Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I found a new way to waste time on the internet. As if we need another one added to the list. It's called Scrapblog and it's a way to create an online scrapbook that your friends can look at. You just drag and drop pictures to premade templates or create your own from scratch. They have all kinds of icons you can also put in there like you would die cuts or stamps. You can add music and even narrate it if you want. On the home page, click on tutorial and watch a five minute video on how easy it is to use. If nothing else, click on it to listen to the guy narrating the tutorial...dreamy! I haven't played with it too much yet, but I told conventional scrapbook queen Rachel about it and I'm expecting a review pretty soon. Check it out.
This morning, Autie and I were in the car and Autie had her head leaned up against the window. She said, "Oh, wow mommy. It feels like I'm on a holocoster!" I thought about that a moment. She was trying to say one of three things:

a) she was in a helicopter,
b) she was on a roller coaster or
c) she was on some horrid Nazi theme park ride.

I repeated the word she said back to her and she stumbled over her words a bit and then said, "No, I feel like I'm in a helicopter."

Whew! Thank goodnes!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Vacation memories

Here are some pics of our recent trip to Dauphin Island, Alabama. No one got hurt, everyone had a great time and we'll be back next year for more fun!

We're on the road! Our van started acting funny before we left so we ended up taking Nunie's suburban. Boy am I glad we did! Here's the girls (Autie, Anna, Bailey and Jordan) watching High School Musical 2! What a life saver. You know what I like about this picture? The greasy hand prints on the top of the seats. That's classy!

We made a pitstop somewhere in Louisiana for Billy to change his tire. I got to looking at the tire gauge my dad let us borrow and it turns out it really belongs to Billy. He didn't even know his family was into making tire pressure gauges!

All the kids playing in the pool that's in our deck. Did I mention the house had a pool in the deck? If I didn't, I'm surprised because this trip would not have been possible without the pool in the deck. It was the single biggest factor in us renting this particular house. We will never, I repeat, never rent a beach house without some kind of pool right outside the door!

A view of our sweet, not so little beach house. Notice the pool on the right side of the deck. Did I mention how wonderful this pool was? Just outside the door?

So, it turns out that somewhere in my blood line is mermaid. I'm Somoan, but I didn't know there was some mermaid in there, too. And it got passed right on down to Autumn. She swam the entire time we were there. She's not afraid, either. She wanted to go out to the sand bar with the big kids, but there weren't enough adults to hold her. So she was content to play in the surf while all the big kids played on the boogie boards.

Anna, on the other hand, is what I would call a "social swimmer." She doesn't much like the salt water getting on her and she doesn't like getting sand in her swimsuit. She just jumped over the waves as they came in and played in the pool. Did I mention the pool!?!

Avery didn't really like the beach at all. She's already a little afraid of water when it's contained in a swimming pool so you can imagine how overwhelming the ocean was. She liked the pool, though. She and Anna hung out.

This is milk glass man. I don't need to point out which one he is. Elliott and I saw him and we immediatly started trying to think of a name for the kind of white he is. The best word we could come up with is milk glass. You know, the old glass containers that cold cream used to come in. They were white, but almost so white they were blue. These guys were staying in a house close to ours. Milk glass man apparently doesn't get out into the sun that much. He had to put his shirt on later because he was starting to burn. Really? You're kidding!

It seems that my hunter, John, has to hunt down and kill something everywhere we go so it made sense that one of the first things he did was catch a crab and insist that we grill it up and make him a crabby patty! He ended up being grossed out and couldn't eat it after all. A little too late for Mr. Crab.

This shot pretty much sums up the way the house was from morning until night. We spent most of our time saying, "You're wet. Where's your towel? Don't come in here dripping like that! Where's your towel?"

John and Paige both did really well on the boogie boards. They would catch a wave and sometimes ride it all the way to the beach. They had so much fun!

This shot is a little hard to explain but it's just so funny looking I had to include it. After watching HSM2 for the 18th time, naturally we had some of the songs stuck in our head. This is Elliott's interpretive dance to one of those songs.

This has to be one of my all-time favorite shots from the vacation. Don't they look so cute, I mean, cool. I'm not going to say anything about their future, I'm just going to hang on to this one in case I need it later.

Here's mermaid's hiney. I thought it was cute that you could see some of her skin suit!

This is the restaurant the adults went to while Mia and Jordan watched the kids. How sweet is that set-up?!? It was a really neat looking restaurant.

Hi. My name is Elliott. I lost my glasses in the Atlantic Ocean. I can't see further than 3 feet in front of me. Where are you?

Billy and Elliott trying to wrangle a wild gator while we were waiting for a table. Our heroes!

We are so stuffed we can hardly smile!

We had to go to an optometrist so Elliott could get a prescription for some contacts. The doctor's name was Michael Jordan. He said he couldn't believe we didn't go a little farther to Gulf Shores or Orange Beach. Apparently the beaches are waaaaay better there. Thank you Mr. Jordan. We have 7 kids and 2 teenagers and you think we should have driven farther? You better stick to eye exams!

This picture was taken literally just before we all got in to our cars to head home. Bye Dauphin Island. We'll see you next year!

Friday, August 17, 2007

You gotta see this!

Among my many nicknames is the name "dirty van Pam." (thanks, Erica) I thought this would be a good time to post a picture of my van all shiny and clean. Since we're about to leave for vacation, I took her to the car wash today and got her all gussied up. I know it has been raining, but I couldn't wait any longer. I don't want to drive through three states with people laughing at my west Texas dust! Enjoy!

I have a confession to make. I feel dirty. Violated. Out of control. Last night I went to Wwwww. Try again. Wwwwaaaaa. Deep breath. Wwwwaaaal Mart. There. I said it. I was shopping for school supplies with Francesca and as is the routine, there wasn't one single store that had everything I needed. It seems that the stockers at all the major outlets have a hard time ordering school supplies in bulk. Actually, it just seems that there is a shortage of 12x18 Manila drawing paper, 9x12 colored construction paper and D'Nelian handwriting tablets. What is a D'Nelian handwriting tablet?

Anyway, back to my confession. Target didn't have what we needed so we ended up at Wal-Mart from about 9:45 to 11:00. What a nightmare. There were shrink wrapped pallets everywhere making it impossible to maneuver my cart from one place to another. We couldn't find what we were looking for and at one point I saw a woman with a puzzled look on her face because she couldn't find what she needed and a man walking toward her just said, "Don't bother. They're out of everything." Then they announced over the PA that there was a ban on water in Abilene and they happen to be completely out of bottled water. And oh yeah, the bathrooms have been closed so if you need go you'll have to use a port-o-potty outside the store, in the rain. It just was not a very pleasant experience. I will admit there was a time when I would get a surge of adrenaline right before I walked into a Wal-Mart at 11:00 pm. Just knowing I could do my shopping at any time I wanted to, day or night, and get everything in one store excited me. Well, not anymore. I'll take HEB, thank you.

Today we leave for vacation. I can't tell you how excited I am. One week at the beach in Alabama. Of course, we will have to stop at a Wal-Mart in Mobile to get all of our groceries. Oh, well.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Just kill me now

The other night my oh-so-sensitive daughter Autie, who was feeling particularly lovey-dovey said, "Daddy, when I grow up can I marry you?" Elliott proceeded to melt all over the floor while Anna burst into laughter at such a preposterous question. "No, silly," she said "when you're old enough to get married Daddy will be dead."

Then I overheard her thinking out loud to herself, "I wonder what I'm going to look like when I'm pregnant."

Just kill me now.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Sandwiches, naps, one autograph and, oh yeah, some pretty expensive books

This post could prove to be a little long winded, but hang in there it's pretty funny.

Earlier in the summer, I was at home on a regular day with the kids screaming in the living room and Elliott looking, hopelessly, for some peace and quiet in his office in the bedroom. I was sitting at my computer, goofing off, when I heard a loud knock at the door. I jumped, of course, and turned around to see someone I didn't recognize standing on the porch. When I opened the door, I found a cute little college girl with her hair pulled back and a really sweet smile. She introduced herself as Jenny and started to make conversation with my kids. I felt a little weird at this point because I didn't know who she was or why she was on my porch. She asked if she could sit down and talk with me for a bit about books and children's education. Things like that. I thought maybe she was an overachieving college student from Abilene who maybe had a student teaching job at one of the schools or something and she was out getting acquainted with everyone. How sweet. Well, turns out she's straight up a sales person for a book company. And a pretty good one at that, judging by the books I can see on my shelf right now. Sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself.

She starts doing the sales person thing where they show you everything they have and everything it does and asking you questions like, "Don't you think you could use something like this?" and "I bet this could come in pretty handy with four kids around." She kept asking me random school questions about science and history. I didn't know all of the answers, but I knew enough for her to call me a super mom more than once and attempt to give me no less than 14 high fives. Here's how it would go:

Jenny: I bet you don't know what photosynthesis is, do you?
Me: Well, I believe it's the process that's plants use to turn sunlight into energy.
Jenny: Wow, you're a supermom. High five!
Me: (embarrassed)

Just about that time, Elliott comes out onto the porch wondering what we're all doing out there on such an uncomfortable afternoon. I said, "Honey, this is Jenny. She wants to show us some books." Coming to my rescue like he does, Elliott says, "Well why don't we go inside where it's cooler." Sure. We want her to be completely comfortable so she can finish this thing. Elliott starts trying to get to the point and find out how much everything is, but she's staying firmly on track. Finally, Elliott tells her that he's not interested in anything but the reference books and would you please tell me how much they are. She starts going into quiz mode again asking, "Do you know how much college text books are now days? How much do you think one of these books is worth? How much do you think all of them are worth?" We eventually got a price out of her and I looked at Elliott and said, "This is your call. Whatever." So we bought them.

You have to know Elliott, though. As most of you do. He is very old fashioned. If someone came by selling big, clunky, black, rotary dial phones door to door, Elliott would buy two of them. Even though he's in a business that's smack dab in the middle of technology, he hates progress. He loves knowing that in the event of a four day power outage, if he wants to know the capital of Tunisia, he can physically look it up.

So she says we can put half down now and we can pay the rest when the books arrive in August. (Don't even ask!)

Well, over the past weeks I've been hearing about this girl and all her weird supermom high-five behavior from all my friends. I will admit I was a little embarrassed that we had bought books from her. Anyway, fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. I got a little post card in the mail saying our books had arrived and Jenny would be by sometime on the 4th to deliver them and collect the balance. I totally forgot about the 4th on the 4th until I was in the middle of Lowe's with Elliott. I said, "Oh my gosh, what's today?" Elliott said, "Today is the 4th. Why?" I told him I had forgotten about the books and I wondered what she would do when we weren't there. Would she camp out on our porch? Would she go hang out at the in-laws house across the street? When we got home there was a message on the answering machine. It was Jenny and she was talking so fast I really couldn't hardly understand a thing she said. Did I mention she hails from North Carolina? I couldn't hear the phone number clearly and I couldn't find that stupid little yellow post card with her number on it so I just figured she'd come back the next day or something.

Well, she almost technically did come back the next day because as I was again sitting at my computer I heard a knock at the door at 10:54 PM!!! This time I jumped out of my seat, manually restarted my heart and turned around to see who in the world could be knocking at my door at that time of night. Honestly, the last person in the world I expected to see was Jenny the book girl. Who does that? So I open the door because I still couldn't see who was there and lo and behold, there's Jenny the book girl. She had the same big smile on her face and she was lugging a big plastic box with books in it. She said, "Hi. I have been delivering books all day. I have yours and I wanted to real quick show you how to use them." Use them? You mean, the books? I know how to use books. If you want to teach me about html or something like that, maybe another time. Books I can handle.

I invite her in and run around the house looking for Elliott's check book. Back and forth from the house to his truck because he says it's in there and I can't find it. Finally, I get her the check and she proceeds to show me how to use these books. Then she tries to sell some "extra books that the company shipped that if she doesn't sell them she'll be stuck with them so she's slashing the pricing and eating the extra tax and shipping costs." "I think I'll just stick with what I got" I told her.

This next part is a little surreal for me, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. After I thought we were done, she gets this sheepish look on her face and asks if she can ask a favor. I couldn't imagine what she was going to ask for. She said that some of the other people she talked to around town asked her if she knew who Elliott Park was. She said she just loved the song and she felt like a highschooler asking this, but could she maybe have Elliott's autograph. I wasn't even sure the superstar was awake. I went back to our room and he was at his computer, doing some kind of work. I told him Jenny the book girl was in the kitchen with our books and she wanted his autograph. I just left it at that. I was laughing so hard on the inside. Elliott came out, signed an extra Heartland cd we had in a drawer, she blushed, thanked him then went on her way.

I thought that would be the last I'd hear about Jenny the book girl. UNTIL...I was at my mother-in-laws house and I asked her if the book girl had come looking for us that day while we were out. She said, "No. She didn't come over here, but I was talking to some ladies at my church and a couple of the ladies said she did some strange things."

I asked her what they said and she proceeded to tell me the following conversation:

Nunie - Did a girl come by any of ya'lls houses selling books?
Woman #1 - Why, yes. And after she got done with her sales pitch she told me that she hadn't eaten all day and would it be possible for me to make her a sandwich. So I made her a sandwich.
Nanie (Nunie's sister) - She asked for a sandwich at my house, too. And I gave her one.
Woman #2 - She did the very same thing at my house, only after I made her the sandwich and she ate it, she asked if there was a place she might be able to lie down. I told her I had a guest room she could use and she took a really long nap in there.

The story was starting to sound vaguely familiar. Only she didn't have blonde hair and she wasn't poking around a cabin owned by bears who were out on a nature walk all afternoon. I thought maybe I was being punk'd, but come on, this is Clyde, Texas. I'm thankful that all she asked from us was an autograph because I don't have a guest room and I was not about to make a midnight snack for her!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I just love to cook!

I have another favorite blog. The last time I had a favorite blog it was The Cleaner Plate Club, which is in my list of favorites over there on the right. She has lots of good recipes and talks about stuff like organics and the farm bill and things like that and I'm a nerd and like most of that stuff, but it's not real popular blog fodder among most of my friends. So, while visiting The Cleaner Plate Club today, I found a blog that I know all my friends who like to cook will just LOVE! It's called The Pioneer Woman Cooks! (Ooooh, I love it already!) This woman is from L.A. and she married a cattle rancher and moved to the middle of nowhere. Her site not only has great recipes, but step by step instructions how to make them. I'm so visual. I just didn't know how much seeing every step of a recipe, in beautiful, full color, would inspire me to cook more. Now I need to go to the grocery store!