barking neighbor dogs

First off, becoming  mother has made me realize that for most of my life I have valued SLEEP (preferably 7-8 hours a night, thanks) as an inalienable right. On an infinitely higher level than any other claims I think I should have, like access to clean drinking water or universal health care.

Sleep, give me SLEEP!

And it is no secret that falling all over myself for dogs really isn’t my jam. It probably doesn’t take much effort to imagine just how quickly my temper goes through the roof (rest assured, it’s warp speed) whenever a neighbor dog decides to go all out barking (ahem, “RUFF RUFF RUFF RUFF RUFF!!!……..RUFF RUFF RUFF RUFF RUFF!” maddeningly identical intervals of 5, followed by an ever so brief pause, over and over and over – CLEARLY THIS DOG IS AN INSANE ROBOT) at 1:00am, only to be joined by another dog a yard or two away with a more uneven “ROWLF….ROWLF………ROWLF” cadence (it appears this dog’s more uneven response illustrates that it is capable of thought and discernment, and I have determined that – if possible – this larger sounding, likely more useful dog is on my side, telling the other yapper to shut up OH WHO IS INSANE NOW?!?!).

Yes, we have the Sandra Boynton book Doggies in our house, so no need to be “funny” and give it to A so I can read it to her BECAUSE I ALREADY DO. I’m quite well versed in the different yaps of dogs, thanks.

doggies by sandra boynton

And yes, A is kind of obsessed with dogs (or “DAHH-wuh-gus” in a deep southern drawl like she’s channeling my Georgia grandmother). We have sat and watched “funny” dog videos on YouTube together (what has my life become).

Back to the neighbor dogs. To give you a better idea of the situation (to remind all you animal lovers of the objective realities of this world), this is what it looks like at 1:00am WHEN I JUST NEED SOME SLEEP, FOR THE LOVE:


Added to that reality, the way our backyards come together forms a sort of giant misshapen asterisk so I can’t tell for certain which house is home to the offending canines… but MY identity would be glaringly obvious if I decided to, say, scream out of the bedroom window or catapult poison medieval-style in the direction of the barks… which seemed like an awesome idea earlier this week IN THE MIDDLE OF MY SLEEPING HOURS.

Upon the advice of (my own) counsel (to myself), any details on any sort of resolution/closure to this situation/crisis will likely be vague., so please don’t hold your breath for a Part Two to this saga.

the mess we make of things

This is the massive (for these parts) bass I caught with my spiffy new pole and the powers of my brain last weekend.


It was probably 15 pounds because it’s been a fair amount of time since I’ve lifted weights and you weren’t there to weigh it.

This is what ensued shortly afterwards, as I endeavored to remedy an ever so slight loopy tangle on my reel. Yes, I continued pulling the line out despite the wind making a greater mess of said line that was all over the dock, and while the husband urged me to just cut the line and let it go, and while I insisted that no, this is actually fun for me – I love a good challenge.


I didn’t know you can add line to a reel by tying a knot – I thought you had to start over. So I’m pretty sure that after cutting the line in 10 different places (MESS), I have about 20 yards max left.

But seriously, it was fun. And no, you can’t see the photo of the husband’s big catch (biggest of a dozen or so), because this isn’t his blog and comparison is the thief of joy and I would have caught more but was indisposed with the aforementioned situation, so there’s that.




steve and if you love chick-fil-a, you should be driving a toyota.

It’s true. Anyone who drives a Toyota already knows what I’m talking about, but for you other sadly uninformed folks, allow me to enlighten you.

toyota and chickfilaExhibit A: the holding area in the 4Runner console is the perfect size to snugly fit a kids meal* container and two dipping sauces.

*Yes, because sometimes all you need is a little kid-sized snack that is a) comparatively more affordable than an adult-sized meal (look at that, husband! There I go saving gobs of money again!) and b) doesn’t make me feel like I’m stuffing my face (because that lovely sensation was lo those 2 hours ago for a different meal. Live in the present, y’all. Here’s to now).

For Exhibit B, I have no photo but imagine with me the console of the Tundra with a long, narrow rectangular cutout that is the PERFECT SIZE to house three Chick-fil-A dipping sauces end to end.

THIS MUST HAVE BEEN PLANNED. I love a good conspiracy theory and those “aha! these things are connected!” moments. Can anyone help me verify here?? In other parts of the country, Toyota dealerships have Chick-fil-As in their waiting room/lounge area – Charles Maund, please take note and act accordingly.

In related news, I love drive-thrus and will unabashedly go out of my way for the convenience. I also love apps that make me feel like I’m more productive or am saving money, so I downloaded Chick-fil-A’s One app. Ordered our food on the app, let them know on the app when I had arrived, BUT THEN had to go inside to pick up the food. I somehow thought there were parking spots reserved for One app customers, and the nice employees would bring out your food, Sonic-style. But no.

It was rough. No makeup, in “workout clothes,” and carrying a squirmy toddler, I didn’t know what to do with my hands as I stood in an awkward area to the side of the packed out registers with Steve.

Oh, Steve.

Older guy pretending to be hip and cool who was incensed that he was having to wait to receive his food. Hands flailing, elongated sighs, shooting better-than-thou looks at the employees who were frantically trying to fill orders while he looked around at the rest of us patient souls with “can you believe it?!” exasperation.

Dude. Did you just order your fried chicken and french fries and whatever likely lame sauces you chose from an app in your air-conditioned car, using money you didn’t have to touch, transferred from your bank, and the food is ready to pick up faster than you were able to get inside?! (This is how I know his name – they called, “Steve?? Steve??” minutes before he was hovering over the counter) Are you able-bodied enough to walk into the franchise to pick up your food and take it back to your comfy car?

Don’t be like Steve. Work together, like Toyota and Chick-fil-A. Here endeth the lesson.

how is it already October?

….and how, after 33 years, I still marvel at how these months continue to follow one another in rapid succession!? It’s like Daylight Savings Time that has occurred twice a year FOR MY ENTIRE LIFE but disorients me every time that so help me I may even be motivated to join the tin foil hat lobby and advocate for Texas’ withdrawal from the antiquated practice next session.

And on that note,

daylight saving time

Mic drop. The meme is accurate. I’ve been saying it wrong forever!!! Great, another thing that will undoubtedly annoy me will now be all the people who say “savings” like I used to say up until 2 minutes ago – those uneducated jokers. So clueless.

Oh, and our next mind-boggling exercise shall commence on November 5th at 2:00am. Fall back, which is gaining an hour. Grateful that toddlers come pre-programmed to roll with the punches for DST and not at all get off-schedule

As I was saying, it’s October. And lately Annelise has been skipping her morning naps after our morning walks so I’m faced with the choice of blogging or taking a shower, and personal hygiene has taken the upper hand. You’re welcome, friends and neighbors.

So morning walks. I try to walk with A most mornings, whether in our neighborhood or around Zilker Park or Town Lake. I listen to podcasts (and recently learned to download them pre-walk using ye olde wifi instead of streaming them so I don’t go over my data plan AGAIN) and try to keep up a brisk pace so I can count it as a decent workout. These podcasts are filling up my plate these days:

  • The God Centered Mom – Heather MacFadyen is real and interviews really interesting people. No fluffy tee-hee-like-um-like-yay-mommy-you-know-like-Pollyanna-yay-motherhood dialogue (clearly the latter is on my LARGE AND LONG LIST OF THINGS THAT MAKE ME COME UNGLUED).
  • The Next Right Thing – I just started listening to this one. Emily P. Freeman’s voice is so soothing, and she’s incredibly thoughtful in these short, encouraging messages about making decisions, what’s next in life, etc.
  • The Road Back to You – you know when you hear about a book from multiple sources you really listen to? This is one of those. I’ve got this book on hold at the library, and am listening to the podcast in the meantime. The authors Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile break down the Enneagram in their book, and while the first two episodes are slow, they interview people who are all types – fascinating, this Enneagram stuff.
  • For the Love – well of course I’m listening to my imaginary pal Jen Hatmaker. She has wonderful guests like Brene Brown and Jessica Honegger and for a split second you feel like you’re eavesdropping on a convo between two friends, then before long you think you’re in the convo yourself.

By my humble estimation there are approximately eleventy billion podcasts out there on the interwebs. Are there any others that make you think, make you laugh, teach you interesting things? I’d love your recommendations!

make your soul see good

“It isn’t the great big pleasures that count the most;
it’s making a great deal out of the little ones.” ~ Jean Webster

Y’all. I’m slowly coming out of a place of feeling dull and apathetic about many things. Jen Hatmaker calls it “the doldrums” in her Of Mess and Moxie book and that’s a great term. Not straight up depressed, but just a numbness of sorts that has had me all, “Meh, why do we bother with pursuing a career when we’re all going to die anyway?” and “Meh, what’s the point of all this effort?” and “Meh, whatever, Whole30, you’re not the boss of me I eat what I want” and “COME ON! Another horrific storm, murderous earthquake, maniacal terrorist attack – what’s the point, Lord?!” Lighthearted stuff, I know.

I’ve been wrestling with being content in this SAHM phase. A dear friend mentioned a sermon on Ecclesiastes that I should check out, but after a mediocre search on my podcast app came up empty, I decided to just start reading the book, one which I’ve always avoided because Solomon seemed like such a Debbie Downer with his all-are-from-dust-and-to-dust-all-return negativity. Ahem.

Solomon, y’all. He had it all in terms of wisdom and riches. He too wrestled with finding what the aim of life is, and concluded all our best efforts are but a vapor – a breath – here for a second and then gone. He had pretty much all the resources ever for this grand experiment – he built houses, planted vineyards and parks, had tons of livestock, drank all the wine, bought slaves and had concubines (well ok then)… he tried all sorts of ways to find happiness, but after it all he determined that everything is “vanity,” a vapor, a mere breath.


He concludes that “there is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil (work)” (Ecc. 2:24a). This meaning of “find enjoyment” is also translated “make his soul see good.”

Make your soul see good.

AHA! THAT is what it is to “find enjoyment” in life. Joy/enjoyment isn’t some passive phenomenon where my ship comes in, happening upon a magical system to help me lose 10 pounds or getting a check in the mail for $5 million dollars or that magazine-worthy lake house or 15 BFFs from college on that annul fancy trip or being a National Geographic photographer assigned to epic locations or instantly earning a massive following on this blog and being famous because I’m so dang clever….NO. It is making a conscious decision, choosing, for my soul to see the good in my life. That’s it.

Maybe that looks like gratitude for little things. Like when Annelise and I were crawling up the stairs this morning. I was singing a silly song and when it was over, she stopped, turned to me, and started enthusiastically clapping as a huge grin spread across her sweet face. Be still my heart. Or what is it with all these crepe myrtle tree branches sagging with lush, gorgeous, vibrant flowers throughout our neighborhood AND IN OUR FRONT YARD?

It seems pretty counter-cultural, this searching for good in the here and now. How many industries would crumble if we were more content with where we are, what we have? Something I’ll be exploring more in posts to come.

gratitude turns what we have into enough

nursery rhymes, or excuse me, what?

I talked a big game pre-birthing a child, as in “I’ll only eat organic, gluten free fare when I’m pregnant” and “I would never feed my baby HFCS or junk food” and “no TV ever” and “I’ll be sure my baby’s library is carefully curated”…..

And after 16+ months, I’m taking a moment to stop and realize how freaking weird so many nursery rhymes and children’s stories are that I’m reading to my child! Think about it!

jack and the beanstalk

I’m reading the story of Jack and the Beanstalk to A, and it’s all, “kid gets swindled by seedy (ha) character into selling a cow for 5 seeds at market. Mom throws a hissy fit and throws the beans out the window, prompting them to grow overnight into a beanstalk that hits the clouds. Kid climbs this miraculously fast-growing beanstalk (where was his mother?) and a creepy giant almost killed him while he stole the giant’s prized possessions. Then he kills the giant when he gets to the bottom first and chops down said beanstalk. So little ones, gather ’round and hear the moral of the story: take what isn’t yours and you’ll be fiiiiiine.

And where’s Jack and the Beanstalk 2? Where this dumb-dumb kid gets swindled out of the talking harp and before long he and his mother are again destitute?

I am having some trouble finding a concise (read: one paragraph) explanation of this and other nursery rhymes/stories we tell our children, but people are too wordy and share too many potential meanings. Nursery rhyme exegesis is a thing, y’all. A thing for people who clearly don’t have toddlers and thus have gobs of time on their hands to pontificate. GIVE ME NAMES, people. I need a short lesson on what the metaphors are.

As in, Humpty Dumpty is about King Richard II, yes? And Ring Around the Rosies is about the Bubonic Plague, yes? Maybe not. And why do we all sing the “ashes, ashes” verse of that strange song?! The other verses are way more chill, says Snopes.

Over to Jack and Jill. We sing about two little kids having to go uphill to get some water (let that sink in for a second. Makes no sense unless they’re scaling up the side of a MOUNTAIN to get to a spring), Jack’s HEAD BREAKS OPEN, and Jill follows suit. FOR WHAT PURPOSE? First off, water is usually gathered down low, not up a hill, amiright? The best interpretation I found is this: King Charles I wanted taxes increased on liquor and Parliament refused. Then he tried to get the volume of a Jack (1/2 pint) to be reduced, but to keep the tax the same. Ok fine. And there’s that crown emblem on the half pint glasses. Broke crown, got it, I guess. And as a result of the Jack volume “falling down,” the volume of a “gill” (1/4) pint or “Jill” decreased, too. So gather ’round again, children, and hear about some hard liquor volume woes. (Source: Wikipedia that references this book I am adding to my Library List!)

And Pop Goes the Weasel? What is that? It has absolutely nothing to do with the weasel animal! So strange.

And don’t get me started on people’s attempts to write “good” children’s books that are immensely lam. I think I’m going to start making up new stories that go with the pictures in A’s books… will this slow my daughter’s development?! Maybe. Keep me from losing it? Yes. Yes it will.

thanks for sharing your garden!

Earlier this week (yes, while scouting out everyone’s curbside trash), I noticed a woman tending her garden. I called out to her that her garden was lovely, and we struck up a conversation. I told her that we’re contemplating planting a garden at our house (don’t worry, Tim is the project manager for watering, constructing the beds, watering, figuring out what plants stand a chance of surviving the center-of-the-sun-temperatures-we-experienced-this-summer-why-do-we-live-here, watering, weeding, watering, etc.), and she had all kinds of helpful guidance on what to plant and where, and where to go for advice.

She mentioned how hardy (hearty? Which is it?! It could be both!!) the Pride of Barbados plants are, and I told her about the sweet old man in our neighborhood who gave me some seeds.

funky leaves

What are these fun little guys? These weren’t in her yard, but I’d love a patch of them in ours – the leaves close up when you touch them. I devoted a decent amount of my childhood to making these leaves close up. Glad to have contributed to this world in a meaningful way.

I thanked her for sharing her beautiful plants with passers-by, having them in the front yard instead of the back. She said the trees in her backyard only allowed for shade perennials, and that there were plenty of options at Lowe’s for plants to grow in shadier areas, too. She talked about creating space for trial and error in life to find the right match of plants (uh, trial and error? Helpful on lots of levels for this recovering perfectionist).

Talk of gardening was woven into our conversation that covered all the things: healthy food, faith, family, money, life, death (her ex-husband passed away last month and she’s getting her home ready for his celebration of life in 2 weeks – his ashes will be lovingly sprinkled underneath the oak trees in her front yard). She said something like, “We should visit again some time!” and my heart almost burst with excitement – YES OF COURSE!

What a blessing this little connection was, coming on the heels of a sad tailspin of feeling-sorry-for-myself-I-am-lonely-and-am-so-tired-of-being-the-only-one-ever-in-the-history-of-the-world-to-initiate-spending-time-with-my-friends-woe-to-me-business-is-bad-no-one-wants-to-hang-out-with-me-I-am-a-loser diatribe.

Before we knew it, we’d been talking for more than twenty minutes – A let us know that it was entirely past her naptime and she was DONE with the stroller, so we parted ways. I promised to give her a call the week following her ex-husband’s service. How nice to meet such a sweet spirit just around the corner.

residential bulk collection

This week is residential bulk collection week in our neighborhood. We were told to put the appropriate-to-dispose-of items on our curb by 6:00am Monday, and that the items would be picked up by the end of the week. I’m pretty sure that Austin Resource Recovery is waiting a couple of days to let everyone pilfer through everyone else’s junk before they haul stuff off, though. Geniuses.

It’s like a free Round Top Antiques Festival… okay not really. It’s like city-sanctioned dumpster diving, minus the putrid garbage smell.

All our curbside junk has been hauled off by treasure hunters, and we’ve been making the rounds on our morning walks to scout out what’s still available. We see lots of trucks and trailers hauling what looks like really good stuff!

It makes me want to go back to a bartering system. Trade you 2 dozen eggs for a moccasin pouch! (Alas, if only my life had more use for the skills I learned at Pioneer Day Camp. Cue minor freak out because I can’t find the beloved camp I went to in Houston back in the 90’s. How will A learn to make thread out of cotton? And make bullets at a campfire? And make lye soap and candles and track game and sew moccasin pouches, for the love?!?!) Ahem.

trash pickup1This, though, hasn’t been picked up by the treasure hunters yet. Purrrfect scratching post for Kitty Meow Meow’s play room, yes?


trash pickup2 Random odds and ends that resourceful people who don’t shop at Target for their every need (not me) could use to create something cool.

I need to find out when other* neighborhoods (you know who you are) are having their bulk collection weeks, and drive through in Tim’s truck to pick up the rejects. Who’s with me?!?!

oh houston.

I’ve been trying to come up with a useful post, but I’ve got nothing. Seeing and reading about the catastrophic flooding in the greater Houston area is heartbreaking. Rebuilding efforts will be monstrous, but it somehow isn’t overwhelming: if any group of people can do it, it’s my H-town crowd.

Praying for those without power, those without homes, those who were able to escape and don’t yet know if their home was flooded, for exhausted law enforcement and first responders, for the selfless souls who are helping with rescue efforts.

Here’s a good link to ways we can help.

Let’s all be gentle with each other today, ok? Life and health and wealth are fragile, fleeting things.

pray for houston

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