Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wrapping paper

Bumbos are hard to wrap. And unfortunately, the midget at the receiving end of this Bumbo has no appreciation for something as meaningless as wrapping.

You will have to pretend you appreciate it. You do, right?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Finals Week

It's like I'm cramming for tests. I've been holed up in our mini computer room for the last four days in an attempt to finish up my Christmas and wedding projects. My baby is crying from his swing, I have three loads of laundry waiting to be folded, and a mountain range of dishes spanning my kitchen counter.

I'm almost done. Almost. Done.

When I'm not feeling crazy, I'm feeling stoked. Because this guy is coming home from his mission to Pennsylvania TOMORROW:

(He is the one not snorting gingerbread frosting.)


In other news, I have eaten sixteen hundred calories of English toffee today. It's easy to do, friends. So. easy.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Carlsbad has its downfalls...

...things like a teen pregnancy rate so high that the high school has a student daycare. drug problems. a 48% dropout rate.

But stuff like this is why I like living here.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dinner Wars Part 2 and a series of unfortunate events.

Last night I began devising a strategy to end the dinner wars forever. Phase one of the strategy was simple: get people excited about dinner. And for this, my friends, I had a fail-proof plan.

My daughters are crazy about Fancy Nancy. My mother sent them a Fancy Nancy book on CD, and they both have it memorized. On seeing this doll for the first time at Walmart, Claire giddily yelled, "MOM! LOOK! IT'S FANCY NANCY AT THE MUSEUM BY JANE O'CONNOR!!"

I kid you not.

So I prepared a Fancy Nancy theme dinner. I wanted the dinner to be just healthier than their favorites (I know, setting the bar crazy high here), but wanted the food to be familiar enough that they could still be excited. I settled on a simple menu: cucumber sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, a green salad, and hot chocolate. Weird. But edible.

I was cutting the sandwiches into tiny, crustless little squares when I noticed silence. I searched for Claire, ultimately finding this:

I was bummed. But not too bummed. I thought I would let her sleep a while and then wake her to get dressed up for our fancy dinner.

I shortly learned that she would not be woken up. From the previous picture you may recognize that the item she is resting so comfortably on is a ROCKING recliner. It probably swayed with her every heartbeat.

At some point, it must have swayed too much, because I arrived back to check on her and found her like this:

... Still asleep. Brad tried to wake her up. So did Grace. No luck. Eventually I succumbed to the realization that our dinner would be short one serious Fancy Nancy fan. I reluctantly told Grace that we couldn't wait for Claire and that it was time for her to get Fancy like Nancy.

She was, as I'm sure you can imagine, completely elated. She requested my expert advice on her attire, and then scuttled off to the bathroom to apply some glittery make up.

Brad was helping me set the table when we heard a sharp piercing scream. We found Grace, cradling her head on the floor of the bathroom tile. She had fallen off the vanity, hit her head on the toilet, and was nursing this:

Usually Grace is not allowed out of the house with make-up on. But considering the circumstances, we carried her to the car anyway along with our two other children (Claire still sleeping) and drove to the ER.

Thankfully, Friday night is one of the least busy nights in the ER, because as it was we waited for an hour.

Here is Grace waiting for her stitches. Look at that outfit.

This girl is brave. Picture four pricks of lidocaine and three stitches, each of which she seems able to feel completely. Envision no screaming. The kid had silent tears streaming through her blush and eyeshadow and was squeezing my hand and clenching every other part of her body in intense rigidity. She. Was. A. Champ.

I promised her ice cream. We held hands and walked around the parking lot waiting for daddy to return from a poorly timed run to Subway. When he came, Claire and Weston still asleep, we stopped at McDonalds for a chocolate shake for Grace. As we pulled away from the place, Claire decided to wake up. Great timing.

After Grace shared her shake with Claire and Brad finished his sub, we got home and sat down to eat our Fancy meal.

It was 8:00. No one was very hungry (except maybe me). And almost nothing got eaten.

Oh well.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Always on the road.

I love me some good road trip pics. Unfortunately, these are nothing like good road trip pics. I took most of them from a moving car and with a new lens that doesn't auto-focus. Good excuses, yes?

I love this trip between Dallas and Carlsbad. We could take an interstate to get there, but it's more direct to take the highways. We pass through towns that appear completely abandoned and make you wonder why someone would move there in the first place.

This time, we took a quick little drive through Anson, Texas. It's one of the bigger towns on the route. It's also one of the cuter ones. It's named for the last president of the Republic of Texas, Anson Jones.

Also, all along this highway are cotton fields. Have you ever actually seen a cotton field? I hadn't until we moved here. It was so strange to see cotton actually growing--on a plant--that I stopped my car and picked up some stragglers that had been left behind by harvesters. It is weird to pick a cotton ball from a bush.

When the cotton is harvested by these giant trucks, a lot of the cotton flies in the air. It looks like it's snowing. And then those machines squish the cotton into the most delightfully humongous cubes of fluff. I imagine they would be fun to jump on. Or sleep on.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dinner Wars.

I live in a house of ridiculously picky eaters. If it were just the kids, I might not have dinner anxiety. But oh. Do I ever have dinner anxiety. Unless I want to engage in dinner warfare, the meal must be one of the following:
  • Chicken. Dry. Fried on the stove in a very small amount of olive oil. No sauce of any kind whatsoever.
  • Spaghetti. Sauce must be separated from the noodles. The sauce must not include onions. Not even pureed ones.
  • Hot dogs. With Ketchup for the girls. Strictly WITHOUT for Brad.
  • Pancakes.
  • Cereal.
  • Top Ramen.
  • Casseroles are absolutely not permitted.
Great list, right? Very healthy. Wide variety.

The list stinks. I need healthier food! But I can't figure out how to do it. Just tonight, when we had baked Eggplant Parmesan, Grace cried over her "yucky food" so much that she was sent to her room THREE TIMES. And then she fell asleep. Without eating.

Do any of you have any brilliant suggestions? 

I'm listening. With eager, hopeful, willing ears.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hanging in our living room

It's our thankful list.

At some point grace took over the job of scribe.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Everytime we go on a roadtrip I promise myself we won't be taking another one until we get a motorhome. Nothing super fancy. Just something with a toilet. And couches. Something like this. Is that really too much to ask?!

It might be cheaper to buy my children bigger bladders and give them Dramamine.

Anyway. Complaining. That's not very Thanksgiving-y. And I do have so much to be thankful for.

Like these lovely, lovely people.

{I'm pretty sure Lilian [my brother's wonderful wife] is squishing my head.}

And, of course, mashed potatoes.
And for this cheesecake.
And this adorable little boy. Who has had a bloated tummy since Thursday. We will say nothing about my tummy. NOTHING.

And for Emily for this adorable outfit. And for Elliot for getting the smile.

And for Claire's friend. 
(She would be thrilled to live with Grandma. She would jump up and down in elation watching me drive away.)

And you.

The end.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Photo Help

A little over a year ago, Brad bought me a Nikon D60. I was in love with it. But I was also deep in the miserable throes of a full time job, so I almost never played with it.

But now I'm done working, home with my kids, and finally starting to play with it.

And since my photography skills need all the help they can get, I've also been playing with Photoshop Elements 3. (It's all I've got.)

Anyway. Here's my problem. I don't know when to stop. I feel like my edits are either too much or too little. And sometimes I feel like a photo needs something. But I have no idea what.

Case in point:

Too much?

Too little?

How do you edit your photos? How do you know when you're done?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Karlee the Genius.

I have a little sister. She's the youngest. She's 14. She's been at my house now for less than a day.

This afternoon she generously offered to take care of my children while I caught up on some much needed work. So, I sat down on the computer. And soon--and I mean very soon--it became terribly. horribly. quiet. I was sure they had all died somehow in a bizarre, soundless freak accident.

I searched frantically, finally finding them in my bedroom.

My darling, brilliant sister had charmed my children (and herself) to SLEEP.

Midday sleep hasn't happened at my house for over a year.

I'm keeping her.

That's right Mom. You ain't getting her back.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Let's do this everyday.

Let's all give three cheers for my best friend Brad who scored this little countertop beauty for me yesterday:

Perhaps you have seen our full-size portable floating around in the pictures of our house. (That is, pictures. floating around on the blog. Not the dishwasher. floating in our house.) I paid homage to it here.

Sadly, it died a mysterious and inconvenient death during our two year absence. Broken heart, probably. Or fried motherboard.

Either way, this makes the second dishwasher I've received for my birthday. It makes for a very happy birthday, let me tell you.

You know what else makes for a happy birthday? Kids. And friends. And Facebook. Definitely Facebook. Because there's nothing like birthday wishes from dozens of dear old friends to make you feel tops.

Fantastic Day.

It started with some playtime...
And we kept playing.

At Chili's (one of the only places in town)...

And at a friend's house. This is me and Brad. We are playing a complicated, intricate game which was purchased for this very occasion. We are desperate enough to advance in the game that I don't even notice someone snapping this picture of my offensive belly.

We did not even win.

They did. (They are carefully plotting.)

And we came home to a room full of sleepy girls.

I mean, sleepING girls. Including our excellent babysitter.

The end.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Oh, I have pictures.

Well, of one incident anyway.
Oh, yeah. Get it all in there.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I thought we were getting past this.

Grace and Claire were busy this weekend. On Saturday they climbed in our little pantry, sat on a shelf, and ate powdered sugar out of its canister with a spoon. My pantry (still) looks like an exploded sugar bag.

That day they also opened the leftover Halloween icing and squirted it into their mouths. Onto the bathroom counters. And mirrors. And on their clothes. Our Halloween icing is black.

Incidentally, these sugar cravings may have something to do with my previous post.

And today, for good measure, they destroyed my preschool room. They opened the craft closet, climbed to the highest shelf, grabbed paint, paper, and paintbrushes and set up their painting studio. Right there on the carpeted floor. Then, as if that wasn't enough, they used markers to color the mirrored closet doors and my supply of bouncy balls.

For real.

They are too old for this.

Especially since Grace also cleaned that whole mess up all by herself. Happily.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Truck for Sale

Brad is selling his truck.

These girls took it upon themselves to help him out:

grace says she can't wait for the "customers to see it all shiny."

Friday, November 12, 2010

First Dentist Appointment

This is my daughter Grace.

She is 5.

She is getting her first....


Yes, I feel like the worst mother alive. Thanks for asking.

Friday, November 5, 2010

From the Phone

I have the best pictures on my phone. I catch funny things with it. And sometimes, the kids take hilarious videos.

Lately, Claire has been guilty of horrendous fits. Really really awful ones. I'm sure it can be attributed to neglectful parenting somehow.

And although it might look otherwise, this is not a picture of claire engaged in fervent prayer.

And, well, who knows what this is.

Or why.

I love camera phones.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Costumes and other things.

Halloween is an annoying holiday.
  1. Finding costumes is a hassle.  
  2. There ends up being a lot of extra candy in the house. Which I end up eating. And finishing. Two days after Halloween. This is a serious deterrent to my efforts to pack away the maternity clothes.
  3. It is not that fun. Really. Think about it people. We gear up all month for a holiday where the climax is walking for hours just to gather a bag full of Smartees and Tootsie Rolls. My kids can even see through that. They prefer to stay home and answer the door, eating candy out of our bowl.
But. I have decided that Halloween is important. I mean, it's a pretty amazing display of trust to knock on a stranger's door and expect untainted candy. And that makes Halloween a valuable American holiday.

Also, our town officially declared Saturday, October 30th Halloween day. Too many people in the city felt uncomfortable trick-or-treating on Sunday. Say what you will about ugly run-down Carlsbad New Mexico, but that is pretty stinking cool.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


We lost this kid on Friday. Literally lost her. In our 1300 square foot house. 

We were preparing for movie night. The feature presentation for the evening was an old Addams Family episode per Grace's request. The munchkins were very excited. (Weird, right?)

I made everyone finish their household chores while I made popcorn, and as we all gathered for the movie, we realized Claire was gone. We knew she had fallen asleep. She always does. And so we began the search for Claire laughing. But after we had checked the closets, under her bed, and the oven, panic set in. Brad  ran up and down the alley calling her name, I searched in the dark garage. Brad finally got in the car to go look for her and I checked her bedroom one more time. I lifted up her flat, completely lumpless comforter. And found her underneath it. Sleeping, obviously.  It would have been hilarious if we hadn't been terrified.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Not quite Superwoman.

It occurs to me that I have gotten away with making it appear that I had a natural child delivery. Let me just assure you that it was not [entirely] my intention to deceive. [Although it was really nice to look like Superwoman for the last month.] It has simply taken me this long to get over the trauma of the experience enough to talk about it.

I wanted to deliver naturally. It was my intention this time. I had too many friends praising the virtues of anesthesia-free birth. And, well, I wanted the post-delivery adrenaline surge. And a pain free recovery. And bragging rights.

That doesn't mean I did anything about it. Brad reminded me, in triage, that most people prepare for natural childbirth. They take a class. Choose a method. I told him I'd read a hypnobirthing book. Three years ago. I was going to be fine.

But I wasn't so much. Turns out I didn't remember anything.

Here's how it went (as always, read at your own risk. I will not be held responsible for trauma induced by reading):
  •  Induction. Castor oil. Yes. It tasted bad. Yes. It flushed my system. Yes. I am insane. But I really  needed to deliver over labor day weekend. It was very important at the time. And very stupid. Not recommended.
  • Water breaking. Apparently, caster oil is really excellent at making painful, consistent contractions. Not so good at actually doing anything. So in order to actually start dilation, my midwife grabbed a very long plastic crochet hook and broke my water.
  • Massage. If it could be called that. Every two minutes (at the start of every contraction) Brad dug his thumbs into my back as hard as he could. At about midnight Brad started asking if maybe I wanted an epidural. He told me he was tired. I refrained from comment.
  • Bath. They told me the bath would ease my back labor. I was desperate. I hadn't brought any bath appropriate clothing. But, you know, at that point I didn't really care. I got into the tub. Yelled "Thumbs!" (to cue Brad) every two minutes and groaned loudly.
  • Medicine. After being in the tub for two hours with unbearable back labor, I begged for an epidural. I may or may not have been blubbering at the time. Too bad the nurse anesthetist and my midwife were in the middle of a c-section. So my nurse gave me a single dose of fentanyl. It was supposed to dull the pain until I could get an epidural. And it did. For two contractions. After that, all it successfully did was make me fall asleep between contractions. Which, in the tub, you know, was really awesome. Falling asleep made me drop my head and inhale water.
  • Epidural [oh, just kidding.] They got me out of the tub to prep me for the epidural. Until I started pushing uncontrollably. And then I cried when they told me it was too late to get it. 
  • Pushing. Terrifying. Thought I might actually die there on the hospital bed. Also. There was lots of yelling. I think it was me.
Conclusion: Did I get what I wanted out of "natural" (okay--almost) delivery?
  • Post-adrenaline surge. Check. But not really fun. Just made me shake. I thought I might drop Weston when they handed him to me.
  • Pain-free recovery. Um, no. In addition to my back being black and blue from Brad's massage, this recovery was significantly worse than my last.
  • Bragging rights. Sort of screwed those up with the fentanyl. Which I would like to emphasize didn't seem to help. And also wore off before delivery. Yes. I am trying to preserve bragging rights anyway. Is it working?
All I have to say is. Sheesh. I am a wimp. Kudos to those of you who are real superwomen.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I'm obsessed.

I'm sort of in love.
And let's just say that the mosquito bite under his eye makes him look like more of the rugged football/baseball player he's gonna be.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Claire: [Blood chilling scream]
Grace: "That's how bad it hurts!"

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Looks just like Daddy

Weston Jay Neville
7.7 lbs

No epidural.

Natural delivery is overrated, I think.

Friday, September 3, 2010

I beg to differ.

Those last pictures were taken from lucky angles.

Remember how I mentioned that I look like a lumpy eggplant?
I was telling the truth.

And that was over a month ago.