roots (so to speak)

Well, here we are, 3 days after Christmas, socked up in Grandma's and Grandpa's house with all the toys, all the kids, Grandma/Grandpa, and one puppy. Yes, P-U-P-P-Y. Santa brought us a yellow lab, and she is just the sweetest thing. Driving her 1000 miles back home to Texas is going to be an adventure, though. If you don't see any more posts after January 6th, you'll know we didn't make it.

Anyhoo, we attended G & G's ward today - the ward I grew up in, where many of my friends' parents still attend (and a few of my friends; all-grown-up). This isn't, of course, the first time I have come back to visit and then go to church with my parents, but every time I do, I feel my age a little more. Not that I feel old, necessarily; but the space between my growing-up years and where I am now seems to get a little wider with each visit. Every time I come back, I see something or someone that reminds me of how it was to grow up here, and it gets me a little nostalgic. I know I'm not the only one this happens to, but you can still indulge me a little memory - right, reader?

So this time it was a "who" I saw that got me. I was sitting in Relief Society with my mom, waiting for the meeting to start. There was prelude being played on the piano, and I looked up to see who was playing it and it was my former piano teacher. This lady taught all of the kids in my family at one time or another, including me. I took from her for a total of 6 years (I had a short stint with another teacher that didn't last long because one of us ran out of patience - I think it was her) before quitting in high school because I got too busy. She must be in her 70s or 80s now, but you could still hear the skill in her playing; even when she was just playing the opening hymn (a task which I have done several times in R.S., and I'll even admit I don't bother with too much expression because I don't think anyone pays that much attention). Anyway, it was still a pleasure to listen to, and it made me think ahead to when I'm in my 70s or 80s and playing the piano - I hope I'm still playing at that point - and hope that my abilities will progress to the point that I still desire to put forth a pleasing performance, even if it's "just the opening hymn".


ice day

The cold front blew in Sunday night, the freezing rain came last night, and the call from the school district came this morning - no school! It is an icy day in North Texas. We have had delayed school start days due to bad weather before, but never an entire day. Early morning seminary was cancelled, so dh got to sleep in a bit and decided to work from home today. With no morning rush to worry about, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of cinnamon rolls (made from this bread recipe using 1/4 c. of sugar instead of 2 tsp. and then shaped into roll form) and hot chocolate and we all got to eat together. The picture is of what remained after our repast.
A practice for Miss Bee's preschool Christmas program was supposed to be this morning (I'm playing the piano for it), but got cancelled, as did the program. I hope they reschedule it - this year, since she's a little older, Bee might actually get up and deliver a tear-free performance. (Also, the piano accompaniment deal is a paying gig, so the extra Christmas money would be nice!) The first words out of Stuntman's and Flip's mouths this morning (right after "No school! High fives!") were "I am NOT going outside today!" But around 9:30, there were the neighbor kids knocking on the door, and suddenly, morning chores were done, pj's were off, coats/gloves/hats were on, and we were out the door for a slippery walk down the street. Now they're all across the street at the neighbors', inside, letting Dad work and Mom blog in peace. My toes are still frozen.


helpers helping

I love it when I see random displays of kindness - people letting harried mothers cut in grocery lines, picking up things others knocked off of shelves, letting someone into their lane on the road (and the other driver giving a wave afterward). I tend to think most people intend to be good, and I hate to be proved wrong about this. Here are 2 organized ways of helping that I think are brilliant and give all of us (or at least those in North Texas) a chance to help.

First: our local public radio station has a show that comes on Friday afternoons called "Anything You Ever Wanted to Know", which consists of people calling/emailing in from all over our metro area with questions about - well - anything, and other people call/email in with answers. The questions range from "is there a local art studio where you can rent time with a pottery wheel" to "how do you tie a samurai top-knot" to "whatever happened to Paul Harvey?" It's just cool to hear people from all over offer to share their knowledge. Even the most useless tidbit you have stored away in your brain might just relieve someone's curiosity.

Second: http://www.freecycle.org/. You know how sometimes when you're cleaning out a closet or cupboard, you find something that you just don't need or use anymore, but doesn't deserve to be thrown out because it is still useable? Freecycle.org is the place to get rid of it. I gave away a hair straightening iron, an ironing board and a curling iron that I don't need anymore. The ironing board was old and bent (I even included this information in the description) and I still got a sincere "thank you!" email from the recipient, who must have really needed an ironing board. (NOTE: I realize that freecycle.org isn't anything new and has actually been around for awhile, but even though I have just discovered it, I still think it deserves any praise anyone can give it; no matter how late. It's just a good idea!)

P.S. In case you were wondering...adding camellia oil to the hair, and then tied into a top-knot on top of the head with the round top remaining will result in a traditional Samurai top-knot. Take note that Samurais also shave the top of the head in their top-knot. A traditional Samurai top-knot is a "Chonmage" (chone-maw-gay) in Japanese.


girl talk

I have posted entries in the past worrying that my only daughter lacked a certain "girly-ness". That girlyness shows up every once in awhile, but I got a little from additional sources the other day. I was transporting Miss Bee and 3 of her preschoolmates on a school field trip to the pumpkin patch, and overheard this conversation:

Miss B: I'm going to have a birthday party! [not till March, but it never hurts to plan ahead]
Miss A: Can I come?
Miss K: Me too?
Miss C: Me too?
B: Yes, everyone can come!
A: I'm going to have a party too, and I'm going to invite B, C, and K!
C: Me too!
K: I'm going to invite B, A, C, and Madison [not in their class] to my party.
C: Who's Madison?
K: My friend.
C: Is she a mermaid?
K: No.
C: Is she a princess?
K: No.
C: (a little exasperated) Then what is she?
K: She's just a girl.
C: (thinks a minute) Oh. Okay, she's good.

I got my fill of girly for the day.


my new friend

Our dishwasher broke in August. My parents were here when it happened, so Dad was entreated to apply his fix-it skills, but to no avail. After weighing the options, we figured it was better to just get a new one, since replacing the needed part (which might not have even been the right one) would have put us almost all the way to a new one anyway. But we didn't break into the emergency fund right away, because for a good two weeks, we washed dishes as a family every night. Everyone chose (or got stuck with) a job, and we just worked until it was all done. Sounds like a perfect family bonding moment, doesn't it? Well, it only lasted for a couple of weeks, like I said, but I think it was good for us. DH and/or I ended up doing them most nights after that. So anyway, after doing dishes by hand for the past 2 months, we finally bought a new dishwasher. It washed its first load last night, and I've gotta say, I've missed my friend.

So what have I learned from this experience (sounding like a mother, I know)?

Well, I learned that it is possible to get along without at least one of the conveniences of this modern age. And also that my children can survive without it, too (for 2 weeks, at least). DH and I had some nice conversations over the sink as well. And it was nice that when you were finished, you were finished - no big box needing to be emptied, all the dishes back in their places, no missing utensils. But I must admit, I'm glad the convenience is back.

So what about you? What are some appliances you think you could get along without? Which ones could you not? I'm curious!


food makeover

I just listened to a bit on NPR today about food in America - where it comes from, where it's been, and how much has changed about our views on these subjects. The man being interviewed was Michael Pollan, who wrote an open letter to the next president regarding the future of the food we produce. There were many eye-opening tidbits in the interview, but too many to address in what you probably already think is a boring blog entry, so I'll mention one.

It seems we use quite a bit of fossil fuels in food production in the U.S. For what? Transporting produce to markets, of course, but also fertilizer and importing/exporting. Okay, you say, maybe some of that is unavoidable, like getting the food to grocery stores, but did you know that we do ridiculous things like catching sustainable salmon here in the U.S., shipping it to China to be filleted, and then bringing it back? Or exporting tomatoes to Mexico while we also import them from the same place? Wouldn't it be a whole lot simpler if we just exchanged recipes? Pollan suggested.

Since I can't do anything about the farmers, here is a recipe to swap in the spirit of the interviewee's mission:

Chipotle Butternut Mash (thanks to Southern Living)

2 medium butternut squash (about 3 1/2 lbs.)
1/2 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (not that expensive; I keep the rest in a Tupperware in the fridge and it seems to last forever)
1 T. lime juice
1 1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. firmly packed cilantro leaves

1. Cut each squash lengthwise into 4 pieces; remove and discard seeds. Bring squash and salted water to boil in a Dutch oven; cook 15-18 min. or until fork-tender. Drain and let cool 15 min. Peel and cut into large pieces.

2. Process squash, cream cheese and next 3 ingredients in a food processor (you could try a blender) until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Add cilantro and pulse 5-6 times or until cilantro is chopped.

3. Transfer mixture to a microwave-safe bowl and nuke on HIGH 1-2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring at 1-minute intervals. Makes 8 servings (4 1/2 cups).

*You can also make this a soup by adding equal parts chicken broth and milk until it reaches soupy consistency. So you could make the whole 8-serving mess and save half of it to make soup later!

Now it's your turn! Send me back a recipe in the comments or post one on your own blog (where more people would probably see it; ha ha).


fruits of our labors

The cantaloupe plant wins the prize for the best-producing member of our garden. Bunnies ate our bean leaves, we only got a couple of 3-inch corn cobs, the squash and watermelon plants just didn't make it, and our tomato crop has been sporadic. But the cantaloupes have never failed us. Several small but decent-tasting specimens have graced our table over the past month. And one character - the one in the picture - has been taking his sweet, juicy time to ripen over many weeks, swelling and swelling to perfection. Today, on Miss Bee's and my daily trip to "check on the garden", we found that fellow turned completely golden and ready to pick. A drop of water fell from the stem when I picked him; I hope this is a sign of juiciness. Anyway, now he is in the fridge, chilling until dinnertime. He's as big as the melons in the grocery store (isn't this a sign of success??). We can't wait to try him!


writing on the wall (and the piano, and the door...)

My school-age children don't like to write. (I have heaved many a sigh over this.) They are decent story-creators, but ask them to write one of their ideas down and it's like you just asked them to peel a bowl of grapes. So imagine my surprise (and dismay) when I came across the following writing samples:

(In case it's difficult to see, "H A" is scratched into the lacquer on the piano, and "mom is great" is written in pencil on the door.)

I have a pretty good idea of the culprits - our little Bee's favorite letters to write are "A" and "H", and Stuntman left a pointy arrowhead necklace he bought on his class field trip within her reach. As for the other graffiti, it was discovered on the door in what used to be Flip's room but is now dh's office. We tried painting over it, but as you can see, it remains. It looks like it says "mom is great", but it also looks like "great" might not have been the first adjective of choice. I can't make out what the crossed-out word is, but I have a scenario in my head that explains it. It plays out like this: Flip got sent to his room for some type of infraction, got mad at Mom for sending him, and started to write about his feelings (!) on his bedroom door. Then he thought better of it and crossed out whatever missive he initially wrote, and put "great" instead, remembering that Mom might actually see the work. This may be far from the true story, but inventing it was fun. What makes me laugh is that in my scenario, he ignores the fact that writing on doors is also an infraction, but I guess if you're going to break a rule, flatter your mother while you're doing it. Whatever the reason, I had to take a picture.

Maybe I shouldn't complain about my kids not liking to write anymore.



I have been tagged by myshore, which is the perfect distraction today, since our dishwasher is broken and I am tired of doing dishes the old-fashioned way. (I don't know when we'll replace it; in the meantime, the kids are getting lots of practice hand-washing everything and lots of "we didn't have a dishwasher when I was your age" speeches from Dad.)

Here are the Rules:

1. Link the person who tagged you.
2. Mention the rules on your blog.
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks you possess.
4. Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them.
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged.

Here's my "unspectacular quirks" (the only kind I have):

1. My alarm clock is set 36 minutes ahead. (It started out as 30 minutes, but the buttons are kind of wishy-washy.) When it goes off in the morning, I love knowing that it's not really the time it says and I can push the snooze button at least 2-3 times before I actually have to get up. "Why don't you just leave it on the real time and then set your alarm 36 minutes ahead?" asks DH. Well, because that wake-up time looks a lot earlier. It's all psychological.

2. I love glitter. I fell in love with it as a first-grader and my love is forever. My 2 boys never fell for it the way I did, but my daughter has a casual enough relationship with it to give me an excuse to make my own glitter picture whenever she does. Maybe I'm just easily fascinated by shiny objects.

3. I am very proud of the handful of songs I can play on the guitar: "Today" by John Denver, "Free Fallin'" by Tom Petty, "Book of Mormon Stories," a little bit of "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer, "Itsy Bitsy Spider," and, thanks to my guitar lesson yesterday, the first two lines of "Dueling Banjos." Chords only, but someone could still sing while I play them.

4. I have what I think could be called a dislike for excess. I can't stand overt displays of unnecessary financial prowess (ex: the new "Croatian village" neighborhood in our town; complete with a lake, Mediterranean-looking architecture and a "Croatian" Starbucks - in Texas, for crying out loud). A "let's buy/build/make it just because we can" attitude, if that helps to explain it. I'm also an avid coupon user and I get excited about any bargain I find, both of which I'm sure are related to my dislike of excess. (So might my lack of attention to style, which I have suffered from since high school.)

5. I can't stop having this recurring dream that I go back to the ice cream parlor I waitressed at during college and try to waitress there again . And it's always at the Friday night rush.

6. I'm ashamedly addicted to old TV shows. M*A*S*H, Brady Bunch, Cheers, Mork & Mindy - these are a few that our DVR has been programmed to record at various times and how I've spent many I-can't-sleep nights. I wish they played reruns of Sesame Street - I love all the old Bert & Ernie sketches. This all means that I probably watched too much TV as a kid.

Quirky, unspectacular me. I hereby tag

merry heart

(None of my other friends have blogs. If I don't tag 6 people, does it mean I get bad luck?)


keep smiling

Here's a bit of wisdom from our Miss Bee:
Yesterday in church, she kept herself busy drawing a picture. She drew herself with a big smiley face and long, curly hair (which she does not have but is patiently waiting to grow). She then proudly showed it to her brother, who gave it a "cool" and then proceeded to add a giant Pac-Man to the picture, hovering over the curly-haired stick figure with a mouthful of jagged teeth. Flip handed it back to her with a smug look on his face - you could tell he was just waiting for her to react. Her response? She pointed to her self portrait and smirked, "Look - ha ha, I'm still smiling!"

Good advice for us all.


what a guy

DH is a great guy. Really. He always jokes that he married "up" and I married "down" when it came to choosing a mate. Today he out-performed, out-spoused and out-parented me. To illustrate, here's a list of what he did today:
  • went on a 30-mile bike ride
  • installed a new garbage disposal in kitchen sink
  • went to Home Depot for painting supplies (took Stuntman and Miss Bee
  • tore baseboards and carpet out of Flip's old room/DH's new office
  • ripped off trim around door and closet in office
  • spackled crack in ceiling
  • painted ceiling
  • turned mattress on our bed
  • took all 3 kidlets to Fry's to purchase a long-promised joystick for Playstation
  • painted walls in office
  • painted ceiling in office (2nd coat)
  • painted walls in office (2nd coat)
  • went to Kroger for 2-liter of Squirt

Here's what I did:

  • cooked eggs for one kid, Pop-Tarts for everyone else
  • changed sheets on bed
  • nagged kids to clean rooms
  • cut out fabric for "5-minute skirt"
  • threw a load of towels in machine
  • nagged some more
  • took Flip to Wal-Mart for school supplies
  • didn't find all supplies; made frustrated note to check Target later
  • chased kids away from Playstation; nagged about clean rooms
  • peeked into office to check DH's work
  • made "helpful" suggestions, shot down a few decorating ideas
  • nag, nag, nag
  • tried to sew 5-minute skirt; had recurring loopy thread problems
  • gave up on 5-minute skirt
  • ordered pizza
  • rewarded boys for clean rooms with Playstation time
  • took Miss Bee to Joann's to pick out a dress pattern and fabric
  • dragged Miss Bee out of Joann's
  • put kids in showers/tubs
  • put kids to bed
  • ate bowl of French Silk ice cream (well, it was lite)

My list was just as long; my results were not as successful as his. What a guy.


i'm so happy

Miss Bee went through a "Yo Gabba Gabba" phase a few months ago. For those who may not be familiar with this show, it's a fairly new offering on Nick Jr. for the preschool set. It's very contemporary, very stylish, very "now" - think about what "The Electric Company" was to the 70's. Anyway, I have to admit that I looked forward to when she would ask to watch it, because I love the music. She turned it on today and my favorite song from the show was just coming on. It was through YGG that I found the Salteens, one of many bands that either perform or write music especially for the show. On the episode titled "Happy", this is their performance of a song whose bass line is just too catchy not to dance to:


I refuse the 21st century

DH and I were having a brainstorm session last night on how to find more space in our little house. We have a 4BR house, with all of the bedrooms being occupied by us and our 3 kids. DH, upon acceptance of a new job offer in May, began working from home twice a week. We got rid of the TV in our bedroom and replaced it with an old table and just-about-as-old computer for him to use. This arrangement has worked okay for awhile, but now DH is complaining of too many interruptions (what; don't people constantly enter his office at work to sort laundry/give kisses/ask "where did you put the _____?"/complain that someone isn't letting them watch TV?). So, we've been trying to figure out what we could turn into office space.

During the discussion, he suggested that we get rid of all the bookshelves in our house and replace them with a Kindle system. A Kindle system involves something called electronic paper, about the size of a paperback book, which can store up to 200 books and lets you read them, one page at a time, on a screen. It also has wireless access to the Kindle store, where you can buy books at around $10 each. "Think of all the space we'd save!" he mused. I know he was also stumping for anything to replace our Wal-mart-cheap bookcases, which I'll admit do need to be replaced, are from Wal-mart, and do look cheap; since they were bought out of desperation when we were tired of getting our books out of boxes but too poor to afford what we actually wanted. Apparently this system costs less than replacing the bookcases with the desired pieces, which I know he thought would appeal to my frugal side. But although I have embraced much of the new technology of various kinds that's now out there (I wouldn't be blogging if I didn't), I choose to remain one foot firmly planted in the past on this subject.

Get rid of my books? I love them! I love going to my shelves in search of something to read or reread - and finding it. I even just like looking at them. Doing such serves as sort of a history of our life: here's a couple of my journals from when I was a teenager, on that shelf are a few textbooks from our college majors that we each felt were worthy of keeping, over here is the novel I used to pick up while I nursed my first baby, there's a whole row of book club books I loved, not to mention birthday and Christmas gifts, etc. And I love lending books to friends! When someone mentions a book they'd like to read and asks if I've read it, it's so much more fun to say, "Yes! You can borrow my copy!" than to just refer them to the library. (Let's recall Sesame Street and remember that sharing is fun!) And if they like it - and if my own library allows - it's even more fun to recommend and lend another by the same author when they're finished with the first one. You just can't do that with a screen! No, I'll keep my old-fashioned, corner-folded, beat-up books. After all, if you drop a screen-book in the water while reading it in the bathtub, that's the end of your screen-book...but paperbacks will always dry out.


the corn is as high as a 4-year-old's eye

That's our Miss Bee, and that's our corn. It's only about 3 1/2 feet tall, and it already has tassels and the beginnings of small ears. I'm actually afraid the tassels and ears are coming a bit early because it seems like the stalk should be taller. But, hey - all this came from seeds we planted ourselves, however prematurely. We have also harvested 1 cherry tomato and 2 Romas. There would have been more cherries, but the birds got to a couple. A friend told me that if you hang CDs near your tomato plants, the reflective surfaces will scare the birds away. It's working! Our cantaloupe plant is also thriving and wins the prize for the most progress. It is twining all around its corner of the garden box. The parsley and basil plants have yielded one yummy batch of pesto, and a little green knob is slowly starting to look like a pepper. So far, our little garden is doing okay!



Just a mommy moment to share with you...

It began on Valentine's Day. Continuing in the tradition of my mother, I usually get the kids a little gifty for Valentine's Day. Nothing real special; it just has to be something red, white or pink. (And cheap.) This year, I had no trouble finding something for Miss Bee (V-day seems to be all about girls), but the boys were a little harder. After searching Wal-Mart's cheapie aisles several times and coming up with nothing, a clearance rack of calendars caught my desperate eye. They had pictures of animals - no red, white or pink ones, though - and a big, RED "$1.00" sticker on them. Shazam, into the cart. Shopping done.

The next night, the kids (read: the boys) started nosing around at the dinner hour: "So...did you get us anything for Valentine's Day?" I knew I had scraped the bottom of Wal-Mart's barrel for those calendars, but hey; it was something. Anyway, I gave them the mommy "Maybe," and made them wait until after dinner, at which time I presented them with their cheap but heartfelt prizes. I didn't expect cheers, but I also didn't expect the incredulous "this is all we get?" or "calendars????" DH, I could tell, was ready on the other side of the couch with an "I never got anything for Valentine's Day when I was a kid" speech, but held his tongue. No amount of showing them how they could keep track of their important dates and approaching activities convinced them that this really wasn't all that bad of a deal. So they bedgrudgingly hung their $1 calendars up in their rooms, grumbling all the way.

Fast-forward to a day about mid-May, when I happened to be in Flip's room talking to him, and noticed the calendar, which was actually open to the right month and had several red X's on all the previous May days. "Flip, have you been using your calendar?" I asked. "Oh yeah, Mom!" I took a closer look, and sure enough, he was crossing off each day, counting the days till the last day of school. I flipped over to June and even saw comments written on some days: the last day of school ("excitement!" - spelled correctly, even); Father's Day ("I love you dad"), and the equinoxical (is that a word?) first day of summer (a big red "boo-yah!"). I told him how great it was - while still laughing at the "boo-yah" - that he was using the calendar.

I did not say "See? I TOLD you!" (Be proud of me - that's what I usually say.)



Our dryer quit earlier this week. A neighbor is helping to replace the heating element, which we think is the primary suspect. But despite no dryer, people still need clothes to wear. The HOA has strict rules about hanging clothes out to dry, and it rained the first half of the week, so our bed has been doing clothesline duty. The bed may have been a cheap - I mean inexpensive - purchase when we bought it, but all that ironwork is just right for drying socks. Here is a picture of Miss Bee's wardrobe out to dry.

Yes, I remember "thank you for clothes dryers" in my prayers every night.


our kind of camping

Last night we indulged in a family activity, and it's one of those that make up for all the "other" ones - by that I mean the ones that involve someone getting mad, sick, peed/thrown up on (both have happened in our family), injured, and others about which everyone is ecstatic when they're over. There is a campground in the northern part of our city with firepits, mountain biking/hiking trails and (gross) public bathrooms (though you are just as well off using a well-hidden spot off one of the aforementioned trails). It has been the location of many a scout campout and youth activity, and is also the perfect spot for our favorite activity - cooking our dinner outside.

We called up some friends who live near us and whom DH and I have known since our high school days (he and the other husband grew up together) and we lugged all our stuff to the first free campsite we could find. The contents of both our vans: hamburgers, buns, stuff to put on the burgers, fruit, corn on the cob, soda, charcoal, water, Dutch oven, ingredients for Double Chocolate Dutch Oven Cake (minus the can of Reddi-Whip, we were later dismayed to find out), 1 lantern, 6 glow sticks, 2 flashlights, 4 adults, 3 girls and 3 boys.

The four older kids had a great time exploring the trails (and the muddy creek) while the moms and dads and little girls got the fire going. The big kids were especially eager to help with the fire; we had an endless supply of sticks, bark, paper plates, etc. brought to us. Finally they trooped back to our campsite, feet muddied and arms mosquito-bitten, ready to eat. We finished the burgers, and settled all the kids on a fallen log near the fire with plates and cups full. That was a sight - 6 kidlets lined up on their seat, cans of soda in hands (a rare treat for both families), full plates on their laps, and mere yards away from a real fire. One of them joyfully raised his soda can as if for a toast, and you could clearly imagine what they might toast: "To...FIRE!" Everyone enjoyed some corn on the cob - Flip's fond farewell to it, unfortunately, as he is heading off to the orthodontist this week to have an expander installed in his upper palate - and of course, there was Dutch oven cake and s'mores to follow. Dark came on, the glow sticks were distributed, and shortly our campsite was raided by shadowy figures trailing blue, purple, pink and yellow streaks which shot through the air. Soon it was time to go, and it all had to be packed up - kids, food, glow sticks, cool rocks, snail shells and muddy socks. We said goodbye to our "camp"site and our friends, and the night was over.

No, it wasn't camping for real, but as far as we're concerned, we still got the best part of camping - cooking and eating outside, running around in the dark with lights, and of course...no one threw up. (This time.)


as martha stewart as i get

I learned how to decorate these cookies at a R.S. Super Saturday a few years ago, and I was asked to teach a class on it this month for our ward's R.S. How-To group. (I don't have many skills I can teach a How-to group how to; this is probably the only one.) Anyway, I had to take a picture to email with the invite, so I thought I'd share. This is another one of those skills that I've acquired that takes lots of time/work/energy but isn't always appreciated by its recipients (most of whom have been kids). But it's so darn fun!

10 green thumbs (we hope)

This week we finished a monumental project - a backyard garden. I have been bugging DH for several springs to help me put one in, and this year, he gave in. No really, we decided TOGETHER that it would be a good family project.

Daddy and the kids worked hard on digging out the grass for three 4' x 4' boxes and we all helped to build the boxes with landscaping timbers. Dad, being the carpenter at heart that he is, insisted on very square corners and level sides (Mom even leveled one of the boxes!), and as you can see, they look great! The boys were good workers. They did their jobs - carrying sod, digging Texas clay out of the boxes, hammering stakes, handing Dad tools/screws/rebar/lumber, squirting Liquid Nails - without (much) complaining, and handled themselves reasonably well in Home Depot while Mom shopped for seeds and plants. Even Miss Bee helped with the digging and also filled in the space around each box with soil when the boxes were finished. I am pretty proud of those kids.

We planted (and hopefully will harvest) watermelon, cantaloupe, butternut squash, tomatoes (cherry and Roma), rosemary, Italian parsley, basil, cilantro, sweet red peppers, green beans and sweet corn. Check back periodically to see if our thumbs are still green!
(I know one of the pictures is sideways; I'm still figuring out how to rotate it.)


contents of my head, vol. 3

I just drove back from the pharmacy. Something horrible has happened. I was listening to the radio, and I heard Huey Lewis & the News' "Power of Love"...on the oldies station. I can't be that old.


april fool

Yesterday, we had a little April Fool's Day celebration. Normally I don't really go to much trouble for holidays - even Christmas is a little low-key around here, compared to other Texas-sized celebrations. But this was too cute to resist. Yes, it involves food - however did you guess???

I know I have both sung praises to and cursed the name of Family Fun magazine; this is a praise. They have several ideas for April Fool's Day pranks each year, and this year we tried "Chicken Not-Pie." The recipe is here. Basically, it's a "pie" made with vanilla pudding and various candies cut or shaped to look like carrots, peas, bits of chicken, etc. Not hard at all to make, but sort of frustrating to have to buy a whole bag of a particular kind of candy just to use a few pieces. Buying from the bulk candy aisle is cheaper (money- and calorie-wise, since if you buy the whole bag of candy, *someone* has to eat all the pieces that don't go into the pie). This gave me an excuse to visit a vintage candy store in our city's historic downtown area, which has dozens of jars of all kinds of candy sold by the quarter pound. I used green apple Now & Laters for the peas, orange and lemon Starbursts for the carrots and corn, and Squirrel Nut Zippers for the chicken. And I only had to buy a few pieces! I made enough pies for the kids (the results were just too sickening-sweet for their parents' palates) and Flip was pretty much the only one who ate some, but this really didn't bother me. Maybe it was because I got to have my fun trying it out, and I wasn't out that much money. It was enough of a celebration for our family, and just like Christmas, the ratio of the time spent in preparation to the time the kids spent enjoying the results was typically out of proportion, but it wasn't the end of the world. What'll we tackle next April 1st? Maybe a larger-scale prank, food-involved or not! Thanks for reading!


sticks and . . . sticks

What is the deal with kids - namely boys - and sticks?

The other day, I happened past Stuntman's room and caught this scene: my 10-year-old boy, with an armful of sticks (yes, in the house!), reaching under his bed for - amazingly - more sticks. He then proceeded to hand the sticks through his open window (which I noticed had been freed of its screen) to a friend standing outside in the flowerbeds. "Why," I asked as calmly as possible, "do you have sticks under your bed?" Well, he was only keeping them there because when the pile of sticks was outside, the kid down the street had taken some of the sticks and put them in his own pile, and apparently, this just cannot happen. I pondered the concept of "stick police" for a moment before telling him to return the sticks to the outdoors - through the door, please. He did, but since then, I have seen that pile of sticks in various neighbor kids' front yards. I guess they're saving them for something. Or maybe, by changing their storage place, any stick thieves' plans will be thwarted.

This morning, as I was returning from a run, I noticed another array of sticks littering the yard: one walking stick, made at cub scout camp two summers ago from a broom handle, a few more sticks from the traveling stick pile, and three rulers. Upon closer examination, I realized that the rulers used to be our yardstick, but due to some unfortunate accident, have been reduced to rulers, none of which even measures 12 inches. (They had to be disposed of.) What is this fascination with sticks? Is it a boy thing? Any ideas? Any other stick-hoarders (or parents of them) out there?


pianogal trivia (in response to a tag)

10 Years Ago...

  • Had a 4-month-old (2-month adjusted age) preemie at home
  • Said preemie was attached to a heart rate/breathing monitor that sent me into panic mode whenever it beeped
  • Lived in a 2B/2BA apartment kitty-cornered from the site of multiple drive-by shootings

5 Things on my To-Do list today...

  • Volunteer library duty at boys' school
  • Easter party at Miss Bee's school
  • Guitar lesson
  • Get through homework time without whining (me or the kids)
  • Stake R.S. Auxiliary training meeting

Snacks I enjoy

  • Guacamole and tortilla chips
  • Bowl of cereal
  • Spoonful of PB dipped in chocolate chips
  • Almonds

Things I would do if I were suddenly a billionaire

  • Pay off house/student loans
  • Give husband money to start up a business (probably a bike shop)
  • College fund for kids
  • Donate to Make-A-Wish/St. Jude's/Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation
  • Go on a cruise to Alaska

3 of my bad habits

  • Procrastination
  • Showing frustration a little too easily
  • Eating bowlfuls of guacamole with tortilla chips

Jobs I've had

  • Medical records help in family practice
  • Piano/flute teacher
  • Mystery shopper
  • Waitress
  • Office manager at chiropractor's office

5 Things people don't know about me

  • I once vowed never to use the word "y'all" but have found it sneaking into my vocabulary
  • I mentally edit everything I see for grammar and content (NERD!! you say)
  • I know *everything* (according to my 8-year-old)
  • I secretly dream of sitting around campfires and playing songs on my guitar (with people present)
  • I thought "MMMBop" was kind of catchy


more humble pie, please; thank you

Okay, I just launched the previous tirade and had a "whoops" moment within an hour after clicking "publish." Yesterday, Flip and I miscommunicated about how he was supposed to get home. Both boys rode with a friend to school so I could be on time to a dentist appointment, and I thought they understood that I'd still pick them up. Well, Stuntman did. I got a call while waiting in the carpool line from the school office, asking if Flip was supposed to walk home with the aforementioned friend, because he seemed to think so. He was in a foul mood when I picked him up from carpool, thinking he'd missed out on playing with a friend. No big deal, but DH kindly reminded me that he is only 8, and I can't expect an 8-year-old to automatically understand everything I say. So, reader, I apologize for ranting about teachers not understanding their audiences, because I apparently am the proverbial pot calling the kettle black. Okay, I feel a little better.


contents of my head, vol. 2

Something I just have to get off my chest...

So Stuntman brings home some homework the other day - his first foray into the world of research. It seems that the class is studying the Texas Revolution, and each kid is supposed to research a different battle. He brought home a booklet designed for helping the kids take notes: it asks several broad questions, and he's supposed to use at least 3 sources to find answers and then list them. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Okay, here's one of the questions:

"How would you articulate or explain the emotional mindset of the battle's participants?"

Are you kidding me?!?

Now I'll admit that abstract concepts are still on Stuntman's list of "things I don't quite get yet", and maybe there are fourth graders out there that would understand this question, but is there anything inherently wrong with asking, "How do you think the battle's participants felt?" I mostly have no complaints with the teachers at this school; they exceed expectations in many respects, but they seem to have forgotten they are speaking to 10-year-olds on this assignment. Things like this just make me want to growl.

Okay, I've vented. On with the show.


we got snow, yes we do...

Today was North Texas' annual Day of Snow. For those of you who do not live in North Texas, the Day of Snow is the one day every year we seem to get a snowstorm. It blows in, dumps a couple of inches on us, blows away, and the snow is gone within a day or two. Some years there are 2 Days of Snow, but one is usually the average. Throughout winter, if there is even the slightest possibility of even a flake, all the local news stations' weather forecasters drop hints about it in teasers on TV, building us all up into a frenzy, until the anticipated day arrives, and it usually turns out to be another 50-degree day with "abundant sunshine".

But not today. The long-awaited storm blew in yesterday evening, snowed on us a good part of the night, and we awoke this morning to a good 2-3 inches covering everything (and a nice 5:52 A.M. phone call from the school district's automated info line, saying that school start times would be delayed for 2 hours). Everyone slept in, ate caramel rolls left over from Daddy's early morning seminary class and Pop-Tarts, then bundled up in coats and extra socks and piled outside. I took the camera out and got plenty of snow angels, snowball targets, snow taste tests and assorted white-blanketed items on digital film. Everyone's hands and feet seemed to reach their saturation point at the same time (one snow day a year is not enough to invest in snow boots or snow gloves for anyone), so after a good hike through all yards that did not yet have footprints in them, we all clamored back inside. Somehow we managed to find extra pairs of shoes and socks for everyone, got the boys off to school, and resumed our day - with the 2-hour delay.

True to its name, the Day of Snow did not take long to wear off - snow began melting as soon as the sun surpassed the rooftops, leaving white patches in the shade, lumpy plops falling from trees, and grassy, sagging snowmen in front yards. This did not, however, stop Miss Bee from picking up icy handfuls from every leftover patch we saw throughout the day and tasting each one. (I drew the line at samples from the sidewalk.) It is wistfully, gloriously over, and it is the perfect amount of snow for this Arizona-born girl: no shoveling, no yearly purchase to replace outgrown snow gear, and all gone in a day. That's about all I can handle.


the catch

Something that will stick with me....

Today I made a phone call that I thought would "help" someone. A family in a neighboring ward, who lived a block away from us for a time and were one of the first families we met when we moved here, found out last year that their youngest son has an inoperable brain tumor. The past year has been full of ups and downs, sorrows and miracles, as this family has watched their little boy's condition both deteriorate and improve, both by great strides and by the narrowest of margins. The past few weeks have been especially hard, as it seemed that the end may have been near, only to have his symptoms decrease as he entered yet one more period of limbo, his family watching and waiting for whatever will happen next. Throughout this time, we (DH and I) struggle with the desire to help in some way, but are at a loss - we are no longer in the same ward, we don't have as close of contact with the family, none of our abilities seem to be in the realm of what would be useful to them, etc.

This boy's older sister is one of my piano students, and a very enjoyable one at that. I love her personality; it is as unique as her bright red hair is in a sea of blond- and brown-haired kids. She has been a no-show for her last few lessons - understandably, as her family life must adjust constantly to each change in her brother's condition. I decided to call her mother today to let her know that taking a break from piano for awhile would be fine, that she wouldn't have to worry (as if piano lessons were the utmost of her concerns right now) and that she could call whenever she wanted to start up again. In just this smallest of offerings, I thought this would be one way I could "help". I had my words all carefully chosen before I called, and dialed dutifully, only to be greeted with a harried "hello?" on the other end from my student's mother. My composure fell away as I stumbled out some words which I hoped conveyed what I was calling about in a compassionate way, something about "if you want to take a break for awhile, that's okay with me". What I heard next was a brisk, short compliance, obviously in response to ill timing of a phone call, but the part that stood out was the catch in her voice as she said, "Yes, that's fine. Bye." That catch is a sound I cannot get out of my head tonight and probably never will.



mission accomplished!

I am writing this entry seated at the table instead of at my usual computer "work station" (standing at the kitchen counter). There is a good reason for this: my knees don't work anymore. Okay, that's in need of rephrasing - my knees work better today than they did yesterday, which was when they didn't work anymore. But the 13.1 miles are run! I successfully crossed the finish line 2 hours, 18 minutes and 57 seconds after I started. Hooray! It was tough - cold, lots of hills, sore knee - but totally worth it. There are a few sights my eyes have witnessed during my whole life that rank highly in my book. Here are some of them: my husband's face when we first kissed as a married couple, each of my kids' faces the first time I held them in my arms, several canyons, Arizona sunsets, snowy mountains and autumn-adorned trees, and the finish line at that race yesterday. DH had told me he wasn't going to be able to come to the race (it was an hour away from home), which I understood. But I secretly hoped he was planning to surprise me, though. Anyway, as I rounded the last corner and the finish line came into view, I was so happy I thought I would cry. And then, from the sidelines, came, "Go, honey! You can do it! Go, Mom! Go!" and I did cry. My line-crossing photo should look interesting.

But it's over! I would like to thank the following: DH and kids, for showing up in the cold; Lisa, my running buddy who stuck with me the entire race; the rest of my running buddies, for getting up early to run with me; the nameless volunteer who gave my family and me a ride to our parking garage after the race (and drove us around for 15 minutes so DH could remember which one he parked in); Jelly Belly Sport Beans, for giving me a much-needed boost at mile 8; and whatever factory made my bed mattress, because that is where I stayed for the rest of the day after I got home. So what is number 1329 out of 2378 total finishers going to do next? Go to bed. Good night.


the countdown continues...

According to www.cowtownmarathon.org, there are 9 hours, 1 minute, and 48 seconds to go until the Cowtown Marathon/Half-Marathon! From our group there will be 3 of us doing the half and 2 of us doing the full. We are all going out tonight (minus Jenny, a marathoner) with our husbands to carb-load on pasta at Olive Garden, and then home to sleep so we can meet at farggin' 5 o'clock in the A.M to drive to Ft. Worth. Race start time is 7:30. Say a little prayer for us (and our poor legs) tomorrow! See you on the other side!


chefs for a day

Stuntman got a kids' cookbook for Christmas and has tried a couple of recipes. Last night, he asked if he and Dad could make dinner. Dad and the boys cooked while Mom and Miss Bee went outside for a bike ride (twice around the block). They made beef stew, which is one of the recipes we've made before, and it is SO GOOD that I have to share it. It has to cook for a long time, but believe me, it makes the biggest difference. It cooks down quite a bit, too, so if you think you'll want seconds - and you will - you'll want to double or even triple it, depending on how big your family is. One batch of it gave each of us 1 serving and left us wanting more.

(serves 4)

1 T. flour
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 lbs. beef stew meat, cubed
2 small or 1 big onion, chopped (looks like a lot, but it's okay)
3 slices of bacon, chopped
2 T. vegetable oil (divided)
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 3/4 c. beef stock (we made it with Better Than Bouillon and water)
1 T. tomato paste (we've found ketchup works just fine)
1 clove garlic, minced or put through garlic press
2-3 strips of orange peel
1 large pinch Italian seasoning
2 T. parsley, chopped

Dredge beef cubes in flour, salt and pepper. Heat 1 T. of the oil in a large pot (3 qt. or larger) and cook the carrots and onions for a few minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Heat the remaining T. of oil in the pot, then add the beef and bacon, cooking until it is lightly browned all over. Return vegetables to the pot. Add tomato paste (or ketchup), garlic, herbs and orange peel and stir. Add the stock and stir again. Cover and cook on low heat for about 2 hours (yes, a long time to wait for such tasty stuff, but your patience will be rewarded) or until the meat is tender. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve with baked or mashed potatoes and a salad or vegetable, and your tummies will thank you.

I think you might also be able to try this in the crock pot - just cook the veggies, brown the meat, then put them in a crock pot with the rest of the ingredients. I'll have to try it sometime. Let me know what you think!


countdown to cowtown

The Cowtown Half/Full Marathon is this Saturday, and this girl is running the half. This girl (I don't feel too old to use that word) hated P.E. K-12, put off her P.E. credit in high school until her senior year, never did sports or anything remotely athletic (unless you count marching band) in her life, and she is running a half marathon on Saturday. Sounds a bit dotty, doesn't it? Well, I'll know exactly how dotty when I scrape myself over the finish line in 5 days.

I started running with some friends back in April, purely for social reasons. One might say I'm doing this race for the same reasons, since I've acquired pains in places I've never felt pain before - I couldn't be doing it because I enjoy it, could I? Well...there is something to be said for being outside, hot or cold, sunny or foggy (no, we're not the kind that run in the rain), having some "mommy" time. It's a good feeling when you're out there and you pass another runner who gives you a "good morning" or a "hi" as you lope by, and even if you're only on mile 4 of an 8-mile run and you've just begun the ascent of that confounded hill you hit on your loop every dang Saturday, that little greeting can give you enough of a feeling of belonging to a group - the group that gets up early to run - to push through the rest of your run. Or at least the next half-mile, until another one "good-morning"s you.

So we'll see how it goes! Five days to go!


play, magic fingers!

Today I had my first guitar lesson! DH got me a guitar for Christmas and I'm swapping lessons with a neighbor down the street - piano for guitar. Works out great, since all the guitar teachers I checked out in our area charge upwards of $90/month. Yikes! But no worries for me! My new student is a sixth-grader who has had a little piano experience, but I'm still starting her from the beginning. Her dad is teaching me guitar.
Starting a new student is so much fun. It's just so exciting to watch as someone learns the basics - hand position, how to listen and what to listen for, the names of the notes, etc. There is so much ahead for her; so many possibilities of what she'll be able to do with the skills she'll learn. (As long as she practices!) On the other hand, I find myself getting impatient for new kids to learn those basics so we can move on to the application stage, where we can take those basics and talk about everything you can do with them. That's where the magic happens; that's when their little brains get to be creative and they turn into composers.
As for me and the guitar, we aren't friends quite yet - my teacher showed me how to play 2 chords and a scale, and my fingers are very sore. According to him, "all" it will take to overcome the soreness is 30 min. of practice a day for a week. Okay, so that's the same that I require of my students, and I shouldn't complain, but pianos don't HURT. I shall persevere, however - 30 min. of 4-2-1 strumming, C scales using all 6 strings, and D-A7 chords will fly from my fingers all week, because I want to play the guitar that badly. I'm excited to be learning.



Well, here I thought we had escaped the self-administered-haircut trial so many parents of toddlers seem to have stories about, and it turns out we didn't. Miss Bee and I were doing some crafts together yesterday and she disappeared under the table when it was over, playing with some leftover craft-foam shapes (or so I thought). She reappeared, announcing, "I cut my hair!" and sure enough, there, along with several foam fairies, plastic jewels and a small pile of glitter, was the Bee-sized handful of hair on the floor under the table to prove it. Although it could have been a lot worse, it's still upsetting, and wouldn't even be quite so much that if she hadn't done the same thing last week. (I already paid someone to fix her last "style;" I've already decided to just wait this one out.) Needless to say, all scissors have been whisked away to a high shelf, and Miss Bee had to be content today with gluing construction paper scraps that Mommy cut out for her, as opposed to her own cutouts. Stay tuned - the next time you see our girl, she might show up with a pixie cut...hopefully, not entirely of her own doing.


a quick note on empathy

My husband is a triathlete. Yep, he does it all - swims, bikes, runs. And trains for it, too. This means many evenings and Saturday afternoons alone while he is out putting another notch on his training schedule. I'm happy he's doing something that makes him happy. But sometimes I find myself pouting all the same.

Even if I do complain, though, there is one perk - empathy. Let me explain. To be as speedy as possible in the water, he shaves his legs. To be as speedy (and comfortable) as possible on the bike, he wears bib bike shorts - bike shorts with sort of suspender-strap things attached to them that cut down on waistline slippage (see above - no, that's not my husband). How many women can say that their husbands know the woes of both razor rash on your thighs AND having to use the bathroom while wearing a one-piece bathing suit? Enough said.


the pink plate

In the cupboard where we keep the unbreakable dinnerware for the kids, there is a set of plastic plates in a dazzling array of colors: red, blue, yellow, lime green, turquoise blue, and pink. We've had most of these plates since the two boys were little; when we finally had a girl, I'll admit that I tripped off to Wal-mart and lovingly purchased one pink plate, stereotypes aside.

This, along with several girly outfits and dolls, was just okay with our Miss Bee for awhile. Sometime between then and now, she has come to the conclusion that she will someday be a boy. I can no longer depend on her to wear whatever outfits I pick out for her at the store (she would rather raid her brothers' dresser drawers), I apparently can't make any reference to her being a girl at ALL ("Mom, I'm going to be a boy, and don't say I'm a girl!") and she refuses to eat off the pink plate. (Although she begs me to paint her toenails, so figure that one out.) When Grandma called and asked for suggestions for Christmas presents last month, I put dress-up clothes and a tea set on the list, only because I had seen her play with these things at a friend's house. We called Grandma and Grandpa on Christmas morning to thank them for their gifts to the family, and when Grandma asked Miss Bee if she liked the Cinderella dress she gave her, she said, in a plaintive little voice, "No." (I think I gasped.) I don't think this is a gender confusion issue; I think it's just little kid logic at work - she has 2 older brothers who obviously grew up to be boys, so why shouldn't every kid in our family?

I'm okay with this for the most part. I realize not every girl is a girly girl. Of course she is free to be whatever kind of girl she's going to be. However, I guess (like any other situation where expectations are not met with assumed results) I am still a little bit sad. The pink plate has sort of come to represent that things are not the way I thought they would be. Miss Bee is no less lovable than she'd be if she was a pink-plate girl, though, so I can be okay with that.

But the other day, Daddy took the boys out for some father-son time and Miss Bee and I were left all alone for a few hours. She wanted to have a tea party (really?), so we went to the grocery store and picked out a fancy, baby-sized cake with a silver ribbon on top and brought it home, amid much ceremony. We spread Mom's lace tablecloth on the coffee table and laid out our spread: orange juice (in the little pink teapot), flower- and star-shaped tortillas sprinkled with sugar (from the little blue sugar bowl), and our purple-polka-dotted cake from the bakery. Halfway through the party, Miss Bee exclaimed, "I forgot my princess dress!" The party stopped while she changed into her frock, and resumed immediately after. What other word could I use for such an occasion other than glorious - just lovely. After it was over, the Cinderella dress came off, Mom cleaned up the mess (there was a leak in the creamer, we found out), and the guys came home.

This little event hasn't really changed anything - Miss Bee appeared this morning in a pair of red flowered pants and Flip's gray pullover shirt - but it was a most pleasant time; just me and my girl, and it's okay if the princess dress stays in the closet for awhile. I love just being with her.

But maybe I'll put the pink plate on the table for dinner tonight and see what happens.


a party in my tummy

Tonight, we went out (with the kids, even) to a "nice" restaurant - "nice" being defined as "no one can wear their sweatpants here". We went to Texas de Brazil, which is a churrascaria (dh, a returned missionary from Brazil, says something like "shoo-hoss-ca-DEE-a"), which is delicious. I will now describe the experience - vegetarians, you will not be that interested, so stop after the salad bar.

Upon being seated, you tell the waiter what you want to drink, and then you are released to the salad bar, which beats the pants off any other salad bar you will ever walk around with a plate - aside from the usual salad greens, you can choose from soup, marinated vegetables, imported cheeses, sushi (which you would never find in a Brazilian churrascaria, dh was careful to point out), hunks (not slices) of smoked salmon, potatoes au gratin (also not Brazilian, but yum!), olives, breads, and many other delights I did not have room on my plate or in my stomach to sample. After you are finished with your salad bar findings, you signal to your waiter to bring you a clean plate. Each place at the table has a small round token, green on one side and red on the other. You flip this to green, and immediately thereafter, men with huge skewers of grilled meat will flock to your table and slice off small chunks of it right in front of you, which you grab with your very own set of tongs and put on your plate. Different cuts and varieties of beef, pork, sausage, chicken (wrapped in bacon), filet mignon (!) - shazam; right on your plate. When you want them to stop, you flip your token to red, then back to green; etc., etc.

What a feast! I think the kids enjoyed it, for the most part. Stuntman, who is truly a little carnivore, was quite speechless: guys coming at him from all sides, one at a time, like bad guys in a Jackie Chan movie, and each one bringing meat - meat! On a giant SWORD! I think he was even a little overwhelmed - at one point he put his head in his hands and looked like he might need a little air (it was rather noisy and very busy; easy for a little system to get overloaded). Flip, a picky eater, did try everything on his plate and found several things to his liking. Miss Bee did surprisingly well for a 3 1/2-year-old who doesn't like wearing "nice" clothes, waiting for tables OR very many kinds of meat. (Her dinner: carrots with a bit of greens still on the end, bread, sausage, baby corn on the cob, bread, bacon from the salad bar, cinnamon fried bananas, cheese, and bread. We're okay with that for one night.)

Needless to say, this is a once-a-year (or even every couple of years) kind of an experience for our family, because of the gastric overload and because of the pricey bill, but the only reason we went was because Mom was scouring the internet for any kind of a coupon to this place for dh's Christmas present, came up with nothing but did sign up on the restaurant's website for emailed offers, and received one a couple of weeks ago for 50% off your bill Jan. 1-3. Not a bad deal! And now, dh can start on his New Year's resolution to lose 15 lbs. in preparation for the Cowtown Marathon (which I am planning to run also, but only the half marathon, so I don't have to lose so much) and Redman Triathlon in Oklahoma City this year. For a "last meal" (as he put it), it was worth every calorie.