Sunday, July 31, 2011

Weekend in Pictures

We had a fairly low-key weekend. Now if only it was just a little longer ;). So here is our weekend told (mostly) by pictures.

After our morning walk and getting things done around the house, we all made a trip into town for an oil change and a trip to Target.
Saturday evening, we went to a birthday party and Kathryn had a blast playing.
Showing me her yucky face
She desperately wanted to play with the older kids
After hours of playing in the dirt, a Saturday night bath was much needed...
...and lots of rest
Sunday was filled with more fun. Friends of ours let us borrow a cool slide for Kathryn. It's a perfect size for her and will definitely provide lots of entertainment!
She climbed right up and was so proud of herself that she did a big "80's pump"
Sign of fun: a dirty bum
Taking a ride with dad in the green machine
A sprinkler never gets old
A look at the miserably hot week ahead

Monday, July 25, 2011

Toddling

This little girl...
is no longer flirting with toddlerhood. It's official: Walking is definitely her preferred mode of transportation.

She loves pretending to drive, which cracks me up! You'll be able to see that at the beginning of the video and then the rest is just the Bug walking around, if you care to watch 2 min and 30 seconds of walking.

But even though she's growing up, she's still certainly not old enough to enjoy a book with daddy before bed.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Summertime Woes

I think I’m in the minority when I say that I truly despise summer. Maybe I should be more specific: I truly despise summer in Texas. Long gone are the days of enjoyable summer walks, playing outside for hours, and laying out and soaking up the rays in my teens.


I could be fooling myself, but I remember New England summers to be pleasant, well, much more pleasant than Texas summers. Although, I should remind myself that we did not have air conditioning growing up (which was not uncommon in CT) and I vividly recall falling asleep with a wet wash cloth on my forehead as the oscillating fan did it’s best to cool me down…it actually does get pretty hot in Connecticut, people!


When I think of summertime in Texas; “miserable”, “torturous”, or just simply “uncomfortable” are some words that I associate with the season. From April until the beginning of October it’s HOT! Of course, the worst months are June-August. Since we’re right in the middle of it, that could be what has started my rant as I daydream about warm wool sweaters and copious amounts of hot chocolate.



The effects of sun beating on the roof of my car...

As much as I can't stand this time of the year, the weather here has also turned me into the biggest wuss once the thermometer hits 70 degree. In my world, 70 degree = time to pull out the sweaters from the closet. Don't even get my started about going to New England during any season. I'm pretty much a permanent ice cube during in what was once my "normal" back East.


For over a month now, we have had 100 + temperatures almost everyday. Once you go over 100, hot is just hot. We normally watch the 10 p.m. news and have become accustomed to hearing the meteorologist say that the current temperature is 90 degrees...at 10 p.m!


Where we live, they don't mess around with humidity either. I don't know even where to start with the humidity here. Just imagine walking outside and immediately sweating and it not going away. Pretty, huh?


We are still in what is called an "Exceptional Drought" which happens to be the worst level of a drought. We are simply desperate for rain! E. J. hasn't mowed the lawn once this year because the grass has been dead for months (as seen below from last weekend).


I have definitely changed my views of summertime since my teens. Sitting outside to enjoy the sun doesn't sound the least bit interesting to me. I can't figure out if age has done that to be or if it's Texas. The "mature" Barbara in me says that sitting out in the sun = cancer, wrinkles, and sun spots. The Texas Barbara in me says sitting out in the sun = why would anyone want to be miserable in this heat. Oh, and don't forget cancer, wrinkles, and sun spots.


Although the bad outweighs the good in my book, there are some parts of summer that I look forward to each year.


Casual summer outfits with shades



Pretty sunsets

Colorful grocery carts


Carefree one-shoed playtime


Sudden mood changes


Delicious summer meals

Honey Summer Chicken


1/2 cup butter


1/4 cup honey


1/2 cup vinegar


2 cloves garlic, minced (i use 3 cloves. i LOVE garlic)


1 teaspoon course kosher salt


1/2 teaspoon dried ground marjoram


1/2 teaspoon dried ground mustard


dash ground pepper


Chicken tenders or breasts


Combine melted butter with all the ingredients. Soak the chicken in half of the marinade for about 30 minutes. You can bbq the chicken, but I just threw it on the George Foreman. After it's done, pour the rest of the marinade over the chicken and ta-da! Delish!
(adapted from craigandwhitney.blogspot.com)

Crazy summer hair
So while those who enjoy summer are soaking up the rays, I'm on a constant hunt for air conditioning and shade while counting down the days to cool, crisp fall Texas days and nights.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Weekends

Whether it's summer or winter, weekends simply flash by too quickly. This weekend was no different. Although we didn't have much to do, a weekend with our little girl is always eventful.

After lathering Kathryn in sunscreen, I brought her outside for a fun summer-hose-down.
E. J. was working outside, so he took a break and did the honors.
We though it would be fun for her. Kathryn, eh, she was indifferent, but looked pretty darn cute.
Definitely needed to give dad a hug and a kiss after that experience
Saturday night we went over our friend's house for dinner. I was in charge of dessert, so I made up a new recipe: chocolate chip cookie bottomed cupcakes with chocolate frosting! I'm sure it's been done before, but I made up my own recipe. I also made a tasty strawberry sauce to top it off for some extra decadence. Yum!
On Sunday we picked up my car after a routine oil change. I was dreading the bill because I was convinced they would find some some very expensive that needed to be replaced. But, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the oil chance was it for now!

I was even more surprised when I saw my receipt: $23. It was suspiciously low, but I saw that there was a coupon attached to it, so I thought maybe they were just being really nice and gave me $10 off.

As I was walking out after paying, E. J. called while circling around the garage and said he couldn't find my car. Suddenly he said, "oh there's you're car, it's the one covered in bird poop" (well, he used a different word than "poop").
The pictures really don't do it justice
Oh. My. Gawd. There was more poop than paint showing through. It was actually really funny...and a bit embarrassing, which explains why they gave me $10 off my oil change after spending the evening under a tree.

E. J. said that if the bag/bird lady from Home Alone drove a car, my car would be it.

The $10 I saved on my oil change was the same $10 I spent on a great car wash. Refreshed!
Today we're back to our routine.
Running around the kitchen
Kissing kitties
Doing the Home Alone face
And just being crazy
Is it Friday yet?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Just Because

We don't have anything really exciting happening around here, just our typical day-to-day stuff. So with no fun stories to share, I thought I would just share some pictures of Kathryn from this evening.
Apparently I interrupted a phone call...
I couldn't capture the full-blown expression, but this is the partial "yucky" expression she's been doing lately...
My least favorite habit she has picked up: Sitting on the arm of the couch
She loves stealing the water bottle out of my bag from work and taking a swig followed by a loud and proud "ahhhhh" of satisfaction
She found the goods: Baby Oragel
I showed this one to E. J. and he immediately titled it: Opera Bug! Although I'm sure you can think of a bunch of creative captions to go with this picture.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

School's out for the Summer

I mentioned a few weeks ago that June was a crazy month and boy was it! Teaching a 2.5 hour class four days a week after being at work for 9.5 hours (due to our extended summer hours at work) was really taxing. The time commitment during the day was rough and of course the preparation for the class each night was pretty exhausting too, however, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Although I have taught a few times before, each time is a unique experience. Why? Well, one reason is I have to wear this little get-up to class each night.

(I was only wearing jeans in this picture because it happened to be the last night of class when I had a flex day at work and had been at home all day)

Curious about all the chains? No, it’s not my new style, but rather, what I’m required to wear to class each night, along with a badge that I was given after an extensive background check.

Yup! I taught at a prison…a federal women’s prison. It was actually my third time to teach there and I simply love it! Since it’s a federal prison, we’re talking about some really serious (non-violent) crimes. Mainly white-collar crimes along with a lot of women getting in some major trouble with drugs.

Really, it’s just sad to see these very “everyday” looking women in their tan uniforms missing out on a higher quality of life. Most of them were around my age, some younger, some older, but all with a story.

Most of the ladies in my class had young children and it’s heartbreaking to think they did something so bad that they jeopardized even missing a portion of watching their child(ren) grow up. Although I never asked what they did to get to the point of imprisonment, the nature of my class had them writing often and many times they chose to write about life experiences. (I taught a Business English/Communications course as a part of a college program that the college I work at administers)

I enjoyed the class so much because the women in my class appreciated being there. Some of them had waited over seven years to get into a college program (it’s considered a privilege to be selected into any of the college programs).

Thankfully, I usually don’t have a difficult time separating the stigmas that can go along with prisoners, but rather focus on my students.

In the end, I couldn’t have been more pleased with the outcome of my class. I was very upfront and honest with them that a lot of the information we were going to discuss was flat-out BORING (and also quite difficult for them…when’s the last time you had to learn about prepositional phrases, correlative conjunctions, and every grammatical rule in the book that also happens to have an exception 99% of the time).

With so many “boring” subject matters to cover, I tried to make class fun and at least one bright spot in their day. I wasn’t there to fail them and I didn’t expect them to know everything about grammatical rule by the end of class. I just wanted them to realize they could be successful.

After they turned in their final exam, the ladies in my class gave me the sweetest handmade thank you note.

It was so kind of them and I have it proudly displayed in my office. They were also quick to remind me that they did not give a thank you note to their math teacher, which made me smile.

In the end, I think I got more out of the class then they did. Besides being overwhelmed with compliments that they wanted me to come back and teach more classes to them, there were always girls that would come up to me after class or tell me during class that I was only person who had treated them like a person when they were in prison.

While I may not agree with the paths they have chosen, I was more honored to be a positive part of their day.

At the same time, I also missed going home right after work and spending time with the two positive parts of my day: E. J. and Kathryn.

E. J. was great and did all the “motherly” and “fatherly” duties each night I was gone. He would take care Bug and things around the house at night (although, let’s face it, mommies somehow get a lot more done after a full day at work – like the pile of dishes he could somehow never catch up with? Hmmm). But really, it’s a lot of stuff to handle all by yourself…bathing, feeding, and entertaining Kathryn while cooking dinner for himself (which turned out to be cereal most of the time) and feeding all of the animals outside. Our nightly routine is a bit chaotic, but I missed it!

I missed cooking dinner, giving K her bath, reading her books, and unwinding at home with the huz. I especially missed putting Kathryn to bed. During June, I would only see her for about 15 minutes in the morning and she would normally be sleeping by the time I got home at 8:30 p.m.

We’re back to our normal routine again and it feels good. I love coming home and not immediately grading papers and getting things set for the next day. Things are still busy, but they’re just right.

Here’s a little video I took last night of the little Love Bug getting tucked into bed after getting her teeth brushed and a story read to her.

She gives us the “sign” that she’s truly tired when she anticipates the lights getting turned off by “closing” her eyes. Precious!



And just like that, I’m suddenly more thankful to go home to my family each night.

Monday, July 4, 2011

14 Months

Happy 4th of July and Happy 14 months to Kathryn!
I made some patriotic cupcakes to celebrate the day...
and Kathryn wore her patriotic dress from nana.
Of course, we had to take the little Bug's picture to document her big day:
Goofball
*14 months has brought so many new and big changes for Kathryn. I'm beyond amazed at her comprehension! She's starting to talk a little more and can say the following words:
"Hey", "No", "Mamma", "Dadda", "Gaga" (as in the Lady Gaga). Although in baby talk, we're convinced she's holding full executive business meetings the way she talks on and on!

*If we ask her to identify body parts, she can point to the following things: hair, elbow, knee, eye, nose, tongue, and ear.

*WALKING! Just over the long weekend, I could see a difference in the amount of walking she has taken on. Although crawling is still seems to be her preferred method, she's definitely walking more than 50% of the time. She can also get to the standing position without holding on to anything to anchor her.
*She's a lover of all things glitz and glam. She now has about 20 bracelets from her grandma and is constantly switching them from arm to arm or wearing them all on one arm - it's really whatever the fashionista thinks is best for the moment.
Kathryn is obsessed with opening and closing doors. She especially loves to go into the pantry and hide.
She's into everything now...
She's still our champ litter sleeper! She usually goes to bed without a peep and sleeps soundly through the night, which also happens to equal a very well rested mommy and daddy (thanks a bunch, little girl!)

Kathryn is such a joy and we simply can't get enough of this sweet girl.

Happy 14 months Kathryn!