Thursday, April 30, 2009

Things I Learned Today

Updated to add: Mamasita, yes, of course invite me to your cabin! As long as it has electricity, heat in the winter, a/c in the summer, a functioning kitchen, and running water, I LOVE camping! It's tent-camping I don't "do". My rule is: If I have to get up in the middle of the night and put on shoes and grab a flashlight to go potty??? It's too rustic for me.

I actually enjoy hiking and nature and trees and wildlife and all that crap, if its in the right environment. My two recent visits to Alaska??? LOVED THEM! I want a cool, beautiful day where I wander aimlessly, dressed in comfy jeans and boots and plaid flannel, taking beautiful pictures of the breathtaking scenery. I like fishing, and nature walks, and four-wheeling ---- AS LONG AS THEY DON'T INVOLVE SWEATING!!

I went as a chaperone with my daughter's entire 3rd grade on a field trip to Red Rock Canyon today. While there, I learned quite a bit ... both in general, and about myself personally. I thought I would share them with you. That's just how I roll.

1. Red Rock Canyon is a state park and "oasis" (if you believe the brochures) located in Oklahoma. More specifically, an outdoor nature-park type place, located in some kind of canyon, with walking trails and hiking trails and small cliffs and whatever other kind of outdoors-y crap you might like if you are into outdoors-y crap.

2. I am not into outdoors-y crap.

3. I do not like the outdoors.

4. I do not like humidity.

5. It rained this week, and was therefore humid. (see #4)

6. I do not like nature.

7. I do not like hiking.

8. I most emphatically do not like sweating.

9. Mainly, I do not like taking nature walks or hiking in the outdoor nature areas which cause me to sweat.

10. I do not like the way my bra feels when it is wet because it is sticking to my disgusting wet sweaty body.

11. I do not like bugs.

12. I do not like mud.

13. I do not like trees and shrubs and sticks and grass which are prickly and pokey and stick me in the legs.

14. I do not like to sweat.

15. I do not like climbing up hills. Or down hills. Or around or on or over or under any kind of hill.

16. I do not like when it has been raining and the ground is wet and slippery and I fall down with an expensive camera in my hand.

17. I do not like yelling at children to "Step back from the edge of the pond I said step back before you fall in for God's sake what part of step back do you not understand and if your 9-yr old rear falls in that water you better be able to swim is all I'm saying because I'm NOT coming in after you!!!"

18. I do not like balancing on skinny logs over mud puddles.

19. Did I mention I do not like sweating?

Here are a few things that I *DID* like today:

I liked watching my daughter play kickball with her classmates:

I liked watching her walk along the nature trail:

I liked watching how happy it make her to climb all over the boulders:

I liked watching her be silly, like the 9-year old she is:

I liked watching her cross rivers, streams, mud puddles:

Most of all, I liked loved, loved, loved with all my heart when she walked up to me on the trail, slipped her hand in mine, and told me how happy she was that I came on the trip.

It *almost* made the sweating worthwhile.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My first foray into the world of rhubarb. AKA "red celery" ... the heck???

After spending Saturday at the Pioneer Woman's Ranch and watching Deb from Smitten Kitchen make Rhubarb Crumb Cake (and on a side note, did you know that Ree and Deb are, like, my best friends EVER?!?!?!) and then getting to eat a piece, two pieces ok, fine, I ate half the cake, are you happy that I've confessed??? .... I knew from personal experience what a yummy dessert it was.

So when I found out I needed to bring a dessert to a PTO function this Friday, I blurted out, "I'll bring Rhubarb Crumb Cake!!" And when I found out our Supper Club is meeting this Saturday night, and its potluck, again I said, "Pick me! Pick me for dessert! All hail the Rhubarb Crumb Cake!!"

The great thing about the dessert (besides the phenomenal taste and ginormous crumbly goodness) is that it can be made with ingredients I already have in my pantry. (Ha! I typed the word "panty" by mistake and spell-check didn't even catch it!) (Sorry, that's disgusting. Yet somehow funny.) All but two --- cake flour and rhubarb. And what, exactly, **IS** rhubarb, anyway? A fruit? A vegetable? Some kind of fruit-vegetable hybrid? All I know is when my new best friend Deb cut it up the other day, it looked like red celery. So really, how hard could it be to find? Just go to the produce section and look for red celery.

Today was my monthly shopping trip to the military commissary, so I headed with aim and purpose down the "baking stuff" aisle, straight to the flour. Where I stood for a solid minute, looking at the eleven million different kind of flour --- no cake flour. I squinted my eyes, searched again --- no cake flour. Clearly, this necessitated a call to Alisa, since she ate the same cake on Saturday and had the same recipe.

"No, I'm telling you, it's not here. I see unbleached flour, whole-wheat flour, bread flour, enriched flour, all-purpose flour, pastry flour, and self-rising flour. No cake flour. You don't think our BFF Deb was tricking us, do you?" While Alisa assured me on the other end of the phone that there really IS such a thing as cake flour, a shopper pushing her buggy in the other direction overhead me and pointed to the cake flour --further down the aisle and packaged in a box, of all things. No wonder I couldn't find it. If it doesn't have a neon sign with an arrow, I'm lost.

Then, all I had left to get was the red celery rhubarb. I'm not even kidding, I wasn't sure whether to look in the fruit section or the vegetable section, but after perusing both, no luck. I asked an employee, who confirmed they don't typically carry rhubarb because it is considered a "seasonal speciality item" but that I might want to try back in September. Um ..... that's not going to work. Two parties this weekend, and I'm on official Rhubarb Crumb Cake duty.

So I went to another grocery store .... then another .... still no luck. I was starting to get a little worried, although Deb's recipe states that frozen blueberries can be a substitute, so at least I knew I wasn't out of luck completely.

Finally, a store #4, success! Rhubarb! A tiny bunch of red celery-looking stalks, with HUMUNGO leaves attached, sold by weight. Thank goodness leaves don't weigh very much, right?

So wish me luck. I bought enough to make both desserts, and am crossing my fingers I can do half as good a job as Deb did. I think as long a I close my eyes and pretend I'm back at Pioneer Woman's Ranch, I can accomplish anything.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

SPT Challenge April 28

The final self-portrait challenge for the month of April, as per Lelly of Lelly's Musings was to "Gift a Stranger".

The first idea I considered was to anonymously pick up the tab for a stranger in a restaurant -- someone did that for us once and it totally rocked! But the one rule Lelly stipulated was that we weren't supposed to spend any money on our gifts. So, I went back to the only real gift I ever give strangers .... the one I *should* give more often .... the one we should ALL give more often.

Good ole' fashioned blood donation.

I've been a pretty vocal proponent of blood donations on this site in the past, especially when Kendrie was on leukemia treatment and we were on the RECEIVING end of the donations.

Less than an hour of your time, you can potentially help save up to three lives, and, best of all, cookies and juice afterwards. Seriously people, its a win-win!!

If you'd like to know more about it, you can read here and get my personal perspective on the good it does all of us.

If you'd like to know more about the time I totally and completely lost my shit over the future (or lack thereof) of humanity, you can read here and see why I should perhaps consider tranquilizers for myself.

Name Dropping

Updated to add: Anonymous, you are exactly right. We *do* have mountains in Oklahoma, and personally, I think this is a beautiful state to live in. In fact, I am most able to "breathe" when I'm looking out over hundreds of miles of flat farmland and can see as far as the eye can see! (wait, what? that was a stupid thing to say .....) I was just comparing our mountains to Farmer Gal's photos of her Colorado mountains, covered in snow. Trust me, I am a proud Okie, more than content with our surroundings, through and through. :)


Now that my day at the ranch is starting to feel less like a surreal dream and more like something that actually happened, I'm able to think back and appreciate the experience even more. Especially the part of the experience where I got to eat Smitten Kitchen's warm rhubarb crumb cake while listening to Pioneer Woman talk about how she got started in blogging. I mean, come on. In whose world is that NOT a great way to pass time???

And I've decided since they are probably the closest I'm ever going to get to meeting actual celebrities, I'm going to name drop them into every conversation I possibly can.

Fellow blogger: "Was that a picture of you of Pioneer Woman's site?"
Me: "Oh, yes. It was. Ree and I are very close friends."

Waitress: "Can I get you something to drink?"
Me: "Oh, yes, I'll have a Diet Dr. Pepper. My good friend Ree drinks Diet Dr. Pepper, did you know that?"

McDonalds guy: "Would you like fries with that?"
Me: "Of course. Do you read Smitten Kitchen? Deb is a close, personal friend of mine and she has a wonderful recipe for Au Gratin Potatoes on her food blog and so I'm sure she would want me to get the fries."

Total stranger: "How are you today?"
Me: "I'm fabulous. Did you know I'm practically BFF with Ree from Pioneer Woman? Just wanted to share that with you."

See? I'm sure NOBODY will get tired of me casually dropping their names into conversation at every opportunity. And continuing to rehash every detail of the day ... and committing every single moment to memory, so I can pull them out and caress them mentally (the memories, not the ladies) whenever I'm having a dull, boring day.

What's that, Blaine? What's that you say? You're tired of me dropping not-so-subtle hints about moving to the country and what? I'm *NOT* allowed to call the farm-estate agent back about that potential property????

Hhhmmmppppphhhhh. Some people are SO not adventurous.

Anyway, to answer a few pressing questions from the comments section:

I heard Ree say the other attendees were selected randomly. I think it has something to do with that random generator comment thing that I hear bloggers talking about whenever they have to select winners for a contest and there are too many entries to physically put everyone's name in a bowl. I should really check into that sometime. Of course, that would entail me actually having a contest and giving away a prize, and goodness knows I'm not that creative. Really, what could I give away? Autographed copies of my husband's pet scans???? Or maybe a pair of chewed up shoes, because we certainly seem to have enough of those around here thanks to the dogs ....

People, you most certainly do not have to move to Oklahoma to win a trip to the lodge. Saturday, she had guests not only from here (and really, would moving to Oklahoma be so bad? Sure, there's the occasional tornado you have to deal with, and we're at least eight hours from the nearest ocean, and no beautiful mountains or anything, but we also have giant lighted pop bottles in Arcadia, and the world's largest concrete totem pole in Foyil .... so see? Who **wouldn't** want to live here?!?) but she also had people from Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado. Yep, people drove from near and far for a chance to visit ...

Maesa, it was great meeting you, also! Can't believe how far you drove, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was worth every mile. I am pretty much an e-mail gathering-LOSER because I got your site, and Farmer Gal's, (which I'm pretty sure you already have, ha!) and Shea's. (who went home and has already made pretzels, she is clearly ambitious and makes me feel like a loser for doing nothing since *I* got home but sit around talking about how freaking fabulous the day was ....) and that's it. There was a list going around for blogs and e-mails and I'm very hopeful that it gets distributed ....

And lastly (and clearly most important!) I'm afraid the sad answer is no, Marlboro Man did not put in an appearance. I guess he was busy driving the herd or branding cattle or safe-burning the prairie or doing whatever he and the other cowboys do ... you know, what with running the ranch and all, since I'm sure it doesn't run itself just so he can take time to stop and have a piece of crumb cake. Although wouldn't it be awesome if it did?? Crumb cake for everyone!!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go start making matching friendships bracelets for me and Ree --- did you know we're practically sisters!!?!!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Scoop. The Skinny. The Deets. The 4-11. The .... oh, forget it. I was way too excited to be all cool and suave about it.

You know, you'd think I'd learn my lesson. I have a history, you know, of complaining that things are boring and that I have nothing to blog about .. when, BLAM! The sky opens up and something terrible falls in my lap. A few years back I blogged about how smoothly Kendrie's leukemia treatment was going, and pretty much the next day she got a virus and wound up spending a week in the hospital, going bald for the third time. Then another time I blogged about how nothing exciting was happening in our lives ......... and Blaine's cancer came back. And I'm pretty sure right before one of my kids got suspended from school I had just said how dull our life was and how I had nothing to write about.

So you'd think I'd learn my lesson, right?

Sure enough, a week ago I blogged that I had nothing to share. Kids are fine, school is routine, Blaine seems to be recovering, I am boring ........... and whadda ya know, just like always, something happened. But this time .... it wasn't terrible. It wasn't terrible at all. It was kind of cool. Actually, it was one of the coolest things to ever happen to me .........

I got invited to Pioneer Woman's ranch.

(collective gasp of jealousy around the internet ---- I KNOW!)

I don't even remember who turned me on to her blog initially, but I've been following along for several years. Or, to be one of those obnoxious people, "I've been reading PW since before it was cool". We've exchanged e-mails a few times throughout the years, me totally exploiting my Oklahoma connection. But mainly, I've admired her from afar, like the zillion other people who read her each day. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that I pretty much wet myself when I got invited to take part in this weekend's ranch gathering and cooking demo with Smitten Kitchen.

(OK, this is the part where I shamefully confess that I didn't know who Smitten Kitchen was, and how I don't follow any many food blogs. But now that I've met her, and been introduced to her site ----------- oh my goodness, I will be a faithful follower from this point forward and my family, who will ultimately benefit from her efforts in the kitchen, and my blatant copying of those efforts, will be eternally grateful.)

After reading the e-mail from PW inviting me and a friend, I knew immediately who to call. Well, once I stopped giggling like a schoolgirl and hyperventilating, that is. My new friend Alisa, who is one of the biggest Pioneer Woman fans I know. Alisa and I have been passing acquaintances since we moved here because her oldest daughter and Brayden have been in choir together both years. We started becoming friends a few months ago when we discovered a mutual love for scrapbooking, then started cropping together, then found out we each had a blog, THEN found out through casual conversation that we each followed Pioneer Woman. Alisa takes it a step farther and has her own weekly cooking feature on her blog, and I hoped she would jump at the chance to meet PW in person ......... and I was right.

It was perfect, because Alisa was every bit as excited and schoolgirl-ish and squeal-y as me. What followed for the next few days were a flurry of e-mail activity between us as we talked about how thrilled we were, and what are you going to wear and how should I fix my hair and do I have time for a manicure and OMG I AM SO FREAKING EXCITED R U SERIOUSLY WHAT R U GOING TO WEAR?!?!?!?!?!

Really, it was pathetic. You would think we were meeting the Pope.

The drive to the ranch on Saturday morning was non-stop talking, punctuated with giggling and confessions of butterflies in both our stomachs. I don't know why we were so nervous ..... Pioneer Woman's a normal person, after all .... and if she was half as cool in person as she comes across on her blog, how could we NOT have a great time, right?

We were a few minutes late because naturally, I missed the turnoff. (How embarrassing.) But we arrived, goggle-eyed and pointing at the scenery, were greeted warmly, and started introducing ourselves to the other readers who were selected to attend. At first I found myself sort of gazing from afar, watching Ree like she was a celebrity among us (which, hello, she pretty much is.) But she was so warm and gracious and funny and down to earth and friendly that it didn't take long for the nerves to be replaced with a genuine feeling of comfortableness. Personally, I think that's the mark of a true hostess --- someone who has the knack to make the guests feel no longer like "guests" -- and that's exactly what she did.

Lunch was ready shortly after we arrived. A wonderful beef dish, with sides of pasta and asparagus. I'm embarrassed to admit I don't put that much work into Sunday dinner for my own family, and there I was eating it for Saturday lunch.

Then, what followed was pretty much the greatest berries and cream dessert I've ever had in my life.

Alisa's nerves had calmed down at that point, also, and she was relaxed and having fun as we got to know our fellow guests better, and were entertained by our hostess.

At this point I could have pretty much gone home and been satisfied with the day. But, things were just getting started.

Smitten Kitchen had arrived with her husband from NYC to do a cooking demo of three amazing recipes for us lucky folk. She was cute and funny and worked like a dog, standing for hours making the most delicious bread and crumb cake and pretzels, despite being eighteen weeks pregnant.

And not only did PW help her in the kitchen, and take pictures for her own blog, and continue to offer herself up as a gracious hostess to the rest of us, she managed to find time to blog and tweet the entire experience. Truly, the woman's picture should be in the dictionary under "multi-tasking".

Smitten Kitchen (aka Deb) brought her husband Alex, who took tons of photos for her food blog, as well. Although I consider myself a slightly-better-than-amatuer-photographer, between him and PW, I felt like such a beginner. Like I was only one step up from bringing a disposable, one-time-use camera from Walgreens. So if you want to look at my photos, that's great. But if you want to see really WONDERFUL photos of the day, wander on over to Pioneer Woman or Smitten Kitchen's sites and watch how the pros do it.

This is PW's best friend Hyacinth, helping with one of the recipes.

When she arrived, everyone who knew her shouted, "Hyacinth is here!" and she sat next to me for lunch. I turned to her and said, "I'm such a dork. I thought 'Hyacinth' was a fake name, for privacy purposes, and had no idea that was your real name!" and she said, "It's not."

So clearly I'm even a bigger dork than I thought.

It's actually a funny story how she got the nickname, but this blog post is going to be too long as it is, so I'll just leave it. But trust me when I tell you she is every bit as warm and funny and friendly as Ree, and I'm seriously considering forcing Blaine to retire from the Air Force and move to the country and raise chickens or goats or something so I can be best friends with both of them. Although, really, they might not be too crazy about that idea, so lets keep it a secret for now.

Alisa and I both actually learned quite a bit from the baking demo. We learned that 17 ingredients is actually not that much when the final product is So worth it, and how to fold a loaf of bread under to make a nice smooth mound ......

We learned how to make pretzel dough .....

We learned how to roll that dough into pretzel shapes .....

We learned you can't go wrong with too much salt .....

I learned that even the best cooks make a mess in the kitchen .....

And most of all, I learned that my love affair with carbs is true and real and worthy and runs deep, deep in my soul.

It was genuinely, truly, an amazing time. Almost surreal, in a "holy cow are we actually HERE and not on a movie set?" sort of way. And while I would like nothing better than to sit here and type paragraph after paragraph, waxing poetic about how beautiful the lodge is (seriously --- SO beautiful!) and how pleasant the other people were and how much I enjoyed myself and most of all, how freaking NICE Ree is, here's the one thing I came away with yesterday ---- she's not a grand-stander. She's not inviting people to her lodge to showboat her beautiful home or her interesting life. She was genuinely ...... kind. And interested in the rest of us. And I think the fawning makes her a little embarrassed and self-conscious.

(although I still totally did it, I just tried to be cool about it.)

(Oh, egads. Looking at this photo, I also learned that I need to either lose some weight or stop standing so sway-backed. No wonder people ask me if I'm pregnant all the time ....)

Maybe I'll get to go back some day ... who knows? I know she's got plenty of other readers who would love the chance to go as well .... but I can guarantee you if I ever get another opportunity, I'll jump on it.

Too soon, the day came to an end and it was time to leave. I hope she knows how sincere my thanks were, and how much I enjoyed myself.

On the way out, we saw some horses.

Then some cows moo'd at us.

Then I took yet another wrong turn coming off the interstate and wound up driving an hour out of our way, and that's how I knew that Alisa was the right person to have asked to go with me because she didn't even complain.

The end.

PS. Kim, you could NEVER be demoted! Only two more months until we're sitting in the Caribbean, drinking our umbrella drinks and having well oiled muscle men waving us with palm fronds!! Oh, wait. We're taking our kids and husbands, aren't we??? Shoot. That's ok, I'll smuggle this crumb cake onboard and it will make up for it!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Where's Waldo? Er, I mean, Kristie ...

I know a few of you already know, but can the rest of you guess where I spent today?

Here's a clue:

Not sure? Here's another hint:

Still no? Ok, here's the last clue .....

Now, I KNOW some of you have it figured out, right???

Clearly Stressed

I'm really worried about our new dog, Brew. I'm afraid he's just not comfortable here yet.

I mean, you can plainly see that he's stressed to the max. All this tension can't be good for him.

How long must he fret and worry that the kids don't like him? That the other dog doesn't like him? How long must he carry around this burden of anxiety???

I just hope he learns to relax before he gets an ulcer.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Should have at least bought myself dinner first

As anyone familiar with this blog knows, I am not really computer-savvy. I'm not technically "afraid" or "intimidated" by computers and technology, I just want them to work -- properly -- without problem or complication or glitch. Ever. Because I can sail along fine for months on end and as long as things are working, I'm happy. But the minute there's a hint of a trace of a problem with anything tech-related, the minute my computer does not do what it is supposed to (and normally, what it's been doing just fine for years) I flail about and moan and whine and wail like a two-year old in dire need of a nap. It's not pretty, just ask Blaine, the unfortunate soul who usually bears the brunt of my tantrum frustration.

I started Kendrie's Caringbridge site in November of 2003, so about five and a half years ago. I started this Not Quite blog in December of 2006, and have been slowly (v....e....r....y....) slowly trying to get all the old CB entries copied and pasted over, so that everything is in one place -- a process I find tedious and boring and slow and dull as anything and well, you get the picture. Which is probably why I haven't made more progress.

For a brief period, I was all raz-matazz with borders and graphics and music on the site, but over the years, as I've gotten lazy streamlined my style, the only thing I've continued to share are photos. I should probably be more internet safety-conscious about putting so many pictures of my kids online -- isn't this the very thing Oprah preached against recently? And goodness knows I've listed our last name enough that it's way too late to go back now and try and pretend to be all anonymous ... plus, to be honest, I don't have the creativity or energy to think up cutesy little online nicknames for my family members. We are who we are, and I put us out there, names and photos and all.

Anyway, blah blah. What was my point?

Oh, yeah. I share photos because I like to. I like seeing them on other people's sites, and as long as I continue to feel comfortable with it, I plan to continue sharing them here. I love that some of you feel like you're watching my kids grow up and are kind enough to care about my kids, even online.

I've been using a Yahoo Geocities site for the entire five and a half years, primarily problem free, to store my pictures and link them to my blog. I pay a small fee per month for "x" amount of data storage and "x" amount of data transfer usage and for the most part, once I figured out the process, it's been great. First I download my pictures from my camera to my computer, then I have to use my photo editing program to resize them to fit the blog. Then I use the Geocities Easy Upload program to get the photos to my Geocities storage site, then I use an html code-link-whatever-you-call-it to place the photos in my blog. There's no doubt an easier way to accomplish this, but after so many years, I have it pretty streamlined, it doesn't take too long, and I am content with the process.

Or should I say, WAS content.

(yeah, that's right. another long, tedious post where I bitch and moan about computers and computer service technicians and life in general ....humor me, please)

The only problem I have is sometimes I go over my allotted amount of data transfer usage each month, depending on how many hits my site gets, and how many photo-heavy entries I post. When that happens, all my pictures turn to little red x's until the month resets itself. It's annoying, nothing more, but when I got notice last night that I was fixing to exceed my limit -- again -- I thought perhaps it was time to finally do something about it. So I followed the Yahoo prompts to "buy more data transfer" ...... and signed up for their web host program, which provides unlimited data storage and unlimited data transfer. Sweet, huh?

Um, no.

I went into my Geocities account this morning to make sure it had been credited the additional amounts (because Lord knows they charged my credit card immediately for the entire year) and it hadn't. So I called their sales department, which promptly transferred me to the tech support department, where I had an estimated hold time of 34 minutes, and would I like to push "1" for a call back from the next available representative, why yes I would, thank you very much.

And when he called back, the conversation went a little something like this:

Yahoo Customer Service Tech Support Guy (heretofore known as YCSTSG): "Hello, how may I help you?"

Kristie (heretofore known as person who should leave well enough alone when it comes to her computer): "Yes, I have a question about a web hosting upgrade I purchased last night ...."

YCSTSG: "Yes, go ahead ..."

K: "OK, so. I have a Geocities Plus account that works great, but I was exceeding my data transfer usage on a regular basis, so last night I followed the prompts to get unlimited usage by upgrading. But when I checked my Geocities account just now, it's still showing I'm about to exceed my limit. Why wasn't my account credited?"

YCSTSG: "That's because your new upgrade site, with unlimited storage and unlimited transfer -- congratulations, that's awesome! -- is separate from your Geocities account. In fact, we've phased out the free Geocities accounts, so this is definitely the way to go."

K: "But my Geocities account wasn't free, it was a paid service. I don't want to *change* it, I just want to expand it."

YCSTSG: "I'm sorry, that's not an option. You have a new site now and will need to store your photos there."

K: "Ok, so what about the two freaking THOUSAND pictures I have stored at my old Geocities site? What happens to them?"

YCSTSG: "Well, eventually, they'll disappear. So I recommend transferring them all to your new site."

K: "Hmmmm. OK, let me think this through for a minute, since I'm not really as tech-savvy as you ...."

YCSTSG (appreciative chuckle)

K: "If I transfer the photos to a new site, the url for each picture will be different, no?"

YCSTSG: "Yes, but you have UNLIMITED storage so it doesn't matter!"

K: "But! It DOES matter! Because if each of these two thousand photos is coded or embedded or whatever you call it in my personal blog with a url link to the OLD site, won't every photo in my blog disappear when the address changes? Turn into a little red x permanently?"

YCSTSG: "Well, yes, there is a chance that will happen. Or you could just go back and change the addresses in your old blog entries."

K: (starting to feel a bit of panic now) "No, that's not an option. There are two thousand of them --- I can't possibly go back through five YEARS worth of entries, line by line, changing url addresses for two thousand pictures ..... "

YCSTSG: "May I access your Geocities account?"

K: "Of couse."

YCSTSG: "It looks here like there are only 1,756 files, so not quite 2,000 ..... plus there is a chance the old address might still work after you transfer them over, if your new account links to your old account. That seems to happen sometimes."

K: "So technically not 2,000 EXACTLY, thank you Mr. Less Than More Than, but still. I'm not doing it, or taking the chance they won't transfer over. Cancel my upgrade, please, and leave me at my old level of usage. I'll just risk going over sometimes."

YCSTSG: "Weeeeeelllll, here's the problem. Once you've upgraded, if you decide to cancel and go back, you'll only get the Geocities Free version, and your pictures will be gone."

K: "But I didn't have the free version, I had a paid version."

YCSTSG: "Yes, but you'd have to go back to free, then start over with a different upgrade, and none of your photos would be saved."

K (seriously, getting panicked right about now): "But they're right there, I can still see them in my account!"

YCSTSG: "Yes, but if I cancel your web host upgrade, you will lose everything."

K: "So let me make sure I'm understanding this. Because I upgraded and got a new site, none of my old addresses are any good anymore, and *possibly* my photo-links, all 1,756 of them, will no longer work. But if I *cancel* that upgrade, which I ONLY bought in an effort to fix this minor problem, I definitely lose all my photos, am I understanding this right? I will lose FIVE AND A HALF YEARS WORTH OF PHOTOS, ARE YOU KIDDING ME????!!!!"

YCSTSG, finally beginning to see the light: "Yes, I see what you're saying, but that's right."

K (near hysteria): "And so now the only way to fix my NEW problem, which, again, I only have because I was attempting to correct a teeny tiny minor problem, why the hell couldn't I leave well enough alone, is to transfer my photos to my new site and then manually change 2,000 addresses, one at a time???? Is that what you're saying to me???? So basically I just screwed myself, didn't I? I tried to do a simple, good thing, and buy a little more transfer, and it completely backfired and now THERE'S NO WAY ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH TO SIMPLY REWIND AND GO BACK TO THE WAY THINGS WERE?!?!?!?!?!"

YCSTSG: "Um, well, that's correct. But the good news is you have unlimited storage and usage now!"

At which point, I am embarrassed to say, I burst into tears on the phone and the poor man had to wait for me to compose myself, tissues and nose-blowing and all.

He tried to reassure me that because my photos were still showing up yesterday, even after my new site was up and running, that was a good sign that maybe they did actually link over (although he made no promises what might happen come the end of the month when my old account expires ....) Then he tried to walk me through downloading a free file transfer program so I could easily transfer the photos over -- but it didn't work. So while he was on the phone with me, I searched high and low to disable my firewall, hoping that was why it didn't work. And then even after I disabled my firewall the file transfer program STILL wouldn't work --- and at this point I had been on the phone for over half an hour, and I started crying again.

Because, DUDE. I realize this blog, and Kendrie's Caringbridge site, aren't exactly Noble Prize worthy literature. I acknowledge they're not going to set the world on fire, and that starving tree monkeys in the freaking rain forest could care less .... But they're MINE. And I'm conceited enough to be proud of them, and vain enough to acknowledge that throughout the past five and a half years, I have spent a LOT of time uploading, resizing, uploading again, and linking all 1,756 photos, to share with everyone who so kindly comes here to read.


Of course I wouldn't lose the photos themselves, I have everything backed up on CD. But anyone clicking ANY previous journal entry, beginning from day one in November, 2003, until yesterday, including ME, will not see a single picture, unless his "maybe, hopefully they'll link over" prediction comes true. I feel as if one of the most important aspects of the blog (or at least one of the parts that is the most special to me) the photo-journey of Kendrie through her leukemia treatment, and the photos chronicling of the past five years of my children's childhood, will be ..... gone, just gone. The entire blog will be ruined, in my eyes, with those photos gone.

So then I started crying a little more.

First it was that quiet, frustrated, suffering in silence kind of crying so the person on the other end of the phone doesn't know. But he was asking me questions, about did I have another firewall, and had I considered just starting over with a new blog, and how really, the unlimited storage and transfer was great, and maybe it wouldn't be as bad as I thought .... Honestly, I couldn't even answer him I was so upset. So then he thought I must have hung up (or perhaps laid the phone down in order to go somewhere and slit my damn wrists) and he was all, "Hello, hello? Are you there?!?!"

Ultimately, he felt sorry for my sniveling self, because I could NOT get the transfer program to work, no matter how many different things he told me to try, so he offered to do the entire thing for me remotely, right then and there. So I let him, even though it took another half an hour on the phone. Also, knowing full well that although having the photos on the new site is a step in the right direction, it's still not going to alleviate the problem when the old site is shut down and none of the addresses work anymore.

And I'm sorry this is so technical and boring to anyone who doesn't understand what I'm talking about, although really, those people probably quit reading thirty minutes ago because seriously, nobody gives a shit except me, so if you're still reading this AT ALL, thank you for indulging my techno freak out temper tantrum.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go look at those pictures of Brayden some more. Because I have a sinking feeling they will vanish when my month is over, along with every other picture I've ever put on this blog.

Then I'm going to go pout about it some more.

Computers suck.

The end.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

That stupid mirror never lies for me, how did that evil queen stepmother get so lucky?

Oh, dear. It was 80-something degrees here yesterday. You *know* you've gained weight when you put on last summer's Capri pants for the first time and not only can you NOT get them fastened, but you can walk around with them completely unzipped and they do not fall down. At all.

Hmmmmm. We leave for our cruise in two months.... I see either a lot of dieting, or a lot of shopping (yes, for larger clothes, but probably NOT for a belt) in my immediate future. I think I shall go have a Milk Dud and ponder this dilemma.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Faces of Twelve

Updated to add: Thanks, honestly, for the nice comments. I was thrilled with how they turned out. Not because I believe in my own fabulousness, but because I felt they really showcased her personality and (best of all!!) didn't cost an arm and a leg since I took them myself. (No, we won't consider the cost of lens in this equation .... that's a "gimme") :)

To answer a few questions:

6. Achieving 11: I used my photo editing program (I use Photoshop CS4) and ran a "faded" action. You can do the same thing by using any photo editing program and lowering the saturation of the entire photo. If you don't *have* a photo-editing program, then I have no clue .... basically, if I can't take shortcuts with technology, then I'm lost!

5. Lens: I used my new Canon 85 mm 1.8 lens.

4. Where: Shara, there is an overturned semi (don't ask me, who even knows) in a field next to the Dolese plant on Wilshire between Rockwell and Council. The rust-ish background is the underside of the trailer and the graffiti'd part is the back of the trailer. I'm sure I was breaking every OSHA code known to man by letting her climb on it, but I got the exact background I was hoping for, so it was worth risking arrest, ha!

3. Skirt: purchased from a vendor at the OKC Affair of the Heart craft fair in February. I found TONS in little-girl ballerina sizes, but only one booth, with only one skirt, in a size 8-10. I snagged it, felt grateful when I got home that it fit Brayden, and have been kicking myself ever since that I didn't think to get the person's card.

2. Favorites: Brayden's favorite is number 12. And although no-one asked (ahem) MY favorite is number 11, although I can't choose between the "faded" action (which is what I have in this post) or the original in all its vibrancy.

1. Looks like me: I know, isn't it funny? Although, anyone who has ever seen Brayden's birthmom (Hi, M!! <-- waving frantically) has said she and I could pass for sisters, so I suppose its not too odd that Brayden might look a little like me. Except for when she's in trouble. Then she looks just like Blaine.

Again, thanks for posting your opinions .... its great for me to read them!

Every year I force encourage my children to let me take pictures of them on (around) their birthday. Despite the fact I am falling farther and farther behind, I still consider myself a scrapbooker and like to have the visual documentation of how they grow and change each year.

Brayden's birthday is in February, and while that wasn't a problem in balmy Georgia, now that we live in Oklahoma we've discovered we often have to wait a month or two for weather nice enough for outdoor photography. We had such a day yesterday ....temps in the high 70's, and little to no wind .... a RARITY here.

I was also excited to take her photos this year because I had purchased and Lord knows I needed to justify my new lens. I was really hoping for some quality snapshots.

I'd love to hear your opinions, and I've numbered the pictures so if you'd like to leave a specific comment, I'll know which image you're referring to. For the record, I did not increase color or vibrancy or hue or contrast or anything on any of them. In fact, they came out so vivid that I actually DECREASED the color on some of them ..... guess when you combine the perfect outdoor light with a clear day and a good lens, you get good color ... to the point of kaleidoscopiness ... yes, it is a word. I just made it up.













Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go perform cpr on my own uterus, because it's shriveled up and crying at the realization of how grown up my baby girl is getting.

SPT Challenge April 21

**Updated to add: Lori, you're such a hoot. Did you not see that I commented on my Facebook status to exempt working mothers from my smarmy attitude? Plus, you did enough work on last year's 5th grade promotion ceremony to completely tide you over through middle school, at least. :)


(See? Little baby sigh of relief that today is an spt day because nothing exciting is happening around here. Oh, wait. Yes it is. Something VERY exciting. But you'll have to wait until later to find out.)

(I think in show business terms that is called a "teaser" .... not sure what it would be called in blog terms.... perhaps "rude and obnoxious" ???)

Self-Portrait challenges for the month of April as per Lelly's Musings. Visit her site to see lots of other posts, as well.

This month's challenges deal with gifting, and this week's challenge specifically was to gift a teacher, neighbor, or co-worker. Well, I don't have any co-workers, so that's out. And I'm actually gifting our new neighbors later today with a plate of cookies (assuming I don't BURN them or anything) --- (the cookies, not the neighbors) --- but I wanted to post this morning, so that was out.

That left teachers. Hmmmm, how could I showcase gifting a teacher with my time or service this past week? Let's see, would it be the three out of five days I've sat in classrooms, monitoring state testing? The day I spent two hours making photocopies for Kendrie's teacher? The hour I spent printing and passing out copies to our PTO thank you party? The .... (ouch! ouch! Sharp stick in my eye! OUCH!!!)

My favorite gift to a teacher this past week was the gift of time and chaperonage (is that a word?) that I gave Brayden's choir teacher last Friday. The sixth grade honors chorus traveled to Arbuckle Wilderness, about an hour and a half away, to compete in their annual choral competition. Six or seven of us parents followed the bus in our cars (because actually riding the bus with 43 screaming eleven and twelve year olds would have been giving the gift of INSANITY and I wasn't about to do that .....) with the idea that we would break off into small groups after the kids sang and tour the Arbuckle Wilderness animal park on foot.

Unfortunately, um, we got rained out. So we drove all that way simply to sing, then turn around and drive back home.

The *REAL* gift of the day was given by my old high-school friend Steve, whose son sings in the same choir. Our bus driver discovered about two miles down the road after leaving the park that the windshield wipers on the bus were completely thrashed and in fact, fell off the blades completely. So she pulled over on the side of the highway and sat there because she couldn't see to drive the bus. Steve and I drove to the next town, bought new windshield wipers, then drove back to the bus and he installed them in the rainstorm.

THAT, my friends, is a gift. Because Lord knows if they were waiting on me to figure out how to install those things, we'd still be sitting on the side of the highway.

PS. The choir received a superior score for their performance ... then won "Choir of the Day" ... then won "Best Overall Choir Performance of the Entire Festival" -- not too shabby, eh??

this is what happens when you let another kid use your camera and forget to explain how the auto-focus button works.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I gotta be honest with you guys ... I am really struggling to find things to blog about lately. And by "lately", I mean the past six months or so. And by "things", I mean anything that won't put people in coma from boredom. When you find yourself relieved that its Tuesday, and a self-portrait challenge is due, and therefore there's no need to be witty or clever or original, then perhaps it's time to re-evaluate your own blogging abilities. For me, this blog started out as a Caringbridge page; a personal journey through pediatric cancer .... and then evolved into a family blog ... which quite frankly, probably isn't that fascinating to anyone except my mother. My kids aren't little, they don't do cute and funny things on a regular, reliable basis anymore, and if I post one more time about woe-is-me-I'm-an-overweight-PTO-mom-who-is-tired-of-volunteering, I'll have to poke MYSELF in the eye with a sharp stick.

When you realize you're boring even yourself, perhaps it's time to re-group.

So in the meantime, I'm going to do what I do when I can't think of anything worth sharing ..... answer comment questions, and hope inspiration strikes soon, before I'm forced to resort to sharing old naked baby photos of myself.

NES asks: Forgive a stupid question - what's a crop?

A "crop" is the term for when a group of scrapbookers get together and work on their albums for any length of time. Sometimes synonymous with "scrap", but not always. For example, you can "scrap" or "crop" with friends; you can "scrap" or "crop" pages for your albums; you can attend a "crop", but you can't attend a "scrap". Hmmm. Wonder if either of those terms are in Websters yet ....

Dto3 asks: Better yet, what's WOOT!?

As far as *I* know, it's a term used when a person is excited about something, like a cheer. Think of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, when she so un-lady-like-ly rooted for a particular horse at the races by rotating her clenched fist in the air in circles, yelling, "Woot! Woot!". You can always go to Urban Dictionary if you need to double-check, because Lord knows I could be wrong.

Stefunk asks: Are you pregnant??

I don't even remember what on earth this was regarding, but I can answer with a resounding "Hell to the no".

Anonymous says: Ok.....I am clueless. What on earth is trash can punch?

OK, anonymous, I know you're only staying anonymous because you don't want your friends and family to know you're soliciting the recipe for trash can punch, you lush, you. Although, I thought drinking trash can punch was a rite of passage in middle America..... no? Not so much? Well, it's basically a ghastly concoction of fruit punch and alcohol --- typically everclear, vodka, or rum. In a nutshell, it's disgusting. I think it's called "trash can" punch because you normally mix it up in large quantities to serve at parties. Or at least you DID, before all the women of the world had to be suspicious of drinking anything prepared by strangers at a party.

However, if you're looking for a much more festive way to deliver a trash-can punch-type drink, do what we used to do (Mom, close your eyes.....) Buy a large watermelon. Cut a small hole in it. Buy one bottle of everclear or vodka, take the cap off, and insert neck of bottle upside down into the hole. Let sit for 24 hours. The booze will soak into the watermelon .... slice and serve at your next party. Viola!! It's the red neck way to get your liquor and vitamin C, all in one package!! Yee-ha!

And now, the fact that I've been able to type two very long paragraphs about trashcan punch and watermelon vodka leads me to my next blog post, titled "The time I checked into rehab".

Alison states: Also, "The Secret Life of Bees"--do you plan on seeing the movie once you finish reading? I loved that book, but have yet to see the movie.

Alison, I actually rented it a few weeks ago with Brayden, when we had a Mommy-and-Me movie night at home. We both enjoyed it very much.

Lisa L asks: Thank you!!! But just one question re: the meatballs...sweet chili sauce, or regular (hot) chili sauce? :)

Um, I'm assuming this is in reference to my crockpot meatball recipe. Clearly I should answer questions in a more timely fashion so I would know these things. Its definitely sweet chili sauce..... nobody in our house does spicy because we are all a bunch of weenies.

Gina gave a very helpful explanation regarding brain tumors and ended with: I hope that makes sense and I didn't confuse you any intentions are good.

Gina, I don't know that I ever got around to saying thank you to you for this information. It made perfect sense and helped me to understand more clearly exactly what the doctors were saying. So, thank you.

Lollyblogger mentions: Third, Have you and Blaine ever thought about making a road trip to MD Anderson in Houston? He seems like a unique case that they would have interest in, and they are the BEST in the world. My husband did his surgical fellowship there, and it's quite a place.

Lollyblogger, Blaine has never been to MD Anderson for an oncology consult, but the Air Force did send him there back when we were researching his options for reconstructive surgery. (Right after they sent him to the breast reconstruction doctor at Emory and I made jokes about him winding up with a big nipple on his head.) As luck would have it, he flew to Texas for a consultation, and the doctor he was to see had a wife who went into labor the day of Blaine's appointment. So while it appears for now things are being handled well locally (and how fabulous it is that he no longer has to travel five hours round trip for every single doctor's visit!) it's good to know the Air Force would consider MD Anderson again if need be. But selfishly, I'm crossing my fingers there is no "need be".

Bridget from Canada wants to know: ..Just out of curiosity who is taking these SPT someone in the family or a timer? Cause they have all been really good.

Bridget, thanks. A few have been me with a timer, but my camera is too heavy for me to hold up with one little dainty butterfly hand. Plus I don't have the coordination to turn the zoom lens, hit the auto-focus button, then press and release the shutter all with one hand. I've borrowed Brayden's little point and shoot a few times, but most of the photos have been taken by my kids.

And for the record, I *did* last week's SPT "Gift a Friend" In fact, I wrote up this great (well, in my own mind, anyway) post about being a princess, growing up in an all-prince world, and how even princesses have to kiss a lot of friendship frogs before they find other princess friends they really and truly connect with. I have a group of them, sadly, scattered all over the country, and one of them turned 29 (ahem) last week and I gifted her with a drive to Dallas to take her out for brunch for her birthday. (And I gifted her with the coolest pink peace-sign purse, too, but since we're not supposed to spend money of our gifts, I guess that part of the visit is ineligible.) Anyway, I felt weird posting something the day after I got news of Thalon's passing, then just a few days later the friend I wrote about in the post lost her father in law very unexpectedly, and I felt weird posting about her, too.

So in a nutshell, the point of the post is ladies, if you have one or two or five or ten friends who you can really, truly count on in a pinch, who make you laugh and listen to you bitch and care about your family and cheer for you all the same, hang on to them. For dear life. Because the older I get, and the more I've traveled around the country with Blaine, the more I'm learning that there are some psycho FREAKS out there to be avoided at all costs, and true friends are to be cherished.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Adam Lambert on American Idol

I am a 42-yr old, happily married, chubby stay-at-home mother of three .........

who has a wee bit of a crush on a 26 yr old singer from California who wears eye liner, black nail polish, and who may or may not be gay.

I'd say there's something wrong with that, but then I watch another of his videos on Youtube, and the crushing begins again.

Holy cow, can that kid sing. And if he's even half as pleasant and polite and respectful as he comes across on tv, I will like him even more.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What's that say?

Backstory: A few months ago, proving that I am unfit to hold a drivers license the worlds' most awesomest driver EVAH, I backed into a parked truck in a mini-mall parking lot. I'm not that uptight about stuff like that, and was perfectly content to drive around with a dent the size of my head in the back of my van, but when it started to rust, I finally admitted it was time to get the thing fixed. The body repair place said they would need to keep it for up to five days, leaving me car-less, and if you think my fat ass is walking everywhere for five days you are sorely mistaken. Taking pity on me, my brother-in-law lent me his old pickup truck, which I totally love. There's no radio and there's no roof liner and I can't make the air conditioner blow anything but lukewarm air and I don't think the doors actually lock. It's scratched and dinged and there's a big damaged spot on the side where someone scratched dirty words on the drivers door last year when my brother-in-law lent it to a lesbian to drive ........ but I love it. When I'm driving it, I flash back to when I was a teenager and I used to borrow my dad's truck. It's noisy and dirty and "Chevy-tough" and causes me to channel my inner-urban-cowgirl and totally makes me want to dig my old ropers out of my closet. Did I mention I love driving it???

This is the conversation I had with my sister today:

Me: "You know, you can suspect you live in a small town when you drive through Sonic and the girl in the drive through window asks you why you're driving that truck and what happened to your van...."

Kelly: "What did you tell her?"

Me: "I told her that my van was in the body shop and I had borrowed the truck from my brother in law. But wait. It gets better. But you KNOW you're in a small town when you drive through Sonic the next day and the same girl in the same drive through window asks 'so how long do you have to drive your brother in law's truck?' Ha-ha-ha!!! Isn't that funny???"

Kelly: "I don't think that says you live in a small town as much as it says you go to Sonic way too often."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Peace, my little man

When I attended the presidential inaugural celebration at Susan's house last January, I got the chance to finally meet in person a fellow Oklahoma blogger I had been following online.

Although I can't say Shana and I are close friends, I liked her immediately, and we even made time to have lunch together since then. She had recently given birth to her third child and has a great sense of humor about life with three little ones.

Best of all, she let me hold her beautiful baby boy Thalon, and smell his wonderful baby smell.

It breaks my heart to announce Thalon's passing. I don't know any of the details, just what Shana has put on her blog. I hope you'll go there, stranger or no, and let her know that her family is in your thoughts and prayers, as they are in mine.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The reason for the season. Oh, wait. That's Christmas

I'm on a favorite photo kick, so I'll show you my most favorite, the best, most hysterical, heart-warming, kick-ass Easter photo EVER.

Kendrie and the world's most horrifying Easter bunny, circa 2000.

Seriously. Have you ever seen a more mutant Easter bunny?

This was taken at my mother's club Easter get together and one of the moms volunteered to come in costume and pose for photos with the kids. Clearly, since this woman was an acquaintance of ours, we couldn't really point out to her that her bunny costume had obviously been through radioactive poison. And possibly melted in a fire. And had eyes painted on by blind people (oh, the irony!) And perhaps run over by a car. And then stolen by aliens and warped. And was THEN shoved in a closet for thirty years, before coming out to see the light of the day at our party. And most importantly, that it was SCARING THE CHILDREN.

It was the funniest damn thing we ever saw. My best friend Kim and I were so busy trying not to laugh (unsuccessfully, I might add) we couldn't even help the poor children who were FREAKED THE HELL OUT by the gross, mutant Easter Bunny.

Oh my gosh, this photo still makes me laugh. Poor Kendrie.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

My new, NEW favorites

OK, I know I said I had a favorite photo less than an hour or two ago, but I'm still sitting here browsing through the tournament pictures, and I've found a few more favorites.

I love this one:

because it shows off Kellen's ninja warrior athlete prowess.

I love this one:

because it shows off Kellen's stealth, intelligent, mental ninja warrior capacities. (That, or he's just wondering how much longer until half-time so he can get a drink of water.)

So by this one:

it's pretty clear that's he's not a ninja soccer warrior at all, but rather a poor impersonation of Farrah Fawcett. In fact, I think the boy next to him is wondering to himself, "Hmmmm, dude? Or chica?" although really, I don't think anyone sporting a faux-hawk should point fingers. I'm just saying.

Ahhhhh, wait, here we go:

Ninja warrior soccer skills back in action .......

No, at this point I just have to face the sad truth. This photo makes him look like Ursula from The Little Mermaid.