Wednesday, December 23, 2009

World's Greatest Dad...Really!

Wait...I thought it was still October! What happened to the rest of the year???

Well, it is Christmas time, and it's been a very very VERY busy December. Every year I think I'm going to have a much better planned-out Christmas holiday where I get everything done early and I'm relaxed and peaceful. This was not that year. Like many people, we have been hit hard with the down-turn in the economy, and it's been a difficult year. But while Christmas is a bit on the sparse side this year, it hasn't been without its joys.

Here's one thing that has brought a lot of joy:

You'll notice the ones on the right are rather sparse...there were 18 of them. Similar story for the ones on the left...there were 35, but no more. So yes, these have produced a lot of joy. A lot of joy and probably a lot of pounds, too. Santa is so generous so we like to treat him well. I made the usual sugar cookies with cream cheese icing for him (a personal favorite of his, I'm told), but I've added a new treat this year as well. I call them Chocolate Ridiculous, because they are so good it's ridiculous. (Jenster, you'll appreciate these!) A Chocolate Ridiculous is peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwiched between two Ritz crackers and dipped in chocolate. (Insert "OH MY GOSH!!!" and Homer Simpson noises here)

See what I mean? Ridiculous.

Here's something else that made this season special. The girls and I went to a local craft store earlier this week so Little Bit could pick out something to make for The HOFFER for Christmas. She decided to paint a T-shirt for him, so she picked out the shirt while I found the paints. She started painting the back as soon as we arrived home, writing things like "World's Greatest Dad" & "My Dad Rocks!" The shirt sat on the kitchen table for a while to dry, then I suggested she hang it up to finish drying someplace secret. She hung it on the inside of my closet right on the door handle but neglected to tell me. So when I opened my closet door in a hurry later that day, the shirt with still damp paint flew off the handle (no pun intended!) and into a heap on the floor. It wasn't ruined, but it didn't come through unscathed, either. Upon further review, Little Bit was satisfied that it was still good enough to give as a gift.

The next day, she took the shirt out of my closet to paint the front, and again left the shirt on the kitchen table to dry. Unfortunately, Yummy, who is very mobile and very nosy, saw the shirt and decided to investigate. She pulled the shirt off the table into another heap on the floor. This time we were not so fortunate. Little Bit was crushed...she had worked so hard on it and was absolutely furious with Yummy. She was ready to throw the shirt out but I suggested she at least hang on to it to show her daddy how hard she had been working on a gift just for him.

When the HOFFER came home, Little Bit very sullenly showed him the shirt. I knew he would handle it well, but he answered her in such a precious way that it nearly brought me to tears. He very genuinely and lovingly told Little Bit that she had given him the best gift he had ever received. She (and I!) were rather incredulous, but he explained: "Little Bit, you gave me a gift from both you and your sister. The back is what you did for me, and the front is what Yummy did for me. I have a gift from both of you, and I love it!" He knew the effort Little Bit had put into it, and he validated that for her. When all was said and done, I could tell that was a special moment for her, and that her daddy had fixed things so that everything A-okay. I am certain she will always remember this Christmas for this precious moment. I know I will.

HOFFER, you really are the world's greatest dad. It is a privilege to be married to you. I love you.

Friday, October 16, 2009

My Fair...Fair!

I have long wanted to change the look of my blog. The Daily B changes her look regularly, and I love it. But me, well, I'm too stingy to pay for custom templates, and I haven't found anything free that was easy enough for me to figure out. My brain is rather baby-fied these days, and time to figure out code just isn't in my day. I can't remember how I found out about The Cutest Blog on the Block, but I'm so glad I did! There are some great FREE templates (did I mention they were FREE???), and they come with easy-peasy how-to instructions. So I picked out a fall-ish background. It's not without kinks...I'm trying to figure out how to fix a slight overlap at the top of the posting section. Heck, I might just leave it for now. I just hope I pay close enough attention that I remember to change it at the appropriate time! :-)


We Texans love our fried foods. We will, in fact, eat practically anything that has been battered and dropped into a vat of hot oil. And nowhere is this more evident than at the The State Fair of Texas. It is quite possibly the best place on earth to find such tidbits of deliciousness. As everything is bigger in Texas, it makes sense that we have the largest state fair in the United States, and let me tell you, it is a blast! While the fairgrounds are a permanent fixture in Dallas and are open year-round, the Official State Fair opens each year at the end of September and goes till the third weekend in October. There are lots of things to do and see. The Red River Rivalry is renewed each year as the University of Texas Longhorns battle the University of Oklahoma Sooners in the Cotton Bowl. The winner gets bragging rights for the next year.

There are two car shows--one for domestic, one for imports--that give fair-goers (is that a word? Probably only in Texas) a preview of the new models for the coming year. It's one of my favorite exhibits and one I never miss. Sorry...didn't get any pictures of the cars.

The Midway opens up with loads of games, rides, freak shows and fun houses.

Here's a fun house that Little Bit and I went through.

She was not impressed. However, once we made it through, she was, of course, ready to go again. That guy in the bathtub has been around for a looooong, loooooong, loooooooong time. He looked ready to fall apart at any moment.

Big Tex greets everyone at the gate and gives regular announcements of the various Fair 'goings-on". He's pretty huge...I don't think I even make it to the top of his boots!

But one event that everyone anticipates with baited breath is the announcement of each year's fried food. It's a pretty fierce competition with lots of good, and not-so-good, ideas.

One year the winner was fried Oreos (which I cannot fathom trying to improve on perfection).

Another year was peanut butter cups, another year Snickers won the prize...

Still another year, bacon.

That just seems wierd. Again, why try to improve on perfection?

This year's winner?

Deep fried butter.

Yep, you read that right...FRIED BUTTER.

The thing that is so funny to me is that the Hoffer has joked about eating fried butter smothered in white gravy for years!!! AND HERE IT IS ON THE MENU!!! Well, without the gravy, anyway. And from what I heard, it was really quite good! A columnist for one of the Dallas newspapers wrote an article on what fried foods were worth trying. She said the garlic-flavored fried butter was the lightest, fluffiest, most incredible thing she'd ever eaten. And yes, I did say garlic-flavored. There were several flavors, although I'm not sure what they all were. You see, as badly as we wanted to try some of these delectable delights, the lines to purchase said delights were HUGE! We would've spent the rest of our day just waiting to eat something designed specifically to clog arteries. Alas, we must wait another year to try the fried butter. But that means there will be yet another new fried food to try! Woo hoo! Can't wait!!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Very Practical Birthday

Today was a big day at our house. It was THE DAY that Little Bit joined the ranks of the double-digit gang and turned 10 years old! WOO HOO!! And it was declared to be THE BEST BIRTHDAY EVER.

I’ve long been someone who believes that a person should spend his or her birthday doing whatever it is he or she wants. And these days, for Little Bit, it’s bowling. She spent much of this past school year in a kids’ league on Saturday mornings. She enjoyed it so much that The Hoffer & I decided to give her a ball, bowling shoes and a bag to carry both for her birthday. I am, after all, very in to practicality, and these seemed practically perfect for her (pun intended, btw). Her party was held at the same bowling lanes where she went for league play, and it was a great deal.

Now, since I am all about being practical, when we began the planning process, I also began to see just how very UNpractical this birthday could be. I envisioned more STUFF entering our house as a result of her very generous friends showering her with gifts for her birthday. Honestly, just the mere thought of all that STUFF entering my house was enough to cause great consternation in my stomach…where to put it, how to organize it, how to take care of it…all that STUFF adding up to more things to store and keep track of as we have our house up for sale. SO not practical.

And really, what could she possibly want? She was an only-child for nine years and has pretty much everything she wants. Anything else she might want is getting more and more costly. A bowling ball wasn’t really all that expensive, but I would never consider asking her friends’ parents to foot the bill for one! Most of the things her sweet and generous friends would give are likely very crafty things…which she loves but can only do so much. Gift card? Nice, but some people don’t like to give gift cards. So we’re back to square one…SO not practical.

A few of Little Bit’s friends had asked for no gifts at their birthday parties, but instead requested some kind of donation to their favorite charity. Hmmm…less stuff, doing good for others, learning to look outside herself…you know, this could work! I liked this idea, but I didn’t want to force it on Little Bit. It needed to be her idea and come from her heart. It needed to be something important to her. It needed to be her idea because she doesn’t care nearly as much about having something as she does the getting. It’s almost a challenge for her, I think, to see if she can talk us into getting something for her. After that, she may or may not do anything with whatever she talked us into getting for her, but at least she has it! So I prayed about it, then we talked.

Since she is more about the getting than the having, she really didn’t like the idea at first. After all, what’s a birthday party without presents? And the more we talked about it, the less she liked it. I started to panic a little, but I really felt this was the right thing to do…and NOT just because it was more convenient for me!!! I asked God for His guidance, and He reminded me that it had to be something of importance to Little Bit. He also reminded me of a large group of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels that had been rescued from a puppy mill earlier this year. So I suggested to Little Bit that we could collect donations to aid the CKCS Rescue organization to help dogs like our very own WonderDog. CLICK! That was the key, and she was completely on board. We asked Little Bit's buddies to bring donations of leashes, toys and collars. Let me tell you: these girls were GENEROUS! The coordinator for the Texas Region of CKCS Rescue USA went to great lengths to come join us at our party, and she was overwhelmed by the gifts these sweet girls gave. My sweet Birthday Girl decided to donate all of this week's allowance-I'm so proud! The rescue puppies will surely be blessed.

So check out our party pics and see what Little Bit declared to be “the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!!!!!”

This is why I don't share my camera with The Hoffer. I end up with silly pictures like this one. Silly boy. :-)

Just a little camera-shy.

Yummy gets to celebrate with us too.

The Birthday Girl and WonderDog.

In anticipation of Coca-Cola Cake.

Make a wish!

Best buddies

Lots of giggles to go around!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Girls

Just wanted to share some pictures of my girls. I took these on Father's Day for the Hoffer (he was out of town so I could do it!) in the courtyard of our church. I feel fortunate that I was able to get the pictures of Yummy as good as I did, because she was tired from missing her morning nap and hadn't had lunch yet. Not in the best mood for picture-taking. But both girls did well.

This is one of my personal favorites.

This is what I refer to as the "after-bath". Get it??? Aftermath? After-bath??? Okay, so it was weak, but it's all I got.

Again with the "after-bath"! Thanks to our friends Steve & Tresa for that cute bunny towel!!!

Our little shutterbug. I've GOT to get her a camera of her own. Thankfully, she has the Hoffer's camera here, not mine!

These are goodies from sweet Deb, the Daily B, that I've been meaning to get pictures of for some time now! Love the bow head!!

I think she looks like a flapper from the 20s in these hats, and Little Bit thinks she's too cute!

Deb, you are fabulously creative! Love all the head gear you made!

Hope you enjoyed the pictures. I don't get around to doing anything else with them, like scrapbook or even put them in an album, so thanks for letting me share here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

For The Birds?

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. (Matthew 10:29)

Yesterday was a fun day for Little Bit and a busy day for me. We invited a friend over for some playtime for Little Bit so I could get a few things done around the house. We moved our office to a new and much closer location last week, and in the process acquired a rather large amount of used office furniture. Some we will keep and use, the rest we will sell this weekend at a--UGH!--garage sale (I hate doing garage sales.). So I've been going through Little Bit's toys, my books and various other things around the house that we can include in the sale this weekend. I also took the girls out for lunch and a few rounds of bowling. The girls had a lot of fun, but by day's end, I was spent. That spent feeling always sets in somewhere around eight or nine pm each evening, but it hit me much earlier yesterday...say around 6:30? So after we dropped Little Bit's friend off at her home, we headed home too, where I immediately put Yummy to bed and pointed Little Bit in that same direction. The Hoffer has had a long couple of weeks moving and settling into a new office, so he was off to bed all on his own around 9:15. So thankfully, I was given some escape time all to myself. YIPPEE!!! Normally I would dive into my most recent "sappy romance novel", but as I am currently bookless, I headed upstairs and watched two of my favorite DVR'd shows, "Burn Notice" and "Royal Pains" (both on the USA Network, in case you're wondering). Around midnight the Hoffer woke up and came to drag me away from the couch and off to bed.

Now, I don't know about you other moms out there, but when I am getting ready for bed, about a dozen plus small tasks come to mind that I could knock out easily and quickly. Oddly (in my mind, anyway), the tasks that popped into my head involved my front porch. We have a pick-up/drop-off laundry service that leaves the Hoffer's dress shirts cleaned, pressed and hanging on our front door from a hook on Wednesdays (I don't iron...he would have no shirts left). Given that last night was Thursday, I realized that, since we don't often use the front door, our laundry had been hanging on our front door for more than 24 hours. So I open the door at 1:00 am to find the laundry...and this:

That's when the verse from Matthew popped into my head, because just above our front porch is this:

Can you see the birds' tails sticking out of their nest? I don't know what kind of birds these are, but I must admit it's kind of fun having them make their home right outside my front door every spring/summer. The only negative is that it does result in a very messy front porch...if you know what I mean. No consideration or discretion at all on their part. Disgusting is too kind a word.

So at 1:00 in the morning, I have a dilemma: what to do with this little bird who has fallen down and can't get up. I try to get the Hoffer to help me, but he's not getting back up out of bed for nothing. And while I do want to help the little guy, the thought of picking him up doesn't really induce any motherly or tender feelings. All I can think about is all the germs that might be on his feathers from being near that pile of bird poop on my front porch. (I didn't include it in the pictures for a reason...who wants to see THAT???) And besides, if I do put him back in the nest, won't the mother reject him because I touched him? I was stumped and didn't know what to do. So, with that verse in mind, I prayed for some guidance.

The Hoffer suggested I get online for ideas (I felt like kicking myself for not thinking of it on my own!!!). The site I found said that if you find a seemingly orphaned baby bird, it's okay to put it back into its nest, that the human-scent-rejection story is only a myth. I also decided to wake Little Bit up so she could be in on the excitement. I found a step-ladder and tested it, only to find out I was too short to get the bird back home. So I went back to the Hoffer and said the magic word: "Pleeeeease?" That was all it took (I'm going to remember that the next time I want to buys something frivolous!). He very sweetly got right up and put that helpless little bird back into his nest. My hero. :-)

So knowing that God doesn't waste anything but has a purpose in everything, I've wondered why He allowed that little bird to fall out of its nest. Was it just so my family could have a special bonding time over him? Was it a test of some sort to see how I would respond? Or is it something else still? Perhaps it was merely this: that I would write about it on my blog and find not just Matthews 10:29, but also the verses that followed:

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

In today's world of upheaval and unrest, of uncertainty about what a sometimes scary future might hold, when worries and fears bombard us and wear us down, sometimes we all need a reminder that God loves us and is going to always take care of us. "His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me." What a comfort that is.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Bit of Mud Slinging

I love summer break. You really have no idea how much. And since Yummy has joined us, time off is much harder to come by. So when school let out recently, there was a collective sigh of relief, I think, from everyone. No more getting up early to get Little Bit out the front door, no more arguing about what she's wearing, whether or not she has or even needs to brush her hair or teeth, no more worrying about being late, just getting up when we decide and doing whatever we decide. AAAHHHHH!

One of the things we like to do during the summer is to go out on our front driveway and just hang out as a family. The obligatory glass of "Summer Drink" (The Hoffer's tasty concoction of Diet 7Up and cran-grape juice) is almost always present. Sometimes we just sit around and talk, other times we play games. Little Bit tries to decipher the stars in the sky and see if she can find various constellations. The Hoffer, ever the creative one, came up with the UFO Game. Whenever something--plane, helicopter, etc.--flies overhead, someone says, "Hey, I can't tell what that is. It must be a UFO! There must be three aliens on board!" (because there are three of us...each of us gets an alien). Then we take turns naming our aliens and talking about what planet they are from, what their favorite foods are, what they are most skilled at doing, whatever we can think of. It's a silly way to pass the time and make a family memory. I am pretty certain, however, that these memories may lead to therapy later. That's okay, we'll all go together. :-)

Last night The Hoffer decided it was time to get out the garden hose and do some watering. First he cleaned off the door mat that was covered with, um, bird poop. Birds come every spring to build a nest right above our front door. It's a great nature lesson but always leaves us with a disgusting front porch and porch light. While the door mat is an easy fix, it is never-ending...once it's cleaned, it's messy again in a short amount of time. The porch light was not quite so easily fixed. The Hoffer sprayed it down and in doing so, shot out the light bulbs. Oops. (It was really funny at the time.) After that, he brought out a couple of bags of soil, spread it out some, then watered it down. When Little Bit made it outside, they decided to do a little mud slinging while Yummy and I watched. Here's the end result:

Thank goodness my washing machine is RIGHT inside the garage door!!! Any mud that made it inside stayed in the laundry room. Whew!!!

Yummy was unimpressed. Very cute, but unimpressed.

Even with all this silliness, I'm glad for our summer break. Maybe especially with all this silliness. We're ready!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Killers: "A Dustland Fairytale"

I used to watch David Letterman religiously when I was in college, but late-night TV in general isn't as attractive an option these days as a good full-night's sleep. And even if I was able to stay awake long enough to watch, staying up to the end of the show just so I could see the musical "talent" is just not worth it. Most live performances, irrespective of whichever of the vast myriad of talk shows that are on at that hour, are highly average at best. Recently, however, I managed to keep my eyes propped open long enough to be absolutely transfixed by one group's performance on Letterman. If you missed this amazing performance, I am so excited to be able to share it with you here. From the first plucks of the harp to the final guitar chords, The Killers' performance of "A Dustland Fairytale" had me mesmerized, glued to my seat, and completely drawn in.

From what little I have been able to find about this song, lead singer Brandon Flowers wrote this song about his parents. They met, grew up and fell in love in the same trailer park. His dad was an alcoholic and converted to Mormonism when Brandon was five. (Brandon is still a devout and practicing Mormon, even as a rock-&-roller.) The last part of the song refers to his mother, who is battling cancer of some form, and was still alive as of December of 2008 when Rolling Stone interviewed the band for an article (a very good article, I might add, and worth reading). I considered adding the lyrics, but all I could find were various attempts by someone besides Brandon Flowers to decipher the words. I am including, however, the stanza about his mom:

Now Cinderella don't you go to sleep

It's such a bitter form of refuge
Ahh don't you know the kingdoms under siege
And everybody needs you
Is there still magic in the midnight sun
Or did you leave it back in sixty-one
In the of the cadence in the young man's eyes
And where the dreams roll high

Here's their performance from Letterman. Enjoy!!