Monday, June 30, 2008

An ounce of prevention.

Darius had himself a little date this afternoon with a sweet little girl from the neighborhood. They both have been on Mercy Street's Work Crew this summer and she invited him to the movies.

She invited him.

Ok, now, one thing that I've noticed and was confirmed by Mindy the other day is that most of the young ladies in this neighborhood are pretty aggressive when it comes to boys. There's the calling, the texting, and the texting and more texting. Then, they like to come over and see what other numbers are on the boys' phones. Like cats marking their territory.

We had several young pregnancies in the neighborhood already this year and there's a little girl around the corner with a child Sadie's age. He's 4. She's 16. She got pregnant at 11.

So, what's a hoodmama to do?

I knew I'd be giving these kiddos a ride to the movies this afternoon so, this morning I took my kids to the pool and got them really tired and hungry. Then, I fed them just enough lunch to tide them over, but to produce some general crankiness right around 4:30. Coincidence. I also picked up a friend of Graham's who we hadn't seen all summer for some added noise, and screaming and fighting with Kung Fu Panda toys from McDonald's.

Then, I loaded everyone up in my very dirty car, filled with crunched up cheese nips, and old Gatorade bottles, and picked up that precious little girl for her date. We had a twenty minute ride of chaos to the movies.

"Have a great time, ya'll!" Smiling and waving.

The look of horror on her face was priceless.

I know the sight and sound of my family can, for some, be birth control. I just may be learning to use it to my advantage.

Friday, June 27, 2008

It may be more than the heat.

My friend Kathryn sent me this video and it seemed to explain a LOT.

A LOT.

Let me know what you...wait... um...what were we talking about?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Told ya.

While we were on vacation, I decided to have a little contest to settle a very important point of contention between Dea and Darius, and Trey and I. It had become the subject of heated debates, raised voices, and tears.
Not really but I'm trying to create some drama. Work with me.

The boys have insisted vehemently that Jiffy Cornbread is off the chain and the only cornbread worth eating. Everything else might as well be used as cat litter. Their words.


Trey and I firmly believe in the delightful tastiness of Martha White Sweet Yellow cornbread and our difference in opinion has built a wall between us that nothing could tear down. More drama.

So, while we were on vacation, I brought and made both brands and we had ourselves a little double (or single, I don't really know the difference) blind taste test.

Guess which one the boys picked?

Martha White Sweet Yellow Cornbread. They loved it and said, "Oh yeah, this one's definitely Jiffy. It's that much better."

Keep diggin' that hole gentlemen. Keep diggin'.

And to show you their humility in defeat, when I did the big reveal proving once and for all which one tasted better, they said, "Well...yeah...but...uh...we still like Jiffy better. It's totally better."

MmHmmmm.

One thing we all could agree on was how well cornbread went with this Jambalaya Recipe that my friend Carrie gave me. She's from Louisiana and told me this is just as easy and about a thousand times better than the box kind. I gotta agree. This recipe serves 4 so I double (or triple) it. Enjoy!

Louisiana Jambalaya

1/2 cup chopped celery
1 small onion chopped
1 chopped green sweet pepper
1 can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups beef or vegetable broth
2/3 cup long grain rice
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons bottled Tobasco sauce (this is too much for little ones but perfect for adults or big stinky teenage boys.)
2 bay leafs
1 lb sliced and browned sausage.
Meat from one rotisserie chicken. Easy as pie.

In the same pan you browned the sasauge, add a little butter and saute the celery onion and pepper. Stir in tomatoes, broth, uncooked rice, basil, thyme, garlic powder, pepper, Tobasco sauce, and bay leaf. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or till rice is tender. Stir in sausage and heat. Discard bay leaf.

Serve with Martha White's Sweet Yellow cornbread if you know what's good for you.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Blue Bunny

Well, we made it back safe and sound and, thanks to a beautiful washer and dryer at the house in Aspen, we did not come back with the usual truckload of dirty clothes. Dreamy.

We're all glad to be home but, if given the choice, would have stayed another year or so longer just to get really rested.

While we were gone we received a couple of emails that went something like this; "There have been two more (note: more) armed robberies at Blue Bunny Park so please use your utmost caution when driving by the park, especially at night." People are driving by the park headed home and three armed men have run out and stopped the car, stealing it and whatever is inside. Good times.

Blue Bunny Park is neither blue or has a bunny but is about a stone's throw from my house and on my route to and from home every day. Until this whole thing gets settled, Trey has asked me to please not drive by the park, even in the daytime. We have realized over the years that, when faced with a dangerous situation, my fight, not flight, instinct goes into hyperdrive. He's afraid that if confronted by a carjacker, instead of handing over the keys and getting the heck out of dodge, I just might hang onto the wheel and give that perp a piece of my mind.

Two years ago, we had just bought Graham, then three, a new bike complete with training wheels and I think a horn. One day, while I was at a Princess party with the girls, Graham called me and said, "Mommy, somebody stole-ed my bike."
"Baby, someone took your bike?!?"
"Yes, someone take-ed it and now I don't have a bike anymore." Sobs.

On the way home, with my girls dressed as princesses in the back of the car, I'm driving by the public housing and what do I see? A little bike chop shop in the back of one of the apartments and about ten kids going to town, dismantling bikes. I threw my car in reverse just to see if I was really seeing what I thought I was seeing. Yes, those are training wheels on the ground...and there...THERE'S GRAHAM'S BIKE!!!

I may have possibly cursed really low under my breath.

What I didn't do under my breath was jump out of the car and start yelling (or screaming, it's all in the ear of the beholder) through the wrought iron fence, "Hey! That's my son's bike! You stole a three year old's bike! Gimme back my bike right now!!! RIGHT NOW!!!!"

Then I saw Quincy's bike which had also been stolen. Now, I wanted all the bikes. Every last piece.

Some of the kids scattered but one of the punk a.., um, I mean, seriously misled child in need of a Redeemer, had the nachos to come to the fence and say to my face, "blah, blah, smart alec, blah blah, and what are you going to do about it?"

I think I screamed something like, "You stole a bike with training wheels on it, LOSER. And my father in law is the District Attorney of Dallas County and (this is where I totally lose it and embarrass myself, my family, and the human race in general) if you don't give me all those bikes, I'll have the entire police department down here in about five minutes!"

Ok, now, let's examine that statement for just a second.

The entire police department?

Was the bike owned by the President of the United States and he was still on it at the time of theft? Um, well, no.

Were these bikes linked somehow to National Security? Not really.

Could I get even one policeman to come recover a three year old's bike in fifty-five minutes? Yeah, pretty sure, no.

Ok, it was one of the stupidest things I have ever uttered but I was under duress and obviously not thinking clearly. OBVIOUSLY. It was a $50 bike and the guy could have had a gun or a big stick or something. But, did I mention it was Graham's bike and it had training wheels on it and he was home crying?

Just checking.

By the grace of God, who has heard some pretty stupid things in the past, they did start chucking the bikes over the fence, training wheels and all without beating me up or shooting me or anything really bad.*

So, needless to say, Trey is a little worried what might happen if I were to come into contact with someone threatening my children or their webkinz or something. For now, we'll be taking a different route out of the 'hood and praying the police will catch the thugs. Maybe I should pray for perspective and the ability to walk away, quickly, from a bad situation. You think?

*Full disclosure: During the little verbal skirmish, I had also called my husband in adrenaline induced tears and he came running down the street and jumped that fence like Superman. It kind of freaked out the bike thieves and that's when they started chunking pieces over the fence. It was not actually because of my inappropriate name dropping or imposing physique.
Just keepin' it real.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Vacation quote of the day

This afternoon, we were driving into town talking about, of all things, the Guiness Book of World Records and the World's Largest Man.

My children of course said, "I wonder how big his bottom is?".

They then answered their own question with, "I bet it's even bigger than Mom's!".

I'm thinking all this family time might be a little overrated.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Say that three times fast

Trey took the kids white water river rafting the other day and they had a great time. We had some pushback from the oldest boys who weren't quite sure they wanted to partake in the adventure on the river. With some coaxing and maybe a little guilt, they finally got on the bus and it turned out to be a fantastic time.
Sadie was too young to go so I stayed back and took that little booger horseback riding. The deal was that she would sit on the horse and I would lead it on a little trail. Let's just say that horse quickly learned who was in charge and it definitely wasn't me. She ate grass every three steps and stepped on my foot more than once while I was trying to gain some sort of control over not a pony but a very large beast. Just a fashion tip; white shorts are not a good choice when taking your daughter on a ride with a giant and most stubborn horse.
One of the fun things about coming up here is that we usually get to spend time with friends from Dallas who are here vacationing, too. Monday night we went to the Orlie's for burgers. My kids had a blast with theirs, especially throwing mud and sludge into their pond with their friends. Love going to friends' houses for dinner where you have to do a load of laundry before you can get back in the car. Praise the Lord for patient friends and Oxy Clean.
Hope you're having a great week!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008

On the hunt

The first morning of our vacation in Aspen several years ago, the kids found a big snake curled up sunning itself on the stone steps off the back balcony. They quickly named him Freddie and held him every chance they could. We had heard that there were no poisonous snakes at this elevation so we weren't worried about the kids snake hunting every afternoon. If you know any different, now would be a good time to tell me because the kids are at it again.
This morning, we found another big guy at the foot of the steps. Tee quickly grabbed him and he spent the balance of the morning being passed from child to child. I'd show you pictures but we have no internet access at the house.
I'll have to put them up when we get back.
Speaking of hunting, the Annual Food and Wine Classic is in Aspen this weekend and since Trey and I are big fans of the show Top Chef, we're on the hunt for famous chefs. This afternoon, we saw the winners from previous seasons hanging out by the park. Loved it but I'm holding out for Rocco DeSpirito and Trey wants to see Tom Colocio only because he thinks Padma might be close by.
He likes her cooking. Right Trey?
Rrrriiiight.
Dea and Darius are on the hunt for a basketball court. Hopefully, we'll find one soon, before they start to go through some serious hoop withdrawl.
Off for now!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Three words

Dram.a.mine. Works like a charm. Not only does it have the ability to prevent motion sickness on our 15 hour drive to Aspen but it also has the added benefit of making the children extremely drowsy. I could be on a commercial.

We're well on our way and have only made one stop in the last seven hours and that was for a little breakfast at McDonald's. Dea was thrilled because, you know, he works there and can hardly get enough sasuage biscuits as it is. I myself could eat my weight in Egg McMuffins and the kids love the hash browns because one time I told them they were Crabby Patties just like Spongebob makes. Sometimes the cashier gets flustered when they say, "can I please have two Crabby Patties?"

Sadie has been a trooper but started asking if 'we were in Colorado yet?' while we were still in Dallas. Since then, she's kept it to about 5 times an hour. She has self control that way.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Off into the blue yonder. In a van.

A few questions arose after my post yesterday and I thought I needed to clear the air. Augustine is our real pet bearded dragon and, though usually in his aquarium, I sometimes find him here.


For the life of me, I can't figure out why no one will eat on my kitchen table.

It's so odd.

And speaking of pets, they make going out of town for any vacation a little harder. We're leaving in the morning and have a sweet friend staying at our house to make sure the pets 1. don't eat the furniture and 2. don't eat each other.

Scout can open our doors so sometimes, if the doors are unlocked, she and Fern will escape for a little jaunt or she'll open the door to the pantry and have herself a little snack. Two days ago she and Fern ate a whole bag of Doritos while we were gone. I'm pretty sure she'd go far in the Westminster Kennel Club.

We're headed to Aspen and it's our hands-down favorite place to vacation. We have some friends with a house there that they graciously let us use each summer as long as we promise not to bring with us the heat, mesquitos, or any of our pets.

Not a problem.

This is a picture of the kids from last year.


Notice Sadie's haircut. I walked into the bathroom weeks before our trip to find her leaning over the trash can happily snipping away. From now on, we leave that to the professionals don't we Sadie?
Growing up we went to Nebraska every summer to spend a couple of weeks with my grandparents. I dreaded the drive but my parents loved it. (I have vague memories of sleeping in the back window of the car which I'm sure was super safe traveling about 70 mph.) Now, though, I totally get it. It's precious time with my family all in one place without all the distractions. Ok, we now have videos and Mp3 players, but otherwise, it's totally the same. There's a little part of me that thinks the drive is like having a baby. The payoff is so great, you forget how bad the labor was.

Dea and Darius are coming along so instead of taking the Suburban, we have to, I mean, get to take a 15 passenger van. Whoohoo. We have oficially crossed over into uncool and again, this is part of my sanctification. My sister in law told me we could probably park in the bus parking lot in town, right next to the tour buses from Grand Island.
Thanks, Em, that's helpful.

I'm sure we'll have some good stories from the trip. I'll keep you posted.

Ya'll have a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Revelations.

Ok, seriously, I can't thank ya'll enough for your encouragement yesterday. It was an exceptionally low post and ya'll were so amazing and I really appreciate your words of wisdom and grace.

I'm not minimizing how I felt when I wrote it at all but I may have discovered the root of the kind of funk I had found myself in.

I think it may have something to do with this.


This is Caddie Woodlawn. She's our newest pet. She was a "free" kitten from a stray momma cat that Tee's teacher, Roni, took in this year. My kids insisted that we needed a kitten to replace their most loved and most deceased cat, Max. We are nothing if not total pushovers, especially for a face like this.

We may be pushovers but Scout is not convinced. He's thinking, "Max would have NEVER worn a princess dress. It's fruity therefore, I shun you."


Caddie Woodlawn brings our pet grand total to five. That is almost the number of children also living here which needless to say, may account for my low spirits.

I walked into the girls bedroom for goodnight kisses the other night and found Olivia all curled up with Caddie Woodlawn. It was so sweet I took a picture.


Then I went to kiss Sadie and found her lovingly curled up with her favorite pet, Augustine the bearded dragon.



Sweet. A little gross but still sweet.

Ya'll rock.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Honesty is the best policy, though not always fun.

It's been a long day at the end of a long week over here in the hood.

I'm not really feeling very blogfull but my mother-in-law told me it was time for me to do a new post and, well, that's pretty much all it took. I'm a people pleaser to the core and am still vying for the award for Daughter-in-Law of the Year, 2008. Speaking of, don't get any wild ideas out there and do something crazy like donate an organ to your mother-in-law to try to out-do me. I'd really like to lock this one up early and don't need any overachievers stealing my crown.

Anywho, back to life. I have to be honest, it's been better. Someone wrote somewhere that I can't remember that it's wise not to blog while emotional. That could account for the week between posts.

West Dallas public schools were out last week and the police were out in full force the last day trying to maintain order at the high school. It is a day notorious for large fights and general chaos. It was a step up from last year when they had to bring paddy wagons out to load up all the unruly students. I guess they thought there had been some improvements on the part of the children and left the paddy wagons at the station this year.

That was Thursday, and thankfully, the last day came and went with very little incident. At home, though, I was wading up to my unusually large earlobes in angst.

I love our life most days and can even see it as a beautiful calling a good 82.6% of the time. But, there are those times when I feel like I'm caving under the weight of the raising of my own children, let alone two more and then some. What are we going to do all summer? How can I keep up with everyone? Can I leave for the day and trust that the older boys won't have a ton of friends in and eat the food that was supposed to stretch all week?

And then, how can I be so selfish when maybe they're friends are hungry because their refrigerators are empty and their mommas are sleeping off another night shift.

Why will they wear their best clothes to school or the mall but put on their rattiest for worship? What's on those Mp3 players they're listening to all the time and how much say do we have in the music they're listening to? I know how I'd feel if they were mine and I'd had 14 years to pour into them but, we've been thrown into the proverbial woods here and don't want to lose the forest for the trees.
I feel so ridiculous writing this and as I read it back it's screaming, "ASK THEM. TALK TO THEM. BE HONEST WITH THEM."
We do, we have, we are. It's just not as easy as I thought it would be.
They grew up in a neighborhood where it was fun to break 88 windows in the school on graduation night.

Where someone would break into a ministry to steal 4 times in one week and our family has to lose time with my husband, and the kids' daddy again so he can go find out what was stolen.

Where I can go for a run and find a friend's credit card lying in the grass who's purse was stolen from her car across town the day before.

I know it's about the transformation of the heart. It's about the fruit that will come to bear that we may not have the privilege of seeing anytime soon. It's pointing even one child to the Cross of Grace and letting go of control so you can rest in the One who really has it. There are just days, or weeks where I'm tired of the crime, the trash, the attitudes, and the dirty Wal-Mart bathrooms that I know don't exist in any other Wal-Mart in town.

There are days I just want to be normal, and upwardly mobile, and quite frankly, a really good singer.

I know I have not been called to any of those things and if I'm brutally honest sometimes I think God made a giant error in judgment. I lack wisdom, discernment, patience, and can't sing to save my life. Even if I could dance it would help but, I'm lost there, too.

I am, however, a child of the Living God who is the Author and, more encouraging to me today, Perfector of my faith. It is He who promises to shelter me in the shadow of His wing, to lead me to streams of living water and restore my soul.

That is alone my hope and assurance.

Thank you Lord, for your faithfulness when I have none...and please give me something funny to write about tomorrow so my friends don't get depressed and take me off of their blogrolls.

Amen.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I totally get it now.

If I'm perfectly honest there are a lot of lifestyle choices I have never understood.
  • vegetarians. I'm sure it's very healthy but I love hamburgers so much I don't think I could live without them. The juicy burger, the pickles, the onions and ketchup. I might have to grill me up one right now.
  • not taking medicine. Again, I'm sure they have perfectly legitimate reasons but my allergies are so bad I think my quality of life would be dramatically reduced without a good dose of Flonase and Claritin.
  • nudist colonies. Ok, this one's a biggie. I just don't get it. It's so hot outside and without my shorts, my legs would fry on the seat in my car. And what about all the great fashion out there? At least if I'm having a bad hair day, I can put on a cute outfit and feel like it makes up for my ridiculous do. And the cellulite? What about all the cellulite and body hair? I spend a LOT if time addressing both of these issues, but clothing is for sure a necessity. Does anyone remember the Seinfeld episode when Jerry was dating the girl who never wore clothes? They talked about "bad naked". i.e. opening a pickle jar, having a coughing attack, or worse, vomiting. That's BAD NAKED.
The other day, after a week of crazy, end of the year festivities, I attempted to regain control of my already dirty and messy house. I walked into the laundry room to this scene right out of a stay-at-home mother's horror movie.


I'm thinking those nudist colony folks never have to look at this.

By the way, all the clothes on the floor are clean, just waiting to be folded. That's nice.

I may be changing my opinions on nudist colonies. They might not be all that bad. No laundry, no folding, no putting away, and none of my all time least favorite, ironing.

As long as my neighbors weren't the same people who refused to take medicine and I could avoid witnessing a coughing or sneezing attack by a naked person, it might not be terrible.
And for sure no hamburgers because, you know, who would open the jar of hamburger dills?

Ick.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Does the NCAA know about this?

Ok, I read an article the other day in Sports Illustrated about an eighth grader signing a letter of intent to play basketball at a particular college. I, along with the author of the article, thought it was outrageous to be scouting so young.

Well, folks, we may have hit an all new record in early scouting. Go check out Em and Moody's blog to see what I'm talking about and to celebrate with us as we look forward to welcoming home the newest Red Raider. :)

Don't think for a minute I won't have an A&M onesie for that little muncher the minute they get off the plane!

Whoop!