“Don’t tell Cathy!” Hmph.

My youngest sister kindly waited for me to arrive on Thanksgiving Day before giving birth to her first child.

I spent most of the day in ignorance, actually.

Thursday morning, I left my father-in-law’s house in East Texas and pointed my car toward the Austin area, where my parents and two sisters live. A few minutes after I pulled out, my mom called Hubs to tell him that Re was in labor.

“Don’t tell Cathy yet,” Hubs said. “She’ll speed.”

So the kids and I drove nearly 6 hours with no idea that the latest addition, overdue by a week, was about to arrive.

As I neared my hometown, I called Hubs.

“So have you talked to your parents?” he asked. “I’ve been calling their house, but no one answers.”

“Do you think they’re at the hospital?!” I shouted gleefully.

“Uh …”


“Well, your mom called right after you left my dad’s to say that your sister was in labor.”

“Why didn’t you call me?!”

“I didn’t want you to speed. I told your mom not to tell you either.”


I made it to the hospital with a couple of hours to spare.

This was especially exciting for me because I missed my middle sister’s birth. (I had delivered Tootie only a week earlier!)

I confess to a moment of third-baby lust …

… until I walked into the hospital room the next day and saw my sister and brother-in-laws haggard faces and the dark purple circles under their eyes.

I don’t think I have the stamina for those early months anymore.

The most fun, however, was helping my sister wake up my nephew for feedings. After years of trying to get my kids to sleep, it was a refreshing experience!

Logan and Nana

He would have been safer at the deer camp

Hubs was supposed to remain in the deer woods all week, but since he got a buck early, he came home early …

… to a wife who is rabidly pre-menstrual.


Hubs: I just don’t understand why women get to have that excuse.

Me: It’s not an excuse. It’s an explanation.

Hubs: *raises eyebrows*

Me: I suppose you think that suffering through an unmedicated labor is an “excuse” for all the snarling and cussing then?

Hubs: I think we should change the subject.

Me: Good idea.

They’ve been brainwashed! Must re-program my children.

Saturday, I took the kids down to south Arkansas for  the annual Buck Fever Festival, which is held on Opening Day for modern-gun season.

There’s a parade, talent show, beauty pageant, fish fry and so on. But the kids’ favorite activity is hanging out at the family-only Saturday night bonfire.

Regular readers of this blog know that my daugther, Tootie, is an animal lover. She adores dogs, cats, horses, hamsters … anything furry, really.

Which is why I always assumed she would regard deer-hunting with disdain.

Not so.

My brother-in-law arrived late to the bonfire. But he brought with him quite a prize, as far as the kids were concerned:

A huge skull and antlers that belonged to a buck that has long roamed my brother-in-law’s acreage.

It appeared, he said, that the mighty deer had succumbed to old age.

The children were fascinated. They crouched on the ground, hovering over the skull like a couple of vultures.

“His teeth are loose,” I heard Tootie whisper to the E-man. “Feel them.”

Ten minutes later, she materialized at my side, hand outstretched.

“Look, Mommy!” she crowed. “I pulled his teeth!”

About that time, I looked up and saw the E-man dangling from the deer hanger while one of his cousins used a rope-pulley to pull him up and down.

Don’t know what a deer hanger is? It’s what hunters use to hold the deer while they field-dress it. My son, apparently, had decided it was a piece of playground equipment.

Behold: a deer hanger.

When Hubs called Sunday to tell us he got a deer, I thought, Yay! Venison chili! Deer spaghetti! Deer sausage & mustard! Yum!

The children, however, began arguing over who got the antlers.

Which means I must now re-program the little darlings before they become hunters themselves. Eek.

I suppose I should find some consolation in the fact that we still have to lie to them about what they’re eating. Neither can bear the thought that they might be consuming Bambi with their pasta.

Brunch with mommy just isn’t as exciting as gawking at dead deer.

They’ve gotten to her.

My sweet little Tootie, I mean.

Who, you may ask, is brainwashing my sweet girl?

My husband’s family of hunters.

She had a choice, my daughter — attending the Girl Scouts’ Muffins with my Moms brunch or driving down to the family deep camp for opening day.

Guess which she chose? Guess what she’s been eagerly anticipating since, oh, September?

Opening day for my husband’s south Arkansas relatives entails a parade, a fish fry, the Buck Fever Talent Show and the Buck Fever Beauty Pageant. In-between events, everyone roams up and down Main Street, admiring the fresh kills strapped onto the backs of 4-wheelers or sprawled in the beds of pickup trucks.

My Tootie has no interest in dressing up in a frilly dress and brunching with her mommy. No, she’d rather don camo and follow the hunters and their dead deer around.

It’s embarrassing, really, given that I’m a troop leader. I haven’t yet had the nerve to the tell the other moms I won’t be there because, well … my kid wants to go the Buck Fever Festival.

At least her camo is pink. Until, that is, she romps through the mud in her quest to check out an impressive set of antlers.


Our desert adventure

If you’re here via my Forces of Nurture column, welcome! To read said column, go here. (All photos by Hubs.)

Steeling myself for my trek to the dunes.

Even an arid desert yields beauty.

The dunes. Pretty, no?

Toasting my safe return, minus any centipede bite marks.

And now on to a few other places:

Sitting atop Emory Peak. I wrote a column about this climb a few weeks ago.

Hiking at Big Bend.

El Capitan. Hubs loves shooting sunrise and sunset photos with this mountain in the foreground.

Yes, you can find waterfalls in the desert. Taken at Big Bend.

High fashion is possible at Big Bend, as evidenced by my sophisticated attire. This is actually a wry piece of art near Marfa, Texas.

Trying to sleep in, to no avail.