We are at Chili’s

Not really a big story here. We have started letting the kids take turns picking where we eat out after church Sunday. Actually, it’s much more complicated than that because Matthew made all the minor rules, but that’s it in a nutshell. So here’s the token picture of the kids…

Here’s a picture of Samuel at the Boosterthon Fun Run, with his teacher…

They threw colored cornstarch on the kids. He showered and came out with his hair still streaked blue and pink, and his face was still colored. So we went to my bathroom and I gave him the first bath I’ve given him in YEARS. But get this – he was too embarrassed to take off his clothes in front of me. ME. HIS MOTHER. So I bathed him in his swimsuit

Finally, during a recent thunderstorm, I took this picture of the dog. She’s terrified of thunder. I guess this is the indoor version of burying her head in the sand?  

I have a great video of Peter’s band performing Friday night but am having trouble getting it to upload. I will try to get it up soon. 

This entry was posted on October 2, 2016, in Family Life.

Pool, Day 29

So the decking is in, but not the stuff that goes between the bricks.  Which is okay because it still looks fantastic.

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I’m especially thrilled with how they did the edging.  These are cemented in, effectively creating a form that keeps the stones from moving over time.

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We’re getting there!

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Snickers is ready to have her yard back.

Today, they are cleaning up the backyard.  All the trash and stuff has been hauled off, and now they are power-washing the interior of the spa.

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According to our wonderful project manager, if we don’t run into any bad weather or delays, we will have plaster on Friday, which means we can swim!!!  I’m not getting my hopes up…much.

Pool, Day 24

I thought the stone masons would finish yesterday, but they did not.  This job of theirs is by far the biggest yet.  Today is the fourth day they’ve been working on our pool!  Thankfully, they finished by the end of the day and we are really impressed with the quality of their work.

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Also today, some guys came and dug down around the four t-posts that represent where the four arbor supports will be placed.  I’m not sure what that was all about, but I’m all for anything that looks like progress.

Because, really, I’m not sure how much longer I can take not having a backyard.  Especially since the dog has apparently decided that the Game Room offers a nice alternative to the outdoors when the need to poop arises.

Yeah.  We need our yard back.


Pool, Day 23

The stone masons are back!!!



I am so. very. relieved.  After yesterday, I wasn’t sure I could take another day with no progress.

Mother’s Day began when I awoke to discover I had slept through my phone’s alarm.  I have a clock app I’m using ever since my actual alarm clock bit the dust, but sometimes, it goes silent on me for no apparent reason.  So I had slept through it because it was going off silently.  Maybe if  I slept with my eyes open…

I got in the shower and tried to hurry, but just as I was rinsing my hair, I heard what sounded like a siren.  I stopped and tried to listen and then realized it was a siren – a tornado siren!  Brad burst through the doors to the bathroom and said “Siren!  I’m going to get the kids!”.  I turned off the shower, wrapped up in a towel and shrugged into my robe.  I was thinking about everything I should be doing – putting on shoes, in case there’s glass after the tornado hits our house.  Putting on clothes, because who wants to be on the news in their robe?  But the siren was sounding, the dog was frantic, and I could hear the thunder rumbling.  I grabbed for the only thing that really mattered – my iPhone – and got to the closet just in time to see the boys finish clearing out space.

Because our tornado closet is also our Sam’s closet, this is what the hallway looks like when we have to all cram in to it.

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Samuel’s spot is behind the file cabinet.  Matthew next to him.  Peter directly in front of the two of them.  Brad and I stand at the front, so we can try to watch the TV in the living room report on what’s going on.

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Of course, if this stupid little weather radio – the one I bought at Sam’s just a few months ago – hadn’t died, we could have listened to it.  I think the sirens frightened it to death.

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When the sirens stopped and the tornado warning lifted, we left the closet and put the kids in the living room so we could keep an eye on them.  The dog was still frantic, but as it was still thundering and raining, I figured it was just her fear of storms.  The kids – remembering it was Mother’s Day, and somewhat oblivious to the fact I was still in my robe with wet hair – decided it was a good time to give me all my gifts.  I did what any mother would have done…accepted graciously.

My first gift came from Samuel.  He made me a card and this little book with writing prompts.  This page reads “My favorite dish that my mother makes is bisckets [biscuits]. She makes it like this…She puts some do [dough] on a pan then makes it look like her bisckets [biscuits] then cooks it in the oven.”  (Okay, so he’s only ever seen me make frozen or refrigerated biscuits.)

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This page really offended me at first.  It says “The funniest thing that ever happened to my  mother is…wen [when] she farted.  SUPER loud.”  I looked at Samuel and said “What are you talking about?  When did this happen?”  He nonchalantly shrugged and said “Oh, a couple of weeks ago.”  That’s Samuel-speak for “I have no idea”.  When I told Brad about the page, he shrugged and said “He’s a boy.  Of course he thinks bodily noises are funny.”  Ha ha.


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Matthew’s gift was a book he made at school, too, only his made me cry, because in just a few weeks, he is leaving Elementary School behind and heading to Middle School.  And seeing him in a cap and gown was just a little more than I could handle.

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Peter gave me a $25 Amazon gift card.  That he bought with his own cash.  Secretly.  At some point in the past few weeks, he took his wallet with him to Target, waited for me to head off to buy groceries, then bought that gift card for me using his own money.  I’ve never loved him more.

After all the gifts and hugs and kisses and tears, the storm seemed to be lessening so I sent the boys upstairs to get ready for church.  Brad appeared to tell me he was having a massive nose bleed and needed to lie down, then confirmed that we would not be driving through the storms to go to Sunday School, but would leave an hour later to attend church.

I sighed.  I was finally going to get my cup of coffee.

Except, right about then, Peter started calling out “SNICKERS!!!!  NOOOOOOO!!!  OH NO SNICKER!  OH GROSS!”  Simultaneously, the other two boys started yelling at me that Snickers was peeing in Peter’s room.  I raced upstairs with paper towels in hand as Peter dragged the dog downstairs and outside.  Where, of course, she did nothing because she had emptied her entire bladder on Peter’s floor.

I cleaned up the mess, got the carpet cleaner out and used it to try to rid the room of the smell, then went down to get ready for church.  I was finally able to have that cup of coffee.

We made it to church, and to lunch with Brad’s family after to celebrate Mother’s Day, then just about the time we were finishing eating, another tornado warning was issued near our home.  As we left the restaurant in downtown Dallas, I read on Facebook that a house was struck by lightning and caught fire.  The house was next door to the home Brad’s brother and sister-in-law occupied up until just a few years ago, and it’s in a neighborhood just a few miles South of our own.  The attic and parts of the second floor burned before the fire department could arrive.

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We went home and proceeded to vigilantly watch the news as the storms in our area continued to produce dangerous tornadoes.  The dog was acting strange, but with the weird weather, it wasn’t a real surprise.  Brad took her out and she peed, then when she wouldn’t settle down and kept whining at the door, he took her out again.  When she didn’t do anything the second time, he declared her done outside for the night.  But she just kept whining and trotting around the living room and nothing we said or did would get her to settle down, so I took her out and she pooped. Only the dog still wouldn’t settle down.  She finally started vomiting, right in the middle of on our new rug.


Brad jumped up to get the dog outside, while I started working to get the reddish colored vomit off our cream-colored rug.  Did I mention it’s brand new?

While I was still cleaning the rug, and Brad was outside with the dog, Peter started yelling that she had thrown up outside his  room too.  Then on his way downstairs, saw the Game Room, where there was a LOT of dog poop.  I finished with the rug, then headed upstairs with a roll of paper towels and the carpet cleaner.

The mess was finally cleaned up, and thankfully, that ended the drama for the night.  I have never been so glad to see Mother’s Day end.  I think next year, I’m going to stay in bed!

Pool, Day 18-19

I’m depressed.

There is nothing happening on the pool, except for the electricians, who came yesterday to hook everything up to the breaker box in the garage.  They were at the house just long enough for the dog to slip past me and get loose in the neighborhood.

May I rant for just a moment on this topic?

The dog is infatuated with the neighborhood, apparently, and I suppose it doesn’t help that we don’t walk her everyday.  Or ever, really.  So whenever she sees a sliver of light, she runs for it.  Before the pool build (BPB), she could spend time in the backyard and that somewhat satiated her thirst for running about the neighborhood, but that’s no longer an option.  So she runs away whenever she can.

She comes back, of course, but not before causing major concern among our neighbors, as illustrated by the post that popped up on Nextdoor soon after she escaped yesterday:

Chocolate colored Doberman loose

Yeah, that was our dog.

Then, on our neighborhood group on Facebook, this was posted:

Snickers on FB

Someone’s dog is loose and has been barking a lot in our driveway.. Didn’t want to go too close to look at tags

Yeah, that’s our dog.

I messaged the person who wrote the post to ask her for a street, as I was driving around looking for her when it was posted.  She didn’t reply.  I wrote under the post that I was looking for her, and would appreciate help locating her, to which several people responded “like” but no one mentioned where she was.  That was SUPER helpful.  After searching for a while, I came home to make sure she had not returned like she normally does after an hour (it had been two).  She was standing by the front door, her body pressed up against it, barking to be let in.

Thanks so much, dog.

Finally…The Vacation Post!

For Spring Break, we rented a little cabin in Arkansas, at a place in the Ouchita Forest.  It was amazing.  I loved sitting on the back porch, feeling the cool breeze and looking out at the trees surrounding us.

I could also see a horse and hear it whinny from time to time. They offered horseback riding there – really trail riding – but unfortunately, you had to be at least 9 years old to ride alone, and Samuel is only 8. He could go, but would have to ride double with me or Brad, and having been there and done that before, I wasn’t about to spend all the money they were asking for the privilege. And it was a ridiculous amount of money. To sit on a horse and watch the back of the horse’s behind in front of you for an hour. I’d rather walk the trails, thank you.

There was an interesting mix of Cedar and Pine trees there. And Oak. We saw all a lot of cool things during our hikes. Our first was just on the property. We had a little hand-drawn map and what appeared to be a trail – although I use the term loosely. We walked down to the river, then followed a harrowing trail with one edge that was a sheer drop-off to the swollen Ouchita River and the other a steep hill. Or mountain, as the boys described it. Eventually, we had to move up the hill and the trail, which involved grasping at tree limbs and bushes and whatever you could reach to pull yourself up and keep from sliding down into the water. The boys scrambled up like it was nothing, of course, while I was just glad I kept from spraining an ankle or rolling back down into the water. That hike, which was supposed to be a short jaunt around the property, ended up taking around two hours and probably a few miles. Funny thing is, by the time we realized we didn’t want to make the entire round trip, we were through some of the worst parts of the trail and didn’t want to backtrack.

The boys quickly grew tired of walking, just about the time we realized we were going to have to make the entire trip. They started acting like they were going to pass out, complaining of thirst and hunger and anything else they could think of.  I was contemplating putting Samuel on my back when Brad whispered that I just needed to wait until they found something to take their mind off of it.  Sure enough, they found a fallen tree to bounce on and took off running as if they hadn’t a care in the world.

When we got back to the cabin, we had a “rest time” (aka, “give mommy a chance to nap time”), then took off for another hiking trail that was nearby. This time, we knew where we were going (sort of) and how long the trail was (1.8 miles out and the same length back). And again, we forgot to bring drinks. Thankfully, I brought my cellphone. It turned out to be invaluable because it has a compass app on it. I honestly never dreamed when I saw that on my cellphone I would ever have need of it, but lo and behold, I used my compass.

We didn’t hike the full way because, hello??? 1.8 miles!!! But we went a good distance – further than we had planned, in fact, and Brad and I sprinted part of it when the two little boys disappeared ahead of us and didn’t respond to our repeated attempts to call them back. I was proud of myself for not panicking for a full minute or two. But then I started imagining them missing the trail and getting lost in the woods and it getting dark and they wouldn’t know where to go and they would be cold and I could just picture the people volunteering to come sweep through the woods…and then we found them, running merrily along the trial ahead of us, splashing through mud puddles and having a blast. They were very sorry. They are even sorrier the next day, when they lost all screen time for the day. You wouldn’t think screen time would be a big deal staying in a beautiful cabin in the Ouchita Forest of Arkansas, but then again, you wouldn’t expect to find a hot tub on the back porch either. Or a flat screen TV with Dish Network. But there you have it – I agreed to vacation in a cabin in the woods, so long as there were proper amenities.

No one enjoyed the hot tub as much as Samuel.
No one enjoyed the hot tub as much as Samuel.
Driving to Arkansas, we went through some rain and fog, just about the time we got into the mountains…and some pretty winding roads.  Even Samuel was complaining of feeling car sick by the time we found a place to stop and catch our breath.
Our first night there, it rained.  And since every meal I planned involved the grill, my man did what he had to do – he grilled holding an umbrella.
Inside the cabin, the rest of us stayed nice and dry.  In fact, we had a fire every night we were there – the place replenished our supply of wood whenever we ran low.
FireplaceThe upstairs loft had two twin beds and the boys took turns sleeping up there – and one night, Samuel slept on the floor between the beds.
LoftBut once Matthew had a turn on the couch downstairs, he decided he preferred it to the loft and that became his new bed.  That was fine at night, but during the day, when we all wanted to use his bed, it caused a lot of conflict.
Here’s some nature pics from our trip, in no particular order:
On our last full day in Arkansas, we drove up to Queen Wilhelmina State Park.  Unfortunately, we didn’t bother to look at the website and see that it closed in March 2012 for major renovation and will not reopen until early 2015.  That was kind of a bummer, but we got to see some pretty spectacular views on our way down the mountain, so we weren’t disappointed.  Plus, there was a train!

Someone built this as a summer home years ago. It had something like 4 stories, including the basement.

different side


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The Vacation That Almost Wasn’t

Let me start by making something clear: I like to shop as much as the next girl. I really do. But somehow, car shopping isn’t nearly as fun as shopping for a new pair of cute sandals or a new outfit at Nordstrom. It’s just not.

Add to it that I spent today car shopping in 90 degree heat – which is actually pretty mild for South Texas (it’s only June) – and that I’m doing it in San Antonio. Where our car died on IH-10 yesterday. And you’ve got a pretty bad start to our week off.

The good news is that I found a new (to us) car. The bad news is that it’s white. As in, only slightly better than the grey of my old van. But it’s 5 years newer, and is a pretty pimped out ride…as much as a minivan can be anyway.

Speaking of my old van, it was a pretty tense couple of minutes on the freeway yesterday, when we started smelling smoke and realized it was coming from our car. Then the car dropped out of gear and we literally had to coast off the highway to a place where Brad could check the engine.

Yep. It was smoking alright.

But God is so good! We were extremely close – just a couple of miles – from a Honda dealership! Brad pulled in, we piled out of the car – all of us including the dog – and waited for them to confirm what we already suspected, that our transmission got really angry and blew up. Actually it blew a gasket – apparently a really important one, because it leaked all the fluid out (sorry, San Antonio) and seized up.

You know what really is ironic about that? We JUST PAID to have Aamco look at the transmission. Again. And they put some kind of engine mounts that were apparently made of pure gold onto the engine so it wouldn’t shake or something. I’m not very good with the technical stuff. I know you’re shocked.

Also, I spent like 2 hours without wifi at Goodyear getting the brakes fixed just last week!!! All that time and money down the tubes because when we heard the cost of the repair on our car was almost exactly the same amount that the car was worth, well, we just threw in the proverbial towel. There’s only so far you can go until words like “money pit” start coming to mind.

So that was yesterday. Again, thanks to the providence of God, my mom was able to come pick us up in her SUV – just took her around 40 minutes to get here – and we all packed in like sardines. That’s the point at which it really hit us that we were in need of some new wheels.

So today I rode back to San Antonio with my parents, who were already headed this way, and walked around sweltering hot car lots until I thought the soles of my cute sandals were going to melt and become one with the pavement. But my perseverance paid off! Because we now have a way to get home, which will become infinitely more important after I spend the next few days lying around in the A/C at my parents’ house.

Let the real vacation commence!!!