Monday, January 31, 2011

My Baby is Almost Five

Tomorrow will be Ryan's 5th birthday. Not sure I'm emotionally prepared for him to be five already. Yikes!

Poor baby was sick today - he's got a sinus infection. But armed with a new bottle of antibiotics, he should be ready to go and celebrate with his classmates tomorrow. When he was born with pneumonia, the NICU doctor warned me he would be more susceptible to illnesses. That has certainly proven to be true. :( Still, he handles it pretty well, all in all. And we are doing SO much better than last year - not a single case of strep since the tonsils went out!

I finished wrapping all the presents. It looks kind of ridiculous, but only four are from Carl and I. Three are from Alex, and the rest are from either my mom, brother and Bebe. And there are two cards - one from Alex, one from us. Both hand picked by Ryan, who insisted he get a "Dystypical Me" card (he can't quite say "Despicable Me" and I rather enjoy his pronunciation. So we've renamed the movie. ;)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Someday My Prince Will Come

 I just finished reading Someday My Prince Will Come: True Adventures of a Wannabe Princess by Jerramy Fine. Its about a self-professed obsessive Anglophile, and lets just say the book resonated with me. Basically, its Jerramy's story about having grown up as the child of hippies in Colorado, and falling in love with Princess Diana at an early age. She was four when Diana married Charles, and while I was eight and doing what she was doing a few years earlier, it really felt like I was reading my life story for a good chunk of the book.

Jerramy (cursed with a boys name by her parents, and while I don't have a boys name, I do have a name no one can ever spell and which I must repeat several times before people understand it) decided, at age six, that she was going to marry Peter Phillips, also aged six at the time, and the son of Princess Anne. So the rest of the story is her quest to move to England, find Peter, and marry him. The book was hysterical, and I completely identified with her totally outrageous crush on the unattainable English hottie - especially when she described actually meeting Princess Anne as "my future mother-in-law." And don't even get me started about what happens when she actually meets Peter. 

When I was younger, I saw Diana marry Charles and receive a blue sapphire surrounded my fourteen diamonds as her engagement ring. Then Sarah married Andrew and recevied a large ruby surrounded by ten diamonds as her engagement ring. That left one unmarried English prince, Edward, and he remained single for quite some time. Which was perfect for me, because, what other beautiful gemstone was left but an emerald - my birthstone - and what better sign could there be from fate that we were meant to be? The large emerald surrounded by diamonds engagement ring was just waiting for me. Alas, I married Carl and Edward married Sophie, and neither Sophie nor I ended up with the emerald engagement ring.But there is still a part of me who considers myself a long-lost princess, and holds a special place for Edward.

But I digress... Someday My Prince Will Come was a joy to read. It took me back to my other life, reminding me what it was like to be young and in love with Princess Diana and all things royal. Just look at her in my all-time favorite Diana gown. Who wouldn't want to grow up and be a princess when you can wear a crown and dresses like these?!

So thanks to Jerramy Fine for sharing her outrageous story, and most importantly, (with some help from The King's Speech and the upcoming royal wedding) for helping renew my love affair with England, which had been simmering on the back burner for a few years. I've missed you.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Army Soccer

Ryan spent the day with Carl's parents as part of a pre-birthday celebration, and they took him to Build-a-Bear. He came home with his brand new bear whom he christened "Army Soccer." Its not every little boy who can have a soccer-playing camouflaged army bear, now is it?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

State of the Union

I spent my lunch hour today going through our financial accounts and conducting my own state of the union. This included checking out my pension with Travis County.

When I first started working here, back in 2000, I used to be upset that they took 7% of my salary out for something I couldn't control. Especially since I wouldn't ever seen any value from their matching if I didn't vest, and the vesting length was so far off into the future (eight years) that it was impossible to comprehend. Well, it took almost nine years (thanks to two maternity leaves), but I finally did vest. And now that pension is actually something to think about.

Apparently I can retire in thirteen years and six days. Not that I'm counting or anything. But its such a nice thought. Thirteen years isn't that far away. Alex will be in college, I'll only be 51, I can have a second career doing something completely different.Travel all I want... oh wait... I'll be about to have two kids in college. At the same time. Who am I kidding? Those 529 college savings plans don't seem to be growing as fast as I thought they would.

So I ran the numbers a different way. If I hold out just three additional years, I'll have an extra $3000 a month. An extra six years, an additional $3000 a month. Soo... to retire in 2024? 2027? 2030?

At this point, I've settled on January 31, 2027. Let the countdown begin.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Happy Birthday, Daddy. We're having yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting in your honor tonight. I'm tempted to make 70 of them to celebrate the special number, but there would go the diet. So we'll settle for one nice box of Duncan Hines' best. Miss you more than you will ever know.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Picking Valentine's

While shopping this weekend, the boys picked out their Valentine's cards to deliver to their classmates.

Ryan opted for the 'Toy Story' cards, with lollipops.

And Alex picked out the 'Harry Potter' ones.

They are the next best thing to 'Twilight' ones in my opinion. Really, someone is missing out on a marketing idea here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A LEGO a Day

As I've scoured the internet looking for birthday party ideas for Ryan's upcoming LEGO party, I found what just might be the best blog ever: A LEGO a Day. I bow down to the genius behind this blog - he has a great sense of humor, a great taste in the toy du jour, and most importantly, a great camera.

As an example:

“Hey Palpy, it’s Darth. Listen – do you have a Triple A card?”

Genius, I tell you.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Our New Tradition

Turns out we didn't have much of a signal in New Mexico, so there went my New Year's Resolution to blog daily. Oh well. Not sure why that Resolution should stick when others don't.

We had a great trip, and it was totally worth pulling Alex out of school for one extra day. He hadn't missed any school all year, so I felt pretty comfortable that we were making the right decision. And he's now over his disappointment that he won't get a perfect attendance award for a 3rd time.

The drive to Ruidoso went great, and didn't seem long at all. West Texas is like the Texas you see in movies and postcards. Cotton fields, oil wells, and flat, wide open spaces. In other words, nothing.


We did find the Best. Playground. Ever. in San Angelo, and stopped there to let the kids play for about 15-20 minutes. Its called Kids Kingdom, and its incredible. The boys LOVED it.

The next 'big' stop was Roswell, New Mexico. We toured the International UFO Museum, which was about as exciting as you might think. And we visited the McDonalds which is shaped like a UFO, and has the coolest McDonalds playground ever.

The entire reason for this trip was snow. Team Danger has been feeling deprived, and so I came up with the idea of Ruidoso, a place we used to go to back in my early youth. But as we neared the end of the ten hour drive, and were clearly in the state of New Mexico, Alex was a tad concerned about the lack of snow on the ground. So was I, to be honest. And when we arrived in Ruidoso, it was dark, and it did not appear as if there was much snow. We had rented a "fake house" (as Ryan calls any vacation home/hotel room) in the middle of the Lincoln National Forest, and when we pulled into our driveway and you could actually see snow, well, I can't begin to describe the excited energy in the Mommyvan. I know, any  non-Texan reading this is going to laugh at our amount of snow, but hey, we take what we can get.

The next morning, the boys woke up before the sun (grr..time change). As the sun rose, and they could see the white on the big hill in front of our fake house, their excitement grew. They bundled up, and quickly went exploring.

The hill was a huge hit. The boys hung out there every free moment they had, and they especially loved seeing the "reindeer" (as Ryan calls any deer) up close and personal.

The ski resort in Ruidoso doesn't offer ski lessons to children under 7 - unless one springs for very expensive private lessons - so we forgoed skiing attempts and just concentrated on having snow fun. I had picked Ruidoso primarily for Winter Park - a tubing mountain that makes its own snow, and which has an extremely dangerous conveyor belt which carries you and your tub up the mountain. You can go on your own, on a two seater tube, or in a giant family sized tube.



 We mixed it up. We went alone,  the boys together, Carl and Ryan, Alex and I, Carl and Alex, Ryan and I, and even all four of together. We had a blast, and it wasn't long into the morning before Alex asked if we could make this trip a family tradition. Both Scouts and School focused heavily on "Traditions" in December, and since then, any time Alex loves doing something, he asks if we can make it a tradition. So apparently we have a new family tradition.

We did some hiking in the forest, and discovered even more snow. Since this was older snow - I think the last time it fell was over the Christmas holidays - it was iced over nicely and was perfect for sledding. So sledding became the other favorite past time of Team Danger. And it was dangerous - Carl and I were on constant catching duty, since there was a nice sized ravine over to the side I was afraid they might go into if they didn't stay on track.

At the end of our trip, Carl demonstrated nicely just how exactly one goes into the ravine. The video cuts out when I realized I might be taping my husband's early demise, but you get the idea.

We also took our time in this area of the world to visit the International Space Museum in Alamagordo, as well as White Sands National Monument.

We brought our sleds with us, and the boys simply adored sledding in the sand. They also enjoyed just jumping in the sand, and it made for some very cool landslide effects when they did.

At the end of our trip, we decided to spice things up by driving home a different route, one that would take us past Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Carlsbad is such an incredible cave, although we've probably spoiled the boys for any other cave from now on, for what could possibly compare? All National Parks were free for the holiday weekend (bonus) and we bought the boys the US Parks Passport, so they can get a stamp in each one they go to. I thought it was a nice way to encourage them to visit more parks and spend more time in nature, and sure enough, it made a big impression on Alex. It even made the list in one of his stories we had him write during the trip! I felt like such a good parent at this moment, it alleviated some of the guilt I felt for having him miss school for a day.

The rest of the drive home was long - unbearably long. According to google maps, the route past Carlsbad should have only added one hour to our drive, but Carl and I felt like it added quite a bit more. I'm not sure if its because we spent so long at the Caverns, but this was just interminable in length. The only other highlights of this drive were the signs that said "Next Service Station: 132 miles" and the 80 MPH speed along I-10. Although you can't go 80 at night, as I learned when I was pulled over. But my trusty little badge came in handy, and I'm pleased to report that it does work outside of Travis County. No ticket for me! When it was 8 pm and we were still nowhere near home, we told the kids it was time for bed. They turned off the DVD player, pulled their blankets up, and went to sleep. It was miraculous. We finally arrived back home about 11:30 pm, and carried them up to bed. They, at least, had good days back at school the next day. Carl and I, on the other hand, struggled at work. But it was all worth it, and a good time was had by all. I even got the approval of Carl who admitted this was a great trip - although the fact that I stayed within my budget for everything probably helped quite a bit. :)


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