The Not So Nuclear Family’s Christmas Tradition

A new family tradition was born this past weekend in a very simple situational formula. Because if you take a nuclear family, split the Adam (and Eve), blend, divide, and add a little sugar and sprinkles. You would have our “new” family tradition.

Baking cookies with the ex-wife, all the girls, cousins, and some of the in-laws (or ex-in-laws depending on who you are) including mom-in-law fresh out of the hospital.

It started with a suggestion by Jason’s ex-wife; aka, the girls mom, to begin (try) a new family tradition at Christmas. A baking tradition. I was open to it.

Why?

Well, the cookies of course the kids of course.

Actually, the cousins are very close and it would be nice to gather and bake (or man the oven if you don’t bake-just sayin’) while everyone has fun doing their thing (like the oven) (or taking pictures). Hey, I am not a baker. I am a burner. I am shocked I was in charge of the oven. More shocked that I could work the ovens. Ahem. Only one parchment paper got singed in the making of these cookies. Heh.

The cookies – all three? four? five? dozen(s) – turned out YUM-a-licious. Thanks to the baking and rolling and stirring skills of others. My reward for loaning my kitchen and hosting the Olympic cookie baking event. COOKIES. Yeah!!

I missed a lot of stuff growing up when my mom and dad divorced; like baking cookies with cousins on my dad’s side. I, also, gained a lot by celebrating holidays with my sister and brother’s grandma and dad, who were not blood related to me, but accepted the new extended family (me and my brother from my mom’s second marriage) with open arms.

Maybe, I have taken the best and worst of divorce from my life as a child to help formulate this new branch of togetherness. I like “new” traditions. I like being open to change. To advance and grow as families just as the world changes, advances, and grows.

Blended. Mixed. Extended. Kindred. We are all in this together…..for life! I don’t think it ends at eighteen. These children graduate from college, marry, and have children of their own. It goes on and on. Might as well make the best of it. We can make the best of it.

Salem, Brownie, and Anna dressed and ready to par-tay.

Once every guest was greeted with raised paws and a nose in the proper place. The furry welcoming committee was sent out of the kitchen. Well, except for one fur friend who found a pretty sweet spot in Grandma’s wheelchair and did not MOVE for hours.

Meet Brownie, the cuddle buddy, renamed BrownieSue.

Syd and Aunt Tricia making magic happen.
The makings of a great tradition
A little black & white editing fun.
Yum!
The New Nuclear Family of Today.
I never said NORMAL. Look closely there are issues. HA.

After the chaos of atom bomb sprinkle explosions and gel icing shots. The hazemat team cleared the kitchen. The dogs undressed (some of them). All was quiet. We had the remains of DOZENS of cookies, a grandma and her grand dog still on her lap. A four-year old with her extended/blended/kindred family pet.

Sue and BrownieSue

Cookie bake until you drop, then crawl.

All parties have deemed this day tradition worthy and we can’t wait for next year.

Well…maybe Salem can wait. She looks pretty patient.

What you do think? Should we redefine family relationships? Or let it alone?

H-A-P-P-Y Spells Weekend

It started with my new-found passion – photography – on Saturday morning. I was lucky enough to have the joy of a one-year old DOLL as my latest participant. The best part was the hugs I got to steal. Then, showing him how to car dance while we drove behind his mom to the park. He got a kick out of that. There is nothing as enchanting as a child’s belly laugh. It’s really hard to capture a roving toddler (almost like puppies), they move and turn so quickly. I really felt I wasn’t getting any good shots, but when I got them on the computer, I was surprised. His blue his eyes turned out stunning and I ended up with about forty favorites. Here a are a few.




My second venture was to the mall – on tax-free weekend (ahhh!). I wanted to take advantage and buy the girls their flower girl dresses. Yes, they actually got to take them home. Not to mention we got the hair wreaths, hose, and shoes to match. *Today I found matching flower girl baskets for $5 a piece at Party City – squee.*

Then since the day wasn’t over……Jason took us car shopping. Yes! I know, the dreaded car shopping. Except it wasn’t that dreadful for me. I knew what I wanted. I had to get a car since Sydney will be taking my car as soon as she gets her license. She is ready. She is driving unbelievably well and can parallel park like a champ. However, our quest to the DPS didn’t pan out. Too many last-minute rushes to get their license before school and not enough DPS officers available to give road driving tests (required in Texas now). I was in TEARS. We worked soooo hard the last few weeks. Driving and parallel parking EVERY SINGLE DAY. It just killed me that she didn’t even get a chance. But, we will get try again Wednesday! In the meantime we went car shopping for me to cheer me up. Yay!


I had it narrowed down to these two. A black Toyota Prius. A gray Toyota Venza. The whole famdamily test drove these babies. We had to make sure we all fit. We did. Yes, even in the Toyota cracker car Prius. It’s actually pretty big and has a very cool dashboard. The girls LOVED car shopping. They especially loved the Scion in the showroom. It became their personal play car. They only got out of it to test drive with us. Seriously, I asked if they’d throw this sucker in with our car deal for the backyard. Heh! 🙂

After, much indecision on my part, because honestly? My practical side wanted to go with the Prius. Fifty miles to the gallon is a lot of trips home to see mom with very little cost. Gas will rise again to four dollars or more. Do I plan for the future? It’s the number one selling car that Toyota has. Obviously some people are planning. The Venza was luxury. The Venza was smooth and sleek and lush. It fit the family better, roomier; length and width. It wasn’t just good for me, but would be a good car for long family road trips as well. The cost was the same and it was more car for the money, but less savings for gas. Although, it does get very good gas mileage.

I chose…..

The Toyota Venza and it felt good to make a decision for the family. It had FIVE MILES on it when we test drove it. Bigger than what I am used to do, but I love it! Jason financed for me, I’ll make the payments. It bothers me not at all that my name isn’t on it. In fact, I am very proud of myself for being dependent on him. The old me would have tore myself to pieces for NOT taking care of myself, by myself. It takes a lot to let go of that need (fear). Letting someone else take care of me? Well – it feels pretty darn good.

Now, for all you techy geeks like me. Check this out.

A USB plug-in for your iPhone/iPod down in the console.

It then comes up to stand that holds your phone upright.

You close the middle and it’s all hidden. Coolest thing ever. It plays all your music and has blue tooth (call by voice command) in the car. Completely hands-free, you just talk over the speakers of the car. It is VERY swift. I am still trying to figure it all out.

I drove all over the place since I got it. I put 100 miles on the car in ONE day. HA.

Finally, for all you puppy fans. I walked into the living room to see this. My black lab Salem (almost 9yrs old) being used as stool. Of course, I grabbed my camera. What a trooper she is. She wasn’t around little kids most of her doggy life and she takes it in stride. Labs are the best. Love her face on the last shot (ha).



Sunday photo shoot with my Shih-Tzu. I got Brownie a new bow at the same dress shop where I got the girls dresses. Isn’t she stinkin’ CUTE??




Four months old. At least seven pounds already. She is the fattest, fluffiest, most cuddliest pup. I just adore her.

So there you have it, a BIG weekend. A NEW CAR! Enchantment and cuddly fun. What a perfect way to kick off my 39th birthday today.

H-A-P-P-Y that spells any weekend, but especially this one.

Dating Again

My kids that is.

See, I had ONE kid back in 1994. We blissfully adventured through life. I really didn’t have to worry about dating her, because it was just her; the one and only. No sibling competition, no fights, no complaints. She liked being an only child. We dated a lot. Even at sixteen, we still go on dates. Her favorite place? Macaroni Grill. Her favorite dish? Penne Rustica. YUM.

Two years ago, enter into the picture Jason’s little girls. Two years apart. As the younger one, Bridget, has grown and found her voice – competition is FIERCE. I can promise you….you can’t out talk, over talk, keepupwithtalking to either of them. Can we say the din is a little noisy?

Then, there is lots of tugs of wars over prized purses, who sits on which side of the car, who sits next to Dad at dinner, who got more, who got less..but, but, but it’s not FAIR.

Ensue breakdown and tears.

I have to say to all the parents of more than one – HOW DO YOU DO IT? I mistakenly viewed more than one child similar to more than one pet. You just fold them into the mix and it all works out. Heh! When you have personalities, opinions, and thinkers – that’s not going to happen. It’s been interesting and challenging with more than one. I adore how they are different and I love how they learn to speak up, and fight for their right for attention, but I also learned….they need some one on one time.

So I started dating. Again. Jason started dating. Again.

And you know what? It is sooooo much fun to have that individual time like I had with Sydney.

My first date a few weeks ago with Molly was to the movies. We saw Shrek 3. The movie is GOOD – a little dark for a six-year old and a non-shrek fan. But the popcorn was delicious!

We went to a nail salon after to salvage our date. I was really concerned how she would handle, um, sitting still. We did a pedicure.


Molly getting her first pedicure at the Salon.

Not only did she sit still, but she didn’t complain. She didn’t get bored. She didn’t ask to go potty a hundred times. She loved it. We got our nails done too.

It was a greeeeeatttt date.

Jason at the same time took Bridget to Chuck-e-Cheese. Four-year old at Chuck-e-Cheese nuf’ said.

Enter date number two, which got pushed back by one day due to scheduling conflicts [cough] we forgot [ end cough]. Other factors pushed it to dinner time; me cleaning out the attic, and Jason giving his friend’s brother a lift to work when his car wouldn’t start.

The tea room I was going to take her to? Not open on Sunday. I had to think of another date quick and Chuck-e-Cheese had already been taken.

So, I let her decide. And she picked Purple Cow. Atta girl!

We got to sit at the counter, which was really cool until Bridget needed me to scoot her stool up. Whoops!

She quite enjoyed MY chocolate milkshake. Heeeyyy where is your purple one? Note to self: ONE milkshake shared is PLENTY.

Bridget and I, a night out at the Purple Cow.

Bridget with her purple cow in memory of our “date”.

She ate mac and cheese with a PB&J sandwich. We counted our drinks (six), divided them (3 each), then added them together (6!). We clapped six times. We toasted our milkshake mugs and we thoroughly entertained ourselves.

Afterward, Bridget insisted we had to buy FOUR cupcakes for dessert. One for me, one for Molly, one for Daddy, and one for her, because she is sweet and thoughtful like that. Luckily, there was a Central Market right behind us. We found some scrumptious cakes! AND? She got a green balloon, she named Salem (ha).

The ride home was singing and listening to the same song over and over, no not Hannah (that was earlier) – a rap song, yo. That’s how we roll in the hooptie.

Molly and Jason went to a hibachi grill and had a blast almost catching on fire. That’s hot.

When the dates come to an end, and the girls reunite, it’s always the same. A sweet hug of sistership. No really! It is.

If you can arrange this with your children, do it, it is worth the precious memories.

Happy dating (again).

A Puppy Named Brownie

At Christmas, all Molly would ask Santa for, was a puppy. “A REAL ONE”, she would say. You see Grandma B (my mom) came to visit at Thanksgiving and she had four puppies with her. A Shih-tzu named Fred, two Papillions, named Buddy and Chevy, and Lola – a Yorkie. The girls fell hard for the “puppies”, but most especially for Fred, the Shih-tzu.


Molly and Fred – November 2009

I fell a little hard for Fred myself. He would just cuddle in your arms. He wasn’t too small, nor too big. He was fluffy and soft – and happy. What a great dog! I’m not a small dog fan. I have two big dogs for a reason, but this guy….oh my! He stole the show. I can see why the girls loved Fred and missed him when he went home, which led to Christmas, and birthday present requests for a puppy – a small one (insert sound of breaking heart).

It even went as far as, if they ever got a puppy, they would name it Brownie (if it was brown). I think I helped with that. Original and hungry – that’s me. Then one, or the other of the girls started “playing” Brownie. They would be a puppy named Brownie for about half an hour. We would go through the house calling for Brownie. Feeding Brownie. Making Brownie catch, fetch, and do tricks. It was cute, but an impossible dream, right?

We have two big dogs, a move coming up, a student in the Masters program, a teenager, and a wedding. A puppy? We just couldn’t do it. A cat….maybe…a little kitty – that was possible. But then you had the furniture being scratched up, the kids arms, hands, and fingers. The big dogs doing what nature tells them to – CHASE. I could see the scenes playing out; a big fiasco.

Then again, petting a kitty, and holding it on my lap – which I can’t do with the big dogs – seemed really nice. I got to thinking maybe a small dog would be more like a cat. Maybe it wouldn’t be too bad. No scratches, and when it chews fingers, it’s handed a toy. An outside potty that you don’t have to scoop (sorta). Hours of entertainment…..

Jason, however, is not a small dog fan. Obviously we had to convince HIM we needed a Fred. So, I tried the cat angle and convinced him how perfect it would be. It’s NOT a small yappy dog – it’s a CAT, really…. Somehow that sounded better than, let’s have THREE dogs. HA.

He finally agreed, but finding the time to find a mystery puppy wasn’t easy. The pound rarely had Shih-tzus. The ones I saw on Craigslist were too expensive. My mom didn’t know any Shih-tzu breeders. No time. No source. It would happen when it happened. Which could be years, until passing Petland on Friday night, I begged him to stop. They had a Shih-tzu puppy, a little boy – which we didn’t want since our house is 99.9% girls. But he WAS adorable and expensive! I told him the next morning I would look, just look, on Craigslist one more time.

And there she was under the title SHIH-TZU BABY. The last of the litter, ten week old Female. Oddly enough she was colored just like one of my earlier cats named Sugar (coincidence?); a tortoise calico. I looked at others but kept coming back to her. She just felt right. There was a young girl holding her and I could tell she would be okay with that. I told Jason why don’t I just call….and ask…….she might be gone already?

She wasn’t.

Not only that, but the parents were both pets bred on site. She was not a puppy mill dog. The family had three young children in which she had been picked up and handled since birth. How perfect.

I’ve come to realize that sometimes, the right times are at the wrong times. It’s all about perspective and that calling you get inside. The girls are at Jason’s for the month of July. What better time to bond with a new baby? So Brownie….became a REAL dog.


Brownie her first look at the new backyard.


Brownie with her new Dad Jason who she is really fond of.


Molly with Brownie and her first front tooth loss. Is that cute or what?


A very happy Molly and Bridget hold cuddly Brownie.


Thank goodness Brownie was used to being held.

Welcome home Brownie, welcome home.

Now Sydney really wants a bunny…..which is sorta like a hamster……riiight??