I met my goal. I posted at least 4 times in December. Nothing mind blowing, interesting or exciting, but I met my goal. Baby steps!

Day 31 of "capturing December" is FUN. Seeing as how my idea of fun this New Year's Eve is curling up with a good book and homemade carne guisada, I don't have much to photograph. Instead, just take a second to reminisce on a particularly fun moment in your own life..... Take that mental picture and insert it here:

(This is what fun is!)

Thanks 2012.  You weren't the best of times, but you weren't the worst either. Cheers to 2013! May it be filled with faith, family, friends, and plenty of fun.


oh. christmas tree

Notice what I did there?  I didn't say "Oh Christmas Tree!"  I said "Oh.  Christmas Tree."  As in, "don't bring it up."

The past few years, Larry and I were trying to start our own little tradition.  We went out to the Christmas Tree farm and chopped our own tree.  It was really fun and festive.  However, cutting down a fresh tree (sap and all) poses a problem when you have allergies.  We usually spent about 3 weeks sniffling, sneezing, nursing a sore throat and itchy eyes.  (But MAN did our tree look good!)  Last year, we almost bit the bullet and bought a fake tree.  In fact, we did buy a fake tree.... but we started putting it together and it was so lame that we returned it and decided we would go through another year of allergies.

Well, this year, I found a really pretty artificial tree.  Pricey, but pretty.  It averaged out to about 3 years worth of cutting down our own real tree.  I figured it would last at least that long, so I bought it.  7.5 feet, pre-lit, 3 pieces, easy to assemble.  It took me almost 2 hours to fluff all the branches, but by the time I was done, I was really impressed.  The tips of all the branches were plastic and looked real.  I was very pleased. 

And then I plugged it in.

And there were 4 branches that wouldn't light up.

It really didn't look that bad, but since I had spent so much money on it and it was brand new, I decided that it really should work properly for at least one year.  So I spent another hour taking it down and getting it back into the box so I could take it back.

Little did I know that pre-lit 7.5 artificial trees are a hot commodity.  There isn't another to be found in 25 miles. Sooooo....... we decided that I would get one 50% off after Christmas.  I didn't need to spend that much on a fake tree anyway.  But I couldn't go totally without a tree, right?  Fortunately, Martha Stewart produces this 4 foot tree:
Tiny and lame, I know.  But I added my twinkly lights  and it really isn't all that bad.  It isn't all that good, but I'll make it work.  I'm all about finding the silver lining.  The tree isn't what it's all about anyway, right?  Plus, it sits on top of the end table where Blossom's bed is hidden, so I guess it all works out.

Pssssh.  Who am I kidding.  You better believe we are stocking up on Zyrtec and cutting our own tree next year.  This baby will be decorating the front porch. (but if you happen to see a GE 7.5ft Pre-Lit Frasier Fir on sale after Christmas, let me know!)



Is there a way to upload pictures from an iPad? I took a screenshot of a sweet family anecdote and wanted to use it for day 13. But I can't figure out how to load it. So you just have to pretend you're seeing it!

My brother and sister in law have 2 precious girls, Molly and Ellie. The other day, she posted this to my Facebook wall:

"The girls are playing family in their room and I just overheard them fighting about who would play Aunt Bee!" 

I do love being Aunt Bee.



It is almost 9:30pm and it is still 61 degrees outside.  We have not had a day below 76 in like 10 months.  But a cold front is on it's way and it is supposed it hit 32 on Monday.

So Larry is "practicing" to make sure his fire skills are up to the challenge.

So for today, here my "bright" item:

Do you see all the red hot coals at the bottom?  This is like a mid-February fire.  I am burning up, but it is good to know that we'll be warm come Monday.



I needed a midday break so I peeked at what today's prompt was.... and it doesn't get much easier than this!

5.  Today's temperature:

Another beautiful day.  Scratch that..... beautiful is overused in conjunction with the weather.  Instead, I'll say that it is the type of day that makes you want to open your windows and take a long, deep inhale of the crisp fresh air.  (Sounds nice in theory, but since the mold allergy count is also really high, my windows will have to remain closed.)

I'm pretty sure that 68 degrees could be considered the perfect temperature.  Not too cold, not too hot.  I'll take it.


capturing december

How convenient.... I was just saying that I wanted to blog more when I came across this picture on Pinterest:

 (Looks like this is the source.)

So - I'm not making any promises to do all 31 days (it would be kind of fun though, so I might try) but I'll at least start with the first 2 days!

1.  My view today: 
 I finally finished my Advent calendar.  This particular calendar has a history... it is a replica of the one we used when I was a kid.  Here it is behind littlest siblings Jessica and Joe in 1985.

 A couple of Christmases ago, my mom sewed one of these for each of us.  She included a note with it, saying:  "When we first began with the calendar, we filled every pocket with candy (you can also insert a scripture verse or a 'good deed' slip of paper.)  However, we soon discovered that little fingers pilfered a piece or two here and there throughout the first week....so the Advent Angel had to remember to slip the treats in the night before instead of filling every pocket.  The older kids took turns lighting the candle and distributing that day's treat, as well as reading a short prayer..."  We had "morning prayer" every school morning as a child, and I have to admit that Advent was probably my favorite time!  I guess I've always had a sweet tooth.

She left all the pockets blank but included scraps of felt so that we could create our own pictures.  I'd been saving it, thinking it might be more meaningful to do it as a project with my nieces and nephews or something like that.  But the "control freak" side of me beat out the "sentimental" side of me, and I decided I wanted to be in charge of the pictures.  So last night, I finally finished cutting out all the tiny bird wings and holly leaves and got everything glued on.  I'm really happy with how it turned out - it is like a little piece of my childhood all wrapped up in a piece of felt.

Instead of candy, I decided to do the scripture verse.... AND an exercise in each pocket. I found this nifty calendar and decided it was easy enough to accomplish this Advent:

Whew.  I was a little long-winded with the day 1 prompt, so I'll keep it short for Day 2...

2 - My favorite holiday movie is "It's a Wonderful Life."  Not very original, I know.... but I make it a point to watch ol' George Bailey every year.


Filling it in

For awhile, I just had nothing I felt like blogging about. So I didn't write, even though I wanted to get back into it. Lately, I've had moments where I'm like, " oh, I can blog this!" But then I don't. Or I think I need a picture to go with it so I wait. But today is the day to get over the hump. I am going to post at least 4 whole times in December. That is just once a week.... I can do it! To help myself get back on the horse, I'll ease into things with a little "fill in the blanks" Friday.

1.  The first thing I do in the morning is     hit the snooze button.... I always thought that you become a morning person as you get older. If this is true, it has not found it's way to me yet.

2.  Every night before bed  I     Set my alarm on my phone, check Facebook then double check that I set my alarm.

3.  My favorite thing to do when I'm having a bad day is      go browse at Tuesday Morning. I'm a firm believer in retail therapy. Tuesday Morning is just around the corner and there is always something small I can buy to make myself better, even when I don't need to be spending money! Also, red wine.

4.  Something that makes me cringe is     when people have a loud whooping cough in public. I got this from Larry. He has been known to turn all the way around in a restaurant and loudly say, "people with the d@mn hooping cough need to stay home!" It used to embarrass me but It is just easier to hop on board with it. 

5.  Social situations     are usually something I look forward to, especially if I am hosting! 

6.  I like to collect      Pennies that were minted before 1982. I read that they have real copper in them, so I am saving them. Not sure what ill do with them, but hey. I'm up to about a whopping 11 so far..... I guess I've always had a fondness for pennies in a way... I made some sweet penny covered shorts with copper puff paint when I was about 15. I'll have to dig up a picture of those. (Although another thing that makes me cringe is thinking about the loads of change I used to throw away when I was waiting tables. Sheesh.)

7.  Weekends are   for sleeping in, doing a few chores, and spending quality time with favorite people. This weekend I'm also making my Advent calendar, which I'm pretty excited about!


karaoke in marseille

There are a lot of good things about me.  I like myself.  But I have come to terms with the fact that there are several things I'm not.

I am not silly. 
I'm the practical person.  Children do not flock to me, as I encourage "inside voices" and drawing with chalk over dressing up as exotic sea creatures and throwing slime on people as they walk by. I don't even really "get" Monty Python.  I'm trying to remember the last time I was just plain SILLY and nothing comes to mind. 

I am not spontaneous.
I'm a planner.  I like lists.  I like agendas.  I like having at least a general idea of what might occur in any given situation.

I am not meant to be in the spotlight.
I love being in the background.  I really do.  I don't feel left out and I honestly, truly, enjoy refilling your cocktail and cleaning up after you.  (well, to a certain extent...)

Which is why my memory of singing "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" by Elton John/George Michael at a karaoke bar in Marseille, France, is so precious to me.  I was there for 3 days, with a woman who did not speak any English.  She loved going to sing karaoke and took me with her and MADE me sing.  Since I was several countries away from anyone I knew, I obliged.  The Elton John song was pretty much the only song I recognized in the booklet, hence the choice.  All I knew was the chorus, but I made it work.  But I was spontaneous, silly and in the spotlight for at least that one moment in time. And that's enough for me.


bad influence

Well, the phrase "bad influence" might be a little harsh, but  it is true.  Melanie, my dear sister in law, I'm looking at YOU.

Sure, it started out innocently enough.... I was in town and you sweetly offered to bring me a Sonic drink.  Or maybe I offered to bring you one.  I'm actually not really sure, but somebody went to Sonic during Happy Hour and got drinks for somebody else.

And this is how I learned about the concoction called a "Cherry Cream Diet Coke."

At first I thought, "ew."  And then I tasted it.  It is reminiscent of a root beer float.  Or an Italian cream soda. Maybe even a Colorado bulldog.  Or perhaps a combination of them all.  I don't know, but it is delicious and basically the only thing that got me through the last couple weeks at work.

My boss sent an email the other day asking what our favorite Sonic drink was.  We had some department planning days this week and I figured it was some sort of "get to know you activity" - like we would have to match a person with their favorite drink, so I went ahead and said "Cherry Cream Diet Coke with extra ice."  (I figured everyone else would say "Cherry Limeade" and I wanted to keep things interesting.)  She actually had one of our program assistants go order drinks for all of us, so then I felt really bad about being all high maintenance.  (The girl had to go inside to order but said she still had to order on the phone.  Finally she said, "this is not going to work.  I have to order some complicated drinks.  Can't I do this in person?") Don't you know that almost every single one of my coworkers asked if they could try it?  And they liked it too.

Looks like you're on to something.

Also, looks like you aren't the only one.  When I was looking for a picture, I came across these lovely ladies that give us a recipe to make our own versions.  This one also has vanilla, which sounds delicious.  And this one is CHOCOLATE cream diet coke.  What?!?!?  Things could get crazy. 


my mom is so cute

Nothing like encouragement from a mom to get a blog up and running.

My sister-in-law and I got this message in our facebook in-boxes this week:

I miss your blogs, dear girls. You both write so well...and give us such a great peek into your homes and thoughts.  Just sayin'.....

I've actually been thinking for awhile that I missed the outlet and that as soon as I got through this busy patch at work I wanted to make myself post at least once a week.  And now that I know my mom counts on them, well - I don't really have a choice, do I?


holding it up

Sarah and Dale kept their nieces for a funcation last weekend, so I invited myself to go see "Brave" with them.  I don't know if I'm allowed to tell this story on my blog or not, but I'm going to because it is hilarious.  Sarah informed  the girls that they were going to see Brave in 2D at 12:30.  The oldest, "Schmoey" told Sarah that she can only watch movies in 3D.  Sarah told her that her, Dale and "Schmilly" would go to the movie and she could stay at home with a babysitter, because the 2D tickets were already purchased.  Schmoey acquiesced and joined us for the 2D screening.  She survived.  (Quick movie review:  liked it!  I think Pixar is amazing - how do they make things look so real?  I loved the red headed kiddos and my favorite part was when the queen got all "momma bear" on the bad bear.  It even brought a little tear to my eye.  Very cute movie, might be a little scary at parts for the really little ones.)


We saw the movie at Alamo Drafthouse, which is known for it's clever pre-movie entertainment.  There are no dancing hotdogs or animated rollercoaster rides - they show old cartoons, old movie clips, music videos, etc.  One of the clips was an advertisement for an upcoming movie event featuring the old film "An American in Paris."  I have not ever seen this movie, but it I will be watching it soon, because one of the lines captured me:

The guy says to the woman:  That's... quite a dress you almost have on. 
The woman says:  Thanks.
The guy says:  What holds it up?
The woman says:  Modesty.

Does it get any better than that?  I love it!  It makes me want to purchase this dress:

and reenact the scene.  (Well, I don't really know what the scene entails since I haven't seen the movie yet, but I could at least reenact the line.)  I'm pretty sure that if I had this dress, I would curl my hair every day and wear pearls and heels.  And bake pies.

While we're talking about it, I would also consider wearing this dress and reenacting another of my favorite movie lines:
 "No, I don't think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That's what's wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how."  Oh, Rhett.  They just don't make 'em like you anymore.  (Yes, I know this isn't exactly a Scarlett O'Hara dress.  But it has a full skirt and has kind of a curtain-y pattern on the fabric, so it could work.)


i just want to hold my shoes

Several months ago,  my sister mentioned that she and her husband were going to take a long overdue "mini-moon" (mini honeymoon) to a music festival.  They got a sweet package deal and the plan was set into motion.  I volunteered to watch their 3 kids while they were away.  Annie - 7.5, Aidan - 2, and Adeline - 7 months.  I figured - I'm around them quite a bit... .how hard could it be? (This is where all you moms out there insert your evil laugh.....)

Well, last Friday, they arrived.  The whole family spent Friday night so that the kids could get acclimated.  My sister and her husband left around 10am on Saturday.  (they kind of snuck out so that no tears would be shed.)

*Note- I'm lucky I got any pictures at all.  All of these photos were from my blackberry, because despite my best intentions, I never got around to getting my camera out.  Things were a little busy.

We collected bugs,

waved and yelled "hi" at golfers as they drove past,

went to get cupcakes,

swam in the tiniest pool on earth,

and chilled on blankets covered with toys.

We also went to a baseball game.  Aidan wanted to wear a hat, so I dug out one of my old visors and he put it on with his tiny little camo sunglasses.  If this picture doesn't make you laugh, you have something wrong with you.

The baseball game was HOT.  Super hot.  So we only stayed long enough to eat a hotdog.  You can see how flushed the kids are in the picture below.  (And don't worry... I didn't keep Adeline in her carseat - she had been asleep and just woke up.)

You can also see how flushed I am (photo courtesy of Annie.)

We spent time at the neighborhood swimming pool

and the local park (while wearing cowboy boots!!!)

We ate macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, raspberries, chicken nuggets, spaghetti-os, pop-tarts, bananas, marshmallows and pancakes. 

I wasn't as tired as I thought I would be after waking several times with the kids each night.  Adeline still wakes up once or twice, but she is easily pacified with a pacifier or a bottle.  Aidan woke up the second night crying for his mom (and assuring me his dad was outside in his car.)  He kept saying, "I just want to hold my shoes."  I was like - here, they are right here by the bed!  You can see them!  He kept crying, so I was about to give in and just let him sleep with his sandals.  Finally, he'd had enough and said - "NO!  I want to hold my SHOES!"  I said, "Ooooooh, your JUICE?"  And he nodded.  So I went and got his sippy cup and then he was happy. 

Other memorable moments:
-  Annie hula hooping like a professional.  She can even hoop around her neck.
-  Getting stung by a wasp while pushing Aidan on the neighbors swing.... while I tended to it, Adeline fell off the bed.  Fortunately she didn't get hurt.
-  Having the kids use pool water to fill up watering cans and water all the flowers
-  Scolding Aidan for picking the flowers off the plants.  I said, "leave the flowers on the plants."  He got all serious, looked at me, pointed at me, and said:  "You better watch it."  I bit my lip so I wouldn't laugh.
-  Adeline peeing all over me as I changed her diaper.  Turns out that doesn't just happen with boy babies.
-  Annie showing me how games worked on the ipad
-  Aidan getting a kick out of Larry blowing his hair with the leaf blower
-  Getting in "trouble" from the lifeguard at the pool because he thought Annie had brought her own hula hoop to the pool.  (it was one of their toys, but I guess he didn't recognize it. You aren't allowed to bring toys from home.)
-  Aidan as a "fish" in the bathtub and Annie with a white beard made of bubbles
-  Finding a camel and a rhino in a houseplant after they had left 

It was exhausting, but worth every second.  They were all so good and never once acted up.  (But they are still a lot to handle when you're thrown into the fire and have them all at once.... at one point, Larry said - "Man, can you imagine if you had BAD kids?")  Getting to tuck everyone in and kiss them on the forehead was the highlight for me.  So glad I got to spend time with them!



Remember that time when I blogged every couple days?  Yeah.  Me neither. 

It is kind of weird - you would think that being in grad school would have prevented me from blogging, when in reality, I guess it was my outlet for all things nonsense related. 

Speaking of nonsense:


It was almost exactly a year ago that secret agents threw my surprise graduation party - where I went from being "Miss Bee" to "Master Bee." 

That was fun.  I think we should have another party, because that was really the last one we've had.  Would people play along if I had a "Now you can wear white" Memorial Day party?  (As in they should wear white?  Shoes and all?) 


And speaking of college-ish things - I finally paid off my undergraduate student loan.  Sweet!  Unfortunately, that was also my oldest line of credit, so "closing" it by paying it off also lowered my credit score by 2 points.  Seriously?  Since when is paying off a loan a liability?  Whatever.


I do not like the song "Call Me Maybe."  But I will be patient with people that do, as I heard "Straight Up" by Paula Abdul the other day and was like, "Oh my gosh - this song is terrible!  How did I like it?"  Of course, then I also started singing, "Hey baby!  I'm forever your girl."  So - like I said, I'll be lenient with anyone who chooses to like it. At the end of the day, music is all about making you happy.  So if that song makes you happy, more power to ya.


Did you know there is such a thing as too many Groupon/Living Social/Moolala/Eversave/etc deals?  I'm currently trying to figure out when to schedule my riverboat tour, wine class and car detailing.  Also need to determine when I should order my 144 custom fortune cookies.  


Dear people who are on the feeding-tube diet:



"I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells." - Dr. Seuss


the thing about teaching...

The thing about teaching is that you are really and truly affecting the life of every student you have.  For some, it is just a minimal impact. For others, it is huge.  I can't help but fall back to my favorite quote about teaching:

“I've come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It's my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized.” -Dr. Haim Ginott

However, you never know.  In teaching, there is no instant gratification.  You may NEVER know if you had any sort of imprint on the life of a student.    It's hard to believe that I've been out of the secondary classroom for 5 years.  My first students are 28-30 years old.  Whoa.  A few have found me on facebook.  And I figure - if they thought enough to send me a friend request, why not accept it?  There is one in particular that really touched me.  I'll call her Sue.  

Back before facebook got all weird and I could actually follow along with what people were posting and saying, I noticed that she was an advocate for an Eating Disorder support group.  It became fairly obvious that she had struggled with - and then conquered - some sort of eating disorder.  While this would be a sad thing to read about anybody, it was particularly poignant to me - because Sue was a student in my Nutrition class.  (where we cooked.  and ate.  and did units of study over eating disorders...)  And I remember that she rarely (if ever) sampled the food that her group prepared.  (even though they were supposed to.)  I can't say that I knew she had an eating disorder - I wondered, but she was an athlete and seemed to be in good health.  So it isn't that I felt guilty, but I did feel like I *should* have known....that I could have made her life easier in one way or another if only I had probed a little more.  Or asked the right questions.  So not too long ago, I sent her a message via facebook:

Sue -  I've been thinking about this since we became FB friends last year..... I remember that you never ate during our Nutrition class, and at the back of my mind, I wondered if food was some sort of demon for you. (But I thought maybe you were a little OCD like me and didn't want to eat something that other people had prepared.... did they wash their hands? Did they cook it long enough? etc.) You seemed like the picture of health to me - always so tan and fit from [the sport you played!] But now I gather from some of your posts that my initial thoughts were probably right.... and I wanted to tell you I'm sorry that I never said anything. (And even more sorry if we ever said/did anything in class that made you uncomfortable!) You look like you're doing well now... but if there is ever anything I can do, please let me know. Better late than never, right?

She responded with:

Wow ...You just brought tears to my eyes! You were right, I struggled with an eating disorder from the time i was 13-14 until about 3 years ago. Please know how much I appreciate you sending me this message. I was in complete denial during high school times, but somehow kept it "under control" because I knew I had to at least minimally take care of myself in order to [participate in a sport.] I [was in a college sport] for a short time but ended up dropping out because things go so bad. I moved back to Austin thinking that would help, but after a few years that proved to be false, and I degenerated to my ultimate low and decided I wanted to live. I finally received inpatient treatment almost three years ago at a wonderful facility up in [a state.] Life is so much better on the other side, and honestly I feel grateful, in a way, for my journey through all of that. I returned to college about 2 years ago and am a junior [subject] major at [college.] Life is great. Ironically, I remember having moments of fun times in your class. Are you still teaching and/or are you still in the Austin area? You were a great teacher, something I will be soon! Thank you again for the email. For real!

Talk about something bringing tears to your eyes....

So where am I going with this story?  Well, Sue and I are also Pinterest friends now, and she pinned some of my recipes today.  And it made me happy. And I figure that even if I didn't make a difference to her while she was in my classroom, maybe I made a difference after the fact.  It's never too late to do the right thing.


the long post where I talk about SXSW

I decided that since I've lived in Austin for 10+ years, I should finally experience SXSW.  So this year, I went.  Five days of goings-on would make for a very long post, so you're just getting a recap.

Tuesday:  We went to pick up our wristbands.... got there at 8:50pm and they wouldn't let us in line since they were closing at 9.  Boooo.  So we found a couple of shows that didn't require a wristband.  The first place we tried was a tiny little place where the Heartless Bastards were playing.  We got inside and immediately headed for the door, as it was JAM-PACKED with a wall of people.  I don't even have claustrophobia and I was getting anxious.  It was horrible.  Pretty sure that was a fire code violation.

Wednesday:  Marathon day.... we went to stand in line for Fiona Apple.  We got there at 5pm and the doors didn't open until after 7.  Not to self- next time you stand in line for several hours in a line that is standing still, SIT DOWN.  Here we are early on:

Not the most flattering picture, but whatever.  We met some nice people in line - a photographer for Rolling Stone Mexico and a band named Body Parts.  Fiona was incredible - she is such a unique person.  (and tiny)  I really liked one of her new songs but now I can't remember what it was - I'll have to check out the new album.

Sharon Van Etten was after her.  Sarah and Dale had seen her last SXSW and loved her voice.  She is a great performer with a beautiful voice.  Glad we stayed to see her.

From there, we tried for a couple other bands, but the lines were tooooooo long.  We finally  landed at a place where we got to see The Oh Sees (with Carson Daly on the drums, which was random), Hacienda and Alberta Cross.  I enjoyed all of them - it was just really hot in the venue, so I had to dance while fanning my face.

We went to eat at 24 Diner, where Dale started feeling sick.  Sure enough, he had the flu.  Which meant that the rest of the week was just going to be Sarah and I.  (Sorry Dale, wish you would have been able to go the rest of the week.)

Thursday:  A friend sent Sarah her invite to the Entertainment Weekly Music Lounge party, which was a "VIP guest list" only.  So we felt pretty fancy when we walked up to the door girl and gave our names. This might have been the most fun part of the week.  Well - let's get this into the open - there was an open bar.  So the Tito's and Soda were flowing (for free), which you have to admit is pretty awesome.  But that wasn't even the best part.  The bands started with J Roddy Watson and the Business.  That dude can play the piano!  They were so fun to watch.  Next was Delta Spirit.  They were so fun to watch - every member of the band looked like they were having a blast, even though they had to be exhausted and it was like their 5th set of the day.  I'll totally go see them again.

We wanted to sit down to finish our drinks before leaving, so we found a table.  It had a reserved sign, but we could tell the guys sitting there were also table crashers.  They were ridiculous, but fun to talk to.
We popped into the photo booth on our way out:

From there, we saw Saint Motel, who were a little too "L.A."  They weren't bad, just not great.  Our last show was pretty far, so I convinced Sarah to take her first pedi-cab ride.  Since she has worked with people who have traumatic brain injuries, she was not very excited about it.  But we survived.

We capped the night off with another great show from Milo Greene.  They have a pretty unique, fun sound and I really liked them.  I hope they come back.

Friday:  Sarah and I started at this cute warehouse that had been converted into a bar for the week.  It was sponsored by HGtv, so it was really cute.  The back patio looked like it was straight out of a magazine.  Here we are sitting on the deck:

WATERS was the band, and they were fun.  Their set seemed really short though, so I would have liked to hear more.  We found another photo booth on our way out.
We should have stayed there, because everywhere else we went was ridiculously crowded.  We had ZERO chance of getting into the Jack White show, so we popped into Esther's Follies to sit in the AC and listen to a few comics.  (That is a good little trick - that place keeps the air REFRIGERATED if you know what I mean!)

We kept swinging and missing at all the shows we tried (because the lines were so long), so we were feeling dejected and decided to head out.  But first, I saw on the SXSW twitter feed that Citizen Cope was playing.  You know how I feel about Cope.  We got in (for the first time we got to feel what it was like to breeze past people because we had a wristband and they didn't).  We were in a little spot right next to the door.  It was a great view.  See?  Here he is, getting ready to go onstage.

However - there were some grade A jackwagons in the house that night.  The place was shoulder to shoulder with people (see fire code violation comment above) and the door guy was trying to tell us that we couldn't use the door we were near as an exit - when it was time to leave, we would have to swim through the sea of people to get out.  I said, "That door is clearly labeled EXIT, so I don't think you can tell us we can't go through it."  Sarah was getting a little panicky due to being claustrophobic, so she basically told the guy he was crazy and that we were going to be using that exit.  We listened to a couple songs, when all of a sudden another employee came up and asked us if we had wristbands.  When we showed him that yes, in fact, we did, he started stammering and was all, "well, this area is actually only for artists."  Whatever.  BS.  We told him we were going to leave and he backtracked, saying - "You don't have to leave, etc etc etc" But Sarah said, "We're leaving.  And we're using this door as an exit."  And we grabbed hands and busted through.  We tattled to the police that they were a fire violation on our way out, but I think they were a little more concerned with the ONE ZILLION people that were on 6th street that night.

Saturday:  We once again used our sweet "standing in line" skills for the "Big Easy Express" movie premeire and concert.  We waited in line for about 2 hours again, but this time we brought water and blankets to sit on.  The LBJ library lawn is an incredible place for a concert.  We parked it on our blanket and enjoyed watching the movie - it was so great to relive the Railroad Revival Tour.

After the movie, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes did a show.  They can work a stage - seriously one of the best shows you could go to.  They were followed by Mumford and Sons, who I could listen to any and every day.

You can't see it that great, but look at the UT Tower in the background.  (on the right side)  The music was incredible, but the setting made it even better.  What a way to end my SWSW experience!
Phew - it was exhausting just writing about this.  I don't know how I actually did it all. I left out all sorts of stuff, but this is just going to have to be enough.  Sarah, you'll have to pick up and add anything I left out. 



I was having a bad day not too long ago.  It was just one of those "blech" days, you know.  And in the midst of it, I got to thinking about how weird it is to get older.  I mean, I love being in my thirties, but there *is* a drastic difference from being in my twenties.  The key difference would be that I'm no longer an IDIOT, but besides that.... I started remembering how fun it was to go out with my girl friends.  And how boys would offer to buy me drinks. I would usually refuse (and make them feel like morons in the process, sorry guys.) However, it was nice to be noticed. That hasn't happened in quite awhile. Granted, I usually only go out with my boyfriend, who is a hunk of a man and surely scares other testosterone based humans away. But still. You know what I mean. You notice when people stop noticing you.

So anyway - you know how I know God cares about me and my concerns, regardless of how trivial and insignificant they might be?  Well, this weekend, I got noticed.  And it felt good. I was sitting at the "to-go" counter, waiting for my food, when out of nowhere, a man asked me if I was eating hummus, and proceeded to converse with me about whether it was good or not. 

About 5 minutes after he walked away, a man came up to me and asked me where I was from.  I got the whole "Where did you go to high school?" line. When it was abundantly clear that he did not know me from high school, we went through the whole "I guess you just look like somebody I know"  awkwardness.

THEN, I was at the convenience store buying a mega millions lottery ticket and a bottle of wine (because I'm classy,) and the clerk asked how old I was.  It caught me off guard, because I don't get carded very often.  So I said I was 35.  (I'm 34, oops.)  I was taking kind of a long time getting my money put back into my wallet and apologized to the guy behind me.  He assured me that it was no problem and that he would have guessed that I was "about 22, not 35!"

 Lest you think I am going through some sort of phase and am wanting attention of men other than my own man, don't be alarmed.  I told Larry about all of the above as soon as I got home.  Is it kind of pathetic that I am capturing this on the internet?  Probably.  But, you know what?  I needed it.


south by south WHAT

I have lots to say about my first SXSW adventure, but the first thing is that I'M TIRED!  5 days of walking, standing in line, dancing, singing along, dodging traffic, cocktails, and witnessing riff-raff makes for an exhausted Rachel.  However, I'm so glad I did it.  It really is an awesome experience.  I will definitely do it again in some form or fashion.

I did not have any up close and personal celebrity sightings unless you count Carson Daly and Brad "The Bachelor" Womack.  (side note - that dude is extremely attractive in real life.  As is his twin brother.)  But I did see some kick-@$$ shows.  (I use words like "kick-@$$" now because I have some street cred.)  I should do a whole post over the shows and include pictures, but that would require much more effort than I have right now.  A brief recap:

Fiona Apple
Sharon Van Etten
The Oh Sees
Alberta Cross
J Roddy Walston and the Business
Delta Spirit
Saint Motel
Milo Greene
Citizen Cope
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes
Mumford and Sons
Mike Ferris (he was on my SXSW schedule but I missed the show.... but he performed at church this morning, I'm going to count it!)

Highlight was the Delta Spirit show.  Check them out.

Now I must finish the week of chores that I've neglected.  Word to your mutha.


other things

Other thoughts that I would share with a younger me:

On the list of "future kid names:"  Kimberly is a perfectly nice name.  But "Kymber Lee" is a bit much.  Naming twin girls "Brooklyn and Brittyn" wouldn't have been unique. (Also, there are zero instances of twins in your family, so it probably isn't necessary to plan for them.)  And there is a 50% chance you could have a boy, so you might want to consider male names as well.

On the German exchange student:  Instead of being upset that you weren't selected to be on the Homecoming Court, be a little more gracious to the German exchange student who asked you to the game and dance.  He is actually pretty cute and very nice.  And he bought you an awesome mum.  And he paid for your chicken crispers at Chilis.  It wouldn't have killed you to befriend him for the remainder of the semester.

On mom having breast cancer:  Go see her more often.  She has CANCER and she only lives 20 minutes away.  You are not THAT busy.  You could go to class, run over for lunch, then go to work.  You're lucky she beat it and you don't have to regret the time you didn't spend with her.

On "Saved by the Bell" and "Beverly Hills, 90210:"  Totally worth watching.  But if you missed anything, their reruns will live on in eternity.
On "those" girls:  The ones that are prettier, skinnier, richer, funnier, better dressers, exude confidence, are more articulate, more polished,  more WHATEVER.  They are going to exist in some form or fashion for the rest of your life.  You are enough.  And the moment you finally believe it will be life-changing.



Thing #1 that I would tell a younger me:

That long-stemmed red rose that you think you want tattooed on the top of your left breast?  NO.

Fortunately, I listened to myself. I think about that now - if I was to look down and see a shriveled, gross rose on my boob.... ew.  There should be a 3-day waiting period on tattoos for anyone younger than 25. 



I've been going back and forth over a VERY important decision:

Do I want to get eyelash extensions again or try laser hair removal?

Seriously.  Can you say shallow? Reality check needed in aisle 5. 

(I still don't really know what the hash tag means, but I see other people using it so I'm going to pretend I know.)



K is for keepsakes.

I was doing some pre-spring cleaning last weekend and found all sorts of treasures.  One of them was a book that my parents gave me for my 30th birthday.
The best part is that on every page, my mom wrote a sticky note.  Some of my favorites:

The book says, "When you were born, I thought about all the things I needed to teach you.  I didn't realize I'd learn from you every bit as much as you'd learn from me." 

Mom's sticky says "Especially how to discipline myself and your siblings."  Ha!  I was (am) the bossy one.

But my favorite sticky is this one.  The page says, "One glimpse of my daughter's funny little smile, or her sweet, crinkled nose, and my heart is filled with more love than I ever thought it could bear."

Mom's sticky says, "I especially like the shaking shoulders when laughing."  That makes me smile.  My shoulders *do* shake when I laugh really hard.  Then again, I think hers do too.  Actually, on any given day, my mom, my sister or myself could answer the phone and I'm pretty sure we all say "hello" the same way.

Another thing I found was this awesome picture of my parents. Aren't they precious? 

And my mom had some incredible hair, no?


you're invited

I love throwing parties.  The bad part is that they tend to get so expensive and you have to clean house before and you have to clean house afterwards.  But if it was easier to throw a party, I would invite you all over next Sunday for the Super Bowl.  It may be sad that I am planning a virtual party, but I don't feel embarrassed about it, because I'll just file it under "one day I'll actually do this."

To start things off, I would definitely have the infamous Snack Stadium.

(This particular version came from pinterest a long time ago.  I'm sorry, I couldn't find the original link.)

 Instead of queso in one endzone, I would either do hummus or spinach dip.  Then I could replace some of the chips with carrots and celery.  The rice krispies on the outside would be traded for some sub sandwiches.  The first Snack Stadium I ever saw had twinkies around the outside which pretty much grossed me out.  Nacho cheese doritos and twinkies?  I don't think so.  (But a dessert snack stadium would be pretty awesome.... chocolate on one endzone and marshmallow cream dip on the other with various fruits and poundcake surrounding it maybe?)

But I digress.

I would also make a veggie tray that looked like a football field.  Surprisingly, I google imaged that and it doesn't appear that anyone has uploaded anything like that.  Maybe I should do it.  Broccoli for the field with jicama for the stripes.  Cherry tomatoes for one endzone and carrots for the other.  Sidelines of celery, snap peas and cucumbers.  I'm pretty sure it could be cute.

To add a little protein, I would throw together some  Mini Football Subs.  (meatballs, marinara and cheese on a sub)
 I would serve gatorade jello shots and "Even Ladies Get the Red, White and Blues" cocktails in honor of the New York Giants. 

Gatorade jello shots

Even Ladies Get the Red, White and Blues
For those with a sweet tooth, I would have Mini Football brownies, except I would totally frost those suckers with a layer of chocolate before I put the white laces on.

That's all I've come up with so far.  I need one more snacky food and one more dessert for this party that doesn't exist, but I'm sure I'll figure it out by next week.


aaaaargh matey

I noticed the other day that one of the items I "pinned" has been repinned over 3700 times.  (and that is just from my board - who knows how many times it really showed up!) 
Smore martinis, cake vodka, dirty pirate pops and candy cane vodka, as seen on my "frosty beverages"  Pinterest board.

 The "Dirty Pirate" popsicles, which consist of Coke, Captain Morgan and Kahlua were posted online by Bakers Royale here and obviously appeal to a lot of people.  I haven't actually made them yet, and I'm quite sad about it.  As soon as I finish this post, I am going to log into amazon and order some popsicle molds. 


a highly functioning dysfunctional unit

My sister wrote a facebook note awhile back that captures our family perfectly.  She doesn't blog anymore, so I'm stealing it for a blog post of my own. 

The Behnkes - by Jessica Behnke Kelly

(This picture is not even a year old and it already missing people.  Larry, of course, followed by Adeline and Baby #6 for Adam/April... who is (past) due any minute!)

We talk too loud, and too much. We disagree, argue, and agree to disagree. We do not like to be wrong, and, though we would prefer to be proven wrong if we are, we WILL fight until there is, in fact, proof. We can come off as arrogant, long-winded, or just plain annoying. We are educated and smart (because we've chosen to be), and do not apologize for being so. Sometimes we can be grumpy, proud, belligerent, or just have too much to drink and say things that are probably better left unsaid.

Yet, we tell you the truth. You are welcome in our homes at any hour, under any circumstance, where you will be fed and given drink, and even a place to sleep. We will leave your kitchen clean, or clean up after you in ours. We will watch and care for your children, clean your refrigerator, listen to your stories until the sun is up (even if we have to be up in the morning), cook for you, build for you, sing for you, DJ for you, drive long distances for you, plan for you, promote for you, preach for you, teach for you, create for you. We will loan you a car, or give you one if we can. We will keep your secret in confidence, and we will listen, and advise, and pray with you. We will give you money with no expectation of repayment. We will pull your car out of a snow drift, then take you to eat (and drink) and pick up the tab. We will stock your refrigerator, fix your toilet, or bring you a smile at your grandfather's funeral or in the midst of your sibling's divorce. We will volunteer for things that no one else will take on, and we will invest ourselves into causes we know to be noble and righteous. We are not oblivious to the fact that we are sinners; rather, we KNOW we are, and we try to be better. We will plan your entire event, and spend money we do not have to make it special. We will give time and energy until we have none left to give. And then, we will give more. We will pray a novena for you, without your ever knowing. We will put money in your purse without telling you just because we know you need it. We will hire you when we could hire someone else. We go to Mass, every Sunday, where we teach Sunday School, sing in the choir, preach from the altar, prepare to enter ordained ministry, or care for crying children in the back, knowing it is our job to bring them and teach them and raise them to be righteous. We will stay calm when you freak out, listen when you cry, get angry when you need fire, and bring laughter when you've lost your smile.

We are a highly functioning dysfunctional unit. We will fight with each other, pick at each other, gripe at each other, correct each other, and occasionally drive each other absolutely crazy. But we are a unit. In the storm, we will rise, with each other.

My blood, my lifeline... a beautiful story of love, righteousness, strength, forgiveness... a story that begins with a young couple's cross-country mission, leads to a VW bus filled with a singing family of seven, and results in conquering such trials as spina bifida, breast cancer, a back brace, drug addiction, long-distance relationships, child illness, adoption, wrecks, alcoholism, an international move, scrutiny, temptation, child pre-wedlock, hate mail, debt, arrests, divorce, miscarriage, condemnation, death, Dementia, poverty, eviction, heartbreak, thyroid cancer, obesity, unemployment.

We are a family which thrives amidst trials that would break most. We conquer with grace and strength, led by a brilliant, God-fearing man and an angelic, pillar of a woman who have touched and changed the lives of thousands of heartbroken and lost individuals and families, and who have held ours together with a peace that most could never comprehend. And we're just doing the best we can, and trying to do better when we slack. God's grace carries us. And we do our best to invoke His mercy and compassion and strength and guidance.

Laugh at us. Call us names. Pick on our weaknesses and shortcomings. Doubt us. Slander us. Gossip about us.

We've come through worse.

Your words are hurtful, but, in reality, non-consequential. It is not your judgement we fear, but that of a much higher power.

And at the end of the day, you will go home to your families, who perhaps have secrets and grudges and lies and deceit and unforgiveness and affairs and guilt and longing, and talk about how annoying and hypocritical we are (and, often times, you'll do the exact thing you've ridiculed us for doing, but you can get away with it, because your last name is not ours).

And we will sit together, around the table, with our glass of wine, talking and laughing, learning and loving, creating, playing instruments that we've taught ourselves to play, singing songs we've written or taught ourselves to sing, calling those who are not present just to laugh and say hello, cooking, eating, giving, growing. We will love together, and pray together. And no matter what storm life brings, we will come out of it... together.

Just a'travelin' along, singin' a song, side by side.