Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in the SF Bay Area anymore.....

Mostly, I spend my days on the usual treadmill that most mommies do..... 3 meals, unloading the dishwasher, moving laundry from stage to stage, moving children from activity to activity.




But every now and then, I have one of those days where I realize that I am WAY MORE than 1,780 miles from my old home in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Today was one of those days.


I spent the better part of today returning to "the scene of the crime" so that I could pay a visit to Bucky the lazy-eyed deer butcher in his double-wide and pick up Aidan's deer carcass.




This is where the magic happens that transforms an animal into food.























This is where I stopped for lunch.
Yummy BBQ. Location: The Middle Of NoWhere, USA. Seriously - the BBQ joint and the gas station were the only two buildings for miles. I was the only person in there either not wearing flannel, or not wearing an ID tag on a lanyard that said "Prairie Correctional Facility."



And THIS is the smiling face of my boy who was proud and happy about supplying his family with the most delicious food!


How was your day?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

%$@* Elf

I am going to steal an idea that I got from another mommy volunteering at the school today....

THEIR elf hung the children's underwear all over their Christmas tree.

Heh heh heh....

We'll just SEE how well Bridget likes having an elf NOW, won't we?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tooth Fairy




Many years ago, before my 2nd born even HAD teeth, I bought 2 Tooth Fairy Kits. One pink set, one blue. They came with a little packet of fairy dust, a velveteen drawstring bag and a stack of notes from the tooth fairy.

Both my kids, Aidan especially, have been "late bloomers" in the tooth loss department. He was the only kid in the 2nd grade with all his baby teeth.

He STILL has a lot of teeth left to lose. I don't know how many. Does anyone out there know how many teeth kids lose? Do I lose Good Mommy points for not knowing this?

In the Tooth Fairy Kit, every note is a bit different. They all say how proud the Fairy is for their bravery in the face of tooth loss, how beautiful and well-cared for that particular tooth is, and what the fairy is going to do with the tooth. Some notes allude to the fact that this was an especially hard tooth to lose, or perhaps took a long time. There is always a reminder to continue to practice good dental hygeine.

When the first Fairy started visiting our house, she signed all the notes "Moonbeam." Then, one weekend we were camping in Yosemite and Bridget lost a tooth (do I get Good Mommy points for remembering to pack the Tooth Fairy Kit on vacation?), and so that note was signed "Awahnee." Teeth were also lost in Costa Rica, though I don't recall what Fairy signed the note, but foreign currency was left. When we moved to Texas, the notes started being signed by "Buck Tooth" and more recently, just plain "Buck."

Anyway.... Aidan has lost 2 teeth this past week. I think his mouth is getting sick and tired of those baby teeth squatters and is going to start evicting them in rapid order.

I dug out the Tooth Fairy notes from their top-secret hiding place, and there are only two notes left.

Note #1 was left under his pillow with the required monetary compensation and I liberally sprinkled Fairy Dust all over Aidan. After all, only one visit to go, I might as well not skimp on the Fairy Dust.

Aidan showers every morning before school, so the Fairy Dust shouldn't be a problem. Except that it sort of gets all over everything, and he'd just die, DIE, D-I-E I tell you, if he had to go to Big Bad Middle School with Fairy Dust twinkling from among his clothing and hair. He complained.

So, when the 2nd tooth came out, I kinda rushed through the Tooth Fairy ritual. No Fairy Dust and I didn't sign the note "Buck" like usual. I didn't even look at the note. Besides, I still had to hide the $%&* elf.

Aidan stomps down the stairs in the morning and thrusts the note under my nose. "Look at this!" he demands. I take the note and hold it farther from my 45-yr old eyes, scanning it quickly just to make sure I didn't accidentally put the Tooth Fairy Kit Instructions under his pillow or some other gross error.

"How nice! A note from the Tooth Fairy!" I say.

"Read that!" he points to the 2nd paragraph."This diamond will have a special place in my tiara, the other fairies have chosen me to be Queen of the Fairy Ball" the note says.

"That doesn't sound like BUCK!" he proclaims.

"Um.... it must not have been? See, son, there's no signature. Must've been a substitute Fairy? I think that maybe this is your last visit from the Tooth Fairy anyway, what do you think?"

He just fixes me with that middle-school steely glare that says "Whatever."

Fairies. &%$# Elves. Bunnies. Fat men is furry red suits.

Whatever

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

#$%& Elf

Well, it hasn't been as bad as I've feared.

Bridget hasn't felt gypped or anything that her elf doesn't toilet paper our house or make big messes around the place in the middle of the night. Apparently, she's OK with the fact that he is a NICE elf. All he does is re-appear each morning is some silly place, and she has to find him.

She DID wonder why he doesn't get mischevious.... I simply said "Look around this place! He obviously thinks that about TEN elves have been here already, messing things up!" Seriously... I mean, if he DID make a mess, how would I tell it from the general mess?

And, at least I know where to find him each night. Tucked safely in his little bed, right by Bridget's bed.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

$%&* Elf

Elf on the Shelf




Bridget has been wanting an "elf," just like all her buddies. As you also may know, I was utterly clueless as to what this elf is/does. So, I called some other mommies, they enlightened me.

Bridget has wanted an elf SO BAD. She has written to Santa politely requesting and elf. She has made a BED for him. She has BIG PLANS to show the elf the wonders of Her World.

I searched high and low for ANY $%&* elf that could take up residence in our home and do mischief. You'd think I could find a $%&# elf.

There are shelves full of santas. Shelves full of angels. Shelves full of snowmen. But no $&%$ elves.

Paula clued me in and steered me towards Celebrations. I stomped in there and grumpily demanded "Do you have a $%&$ elf?" The ladies laughed knowingly and said yes, they still had a few $%&# elves left and presented me with a box.

OMIGAWSH. How lucky was I???? And actual "Elf on the Shelf" boxed set. I never expected such a find this late in the game. I was fully prepared to wing it with any old elf I could find. But I only have a few years of this wonderful innocence left, and was glad to shell out THIRTY DOLLARS for the $%&# elf.

I snuck it in the house. Ray and I discussed and strategized how to deploy the $%&# elf. He magically turned up while we were decorating the Christmas tree with the kids.

Bridget excitedly sat down and read the BOOK. I mean, how LUCKY was I to get a BOOK?

DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE BOOK SAYS????? You are not to TOUCH the elf! Bridget immediately dissolved into a sobbing puddle of tears, such was her disappointment at being unable to touch the $%&# elf. She LOVES the #$%&@ elf! She wants to CARRY the $%&# elf! She wants to SLEEP WITH the $%@& elf!

Crying! Huges sobs, giant tears! While we are supposed to be the Happy Family decorating the tree!

%^&# elf.

Sigh. And so.... another letter was duly dispatched to Santa. Could Bridget PLEASE touch the $&^&* elf? Hold it? Hug it? Sleep with it? Santa quickly replied, holding and hugging is OK, no co-sleeping, as it will interfere with the %^&# elf's ability to return to the North Pole each night. And also it's ability, by the way, to wreak havoc on my home and KEEP UP WITH ALL THE OTHER $%&$ ELVES in the creativity and magnitude of it's mischief.

$%&% elf.

Merry $%&# Christmas.

#$&% elf.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Texas Tourists

Betcha didn't know that longhorn cattle lack top front teeth!
Every now and then, when we can string a few days together, we try to see a little bit more of this state we now call home.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we headed west. About 2 hours away, to a guest ranch called the Wildcatter. Near the little town of Graham. It couldn't have been a better getaway. The views were stunning and there was so much to do. Check the photos!


Me and my handsome hubby!



Bridgie fishing from a canoe (paddle power by Mama). That is Aidan and Ray in the background.


Ray and the kids fishing

Aidan got his first doe!

More fishing photos - isn't it pretty?


Skeet shooting. Now that's what I call fun!

Bridget and her new friend, General. She got to ride him twice.

Heading back to the barn after a ride up to the top of the bluffs (the photo from up there will most likely be the Christmas card, so no preview!)


The ranch's longhorn herd

Bridgie feeding the longhorns. They're like big puppies!



Learning that I really, really, suck at archery. Gimme a gun, anyday!


The boys, fishing on the Brazos River.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Braggin' On My Husband

As many of you know, we have been working on a "treehouse" for the kids. Well, it's for US too, we know they'll tire of it in a couple of years.

It is officially "done." Done is in quotes, because this type of project is never truly finished.... but in a good way! We have features that will be added over time - a trap door, a fireman's pole, a zip line. Aidan has already built the banister-mounted catapult.

Now, when I say "we" have been working on the clubhouse, I really mean RAY. He designed it (and modified the design countless times in this "design-as-you-build" project - hey, it's a treehouse, not the Taj Mahal!). He figured out how much of each type of lumber we'd need. The color scheme, everything. And then he built it. His only help was weakling me (remember this post?), and our two highly distractable children. A neighbor came and helped w/ the framing one day, Papa Bud spent a few days last spring break swinging a hammer with us, but really, it's all pretty much Ray.

I'm sure, by now, you're just dying to see what it looks like!

Well, I'll show you. If you have 3 minutes, click on the slide show. If you're more the "instant gratification" type, scroll down for ONE photo. If you want more - you'll have to check out the slide show.

Whaddya think? Isn't he amazing?






Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Soccer Mom Diaries

From Wikipedia : The phrase soccer mom generally refers to a white, married middle class woman who lives in the suburbs and has school age children. She is sometimes portrayed in the media as busy or overburdened and driving a minivan. She is also portrayed as putting the interests of her family, and most importantly her children, ahead of her own.


Tonight's schedule:

3:10 - Aidan emerges from school. There is no bus service for him as he is on a special schedule to allow time for swim practice.
3:25 - Arrive home with Aidan. Give him debriefing on the evening's schedule.
3:35 - Leave house for Bridget's school. SHE didn't take the bus today because she has UIL practice after school for 45 minutes.
4:00 - Arrive back home with Bridget.
4:15 - Leave house w/ Aidan for the 'carpool rendezvous'
4:35 - Arrive back home
5:15 - Leave with Bridget for her 5:40 swim practice
5:40 - 6:15 - Hit grocery store
6:15 - Pick Bridget up from swim practice
6:40 - Arrive back home, feed Bridget
7:30 - Leave to retrieve Aidan from 'carpool rendezvous' site.
7:40 - Arrive back home with Aidan
What is that? Like 4.5 hours in the car? Lucky I like my car!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Smartie Pants

ALERT! More braggin' on my kids!




Can I just brag on my Little Miss for a bit?

She is an Academic Triathlete.

This morning was her school's contest for the National Geographic Geography Bowl. Bridget was one of 10% of 4th & 5th graders that qualified.

In about a month, she is representing her school in the state academic competition, UIL. She is doing "Ready Writing" where she is given a topic and a certain amount of time in which to compose an essay. She had to try out, and is one of three 4th graders from her school doing this.

And a few weeks after that, she is one of about a dozen kids who qualified to compete on behalf of her grade in the first step of the Scripps Spelling Bee.

I credit her love of reading. Books expose you to the world at large and she often has her nose in one, kinda like me when I was a kid. I can remember when she first began reading, she would sit in Ray's lap and read Forbes and Business Week to him. Obviously, some of it stuck!

The Geography Bee was hard! I was amazed at some of the questions, especially towards the end. Bridget got knocked out about Round Three, I think. But there is always next year.

And, like the movie stars say, it's an honor just to be nominated.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

GET OUT AND VOTE!!!!

If you don't go vote, you lose the right to complain about anything governmental. So there.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Trick or Treat!


Our little chef and ghoul, ready for a fun night of trick or treating.

As always, it was a lot of fun. The weather was absolutely perfect!

Because we live in a semi-rural area with no streetlights, sidewalks, and a lot of distance between the houses, it's easier to transport the kids from each cluster of homes by trailer. There are several in our area, and they get decorated with lights, hay, etc. The family we went with had us all over for pizza before hand.

Once it was dark, the kids loaded up on the trailer, accompanied by a small flotilla of golf carts. I've renamed my neighbor's 'hood "The Hickory Springs Country Club" due to the number of golf carts they have! Right before we took off, "Freddie Kruger" burst out of the woods complete with goalie mask and running chainsaw. You've never heard 15 little girls scream so loud!

Our last stop of the evening was a real treat. There is a small, private riding facility on our road, a very high-end place. Some of the best riders in the nation have trained there. We went to trick or treat there, but nobody was home but the horses. So, we went into the barn and found treats for the horses and met them all before heading home.

It was a great fall evening!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Most Patient Horse in the World




Meet Huckleberry.





How many horses do you know that would put up with this?





He's the cutest little pony and he lives at the barn where Bridget takes lessons. While he's generally used with young beginners, some kids DO ride him over jumps at a full canter. He's about a hundred in horse years and just loves his job.





As part of this weekend's horse show (Bridget did not compete - still not ready to make that leap), there was a costume parade.





Bridget and two of her barn buddies wanted to enter. We mommies said "Only if you figure it out for yourselves, we are not sewing costumes anymore!" So, on Saturday those 3 crazy girls dug through all their old costumes and decided to be a punk rock band with a horse.






Besides having to do very little work, wanna know what the best part was?

They WON!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wheeeeeeeee!

If you read THESE POSTS, you'll recall that we spent several wonderful days in Destin, FL this summer.


Aidan and I got to go parasailing. It was a blast. Here are some photos!




Sunday, October 19, 2008

Weekend Update

Just your average run-of-the-mill weekend in the Glynn household. But Papa Bud was commenting on how much he likes hitting the blog for the goings on, so in honor of his birthday, I'll do another post, even though there is no big news or extraordinary accomplishments.


Little Miss had a swim meet today. This photo is her "warming up" before her event. Little Miss and Aidan are two completely different kinds of competitors. To Bridget, the meets are big, overwhelming, and scary. Just to compete in one is a triumph for her. Today, she swam a 100 yard event for the first time. She said "Mom, on the last 25 yards, I felt like I was going to throw up!" I told her that is EXACTLY how it should feel, so she did it right!


We had to arise at 6:30am to get to the meet which was in south Fort Worth. After she was done with her events (about noon), we headed to the Las Colinas Equestrian Center (yes, it's as big and fancy as it sounds!), to see a couple of her friends compete in a Very Big Horse Show.


The Boys had the "day off." Aidan and his friend Mo spent much of the day running around in the woods with their BB guns looking for things to shoot (sorry Judy!). Mostly grasshoppers and wasp nests, but they DO try to bag the occasional bird. Not with much luck though. Ray worked in the newly cleaned garage putting the final touches on a piece of cabinetry he's building for a friend.


Bridget and I eventually made our way back home and I tried to cobble together a quick "mock" paella for dinner. It was not a success.


Yesterday (Saturday) also started off early with Bridget needing to be on the soccer field by about 7:30am. Her team pulled out a rare win. I think this will be Bridget's last season of soccer, it is really not "her sport." She is finally willing to let it go and try something else. After soccer, we hit the farmer's market and loaded up on tomatoes and peaches, then tried a new breakfast joint. Full of biscuits and gravy, we ambled to the baseball field to watch Aidan play in a nail biter that eneded in a tie.

After the ballgame, we had a Family Event called Clean Out The Garage. The dog hair, sports clutter, wood shavings, spider webs and birds were threatening to take over the place and make Ray nuts. OK, me nuts too, as most of that flotsam & jetsam gets tracked into the house.

After dinner, we built a bonfire out back and roasted marshmallows. The kids are perfecting their technique for the most perfect golden brown marshmallow with a warm liquid center that Ray and I love so much!


It's now Sunday evening and all is quiet. Steeling myself before another busy week which includes one baseball game, one writing contest practice session, eight swim practices (at 3 separate pools), one day of "work" on a consulting gig I picked up, one geography bee practice session, one PTA meeting where Bridget's class is performing, a few hours volunteering at the school, one riding lesson, one Boy Scout meeting, one Parks & Rec meeting where a friend and I are lobbying for more horse trails, one soccer game, one "Sock Hop" at Bridget's school (where IS that darn poodle skirt, anyway?), one "social" for Aidan's swim team, and one horse show where I must contrive a halloween costume for the horse.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Zoom zoom

Went to an air show over the weekend. LOTS of fun, especially w/ Ray as the guide.





Saw the USAF Thunderbirds. AMAZING!





Very hard to photograph..... ;-)



Thursday, October 9, 2008

Head Games

I always knew that motherhood involved wearing lots of hats. Chef, taxi driver, laundress, etc. are the obvious ones. But I never knew I'd have to don the hat of Psychologist quite so often.

I often find myself saying "I'd hate to go through life with Bridget's head." That little girl can psych herself out ninety-six ways to Sunday. This would be a typical conversation:
"Mommy, what if a big monster came and stomped on our house while I'm sleeping?"
"Sweetie, there is no such thing as monsters, so it wouldn't happen."
"Yes, but what IF??? What if it DID happen?"
"But, it's not GONNA happen, so there is no point in speculating!"
"Yes, but what if it DID happen?"

..... and on, and on, and on..... unfortunately, her worries aren't just limited to the fantasy world.

"What if I miss my swim event?" (like I would EVER let that happen?)
"What if I flunk my test?" (a straight-A student? C'mon!)
"What if the horse bucks me off?" (You will hit the ground. Can't you figure out that one on your own?)
"What if, what if, what if....."

Aidan is a little less silly, but still requires regular Mom Therapy. He was injured several weeks ago and it's been a slow recovery that has impacted his swim training. The first meet of the short course season is this weekend. He is SO WORRIED that the coaches will think he's "slacking" if he doesn't turn in a whole slew of "best times." He's worried he's entered in too many events and won't have the stamina to do well after 4 weeks of abbreviated training. I'm not supposed to "coach" him, so I mumble platitudes and fire off an email to his coaches to make sure they know they've got a head-case on their hands, they promise to talk w/ him at practice.

I can't ever recall being worried about stuff like this before a swim meet.

He worries his hair looks funny. He worries he's not popular. And you know what I am learning? There is nothing I can say to assuage these fears. I try to tell him that everybody thinks they're not as popular as the next kid. He says I'm wrong. I tell him that unless you have serious bed-head, or a mohawk, nobody really notices your hair. He says I'm wrong.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe everyone notices that I'm overdue for my hair color, haven't plucked my eyebrows or shaved my legs in way too long. Maybe everyone notices the dust bunnies under my bed and the crumbs on the floor near the toaster. If that's true, then everyone notices the empty soda cans and crumbled goldfish littering the floor of my car and the chipped polish on my pinky toe.

OK. Now I'm worried.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Still Breathin'

I know I haven't written in a couple of weeks.

My bad.

Just a little busy and adjusting to the new "back to school" schedule. It always takes me a couple of weeks to find my rhythm when the schedules shift so drastically. Which days Aidan has to be picked up early. Which days I need to arrive at pickup w/ the car loaded w/ snacks, sports equipment & homework supplies. Which days I am carting extra kids, which days someone is getting mine. Which days to have a casserole in the oven, and which days to plan a "grill it quick!" type of meal.

Haven't figure it out yet.

Add in a little extra chaos of having painters in the house for the next 3 days so I can't really run any errands, trash the kitchen cooking, etc.

What I WILL say is that LIFE IS CRAZY. But I already knew that.

Aidan has swim practices 6 times a week at 2 different pools. Each practice is 2+ hours and add in transit time (20 - 45 minutes each way) and he's pretty much out of pocket at least 3 hours each day. Doesn't leave a lot of time for homework, food, sleep - muchless FUN. Add in boyscouts and baseball and mix thoroughly to combine, spicing up with rain-out schedule changes frequently.

Bridget swims 2-3 times a week a ONE pool which is a completely different pool than the 2 Aidan trains in. She also plays soccer, and this week we are adding Girl Scouts and back to riding lessons just to up the difficulty factor for the Logistics Department (aka: Mom).

BOTH kids are managing to keep up the "A" level school work, but there hasn't been a lot of time for friends.

We are rectifying that this weekend for Aidan, who has been particularly cognizant of his overwhelming schedule and lack of social opportunity and very worried about his "social standing" which isn't what he'd planned (his words, not mine).

So, he gets to invite a group of boys over to spend the night in THE CLUBHOUSE which is finally "done." A project like this is never ever really DONE, as you always think of new and interesting things you can add. But it's kid-ready - I just need to remember to go out and put down some serious bug spray in a 30' perimeter.

Any takers on what % stays out there all night, what % returns to the house, and what % just decides to go home?

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day of School 2008

Always a milestone. Always bitter sweet.



I spent a lot of time with the kids this summer, and for that I am grateful. I'll miss them during the days, but will get a lot more done!

Bridget is going into fourth grade. Always a big year in terms of expecting more responsibility from the kids. Fewer reminders, fewer "mulligans." If they forget their homework or lunch, tough cookies!

Aidan starts Big Bad Middle School. Well, I'm pretty sure it's not Big and Bad these days, but no matter how much anti-bully indoctrination they've thrown at the kids the last several years, kids STILL will be kids and can be cruel. I think Aidan is a pretty normal kid though and there are easier targets than him out there, so he'll be fine. He really enjoyed orientation and seeing friends, the excitement of changing classes, having a locker, etc. But still quite a bit of nervousness..... lots of questions and "what if..." posed to me over the last few days. He's even started calling me "Mommy" again. Very sweet and I know he is maybe grieving in his own way for the childish things of elementary school. Like recess!

Enjoy the photos!


Friday, August 22, 2008

Notes From the Road - Part III

Wednesday was just another crappy day in paradise. More beach time, and this time joined for a couple of hours by our friends the Jacksons who also were vacationing in Destin at the same time.

It was a bit hotter, so I spent a LOT of time in the water. Barnacle Bridie is a bit less clingy today.

Aidan began a sand castle which Ray and Bridget helped him finish. Before it was time to go, he finally released The World's Largest Hermit Crab back into the wild. I'm sure the hermit crab was ecstatic not to have to endure the car ride back to Texas.

Sushi was the dinner du jour, followed by a game of checkers on the giant checkerboard. The kids whooped us good!

Thursday AM and time to hit the road. Five states in one day. 14 hours total in the car. We actually lengthened our trip a bit by going through Alabama and Mississippi on back roads. Wanted to go deeper into those states for a little "local color." Very beautiful scenery and you don't have to get too far off the beaten track for life to be completely different from ours. I didn't keep count, but I'm pretty sure I saw more mobile homes than standard houses.

Mid-day, when we were still in Mississippi and Butterfly Bladder Bridget had to go potty (again!). I checked the map, and the next town was Bukatunna. Just a wide spot in the road, really. With two gas stations. Randomly pulled into one and hustled Bridget thru the little store to the loo. What a pleasant surprise, perhaps the cutest (and cleanest!) public restroom I've been in! Cute sconces on either side of the vanity mirrors, pot-pourri on the counters. Anyway, business accomplished, back out into the store and I notice they have a cafe of sorts. All the patrons are at least a hundred. And wearing plaid. And goggling at us foreigners in the SUV, wondering how come we're sooo far off the super-highway. I see Ray at the head of the cafe line with a big smile on his face.

THIS is why we come on the back roads. They were frying up chicken giblets! In the back woods of Mississippi! They pair perfectly with Diet Doctor Pepper and we enjoyed a box for the next several miles.

So.... if you ever find your self in Bukatunna, MS..... it's an Exxon station. Tell 'em the yuppies in the SUV sent ya.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Notes from the Road - Part II

"The sea is so salty that if you had a quarter of a quarter of a teaspoon in your pantry you'd have enough for ANY recipe you could think of."
- Bridget (August 2008)

That is funny, as she thinks of the ocean in terms of food.

We had dinner at a "crab shack" the other night. Bridget is scared of the ocean, scared of our taxi driver, but totally willing to suck a raw oyster from it's shell.

That's my girl. Fearless of food.

Today is Tuesday and we spent pretty much all of it on the beach.

There were two highlights of the day. Parasailing and a random singer in a bar at the Sandestin Resort.

Aidan and I went parasailing. I checked my fear of heights on the beach and Patty H would be proud of me. The "Sky Pirate" picked us up and headed out to slightly deeper water. The two 20-something chicks running the boat and sails were real pros and very nice. They deployed the chute behind the boat at a fast idle and then hooked Aidan and I in while still on the aft deck. Then they went full-throttle and let the winch holding the 'chute loose and we sailed several hundred feet into the air. The view was marvelous. It was great to do this with my fearless boy who enjoyed the sights and spotted some huge nurse sharks swimming in the waters below us.

We even got to do a "touch & go" before we landed, which is where they slow the boat enough for you to dip your feet in, and then take off again to pull you back up into the sky.

After a nice rest at our hotel we headed out for dinner.

The resort has a large "mall" of restaurants, shops, and various entertainments that is only for resort guests. Ray had a craving for steak, so that narrowed down our restaurant choices. We had the kids meals and appetizers served right away and then sent the kids away to enjoy the various amusements while we enjoyed our steaks and wine.

Then, the true entertainment of the evening happened.

There were a couple of live music venues at this "mall," and we heard strains of Billy Joel, Elthon John and the Eagles from 2 different bars as we enjoyed our meal. Kids in tow, we wandered around and were sitting by a play area when a "guy and a guitar" started playing. But he had a singer too. And he was GOOD. OMG. REALLY GOOD.

He was a lead singer from some local-yokel band, but he was AMAZING. Did a lot of Journey, Scorpions, Styx, etc. We installed the kids w/ a couple of Cokes and a view of the Olympic broadcast and made sure they knew what a special singer they were hearing. We enjoyed every second. Still don't know who this guy was, only that he played in a local '80's band. Really a privilege to listen to someone like this.

I hope my kids understand why I was making them listen to these "oldies."

All in all it was a great day. We love Destin. We love the private beach, the white sand, the lovely weather (well, I know that's a crap shoot), and the fact that where we are staying is unexpectedly a part of this larger, lovely resort.

One more day on the beach.

Then a dozen or more interminable hours in the car. So far, it's been totally worth it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Notes from the Road Part I

We're in Destin! It is so pretty! And we're not going to have a hurricaine!



Life is good.



Nawlins was fun. Brief, but fun. We arrived in the afternoon and headed straight for Bourbon Street. Um. That. Was. A. Mistake. I had no idea it was so raunchy! Every other business is a strip joint or a titty bar. The bars all have guys outside holding up signs that say "Big Ass Beer!!!" Waaaayyyyy too much stuff to have to explain to the kids, so let's get off Bourbon Street, thank you very much.



Gawd, don't I sound like Miss Priss!

Had a WONDERFUL dinner at NOLA, one of Emeril's restaurants. While the food was amazing, the real highlight of the evening was watching Bridget experience food of that caliber. She was vibrating with excitement the moment we walked into the door. She read the entire menu and selected a filet mignon with a bleu cheese stuffed portabello mushroom. Aidan ordered pasta from the kid's menu. So, Ray, Bridget and I ordered 2 entrees to share between the 3 of us, the filet and a wonderful smoked duck. I also enjoyed a salad of lump crab and jullienned celeriac. Bridget analyzed and savored every bite and even gave the waiter new ideas to pass along to the cook about incorporating the restaurant's logo into the presentation of their food.

Took a river boat cruise on Sunday morning and really enjoyed the sights and the knowledgeable commentary from the staff. Learned a lot about New Orleans and the agricultural, refining and shipping businesses on the mighty Mississippi.

Back into the car to head through Alabama and Mississippi for Florida. Wondering the whole way if we're to be turned around and evacuated back out due to Fay.

Finally arrived in Destin, FL about dinner time. Stumbled around the town looking for our hotel, the ever-swanky Residence Inn. Finally found it, as it's hidden from the world in the Sandestin Resort community. This is an amazing an unexpected bonus as this is a private resort with private beaches, and a whole shopping/dining area that has everything you could ever want. All accessible by regular shuttle vans.

Monday morning, after the complimentary breakfast buffet, we headed to the "Gulfarium" where the kids had an appointment for a "dolphin encounter" with Kiwi, a tropical spotted dolphin.

What a neat experience. It started with the trainer talking to us about how to behave with Kiwi and why. Then, the kids got into the water with the trainer and spend the next 30 or so minutes learning about dolphins with an up-close and personal example right in front of them. They got to ask her to do behaviors and tricks, reward her, touch her, get kissed by her, and be right there in the water when she swims so fast to jump out and touch her hanging ball. Photos and video to follow.

After we saw the rest of the Gulfarium, it was BEACH TIME!!!! We headed to our own private resort beach where there is a full bar and cabana boys. Snow white sand, azure water and plenty of sunshine as Fay decided to head east. Body surfed, skim-boarded, swam in the waves and generally relaxed. I think today we'll build a sand castle.

Two more days until we climb back into the car for the interminable ride back to Texas.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Road Trip!

Destination Destin!

Got a flyer in the mail from Disney the sparked a chain of events that is resulting in a Team Glynn Road Trip.

Disney sent us an invitation (at least Bridget saw it as such). She excitedly took it to Daddy, begging to be allowed to go. We haven't had a vacation in a while and I haven't been out of Flower Mound in over a year, so I was curious to see how this would play out.

Alas, the black out dates all coincided with school vacations. Dratted Disney.

But Bridget wouldn't give up. She wanted to go somewhere. Anywhwere.

Ray continued to indulge her. Let's look up things using the Marriott points and the American miles. Getting a Grand Alignment of the Planets in terms of free plane tickets and free hotel is difficult. Let's consider something right here in Texas. All these ideas pointed us towards Seaworld in San Antonio.

Sea World! Bridget wants to swim with dolphins!

She is now excitedly bouncing around while Ray and I are surfing the internet checking out the Marriott properties in San Antonio and information on Sea World.

No dolphins.

You can swim with a beluga whale or sea lions.

But no dolphins.

Bridget is crestfallen. No dolphins!

We head back to the Marriott website and noodle beach properties within "driving distance."

Since coming to Texas, I occasionally hear folks talk about their vacation in Destin, FL. We look it up on the internet. Hmmmm... looks nice! Pretty beaches! Lots of Marriott properties! Hey - they even have a Gulfarium where you can....

.... swim with a dolphin!

Book it, Dano!

Um.... it's TWELVE HOURS by car from here.

Hey - New Orleans is ON THE WAY! I've never been before, that sounds like FUN!

So. It's all set. We leave in the middle of the night Friday and head for THIS lovely hotel right near the French Quarter.

After 2 days and a night in Nawlins, we head to Destin for the rest of the week. Our plans include sitting on the beach, swimming with the dolphin, sitting on the beach and sitting on the beach.

Thank you, Bridget, for your persistence!

Monday, August 4, 2008

It's All About Bridget

If you want to read All About Aidan, click here.

Bridget competed in her final horse show of the summer, The Battle of the Barns. This show is a sanctioned show and step up from her summer series, which is a "schooling show," meaning if you make a mistake, you can try again, and the clothing rules are relaxed too.





The Battle of the Barns is a yearly competition between about a dozen show barns here in North Texas. Usually, horse shows are for individual points. At this particular show, they average each barn's points and award an overall Barn Winner each year. I'll end the suspense, our barn did not win this year, boo hoo. The added competition really heightened the "team spirit" among all the riders and they were all so supportive of one another.




It was a busy day with lots to do, as you would know if you read this prior post.


Bridget did extremely well. She had two "over fences" competition, and one "flat class" where she was in the arena at the same time as all the other riders. Her first "over fences" was flawless. She kept the horse at the perfect speed and never missed a single diagonal. This means that she was posting at precisely the correct time, not only when she circled, but even between jumps which isn't required, but very much Icing On The Cake. Her 2nd "over fences" the horse got a little excited and kept trying to canter. Bridget rode him the best she's ever done when he gets this way. The final competition was "equitation on the flat" where ALL the riders are in the arena together and working through various gaits, being judged on how perfectly they can hold their hands, wrists, back, head, knees, heels, shoulders, seat, rhythm.... you get the picture. This arena was smaller than what she is used to, and there were a LOT more riders in there than she's ever had to deal with before. It can get a little scary trying to keep a dozen horses spaced out safely, and Bridget completely amazed her Fan Club with all the perfect decisions she made in terms of when to circle or cross the arena to maintain a safe (and visible to the judge!) position.



All in all, she took a 1st and 6th in the "over fences" divisions (the 6th was the Excited Pony's fault), and 2nd in the flat class.

If you want to see what a flawless "over crossrails" trip looks like, just check out the video!




It's All About Aidan

If you want to read All About Bridget, click here.

As promised, I have an update for you on Aidan's swim meet last week.



My Boy did GREAT!!!!

As I've said before, this season is a "build" season for him and I didn't think he'd even qualify for Champs, much less PLACE in anything, being one of the youngest kids in the pool.

Well, I'm here to tell ya....

My boy, in the 200 back, only his 2nd time ever competing that event, placed FOURTH overall. It was awesome. He took an astonishing 7 seconds off his time.

He placed 8th in the 100 back, taking amost 3 seconds off his time.

Here is a video - it's 3 minutes long and probably a bit boring for non-swimmers, as it's just 3 minutes of backstroke. BUT - see how he BUILDS in speed and turnover. He did a GREAT job!







All in all, he competed in 6 events, and took time off in all but one of them. All those early mornings when he wanted to sleep, but forced himself out of bed to train, they were worth it.



Here are his meet results:


50 Free Best time: 34.18 - Meet time: 34.06


100 Free Best time: 1:15.31 - Meet time: 1:4.38


200 Free Best time: 2:57.22 - Meet time: 2:45.34!!


50 Back Best time: 41.23 - Meet time: 41.49


100 Back Best time: 1:29.94 - Meet time: 1:27.18


200 Back Best time: 3:10.08 - Meet time: 3:03.72



I'm so proud of My Boy.




Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Liar, liar, pants on fire

Sometimes Ray and I question our judgement as parents.

We'd attended a fun BBQ at some friends over the weekend (Thanks, Carolyn & Bert!), and Aidan got to watch Ray win beer money from all the neighborhood daddies in a rousing game of Liar's Dice.

So, guess what the kids wanted to play last night. Why, not? I thought - it's better than sitting around watching TV.

Instruction included not only the rules of play, but lots of tips from Ray and I on how to lie convincingly.

They're quick learners.

I can just see it now, "No, Daddy, I have no idea at all how that dent got in the car!"

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words....

... but the photo doesn't exist.

It's the kind of photo that could mess up her future political aspirations. It could cost her a spot on the cheerleading squad (hmmm.... maybe there's something to this!), or give all the Mean Girls ammunition. Definitely yearbook embarrassment fodder.

Bridget was running around in her two-piece bathing suit yesterday. The AC was running in the house and she got cold. Picked up a pair of riding "zocks" (camo pattern). These are slinky nylon socks to wear under riding boots and breeches. They are too big for Bridget and she pulls them up past her knees to mid thigh. Think naughty girl knee socks. With the two-piece bathing suit. One final accessory to complete the ensemble: her riding crop. She HATES having to "hit" the horse with it, so carries it around the house hitting herself, to remind herself that it doesn't REALLY hurt the horse. So, bikini-clad girl in naughty knee socks picks up the black leather riding crop and innocently goes skipping through the house.

Get the picture?

And that only took 127 words.

.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Weekend Update - It's all about ME!

It's all about ME.

Well, actually, it's so totally NOT about me, but last night all I could think about was ME.

So, today, it is all about ME. When I get the photos organized, there will be a post All About Aidan and another post All About Bridget.

But, back to ME.

Guess I'm feeling that way because the last 48 hours have been completely dedicated to the support and well-being of my children. Well, for the last 11+ years, LIFE has pretty much been dedicated to that, but there are seconds, minutes, sometimes even HOURS where it isn't.

Not the last 48.

Up by 7am Saturday. Wake The Girl, feed her, gather up the tack and head to the barn so she can get in one last good practice before tomorrow's penultimate horse show, The Battle of the Barns. Bathe the horse, Bridget has already cleaned her tack.

Home by mid-day, just in time to wolf down a sandwich and "turn 'n burn" for Aidan's swim meet. Final meet of the season, championships. Do I have everything? Video camera? (is it charged?), extra disks? history and analysis of Aidan's swim times? Goal sheet? Does HE have everything? Towels, goggles, cap, food, drink, nintendo, ATTITUDE???

Head to Frisco, sit in noisy, uncomfortable aquatic center for 5 hours. I'll let you know how Aidan did later, remember, for now, it's all about me.

Dinner, home by 7. Asleep on the couch by 7:15.

Sunday. Up at 5am. Wake The Girl. Feed her - chocolate chip pancakes at 5am because I am The Best Mom in the World. Braid her hair. Be thankful this show doesn't require that we braid the horse's hair as well. Load up tack, cooler w/ snacks, drinks. Camera (is it charged? Do I have extra disks?), helmet, knee straps, hair ribbons, show shirt, show coat, crop, horse treats, blah blah blah blah. You get the picture.

Head to the barn. Play Find The Pony In The Dark. Stand him in front of the headlights of the truck so Mary (trainer) can wrap and pad his legs so he doesn't injure himself on the trip to the show. Feed the Angry Pony copious treats as breakfast hasn't yet been served. Load him up, drive to the show.

Unload the pony. Run around the 50 acre facility between trailer, stall, arena, parking lot, office managing grooming, registration, tacking, equipment movement. I'm hungry. I fed The Girl. I fed the Angry Pony. I never fed me.

Show is about to start. I don't know who is more nervous - The Girl, the Angry Pony or the wilting mama. The Fan Club arrives: Lori, Carolyn, Elle, Lisa, Gillian, Kirsten, Stacey, Kayla, and best of all Daddy.

All in all, it takes about 90 minutes for Bridget to have all her turns. More on that later, as this is still all about ME. The temperature is rising. Run around the facility more dealing with the Hot Angry Pony, haul tack back to truck, etc. Finally I get to sit and watch a friend's daugter show. When she is done, it's time to haul the Tired Pony back to his home. I know I'm missing a teaching opportunity, but I elect to leave Bridget at the show to cheer on her friends while I manage the horse chores. It's quicker that way and I am on a Schedule.

Take pony back to the barn. Bathe him (he's cleaner than I am at this point), disperse all the pads, bridles, girths, etc. to the various places we've pilfered them at 6am. Make sure the Hungry Angry Rude Pony finally gets his breakfast.

Head back to the show. Pawn my daughter off on an unsuspecting mommy for the remainder of the day so I don't have to tear her away from the horses and drag her to the swim meet.

Head home. Unpack the cooler, transfer video camera from Horse Bag to the Swim Bag (is it charged? Do I have extra disks?) See if Aidan has towels, goggles, etc. Load up the car. Remember to move folding chairs from truck to sedan.

Drive to Frisco. Again. Sit in hot uncomfortable aquatic center. Again. Drive home.

Enter house with 48 hours worth of dishes, horse show crap, swim meet crap, and life crap strewn about.

Collapse.

.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Somebody Stop Me Please!

Now I have the bug. Those mustang grapes keep ripening on the vine and I just HATE to see them go to waste! I feel as if I must pick, can & preserve them ALL!

Sick, I know.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Domesticity

Look what I did!


It all started when I noticed something growing wild by the side of the road. Hard and green, very small bunches. Gooseberries? Maybe. Who knows, I'm the last person to recognize flora and fauna.

Asked a gentleman whose lived on this road for 20+ years and he said they are wild mustang grapes and they make wonderful jelly, he had his mother's recipe he'd be happy to share.



I still don't really know what possessed me. Maybe it's the whole idea of locavorism. This is as "local" as it gets. So, why not give it a try. Who cares that I know nothing about canning and preserving.

We got lucky. The night I'd designated as "grape picking night" featured a thunderstorm that knocked the temperature down a good 20 degrees. All four of us went and my friend Lori came along too, just for giggles.


















We picked several pounds of grapes and didn't put a dent in the supply at all. Left plenty for the birds. Lori and I drank some wine while Bridget and I pulled all the grapes off their stems.



Next day, I put them all in a pot of water and boiled them. They produce a crisp, sour juice of the most amazing clear magenta. Lovely!













I wound up with a couple of gallons of juice. Didn't think I'd get that much, had to go buy more mason jars and several more pounds of sugar.


It was a bit of trial and error. Don't ever let anyone tell you canning is an "exact" science because there is no accurate way of measuring any particular fruit's levels of sugar or natural pectin at any point during their ripening process.


I canned in waves and it took a couple of days, given the amount of juice I had. You need one big pot for sterilizing jars, one big pot for boiling the juice, sugar and pectin, and another big pot w/ a rack of some sort to "process" the jars once the product is sealed inside. This is what makes them bacteria-free and able to be stored without refrigeration for long periods of time.


That is a good thing, as I've now got twenty one pints of grape jelly. Sandwiches, anyone?


I did hold back some grape syrup from one of my experiemental batches. It was delicious on pancakes and even better added to a gin and tonic!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Bridget's Rock and Roll Kitchen

As I've said before, Bridget is a real foodie.



Bridget and her friend Ashleigh made brownies the other day and recorded it.

It was TOO CUTE. They planned every take, scripted it, wrote their lines on a white board set next to the camera, etc. She may have a future as the Next Food Network Star!



There is a "blooper reel" at the end that is pretty funny. Enjoy!







What'd ya think? Leave comments for Bridget to read!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

All is Right with the World

My universe is back in alignment. Aidan returned from Boy Scout Camp yesterday. Feels good to have him back under my roof.



He's got quite a few bumps and bruises, poison oak and chigger bites, complaints about the food. All in all, he had a great time!

He and Ray are working on building a fold out table for the clubhouse - the photo is Aidan learning to use the drill press.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Pride

Subtitle: More braggin' on my kids

I know my daughter isn't the first kid on the planet to win a blue ribbon at a horse show. And Aidan isn't the first kid to improve his times at a swim meet.

But, to me, it feels as if they are.

I guess all parents feel that way. They are the first kids on MY planet to do so!

Bridget had her final show of the Summer Nights series at Hidden Lake on Friday. It's a four-show series, and we skipped the first show due to the tough times she'd had with horses and lessons. Shows #2 and #3 were huge successes with 3 and 4 first-place wins, respectively.

Last night? Not so much, but I don't mind a few "life lessons" on the road to victory. It was just proof to Bridget that not every day can be YOUR day. Especially in a sport where the outcome is subjective. There are several little girls from a barn in Oklahoma that have competed against Bridget throughout the series and for example, last week NONE of them placed well at all. Didn't even get the 2nd place ribbons. THIS week, they ALL did well, and Bridget got 2nds and 4ths. Different judge, different results.

She was a little mopey about it, but knew she'd done her best, so not too depressed. She even told me that I wasn't allowed to take any photographs. Guess if it isn't a BLUE ribbon, it's not worth documenting?

But, in the end, she had her victory. Her two good weeks garnered her enough points to be named the "Series Champion" at her level, and came with a choice of pretty nice prizes. She wisely chose a new pair of boots.


Took her to the local tack shop today to get the boots. Ray and I had spent considerable time teasing Bridget that we would enter and loudly proclaim "We're here to collect the SERIES CHAMPION prize for BRIDGET GLYNN!" She almost didn't want to go for fear of embarrassment. The tack shop was hosting a fundraiser for paralympic dressage rider, Lynn Seidemann while we were there. What a neat and gracious lady! She let Bridget try on her silver medal from the Athens games, talked to her about fear and how to overcome it, and autographed one of her show ribbons.

This is Bridget wearing Lynn's
silver medal from the Athens

games
















Bridget and her "barn buddies" (hi! Kirsten & Jillian!) pose with Lynn Seideman who signed their show ribbons







So, all in all, with the tough times, the wins and losses, it's been a pretty good month for Bridget.



On to The Boy.

Man, oh man, that boy-child of mine makes my heart sing sometimes. Today was one of those days.

Let me back up a bit an explain the swimming calendar. There are two "seasons." Short course season (25 yard pools) is in the winter and finishes in March. This is GOOD for Aidan because his birthday is right after short-course ends. Add to that, the fact that there are 2-year age groups in swimming. 9-10, 11-12, etc. This spring, he finished his short course season as an "old" 10 yr old (the eve of his 10th birthday), and so finished champs with a whole slew of top place medals.


Then he turns 11. And long course (50 meter) season begins, competing against 12 yr olds.


We talked a LOT about what a demoralizing season this would be, and how he needed to use this training time to build, and expand. Do distances he never did before, swim strokes he didn't like. All because he was pretty much going to be at the back of the pack anyway, so why not.


Like Bridget with her riding, there were a lot of tears. Threats to quit. Negotiations about skipping practices. Loss of confidence.


Today was one of those days I can draw on and say, "Remember that meet in Mansfield? How you made all your goals and picked up some new BB times, even in events you hadn't swam ever? Remember how it made you feel?"

Gawd, I hope he remembers how he felt. I sure remember it.

He swam 4 events, and dearly needed to pick up 2 BB times to qualify for champs. It's his last opportunity, he'll miss the next due to being at Boy Scout Camp.


I could take you through it, race by race, but suffice it to say, he picked up three BB times, and even one in a distance event which he'd never done before. He improved his times in every event, which is a rare thing for any swimmer.


The final race of the day, 50 meter free, I was almost willing to let him scratch, just to get home early. He already had a BB time in this event, had 3 successful swims under his belt, was killed by the 200 back, and I'd been there for 4 hours, sweating in the stands.


Then the seeding sheet was posted. Two kids he's been chasing all season, Cole and Aaron, were coincidentally placed in the lanes on either side of him. Out of 85 kids from a dozen teams, his buddies are seeded next to him. These are nice kids. We carpool with them. I love their mommies. But I wanted my kid to beat their kids in the worst way. Me? Competitive? Ha!


Aidan's best time in this event is 35:47. His goal for the meet was 35. That boy of mine beat both those kids by pretty much a body length and turned in a 34:18. It was a thing of beauty. Sorry, Cole, sorry Aaron - you both swam so hard! I promise not to gloat, and so does Aidan. It was fun to see the three of you racing together (how often does that happen?), and somebody had to win.

video



Yes, I'm proud. Yes, I'm bragging. I know they're not extraordinary (well, maybe a little, sometimes?), but they're mine, and I see how hard they work and the fears and obstacles they overcome, their perseverance, their heart.

THAT's what makes me proud.

.








Monday, June 23, 2008

Triple Sweat

A Day in the Life of a Stay At Home Mom

No wimps need apply!



Dave Eggers said in You Shall Know our Velocity, "It's not the first sweat that stinks, but the second."


Awake at 6:30. Make some tea, check email. Rouse The Boy, inquire of the breakfast request (Pancakes? Eggs? French Toast? ANYthing to get some meat on his bones).


Make breakfast. Call upstairs for Aidan. Once more. Again. Go upstairs. Shake him awake again. Hug the sweet kid as he sleepily stumbles his way downstairs. He may be hard to wake, but he doesn't complain about getting up to train.


Pick up 3 other boys and head to Carrollton where the kids actually get to swim in an outdoor pool. They like to arrive early so they can play in the park. So nice to see them playing in the sunshine, acting like KIDS, this group of young swimmers who seem to only train and train and train.


I've got 2 hours to kill while they swim a few miles. Fortunately, the park is lovely, with a nature area, a rookery (bird sanctuary), and lots of trails. I do about 3 miles. It's at least 90 degrees. First sweat. And I mean sweat. I sweat for at least an hour.


Pile the boys back into the car and hit a bagel shop on the way home. They all share a table and trade stories of exploits while I sit nearby, eavesdrop and pretend not to know them.



At home, and endless list of projects awaits. I decide to tackle erecting the new gazebo on the back patio, we lost the old one in a storm. In March. Yeah, I'm behind on my chores.



The instructions call for "4 adults and a step ladder." I figure I can manage it with a little help from Aidan now and then.



It's nearly 100 degrees. Frequent visits inside the house enable me to cool off, feed hungry kids, check in w/ Ray, who's working at home and trying to tune out all of us. Not an easy job.



Thus begins the 2nd sweat. I think it's the worst. It's prolonged. It requires perseverence. I am soaking, dripping.



Finally, I get the gazebo up, with Ray's help towards the end. I string the fairy lights, run the power, set up all the citronella candles, throw away all the trash, put away all the tools. All jobs I wanted to leave until tomorrow, but it is SO NICE to reclaim the patio. We will dine out here tonight.



Back inside to cool off and get ready for the Next Event: more swim practice. Aidan has an "abreviated" 75-minute practice, right before Bridget's. (yes, he has "two-a-days") We live too far from the pool for me to run back home and get anything done while they swim.



Alas, the kids want to PLAY TENNIS while they're waiting for each other to finish. First, I have to play with Bridget while Aidan swims. Then, I have to play with Aidan while Bridget swims. Then, I have to play with them BOTH when neither swims. All in all, I play tennis for over 2 hours.



This is the third sweat.



So far, nobody complains in the car on the way home. Could it be my Secret deoderant?







.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sweep!

Not just ONE blue ribbon.....




Or even two or three......



Little Miss swept her class this week! She gets to finish the series next week and then she's being booted up to the next division! Go Bridgie!



Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Locavorism

Anyone heard of the term "locavore" ?

It basically means eating what is grown locally and (by default) in season.

I think one could say that the movement was pioneered by Alice Waters (Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA) who initiated the idea of restaurants serving foodstuff that was produced by local farmers. Her ideas gave new life to small growers in northern California, reintroduced the ideas of farmer's markets and brought the absolute freshest, healthiest foods to the table.

It's caught on at the most "local" level possible. Many people are realizing that most fresh produce has travelled farther than they ever go on a vacation just to reach their table. Do you realize what kind of a "carbon footprint" this creates? Think about what it does to small American farmers!

Ray and I recently read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver in which she chronicles her family's efforts to eat only items that came from within 100 miles of their home. On an extreme and basic level, this is probably more than most of us are up for. Especially me! It involves primarily shopping at farmer's markets and ferreting out local farmers who keep livestock, etc. In some geographies, this is probably more possible than others. On top of all that, one would need to learn preservation techniques such as canning, smoking, freezing, etc. to have a wide variety of nutrients through the lean winter months.

I'm not up for that. While I do enjoy the kitchen arts, I don't know that I want it to be my full time job. I HAVE, however, gotten in the habit of visiting the weekend farmer's market while Aidan is churning laps. Texas isn't all that bountiful, but I can sure incorporate a LOT of fresh local tomatoes, onions (many varieties!), potatoes, peas, beans, and beets into our diet. I found fresh lima beans at the farmer's market last weekend. Bridget LOVES lima beans, and until now, had only ever had them from a freezer. They were GOOD! I often get my eggs from a lady down the road who keeps chickens, and I am looking for local milk. We're getting the supplies to make our own soft cheeses. I even think I know of a neighbor who occasionally has freshly slaughtered beef to sell.

I know it sounds weird and tree-huggerish. But there is something that speaks to me about synchronizing with nature's rhythms and my local environment. The native Americans seemed to get along just fine without bananas (which come from South America). OK, so I'm not willing to give up proscuitto. Or olive oil. Or mayonaise. A whole host of things. But I CAN try to help the economy, enviornment, farmers, etc. by now and then stepping off the Convenience Foods Carousel and making more of an effort.

So far, it's been worth it. I roast, then puree tomatoes, garlic and onions from the farmers market and have the tastiest sauce that I use as dip, sauce, marinade, etc throughout the week. Ray recently recycled a ham hock into a pea soup and used something he found at a local market called CREAM PEAS. Never heard of 'em. I tell you, this pea soup tastes like it is FULL OF CREAM. Not a drop. Hooray for experimentation!

We are considering, considering, mind you, growing some of our own stuff. My idea was a small bed near our driveway. Ray's idea was the back acre. We'll see. My track record as a green thumb is pretty dismal. But I'd like to try to manage tomatoes, beans, lettuces, root veggies, more herbs than I currently grow, squash, and maybe even some cutting flowers. The beauty is hard to resist.

I like the idea, the idea, mind you, of getting more in touch (literally!) with my food, and helping my children to understand where their food actually comes from. So few people understand the origin and cycle of soft spring greens, the sweet summer fruits, the harder vegetables of fall, the roots of winter. There is something primal in me that longs for this, and wants to instill it in my children.

Meanwhile, I will continue to visit the farmer's market, ask the produce guy at the grocery store "what's local?", and even go knock on the door of the house down the road that has the terriffic garden and ask to buy their surplus.



Nature can't be wrong. I think it'll be worth it to listen to her music and dance her dance.





.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bragging on my kids

I'm so proud of my kids.



Aidan is off this weekend competing in a swim meet 8 hours away from home. It's up to him to be where he needs to be, eat well, rest enough, etc. and so far he's doing well. Improved his times in all events today. Gotta love text messaging! I miss being there to see him pour his heart into each and every race and be rewarded by making his goals, but he's growing up and this is a good opportunity for him.


Last week, he graduated from elementary school. Boo hoo, my baby! It was a nice ceremony, and made the kids feel special.


Yesterday, Bridget had a horse show. She's had a rough time of it lately. A couple of hard falls and her confidence has been shaken. She has 3 trainers and they all bring something different to Bridget and have allowed her the fear, but have kept her facing forward and trying to overcome it. There have been LOTS of tears in riding lessons these last few months. I've backed off and remind myself daily that she needs to do this at HER pace, not mine.

The last couple of lessons, there's been no crying. Maybe some nervousness and attempted negotiation in the car on the way over but by the end of the lessons she is smiling and asking to have one more turn.


Whatever her trainers are doing, it's working. She was nearly flawless. Took 3 firsts and a 2nd. Got "Grand Champion" (first overall) in her division for the first time ever.


















We've got 2 more horse shows and swim meets this summer, I hope it keeps going so well!