Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hotness Alert

We told Conor's teachers yesterday about his Strong Body and flirting with the girl behind us at the restaurant. They told us it was perfectly normal and an amazing outward sign that his self-confidence has really grown this year. They also pointed out that Conor has a keen awareness of attractiveness (actually, the teacher said "hotness") in the classroom. One of the class mothers is apparently quite beautiful and Conor asks her frequently if he can go home with her. And then when she says no, he asks why not!?

That little stinker!!!

We tried to get him to tell us which mother was so pretty today during bath time. (We all get ready together in the morning. It's lovely. And spacious, in our tiny bathroom. But when Patches stuck his head in to see what was going on, it was just a little too much). Anyhoo, we asked him who the prettiest mommy was in his classroom and he responded his teacher. "No," Dave said, "who is the prettiest mommy of the kids in your classroom?"

Conor smiled and said "Anita."

Suck up! The kid is brilliant, don't you think!?

Speaking of too smart for his own good, the first thing Conor asked when he got to school yesterday was if he could practice writing his letters again. He was very, very serious and didn't want to play any games, but wanted to trace letters because, as he told the teacher, "I didn't do it over vacation and I'm afraid I will forget how to do it."

I, too, have been accused of doing work during our vacation.

The teacher asked if we have been putting pressure on Conor on his writing? We haven't, that I know of. We are certainly proud of him being able to write at this age, but we don't try to get him to do it at home. Then I told the teacher about when I was a sophomore in college and realized that if I didn't a 96 or above on the test, that did not mean I failed. "The sun will still rise tomorrow and less than a 96 does not mean I fail the test. " (I remember those exact phrases) It's a good thing I realized that before the test because I crapped on that exam. Nonetheless, it was only as a sophomore in college that getting a B didn't mean I failed.

I don't really want Conor to live life with that sort of pressure. But certainly, it comes from me. As opposed to Dave, whose second grade teacher had to tell his parents about Dave's frustrating habit of working incredibly hard and doing a fantastic job on his assignments, until he knew he'd done "enough" to get a passing grade on his assignments and then basically doing nothing more.

On the like me/like him score, Conor is more like me in that. On the answering "Anita" whenever quizzed about the prettiest woman in the room? Well, Conor may take after his daddy on that characteristic.

What a relief.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Can Tell, Dolly

We're back in cool, comfortable July in North Carolina which if you know how hot it actually is in North Carolina, you'll understand why I now think South Texas is a steamy version of hell.

Dolly's eye passed about 5-7 miles north of us, which makes the hurricane sound vaguely like an out of control country singer, and if that's the image you want to take with you, so be it. I've been in tropical depressions before, but never a "real" hurricane. It rained horizontally and we saw bits and pieces of roofs, trees and hotel signs flying by us. We lost power Weds afternoon and water Wednesday night. As an aside, it's really odd to spend the entire day watching the storm approach you on TV and then, when it does hit, losing all connection to what the heck is going on outside your own window.

Wednesday was a pretty rough day, what with no power or water in Satan's sauna. Also, since we were in a hotel, we didn't have all that much food. We did make it to Wal-Mart (speaking of Satan!) on Tuesday and PB&J for dinner Wednesday night and breakfast Thursday morning. But woman cannot live on PB&J alone, so Thursday lunch we headed out into the aftermath to look for food.

One might note that not a lot of people will open their restaurants without power and water. We did find 3 places open: Church's chicken, Pizzaria Uno and a taqueria. Dave and I are one on this one: I don't care how desperate we were, we didn't travel to the south of Texas to eat Church's chicken. So we opted for the taqueria, which was honestly, REALLY GOOD. I have absolutely no idea what we ordered or how, but we ended up with about 12 beef tacos with some yummy, soup-y beans (which we were later told were charro beans). Despite the fact we were sweating profusely, it was one of our more memorable meals.

Sweating. Yeah. That is one thing I will remember about this trip. That and also being told by the hotel manager not to yell at him because he didn't turn off the electricity. Dave took over at that point, although I was shocked he said that: if he thought *that* was yelling, he better step back should anything ever happen to my son. Dave then pointed out that yes, we knew he didn't turn off the electricity, but we happened to notice that while our room had lights but no a/c, the unoccupied room across the hall from us had a/c and but no lights and this room had been cool if not actually snowing for the last 3 or 4 hours. We wanted that one. Dave got that room for us and the manager and I avoided eye contact for the next couple of days.

Until breakfast one morning, when a woman approached me asking where we were from. (People can be very friendly in a natural disaster) It was obvious we were tourist as we stood apart from the folks fleeing South Padre Island (very tanned), the rescue workers, the national guard and the insurance adjusters. She told us that she was from Harligen where they weren't expecting electricity for another week and her kids thought it was just mean to be staying in their hot, un-air-conditioned house, when. . . .she turned and smiled at her husband, the hotel manager, who agreed to let his wife and kids come stay in the air conditioned hotel until their power was turned back on.

That, my friends, is irony. Who's the crazy, hot mother yelling at you now, huh?

Ah, yes. The rest of the trip was fine. The wedding was beautiful and I got to meet my friend's friends and her husband's family, all of whom make me realize that friends pick our similar friends and so it's easy to like friends of your friends. They are obviously similar for a reason.

And Conor had a good time despite (or because of?) all the adventures. One thing is for sure, we do NOT need to worry that Conor is too shy and doesn't initiate interactions. Conor basically spent this entire trip engaging people about all the things that we were doing and trying to share with them the special parts of this world as he knows it. "Mr. Chris, did you know you can get your bathing suit on and get in the swimming pool?" "Mr. Chris, did you know my mommy can give foot massages?" "Mr. Chris, did you know I like sausage pizza?" To a girl at Burger King, "Did you know that I thought the playground would be a bus, but it's a train. You can climb and play on that train."

One might note that Conor was especially taken with Mr. Chris, a friend from Charlotte at the wedding also. Hugging him and holding his hand whenever we were out and about with Chris. And Sunday, in San Antonio at the River Walk (LOVE THAT PLACE!), Conor got all excited when we saw a pretty girl and her date behind us as we left a restaurant. He got all excited and jumped up and down and pointed them out to me. "Look, Mommy! Look!" I turned and looked at these strangers and said "Yes, I see the people behind us." Then Conor made a big production waved a big wave at the pretty girl. She smiled at Conor and us, while I just stuttered, "I think he really wants to say Hi to you."

Of course, the interaction I will never forget came on Friday when I was having lunch with the other bridesmaid and the bride. Conor and Dave stopped by to say hi and Conor told me about a girl he met on the playground: "She's a little bigger, and her name is Jennifer, too. And she is nice and she likes my strong body."


I am pretty sure that the 6 year old girl did not tell my 4 year old son that she liked his strong body, but What The F*ck? What is going on that curly little head of his that would ever prompt that thought? What is going to happen when he hits puberty.

Well, if he ends up having some strange attraction to women named Dolly, we'll have an idea of who or what to blame.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

You're Looking Swell, Dolly

We figured a minimal Level 1 Hurricane wouldn't be that big of a deal. No one seemed that worried about it when we told them on Monday and the pilots and flight attendants certainly weren't mentioning it on our flights into San Antonio.

Then we got on the shuttle to pick up our rental car. A woman got on with 3 way over-stuffed backpacks and duffle bags. I could also see from the corner of her eye that she had a polo shirt on with her company's logo and some motivational phrase on it. Bless her heart, I thought. There's liking where you work and then there's being overly involved in your work. Wearing your shirt at the company picnic is one thing; wearing it on a trip is quite another.

Then I saw her FEMA identification tag. And then I read the insignia which was for the US Urban Search and Rescue Response Team. I looked at Dave. He looked at me.


Then we got on the road for the incredibly long drive from San Antonio to the path of Hurricane Dolly, between Brownsville and McAllen, TX. And we saw all the traffic signs that said "Hurricane Warning for Brownsville.....(blink, blink, blink)....Avoid travel to that area."

Party on!

Then we passed all the Verizon Emergency Team trucks on the highway heading the same way we were.

At least we're going to where all the fun is.

When we got to the hotel, the manager was responding to call after call from people looking for a safe place to stay. This hotel is full. And the people we've seen arriving are coming in with more than just traditional tourist luggage. People look like they have left just their homes with everything they could put in there.

Still it didn't turn into a Level 1 Hurricane until we were driving to the hotel. How could it be that bad? Now, it's one mph from becoming a Level 2 and 1 and 1/2 hours from hitting shore. Our county, Hidalgo, wasn't worried about Hurricane Dolly because it wasn't expected to become a Level 2. Whoops!

This morning, Dave met a man who had been kicked out his original hotel because the National Guard took over. We looked in our parking lot and saw 6 ambulances from all over southern Texas on stand by for an emergency. We also saw more company insignias from more emergency response teams from around Texas.

So we came down early to the wedding to go to South Padre Island, a very famous and very nice resort town on the southen coast of Texas. That's pretty much where Dolly is making landfall first, so we have opted not to go there. Instead, we're going to be staying in our hotel room pretty much all day today.

Some families take their children to Disney Land for vacation. We take our child to the eye of a Level 2 hurricane.

Check us out.

UPDATE: Dolly is now Level 2 and all the ambulances have left the parking lot, we assume to be closer to landfall.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hello Dolly!

We' re heading down to Texas for about a week for my good friend's wedding. Everyone keeps asking us "Where exactly in Texas are you going?"

We respond "To the southern-most point. Pretty much on the boarder with Mexico."

Now, you will know exactly where we're going: simply follow Hurricane Dolly's path and you will know where we're going to be.

We have decided, what with the 100% chance of heavy rain and wind, to skip going to South Padre Island on Wednesday. Nonetheless, we're going to run like bunnies from San Antonio to our hotel on Tuesday to get in before the hurricane hits. Otherwise, we're not how easily it will be to make it there.

Hopefully, it will be a wimpy hurricane and not do any real damage. If it isn't, Dave and I will be able to share our own experiences with our Frontier House Honeymoon and reassure them that something funky always happens in a wedding, and if yours is a hurricane, well, the grandkids are going to love that story.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Owl Be Darned

Apparently, we are not the only creatures in our neighborhood noting the extensive number of rats, rabbits and mice around our house.

We have three adult screech owls hanging around our house every night now looking for prey. On the one hand, Hooray!! Kill the bunnies!! On the other, ummm, is there a downside? We can't think of one! Both we and our neighbors are enjoying the nightly owl show in our back yard.

First, the owls are frickin' big. They fly low and they think we are not worthy, so they have no fear flying over our heads or watching us from low branches. Second, they love playing on our outdoor furniture and our car. We suspected owl activity from the massive bird poop we were finding on our deck and cars, but this week they've decided to truly make themselves known.

Dave came to get me one night to show me the owl on our car. We were standing at our back window watching the owl on the car while the owl was watching us, too. Then we decided to turn out the light so we could see the owl better. The owl thought that was bizarre behavior. He could still see us through the glass (those big owly eyes and such) and he was still quite curious at our behavior. So he started bobbing and weaving his head at us, I'm guessing just to make sure he could still see us. Then he apparently got bored of that and started looking around at different things around the car. Once his gaze was directly opposite of us, he all of a sudden whipped his head around and stared directly at us! He was trying to catch us doing! It was so obvious what he was doing, we laughed out loud.

By that time I think he trusted us enough to fly back and forth between the cars and walking around.

I just love having our owls in our backyard even if it makes me a little nervous to go outside and do something once the sun has gone down. They are REALLY big. And we can now recognize their screeches which lull us to sleep when we sleep with the windows open. However, now that we are all owly friends, I feel like I ought to inform that it's probably not the best hunting strategy to keep screeching every 3 minutes when you're on the hunt. Even the dumbest mouse and bunny is going to figure out that a screech could lead to a murder and to keep their heads low. Since our goal is for the prey to walk around waving their tiny rodent arms to attract attention to themselves, we might need to bring this up at our next owl meeting.

And on a more exciting note, I'm done with the Quantum Cleanse. I had my first cup of coffee this morning and it was delicious!!! And oddly, I could only drink one cup. More than that made me feel a little sick. Our new RE allows 2-3 cups of coffee, but I'm thinking I might stick to 1-2 cups. And tonight, I am so excited about the pinot grigio I'm going to put in the fridge!! WOOHOO!!

And I did lose about 6 lbs. I'm very happy about that. But I really want to lose about 4-6 more lbs before the IVF in August. So I'm still sticking with what I've been eating with a few modifications: no sugar, minimal wine, mostly vegetarian and less wheat than before. Truly, it would be great to be back down to my weight at Conor's pg when we go in for our IVF.

But now, it's time to focus on today and today's work and relish the coffee I had this morning!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008


This week a friend of mine, 40 years old with three young children, died from breast cancer that came back as lung cancer. Last weekend, we found out that the mother of a friend of ours has lung cancer. And just this week, we found out that the doctors of a good friend who has been free from breast cancer for 7 years just found a spot on her lungs. She starts chemo very soon.

I don't talk about God a lot on this blog. I fully believe that many of the readers of this blog, even if they believe in God, may have different views about broad or specific details than I do.

But it has been bothering me that a friend is angry at God because (s)he let my friend with the young children die. So this is sort of in response to that comment and also to this horrible outbreak of cancer among my friends.

I don't believe God does that. I know some people do believe that God chooses some people to die from cancer and others to recover. I know that some people believe that God gives some people cancer (or some other tragedy) to "wake them up" and get their attention. I don't believe that's true at all.

People die. That is the only thing we know is this life: everyone will die. We don't know if we'll get married, have children, become homeless, or even find the cure for cancer. All we know is that we will die. Some will die old and others young. Some with young children and some with adult children. Some will die tragically and for some, death will come as a happy relief. But everyone is going to die.

And I'm not saying that some deaths really don't seem fair. I fully agree that for our neighbor, who lost her child at birth, that death was not fair. But I don't think God did that to her or her husband or to that baby.

God doesn't have anything to do with that. That is life. Death is life.

Where God comes in, to me, is in what the people do around the person and his/her family when they die. The comfort, the care, the reassurances, the family, the love they feel from others and the chicken casseroles, that is where God comes in. Or doesn't.

We are very, very sad for our friends. And we want God to show through us and to our friends. And hopefully, some comfort will be given.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Firetruck Birthday

This weekend was Conor's 4th birthday party. It was absolutely fantastic: for the first time we invited over school friends along with the neighborhood friends. We filled up the kiddie pool, turned on the slip and slide, threw out a giraffe tunnel, and sat back and watched them go crazy.

This picture does not do justice to the craziness that was involved. We invited 9 children over. We were crazy. At one point, I came out of the house and saw 5 children lined up on the slip and slide with 3 children in the shark pool filling and emptying water buckets, one child throwing the giraffe's head around the yard and one standing up inside the giraffe tunnel and walking around the yard. I'm telling you, it was a scene. And when the giraffe started walking around, I thought the adults were going to fall out of their seats laughing.

Of course, we had no idea that the real fun was going to be the tree house, which upon discovery, led to a herd of boys climbing up in it at once.

And thank god(dess) that it didn't rain until the end. I just assumed all along we'd be able to be outside to play. When we finally moved in to open presents (and the rain started) I got a glimpse of just how absolutely crazy it would have been had we had the children in the house the whole time. I swear when the last present was opened, there was a near riot from excitement and sugar in our house.

Sugar. Yes, sugar. THAT I DID NOT TASTE! I made a firetruck cake (birthday theme) and 24 additional cupcakes for all the guests and I did not once lick the spoon, the beaters or my fingers during the entire time, staying true to the cleanse. I'm proud of myself for that. The cake? Not so much. Dave thinks I put the bar too high last year with Curious George.

Oh and a final word to anyone who wants to have the local fire department stop by during your child's birthday party. The firefighters are incredibly kind and considerate. But give them a really wide range of time to come (like the whole party) instead of the most convenient time for you, because otherwise, you're tempting fate to have not one but both trucks be called out for an emergency. The fire captain called 2 hours after the party to apologize, which was awfully sweet. But I really wish I'd given him a much bigger range of time so that Conor could have had a real firetruck at his party. Fortunately, it was a surprise and he had no idea what he was missing.

I will say in my Southern understated way that I think he had a good time anyway.

Friday, July 11, 2008

My Hair

This week, I went to have my hair highlighted again. I decided early on in the Make Anita Pretty process that I would shop around and try to find the best person to color my hair. I'll still the the Ouidad process done at a local salon, but I'd like to find a cheap colorist to color my hair. When I was in grad school, I had a woman who rented a booth at a local salon who charged me between $40 and $60 to cut and color my hair. I'm paying twice as much now (at least!) and the results have just never been as good as her.

So in February, I went to someone who owned her own shop to have some highlights put in. She just added some in and it looked nice. However, she just used straigh bleach (not clorox, but certainly not a color) and I thought it was too light for my hair.

So I went to someone else this week. I told him I thought the straight bleach look was too much for my dark hair. I pointed to a curl and said that's the color I want throughout my hair. He either 1) only heard that I thought the highlights were too light or 2) uses one particular procedure (a toner) which colors over the highlights and decided that's what he had to do.

In any case, he removed every and all highlights out of my hair and my hair is back to dark brown. AND I HATED IT. I called him up when I got home and said, I really don't like this can you fix it. So I went back to him yesterday and supposedly added a few more highlights and the toner again. AND I HATE IT. Now instead of dark brown, my hair is medium dark brown. I cannot see any highlights anywhere in my hair. I've cried three times already about how ugly I look. And I can't afford to go somewhere else so soon to have it fixed again. (He didn't charge me the second time for anything except the product, but I felt so guilty I gave him two tips for both colorings).

I cannot stress to you enough about how much I hate the color of my hair right now. I look old. A lot older with this color hair than I did with the bleach I didn't even like. And I don't understand why when I went to him the second time he didn't use the absolute lightest highlights he could to add some light back into my hair?


And I'm going to be in a wedding in two weeks. And I'm going to Los Angeles two weeks after that. And everyone is going to think I look bad. And in LA, they are going to feel sorry for me.

I honestly don't know if I can take looking in the mirror for three more months and hating what I see. I feel like I'm too old to get this upset about my hair. Nonetheless, I am. And I hate the color of my hair right now.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Word Girl

I love Word Girl. I mean I love her. I sing out her theme song at various times throughout the day.

She's like Buffy for the pre-school set.

Clean and Green

I'm finishing up day 11 on the Quantum Wellness cleanse. So far, I've lost about 4 lbs. I'm not tired. I'm not depriving myself of anything. And I'm certainly not hungry. What I miss thus far is coffee. I can do without the nightly wine, although, Wine is Good. But when I smell that coffee in the morning, I crave it. That is the first and perhaps the only thing I know I'm going to add back to my daily eating immediately.

And I haven't been perfect. On Thursday, at an Indian buffet, I'm pretty sure I ate something with butter in it. And then Sunday morning, I had grits with some soy cheese with casein in it. (You'd be shocked how full that made me feel afterwards, and not in a good way). And on Sunday night, I had a Boca burger, which I'll bet is not completely in the cleanse and a squash dish with some cheese in it. I ate it because I was a guest at someone's house and I am simply not the kind of person who will make my host/ess feel bad about what s/he has cooked by not eating it.

So, honestly, when today I felt more tired than I have since Day 3 of the cleanse. I wonder if milk makes me tired?

In other news, we are really trying to be green around here. We are cutting back water consumption as much as we can. Indeed, the highlight of our dinner party the other night was deciding that we could and probably should flush all the toilets before out guests arrived. It felt very extravagant!

You, of course, know the "poem"? Maybe not? Well, here goes:

If it's yellow,
Let it mellow.
If it's brown,
Flush it down.


And we also bought a clothes line this weekend. The neighbors who don't like Patches' barking are going to love that!!! What was stunning was that it took 30 minutes to dry our sheets outside and just under an hour for Dave's shirts to be completely, crunchily dry. The air conditioner and the dryer are the two worst polluters in your house. We've really tried not to use our a/c this summer rejoicing in our attic fan and our new windows. And now we're going to start drying our clothes outside.

Although Dave is happy on our electric bill this month, it's not about the money. We've all been living too long with the attitude that if we can afford it, we can use it. That's not right. We need to take care of everything---air, water, animals, earth---so that everyone can have equal, healthy access to it. Otherwise, no one is going to get any of it.

Off of soap box. I'm trying to use this cleanse to be mindful of my place in this world and my impact on it. Just let me know before you come over and we'll be sure to flush all the toilets. That's how much of a giver we are.