Monthly Archives: April 2013

Pandora’s Box Here… Open Me!

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Let me get one thing straight right off the bat – I am NOT a politician, nor am I married to one. None of my family are involved in politics, other than the occasional heated debate that arises when certain family members are in the same room around election time. In those situations, I sit back, make popcorn and enjoy the show.

Confession number two – I live in the 21st century. Meaning that, for all intents and purposes, my view of the world is not Leave it to Beaver or Mad Men. I am fully aware that people of both genders are fully capable of having and expressing their own unique, individual opinions.

BUT…

When you’re involved in politics you’ve gotta consider the situation and consider the source. Like I said, I’m no politician. But I am the spouse of a teacher in a highly competitive field, and I’ve been a teacher in the public school system. Politics are alive and well there, trust me. And there have been plenty of times when I’ve had to bite my tongue – believe me.

How’s that? Well, let’s just say that, when the Spouse was considering a job change and we were at dinner with some of the peeps from the new situation, my first inclination was to step up on my soap box and tell them exactly why their teaching philosophy was wrong. It was. Wrong on several levels. As a professionally-trained musician and former oboist, I had the knowledge and background to fully justify my views. Did I? Heck, no. I smiled and kept my big mouth shut – forcibly with food when necessary. And when it didn’t seem like that was gonna work, I sank my fingernails into the Spouse’s leg under the table. I was fuming. And he knew it!

Why didn’t I share my views? Because, quite simply, like it or not, my behavior would have jeopardized his chances. Likewise when we were out with some of my work supervisors – the Spouse realized that the moment was not right for him to air his true opinions on the nature of their leadership.

Does that make us lesser people? Cowards? I don’t think so. I think it speaks volumes about us – namely that we have common sense. That we care enough about each other to bite the bullet now and then in favor of the other’s career. It doesn’t make me a lesser woman because I kept my opinion to myself. It doesn’t make him a shallow vacuous human being. It means he cares.

Where am I going with this? Hold your horses – I’m getting to that part.  See, politics has taken on a life of its own with all of the Tweets, Links, Faces, YouTubes, etc. out there. It’s so easy to anonymously kick the hornet’s nest. Yes, you can do it – but SHOULD you?

I’m speaking of one particular instance here. A local election. Two candidates vying for one position. Different views and ideology. All well and good, right? You’d think so. One candidate builds their platform on open, honest and clean communication. Sounds ideal, right?

Right – except that the candidate’s spouse chooses to kick the ideological hornet’s nest on the opponent’s social media page. In a big way. We’re talkin’ making mountains out of molehills, bringing gender equality into the argument, etc. In general using social media to stand on their personal soapbox and attempt to call the opponent to task.

Call me crazy, but I’m thinking a couple of things:

  1. If you’re gonna kick the hornet’s nest, have the courage to do it in a public forum so that other voters can see the person’s reaction for themselves.
  2. Verbally attacking the opponent in a negative, chip-on-your-shoulder kind of way just might not be the best for your spouse’s campaign!!Like it or not, your behavior does reflect on them!!
  3. Especially if you choose to repost (with pride) your spouse’s comments as a way to point out that your opponent subsequently deleted those comments. Good clean competition? I smell a rat…
  4. It’s all well and good – in my opinion – to campaign for your spouse in a positive way. But if you have to go above and beyond good taste, showing your true colors as a nasty opinionated person, you might want to reconsider. Just because you can say something doesn’t always mean you should.
  5. Like it or not – yes, I’m repeating myself – your words and actions reflect on your spouse. I don’t care what gender you are, it is possible to submarine a spouse’s chances and reputation through your actions.

What do you think? Are my views antiquated? Overly sensitive? Or realistic? Should a person feel free to say and/or do anything without considering the consequences on their spouse’s career? I’m opening up a big Pandora’s box here – so comment away. Bring on the debate!!

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Working Mom’s Rant

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This was definitely NOT me this morning.

It’s time. Time for a rant, that is. Not because I feel any kind of huge need to vent or anything, but because I need some kind of vindication. Surely I can’t be the only woman out there who deals with all of this crap. Surely my kids can’t be disorganized, dishonest, screwed-up minions yet, right?

I really hope not. But if they are and I am – I need to know this stuff now. So I’m venting. And ranting.

See, here’s the deal. One thing I LOVE about my job is that I get a pretty hefty amount of time in the morning to spend with the minions before we all have to be out the door. Their school starts later than others in the district and I’m not on the clock until 9. So it should be a win-win, right?

You’d think so. In a perfect world. Unfortunately my world is far from perfect.

Case in point – this morning. Minion #1 is (finally) finished with the multiple days of standardized testing hell. That means that today is the first day this week that the kid is actually allowed to bring his backpack, binder and other crap to school. That’s right, folks. In the Great State of Texas, kids can’t bring ANYTHING to school on testing days. Apparently the geniuses in Austin think that an eight- or ten-year-old would try and cheat on the almighty STAAR. Ridiculous, but be that as it may. What that meant for us this morning is that – after four days of sitting idle – the backpack and binder actually needed to be organized. Which shouldn’t have been a problem. I mean, really, if you just leave something alone, it doesn’t change. Right?

Wrong. Apparently that backpack unpacked itself. I asked Minion #1 to get his stuff together – in plenty of time, mind you – before he started playing, reading, and whatever else he does with morning free time. And did he?

No, of course not. So, when I gave the five minute warning, up he came running to me – an envelope in hand and a panicked look on his face. The fundraiser envelope was due today and he was going to get in trouble for not returning it with my pledge money inside. I calmly explained that I’d paid online – only to get a panicked story about how the teacher was going to be mad if I didn’t fill out the envelope form TODAY. I soothed the guy by promising to email the teacher a screen shot of the online payment. Problem solved, right?

Wrong. Then the kid tells me his house key is missing. He knows EXACTLY where it is, though. Of course it isn’t there. Or anywhere else. I drafted Minion #2 into helping look for it – only his level of focus is about the same as the dog’s in the movie Up. Nonexistent, especially looking for something important with a tight deadline. So I proceeded to tear around the house looking for that stinkin’ key. It HAD to be somewhere, since the minions had obviously gotten in the house the day before. Granted, they’re only home about ten minutes before the Spouse on any given day – but it’s a safety thing.

Key issue resolved, only in checking the couch cushions for the missing key (at this point only five minutes LATE leaving the house, of course) I noticed that Gambit – my mentally-challenged cat – has sunk to a new low and left us a surprise ON TOP OF all the tin foil and plastic bags protecting the couch. You gotta hand it to him  – the guy is determined.

Feline cleanup in record time, and out the door, right?

Wrong. Minion #2 is still wandering around looking for a sock.

We made it, less than ten minutes later than usual. Glad I showered – by that point I’d worked up a sweat… And no less than three kindly drivers were nice enough to honk at me before I got halfway to work. I’m so glad they could tell I was a bit distracted.

Sigh. Is it just me, or should it be about six PM right now??

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Wednesday Cat-astrophe

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This is one of my cats. I absolutely love him.

He is the most big-hearted teddy bear of an animal I’ve ever met. This feline’s got so much love to give it’s ridiculous. He snuggles. He climbs in your lap. He stares up at you – his head on your shoulder, no less – with big green eyes that scream ‘I love you.’ He purrs.

He purrs so much and so hard that he drools. So much that the shelter we found him in had nicknamed him ‘Motor.’ He’s just a big, soft, lug of a bubba cat.

His problem? To put it mildly, he’s just not the sharpest knife in the drawer. By far.

Normally this wouldn’t be an issue. I value a loving purr-sonality above smarts any day. Any day but this one. Because his lack of brain power has one huge caveat.

He pees – NOT where he’s supposed to. Normally it’s on the couch. I can’t really fault him there, since he made that mistake – once – when we first got him, and you can tell that sometimes he just forgets and honestly thinks that the couch is where he’s supposed to do his business. As annoying as it is, that’s manageable. With lots of aluminum foil and plastic grocery bags to cover it, the couch is safe.

But this morning? I should have known. Youngest minion came in to tell me how cute and loving Gambit was acting towards him. Following minion around. Purring. Snuggling. The whole works. Nonstop.

That stupid cat knew he’d royally screwed up and was trying to make amends with his fuzzy cuteness. Seriously.

Luckily for the minion, I had extra time this morning and decided to be nice – unpack the lunch kit from his backpack before school. The kid buys lunch on Wednesdays, so I thought I’d save him a step. Lucky me. That’s when I noticed the other cat sniffing around the backpack. No big deal, I thought, she thinks the straps on the pack are toys. She plays with it all the time.

Then I noticed that the lunch kit was wet. Ok, I thought, the cold pack thingy must have sprung a leak. No problem. Took it to the kitchen sink, rinsed it out, tossed the cold pack and left it to dry.

But the other cat was still sniffing around. Checked the backpack and noticed that the minion’s library books were damp. Picked up the backpack to get the books and…

You know what’s coming…

Saw the puddle of yellow cat pee on the tile next to the backpack. Yep. You guessed it. The ‘leaky cold pack’ was not leaky. Less-than-smart Bubba Cat strikes again. No wonder he was trying to make it up to the kid by being cute.

I just don’t get it. What on earth – other than pure stupidity – would make the cat think he needs to pee on a kid’s backpack? And no, before you ask, it was NOT anywhere near the litter box. Or the couch, for that matter. And the stupid cat KNEW he’d screwed up – why else would he be so extra-sweet to the minion?

So that was just the start my Wednesday needed. Of course it’s library day, so the books had to be cleaned and disinfected, then dried off. Tile cleaned, disinfected and sprayed liberally with No Mark – in hopes that the cat won’t decide repeat his performance. I stuck with my gut feeling and told the minions the boldfaced lie that the leaky lunch kit had ruined the backpack. Those of you moms who are fully convicted that telling any sort of falsehood to your child is morally and ethically wrong – kudos to you. But I would still be at home dealing with TWO meltdowns if I’d stuck to the absolute truth here. I admit it. I chose not to fight the honesty battle and deliberately lied to my kids today. I think they’ll still maintain basic ethics of right and wrong here.

And the end result? I look like my mom today. With all of the drama, here I sit in my nicely conservative gray pencil skirt and silk blouse. All of the cat drama left me with no time to accessorize. So my hip, trendy take on conservative office wear got left at home.

And I look like Melanie Griffith from Working Girl. Minus the shoulder pads. Definitely won’t measure up to the Girls Down the Hall today…

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It’s Not Personal…

And this is a reminder I need today. So much that I’m using it as my mantra this morning. Why? Because, for one thing, I have a tendency to take things personally and make them all about me. And for another, recent events have me defaulting to that particular character defect. Much as I’ve worked on my self-talk and tried to reprogram my brain, some things just cause my head to default to that mode of self-pity. Particularly girl stuff and relationships.

See, there’s some pretty big stuff coming down the pipes for my extended network of peeps. We’re talking celebratory stuff. Huge. And, thanks to the pain in the butt joy that is social media, I was lucky enough to see plenty o’ posts and pics over the weekend. Really fun stuff.

And apparently I wasn’t invited.

Now, here’s where the insecure-formerly-socially-inept-introvert in me starts to take it personally. Ladies, you know the drill. Why didn’t they invite me? Oh, it’s because I’m not good enough for that crowd. Not really a part of it. Sure, they’re nice to me in certain situations, but only because they have to be. They don’t really want me around. Maybe if I dressed better, wasn’t so old….

Ok, stop it. That monologue could (and does) go on and on ad infinitum. As far as I’ll let it. And that’s where I’ve had to kick my (however tiny) rational side in the butt and make a conscious choice. To think differently.

Newsflash – it’s really NOT ALL ABOUT ME. As much as I (apparently) would like to think so, it’s not.

In fact, when I stopped for a microsecond to ponder this particular situation, I KNOW that there’s a perfectly good reason I wasn’t invited this time. It was a sign of respect from those doing the planning. And I should be grateful that they care enough to consider that the invitation would have made me feel awkward or uncomfortable because of certain other issues. My brain (at least the left side of it) knows these things.

So why does the rest of me persist in trying to make myself miserable and insecure over nothing? Guess old habits die hard…

So that’s my goal for today, folks. Going on day three here – endless repetitions of ‘It’s not personal,’ going through my head. Maybe I’ll believe it eventually.

Am I the only one with this problem?

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It’s Here! In the ‘Burbs, No Less!

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Sprouts has come to Houston! Finally!

This little gem of a farmers market – whole foods store has been a fave of mine for years. Every time we visit Big D, a stop at Sprouts is a must. And for years I’ve lamented the Sprouts-less-ness of Houston.

No more, folks! The first suburban mart opened last weekend – about as far west as you can go – in Katy. More specifically, in the shops of La Centerra. Too bad. Whenever I shop at Sprouts I’ll have to walk past all of the other cool shops, boutiques and restaurants in this little haven of free market capitalism.

Now, it’s not that I’m against Whole Foods. Not at all. But the only one in Houston is too far into town for the fam and I to visit regularly. Worse, it’s too far from work for me to get there and back during lunch. Bummer.

Plus, Sprouts has this amazingly to-die-for mango salsa. You can’t leave Sprouts without at least two jars. Nope. Not possible. Add in the huge bulk section where – get this – employees actually encourage you to ask for samples, the organic produce – stored at room temp, of course – and the enormous coffee bar, and it’s a win. Need organic wine? Gluten free beer? No problem. And for those of you stuck up on the north side, don’t fret. Another Sprouts is opening on Spring-Cypress next weekend. Check it out!

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Hmmm… Mango salsa with whole grain chips. Sounds good for lunch. I know what the minions and I will be doing Saturday morning!

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Ah, Spring… In Houston…

Ok, enough already. It’s bad enough that the last few weeks have been a cycle of extremes as far as the H-town weather is concerned. 80 degrees one day, 50 the next, rain, etc. Completely unnecessary. But now? It’s officially spring in Houston. And that means two things climate-wise:

100 percent humidity and high wind

Call me shallow, but those two things translate to ONE colossal disaster for me.

My hair.

I’ve blogged before about my Hair Intervention. And it’s time for another, more serious CTJ meeting with the disaster known as my hair. That, or I’m gonna spend the next two months with a frizzy ponytail or wearing a hat. snug-fitting knitted hat – because any other kind would pop off my head with disgust after futilely attempting to stay atop my head. Seriously.

Springtime in Houston means that it doesn’t matter how much time, energy or product I spend or put on my hair. Fifteen minutes outside and it looks like this:

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No, that’s not me. But the hair definitely looks like my head in H-town Spring. And that’s on a GOOD day.

Too bad I’m not Pepper Potts. I’d take a smidgeon of her Louboutin budget and get one of those fancy keratin treatments. I had one once. It was heaven. The only thing that even made a dent in H-town hair. But sadly that’s out of my budget, even with the AmazonLocal deal that popped up in my email yesterday.

Please, can someone transport me, the fam, the house and my life to Big D? Stat?

Or maybe a head transplant would be a less drastic option…

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Houston Revival

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I was determined this weekend. Determined that our fam would get a dose of citydom rarely found out in the ‘burbs. So I planned an excursion to the Heights and basically told the Spouse that we were all going. He jumped on board right away – the minions, not so much. The idea of interrupting Saturday morning Minecraft time was less than appealing. But I insisted, and after a good deal of whining and complaining, we all piled into the car and headed into H-town.

Our destination? A little gem called the Revival Market, located in the Houston Heights. You may have heard of it even if you’re not from here – the neighborhood has been featured on House Hunters more than once. Pretty cool, huh?

I love the Heights. It’s an oasis in the middle of a busy city. A chunk of Victorian small-town just minutes away from the highway, punctuated with enough funky boho shops to get any artist’s creative juices flowing. Broad tree-lined streets, walking trails, parks aplenty – you name it, the Heights has it. Why don’t we live here? I ask myself that every time I visit. And the simple answer is – the minions. Even with all of the neighborhood charm and gems-of-shops, public schools in the area are hit-or-miss. And the Spouse is pretty adamant about the boys having plenty of outdoor yard space to mess around in. Which you definitely won’t find in the Heights, unless you visit one of the parks. Frankly I don’t trust the minions’ ability to get from Point A to Point B in that environment. So it’s the ‘burbs for us.

Anyhoo, back to Saturday’s adventure. If you haven’t checked out the Revival Market – it’s a must. Do it. Now. This place is an amazing little charcuterie/butcher/bakery/produce/café/coffee shop. All in one tiny footprint that reminds me of French market stalls.

And the coolest part? Everything is locally-grown, farmed or produced!!

Yep, you read that right. And in case you’re wondering as you’re shopping, a handy chalkboard on the back wall shows exactly where the week’s marketables originated. Pretty cool, huh? I thought so.

We checked out the merchandise, at which point the minions started to get crabby. It wasn’t quite time for lunch, so we decided to save the café for another visit. But the bakery… Hmmm… I’d noticed their little eyes wandering over in that general direction. We decided to wander over and take a gander.

 

Oh. My. The Bakery. Wow. Most of the goods are handmade by FluffBake Bar, owned and operated by Rebecca Masson. Yes, the same on who has been on Top Chef Just Desserts. And I got to have a Six Degrees-type moment when I realized that she is the same Becky Masson who was in my fourth grade class back in north Dallas. Small world, huh?

Back to the goods. The minions pondered and pondered the options. Little minion actually got teary-eyed at one point because he couldn’t decide what he wanted. Poor guy thought this was the ONLY time we would visit. Haha. Silly kid. Now that I can use the bakery as leverage, I forsee LOTS of visits here in the future.

We finally decided, and left with our box o’ goodness. Stopped at the nearby park benches to enjoy our treats. (Yes, there was a water fountain there and yes, the water fountain had a doggy-height spout as well. Pampered H-town pups.) After about five minutes we were down to leftover crumbs. The snickerdoodle, coconut macaroon, homemade Moon Pie and cake-cup were history.

What’s a cake-cup? Like a cupcake but better. Think a slice of three layer cake – complete with from-scratch icing, sprinkles and other crunchy bits – in a cup. Yum.

So our visit to the Heights was a screaming success. Minions want to go back, I’m dying to try the café for lunch – and maybe wrestle in some shopping, and the Spouse is now fully prepared for Heights-style minimalist parking. It was a WIN!

And if you’re ever in H-town – you have GOT to check out Revival Market and FluffBake Bar. It’s a must.

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