It’s been too long!

I’m finally back in my blogging chair, after 3 weeks of prep for selling our house. It’s been a busy, exhausting existence as I cleaned out closets, touched up paint, boxed things up, and whipped our house into “show palace” quality.

Pedey Dog is especially exhausted by all the pre-moving festivites

Pedey Dog is especially exhausted by all the pre-moving festivities

The house went on the market Friday, and we’ve had 8 showings and are entertaining 2 offers. Gotta love the red-hot real-estate market in the great state of Texas.

Please tell me the prospective buyers looked in this linen closet, which hasn’t been this tidy in years. IMG_9096

Ditto the pantry, hall closet, and downstairs linen closet.

I defy any member of this household to say they can't find what they're looking for in here!

I defy any member of this household to say they can’t find what they’re looking for in here!

Closets this neat & orderly fill me with a crazy amount of happiness.

Closets this neat & orderly fill me with a crazy amount of happiness.

I'm tempted to leave the closet door open!

I’m tempted to leave the closet door open!

In the process of getting this place ready to sell, we’ve taken the age-old real-estate advice of “de-personalizing” the house: removing personal effects such as framed photos and the collection of assorted clobber that migrates under magnets on the refrigerator door. While I haven’t packed up every personal artifact, a lot of it is gone.

The former "gallery wall" has been cleared and is now part of a spacious, but boring, hallway.

The former “gallery wall” has been cleared and is now part of a spacious, but boring, hallway.

The “after” picture is a lot less When I shared this photo in celebration of my #1 son’s birthday last week, my friend Michelle texted me to say “Wow, your house looks empty!” and my friend Christy said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen your kitchen desk totally cleared!” 935156_10201180197613955_485530324_n

It’s true. I always have a basket on the corner of the desk full of papers, unopened mail, magazines I intend to read, etc etc. Somehow the pile in the basket would just grow taller as more things were added but the papers and mail sat undisturbed and the magazines grew dusty. Every once in a while I’d empty the whole basket in a frustrated purge, but the basket itself was a mainstay.

Not anymore. This house is still occupied, but the everyday detritus has been ruthlessly culled. Box after box of stuff we don’t need in the near future went out the door and into storage (thanks, Ed; aren’t you so glad you have a pickup truck and extra space??). Tons of stuff went to Goodwill, where shoppers will be “poppin tags” aplenty with the pile we donated.

I'm so glad this stuff is at Goodwill instead of in my office!

I’m so glad this stuff is at Goodwill instead of in my office!

While I was aggressive in my culling, I did also try to forecast what we might need access to and at what point in this process. It’s rather like a triage; the stuff we definitely won’t need (holiday decor, specialty baking pans, and winter clothes, for instance) got boxed up first and were out the door. Stuff we may need between now and when the new house is ready at the end of the year went out the door as well, but is a bit more accessible. I’m not usually a big-picture thinker, but am trying hard to forecast what we need at the ready versus what can go into the deep recesses of storage. The one thing I did not account for was the crazy-cool weather we’ve been having. Field Day at my favorite girl’s school dawned with the temperature a mere 42 degrees — down-right cold for us thin-blooded Texans. She wanted to wear one of her cute hand-knitted scarves, and was a bit peeved at her overzealous mother when she learned that the winter accessories had been packed up and shipped out. How was I to know that Houston would have the coolest temps in the history of weather recording?

With the end of the school year approaching, our needs and our schedules will be much more flexible (and if we need a scarf at any point between now and the end of the year, I’ll take full responsibility for my short-sightedness). A big plastic bin of summer clothes, a few swimsuits, and a pair of flip-flops will suffice from June through August. But once school starts, we’ll still be a few months away from moving into the new house, so we will need a slightly bigger wardrobe, a more structured schedule, and the ability to find things when we need them.

It’s an adventure.

My favorite girl said she hopes the house sells fast, so she can go back to living like a slob. Both kids are sleeping on top of their comforters, rather than under the covers, so it’s easier to make their beds every day. I’m on constant patrol for any stray item not in its proper place or any rogue crumbs not wiped from the kitchen counters.

The one family member who has not yet been disturbed by the flurry of recent activity in and around the house is Piper. She’s thoroughly enjoyed her car rides when prospective buyers have come to look at the house. As long as her food bowl is filled twice a day, she doesn’t care what goes into a box or is moved to storage. 21169_375804029207062_1452133213_n


Celebrating another year of my favorite girl

Last year’s photoglut for Macy’s birthday was so much fun that I’m doing it again. My favorite girl turned 11 yesterday, and after a jam-packed weekend of celebrating, we’re all exhausted but smiling at all the fun we had. image

My girl has a unique blend of steely determination and all-encompassing kindness. She may well be an “old soul” based on the compassion and insight she possesses. She pays attention to the little things, like having flowers waiting for me when I get out of the hospitalIMG_3356

and giving me a week off from cooking dinner — the best gift I’ve gotten in a long time!IMG_0750

She’s the type of kid who makes it easy to be a good parent: she does her homework as soon as she gets home from school, brushes her teeth without being asked, keeps her junk-food intake in check, regularly tries new and healthy foods, and keeps an eye on the clock so she can respect her bedtime.

I know…kinda sickening, isn’t it? Don’t be too jealous; I do have a 13-year-old boy at home, too.

As conscientious as she is, she’s equally wacky. For career day at school, her choice wasn’t a veterinarian or a teacher. She wanted to be the lead singer for KISS. I’m sure her teachers were very impressed.

She used the same costume for Halloween, which made it easy on me!



Miss Wacky insisted on wearing a rainbow afro wig when she went to see Madigascar 3 at the movies. Just like the zebra character in the film, she rocked it!IMG_3061

Goofing with her piggie is her favorite pastime.DSC_6159

IMG_0165Although cutting a rug is one of her favorite things to do, too, and she’s an excellent dancer.167189_1746379908546_4716390_n

She has a keen interest in ok serious obsession with lotto scratch cards. I have no idea where she discovered scratch cards, but she’s asked for — and received — a few for all the recent occasions.IMG_0742

Along with scratch cards, my favorite girl has developed a love of cooking and spends a lot of time in the kitchen. Her latest savory creation: customized pot pies, so that each member of the family could get exactly what they want. IMG_0756

She’s earned $800 from baking cookies, brownies, and pies in the last few months for a class trip to Washington, D.C., this summer.563534_4268875367041_352268049_n

There were cookies for all the holidays, including Halloween550366_4863010660052_1799773870_n

and she perfected the M&M cookie. Yum!23902_10200139726802835_2046760115_n

She even baked her own birthday cake this year, and it was beyond delicious.IMG_0779

She loves to read and carries a book pretty much everywhere she goes. IMG_0112

IMG_3602She has her own sense of style and loves to strike a pose. IMG_0250

DSC_6106_2This girl makes a splash everywhere she goes.IMG_3266

She has a smile that can crack your heart right in two. IMG_0268





This time last year, she still looked like a little girl.IMG_2426

All that is changing, however; this year’s birthday dinner found a young lady on the receiving end of the Happy Birthday song. image-1

That’s ok; she’ll always be my little girl.

Not bad

It’s been two weeks since my knee surgery. A fortnight, as they’d say on Downton Abbey. While I’m not one to sit still by preference, I would rate this healing process a solid “not bad.” It’s certainly nothing I would choose; I much prefer to be a perpetual busybody. Being constrained by my body makes me crazy, and I used to fight it mightily. I still hate it, but am coming to accept it. I’m not one for horn-tooting, but I’ve gotten a lot better at convalescing since cancer and infection so rudely interrupted my life. Put a knee surgery, albeit a complicated one, into that context and you’ll see what I mean. I’ll never love being grounded, and I’ll always yearn to be able to do more, go faster, move freely, and aim higher, but I’m doing ok. A solid “not bad.”

Physical therapy started in earnest on Monday, despite the Labor Day holiday. I was definitely laboring in my PT session, no doubt. While a good, hard workout leaves me spent and satisfied, a good, hard PT session is an entirely different animal. Making my battered knee do things it doesn’t want to do, like bend and straighten without hiding behind a limp and an outward-swinging cheating motion, is hard work. Convincing my knee that going down a set of stairs is not cause to sit down and cry is rough. My trainer is a hard-ass with no sympathy and no mercy — just the way I like it. Yesterday I was surrounded by real athletes — not adrenalin & endorphin junkies who pursue fitness but athletes who live & breathe by their sport. Watching them grind out a crazy-hard workout while I felt desolate by the endless floor exercises my PT requires, I noticed the green-eyed monster creeping in. Yep, I was jealous of those able-bodied guys whose bodies sailed through increasingly difficult exercises. Burpees with a 3-step box jump? Easy. Overhead press with gigantic plates and metal chains thrown in for extra weight? Cinchy. One-arm rows while balancing one-legged on the Bosu ball? Piece of cake. Their form is impeccable, their bodies never lagged, and their muscles rippled showily beneath their dry-fit clothes. I was flat-out jealous.

I’m still swollen, bruised, and slow. My form is decidedly old-lady, and just getting onto a couple of the weight machines was tricky. On a normal day, I’d just hike my leg up and hop onto those machines, but these days, my steps are slow and borderline shuffling, and hiking up a leg and hopping on aren’t on the menu. As I struggled through my workout, right leg shaking angrily with the effort, I realized that those athletes who looked so effortless were out of place. They’re NFL players, and the season has started. So…why aren’t they working out in far-flung cities, with their teams? Two had just been cut from their teams, and one didn’t get asked back at all. They had a bigger problem than I have with my rehab: they’ve lost their jobs and are scrambling to find another spot on another team. So while their bodies haven’t stopped them from doing what they want, circumstances have. I’m guessing they feel as much stress and frustration as I do, and who knows — they may look at me enviously, because all I’ve got to worry about is a few months of rehab while their very livelihood is on the line. 

Perspective. Once again, perspective smacked me upside the head.

I guess I needed that little reminder that while I’m “not bad,” I could be a whole lot worse.

Today is a day of rest & recovery. At the end of yesterday’s session, when my trainer ordered me to rest today, I balked. Rest?? I’m just now starting to see some progress. My range of motion is better, and I managed to use a different cardio machine than just the bike (my least-favorite, by a lot). I’d worked up a good sweat and was starting to catch a glimpse of a decent workout, after a bit of a dry spell. I didn’t want to rest & recover, I want to go, go go! Later that evening, though, as the muscle strain and soreness and the ever-present tightness around my kneecap set in, I understood. So today I will stay out of the gym. I will rest & recover. I was tempted, though, after I dropped off my middle-schooler, to run on over to the gym as is my routine. One day away, and I miss that place like a lovesick crackhead, as Ke$ha so eloquently says.

Since I’m grounded for the day, I have plenty of time to figure out how to clean up this:

Our little piggie found a lipstick in my purse and after she tried it out, she got some on the carpet.

pink is her color!

Not bad, Piggie. Not bad.


Celebrating the ordinary

It’s Day 5 of Marie’s gratitude challenge, and after a rotten night’s sleep and an early-morning wake-up call from Princess Piggie, I’d really like to crawl back in bed. I could be grateful for that, right? That would count, wouldn’t it? I purposefully left my bed unmade, on the off-chance I might fall into it as I walked by after dropping the kids off at school. But I’m not a good napper and usually awaken feeling worse than before, and then my sleep cycle would really be disrupted, and things would get really out of hand.

Instead, I’m going to pretend that it’s an ordinary day and dive into my most favorite and decidedly ordinary breakfast: old-fashioned oats, almond milk, blueberries, raspberries, and a sprinkling of almonds. Nothing fancy, not at all trendy, perhaps too carb-heavy, but a little spot of ordinary worth celebrating, especially on this sleepy day. 

Piggie portraits!


Double digits!

Today is a very special day.

10 years ago today, Macy exploded into this world.

She’s been making a splash every day since.

My baby is 10 years old today.

When we brought her home from the hospital, in her little car seat, we had no idea what kind of fun, wildness, and hilarity would ensue. Her personality was right there from the very beginning, ready to wow us and cause us to scratch our heads at the idea that someone so small could have that much verve.

Every day with Macy is an adventure. This girl has been going places since Day One.

She may be tiny, but she’s ready to go.

As soon as she checks her voice mail, that is.

I hope she’s not such a heavy drinker as she seems to be here. Yikes! (Although, yes, she does come by it honestly.)

She’s always been the queen of the wacky projects. No telling what she had in mind for that giant stack of paper plates. Whatever the plan, she’s hatching it with intensity. Intensity, but no pants.

Such creativity is hard to contain. Starting school was rough for this girl. She was not a happy camper at preschool open house.

She’d rather be on the beach.

There’s a lot of important work to do in the sand.

People to see, things to do. Shades to wear.

This girl has always had her eye on the prize.

Make that two eyes on the prize. Two very big eyes.

Love those big eyes!

And the funny faces. That girl is a master of the funny faces.

“You want a piece of me??”

What ‘chu talkin’ about, Willis?

Hanging with Hayley always elicits wackiness.

I am 100 percent sure Macy was behind the bubble explosion and that she convinced Payton to come along for the wild ride.

She has her sweet side, too.

With a love of animals as big as Texas, our girl never met a creature she didn’t adore.

Macy, as you celebrate the wonderful world of double digits, I have a few things I wish for you:

May your creativity always rule as you live your life out loud.

May you always take it to the limit. Push the envelope. Go your own way. March to your own beat. While this trait of yours drove me nearly to madness in your early days, I trust that it will serve you well as you navigate life’s twisty, turny path. Be yourself — no matter what.

May your projects always inspire you.

May your acute fashion sense always lead you to put your best foot forward.

May your days be full of magic.

May your every recipe turn out just right.

May your life be long and sweet and full of all your favorite things.

May you always sparkle!

May you never lose your drive to work hard…

…and party hard.

May you soar as high as the clouds.

Make a wish, sweet girl!

Cheers to you, Macy girl!

The happiest of birthdays to my favorite girl.