Thursday, September 29, 2005

Stuff Portrait Friday: Ryan's Song

Or "Been There Awhile", "Broken, But Redeemed", and "Blech!"
Welcome to Casa McAustin's weekly installment of Stuff Portrait Friday, an oh-so-fun little game sponsored and engineered by the lovely Kristine at Random and Odd. She gives us a list, and we are to scurry around taking photos of those items. This week's theme came from the young mind of Stepson Ryan:

1. Something in your house that isn't where it should be.

2. Something you broke, but kept it.

3. Food that you have in your house that you never eat (or drink)

One of last week's players inspired me to try to do a better job with the quality of photography for these installments, but that requires extra effort, and of course I encountered seems to be the theme of my week. First the 'good camera' was having flash issues, and secondly it takes prior planning and time investment, both of which I seem to be sorely short of lately. Here's the best I could do with what I had to work with:

Something In The House Where It Shouldn't Be:

Melted Candle Wax on the Dining Table

That would be the candle wax residing on my dining room table since a dinner party we had about.......well, let's just say a really long time ago. For the last several meals in that room I've used a tablecloth or strategically-placed trivets, but now my secret's out. I've just never taken the time to research out the best way to remove it without damaging the finish on the table. Any suggestions? (And yes, I know by leaving the wax for so long, it's probably damaged the finish on it's own, so please don't include that in your advice, ok? thanks.)

Something that broke, but you kept it anyway

My right wrist. Broken three times.

Ages 4, 8, 13. It didn't seem such a good option to get rid of it completely even though it's obviously defective. (For those of you visually snappy folks in SPFland, yes it's really a shot of my left wrist; I'm right handed, and don't possess the coordination to manipulate the camera with only the left.)

Food In The House That We Never Eat or Drink

Jones Soda Company's Sugar-Free Green Apple Soda

The SF Black Cherry version they make is sooooo yummy, caffeine free, and they use semi-natural sweeteners (sucralose). When we saw this we thought "Yeah!", another great flavor to try. Once. It tastes exactly like liquified green apple Jolly Rancher hard candy. And I like green apple Jolly Ranchers, but not this stuff. I offered some to the 11 year old daughter of a friend, hoping to find it a new home that would appreciate it and free up the cabinet space. Even she couldn't finish it. Buyer beware. Maybe we'll use it in some form for Halloween, it practically glows.

Ta-Da! There you have it. Did you play? Leave me a comment and let me know, so I can come check out your version of Ryan's Song. And go check out Kristine's, and let her know you played. Have a wonderful weekend!

(Thanks for stopping by, Leafgirl77. You're the inspiration! And the rest of you, go check out her stuff, the photography is fantastic!)

"How Many Licks Does It Take....?"

How many times can an unsuspecting preschooler be knocked to the floor (as a result of being slammed in the head by the belly that ate Austin) before permanent brain damage sets in?

***This is an old picture from when I was pregnant with Little Bit. It's a wonder the Critter ever learned to walk during that phase, and now he's taller, and this baby is even lower, so he gets it in the head even worse! Poor kid.....

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Hump Day Curse

What is it with Wednesdays?

I swear, it seems that if my kids decide to push all my buttons it will happen on a Wednesday. Today? Collegiate level button pushing.

It seemed to be the theme of the morning. Critter wouldn't come downstairs when told to so we could leave for the library, and he LOVES going to the library. I had to trudge up there to get him. Then he decides to play in the dog's water dish in the garage, and consequently gets upset because his shirt is wet. Tough luck, kiddo. You chose to play in the dog's water, deal. (We're big fans of the 'natural consequences' concept.) He tries to ply me with "I'm sorry Mama. Need a dry shirt. Sorry Mama," but I don't take the bait.

We get there, and he decides that instead of touching the tree I told him to wait by while I get Little Bit out, he'd rather sit on the rock 10 feet away. I could still see him. That's not the point. The point is he didn't follow my directions. We had to have a little meeting of the minds right there and talk about listening and obeying, and that if he disobeyed me in the library we would have to leave. "Yes, Mama" says my angel-faced boy.
We get inside, sit down close to the back (hugely-pregnant-me, on the floor, Indian-style, with a toddler on each knee...gettin' the visual?), and make it through the first half of the program. There is another child sitting on a wooden cube stool nearby, and one empty stool, so Critter decides that he should take this seat. Just as I realized what he was doing he was out of my reach and headed for the stool. We were in the middle of that rousing toddler fave 'Open Them, Shut Them' and I was a bit distracted, what with the complicated handmotions and all.

OK, so he sits. Well, then Little Bit decides that he, too, should sit there, and begins struggling to get up and over there. Not only that, but other children start to get up and wander, as well. Maybe as a result of Critter's lead, maybe not. Whatever the cause, it's getting disruptive. Then Critter starts calling out, "Hi, Mama" ...just to taunt me, I'm certain. I call to him quietly, he hears me, looks straight at me, but ignores me . I whisper (read:hiss) "Come here or we will leave right now." He doesn't budge, continues to stare at me.

While all this drama is taking place, poor Miss Margaret continues to sing the song and starts reading the story, as if nothing is happening. So I haul my body up, all the while holding Little Bit in the death grip, because he's still struggling to get away, and I know where that will lead if I let go of him. I go over to Critter, take him by the hand and start to lead him away. He, in true defiant toddler fashion, goes all limp-spaghetti-kid on me, so I have to literally drag him through the back past all the good little children and their horrified mothers.

These mothers weren't horrified that I was doing something terrible to my child, because I wasn't.....well, except for the almost pulling his arm out of socket thing...not really just kidding. I was truly the picture of restraint: never raised my voice, didn't yank on him, didn't rush him, nothing like that. All very calm.

No, they were horrified that I actually got up and left with my kids, even if it did make a scene.

Many of these are women who, more often than not, will struggle through the story while their children scream, whine, cry and make a terrible racket. While all this goes on they are continally asking these kids, "Honey, what do you want? Do you want to....(insert any of the following): sit over there?, your snack?,... drink some water?,... go outside?.......?"

It's story time, people! The list of options is pretty limited: sit down, listen to the story, sing the songs. If what you want isn't on that list, get up and go somewhere else so the rest of the group can enjoy the program.

I know they're only toddlers.
I know they don't always understand completely.
I know that sitting still for extended periods isn't a honed skill for toddlers.

However, it's only 15 minutes, the activities are varied, and my toddlers DO know: exactly how I expect them to behave, and what will happen if they don't do just that. They are usually very compliant and well-behaved, following the rules to a 't'.

Take last week, for example. We were in the library courtyard with another mom and little boy. This boy decided that he would throw good-sized stones from the bottom of the fountain into the top of it. His mother apparently had no problem with this, and that's her prerogative. However, this is a strict no-no for my kids: we look at the fountain. Someone went to a lot of trouble to set up that fountain for us to look at and enjoy, and if all the rocks from the bottom go into the top, it will stop flowing. Being the usually good Critter that he is, my child just stood next to Little Bit and they both watched this little boy, occasionally looking over at me. I could tell he was wrestling with the dilemma of following suit, or following the rules he knows. Critter then came over to tell me what the little boy was doing. I told him I was proud that he was following our rule of just looking at the fountain. See? So.very.good.

It just seems that every so often, maybe once every few months, one of them will feel the need to test out those boundaries and rules. I guess that's the life of a toddler: check in with the parents every so often to make sure all the rules still apply. The answer is always YES.

But why, oh why must this testing always seem to come on the days that are 107 degrees, when it's especially hard for me to be consistent, when it would be soooo much easier just to give in? ****Sigh****

When we got to the car, Critter began to cry that we didn't get to hear the story, and so I explained why we had to leave.
Me: "Did you come sit down when Mama called you?"
Critter: "No, Mama."
Me: "Did Mama tell you we would leave if you didn't come?"
Critter: "Yes, Mama."
Me: "Will you come when Mama calls you next time, so we can stay for the whole story?"
Critter: "Yes, Mama.......I love you." (that last part kills me)

Next week? I bet we'll make it through the entire story.

Way Back Wednesday: The Drunken Party Girl

Welcome to another installment of Way Back Wednesday, brought to us by the lovely and talented Kept Woman.

The theme was officially 'Sorority and Fraternity Pictures', but who does she think she's kidding? She doesn't really want to see how hot we looked in our rush dresses, or the cute t-shirts we were wearing. We all know she just wants to get us liquored up and take advantage of us. (Hmmmm. It seems she loves to see US three sheets to the wind...what is this, 'misery loves company'? It's ok, honey. The first step is admitting the problem.) I was too tired to climb up the ladder to get down the appropriate albums/boxes, so the one that was on the shelf within arm's reach will have to do. Let's face it: she just wants to see us drunk, and these shots document me at my most drunk.

So here to help feed Mama Duck's addiction, we have Mama McAustin's lazy pregnant girl version.....

This was a Christmas Benefit for Children's Medical Center of Dallas, back in 1999. We went with friend A. and met several friends there. The brand of drunkenness I was practicing that night was champagne and eggnog....not a good mix, my friends.

The evening started off great....friend K was always the smart one...soda, I should have followed her lead, notice my empty eggnog cup.....
As the evening progressed, more and more fun. Dancing, singing, laughing......clutching the eggnog cup as if it were the elixir of life....

And finally, just before the lights went out. I've never been that sick, before or since.

Gosh, I feel a little queasy just with the memories.....

Did you play? Go check out Mama Duck's and everyone else's drunken stupors. Have a great (sober) Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Where Did Monday Go?

Tuesday already? I seem to blink and the week's gone. I guess that's a good thing, but it's a bit disconcerting.
I have been feeling guilty about not posting much lately, and stopped to figure out where all my blogging time has gone. The answer is 'to sleep'. I usually post early in the morning before anyone else is up, or while the boys nap in the afternoons. Lately, I've been sleeping in the mornings until the boys are making sufficient noise to cut through the groggy fog of my unconsciousness, and the act of going to the grocery store or Target wears me out to the point that I must lie down and rest in the afternoons. Lame, I know, but my reality of late.

"At least you're able to get in some extra rest" you say.
And to that I say "Yeah, right!"

The reason I'm so wiped out during the day is that I'm up during the middle of the night as a result of the following: Braxton-Hicks contractions strong enough to wake me up and/or the minimum of 4 trips to the toilet caused by this child using my bladder as her personal body pillow. That's why all my comments to you people are posted at times when only Europeans and Australians are awake to read them.

The saving grace of this is that by the third or fourth night, I'm so exhausted that I will sleep through virtually anything. Last night was one such night, so today will be a great day!

Here's the lastest version of "Hair Salon, Home Edition":

Daddy McAustin and I felt sufficiently ambitious to tackle the hacking of the hair Sunday before church. A truly spiritual experience for all......
By the third consecutive episode of our haircutting drama, the evidence that we are not professionally trained stylists is in painfully obvious, so we have to 'start with a clean slate' as it were, and do the buzz. It's really short, but their hair grows so fast it doesn't stay that way for long.

Have a great Tuesday!

Friday, September 23, 2005

SPF: It's an Odd, Odd World

Sept 23rd-It's Odd!

Happy Friday! Another week gone....and in my case that's a very good thing.

This week, we're all showing the odd, or something along those lines. Here's the list from our lovely hostess Kristine who has us run around taking pictures of things to post for this fabulous game:

Something that was perfect in the store, but awful when you got it home.

Your cell phone

Your camera

And away we go......

Something that seemed like a good idea at the time:

The EuroPro Convection Toaster Oven

Our toaster had died. We needed a new one. We were at Target. It was on sale. It came in a really cool talking box. We bought it. **sigh** It sucked the big one.
*** Now because I respect most of you, I won't get into the COMPLETE AND TOTAL HASSLE it was to return this piece of #$%@ to Target. I'll just say that I am no longer Target's greatest fan, and I wished upon all return desk workers unevenly-burned toast each and every day of their pitiful little lives from that day forward.

My cell phone....

Just your basic, out-of-date, doesn't-get-that-much-use, standard-issue Nokia.

I intentionally shot it in it's natural habitat....the cubby in my dashboard, because that's where it lives 99.9% of the time. I am not a good cell phone candidate. They annoy me. I keep contemplating getting the emergency service only, but just haven't gotten around to it.

My camera(s)....

The Canon Elph PowerShot 400

This is what goes with me most of the time on a daily basis. It's portable, handy, small. Not so great for close-ups, but great for on-the-go photos of the kids...because you know I have way too much stuff to cart around without hauling around...


The Canon D60.

When we want the pictures to come out pretty. Can you tell which shots above were taken with which camera? Enough said.

So there you have it. Did you play? If so, leave me a comment, and be sure to check out Kristine's stuff, and let her know you played too.
Have a great weekend....stay dry.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

WBW...But Not "Way Back"

Here at Casa McAustin it's Welcome Back Wednesday. I love to play the Kept Woman's Way Back Wednesday, but didn't have time to dig. I'll be there next week, though.
I have a few minutes to show a bit of what I've been up to today, and it just so happens that my cute kids (all of them) are in these shots...go figure.

7:00 a.m. Office visit to OB

I had a nurse visit today, and since it was early, I was the only patient in the place, and the good doctor had surgery today, I got a bonus (unreported, unauthorized...shhhh, it's a secret!) sonogram of the Princess. As I looked at this while it was scanning, I realized it is a truly horrible picture. But just as the nurse was pushing the still photo button, the baby moved, and the cute shot changed into what you see. Oh well...take note of the chubby cheek....yes, I grow them big. I look like I have either swallowed an extremely large and lopsided watermelon, or have a freakishly huge tumor growing in my groin.

9:00 a.m. Checking out the infant equipment for upcoming company.
Here the Critter and Little Bit are 'helping' to test out the pack-n-play. The BIL & SIL and their Beautiful Wee One are coming. It was going to be the end of this week, but now is postponed two weeks due to Rita.

9:30 a.m. Laundry (Actually, I don't really need to put a time on it; substitute any time, and odds are, I'm doing laundry.)
Here's Little Bit 'helping'. Yes, I get LOTS of 'help'.

I won't bore you with the rest of the day, but will say it was packed.

Until next time!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Bad Blogger! Bad Blogger!

Yes, I have fallen off the blogging wagon.....
We have been so busy around here, what with the changing of the rooms, the positioning of the new furniture, the attempts at decorating, and the cleaning up of the resulting messes (our sanitation workers will NOT be pleased with us today)....not to mention the daily stuff that keeps piling up that HAS to be done, or a trip to buy some BVDs is in my immediate future. I haven't even had a chance to check my email or peek in at what everyone else has been up to for the last week. I miss it all! Actually....I think I miss the time I get to sit down whilst doing so more.;) (I did begin a post on Sunday, but never got it finished. I. will. do. that. today.) In the mean time, I promise I will return with better content as soon as I can dig myself out of the hole that is my to-do list. Until then, happy everyone else.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Clean linens on the beds:
highly valued
Clean linens neatly folded and stored:
highly valued
My 7-weeks-to-delivery body trying to fold sheets while 2 toddlers play bullfight:
not enough $$$ in the world to get me to attempt that again

'Before' and ......'In Progress'

Does home maintenance EVER end? I guess not, as it wouldn't be called 'maintenance' if you got to a point where you could say "I'm DONE!" Below is a chronicle of our ongoing quest for an aesthetically-pleasing look for the property around our house...or at least a look that's no longer embarrassing.

A little background first....

We bought this house almost 3 years ago, and the "non-negotiables" for our choice were as follows:

1. The house itself didn't require any renovation immediately.

2. More bedrooms/bathrooms/square footage than our previous home.

Those were really the only requirements we had at that point. 'That point' being 2 months away from delivering our first child, and after a MASSIVE, under-time-pressure, mostly do-it-ourselves renovation of the 100 yr. old house we had in Dallas. We had ZERO interest in home improvement after having been through that transformation so recently, which turned our home (and lives) inside, outside, upside down, and literally every which way but loose....and everything coming loose was a distinct possibility at certain points during the process.

So, the house we bought here in Austin was recently updated inside and out when we moved in: new kitchen, baths, cabinetry, carpet, paint, etc. We didn't HAVE to do anything to it immediately, only if we wanted to, and we didn't. That was the structure. The land property surrounding the house was a different story. The previous owners had owned it almost 10 years, but had lived in it only about a year, and the rest of the time they used it as storage. Thus, there was no effort at landscaping or any landscape maintenance whatsoever.

That was ok for a while. Austin is a very environmentally conscious town, and the prevailing style of landscaping is a version of cleaned-up natural. Xeriscapes are highly prized around here, but what we had going on was more ZEROscape. Nothing much. (And we are flanked on each side by AVID gardeners....yeah, we were 'those' neighbors that all the other people on our cul-de-sac with pretty lawns whispered about.) This was the curbside approach to our driveway, complete with listing, rotting mailbox, and rocky, sharply-sloping hillside on which NOTHING would grow properly. Not to mention that Daddy McAustin took his life in his hands each time he had to mow it with the lawn tractor.

So finally, after spending all home improvement budget on other more necessary projects over the last 2 years (3 new AC units, new decks, new perimeter fence) we bit the bullet, got the sprinkler installed (read about THAT adventure here), and got some landscaping plans put into action.

The progress so far.....

The 'after' shot of the same spot.

Due to the mild nature of our winters here, and the brutal nature of summers, fall is actually the ideal time to plant new plants. Our fall and winter is similar to most of the U.S. spring/early summer, giving the new plants a chance to establish themselves before the harsh stuff comes.

And in the backyard, we've only just begun, but here's an idea of what it was like:

Well, not really.......

....but it was so bad there aren't any photos showing the back, as we deliberately excluded that angle from any picturess taken out there! This is a pic of the Critter and Little Bit at Easter sitting on the only patch of good grass near the deck. Suffice it to say that from the point you see where the right side of the picture ends the land slopes down sharply to where the deck is about 9 feet off the ground at the other end 20 feet away. The dog door is under the deck into the garage, and it's shady (a.k.a. a big muddy mess) most of the time.

Here's where we are so far:

These beds flank the stairs going up to the deck, and are roughly symmetrical, but not exactly the same. And yes, that would be a few globs of Pascal's fuzz in the middle....right where he decided to lie down. But that's better than digging in it, that would bring back discussions of the pistol.

More pictures to come later....but that will require more work on our part, so it may be a while. The princess growing inside me isn't too fond of yardwork lately......

Monday, September 12, 2005

Hurricane GI

Well the nasty stomach bug that has wound its way through our family has finally made it full circle. It started with Little Bit on Tuesday morning, then I got it Thursday evening, then the Critter on Saturday, and now Daddy McAustin is sleeping off its effects today. I hate it when anyone is sick, and viruses like this are just horrible. You know that no matter how much hand washing, Lysoling, or antibacterial wiping you do, it WILL have its own way. And sadly, that has proven true of this one. (Daddy McA kept saying that HE wasn't going to get it, but I KNEW....) Luckily, it was short-lived, low-fevered, and not too terribly cramping.

But that doesn't mean to say that the remaining hour and a half of the drive to Houston on Saturday (what were we thinking?) AFTER the Critter got sick in the car wasn't miserable. Or the 3 hours spent in IKEA trying to settle on which sleeper sofa, desk and shelves combination would be best for our office space was any more pleasurable. And yes, I know, it was probably an extremely irresponsible parenting move for us to continue with our plans, but C. didn't have fever, and seemed to feel fine after sleeping the remainder of the trip down.

Oh but the mounds and mounds of laundry.....

We are off today to our first day of bible study at church for the year. They actually have a "study" program for the kids, too. Critter & Little Bit REALLY love going, it gives them some additional structured time with kids in a group their own ages, and I get that much-appreciated shot of adult conversation NOT about children.
Have a great Monday..... but watch out for Hurricane GI.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


The Critter says, "HOWDY!"

Doesn't everyone wear Daddy's Reeboks with their Burberry & cowboy hat?

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Stuff Portrait Friday: Shhh! I Have a Secret!

Good Grief! It's Friday already.
As always, we have our weekly installment of Stuff Portrait Friday, an ever-so-fun little game ingeniously produced by Kristine. This week's theme is sports, and it was an especially tough one for me. You see, back in our single days we knew about these things in a current events kind of way. Since marrying and having critters, we've left all pretense of being sports fans behind. We're just not the sporty types here at Casa McAustin. Outdoorsy, yes, team sporty, not so much. We don't really follow pro teams, and (thankfully) don't watch any games on TV. I know, I's sacrilege and all, but it is what it is. So I had to dig deeply for these three things:

Team paraphernalia
Googled Favorite Player
Party Picture

Daddy McAustin gets into hockey more than any other sports and has been to several of their games, thus I was presented with my favorite team sweatshirt:

Also while living in Dallas, we did attend several Cowboys games, as evidenced by this party pic: This is a pic of a pic of a game at Texas Stadium back in '99 when the Cowboys were still a viable team. We went with friend D who had season tickets, and took the young Japanese guy who had just been transferred to the US at Daddy McAustin's firm. He'd never been to a game before, and really seemed to enjoy it.

Googled favorite player. Sheesh! Since we don't watch, we don't know any of these people. Kristine said that we could cheat and use photos of the kids in their team jerseys
but since mine aren't yet old enough to play team sports, this will have to do. Living here in Austin, and being married to a UT alum, we do keep up with the hometown UT Longhorns enough so it doesn't appear that the rock we live under is too big to peer out from beneath, or are completely illiterate or anything like that. So of course we had to have the requisite baby togs for said team, thanks to R & B in Houston:
Exhibit One: the Critter at around 2 months.
Exhibit Two: Little Bit wearing the same outfit about a year later.
(And yes, they both had the freaky hair until about 1, no electricity outlets required. The pic of Little bit must have been taken directly after a bath, as that was the ONLY time the hair would lie flat. Give it an hour and it'd look just like Critter's in the prev. pic!)
That does it for this week's 'non-Sports Center'. Did you play? Be sure to let Kristine. know and leave me a comment if you did so I can come check out your team spirit. Have a great weekend!


I'm having a case of blogger block. Maybe it's the current state of things, maybe it's that we've been super busy, maybe it's that I'm just so tired. We went to the market Tuesday morning, and it took me out for pretty much the remainder of the day. So in light of that and the MOUNTAIN of laundry piled and awaiting action in my hallway, I'll do what any mediocre blogger does when this situation strikes: hijack someone else's idea!

from Cassie:
3 things I want to do before I die:
1) See my children grow up
2) See the mouth of the Yukon
3) Learn to play the cello decently

3 things I can do:
1) Cook almost anything well
2) Sew most of what I can imagine
3) "Read" people exceptionally well

3 things I can't do:
1) tolerate intolerance, injustice or ignorance
2) Sing worth a flip
3) Run at any decent speed. (It was said best by my OB just this morning:"You're an OB's dream patient; there are just some women who were built to grow healthy babies really well." Um, thanks?)

3 things I say most:
1) "Come on, my sugar babies."
2) "I love you"
3) "ya think?"

3 celebrity crushes:
1) Sean Connery (yeah, I've got a bald thing)
2) The "voice of TEL" (only a celeb in certain circles)
3) this is really hard for me....soooo not a celeb hound

And one last tidbit. We saw "Crash" last night. A very thought-provoking film, especially in light of all that's going on these days. Highly recommend it.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Happy Labor Day Everyone!

Love, from the Critter & Little Bit

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Current Statistics

Just a few numbers from this week at Casa McAustin....

79: Dollars to fill up the 'Burban last Sunday.

90: Percent of gas tank still full 6 days later.

1: Times the garage door got hung on the roof of the car while trying to keep Demon Beast from escaping Tuesday.

7: Times I woke up during the night it was open.

16: Minutes in one sitting to completely cut both boys' hair. A household record.

211: Dollars I paid Wednesday to the garage door repair people to make it work properly again.

Less than 1: Minutes Little Bit cried after receiving his final immunizations Wednesday morning.

Greater than 100: Percentile he (still) ranks for head circumference. (Pray for a small-headed girl!)

3: Gallons of milk I'm so thankful I was able to purchase for myself and sons.

2: Tantrums caused by completely inane events for Critter.

105: Minutes Little Bit talked or sang during his first (and hopefully last) middle of the night variety show Thursday.

9: Hugs & kisses my babysitter gave the boys upon seeing them at Sam's.

188: My bill at Sam's for items for Katrina relief.

6: People in line ahead of me.

12: Open lanes with similar numbers of customers buying relief items.

3: HEB semi's bound for LA with donated items we saw pull out at 7pm.

3: Times last night after dinner that I spoke sharply enough to my sons to cause someone to cry.

4: Number of times I had to stop myself from going in their bedroom to hold them after they'd gone to sleep.

2: Times last night I had to consciously divert my attention so I wouldn't turn on CNN .

21: Muddy footprints on my off-white carpet left by Demon Dog while having to be dragged through the house and down into the garage because he wouldn't come in on his own.

346: The numbers on the clock when I woke up this morning.

529: The numbers on the clock when I gave up trying to go back to sleep.

5: Masons coming to start on my new flowerbeds and mailbox this morning.

9: Inches of exposed "dunlop" on the head mason.

10: Time my babysitter is arriving so I can go get a haircut and buy paint....alone.

64: Number of days until Princess McAustin's due date.

2: Days until Daddy McAustin returns from camping.

4: Number of "I yuv you, Mama" s heard this morning.

0: Minutes I will listen to or watch CNN today.

The Katrina situation is making me tense and irritable, and it's affecting my family. That ends today. I can't watch/listen to/read about Government officials who are or are not doing their jobs, what 'should' have happened, or anymore people in such desperate need. I have done what I can, but I have reached my saturation point for a while.

Friday, September 02, 2005


I can't stand it any longer. I have been vascilating between tears and extreme anger, and now the anger is taking over.

I listened to Mayor Nagin express his outrage at the lack of help his city is receiving.
I listened to the Governors of AL, MS, & LA tell about all the things that are being done now, but mostly about what happened.
I listened to the various news agencies spin the story from 'rainbows and sunshine' (guess which one), to total doom.

My questions are these:
Why wasn't there any ACTION BEFORE KATRINA HIT?
Why weren't the requests for buses to evacuate the impoverished cities/rural areas made prior to the hurricane.

I feel certain the governors, FEMA, Pres. Bush, mayors knew the situation in their cities.
They are all acting as if this is some big surprise, when it was totally predictable.
I feel certain those officials are intimately aware of the impoverished nature of their citizens on their best day.
If you know your people don't have the means to get themselves out, I think it's your responsibility to do something about it on their behalf. That's the point of public office.

At this point, so late in the game, I think the agencies, Nat'l Guard, etc. probably ARE doing the best they can, but it's an immensely uphill battle.

Hindsight is 20/20 they say, but it's just insanity to not act on your foresight when so much is at stake.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

SPF: Load Up the Trunk with the Dishes & Drinks, We're Headed to the Babysitter's!

This week For Stuff Portrait Friday we've been dropped off at Babysitter Renee's, and told to mind our manners while Mama Kristine is playing hostess to RSG & Pissy Britches. Miss Renee asked for the following:

Favorite Alcholic Beverage
The trunk of our vehicle
A place setting of our dishes

1. Since I'm "in the family way" I don't consume much alcohol these days, but am sooo looking forward to becoming cyber-drunk on all the other oh-so-tasty beverages you all come up with. Here's my current OB-approved fav:
A Chocolate malt made with a TON of malt, Hershey's syrup, and Blue Bell Natural Vanilla Bean ice cream. Pure heaven. Lately I can't seem to get enough milk (no really, like a gallon every 3 days, for just me), so this is one more weapon in my arsenal to sate the dairy devil that's growing in my belly.
2. I don't officially have a "trunk", I have a "cargo area". Once again, I will probably get yelled at for driving one of these monstrosities, but here are my reasons. Deal. The back of the 'Burban looks like this most of the time. We've currently misplaced the lovely tri-fold, compact double stroller, so this is the one I'm stuck with for all outings, not just off-road. I love the fact that I don't have to completely break it down by taking off the wheels for it to fit, and still allow for room for other stuff. (Oh yes grasshopper, I can still fit a lot more back there!) The mesh box always has 1 diaper bag, 1 emergency supplies kit, 1 extra adult t-shirt, 2 sets of extra kid clothes, one 6'x6' beach towel, 4 hats, and 1 golf umbrella. Currently, there are 2 empty propane tanks hiding behind the box which you can't see.
(In light of recent events, I've added some extras to the standard emergency kit: water filtration tablets, solar blanket, poncho, switched from a quart to a gallon of water. I'm sure I'll keep thinking of other stuff to put in. Have you thought how you'll update yours?)
3. The dishes we use every day are pretty standard.
What I like about them is that all food looks good against the white, and the dishes look good against pretty much any placemats or table cloth. My MIL (hi, Nana!) went to a dozen different stores to complete the set of 12 for us. We've used it all day, every day for over 5 years, and have only broken 2 pieces.
These are the dishes we use for special occasions.
Our china...
My mother and grandmother's china.
If we have a really large group (more than 12) for a formal meal or celebration, then I can mix place settings of these together and they look great, kind of funky and bohemian, but still classy.
And last up is the "Family Celebration Plate".
I got this idea from a gal in our Sunday school class, and a couple of girlfriends and I went to our local paint-your-own-pottery shack and each made one for our families. If it's your birthday, or you got promoted, or learned to do something really great, this plate is yours for the meal. We've had it less than a year, and we've already used it quite a bit: the boys' & Daddy McAustin's birthdays, Mother's & Father's day, and our anniversary.
Did you play? If so, leave me a comment and go check out the babysitter's stuff to let her know you played, too. She'll leave you a really great comment, I promise! Happy Weekend. Go volunteer somewhere.

Federal Government Response?

Just to put it into perspective......

1.45 am EST (with 24 hours notice, on a holiday weekend, in a special session called expressly for that purpose) The United States Congress passed the bill which allowed Terri Schiavo's case to be placed under Federal review.

4 Days After Katrina: Congress has yet to do anything but yak.

I guess it's all about where their priorities are......

Riddle Me This....

Several things that have been floating around in my gray matter for a few days.....

First: A Moral Question:What in the world are people who have no shelter, no viable sewage system, no clean drinking water, nor any food fit for consumption thinking when they "loot" (a.k.a. "find", "steal") 6 pairs of Nikes, or several xBoxs, or a trunkload of beer? Do they think they can sell it? Who do they think will buy it? What good is it doing them or anyone else?
And I'm not going to even get into the racial spin the media semantics hold....
How is their situation different from this group's? (Click the photo to see the caption.)

On Second Thought... Land of the Free?
Did you know (I didn't, thanks, M) that one little known provision of our fearless leader's No Child Left Behind Act contains a rule requiring all secondary schools to report their student information to military recruiters? But there is a remedy. Go to this site to get your high schooler on the 'opt out' list.

Third: Why must EVERYTHING be bigger in Texas?
The Critter called out:"Look Mama, a BIRD!" Ummmmm.....I think NOT.
Last night after dinner as the boys were playing with the water hose, that thing crawled/flew out of the woodpile. OMG!!!! I have never seen a bug this big, and I've lived in Texas practically my whole life, and visited many tropical spots. Notice the comparison to the big wheel toy in the background.
Granted, the perspective is a little skewed as it's uphill, and the riding toy is mini....BUT, STILL! It was 6-7 inches nose to wingtip, I kid you not. (I was a little freaked out that it would try to fly at one of the boys, and you just know that something that sinister-looking would sting, thus the blurry shots.)

Lastly, A Riddle:
Q: What do a miner's lamp, a fleece moose hat, and enough gorp to feed an army have in common?

A: A place of honor in Daddy McAustin's backpack. (And no Honey, I don't think everyone else will be jealous of your miner's lamp, but then I'm not a man.)

The men's group left for the San Juan Wilderness near Pagosa Springs, CO on Tuesday morning. I know they will have a great time, and wish them safe travel....even if I did get made fun of for suggesting they put handiwipes in each meal pack.;)