November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

This year was probably the smallest Thanksgiving dinner in our hosting lifetime. Our guestlist was in the single digits, whereas in the past, it averages between 15-25 heads. Even though I missed having the hustle and bustle of a pack filled home, the quaintness of our intimate dinner with our lovely family members was a relaxing change.

What really helps this [frazzled] hostess now is her teens can do a lot of the prep work.
In the past, I've been known to spend the ENTIRE day before Thanksgiving (or any other formal dinner) just dressing up my table. Ironing linens, polishing the silver to shiny perfection, setting the table per Emily Post etiquette, creative napkin folding, finding the perfect centerpiece, and even the final touch of personalized place cards. Yes, I get much satisfaction from these arduous tasks. And, I admit, this is the time, when I have been known to almost turn Martha Stewart crazy (short-tempered, nit picky, and maybe a bit of yelling here and there). ;)

However, since we had a smaller fete this year, these tasks were delegated to Domi and Jay. As Domi polished the silver candlesticks and Jay set the table with the
Lenox Solitaire China and vintage circa 1921 Grosvenor flatware, I tell them, "one day, these heirlooms will be yours!". They both looked at me with this blank stare, and then went back to work, without saying a word. Ah well.

I share the same passion with certain antique items as both my maternal and paternal grandmothers. My paternal grandmother was an antique reseller herself. Maybe Sophia will be share in her mom's enthusiasm when she's older. She did after all, get giddy herself about having her very own place setting at the table and even managed to drink out of a small wine glass (filled with Cranberry juice) without a single spill or breaking it. Those practical life skills we work on are coming in handy!

Our (everything homemade) Menu consisted of:

Appetizers~ Baked Black Cherry Brie with Toast Points (Eric)
Main Dinner~Honey-baked Ham, Deep-fried Turkey (David), Rice Dressing, Green Bean Casserole, Green Chili Macaroni and Cheese (Eric), Shallot Whipped Mashed Potatoes (Eric), Sweet Potatoes (Holly), Fresh Cranberry Sauce, and Dinner Rolls and Cornbread.
Dessert~Bread Pudding (Eric) and Pecan Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream and Pralines.





Adding this photo to balance some of the refinement with evidence of a good ol' cajun deep-fried turkey.


Hope you all had a wonderful and restful Thanksgiving with your loved ones.

November 25, 2008

Surviving Camping

Last weekend, we packed up and went camping for our final trip of the year. And, boy, was it COLD! With everything going on, I was not prepared for our trip, so planning and packing was done at the last minute (and most of the camping duties were left to Mike). I managed to get our clothes, toiletries, and first aid stuff packed up, in addition to cleaning the house before we left (one pet peeve of mine is to leave the house dirty when we go on a trip...there is nothing worse than coming home after travel to a dirty, messy house!)

So, we get there WAY after our "planned" arrival time. Let's just say the sun was setting as I was checking us in (which took 20 friggin minutes because of a mixup with my BIL cancelling at the last minute). Needless to say, we were setting up camp in the DARK.


Luckily, Mike's boy, Dallas was already there and they had their camp set up, so the guys took care of setting up our tent, while Natalie and I watched over the kids and kept warm by the fire. Oh, and did I mention that Mike forgot to pack the sleeping bags? Yeppers, we camped close to primitive style the first night! I was pretty much, pissed (mostly at myself for not having checked). Luckily, he remembered the blankets, but it was a damn cold (30 degree) night. The following night was MUCH better. Wind was gone, so it was nice. The days were gorgeous. Cool and sunny.

I'm still looking forward to our spring camping trips, and now, have learned my lesson to not procrastinate. And we're also not doing 2 day camping trip any longer. It's just not worth it for 2 nights after all that planning, shopping, packing, setting up, and then undoing all that the next day. 3 days will be our new minimum.

Who's ready to join us in the spring? Hehe...








November 24, 2008

Sneak Peek

I can't post photos from this family photo shoot because they are supposed to be a surprise for their extended family for the holidays. I'm crawling the walls to post the rest because they came out so beautiful, but I'm happy to be able to post this one for now.


November 23, 2008

Growing Pains

Last night, we drove to my brother 's house for dinner, which is down by the lake. For those of you who live locally, we take Volente Rd (a windy road) to get there. Sophia even squeals, "Wheeee!!" as we drive down it. On many parts of this road, it feels secluded and even a bit like we're in the mountains surrounded by trees and darkness, and at times, like a rollercoaster, with its tight curves and hills.

As I put my brights on Domi says, "Oh, yeah, Donovan did that when we drove down this road last week". So, that reminds me, we haven't had a chance to really talk about what he did with his uncle while Mike and I went camping. (The HS made football playoffs, so the band had to go with them to Houston last weekend, so that's why Domi stayed behind under the supervision of my brother).

Me: "So what did you do with Donovan last weekend?"

Domi: "Oh, yeah Donovan taught me how to drive!"

Me: [a bit startled at first, then reminded myself that Mike has been working on teaching Domi to drive for a while in the empty church parking lot and down our neighborhood street. And Domi is after all, at that age].
"Ok, sounds good. Where did he teach you?"

Domi: "What do you mean?"

Me: "Did he teach you in the parking lot of the high school?"

Domi: [in the most casual voice] "No. Actually, I drove down THIS road after he picked me up from the high school Saturday night."

Me: [my head does a subtle jerk] "Uh, you drove down THIS road at NIGHT?!?"

Domi: "Yeah! I drove all the way to his house! And I didn't panic once!"

Me: [sigh]

*Note to Donovan: In a few years, Auntie Andrea is going to show your girls how to apply makeup, and how to walk in "Tacones" (heels) before you're ready. Orale?
Heck, I may even buy them some princess dress up heels for Christmas. I KNOW you'll LOVE that.

I enjoy hanging out in Domi's room. I know, it sounds crazy. Most moms don't want to open their teenager's doors with a 10 ft. pole, for fear of what they might find. For me, I especially enjoy sitting in there and looking at what project/creation he's currently working on.


November 20, 2008

At Least He Got Birthday Beer

My honey's birthday was yesterday. The plan was to dress up, go out to eat (sans toddler), just us two, and come home and enjoy each others company. By the end of the workday, we ended up ditching the dressing up and eating out part, so Mike brought take out and we relaxed at home.

A few years ago, I forgot my husband's 39th birthday. Yes, I earned the Bad Wife Award that year. I made up for it on his 40th by throwing him a HUGE Casino surprise party and his peeps from Louisiana flew out for it. That was the only time I've seen Mike cry.

Now I find myself almost earning the Bad Wife Award again. I don't have any photos to commemorate this year's birthday. The good thing is Mike doesn't get his feathers ruffled like I would. But still. The man deserved a cake on his 44th birthday.

Things have been so busy on both our ends. He's working so hard to keep his new business running strong and steady, and I'm busy getting my in home childcare program licensed through the state. Every evening is filled with eating, cleaning up the kitchen, doing paperwork, brainstorming for an official name for my program (which I'm still stumped on), and burying my nose into one of the many early childhood books I'm reading. Looking forward to our Thanksgiving break next week and Jay will be flying in!

But how cool is this?
My friend Tanya walked in yesterday morning with this 6 pack of beer, and my initial thoughts were, I don't need a drink THAT bad at 9:00 am! She then tells me that is not for me.
It's Mike's Birthday Beer!


November 17, 2008

My Flare

A quick snippet from our camping trip this weekend.

Looking at this, I am reminded
Life is beautiful
And fragile

May all of those who need love and light, receive it.

November 12, 2008

Football Firsts for the Tots

Coming up to take a breath after a busy, busy couple weeks, but wanted to quickly post these pics from Domi's high school's last [well, it was supposed to be the last] game, but the football team made playoffs, so marching band season is still not over!

Our friends, Andrea, Daniel, and Colton, and Anja and her Anika joined us to watch the band march their last performance (or so I thought it would be) of their award winning 'On Edge' Show. Well, I must have missed the memo because they didn't perform their show (this is why I need a personal assistant). Instead it was an end of season combined show with the other high school band. I was pretty disappointed, especially since our friends came out to see the band's show (and it takes a LOT of effort to find parking, get through the mobs of people, and find somewhere to sit, with toddlers mind you, in chilly weather!)

But I have to say, the tots enjoyed taking in what we all know as Friday Night Lights in Texas.







November 06, 2008

La Ofrenda


Feliz dia de los Muertos

November 04, 2008

Today is the Day


November 02, 2008

What Feels Good

For Halloween, during the day, I did something a bit different this year. Sophia, Lulu and I, joined Lori and Meredith and their children for a visit to a nursing home. The children passed out treats to the seniors. Several of the seniors were incredibly thrilled to see the children, especially with them donning adorable costumes. And, many of the Seniors were wearing costumes themselves! They received sugar free candies, homemade cards and notes.

I was very proud of the girls. They did very well with their manners and with passing out the treats.
I left there with a great feeling and lots of warm fuzzies. It felt good to do a little something extra, rather than simply putting Sophia in a costume.






And here's my Best Shot below. The lovely lady couldn't get enough of Sophia. And it melted my heart.


For more Halloweeny images, visit Mother May I.

My Peacock

I know I'm her momma, but isn't she so stinkin' cute?
And who said female peacocks aren't as beautiful as the males? =)


This was Sophia's first year to Trick or Treat. Her Mema was in town, which was a nice treat for the both of them. We got a late start, so I don't have any good pics with the dusk lighting. Her cousins, Alana, Serena and baby Don joined us, and after a few doors, Sophia was right up there with them holding out her peacock basket. And, she even kept her costume on the entire time.


November 01, 2008


This week I returned from some training with the staff of the about to be opened Olive Tree preschool in South Austin (and oh, what a gorgeous school it is!). Even though I'm not employed there, but rather, run a small Reggian-inspired program out of my home on the other side of town, I was grateful that the owner extended the invitation for me to attend, and am so very pleased with the alliance we've built.

The week was refreshing, and even a bit emotional for me (for many of us actually) as it solidified and confirmed my reasons for doing what I do with my Casa T program. When I first learned about Reggio, I was drawn to it because of its untraditional philosophy.

As a former public school teacher, and a parent of two teens (one with 'special rights'), I've seen first-hand how the educational system in our country has become increasingly standardized and structured. This is a sharp contrast to that of the Reggio approach because this approach is unstructured and focuses more on each child's individual needs. The curriculum is designed around the child, instead of the child needing to be ready for the curriculum.

In an article written by Tess Bennett, an early childhood special education professional, she describes her observations during her visit to the preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and discussed how the Reggio schools work with children with 'special rights' in a very responsive way.

"For example, one child with autism was allowed to roam around the school for several months while the teachers observed her to find out what was interesting and motivating for her. The staff noticed the child was interested in light. They began to offer her opportunities to experiment with light, and eventually she started to interact with another child at the light table. Continuing the interest in light, the child with special rights interacted with another child while experimenting with a prism. Reggio Emilia staff believe in starting with all children "where they are." This strategy requires knowing the child well and having good communication with the child's family about the child's interests. The Reggio Emilia staff believe that finding out what motivates a child is worth more than hundreds of meaningless exercises."

When I read this, I began to cry. If only this had been a resource for my own child when he was young, instead of the many standardized tests that decide a child's educational abilities, that are so prevalent in our school system. Yes, he has survived--I like to say he's persevered--but it has been a very bumpy road, and one I would have rather he not have traveled on.

I do want to add that observation is not only used extensively for children with special rights, but for ALL children, in order to gain insight into the child's thinking process and understanding the self.

We concluded our training with making of dreamboards to represent what we want to see in our school (and for me, in my inhome program). We had a very short time, but I managed to find words and images that spoke to me.





I love how her board below, flows off the paper. This gal thinks outside the box.