Saturday, April 30, 2011


While scanning through several drafts of posts that were neither finished nor published (nor revisited in many cases), I came across one that seemed fitting on the day of the ***** *******.  I'll be honest that I hadn't given it (the r**** w******) much thought until I was invited to watch it at a BFF's house.  We did a lot of fast-forwarding, and rewinding (marvelous hats!), and eye-rolling, and giggling, and chatting.  (She even wore her wedding gown, which is one of my all-time favorites, and I wore my wedding shoes and tiara with a bridesmaid dress and remembered why they are generally one-time-wears)

Back in January I recorded the following observation about wedding vows - the two sentences that I will never forget.  These were my thoughts:

"This has brought me to tears as my husband and I (3 years married, 11 years of friendship) are nearing the end of some serious financial and emotional hardship involving his suspension from work and my pregnancy with our second son (7 weeks old) as our toddler has just turned 2 years old.  On the Feast of the Holy Family we went to mass at a local hospital because we knew it would only take 30 minutes (the best option is the fast option after a rough night with both of our children).  Ryan had to leave the short mass almost immediately because our toddler started having a screaming tantrum, and I was standing alone rocking the newborn without any view of the sanctuary from behind a column in the hospital chapel.  It was not pleasant, and it was not what I expected of mass 'as a family.'

Before the homily, the priest called all the married couples to come up to the altar to renew their wedding vows.  I stood behind the column alone with my bobble-headed newborn as the short narrow aisle to the tiny chapel filled with married couples of all ages.  I was a little peeved that we would not be able to participate in this sentimental exercise.  I don't have many bible verses or poems memorized, I could count them on my fingers, but my vows are burned in my mind.  I remember before our wedding that my dad told us not to have the priest recite for us to repeat, but rather to just remember them.  He recited the vows that he has known and lived for the past 29 years to prove how simple and possible it is to remember such an important statement, and he is neither a nerd nor a romantic! (he's a golfer)

As the priest asked everyone to repeat after him, I recalled my vows silently behind that column, and it was a beautiful reminder of our commitment and of nostalgia for our wedding day.

Shortly after the vow renewal a young boy (about 8 years old) came over and offered me his seat, which was a beautiful reminder that my family will get there.  The boys will grow up, and we will be able to go to mass together again without raising hell or hunting down the quickest mass in town.  There are still chivalrous men raising chivalrous boys in this world that seems to totally reject the values of respect and charity - women should ALWAYS take a seat offered by a boy to give the feedback that he is doing the right and manly thing and that women notice and appreciate the respect of men.  Even though I'm sometimes standing alone bouncing a squirmy baby, my other half is with me in spirit wrestling a disgruntled toddler."

The vows are in no way deceptive.  The vows are clear that there will be ups and downs.  There will be ease and there will be struggle.  There will be surf'n'turf and there will be rice'n'beans.  The choice is one that will last a lifetime of sunshine and storms.  The bond of marriage is for the blissful and care-free honeymoon and for the sleep-deprivation of early parenthood, the date-nights and the bill payments, the giggles and the sobs.

I, Renee, take you, Ryan, to be my husband.  I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health; I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.

Cheers, to the days that end with kazoo fanfares and raining petals!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Yard Funk...

Unstrap one side of your overalls and come on over now, y'hear?  Oh, and feel free to leave your shoes and your teeth at home for this one.

You are probably certain that someone has maliciously overtaken my blog, but you are wrong.  It is Redneck Yard Link-Up time over at The Borrowed Abode.  Would you believe me if I told you that these pictures are an improvement?

I'll begin with the not-terribly-horrifying "big picture."  Check out that peaceful hammock, while ignoring the diapers on the line!

And now I'll bring you along for the redneck tour...  got yer gingham crop top and braided pigtails ready?

Here is our sliding screen door, still taped up from Hurricane Ike (2008) and the foundation repair (2009)... it keeps the critters out and distracts you from the filthy screen!

Feast your eyes on this spectacular patch-job from our foundation repair... you'd never know that they dug a hole there wouldja?  Oh, except that the patches don't match and it has elevated parts of the patio 4-6 inches?

Hows about the veggie garden?  Sorry, St. Francis, I won't tag you in the pics, and maybe I'll finish cleaning up in the next few years.  (note the ant-infested half-bag of soil at the top left, two rolls of chicken wire, a roll of weed-blocking tarp, curling ribbon garden grid, piles of sticks to attract a bug-control-patrole of anoles, and patchy growth of crops due to squirrel "seed reassignment" and hapless digging. oh, and check out our only "functional" hose that is a soaker and requires being strategically coiled around the top of the garden to disburse the water... and which I have to hop the fence to turn on and off at the delightfully "weatherproofed" spigot)
...this delightfully "weatherproofed" spigot)

Did anyone else notice the TWO seen-better-days swing sets?  While we are thoroughly appreciative of the 1. donation of the "tree house" set, and 2. the labor it took to get it to our house by my marvelous in-laws, I don't think anyone would argue that it could use some... ahem... safety upgrades... and aesthetic enhancements.  Oh, and that's where we do most of our recycling... in case you were wondering... no, wait, that's the bin we jimmy-rigged with a garbage bag for Ryan to pull the weeds.
See that dangling partial rope?  The squirrels chewed it from the ground up to its current length... I don't foresee it helping any kids climb up the "rock wall" ladder.

Oh, that old thing?  It's our home-made porch swing frame (?) we inherited it from the previous owners, and we are thankful that Hurricane Ike rid the frame of the former PVC pipe and scrap-wood "porch swing" that used to hang from it... I love me some DIY previous owners!  I'm always a little bit offended when people ask me if I built that frame... seriously friends?  I had an art concentration in college!  Oh... now I get it.

What are those holding up?  Why, the invisible loquat tree that died last winter (2009-2010) that we chopped down this February(2011).
Oh wait, the loquat tree isn't invisible, it is in a heap by the shed and our cinder block pile...
... our stealthily possum-proofed shed, I might add! The former owners were very proud of that fact. Pay no mind to those two measly tile fragments...
Because, BEHOLD!  We have a collection of marble tile scraps!  Be still your redneck hearts!  They are carefully guarded by the curb-side-salvaged zebra who has patiently awaited a fresh coat of bright and bold spraypaint (I think we picked him up over a year ago... and by we, I mean I forced Ryan to stop and be embarrassed while I excitedly skipped to the curb and stealthily put this little fellow in my trunk).  Don't mind the filthy pollen-covered shirt... we're keeping it there incase it freezes again this summer Houston.
We also keep a collection of boards on hand in case a hurricane comes through again...

I'm guessing something used to hang from the Pecan tree?

It takes hard work and dedication (read laziness) to attain "bushes" this forest-like!  Oh look!  My lime green curling ribbon (in the sunny spot under the "bush")!

Here's the remainder of our third crop of weeds this year; I had to stop Ryan from destroying any more evidence of our weed garden: supposedly you can eat/use every part of a dandelion... weed salad anyone?  weed tea?  Get your minds out of the smoke shop.

Check out our lovely randomly painted bricks, they are ever-so coordinated with our nautical color scheme.  We (the previous owners) painted those to try to disguise our kiddie pool that has missed the truck on no less than 5 HEAVY TRASH PICK-UPS since last summer - I guess we'll be scrubbing it out and using it again this summer!  While the kiddie pool missed the pick up at our house, the colorful table missed the pick-up at someone else' because I snagged it and the broken leg to try to salvage it for my little band of babies.  Oh, and ignore that patio set that Ryan's been begging me to trash for no less than two years now (we have a matching one in the shed, too!!)  I bet you were too busy looking at our marble scrap collection to notice, though, weren't you?

Fence-post tree bench, anyone?  What better spot to store squirrel-proofed plant pots?!  With squirrel trees growing in them... some effective squirrel proofing job!

You're just in time for the biker rally for up-and-coming Hell's Satans members (Simpson's? anyone?)... it's a pretty hardcore baby bike gang that meets at our house regularly and parks its vehicles willy nilly.  Just last week I picked up that sweet vinyl ottoman, that I thought would be a cool footrest while lounging barefoot and toothless on the patio with my biker babies and an ice cold bud light (redneck points).
It doesn't get any more redneck than hay-stuffed trash-picked outdoor ottomans... well, maybe it does if you sit on it wearing jorts (jean-shorts... jorts).

Yap, I hooked up that thar antennuh to the chimney and ran some extra wire through the wall so we can plug the TV in right next to the fire place and right in front of the sliding door.  Not.  That's another unfortunate inheritance from the previous owners.  I dig the resourceful coiling of the excess wire and the fancy mismatched spot lights they hooked up for us, too! (this photo does not do the size of the antenna justice... it communicates with aliens in other galaxies...massive)

Oh, and the two-year-old likes to take our vacuum tubing everywhere (he clearly doesn't get that from my side of the gene pool!)... he clearly doesn't have enough toys either.  ...and it wouldn't be redneck without some bare unpainted toes!

And because you probably thought we were keeping some skeletons in our closet... here's our fabulous FRONT YARD!  Check out the yellow patches which are probably indicative of a chinch bug problem, the TWO funky light fixtures, the rubble garden that is left over from the great foundation repair of 2009.  That carefully pruned stick was an orchid tree before the freeze this winter, and you can see all of its baby orchid trees growing up around it.  This is the second year in a row that we've killed that poor little tree.

For the record, when I lay in the hammock I can only see the leaves up above or the cute kid I'm snuggling, which makes it temporarily easy to forget that I should be busting hump to get this yard in shape!  See what I mean? (ok, I haven't posted this for three days because my computer won't recognize my phone to upload this video... hop over to my facebook videos to see what I'm talking about... the kid in the tuxedo onesie, who definitely likes to party, smiling and cooing is what I am referring to... redneck points for tuxedo onesie?  I'll work on posting that video later).

I really hope this redneck yard post wins me a sweet prize to help fix this bidness up.  (end-of-sentence preposition!!  bonus redneck points!)

Redneck references brought to you by my Texan heritage.  Remember the Alamo, y'all.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Extra Stuff

As I was reading a blog (surprise), a statement popped out at me, and encouraged me to revisit the amount of "stuff" Dominic has immediately available to him.  It also led me to think about how successful and independent he is outside in our backyard because of the carefully selected and greatly limited "things" to do.  Here's the quote that stood out:  "one easy way that families could make things easier for themselves is to cut down on the 'stuff' and really focus on what activities seem to be attractive to their child at any given time," and here's a link to the blog I was reading.  It really stood out because of how true it is at our house, and how crazy I get at home when it seems like he is just running from mess to mess (which has been the case lately).

The other day I put away a few random toys and activities that had just been sitting around being clutter, and in my rushing around, I left out my bucket full of clothespins from hanging out the diapers.  Later in the evening after realizing that things were "too quiet" and worrying that I might have lipstick - or worse, sharpie - colored on my hallway walls, I found Dominic "working" on clipping each clothespin to the lip of the bucket.  He painstakingly opened each clip, moved the clips to make room for the next one along the lip, adjusted and re-adjusted the way he gripped the clip to get it on the bucket, and was outright and painstakingly concentrating on this "work."  While I think this is an activity often utilized in Montessori classrooms, he discovered this motivation on his own, and set out to complete it without any external guidance from me or Ryan.  In fact, I think he noticed it because all the other junk was cleared away, and I think he stuck with it because he was not interrupted by us even when we noticed that it was a little past bedtime.

Another instance of beautiful concentration was at his cousin, Elizabeth's, birthday party over the past weekend.  While closely observed by adults, the children were hesitant to play and interact, but as the party wore on and the adults found themselves engaged in chatting and eating, the children found so much to do outside in the sandbox with the sand toys, climbing the tree house and sliding down the slide, bouncing in the moonwalk, and coloring with sidewalk chalk.  At times they played together, and at times they spread out to work on individual activities, but the most amazing part was that they required little to no adult intervention while they were playing outside.  It was a lovely example of Montessori's observation of the inherent desires to be profitably occupied, to have independence, and to have community.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

And another cool giveaway!!

Check out this sweet giveaway of some really wicked bling for my bod and my kitchen!  I love red to go with my blue kitchen!

Funky Vintage Kitchen Blog... Check it out!

Visit Nester for several sweet giveaways!

Balancing Act

Inspired by the chance to get an extra entry in THIS GIVEAWAY, I thought I'd share a character flaw that nags me about myself (is that redundant?).  The Reluctant Entertainer poses the questions:  "what is it about hospitality or entertaining that bogs you down? Also, do you think your personality type affects your hospitality/entertaining style? "

I LOVE to have people over.  L. O. V. E. love it!  I love my family, I love my friends, I love food and drinks, I love chatting, I love spontaneous dance parties, I love playing games, I love using my wedding china, I love using my everyday dishes, I love using fancy wine gadgets, I love doing crafty things, I love cooking for people (if you can read, you can cook.  plain and simple), I love decorating, I love serving others, I love belly-laughing, I love tackling little house projects, I love having a clean house (though you might not guess it if you took a snapshot of my house at this moment... which leads to that character flaw that I'm half-way hoping you've forgotten I mentioned).

I am lame at keeping the house clean because I am a PROCRASTINATOR!   Why do now what you could save for later?  Anybody with me?  Why would I put away the glass when I finish drinking my water when I'll probably have another drink sometime before the end of the day?  Anybody?  Anybody?  Why put away the sewing machine when I will probably sew something again before 2012?
Bueller....           Bueller...               Bueller...            ?            Anybody?                 Nobody?

This is a flaw that my Ryan has to the absolute opposite extreme.  It takes forever to do a project because every time a particle falls to the floor he busts out the vacuum, then puts the vacuum away, then another particle falls to the floor, then he busts out the vacuum, then he puts the vacuum away, then another particle falls to the floor... you get it.  While that is an exaggeration, it is not an exaggeration to say that he will walk outside to throw each piece of garbage away individually right when it surfaces, in lieu of putting it all in a pile to throw away in one trip.

Between the two of us, we are terribly inefficient!  I guess you could say we balance each other perfectly... you know... if you put us on one of those science classroom scales.  Unfortunately we really rub each other the wrong way in our unique processes of getting stuff done... he is constantly cleaning up after me, and I'm constantly aggravated that the thing I'm looking for that I put in a very specific place has been moved.

I'm going to guess these tendencies come from our upbringings... Ryan's mom (the queen of entertaining, in my eyes) will have all the food for the party prepared (or at least prepped for cooking) days in advance, and the day of the party she gets it all pulled together on a specific timetable with no detail overlooked and is dressed and ready before the first guest turns onto her block!  My dad will know the time of a party (and be reminded every day up to the party about the time of the party), and, like clockwork, he will hop onto his lawn-mowing-tractor an hour before the guests are scheduled to arrive, get off the tractor after the third guest has arrived (sweaty, covered in yard clippings, and smelling like swamp), then he will shower, change, and arrive at the party at his own house after most of the guests have arrived (maybe most is an exaggeration with a family of our size... lets say after the first 7 guests have arrived).  This is just an example of the polarity of our opposite-ness and a generalization (albeit pretty accurate by my observations).

So these tendencies leave us scrambling when guests are about to arrive.  We have a lot to work through.  Want to come over for dinner so we can get some semblance of order in our communal spaces?