August 2009 Archives

Best Words Ever in a Drought

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School's Started

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Back to morning chaos! Actually, this morning went pretty well, and I made breakfast tacos for the crew. The boys wanted to try veggie bacon, so we bought it at the store and mixed it in. Consensus was that it was fine mixed in, but pretty horrible by itself. Nolan complained about the after-taste. But I digress. School's started!

Gag Gag Sniff Sniff Ahhhhh

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I had to have a crown put in at the dentist yesterday, thanks to a long-abused first molar finally "cracking under pressure." I'm generally a friendly, relaxed patient, but I have trouble with the Novocaine sometimes not working the first time through, and I admit I rely on laughing gas to get me through the Novocaine part of it. Well, yesterday I also had issues with my gag reflex every time the dentist tried to put some gadget in my mouth. And he'd tell me, "Just breathe through your nose," wanting to drug me out so I'd somehow stop gagging. Well, it didn't quite work out that way, but eventually we all made it through the appointment.

The thoughts that go through your head while on laughing gas, ha. While laying there like a zombie, your mind does weird goofy things, and it's interesting what you target on. If you're like me, you really want to just sniff sniff sniff deeply, but you don't want to look like you're really into it either, because normally that's just not the kind of person you are. When told to breathe deeply, I kept picturing some cartoon character eagerly breathing in some illegal drug in a very exaggerated manner, and I kept thinking something along the lines of "I don't want to be a caricature" - in reality my words were different, but they made complete sense to me at the time, yet I doubt they'd make sense to anyone reading this. So in my little nose piece, I'd practice subtle deep breathing, while all the while I'm sure my dentist would have preferred me to just take a big breath and fall asleep. Instead, my mind wandered to the weirdest of topics. Do I remember all of them? Not even. I do remember that Barack Obama was on TV, talking to a radio talk show host about health care reform, and I remember thinking that his was such a nice pleasant voice to hear while drugged out on laughing gas. And I remember the dentist having quite the sense of humor, and because I couldn't talk with all that stuff in my mouth, I either had to respond to his mischievous comments by wagging my finger at the dentist, a hand motion I hate doing, or I wrote down words on a piece of paper. After the appointment, it was remarkably amusing to try to decipher what I wrote during the laughing gas. The dentist and his hygienist did a pretty good job at the time.

Ultimately, and this was somewhat early on, the dentist switched to a smaller gadget-thing, and my gag reflex only flared if they touched my tongue with something. The dentist has the psychology part of dealing with a patient down very well (I was acutely aware of how he reacted to any movement I made and knew whether I was comfortable or in pain and what he needed to do or say to respond). I remember the dentist poking silly fun at both me and the brand new dental assistant, and it was overall not an unpleasant visit, perhaps mostly due to that lovely laughing gas. But last night, ohhhhh did my mouth throb, to the point that I wasn't sure I'd be able to fall asleep. Ah well, over and done with.

Oh, and the crown is beautiful.

Side note: Yesterday I was at the dentist's for so long that at some point, hunger kicked in and my blood sugar started rapidly dropping, to the point that I had to request something to eat, or I'd start getting the shakes and generally go physically downhill during the rest of the appointment. They gave me a little can of apple juice with no straw, and thanks to a numb mouth, I had to drink it much like Robert Hays and his "drinking problem" in the disaster spoof, "Airplane!" They also gave me a little cup of yogurt, and I had to eat that by getting a little yogurt on the spoon, flipping it upside-down, and smearing it onto the right side of my tongue, as I couldn't close my mouth around the spoon. Pretty lame.

Good Deed of the Day

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Today I found a dog tag -- no, not the military kind -- just a regular shiny silver puppy dog tag laying in the grass along the sidewalk. I decided to call the number and return the tag to its rightful owner, or at least the rightful owner's owner. And so later today we arranged a meeting spot, and I handed over the tag. Might not seem like a big deal to some, but hey, I saved him $7 to replace it. And perhaps I saved his dog from being lost without an owner tag, which would have been a big deal.

We don't have much money, so donating money to various charities can only happen occasionally for us. Instead, I try to set an example for my kids by stepping forth to help when a situation calls for it. Recently I helped a stranger jump-start his car in a rather precarious spot in a parking lot on a very hot afternoon. And I helped a woman who'd locked her keys in the car at a gas pump, driving her to her boyfriend's office for an apartment key, then to her apartment for her spare car key, and then back to the gas station. Little things, but I know they meant a lot to the people I helped.

Acts of kindness spread. And they feel good. And I'm trying to show my kids by example that helping others is important. So I think I might blog about good deeds from time to time. Perhaps mine, perhaps those of the kids, or perhaps ones I witness. Just things to smile about.  :)


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Last night we joined the Rihas for our sometimes-annual attendance of the Zilker Hillside Theatre musical, this year "The Music Man." It's called the Hillside Theatre because it takes place on a set-up professional stage at the base of a large hill each summer. The musical viewers gather on blankets and bring picnic dinners and enjoy what is always an impressive show, all for the cost of the park entrance (well, people usually donate in support of the show, as donations are how the theatre group exists).

This year, before the show began, I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to see my Aunt Joan, cousin Yesenia, Robin, and two of their friends on the blanket behind ours. What a delightful surprise! It baffles me that with a show that's been running for weeks, that on the second-to-last day, not only would we all show up, unknown to the other group, but also plant our blankets together? Had our blankets been on different sides of the crowd, we might not ever have known the other group was there.

Well, I was thrilled for a chance to visit with my wonderful family whom I rarely get to see. Stepan and Jen, I hope you don't feel slighted that I kept visiting the other blanket! But you know, we see you guys all the time!  :-D


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I thought I'd share these two cute pictures of Tooga that Logan took.



Now if you were to combine the two, you'd have what is becoming a common sight -- Tooga rolling around in the dirt, like a little piggy. Well, I suppose pigs actually wallow in the mud, and Tooga definitely does NOT do that.

Get Your Dogs in a Row

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Summer fun at the pool!


That's just pure joy.

andynicknolanb08-05-09.jpg Coming up for air...

nolan08-05-09.jpg More pics!

Camp Gladiator 2009

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The boys were both eager to participate in a new camp called Camp Gladiator this summer. It was run by Ally and Jeff Davidson, who both were contenders on Season 2 of American Gladiator, with Ally going on to the end to win the female gladiator title. The camp, I'm happy to report, was outstanding. The boys had a blast each and every day and they couldn't wait to tell me about what they did at camp, and at the end of it all they really look forward to doing it again next year. If that isn't an indication of the greatness of the camp, I don't know what is!

Gladiator09b.jpgThe camp was divided into two tribes, red and blue. Our boys were both on the blue tribe but in different clans. Each day the kids were presented with fun but challenging activities, and they were cheered on by some of the most enthusiastic counselors I've ever seen. Kudos to the wild and crazy counselors -- I think they are what really made the camp outstanding -- they made sure each and every kid had fun and they were great role models. Sportsmanship and adventure were the main goals of the camp.

Throughout the week, each team earned points to see who would get a head start during the final Eliminator challenge. Two of the points challenges on the final day included pulling a 7,000-pound Army truck a certain distance and playing tug-of-war against the other team.

Pulling the truckDuring the Eliminator the two teams, who were neck and neck in the points, had to race to the finish through obstacle after obstacle.


Obstacles included a slippery waterslide, a net-covered pool for army crawling, hurdles to climb over and crawl under, medicine ball carrying, balance beam walking, tires to run through, finding coins in sand, getting past Camp Gladiator counselors in the Gauntlet, and climbing a inflatable Tower before sliding down and tagging the next teammate.

Gladiator camp 020.JPG

Balance beamToward the end of the course, each contender had to get through the gauntlet, guarded by two tough but fun counselors.


The final challenge was to climb the Tower of Death. Well, I'm sure they didn't call it that, but my name sounds cool.

Gladiator camp 033.JPGThe Red Team's points gave them a 4-second lead into the Eliminator, but both teams raced well. I noticed that in an effort to maintain good sportsmanship and keep the spirit and excitement up, the counselors played a little part in keeping the teams balanced up through the end; for example, they asked Nolan to go twice to help keep the teams even. Ultimately at the end the Blue Team pulled ahead and was the first to get their team banner back to the truck, the finish line. Yay! Both teams, G-O-O-D-J-O-B, good job, good job!

Gladiator camp 036.JPGFace paint, lots of cheers, getting wet, tackling counselors, climbing over stuff -- who could ask for more?

And with that, I'm up-to-date on the blog. School is around the corner already, can you believe it?

Painting Begins

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Painting outside sucks, sucks, sucks. Give me interior anytime. But when you're broke, you don't get to hire anyone. You get to deal with all the cobwebs, chipped paint, mud dauber nests, repairs, caulking, heat, etc. yourself. Standing on a ladder painting (with a brush, mind you, because we really love that extra punishment) is exhausting. I had trouble walking for two days, and my arms felt like they should just fall off and get it over with. Michael had his own sets of physical issues. And all we got done that first day was the gable on one side of the house.

The paints I chose are a low-VOC Benjamin Moore product. It is expensive paint, which goes against painting on a budget. But I feel much better about using a paint that's less bad for the environment.

Painting begins Painting1.jpgBUT...

The house looks tremendously better with even that one area of paint. I've managed to paint the front door, too. It will be fantastic to finally get the repairs done and the new trim colors up and the garage door painted. The house is going to look goooood. When it's all done, I'll post before and after pictures. Wow, you can really see my gray hair in this picture. Will I survive the process of growing it out?

Painting front door

My friend Diane was getting rid of an old full-sized headboard. I painted it to match the front door and plan to use it in the garden like a fence -- it looks really good with green plants all around it. Thanks, Diane! It's upside down in this picture, by the way.

Painting headboard

Hopefully this painting project will be done in less time than our pond project took. But it will still take us weeks. Sigh.

Austin Pond Tour 2009

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On July 18-19, Austin Pond Society held its annual Austin Pond Tour, this one being the 2009 version. Our neighbor Jan joined us for visits to many, many beautiful ponds. It was truly inspiring, seeing such creativity and beauty. Some were natural-looking, some were whimsical, some were owner-built, and some were built by a contractor, but all were special, and we really appreciated the owners letting Austinites invade their yards for a day. The owners were welcoming and informative, and we learned a lot about the history of their ponds and their future goals. The pond photos say it all -- my descriptions won't do them justice. The nighttime photos didn't turn out, unfortunately -- but my word for those ponds and properties is WOW.

Austin Pond Tour Austin Pond Tour 2009

Austin Pond Tour 2009 Austin Pond TourI didn't get to visit all the ponds -- many on Saturday but only one on Sunday. But of the ones I did see, I thoroughly enjoyed. And we got to spend the day with Jan, whom we adore. She managed to put up with us for a day and then soon dashed out of town for a week (visiting one of her own daughters -- did you think she was fleeing us?!!).

Summer Camping

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Grandma, Aunt Lisa, and I took the boys camping at Robbers Cave in Oklahoma mid-July. I was amazed at how beautiful the area was -- in fact, the pine trees, giant boulders, and lovely views greatly reminded us of Colorado, minus some elevation. The water in the lake was warmer, though!

Grandma and her grandkidsRobbers Cave is a great place for a family to visit. It supposedly was a hideout for outlaws way back when. Aside from having nice air-conditioned cabins (hey, in 100-degree weather, an air-conditioned cabin IS camping -- there were hardly any tents around), they have a lake with swimming area, paddleboats, horseback riding, miniature golf, swimming pool, catfish feeding, nature center, arts and crafts, great playground, and of course hiking to Robbers Cave. It's very nicely maintained (except for a seriously lack of recycling options) and dog-friendly, to boot. We were comfortable, content, and always had something to do. The kids, Grover, and I had a blast, and we were so happy to get to spend several days with Grandma, Lisa, and the boys' cousins. We don't get to do that often enough!

The boys thoroughly enjoyed themselves, particularly at the lake. I think the monster catfish were their favorite part of the whole trip.

Monster catfishThere were lots of great bugs. Lisa and I took pictures of every one, I think. This one is my favorite -- that 3-inch creature looks straight out of a B-movie horror flick. "Attack of the Mutant Pincers!" Turns out that bug is a female dobson fly.

IMG_4917.JPGGrover had a great time, finding his inner water dog and swimming like a dogfish and being captain on the paddleboats. Hannah was his special guardian -- she was very serious in her job! Grover did his job, too -- woof, woof at strangers, bugs, noises, animals.



Thanks for the wonderful trip, Grandma and Aunt Lisa! For more camping pictures, click  <--.

The one negative thing I have to say is there was a serious lack of sunscreen available in town. We went to four stores and found only one bottle of really questionable sunscreen that I couldn't bring myself to buy -- my oldest was sure to break out in hives from it. Why would a town near a lake not sell sunscreen? They weren't just out; they just didn't carry it. The campground store had one kind of sunscreen (another allergy one) and two dark tanning lotions (!). So we decided it was better to go without sunscreen than have Logan need emergency antihistamines.

I'll add one other thing -- lots of churches along the trip with various messages on signs outside. There were some meaningful ones, I'll admit -- ones with words for thought, whether you are religious or not. But several others rather failed at their message. I chickened out and didn't include the photos of some I took. But seriously, if you are going to spread religious mottos, at least spell the words correctly.

But the whole trip was wonderful, and we so enjoyed our time with family, with adventures on the way and back. We got to see the grandparents' new house, too, with Grandpa's "man cave." Gorgeous. Grats to both of you!

Summer Catch-Up: Early July

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July started out with grand fun at the San Antonio Zoo. We were joined by our friends Andy and Nick, and we spent the day walking from shady spot to shady spot in an effort to beat the crazy heat. Fortunately, the old zoo has lots of shade from big trees.

Zoo boysI think I've been to this zoo more than any other -- I remember it from my childhood, in my teens, after college, and with the kids. It's changed a lot, but it's still nice to see the old buildings and various exhibits that remind me of years past. San Antonio is still committed to conservation and participates in breeding programs for several endangered species. And it still has more birds from all over the world than I've ever seen at another zoo.

We particularly enjoyed the feeding of the komodo dragon, feeding the lorikeets, visiting the butterfly exhibit. Nolan took lots of pictures of animal poop, too.

Komodo dragonI posted many of the shots that Nolan and I took -- you can find them here. I left a bunch out (including most of the poop shots). I remember how many photos of zoo animals I took as I child and realized that it's just not the same going through thousands of animal photos later.

After the zoo, for the other reason we visited San Antonio, we stopped by Mission Cemetery to see the Edgley headstone. The headstone was a long time in creation, and it fills me with peace to know that Grandmother and Granddaddy's gravesites are so beautifully marked.

Throughout June and into July, Logan was on a summer swim team, Wells Branch Armada. His experience and size made him a valuable swimmer on the team, and he had great fun to boot.  

Logan on Armada Relay

On July 4, he joined the other Armada swimmers on a float in the Wells Branch parade. We love this community celebration and have joined in on the fun for several years now -- in fact, the first time we went, our beloved Gracie and Sammy walked in the parade with us. This year we just took Grover (Loki and Sheba went last year), and Jennifer, Stepan, and their daughters and dogs joined us. 

Armada July 4 float


We had a great time at the Wells Branch parade and July 4 festival -- they serve ice-cold watermelon that's always so yummy in the heat. Magda and Simone got to ride the little train, and the dogs got worn out.

And July 4 isn't complete without some fireworks. Our big group regrouped downtown that evening for dinner and the Zilker fireworks display. It was incredibly pleasant -- a nice breeze and no mosquitoes.


Here are a few more July 4 pictures. Enjoy!

Summer Catch-Up: June

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Time to play catch up on what's been happening around here. Big surprise, we've been gardening. But there's other life than that, believe it or not!

A couple of weeks after school let out, Nolan's hip-hop class joined the other classes from the studio for their big end-of-year performance, June 13-14. Nolan was most excellent, if I do say so myself. I was a very objective observer. Because we weren't allowed to take pictures with flash, the pictures of the dress-rehearsal performance didn't turn out well, but you can see them here. We weren't allowed to take pictures on the day of the performance -- they wanted us to buy their CD and/or instead. We opted not to, due to money and principal. But we have our memories and the pictures I took. Nolan really knows how to look cool.


The same day we had Logan's birthday party. W e went to Blazer Tag with Logan's friends, and Stepan joined us. It was boys against grown-ups. We had great fun, but of course I couldn't take pictures inside a laser tag game! I made Logan a cookie cake using this cake pan set. We enjoyed the cake, but I'll definitely choose a different recipe for both the cake and the frosting next time. It was ok, but not up to my dessert standards!

Logan12.jpg Afterwards we enjoyed some snaps outside and movies and games inside, along with a sleepover. Good fun.  

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