70’s, like the year we were born

My sister sent the below text yesterday:

Oh, these babies. They are so, so young. However, we are not.

This weekend Alex and I hosted a 70’s themed party for our West Dallas Palace crew complete with 70’s theme food and attire.

 I am not sure how Alex’s kimono figured in, but at least he was in costume.

Why you ask? Because I love these appetizers that my grandma Jane used to make for her dinner parties made of Buddig beef, Claussen pickles and cream cheese. Oh I know they sound gross, but they are delicious. Alex also had a appetizer that his mom used to make where a green olive was wrapped in a mixture of cheddar cheese, butter and flour then baked.

So, we figured, if we have these gems hiding away, what must other people have? I sent out the call for everyone to bring a dish that their mothers/grandmother’s made. I am not being sexist, men did not cook then. Anyway, our friends dug the idea and we had such dishes as ambrosia, pot pies, a cheese ball, meatballs marinated in grape jelly and onion dip with ruffles. As my mom said, “everything processed. That was the 70’s”.

Hillary asked if we were dressing up and I, of course, jumped right on that. So did (most) everyone else. My favorite is Mike who came as a 1970’s Camero owner. As a previous two-time Camero owner himself, it was especially fitting. Though Jack as an aide to Nixon was clever.

We passed Zach off to Uncle Dave and Aunt Tami were he got to sleep in a fort, ride his bike to his favorite yogurt place and scare Tami by sticking his face in hers at 6:45 a.m. So he had a good night too. But James was with us. My sweet baby woke up with croup on Friday morning and was still not quite himself by Saturday night. Not that it stopped him from wrestling and karate chopping our party attendees.

As I was chatting with my friend KK about children, specifically how her daughter could avoid being swept up in the princess/tutu/everything pink that is all over the girls now a days it struck me that our moms were doing the same thing 30+ years ago. Back then it was an even more serious topic. While today the girls can wear all the pink they want, they legally have every right and privileges that boys do. Well, not in Texas, where the government wants to move into your uterus, but I digress.

Back then, our moms were fighting the fight to be a working woman, raising girls that would never know something they could NOT do; paving the way for us and our kale chips. And giving us the ability to put on a house coat, zip it up and roll cream cheese covered Buddig beef around a cold pickle without a second thought. Fight = won.


Death Sticks

I am not what you would call a helicopter mom. But, I like this about me. However, I might, sometimes, go a bit far in the other direction. My kids are the type of kids that (luckily for me) don’t need my constant, constant attention and can, sometimes play on their own. Like at play dates. When I set up a play date with a friend it is because a) I like the mom and b) our kids play well together. Always A and B.

I like play dates because I get to talk to my friend while my children play with theirs. And we always go somewhere where my kids, both of them, can play on their own. If I have to play with them, that totally defeats the purpose, in my mind. I play with them plenty at home or when we go places just the two or three of us.

I had to explain this to my friend Ashley the first time we went to WonderWild. WonderWild is an indoor play area that is completely padded and fenced in. The boys and I arrived a bit early (rare) and I did what I usually do. I watch them climb, jump, swing, run all around to make sure they can do everything, then check my phone to see if my sister has texted me. Once Ashley arrived she asked a few times where my children were. I would look around, point them out then go back to my riveting tale of getting Uverse or how to watch paint dry.

Finally, I had to give it to her straight. “I am not going to be watching my children. I am comfortable with their abilities and if they need me, they know where to find me. If this bothers you we simply can’t be friends, or you can watch my children for me. This is who I am as a mother.” I told her.

She blinked at me then shrugged and said, “Okay.” And while I think she does secretly keep a watch on my children, she never makes me feel bad or like a bad parent for not watching them every minute.

Well, this week she told me I was taking my casual parenting style a bit too far. Prior to Ashley and her girls coming over to play, Zach asked to play with toothpicks and marshmallows to “build things like we did at school”. This is what he built at school.

You know I love a good project so I got out a pack of stale marshmallows and the toothpicks and told James and him to go to town.

Well, Ashley walked into my house at the end of the project and found, what she deemed, death sticks staring at her. She is so dramatic.

I put the marshmallows and toothpicks on cookie sheets to keep them from rolling around, what could be the issue? They played great with them, kept them on the table and had a nice time.

Well, I didn’t really notice that I had a mixture of toothpicks. Ones with sharp points and one with dull points. Ooops.  And Zach had made some death stick pillows for Ashley’s girls and took them (OK, ran them) sharp points and all.

So Ashley did what all my friends do, she swooped right in and took charge. She said the death sticks where done and threw them away. She even offered to try to figure out which ones were clean and dirty. I, obviously, told her that was not that hard up for toothpicks.

Then we just laughed. I am not above anyone telling me something I am doing wrong (with limits; like danger not like dressing) and get so much wrong with regards to parenting. I am glad to have friends that are more cautious than me to tell me when I have crossed the line.

Though, come on, they were just toothpicks. Right? Right?

No? Just me. OK, fine.

Safety Notice

No, this is not more about your need of an in-case-you-go-missing photo, though I truly don’t think that can be overstated. No, this post is about a song everyone needs to teach their four/five year old’s in case they go missing. I know you are like me and can’t even entertain the thought of our children going missing. It sends a chill through every parent, every time. And while we take all the precautions we can, we can’t predict the future and what crazy people do or how the best of kids dart away from us.

So, my friend Maria taught me a song to teach Zach so if gets lost in a store, at the zoo, etc. he will have my phone number. And it works. He was resistant at first, but I just kept making him sing it with me until one day he called me on my cell. We were in New York and he was the last voice I expected to hear on the other end. But there he was, super proud he had called me.

All you do is insert your phone number into Oh my darling Clementine

That’s my mommy’s cell phone number
and I learned it ’cause I’m four

Maria mentioned this in passing last year on our girl’s trip (I am sure there was a funny story associated that I immediately forgot) and I was fascinated and came home immediately to make Zach learn it. He is very good with song lyrics, usually picking them up after just hearing them a few times. I figured this would actually be a beneficial song versus knowing all the lyrics to Thrift Store, the clean version.

He recently asked Liv if Alex knew her cell phone number when he was five and she had to explain that they didn’t have cell phones. He was very perplexed.

Halloween Roundup

This year I was determined to be on top of things for Halloween. We all know I start with the best of intentions and then slowly fade off. Not this year, people! We were going to do a craft every day! Visit the pumpkin patch! Sing Halloween carols! Just kidding on the last part. Sort of.

Well, I can’t say we did a craft every day (seriously, what was I thinking?). But we did make place mats with stickers, that I then had Office Max laminate for me. I will let you guess which one belongs to the two year old.

Zach says James’ looks like the wind blew all the letters and pumpkins around. He might be a genius.

For James’ snack day I brought oranges with the pumpkin faces drawn on.

Another teacher said, “Oh, you did the oranges-as-pumpkins-thing.” Stupid Pinterest; now that everyone is on it, nothing seems original. Not that this was remotely MY idea to begin with.

And we did hit two pumpkin patches. The first one was at a Methodist church on the way to swim lessons. There is a patch closer to us but this one seemed to need our business more. And it was full of pumpkins.

Then we went to the Oil Ranch with our friends Nadine and Tim and their kids Danny, Parker and Elyse. We had originally planned to go to Dewberry farms, but it was rained out. And Nadine said the Oil Ranch is just a bigger Dewberry farms. And it is huge! And soooooooo far. But Alex and I need friends to make us do stuff like this. We would never leave the loop otherwise.

The boys both rode a pony in a circle and petted a cow named Daisy.

While Alex and Zach shot paintball guns, James and I rode the train that went into a small field filled with cows that came pretty close the train. 

Don’t worry, James was not impressed.

The boys had so much fun with their friends. Can you tell which boys are related?

And we even took a pretty decent family photo.
No one was surprised by which little Wall was not smiling.

Sunday Funday

A couple weekends back we got together our oldest group of friends, otherwise known as West Dallas Palace crew. The core group either went to college/high school with Alex, college with me (OK one person – hi Laura!) or college with Alison. That group lived at the same apartment complex near downtown Houston right after graduating college. It was through this group that I met Alex. We have added other friends, husbands and wives, and now kids.

But of course we don’t all live within walking distance of each other. We are spread throughout the city and don’t get together as much as we used to, meaning Friday and Saturday nights, typically at Bronx bar or Baker St. dropping it like it was hot. Alex would be so embarrassed I just wrote that if he ever read the blog. Which he won’t. And we dropped it sooo much. So much.

Now this is what we do.

We blew up the water slide and the mini-splash pad and had a potluck dinner.

It was almost the death of the water slide when the spray function broke as Alex was putting it together. Luckily three engineers and an accountant figured out a work around. I would like to comment that it took longer than I would have thought…but I was “helping with the baby” inside aka watching KK hold her baby and comparing yoga stretches, and was not available to help.

Baby William is hiding because his mom put him in a Woody (from Toy Story) bathing suit. Like I have any room to discuss embarrassing children’s clothing, I know. And he was the cutest Woody I have ever seen.

My favorite redhead, Miles, really enjoyed the splash-pad. I mean, who wouldn’t?

Too many children

What is the correct ratio for children to adults in the pool? Because I think we have surpassed it. Who are all these children?

My friend Ashley has a great pool with a shallow ledge and tons of shade. She invited the boys and I over during the week to swim, as well as our friend Jen and her kids. I don’t think she really thought we would all show up. Oh how wrong she was.

We slowly trickled in, with the boys and I getting there first. Then Jen and her two, plus her niece, rolled in and it was a hot mess. I think we all kept pretty calm but when the big ones started jumping off the rocks and the babies kept trying to drown themselves on the ledge we had to pack it in.


Ashley’s husband brought us all pizza which we ate on the porch. Which meant the kids were determined to go into Ashley’s nice clean house.

They stood at this window whining to go in until we finally had to cave. They had beat us down.

I might have stayed too long and had to drive home two tired, whiny children myself. I am still getting the hang of these play dates and can’t seem to figure out when to leave.

Surely I will figure this out soon, right?

Proof of Life

The weekend before we went to San Diego I took a solo trip with some of the Vegas girls to the Guadalupe River. 
It was an awesome weekend filled with nothing but talking, toobing, eating and drinking wine and Bud Light Lime (drink it if you go to the river, you can thank me later). Alex was appalled by our lack of activity. I was so lazy I took zero photos. Luckily my friend Joanna (the front in red) was on it and packed a water proof camera for the toob. She gives an excellent rundown of the weekend on her blog, so I will spare you the full details. And she describes all of us perfectly. Of course I say that as she gave me a glowing recommendation, and you know I like people who think I am funny. 

Aren’t we beauties? Three of the five of us were wearing long sleeve rash guards (get one immediately if you don’t have one) and everyone had a terrible, wide brimmed river hat.

Saturday morning everyone had heard from their husbands and/or spoken to their children, except me.

Of course.

I finally had to ask for a proof of life photo of my children who were in Alex’s care for exactly 24 hours before the Walls took over. This is the photo I received.

Really? A Spongebob tattoo for James? As it was fading off later in the week he would say, “Oh no, tatattoooo!”

As they usually do, the Walls swooped in and took the boys out to their house for Saturday night. Liv has said that she knows I would prefer Alex have to take care of them all on his own, which is partially true. However, now I just can’t fault them. Because a) I did the exact same thing when Alex was gone and b) I will do the exact same thing with my babies. The second McKayla or Sophie leave for the weekend I will be swooping in to save my grand babies from their fathers and spend time with them without their bothersome mothers.

And look, they are already much happier than in the photo from their father. Well, James looks the same but don’t pay attention to him.