Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Close Encounters of the Tooth Fairy Kind

Yesterday, Luke lost a tooth.

So last night, the Tooth Fairy was supposed to visit.

She fell asleep.

But in the shower this morning, she remembered. Luke was still asleep. He'd left the tooth, not in his tooth fairy pillow or under his actual pillow, but in a plastic baggie on the kitchen counter. So instead of possibly waking him up by slipping a dollar into his room, the Tooth Fairy, in a mad, towel-clad dash across the dark house, opted to take the tooth and replace it with a dollar and leave it on the kitchen counter.

When the Tooth Fairy finished getting ready for her day job, she emerged from the bathroom to find little Luke, a look of great chagrin, sitting on her bed.

"The Tooth Fairy didn't come, Mommy," he said, dejectedly.

"What do you mean?" I asked. "Where did you leave your tooth?"

"In the kitchen," he replied.

Big Brother Curt to the rescue, completely unprompted.

"Well everyone knows that the Tooth Fairy leaves the money where the tooth is," Curt exclaimed.

Luke hurried to the kitchen. There, in a plastic baggie on the counter, was a crisp dollar bill (thankfully only ONE dollar, and not the $20 the Tooth Fairy INADVERTENTLY grabbed in a sleepy 3 a.m. stupor when he lost his last tooth).

"It IS true that she only leaves it where the tooth was," Luke said in awe.

Crisis averted.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Rainbow Tomatoes and White Beans

Yesterday I was struggling to think of a side dish to bring to a friends'  house last night for another friend's birthday celebration. I wanted to make something delicious (of course), that would go with the chicken sausages I know the hostess would be grilling, but the dish was going to have to sit in a cooler for several hours before the party as we attended another event. 

Then I opened my new copy of Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine. And there it was: Rainbow Tomatoes with White Beans. Who could resist a recipe with a title like that?

How lucky are we to live near the tomato capital of Texas: Jacksonville? A quick run to Brookshire's produced all the fresh-off-the-truck produce I needed for this magnificent recipe.

My pictures aren't that good; Michael will be disappointed. (kidding, Michael....you're too nice to tell me that my iPhone pictures stink...but that's why photography is YOUR job, not mine.) But the end result was a fresh, flavorful and gorgeous to look at salad that I think was enjoyed by all last night.

I started with curly parsley instead of flat-leaf. It has a slightly licorice flavor to it and gives a dish, especially one like a fresh salad, a more distinct flavor than using flat-leaf.
Capers add a salty touch, I even omitted the extra salt in the recipe and let the capers stand in. A caper is the pickled bud the immature caper flower and delicious to cook with.

I enhanced the vinaigrette with lemon-flavored olive oil.

Jacksonville tomatoes are out of this world. The green ones have a crunchy texture and the orange add color.

Cannellini beans are my favorite to cook with. I love their texture and their buttery taste. With six grams of  protein a serving, I would consider their addition to this salad main-course worthy, but I'm sure some of my more carnivorous friends would disagree. ;-)

All in all, a truly delightful meal!

Rainbow Tomatoes and White Beans

2/3 cup chopped parsley
2 T capers, drained and chopped
2 t red wine vinegar
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound multicolored tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
1 can (15 ounce) cannellini beans, rinsed
1/4 cup pine nuts

In a large bowl, combine the parsley, capers, vinegar, garlic, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp peppers, whisk in the extra virgin olive oil (I used a citron flavored EVOO for extra flavor). Add the tomatoes, beans and pine nuts and toss to coast. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

LOVE LETTER to Mom and Dad

Today is my Mom's birthday. 

When I talked to her this afternoon, she had the MOST EXCITING news to report.

To celebrate her birthday, my Dad is taking her to Rehoboth Beach for several days next week.

Let me tell you about Rehoboth. It's not on the French Riviera or the Almafi Coast. It's not tropical or Caribbean. Rehoboth is on the southern tip of Deleware and it measures exactly one mile square. 

One square mile of vinegar-soaked, sun-filled, fragrant memories of years and years of laughter.

My mom went to Rehoboth Beach when she was growing up as a child in Maryland. 

When our family moved back to the East Coast, to Richmond, Va., from a 4-year hiatus to Louisiana, we started taking vacations to Rehoboth Beach. We deviated...twice...I think...but always ended up back on the "boards" as we used to say. 

The week at Rehoboth every summer was always magical. It never mattered that once our rented cottage had fleas. Or that another that we rented for several years in a row had no air conditioning; it just mattered that we were there. The family, or parts of thereof, went every year up until the year, recently, that my parents bought a place at Sandbridge, just south of Virginia Beach.

So when Mom told me that Dad had booked time for next week at the Atlantic Sands Hotel on the boardwalk in Rehoboth, I almost fell over. Dad's always gotten Mom nice gifts for special occasions, but if I had to guess (it's not even much of a guess) I'd say my mom's love language is NOT "receiving gifts." Instead, I'd be willing to bet the farm that what my Mom responds to most is "acts of service." I think a lot of women would love the gifts my dad regularly picked out: new clothes and jewelry, but I *think* what MOM was looking for were the little deeds and affirmations that showed that she was listened to and could have some of her tasks lifted from  her shoulders. 

The JOY in my Mom's voice was unmistakeable when she was telling me about the trip to Rehoboth. Dad had listened. (WTG, Pop!) They were going back to the place, together, that was our family stomping ground during our formative years. 

The amount of love in that deed  is tremendous. Because I'm not sure anything could have made my mom happier. 

Love you both!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Yesterday was NOT a good day for Curt. 

It started poorly when his morning routine was disrupted. He usually hears my alarm clock go off and immediately comes and jumps into my spot on the bed while I shower and get ready for the day. Sometimes he's fallen back asleep by the time I'm done, but usually he's up and at 'em, asking me 90 million questions as I'm trying to leave. 

But yesterday, he was SOUND asleep in his own bed when I left. He didn't even stir when I kissed him goodbye. So I left him breathing deeply in dream land.

It didn't go over so well.

In fact, Curt simulated the morning routine by closing my bathroom door and jumping into bed anyway.

Then he went to camp all day. Which he's still adjusting to. 

When I got there to pick him up, I walked into the big gym where the kids congregate and suddenly remembered I needed to pay the weekly tuition. So I went back to the car to get my wallet to the plaintive scream of "MOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMYYYYYYYYY." 

It didn't go over so well.

After snacks at home, we went to the pool. Where Curt was put in time-out so many times he lost computer privileges for three days and his privilege of watching "Ghost Adventures" on Friday and Saturday night. Kid just didn't know when to quit the backtalk. *sigh

He cried the whole way back from the pool. When we walked inside, he was lamenting his "autism brain" and insisting that he was mean and stupid and I like Luke better than I like him.

I said, "Curt, there is nothing wrong with your autism brain. Autism brain means sometimes it gets overloaded."

You could SEE the light come on. 

Curt was INSTANTLY calm. 

"Oh, it gets overloaded!" he acknowledged. "Yes, it gets overloaded a lot."

"So from now on, Curt," I said. "When I see you start to get overloaded I'll say the code word, 'overload,' and that will mean to stop, take a breather and think about what's happening."

A little later in the evening, the neighbor kids showed up to play the very-favorite-summer-game of Night Hide and Go Seek. 

"No thanks," Curt said. "I've been overloaded today so I think I'd better rest."

Curt chillin' out

Monday, June 20, 2011

Peter 5:6

I was going through the "Notes" in my iPhone this morning, deleting grocery lists, random thoughts and updating the lists of books I'd like to read and movies I hope to see someday. 

I found a note titled "Peter 5:6." Clicking it open, I found that I hadn't written anything except that. Luckily, I'm sitting in front of my computer, so it was easy to look it up.

It is SO PERFECT for my day today.

1 Peter 5:6-7

New International Version (NIV)
 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Flippin' Out!

Today, I did something I have NEVER. DONE. IN. 38. YEARS.

But always wanted to do.

I executed a very ugly, very sloppy front flip --- then back flip---  dive off the diving board at the pool.

When I was a teenager, I used to watch one of my BFF's, Kelly Miller Brough, on the dive team. And she could take her slender, athletic body and contort it in all fashions of twists and flips off the diving board. Kelly went on to Harvard, and I might be making this up, because high school was five, twenty years ago, with a diving scholarship. My summer boyfriend, Jimmy Dameron, was also on the dive team, and he had a hang time on a forward dive that would make Tony Hawk envious.

But I never tried to dive. Probably because my adolescent angst was crippling.Or my pink and white tropical print, ruffled bikini was MUCH cuter than the navy blue industrial dive team uniforms.

Neither should have mattered.

Was I destined to be a great diver? Nope. Probably not. But I NEVER. TRIED.

I don't know what possessed me today.

Baby steps in living without fear (thank you, Max Lucado), but I just went up on the diving board and flung myself in the abyss. The pool, that is. Landed FLAT on my back. I came up sputtering and laughing so hard I could hardly swim to the side. Then I did it again. And again. And again. I didn't improve much. So I tried a back flip. My face landed parallel to the salt water. I didn't care. I tried it.

I had DREAMED about beautiful dives. Calculated them in my sleep to where I knew exactly how much force I needed to do a complete back flip in layout position with a no-splash entry into the pool.

Of course it didn't happen that way.

But it doesn't matter.

I tried.

No fear.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Economics 101: As Taught by Curt and Luke

A collection of randomly overheard observations and lessons about money, jobs and spending.

Curt: When I grow up, I'm going to marry a really, really rich lady.
Luke: I'm just going to save my money.


Curt: I have a lot of money in my savings account.
Luke:  Me too. Granny and Pop hook us up!


Curt: Wow! Mom! You just spent A LOT of money at the grocery store.
Me: Yes, groceries cost a lot of money.
Curt: I have a dollar in my wallet if you need it.

Luke: My job is going to pay about $100 a day. It costs that much for the mayor to walk around the city. 


Curt: But WHY can't we go out to breakfast? I'll skip lunch all next week!


Curt: Mom, do you have any paper money?
Me: No, I don't usually carry cash. I use my debit card.


Curt: Mom, can I buy this DS game?
Me: No, we're not spending money on that right now.
Curt: But do you have any paper money?
Me: No.
Curt: So just put it on your debit card!


Curt: CiCi's pizzas are only $5. That bag of chicken is $6.98. I like pizza A LOT more. 

Friday, June 17, 2011


On occasion of their five-year anniversary today.

Anthony and Becky on their wedding day.
Today just isn't their fifth anniversary, it's a banner day in their battle against Anthony's cancer as well. It's fitting that today, a milestone in their personal lives, is also the day they got the great news that Anthony's second bout with cancer has ended victoriously. Because just a few months ago, on Anthony's 31st birthday, they'd found out that the cancer he'd survived the previous year was back, and now in a different spot.

I'm going to let Becky say it better than I can say it myself: (P.S. She doesn't know where the shift key is to capitalize. ;-) )

there's no "subject line" large enough to convey the enormity of our emotions right now... 
anthony's cancer is gone. 
the horrible chemo did a damn good job.  the tumor, originally 10 x 5 x 7 cm, is now a wonderfully puny 1 x 2 cm ball of scar tissue.  the chemo will continue to eat away at it for awhile and in time, his body will take care of the rest. 
second best news of the day:  he can have his port out as soon as possible.  looks like i'll be packing sterile gloves, a scalpel and a bottle of jack daniels for our overnight adventure tonight.
he'll have bloodwork done again in 6 weeks and will have a CT scan in 3-6 months from now.
ecstatic doesn't cut it....
and today is our anniversary.  five years ago today we vowed to be there for each other in sickness and in health.  we're very much looking forward to the health part of that equation.  :)
my incredible siblings gave us a night away at a B&B nearby (including babysitting by the infamous aunt beth & uncle matt), so we will have much to celebrate tonight.  we CANNOT wait!!!!
and a lifetime of graciousness goes out to all of you for your prayers and concern and care and love.  turns out chemotherapy and YOU ALL are a winning combination for us.  thank you so much for getting us through these past months.  thank you, thank you, thank you.
lots and lots and lots of love (and a GIANT smile),

I can't help but cry when I read that.

I think as the tumor shrunk, Becky and Anthony's love grew. They have been there every step of the way for each other. Leaned on each other, supported and cried for each other. It may sound cliche, but two cancers in two years while raising a toddler and an infant is backbreaking for so many couples. And from what I've seen, they've come out stronger.

You don't know how much I admire that. 

I love you guys and HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

It's Not What Happens TO You...

Among the blogs I follow, there are two written by women who largely focus on the hardships they have been through in the past several years.

They have each been through things that would cripple most people and leave them a sniveling puddle on the floor.

But the blogs are markedly different.

H's blog is full of life, laughter, and hope. Her perspective on the hand she's been dealt is matter-of-fact and forward thinking.

C's blog, however, is darker and full of despair. I don't even know the woman, but I think it would be difficult to wallow in doom and gloom day in and day out. I try not to let it bother me, but I would love to say something like, "It could be so much worse. So put down the ice cream and step away from the keyboard."

I guess that shows a lack of compassion on my part. Someone recently said to me, "You never know what another person has gone through." And she was right. You never know how someone experiences life.

But when it comes right down to it, it's not what happens TO you, it's how you handle it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The N Word


As in, "never say never."

I've eaten that word more times than I can count (maybe that accounts for the extra 20, ok, 30, pounds!)

For example (this is one of my favorites):

I told my mom back in 1996 or 1997 that I would NEVER live in Texas. Even when I moved here in late 1997, I promised to be back in two years after graduate school. 


After losing a bunch of weight a few years ago, I swore I'd NEVER weigh XXX pounds again. 

Oops. (I'm still blaming the high caloric content of the N word)

I'll NEVER, EVER buy cowboy boots.  

Connie and me, Cattle Baron's 2011

Ooops. (they're pretty cute!)

Having children has brought about some of the biggest N missteps ever.

My children will NEVER use a pacifier. (spoken like someone who hadn't had children yet and enjoyed 8-9 full hours of sleep a night.) About three weeks into Curt's life he was sucking a blister on my pinkie finger and the sensory benefits of a pacifier seemed paramount to anything else. Curt AND Luke used pacifiers. Luke got his the first day in the hospital. And guess what? It didn't hurt them, mess up breastfeeding or ANYTHING. Phew.

I will NEVER co-sleep. Again, totally underestimated the effects of sleeplessness. Baby Luke, who had to eat EVERY 90 MINUTES (I do not exaggerate) was easier served plopped next to me in bed. And guess what? I never rolled over on top of him and I'm pretty sure he's not scarred for life.

I will NEVER put my children in front of a television. Baby Einstein.  30 minutes of bliss every afternoon at 5 p.m. That's all I'm sayin'. 

I will NEVER buy a DVD player for my car. And technically, I didn't. My parents did (with my permission). And while we still play the alphabet game, the license plate game and look out the windows on long road trips (because the West Texas landscape is SO compelling), I'd much rather hear the boys giggling in the backseat to Looney Tunes dvd's than fighting. Call me crazy.

And now that they're getting older, I would NEVER get them their own computer. Well ya know what? Curt HOGS my laptop to work on his website and Power Point presentations. And I work from home a lot. So I'm *considering* it...

Maybe what I should do is say I'll NEVER do/get the things I REALLY want. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Today is apparently C Day.

Cancer Day.

In a few minutes, we'll leave for Chick in the Park, a fundraiser for local hero Lindsey Pond. Lindsey, who isn't even 30 years old yet, has had breast cancer twice. Then I believe (and I need to check my facts), it moved into her lymph nodes. Most recently, she had a brain tumor removed. So today, in honor of Lindsey and in order to raise funds for the young family, a group of her friends came together for Chick in the Park. The Magills will perform. Chick Fil A is bringing food. And proceeds go to Lindsey, who taught second grade at Bonner Elementary School here in Tyler.

Then later tonight, I'll be attending the American Cancer Society's Cattle Baron's Gala. Gettin' my kicks on Route 66. Proceeds from Cattle Baron's benefit the LOCAL chapter of ACS. The money raised stays HERE in East Texas. For gas cards, wigs, and any other supplemental services needed by cancer patients.

C Day.

My brother-in-law,  Anthony, finished his chemo this week. At 31 years old, this is Anthony's second bout with cancer. His first was last year. And at his one year CT scan to see if he was cancer-free, they found more. Becky, my youngest sister, and Anthony, her husband, have weathered this like they have all things: like champions. I'm more proud of them than words can express. My sister is a ROCK. I can't even fathom what they and their two children, Ben, 3, and Claire, 1 1/2, have been through in the past two years. But they have overcome. Anthony has his next CT scan on their anniversary next week. Prayers would be appreciated. 

So today is C Day, in honor of all those who have struggled with cancer.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

'I Don't Want To Die'

I'd just tucked Luke into bed last night and went into my bedroom to set my alarm clock when I heard the little sniffle from the hallway.  

Luke came in, tears in his big, brown eyes. 

"What's wrong, Lukey?" I asked, all having been well when he got into his bunk bed moments before.

"I don't want to die," he sobbed. 

I pulled him into my lap on my big bed and we started talking about Heaven, Jesus and that he was going to live a full life. He calmed down quickly and then snuggled into my arms. 

We laid down and within minutes, he was asleep in my arms. 

Just like when he was a baby. 

Luke was my cuddle kid. Pretty much from the day he was born, when he slept on my chest all night long where I could hold him close and marvel at the miracle of him, Luke wanted to be held. By me. I wore him in a sling forever, because he was happiest pressed up close against me. 

He slept with me for months after he was born. Largely because he wanted to eat every 90 minutes and I was too exhausted to get up and walk across the house to his nursery. So that's how he slept, pressed up against me. 

Now he's 7. He kind of ducks his head when he comes out of school, but still accepts a kiss on the top of his sweet blond head. But at home, he'll do "squishy," which is our version of a big, all encompassing bear hug.

So last night, when my sweet angel baby fell asleep in my arms, it did feel a lot like Heaven.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Psalm 34: 17-18

17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them;
   he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
   and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

LOVE LETTER to Andy and Juli

I'll admit it: I'm a little sad today.

Missing my family in Virginia FIERCELY. With the intensity of 10,000 burning suns. Or something like that.

And then I just saw a post from my newest SIL, Juli Robbins Brocato, to my brother, Andy, full of love and fun.

I remembered who inspired my "Love Letters" series in the first place.

Andy and Juli got married April 30 after dating for almost 3 years. It was an inspirational wedding full of heartfelt touches. But THEN I found out they were reading LOVE LETTERS to each other during the ceremony.

I'll admit, my first thought was, "Oh jeez, if I have to sit through 20 minutes of 'you touched my heart' I'll vomit."
(OK, so my reaction wasn't that strong but I do tend toward a bit of hyperbole).

So Juli went first.

Read her letter to Andy.

SCREEEEEECHHHHHINNNGGGG HALT. I need to back up. There's important history here.

Andy...if I'm being honest, would probably have been voted the Least Likely To Share Feelings in our entire family.

But that's why their letters to each other were so touching.

I cried.

No. I BAWLED into my pewter napkin.

Juli read a letter to Andy which revealed she knew him better than she probably knows herself. I expected Juli's letter to be eloquent. And funny, and dramatic and touching and humorous and loving. Because that's Juli. She GLOWS, Juli is larger than life. She's gorgeous, she's passionate, she's funny, she's always the center of attention.

But I did NOT expect Andy's letter to Juli.

Andy read a letter to Juli that began with Andy's typical humor, "Can I just say ditto?"

I figured it would all go downhill from there.

But it didn't. Andy pretty much achieved the peaks of Mt. Kilimanjaro with his letter.

The brother whom I'd never expected to HAVE a wife, let alone WOO a wife, let alone WRITE such a letter  blew me away. I  cried. No. I  BAWLED.

He wrote about how her free spirited opened up his conformity. He wrote about how her laughter cracked into his solemnity. He wrote about how all the things he'd never have tried, like opera or musical theater, enriched his life because she introduced him to it. He wrote about how the corporate 8-5 executive and the musical theater actress met and fell in love. He wrote about how her profession as a birth doula inspired him. He wrote about how she's as gorgeous all dressed up as she is wielding a  hammer doing home renovation projects impressed him.

All that impressed me. Inspired me. And made me believe that they WILL make it.

Love you guys!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hot Dogs, Coke and Autism

Let me make it QUITE CLEAR, from the GET GO, that I am NOT  blaming either Coca-Cola or hot dogs for Curt's autism.

Disclaimer finished.

But I do spend quite a bit of time wondering, (more years ago than today) what exactly causes autism. No one really knows.

I've already said I'm NOT a devotee of the vaccinations-cause-autism school of thought.

I still wonder.

When I was pregnant with Curt, I kept waiting for the pregnancy symptoms to kick in. I ate crackers in hopes that morning sickness would indicate I was, in fact, PREGNANT. Aside from a few mild incidents....nothing.

I waited to crave root beer floats and pickles at 3 a.m. Nothing.

Nothing until Brian mentioned that he'd gotten tickets to an Astro's game.

And then it kicked in.

It didn't matter that prior to getting pregnant, I HATED hot dogs. And wouldn't have touched anything other than a Diet Coke with a 10-foot pole. As soon as I heard we were going to a ball park, I NEEDED a hot dog and Coke.


And I was also die-hard. No artificial sweetners, no caffeine, no processed meats...I didn't ingest  ANYTHING that was on the "caution" list of equivocal foods for pregnant women.

Until the Astro's game.

I relished (ha! pun intended) that hot dog.

I slurped  up every ounce of that Coke.

While the pragmatic side of me believes that Coke and hot dogs did NOT cause Curt's autism (after all, I knew a woman who drank a six pack of Mountain Dew and smoked a pack of cigarettes a day and still gave birth to a healthy, neurotypical baby), I do wonder if it's something as random as ingesting mustard on day 97 of gestation.

It's probably not. I mean, there HAS to be a genetic component. Boys are 10-1 more likely to have autism as girls. There might be an environmental component. The Texas and California petrochemical coasts have the highest birth incidences of autism in the county. (hello, environmental mercury)

I wish they'd figure it out.

Then I wouldn't feel so bad about that hot dog and Coke.


Slept late (for ONCE!!!)

Made biscuits.

And eggs.

Drank an ice cold diet coke.

Worked. On the proof book. Edited. Rearranged. Slashed.

Cleaned....well maybe not so much, but I"ll do that tomorrow...after all, tomorrow is another day.

Birthday party. At my most hated place. Love you Laurabel, or I would not darken the doors of Chuck E. Cheese at noon on Saturday.




Porch party.