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July 31, 2009

You say RodEEO I say RoDAYO

Last night, my last night in LA, we went to Beverly Hills and Hollywood. Loved it. So fun, wish we could have seen more of that area. But, I feel lucky to have seen so much for a work trip. I had a wonderful, gracious host and it was a blast, work and all.

I bought more Hollywood souvenirs for my husband and kids yesterday, than should be allowed be law. Hollywood Star Mug Shot playing cards, half a dozen t-shirts, fake California Drivers Licenses with Zac Efron, Nick Jonas and (of course) Brad Pitt, pens with water inside that you tilt and things move, shot glasses, one of those movie scene clapboard thingies for when the kids make home movies. It was obscene, the amount of junk I bought. It’s okay. The kids will love every bit.

Of all the California complexities, the one thing I still don’t get though is this (feel free to educate me if you are from this area.)

Why Rodeo Drive is pronounced RoDAYo Drive.

I just don’t get it.

I thought about it, and I finally came up with an answer to satisfy myself.

The late Aaron Spelling came to Hollywood I think in the 40’s or so, from Texas, I believe he was from the Dallas/Fort Worth area originally.

Maybe Mr. Spelling showed up, got off the plane, and said to his first the first person he met ‘How do I get to RodAYo drive’ in a southern accent and someone thought he looked like a future gazillionaire and it stuck and everyone copied him?

Rodeos are huge in Houston, especially in February/March. Almost like a local holiday. We have an entire Friday where everyone in town wears their Rodeo garb to work, the kids wear it to school, all of it because of the start of RoDayO season.

But if I told someone I was going to the Houston RoDayO to see Kenny Chesney they would think I had lost my mind. Or that I had already been to the Rodeo and had one beer too many,

I really considered asking some of the locals in Beverly Hills where RoDEEO drive is, just to confuse them, and then have the opportunity to correct them that it’s RoDEEO, not RoDAYo, thank you! As if my southern accent doesn’t throw people off enough already in California.

But, everyone had been so nice in all of Southern California throughout my whole trip. Except that stupid bee in Malibu.

I decided to use my southern manners, and just let them keep saying it wrong and not educate anyone.

But, if you are from California and ever come to Texas, remember: it’s RoDEEo, and do NOT walk out in front of traffic, ever. I don’t care if there is a crosswalk painted there or not.
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July 30, 2009

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Texas anymore

My last night in California. Just when I am used to the time zone, time to go home. Funny how that works.

The first morning here, I woke up at 6 am and just started working since it was 8 am back home.

The second day, I made it till 6:30 and got up.

Yesterday and today I hit snooze and rolled right back over. Dang it. Now I've gotta reverse the whole process.

(Me at the Mann's Chinese Theatre with my hands in Judy Garland's handprints. I thought she was the most appropriate since I'm so far from home!)

You know you're not in Texas any more when:

1.) You show up for work in July and your co-worker is wearing a jacket because 'it's cool outside?.' I don't know who thought who was more crazy. Her because I was wearing short sleeves or me because she had on a jacket. Jacket and July are not in the same sentence in Houston normally. The only jacket we might possibly wear in July in Texas is a straight jacket when my kids finally push me over the edge.

2.) There are signs for ROCK SLIDES? About every 300 feet on the way to Malibu there are signs for rock slides? Over...and over...rock slide warning signs. Okay so back in the south, the only thing that might fly at you on the road is an empty Budweiser can. We certainly don't worry about things falling down on top of us while driving. I kinda look at that like the Captain on the plane telling us that 'there is a slight delay due to maintenance.' Really, if a rocks start to slide on to my car, to the point that I am in trouble, I really don't wanna know, it's too late! Where would I go? Over the sheer drop? Save the tax payers money and skip the warning signs! Assume if you are driving in a canyon, rocks might fall, and they don't mean pebbles!

3.) You are brave enough to walk across the street in traffic. Apparently in Los Angeles, if there is a painted cross walk on the street, you can literally just walk out-light or no light-and people stop. I mean they just stop their car and let you cross. The first time we crossed a street, I was sure we were going to get killed. If you are reading this and you are from California and come to Texas, DO NOT DO THIS, you will get run over in the blink of an eye! Over and over we just walked out and people stopped. I nearly had a heart attack every time, it's very unnatural in Houston to walk out in front of traffic, light, no light, cross walk or not. We just don't do that, in fact some people will hit the gas and try to make you road kill. I kept telling my co-worker, do not do this, ever, in Texas.

4.) You find yourself in rush hour traffic. At 11 pm. Or 11 am. Or 2 pm. Doesn't matter.Traffic again. You hear all about Los Angeles traffic. Well, the thing is, they actually are no worse drivers than Houston, if you are used to Houston or big city driving. Other than the guy who was mad at the car next to him, opened the window and threw a cup of water on his car. But in Houston that's nothing really, if someone was mad and rolled down their window at me, I would duck and call 911 and hit the gas. It's like 24/7 rush hour traffic. I keep wondering, who are all of these people and where are they going at all hours of the day? It's non stop, bumper to bumper traffic all day long.

5.) You find the calorie count of every restaurant in the back of the menu. We went to BJ's Brewery and my co-worker pointed out the calories were available to read in the menu. Now I realize why it took an act of Congress or State legislature to make this happen. I looked it over, the waitress appeared and I said, 'I'll take some Honey Mustard Dressing.' She said, 'great, with what salad?'' I said, "I don't want a salad. Everything on your menu has the calorie count of my home zip code. Just bring me a dish of the dressing and a straw or spoon and I'll be fine." I cannot imagine what this would be like back home. We all eat out way too much, that wouldn't end. In fact I have a feeling some people might just order two T-bones instead of one!

I head home tomorrow, the kids get back from camp Saturday and life will return to it's normal chaos.

In the meantime, I never saw Brad Pitt to show off my bikini.

Leave it to me though, I saw his darn ex-wife Ms. Aniston, eating at a restaurant in Beverly Hills.


That is so NOT who I was wishing for! How did that get reversed?

Wrong person! I bet she doesn't get stung by bees in Malibu either!
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July 29, 2009

The Beach, Barbra and Bee Stings

After I realized yesterday that there was no pool to strut around in my bikini in, nor was Brad Pitt delivering my room service, I decided to hop in my car and go somewhere-anywhere and see more of California (no, not in my bikini) before it got too dark.

I knew Malibu was relatively close, I quickly Googled the directions (where was life before Google?) and found a restaurant on the beach and headed to the coast.

Immediately, I came upon a huge difference in between Houston, which has a beach an hour a way, and California, which has beaches everywhere: you have to drive through a mountain to get to a beach.

We just don't have mountains in Texas.

Other than the mountain of traffic on I-45 South headed to Galveston at any given moment, you certainly aren't going through a mountain to get to the beach water. Nor would you want to.

We Houston drivers can handle just about anything. But driving through mountains is not something we encounter, and frankly, it's creepy. Put me on the toll road at 8 am and I am fine in that parking lot of traffic, cutting people off as required to get to my destination.

These California drivers zip around mountain curves like there is not a Grand Canyon size sheer drop to one side, as if there is plenty of room to pull over if someone gets distracted looking at their Blackberry, negotiating a movie deal in their Beamer.

Hello. Take your eyes off the road for a second, and you better be freaking James Bond with a parachute on your car because you are going off a cliff and into some remote canyon. The whole way there, I kept thinking, how am I gonna get BACK, in the dark, on THIS road?

I finally made it to Malibu, which is of course, amazingly beautiful.

Pacific Ocean straight ahead. Sunset. Forget Brad, at that moment I was really wishing my husband was with me.

I texted my mom (at a stop light, not on one of those crazy ass curvy roads) and ask her to remind me why I didn't apply to Pepperdine? Who goes to school there? Can I go back to college? Will she pay?

My restaurant is Bob's Paradise Cove Cafe, which I had selected in about 10 seconds off the list on Google. It sounded beachy and casual and not fancy. I lucked out, it was all of the above.

Since the sun was going down, I immediately skipped past the restaurant, which is right on the ocean, and walked right down to the ocean because Lord knows I'm not going in beach water past my toes in the dark.

What is it about beaches, especially the Pacific. For a brief second, all I could hear was the Jaws music in my head and I was glad I left the bikini at the hotel.

I got over that, stuck my feet right in. And wow, that Pacific Ocean water is cold! Now I'm wondering, who goes to Pepperdine, who lives here, and who swims in this water that is the temperature of a bucket of ice, in July?

I overcome my shyness, asked a stranger to take my photo, done, get back up to the restaurant.

I asked for a seat outside of course and get put in between two groups of people.

There I was, sharing a long seated cushioned bench, squished in between two groups of strangers.

I didn't care.

I had my beach view, my feet had just been in the Pacific, and I was eating on the beach.

I ordered a Strawberry Mohito and Raw Oysters.....

Waiting for my food to arrive, listening to the group of adults discuss going to a party with Barbra Streisand and drop celebrity names left and right.

I tried not to eavesdrop. Well, no I didn't, I just flat listened to every celebrity filled word.

There I sit, my little Texas self, happy as a clam, eating my oysters, drinking my Mohito on the beach, trying to not act too obvious as I listen to the conversation of the rich and famous. Missing my husband. Loving the sound of the ocean.

Then it happened.

I felt something on the back of my neck and reached up to brush it off and realized I had just been stung by a bee. I brushed it off, saw it in the sand, started to feel the pain, and brushed again and felt the stinger come out.

Didn't this happen to Cameron Diaz in Something About Mary?

I had just eaten half a dozen raw oysters and had a big fat Mohito.

I am not allergic to bees, thank goodness.

But, I don't want to be stung by one, certainly not sitting among a bunch of rich people, having just eaten, and not sure how I am going to react.

How come I don't get stung by a stupid bee in the Kroger parking lot at home where no one cares? I cannot remember the last bee sting I had, and here I am, IN MALIBU ON THE BEACH, and the one and only bee out that night finds my neck as his target!

I could feel my neck start to swell in the back. At least my throat was not swelling shut.
Can you imagine? This man 2 feet from me has just discussed being at a party with Barbra Streisand and I could have like passed out or gone into shock right there on the sand in front of them.

He could have gone back and told her about the crazy lady from Texas who passed out from the bee sting in Malibu and puked up her raw oysters and alcohol. UGH!

I calmly reached into my glass and got some ice out and held it on the sting and just smiled my Texas smile and acted like everything was fine, as opposed to screaming out that MY NECK IS ON FIRE which is what I really wanted to do.

If I didn't have to drive back through that ridiculous canyon, I would have ordered 3 more Mohitos to kill the pain, but then I knew for sure no one would ever hear from me again. I don't think my company would appreciate the negative press.

Finally, the pain started to go away.

I paid my tab. Went back to the beach one more time, in the dark, stuck my big toe in, Jaws music again, and went to my car and sat there for a minute debating how to get back to the hotel on that road, through that canyon or mountain or whatever it was.

No choice...I headed back the way I came.

A funny thing happens when you drive through a canyon with a sheer drop to your right, and it's dark outside.

You forget that there is a sheer drop since ya can't see it, and suddenly I was sort of just zipping along with the rest of those fools. I just pretended like I was on I-45 at night and forgot all about the fact that the vast darkness to my right wasn't due to a lack of street lights.

I made it back to my hotel in one piece, other than my swollen neck.

I'm trying to determine where I can work in Malibu or who's hiring so I can just permanently re-locate?

Of course, I mentioned that to one of my clients today, who used to live here.

He suggested that I grab a flyer off the first house I see for sale, before I start packing.

Maybe Brad will let me borrow his beach condo when he's out of town with Angelina and the kids? And I hope his beach condo is bee-free.
(QOTB: What's your favorite beach? Or what's your favorite spot in California?)
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July 28, 2009

Bikini Blues

I am working this week in sunny Southern California.

My kids are at camp. (I keep thinking I will get a call from camp that one of the kids has the swine flu. Or that one of them smells like a swine. I paid $475 per kid, they can deal with the smell.)

My husband is at work.

I've never been to this area of California. It's really beautiful.

I'm starting to feel like one of the rich and famous while I drive around in my rented white Toyota Camry. I wanted to rent a Bentley. But, I thought that might raise some eyebrows on my expense report and Avis doesn't keep a huge supply of them in stock so I settled for the white Camry.

I keep looking for Brad Pitt but he must not be looking for me because I cannot find the man, or his entourage, anywhere. Come on Brad, I'm not that hard to locate in that car!

So, over the last 10 months or so I've lost some weight, like about 55 pounds, give or take, I have about 5 more to go.

Before I came to LA, my husband was kind enough to buy me before I left, of all things:

a bikini
(he tried to act like this was a great swim suit on sale. We all know this was a totally self serving act on his part.)
I haven't worn a bikini since I was about 8 years old. Like I will be wearing a bikini on a work trip?

Like I will be wearing a bikini at all!

My stomach has not seen sunlight since I lived in Waikiki in the 3rd grade.

Wearing a bikini might result in third degree burns, and I am certain Brad Pitt isn't gonna come running in movie slow motion, at the sight of me in a bikini, and my plans of locating him would be dashed. A bikini does not an Angelina Jolie maketh.

Nevertheless, I brought it along, thinking, well, 'what have I got to lose?'

I am at a Hilton with like 25+ floors in southern California.

I drag out that bikini, dreading it but thinking, no one here will ever see me again, what the heck? You never know. Maybe Brad stays at the Hilton with Angelina and the kids and they've just kept them hidden on another floor and we'll all go swimming at the exact same moment?

Off come the tags, on goes the bikini and I am amazed. It fits.

My husband was smart enough to pick out a suit that meets in the middle and it hides the proof that I've given birth three times. And he picked the right size as well? Scary.

But, I stood there looking in the mirror thinking, wow, 39.999999 years old and I am on a work trip, no kids and no husband.

And I am wearing a bikini for the first time in 25+ years. And it fits like half way decently.

Now I'm really excited. Where's the pool. Forget the pool. Where's Brad. Or Tom. Or some papparazzi? Okay fine, where's the bellboy at this point?

I call the front desk cause now I'm excited to go show off my new bod, in my new swim wear, on a work trip:

'Yes, what floor is the pool on?'

'Sorry ma'am, we don't have a pool at this facility.'


'No ma'am, not at this facility.'

Now what am I supposed to do? I am finally brave enough to wear this thing and there is no pool?

I consider the alternatives...

I could go down and ask for my white Camry from the valet in the bikini? I'm sure I'll have my car in record time.

I could go down to happy hour which is still going on and order a drink?

I could go sit in the lobby and act like I'm waiting on a visitor?

Well, no pool. And I'm not about to get in the Camry and try to find a beach.

So, I stood there and looked in the mirror and just reveled in the fact that the Target bikini fit, and it fit just fine and realized that I've waited many, many years to wear this as opposed to a flowered one piece with an enourmous Mickey Mouse t-shirt on top.

No one was here to see it but me, but it's okay. When I get home I can guarantee you I will find a pool.

In the meantime, maybe I will order room service?

(QOTB: Does anyone know where to find Brad Pitt? Have you ever met a celebrity?)

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July 27, 2009

Birth Order

We had dinner this weekend with our neighbors. Alright, well not much dinner, more like cocktails but who's counting.

We hit the neighbor jackpot 5 years ago when we moved in (new parents, pay attention.....)

Our wonder neighbors have 3 kids, just like we do. But (and this is critical) their oldest child is two years older than our oldest. And, our 2 younger kids are the same age as theirs.

While we've ridden the teenage roller coaster together for the past few years (me doing most of the watching as they raise the perfect girl next door teen two years ahead of us, they doing more intervening and less watching, when my kids pull stupid stunts like throwing 50 rolls of toilet paper all the way over their two story house and into their 50 foot tall trees like they used rocket launchers and then being unsure as to how to get it all down the next day...they are, I am sure, keeping their kids stupid stunts hidden from us.)

We all agreed the easy part is over.

Both of our families, it seems, lucked out with great first born children.

My oldest had a slight meltdown in 7th grade...you know, the whole 'I-hate-you-get-out-of-my-life' spell that lasted about a week. I didn't realize at the time how lucky I was that it was such a short spell.

Their oldest has I am sure had some meltdowns...they don't tell me about them...but I know they are happening over there, I am sure of it. They're sneaky like that.

Our oldest kids, with all their faults and issues, the S talk, driving lessons, you name it, have been relatively easy. Other than the time that I was supposed to keep help out and keep an eye on their house when the neighbors went out of town, and I did my last check at 8 pm and went to bed and the whole high school baseball team showed up a little later, they've been model kids. (Sorry about that one guys, I swear there were only 2 cars there when I went to bed.)

I think first borns, with all of the worries they cause parents, end up being the easier kids to raise. I guess it's because when kid #2 and #3 show up, #1 ends up being more independent.

Somewhere among the 'don't hit your brother' and 'watch your sister while I take a 3 hour much needed bubble bath and drink some mommy grape juice' you usually up with kids that are more independent. I cannot explain it. There are PhDs with dissertations on it. It's a scientific fact.

The problem is, you can only have one first born kid unfortunately and we each now have two other children remaining that we realized are going to require the A-Team and the National Guard to control.

For each of us, these remaining children are way too creative, risky, smart, cute, brave, and dumb for their own good and our own sanity. Combined, the four of them are downright scary.

These second and third children seem to have no fear? And their sense of risk is non-existent?

I realize now that birth order is a big deal. Can't every child be a first born?

We are considering motion detectors, private security, guard dogs (not rat terriers), and razor wire.

What is it about the middle and youngest children that make them the risk takers, the ones who walk right up to the line and stick their toe over to see if you are looking?

For every scary moment I've gone through with #1, at some point later, it's occurred to me we have two more scary moments to go.

I'm not sure who we should alert first about this foursome, two of whom are, and this thought alone should send me to church every Sunday without question, a year away from their own driving lessons. The thought of that makes me shudder.

I suppose we'll start with the Home Owners Association. If the community pool turns up bright pink or full of soap suds one morning, we didn't do it.

The other neighbors might need to be bribed. If you see anyone going in or out of a window, please know that's not normal, all of our doors work fine, please let us know.

Now that I'm thinking about it, it might be easier to just for us all to move out, let them take over for a few years, and ask them to notify us when they are grown and are not incarcerated.

It's either that, or we need Mr. T's contact info, and the name of the security system they use at Fort Knox. Stat.

Hold the presses...I just thought of the perfect solution!

Let's send them all to live with the Octomom!

Add 14 other kids younger than you and poof! We suddenly would have 4 oldest children!

This is better than summer camp! Why didn't I think of this sooner!

And I bet she won't put cat food in their Cocoa Puffs and she wouldn't notice if they had a Rat Terrier!

(QOTB: How has birth order affected your kids, if at all?)

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July 26, 2009

Fear of Flying

I intended to write today's blog on a totally different subject.

But, in my comic book strip of a life, things never happen quite how I intend so I've changed gears and the other post will have to wait. Sorry, Mr. D. You got a reprieve.

I flew from Houston to Los Angeles today for a week long work trip. I've flown my whole life, all across the globe, but I still don't like it. I've gotten better at it, I accept it, but there is just something to me that feels completely unnatural about being 35,000 feet in the air. I think today I earned my wings though. I earned something, that's for sure.

A few things you never really want to hear on a plane:

1.) Over the intercom, from the Captain: Sorry for the slight delay, we've had a maintenance issue, nothing serious, I promise, we'll be leaving in a jiffy.

Yep, to me that is just TMI, okay? Like I really need to know that I am now officially trapped on a jumbo jet with 100+ other people that has a 'maintenance issue?' He might as well have said, 'we're leaving as soon as we fix the broken wing, nothing big.' Note to all Captains on big flying jets: customers don't want to hear that there are maintenance issues. Just lie and tell us that the runway is backed up. If there is a maintenence issue and the plane goes down, no one will care anyways that you were kind enough to warn us ahead of time.

2.) Following the Captain's honest confession about the state of our plane, the very nice woman next to me who was about my age, flying to California for a training, looks at me and says: 'I've never flown before. Ever. I'm a little nervous.'

Whoa buddy, she wasn't kidding. Bless her heart (which is so not something I would normally say, but she really needed it,) she was a mess. I spent a good two hours of our 3 hour flight, most of it during take off and landing, trying to a.)keep her calm and b.)keep her previous meals out of my lap.

Now, those of you who know me well should right about now either be dying laughing, or dying of shock, or both. Yes me, Shannon, the person who hates to fly more than just about anyone and has white knuckled many flights after downing 3 beers in the airport bar and 2 little bottles of wine on the plane, spent two very calm hours trying to convince this woman we were not all gonna die, and she was not gonna lose her lunch on me. I even impressed myself. I used every fear of flying speech I normally need to tell myself, right on her.

She was so sweet, she really was. But there is only so far you can scooch away from someone sitting next to you in coach. I was by the window, she was in the middle seat.

This was a smooth flight. But, she was greener than Kermit the frog and I was thinking, one small bump and it's either me or the nice guy to her right and I hope she points his way. I mean it was really close, she sweated, she held her hand over her mouth, I prayed. I was really, really thinking we were about to see Linda Blair in coach.

And all I could think was, if she loses it, I might lose it next and we'll have a domino puke session 35,000 feet in the air cause who knows how the people around us are gonna react.

We got through it. Her meals remain a mystery. Whew.

3.) Last thing you don't wanna hear on a plane trip? 'The bathroom door locks don't work.' Now it's a good thing to hear that before you go in that crawl space of germs to try and use the restroom.

It's not a good thing to hear once you are in there trying to use the facilities and suddenly realize that although the latch is slid to the right in what is supposed to be a locked position, not only does the door not lock, it really doesn't stay shut.

And guess how you find that out? After about three people walk in while you are peeing (or trying to in those horrific little closets with the nasty green water and you can almost feel the germy eyes staring back at you...)

You know how airplane bathrooms are. People lined up, squishing by each other and the stewardesses to get by. Apparently no one mentioned to the staff that the lock was broken until yours truly made it in there.

I tried to consecutively pee and push the lock back into place(sorry for the details) but it wasn't happening. I gave up, let go of the lock, and shocked the sam hell out of 2 more people who started to open the door and saw my smiling face looking back up at them.

Then I tried to hold the darn lock and get my blue jeans up and buttoned and if you ever find yourself in this situation, I can tell you first hand, it's damn near impossible to hold an airplane bathroom lock and button blue jean shorts.

By that time, I could of cared less and let go of the lock so I could get out of there. Finally, I was able to get out of the bathroom with no toilet paper hanging out of my pants, and everything zipped and buttoned, and went and sat back down next to my new green friend who was sipping a Sprite and taking deep breaths.

All I could think about was, when did I miss the lady with the wine cart? And is she coming back?

(QOTB: What's the worst, strangest, or weirdest flying experience you've had. And no we don't wanna know if you're a member of the Mile High Club.)

PS...I've never been to Los Angeles before. Can someone tell me what to do if an earthquake hits and you're on the tenth floor of a hotel? I'm assuming getting the doorway won't do much good?
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July 25, 2009

Zoo? Not.

Jordan arrived home last night from his friend Daniel's house.

He had been there a few days, laying low ever since he decided to call Charlie a pansy without thinking Charlie might not appreciate that and reciprocated in a less than friendly way.

The husband and I are watching TV, Jordan comes in and says, 'oh yeah, Daniel's dog had puppies, can we get one?'

What is it lately with my kids and animals? Do they ever out grow this?

We've got a 3 year old pug, a 15 year old Australian Shepherd who is on her last legs (literally) and who in the world has time for another animal here?

But, you know, he mentioned the magic word: PUPPY, and I had to ask.

'What kind is it?'

He looked at the husband. Back at me. Back to the husband. Back to me.

'What is it? A Great Dane?'

'No, they are a mix of Chihuahua and Rat Terriers.'

That explained the look back and forth. My husband cannot stand small dogs that are rodent like.

He loves our pug. But anything with 'Rat' in the title won't be finding a forever home here, sorry.

But, I was still a little intrigued. They sounded kinda cute?

'How big are they?'

'Oh mom, you've gotta see them, they are like THIS BIG (showing me the palm of his hand) and their eyes are not even open yet!'

I gotta admit, Rat or no rat, they are sounding kinda cute....ya know....I could be like Reese Whitherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama and carry it all around in a little doggy bag or whatever they're called and buy a jeweled collar and doggie t-shirts?

(That's for me this time, being delusional. Maybe I should drug test myself.)

Like I am the kinda person who would be toting any animal around in a bag?

Like our house isn't a zoo enough as it is without a creature that small under foot?

And then my mind flashes back to the night before when Tyler was in here asking for some sort of mini Boa Constrictor?

I can see it now....Boa Constrictor (which by the way, I don't know how any snake could be considered 'mini.' A snake is a snake, no mini about it...) and a dog that is not much bigger than a rodent.

That should provide for PLENTY of blog material.

Until the snake gets out.

Then I can move on to writing about my search for a child therapist because one kids pet ate the others.

Yep, I think we're just fine for now in the zoo department.

(QOTB: What's the strangest pet you've let your kid have? We had a hedgehog years ago, it was really cool until it died and tramuatized my oldest child who was 9 at the time. But it was a fun pet to have.)
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July 24, 2009

What's normal?

Guess what.

I actually had a day. An entire day. With no drama.

My coffee pot worked and I got the lid screwed down the first time, there were no strange women peeping in my front door window, no Lucky Charms in the grinder, no fist fights, no extra children, no incidents of Jordan using inappropriate language around large groups of people, no requests for snakes or pets....no nothing?

I am almost scared to type this because I know that just as soon as I hit PUBLISH, something will happen.

My biggest drama today was that my acupuncturist decided to go all pin cushiony on me tonight. I was afraid to stand up at the end, because I thought I might start leaking like a collander. I sort of felt like Sponge Bob walking out of there, all full of holes.

Just me. Lunch. Work. My husband is home. Normal life? I guess?

Somehow the normalcy of the normal day seems very unnormal?

To be honest, I didn't miss the drama. It was nice.

Now that I am thinking about it, I'm not really sure where everyone even was at all day? Oops.

Maybe tomorrow something exciting will happen? I'm sure it will...this can't last long.

Today is the official one-month-before-school-starts mark I believe (I never know for sure, I always have to ask another parent, but I think I am close.)

I've made it two thirds of the way through the mayhem and madness of summer and a housefull of highschool and middle school boys (and an extra mom here and there in the morning.)

We're almost there.

But if there are any teachers out there wanting to get a jump start on the fall semester....you know where to find me. I've got three volunteers ready to go.

Well, they might need a bath first. Then they're ready.

Okay I'm hitting PUBLISH. Let's see what happens....stay tuned....or stand back.

(QOTB:What's your version of a nice, non-normal day?)
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July 23, 2009

24 Hours

A snapshot of 3 scenarios in our little piece of heaven in the last 24 hours.

Yesterday evening, I made all 6 boys, including my own, check out of our hotel and re-locate elsewhere. Let another mom feed them for a day or so.

About 2 hours later, Jordan and his friend Daniel, magically re-appear, well before their intended return date.

And I can hear Jordan crying. Loudly.

You've gotta see Jordan to appreciate his sort of 'Grown Man/Baby Hueyness.' He looks much older than he is, but inside he's really just an 11 year old who wears his feelings on his sleeve sometimes. He was boo-hooing loudly, which basically means, 'mom, come see what is wrong.' I call him in my room where I was working and sure enough, he is just sobbing away.

What happened?

Charlie hit me, like right here, right on my cheek, with his fist.

(insert much more drama and tears. He's great at that.)

Jordan, why did Charlie hit you?

I don't know, he just did? (I know right away there is a bug chunk of the story missing here. Charlie would not just up and hit Jordan. Insert more sobbing, I mean he could win an Oscar.)

He just hit you out of the blue?

Well. I might have called him a PANSY first.

SCREEEEECH. (I'm using slamming brakes this time.)

Ahhh...the missing piece of the puzzle...I had to force myself not to laugh.

You called him a pansy?

Well, sort of.

I gotta give Charlie credit. Jordan is bigger than he is. I don't think Jordan'll be calling anyone a pansy anytime soon.

I explained to Jordan that if you are going to call another boy, and some girls, a pansy, you basically have 3 choices: duck, run, or be prepared to hit back.

Flash forward 12 hours to this morning.

Tyler has a friend staying over.

Well, sort of. I kind of forgot he was here.

It's 7:30 am, I am getting ready for work, no kids downstairs sleeping for a change since I made them all leave.

I walk out of my bedroom (half dressed of course but, thankfully, covered enough), around the corner to go to the kitchen to get my beloved coffee pot, and I walk straight into the face of a 6 foot tall woman with tons of red hair, her face totally smushed up against my front door peering into my house through the smoky glass on my front door, eyes blinking right back at me.

Just imagine. Shannon. Pajamas. No coffee. Very tall woman whose face I cannot see, but I can see a lot of red hair, staring right back at me. No more need for coffee, I was wide awake, ready to lunge for the Brinks alarm panel.

I totally forgot her son was even staying with us. And I forgot our doorbell is broken. I need to pay one of the kids to act as some sort of front desk keeper or something.

I have no idea long she had been there.

I opened the door, she walks in and goes right upstairs to collect her very asleep teenager while I try to take deep breaths and slow down my heart rate.

Yep, I was able to bypass right over that coffee today. I don't think I even needed Visine.


Get home from work

Tyler comes in my bedroom, Chase follows behind him, hands over mouth, laughing.

That is not a good sign.

Tyler starts off with "Uhhhhh"

I'm thinking, okay, if Chase is laughing, whatever is about to follow the UH cannot be that bad.

I'm just looking.....yes????

Can I get a turtle?

A turtle? What? Like we don't have enough chaos around and you want a TURTLE and you're 16 with a drivers license and a job? Are you THAT bored?

Well, I wanted a pet...

No, sorry no turtles, they are boring, they die quickly, and they carry salmonella.

Okay well then if I cannot have a turtle, can I have a snake?

(Right then, I should have pulled out my Walgreens Home Drug Test and demanded a sample.)

I promise I'll take care of it!
(Those magic words they think will work this late in the parenting game? Really?)

(This statement brought on hysterical laughter from me.)

What, are you like suddenly 8 years old again?

Dogs...cats....hedgehogs (yes, we've had one of those) I can take care of, after they are no longer cool and fun to have.

I ain't taking care of no snake.

I said: 'pet the dog if you are lonely, tell Jordan what happens if you call someone a pansy, and put the word out that strangers at the front door at 7:30 am could result in the police arriving.

Oh, by the way, has anyone eaten any Cocoa Puffs today?'

(QOTB: 1.) Would you let your kid have a snake for a pet? (Some of you I already know the answer to this...) 2.)What do you tell your kids when their mouth gets bigger than their defense? I don't promote violence. But I also think if you're gonna smart off at this age...be prepared?)
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July 22, 2009

Coffee Karma

You would think in my house, people would know by now not to come in between me and my caffeine. It's really taking your life in your own hands.

Most mornings, I sort of blindly half stumble and half crawl to the coffee pot, which as we all know, doesn't always work out so well.

Two weeks ago, my husband decided to buy us a new coffee maker.

Just like any good husband would do if he went coffee pot shopping without his better half present, he bought a coffee pot probably designed by a man and made for men, and surely made by some engineer who doesn't drink coffee. (Sorry honey, you know I love you.)

I made the mistake of trying this thing out on some random Monday morning, how dumb was that.

I should have tried it on a weekend, for everyone's safety.

This thing....first of all, it's stainless steel. So I cannot tell how much water is in there, there are no little white lines, it's a guess and the first morning, I was thinking, well, what the he!!, we'll just go for broke and fill the whole darn pot up.

Second, the lid to the coffee pot SCREWS on. And I don't mean like one little groove and the lid is on.

Ahhh, that would be way too easy for us caffeine junkies who need this stuff to function.

This lid screws ALL THE WAY ON, there are about 15 grooves that have to line up perfectly or it won't fit.

Yeah, whoever designed doesn't drink coffee because the object of coffee is to GET THE COFFEE, not stand there all morning trying to get the lid screwed down! Hello!

But Mister-coffee-pot-designer was kind enough to put words on the lid that say 'align here'.

Align with what? I need COFFEE first so I am awake enough to know what in the world I am aligning! I stood there 10 minutes trying to figure out what I was aligning, other than aligning that stupid pot with the window I was about to throw it out.

Two weeks later, I'm able to mostly align the lid, with the words, with the stars and the moon and somehow I've had no major coffee issues, and the world is good.

Until this morning.

I crawl in there, get the coffee pot matched up to the big dipper, turn around to grind my coffee beans and guess what:

Someone has ground Lucky Charms in my coffee bean grinder!

I know it's Lucky Charms because there is a half open box sitting on the counter, and I can see the nicely ground pink and green marshmellow charms mixed in with whatever else makes up Lucky Charms.

And, there are three boys sleeping in my living room, two sleeping upstairs, and even with no caffeine yet, the scenario is clear in my fuzzy head: one of them went in there, probably at midnight or so to eat a bowl of cereal, since we run a youth hostel and all and have a money tree in the backyard and can afford to feed 3 or 4 extra kids all summer...cereal...bowl....milk..coffee grinder! AHA! Nothing else to do...why not, lets grind up some Lucky Charms!

So...I very calmly dumped out the Lucky Charms, cleaned the grinder thingy out the best I could, ground my beans knowing I would probably be getting at least half of my daily required vitamins and minerals with my coffee and finally, finally got my caffeine.

That's okay...Two can play at that game...I wonder how long it's going to take any of them to notice the dry cat food I mixed in with their Cocoa Puffs? ;)

(QOTB: What's your morning fix, if anything?)
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July 21, 2009

The Real World....on a Tuesday

I still have people reading and responding to me in various ways about the blog yesterday regarding teens and the talk and beyond the talk.

By the way, the reason I have decided not to use the S word is not because I dont want to use it.

Please, no problems here with the word.

But if I put the S word in this blog, it will appear in all sorts of Google and random website rankings where I don't want the blog appearing.

So for now, we all know when I say the S word, it ain't swimming or surfing.

Besides the fact that I am tired tonight and feel like I should just re-post the original blog from yesterday, I did want to say that I managed to pull aside wonder boy and have a quick discussion on this topic.

Moments with him alone are rare these days, with the constant stream of kids in and out all day.

In order to protect his privacy, which is more valuable than, you know, my car, I won't go into much detail other than to say that he was very receptive, understood where I was coming from, and didn't seem the least bit embarrassed or uncomfortable.

In a nutshell, for those of you headed down this path anytime soon, I said, if you feel like a relationship is headed that way, find someone, anyone, to talk to about it first, please. Coach, friend, teacher, the Jonas Brothers, just someone.

He got it, we're good and I didn't even have to get graphic, which made us both happy, I think it's safe to say. Does that mean it's off my radar? Absolutely not. And I don't think it will be for many years.

And I will say that having heard now, first hand, the in your face account of this from someone else, any fear, apprehension, anxiety, sweaty plams-it's all gone.

At this point, I would rather have sweaty palms over THE talk, than sweaty plams over a new baby.

Funny how reality just slaps ya in the face like that.

With that said, on a lighter note, I will close tonight with (geez, I sound like a preacher, huh?):

My Five Top Summer Kid Phrases:

1.) There's nothing to eat. (usually 30 minutes after we've returned from shopping.)
2.) Why do I need a bath? I took one yesterday?
3.) My hair is crunchy in the back. (Yes. I've heard this more than once, just today in fact. It goes back to #2 I am sure. It's really scary, and gross.)
4.) When are you going grocery shopping?
5.) He hit me. Repeat. 15 gazillion times per day.
(note: I left off the classic 'I'm bored' because that is just a given.)

They leave Sunday for a week of summer church camp.

Maybe I could pay the camp to just keep them 'till school starts?

Or just not show up until like August 24th or so and act like I thought camp lasted a month?

Yeah, the camp might not go for that. But it's church camp. I can sure pray.

(QOTB: What's the phrase you've heard the most this summer from your kids?)
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July 20, 2009

Boys, Birds, Bees and Faith

As if my life is not dramatic enough right now.

Somewhere in my own personal book of life, God apparently decided to write:

2009. Shannon: MAJOR EXAM ON FAITH

I think I am passing the test, I hope so, but some days I am not so sure I'll make it.

These last few months have felt like a never ending SAT exam, I cannot leave the room, I forgot my pencil, and the examiner just keeps looking at me like,'too bad, you've just gotta wait till the time is up.'

Latest drama:

I had a long conversation this weekend with a very good friend who has a son about the same age as my oldest son (16-ish.)

Her son apparently came to her and told her that, well, the deed is done. Do the math.

(If it sounds like I am being vague, I am, to protect the privacy of the people involved.)

I am not sure what stunned me more. The fact that it had happened, and has been happening now and that they are dealing with it the best way they know how (lots of talking....I think the word condom is now as common a household word for them as orange juice.)

Or the fact that my own child is so close in age, and certainly faced with the same pressures.

I went back and forth from, 'OMG what did you say, how are you handling this, OMG, OMG, OMG' and just feeling stunned to the point of being speechless...to thinking 'OMG this child is basically the same age as Tyler, how quickly can I get home and pad lock him in his bed room.'

It took my breath away. The conversation. The reality. The thought of it all. For them. For him. For us.

I still cannot really put it all together in my head, and I'm still struggling emotionally for their family and for ours.

This was not a wake up call for me. No red flag here. Not even a big red truck.

This is more like a big red semi being pulled by an Amtrak train being pulled by a 747 plowing straight at us.

I am incredibly grateful that her son trusted her enough to tell her what was happening and that she told me and even though we have always had an open dialogue with the kids on sex and body parts, HA HA HA, they ain't seen nothing yet! Testicles, hemmorhoids and hernias will be nothing compared to where we are about to head with this discussion.

We're about to get down and dirty (no pun intended...okay maybe a little pun) with all three of them on this topic. Apparently, my time is up...it's probably been up for awhile though, all things considered and I guess that is the part that makes me sad.

How did we get here so soon, to this place of limbo where children are making adult decisions that could change their entire lives?

Where do you draw the line between educating, accepting, condoning versus household imprisonment until they are 30.

Sure, I know those Jonas brothers all wear those purity rings and I know they mean well.

But so did Britney Spears and look where that landed her.

And I'm past the whole, 'well, look at what we did when we were kids' notion.

That rationalization works fine when you are talking to your high school buddies or your college friends.

Go right ahead and try that when it's your first born child and get back to me with how well that works for ya.

If I sound confused, bewildered, unsure of the whole situation, I am.

Yes, this is a major test of faith for me. Faith that there is a plan for each of my children's lives and that it doesn't involve an STD, choosing condom colors for a teenager or having me choose what kind of grandma name I want to be called at the age of 40. 41....or anything 40ish at all for that matter.

And if I am forced to choose condom colors with them, can we at least wait until they are in their 20's? I should be much better with this by then.

And I thought the first day of them driving was stressful.

(QOTB: Have you had this conversation with your kids if they are old enough? Thoughts?)
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July 19, 2009

The Day After NKOTB

As it turns out, I was completely wrong about the New Kids on the Block concert last night, and the shrieking girls.

Before I even go on, a quick reminder that Jordan asked to go to this concert. As you read further, it's might sound like I bound and gagged three tween boys into going to this for my benefit. He asked, he likes their music and I could have thought of a million other ways to spend a Saturday night than held captive with thousands of screaming women.

We pull into the parking garage, and immediatly, all 4 of us know there is a problem. Already, there were hoards, and I mean HOARDS of women. Not a male of any make, age or model in sight.

Piling out of cars 4, 5 and 6 at a time.

There was a loud groan from all three of the boys at once, as if the realization of their worst nightmare was occuring.

I started to laugh loudly. I couldn't help it.

I guess they are too young to appreciate being surrounded by a bunch of women in skirts too short and tops too tight. Maybe my husband should have come after all?

Right about then, I informed them I had hidden undergarments in my purse to throw up on stage. They could not tell if I was kidding, no one was brave enough to look in my purse. Mean, I know, but I couldn't help it.

We got to our seats by 7, the show is supposed to start at 7:30, I'm thinking we are doing just fine. Except the opening act was late.

From 7 to 8, we sat and watched as group after group of mostly 30 year oldish women piled into their seats.

They came in groups.

They came, many of them, fairly intoxicated.

And they came in all sorts of clothes they had no business wearing.

The 4 girls in front of us a few seats to the right: matching pink tights that went to their knees, matching shredded pink 1990 ish NKOTB t-shirts they had apparently been saving for this moment. And matching side pony tails.

That seemed to be the dress code of the night-matching shirts, matching hair and alcohol.

And there I sat with the three boys.

They were not impressed at all, either.

They kept looking for other males to save them. Finally a few men showed up a few rows in front of us, clearly dragged there by their wives. But for the most part, this was sort of the opposite of the Superbowl.

Thousands of women. A man here or there, but that was it.

They kept looking at each other like, 'what have we done?'

Just as the boys were really re-thinking their decision to come to this show voluntarily, as if beckoned by some sort of male pre-teen God, three young 20ish girls come prancing down the aisle in front of us.

Three of them. Size 2 if they've eaten a Big Mac, really closer to size 0. Wearing skirts that didn't have enough material to one side of a normal tushie, much less the whole thing. Tops that were just as small. And carrying stadium size margaritas that were 18 inches tall.

And they plopped down right in the three seats in front of us.

Our night instantly got much more interesting. One of the boys suddenly had eyes as big as dinner plates as he tried to act cool and focus on his Iphone.

I'm sure he was texting something like, 'holy crap forget New Kids, wait till you see the babes who just sat down in front of us' to all the other 13 year boys in the greater Spring area.

I, on the other hand, am madly texting to my husband 'OMG. Those skirts are so freaking small. I only have two hands, if one of them bends over to pick up a penny, which kids eyes can I cover the quickest?' (Didn't wanna come to the show huh? See what ya missed!)

My concern shifted from looking for Donnie Walhberg to making sure these boys didn't go home and tell their moms they went to a peep show of some kind!

Opening act came and went, finally the New Kids come on stage and the boys stopped gawking at the private dancers they've been so lucky to sit behind.

I have been to many concerts in my 39 ish years. Madonna, Def Leppard, Bruce Springsteen...I cannot even remember them all. Lots of big name shows.

I have never, ever in my whole entire life heard anything like the shriek that started when they came on stage, and lasted the entire 90 minutes.

There really aren't words to describe how loud, high pitched, and non-stop it was. I really cannot explain it.

Nor can I explain how all these 30 year old women seemed to remember every single hand move, out stretched arm, or placement of hand over the heart, that the New Kids did in their old videos.

But there we were. Surrounded by thousands and thousansd of screaming, I mean shrieking, women, most of them re-enacting video movements from about 1991 that they must have practiced thousands of times as kids, and right before the show in the parking garage as well .

When Joey McIntyre sang 'Please Don't Go Girl,' I really thought we might need medics and fully expected one or two of these women around us to faint. Sheer pandemonium.

And as if that was not enough, as if the deafening roar of these women for 90 solid minutes was not enough, throughout the whole show, the 20 year old lap dancers in front of us gyrated and did things with their hips I cannot explain.

It got bad enough at one point with the hips gyrating that I thought, I might have to accidentally trip forward and spill this giant Dr Pepper on her to cool her off some. It was either that, or pour it on the boys to cool them off.

I think the boys were torn about who to watch. Cute babes? NKOTB?

It was like they got two shows for the price of one.

The funny thing was, the girlies proceeded, through the whole night, to take photos of themselves, drinks in hand, hands over heart, posing, primping, the whole nine yards.

But they were totally oblivious to the fact that in probably 90 percent of those photos, they are gonna see three boys gawking into the lens right behind them.

At one point, I caught one of the boys acting like he was taking a picture of the show with his phone, only that phone was NOT angled up it was pointing down.

I smacked the kid sitting next to me and made a hand gesture (because there was literally no way to speak or hear anything) that basically said 'tell him to get that off his phone now', he relayed the message in his own hand gestures, and the offending child tried to look at me and act very innocent like he was really taking photos of Jordan Knight. Ha. I've been around the block at least once. That was no Jordan Knight photo.

In fact, just as I am trying to get him to get this inappropriate photo off his Iphone, the most amazing thing happened.

The group switched songs, and out of nowhere, as if by magic:

Jordan Knight (lead singer, for those of you who are not educated on New Kids) himself appeared on a platform not more than 20 feet away.

Sweet Jesus, couldn't they have warned me?

There was suddenly a stampede and at the head of the stampede were my 3 boys. They were flying over seats, leading the pack of screaming, rolling, clawing women who were trying to get to that platform.

I tried to grab my purse and get down there and found myself face to face with a 5 foot tall female security guard who basically, with her own hand gestures, indicated that if I took a step, I would be out. Of course as she did that, two women came under the barrier, so drunk one of them nearly rolled down the aisle, and she took her attention off of me to go collect her before the woman herself killed in the stampede.

The security team was not well prepared for this event. They tried to hold women back but every time they turned around to stop someone, another one would dart behind her and run up there. This was better than an MTV video, really.

I stood my ground, afraid I was going to lose three boys in this herd and get kicked out.

And the whole time, the shrieking continued at some out of range decible level that I still cannot comprehend.

Finally, the song ended and the kids made it back to me.

Jordan said, 'I could almost touch him mom but there was a girl in my way!' Now Jordan, really?

Later on, when I could hear enough to get a few words out, I explained that trying to get to Jordan Knight over those women could have sent him to the hospital; never get in between a woman and a boy band member of that stature, son.

Between the lap dancers and actual band (oh, and someone did throw undies up on stage, Donnie Wahlberg caught them with one hand, he is clearly a undie-catching pro. All three of them looked at me consecutively like 'don't you dare') they ended up having a pretty good time.

Here is how I would sum it up:

4 New Kids Tickets: $125
3 Large Dr Peppers: $16
2 Concert Shirts: $70
Watching 3 boys sit in the middle of ten thousand shrieking women having a night to remember: Priceless.

QOTB (Question of the Blog): What was your most memorable concert, kid or otherwise?

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July 18, 2009


So less than 24 hours after I posted about being both surrounded and nearly deafened in a hotel by a bunch of preteen girls dressed in pink, I realize I may have made a huge mistake.

I volunteered to take my almost 12 year old son and 3 friends to see:

New Kids on The Block

Yep. Tonight, it'll be me, three boys, and several thousand of our friends made up of pre-teen girls, or 30 year old women, take your pick.

And I'm sure their shrieking is going to far out-do whatever noise the girls were making in the hotel last weekend.

I really had good intentions. Jordan loves 80's and 90's music. His birthday is in August. Last year, we were supposed to go see Journey for his birthday and I waited too late and the tickets sold out. Mommy guilt set in.

After I bought the tickets, I asked my husband to take them? Like, sort of pleaded a little? Surely this is something we can trade for this?

Apparently not. Not so sure that look he gave me is describable. Somewhere in between 'have you lost your mind' and 'what have you been drinking. Or smoking.'

I bought the tickets before last weekend's assault of the pink tweens.

So, I've got my husband in the garage searching for some rifle-range-grade ear plugs.

Okay, so Jordan Knight is kinda cute.

And I share an exact birthday with Donnie Wahlberg.

I'm thinking of making a big poster board sign that says: "Hey Donnie, I know you turn 40 next month!"

Maybe if he sees that sign it'll get us some backstage passes?

I wonder what the kids would do if brought some undergarments in my purse and acted like I was going to throw them on stage?
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July 17, 2009

Road Signs

Tales from the our Lampoonish mini-trip to Dallas last weekend to pick up my wayward youngest two children:

-Four hour trip, barely out of the neighborhood, much less the city, and my husband starts discussing where we were going to 'eat' on the road, as if we were going to pick from 5 star restaurants that were Zagat rated and we had never eaten at before. His choices were the same places that have lined I-45 from Houston to Dallas, for as long as I can remember: Texas Burger, Dairy Queen, Jack in the Box, or the new Buccee's as our prime location to eat. He loooovvvvesss choosing places to eat on road trips so this was a tough choice.

-As we were walking into our hotel, a lady who looks like an grown adult cheerleader who never grew out of being a cheerleader, is talking on her cell phone outside the rotating hotel door, LOUDLY saying, "Honey, I see all kinds of people here with Pomeranians and Shiztus....next time I'm bringing the dog!" (This is a BIG Sheraton. I am not at Motel 6!) I should have turned around right at that moment and ran.

-I walked into the hotel and there were two hundred tween girls all dressed in pink with make up on. The lobby was full, it looked like a mini Mary Kay convention (sorry Kelly, I couldn't resist!) I politely requested a room as far from the tweens as possible but was told they were 'spread out' throughout the hotel. Does the hotel fridge come stocked with Valium then? I mean they were everyywwwheeee. I have all boys. I can barely relate to one pre-teen girl, much less two hundred of them running around dressed in pink and chattering-I don't even know what that noise they were making, collectively in a large group, was called? How were the hotel windows not shattering? Boys don't chatter like that. They mumble. I was thinking forget the room, lead me to the hotel bar. Quickly.

-We got into the elevator and sure enough, there were two people with Pomeranians on leashes. Who knew you could bring a dog to a Sheraton. Why would you?

(Note: right about then I was running down a list in my head of other hotels and random relatives I had not seen since the age of 10 but might be located nearby in case things got bad enough to switch hotels. I was willing to take a pinch or two on the cheek from a stray aunt if it got that bad.)

-We got to the room and the tweens were practicing a dance routine RIGHT OUTSIDE our room window which faced into a small lobby. This is a problem, I started thinking, over the blaring sound of Kate Perry. I considered going out there and asking to learn the routine with them, that would get rid of them quickly. My husband wasn't amused, I thought it was kinda funny, you would too if you saw me dance. Phone call to front desk, new room provided.

-We couldn't find a place to eat so we stopped at Tom's Diner (as in the song by Suzanne Vega, sort of...) where the waitress said the daily special was 'Grilled Rabbi.' Long stare. I've lived in Texas forever, like most of my life, and I'll admit I have an accent. But I've never EVER heard 'Ribeye' sound like 'Rabbi.' And then I couldn't stop thinking of Grilled Rabbi. And, um, clergymen of any kind are not the best thing to have going through your mind when you are in a nice hotel on the 15th floor with your husband. Enough said.

The best part was hanging out with my husband, who enjoys riding hotel elevators as much as my children. I even let him push the button with our floor number when we got in, just for fun.

Men are so easy to amuse.

But if you walk into a nice hotel and see more pink running around than the Pepto delivery guy carries in his semi, don't even walk in. Just stop and walk away.
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(note: I hope I didn't offend anyone. It really sounded like Grilled Rabbi. My step father and several other close friends are Jewish, if they tell me this is offensive I'll take it down!)
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July 15, 2009

Hair Therapy

Tonight I went to go get my hair cut and colored.

I love my hairdresser, she's been doing my hair for a few years now. She's as cute as a button, 5 feet tall, weighs about 90 pounds wet, wears 6 inch wedges and I love going there.

I come walking up the stairs and she gives me a hug and says:

"Hi, how are you! You're not stressed are you?"

Okay, seriously? Do I have a tattoo on my forehead that I cannot see? Just to be sure, here's a photo of me in my glory, getting my hair done today. Anyone see a tattoo? Do I LOOK stressed?

I'm starting to think I am being Punked and everyone who sees me is supposed to ask if I am stressed? I'm hoping to see Ashton pop out of the bushes any minute!

This is getting silly. I was not feeling the least bit stressed.

After all, a hair styIST is one of the better 'ISTs' to be going to!

In fact a Hair Stylist is almost as good as a psychotherapIST, only a whole lot cheaper!

She works at a new salon where the sink, dryer and hair cutting chair are all in one small room, no switching areas along the way.

At her old salon, I would get my hair color and therapy session done in one chair, then go sit under the dryer in another room, while the woman behind me did the same thing. I never crossed paths really with the other clients, or heard their life confessions.

Wow. It wasn't until today when I got my color, and spilled my guts, and moved over to the dryer two feet away, and the next lady sat down and started to talk, that I realized how much hair stylists know about everyone!

I mean, I knew, but now I KNOW.

I've sat there before at the old salon and talked away while the lady next to me has gotten her hair done by another stylist, and not given it a second thought.

I suppose subconsiously we weren't using the same therapist so it didn't matter.

Plus, once the hair dryer is going, you can't hear the lady next to you talking, so it didn't matter.

Well, well, well.

What a wide awakening!

The next client sat down and started talking while I sat by the dryer, and I tried not to listen but okay, it was hard not to, but I heard her current life drama, all out in the open for the three of us in the room to hear.

These women hear more than lawyers and priests combined!

I have whole new respect for hair stylists/therapists now.

I sure hope beauty school training (that makes me think of Grease and Frankie Valley...'Beauty School Dropout'...) includes some sort of training in psychotherapy!

My next session is not for six weeks, I'm wondering if she will let me come in for therapy, even if I don't get my hair cut?

Like, maybe I can pay her to let me just sit in the chair and talk?

I wonder if she could have some red wine on hand? Hmmm.....

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The Big Red Truck

I have an announcement to make to all of my friends and family and even the strangers who have for whatever reason decided to follow this blog:

Yes, I know I'm stressed.
(picture that with a giant floodlight beaming down...)

I get it. I know. I'm working on it. It's become apparent to me that managing stress is a learned skill for some of us.

To me, it's almost like learning to ride a unicycle. I see people doing it every now and then and think wow, how did they learn how to do that, that looks kinda cool?

But I can never master it, no matter how hard I try or how easy other people make it look.

And sometimes, I think they look foolish even trying!

It's hard to ignore the signs in between the fact that my jaw nearly clamped shut on me yesterday out of nowhere due to the TMJ and (yeah, yeah I know some of you might not mind if my jaw clamped shut, ha, ha, I'm ignoring you...) the fact that I've made more appointments this week with people who have an 'ist' in their job title than I care to admit.

AcupuncturIST. TheraPIST. Oral Surgeon.IST? Close enough.

Where is my massagIST and my pedicurIST?

I had a friend today tell me the jaw issue was a big red flag.

Ha! I laughed.

I said that I am way past the red flag stage.

I'm way over into the being run over by a big red truck stage on some days.

Come on, red flags were so last year!

I just cannot figure out how working moms are supposed to 'manage' stress in between working full time and then some, kids, a spouse, and sleeping, LIFE IN GENERAL.

I decided to do some research. I have an MBA. What does the research say?

There are a million studies that show exercise helps with stress which I know that is true. As I mentioned the other day: do I exercise at 6 am or 10 pm? There isn't much time in between unless I can somehow do foot pushups while sitting in Houston traffic.

There are also many studies that show that getting 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night helps you manage weight and has long term health benefits.

I guess whomever did those studies was some male who couldn't add up the fact that it's hard to exercise AND get 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night, AND work, AND have babies or teach teenagers to drive?

I've decided to ignore both of those studies.

Instead I've chosen to follow this study, that I know a working mom somewhere has authored:

'Drinking at least 3 glasses of red wine a night makes you sleep 8 to 10 hours and walking back and forth to your neighbors to share the wine counts as exercise.'

There ya go! Exercise, sleep AND RED WINE, all in one night.

Now THAT'S a study!

I better go get my wine and head to bed. I need my beauty sleep and it's already past my bedtime which is making me stressed thinking about it. See, there I go again!

Just kidding. :)

(How's that face for stress relief?)

If you are a working mom (well, all moms work. I mean working like you've gotta report to someone other than your kids each day) I would love to hear your tips on managing stress. Who knows, other moms might learn a thing or two as well. And you might save me a ton of money in therapy and the IST people!
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July 14, 2009

Reconnected Mom

What's the worst thing after being totally disconnected from the work world for two days?

Getting reconnected.

I was really hesitant to turn my Blackberry on last night, fearful of the onslaught of e-mails that were sure to arrive, the issues I was certain I had managed to miss.

I stared at the phone off and on for a few hours.

Do I REALLY want to turn that thing on?

I knew I did not, but knew it would eventually become necessary.

Eventually, I turned it on, left the volume off, and left it upside down so I couldn't see or hear it, but knew it was there, quietly downloading away.

Blinking like my own little night light, just in case I needed it.

For two more hours it blinked.

I periodically watched it blinking. Sort of like a beacon calling me.....

'Turn me over....come on, you know you wanna do it....'

The, I did what all smart working moms do. I called my mom.

'Should I flip it over and answer the e-mails?'

'No! Don't you dare! Those e-mails will be there tomorrow!'

Moms are great, aren't they? At least she didn't threaten to come flush it down the commode this time.

But she was right.

Okay, so I sort of peeked a little and scanned it before I went to bed, to be sure there was truly no crisis (there were none) and answered emails today, a valid work day.

And then I went to bed.

I'm officially reconnected today. It's sort of a love hate thing.

Too many people are without jobs for me to hate having a job, of any kind, period.

But by about 10 am I was not loving the barrage of calls and e-mails that came in.

I guess it's nice to be needed?

Perhaps it just depends on who needs me more and never losing perspective of who those people are.

Here's a clue: the people who need me most have stinky feet, crunchy-I-haven't-bathed-in-three-days-hair, a tan I would die for, and a laugh I love.

By the way, did anyone see Michael Jackson's ghost?

Yep, I am back and re-connected in full form.

Take your vacation days if you have them. They are there for a reason.

And turn your Blackberry off. You will be connected in all the right ways.

The work world will keep on spinning, just fine, more than likely.

(And, if you get really desperate, find the nearest 13 year old and hijack their I-phone.)
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July 13, 2009

Disconnected Confessions

Well, I made it through my disconnected day just fine.

For the most part. But, I learned a few lessons.

I had a nice lunch with my mom and took the kid's cell phone with me, just in case there was any crisis like my house burning down.

I also took their phone because no one knows the number or how to find me on that phone.

What I didn't think about was that I don't know how to find anyone either.

Seems I'm so used to speed dial, the only numbers I know by heart are my mom, the house, my husband, and Pizza Hut.

I arrived for lunch early and thought I would call a friend to chat.

Ha. I had no idea how to call her!

Friend #2? Same problem!

I don't know anyone's phone number.

So, if you ever decide to disconnect, which I highly recommend, write down the important numbers before you leave or you will find yourself like me-wanting to reach out and touch someone and unable to do so.

I took 5 boys bowling, had a great time.

I think I spent more on the food than I did on the bowling. There is a poor soul at the bowling alley who appears to serve you food when you push the green button on your panel. Very popular gadget. Bowling has come a long way.

As we sat at the bowling alley, and the kids inhaled pizza and cheese fries, I noticed that one of the little urchins had an Iphone. Hmm.....

I said, so politely, ahem, 'Is that an Iphone?'(as in, I am shelling out the dough for bowling and food, fork that phone over kid...)

'Uh, yeah.' (Pause, he's wondering if he will get that back. He knows me.)

'You have a connection in here?' (my blood pressure is going up I am sure...)

'Uhhhhh, sort of?' (longer pause, now he's worried.)

'Can I see it? Please?' (Don't make me beg. But I will.)

He hands me the phone. I'm connected. Feeling a little guilty. But who cares, I was connected.

Really, I did good. I only kept it about 3 minutes.

Mostly because he was staring at me like, 'I'm not taking my eyes off you 'till I get that phone back, food or not.'

I realized I was on a 13 year old's time limit, I checked yahoo mail (not work mail), handed it back, and saw him start to breathe again.

It was good to be disconnected. Well, mostly. How badly do I need to check my e-mail at stop lights?

Next time though, maybe I will figure out a way to be like sort of semi-half-way disconnected?

Does that count?

And at least my mom did not flush the Blackberry down the commode!
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Disconnected Mom. Sort Of.

Well, today is the my day off of work so I'm trying to be disconnected from the online world.

As disconnected as someone who has been known to use the Blackberry in a bathtub can be.

I wasn't sure if I would actually TURN OFF my phone today, you never know?

Then, I recieved an email from my mom (see, there is a good thing to being connected) which to most people would have kindly appeared to say something like:

"Why are you on the Blackberry tonight?"

It was Sunday night...I guess she forgets that I use that thing to stay in touch with the kids.

When they are out at Sonic. Or upstairs.

Doesn't matter, that's my lifeline to the kids. Or at least that's what I tell myself.

HOWEVER, to those of us with Mom-o-vision goggles who can read through the not so lost in translation mom hieroglyphics, it really said something more like:

"If you don't get off tht Blackberry, I'm going to drive over to your house and drop that *&$%^#$ phone in the commode."

Well, mother knows best, right?

I've turned the phone off today. (Of course she will be the first one trying to reach me.)

I'm fairly well disconnected I would say, other than this one blog and then I'm done.

Waiting for the kids to arise so we can go bowling I think.

I wonder if anyone has called me?
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July 12, 2009

Fair Warning

Sorry for the numerous posts today if you are on my e-mail list. I must be on a roll of some kind since I am not working tomorrow. I promise this will be a quick rant.

To the lady in red who was just at my Target. Well, to all Target shoppers everywere.

I love Target, I really do. Most of our disposable income ends up in their coffers.

But there are some of us moms who want to get in Target and get OUT and other moms who mosy through Target like they are at a Sunday flea market.

Which brings me to my point.

If you are the latter category, and you see one of us in former category headed down your aisle with our shopping cart in 5th gear, that is NOT the time to oh-so-slowly-bend-over-and-try-to-decide-between-the-Captain-Crunch-or-the-Cinnamon-Crunchies-and-sort-of-hang-there.

Really. I know it's tough...Peanut butter versus Cinnamon. I know for some people grocery shopping is as calculated and thought out as my husband's planning to install new shelving or read the installation directions on his new home theatre system, and you might not notice me headed towards you at 50 mph.

I'm okay with that. Really.

But, if you see one of us speed racers coming, could ya please just stand up for a split second and let us pass on the right?

Fast moving Target carts cannot stop on a dime so please don't be too mad if I cannot downshift quick enough one day and I run you flat over.

Those carts don't come with brakes.

That's all. Just had to get that off my chest. Happy Sunday. :)

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Quote of the day

I'm walking out headed to Target because we are once again 'OUT OF FOOD MOM, THERE'S LIKE NOTHING TO EAT!'

Hand on door, one foot out, sudden big exclamation from Chase, who is upstairs with Jordan and a friend.

'OH GROSS, THAT IS SICK, GROSS!' (note the term 'sick' here did not mean 'sick' as in a good thing, which I went over in an earlier blog. This was obviously sick as in not good, bad terrible, awful.)

Pause. I'm thinking that Tank the Pug left a gift on his bed. Or his head.

Based on the racket he was making, it sounded like something awful was up there.

Door still open. Purse in hand, other foot out the door. Should I stay? Should I go?

Do I REALLY want to hear this? I could pretend, they would never know the difference.

Me (I caved): 'What's wrong?'

Chase: 'Jordan's feet WREAK cause he wore shoes with no socks, it's totally gross!'

Didn't Chase just admit to me yesterday that other than the sprinkling of stagnant water from a Six Flags ride, he didn't take a bath for like 3 days?

Sorry Chase, I feel your pain son, I'm goin' to Target.

Remind me to teach you about Karma.
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It's hard to appreciate the humor in this photo if you don't know these two kids. One of them, the short one (I say short, the kid standing next to him is 6'8 so all of us would be short standing next to him) is my oldest son, Tyler. The tall one is his best friend, Chris.

My husband and I were having dinner with our next door neighbors, while Chris and Tyler made the daily Saturday night rounds to the local Dairy Queen.

We did not see them before they left, Tyler sent me a text and said they were headed out, and would be back soon.

Here's where the humor is: They showed up at the neighbors to check in with us after going to Dairy Queen, looking exactly like they do in this photo (hence us taking photos.)

It was like they sent each other text messages and said, 'okay, lets go out tonight looking like we are fraternal twins and our mom never stopped letting us dress alike.'

Navy blue shirts (look closely, Tyler is wearing the famous weiner shirt), white shorts, hair, glasses...the biggest differences only being that Chris is a 12 inches taller and Tyler is 12 shades darker.

The best part? They had no idea that they had dressed that much alike, I mean truly had no idea, until they walked in the front door and had four adults staring at them, our mouths agape, all of us speechless for a second or two, before one of us finally asked if someone had forgotten to tell them Halloween was not until October. I can only imagine what the workers at DQ thought last night when those two came walking in for their Blizzards.

Good friends are priceless as an adult, I can say that as a mom. What would I do without my girlfriends?

But as a teenager, a true friend can help you try to make sense of things, during a time when nothing makes any sense at all.

A really good friend during high school can almost make or break a period of your life that, for whatever reason, as adults we seem to never be able to entirely let go of.

These two have stuck together, held each other accountable, raided my pantry and prayed together at my dinner table (unprompted by any adult.)

Teenagers are hard to raise. But knowing your teenager has good friends is half the battle. Actually, their friends are probably 75% of the battle. Finding your teen a good friend or three, and I mean the friends who will stick with them, and your battles will not be about who they are socializing with or what they are teaching them.

No, the battles you wage with the I'll-know-you-till-we-are-way-past-forty-friends will be more about whose house they've stayed at the most, and begging them to not consume the entire pantry in one night.

And if those are the worst of your teen battles, you'll know your kid has chosen good friends.

In about a month, Chris will be headed off to college, and Tyler will be forced to go through his last two years of high school without his 6'8 body guard to back him up.

I have no doubt we'll be making many trips to see Chris at college.

But in between now and then, we're having a talk about their wardrobe.

Seriously guys, is one of you color blind?

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The Good Stuff

The people who mean the most to me!

Ipod Song of The Day

August 20, 2009: Armageddon It, Def Leppard
August 21, 2009: Remember When, Alan Jackson
August 27, 2009: Stop Playing Games with My Heart, Backstreet Boys

My Favorite Peeps

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