the costume closet

I’ve had a BFF in Arizona since the third grade, her name is Jamie and since we are both turning (I already turned) 38 this year that means we have known each other 28 years. TWENTY EIGHT YEARS. There are a lot of awesome things I love about her and our life together over the years (because seriously, we have lived A LIFE by now) but one of the things that has always stuck with me is her mom’s closet. Renee, oh Renee, lover of all accessories and always completely accessorized with matching (clip) earrings, necklace and bracelet sets had a closet of wonder. My senior year of high school I got a wild hair that I wanted to go to school in costume for Halloween. You are all shocked. Anyway, I didn’t have access to anything or the funds to buy anything, living on my own at the time, so I went to Jamie’s house and asked for help.

It was FANTASTIC! Renee starting pulling option upon option from her closet and piling them on the bed. It was like the Rachel Zoe of costume moments! I could be Pebbles! I could be a Fighter Pilot! I could be a Hula Girl (complete with coconut bra)! I could be a Clown! I could be a Flapper! I could be Pocahontas!

Ultimately I went with the last option which included wearing Jamie’s fringed white boots from middle school (our feet are vastly different sizes even though we look enough alike that people mistake us for sisters on the regular) and that day I SWORE that I would be just like that someday. I would be able to slap costumes together from the depths of my closet at any given time. It has always been my dream and so far, I have been living it. One year for Halloween I was able to make Sprog a fairly passable Slash from GnR in under ten minutes just from stuff in my closet and one of the guitars in the house. He even wore a pair of my platform stompy boots, a wig I had and a top hat we had from another costume.

This past weekend we attended a Dazed and Confused Quote Along at Alamo Drafthouse.
Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 8.26.25 AM

Perfect opportunity for a last minute costuming.
Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 8.28.00 AM
My initial plan for my outfit included a Jordache shirt, but in reality it was too short for my low-slung flares so I had to swap it for an equally 70’s esque shirt instead.

Final outfit
Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 8.27.40 AM
How can you go wrong with colored eyeshadow, turquoise, braids, a flow-y eyelet embellished top, flares, fringed leather bag (that i am still carrying btw) and platforms? NAILED IT.

Let’s talk about the shoes for a hot second longer okay?
Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 8.28.34 AM
Because, right? They are EVERYTHING. You will be seeing them a crap ton this summer. BANK ON IT.

As much as we are scaling down, de-cluttering and purging, I will ALWAYS have my costume closet. I ALWAYS aspire to be Renee in this small way.

assumed learning

Now that Sprog is almost an adult (who are we kidding, he acts like an adult, he sounds like an adult, he’s almost graduated…I think we are pretty much there, yes?) it’s dawning on me how many things in life he needs to know how to do, that we all know how to do, that are so commonplace, I forget he needs to be taught how to do them.

Like how to properly get gas in the car: which octane/type of gas you want, swiping your card, entering your pin, knowing how to tell which side the gas tank is on in a car that isn’t yours, etc.

Using an ATM: of course getting cash, but also making a deposit-what do you do if it doesn’t register the amount on your check or if it doesn’t count your cash properly, what other things can you do at an ATM.

How do you renew your license?

What things do you have to go to the county tax accessor’s office/court house for and where is it/how do you find it if you don’t know it off hand?

Using the self-check out at the grocery store.

Making dr’s appts.

Which insurance cards are used where.

What do you have to do to get your car inspected and how often does that happen?

What about your registration?

These are all recent things that have come up and have been things that he’s had questions about so I’ve been taking him with me on every one of these errands and making him do them. I’ve made him do the check deposits at the ATM. Yesterday I took him with me to get my car inspected and explained that it happens once a year (he thought it was like once a month or something HORRORS) so he could witness and understand the whole process. Today we are going to the county tax office to get replacement plates for Willy’s car and the next time registration is due, he’ll be the one handling that errand. He’s been sent to the grocery store with a debit card and a list and he’ll make his next dr appt himself.

I know there is still a ton more he has to learn, the bigger stuff: utilities, rent, car insurance (but he already knows what happens in an accident, HA) and handling his own bank account when he gets his first “real” job (he’s worked at his father’s company before) so lots more big things to come. I just marvel at how many milestones we are crossing at breakneck speed this year. Things that I never even really considered milestones because they just exist everyday all around you, they are just part of life you know?

Beyond all of that, Sprog is enrolled in Culinary Arts this year and already he’s made butter. HE MADE BUTTER. My son, who worships at the shrine of Jack n the Crack (sorry Jack n the Box) has made something with his own two hands! A food product that didn’t come out of a can or microwave, that doesn’t come on a crisping tray or out of a crisping sleeve.


let’s get physical (therapy)

It’s been almost 10 visits to physical therapy now, so I figured it was time to bore y’all with an in-depth update on how it’s going.

First, a little update on cost/how this is hitting ye olde pocket book. Insurance has cleared me for 20 visits with a $50 co-pay. We have a flex spending account with the amount of our deductible in it ($500) because we planned on me having my colonoscopy this year (um and last year, neither of which has happened) for my digestive issues. Instead, that money has been going to covering these appts. Originally, I thought it was going to cover my MRI but in the grand wisdom of insurance this year’s MRI didn’t cost me anything, when last year’s MRI cost me $500. I don’t get it. So anyway, I have like 2 more visits before we pay anything more completely out of pocket.

We had a little “State of the Jess” discussion at my last appt because my therapist needs to send an update letter to my PC.

Things I learned in that discussion:

Overall, I’m healing fairly well.
My “pelvic stability” is greatly improved and my hips have remained in alignment for the last two visits so that’s really good but I drop them when I walk so I am working on learning to properly control those muscles now (this is really effing hard, btw)
The original dislocated rib isn’t so much an area of concern even though my back continues with it’s firey escapades more often than not and probably will continue well into the future…over time it should continue to decrease in intensity
I can now feel it when my spine is shifting and pop it back into place myself which is disheartening and strangely liberating at the same time.
The new areas of concern continue to be problematic in that my collarbone (upper most rib on my left side) is out about every other visit (this hurts like hell to get wrestled back in place, btw. it’s a very inconvenient rib location) and my neck is out pretty much every visit. He chalks this up to the fact that I carry every single bit of stress in my shoulders and neck (HI this has been my ENTIRE LIFE) and in his opinion is largely responsible for my headaches. He spends a good portion of the beginning of every appt just trying to release my shoulder muscles and I spend a lot more time at home trying to stretch them out.

I probably would do well to take up yoga again and remove even more sources of stress from my life but unfortunately I am stuck with some of them. I need to figure out some better coping strategies.

I take far less advil, excedrin migraine, insert whatever over the counter pain medication I could get my hands on here, than I have in YEARS since I started this whole thing and honestly I feel like physical therapy is one of the BEST things insurance companies could pay for in regards to the health of their patients. Read $50 is way too high of a co-pay for this to be easily accessible compared to the benefit it provides.

slightly less crooked but way more snotty

PT has been going well. At first I went twice a week but after my therapist heard that it’s a $50 co-pay for me every time I go, he immediately wanted to scale it back to once a week and see if I could get by on that and at home exercises. Some of the adjustments are sticking better than others and we’ve had to modify some of the exercises but so far so good. I am working really hard to get this all sorted out and maybe at some point we’ll get to stop futzing with my rib every week.

Mainly it’s just keeping the adjustment in check but I’ve actually had it completely dislocate again, also, since my dog tripped me in the middle of the night and I caught myself poorly.

And overall, it’s been a lot more work on my cervical (neck) spine than I was originally prepared for, which has had the very awesome side effect of me not having near daily migraines. It’s A FREAKING MIRACLE to not be in constant head pain. I have also made adjustments to how I sleep. I am still a side sleeper but I try not to tuck my head and neck down like I used to do and keep it as level as possible. I have a lot less numbness in my shoulders this way, which helps.

Of course my sinus has stepped in to fill that pain void with another infection. I am trying to ignore it (because that is obviously the wisest course) and just treat it with neti pot, drying meds (like mucinex) and my regular allergy meds as I really don’t want yet another round of antibiotics. I also found mold on the A/C register directly over my side of the bed so that’s the most likely culprit. It’s been removed and will be replaced (all others are clean), we’re running the de-humidifer in our bedroom and will watch the new register to see if any mold returns. It’s probably due to a leak we had in the attic recently because of the A/C drain valve.

And in what is surely the most painful decision for me, I’m cutting down on my dairy intake. I don’t know that I can go full vegan yet but I am making conscious decisions to remove it where I can, make dairy-free replacements for things I NEED (like ranch dressing) and just trying not to let myself think about other things (LIKE CHEESE FTLOG) we’ll see if that really has any effect on my inflammation issues.

Hopefully I can resume normal human type stuff on the regular…

a somewhat janky idea of how we live


Willy downloaded an app that allows you to make a floor plan of your house using your iPad. It’s not perfect and I messed with it more yesterday which got the sq footage closer (it’s still not perfect) but somehow messed the guest bathroom up more. When Willy originally measured that he somehow added a small wall that isn’t there so when I calibrated it to actual measurements, I couldn’t remove it so it’s weird now. It’s also not a fan of all the angled openings and half walls we have so those aren’t right either.

If our desktop wasn’t only functioning in safe mode at the moment I could fix all this in photoshop but for now, here’s a general idea of our house.

Starting at the living room, that indent at the front left is the porch. It actually runs the front of the house and is mostly skinny but is larger where it dips in as you can see there.

There is a brick patio straight out the back of the living room and another between the office and kitchen.

The unmarked room that looks CRAZY beyond our master bedroom? That’s our bathroom. That front area is where our sinks are and the other space houses the tub and toilet. The opening connected to our bedroom is on an angle and doesn’t have a door. The separation between the closet area and tub/toilet area is a floor to ceiling wall but it only comes halfway into the space. What shows as a bay window on the plan is a window seat.

Our laundry space is that sliver looking area on the bottom right of the kitchen.

We have crazy high vaulted ceilings in the living room and dining room and slightly lower but still vaulted ceiling in our bedroom, regular flat ceilings everywhere else.

The linen closet is in the guest bath. The area that looks all effed up there in the guest bath is the bump out for the a/c return and filter.

Sprog’s room has another angled wall that won’t show up. It’s right when you walk in the door and it’s the back side of the closet in the office.

We have 15 windows, a sliding glass door and a set of French doors. That’s a crap ton of shitty insulated glass in a hot summer climate and a lot of light for someone who is so light sensitive the majority of the time.

encouraging a child to learn

Some of the digi photog kids

My sister teaches in a school district that could be considered less than stellar. There are metal detectors at the doors, the kids have to carry mesh back-packs, they aren’t allowed lockers and must wear uniforms to school. They are also given a complementary breakfast and .10 lunches because that is just the level of poverty of the greater majority of her students. Sometimes there are far greater disadvantages than just the poverty levels of the kids and sometimes there are just some bad apples as well.

She’s been through some riots. She’s been through some lock-downs on campus. There have been some even scarier moments in her ample career with these kids given all the insane changes happening in Texas education, but she still tries to engage them and keep them somewhat interested in learning. It helps, I’m sure that she has the Pre-ap and GT kids but even some of the kids in regular classes seemed really interested in our project today, which is encouraging, given the conditions and situation.

Our project, for the past few years, is to use digital photography as a way to introduce and strengthen science concepts with her kids. I volunteer after school and on weekends to teach them how to work with a camera (I have two point-and-shoots and she has two as well and then whatever cameras they hopefully have-which can mean upwards of 40 kids trying to use less than 8 cameras) to capture physical and life science concepts. My sister, of course, handles all the science aspects. The photos are then printed, matted and entered into Science Fair and also into a photography contest at a local park (if they so choose).

The kids are so incredibly grateful and polite, it just blows my mind every time. They gave me flowers and a card today for my help and one girl gave me a hug. I also get a hug every time a kid from last year comes back to visit. Seeing them at the local arboretum is so heart-warming/wrenching it was like Disneyland for some of the kids (of course not all of the kids were so sheltered) they couldn’t imagine something so beautiful, well-tended and manicured being free to the public.

Today I went to the school for their in School Science Fair where we judged their photos and picked the kids that will go on to the District Science Fair in a few weeks. Some of the kids didn’t come to any of our group sessions and their pictures really showed it, which made me feel good to a point, I didn’t want any of the kids to feel like I wasn’t a value add for them (ACK PROJECT MANAGEMENT REARS IT’S UGLY HEAD) but I don’t like any kids in that kind of situation to feel worse. When I wandered the room “judging” it was more talking to the kids about how they got the picture they got and quick tips about what they could do better, how they could try it differently in the future, if they wanted to.

There are several kids that have a natural talent and several more that worked really hard at getting a good picture. I am really proud of the work that they are putting out there. I can’t wait to see how they do at District. I really hope they do well, it will be such a great esteem boost!

They’ve done some fundraising and so far they’ve raised enough to get one new camera (or maybe some used ones if we hit a pawn shop or something) which is awesome, I mean every little bit helps. Some teachers inquired about buying prints, but no one came through on that end once my sister actually offered it, hopefully that changes and the kids will get more cameras, it’s a bit of a goat rodeo to work with the small numbers we have, but you do what you can.

and just like that, it’s back to real life

Lately we’ve been sort of social, demented and sad but social, right? (movie quote can’t help it)

With “hermit mode” the normal MO around here hasn’t really been all about getting out much but since The Blathering we’ve been this crazy old-timey version of ourselves. The ones that actually have social type plans outside of the house with people other than each other.

The hubs has had work happy hours. I’ve had volunteer work (more on that later). We had friends over for game night, met them out at BW3 and babysat the adorable daughter of one so they could all go to that Breaking Dawn POS (No offense to y’all that like it but my opinion will not be swayed 😉 )

Yes, I will do this dorky crap in public
I’ll do near anything to make a kid smile
Including finding The Fresh Beat Band on Netflix and plying her with Nilla Wafers

We’ve both done dinner with a former elementary school pal of my husband and his wife that he reconnected with at the Halloween themed wedding and who happens to live like a a mile away (which I totally stressed about the potential awk of but turned out to be really enjoyable). We did our traditional trip to Santa’s Wonderland the day before Thanksgiving.

It’s of course very old-timey and Texas themed even with the lights everywhere and they aren’t all about the vegetarians (baked potato was cooked in brisket grease served with bacon even though I said no meat and the BBQ sauce had MEAT IN IT, OMG) so this is what I had for dinner
A giant S’more. They have a fire pit and roasting forks and you get to make them yourself. I also had a huge bag of Kettle Korn and some coffee. Healthy up in this piece.

On the way out the door, we ran into my brother’s ex with our nephew so the boys were able to play for a little bit before we headed home.

Thanksgiving was SO MUCH FUN that I was drinking Jack Daniels Honey over ice at mom’s later. We had to hit both families in the same day so our day was 12 hours long, required 2 hours of driving and I did cooking on two days so that I could bring things to both houses but at least be able to eat dinner at mom’s.

Nieces and nephews were cute as always.

Although I didn’t get any pics of Luke and Connor from T-day because they were off playing at the park when we got to mom’s and I was too busy helping with dinner when they got home.

Saturday I had a wonderful 4 hour brunch with Andrea who had come into town to see her folks. It’s so nice to get to hang with a blogger, because that never happens here, but even nicer to hang out with one and seem to get along so well. I felt bad talking her ear off, though, like I should come with a “BIG TALKER” warning label.

We had big date night-ish type plans the rest of the weekend and were thwarted on Sat night because I got a monster headache and Sun because the hubs thought he was coming down with the dreaded man cold. This weekend is Santa Pub Crawl and our first ever attendance to that particular drunken festival so that should be…something.

And now I think we are reasonably caught up AND I used a whole lot of words and pictures to make up for my absence. Score!

more about the poor tail-less lizard

So if you follow me on twitter, you know that Fred is not well, she’s not well at all. In fact, last week before The Blathering, I was pretty well convinced that she wasn’t going to make it through the night but damned if she’s not a tough OLD broad. She’s around 18 at this point and our old vet told us that they usually go from kidney failure around 15.

Anyway, she’s been not eating and generally lethargic for over a week now so Willy found an animal hospital that would take her and I brought her in.


Here she is at the vet, looking more alert than I have seen her in days. She also was scratching the shit out of my arms. Where her tail stops in the picture is where her tail stops period. I’ll spare you the gory-ish details of her scarred over stump.

Anyway, this vet is not an avian and exotics vet (I MISS YOU DR CRUZEN) but he did his best and we paid a lot of money ($311) to really come away with no answers. She hasn’t been using her right side to walk so we got some x-rays to see if there was a break but unfortunately, she looks good there. In fact, for her age, she looks DAMN GOOD. Mama takes care of her babies, even the cold blooded ones. Anyway, she hardly even has any bone loss, there is no breakage. Her lungs sound good and he didn’t see any mouth sore or anything which leaves doing blood work and that would’ve been another $200 and if the blood work turned up the kidney failure that is highly probable at this age, there isn’t anything they can do for her anyway. So instead, I opted for a broad spectrum antibiotic to just cover that base as a last ditch effort to save her.

Beyond that and any possible neurological issue (like a stroke maybe?) we are flying blind here. She’s still not eating on her own and I’m not going to have her starve to death while we wait the 14 days on the anti-biotic so yesterday I whipped up some “baby-food” for her out of collard greens, calcium powder and apple sauce and proceeded to spoon-feed her while sitting in front of her space heater.

By the end of it I was covered in green goop but she had actually ingested three or four spoonfuls of food so at least it’s something. I’m going to try again every day to make sure we’re getting something in her and then we’ll soak her in the bath every couple of days to see if we can get her digestion going.

The amount of time and money we have spent caring for this animal is insane to me, she’s a lizard. It’s not like she’s a dog, it’s not like she comes to me with her tail wagging when I’ve had a shitty day…but everyone that has ever seen her, in person, always tells us how cute she is and how much personality she has, which must be part of it. And she does respond to my voice, visibly. The other part of it is that I can’t allow anything to suffer on my watch, cold blooded or no, if there is anything at all I can do about it.

36 is never too late to learn

Every house I’ve lived in, I’ve always required a gas stove because I figured I could always cook when we inevitably lost power during a tropical storm or hurricane (we used to get those a lot, now we are in a drought so bad we are draining lakes to have water, WTF?).

The other night we had a storm and it actually rained! HUZZAH! Not enough to really make a lick of difference in the whole wicked drought thing. BOO! Unfortunately along with the rain came a crap ton of thunder, lightning and wind and so our power went on and off multiple times. The dogs freaked out, Maddie convinced it was the end times tried to bury herself into Sprog’s couch or bolt out the back door again because the UPS beeping scares her so badly or maybe it was my insane cussing from the kitchen that was doing it this time. See, I was mid baking of one full loaf and 8 mini loaves of chocolate chip zucchini bread AND I was broiling up some nachos for dinner.


1) In pitch blackness broilers like to burn things, like chips, cheese or oh hey YOUR ARMS as you try to get the damn pan out of the oven.

2) The oven is DIGITALLY CONTROLLED so if the power stays off, there goes the oven and the broiler and OH YEAH YOUR TIMERS, YOU DUMBASS-good luck on knowing how long your baking had left.

3) Hey what temp is the oven when the power comes back on? YOUR GUESS IS AS GOOD AS MINE! HAHA!

It was 10 rounds of restarting the oven, 10 rounds of me screaming and cursing the heavens all the while trying to calm the dogs, rescue the burnt/burning nachos, yell at my son to get out of the damn storm and tell him no he was not chasing the storm on HIS BICYCLE UNDER THE POWER LINES AT THE BAYOU. Meanwhile, Wills is trying to find the candles and the matches and the lights are cutting in and out like a damn discotheque from a german stereotype 80’s show. UGH.

The power did finally come back on and stay on and the loaves did finish baking and seem none the worse for the experience

Mini loaves

but I can’t say for certain because they already were a bit unusual being eggless, so I had a lowered expectation from the outset.

this year I intend to

Here’s a list of various things that I really want to do this year. That I intend to do this year.

I only accomplished a paltry amount of last year’s list. I shall do better this year. I am so committed, in fact that I will be printing this out and putting it in a place where I can see it, last year was a little too out of sight out of mind.

I’m also committed to loving my smaller house for it’s uniqueness instead of being unhappy about it’s lack of space. We honestly shouldn’t need a huge amount of space and we have a lot of crap that we don’t need that should be culled, a lot of crap that should be stored better/smarter and some really cute outdoor entertaining spaces that are crying out to be used.

In The Kitchen
1. Cook more from my cookbooks
2. Try a new vegetable or a dish I have never made, tasted or heard of at least once a month
3. Actually cook all those things that I have bookmarked from tastespotting
4. Re-paint the cabinets (they are starting to show wear) and properly seal them this time
5. Cabinet hardware (to prevent the wear)

In The Office
6. Re-arrange the tables and storage situations
7. Keep the desk clear
8. Get all the shop stuff organized and keep it that way

In The Bedroom
9. Keep the damn window seat free of clothes so it can be used as designed for a change
10. Paint the bathroom
11. Tile the floor
12. Clear out old clothes and clutter in the closet
13. Figure out vanity situation
14. Figure out necklace storage situation
15. Your counters. Nuff said
16. Real curtains for the window seat area

Life In General
17. Get back into habit of walking dogs and stick with it
18. Ride your bicycle
19. Teach Sprog to drive
20. Get Sprog to do volunteer work at least once, preferably more than once.
21. Hopefully continue to grow the Etsy shop
22. Host a brunch
23. Host a family game night with my family
24. Have more parties in general
25. Do more fun things around town, not just our normal
26. Travel with friends
27. Get another stamp in my passport, get Sprog a passport and get him a stamp too
28. See Hogwarts (Universal Studios Orlando)
29. Get and learn to type on an Iphone (I still have a qwerty phone)
30. Get a hot stone massage at least once
31. Read at least 10 books (I used to be such a reader, I don’t know what happened to me)
32. Go camping again
33. Get a canvas of Sprog in Monterrey from last year
34. Decide what to do with the family photo wall in the hallway
35. Get my Steve Madden boots fixed (both pairs)
36. Get another tattoo
37. Find a new make-up that I love
38. Actually do what I always say I am going to and buy something I want when I see it instead of waiting and being sad when it’s gone
40. New curtains in the living room
41. Get sewing machine fixed
42. Paint the bench on the porch
43. Get the table from Ikea for the back porch
44. Host an outdoor party/bbq and play bocce/ladder ball/horseshoes or washers
45. Raised garden beds on the kitchen side yard
46. Compost bin
47. Chickens?
48. Add a new city to our visited list….Seattle, Portland?
49. Show the boys New York
50. Send people random gifts just because I love them
51. Get to Arizona to see Jamie and her baby (who won’t be a baby by then *sigh*)
52. Ditto for Maglet and Katie
53. Attend a blathering
54. Do something about the blank space between the bricks and the house on kitchen side patio
55. See live music somewhere
56. Attend a Central Market or Sur la Table cooking class
57. Get to the Farmer’s Market
58. Tackle the garage
59. Dentist, colonscopy, ENT…all appts that scare the piss out of me
60. Replace cookware in the kitchen that is falling apart and is frankly unhealthy
61. In addition to the scarf swap, host another swap of some item later in the year. (ideas?)
62. Get back into the habit of weekly family game nights (the three of us)
63. Smile more
64. Let certain people get to me less
65. Hopefully build new friendships? Making friends at this age is harder than I ever thought imaginable.
66. Replace the light fixtures: guest bathroom, master closet, master bath-toilet area

I’m sure I’ll add to this list as I think of/do things because there are few things that a Capricorn enjoys more than crossing things off a list.