Friday, May 30, 2008

My hero

Yesterday as Chip cruised down I-44, he noticed that the small truck and trailer ahead of him was fishtailing and weaving in and out of its lane. The truck then spun around, slammed into another car and scattered its load of 2x12 pieces of wood all over the road. Luckily, no one was hurt and all of the traffic behind the cars was able to stop in time. My heroic husband jumped out of his car, checked on the people in the affected cars and then he and the other motorists quickly started moving the 2x12s to the side of the road. So brave! So strong!

Of course, it took about three tellings of this story before I received an accurate account of what happened. Chip does love his tall tales, and he enjoys nothing more than getting me caught up in one of them. In the first telling, his role as a "first responder" had him calling 911, pulling people out of cars, providing first aid and barking orders to his fellow motorists. The second round had him moving the 2x12s off the road by himself and then waving his necktie around to direct traffic. And by the third round, finally, the truth (available in the first paragraph).

Digging for the real story did get tiring, but since Chip jumped to a stranger's aid without giving it a second thought, I guess I can't begrudge him an embellishment here and there.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

On a tear

Lunchtime errand running brings out the best and the worst in me. The positive side to this weekly task is that because I'm usually crunched for time, I can't dilly-dally. This means I only buy what's on the list, which is pleasing to the husband and the budget. (Today's reward was ranch dressing instead of vinaigrette on my salad. I know, again with the indulgent behavior.) The negative errand effects are few, but they do exist. Because I'm zipping around, my already-limited patience is severely stretched. Here are two of the offenders I encountered today:

  • The Persnickety Parker: This person's car is so terribly precious that he feels the need to do one or all of the following: back into a parking spot; park in an excruciatingly slow manner at the end of the parking lot I am trying to exit; and/or take up two prime spots. Really, now, does parking your Lincoln crossover really require such drastic measures? If so, maybe you should only take it out early in the morning or late at night -- not during prime shopping hours. And, of course, cabs and public transportation are both good options.
  • Senorita Seat Belt: It's 2008, but apparently people still think seat belts are optional. Lady, if you eschew safety for fear that the seat belt will wrinkle your printed cotton pullover, that is fine by me. But for the love of Pete, put a seat belt on that small child sitting next to you. Seriously. Also, dear lady, you are lucky that the light turned green when it did, because my window was down, the radio was off and I was prepared to issue a Chip-like "SEAT BELT!" whilst motioning wildly with my own seat belt. Apparently we're now both turning into Dos.

All of this was so terribly distressing that I had no choice but to nab a dessert left over from today's lunch meeting. Thank you, Aramark. Your turtle brownie turned my frown upside down.

Gum gripe

Okay, yes, I will admit that my chewing gum phobia is a little weird. For those of you who weren't aware of it until now, don't take this little confession as an invitation to torment me or make jokes, because I will freak. Everyone has their thing and this is mine. I don't wave insects in front of people who are scared of bees and spiders, and I ask that people show me the same courtesy.

Anyway, I bring this up for a reason. For the most part, I can deal with gum and gum chewers just fine. However, I recently noticed an increase in chewing, chomping and smacking in the work place. I don't know, does the warm weather bring it out in people? Either way, it's seriously disgusting. And distracting. I wear ear buds to drown out the cow-like noises. I am silent at times because if I don't bite my tongue, I would probably start mooing at the repeat offenders. And that could cause a problem.

I swear, it's not just my phobia talking. I say this out of concern: sloppy gum chewers look foolish. I am not 9 years old, and cracks and bubbles do not impress me. So, if you must chew, please chew the same way you would at the dinner table. Quietly, with your mouth closed and without the smacking.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The pool boy

Brennan is currently on va-cay with the Jones family. In case you can't tell by the matching swim trunks, everyone was very excited about outfitting the lad for his first sun and fun getaway. Click here for a few more of the little flipper.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Mad love for lists

After last weekend's schedule, Chip and I are looking forward to a low-key Memorial Day weekend. This is not to say we will be sunning and getting sauced in the backyard while Buddy manages the squirrel population. Well, there will be saucing, but only after careful review of THE LIST and completion of a predetermined number of tasks. Maybe this will be the weekend when we cross off so many tasks that Chip will be forced to consolidate and rewrite THE LIST. One can dream.

I don't know exactly what Chip's mental to-do list looks like, but here's mine:
  • Friday: Clean the house. I love starting the weekend with a clean house. I know, I know. I am way too lame for my 32 years. I do miss the days when Friday meant a happy hour followed by aimless exploration of various watering holes, but darn it if a clean house doesn't get me equally buzzed. Once the house is clean, I will convince Chip that he wants Mexican for dinner.
  • Saturday Morning: Walk Buddy up to the Tower Grove Farmers' Market to see what's available. Hopefully I can get my hands on some fresh lettuce. Again with the lameness, I know. But you must admit that locally-raised produce is delicious. And Buddy loves to soak up the admiring glances of the other dogs and their owners.
  • Saturday Afternoon: Weed out the house plants and fill empty pots with annuals. I'm sorry, fellas, but your time has come. And I need color, which sadly, house plants cannot provide. I will then douse the outdoor potted plants with a mixture of water and cayenne pepper in an attempt to keep the squirrels from digging.
  • Saturday Evening: Head over to a BBQ with some neighbors on the next block. Most of the people on our street are either 50+ or kinda kooky, so we're all jazzed about the abundance of seemingly normal 30-somethings on Shenandoah.
  • Sunday: Church, brunch, paper reading and smoking something on the Weber. I have a hankering for ribs, and nothing says summer like some saucy slow-cooking goodness.
  • Monday: My parents are coming over to help with a few house projects. Chip is great at fixing things, but I'm not quite so dependable, and some tasks require two able bodies. Luckily, I am authorized to offer up my Dad's services in such cases. Thank heavens for the Denis card. The weekend barbecuing will then conclude with the ultimate summer small-town delicacy: pork steaks.

So, since there is a purpose to Memorial Day beyond grilling and gardening, I would be remiss if I didn't thank our uncles and family friends who served in previous wars, as well as Chip's cousin Alexander who is stationed at Ft. Hood following his year-plus stint in Iraq.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thanksgiving in a jar

At Brennan's six-month appointment, the pediatrician told Sherri and Brian that Brennan could start eating baby meat. After clarifying that baby meat doesn't mean veal or lamb chops, Sherri zipped over to the grocery store and picked up some tasty pureed meat for Baby B. I must admit, the thought of pureed turkey or beef makes me want to gag. The same holds true for my sister, which is why she opted for the sweet potato and turkey mix, a.k.a. Thanksgiving in a jar. Brennan is a big fan. He's not so sure about the cereal puffs Sherri also introduced this week, but Hunter and Holly are really enjoying the ones he throws on the floor. They're thinking this baby thing might work out to their advantage after all.

I guess meat eating also means that Brennan is ready for the high chair, because Sherri rolled that out this week as well. Click here to see more of little B in a big chair.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The parenting practice sampler special

Last Friday Chip and I took his cousin Erika's little girls to the St. Margaret of Scotland church and school picnic at Tower Grove Park. Yes indeed, we were responsible for a four-year-old and a two-and-a-half-year-old for two whole hours. In a public setting, with cars and people and everything. It was one part fun, one part terrifying.

Oh my word, do those kids ever move fast! How do you keep track of two kids amidst a sea of other fair-haired children? Why does every single child sounds the same? (Squeaky. They sound squeaky.) How do you have a conversation with someone when you're trying to keep one charge's fingers out of the carefully decorated desserts, and the other child from overfilling her cup of lemonade? Most importantly, I noticed it's nearly impossible to hold -- much less drink -- a beer when you're fetching cookies, keeping kids in line and trying to decide between face painting or balloon animals. And no, Isabella, both is not an option. But I respect the fact that you tried.

Keep in mind that Isabella and Sofia are great kids who actually play along and let us think we're in charge. Sure, Sofia stalked off across the field when told she had to wait in line, and Isabella melted down when I denied her cheese balls, but that's not so bad. Really, my concern is for Chip and me when the charges are actually our own and we can't return them after two hours. Especially when the person who is supposed to be backing you up is a total pushover and forks over the previously-refused cheese balls at the first sign of a whimper. That's right, Chip is the weak link. I think the girls can smell his fear.

Click here for the full SMOS set.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Give my people a post

It's been a week between Brennan posts, and Baby B is not happy. I'm sure the same holds true for the Thole and Jones families. But enough about them, he says.

Brennan made it through his most recent photo session with flying colors. Apparently at one point he got tired of lying on his stomach and holding up his head, so he collapsed in a wailing heap. I don't think that's so bad considering there were two outfit changes. Chip pretty much has the same reaction whenever I ask him to change his outfit.

In other Brennan news, the tooth count is holding at two, but he now laughs on demand. Sherri sent me a video this weekend, and in it you can hear her saying, "Laugh. Laugh! LAUGH!" followed by the cutest laugh ever. Of course, Brennan was then distracted by some shiny object on his exersaucer, but these things happen.

Click here for a few more from Sunday, or start here if you want to see a few additional pictures from last week.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Paid in full

Today I mailed off my final student loan payment to the U.S. Department of Education. A full six months early, I might add. Yes, 10 years after I graduated from Mizzou, but still, six months early. Yet another example of my financial wizardry.

I made each and every payment, but really, who am I kidding? My parents did all the work. They may not have paid off my college loans outright, but they made it possible. Even though financial aid was as new to my parents as it was to me, they did their research and covered outside expenses so I didn't have to fret about books, housing and course payments during college. Statements like "you will get academic scholarships," "you will graduate in four years" and "you know what you should do with that extra money?" certainly kept me on track. Thank heavens for them. Oh, and for the fat checks they would stuff in our Christmas stockings when Dad received a particularly good bonus. Leave it to them to share the love.

Speaking of love, I also need to thank Chip, who, even after a year or so of marriage, still covers all of our household expenses except groceries and the ADT bill. (I know, sweet deal, right?) This, as well as his hate of anything with an outstanding balance, certainly helped me pay this off early.

Anyway, it's nice to have this off the list. What a good feeling.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to research cars and other large purchases that require loans. It's time to celebrate.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Play to the whistle

It takes me a little while to get rolling in the morning, and my coffee-swilling comedian of a husband routinely takes advantage of this fact. Example one, this morning's exchange of good-bye wishes:

Chip: Have a good day.

Me: You have a good game, too.

Chip: Did you say good game? Okay, you may be taking this Team Botanical thing a little too far.

As I made my way down the back stairs, he let out a "Ready, break!" and gave me a football player-worthy smack on the bum.

We are all about the romance.

Monday, May 12, 2008

On the prowl

To quote Buckwheat, Brennan is lookin' pa nub.

When he's not drinking formula or getting caught without his binkie, Brennan enjoys the following activities: pulling his mom's hair and laughing; trying new pureed foods; scrunching up his face; producing ear-shattering squeals; and growing his ever-expanding collection of teeth. All potential suitors will be screened by Crazy Aunt Debbie.

Click here for a few more of the little heart breaker.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Why we call him "The Face"

"Oh, senorita, you cannot say no to my pound puppy eyes.
You will give me the treats now, yes?
And I will not shake, nor will I lay. You will just give me the treats.
Quickly, quickly now. Just like I taught you. Good, that's a good lady.
You may pet me now. Briefly. That will do."

I'm playing with a new camera, so here are a few more of my patient little pet. I know the experts recommend getting on the same level as your pet, but if I do that The Face gets up in my face, and licking and/or dominating ensues. It's not easy trying to capture the cuteness.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Thirty-six years of fun

Today is my parents' 36th wedding anniversary.

Holy cow, that's a long time. And to think, it almost came to an end when they were hanging curtains in their newly built home. Yes, they built an entire house together while they were engaged (Dad likes to say he had to marry Mom because he couldn't afford to buy her out), but apparently it all came to a head when they went to hang the curtains. For some it's painting, for others it's wallpapering. With my parents, it's curtain hanging. They just don't do it. Hey, whatever it takes to make a marriage work.

Curtain catastrophes aside, Sherri and I couldn't ask for better parents, or for a better example of how this married bliss thing is supposed to work. Love you, and thanks.

Point taken

A portion of last night's dinner conversation is below. Yes, Sherri, this is for you.

Me: So, Sherri wouldn't get off my case about putting up those pictures of Brennan and Fredbird. I told her I was really busy at work, but she kept emailing me about it. I mean, hello, I have work to do, too.

Chip: Well, you do sometimes give off the impression that you don't. So I guess I can see her point.

Of course

I'm supposed to get my photo taken at work today for one of our newsletters. So I shellacked my hair, wore a pink collared shirt and actually put on a necklace. I even rode the shuttle across from the parking lot so my hair wouldn't get all windblown. Seriously, I put some thought into this looking like the consummate professional thing.

I just checked my calendar to see what time I'm supposed to be at the photo studio. The appointment is tomorrow. Of course. Well, I hope my coworkers like this look, because they're seeing it tomorrow in blue.

Monday, May 5, 2008

And I dressed him in green

Brennan had the pleasure of making Fredbird's acquaintance when he was in town last weekend. Before hitting the road on Sunday, Brennan and Brian met the Jones family for breakfast at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark. Brian said that when they entered the hotel, his mom came rushing over and whisked Brennan off to get pictures taken with the feathered one.

When Brian told us this story, my first comment was, "Oh no, I dressed him in a green sleeper. Sherri's not going to be happy about that one."

This is what I get for wanting to dress the kid in comfortable clothes for once. Sorry, B, but it's back to the collared shirts and pants for you.

Another message from The Nephew

Dear Mom,

Stop bossing around Aunt Debbie. She assures me that she will write a post when she has a minute.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Tall tales

When I started my illustrious blogging career four whole months ago, I pledged that I would remain true to my fan base. No, I would not let the fame and glamour of having a free blogger site get to me. As my readership grew (now in the double digits!), I would remember where I came from and who first read my blog. You may find this hard to believe, but one of my initial readers was, in fact, not related to me. Well, she is married to my second cousin, but when your family is as large as mine, does that really count?

Anyway, I think most of you know Jeana. (Cori and Sue, that's "Tall Jeana" to you.) Jeana and Kevin are the proud parents of Claire (heart that name), who is one of the happiest 10-month-old babies I know. She's also cute because, hello, she is a Thole. Here are two of my very favorite Claire pictures.

"Do I have a story for you ..."

"... and I swear, it was THIS big!"

I know, her face isn't the least bit expressive, right? Click here for a few more.