Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Good Things

Martha Stewart's magazines have a feature called "Good Things" which is sort of her like her monthly favorites or easy simple ideas (as opposed to the regular feature length articles she publishes, which if any of you know of mine and Kellie's forays into Martha Stewart Craft Land, you'll know that they aren't always so easy :o) So here is our list of Good Things and a Christmas recap:Firstly, a former coworker from KW had her baby on Monday morning, a healthy baby girl. Anna and her husband Marcus have been praying for a long time for such a wonderful gift and went through IVF in order to have her. Congratulations to the Jenkins family! We are so thankful that things went well and that Abby Lu is healthy and perfect. Not to mention dang cute!

Secondly, we visited with the hand surgeon today and the good news is that there won't be a need for surgery to regraft the skin or to repair the tendon. Michael still doesn't have proper sensation in the tip of his finger, but his finger is still a bit swollen, so it may be a little bit before he does regain feeling in the tip of the thumb. He goes back to see Dr. Sharma in one more week to determine whether or not they'll need to go in and check it out, but he hopes to not have to and is very impressed with how things have progressed.

Thirdly, we had a wonderful Christmas. We had hoped to avoid having to do extensive traveling and multiple Christmases, but it didn't go quite as planned. We spent Christmas Eve with Michael's mom as we have in the past and we had a great time. Judy gave Sybilla the cutest little wicker rocking chair EVER, which Billa loves to push around since it slides so well on the carpet. She gave us gift cards to be used towards a much needed date night, which we are planning on using very soon. Michael received the traditional cologne and toy, which happened to be a remote control helicopter. She also gave them to her SO Carl and his brother in law Gary. Of course, the three boys HAD to open them and wanted to have helicopter fights, but we found out that two of the three were set for the same channel, so they could only go one on one sadly. Hilarity and hijinks ensue. Of course I was not able to capture it all on film since we had yet to get our camera that evening.

Christmas day went well, with us getting up and having a low-key Christmas morning. I've attached pictures for your perusal! Later on we had Michael's dad, step mom to be, and his sister come over and we unwrapped presents. I now have a mighty collection of FIVE rolling pins, thanks to having received three of them as gifts. I have no idea on how to display them, but I will figure it out. My parents came not too long after (my brother David was sick back at the ranch with a sinus infection and Philip stayed up way too late with his friends. Whatever. They missed out on all my enchilada goodness. Hosers.) and we all enjoyed a massively good meal of enchiladas, tamales, rice and beans. I had several platters of random homemade cookies, candies, and goodies for dessert, along with chips, homemade salsa, guacamole, and queso. Ah, Mexican Christmas! Sanchez Claus was good to us all.

Why are we up so early?

It's Christmas!? Yes!

Sybilla opening her presents

I love my new bathtoy!

Daddy got some initialed hankies... thanks Mommy, er, Santa!

After everybody left, Michael and I just lazed about and then headed down the street to the Marino's house to deliver their presents. I still have yet to get Anthony to install my keyless entry on the car (yay!) and they also gave us a new receiver, since they inadvertently blew ours up by overheating it. We gave the kids goodie bags which they LOVED; apparently Madeleine is still carrying hers around a week later. That was one of my favorite memories as a kid; a former work associate of my dad's would send me and my brothers coffee cans wrapped in fun paper that contained a caboodle of fun toys, candies, and dime store games. I miss those immensely, which is why I go crazy with the stocking stuffers every year!

A couple of nights later Uncle Zander and Aunt Sarah came and bestowed new bath toys and a fisher price baby doll stroller upon Sybilla. She had a blast running back and forth in the living room with the stroller and she keeps going into the bathroom several times a day to look longingly at her toys, waiting anxiously for bathtime. Now I just start the water and she comes running in!

Over our many Christmases, we have received many unexpected wonderful gifts, but the best one of all is spending time with all of our friends and family! We hope you all did too and as we get ready to enter the New Year, we look forward to creating many new memories and sharing time and great meals with you all!

Happy New Year,
Kelly, Michael, Sybilla & Gumerry the Gray Destroyer of all Things Paper, Q-Tip, Hairtie & the Occasional Piece of Tissue Wrapping!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Best Gifts...

I was going to post pictures from Billa's first trip to the Zilker Tree, but like a dumbass I went and left the camera at my parent's house when we did laundry this weekend. So instead you get to imagine her laying on her back in my arms and giggling like a maniac while Mommy spins her around under the lit up tree. The best part was when I would stop and she would throw herself backwards to do it again. Classic! We had so much fun going to the Trail of Lights and the Tree with the Marino's and hopefully all of the lights will be working next year when we go back. The tunnel at the end of the Trail was burned out (it had been foggy and rainy that day and the day before) so we got partially robbed of the whole experience. All in all, it was a blast and Little S was a trooper that evening, staying awake until 10 pm! As soon as I get the camera back I'll put the pix up in Picasa so that you don't have to imagine it anymore.

On Sunday we had the famed Eagle Lake Christmas with Michael's grandparents, the home of the five hour gift exchange. Ok, I exaggerate a little, but it is long. Gramma Bobbe loves to do round robin with opening the gifts, but it can be a bit much with 18 to 20 of us opening presents (no exaggeration there). The younger kids get impatient, so they open their gifts all at once first and then go play with their new toys, which helps quite a bit. Gramma asked if Billa could open her gifts round robin since she's still so little, but everyone kept forgetting her so I just opened them all and acted excited when it was close to Billa's turn. Billa was more interested in eating the wrappings and climbing all over the boxes and bags everywhere. Little stinker! I made a peppermint cheesecake for dessert and we had lots of good wine and spent many long wonderful hours catching up with all of the relations. Billa finally got to meet her "Uncle" Stephen Travis and "Aunt" Casey and she was walking around everywhere she went!

Our Christmas Eve will be spent with Judy and Carl (Michael's mom and her SO) and Christmas Day will be at our house for the first time ever. For the past 7 years of our relationship, Michael and I have had to travel to everyone else's place on Christmas day. Last year we had five Christmases and that was just too much, so we decided to stay home this year. Besides, Michael only has Christmas Day off and we didn't want to spend it driving from house to house. So we are very excited to have Michael's dad and future stepmom, his sister Michelle, my parents and my brothers coming over for our Mexican Christmas. I wanted to do something different foodwise this year since I got tired of turkey and I don't eat ham, so I figured why the hell not do enchiladas, tamales, rice and beans? I mean, come on, who doesn't love Tex Mex? Heck yes! And to top things off I found some really awesome recipes to try at my fave food blog, The Homesick Texan. If you haven't found it yet, you need to visit. The girl's a Texas expat in NYC and she manages to duplicate all of her down home faves up there. If you remember my kolache posting, I got one of the recipes from her.

The one thing I'm not looking forward to about having Christmas at my house is that my Christmas Eve will be spent doing mostly cleaning and cooking and last minute gift putting together. And of course day care is closed. Argh. I told myself three months ago I wasn't going to do everything last minute again but we decided to move and everything kinda went to hell in a handbasket over the last few weeks. And of course, with Michael's injured thumb, I've been having to do everything around the house which leaves me little time for anything else. His thumb by the way, seems to be doing better and the swelling has gone down considerably. GROSS OUT ALERT; SKIP TO NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU DON'T WANT TO TOSS YOUR COOKIES. The flap of skin that the ER staff sewed back appears to be gaining some color back although we won't know for sure until next Tuesday whether or not it's dead and will require some creative grafting. [Sigh/shiver]

I tried to go shopping today for a couple of last minute gift making items and I gave up after hitting tons of traffic and getting ridiculously angry over it. I've found myself really angry and tense lately and I know it's due to the stress that we're under financially and from the moving and Michael's accident among other things. I've found myself frustrated that our expectations for Billa's first Christmas haven't turned out how we had hoped. I've never much cared about receiving gifts but it's difficult when you feel like you can't give any gifts and it makes me feel bad when I receive something and am not able to reciprocate with everyone.

I've always believed that God has a reason for everything and I think that the message this Christmas is that we as a society have gotten too caught up in the everyday materialism that we live in. A gal at work sent an email out with this quote in it: "The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other." I couldn't agree more. While I'm not able to give or receive the gifts I wanted to this year, I am thankful that I am here in this place, at this time, to share the season with everyone around me. I'm thankful for my friends and my family and for the things that I've taken for granted, like a roof over my head and clothes on my back, food in my belly, a nice warm bed, and a job. One of our favorite movie quotes definitely takes on new meaning in this time of doom and gloom: "It could be worse; it could be raining!" (A tasty treat to the first person that gets the movie right!)

So to all of you this year, the gift we give is our love and well-wishes. Despite all the bad things in the press and that may be happening to you, we hope this season finds you warm and well-fed inside and out and that you make many happy memories with your family.

Happy Christmas everyone!
Kelly, Michael, Sybilla, and Gumerry the Gray Destroyer of All Things Paper, Q-Tip, Hairtie, and The Occasional Christmas Tree Skirt

PS: I'm sorry if you receive your Christmas card late. They're stamped and will be dropped in the mail tomorrow.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Hand Chronicles

Well, this has certainly been one of the worst weeks ever! On Tuesday, Michael called me before I left work to let me know that he was at the emergency room after having sliced his finger on a table saw at work. I asked him how bad it was and he didn't think it was that bad. Oh, but it was. And while some of you may think a cut thumb is nothing to freak out over, you try taping your thumb down and going a day without it. There's a reason Mother Nature gave us opposable thumbs; it ain't brains that put us at the top of the food chain, folks.


After the people at the ER got him cleaned and looked at the wound, they informed Michael that the tendon was sliced pretty bad and referred him to surgeon. He didn't slice the tendon from the side, but rather longitudinally, meaning it's still attached, but we don't know how much. A saw blade is not like a knife blade and the cut itself is rather shredded. Some of the skin had been hanging a bit and had lost some of it's blood supply and the ER staff decided to stitch it up too. Since then though, it has not regained any color, which means it may be dead. Fun.

So after having his hand cleaned and sewed up, Michael called his dad to tell him about the accident. They got to talking and decided that it was strange Michael was referred to a plastic surgeon and not a hand specialist. Papa Guerra called up a retired hand surgeon friend of his (I'm still amazed at all the people my father-in-law knows even after all these years!) who recommended a doctor to us that had studied under the same doctor he did.

Off we went to visit with this doctor who literally poked Michael's thumb and then declared that we were going to have to operate. We were floored. Both of us have never had surgery and this doctor, whom Michael affectionately refers to as Dr. Ass Clown now (his real name is Dr. Ira Lown), did nothing to ease our fears about the procedure or what would happen. He never even looked us in the eye and we had to ask questions that we felt we shouldn't have had to, like 1) who will perform the surgery, 2) where will it be 3) what's involved 4) will Michael be put under, etc. His attitude was cold and uncaring, his bedside manner was lacking and we felt that we were nothing but an inconvenience to this man.

We both left in tears, feeling anxious and upset. Michael called his dad to let him know what happened who then called his hand surgeon friend, who was like, "Ah, HELL no!" (Ok, maybe he didn't say that exactly, but he felt terrible about having recommended such a jerk to us) He asked to meet with us the next morning to discuss the situation and help us find another surgeon. We met with the fella the next morning in a coffee shop and immediately he did all of the things that Dr. Ass Clown should have done but didn't. He conducted some flexion tests and a pin test to see what Michael could still feel in his thumb and then explained to us the best and worst case scenarios. He also explained how the muscles and tendons in the arm and hand and thumb work together and what it looked like underneath the skin. And to top it off, he used Papa Guerra's computer to find another surgeon and then called the office to schedule an appointment as a professional courtesy!!!

Needless to say, this was much needed. We met with the other doctor, Dr. Sanjay Sharma, this morning and he was WAAAAAY better than Dr. Lown. He explained things to us, and after conducting several tests and looking at the injury in depth, decided that he wanted to see how much the wound would heal on it's own before rushing into surgery. THIS was very welcome news to us as we were looking at a 6-8 week recovery time for Michael, which is not a good thing right now. As it is, the longer Michael is out of work, the longer he goes without a paycheck which is not good for us, especially since we just moved and Christmas is next week.

Dr. Sharma also sent us to a hand therapist who made a special brace for Michael to wear to prevent him from moving his thumb back accidentally and to help keep the thumb slightly flexed. We also have stronger antibiotics since it started to look like the wound was getting infected.

Things are looking up, but it's still iffy since we have to wait until the 30th for the final verdict on surgery. In addition, with Christmas coming, things are a little tight, but we're going to see what we can do about working some Christmas miracles in the meantime. We are incredibly thankful towards "Uncle" Jim Pedicano, who has been instrumental in making this hand we've been dealt (ha ha!) much more bearable and more informed. On a side note, I am now three degrees of separation from the famous Oscar Brockett, writer of the Theatre History textbooks that every college theatre program uses, as Uncle Jim is married to the man's daughter. That bit of info is going in the vault :o)

We'll keep you all posted on the outcome as we hear it and thank you in advance for any and all prayers, well wishes, and happy thoughts sent our way!

Kelly and Company

Monday, December 15, 2008


As you can see by my previous post, I have elfed the Guerra's. We're all there: Kelly, Michael, Sybilla, Gumerry and Mr. Binky. Ok, we really don't know who the hell Mr. Binky is but we had to have 5 people to make this awesome video :o)

I must have spent at least an hour picking pictures and I realized just how freaking many pictures there are of our child... way too many to count. There are very few pictures of the rest of us! Anyway, hope you laughed until you cried watching our video, which is up until January 15th 2009. I'm too cheap to drop the $4.99 to keep it, although I *might* reconsider.

It may be a bit before I post anything since this week will be crazy at work and I have lots of baking and other holiday prep to do before Christmas, so until then, we love you all and wish you a happy and blessed holiday!

K & Co.

Happy Christmas Y'all!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Friday, December 12, 2008

Welcome Wyatt and Garrett!

Congratulations to my cousin Jeff and his wife Abby, they just had their first babies on Wednesday. They were born Dec. 10th at 3:50 and 3:51PM (not sure which one was at which time). Garrett weighs 4.8 lbs. and Wyatt weighs 5.5 lbs. They look just like their daddy, which makes me a little jealous since Sybilla didn't really look like anyone when she was first born. (Now she looks a lot like her daddy!) Most twins these days are a result of fertility procedures, but these boys are gen-u-wine anomalies of nature.

Hats off to the proud parents and Merry Christmas to my Aunt Becky and Uncle Ky, who could ask for better Christmas presents?

K & Co.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Winter Wonderland

It snowed, y'all! We discovered it at 4 this morning when Billa woke up (she's teething again) and started crying for the next hour straight until I finally nursed her and put her back to bed. There wasn't very much snow, but there was about a half inch everywhere on the rooftops, ground, and cars in our complex. Yet another example of the crazy weather in Texas! Yesterday was 80 degrees F for the majority of the day and then a cold front blew through bringing the temperature down to the high 20's low 30's last night. I know that my Canadian relatives are laughing at our wussiness, but it was cold enough this morning to break out the wool sweater and puffy vest ensemble.

Of course, it will be back in the 70's for this weekend [sigh]. This is just part of the reason why Michael and I would love to move north at some point; consistent weather patterns, four seasons, and the ability to actually collect and wear nice sweaters would be a lovely novelty. The snow is pretty much gone now of course, but it was a beautiful drive this morning, with it dusting the rooftops and the trees on my way to work. I've been taking a more scenic route these days to avoid the majority of the morning traffic and it gives me time to think on my drive. A more pleasant drive makes for a more pleasant day in Kellyland :o)

I have neglected lately to give a decent account of Sybilla's growth and development. She has learned how to wave hello and bye-bye ala Miss America style. Her walking has also gotten better each day and she now tries to walk everywhere she can. She'll get in about 4 or 5 steps, then falls and crawls to someplace where she can get back up and do it again. She is eating more and more adventurous foods each day and she isn't too terribly picky, but she prefers to eat what we are having and not the premade baby food most days. Her favorite food right now is homemade waffles, which her grandmother Mary made plenty of this weekend. I sent the last one with her to school today and I know it will probably be a little while before she gets some again. I may have to invest in my own waffle iron and start making them on weekends for her!

Sybilla's personality is really starting to develop too and she embodies her monkey spirit with each passing day. She loves books and more specifically to pull them off the shelves and make a big mess. At night when we read her stories, she turns the pages. She also loves to chase the vacuum and when we fold laundry, she grabs what she can and then runs off, dusting everything in sight with said piece of laundry. This past weekend it was Daddy's underwear that got special attention. Sybilla is also very strong for a baby; she did chin ups on the baby gate last night which scared us a bit because there is the potential for the thing to topple over on her. But each time she bumps and bruises, she's learning very quickly and usually gets more upset that we try to comfort her than to let her continue on in her explorations.

We'll keep you posted on everything else that happens and post some videos and pictures soon!

Until then,

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Is it Friday yet?

Oh. My. Hell. I need it to be Friday and Tuesday's barely half over. I should have known today would be a bad day when I had chocolate before 10:30 am. And it was the good stuff too. None of that namby pamby Hershey's crap, this was full on $6 a pop Vosges Dar Chocolate Fire Bar. On a side note, this is the best chocolate bar ever. It combines my two favorite flavors in the world: dark chocolate and spicy. Yum!

But I digress. We didn't sleep too well last night and Billa fell off the bed AGAIN this morning, although this time it was carpeted. That kid is fast. I totally saw her crawling to the edge of the bed and it didn't have to register before she was there one minute, on the floor the next. I am certain our neighbors are filing complaints with the apartment complex by now. The internet at work has been damnably slow and I am waiting for my online reporting to finally load. It's been about an hour now… I've given up hope so that I can run a production report that's due by EOD. I told my friend Beth that I have a new song in mind—"Someday my page will load" sung to the tune of "Someday my prince will come". Yargh!

I have to give a shout out to Beth who was instrumental in helping Michael and I paint Billa's room. I know that my best friend Kellie would have totally helped me, but she is 10 weeks pregnant and considering the headaches we endured from the paint fumes, suffice it to say that we kept her well away. Beth not only came last Friday to help us paint, but she came again last night and even fed the baby and gave her a bath so that Michael and I could actually eat our dinner. Thank you Beth! She can't claim all the credit for Friday's painting though; my mom was also very helpful in coming over to paint half the room and then take Billa back to the house with her to get her to bed on time while the rest of us finished the painting. Thank you Mom!

We're ALMOST done with moving. I've said it many times now over the past week and a half… next time we're using a moving company. Moving should not take two weeks and be this stressful or painful. We'll have everything moved by the end of this weekend, and maybe we'll hopefully have everything painted too, although I strongly doubt that. I have another cake to bake, actually a cake and cupcakes, for some friends of ours who are having their third and second birthdays. One will be Cars and the other Wall-e. It's a Pixar extravaganza! I'm excited about it because I love both movies and I'm sure the kids will love the cakes too.

My reporting page has FINALLY loaded so I'm off to get my report completed.
Until then,
K & Co.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sound Off: CEO Bonuses and Simplicity

I saw an article today that talks about how Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain was requesting a $10 million bonus for Christmas this year. Talk about cojones! He apparently felt that he deserved this bonus for orchestrating teh sale fo ML to Bank of America and for keeping ML's losses down to a measly $11.67 BILLION. Yes, you read that right, billion. And for those of you who are curious, that's 1.67% of the bailout Congress approved in September.

I heartily agree with the NY Attorney General that this request is shocking considering the state of the economy and that Merrill Lynch, in addition to other investment firms and banks, have all been suffering heavy hits. I have to ask though, why does someone need a $10 million bonus? I personally would love to see Mr. Thain explain to the countless children who won't be getting a Christmas this year why he deserves to get $10 million for his Christmas bonus.

And where does this $10 million come from? Because aren't the American people having to pay $700 billion to fix the excessive ways of Wall Street? Does Mr. Thain think that the American people are going to stand by and watch him roll around in our hard earned cash? Not all of us are born with a silver spoon in our mouth or the right circumstances to spend our adult lives twiddling our thumbs while earning $10 million bonuses (which is a piddling amount compared to bonuses in years past I'm sure). It's true that there are a few people in history who have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and gone from trash to treasure, but considering there are 300 million and counting in this country, that's the exception, not the norm.

Here's my suggestion to Mr. Thain and the Merrill Lynch BoD: Give the $10 million to charity in Mr. Thain's name… he can still feel like he got a cool $10 mil, quite a few families will actually get to celebrate a joyous holiday this year, and the American people will feel a little less slighted than they already do.

I told myself I would try and keep economy doom and gloom off the blog, but I just HAD to comment on this. So excuse me a moment whilst I climb up on my soapbox here (it's a long climb)....

I think the whole thing boils down to this: why can't everyone learn to live within their means and more simply? I really think that the majority of our issues--global warming, pollution, Wall Street failing, poverty, etc--are due to all of us not learning to live a little bit more simply. We're too excited about the next big technological advance and we don't stop and think long enough about what the true impact of that might be (myself included). Apparently we are a very insecure group of people as we have to use 'stuff' to generate our self-worth. And yes, this would be a classic example of the pot calling the kettle black, as I too am a victim of this 'stuff' syndrome.

One of my resolutions for the new year, which will actually start now, is to start culling my stuff and live a bit more simply. If I don't have room for it, it's gone. Every quarter I'll clean out the closet and cull more stuff. I'll give gifts that are consumable and practical, not kitchsy and cluttery. I'll recycle more and try to reuse more items around my house so I reduce my waste but also reduce the need to buy more things. I'll reinvent the stuff I have or trade it with others. We'll save more money and try to reduce our extraneous spending. I think I'll track all of this and see what happens! I welcome any and all suggestions on living more frugally and simply and I encourage all fo you to find ways in which to live more frugally this next year. Maybe together we can stop the syndrome and find fulfillment in our current condition.

Until the next time!
K & Co.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Saga of Mia: Concluded!

Hello all!

Just when you think nothing is going right, something good and unexpected appears...per my Aunt Ann below:

It's over! The court terminated the parental rights of Mia's parents and the adoption is scheduled for January 30, her first birthday!
We are so relieved and happy, what a Christmas gift she is. They were here for Thanksgiving and we enjoyed her so much. God is good! Ann

Thank you to everyone for your prayers, well-wishes, and good thoughts! We are so blessed to have Mia as part of our extended family and thankful that this trial of hardship is OVER.

Happy Friday to all!
K & Co.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

In memoriam: Dr. Byron Kocen

I found out yesterday that the pediatrician of my childhood, Dr. Byron Kocen, passed away this past Saturday as a result of open heart surgery. He was 75.

A lot of people don't look back at doctor's visits as enjoyable memories, especially when they are full of shots and other unpleasant things, but visits to Dr. Kocen were always fun. He loved tropical fish and had many tanks filled with fish of all colors and sizes in his office. We loved to stare at the fish as we waited for our appointments. He'd check our ears for billygoats, ask us all sorts of questions, tell us jokes, and sometimes perform magic tricks. He was a jolly man who had a love for children and related easily to them. Most kids don't continue to see their pediatrician until they're 15 or so, but he was an extraordinary doctor who really knew how to make a kid feel better and was the kind of doctor I hoped my own children could see someday.

Through his personal experience and work with ADD, Dr. Kocen was instrumental in helping my family understand not only what ADD is, but to also see the gifts hidden within it. The way he described ADD as "Attention Creative Difference" was just yet another example of how this incredible man viewed life and a disorder that many people think poorly of. His compassion for all people and the drive to make the world a better place are indicative of the quality of his character. Another blog writer felt that the world is a little bit darker, colder, and lonelier now that he's gone, but I beg to differ. The world is a much better place from his time here and while he will be sorely missed, his influence will continue to grow and inspire more people to follow in his footsteps.

Until we meet again old friend,
K & Co.


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