the layover

Traveling from D.C. to Oklahoma City today, Alex had a six hour layover in Austin. We picked him up at the airport around 11:15 and then ventured down South Congress to enjoy this amazing December day--68 degrees! No one is working right now in Austin, by the way, so the streets were crowded and the candy store (my idea) was a zoo. But you can't beat a fun Thursday afternoon with Dad...way more fun than hanging out with Mom all day.


put a bow on it

Have you ever been out in public somewhere and seen a toddler throwing a fit--the kind where the perpetrator turns red and stops breathing and chokes so hard on his/her own tears that he/she almost throws up? That was my child today. I took Scout to get a haircut, and needless to say she was not into it. I don't know if it was the over-zealous stylist (seriously, guy, you're cutting children's hair...this isn't Frederic Fekkai) or the over-stimulation or the three dum dums she downed while waiting her turn, but something snapped when I plopped her in that firetruck chair.

I finally managed to get her to calm down for a second by sitting in my lap--I wasn't giving up at that point--but her New Year's cut turned into a $10 hack-job bang trim that I could have done at home by myself. There probably would have been just as many tears but less of a sugar rush. I think the people felt sorry for me because they gave me a coupon for $5 off our next cut. I don't think I'll cash in on that one. At least she can see now, and we got to take home a cheap plastic bow reminiscent of the kind they give dogs at the groomer.


texas cactus

I'm finally taking (a little) time to catch up on my winter reading: the magazines that have been piling up for two months, the library book I checked out three weeks ago. Since every day is a "vacation" (not really) day for me, it's difficult to find and/or take a little break. Or maybe I'm just using that as an excuse since I'm not feeling creative this week and won't be starting any new projects until the new year.

In the meantime, check out this picture of a decorated cactus--is that what it is--that I snapped on our walk around the lake this afternoon. I love the way they decorate for the holidays in Texas. Sixty-five degrees and sunny on December 27 almost makes the two months of 100+ degree weather that we endured when we moved here worth it. Almost.

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we need a little christmas

Is Christmas over already? Now what?

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thursday night lights

Tonight we fed and bathed the kids, dressed them in their finest Christmas-themed pajamas and went out for a drive in search of some Thursday night [Christmas] lights (following a quick diversion to the CBTL for a tasty red velvet hot cocoa). Austin did not disappoint, and we were psyched to find Clark W. Griswold's house (above).

The famed Zilker tree of Zilker park.

Me taking a picture of Alex taking a picture of some super fancy lights.

Catcher and Scout both passed out along the way (mission accomplished!).

The big winner--I wish I had gotten a better shot, but the crowd says it all.


cookie monster

Two days.
Two million cookies.
Two toddlers in a sugar coma.
Welcome, Christmas!


the reset button

When Catcher was born and it was our third or fourth day at home with him, I joked that I wish I had a "reset" button so I could start the day over--or maybe a fast forward to go ahead and get to the next one. In those early days if you mess up the change-feed-burp-swaddle routine in the slightest, then your day is shot. And forget about sleeping that night. With the magical reset button you would have the opportunity to "put right what once went wrong," (I believe that's a direct quote from one of my favorite early 90s television shows, Quantum Leap).

Today I want a reset button. While there's nothing specific I want to do-over, this morning I woke up to another rainy day in Austin and knew that the kids would be wild. Last Thursday--after an unprecedented five straight rainy days here--I came home from running errands with the kids to find a "lease violation" notice tucked inside our door. Apparently there have been "numerous complaints" due to the "excessive noise" that is coming from our apartment. If we don't correct the situation immediately, then further action (not specified what exactly) will be taken. I have visions of us getting kicked out onto the streets of Austin a week before the baby is due. Although my fears may be slightly dramatic, I can't help feeling on edge. Every time Scout missteps and falls to the floor or Catcher gets excited and runs to the door when Alex gets home, I cringe knowing that someone is just waiting to report us. I guess I'm most confused because I don't consider myself a loud person, and we put our kids to bed routinely at 7:00pm. Most nights I'm home alone tiptoeing around the apartment trying not to wake anyone, and during the day we're in and out while most of our "in" time is spent sitting down eating or Scout napping. I know that mornings can be a little crazy around here, but how do you stop a 16 month-old from running to her high chair because she's excited to eat waffles?

When I last rented an apartment it was seven years ago in New York City, and you were happy to have a place where the toilet wasn't in the kitchen or a crack whore wasn't breaking into your building and banging on doors screaming at 2:00am. Forget about the neighbors who had a knack for re-arranging furniture at all hours or practiced their comedy routine at an ear-splitting volume. You could deal with that. And you could deal with the traffic blaring outside and the "was that a gunshot?" noise you heard every now and again. You wouldn't even notice a 22 lb. child tripping or an excited 3 year-old running to his room to get his firetruck. But I guess expectations are different here, and now we're in the wrong and I'm over-thinking and over-analyzing every noise that crosses through the apartment--is the vacuum to loud? Should I wait until later in the afternoon to start this load of laundry? Can they hear the kids playing in the bathtub?

I know we're not really getting kicked to the curb, but I just want a little relief from the anxiety that this formal notice has caused. Reset.


house #2

Our second attempt at the gingerbread house this holiday season trumped the first. If you're like me and think you have an inner Martha Stewart, but you can never muster up the patience, resources and creativity to make your own snow globes or paper-plate angels, then I recommend the pre-assembled gingerbread house. One of Santa's little elves sent one to us this year, and all we had to do was unpack it, separate the candy and mix the icing. An hour later we had a house good enough to eat (at least to the discerning palate of a three year-old).


holiday card, plan c

And the winner is...

I'm not really going to reveal this year's Wheat Family Holiday Card, but I'm happy to report that the design is complete and it is ready for printing/shipping. This is a little hint to where the final photo was snapped, but that's all that I'm giving away:


holiday card, part deux

Another drizzly day in Austin; another attempt at the Christmas card (which is fast becoming a New Year's card since I'll never get them ordered and sent out by next week). For this round I started out with another good idea but the result wasn't nearly as fabulous as I had pictured it in my head.

Event though I couldn't execute it this year, I still like the idea and I'm going to hold onto it for a little while. At least until the kids are a little older and we can dress them in matching denim shirts and cowboy boots (wink!). In the meantime, I have one more trick up my sleeve for this card thing. If it doesn't work I'll go down swinging.


holiday card, take one

Why is the photo for the annual holiday card so impossible? I'm not the type to dress the family in matching Christmas sweaters and pose in front of the mantle with a blazing fire in the background, so coming up with an idea that is cute, grandparent-friendly, a snapshot of your life and understated--all at once--can be quite the challenge. Maybe I'm over-thinking it. Either way, I came up with what I thought was a great idea this year by having Catcher and Scout line up in front of a building that is painted with the color bars used in television test patterns. The building happens to be where Catcher got his haircut a few weeks ago, so I took the opportunity to run a few test shots that morning:

Even though my subjects were less than enthusiastic about the photo shoot, I thought I had a decent starting point. This Sunday morning we returned for the real thing. Scout was mad that we took away her toy before forcing her to line up against a wall to pose for a silly picture with Catcher, so she threw herself down in the parking lot and shed a few tears:

I enjoy the candid moments in life, so I knew we'd walk away with some good outtakes if nothing else, but at the same time we're under a time crunch since Christmas is fast approaching. In addition to the screaming, getting the two to actually stand next to one another was another obstacle:

We finally got them next to each other and ended up with a cute picture (bottom)...

...until I decided I wasn't happy with my choice of outfits. Like I said, I'm not matchy-matchy, but a little coordination would make for a better picture. I guess I am over-thinking this, but it's serving as my project for the moment. Stay tuned for the final...if I can ever commit.

P.S. If you're on my Christmas card receiving list, this is not a spoiler. I'm already onto something else.


a shout out to the shorties

After Alex found our stockings last week, I found the perfect spot to hang them next to our cute little Christmas tree. Having a small Christmas tree has been a throwback to our days in New York for the past several years. It's one of our things. We always felt sorry for the little trees that didn't get sold, and it would be impossible to fit any "normal" sized tree in a 300 square-foot Manhattan apartment (not to mention trekking it down the bitterly cold street blocks and up four flights of stairs into your building). The little guys will always have a place in our home.

I see you: check out the tiny devil in the bottom right corner sneaking from the candy dish...


gingerbread house, take one

Being true to my word, this week Catcher and I stayed inside on an unseasonably cold day and tried our hand at crafting the perfect gingerbread house--four of them, actually. Please note: these pictures have not been enhanced. View at your discretion--the images may be disturbing for some audiences.

But all jokes aside, constructing a gingerbread house is no joke. Catcher selected the mini village when we were weighing our pre-made kit options, and at the time it sounded like a great idea. "Five mini houses," I thought. "How cute." Not so much. Mini houses are not for the novice. My first mistake was breaking apart all the gingerbread pieces and piling them on one plate. Suddenly side "A" from the chapel looked a lot like side "C" of the classic cottage. With patience abating, I employed my creative license and a "this looks like it goes there" attitude, which somehow resulted in four houses instead of five. Oh well, at least we had the decorating portion to look forward to, right?

Mistake number two was mixing the icing too long or not long enough (I'm still not sure where I went wrong--this part seemed so simple). It was supposed to have the consistency of toothpaste, but I guess ours wasn't quite there. The icing quickly dripped down the sides, dragging Catcher's meticulously placed gumdrops along with it.

I may have thought the project was somewhat disastrous at first, but I have to admit that the little houses have grown on me. Next time, though, we're going to see how we do with one house.


the giving tree

It's no exaggeration when I say that Book People is one of my favorite places in Austin. In fact, I'm not sure how I would have survived these past few months as a stay-at-home mom on the fly without them. I can count on three story times per week for bookish toddler entertainment, and at least once a month they bring in musical acts or a traveling petting zoo to keep things interesting. We've met children's books authors and Miss Travis County, a local musician and Skippyjon Jones himself, and when I saw their holiday "Giving Tree" yesterday I knew it was our cause for Christmas 2011.

Ever since Catcher was born we've donated gifts to children in need during the Christmas season to teach our own children that it's not all about them (and hopefully instill a lifelong spirit of compassion and giving). This year we're giving books to a boy and girl whose names we found inscribed on snowflakes that Catcher and Scout plucked from the Giving Tree. Catcher picked out one of his favorite books to give to little Gustavo--"He'll be so exciting,*" Catcher said--and I helped Scout select one for Jamalah. 

*Catcher sometimes confuses "exciting" and "excited."

After the excitement of picking out books had waned, it was back to business for Catcher, who found a quiet spot for "reading" about fire engines.


two trees and a manger

Here you see pictured the sum of our Christmas decorations. Catcher and I dragged our box of ornaments and assorted Christmas trappings out of the closet this afternoon, and while I was desperately searching for the stockings--seriously! where did I put them?--Catcher assembled the above.

I didn't realize my decorations were so embarrassingly sparse. I must have downsized when packing for the move. We have a long way to go to catch up with the Griswolds, but here's a look at some real life Christmas crazies (images from Elle Decor):


missing lights

This weekend there were exactly two tree lightings that I planned on attending with the kids as part of my guerilla effort to bring them the "hap, hap, happiest Christmas ever" (and hopefully instill a lifelong love and slight obsession with the holiday season). But after two strikes, I'm out.

The first tree lighting we missed was Saturday night at the Capitol building. After a cold and rainy day, the weather eased up in the late afternoon; however, Alex was delayed coming home from Georgia and we had to pick him up at the airport at the exact time the tree was set ablaze. (Truth be told, I didn't really want to brave the event by myself anyway). Here's a look at what we didn't see:

Austin Pixels

Last night we missed the lighting of the tree in Zilker Park. Another cold and rainy day, a late afternoon meltdown involving a certain three year-old and an intense 4th quarter in Packer football lessened my enthusiasm for the event. The famed Zilker Holiday Tree, where you did not find us:

Austin Parks & Recreation

Maybe next year...