Thursday, December 16, 2010

Old and New

Last night I didn't cook comfort food. That's because we were at the Christmas party for the organization that (as of this coming Monday) will be my new work home.

But don't worry. They served comfort food - San Antonio style. Which means fajitas! And there were Santa hats, and caroling, and lots of passion and optimism and idealism. I think I'm really going to love my new work home.

Today I will wrap up things at my current job. I've said good bye to lots of students and teachers and administrators. There have been sad moments. But my co-workers are also assembling a good-bye video for me, which I'm sure will be hilarious. If I can figure out how to do it - then I'll try to post it here for you. If it's appropriate that is.... and knowing my co-workers.... it might not be....

And in the middle of lots of changes - professional and personal - I'm looking forward to Christmas and the traditions and the stable things that come with this time of year.

I can already smell the cold mountain air where my family will be spending the last days of December and welcoming in the New Year.


I can feel the snow crunching under my skis. And I can picture Mr. San Antonio looking up at me from the bottom of the mountain as I slowly, cautiously, criss-cross back and forth down the mountain - watching fuzzy hats whizz by me, and anticipating the hot chocolate back at the lodge.


I can picture my family's faces as they open their gifts that I've carefully selected for them.

I can hear my nephew's giggle as we tickle him and make absurd faces and do whatever embarrassing thing we can to get his response.

Oh, Christmas. Yes, it is about the coming of our Lord Jesus, but it's also about the fact that He is still here with us - showing His face through our family and friends, and through the ways we can serve and love and embrace His grace.

And that's more filling than any amount of comfort food my fire breathing dragon can produce!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Comfort Food

In light of all that's going on with the family this week, I have done two things:

1. Cooked lots of comfort food.
2. Purchased stock in tissues.

Our little fire breathing dragon has really stepped up to the challenge. He's cooked vegetables and dumplings (and tried his best at cooking chicken to go with it... but I take full responsibility on that mess-up). He's baked muffins, and brownies, pumpkin-spice chickpeas, and (make-up) chicken.

He's watched dutifully as I made orange juice for my sick husband. And as I brewed coffee and stirred hot chocolate.

Tonight he will bake bread, and cook butternut squash soup.

Who would have thought that I would actually learn to appreciate, enjoy, even depend on my ornery pet? But in these cooler days, being able to here the "whoosh" sound of the gas turning on inside the stove, and feel the heat slowly nudge out the icy fingers of sadness and the coming winter.... well, it's down right pleasant.

(I'm sorry fire breathing dragon for calling you "ornery", please don't hold it against me....)


I've given myself permission to slow down. To curl up on the sofa with a book and the portable heater aimed at my feet. I've ordered all my Christmas gifts online so as not to give myself a headache at the stores. The Christmas music has been turned on, but only as long as it makes me smile. I've worn Mr. SA's pj shirt and my favorite sweat pants too many times in a row without washing them.

And whenever I see an old man or woman I smile. And say a prayer for them - for any loneliness or sense of loss they are feeling this season.

As for the tissues... I lied when I said I bought stock in them. But as an insider secret... I'd say it would be a wise way to expand your portfolio this month. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Flying Beaver

I've always enjoyed story telling and writing. Growing up I wrote plays and enlisted my brothers and sister to be the actors. We would memorize lines, perfect our staging, gather props and costumes, and give my parents the best (and only) seats in the house.

When I was even younger I used to sit with my Grandpa and tell him stories of "The Flying Beaver". At the time I had a hand puppet in the form of a beaver. Now, you've probably conjured up an image of a cute, furry, whiskered animal laying on it's back cracking shells open on it's belly. I can assure you that this beaver puppet was not cute, was not soft, and didn't crack shells. It was brown and mangy with a scuffed up nose. And it was the hero of all my stories.

At our wedding my Grandpa stood up and told everyone about the days of "The Flying Beaver". He said that I would always get the beaver into a world of trouble. He'd be dodging evil squirrels, and angry dogs. He'd lose things, and get injured. But anytime it looked like Mr. Beaver was about to be done-in, I would look at my Grandpa with big wide eyes, raise my finger in the air and say, "But, then!" and would continue the story with a miraculous escape or brave maneuver to Mr. Beaver's benefit.

How often in life do we wish that a simple "But, then!" could alter the course. Change an outcome. Prevent the unexpected. As my Grandpa lies unresponsive in a hospital bed today... and as our family clutches cell phones, and gives extra long hugs, and constantly whispers prayers. Oh, how I long to cry out, "But, then!" and re-write this last chapter in my Grandpa's life.

And yet, I know that no magic words can remove the pain and sadness. The questions that arise regarding faith, and God's will... How it is that certain parts of life (that used to feel so important) now register as fuzzy and inconsequential; and how those things that used to get overlooked are now being shouted into the deep recesses of the heart...

Today, my heart will race whenever my phone rings. I will crave hugs. I will burst into tears at inconvenient times/places. I will say cliche things like, "he lived a long and full life"; and "we are so blessed by the time we had with him". I will lay my heart at my Savior's feet. I will cry out, "But, then!"...  and I will wait.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New Job

It has been a full week.
Oh ok, it has been a full year and a half.
But this week has been more full compared to other weeks, and perhaps less full than a different set of other weeks.
And now I'm as confused as you are. But the only take away from my rambling is this: it has been a full week.

I've formally accepted a new job. I'll be doing the same kind of work, just for a different organization. I'm excited. Mr. San Antonio is excited. My current co-workers are excited. Because now it means they can crank up the Mexican music, and don't have to explain all their Mexican jokes to me. But I know they will also be sad. Because they asked me yesterday, "Who will tell us what it is like being white?"

I will also be taking a step down the totem-poll ladder in terms of office space. My first office right out of college was a corner office on the 13th floor with floor to ceiling windows on two walls. My current office has a window, into the library. My new office will be a shared cubby. But I've been told I can decorate it however I want.

I've been celebrating this upcoming change by spending my evenings drinking hot chocolate by our Christmas tree, ordering Christmas gifts, and creating something extra special for my Grandparents'.... but I won't be ruining the surprise on here!

And now I'm off to enjoy one of my final after school stop-making-out-and-don't-toss-that-freshman-in-the-trashcan afternoons.
-TPB

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Party

A few weeks ago I enthusiastically announced to Mr. San Antonio that I wanted to decorate a gingerbread house while listening to Christmas music and smelling hot apple cider. He smiled sweetly and said, "um... ok." But I could tell his enthusiasm did not match my own.

So I thought, and scratched my head and plotted how to increase his interest.

And decided if I invited some other people over for a "gingerbread graham cracker house decorating party", then it would be "cool" and Mr. SA would be transformed into an arts-and-crafts enthusiast!!!

Ok, I admit, it was a bit of a stretch.

But by making it a competition with valuable prizes like frilly Christmas socks, and a reindeer headband, I saw Mr. San Antonio's inner architect and lover of Christmas traditions emerge!

I decorated our home. Prepared my dad's famous apple cider on the stove. Collected graham crackers (because I am not above using graham crackers in place of gingerbread), and cheap candy, and made royal icing.


We had a real life architect attend, and we all felt a bit intimidated. One of our younger guests quickly asked to be her partner. She might be young but she's not stupid. Their team won "best overall."


Above is our house. We were accused of having planned our house in advance. But I am sticking to our story, and use the fact that we placed a chimney (complete with stale marshmallow "smoke") directly above the front door as proof that we did not think this through in advance. I mean, how un-hospitable are we - to usher little gingerbread guests into our home only to have them roast on the open fire upon stepping over the threshold? 


The "house" above won "most original". It was actually built to be a prison. The tall structure in the back is the guard tower. The green gummy candy is the electric fence. What is hidden is the pastel pink gate with the snowman guards. Very intimidating. (Five points to you if you can guess which gender was behind this creation!)

And here are all the houses. My deepest apologies for the teeny tiny photos. My camera went on strike just as our friends arrived, and I had to resort to a camera on Mr. SA's phone. But don't fear. Mr. San Antonio is a lawyer and after mediation failed, he escorted my camera to the above prison.

Obviously our party brought out our true Christmas spirit. 

Here's to hoping your Monday does not include stale marshmallows,
The Pampered Bird

Friday, December 3, 2010

A friday recipe

It's Friday, and December, and 80 degrees outside, and tonight we're getting our Christmas tree, and I don't want to spoil Mr. San Antonio's weekend with the news that the best dinner I made him this week was snatched (partially) from a vegan website.

Please don't tell him. It would devastate him.

But please do go and make the pumpkin spiced chickpeas that were a significant part of the meal. They were so good that I had to make three batches of them in two days. And even at the end of the third batch I still had to tackle Mr. SA in order to get a few bites for myself. Here's the recipe from http://peasandthankyou.com/:

Strawberry Roasted Chickpea Salad with Cinnamon Dijon Vinaigrette


Serves 4-6
8 c. spinach and/or field greens, washed, dried and torn into bite size pieces
1 batch Pumpkin Spice Roasted Chickpeas (recipe below)
2 c. strawberries, washed and sliced
½ c. dried cranberries
½ c. roasted almonds, roughly chopped
¼ c. fresh mint, chopped (I didn't include mint in mine, but it would probably be delicious!)

Cinnamon Dijon Vinaigrette:
1 t. Dijon mustard
3 T. apple cider vinegar
3 T. lemon juice
1/3 c. agave nectar or pure maple syrup
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. ground ginger
½ t. salt
1/4 c. canola oil

Pumpkin Spice Roasted Chickpeas
1 can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained and patted dry
2 T. maple syrup
1 t. canola oil (or oil of your choice)
1 t. apple cider vinegar
1/8 t. salt
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. ginger
3/4 t. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until evenly coated. Spread chickpeas on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes. Stir chickpeas every ten minutes to ensure even crisping.

If you choose to make the roasted chickpeas - please (for the love of your stomach) double the recipe!
Love,
The Pampered Bird

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kilts, Flames, and a Stabbing

My dad's side of the family is unashamedly Scottish. You've heard me speak of my fair Scottish skin. It is something I am rather proud of. I'm proud of it because it's either that or cry whenever someone asks how long it's been since I've seen the sun.

Probably my favorite part about having Scottish heritage is the wearing of the family tartan. I requested that my dad wear his kilt at my wedding. He agreed, but only on the condition that I allow him to wear a normal tux while walking me down the aisle. He didn't want the attention on him (aka: the man in the skirt) instead of on his daughter. Isn't he the best?

But he did agree to wear it to the reception.


I can't remember what year it was... (I may have been 13 or 14) when I attended my Grandparents' Burns Night (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burns_Night) event at their house. We had relatives from Scotland visiting in California and it was winter, and it was appropriate that we celebrate Robert Burns - Scotland's beloved poet. I had no idea at the time that Burns Night is a rather elaborate affair complete with flaming haggis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haggis), poetry reading, and kilt wearing.

For the presentation of the haggis - I was given the honor of carrying it to the dining table where all the guests were listening to my Grandpa's recitation of the "Ode to the Haggis". At 13 I was already 5' 9" but I didn't appreciate weight lifting and my arms were pretty weak. When my Grandma handed me the haggis, it was on a very heavy (but beautiful) platter. I wasn't worried, because the table was only a few yards away and I figured I could carry it that far. But just as I began to walk it to the table, my Grandma quickly called me back and said, "I need to light it!"

"Light it?" I thought.

Yes, light it. As in set it on fire. I carried the increasingly heavy, (and now) flaming haggis to the table and bent to place it in front of my Grandpa - but was quietly instructed to continue holding it while he finished the "Ode".

No problem, I thought.

But as the "Ode" went on, my arms grew ever weaker, and began to shake uncontrollably. And just at the moment when I thought the haggis was going to land in Grandpa's lap and set his kilt aflame, my Grandpa reached the climatic part of the poem. Following tradition, he pulled out a dagger, cleaned it, and raised it in the air. Then he brought it down, dramatically plunging it into the haggis and slicing it open from end to end.

The fright of having a dagger plunged into the flaming haggis that I held in my arms invigorated me enough to enable me to carry it back to the kitchen where it was properly sliced up and served.

The evening went on with more Scottish traditions. It was a special time to connect to my heritage. There was much merriment that evening, more poetry reading, and lots of kilts. But you can never have too many kilts in my opinion.


With love (and pride - I'm wearing my tartan scarf today!),
The Pampered Bird

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Family History

My Grandma called me yesterday to thank me for attending her 90th birthday party a couple weeks ago. I asked how she was doing and she said it's been very cold the last week. She lives in California. I reminded her that she grew up in North Dakota... she laughed and said, "well I hated the cold then too."

My mom has been heavily researching her family's genealogy and has been very pleasantly surprised by the amount of information that is out there. It's been fun for me to see the pictures and hear some of the stories she has unearthed. It feels surreal to hear my mom say, "You are a lot like your great-grandma in x, y and z ways." This has also sparked my dad's memories regarding his family and he has started sharing stories of his Grandma and her sisters, and has been able to point out traits in his relatives that he also sees in me.

One story that I will pass down to my children some day is the time (probably five years ago) that my Grandma and I walked down the street to the bagel shop. We ordered bagels and coffee and sat at a little table outside in the sun. Shortly after situating ourselves, a young man approached the table and said to me, "I'm sorry, I never do this, but I was wondering if I could call you sometime." I had never been flirted with in such a blatant manner and was not sure what to do. Thinking in purely practical terms, I informed him that I was on my way to the airport to fly back to Texas (with the implication that no one wants to start something long distance)...

But my Grandma interrupted me and started telling the young man, "You know, this is my granddaughter and she grew up here, and went to school here, and comes back to visit quite frequently..." He was (now that I think about it....) remarkably polite to keep standing there talking to us (well, mainly my Grandma who kept telling him all sorts of information about me) even though I had completely avoided his request for my phone number.

I always give the credit to my Grandma for the young man's willingness to approach me. Her beauty and poise must have given him confidence for what I will one day be (I hope!). Anytime I mention the bagel shop, her face lights up and she finishes the tale with great enthusiasm. And she always laughs at the end. A laughter that is full of merriment but also a little awe that she had been part of such an event.

Apparently I'm in a reminiscing mood. Tomorrow I'll share the story of Burns Night at my other Grandparents house. There is fire involved. And a stabbing. And kilts. You can never have too many kilts in a story. It's another memory that I will pass down one day.

But in the meantime, I'm going to enjoy the Texas weather... and see if I can do something about this bagel craving...

Monday, November 29, 2010

My favorite leftovers recipe

Happy Monday! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!

We had a full weekend - loaded with lots of family time, good food, resting, and Christmas decorating!

I was just getting used to the whole lay-on-the-coach-and-do-nothing routine when Mr. San Antonio decided we should go for a run last night. It was really fun. Especially the whole burning lungs, wobbly legs, i-think-i-might-die feeling.

When we got home I made my favorite Thanksgiving leftovers recipe for dinner, and then some Gingerbread because I had the ingredients and it just felt like the right thing to do.

Over the weekend we contemplated a lot of deep things such as:
1. How to decorate the mantle for Christmas;
2. How to stay warm when our home is below 60 degrees and drafty and someone back in time thought it was a good idea to cement in the fireplace;
3. How to sneak the last bite of pumpkin chiffon pie without the other one knowing;
4. And how is it that "The Christmas Shoes" song is so popular?

To keep you in the loop - I've gracefully declined the invitation to go hunting. Instead I have a whole list of girly plans lined up for that weekend. Including but not limited to: painting my nails; drinking tea with my mom and sister; accomplishing a couple of sewing projects; and eating dark chocolate.

And I'll leave you today with my favorite Thanksgiving leftovers recipe (it's my favorite because it uses up leftovers, but has such a different flavor combination that it doesn't feel like leftovers)... so here you go:

Pumpkin Enchiladas!
Ingredients:
1 - 15oz can of pumpkin (or if you're like me, the 3/4 of a can that was sitting in the fridge - in which case decrease appropriately the amount of everything else)
1 jalapeno (I take out the seeds first because I'm a wimp)
4 cloves of garlic
2 1/2 cups of water
salt and pepper and chili powder (to taste - or if you're like me and don't have chili powder use cayenne or red pepper flakes... just something to give it a kick)

6 scallions (sliced up - I used the white and the green parts)
Leftover turkey, shredded (or chicken, or if you are a vegetarian, you could probably do zucchini and other squash like veggies)
Tortillas (corn or flour is fine - you'll probably need 6-8 depending on the size of your pan)
1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese, shredded (I used yellow, but white cheddar would be good too)

Directions:
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Place the pumpkin, jalapeno, garlic, 2 cups of water and spices in a blender and puree until smooth. Add more water until you get the consistency you want.
- Pour enough sauce into a baking dish to cover the bottom (this recipe can handle a 9x13 but I usually use something smaller since there are only two of us)
-.Then, if you're a cheater like me, just lay some tortillas down on top of the sauce until the whole bottom is covered.
- Next distribute the turkey on top of the tortillas - be generous!
- Sprinkle the scallions over the turkey.
- Place another layer of tortillas across the whole dish.
- (Alternatively - you can roll each tortilla with the turkey and scallion mixture and place seam side down along the pan; but honestly they taste the same if you cheat).
- Pour the rest of the sauce over everything making sure it is completely covered (pour on more than you think because the tortillas will absorb some of it and you don't want them to dry out).
- Then sprinkle the cheese on top.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese and sauce are bubbly. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Let me know how it turns out! And enjoy the beginning of this new week!
-The Pampered Bird

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

To go, or not to go

Mr. San Antonio's annual hunting trip is fast approaching. And in an effort to be all-inclusive, he has sweetly extended an invitation for me to join him along with his dad, uncles, and male cousins. It makes my heart melt just thinking about it.

This is going to be a very difficult decision for me. After all, I did purchase his newest hunting rifle as his law school graduation gift last spring - and I have yet to use it myself!


Maybe you can help me decide whether or not to attend the outing... we'll make a PRO and CON list together. Ok?

Let's start with the PROs:
1. I won't have to worry about greasy hair - because there is no shower and therefore no way to clean it anyway.
2. I can get my exercise by walking to the outdoor toilet any time nature calls.
3. I'll get to wear every single article of warm/outdoor clothing I own (including the fabulous new tights I just bought!) in order to combat the 11 degree morning temperatures.
4. I will have the opportunity to sit in a deer blind with spiders and owl droppings - which, is truly one of the greatest joys in life.
5. If I get tired of greasy hair, I can work on my shoulder muscles by cracking the ice over the cattle trough, building a fire by rubbing sticks together, and creating my own hot tub.
6. When I'm exhausted at the end of the day, I can curl up on my own bench in the kitchenette portion of the trailer.
7. And all weekend I'll be able to look out on this and wonder when a giant javelina (otherwise known as a disgusting hog-like animal) will come out of the bushes and attack me (oh wait... this is a PRO list):


The PRO list is going to be pretty hard to beat... but I'll give the CON list my best effort:
1. There is no sleeping in on the hunting trip.... and it is common knowledge I'm not a cheerful morning person.
2. Greasy hair gives me goosebumps.
3. If I wear every piece of clothing I own all at once, I'll look like the little brother on "A Christmas Story"
4. I think my blubbering over the spiders and owl droppings will scare the deer away.
5. A cattle trough does not make a legitimate hot tub.
6. I have a prejudice against benches... they're inherently inferior to my bed.
7. Javelina.

And there you have it.... that's the list. I still have a couple weeks to make a decision - so I'll keep you posted on the final result.

But, I'm sure you won't be surprised.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Traditions

Even though the Paris bird family experienced Thanksgiving in August this year (and shared their leftovers with me), we've decided to go ahead and celebrate again.

It's going to be a little different this year. Growing up in California, we were close (relative to Texas) to all the extended family on both sides. No holiday came and went without 20+ people elbowing each other for the last piece of pie, or talking louder and louder as the night went on so as to be heard over the laughter and story telling. There were always cousins, and neighbors, and friends of friends who didn't have family in town.

And through the opening of our doors to strangers - we created a whole new family.

This year it's going to be a little different. For Thanksgiving day we are choosing to spend it with my (genetic) family. But there will only be five or six of us. My folks, one of my brothers, us, and hopefully one of our friends.

To avoid the inevitable tears that come to my mother and me when traditions are changed or unexpected - we decided to do things a little different. We made a rule that we are not allowed to make any recipes that we have previously served on Thanksgiving. Instead, we scoured the Internet and our favorite cookbooks to come up with unique versions of traditional dishes. This way no one (meaning my mom or me) will be blubbering as we scoop potatoes and saying: "This *sob* is *hiccup* my sister's favorite *sniffle* Thanksgiving dish!"

I believe both my dad and I have been asked to make a pie (though it must be unconventional in our Thanksgiving terms).

And there will be brussel sprouts. Because brussel sprouts make the world a happier place. In fact, many of you have asked me to post more recipes on this site (like I used to)... so here is the brussel sprout recipe I will be making for Thanksgiving. Feel free to incorporate it into your menu - and start your own new traditions! Happy Thanksgiving!

Brussel Sprout (and lots of other great things) Salad!
Ingredients:
- One bag of Brussel Sprouts (or if your store sells them still on the stem - use one whole stem); cut bottoms off and pull off outer leaves (or folds, or whatever those are called); then cut in half lengthwise.
- One Granny Smith Apple (peeled, cored, and chopped - I like to leave the pieces pretty big so they stay crisp)
- 1/2 Onion (I use sweet yellow) (chop to whatever size you like, I usually chop it up pretty small)
- One Sweet Potato (peel, and chop into 1/2 in squares)
- 4 slices of Peppered Bacon
- 4 oz Feta Cheese
- up to 2 TB Olive Oil (optional)
- Salt and Pepper to taste (but I don't usually add much because the peppered bacon adds plenty!)

Directions:
- Cook the bacon in a large skillet. When done to how you like it (I like mine super duper crispy) remove the bacon onto a paper towel lined plate - but LEAVE the grease.
- Depending on how much grease has been left (you need about 2 TB), either add in olive oil, or don't.
- Turn the heat to medium/high and add in the onion and the sweet potato and saute for 10-15 minutes or until the sweet potato is just a few minutes away from being cooked all the way through (you have to eye ball it - or stab it with a fork - and I'm known for walking away from the stove to get away from it's fire breath and forgetting how long I've left it unattended).
- When the sweet potatoes feel almost ready to eat; then toss in the brussel sprouts and move everything around so they can get to the bottom of the pan and get a little brown and cook fast without getting mushy (you do not want to overcook the brussel sprouts or they will be bitter and will not make you happy).
- After about a minute, toss the apple pieces in and let those heat up (but not get mushy - again mushy apples will not make you happy) for a minute or two.
- Once everything looks bright and cheerful, turn off the heat, sprinkle the bacon on top along with the feta cheese.

ENJOY!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

She picked me?

I am constantly amazed at the unconventional and/or unappealing things (and people) that God uses to bring me closer to Himself.

There is a student at our school who is very unconventional. At first, if I'm going to be totally honest (which you knew was coming), this student rubbed (and sometimes still rubs) me the wrong way.

Not so much because she runs across the room every time she sees me in order to give me a hug and tell me she loves me.

Not so much because every time she hugs me it's while telling me her stomach is upset and she feels really sick and will I please feel her forehead and make sure she's not ill.

And not so much because every time I see her we have the exact same conversation - maybe four times in one day.

(Here's the honest part....) She rubbed me the wrong way, because all my co-workers snickered, and teased me for being this student's chosen "mother-figure" while at school. And it embarrassed me. And made me feel uncomfortable. And as a result I would get irritated (ugh... not that again), and short on patience. How many times do I have to tell this student she is not sick and that she's going to get along just fine today?

But slowly, day by day, hug by hug, God has been softening my heart. Growing in me an appreciation for this girl's wide open vulnerability and lack of inhibition for showing her feelings and letting people know she appreciates them. I've also been reminded that what we do for "the least of these" we're really doing for God himself (Matthew 25:45).

And somehow I've had this humble thought that grasping your stomach and scrunching your face (like you think you might lose your insides on the person you're hugging) is painfully similar to some of the social awkward moments I've pulled in my day.

There are still times when I see this student and have to fight the urge to turn around and pretend I didn't see her. But then I remember that God doesn't make mistakes. She is the way she is for a reason. We're at the same place each day for a reason. And there is a reason she has picked me to be the receiver of her love and attention.

Now... if I can just get Miss Middleton to pick me to receive her friendship and place of matron of honor - everything else in life is bound to fall right into place.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Advice for Miss Middleton

The big news of the week is not that I elbowed Mr. San Antonio in the head when he woke me up with his snoring. Nor is it that the blemish that was beginning to form on my chin has decided to retreat for the time being. And no, the big news is not that the sink is officially full of dishes to the point that not one more dish will fit.

The big news of the week is that Prince William is engaged to Miss Middleton! And if this isn't an "Oh Girl!" moment, then I don't know what is.

P.S. Mr. San Antonio always says "Oh Girl!" in response to my excitement about things like shoe sales, fresh paint on my toe nails, or blemishes disappearing.

I realize that the Prince and his soon to be Princess probably have a lot of people giving them advice about the important things in life - such as how to properly bow to the Queen, or which fork to use first at a royal dinner, or whether you can wear navy blue and black in the same outfit. But, they probably aren't being given advice about the every day aspects of marriage. And this is where I've decided my niche in the world comes into play.

Miss Middleton, my first tip goes to you. If Prince William reaches for your water glass - snatch it away quickly, because if you do not, then he will consume all the water that is left and then you will have to karate chop him.

My second tip is to invest in a strong, reliable mouth wash. That way you can triple the amount of garlic a recipe calls for and the Prince won't regret it later.

My third and fourth tips are for the Prince. Please make sure you don't steal all the sheets in the middle of the night, because otherwise you might have a grumpy wife in the morning.

And if you tell Miss Middleton every day that she is beautiful - it will work magic, and I promise she won't get tired of it.

My fifth and final piece of advice for the engaged couple - is please for the love of sanity - please get air conditioning, and please make sure to slay the fire breathing dragon before entering your castle.

All the best to the new love birds,
The Pampered Bird

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Birthdays Galore!

Today is a special day.

No, I did not scrub my floorboards. No, I did not squish a spider without screaming. And no, I did not change my own oil.

Today is a special day because my Grandpa (on my dad's side) turns 79! Here he is with my Grandma at my sister's graduation this past June:


And - because in our family we never do things on a small scale - today is also my Grandma's (on my mom's side) 90th birthday! Here she is with my Grandpa and my sister and me this summer:


And so as not to leave anyone out... it's also my Uncle Darrell's birthday! WooHoo for birthdays!

Thank you for being important people in my life and helping to make me the woman I am today. I love you all!

And P.S. (can you do a "P.S." if you haven't technically signed your name... or if it's not technically a letter at all? These are the questions that keep me up at night... but nevertheless) - P.S. Thank you to all the veterans who have served our country and to all the men and women currently serving! We are all blessed because of your sacrifice!

With love and appreciation,
The Pampered Bird

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This is how we celebrate...

I'm sure many of you have heard the good news... that my beloved Mr. San Antonio passed his bar exam and is officially an attorney! Please begin sending me your best lawyer jokes now.

The morning after we received his results, his boss arranged for him to be sworn in by a local judge. It was a very meaningful experience for us, and was made all the more special by the whoops and hollers and clapping that erupted from all the lawyers (who we did not know) sitting in the court room waiting for their cases to be heard by the judge.


The whole weekend was full of celebrating! And an incredible feeling of "IT'S DONE! IT'S REALLY OVER!" What a relief!

Then I decided to celebrate on my own by coming down with a stomach bug. Nothing says "Congratulations my love," like Pepto Bismol breath.

And to top off the week - last night our neighbors went and got themselves into a domestic dispute - and we decided to get involved. If you see us on the news as key witnesses - don't be surprised. And if one of them decides to come back and ask for a lawyer... I've got a great recommendation!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

(Irritability)

I've been doing a study called "Respectable Sins" with some (wonderful!) woman from church. The book talks about some of the things we often overlook, excuse, or rationalize away but that are in reality hurting us and creating a separation between us and God. Things like irritability, anger, anxiety, and selfishness (just to name a few).

It has been an illuminating journey - especially when I start out by thinking that I do not struggle with one of the issues listed, and then realize - as if my parents' dog stepped on my toe (Ok. I know that is a random analogy but i didn't want to use a cliche like having the light bulb turn on or be hit over the head - so please just hang with me) - that I do indeed struggle with it (name your sin) very much.

Like being irritable.

Ok, let me be really open here. I am actually well aware that I get irritable (frequently) - but until recently I didn't realize that was wrong. What's the big deal about getting irritated when I can't pick out an outfit to wear, or when my plans get changed at the last minute, or when Mr. San Antonio drinks out of my water glass? Those things are superficial issues, but still totally justifiable, and ultimately I only hurt myself in the process so what's the big deal? Being irritable must not be a sin... it's just... I don't know... being irritable! 
(Unfortunately) it's a lot more than that.

Last night I had another experience with irritability. Again, it was a small thing - an inconvenience with having to stand in a long line to vote. But when I walked into the room and saw the line, and realized that I wasn't going to be on time to my parent's house where we were scheduled to watch the election results, I could feel the heat of irritability rise up within me. The symptoms were all too familiar... my heart began to race; I used short words with Mr. San Antonio; I cast glaring looks around the room (at people that I assumed in my heart had gotten in line just to make me wait longer); and I stomped my feet, sighed loudly, and pouted. (Oh how I wish I was exaggerating.)

Then all of the sudden I recognized what I was doing. Almost as if someone announced it over the intercom (or the dog stepped on my toe...). I was being irritable and selfish and angry and ultimately I was sinning. I quickly said a prayer asking for forgiveness and for lots of help in overcoming my attitude... and you know what? My heart changed.

I was reminded of what a privilege it is to be able to vote. I was reminded of all the people who fought to give me that opportunity, and how many people in the world still don't have it. I was reminded that time is not mine, and that for some reason God Almighty wanted me to be in that line during those minutes instead of anywhere else in the world (including my parent's house).

And now that I'm done being deep and introspective, I'm going to go create better analogies for all the strange thoughts that go through my head. And I'm going to work on not (maybe) using so many (parentheses)!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Spray Tan Memory

I'm not sure what sparked this memory... it was either

1. That every time I look down on my bare feet I see the criss-cross pattern of fading tan lines from the sandals I wore all over France...

or 2. The fact that my Scottish (and other northern European heritage) skin is steadily making its way to what I like to call the "winter transparency" stage...

But either way I was reminded today of the time in college when a friend called me all excited because she had two coupons for spray tans! It was January and we were feeling on the pale side (me more so than her - because she has beautiful ethnic skin). I thought that was a great idea - and waaaay more healthy than tanning beds - so we met up at a tanning salon near campus about an hour before my first class in conflict mediation.

We walked inside and got our tans and immediately began doubting our decision. Not only were we covered in a slightly smelly substance, but we weren't allowed to shower for six hours so it could be fully absorbed (what exactly we were absorbing I do not want to know). But, I figured that my class would distract me from the smell and the urge to use a loofa, and so off I went.

It turned out that conflict mediation was a pretty small class, with just about 30 students. For our first meeting we all sat in a circle so that we could look at each other full in the face as we began learning how to save the world.

As the class moved along for the next couple of hours I noticed that more and more people were throwing glances at me. I figured my awesome tan was making them assume I had just come in off the beach and they were jealously trying to figure out how to become my friend so I could take them with me on my next trip.

That is... until someone said, "you're looking a little orange, do you feel ok?"

I have never wanted a loofa more in my entire life.

Apparently throughout the two hour class, my skin slowly shifted from translucent to pale to peach to peachy pink to orange. And I realized that no one wanted to go hang out on the beach I came from.

Now, just in case you were wondering, the orange did wash off and I resumed to my natural hue comfortably situated between pale and paler. My friend on the other hand, with her ethnic skin, came out just great. And I have never touched fake tanner since. The end.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Acrobatics

This weekend we saw Cirque Dreams Illumination with some dear friends.

The show was incredible – measured by how far forward I leaned in my seat and how obnoxiously wide my mouth hung the entire time.

After the show the four of us looked at ourselves and decided we need to hit the gym pronto. Of course to make ourselves feel better we agreed that doing all those tricks is much easier when you are 4’10” and weigh 85 pounds. We ignored the whole “solid muscle” thing.

The most incredible act was done by four women who were the above size and trained at the Mongolian State School of Contortion. Sounds suspicious if you ask me… but the results are amazing. These women hung from a spinning, suspended open cube made of PVC pipe (at least that’s what it looked like). They swung, flipped, hung by their necks, hung by their ankles, hung from each other, twisted, looped and mesmerized us all.

Yes, the fact that none of them fell was amazing. But I was more impressed that, with all their spinning and flipping, none of them lost their stomach fluids.

Watching the show was inspiring to say the least. Yesterday I pulled out my Pilates video that has laid dormant for *cough* months (aka too long), with the intention of working my body back into flexible shape so I can once again touch my toes.

I pushed myself through the whole 60 minutes of stretches, strength training and sweat inducing exercises -and was feeling pretty good with myself afterwards.

Unfortunately, I woke up this morning to find that I had regressed. I am so incredibly sore that not only can I not touch my toes, but I can barely reach my knees. And my knees are a full 22 inches off the floor. (I just measured them with a ruler). My legs are the height of the Mongolian gymnasts…. And my hopes of being the acrobatic champion of the world are officially crushed.

Here’s to hoping your dreams are not crushed today.
-The Pampered Bird

Friday, October 29, 2010

Costumes!

Today students were allowed to wear costumes to school, and they only have classes until noon. 1+1 = mayhem.

Most of the costumes are appropriate: A banana, a Facebook page, kids dressed up as their teachers, etc.

Some could be considered offensive. Or is it still offensive when it's a hispanic kid dressed up as an illegal border crosser?

Couples who have been together longer than a week dressed up as Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, and as Thing 1 and Thing 2.

A couple who have been together less than a week dressed up as jailbirds (you know where their relationship is headed).

A few girls dressed as Pocahontas during that period of history when she posed for GQ. Oh, you don't know that part of her story? I guess our text books left it out...

And then there is a whole segment of kids who tried desperately to dress up as something scary, but since they aren't allowed to wear masks or face paint, or carry fake (or real for that matter) weapons, they just look like high school kids wearing black.

Personally, I had good intentions of dressing up today. Ok, I had half hearted intentions. Ok, I had extremely low intentions of dressing up. But I did think about it for at least a minute. And then this morning it was so cold when I woke up that I just didn't want to get out of bed, and by the time I finally rolled out all I had time to do was pump coffee into my veins and hope my clothes matched (it's questionable by the way - can you wear a dark grey sweater with brown boots?).

I thought of telling everyone I'm dressed up as The Pampered Bird, but then my co-workers might start reading this little blog and I'd be forced to stop talking about them.

And the last thing I'll mention for today... at 10am a group of kindergartners are coming through the school to trick-or-treat; and I'm fully prepared to be that awkward stranger following them around "oohing" and "aaahing" and breaking all social propriety. Please don't tell Mr. San Antonio. And please have a great weekend!

Love,
The Pampered Bird

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mom

The older I get, the more I hope to become like my mom. I got to spend some time with her last night, and was thinking on the way home about how wonderful and unique she is, and how blessed I am to have her as my role model.

In some ways I already see her in me… in the way I cry when I feel sentimental, or stressed, or mad, or happy, or overjoyed, or really at any time…

And the way I get really excited about family traditions, and costume parties, all things Christmas related, and new home décor items.

But I keep hoping that other pieces of her are also hidden deep inside me.

Like her gift of organization and administration (currently this one is hidden very deeply…).

And her gift of making anyone who walks into her house, feel like they are at home.

I hope I have her gift of deeply caring for the people around me (from strangers to close family).

I hope I carry on her passion for family history and an appreciation for those who went before us and paved the way for the life we now lead.

I hope that one day I can love having pets.

I hope I can find a healthy way of balancing work and family. I admire the way she sacrificed her time, energy and resources to serve us by staying home to raise us when she could have easily become a top executive of a successful company.

I hope that I am able to be an encouraging support to Mr. San Antonio the way she has devotedly supported my dad during their 30 years of marriage.

And I hope that when big struggles and tests of faith arise in my life, that I’ll have her same faith in God’s power, grace, and love to pull me through.

I think some of these things come more easily to certain people. But that should not be an excuse for me to give up on the things I’m not good at right now. I can become a loving, hospitable, sacrificial person by making those things a priority and by relying on the power, grace and love of God at work in my life.

Thanks mom for being my role model. I hope I grow up to be more like you.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nephew Update!

On our way back from Mr. San Antonio's homecoming weekend we got to stop in and say hi to three wonderful people....

This guy...

And the wonderful couple that made him. Thank you for giving us the cutest nephew in the world!

And thank you cutest-nephew-in-the-world for aiming your spit-up on my favorite sweater. It's my favorite because it's snuggable and washable... kinda like you!

I can't wait to see you in your lion costume this weekend!

And try to make you laugh, and stick out your tongue, and do your trick where you lap up water from a grown-up glass!

And now I'm going to stop because Mr. San Antonio is totally going to make fun of me for this post!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Frat Party Experts

Over the past few weeks Mr. San Antonio and I have been invited to a couple of campaign fundraiser gatherings. They have been eye opening experiences for me. Especially since I was not a member of a sorority in college, and didn't have the interest to crash frat parties when I was of the age and station in life when it would be considered appropriate to do so (i.e. when I was not employed and when I lived in a dorm).

What I envisioned a frat party being like, is basically what we have experienced at these events - Except for the gray chest hair peeking out from unbuttoned shirts; the enhanced aspects of women that typical college girls can’t afford; and the top shelf vodka.

This weekend we traveled to Mr. San Antonio's college homecoming. It was the first time I've seen his college campus, and I was finally able to see where he became intramural pool champion; and where he roamed as the campus heart throb.

I also got to meet some of his fraternity brothers – past and present. The most formal event was a reunion party hosted by current members at one of their homes near campus. Being an expert now at fraternizing, we decided to go, and made sure to bring lots of beer so the college guys would think we were cool.

I have to admit that I was a little bit nervous... what was I going to talk to these young guys about; how was I going to avoid being socially awkward; and would there be enough Purell in the world to make me feel comfortable touching anything in the house? (P.s. the answer to the last one is "no".)

As we pulled up to the house Mr. San Antonio warned me that he was going to "stir the pot" with these guys. At our recent "adult frat parties", anything beyond the question, "what do you do?" is inappropriate conversation. You do not stir the pot when you don’t have gray chest hair, and are 40 years younger than the guy who brought the top shelf vodka. But, you can definitely stir the pot when you're the one who brought the beer. And Mr. San Antonio was not going to hold back.

We walked in and were immediately addressed as "ma'am and sir". The beer produced wide appreciative eyes, and a general sense of awe toward people who have jobs. Mr. San Antonio was approached as a legend – everyone wanted to hear about the time he punched a shark in the nose (p.s. we have no idea where this story originated, but who are we to argue with legends?)

From there Mr. San Antonio wasted no time stirring the pot, and jumping in with questions about politics, religion, ultimate truth and the definition of racism. You know the incredible thing? The college guys fired back. They engaged, questioned, discussed, and thought critically for three hours. Three hours!

We were incredibly impressed; and had a great time; and graciously refused the shots that were offered to us throughout the evening. And at the end were able to shake hands with new friends, and young men who may one day call Mr. San Antonio for a job recommendation.

It was a fun night, and when we got back to the hotel we unwound by working out the permanent historic details to the “shark punching” legend, and taking a much needed Purell bath.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

If I could...

If I could quit my job and do something different for one week... here are three jobs I'd like to do:

1. Greeting card creator. (But only for a week... because how many different ways can I say “Happy Birthday” over and over and over again?)

2. Children’s book writer. (I’m convinced that kids would like to hear of the adventures of my fire breathing dragon who spits out cookies and homemade bread – how's that for a creative villain!)

3. And a professional spa critic. (It has got to be very exhausting to visit spas and try all their services and write about it in a way that convinces other people that they want to leave their job and visit those spas. Don't you agree?)

On the other hand... if I quit my job today, here is a short (but not at all exhaustive list) of jobs I would NOT want to pursue for a week:

1. Sushi saleswoman at our grocery store. (The hat they would make we wear is hideous... and doesn't work with my skin tone.)

2. Whale Wars (this is a TV show) ship navigator. (I’d get sea sick within minutes and be completely useless. Plus the show makes me laugh... and I don't think hard core whale rights activists have much of a sense of humor.)

3. Line Backer. (I know I’m tall… but I’m fairly small boned and not very strong.)

4. And watch repair-woman. (Because I don’t know how to fix watches and I have no desire to learn how to fix watches.)

What new job would (or would you not) want to try for a week?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Oatmeal gone wrong

I had a very strange morning.

It started with realistic dreams during my last hour of sleep that caused me to be disoriented when I awoke.

Mr. San Antonio had left early and wasn't there to keep me on track... and sane.

But I figured I'd be fine with some coffee in my veins.

And I went ahead and prepared my pumpkin oatmeal.

"Hm... that's strange. Why is my mouth on fire?!"

(Despite the quotation marks I only thought the above phrase. But I'm sure if we had a pet I would have spoken them out loud.)

Then I took another bite. (Because my cognitive reflexes are extra slow in the morning.)

"Hm.... the burning is worse. That's really strange."

So, I looked at the row of spices I had just poured on my pumpkin oatmeal...

Realized that I used cayenne pepper instead of cinnamon...

Desperately looked around for something to calm the raging inferno inside my mouth...

Decided that coffee is disgusting with cayenne pepper still coating my tongue...

Dumped out the bowl of oatmeal and started over...

Sadly discovered there was no more coffee in the pot.

Raced off to work because despite living two minutes away, I'm always almost late.

And prayed those whole two minutes that my clothes matched.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The "curse word" Black Truck

As of 7:05 this morning, we no longer like black trucks.

Specifically the kind that think they are too cool to park in one of the 10 available parking spaces, and instead choose to hang out in an unmarked spot, across a very narrow street, right behind our car....

So that when we come out of the coffee shop holding warm-fragrant-caffeinated-goodness...

And stretching our sore legs from the workout we just finished...

And thinking all sorts of positive thoughts about what a wonderful Monday morning it is....

Then carefully get into our car...

And try to see behind us through the darkness of the early morning as we back into the street...

We don't see the black truck.

But we feel it.

And it makes us want to use curse words.

And now I'm drowning my sorrows by eating a dozen of these banana cookies I made this weekend; and by calling my lawyer to complain of whip lash, and demanding retribution in the form of a neck rub!

Here's to hoping that there were no black trucks involved with your Monday morning.

Sincerely,
The I'm-not-at-all-bitter-at-the-black-truck Pampered Bird

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tootsie Rolls

I despise tootsie rolls.

When I see them I cringe.
When I smell them I gag.

Here are four reasons why:

1. They smell like trash.
2. Their texture is a mix of chalk and gummy bears.
3. They are posers - they pretend to be "chocolate" but they aren't.
4. And they look like something that it is not appropriate for a lady to write out or say, even though I used the word in a blog title earlier this week (whoops).

Mr. San Antonio is amused by my abhorrence of tootsie rolls. And anytime he can get his hands on tootsie rolls, he hides them around the house and waits for me to find them...

I usually scream. Or karate chop him. Or throw the tootsie rolls out the back door (watch out neighbor cats!).

I've found them on my pillow, in my closet, in my dresser drawer, near my toothbrush, and in my shoes (to name a few places).

And I have reason to believe I will need to be on guard this evening for another tootsie roll sighting, because Mr. San Antonio just emailed to say he was "savoring a post-lunch tootsie roll." And I know he won't be able to control himself from bringing some home.

So, if you like tootsie rolls, you are welcome to walk around our place tonight and pick up the ones I'll be throwing out the door.

....Just don't be creepy about it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Socially Awkward

Welcome to my life.

It has been one of those weeks. If you can think of the emotion... then I have felt it. And I've probably expressed it in an overly dramatic fashion that makes my co-workers avert their eyes, squirm, and rub their necks wondering how to make a quiet escape from the awkward situation I've created. 

Fortunately Mr. San Antonio loves me and is used to me "wearing my heart on my sleeve", as the saying goes. So he lets me rant while neglecting the dinner on my plate, or calmly hands me tissues, and doesn't try to guess which emotion will appear next. 

Once, in a candid moment, my sweet and very patient mother wrote that living with me is an interesting adventure... that you never quite know what you'll get, but as soon as I (Marissa) feel it, you (anyone within a mile) will be able to tell. (I'm paraphrasing her bit.) 

I've been known to pull more than one party foul. And if you're not sure what that means - a party foul is current lingo for being at a light hearted party/social gathering/soirée and initiating a conversation about poverty/injustice/your personal digestion issues/or your need for a gum graft (yes, I'm guilty on all accounts).

Welcome to my life. And thanks for hanging out with me. And please note that I can't tell if you avert your eyes or squirm through the computer screen. I just keep on going over here with no clue of the social awkwardness I'm creating in the blog-o-sphere. Oh wait, that my real life too (see above for examples).

On a completely and totally unrelated note (and in an effort to keep the awkwardness at bay); the following is a real email conversation that took place earlier this week.

Mr. San Antonio: "is there anything in pumpkin pie that can make you sick? I just ate a piece and I realized it's been unrefrigerated since yesterday..."

The Pampered Bird: "Since it's been cooked... I think it's ok? But there are eggs and milk products in pumpkin pie. I guess we'll see how you feel over the next couple hours. I am a little jealous... my sandwich and apple didn't quite cut it for me, I'll have to scavenge for more sustenance over here and I don't think there is any pie on campus. -m"

Mr. San Antonio: "here is a .pie attachment for your satisfaction. attachment: pumpkin.pie/thickcrust/whippedcream"

The Pampered Bird: "You're a dork."

Welcome to my life.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hot rods, poop, Jesus and cake

On Saturday we went to a hot rod show. And just to clear up any confusion you might have - it was not my idea. But we found ourselves two blocks away, and I was with men, and I'm all about encouraging men to do manly things, and they didn't want to leave me behind, so I went.

Unfortunately I still do not hold the same appreciation for hot rods as Mr. San Antonio. I told him that I could only tell the cars apart based on their color. He was confused. "What do you mean you can't appreciate the unique engines, the various interior details, and the trunk-turn-seat-thingies?!" (Ok, he didn't say the last part, he knows the technical name... but I don't remember it, so I'm using my own interpretation for this retelling)

Sunday morning we woke up with images of dancing rims and prancing flame decals skipping through our brains. Then we remembered we were headed to double duty at church. Nursery duty during church hour, and teaching the 4-5 year-olds during the Sunday School hour.

Nursery was typical. Within 10 minutes of nursery duty one poor kid exploded in his pants. It was bad. Really bad. And Mr. San Antonio, being a man, is not allowed to change diapers at the nursery. So it was all on me.

While I ran operation clean-up, Mr. San Antonio consoled two kiddos who were standing in the doorway sobbing, sucking their thumbs, and calling out for "momma". It would have broken my heart, if I wasn't up to my elbows in explosive shrapnel, fighting my gag reflex, and reminding myself why I'm not ready to have a baby.

After nursery duty was Sunday School. If you grew up in church then you know that in Sunday School there are four basic answers (Jesus, God, the Bible, and pray/er) that apply to almost any question your teacher asks.

Mr. San Antonio started the lesson by reviewing what I taught the kids two weeks ago, "Who held the Israelites captive as slaves?" One of the boys raised his hand and said, "Jesus". When Mr. San Antonio said "no....", the same kid raised his hand again and said, "God!" Hmm... either someone (kid) knows all the Sunday School answers, or someone (me) needs to improve her teaching skills.

Last night, it was that boy's younger brother who stuck his fist into the wedding cake... because the bride and groom were taking too long feeding pieces to each other and he was ready for his cake. It was good cake too. I'm not so secretly glad the little guy got the process moving for the rest of us.

And that's it. I don't think there is any logical way to tie together hot rods, poop, Jesus and cake... but that was our weekend. So there you go.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Ugly Truth of Emailing

I’m not as popular as I would like to be.

My work email inbox is embarrassingly manageable.

And to make matters worse, I write for a living. Which means I sit at my computer from 8-5 every day (minus lunch duty, and telling kids to stop making-out in the hallways), with my empty outlook inbox staring me in the face.

This means that when an email arrives, it’s like Christmas day. And all too often my enthusiasm and excitement takes over and I double click without thinking.

Occasionally when I do that, a little message pops up that says, “The sender requests a ‘read receipt’… would you like to send a ‘read receipt’ now?”

When this happens, I experience the sensation of my stomach doing flip-flops, sweat breaks out on my forehead, and I usually think something to the effect of “Oh dang-it”!

If I click “yes”, then the sender will know that I read it as soon as it was sent! They’ll know that I was sitting here at my desk, eagerly awaiting someone to contact me. They’ll know I have nothing better to do with my time than be punctual with my email correspondence. I can’t let this happen!

So I walk away. Literally. I will leave my office and walk through the hallways. I’ll ask a kid to please stop shoving a freshman in the trashcan; maybe make a stop by the ladies room and change my hair style; or perhaps go outside and enjoy the fresh air (away from the dumpsters outside the cafeteria).

And when I feel that enough time has passed where I can respond to the email without advertising my lack of importance or my nerdy enthusiasm for any kind of social contact, then I’ll click the “yes, send receipt now” button, and reply to the email.

Goodness…. this is so embarrassing.

Please don't tell anyone.

But feel free to send me an email anytime!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Our pet Chloe

I got a phone message today that said my pet Chloe was ready to be picked up from the animal hospital.

I called back and informed them that I do not own a pet.

The lady said: "Oh... well. Don't worry. I'm sure one of two things happened. Either we have the wrong number on file, or we miss-dialed."

Thank you vet lady, for clarifying.

Because I was worried, and about to run to the store to load up on pet food (one bag for every type of animal since you didn't bother to leave a message saying what kind of pet Chloe is); a pet house (again one dog bed, one cat crawling thingy, and one bird cage); and a variety of halloween costumes (because I refuse to be the only unknowing pet owner without a costume for my pet).

So thank you for clarifying, removing the guilt from my conscience, and saving me a bunch of money.

Now I can go buy some shoes.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Our Neighbors

We live in a four-plex. Which means we only have three sets of neighbors. And three sets of neighbors should be very manageable. Meaning I should know them....

But I don't.

I mean, every once in awhile (as in maybe every other week) I'll pass one of them as we simultaneously pull into the driveway, or as one of us is leaving and one of us in arriving. At those times we exchange "Hello, how's it going?" and both simultaneously mumble a "Finegoodandyou?"

I can remember only one neighbor's name.... and it's because the mailman likes to give us her mail every couple months.

But even without having very many conversations with the neighbors, I still know quite a bit about them.

First: Our neighbors appreciate cleanliness.

Two sets of neighbors have recently splurged and hired maid-services. That makes me jealous. And both times I've been tempted to say, "Um, excuse me Ms. Cleaning Lady, but I have a fire breathing dragon that really could use a bath..."

But I have held strong.

Second: Our neighbors like animals.

Our newest neighbors moved in a few months ago and brought with them two out door cats. I consider it training for having children, that I now always check around my car before I back out of the driveway. And I have to be extra careful while walking up our precarious steps at night, because both cats are dark and like to rest on our steps where they are well hidden, and susceptible to my size 11 feet accidentally stomping their tails.

Third: Our neighbors take care of their cars.

One set of neighbors recently cleaned out their garage compartment so they can park one of their cars in there. Our garage compartment is filled with empty cardboard boxes that I was convinced would one day come in handy.... so far I've been wrong, unless by "handy" I meant "handy at attracting broods of insects that I don't want to touch" or "handy at driving me crazy every time I look at the mess that I created".

Fourth: Our neighbors have normal stoves. 

I don't really need to elaborate on that one.

And Fifth: None of our neighbors are thieves or axe murders.

If they were, then they would have entered our home a couple nights ago when we accidentally left the keys in the door (the outside of the door) all night while we slept naively inside.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Special Brownies

Yesterday Mr. San Antonio was conversing with a friend of ours (we'll call him - Mr. Faux Pas). They were discussing their career dreams. Mr. Faux Pas was explaining how his unique blend of intelligence and people skills will serve him well in his chosen line of work.

While emphasizing the people side of his talents, he picked up a brownie. He sniffed the brownie. Wrinkled his nose and exclaimed, "Uuuugh... this smells like ground beef. Maybe it's because the pizza is sitting right here? I don't know... Oh man.... this really smells funky. What do you think this is?"

Mr. San Antonio calmly replied, "Oh, you're probably smelling lavender. I believe there is lavender in the brownies."

"How did you..... oh man. (picture Mr. Faux Pas' face turning white) Oh man! You're wife made these didn't she?!"

Mr. San Antonio nodded his head.

At this point I turned around, having only heard the "You're wife made these" line, and then what sounded like someone eating their shoe.

In between embarrassed laughing spurts, I was able to get the story. Then I assured him that I had used a mix, and was not at all emotionally bound to the herbal brownies.

Mr. Host overheard the comment about herbs in the brownies...

Which started jokes involving my California heritage.

Mr. Faux Pas continued to apologize profusely.

And I responded with grace by retelling the story on the Internet.

Thank you for sharing your people skills with us Mr. Faux Pas.

Love,
The Pampered Bird

P.S. Not everyone shared Mr. FP's feelings. Several people said the brownies reminded them of being at a spa, and they insisted that they liked the brownies.

P.P.S. It is quite possible that my other friends are just better liars than Mr. FP.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Discombobulated

I am totally confused.

And discombobulated.

And if that's not a word... well, then it proves my point.

Every day this week I've woken up thinking it is Saturday. And every day it has actually been a work day.

When the alarm goes off Mr. San Antonio gets up (like a normal person), and I role over and lisp through my retainer something to the effect of, "ugh... no... thith ithn't fair... i'm not getting up."

Then in the pitch black of the early morning, Mr. SA get the coffee started and comes back and either sings in my face, or pulls the covers off me, or if he's in a nice mood he'll stroke my hair and say, "Rithe and schline shleepy head." And then I have to get up so I can chase him down the hall and karate chop him.

But eventually I am bound to wake up on an actual real life Saturday. I will nestle deep into the comforter and I will refuse to get up until the sun peaks through the window shade. Once that happens, I will emerge from my cocoon without complaining. I'll celebrate the day by making pumpkin bread, and dressing head to toe in burnt orange, and watching Texas defeat OU.

Here's a picture of me and Kate when Texas beat USC:


This is back when I had a fake tooth. Apparently it is also back when I used to smile with my mouth hanging wide open.


In any case, I'll be donning similar attire this Saturday. And cheering along with Kate (even though she's across the sea).

Maybe this weekend I'll also be responsible and organize our new filing container... but maybe not.

I'll be too focused on yelling "Fight Texthus Fight!"

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Things I loved...

Things that I loved about yesterday:

Wearing jeans to work for spirit week.

Laughing with co-workers during lunch duty.

Standing in the sun after school let out and not sweating.

Pulling out the crock-pot, and coming home after work to the smell of orange ginger chicken.

Being encouraged to attend my women's Bible study by Mr. San Antonio even though I was tired and just wanted to stay home...

And subsequently being renewed by conversations with women older and younger as we shared in common joys and struggles.

Sketching and prepping for my next watercolor attempt - Mr. San Antonio surprised me over the weekend with my first ever watercolor supplies.

Planning out how to welcome the fall season into our home! 

And at the end of the day, being able to crawl under our lightweight down comforter for the first week in five months!

Monday, September 27, 2010

High School

I helped chaperon the homecoming dance this weekend, and Mr. San Antonio very kindly accompanied me. It was nice having him there. Even if he wouldn't join the conga line or succumb to my enticing dance moves.

Is dancing to techno music enticing?

We observed the students and the drama that naturally arises in these environments. The guy wearing a tux to a semi-formal, who stood on the sidelines and watched a beautiful girl dance with her girlfriends, occasionally taking a step closer, and then getting nervous and stepping back against the wall. We rooted for him. We tried to make eye contact so we could give him a thumbs up to encourage him to keep stepping and ask the girl to dance. I'm not sure he succeeded that night... but hopefully one of these days...

And we observed the handful of girls who were dressed like they were my age, going into a club. And our principal (who has three small girls) pulled me aside, and asked with a panic stricken face, "How can I ensure that my girls never dress like that?"

At one point I turned to Mr. SA and asked, "Why did we think that High School was so important?" And we laughed. But then inside I thought, "It was important because at the time it was all we could see."

Now, in Cinderella fashion, the school week is back in session. And fifteen year-olds look like fifteen year-olds.

And Wednesday is tie-dye day.

And any kind of segregation that occurred at the dance will be dispelled, because tie dye is the worst invention of mankind; and on Wednesday everyone will be dressed head-to-toe in it; and there is no hierarchy when everyone looks completely and utterly ridiculous.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands

Mr. San Antonio is in the throws of a stressful time in his life - otherwise known as "job searching".

And I'm trying to be a supportive wife.

And I'm thinking back on all the advice my grandparents have given me over the years regarding relationships.

When I was in the throws of the stressful dating years, my Grandma B told me, "sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince."

During Thanksgiving of 2003 she turned to me in the middle of dinner and said, "You know Marissa, when your Grandpa and I were dating, we spent a lot of time with our friends, but we always found time to be by ourselves and neck."

It took me a few seconds to figure out what "necking" meant. When I did... I choked on my potatoes.

Right after we got engaged my Grandpa B told us, "Marissa, you have to remember that he [Mr. SA] is the king. But [Mr. SA], if you remember that Marissa is the queen and you treat her like the queen, then she'll never forget that you're the king."

Then, about a month before I got married last year, my Grandma G sent me a beautiful nightie that I happened to open in the middle of a restaurant with my dad and brothers watching. Whoops. I've never seen those three men turn such a bright shade of red. And I'm not sure their scars have fully healed.

Along with the nightie, and a lovely note giving her personal marriage advice, was the book, "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands".

Both of my grandmas are wonderful cooks. And both of my grandpas appear to be very happy men.

I think they may have read the book.

And I think the book might be right. Because collectively they've been married over 120 years. That's 120 years of success and failure, and learning and growing, and ultimately gaining wisdom that they are now passing on to me.

Thank you!

And next time I won't spit out my mashed potatoes...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Man Food

Last night I made macaroni and cheese (a combination of two family recipes), and when Mr. San Antonio got home from work his eyes lit up and he praised my culinary skills and demanded that he do the dishes.

Not only will I be making mac-and-cheese every week for the rest of our married life, but tonight I will be introducing him to this meatloaf recipe that screams "man-food" in every possible way.

Growing up in California, I never thought that I would make a dish that is filled with meat and eggs and then think even for a second that it would be remotely acceptable to cover the dish with even more meat.

But the second layer of meat is in the form of bacon.

And I'm married to a Texas man.

And he likes bacon.

And I love making food that Mr. SA enjoys.

And I think this might get me out of washing dishes for the second night in a row.

Just kidding.

Sort of. Not really. Ok, that comment was totally serious, and I'm sorry for being so shallow.

And as much as I like vegetables, and have been known to crave, and then consume, green beans in ridiculously large quantities; if I'm totally and completely honest with myself....

Well, I like bacon too.

Please don't interpret this. I don't want to know what it means.

Other than I'll be eating salad for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Reminiscing about the Weekend

I'm reminiscing about our weekend... and wishing the next one would come a little faster. But that's always the case isn't it?

The best weekend moment:
Having a picnic with Mr. SA at the Becker Winery (which he planned as a surprise).

Most incriminating weekend moment:
Being asked after church, "were those your kids screaming and running down the halls and interrupting my class?" (Yes, in fact they were. Mr. SA took all 16 of them on a "trek through the desert" to prep them for our Bible lesson about Moses.)

Most Frustrating weekend moment:
Trying to get a four year old to spell his name for me so I could write it on his Sunday School craft.
"Can you spell your name for me?"
"It's impossible. I can't do it."
"I know it starts with an 'A', can you tell me what letter comes next?"
"It's impossible. I can't, I can't do it, no, I can't."
"Ok, I know the next letter is 's', so 'A...s...', then what?"
"My name is MORE than 'A...s...'!"
"Yes, I realize that, but I don't know how to spell the rest of your name, and I need you to help me."
"It's impossible, I can't do it."
"Ok. can we ask your sister for help?"
(little boy talking to his sister) "She wants to know how to spell my name. But it's impossible."

A time-travel weekend moment:
Came across this picture, taken right after we got engaged (we flew out to California so Mr. SA could meet my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and life-long friends). Seeing the picture cracks me up. Partly because of the picture. Partly because of the memories it invokes.


Most generous weekend moment:
Stopping by a peach orchard and having the owner say, "take as many as you can carry, and just pay what you want."

Most delicious weekend moment:
The dessert my very talented mother-in-law prepared for our pre-Texas vs. Tech game watching.

And, the most satisfying weekend moment:
Turning off the window unit in the middle of the night because we were cold (or cool, or at least cool enough to not need the window unit blasting on us)! Praise the Lord!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Thoughts

It's Friday, and next week it will be officially Autumn (even though it's predicted to be in the 90's for the next week), and I'm so excited for chai lattes and pumpkin flavored everything, and the hope of wearing tights sometime in the next three months, that my insides are all a-flutter.

I really want pancakes. Right now. Even though I'm not really hungry at all. The idea of pancakes sounds really appealing. Maybe tomorrow.

Last night I wore new shoes that make me feel fabulous (girls understand that, guys probably don't), and they also made my feet hurt so bad that I thought I would cry right there in front of all these people I didn't know. But I didn't cry. Points for me. And points to Mr. San Antonio for not being mortified when I later took my shoes off in the middle of our favorite restaurant.

This morning I threw Mr. San Antonio into a panic when he heard I had escorted Mr. Tower to the trash can. Such a panic in fact that he raced home to dumpster dive. But some how miraculously, Mr. Tower had decided not to follow the coffee grinds after all and he's now hidden somewhere safe (meaning: away from my manipulative powers).

Some students asked me if I would open a classroom door for them. I asked why, and they responded, "We need to take the TV inside... we're going to pawn it." So... to show my appreciation for their honesty, I opened the door.

This shrimp dish is what I plan on making for dinner tonight.

And now you know everything about me.

Have a great weekend!

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