Monday, October 13, 2014

Ebola, Birthdays and Ballet

(Let's just pretend it hasn't been over four weeks since my last blog entry, OK?  I've been busy concocting wildly improbable doomsday Contagion-esque scenarios in my head.)

The passion for football in Oklahoma still sort of floors me.  Sure, I knew a lot of football fans growing up, I watched the Seahawks with my dad, rooted for my Huskies, but here?  It is a religion unto itself.  My sister in law had the audacity, back in 2000, to schedule her wedding during the OU - Texas game.  Her family and guests would surreptitiously (well not so much) sneak out during the ceremony to check the score throughout the brief ceremony.

Flash forward to the OU - Texas game this past weekend:  it is held at the Cotton Bowl near Dallas.  After scrolling through my Facebook feed and realizing that PVT and I were among just a handful of Tulsans who had not left their children with the in-laws to go to the hallowed game, I started to make some horrible calculations:  Tulsa is very close to Dallas.  Lots of Tulsans and Oklahomans descended on Dallas this weekend.  Lots of Tulsans were coming back from Dallas to Tulsa.  Do you see where I am going with this?  How far, exactly, is Texas Health Presbyterian and its environs from Cotton Bowl Stadium?

Not that far, people. So yes, before I sent my children to school this morning, I did some crazy, wholly unscientific and fear-induced calculus in my little untrained brain.

This, my friends, is why I am slacking on the blogging.  I am transfixed by Ebola.

I know it makes no sense for me, in my relatively sterile suburban bubble, to obsess over this.  And my kids have been robustly healthy these past few months - maybe I don't have enough to worry about!  But a little bout of stomach flu running through our house unhinges me, so I cannot begin to fathom the despair that these people in West Africa must be experiencing:  a stomach flu that is so awful you might die.  Or your child might die.  And the medical help is wildly, horribly insufficient.

I wish God would intervene pretty quickly.  I am sure he already has, but I'm impatient like that.

ANYHOO.

That's enough of a glimpse into the paranoid musings of a Tulsan hausfrau.

Now to the more lovely and pedestrian happenings around here:

This guy turned twelve.


Keane is, despite a penchant for disorganization, (don't worry Keane, no one you know reads this blog!) doing quite well this school year.  After losing his school ID twice in the first few weeks of school, leaving his phone on the bus and forgetting a few homework assignments, he is doing kind of rocking his new middle school.   He is also balancing soccer and band with much requisite loafing and playing some Risk-type game on the computer.  And, quite to his misfortune, he has inherited his mother's penchant for obsessing and worrying.

And that is all I will say about our beloved first born who is, after all, on the brink of teenager-dom.

The girls have been busy with their little dance classes.  Well, Sylvie has been busy and Margaux desperately wishes she were.
Margaux crashing the big girl dance class
 Today Sylvie did her little "fall program" in ballet class, where the girls did a little hula number:

She hula'd her heart out
Of course the highlight of all this showboating was the cookie party afterwards:


She works hard for her cookie


Some mom spent a freakload of money on these ballerina cookies
So yes life is chugging happily along here.

Thank goodness.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Weekend A La Woodlands

We are going to take a break from our regularly scheduled solipsism and give you a little tour of this fabulous little satellite of Houston, Texas, called The Woodlands (I think you have to capitalize the "The."  It's a little pretentious and fabricated, which is exactly what I love about The Woodlands.)

A couple of weeks ago I slipped away at butt thirty in the morning (totally kid free!  The last time that happened was 2009!) to visit my former neighbor and dear friend Ravishing Red Ann, who had moved to The Woodlands a year ago.

Moms at a wine bar.  I am not the cute redhead.  

First of all, I had never been to Houston.  Houston, for the unitiated, is a big mother effer.  There are freeways that are light years long and go in 38 directions all at once.  I blithely flew Southwest into Houston Hobby, not knowing that Ann was about 20 minutes from Bush International and about 392 miles from Hobby.

Either she's used to driving or a saint in training, because Ann happily drove eighteen hours to pick me up and drive me back to Houston Hobby.

And then we drove to The Woodlands.  The Woodlands is a lush green island oasis off the freeway that is completely fabricated (I think they say "Master Planned Community.")  They only cut the trees down that they need to clear for buildings and roads; the rest of the time you feel like you are in a big green maze.
The Woodlands, aerial view
All the shopping and malls are tucked discreetly in little wooded groves, so that you don't even see all that tacky retail from the roads.  You might see a subtle little sign saying "Whole Foods," but if you blink you'll miss the little sign.
There is a Walgreen's in this picture!  Don't you see it?

At one point we were mulling our many, many dinner options (I am not kidding.  There are about 292 hip and chic options for any genre of cuisine your heart desires), and I swear I thought we drove the same road for about an hour, even though we were always heading somewhere different.  I think the only way you learn to drive in The Woodlands is either an acute sense of smell or muscle memory.  

But don't let all this bucolic green gorgeousness belie the economic powerhouse that is The Woodlands:  Exxon itself is building its new headquarters there - it looked like the Death Star was being constructed, in a vast acreage of concrete and cranes:
Exxon Death Star

Energy and tech-sounding companies are popping up in gorgeous sleek new office buildings anchored by juice bars and upscale sushi joints.  Property values are skyrocketing.  The whole town is teeming with young hip brainiacs (like Ann's husband, Eric).  (You're welcome, Eric!)  

So what does all this vigorous economic activity mean?  You guessed it, my friends:  the shopping is FABULOUS.  In a strange cosmic coincidence (cough, clears throat), The Woodlands NORDSTROM'S grand opening coincided with the morning of my arrival.

So of course we went here straight from the airport.  It was teeming with throngs of beautiful Woodlands Wives (oh my Bravo!  Have you checked that possibility out yet?).  On a whim I decided to get a makeover at the Chanel counter:

Before:  Suburban Hausfrau from Tulsa

After:  Texas Soccer Mom Moonlighting as Pole Dancer
So I spent the rest of the day scaring the good people of The Woodlands with my hooker eyeshadow. 


And the restaurants!  I don't think you could walk four feet without hitting a wine bar, or a hip yuppie pub, or an Asian Fusion, or an upscale Mex.  It was salsa and margarita heaven.


Seriously.

They are even building a Westin in The Woodlands.  
More Yuppie Utopia
I had a flashback to a moment in Seattle, 14 years ago:  I was having my final fitting for my wedding dress, and my seamstress's daughter was there, visiting from Houston.  It was one of those perfect sapphire-blue Seattle days, and I remember feeling a deep sense of pity for this poor girl who lived in Houston. 

I am sure God is having a good chuckle over that little moment.

So Thank You Ravishing Red Ann for a stupendously hedonistic Weekend in The Woodlands.  And thank you PVT for watching six kids and two dogs (one of whom had raging diarrhea) while I played at being a Woodlands Wife.  PVT of course fared fabulously:  the only casualty was a pan who met its demise in the sauteeing of peppers during an Oregon football game.

And young people of today?  Forget about all that sunscreen nonsense.  Just major in WHATEVER you need to major in to live in The Woodlands.  

You'll thank me.  Really.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Oh Yeah I Have a Blog

This post has been brought to you VERY tardily by the following:  my mentally precarious state right now; bassoon lessons; soccer; soccer tournaments; ballet and tap lessons; piano practicing; homework; a 36 hour trip to the Woodlands, Texas; and big heaping piles of puppy poop.

Isn't that crazy?  Life getting in the way of me sharing my super weighty thoughts?

They aren't weighty.  But there has been a lot of living going on here.  For instance:

We spent Labor Day weekend - Friday afternoon to Monday night, to be precise - in Plano for a soccer tournament.  I am proud to say I somehow got five children to a game at 9:30 in the morning in an entirely different area of Dallas while PVT took Keane to his game.  Then the next morning, I left Phil with all the children and rode with a friend to Keane's game...we got hopelessly, pathetically lost, worried the soccer manager mom, and had a rather hilarious time.

Ahem.

This guy's team made it to the finals (Rory is right next to the coach) (the poor boy in the blue shirt broke his wrist in game 2!):


I texted my sisters after the game:  "They lost!  But our guys were tired, there was some home-cooked reffing, and the other team was pretty dirty!"

And then:  "Oh my gosh I just sounded like a soccer mom."

The day we got home, PVT and I celebrated 14 years of blissful wedded-ness.  Well, not really, he went to work and I got everyone ready for school and dragged my bum to the gym.  But he came home and surprised me by taking me to lunch (Mex - because he is good like that)!  Here was my oh-so-touching Facebook summation:

PVT: 14 years, 3 states, 3 houses, 6 delightful (occasionally not) kids, 4 angels, 5 dogs (erm), 2,483 soccer games, (1,427 margaritas...), 84,383 purchases at Nordstrom, 78,281 returns at Nordstrom...thank goodness you've stuck it out with me, even though I cry too much and buy too much. Happy anniversary. Here's to growing old and wrinkly together, and here's to hoping at least one of those kids comes to visit once dementia settles in.

Of course Phil doesn't actually go on Facebook, so he didn't see it.

Then this happened:



Yes, like her brothers and sisters before her, Margaux started attending St. Bernard's preschool.  So now I have almost 10 hours per week with no kids.  I have always had a newborn when I had a two year old start the preschool, and now I don't.  Sniff, sniff.  I feel alternately very guilty (why aren't I homeschooling like all the other good Catholic moms?  Reality check:  they are better mothers than I am and I would lose my sh*t.), and then sometimes I rather - well, ENJOY the time.  (bows head in shame.)

Luckily I still can't go back to work.  But I will volunteer a bit at the kids' schools (although the PTA intimidates me).  I will go to the gym a bit (but not too much because methinks some of these hot mamas take the pursuit of the perfect bod a little too far).  Maybe I will try to find a Bible study group?  Goodness knows I could use an infusion of spirituality right now.  I don't know.  I am a super lucky mother and wife; I just need to know what to do next.

But I shouldn't be in a huge hurry to figure it all out, either.

Other news?  I went to the Woodlands, Texas, for THIRTY SIX KID FREE HOURS to visit a former neighbor and dear friend while PVT toiled with the kids and dogs.  This excursion requires its own post, so stay tuned.  PVT, of course, did a fabulous job.  Only one pan was harmed in my absence, and it was during an Oregon game, so that probably doesn't count.

And finally, our little Latina turned four on 9/11:
We will celebrate her birthday tomorrow in our usual obnoxious, over the top way.

Ah, Sylvie.  I could fill an entire blog with her antics.  She may drive me to an early happy hour every other day, but this little girl has enough chutzpah and joie de vivre to light up a bus.  The best part?  She doesn't even know it.
 Happy Birthday dear Sylvie Maria.  I'm both petrified and intensely curious to see what the growing years hold in store for you.  It is sure to be quite a ride.  We do love you so.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

This Post Has So Much Content It Might Blow Up

Well, we went out with a bang:  we did the zoo:

Gah why didn't we just go to a playground if you want to play on the zoo playground?

"Zoorassic Park"


The Zoo Train.  Sylvie is not ACTUALLY in a trance.

A Camel Ride.  Anything to Spend Another $5 Per Kid!

We also went to a Drillers' game - they're our little minor league baseball team.  This should have been fun, but Sylvie and Margaux were being rather awful, PVT was irked at me for sneaking in a little flask of my trademark beverage - Diet Mountain Dew with a splash of Pinot - and then I forgot towels and a change of clothes for the little ones for the splash pad.  So Sylvie just got wet and froze, and then we left!

The next night PVT and I were somehow, inexplicably, invited on a pub crawl via Party Bus.  No, I can't believe it either.  I was very, very excited.  But we discovered that we really aren't cool enough for a pub crawl in a double decker bus.  I had visions of us staying out until 4 am and dancing on the bar tops, but I should have known that if I drink when I don't have food around, I get tired and silly.  And I was worried about the babysitter being out so late, and my own need to function the next day.  What a party animal I am!  So even though we went to fabulous bars with wonderful friends, by pub #3 we snuck out and took a cab home at the embarrassing hour of 1 am.

And the next day I was STILL exhausted.
A gorgeous rooftop bar in Tulsa!  I felt like I was in A CITY!
It was a lovely night, but I guess I have to wait until I'm much older to go on another party bus, which is really depressing.
PVT would rather have a root canal than have anything to do with a selfie.
This post is almost over, I promise.  

***

This morning things #1-4 went off to school.

Two of them were in new schools, so we were all a bit queasy.

Well, maybe that was the dog crap issues I also had this morning, but I can't even write about those without wanting to cry and puke a bit.  



On past first days of school, I have loaded the elementary kids on the bus, and then met the bus there, parked, and waked them to their classrooms.  The parking has changed, though, so this year I ended up missing them come off the bus, and then just ended up traversing the whole entire school with Sylvie and Margaux just to say "bye" (which was probably more of a disturbing interruption than anything else), and sweating very very profusely.

Gah.

What a summer.

Maybe someday I'll tell you about the dog poop.

Then again, maybe I won't.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Will, Training Wheels, And Then I Get Sappy

So this guy turned eight yesterday.

We had our usual chaotic gaggle of kids here.


Margaux found a friend
 And a ridiculous, large inflatable water slide.



I thought kids would eventually get bored, but it was used CONSTANTLY for over 5 hours, so I think we got our money's worth.

Except during the interval when the thing blew a fuse and started deflating with a bunch of kids at the top.  I screamed to the kids to get down, I screamed at Phil who was already looking for the fuse, and Will proclaimed it the worst party ever.

It's not a good party without a little drama, right?


Oh Will.  He is our feisty little clown who has perfected the art of verbally torturing his brothers.  He is tough and scrappy, and can put up a big bravado of a front; but deep down he has a very sweet and vulnerable heart.

I fervently hope to protect and nurture that innate sweetness throughout these growing years.

***

You know some of those things that first time parents get really excited about?  Potty training, sleep training, early reading, yadda yadda...I would add to that list "riding bikes without training wheels."

Colette had been asking forever to take the training wheels off her bike, and I deflected the question to either PVT or would be vague about "after vacation" or "..." because yuck, all that running, and falling, and crying.  But then one night PVT, who is much more responsive about those sort of things, took them off.

The girl is six, and she just took off.

 Yay for lazy parenting!



***

This is our last full week of summer.  We will go to the zoo and a baseball game to finish off with a bang.  What a sad, fabulous summer it has been.  Our trip with the gorgeous tall mountains and the oceans of puke. All the stuff, the camps, the lessons the kids did.  Seeing my family, a visit from my sister.  Being pregnant, then not being pregnant.  I will always remember this sweet and teary summer of 2014.  

I have started to scream and yell a lot; there have been way too many sibling squabbles.  My grand experiment on chores has, by my own fault, faltered.  We are starting to get on each others' nerves.  So maybe it's good they're going back.  But I don't get quite as excited anymore at the beginning of school, because while I like a little break, school is too much of a break.  They will be gone too much, and I will feel useless and restless.  If there were a school where I could send them two days, and then do a little of "homeschooling lite," that would be my ideal - does this exist?  In Oklahoma?

Gosh sometimes I wonder if I am doing OK, not screwing these dorks up.  I love them so very much.  



Monday, August 4, 2014

Dumb and Dumber

If there is a short list of "Really Stupid Things People Do After Returning From a Massive Driving "Vacation,"" I am pretty sure that "Procuring a Great Dane Puppy the Day After You Get Home" certainly hovers at the top of this list.

And that's exactly what we did.

Rory had been asking for a dog for a long time now.  Perhaps we had a bit of amnesia from our last failed puppy experiment (Coco was adorable and totally incapable of making any sort of human connections.  Maybe we didn't try hard enough.  Alas, she is now happy with a family in Owasso.  We think.), but we thought it would be good for Rory to have a bit more responsibility.  So come his 10th birthday, we told him we would get a dog when we got back from vacation.

I guess I thought "when we got back" would be some vague time in the distant future - 2015 or so? - but PVT and Rory found an ad for Great Dane puppies.  I have always admired Great Danes' size and regality -from a distance - and so while I was unpacking and detoxing the van, I agreed.

Gulp.

So here's Dixie:


Her mom was 170 pounds; her father, 210 pounds.  POUNDS.

She is charming - I think, besides the annoying puppy traits of gnawing on everything, having the audacity to have hookworms (oh for eff's sake the vet bills), a little skin infection, and being WAY too excited to start the day - she starts whining around 5:50 am.

So PVT and I REALLY dislike her in the morning.  But we warm up to her after that; she really likes people, is pretty good to the kids (when she isn't gnawing Margaux's tutu), and is generally amicable.

So God works in mysterious ways:  I don't have a new baby, but I have a large Great Dane puppy with hookworms.

It's all good.

I think.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Long, Excurciatingly Boring Vacation Post


Mesa Verde.  So glad I am not a cliff dweller.

Well hello again blogosphere.  After twelve or thirteen hours - who's counting? MOI! - of driving in the van (wherein much puke was involved), we arrived home from a two week epic road trip late last night.  I was both thrilled and relieved to discover even after some of the uber-luxurious hotel rooms that PVT booked, our house seemed lovely, clean (yay me!), spacious and...just simply home.

Get the freak away from the edge you kids
From my near nervous breakdown in Bandelier National Park (I apparently have a terrifying fear of kids next to the edge of rocky precipices), to a little sojourn in Santa Fe, to Durango Mountain Resort, and then to meet my parents and sisters in Beaver Creek - whew.  It wasn't all easy, of course (how can any trip anywhere with eight people be easy?), but it was really wonderful.  These dang kids had better remember it for the rest of their entire lives.

The Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe
They could have bungee-trampolined all night
The ill-fated ropes course (she ended up suspended upside down and petrified)
We discovered a few things along the way:  while we knew Margaux was prone to carsickness, holy moley schmoley.  There were quite literally oceans of puke on this trip.  Every time we started on a big drive, the slightest curve would trigger Margaux's delicate tummy.  I could always tell before she was going to get sick, though, so I could hold her and help her.  This led to a lot of roadside stripteases:  I disposed of an egg-sodden shirt somewhere near Alamosa, Colorado; rode in the van in my bra and undies through Denver; gave some truckers a free show near the Denver airport; and, on a particularly awful "scenic" highway from Durango through a theoretically charming mountain village called Ouray, balanced a (finally) sleeping Margaux and a bucket of puke for THREE HOURS.
This kid will do anything
ATV-ing

Scenic drives can suck it.

But actually the mountains were really, really gorgeous.  There was one night I snuck out on our "private 5th floor balcony with hot tub" (so yes, PVT is really, really good at finding deals at luxurious hotels not accustomed to middling income types with large families), high up in the mountains of Durango, and watched a far off thunderstorm.  I felt quite close to God, my lost little baby, and this whole beautiful awesome mess we're in the midst of.  Of which we are in the midst.

I forgot chairlifts are petrifying
Ready to zip line!  Is that a verb?
There were a few - OK, several - times when the tears came; but mostly I felt at peace.  No, that's a lie.  I'm still a little befuddled and lost, despite all the riches (by that I mean six healthy awful kids) I have already.  I met a lovely grandmother at one resort, who, in noticing my mass of humanity, told me she had had eight children.  After her sixth, she became very sick, and thought she wouldn't have any more.  But she was blessed with two more, and then realized that it was time for her to "just be a mom" to the ones she had.

I think these were words I needed to hear.

We went to the "National Sand Dune Monument" in Colorado.  This was after I had been puked on twice, and was also worried about one kid's persistent coughing, a lack of suitable nearby lunch places (what can I say?  I am obsessed with the next meal), and being out in the scorching hot July Colorado sun.

So I didn't get any pictures of the girls doing this:


Or the boys doing this:


I really wish I had gotten a boy picture, because when Rory came down the mountain, his entire body was covered in sand, including above his eyes (he had had a bit of a wipeout), and looked like a Star Wars sand creature.

And then we proceeded to unload 8000 tons of sand into the car (the showers there, should you ever need to know, are highly ineffective).
The "weenie" girls' rafting trip (Margaux hates life jackets!)
We finally met up with my family in Beaver Creek, which was breathtaking - it's right next to Vail.  My parents splurged on a Westin (it sat right on the gurgling river) for all of us for their 40th anniversary.  I hope there are Westins in heaven.  I love the smell, the Heavenly Beds, and the doormen (apparently to be a doorman at the Westin, you have to be a super hot guy with just the right dash of insouciance.  Of course these guys were also die hard skiers in their spare time).
Everybody except my sister Molly and her husband Bryan.  They must have been off canoodling.
It was quite the sojourn.  The only thing missing was Nordstrom - and I didn't even care!  Thank you, dear Mom and Dad.

PS - and thank you, PVT.  It should be noted PVT drove the ENTIRE time, because he hates my driving.  And maybe puke.