Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Team Botanical is rapidly checking things off the to-do list and counting down the hours until we leave. Buddy's vacation began last night when we dropped him off at my parents' house. If I had to guess, I would say he started his day out with two cups of food, a round of tennis ball with my dad, and some physical therapy with my mom before curling up in a ball on the day bed. (He graduated from the tiled bathroom to the sewing room this visit. Such a big boy.)

We have a rough itinerary mapped out for our four nights in Rome and three nights in Venice, including a day trip to Florence. I just checked, and Rome's temperatures should be in the low 60s, and Venice in the upper 50s. I'm packing two cameras and a few extra memory cards, so prepare yourself for the onslaught of pictures. Yes, I will be that person.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


The lad is only three months old, and already he knows who's calling the shots. In the tri-state area alone, at least eight grown adults are poised and ready to cater to his every whim. And with a face like that, why shouldn't he get what he wants?

Click on the impage above for a few more pictures from Brennan's three-month professional photo shoot. Sherri said the experience was a little painful, but I am pleased with the final product. Especially since he's wearing the shirt I gave him. With that stinky little grin, no less.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pack it up, pack it in

As my little friend Clare would say, we have only three more "big sleeps" before Italy. Which means, of course, that the packing is in full swing.

This is always a troubling time for me. I know I don't need all those shoes, sweaters, T-shirts and jackets, but I just can't help it. The what ifs haunt me. In fact, I dwell on the what ifs so much that I am not above sneaking out of bed in the middle of the night and tucking the must-have items into some random pocket on our suitcase. As much as I hate being the ugly American with the ridiculous amount of luggage, I can't help it. I like having options.

When Sherri and I lived in the same apartment building, she would come over the night before I left on a big trip and question everything in my suitcase. This was immensely helpful, but there was also a lot of mocking involved. It was also inevitable that after she left I would go back and rescue some of the items from the discard pile.

Yes, not everything I've packed and will pack is practical, but when you buy clothes with a destination or event in mind, it's hard to deny them their moment in the sun. Even if you do have to pay a luggage surcharge.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sharing the love

Behold the handsomeness that is Brennan. Kind of sultry, no?

Click on the picture to view the entire Valentine's Day set, which features the well-intentioned by torturous gift I sent the little lad. Sherri said the photo shoot didn't go so well, as Brennan would not deign his mother with a smile. Could he by chance be stubborn? No idea where he got that.

In other Valentine's Day news, we're spending the evening at home with our neglected Lab. There's a good chance he will guilt me into giving him a bite of bacon-wrapped filet.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

All is well

I am not proud of what I had to do to get them, but I am now in possession of some excellent Brennan pictures. The Thole family is at peace once again.

Stay tuned for Valentine's Day cuteness.

Oh, yes I did

Since she has not heeded my requests for new Brennan pictures, I feel I must take the drastic step of calling my sister out in public. I'm not sure if a handful of friends and family members are technically considered the public, but that's neither here nor there.

And now, on to the calling out of Sherri:

Give me my pictures! Please do not deny an aunt her basic aunt privileges. While I love to receive them, the 15-second video clips and camera phone pictures are simply not enough. Pictures! I want pictures! And none of that low-res baloney, either.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A cry for help

Tonight we ran some errands in the Brentwood area and then stopped for dinner at -- you guessed it -- Houlihan's. This makes two visits in just over a week.

I would like to tell you that the recent issues we had with our home's plaster walls drove us to this pristine suburban oasis, but really, I just wanted the seared Ahi tuna salad. It has banana chips on it and is really quite delicious.

The dark side

This post is a little late, but since I spent so long playing around with the pictures, I decided they must have their 15 minutes of blog fame. Anyway, a bit of background: The Mitchell family came to visit us the weekend of February 1-3, and on Saturday we headed down to A-B for a brewery tour. Please note that this was Chip's first brewery tour. I know, I know. St. Louis born and bred, and it took him 30 years to get there. George and The Luce really did him a disservice.

While I am a devoted Schlafly girl, I must admit that the big brewery in town knows how to put on a tour. Plus, you can't beat the architecture. Or the horses! Three cheers for the Clydesdales, who live better than most of us.

My favorite part (besides the samples) was watching the Dalmatians truck around the stables in their sassy squall jackets. I have long dreamed of buying a red Land's End squall jacket for Buddy, so this just added fuel to the fire. Yes, Chip would hate it and Buddy would shred it in a matter of minutes, but just think of the photo opps! Why Chip and Buddy insist on denying me such pleasure, I will never know.

So, that's that. Click on the picture to view the set and some additional notes.

Friday, February 8, 2008

I knew this would happen

Frugal, impatient, masculine one that he is, Chip refuses to get his hair cut at a proper salon or barber shop. Instead, every two to three weeks he trots his bushy head of fast-growing salt and pepper hair into the Great Clips in Hampton Village. Even though he doesn't use the same stylist, it must be the Hampton Village location because "this way I can earn my free haircut." Trust me, I know everything that is wrong with that statement, but nothing can get him to change his mind.

In the past six months or so, Chip has grown his hair out slightly, and he finally settled on a consistent cut/style that he liked. Everything was going well, and I had given up my campaign to get him started at a reputable salon/barber shop.

The campaign revved back to life last night.

I was opening the mail when Chip came downstairs to welcome me home. He bent down to kiss me hello, and when I looked up, I shrieked. Seriously. My husband looked like a Q-tip. They had cut off all the glorious length and semi-curls on the top, but left the sides bushy. It was horrible. Round all over, like a puffy helmet. (The pictures do not do it justice.)

I screeched, "What did you tell him to do? What did you do? Why did he do that?" I ranted and raved for a good five minutes, telling him that he can never go back there and that this is what he gets, and oh heavens, this better grow out by the time we leave for Italy or he can't be in any of the pictures. He thought all of this was hilarious, of course. My "I can't even look at you!" statement didn't even phase him. He only laughed more. Which is a shame, because in a way, his laughter just encourages me.

I contemplated calling my stylist to see if we could rush him over to Highland for an emergency cut. I thought about storming into Great Clips. I tried to remember the name of the reputable-looking barber shop on Chippewa so I could call and see if they were still open. I wondered if I could fix it myself. We finally settled on a shower and restyling. When he came out, it looked better. Still bushy on the sides, but better. We reassessed the damage, made a plan of what to tell the inept stylist and then headed out for the return to Great Clips. I know, I know. I had doubts about going back to the scene of the crime, but this had to get fixed right away.

Chip dropped me off at Target so I could return some things (smart move), and when he came in to pick me up, I was relieved to see that my husband no longer looked like some skeezy dude with helmet hair. He was Chip circa 2004. I like the longer length better, but I can live with this.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A message from The Nephew

I am so glad Aunt Debbie bought me this snuggly bear outfit.

One, it keeps me warm when we're out on the cold Kansas tundra. Two, I look good. Ridiculously good. I know this for a fact, because my mom tends to take pictures of me when I wear it. Sometimes I even play along and smile.

Despite the adorable factor, the very best thing about this outfit is the attention my dog Hunter lavishes on me when I wear it. Normally he kind of ignores me (mom says he's in denial or something) but when I wear this, he is very interested in me. I think he may even want a matching outfit because sometimes mom catches him trying to take this one off of me. Come to think of it, it looks kind of like this:

That's how dogs give kisses, right?

Anyway, Hunter needs to back off, because there's no way this will fit him. But that's cool if he wants to wear matching clothes. I'm down with that.



Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Take me to the valley

Last night we had dinner at Houlihan's because they sent me a free entree certificate to use during my birthday month. There wasn't a price limit on this particular certificate, so, like the greedy person that I am, I ordered the most expensive item on the menu, because hello, IT'S FREE.

I am here to tell you that Houlihan's served me what was quite possibly the best filet I have had in my entire life. And I like me some steak. It rivaled anything I have had at Sidney Street Cafe, and that's saying a lot. It was deliciously seasoned, extremely tender and cooked to a perfect medium rare. It melted in my mouth. Also, I was pleasantly surprised to see that unlike most other chains, Houlihan's doesn't insist on serving all beef entrees well done. Kudos to them for not catering to the masses who think e. coli is lurking around every corner.

The filet was so good in fact, that after oohing and ahhing about it to Chip, I then went on to gush about it to our server. I think I scared her. Heck, I scared myself. I mean, you know this is how it starts, right? First you rave about a chain restaurant - and even blog about it - and then BAM! you're living in Chesterfield.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Give the people what they want

Well, well, well.

Everyone* thought it was so funny that I not only started but maintained this blog.
But then, what's this? I don't post for a week, and now they're begging for it.

Sure, they were mocking me. Sure, they only want to see pictures of the handsome guy up there. And I'm okay with that. I'll take readers any way I can get them. I have no qualms about using pictures of Brennan to further my goals of blogger domination**.

Note to the family: double-click on Brennan's pictures and you can see the set from this past weekend. I'll also add more photos from the Lindh family shindig when I get a chance.

*Everyone = Mom, Sherri and Chip
**Blogger domination of our family, at least