Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This is Totally Not My Fault. (Maybe.)

This is totally NOT my fault.

This is really mostly not my fault.

I might have to accept some responsibility for this.

It could be that this is slightly my fault.
(Actually, the dog in the picture really IS my fault.)
Okay, this is mostly my fault.

This is totally and completely my fault.

Sue me.

Texcation 2011, Dallas Fun

I ordered my mom a photo book of the photos from the Dallas portion of our Texas Vacation 2011. Mostly, the photos consisted of us (surprise!) eating at various establishments but there's also some pictures of the Easter Egg Hunt and then the family feast, starring all three of my siblings and me.  (I don't know what it says about me that people often assume that I'm an only child.)

Anyway, there are loads of pictures of my grand-nephew Kaleb because I may just be a little smitten with him, and there's an entire page devoted to the new retaining wall my parents had built in the creek bed in back of their house.  I just thought it was the coolest way to do construction.

(I've never uploaded a slide show like this before so forgive me if it's glitchy.)

Also, you will notice that at the family feast, I am wearing a shirt that I feared was cut down to THERE.  It turns out that THERE is no longer where I remembered it, so the shirt was fine.  (Sigh.)

(The cover of the photo book is sort of an inside joke because whenever we visit my parents (or they come to visit us), we end up doing a ton of laundry. It's a tradition.)

Here is a video from (surprise!) a Mexican restaurant in Dallas.  It turns out that Mexican food makes my girls giggly--who knew?
I dare you to watch it without giggling yourself.

We came home from Dallas to find that our garage freezer hadn't been working in over a week due to a freak lightening strike which tripped the surge protector the 'fridge is plugged into.  The contents of the freezer were a complete loss but on the plus side, we now have room for all of the tortillas we brought back with us.

It's good to be home with the beasties, but we sure miss our Texas people.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Texcation 2011, Austin Fun

The Coopers are traveling in Texas this week for our annual visit to see friends and family and I am TRYING to do a bit of a travelogue.  The problem, really, is that I get in this mode of...um... vacation sloth and then nothing gets written. 

Read the first part here: Austin Trip, Part One

On our second day in Austin, my husband's old cycling gang reconvened for a bike ride.  I think he enjoyed it very much.  *I* enjoyed being the photographer for Hot Men in Spandex. (It's a tough job, yes, but when the going gets tough, the tough can take some pictures.  I'm just sayin'.)

While the guys tried to kill each other on a 55-mile bike ride, I went to yoga.  

Here's the thing, though: it's not readily apparent, because I am a chubby 46-year-old who walks with a limp, but I'm in pretty good shape.  AND, because I'm obsessed with yoga, I've been going to a fairly challenging class three or four times a week for almost six months now.  When I asked what class I should take, the guys at the front took one look at me and put me in a beginner class, which just didn't do much for me.  (Like, the instructor had a white-board and she spent ten minutes walking us all through how to say, and SPELL, the word "ohm.") (I, because I am so mature and centered and grounded, spent that part suppressing eye-rolls and then giving myself a stern talking to about opening my mind and seeing what might be revealed.)

Then, there was lunch.  SOMEHOW, we managed to be in Austin for 36 hours without having any Tex-Mex food.  I know there's a law prohibiting that but we made up for it in a big way by going to Chuy's.  

You know how when you really, really LOVE YOUR LUNCH and you have to pump your arms into the air repeatedly at the sheer GREATNESS of it?  It was like that. (I don't want to admit that I spilled Coop's water in my enthusiasm but I must.)
Warning: Refried Bean Coma Imminent!
And then we had the reunion of as many of our Austin friends as could make it to our old community pool.  I'll spare you the six million individual pictures since that's really only interesting if you know the people but here's a little slide show. (Okay, so even after editing, it's six and a half minutes long. And, um, the music only goes until about the four (and change) minute mark. Sorry.)

I'm also NOT going to tell y'all how I was so happy and touched at the outpouring of friendship at the party that I couldn't sleep that night for sheer joy.  I mean, we've been gone THREE YEARS and people still turned out in droves to say howdy.  How did I get so lucky to have people like that in my life?  

But clearly I can't talk to you about THAT.  I mean, if I were going to tell you all that, we might never get to talk about our new niece, and how I got to hold her and smell her head.
I found I remembered everything about holding and burping a baby and smelling her head. But she did spit up on me because I forgot about THAT. (I didn't mind.)
The girls got to visit their old schools and old friends.  I got to visit with my new friend R and help her set up her own blog. And we ended our Austin visit with a trip to Threadgill's with a big part of my husband's extended family.
Turns out that eating fried catfish and chicken-fried steak runs all the way through the Cooper family, from the two-year-old on up.
And then we packed up our rental car (maybe my favorite rental car EVER--a Ford Flex.  Can you say, "reverse camera?"  Can you say, "How much money and tears would that have saved Barb over the years?"), synced all of our blue-tooth devices to it and headed north to Dallas for more Texas-sized fun.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Texcation 2011, Day 1

(I should probably mention that it's 2:00 in the morning as I'm writing this because today was incredible and I'm so moved by the outpouring of love and friendship from our Austin friends and family that I can't sleep.)

The Coopers are traveling in Texas this week for our annual visit to see friends and family.  I had written this funny (no, seriously, it was FUNNY) blog post riffing on the elaborate instructions I left for our house-sitter when I did something...weird and lost the whole dang thing.  Command Z was no help at all and I don't have the heart to try to recreate it now so I am doing two things: sulking and writing something completely different.

We flew into Austin late Friday night--actually, it was technically Saturday morning already.  The flights here were funny.  From New York to Austin, the plane was almost full of New Yorkers flying to Texas for whatever reason.  After we landed, sprinted through DFW airport to meet our Austin connection and managed to get on the last flight out, the airplane was full of baby/tattoo/Birkenstock-wearing people and when another delay was announced after we were already on the airplane and sitting, the people all around us started...


Chatting with each other.

Just chatting nicely amongst themselves, totally unstressed and laid-back in that way that only Austinites can be.

It was hilarious.  And heart-warming. And a sort of omen for how our visit would proceed.

Like, the hotel had given away our room so they got on the phone and found a sister hotel with a room for us and THAT hotel served free breakfast AND we were still able to use points to pay for it.

(I love hotel breakfasts.)

One of our pieces of luggage, the one with all the kids' stuff in it, missed the connection in Dallas and the airline was efficient enough that, once the bag was located, the delivery guy managed to keep in enough touch with us that he accurately managed the three different addresses we gave him (we were moving through Austin from hotel to various friends' houses) and got our bag to us without mishap.

(I love that kind of competence.)

So, then we started our Nostalgia Tour of Austin, which consisted primarily of visiting all of our favorite places to eat.  (Oh, like that's not what YOU'D do.) (Wouldn't you?)


First up, Taco Xpress, which we've always called Maria's Tacos because the woman who owns it is named Maria and has this enormous ...sculpture of herself presiding over the place.  Look:

My daughters and Maria
We met some our first Austin friends and their kids there and then went to their house and hung out on the back porch until it was time for:
Ana happily anticipating her lunch at Thundercloud Subs
followed by a visit to the Great Harvest Bread Store for slices of fresh honey-whole-wheat bread...
Yum.  Just...YUM.
After which we went to our old neighborhood and Jane got to see her best Austin friend for the first time since last summer.

Yeah, THAT didn't make me cry or anything.

(I just received the note from YouTube that my soundtrack might be removed because it's copyrighted material and I'm too tired to find a work-around. If there's no music, would you mind humming "Don't Dream It's Over" by Crowded House while you watch it? I'd appreciate it.)

And then we ate a lot of barbeque from Rudy's:
After which, we fell into food comas and thus endeth the first day.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

That Sound is My Head Hitting a Wall

It's been a very frustrating time.


My daughter Jane, 10, has been sick.  She came home from school last Tuesday with a low-grade fever and then on Wednesday, when she was still congested and miserable, I took her to the Minute Clinic, thinking she had a sinus infection.

We've never seen the same nurse practitioner twice at the Minute Clinic and the one we had on Wednesday seemed very...new.  She took a very long time and was about the refer us to the hospital for a chest x-ray, saying she suspected pneumonia, when I told her that I would be glad to follow up with my regular doctor but that I knew Jane wasn't extremely sick.  I've SEEN Jane when she is extremely sick and this was more like a cold.  I told the nurse I suspected a sinus infection--based on my extensive medical training as a mother of two--and she gave us a prescription for antibiotics.  She did not do a strep test because she said that Jane's throat wasn't red.

I should have insisted.  I remember thinking that I probably wouldn't even fill the prescription for the antibiotics because I didn't have a lot of confidence in the nurse practitioner's competence and I should probably take Jane to her regular doctor.  But then I thought if it WAS strep, better to get Jane on the antibiotics.

Jane spent a miserable week, sometimes spiking a fever.  When, after five days on the antibiotics, she was still running a fever of 101 degrees, I called, made an appointment for her at her regular pediatrician, took her in and received the official diagnosis of...you guessed it...strep throat.

(The fourth bout of strep throat since January. My theory is that there is an asymptomatic carrier in her class because there are only 16 kids in her class and SOMEONE ALWAYS HAS STREP.)

AND, the doctor spoke sharply to me about the wisdom of taking children to those "doc-in-a-box" places, which exist mainly to hand out prescriptions for antibiotics. He said the antibiotics for the sinus infection were not enough to knock out the strep infection.

Which I didn't know, despite my extensive medical training as a mother of two.

So, basically, because I didn't listen to my instincts regarding the incompetent nurse practitioner and take Jane to her real pediatrician, Jane got to suffer an entire week with an illness that could have been cured by the proper dosage of antibiotics in about two days.  Her doctor --the real doctor with the actual relationship with her--was completely exasperated with me and said, "You seem to have very good parenting instincts.  Perhaps you should listen to them."


Then my daughter Ana (13) had to fill out an application to be included in an academically-based school club. She is very scholarly and has remarkable grades and this is a good fit for her. The application read like a mini-résumé, which, for some reason, kind of set my teeth on edge. There were all sorts of questions about leadership roles and community service and achievement awards, etc. --as if just surviving middle school with her sense of humor intact wasn't enough of a challenge,

Anyway,  I strongly urged her not to pad her answers --not to put down anything but her big achievements like achieving high honors in every grading period since she started middle school and her belts earned in Tae Kwon Do. I told her that her grades spoke for themselves and clearly, her primary job was not assembling activities to put on her résumé, but rather, to learn to balance school, life as a new teenager, and dreaming.  That the most important thing was to believe that who she is, without fluff, was ENOUGH.

Yeah, I was really wrong.

(I don't know how many times I have to learn that the world doesn't work the way I THINK IT SHOULD. I wish that I could learn this lesson over and over and over again (since apparently, that's what it's going to take) without it adversely affecting people I love and want to support.)

Ana was not accepted into the club AND when we followed up to find out why, the coordinating teacher told us that she should have put even the smallest things down and let the judges decide if they were relevant. She should have put down the small fundraisers she championed for the animal shelter (lemonade stands and the mass production of Puff Puff Pals, which she sold for $2 a piece). She should have listed all the times she was the leader in a class project.  The more the better.

So cute, the Puff Puff pals!


I'm back on Facebook, after a two-and-a-half week hiatus.  I missed it and obviously, I need more contact with normal people because the people who live in my head are decidedly not normal.  You can find me here if you are interested.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Good One

Every April 1st, I wage a little battle with myself.  On one hand, I HATE April Fool's Day.  But on the other hand, I'd sort of like to play a really good joke.

Sometimes I think about writing a blog post complaining about how, as I was driving my dang kids to school I had to slam on my brakes, thus causing my lighted cigarette to fall into my morning beer, which made me say a string of curse words (without blushing) that would have scarred my innocent children had they not taught the words to me earlier in a heated exchange with their school Principal after he dared to complain that they'd taken his car for a joy ride and driven over the cemetery near our house, which, as I explained to the Principal, wouldn't have happened--it's never happened when they've taken his car before --but they were trying to teach the puppy to drive.

I'm always a little afraid that someone will take something like that seriously, though, and as we all know, I HATE beer.

Still, I have an appreciation for a good joke as much as the next person.  Take, for example, what it's doing outside even as we speak.

Good one, God.