Friday, January 28, 2011

Taking Action. Baby Steps.

Ah.  The joys of a Houston spring are soon to be upon us.  (I do know that the calendar still says January.)

We know that our home's guttering system needs to be re-jiggered.  There are downspouts in places that don't make sense and places without a downspout where one (even me) would think that a downspout should go.  There are also downspouts that don't quite point to a nearby drain.

Our goal is to take steps to correct the flow of water and minimize the water that infringes on our garage after a heavy rain (and diminish the possibility of water in the future entering our home).  In order to take a few positive steps toward accomplishing these goals, we made a trip to Home Depot  (and did a fair amount of internet research).

We purchased a couple of downspout diverters/extenders which will direct water away from two mud puddles and toward the adjacent (but topographically challenged) drains.  Step one!

We also purchased a rain barrel.  Now, chances are that several rain barrels will be necessary to accomplish water flow management and to responsibly 'gather' water for our yard and garden during the spring, summer and fall.  But, come on, folks, we are taking baby steps.  We will see how this model works, whether it works as we expect and how it collects and later distributes water.  Step two!

After our information gathering is complete, we will make our decisions concerning additional rain barrels and their makes, etc.  (Steps three! four! five!)

Now, we just need a sunny, non-work day to implement our purchases.

And the Sun is out.

This month has been, well, typical Houston winter weather.  A few days, or a few hours, of chilliness followed by a similar period of warming.  A few days, or a few hours, of grey wetness followed by blue skies and bright sun.

Yesterday was lovely and sunny.  Cool but not cold, even warm in the sun.  (Today has a projected high of 70.)  I met a friend for lunch and basked in the sun.

It. Was. Wonderful.

I do not miss those cold grey days when winter felt like it would last forever.

Mmmm. Sunshine.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Olive loves brushes.  Of all varieties. 

She even loves her toothbrush. (But she giggles when we try to brush her teeth.  She prefers to use it to brush her hair.)

Not long ago, she found my small round brush.  She carried it all around the house.

At the time, I thought, "No biggie.  I'm using a big round brush for my hair and don't plan to go short."

Well.  A few weeks later, I decided to go short.  (When I face facts, my hair isn't designed for long or ponytail.  But that is no guarantee that I won't try to attain ponytail status in the future.  Its. Just. So. Tempting.)

So, here I am with my short hair, and guess what I can't find.  My small (short hair appropriate) round brush. 


(Except when I break down and replace it.  Then it will appear in front of my face.  My life works that way.  Seriously.)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ah, Zoe.

This week, Kyle has been in St. Louis for work.  Olive, Zoe, Martha, Stewart and I have been manning (er, largely womaning) the home front.

Thursday, my Dad came over for dinner and to visit with Olive.  We had some tasty crock-pot pork, mashed potatoes and a salad.

After dinner we played with blocks and Olive's magnetic-drawing-board-thing.  As things were wrapping up for the evening, the following transpired:

My Dad:  Heather, Zoe is eating whatever is on the stove.  Did you leave the pork on the stove?

Me: No. (Standing up to look.) She is eating the mashed potatoes.  Zoe! Down!

Yup.  Those mashed potatoes will not be around to enjoy with the pork leftovers.

Dad left, I let Zoe out back, Olive went to bed, and then I tried to let Zoe in.

The side gate was wide open (it was a very windy night and that latch needs an update) and the backyard was empty (well, empty of Zoe).


I raced for some shoes and to ensure that Olive was dreaming quietly.  I wasn't comfortable wandering far, so I stood in front of our house and yelled for Zoe (trying to fake cheerfulness so she wouldn't sense my frustration and avoid a scolding).

A few moments later, Zoe came bounding our of the darkness.

Ah, Zoe-dog.  What are we going to do with your energy!?

Friday, January 21, 2011

New Item.


I am a reader, but I am also sometimes a slacker.

Let's just say that my reading, for the last year, has been not much at all to write home about.

I miss it.  I miss becoming entranced by stories, edified by information, challenged by new ways of thought, encouraged by words of old.


I added a little widget to the right hand side of this blog.  When I finish a book, the title gets added to the list.  I've seen it on other blogs I read, and it has been a great way to get book recommendations.  My hope is that the list will give me some accountability. 

(Also, I am seriously a check off my list kind of girl.) 

Mostly it is a personal challenge: Read more.  Do it.

We shall see.

(As always, I am open to suggestions or recommendations!  I have quite a few yet-to-be-read books and Kindle downloads, so I'm not lacking.  But I am always happy to hear about a page-turner you loved.)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Year. New Photos. New Experiences.

We went to Port Aransas with family and friends to celebrate the coming of the new year.

We flew down in a fancy plane - which made the trip way more comfy than a multi-hour schlep with a small child.   We hung out, gabbed, walked in the cool sea air, enjoyed wind blowing in our faces, made tasty food and all in all caught up.  It was wonderful.  Many thanks to Kevin and Paula Hunt for their hospitality.
We took Olive to a park, and she enjoyed the swings.

We took Olive to the beach to reaquaint her with the water.  It was chilly, and she was skeptical.  But fun was had nonetheless.

All smiles in Kansas.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More Christmas.

We celebrated Christmas, before Christmas, in Houston with my Dad.  We opened fun presents, went to the park and enjoyed a super tasty dinner.

Olive really wanted to swing on the big girl swings like her cousin Kate.  My brother obliged.

Olive and my Dad walked back to his house from the park.  Olive loved the ride (even though her face kind of looks upset in this quick iphone shot).

Monday, January 17, 2011


Our Olive is almost 18-months old.

But, last week, she went in for her 15-month check up.

Confused?  Yeah.  We were too.  But hang on to your hats.

The doc we saw at 12 months told us to come back at 24 months.

Then we changed docs.  Our new doc didn't say (after diagnosing her with a tough-to-fight-diaper-rash and with not-an-ear-infection in the fall) when he would see her next.  (And, we didn't ask.  That is true.)  We went with the original projected schedule of our St. Louis doc (yeah, a few docs back in the line, but ...) and made ourselves an 18-month-ish appointment.

Apparently, in Texas (and other places?) for most pediatricians, there are 12-, 15-. 18- and 24- month appointments.  Who knew!?

So.  At her late 15-month appointment, Olive measured in the 50% for both height (31 inches) and weight (24-ish pounds).  Her head is still upwards of 95%.

We will be back for the 18-month appointment in a few weeks.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Family Time

A few more lingering Christmas photos!

We went to visit Olive's Great Grandma Thiel while we were in Kansas.

Olive spent some time reading with her cousins and Uncle Matt (while enjoying the tutu Grandma Rae made).

She enjoyed the twin-dresses made for her, cousin Betsy and their baby dolls.  You may notice that Olive stole Betsy's baby.  Apparently it is more fun that Cici.

Olive also cuddled (and squirmed) with Grandma and Grandpa and the gang.

We had a great time!

Friday, January 14, 2011


As it turns out, Kyle is a photo hoarder.  When I downloaded some of our Christmas photos from Kyle's camera, I discovered a few older photos.   (Kyle's camera is used primarily for his work, but we do, on occasion, use it for personal snaps.  Apparently more often than I realized!)

This is one of us in New Mexico this summer.

We are sitting on a dormant chair lift in the Taos Ski Valley before enjoying a tasty meal of German food at a nearby restaurant.  Good memories!


We are trying to get back into the habit of shopping for a week of meals, rather than going by the seat of our pants.

An extended move, nearly a week of Thanksgiving celebration, and three weeks of Christmas travel and celebration ... well, our meal planning and shopping has limped along since we came to Houston, but it was really derailed in November and December.  We are trying to get back on track now.

There are lots of reasons to plan (not the least of which being that I am a planner and thrive on order!).  I am convinced that having a plan (although one that is flexible enough to weather last minute invitations on occasion) will save us money and calories and stress.  I am hopeful also that it will help us accumulate a freezer stock of go-to meals for those times when work or illness or travel make our 'plan-shop-cook' program a bit more difficult to follow.

We have made four of our planned meals in order to get our veg processed and to afford us several ready to heat up meals for this week.

Sweet potato and leek gratin.  It smells tasty but seems like more of a side than the veggie meal the recipe advertised.  (Also, there was an absence of cream and cheese.  I like cream and cheese.)  It is waiting in our freezer for the oven to be fixed.  (Yeah, the broken oven makes cooking a touch more challenging...)

Chicken tortilla soup.  It should be pretty tasty.  And, its just a touch nippy outside, so soup should hit the spot.

'Chicken gumbo.'   Now the ingredients were good, and the smells from the brew were fragrant, but I don't think this is gumbo.  It is really thick veggie soup with chicken and andouille sausage.  There is no okra, and the roux is questionable.  Also it is heavier on tomato than most gumbos I've seen.  I am not a gumbo expert, but I have some friends from Louisiana who - I am certain - would cringe if I served this as gumbo.

King Ranch Chicken.  This old favorite relies on a few handy cans of soup, which I generally try to avoid, but it is a standby.  This is also in the freezer.

We're very pleased to have a menu planned and prepared and ready to go!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

January Doldrums.

Now.  Don't get me wrong; I get excited about the New Year.  The totally artificial 'blank-slateness' of January 1 always gives me a boost of energy.

However, that boost of energy did not direct itself to this blog.  So, it has experienced a few days in the doldrums.  I will try to remedy the lull.

We spent Christmas this year in Andover, Kansas, very near Wichita.

We went to Christmas Eve services with Kyle's parents.

We opened gifts on Christmas morning.  Olive's 'big' gift was this cute doll, Cici.  We love her.

Olive also got some $.99 plastic bracelets in her stocking.  They were a bigger hit than her doll.

Crayons are also a big hit.  Olive is starting to 'get' coloring ... or at least making many marks on paper.  But, her favorite activity remains: taking the colors out of the box and putting them back in.

All in all, we decided that celebrating Christmas with an 18-month (ish) old was pretty wonderful.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Home again.

We are back home.  It was wonderful to see so many of our family and friends in December.  We are really thankful for those opportunities.

At the same time, it sure is nice to sleep in our own beds! 

We didn't take as many photos as we should have ... and truth be told, those photos that we did snap are scattered among a few cameras.  I'll try to gather and distribute them soon!