Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Philip!

On this day 23 years ago, at the age of 4, I was playing in the sandbox with my younger brother David as the sun was setting in what was to be one of the most memorable sunsets in my life. Inside the house, my mom was giving birth to my youngest brother Philip who made his appearance roughly around 7 that evening. As we played outside, David and I had no clue just how much our lives were going to be changed...for better and for worse! Philip, here's to a very colorful and exciting 23 years and to at least 23 more!

The Armadillon at birth:

And now 23 years later:

Don't overdo it with the celebrating little bro!

Kelly, Michael, and Billa (and the now yours Gumerry the Gray)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Billa Babble: Pen & Paper, Breakfast, Hang On, I love you, No Ma'am and more

Howdy everyone! Here is our latest installment of Billa Babble for your enjoyment!

PEN & PAPER: Billa has been learning how to draw which lately consists of tapping her writing instrument up and down on the paper making teeny tiny little dots. Occasionally she'll get distracted by something else and a line will appear. This past Saturday she was standing on one of the dining room chairs and gesturing with her fingers towards the computer desk. Here is how our conversation went:

"You want the chip clip?"
"Na ma!"
"Ok...[picking up magazine] you want Johnny Depp? Mama would like Johnny Depp..."
"Na ma!"
"I don't know what you want honey."
"Mamamama!" [she is gesturing wildly now]
"Um, how about this piece of paper?"
"You want pen and paper?"
"Peh enh pay-puh, plee!"

My child using a complete sentence AND please?! Well, she can have all the pens and paper in the world she wants at that rate! So little miss sat down at the table and drew a pretty little picture of dots with a couple of lines, which I gave to my folks later when they visited that afternoon.

Experimenting with our right hand...

And now our left!

But that's not all! We've also learned:

BREAKFAST: this morning I asked Billa if she was ready for breakfast and she repeated the word for me and ran off to the kitchen. Kid knows what she wants!

HANG ON: Since BK was being really fussy the other afternoon, Michael tried to get her to lie down with him for a nap. He got her as far as our room and we were both coaxing her to go lay down when suddenly she yelled "Hay on!" and ran to her bedroom, whereupon she returned with her blankie AND her monkey George (she doesn't go anywhere in the house without them close by these days). She never did take that nap though...she opted for quiet time toons while Daddy chose nap. Mommy got computer time.

I LOVE YOU: our favorite by far... when she chooses to use it. It sounds like "lah-loo!"

NO MA'AM: Unfortunately we hear this a lot. It's usually shouted, screeched, or screamed and sounds like "na, ma!"

Our speech is getting better, but we have experienced some backsliding in some of our words like bath, ball, and milk. Apparently there's no point in saying those since gestures work quite well. And every once in awhile she surprises us with something out of the blue, like the name of her daycare provider: Mary Ann. She said it last night when we were explaining what type of 'school' Billa attends when her friend Madeleine asked. Billa blurted out "Meh-yee-anh?" She repeated it a couple of times, but she won't say it now. [sigh] Really, we have no idea where she gets this willfulness [cue innocent whistle].

Anyhoo, it's dinner time, so we bid you adieu...or as Billa says it with her little Texan accent: Bye!

Kelly & the Gang

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Working out, Cupcake Smackdown and Sick Billa

Howdy all!

Since my post, I have started working out with Kellie in the evenings. After two straight days of really busting our butts, we realized it might be wise to take one day off every now and then. Basically, our texting went like this:

Me: It hurts to sit. I think I broke my butt!
Kellie: Maybe we should take a break.
Me: Well if we do, we have to commit to Thursday and Friday. How r u doing?
Kellie: Can't walk.
Me: LOL. Then break it is!

Monday we walked around the neighborhood for a little over a mile and then did a whole bunch of random exercises in the front yard. When we did the stairjumps, I was silently cursing myself for not having been more rigorous with my Kegels. Wetting one pant's in the middle of a workout is not something you want to experience!

Tuesday we swam in the pool here at our complex. They actually have lap lanes and at 8 pm, there's no one out there to have to share it with. I swam five laps (that's end to end twice) and then we did a bunch of water aerobics.

We've now decided that we will work out Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday alternating between running/weights and swimming/water aerobics while the weather is warm. I'll keep you posted how that's going!

In other news, some of you may have heard me mention the Cupcake Smackdown I entered. It's a little food/baking extravaganza taking place next weekend and I decided to enter some of my recipes into two of the categories for the amateur baking contest. I will be entering my coconut lime cake as cupcakes for the "freestyle" contest and I am developing a new recipe for the chocolate category: cherry chili chocolate cupcakes. So far I got the chocolate and chili, I'm just waiting for the cherry to start coming out. I might have to rethink my recipe a bit. Basically, I'm going for a cake recreation of one of my favorite chocolate bars, the Lindt Chocolate Cherry Chili bar. Mm, mm, good! I'll keep you posted as to what happens that day...keep your fingers crossed on August 1!

Anyhoo, it's time I popped a couple of Advil and hied myself off to bed before tomorrow arrives. I didn't get too much sleep since Billa woke up at 4:30 not feeling well. By lunchtime she had a 102.3 fever and Michael picked her up. She'll be at home with Daddy to make sure she won't get anyone else sick but she seemed to be doing much better this evening.

Nighty night amigos!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Today is a brand new day...

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." Oliver Wendell Holmes

I saw this quote this morning in an email newsletter I receive and I just had to shake my head and smile ruefully when I saw it. It was appropriate given the circumstances of the last 24 hours. I felt really low last night after seeing pictures of myself and my best friend from college and opening my electric bill. But today is a brand new day.

Kellie had told me before that she'd found some pictures on a CD from a few years ago and when we looked at them yesterday, I just had to cringe. Kellie and I used to be able to share the same size shirts and some pairs of pants (unfortunately shoes could never enter the picture, I'm an 8 and she's a 6). Four kids and five years later, neither one of us can share anything and we can't fit into our wedding dresses. I know that a lot of women can't fit into their wedding dresses after having babies and I am OK with that. What I ma not OK with is the pain in my right knee, the double digit number on my pants label, my dwindling wardrobe, and the increasing triple digits on my bathroom scale. So we made a pact yesterday: every weekday night at 8 pm we are going to workout together, no excuses. Our husbands already do it at 5 am, and while I don't think 8 pm is the best time for anyone to be working out, it's all we have. But today is a brand new day.

On top of dreading my mile walk with Kellie this evening, we opened our electric bill to find almost $400 in charges. Granted, $150 of that was actually paid, but the bill was printed before that got reflected in the figures. We've been very vigilant about trying to turn off lights, make the most of daylight, turn up the thermostat before we leave and unplug appliances when not in use. But that bill is yet another reminder of just how desperate our situation is becoming and that we've already done as much as fiscally possible to cut our costs and bring in additional income. It just doesn't seem to be enough. But today is a brand new day.

I cried myself to sleep last night thinking that it was hopeless and that I had no idea how we were going to get out of this mess and get back on track. I prayed like I've never prayed before and I realized something as I fell asleep: 1) that no one was to blame but us and 2) I'm a victim only if I choose to be. And something changed within me last night. Sybilla never woke up once nor did she crawl into bed with us this morning. I woke up on time and despite crazy dreams and occasionally waking up after them, I felt refreshed and renewed this morning. I got to work on time and I got right down to business. Today is a brand new day.

I still have no idea how we'll get through this, but my strength is renewed and my faith in my abilities restored. I can lose the extra 30 pounds I'm carrying. We will find a way to bring in more income and cut our expenses further. We will find a way to live our lives and not just survive from day to day. TODAY IS A BRAND NEW DAY.

Kelly & the Gang

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Declaration of War

I am now on my second cup of coffee and pissed off at the prospect of having to purchase a new iron.

Billa and I are going to her godsister's first birthday party this morning and I had decided a couple of days ago that I would wear a sweet little floral top I got from Michael's stepmom. I wore this top on my birthday and the only reason I have not worn it since is because I hate ironing and haven't found the time to iron the front placket that goes behind the buttons. So I told myself I'd finally belly up to the bar and do it.

I set the iron to steam and went to put on my makeup, giving it time to heat up. After about 10 minutes I went to start ironing. But no steam was coming out. In fact, it didn't feel hot at all. That's odd, I thought. I checked the plug. Still plugged in. I checked the water level. Still had water. I tried again and that's when I noticed the tiny little black ants crawling out of the water reservoir. What the...?

I took the iron into the bathroom where there's better light and sure enough, they are crawling like crazy out of my iron and even worse, the water has a couple of floaties which weren't visible in the bedroom light. I turn the iron upside to shake out the water and to my shock and disgust, THOUSANDS of little black ant bodies fall out in clumps from my iron. Not only am I throughly grossed out, but now my bloody iron is dead because it is chock full of colony!

I spent 15 minutes pouring water in and out until I started seeing tiny transparent golden lumps which turned out to be larvae. Apparently I had found the Mother Ship of the little black ants. It makes me shudder right now to think about the stages of growth that have been happening inside of our iron for the past couple of months. It riles me to think that my birthday party attire now has to rethought. And it really pisses me off that I am now going to have to buy a new iron and an airtight lockbox to store it in. This means war!!!

We've tried grits and citrus oil as natural means to ward off the ants, but their activities have increased in the last few days. They've turned up in odd places, like Billa's bed and of course, the iron. I have now come to terms with the fact that I will have to stuff my hippie ideals into a drawer temporarily so as to rid my home of this plague. I'm going to have to get the apartment people to find me an exterminator ASAP because I don't know how much longer I can go wondering what other items in my home are hiding more colonies of destruction.

But in the meantime, I need to find something else to wear and get another cup of coffee to calm down.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

God grant me the serenity...

Sybilla has certainly been keeping us on our toes this week.

On Monday, she tore up a library book because I wasn't putting dinner on the table fast enough. I just about freaked out over the damage to the book and then really lost it when I couldn't find any tape to fix it with. After yelling at no one in particular and slamming drawers and enduring a lot of crying from both parties, Billa and I had a little chat about the importance of books and I subsequently removed them all from within her reach. God help the rest of our books should she fly into a hunger induced rage...

On Tuesday, she bonked heads with another child at daycare seconds before I walked in the door to pick her up. When the door opened, there was my child making this awful yipping noise and crying mightily. I've seen big ol' crocodile tears a lot lately, but this was genuine, honest to goodness "I'm hurt" crying. A switch flipped inside me and it was like the red alert in a submarine. All I saw was red and my brain was screaming "SEEK AND DESTROY, KILL KILL KILL!" It took every bit of strength to calm myself down and comfort Sybilla. Fortunately, everyone was alright in the end although my poor husband almost got his head torn off when he dared to cross me when I got home. That mama bear bloodlust feeling takes a while to dissipate, apparently. I never understood how some moms could get all crazy when they felt their kids were threatened, but I get it now!

On Wednesday, she decided to be Little Miss Selfish and got her just desserts for it too. Billa had developed an affinity for the sink footstool at daycare screaming at anyone who dared to get near it. Bless his little heart, one of the boys decided to cross swords with my fierce warrior and paid the price. She got so worked up that she whipped the stool out from under him as he was stepping on it, knocking him onto his rear end and popping herself in the face with the stool in the process. Daycare lady decided enough was enough and banished the aforementioned footstool to another part of the house and replaced it with a chair to prevent anymore fights. Of course, I received a phone call at work to tell me all of this, so I was incredibly embarrassed and amused in equal turns. My child now has a little goose egg above her eye where she hit herself and we had yet another chat on behaviour.

Today being Thursday, I really hope that Billa decides to behave herself because I have some cakes to bake tonight, but if not, well, I won't be surprised. I just hope I can make it through the rest of the week alive!

Counting white hairs until then,

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Picasa Pictures Updated

Howdy everybody!

I have been reminded by my dear ol’ dad that I have neglected to update my Picasa account with anything past Easter. Apologies, Pop…so without further ado, I have updated the account with some new photos for your perusal! Simply click over on the slideshow on the right hand side and you’ll be taken to our Picasa account which you can then peruse all of the multiple albums we have. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ladies and Gentleman... Gumerry the Gray has left the building...

Tonight is a bit melancholy for me. My first baby, my bunny cat, my Gummery the Gray, Conqueror of all that is Paper, Q-Tip, and Hair Tie has left us for greener pastures. Literally, actually, if my coworker's comments about the watering schedule in College Station have me believe. But it's for the better. And before you start consoling me on the passing of my kitty cat, please note that he has not died, but rather gone to live with my younger brother, Philip.

The Conqueror himself

Gumerry is named for a grizzled, gray grandfather character in a series of books (which was made into a rather unfortunate movie) called the Dark is Rising. Being that he's a genuine farm cat, we aren't quite entirely sure of the exact day of his birth, but he came into the world during a very dark time for all Americans, September 11, 2001. Michael and I started dating on October 17, 2001 and it was not long after that Gumerry came to live with me (albeit illegally) in my apartment for good. So having Gumerry leave us is a very jarring thing, given that he has been a constant in our relationship for the last seven and a half years.

As the last of our great farm cats, Gumerry was a solid 23# at his peak and the vet actually told us that given his build, that was OK. Gumerry is the linebacker of kitty cats. My brother was always jealous that I got the gray one and admired him from afar. He'd recently given away his previous cat (Aprilia had some SERIOUS issues) and was hankering for another. So I told him, should we ever decide to give up Gumerry, Philip was first on the list.

Even though Gumerry has been part of our family from the beginning, we just haven't had the time and patience for him like we thought we would. I feel guilty about this fact, but when you have a toddler who demands all of your attention, it can be very hard to lavish what little energy you have left on your fur children. I guess the upshot is that sweet gray fuzzball will finally get the attention he deserves, my allergies won't be as bad, we won't have to spend the $25 a month on cat supplies, and I don't have to worry about unsuspecting puddles of water in the pantry anymore (Gumerry is notorious for playing in his water bowl and making the biggest mess known to mankind). And I can actually stretch my legs out full in bed now too. [sigh] Those still don't negate the fact that I am willingly letting go of one of my dearest companions.

I shall miss you little prince... but I know that you are in a better home now. So goodnight, sweet prince; may flights of angels sing thee to thy new home!

Oh, and Philip? Since I know you will read this... you better take care of my cat or the full brunt of my wrath will destroy you...


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Stars, Stripes and Sunburns!

Yes, I realize the Fourth of July was yesterday and that my birthday wishes for the good 'ol US of A are a bit belated. Whatever. We were too wiped out when we got home last night at about 11:30 to do anything other than rinse the lake grunge off and crawl into bed. My husband's family is very proud of me; I not only climbed in the lake willingly, but I did it twice.

I am glad I convinced Michael to go out on Saturday and not Sunday because a) Billa and I definitely needed today to recuperate and b) Billa got to see her first fireworks show last night and what a show! Being on the lake meant that just about every lakeside village/community had their own show going and we got to see about 6 or 7 of them in great detail from the widow's watch on top of the house. They were very spectactular and Billa was a trooper for staying up so late. We also did sparklers and the younger kids got some fountains and whizzmagigs and those were tons of fun too. Below is a slide show of our day. Michael went back out to the lake today as some friends of ours were headed that way today and Billa and I hung around at home and then headed to my folks house to visit to make the round of grandparent visits complete for the week :o) All in all, what a weekend! And despite the title of this entry, we actually made it through the weekend without nary a burn! We were a little pink, but not that bad.

Happy Birthday America! And speaking of birthdays, my pal Tori from high school (I am fairy godmother to her son Nicholas) turned 28 today. Happy Birthday Victoria!

I hope the rest of you all had a wonderful and safe Fourth of July!

Nighty night,

Friday, July 3, 2009

Notice Anything?

Anyone who knows my husband well knows of his love for Arthurian legends. He got an Amazon gift card from his grandparents for his birthday and decided to spend it on some books and DVDs he's been wanting. He finally received the book yesterday, having received the DVDs last week. As you can see from the picture the publisher, Overlook Press, just happened to overlook something:

Yep, that is education and attention to detail at it's best!

And speaking of noticing anything, I have changed the blog layout again. I really really really like this one a lot, so it will be staying for awhile. I have my friend Anna to thank for it! She uses a background from the same website and I am so pumped about the goodies I found there. I hope you like it too! Someday I will finally Photoshop Elements for my Mac and actually do some really cool stuff, but until then, you can just appreciate my awesome Word/PowerPoint/iPhoto skills.


Baking Bonanza!

Whoo, what a day! My good friend Julia came over this morning and brought her two children and we had ourselves a baking bonanza! Julia had bought a really cool cake pan from William Sonoma (happy sigh) that makes train cars and she wanted to test it out. So we made a pink and purple butter cake and then Mathilda decorated it to take to her family's Fourth of July party tomorrow. Afterwards we feasted on mac n cheese, watched some 'toons, and then played for a bit before it was time to give the little ones naps.

Mathilda dishes batter into the cake pan whilst Billa watches intently. I thought she'd play with Alexander, but if there's food involved, forget it! She did so well that I let her "help" me make cookies later.

Mathilda and I "glue" the train cars to their cake board to prevent them from moving around during transit.

Mathilda shows off her masterpiece! It was very colorful and she had so much fun!

The kids have one last hurrah in the ball pit. Alexander definitely had a blast!

Today reminded me of when I used to work at the Boy Scout and Girl Scout camps with the kids, so I told her mom that if they needed someone to provide for that kind of activity for their Girl Scout troop to give me a call. I miss working with kids sometimes in a teaching environment, but I couldn't do it full time like my friend Kellie. It's one thing to do a small group of kids like 10 to 12 versus 20+. (Hey, I can acknowledge my limits!) All in all, it was a good day. I now have some cookies to decorate for Fourth of July, so I bid you adieu!


Thursday, July 2, 2009

It's Too Darn Hot, 110 in the Shade, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof...

Can you tell my background is in theatre?

You know it's ridiculously hot when you wear clinical strength deodorant and it fails. Yikes! With the holiday weekend here, we are planning on spending some of it at the lake house with Michael's dad and stepmom and some good family friends. Well, ok, Billa and I will spend only one day because going to the lake really wears me out and I need a day to recover from the sun and the stress.

Truth be told, I am not a fan of natural water, especially water in which you cannot see or touch the bottom. Not only that, but I get stuck with baby watching duty the whole time since everybody inevtiably does one of two things: 1) ride jet skis or 2) lay out. Being redheaded, I can't lay out if I want to live to see 50 (my goal is 105 folks, so skincare is important!) and I absolutlely hate jet skis (they're disgusting abominations for the environment). Soooo...given that there isn't really anything else to do, well, being so near a large body of water and the mother of a small toddler who runs faster than Speedy Gonzalez makes for a nightmare scenario in my book. Billa and I will most likely be inside the lake house staying out of the sun and the heat anyway, and I don't see the point in spending a whole weekend doing that somewhere else when I could be doing it in the comfort of my own home, which I would be doing anyway. Plus, I don't want to burn anyone's retinas with my awesome blindingly white legs or pudgy fat ass and waistline. Ugh. THAT is a whole 'nother can of worms we just won't open tonight!

I will enjoy seeing everyone though and since there are only two jet skis, perhaps I might enjoy myself a bit more since there will be more hands to take, er...ENJOY the baby :o) And who knows, maybe it will be cool enough to sit on the porch instead of in the house. Lake breezes do wonders, I hear.

My holiday weekend actually started this afternoon; my office is closed tomorrow and they let us all out early today, so Michael and I went and saw Transformers, which was freaking awesome. I know a lot of people are tearing it up in the press, but seriously, folks, if I'm going to drop $20 on a pair of movie tickets, I want to be ENTERTAINED. I'd prefer to watch an Oscar worthy movie in the comfort of my own home with a glass of wine and thankful that I don't have to the share the viewing experience with some bloody idiot who is too dumb to appreciate a fine cinematic performance. Because inevitably, there is always THAT GUY in the theatre who is loud, obnoxious, and just doesn't get it. I'd rather spend the $20 on a nice bottle of red and the rental and have a far better time of it.

Tomorrow my friend Julia is bringing her kids over for a playdate of sorts. Her son Alexander is about the same age as Billa and Mathilda is 6. Mathilda (who happens to be my godsister since my folks are her godparents) and I are going to be baking while the little ones play together. And Julia and I will be catching up on everything all the while. Julia is a dear friend from high school who was one of the advisors for my Explorer Post and we have been on many a camping trip together. She's seen me at my worst (crouching bootless on a rock in the middle of a freezing river in Colorado panicking over having lost one of my boots in the aforementioned river...that's also a story for another time!) and at my weirdest (being on the same said camping trip wearing teeny little buns all over my head...or sitting on top of my backpack with banana chips over my eyes singing I'm a Little Teapot during one particularly grueling trip). Yes, a friend that witnesses that and hasn't run screaming for the hills is definitely a friend for life.

We've got a busy weekend and I hope that all of you will have ann equally funfilled weekend too. Happy (safe) Fourth of July, y'all!

Patriotically yours,
Kelly & the Gang

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Random Fun

One of my favorite websites to visit is Cake Wrecks. If you haven't clicked on the link in my sidebar over there to the right and visited it, you should so now. Go ahead! I'll wait. [humming] Ok, so you've finally picked yourself up off the floor from having fallen there after laughing so hard? Well, you might just want to stay down there. I have some more fun for you! Granted, this one will be most fun for the gals who've reached puberty, but guys, I think you'll get a good laugh out of it too. If anything, at least you'll know NOT what to tell the gals in your life!

So enjoy a laugh...because in this economy, we're gonna need it!



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