Finally. The rest of the dance photos.

Tootie and Moody Mom's daughter, Bear.

It's a hoedown throwdown.

So, what comes next?

Oh, yeah. Our favorite part!

The daddy/daughter dance. Song was "My Girl."

Aren't they sweet?Look at those daddies rocking the floor.

Hubs is on the left.

All together now: Awww...

OK, moving on ...

This is Greta, one of the teachers. She was mesmerizing.

Beautiful, no?

Tootie and Bear after the show. The sun was in their eyes.

Thanks Ms. Marissa for a wonderful recital!

Dance, with no snark

Last year, we switched dance studios. I didn’t like the heavy emphasis on competition and recital. And I didn’t like the lack of diversity. I’m not just talking about race, but also body shape. All the girls looked the same.

I didn’t fit in either. New costumes didn’t make me jump up and down and shriek like the other mothers. I was too busy tabulating the cost involved.

My other issue with the old place was that the girls who didn’t compete spent every single class the whole year practicing their recital song. My kid was utterly bored.

I’ve been so happy with our new studio. Ms. Marissa makes sure her classes focus on two things: learning how to dance and having fun. My daughter has thrived there.

On Sunday, the girls performed in their end-of-year recital. And I can’t tell you how happy I was to see such a diverse group up there — tiny girls, big girls, black girls, brown girls, white girls, outgoing girls, shy girls. And boys! (One of these little guys stole the show with his Michael Jackson moonwalk.)

I enrolled my daughter in dance for two reasons — to have fun while learning to dance to different types of music and to build her self-confidence. Because every little girl, no matter what size or color she is, should have the opportunity to wear a twirly dress.

Here are a few photos. More to come later.

No blue eyeshadow this year!

This was either Hannah Montana's Hoedown or the theme song to Sonny with a Chance.

And here's a shot of Hubs and Tootie during the daddy/daughter dance. The song? "My Girl."

A Puppy’s Plight

'Hello? Please. Put down the camera and rescue me.'

'Dude. This is seriously undignified.'

'I hope the neighbors aren't witnessing this. Am so embarrassed. I am a shepherd. I have important duties. Like attacking my fluffy toy sheep.'

'You can kiss that favorite pair of huge, ugly flip-flops goodbye.'

Photos by Hubs

(who continues to guard his flip-flops)

The E-man and Mr. Monogram

Despite a serious case of nerves, my stepdaughter was poised and lovely as she accepted her diploma Friday night. And she graduated with honors!

I spent much of the ceremony marveling over the girls’ shoes. We’re talking pencil-thin 4-inch heels. I kept waiting for one to fall or to snag someone else’s gown. Because if I ever wore such shoes, that’s exactly what would have happened — a face plant right in front of the dude handing out diplomas. Or a humiliating topple off the risers.


My marveling was frequently interrupted by a bored E-man, whose behavior devolved, oh, around the 100th graduate. (There were nearly 550.)

The man sitting next to us, who I immediately dubbed Mr. Monogram after spotting his crisp, ridiculously embroidered cuffs, was not amused.

“Mommy! I farted!” the E-man declared, garnering a disdainful sniff from Mr. Monogram.

“Shh. People are trying to listen,” I whispered.

“I have to poop!” the E-man announced, prompting a suspicious sideways glance from Mr. Monogram..

“Can’t you wait?” I hissed.

“I have to go now!” he insisted.

I glanced down the row at Hubs, who mimed pinching his nose and mouthed, “He tooted. Can’t you smell it?”

So I sidled down the row with the E-man in tow.

When we returned, my son resumed his commentary.

“That man has a shiny head,” the E-man noted, pointing at the balding Mr. Monogram.

I slunk further down into my folding seat.

And then, blessed silence. I basked in it for a moment before looking over to see what had grabbed the E-man’s attention.

Oh no.

The child was using his chewing gum as play-doh. Long, sticky strands were draped over each finger.

“Look, Mommy! I’m Spiderman,” the E-man gloated, wagging his gummy-webbed hands in my direction.

Which is when I wondered why graduation ceremonies can’t include some form of child care.

Blended families

They — and by “they” I mean the many authors of stepparenting books — say it takes about seven years for a family to truly blend.

They’re right.

Only in recent years have we found our footing, and even now, our steps are sometimes tentative. Blending a family requires balance and boundaries. Those aren’t always easy to figure out.

When I started dating Hubs, the kids were 8 and 9. Soon after we married, they turned 9 and 10.

Then we added Tootie and E-man to the mix. Let’s just weekends at our house were often … lively!

Tonight, my stepdaughter graduates from high school. (Her brother graduated last year.)

I am so proud of Claire. She’s a sweet, down-to-earth girl who has rarely given us a minute of worry. I remember the many weekends, when Hubs and my stepson went hunting, that Claire and I would rent several Olsen twin movies and stay up late watching them. I remember her crawling into her dad’s side of the bed, saying she didn’t want to sleep alone with the boys gone.

When Tootie arrived, Claire toted her around proudly, even the afternoon that her new baby sister erupted into wails just as Claire sat down at the piano for her recital.

She did the same when the E-man was born.

Claire, I know there are times when I royally screwed up in my stepmom role. But you’ve been patient and sweet and the most precious stepdaughter a mom could ask for.

Today, I’d like to share a few of my favorite family photos. And Claire — congratulations. We’re so excited for you!



Tootie and her "Cece" (short for sister)

Christmas 2004

Tootie's favorite game: Airplane

Claire always loved to do Tootie's hair. When, that is, she could catch her!

San Antonio, 2005. Look! It's Tycer. The boy who somehow always managed to dodge the camera!

Remember the Alamo?!

Nothing like a brisk Texas wind. (That's cousin Ceselie in the middle.)


Let's try it this way ...

Big Dam Bridge.

Hubs let me use his camera.

Congratulations, Claire!

A peek into the past

Shortly before Mother’s Day, Hubs asked me to pick 50 or so photos that I consider favorites. (He got me a digital frame.) In putting together my suggestions, I stumbled across all sorts of fun pics I haven’t looked at in ages.

Texas bluebonnets. Love them. Miss them.


Hair by big sis; boots courtesy of Daddy. She reminds me of little Cindy Lou Who in the one.

The E-man in repose. I love his little smushed nose in this one!

Must escape the waves. They are chasing me.

Little girl by the seaside. (Port Aransas, Texas)

Forget the Flying Nun. Flying babies are much cuter!

For more Wordless Wednesday, go here:

In the Family Way

Baby and the Beasts

Hugs & Kisses

Moody Mom

She’s Crafty

Why do we hate them?

In the months following the 9/11 attacks in our country, all sorts of articles appeared — in newspapers and news magazines — asking the same question:

Why do they hate us?

I’m sure Europe’s Jewish population asked the same question as Nazis killed entire families in a brutal factory-style fashion.

Why do they hate us?

Now, a few weeks after Arizona signed into law a measure that makes it illegal for an immigrant to go anywhere without documentation and allows for racial profiling, I have to wonder: Why do we hate them?

Think about it. How often have you dashed off somewhere without  your driver’s license? Have you ever lost one? Had to wait weeks to get a new one? Ever driven around with an expired license because you didn’t get around to renewing it?

Now imagine getting pulled over because you look like a careless sort of person, at least according to the cop standing at your window. Maybe he didn’t like the looks of your car. Maybe he thinks a bleached blond is probably prone to leaving her license at area nightclubs. Regardless, when you can’t produce your license, he asks for a passport. Of course, you don’t have that either because, really, who carries their passport around everywhere? What if you lost it? What if someone stole it? That’s why you keep it safely locked away at home, or in your safe deposit box.

Now imagine that your inability to provide either a license or passport could get you kicked out of the country, even if you are a legal resident of the United States, born and raised.

So yeah, I have to say that no matter how you feel about immigration, Arizona’s law is pretty dang stupid and reeks of Nazi-style practices in its demand for papers.

And it’s hateful.

We took our children with us to cover a tornado’s aftermath

This is (kind of) my Wordless Wednesday contribution.

Twice now, Hubs, a news photographer, and I, reporter, have taken our kids, ages 7 and 5, to the scene of tornado devastation.

And I’ve never had any qualms about it.

We answer their questions honestly and point out all the volunteers who arrive — every time — with water, clothing, equipment and offers to help clear the rubble.

I want my children to have a realistic view of the world, especially when it comes to natural and man-made disasters. We can’t shield them forever. (That said, I limit — rigidly — what they watch on television. Maybe it’s because of what I do, but a lot of the gratuitous crap turns my stomach.)


I think it’s important for my kids to understand two things:

Bad things happen, yes. But good people step in to help.

Yes, Tootie is in her too-short jammies. We left really, really early for Scotland, Ark.

Meet Daisy

She’s an Aussie, like our beloved Molly, only instead of being a black tri, she’s a blue merle. My Tootie is beside herself with joy. And so are we. A home without a dog, well… it just doesn’t feel right. And oh, how I love puppy breath!

Scoping out the yard.

A girl and her puppy.

She looks right at home, no?