Breaking tradition

For the holidays this year, we did a few things differently.

For one, I did NOT make manicotti on Christmas Eve as per usual. Too labor-intensive, which then leaves me scurrying around the rest of the evening in a mad race to bake cookies, wrap presents and then whisk cajole threaten the children into bed.

This year, we’ve played a cat-and-mouse game with the little stinkers. I’m 99 percent certain they’re onto the whole Santa thing, yet they insist on playing their usual roles. Either they’re afraid they won’t get presents if they renounce the jolly old elf or they are totally conning us.


“But Mama, if I ask Santa for a kitten, then I’ll get one for sure.”

*insert angelic smile and doe eyes here*

At what point did the little darlings start adding a dash of sarcasm to their humor? Never mind. I blame Hubs.

So anyway.

It would actually be kind of a relief at this point because that would free me from the horrors of the mall Santa experience. Almost two hours in line, people. Two hours. Luckily, there was an adorable newborn in front of us and a most huggable toddler behind.

And yes, I refrained from sniffing the newborn’s head. But I swear they could bottle that scent and millions of nostalgic mothers would buy it.

So back to breaking the manicotti tradition.

Hubs was appalled.

“What do you mean, ‘No manicotti?’ ” he asked incredulously.

“You want it, you make it,” I replied.

He sighed pitifully.

This time, I put a pork loin in the crockpot and we headed off to the Christmas Eve Service at First Presbyterian in Argenta.  The service was lovely and when we arrived home, the smell of a nearly done dinner awaited.

Christmas Day, my stepkids arrived. They are now 19 and 20. Consider: Claire, my stepdaughter, was 8 years old when Hubs and I married. Our Tootie is now 8. Wow.

We exchanged gifts, ate dinner and vegged until the kids had to leave. I know. They’re no longer kids. But until they’re in their 30s and presenting me with babies to cuddle I will continue to call them kids. Sigh.

I changed things up for Christmas as well. Instead of turkey or ham, we had beef tenderloin. With goat cheese. Yummy. OK, so I was the only one who ate the goat cheese. But the tenderloin itself went over well.

I’ll share both recipes tomorrow.

Right now, I’m enjoying what will probably be our last night with the Christmas tree.


Seems like we just put it up...



More canine mischief. Poor Hubs.

This evening, when Hubs got home from work, he headed outside to feed our two Aussies, Daisy and Bandit.

Now normally, the minute you open the door at dinnertime, both pups come running.

But on this occasion, only Daisy turned up. To say this was unusual would be an understatement. Bandit’s food bowl is his most prized possession.

Hubs called for Bandit.

No response.

Oh no, Hubs thought. He got out of the yard, and I’m going to be up all night looking for him.

Hubs shot through the house, through the front door, and began calling for Bandit again.

Which is when he heard our big red dog’s bark.

Hubs ran back through the front door, through the house and into the backyard.

Again, he heard that telltale bark. But where was it coming from?

Back and forth Hubs ran — front yard, backyard, front yard, back yard.

Finally, as he wandered through the backyard with Daisy tagging his heels, Hubs happened to look down while walking by our big green shed.

He saw a freckled snout. Bandit, apparently, had crawled under the shed and gotten stuck.

Hubs trekked back indoors, arming himself with a shovel, an ax and a flashlight.

Meanwhile, a gleeful Daisy ate both her dinner AND poor Bandit’s.

Hubs placed the flashlight on the ground, illuminating Bandit’s snout, and started digging.

Which is when Daisy, having polished off two meals, whizzed by.

On her way, she snagged the flashlight.

Hubs chased the bobbing light all around the yard to no avail.

Finally, after bribing Daisy with puppy treats, he retrieved his flashlight and continued digging.

Upon the tunnel’s completion, Bandit emerged triumphantly, looking none the worse for the wear.

Hubs, on the other hand, was sweating and exhausted.

I found him slumped on the front porch when I got home from the store.

“You would not BELIEVE what I’ve been through,” Hubs informed me.

But after hearing that our diabolically clever dogs were involved, well … I believed every word.


Tooth-pulling at the dentist. Eek.

So today, I took Tootie into the dentist so that he could replace a cap that had fallen off a molar.

Once there, however, he decided it was better just to pull the tooth since her permanent one is on its way in. Also, he said, a second cap would likely fall off too.

My childhood dentist experience:

I was allowed to lose maybe two or three baby teeth on my own. The rest were pulled by the dentist, before they were even loose. The usual scene involved my dentist walking in with a shot and a pair of pliers, which promptly elicited screams and flailing on my part.

So today?

Hello, panic attack.

Thankfully, Tootie goes to a wonderful dentist who has equally wonderful assistants. Oh, AND they use gas. My entire dental life would be different if my childhood dentist would have just given me a little nitrous. I curse him. Pah.

Anyway, Tootie did great. There wasn’t even a whimper as the offending molar came out, roots and all. And her mommy managed not to crawl into a corner and tuck herself into a fetal position while hyperventilating.

I figure the Tooth Fairy owes a little more than usual tonight.

A post in which I lose my dignity

For two years, I worked as a reporter for the Odessa American in west Texas. My closest friend there, Melanie, was the sole entertainment writer. Which meant she got a lot of backstage passes to concerts of up-and-coming artists.

Like country singer Bryan White.

“Wanna go with me?” Mel asked me one day in 1996.

“YES!!” I shrieked.  “He’s adorable.”

Mel, who much preferred Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, rolled her eyes at my enthusiasm.

Bryan White


Trent Reznor

Uh, yeah. I know.

So one blissful evening, I accompanied Mel to the Bryan White concert.

Before it started, we met him backstage.

“Hi!” I gushed, shaking his hand. “I love your music!”

At which point, Bryan White sneezed. Then held out his hand to Mel.

“Ewww, I don’t think so!” she said. “You go wash it. Then I’ll shake it.”

That pretty much set the tone for the interview. She interrogated little Bryan while I beamed and fawned.

So, when a few months later, Mel invited me to attend a Tab Benoit concert with her, I was skeptical.

Who?” I asked.

“Trust me,” Mel replied. “You will love me for this.”

We ended up at an Odessa dive known for its ability to attract blues and jazz musicians.

And there was Tab.





“Look at those stupid girls,” Mel sniffed disdainfully, motioning toward a group of adoring fans who had flocked to the stage.

“Pitiful,” I agreed.

And Tab played on.

At the end of his show, Mel and I met him and his band in the kitchen of the bar, where we giggled inanely and flirted shamelessly.

“So,” Mel said, fluttering her eyelashes, “Did you have to deal with a lot of groupies tonight?”

“Nope,” Tab drawled in that honeyed accent. “Just you girls.”











The solo

Am finally catching up on my blog, thanks to the annual slowdown of news during the holiday season.

Hubs still hasn’t gotten a deer, but has managed to avoid embarrassing himself on other people’s voice mail.

Usually, he gets a buck on opening weekend. (of gun season) Let’s hope this doesn’t turn out to be our second Autumn We Shall Never Speak Of Ever Again.

Every year, on opening weekend, the town in which Hubs’ family grew up hosts a festival, which includes a catfish fry, talent show and fair games and rides. There’s also a beauty pageant, but I choose to ignore its existence.

This year, Tootie announced that she wanted to sing a solo in the talent show. Not only that, she wanted to sing The Band Perry’s If I Die Young.

I know.

But when she explained her reasons for choosing it, I understood.

“That song is special to our family, Mama,” she told me.

And it is. Because when we hear it, we are reminded of precious lessons learned.

Last year, my friend Amy and I wrote a series of stories about the Albert Pike Flood. Those stories focused on two mothers who lost their husbands and young children.

To describe these two women as strong and brave seems inadequate. But they taught me how to treasure each day, each moment, each minute.

And for that, I thank them. They are very special people. I so wish we had met under different circumstances.

Soon after the flood, these two mothers, who were best friends, heard If I Die Young and found comfort in its words.

So on the last day of our series, we invited readers to go to the newspaper’s website to see a video tribute to all of those who perished.

The Band Perry granted us permission to use their song as background music on that video. They did so because they remembered meeting these two mothers, who had told them how much the lyrics meant to those who lost children in the flood.

At one point, Tootie and the E-man met these two courageous women when Hubs shot a photo of them down by the Little Missouri River. We hadn’t been able to find a babysitter, so we took the children.

Soon after, If I Die Young came on the radio during a road trip to Texas. I explained to Tootie just how much that song meant to the two women she had met just a few weeks earlier.

That was a year ago.

But Tootie remembered.

Last month, she sang the song a capella at the talent show. And she dedicated it to Kerri and Candace.

Tootie singing.


This post will probably stir up all sorts of debate, but …

… we all know I’m, well, candid.

Blunt, if you’d rather.

So here’s the thing:

We’re not supposed to talk about being overweight with our kids for fear of turning them into little anorexics or bulimics.


From everything I read, obesity seems to be the bigger affliction right now. And it carries just as many risks as the other eating disorders.

Still, you’re instructed by all the parenting experts to avoid discussions about being fat because you might end up making your kids think they have to starve themselves.

So I’m not sure how one is supposed to encourage a healthy lifestyle with one’s children if one isn’t supposed to address the risks of being too heavy.

And now? I’m worried about offending people who read this.  Because it’s OK to talk about how anorexia is bad, but it’s NOT OK to talk about being obese.


(This topic came up because tonight Tootie wandered into the living room when The Biggest Loser was on.)