Monday, August 31, 2009

Don't Wait for the Feelings

If there's one thing that John Bradshaw seemed to harp upon in his book that I just finished, it's that one should not wait for certain feelings before taking action. Seems rather obvious, doesn't it? As a matter of fact, I essentially say the same thing to my kids on a regular basis.

I don't, however, follow that advice for myself.

I realized, as I was driving to a career counselor today after work, that I have a bad habit of avoiding certain actions because "I don't feel like doing them." This happens in my personal life and my professional life.

Few things (maybe NOTHING) in life are both worthwhile and easy to obtain. You'd think I'd have learned this fact by the time I was a few weeks away from my 38th birthday. Well....I'm eventually getting it. Bit by bit.

So the next time you see me, be sure to ask me if I've done something that I don't want to do - because otherwise I'm not making progress!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dr. Steve

My husband, goofball that he is, has created this very odd character that the kids love - Dr. Steve. Dr. Steve's voice comes out of his hand and I swear on all that is holy that it is the voice of Triumph the Insult Dog. Luckily, Dr. Steve is very G-rated but I swear it's Triumph's voice.

I told my husband that when our son sees Triumph when he's older he'll say - "Hey, that's Dr. Steve!" Kind of like the way all of us said "Hey, that's Grover!" when we heard Yoda's voice back in the 80's. Except neither Grover nor Yoda was obscene. The same cannot be said about Triumph.

From what I can tell (I'm typically upstairs and listening from afar) - Dr. Steve is a child psychiatrist who is dealing with the emotional issues that arise because my son thinks he's a dog. The two kids are having a blast with this. Of course, I could be missing the primary point here...but as long as they're having fun....

Ok - just now he took on another voice - the pretend voice of Victoria Stillwell. My kids love the show "It's Me Or The Dog." I suppose it shows them that we're not as dysfunctional as some other families! (Although this description of father/children interraction might make one wonder...) Oddly enough, it was my son who knew her name from just watching the show a few times. Apparently she made quite an impression on him.

He's so wacky. Just like my dad was. I tell him to enjoy it while he can because within a few more years, our daughter will be quite mortified by his silliness.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Mom Improvement

Last night was one of our new "no technology nights." We plan to have two per week this year - and since this was the first week of school, it was the first week to try them. Both of them were truly some of the happiest nights of my life.

We always have dinner together, but last night I tried to work a little harder to ask my son questions. I realized he's grown up, as all younger kids do, somewhat in the shadow of big sister. She's quite a talker and an entertainer (I know...where did she GET it from???? - ha....) so kid brother doesn't get quite as many words in at the dinner table. All it took from me, though, were a few open ended questions about his thoughts about other kids in his school and I was treated to a wealth of information. It was so interesting. Big sis talked also, of course. After dinner, we all played charades (because, of course, there was no TV, no XBox, no Nintendo DS, no Facebook or blogging for Mom, and no work email for either parent!) and had a great time.

So here's the bittersweet part of that story... Last night after dinner and today when I picked them up from school, the kids made a point to tell me how much NICER I was being and how much more interested in them I seemed. Wow. I did tell them I was very sorry for the times when maybe I wasn't as nice - they quickly said that I've always been nice but now I'm much NICER.

The difference is that before, I let my disastisfaction about other areas of my life (i.e. - CAREER) seep into my homelife. Which is absolutely the most crazy thing in the world because, of course, my family is the best thing I have going for me. I'm glad I'm making some improvements as a Mom - but I really wish I'd been more happy and involved with them in the past. regrets. No Day But Today. I know I'm the luckiest woman alive and I don't intend to forget that again. Thanks, kids.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why Austin is Perfect for Me....

Let me count the ways:

1. I'm not the most liberal person in town. Not by a long shot. NOT EVEN CLOSE. Now when I lived in Midland, that was a completely different story.

2. I've managed to avoid taking out any of those crazy bicyclists on 360 with my car.

3. Really, really, really fabulous and eclectic restaurants.

4. On a similar note - many awesome vegetarian choices (I still like veg-head choices even though I'm an omnivore again).

5. Local book and record stores - I watched Sara Bareilles perform at Waterloo Records.

6. Tons of non-profits and plenty of other people who also want to save the world.

7. The option of going to a church full of open-minded people. (I know...bizarre....)

8. So much live music that there's no way on Earth to catch it all - even if you DO have a life (unlike me, who will be spending all my spare evenings running kids to golf lessons and choir practice).

9. The fact that I saw about a million Obama stickers on cars last Fall (and I still do).

10. It's where I learned how to be a mom and be myself.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

She Did It!

Just a quick post to tell you guys that my little girl auditioned for Austin Girls' Choir this afternoon and she made it! I'm so excited for her...obviously - since music is my life and always has been. Apparently her voice is lower than mine, however, since she turned out to be an Alto. It's good for her - hopefully she won't be in my boat where I'm occassionally mistaken for a kid on the phone. (sigh) Not such a good thing when you have a phone interview....

Homemade Bread

These are my pre- and post-baking pictures from today (although for some weird Blogspot Reason - the post-pics ended up on top). Bread a la Jenn.

For the last three weeks, I've been making our bread for the week during the weekend - completely from scratch. I got the idea from another blog about small ways to save money. Although this probably does save a few bucks each week, I really decided to do this because I don't like all the "stuff" that goes into store-bought bread that isn't necessary. This way I can feel good about what my kids are eating because I know what's in it. (My mom always made our bread when I was young - in her case I think it was definitely to save money and also for health reasons.) After three weeks, I've gotten brave enough to be creative. The recipe I used this week (I'm slowly trying different recipes) was enough for two loaves and it also rose better than any other recipe I've tried. So I sprinked the extra part of the dough with cinnamon and brown sugar and made a braid. Today we'll have regular whole wheat bread and also a yummy sweet bread. My house smells so yummy right now. My kids have had fun with this. The first week I baked bread, they each took turns helping me knead the dough. Ten minutes of kneading is A LOT more exercise than you might expect. As is holding a fussy baby for an hour as you walk around with her (I got to work in the nursery this morning at church!) - so my arms got quite a workout before lunch!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I have so much to learn...

Today was our semi-quarterly management meeting and I heard our new Director of Training speak. She is truly amazing. For one thing, she has so much confidence and is an AMAZING speaker. She is also a good decade older than me (at least) but she and her husband recently adopted two little boys - it's wonderful. As I listened to her speak and admired her truly amazing confidence, I realized that I could learn SO MUCH from this woman.

I had lunch with my former boss this week - she's another woman who really inspires me. As a matter of fact, as ironic as it sounds, she's a big part of why I decided to leave - I wanted to be more like her and I knew that if I remained where I was, I would not have much of a chance to learn to be a leader like her.

So - all of a sudden, I'm realizing that I have so much to learn. I want to be confident (and to inspire confidence!) and I want to stand up for myself when I'm faced with tough situations. These women are both great models of that.

The first woman who really showed me all of that was my own mother. I remember when she went to the Southern Baptist Convention and fought for women's rights. That was no minor effort in the 1980's. I can't even IMAGINE fighting that one...and I'm a lawyer - I should be programmed to fight! (But I'm not....)

I suppose I'll always have a lot to learn. Right now I'm quite sure that what I'm supposed to learn is confidence in myself as a woman, as a mother, and as a professional. Wow. That seems like an almost impossible dream. Isn't that weird?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Please don't tell me this makes me a Longhorn...

This whole "falling in love with Austin" thing that I have going on has put me in quite a quandary. You see, my parents went to Baylor and my parents DID NOT like UT. My dad disliked A&M a heck of lot more than UT (long story....) but he wasn't fond of UT at all. My mom always referred to them as "tea-sips." There was no question in my mind that was a derogatory term.

A few years back when UT pulled off the national championship, my daughter begged for a UT shirt to wear to school because the whole school was wearing them to celebrate. I couldn't refuse her that (what kind of a mom would refuse that???) but I felt compelled to call my dad and apologize.

So that's the background.....

Now I have something even worse to admit to my dad (thank goodness he doesn't read my blog! I don't think....guess I'll find out!) - I actually bought tickets to a home game. I got an email from the local Girl Scout counsel, saying that as a thank you to Girl Scouts, the athletic department was letting folks buy tickets to the first home game (on Sept. 5th) for $20 each. I have so many fond memories of going to college football games (ironically - not from when I was in college, but from when I lived in Waco as a kid - we were at EVERY Baylor home game) that I couldn't resist getting tickets for such a good deal. I think it will be fun to go to a live game and I'm sure the kids will have a blast.

The only question is - will I really cheer for UT? Probably. I tend to get caught up in the passion of the moment pretty easily.

Just don't tell my dad, ok?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Defying Gravity

I have not been able to stop singing "Defying Gravity" since seeing Wicked on Saturday. (Seriously. You should ask my family - I'm sure they'd roll their eyes and agree that it's a constant refrain in our house and on road trips.) It's the ultimate song for me right now. The musical, as I believe I've mentioned before, inspires me to go out and change the world. And as you all know, I'm quite eager to find my place at a non-profit where I can lead know....really make a difference.

But I realized today that it's a mistake for me to think that I must do great and obvious things to make a difference, when the truth is that I'm supposed to do the small, tiny things. That's the only way to build a solid future. It's like geometric fractals in nature...(just bear with me for a little bit longer - I really do have a point)...God's world is full of these incredibly beautiful, seemingly complex creations - but when you break each piece down into its smaller components, you realize that the larger tree (or blood vessel, or fern leaf, or mountain) is just a repetition of the pattern that is happening on a MUCH SMALLER SCALE. It really is a beautiful mathematical theory, as evidenced by the fact that it's the only mathematical theory I really understand.

As I was watching the Nova special on fractals tonight with my family (you knew this didn't just come out of left field, didn't you?) - I realized that the same theory holds sway in my life. I am reaching for the mountain top, looking for the big battle that I'm supposed to fight or the big accomplishment. But...big accomplishments are made up of little bitty tiny ones.

So, although I want to defy gravity in a big way by helping a million people, the reality is that each month (and each week, each day, each hour) there are little "fractal" opportunities for me to defy gravity.

Instead of thinking that "some day" I'll fly....I need to realize that I am flying right now, as long as I value these little pieces of life.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Greatness and Goodness

Today we drove to Houston to see the Terra Cotta Warriors - it was truly stunning. They are gorgeous, detailed, and each one has his own unique expression. It was fascinating to learn about the First Emperor and all he accomplished. He determined that there should be a common, official script (so that people from all over could understand each other's writing) and also created a common, generic coinage. Although the emperor lived in 200 B.C., the script is still used today and the coinage was used into the 20th century. Obviously, he had amazing foresight and was an impressive leader.

He also strikes me as a paranoid megalomaniac - he murdered countless people, including scholars. He didn't want them inciting the people. You know- when people think it causes all sorts of problems.

Yesterday I saw Wicked - a musical that inspires me like nothing else. Elphaba (the heroine) begins the story completely enraptured by the Wizard, but she soon realizes that he's not all he pretends to be and uses his power to control people - not to help them.

I think it's much easier for humans to be "great" if they don't concern themselves with being "good" (e.g. - attempting to live virtuously, as John Bradshaw would say). It gets a wee bit discouraging for someone like me - I have no delusions that I'm a "good person" (life isn't that black and white, after all - some days I am virtuous and some days I fail) but I truly want to do good. the great game of life, I am determined to keep striving for "goodness" instead of "greatness." I must admit, however, that at times I yearn for some piece of greatness and some way to shine.

I suppose that's my humanity showing, isn't it?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

You know you're almost 40 when....

1. You are facebooking with old high school friends about what time you're hitting the 20th reunion happy hour 10 minutes before you see them at the actual bar.

2. Before the high school reunion, you were doing your strengthening exercises in your hotel room because your doctor told you that you are "skinny fat" (not overweight but not enough muscle compared to your percentage of fat).

3. When you're at the bar, you only let yourself have about 4 nachos (see #2, above) even though you stop counting the calories of the beer after 2 of them have gone down the hatch.

4. Your idea of a good time during a weekend without the kids centers around seeing the latest movie and taking a nap.

5. You are attending your 20th High School Reunion.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I'm not lazy, I'm just intimidated....

I am putting this brief post out there to let you guys know that I'm not skipping out on the posts because I'm lazy. (Although I certain ways...)

Rather, the issue is that I'm really struggling with some major self-image/life/who-the-heck-am-I type decisions right now AND .... I'm afraid that if I post I'll reveal too much or blab on like a teenage girl on the telephone or both.

So....the truth is that I think about posting every day but it just feels too vulnerable to me.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.'s actually true.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Day of Nothing

Today was a fabulous Day of Nothing, for the most part. No kids in the house so I got to lounge in bed until, like 7:30 or so. I know that doesn't sound late to some people but it's very late for me. I can't sleep too late anyway because I have to get up and eat.

Then it was a fun 45 minutes of tennis (also known as me running all over the place and hitting the ball like a crazy woman), followed by a leisurely trip to Corpus Christi with no voices coming from the backseat.

Now we're at the Omni in Corpus Christi, watching Friends re-runs before the 20th Reunion Happy Hour tonight.

I'm much more relaxed than I have been in AGES.

Off to my 20th....

This morning, I just got back from 45 minutes of tennis with my husband. (For those of you who are actually able to play a true game of tennis, you should know that I'm using the term "tennis" very loosely...) After a quick shower and packing job, we're off to Corpus Christi for my 20th high school reunion. I've decided that officially puts me into middle age.

And I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that.

But the reunion should be fun - at least I figured out what I'm going to wear to the nice party and that's always a huge part of the conundrum. There's also the added bonus that we'll be driving my convertible (since we can't trust the Corvette to dependably get us there and back plus the AC in that car is quite iffy) - so we can cruise up and down Shoreline with the top down. Now THAT will be fabulous.

Memories of driving up and down Shoreline in my cousin's Miata are filling my mind as I type this. Good times.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Obi Wan Makes Great Martinis

Just got back from a date at Kenobi's - a Japanese restaurant/sushi-bar place in the Arboretum which had a really great vibe. We split three appetizers and I had the "Pretty in Pink" Martini - which was a bit sweet but still yummy.

I am totally Gen-X, however, because as I sat in Kenobi's - all I could think about (of course) was "Help me, Obi Wan. You're my only hope...."

I'm assuming he was back in the kitchen rolling sushi because I never saw him. Awesome martini list, however, apparently they've really got the whole mixology thing down in Jedi Training.

Monday, August 3, 2009


I returned to Austin just a few hours ago - my husband's grandfather passed away last week and the funeral was today. I've been through a gamut of emotions and thoughts over the last few weeks (we knew the end was near) - most of them centered around the angst I feel about all of my own unresolved grandparent issues. Angst isn't really even the right word - it's much to weak for how I've been worrying about what to do and why life turns out the way it does. Not to mention my worry about what I could have done differently to change things.

You'll laugh, I'm sure, when you hear that I think it is (therefore) entirely appropriate that the first thing I did upon returning to my hometown (sans kids) was to see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince before even going to my house. Because, after all - I have absolutely NOTHING on the family angst of that literary hero. Although it's a mythical story - in my mind they are the most true. Evil things really do happen and it is so, so tempting for most people to pretend that they do not. It's always the children and youth who are trampled by that conscious evil and wilfull ignorance.

Dramatic, I know. And in the meantime I must get up in the morning and go to work and pretend to be completely grown-up and undramatic. I can do it, though. Keeping with the theme of Harry Potter - I have very brave parents who've given me more love than most people ever receive. So....I'm not sure what I'm going to do about all my extended family issues - but thanks to mom and dad, I can at least take a few deep breaths and focus on what really matters - my own kids.