 

I know, I know.  Yet again, my reality doesn't really match up with my dreams.  Or my bank account.  And honestly, I'm happy it doesn't.  I get a heckuva lot more pleasure out of cooking, vacuuming and cheering my little World Cup champion in my Target jeans and Gap tee-shirts.

But... it's still fun to see what's in Paula's closet!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I just looked at my blog and realized I only made one post in the month of August.  One.  That is so unlike me.  If you could access my posting link, you would see that I actually started a dozen posts in August but only finished one.  Sigh.  A methaphor for my life.  Starting a million things and barely finishing one.

Chris and I are on the board of an adoption ministry at our church called CHOSEN (Christ's Hope for Orphans - Supporting, Embracing, Nurturing.  Catchy, ain't it?).  It is very near and dear to our hearts, and we passionately devote as much time and love as we can to this ministry.  But when the current leaders of CHOSEN, who are in the latter weeks of expecting their third daughter, asked us to take over their position as leaders of the ministry, Chris and I both froze in our tracks.  Impossible.  Not for lack of concupiscence, mind you, but for the simple reason that we feel like we are in a perpetual state of behindness.  That's probably not a word, but it does acurately express what I'm trying to say.  Put it this way, after prayerful consideration about leading the ministry, I turned to Chris and said, "I feel like I can't give 100% of myself to anything right now, because I'm too busy giving 10% of myself to everything".


As it is now September, I can say with great mirth that summer has officially drawn to a close in Plano, Texas, and preschool has begun.  Most moms I know are nostalgic, dreading this day, swiping at tears as they walk their pink, frilly, be-bowed girls through the halls of the institution that will be attempting to learn their youth of numbers, letters, word and song.  My own response to this annual August rite-of-passage (anyone?  anyone?)...


Oh yes. 

Praise God and Jesus that summer is over.  Thank you, thank you... THANK YOU.  Oh, joy, joy joy.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the carefree days of sleeping in until - er, 7, playing at the park for all of twenty minutes until we were all "soaking sweaty" and the red plastic slide became too hot for scooting the tiny booties of my children.  I enjoyed the family bike rides that usually ended one mile in when my child declared it too hot, and alighted from her bike in the middle of the sidewalk in favor of a neighbor's errant sprinkler defying the water-ban rules that only allow sprinkling bi-weekly in the dead of night.  And I just loved the proclamation that "we're bored, Mom/what are we going to do now/when does school start?"

Actually, in all fairness, we had a pretty awesome summer.  We had nice trips to Hawaii, North Carolina, California, and Colorado.  Aria got to go to camp with her cousins, and had many fun sleepovers with her grandmother.  We had fun swimming/tubing/sailing at Lake Cypress.  And of course there was Pool.

But let's be honest.  Almost every fond memory I have from the summer is bookended by screams of, "Mammmaaaa, YaYa hit me!!  Mommmmm, Caroline is not sharing!!  Saraaaaaaaaaaaah, no more internet shopping!!" 

After awhile, it really started to get to me.  Especially that last one.  But I digress.

I actually began the summer with a list of goals I wanted to accomplish, or more specifically, wanted Aria to accomplish.  Here they are, in no particular order:

1 - Learn to make your bed
2 - Learn to write your name 
3 - Learn to swim
4 - Solve the Pythagorean theorem

Okay, maybe that last one was a stretch, but it puts the others into perspective.  They're doable, right?

See for yourself: 

So my Mom pride is kicking in a little.  Okay, a lot.  I'm so proud of my Princess A.  She met and exceeded all of my (reasonable) goals for the summer, and is even on to learning to read, thanks to a little help from this book.  The first day of school arrived, much to my delight, and we have now settled into a little routine.  We have some exciting things on the horizon too:  Aria's first Clemson game, Aria's first soccer game, and Caroline's second (SECOND???) birthday. 

Don't let those beautiful smiles fool you.  This is the REAL thing:  

I'm ready for cooler weather, college football, the routine of school, and shorter days which lead to earlier bedtimes.  School is in.