Monday, March 31, 2008

What a sight!

I was in the front yard yesterday with my kids and the neighbor kids, watching them all scooter and play. We were just hanging out, enjoying a beautiful Sunday afternoon. All of a sudden Big Daddy goes, "Look at all those birds!" So I turned quickly to see this ENORMOUS flock of birds! I think they must have been some type of crane, as they were huge, but they weren't calling like Sandhill Cranes usually do. They were pretty low and very quiet and there must have been well over 100 of them! I raced in the house as fast as I could to grab the camera, but they were pretty far away by the time I got back out. But I did manage to catch a decent image. It was a truly incredible sight! I have just never seen so many cranes in a single group, it was so cool! And just an FYI, you may want to click on the photo to get a better look.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Freezing my ass off in Texas!

Ok, it was damn near 90*F here yesterday and today it is in the low 60's and getting colder! I was to be "Hostess with the Mostess" at our park day today and spent the entire time walking around with my teeth chattering wishing I had NOT worn my flip-flops and capri pants! Weather forecasters in Texas stink! At least when I lived in Oregon the forecasters were never able to get it wrong! All they had to say was, "There is a good chance for rain today with moderate temperatures" and there you had it! Here the weather is so damn wishy-washy, well in the winter and spring. In the summer you can always bet on !00* and humid as hell. I can't believe I'm longing for those days! And I know, those of you in Minnesota think I'm a dork, but I've been climatized and 60-ish degrees is just too damn cold! Brrrrrrrrr!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Opt-out, save trees!

I am loving my Austin Monthly "Green Issue"! It has an article "50 Ways to Reduce Your Ecological Footprint" and I'm loving many of the ideas. One of the big things I have been struggling with for YEARS is junk mail. I found a site called 40-pounds or something like that, but you had to pay for the service, like $40 a year. Technically not bad, but if I can have a similar service for $1, I'm willing to give it a shot. There is a website called:

If you go to this site and choose the "Remove my name from those lists" box it will take you through several different processes to help you stop unsolicited junk mail. I opted out of several catalogs and opted out of ALL unsolicited mail. Now I do have to actually send in a form, with a check for $1, but it's worth a try. I highly recommend every one else doing the same. There was also a link to a place called "Opt Out Prescreen" that can stop all of those annoying credit card and insurance offers (those are the WORST!) They ask for some personal info, but you are NOT REQUIRED to give SSN or birthdate, they say it helps with the process, but I'm not giving out my SSN unless I HAVE to. I hope some folks find this info useful and are able to decrease your junk mail, courtesy of your little tree-hugging blogger mom!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What happens when you don't read labels!

I was doing a mad dash through the grocery store the other day. Just trying to get some of the staples to last us through the 3-day holiday (I DESPISE grocery shopping on weekends, especially holiday weekends!). Anyway, I grabbed a bottle of apple juice for the kids. I normally dilute the kids' juice, saves money and lessens the sugar impact on their teeth! When I got home the Monkey Man asked for something to drink, so I grabbed the new juice, poored it in the cup, diluted as usual and handed it to him. He got an awful stinky face and said it tasted yucky. So I grabbed it and tasted it to see what the problem was and it really did taste yucky! So I grabbed the juice and realized it was NOT our Mott's Apple Juice, it was the Mott's for Tots with 40% less sugar. So this may sound appealing, right? 40% less sugar, how can that be bad? Well, the reason it has 40% less sugar is because it has 40% less juice and 40% MORE water! What a dupe! I checked my receipt and sure as shit, I paid the same price for the diluted juice as I would have for the regular juice! It's just funny how the labeling makes it seem like you're getting such a great deal! Ooooo! 40% less sugar! What a crock! I will make absolutely sure that I grab the appropriate juice next time but with me diluting it with my OWN water, I'll make at least 60% more juice with 40% less sugar (and in turn buy less plastic bottles reducing my eco-footprint, ha-Ha!)

Calculating your footprint

I came across these sites while perusing my Austin Monthly magazine. One site calculates your "ecological footprint" and the other your "carbon footprint". Now granted, there is only so much a website can calculate as a tool for the general public, there are obviously other factors that would effect both of these things on an individual basis, whether for good or bad, but still, I thought it would be interesting to see where I landed in comparison to the national average and such. I was pleased to see that I ranked lower than most, but definitely not where I would hope to be as a good citizen of Mother Earth. For the past couple of years I HAVE been making an effort to reduce my use in many areas. I try to run all of my errands on one day and not during peak hours, I have been the recycling QUEEN for years, we have been replacing incandescent bulbs with the compact flourescents, and I always try to plant native plants in my garden so I don't have to water as much. I still have a long way to go, but I figure at least I am trying and I am trying to teach my children good habits as well. I want to leave them a healthy planet and I have to admit with this consumer crazy, disposable world it is HARD! Anyway, here are links to the sites, in case any of you are interested. Like I said, not the most accurate tools, but it gives you an idea of where you stand and maybe where you could improve!

Monday, March 24, 2008

The State of Homeschooling in the State of California.

There has been much hubbub about the February 28th ruling of the California Appellate Court of the Second District on homeschooling. They have determined that Californians don't have a constitutional right to school their own children. The only way it would be permissible is if the parent had teaching credentials for the specific year they are schooling for. So therefore a person with 4th Grade credentials couldn't teach a 6th grader at home. They also quoted a statement from a 1961 court case which is as follows:

"A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in
good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means
of protecting the public welfare."

Now I don't know about you, but that sounds kind of fishy to me! OK, granted, I'm all for teaching a child good citizenship, we have WAY too little of that in the US! But patriotism and loyalty to the state and nation? I would have to agree with Adam Schaeffer of the Cato Institute who notes, "they are training children to be loyal subjects of the state, not free citizens of a republic." As far as I'm concerned, patriotism isn't something that's taught, it is something that grows in the heart of an individual when they see that their country is something to be proud of. Just because you are born someplace does not mean you HAVE to be patriotic. I can think of plenty of things that I'm embarrassed about my country and my government, however, I also see that our country has done great things and offered valuable contributions to the world, so therefore I have a certain degree of patriotism. Did I learn this in school? No. Did I expect someone to "teach" me to be a patriot? No. That is my own personal journey. My reasons for being patriotic are likely very different from my neighbor's or the guy's at the grocery store.

I also take huge offense to the fact that this court states that parents do NOT have a constitutional right to school their children at home. Technically, if you read the constitution, you will also find that we don't have the constitutional right to a tax-payer funded education either. In fact, education is not mentioned in the United States Constitution. The creators of this document most likely felt that matters such as education should be handled at a level closer to home via family, local government, etc... So... if a tax-payer funded education is just one of those "perks" that we've gained over the years, that's great! I'm glad that it is available to those who want to take advantage of this perk, BUT I sure as hell should have the right to "opt out" of said benefit if I see fit.

Now all that being said, it is quite obvious that the attack on homeschooling has absolutely NOTHING to do with constitutional rights, and EVERYTHING to do with MONEY. The more of us that yank our kids out of school, the less funding they have. And homeschooling is becoming the scapegoat for all the problems. We have "abandoned" the school system and therefore are getting them less funding which is causing all sorts of problems. Um, hello? If I'm not mistaken, even though I homeschool, I still pay taxes, therefore I STILL support the public school system! I mean seriously, did I miss a little box on my tax stuff saying I can just not pay taxes for schools?

This whole thing has just been scary to watch. You always think of California as the state with an abundance of open-minded individuals! Obviously I was wrong on that one. And although I think Texas is back-asswards on many occasions, I am thrilled that this state is one of the front-runners in homeschool rights. We have a lovely little Supreme Court ruling called "Leeper vs. Arlington, ISD" which was finalized in 1994 protecting the rights of homeschooling families in this state. Guess I won't be planning a move to Cali anytime soon! I just hope this isn't a sign of things to come and a whole bunch of other states jump on this asinine bandwagon. I also hope that the California Supreme Court overrules this decision and allows the families of California to continue with their homeschooling as they see fit. It looks as though "The Governator" is on their side, but really what can he do? He can speak out against the stupidity, but that's about all. I guess we just wait and see.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

150th Post

For my 150th post, I considered doing a random, 150 things about me, but figured 150 things is ALOT. So how about I narrow it down to 50.

1. I've been happily married for 13 1/2 years!
2. I've got two SUPER cool kiddos.
3. I share my home with Otis the Wonderdog, or Otis Potis Who Drinks from the Commodus.
3. I grew up in New Mexico.
4. I currently reside in Texas.
5. I wish I still lived in Oregon!
6. I homeschool my kids.
7. I think farting is funny!
8. I hate fire ants!
9. My favorite sandwich is a meatloaf sandwich, mmmmmm!
10. I have one tattoo, hoping to get another one soon.
11. I love to cook, but HATE to clean up after myself.
12. I'm estranged from my father.
13. But I love my Mama and my in-laws.
14. I think Valentine's Day is STUPID.
15. I generally like animals more than people.
16. My favorite colors are emerald green and sunshine yellow.
17. I seem to always be the person who steps in gum (I suppose better gum than dogshit).
18. I color my hair because I am growing older kicking and screaming (and I've forgotten what my natural color is)!
19. Even after 2 kids, I still wear a size 5 (and I'm proud of myself for that!)
20. I think gumdrops are disgusting!
21. I think rice pudding is awesome!
22. I hate to drive.
23. I always paint my toenails, but NEVER paint my fingernails.
24. I'm a licensed massage therapist, but very rarely practice.
25. I have a degree in Biology with emphasis in physiology and zoology.
26. One of my biggest pet peeves is bad spelling.
27. Another big pet peeve is women that wear too much perfume, GAG!
28. I totally suck at sports!
29. But I take some pretty awesome photos.
30. I am loyal and trustworthy to a fault!
31. My favorite part of my body is my feet, they are long, slender and gorgeous when my toenails are painted!
31. My least favorite part of my body is my fingers, I chew on my hangnails when I'm nervous.
32. Sproingy food makes me gag (calamari, chicken skin, etc...).
33. I have never been overseas.
34. I like to garden, but think I suck at it.
35. I can lay tile and hardwood floors and paint like a son of a bitch!
36. Strawberries and fresh peaches are my favorite fruits.
37. If I wasn't married, I'd very much like to "do" Johnny Depp! ;-)
38. I drink hot tea, English style, every morning, even in the middle of summer.
39. I've always wanted to visit Australia, Scotland and Bora Bora.
40. I never intended to have children, but I have never loved anything so fiercely in all my life!
41. I used to have hair down to my arse!
42. My dream car is a 1963 black Corvette Stingray
43. I secretly wish my hubby had a Harley and would grow his hair back and get a tattoo!
44. I'm an only child.
45. Stupid people piss me off.
46. I want to write children's books.
47. I'm pretty sure I talk too much!
48. My favorite animals are otters and hippopotamuses!
49. When I grow up I want to be a roller derby queen!
50. I actually enjoy writing this stupid blog!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Counting the days!

My brother-in-law is to be married in June. Of course my parents-in-law will be here to attend the wedding. Out of the kindness of their hearts, they have offered to stay the week after the wedding to babysit the kiddos so Big Daddy and I can take a trip. We spent WEEKS combing the internet for a good deal. Hawaii... too expensive, Florida... too spring break, Caribbean... a little out of budget, Central America... do-able. Alright so where to go? We looked at Cabo and Puerta Vallarta, Mazatlan, Playa Del Carmen, thought about Belize or Costa Rica (unfortunately both were a little pricey), so where did we finally decide? Cozumel, Mexico. Cozumel is a little island off of the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, not far from Cancun or Tulum. We found a swanky all-inclusive little number that provides 4 restaurants, grills and buffets, all the liquor (top shelf included) and many excursions. We will get an hour with the dolphins at the dolphinarium next door and the hotel has a little pier where you can jump right into the water to snorkel. You can rent a convertible VW Beetle for $25 a day, or $15 for a scooter if you're brave enough! The hotel is within walking distance to the main downtown area and you can take a free ferry over to the mainland. I will have to figure out how to deal with the boat ride, me and boats don't jive (can you say GREEN!), but if I could hang we would be able to hit the mainland and take that tour of Chichen Itza that we didn't take and regretted the last time we were in the Yucatan. We will have a gorgeous ocean-view room complete with a hammock on the balcony and a two-person jetted tub that is situated so we can enjoy the view while hot-tubbing! Fun!

I am SOOOO looking forward to this! I have not had an honest to goodness VACATION for at least 6 years. In fact, I think the last true destination vacation was in 1996, Big Daddy and I hit Waikiki Beach on Oahu for a week after I graduated from college. So 12 years since our last vacation? That is just too damn long! I guess we'll be spending our government "stimulus check" in Mexico, ARRIBA! I just know that I'm achin' to have my toes in the sand and drink in my hand! Now for the hard part, waiting another 2 1/2 months before I can go!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I've run into a slump... again!

It's weird, there have recently been many things that I have wanted to blog about, HOWEVER, I just can't seem to get off my duff and do it! I was greatly amused by the announcement of the 7 NEW deadly sins (as if the first 7 weren't enough) and I am greatly disturbed by the state of California and the measures they are taking to keep parents from homeschooling unless they have teaching credentials. So both are good, meaty subjects, but I just have a block! I don't know if I'm just unmotivated, plain lazy or overwhelmed by a crabby baby and the whole rigamarole that I'm dealing with in regards to insurance policies and whatnot. It kind of seems like when it rains it pours! I feel like I have spent the entire week gathering quotes and crunching numbers. Insurance pisses me off! I think I finally have my ducks in a row as far as auto and homeowner's, but we decided to FINALLY get our shit together and get some life insurance, and of course dealing with the phone interviews to discuss health and the setting up of paramedics to come by and draw blood and take pee samples is just such a complete pain in the ass! But I guess I can't expect them to cover us for that kind of money without making sure we're not in tip-top shape. Still, what a pain! So, I promise at some point, I will have an entry worthy of viewing, but for now, I have to go get a squawking baby up from her nap!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A couple of random pics from NM

Why a picture of my feet? Because I can.

A red bush with snow.

Making snow angels.

Finished product.

Baby slippers.

I have returned!

As I am sure many of you can relate, it is always fun to get out of town and go visiting, but it is also SO nice to come home again. I think that is what vacations are all about. Get you away from your real life long enough to make you miss it! The week in Clovis was completely uneventful, and that was fine by me! My son spent time with his grandparents at their little framing shop, coloring, making bead necklaces and generally sweet-talking anyone and everyone who came in. I think he was a big hit! And the Piggle spent the week re-wrapping her grandfather around her little pinky finger. It is amazing to see the power of a 20-month old! We got to have dinner at our favorite little Japanese steak house. The kids LOVE watching the chef sling knives around and make volcanoes out of onions!

We were stunned when mid-week a snowstorm blew through! We were ill-prepared in the clothing department, but I went through the suitcase and my MIL went through the closets and we managed to bundle the kids up for at least a little bit of fun in the snow. My son has experienced snow 3 times prior, but the Piggle had never laid eyes on it (not something common in Central TX!) The Monkey Man had a blast making snow angels and throwing piddly snowballs, the Piggle is her mother's daughter for sure and the first instance that she lost her balance and sat in the snow, getting her hands wet, it was ALL OVER! That girl will be like me, I enjoy the snow, so long as I can sit inside by a fireplace with a cup of hot tea (English style) and a good book. Snow is GREAT as long as I can watch it from indoors! OK, I can swing an occasional snowman with the boy, if I have good gloves, but that is the extent of my snow play!

I managed to get to Roswell to visit my 91-year old grandmother. She recently bought herself a Wii and she and the boy "bowled" for hours! It was so cool watching the first generation (so to speak) play with the 4th generation! And it is so cool to know that he will look back at his time with her with great fondness. I only remember one of my great-grandparents and she was a grumpy old lady that wouldn't let me sit on her furniture because I was a dirty kid. No fun there!

Some other highlights included getting to visit with my hubby's aunt and uncle from Amarillo. They were also immediately wrapped around the Piggle's little finger, go figure! We did a little shopping and the Monkey Man came home with some bitchin' t-shirts. The Piggle got her first haircut, which is funny because she really didn't have that much hair, but what she did have was super whispy and getting into her eyes alot. So she now has blunt cut bangs and short in the back, very Buster Brown! She also received her first little pair of ballet slippers. Not saying that I necessarily think she will be a dancer, she might or might not, but my MIL knows a little girl that just loves to wear them. And my little girl loves to wear them too. In fact, she just found them and asked me to put them on her! Too cute!

I will post some photos of the trip in the next post. Glad to be back!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Taking some time off.

I have had a crappy couple of weeks, stomach flu, dealing with my crazy ass father (I'm sure there will be a post at some point regarding this insanity) and having to put my precious kitty to sleep. Luckily my in-laws called and said they had some frequent flyer miles and wondered if I would like to get the hell out of Dodge for a week! Nice! So I am off to Eastern New Mexico for a week, in the windiest time of the year! But it will be nice to break out of my mundane and remotely psychotic existence for a few days. And of course the kiddos are thrilled. It's always nice to visit Nana and Papa. So, don't be alarmed if I don't post, I'll be back in a week or so, maybe even sporting a couple of nice pics or stories! Ciao!

Miriam 1991-2008

She was a little, tabby cat that was known by alot of names... Miriam, Miriam Piriam, Baby Kitty, Meow Meow Baby Kitty Meow, Tooncy Pooncy, Toonces and lovingly, Bitchy Little Cat. Miriam was adopted some time in December 1991 while we lived in Albuquerque, NM. She was a kitten of 8 weeks old. I immediately began choosing names that started with "M" because of the sweet little tabby "M" that she had on her forehead (those of you with tabbies know what I'm talking about). She was mainly adopted so my hubby would have a kitty of his own as the only pets we had at the time were a snake and my 8 year-old kitty Amelia (who was a Mama's girl extraordinaire). I remember bringing her home and Amelia hissing at her right off the bat, but it didn't deter her a bit! And we spent the next year with an overly rambunctious kitten who didn't realize that 3 am was NOT the time to go zinging through the house like a wild cat! She was truly crazy and we were both covered in little scratches for years!

She eventually grew up and mellowed a bit and actually turned out to be quite a nasty, little cat in many respects. She loved my husband and tolerated me, but absolutely despised other people. She would hide under the bed and hiss at people if she had no hiding place. She literally made her mark on a good friend of ours when he picked her up and cradled her like a baby. She showed her ultimate disdain and contempt for this by practically ripping his face off. Not that I didn't warn him!

Miriam never got very big, she was always a short, stout, little thing with lovely tabby markings, a pristine white chin, piercing green eyes and the most wonderful caramel-colored belly I ever saw. In her later years, when I was sure she wouldn't shred my face, I used to pick her up and rub my cheek on that fuzzy belly... SO soft!

She was always the healthiest little cat. The only time she was ever at the vet for anything other than shots was when my brother-in-law's giganto iguana bit her on the ass on our wedding day! I was so lucky to have a happy, healthy little cat. One of her favorite things in the whole world was sun-bathing in any window she could find. I would constantly find her "caramel side up", laying on her back in the windows. It was so cute. Unfortunately in the long run, that wonderful, warm, relaxing habit may have been her ultimate downfall.

About 2 years ago, when she was 15-ish, I noticed a strange growth on the pad of her back right foot. We went to the vet, they aspirated it and determined that was some sort of tumor. We had surgery to remove the mass, which was identified as a fibrosarcoma. They felt pretty confident that they got good margins, but warned me that fibrosarcoma is usually very aggressive and regrowth was definitely possible. Sadly, the cancer re-grew rapidly, it began to cause serious pain. We tried many different types of meds to manage the pain, but it progressed to the point where she could hardly walk and she would viciously attack the tumor, causing it to bleed and become infected. After many months of trying to get the pain under control, I finally determined that there was nothing I could do to make her life bearable.

Yesterday I had to put my Baby Kitty to sleep. The decision disgusts me, the whole situation disgusts me. Other than that leg, she was a fairly healthy kitty. She ate well, drank well and she looked GREAT. But you could tell that the pain definitely had taken its toll. I keep trying to comfort myself with the thought that I freed her from a prison of pain. At this point, it's not really helping though. No matter how I look at it, she's gone and I could give a shit if it was the right thing to do or not, I just miss her.

So... Miriam Elise, I love you and I will NEVER forget you! I am so happy that I got to be your "Mommy" and I will miss your crabby, little ass more than you will ever know! Rest in peace sweet girl.