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7.23.2014

In Which I Put the R in Random. Again.

It amuses me to glance over at my archives list and see the number of posts dwindle the longer I blog, you'd think the reverse would be true. I miss the heyday of blogging, when people just blogged about anything and everything like a journal and didn't think about branding themselves, or finding their niche, or getting paid or worrying if their posts and photos were Pinterest worthy and so forth and so on.

I mean, it's just a blog.

Not that I think I'll ever get back into having hundreds of posts a year, really that was crazy and quite overwhelming to download and publish in a Blurb book (I stopped Blurbing my blogging after 2009) (now that is a silly sentence) (but ultimately I'd like to print out the remaining years someday).

I guess what I'm whining about is missing old school blogging. The daily life stuff, with or without pictures, the ordinary along with the occasional extraordinary moments sprinkled in.

Anyway, moving right along.

We ordered Annelise's school uniforms yesterday from Land's End. Well, actually we stretched the process across a few days and two separate orders to take advantage of two different coupon codes, which may or may not have saved us more money but we're choosing to think that it did.

Her school is switching from free dress (within guidelines) to standardized dress (monogrammed polo shirts, khaki or navy shorts or pants, skirts or jumpers and the like) and I am highly excited about it. Annelise, not so much. Her former school had uniforms and it made mornings SO much easier. Last year was her first school year to have free dress and believe me, that bloom fell off the rose bush pretty quick, at least for me, after too many stressful mornings of her deciding what to wear and me telling her to change. I no longer care if her freedom to express herself through clothes is crushed, just put on a navy or red polo, some shorts and shoes and LET'S GO.

I can't believe in only a few short weeks she'll be having to do just that.

Speaking of school related things, we met a friend and her mom from her old school at Chick-Fil-A Monday morning at the crazy hour of 9:00 for breakfast (yes, in the summer 9:00 am is early). She is switching to Annelise's school this year so it was nice for them to see each other again and for her mom and I to chat about school and such.

Now I know I'll probably get chicken biscuits thrown at me, but I think Chick-Fil-A's breakfast choices are weird. Chicken on a biscuit with some kind of sweet butter? Nah. I'll pass. Also their other breakfast choices that include sausage seem to go against their whole "Eat Mor Chikin" philosophy.

I had oatmeal and Annelise had a sausage biscuit, which disappointed the cardboard cows scattered throughout the restaurant I'm sure.

(No, I've never tasted a chicken biscuit or chicken mini.)

(Is my life incomplete?)

In unrelated school or chicken news, Annelise made crazy easy blondies yesterday by herself. And by herself means I loosely supervised so there wouldn't be any unauthorized batter licking, I spread them in the pan because "The batter's tooooooo thick and the bowl is tooooooo heavy, Mom!!!",  put them in the oven when she was busy licking the beater, took them out of the oven once she returned to Minecraft on the iPad and I cleaned up the kitchen. Of course.

But if you ask her she'll tell you she made them all by herself.

Not that I feel like the Little Red Hen or anything.

The same thing pretty much happens when she decides to make scrambled eggs or a grilled cheese.

Independence usually happens through a flurry of fits and starts, messes and spills.

And that's okay.

7.21.2014

Miscellany Monday

Annelise had a soccer drills and skills practice tonight (her coach works out with his son Monday nights so he invited a few of the players to join them this summer on Monday nights) but I opted to stay home (big surprise) and watch a little bit of When Harry Met Sally (safely stored on our DVD for impromptu viewing) and blog.

As one does.

I made this yummy chili mac for supper from Mix and Match Mama that Scott really gobbled up and Annelise picked her way through the red peppers but ultimately liked it. I used to make something similar but it called for the dreaded cream of chemical mushroom soup so I was glad to try this recipe that calls for a homemade cheese sauce that was surprisingly easy to whip up. Who knew?

The only thing I did differently was to split it into two 8X8 casserole dishes (it makes a lot), top with cheese, freeze one and bake the other at 350 for 30 minutes.

Did you hear that James Garner passed away yesterday? So sad.

We watched two episodes of The Rockford Files on Netflix as sort of a memorial I guess. Annelise declared them too cheesy, which they were I suppose, but I loved them and they will always be a fond memory from my childhood (along with All in the Family and The Carol Burnett Show and several other mid-late70s classics). We had watched The Great Escape last year, Annelise liked him much better in that movie. I liked him in those Doris Day movies too, and of course in Ya-Ya and The Notebook from his later years.

Last Monday night the girls and I shut Cheesecake Factory down. The time just flew from 6:00 to 11:00, as it's known to do whenever we're together in a delightful haze of chatting, laughing and of course, eating. 
We hadn't been out for dinner in a while so it was a treat to have a spontaneous girls' night!

Sidenote: We always get the same thing, four Factory Chopped Salads (two without tomatoes--what?), four tropical iced teas and then we share two slices of cheesecake, one of which is usually Godiva and the other one alternates, this time it was 30th Anniversary.

Staying up late that night actually helped me sleep the whole night through, something I hadn't done in quite a while. For the past sweet forever I've been waking up between 3:00 and 4:00 am, usually to go potty, whee, and then not being able to fall back asleep until around 5:30-6:00 or so.

Grrr...

Thankfully it's summer and I can sleep later but I really don't like doing that. I'd much rather sleep somewhat normal hours without interruption, even if I woke up around 6:00 that would be less frustrating than what's been happening. 

Something's gotta give.

Sidenote: That was Marilyn Monroe's last film but it was never released. It was remade with James Garner and Doris Day in 1963 as Move Over, Darling.

Scott was off Friday so we had a breakfast date at The Egg and I, which is one of our favorite things to do. I always get the same thing, The Athena Scramble, which is an egg scramble with mushrooms, tomatoes, asparagus and feta cheese. Scott always gets Viva La France, (I think he just likes to say that) which is french toast, eggs and choice of meat.

Can I tell y'all something?

I'm not a fan of french toast. Waffles? Yes. Pancakes? Yes. Egg dipped toast slathered with powdered sugar? Nope.
In other exciting news, we got a new ice maker and my dad installed it Friday afternoon. Our old one had been on the fritz and finally gave up the ghost last fall and we resigned ourselves to the sad life of ice cube trays. I don't know why we didn't just order a new one sooner, I think we were holding out hope ours would rebound.

It's so nice to have ice again!

Yes, I am the dork that kept checking on its production over the weekend and giving status updates to my hard to impress people.

Finally, even though Weird Al annoys me, I did like his recent grammar rant.
Happy Monday, y'all!
xoxo

7.14.2014

Miscellany Monday

The keys to the perfect summer afternoon are sunshine, a book, a pool, a cool drink and snacks.
I'm not really that tan, that's just a perk of the Hipstamatic camera app's funky lenses and films.

Y'all know that I am huge fan of the library's online hold system.

Didja know that sometimes I get a bit over zealous in placing said online holds?
It's true.

I might have an addictive personality.

That said, when I start a new series, in this case the mystery series by Louise Penny, I am usually optimistic and sure that I will like it and will want to continue reading without pesky interruptions like having to go to the library to pick up the next book. The only logical thing is to just go ahead and get the first, oh say, six books in the series.

Am I right?

I've already cast aside The Hypnotist's Love Story, way too chick-lit-y, which is sad because I loved What Alice Forgot and The Husband's Secret (yes, those are chick-lit-y too but not in an annoying way). Mrs. Poe was so-so and I learned more about Edgar Allan Poe, which, creepy.

Does a bowl of cherries make you happy too?

Seriously.
It also makes me think of Erma Bombeck.

Annelise has been blessed, although she'd probably say cursed, with thick curly hair.

Of course she wants thin straight as a board hair.

Because the grass is always greener.

Cue Erma Bombeck again.

(Name those two Erma Bombeck books.)
One day last week we played hair salon and I straightened her hair.

Or at least attempted.

With my trusty flat iron, some Chi heat protectant spray, velcro rollers, time and patience.

She loved it!!

I tried not to cry when she wanted to go jump on the trampoline later that evening.

Oh the humidity.

We've loved playing Settlers of Catan (although we haven't played in a long time) (it's a great strategy type family game) so when I heard raves about Ticket to Ride Europe (another strategy style game) I ordered it.

Last year.

And then we promptly never played it.

I know!

However, we rectified this terrible wrong over the weekend.
Things got off to rocky start Friday evening though when after 30 minutes of Scott reading the directions out loud and we still weren't quite sure how to play.

We muddled through. Sort of.

Scott re-read the directions (they really are a bit daunting) that night, silently this time, thank goodness, and he had a better grasp on all the particulars.

We gathered around the table Sunday afternoon, fortified with coffee and chocolate, of course, and played a full game.
It was a LOT of fun!

Even though Scott won.
Three lovely (young) ladies lunching.

Annelise was so excited to get to see Ellen (on the right) again after meeting her earlier this year.  It's a long story, but in a nutshell, Ellen's parents were a big encouragement to us when we were starting the international adoption process years ago. They adopted Ellen as a baby from Russia and hearing their story--and knowing Ellen (she was probably three or four at the time we started our adoption journey) helped us so much. They've since moved away but happened to be down this weekend for a visit.

I can't really explain it but Annelise felt an immediate connection to Ellen because of their similar background, even though they didn't really talk about it other than something along the lines of,

"So, you were born in Russia?"

"Yep."

"Me too."

"Cool."

And that was that.

(This conversation happened as they were each engrossed in their iPods, in a Hampton Inn lounge in February around the ages of 10 and 14, respectively.

But meeting someone from similar circumstances made a huge impression on Annelise.

I'm not so secretly hoping they can be pen pals.

Or e-mail pals.

Or Snapchat buddies.

(Although I do not really *get* Snapchat.)

Happy Monday, y'all!

xoxo

7.10.2014

Getting Our Schlitterbahn On: 2014 Version

Last week we took what has apparently become our annual summer pilgrimage to the mecca of water parks, Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels.

Also?

It was almost identical to the first, second and third times we've been there.

We are nothing if not predictable, which I suppose can either be seen as boring or comforting depending on how you look at it.

However, we did manage to make a few slight improvements this year.

Our last two visits have been centered around the 4th of July holiday and closer to the weekend. Scott wanted to do the same thing this year so that he wouldn't need to take too many vacation days but eventually came around to my side of things and we decided to go earlier in the week and be at the park Tuesday and Wednesday, leaving plenty of buffer between us and the 4th of July crowds.
Y'all.

We've never seen Schlitterbahn so not crowded.

(!!)

We had our pick of picnic tables--in the SHADE no less--to choose from to set up base camp and the lines for the rides were never (!!) long.

What the what?

Annelise and I both started singing "A Whole New World" (from Aladdin) as we first walked into the park and saw all the empty tables and no mobs of people.

It was glorious.

Also? We brought a cooler of water, Gatorade and my new favorite beverage, La Croix grapefruit sparkling water (sidenote: it's dee-lish and refreshing, but no calories, fake stuff and no sodium), along with a tote bag of essential snacks (Pringles, almonds, Goldfish, and the all important Golden Oreos). You might think that since this was not our first Shlitterbahn rodeo that we would've gotten ourselves together and brought a cooler years earlier in order to save on overpriced soda and souvenir mugs...but you'd be wrong. 

But I guess the fourth time is the charm.

Maybe next year we'll add lunchmeat, cheese and bread (or something else picnic-y) so we won't buy slices of pizza for lunch.

A girl can dream.

(Although their pizza is quite yummy and not too spendy.)

We got to ride our favorite rides LOTS of times since the park wasn't too crowded. We were happy as clams. In inner tubes.

We spend most of our time each year at the original water park. It's the biggest and has the most variety (I think) of water rides. As you probably know by now, my fourth annual post, the tube rides are my favorite and we did them all (except for Bonsai Pipeline because it's all enclosed and dark). Our favorites in order are Whitewater (a swirly, super fast, tube ride that packs several water-y wallops), Cliffhanger (bumpy, fun waterfall at the end), Congo (fun waterfall then relaxing tube ride into the Comal River) and Raging River (longest tube ride with exciting fast parts and plenty of calm float-y parts that goes all across the park ending in the Comal River) and then Hillside (this comes in last because the lines can get long).  Scott and Annelise will also do the body slide rides like Downhill Racer and Der Bahn.

Once we were good and waterlogged Tuesday evening we changed into dry clothes to go to dinner in Gruene. In the past we've always just worn our swimsuit coverups (maxi dresses for the girls and a dry t-shirt for Scott) and kept our slightly soggy suits on, which is as about as delightful as you'd imagine. This year we packed an extra tote bag with a change of clothes for each of us and, oh my goodness, Annelise and I almost busted out singing "A Whole New World" again after we changed.

Why did it take us four years to get ourselves together?

Anyway, the first night after Schlitterbahn is always at The Gristmill out in Gruene (about a 10 minute drive). Gruene is just the cutest, full of shops and tiny town charm, although we never shop we just eat.

Priorities.

The Gristmill is a casual restaurant behind Gruene Hall, which is an ancient dance hall, landmark and country music hot spot, we always enjoy the sounds wafting out as we walk to and fro. I'm sure you won't be surprised when I tell you we ordered the same meal we always do (well, Annelise usually changes hers up), the Gristmill Burger, which is slathered in queso, and a side of their sinful onion rings.

Dee-lish. Is what it was.
The next day got off to a bit of a rocky start, what with being a little bit later getting to the park and there being only two ticket booths open and several large groups of people waiting in line and oh, yeah, it was already HOT at 10:30.

We may have been a bit snippy with each other.

(Don't fret, we apologized once we got into the park.)

We set up camp at one of the picnic tables then caught one of the shuttles to Blastenhoff, one of the other water parks. We spent a few hours over there for Master Blaster and Torrent River, and for me to catch some rays and read on Torrent Beach, before schlepping back on the shuttle to finish up our day at the original park.

Which is pretty much the same thing we do every year.
Dippin' Dots, because nothing is as refreshing as overpriced novelty ice cream.

Good Karma sidenote: Annelise had lost her sunglasses the very first time she rode Whitewater on Tuesday (can you say wipeout? can you say we told her to wear them and not hold them?) and was highly upset but then when we checked at guest services Wednesday was beyond thrilled that someone had turned them in. Whew.

We rode ourselves silly, taking advantage of no lines to ride Whitewater and Cliffhanger over and over. And then a few more times.

We shut the park down then made our usual trek to Taco Cabana so we could sit outside in our coverups and soggy suits enjoying tacos and quesadillas. Just as we have done for the past two years.

I'm okay with being predictable.

xoxo


7.08.2014

Game Changer: DIY Gel Nails

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a Pinterest post about how to do gel nails at home (without a UV light) so I did the only reasonable thing, I pinned it to my beauty board.

Come to find out I had pinned an almost identical DIY gel nail post a few months previously but had never followed through with trying it out.

Sad truth about my Pinterest habits.

This time though I actually followed through.

Annelise and I made a mad dash to Sally's one afternoon to get the necessary polishes, most importantly, the Gelous nail gel coat. Of course, we could not resist picking up a few new polishes since they were having a BOGO sale on a couple of their brands (sadly, not the China Glaze, but que sera, sera). 
I also grabbed a new Seche Vite top coat because it is truly amazing.

Since Annelise was drawn to several neon shades, and I found myself drawn in by their siren call as well, the lady at Sally shared a great tip with us:

Use one coat of white polish first (after Gelous, if you're going for the gel look) before any neon color, which prevents any of your nail to show through. The last two weeks or so I've been alternating between an orange-y neon and a hot pink neon and the white undercoat has worked great.
I followed the tips from the original posts and this process has worked really well for me.

* Gelous base coat
*polish color
*Gelous coat
*polish color
*top coat
*final Gelous coat

**I've been adding the white before any neon color, so that's one extra step followed by another Gelous coat**

**I try to keep my coats fairly thin and allow about a minute or so between each coat.
This Gelous stuff is my new BFF!

I've been keeping my nails as short as possible, not only do I like this look the best on me, it really helps keep the chipping to a minimum. My nails have been lasting several days before showing any chips, which for me is huge since I've been cursed with thin, peeling nails over the last few years.

While Annelise and I were shopping we had an awkward encounter with a Close Talker. A teen girl came in and after wandering around for a while she approached us to discuss all things nail polish. And horses. And slumber parties. All while smacking her gum all up in our personal space. We tried to be polite, but we hurried up our purchases lickety split just the same.

Of course I had to explain the original Close Talker so I did the only practical thing, pulled up the Seinfeld episode on You Tube on my phone once we got to the car.

As one does.

What ever would we do without Seinfeld?
I'm so glad I don't have to worry about that.

Sidenote: Have you ever checked out Jerry Seinfeld's new gig at ComediansInCarsGettingCoffee.com? You must! It's absolutely delightful!

Let me know if you try Gelous...I'd love to hear about your results.

xoxo

7.07.2014

Miscellany Monday (The 4th of July Edition)

Our Fourth got off to a bit of a slow (read: lazy) start, which makes no sense seeing as we had just come back from a little vacation the day before (more on that in another post). 

Have I ever told y'all that I'm a serious introvert/borderline hermit? It's true. Getting the umph to go to social events--even those laid back ones with super close friends--is almost always a struggle for me. I know, I'm a handful.

But I managed to push my hermit alter ego aside and we went over to our friend's house for yummy burgers, chatting, swimming (the kids), laughing (everyone), trampoline jumping (again, the kids), sweet treats and fireworks.

As you do.

Annelise made a batch of crazy easy blondies and I made a tortellini pasta salad.
The kids had a blast swimming, at least until the rain and thunder started. The womenses had a blast eating and chatting, as did the dudes, just segregated.
We moved outside for sparklers and firework viewing.

In the rain.

As you do.

Pat rigged up his canopy for the kids to do their sparklers (eight boxes!) under, which immediately became highly comical due to all the smoke.

It was like a Cheech and Chong movie.

Sort of.
But the kids didn't mind.

Later Pat moved the canopy over a bit so we could all watch the nearby fireworks but the mosquitoes were determined to undermine our firework viewing. Those little buggers.

(I crack myself up!)

All in all, it was a fun night that ended up stretching into the next day (like 2:00 am, what?), which Annelise LOVED staying up that late. I was rather wrecked most of Saturday and perfected the art of laziness.

That's right, straight back to hermit.

In other news, we had quite the drama Saturday night when Annelise dropped her iPod into her bath (!!!), which you know, it was like I had never, ever warned (threatened?) her about not using her iPod near her sink or tub. We tried the rice in a bag trick and she and Scott went to the Genius Bar Sunday afternoon and the Genius guy managed to perform some resuscitation voodoo and get it's little electronic life back. But it might be quirky for a while.

And in completely random-y random news, Ulta is having a big sale on their jumbo sized salon brand shampoos. Lately I've been trying to use better shampoos to hopefully keep my color lasting longer. I've always waffled between salon brand shampoos and drugstore (usually Pantene or L'Oreal), never really convinced there was that big of a difference. But if I can get a good deal on a salon shampoo? I'm so there. This time I got jumbo Matrix Biolage shampoo and conditioner for color treated hair, so we'll see how that goes.

Annelise has been all worked up (read: fed up) about her curly, often slightly frizzy hair but she doesn't always want to take the time to use products or style it other than her go to low ponytail. Since there was a sale, I bought her her very own *fancyfied* shampoo and conditioner (it's AG recoil, is AG a good brand?) for curly hair that's sulfate free, which is supposed to tame the frizz and soften curls. Fingers crossed it makes a difference.

I guess that's enough miscellany for now!
xoxo


7.02.2014

VBS 2014

Last week our church hosted it's third annual VBS which was exciting, fun-filled, spiritual growth inspiring and wonderfulness all rolled into one happy burrito.

Is that a thing? I'm not sure.
This year's VBS was a Jesus Super Hero Training Academy which, you guessed it, had a super hero theme, with Jesus, of course, being the ultimate superhero. Every year we have really cool t-shirts, which every child (and worker) receives, but I think this year's shirt is my favorite, mainly because of the subway style scripture on the back. Plus I like blue and yellow.
Each morning started with lots of singing followed by a different skit performed by some of our teens and our amazing youth minister. The teens were different superhero wannabes with special *powers* ranging from a super strong Buffalo, an electrically charged Micro Chick, a freezing Frost Bite, a stealthy ninja named Sabu and a wealthy, spoiled Pomeranian. Each day they would *compete* in different challenges in the Omega Dome to be judged by Alpha Omega. Before every challenge he would remind them that the last shall be first and they must be a servant to others but they didn't really understand what he meant until the last day.
On the last day it was revealed that Alpha Omega was really Jesus when he helped an injured Sabu and gave him the crown of life for truly having the heart of a servant and putting others before himself. It was pretty powerful!
Annelise was in the 4th and 5th grade group and spent most of her time upstairs for her Agent of Jesus lessons and activities. Their lessons were especially geared to older kids and focused on hero character traits of obey, mercy, trust, and love.
Her wonderful teachers, Mr. Ralph (our minister) and Mrs. Edna.
They did different bible drills, activities and crafts, like masks, capes, maintaining their case file log and making a woven heart basket to fill with candy to give to local nursing home residents.
Every day a different real life hero (members from our church) would visit to talk to the kids and answer questions. The first day featured a fighter pilot and astronaut candidate who spoke about odedience. You could have heard a pin drop while he was talking, the kids were so engaged!
They also heard from a Houston Firefighter and EMT about mercy, a Navy deep sea diver about trust and a beloved CCISD high school teacher (Mrs. Edna) talked about love. I missed hearing the firefighter (kicks self!) but am so thankful I got to hear pieces from the others. They were so inspiring! The kids signed thank you notes the last day for each of their guest speakers, which was really sweet.
There was also a PE rotation where they played different games each day.
Followed by the all important snacks. On the day that Mr. Glover (the astronaut trainee) visited the 4th and 5th grades enjoyed some freeze dried ice cream (some kids loved it, others hated it, Annelise gave hers away after a tiny bite) along with their animal crackers, which was a neat treat.
The younger kids (toddlers through 3rd grade) also got to travel to crafts and to two different application rooms for a puppet show, reinforcement games and other fun learning activities.
Of course the girls and I had to pose for a photo together. :) Kim was one of the master VBS Planny Plannerson Head Honchos, Heather taught one of the the toddler classes, Robyn taught one of the application rotations and I was one of the VBS photographers.

Each year our VBS has grown, from 109 the first year to 160 this year! It's encouraging to not only see growth but to see the same visitors come back year after year.
What a blessing! Hopefully lots of seeds have been planted!