the nannies, a mannie, some hippies and me

I'm not ready to officially call myself a stay-at-home mom, but we've been in Austin now for 30 days, and with no promising job prospects on the horizon it's time for me to lock it up and start doing "things" with the kids during the day (hanging out at the pool doesn't count). And by the way, I'm four months pregnant, so the odds of me finding--and starting--a job before I have to turn around and go on maternity leave are waning by the day.

This morning I took a dive into the world of what-to-do-with-your-kids-when-it's-107 degrees-and-you-don't-know-anyone-in-a-new-city. My answer: Book People, an amazing independent book store in Austin that has kids' story time three days a week (plus author visits and book signings and other cool things going on all the time). We got there early so I could be sure we got a seat. I even remembered a sippy cup for Scout and some animal crackers to keep the tantrums at bay. When we got to the second floor theater where the readings take place, I looked around at my peers and saw that I was one mom among several nannies, what was possibly a mannie, and a few youngish hippies who could have been older siblings, babysitters or actual moms (it's hard to tell...). Even though I felt somewhat out of my element at first, I was happy that everyone didn't look the same and several of the kids were barefoot like Scout. Besides, Catcher and Scout enjoyed the stories and it kept us out of the apartment for two hours--what more could you want? Bonus: Whole Foods is next door, so after-story lunchtime there is a win-win way to shave another hour off your day.

Today the subject was butterflies, so after story time everyone had a choice of either coloring a butterfly or making butterfly antennas out of pipe cleaners. When I asked Catcher which activity he wanted to do, he responded: "I don't want to do anything. I just want to read, read, read." So he proceeded to jump down from his perch in the amphitheater and run over to a shelf where he picked out five different books involving trucks (and one starring Dora) to read. 

Scout kept herself busy crawling on the stairs and eating crumbs that other kids had left behind. She even took her first two steps alone! I think she was going after the cracker I had in my hand. (I'm sure she was going after the cracker I had in my hand.)


robots and dinosaurs

At the expense of sounding like a "Mommy blogger," I have to make mention of another milestone that has taken place since our move to Austin: Catcher is now potty trained. Like most parents (especially those of boys, I understand) we've been struggling with this for the past seven or eight months. One day a few weeks ago after all the boxes were unpacked and the TV/Internet was still a phantom on the horizon, I decided I had changed my last poopy diaper courtesy of a stubborn three year-old. I had three pairs of "big boy" underwear that I had purchased months ago when I was feeling particularly ambitious after Catcher had shown his first interest in the potty. So armed with one pair of robot and dinosaur undies, I attacked with the strongest weapon I had--the promise of a cupcake from the cupcake truck if he was dry all day. Round one: Mom.

Crafty is my middle name, so I was ready for day two (I had only given Catcher half of the cupcake the night before, so I had a bribe in waiting). Apparently stubborn is my son's middle name. Round two: Catcher. On the third day, however, after seeing the half cupcake still hanging out in the fridge and realizing the only way to get it was to give in to my ridiculous bribing, Catcher decided a cupcake was better than wet pants. Round three: Mom.

And that was that. We've had one little accident since the day he finally conceded, but after a shopping trip to the mall where Catcher was able to pick out his new undies--airplanes, more dinosaurs, fire trucks and helicopters--the only problem now is getting him to wear the rest of his clothing instead of prancing around the house half naked all day.


triple double

This afternoon when I got out of the pool with the kids, I decided to check the weather on my phone. It turns out that the warm breeze that I felt on my face--you know, the one that feels like you just cooked a pizza in the oven and leaned your face in while you opened the door to take it out--was justified. 111. So all the rumors are true: it's hot in Texas.


27 days, part 3

Alas, we made it to Austin on August 1st, and here's a look at some of what's been going on for the past 27 days:

My first look at our new apartment building as we drove down South Congress.

First look inside.

Alex unloading one of the pods in record time in record heat (107).

Scout "helping" me unpack the kitchen.

Showing off some new teeth.

Stopping to look at the turtles during a stroll around Lady Bird Lake.

Posing during the walk.

Catcher trying to catch a balloon in the living room.

Got it...

Afternoon chill time.

Catcher making cookies.

He wore an apron.

The kids enjoying a rainy afternoon on our balcony.

You would think it's the first time they've seen rain.

Living room: take one.

Rug switch: take two.


27 days, part 2

I feel like we were in New Orleans a lifetime ago. Here's what we did: ate fancy donuts and drank cafe au lait for breakfast at the world-famous Cafe Du Monde, took a carriage ride around the French Quarter (saw the Jolie-Pitt residence), went to the flea market (forget what it's called) in the French Quarter, hauled a couple tired and sweaty kids around, walked about two blocks on Bourbon Street and promptly turned around, decided New Orleans is not kid friendly, ate some Cajun (or is it Creole?) food for lunch, took a nap at the hotel, put the kids to bed early, sent Alex out for McFlurries for dinner, woke up and said goodbye to the crescent city.

I'm sure New Orleans is charming to some in its own way, but I don't think I'll go back. When we left on Monday morning, I no longer cared about driving through the Garden District to see the stately mansions (or anything else I may have missed). I just wanted to get on the road to Austin. New Orleans is one of those places where you leave feeling dirty and like you've been swindled in some way. I'm glad I got to see it, but I'm also glad I didn't spend actual vacation time and money there. Maybe if I had run in to Harry Connick, Jr. I would feel differently. At any rate, here's a look at our little trip through NOLA:


the past 27 days, part 1

This is how it all started at approximately 6:00am on the morning of July 30th. Here's one last look at our little home in the Carolinas (it really does look tiny without any furniture):

If you don't count the 20+ paint cans we left in the attic, the lamp in the corner of the living room, and the microwave on the kitchen counter, the house was completely empty--a fete which didn't seem possible at 10:30 the night before when Alex and I began packing the Explorer. Because the pods were so meticulously packed, we left ourselves with little room for the items we had been living with for the three days following their departure. Who knew my clothes--only half of my closet--would take up so much room in the car? As a result, here's what our car looked like just before we pulled out of the driveway:

Catcher happily packed in next to his pillow and potty. That's a stack of dirty bath towels resting just above his head, in case you're wondering.

Positioned on the other side of the stack of pillows was little Scout. We thought it might work against us if the kids couldn't look at each other during the 19-hour drive, but it actually turned out to be a good thing because they also couldn't bug one another. I think Scout just slept most of the time while Catcher listened to his Winnie the Poo books on CD (which we could only play while I was driving since the timbre of the reader's voice would put Alex to sleep at the wheel).

Approximately nine hours into our drive, and there (surprisingly!) had been no major breakdown from this three year-old in the back seat.

In case you're having trouble seeing it, that little blue eyeball poking out belongs to Scout. This was my view of her from the passenger's seat. She was so quiet that I would have to unbuckle my seatbelt to turn around and occasionally check in on her. If she got fussy, I would just hand her some Teddy Grahams.

I had great visions of documenting our road trip by taking pictures of all the weird/extraordinary/interesting things I saw on the road. I imagined our whole family getting out of the car to take a picture every time we crossed a state line, standing in front of the "Welcome to X" sign. I thought we would get postcards from every state to show the kids when they grow up someday. But it turns out that there isn't much interesting on a drive from North Carolina to Texas. I thought the world's largest fireworks store was pretty cool when I saw it in South Carolina, but when I saw the same one in Louisiana (or was it Alabama?) I wasn't so impressed any more.

Below is a picture as we're crossing over a bridge in a state that I can't even remember. They all looked the same, and I'm glad we weren't moving to Louisiana, Alabama or Mississippi. Did we even drive through Mississippi? Like I said, they all looked the same. 

The only thing I do remember is crossing into Texas. I was at the wheel, and the actual state line was in the middle of some river. When we got to the end of the bridge, there was a giant star--as only Texas could do--and a "Welcome to Texas, the Lonestar State" sign. I felt welcome. Catcher was the only one awake in the car, so I whispered, "Catcher! Catcher! Look at that giant star. We're in Texas!" 

"What Texas?" he replied.


what's wrong with this picture?

There are a few hard and fast rules that I live by in life. For example, I will never own a minivan, and I don't believe in having TVs in the bedroom.

... and here is a picture of our bedroom:

Alex broke me. The funny thing is that I know I'll end up the one who watches the TV in the bedroom while Alex is doing his thing in the living room. I will not, however, allow cable in the bedroom. Which brings me to my next point (and answers the question why we suddenly have a picture on the TV). When we first moved into the apartment and realized we couldn't have cable for over three weeks, I suggested that we buy those bunny ear things and get at least a few channels during our time of suffering. Alex more or less laughed at me and said something about it not being the 1950s. But I know a thing or two about bunny ears--that's how I watched television in New York for four years until Alex and I moved in together. The other night Alex had drinks with one of his buddies. Sometime during the evening he lamented the fact that we don't have TV right now, at which point his friend suggested he go get some bunny ears because you can get 12 HD channels with them.

... and that is why we have TV tonight (just in time for Sunday Night Football).

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happy 300!

I just realized this is my 300th post! I don't know that it means anything, but it seems like a big number. Perhaps I should be making this one special since I've drawn attention to the fact that it's number 300, but I already had something in mind before I began...

I would never consider myself a foodie by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I often joke that I'm more into the drinks and atmosphere than the actual food at any given restaurant; however, I do have a few food mantras that have become somewhat sacred in my mind.

#1: Everything tastes better with avocado.* It's true: avocado isn't just for guacamole. Somewhat embarrassingly, I only discovered this when I was 22 living in Dublin, Ireland of all places. There was this great little sandwich shop that I used to stop in when I was on my way from my morning job at the local University to my afternoon job (on a different campus). One day I was feeling quite adventurous and ordered the turkey, cheese, bacon and avocado. For those who don't know, I'm a serious condiment-hater and usually only like meat and cheese (seriously...no condiments, no fillers) on my sandwiches. Anyway...whoa! Why hadn't I tried that before? I realize this sounds silly now, but avocado is the way to go.

*If you're my husband and/or from the Midwest you can insert "bacon" for avocado.

#2: "Whatever you have for dinner tonight, I want you to put cheese on it." This is a true sentence that my husband and I overheard spoken at the Milwaukee airport when we were on our way to visit his mom a couple years ago. Turns out, if you do put cheese on whatever you're eating, it does taste better.

#3: This one is new: everything tastes better in a taco. If you don't believe me, then move to Texas. I'm 18 days into my young Texanhood, and I'm finding I can't make it through the day without a taco. Breakfast taco, lunch taco, dinner taco...if you have some eggs and some cheese and some beans and a little protein (or any combination of the above) wrapped in a soft tortilla, then life is good. And you don't have to be a gourmet cook to make it taste delicious. This morning after a walk around Lady Bird Lake, I found myself sweaty and famished. "I need a taco" was all I could think to get me through the day. It worked. Now all this taco talk has me hungry for dinner.



Scout was extremely quiet the other morning while I was putting on my makeup in the bathroom. Usually she's pulling on my legs screaming for me to pick her up, but she and Catcher were playing quietly in the kitchen. You always have to wonder what's going on when the kids are quiet, but I figured there couldn't be too much trouble at hand since Catcher is the first to run and tell me when someone is breaking the rules (adults included--how many time have I heard "Don't say 'Oh my gosh!'" when he's within earshot of my phone conversation). But to be on the safe side, I did peek my head around the corner to check on things--heaven forbid you remind them they are playing quietly and you're in the other room where they can't see you--and here is what I saw:

A little pink bottom poking out of a cabinet. I remember when Catcher was her age and did the same thing. He used to close the door on himself and start crying, but I think Scout was reorganizing my kitchen because she didn't think the tortilla warmer belonged with the salad bowls.

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beat the heat

I'm just wondering: what will it feel like when it's 85 degrees in Austin? My bet is pretty chilly. I'll probably require a jacket. On Saturday it was only 98 degrees--I say only because that's 9-10 degrees lower than the rest of last week--and I have to admit that it felt rather nice.

But enough about the weather. It isn't news to any one at this point that there is a serious heatwave afoot.

I haven't blogged in a few days because not much has been going on. I still don't have my Texas driver's license and I still don't know what Mopac stand for. We did discover a Red Box at the local McDonald's, however, so we have been watching movies the last few nights, which beats me hammering away on this tiny keyboard writing about nothing. Thank goodness for iPhones, but it's hard for me to stay attentive and inspired when blogging from one. I keep feeling like I need to check my email or catch up on a game of Words with Friends or--heaven forbid!--make a phone call or something. Can you tell I'm distracted? Ten more days until I'm rescued by the Internet. Ha!

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if you ever move to texas...

This is how I've spent my last three mornings...

Monday: wake up, work out, shower, get dressed, shovel down a few spoonfuls of cereal while getting the kids dressed, get in the car, ride to DMV (they call it the DPS here) with Alex and the kids, arrive at 8:20, see the line that has to be at least two hours long, turn around, go home.

Tuesday: wake up, work out (shorter version), skip shower (I didn't really break a sweat), get the kids fed and dressed, drive to DPS and get dropped off by Alex at 7:35 to save us a spot in line (it's already wrapped around the building), wait, get in, toss coffee that Alex brought me because "no food or drinks allowed inside," watch some crazy woman feed her baby, wait, get called, find out we need our passports and social security card--the website did not make that obvious--to get a TX driver's license, get our paperwork and leave.

Wednesday: wake up, skip the gym, shower, get the kids dressed and half fed, put snacks in my bag, drive to DPS, get dropped off by Alex at 7:05 (tenth in line), wait, sit down, check email, wait, Facebook, wait, start this blog post, Alex comes back with the kids and coffee, drink coffee, feed Scout Catcher's banana bread, stand up, move forward in line, get inside, wait, talk to the woman at the desk and find out our car has to be registered in Texas before we can get a Texas driver's license. Wait. They don't do that here because Texas is "different" and doesn't have a DMV. She can tell us where to go to register the car, but she can't tell us what we need because they are separate agencies. So I google map directions to the tax office (or whatever it's called) while Alex calls them to find out exactly what we need: current car registration [check], proof of insurance [check], car inspected by the state of Texas [no check], $90 processing fee of some sort [no check], an additional $64 for something-or-other [no check].

I guess we have a few more things to take care of before our next trip to the DPS. At least I know where I will not be tomorrow morning.

By the way, here was Scout getting grimy on the sidewalk and Catcher showing me "how to clean the weeds" in the parking lot of the DPS:

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