Friday, October 30, 2009

Fun (tame) Times in the Alpha Phi House

Have I ever mentioned that my mom proposed to my dad? I won't embarrass her with the very unromantic details. My point is, it was the 1970s and she didn't wait around for him to ask her. She also kept her maiden name as her middle name. That was pretty progressive at the time.

She's never been a fan of stereotypical women's roles. When I wanted to be in the band in grade school (which is a different story: one that involves joining only because of the appeal of trips and camps even if I am not a "band" person, per se), she didn't want me playing the flute because that was too "girly." Instead, I played the drums.

I never wore hair bows and rarely wore dresses. She didn't ever really teach me how to put on make-up except for the few times she talked to me about not looking like a clown. Those just weren't things my mom was into. (Don't even get me started on her bad hair choices. She wasted her 30s with terrible hair. I should post pictures. After all, if women are equal to men, she should have to endure a "bad hair" post like my dad did.)

She was, however, interested in leading by example. She worked hard and climbed the ladder at the office, showing me that women can do whatever they want to do. She showed that women are equal in relationships by the way she and my dad interacted with each other. She talked to me about making my own money and not relying on a man to provide for me. And she has always been a champion of women's rights.

So it won't surprise you to learn that when I went to college and participated in sorority rush, she was devastated. She viewed sororities as places where women learned to become good wives. These were places, in her mind, where girls grew into "women who lunch" rather than women who run the world. And honestly, I don't blame her for thinking that way. Sororities don't do a great PR job a lot of the time. You only hear about the parties or the pledge semester rather than all of the great leadership opportunities they offer.

Her protests didn't sway me, though, and I pledged Alpha Phi. I threw myself into it and enjoyed (almost) every minute of it. I lived in the house and held chapter positions for 2 years (both formally and informally). Some of my closest friends are still those girls that I met in the A-Phi house. I learned a great deal about leadership, project management, socializing, and philanthropy because of my sorority. I owe some of my professional success to lessons learned in the greek system.

My wonderful experience as an Alpha Phi may have even changed my mom's mind a little about the role of sororities and their value in modern times.

And while all of those benefits I listed are terrific, the best part of being an Alpha Phi is that it doesn't end when you graduate. There are a lot of activities for alumnae long after your college days are over. And while I don't participate in most of them because of our busy schedules, I do love it when we get the chance to attend an event.

Earlier this week the women of Texas Alpha Phi hosted a Halloween Carnival for the children of local alumnae and we braved the bad weather to attend. It was fun to see the current actives in the house along with some of the girls from my time there. Here are a few pictures from the event.

This is my Lil Sis, Crystal, and her daughter Annabelle. Annabelle was the cutest little garden gnome.
Pictured above: Avery (eating a cupcake and completely unaware that we are even taking a picture) Leia and her daughter, Clara, me and Jack, Crystal and Annabelle, and Kcathy with her baby Micah and son Drew. Leia is a physical therapist with a post graduate degree from Duke, Crystal owns her own successful business as a Stylist (with some famous clients!) and Kcathy, a pledge sister of mine, is a nurse at Dell Children's Hospital. I don't see a "Lady who lunches" in that group! :-)

Avery and Clara were two cute butterflies!
Have you heard the one about the butterfly and a garden gnome that walk into a bar....oh wait....
Avery and Jack looking down to "the big room"from the second story balcony of the sorority house. Jack is a lucky guy...not many men make it that far into the house. :-)
I took this picture of Avery when I saw her going up the stairs and memories of me falling down the stairs came flooding back. I may have had a little too much to drink after my 21st birthday and there may have been some sort of trouble getting up those stairs to my room. But I can't say for sure. (*wink*)
How sweet is my little man? He was so cute as he intently watched his sister paint a pumpkin. I love how he rests his little chin on his hands.

Thanks for the great night, Phi girls! And thanks for all the wonderful memories.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I Should Archive This For Her Future Therapy Sessions

What's the point, exactly, of the photography classes that I have taken if this child refuses to cooperate for my pictures? I think the trick to being a good photographer is to not be related to the kid you are photographing.

That, or a lot of great Prozac.

I want you to know that one millisecond before I took this picture she was standing up and looking straight at the camera asking me to take her picture. But by the time I put my eye through the viewfinder she looked like this:

...and then she mocked me by laughing hysterically.
As if to say, "haha! All those nights that you have been away from us trying to figure out your fancy camera were for nothing!" or possibly, "Good try, Lady, but I will beat you with my blatant disregard for anything you have to say. Ever." or maybe even, "I think I will mess with your head and ask you to take my picture over and over but then refuse to actually stand still while you snap the photo."

And then she started dancing around so it was impossible to get a clean shot. Of course, she knows that. She has several tricks up her sleeve and she pulls them all out when the camera leaves the bag. The camera, by the way, that SHE asked me to get out.
Of course, this is the worst. She finally agrees to stand still (in a place with a terrible background) and then gives the world's cheesiest smile because SHE KNOWS that it will get under my skin.

But I am older and wiser. And I know what will get under her skin...

Hi Happy Boy! What a great smiler! Look at my big boy and his willingness to participate in my attempts to take pictures in order to document their childhood. No issues with the "second child not getting as many pictures as the first" in this family because he is very cooperative.
...Even if he doesn't know what to do with his hands when I tell him to stop trying to kill the bushes in the front yard. (The poor, poor bushes that we planted in the Spring and then nursed as best we could during the 106 degree summer we had this year. Wasn't that enough abuse for those poor plants? Why must they now endure the wrath of a 19 month old? They are still alive, though! Check out my mad horticulture skills!)
(Except that I haven't cut the established bushes in my yard all summer so they look like an uneven mess. But why are we even discussing this when we should be discussing my psychological warfare against Avery?)

Clearly she realizes that she has been defeated. I almost feel sorry for her as she looks down in defeat with a sad little smile painted on her face. She is a great adversary but victory is mine.

(Unless you consider "victory" to be getting an actual good picture of her. In that case, I guess you could say it is a draw.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

And Now, A Message From Our Future President

You know, right after she is finished being a Butterfly Princess.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Obligatory Pumpkin Patch Post

Saturday morning was packed for us. It started with an H1N1 vaccine for Avery. It literally took 20 seconds and involved squirting some spray in her nose. She didn't act like she was bothered by it at all. Jack is too young for the nasal spray so he'll have to wait until our pediatrician has the injectable vaccine before we can go for his appointment.

On a total side note, I do have to say that I am more hesitant to get Jack vaccinated than I was with Avery. The thing is, boys are at such a higher risk for autism than girls so I am always concerned about shots for him. (Before you send me hate mail: I KNOW that there are tons of studies that prove that vaccines don't cause autism but until we know what does cause it, I worry each time he has to get a shot. Sue me.) But at the end of the day, I am sure that I will choose to get him vaccinated because his immune system isn't what it was before he was infected with salmonella at the beginning of the year. Not that I have to decide today, of course, because as I mentioned already, there are no shots available yet.

After we left the doctor's office we headed over to our church's pumpkin patch to pick out some pumpkins for our house (ahem...take some pictures...). Avery had a great time running around and pointing out odd looking pumpkins to show us. Jack thought the pumpkins were just balls with stems which meant that Matt and I spent a great deal of our time making sure that he didn't smash any all over the church lawn. We're already behind on our tithing for the year so the last thing we need is to have a child responsible for destroying the Youth Group fundraiser. There's just no getting into heaven after that.

We ended up with tons of pictures and one very nice pumpkin for our front yard. Here are a few of the shots we took.

All smiles while waiting her turn for the H1N1 vaccine.
She was in a picture-taking mood so I had to take advantage. It was game day (Texas/OU weekend) so she is dressed in her longhorn tutu from Shimmer Sisters. It was slightly chilly outside so we paired the tutu with blue pants and pink crocs. Clearly she is a style queen in that mess of an outfit.
Jack was trying to move the tree. I think he was truly convinced that if he pushed hard enough he could get it to move out of his way. I wasn't going to be the one to tell him otherwise.

I had a really hard time getting a picture of both kids with Matt. There were cute ones of Matt with Avery and Matt with Jack but they never managed to both look at the camera at the same time. It's all part of their plan to drive us crazy and I, for one, am not going to let them beat me.

Seriously, though, this picture makes my ovaries hurt. My boy is so incredibly sweet. Makes me want to have 4 more just like him. And then I think of the grocery bills and snap back to reality. 4 more just like Jack would require a loan from the bank just to provide food for them every month.
Here we have Avery showing Jack the little pumpkins. Such a sweet image and I am so glad I caught it. Little did she know that handing Jack these pumpkins would cause her great terror just a few minutes later when he started throwing them in her general direction. Not at her so much as around her, but it didn't matter.

Not pictured: me chasing after him trying to stop the madness.

I think he was planning his next move. Something about that face says trouble to me.
Then again, he is very good at making these angel faces at me that make me forget all about having to chase him around the church.

Avery was all smiles after she was a safe distance from Jack's throwing range.
Somehow Matt was able to get one shot of all three of us looking at the camera. Some people are just lucky, I guess.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Everyone Loves The Longhorns!

Even Erik Estrada. Although, we had to do this video a few times and he forgot to say "Hook 'em Horns" this time. I had to remind him. When I watched this I realized I sound like I am talking to Jack rather than a grown man.

In my defense, he is an actor so it's kind of like talking to my toddler....right?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Boom Roasted

me: Can you take out the trash?

him: Why can't you?

me: Because it's heavvvvvy. (insert whiny voice here)


me: GAH! Is chivalry dead?

him: (under his breath) I was thinking the same thing about
women's lib.

(I hate it when he has a point.)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Making Up for Lost Time

Last week I was in the Philippines for work. Not such a great week to be in Manila because my visit was sandwiched between two typhoons. My timing has always been somewhat questionable.

Unfortunately, many of the people I work with were directly impacted by the flooding in the first storm and the second storm caused them great stress and worry. I was stunned by the stories they shared. It made me feel very lucky to be an American. As much as I think insurance companies lie and cheat to take as much money from us as possible, I am thankful that we have it when we need it. That isn't the case in the Philippines where they are all having to start over from scratch.


I have some catching up to do here so the first thing I want to post is a picture of Avery wearing a patch. My nieces in Illinois have apparently been concerned about the patch ever since she started wearing them early last month. The good news is that she only has to wear it for 4 hours a day. The hope is that by covering her "good" eye, it will force her bad eye to work more. So far, she doesn't seem to mind it much. We do, however, usually bribe her with a weekly reward if she doesn't put up a fight when we put it on.

Clearly she has issues taking pictures. I haven't been as upset about her wearing these as I thought I would be. I think that has a lot to do with her only wearing them part of the time so when she has a party to go to (which seems to be quite often) or we have something to do on the weekends, we can schedule it so that she isn't wearing a patch at the time. The kids at school have been very nice to her and her teacher said she never gets teased. I think that is partially due to the fact that they come in some very cute designs. We let her choose the one she wants to wear every day and she is careful to match it to her outfit. Hilarious. Apparently the kids can't wait to see what her patch looks like every morning.

In other news, boys are much different than girls.

Jack falls about every 3 days and leaves some kind of bruise on his precious little head. I usually take it worse than he does which leads to all kinds of extra attention for him. That's probably why he doesn't seem to mind so much when it happens. I just hope that it doesn't lead to some kind of permanent damage. I don't want him to be 16 and unable to understand calculus because he fell one too many times as a toddler. That's what happened to me, which is why I know that falling as a toddler is so dangerous.

Here's a look at his latest work of art. He fell in the parking lot at daycare when I was picking him up last Friday. He insisted on walking all by himself and when I turned around to put Avery in the car, I heard a thud and then he started screaming. Lovely way to start off the weekend.

The sad eyes get me every time.
By Saturday it looked much better, but he still clearly had a knot on his head. These kinds of falls seem to only happen on the weekend so I am sure his daycare is keeping a log of all the bumps and bruises that he has every Monday morning. I think we are going to have to start covering him in bubble wrap just to save ourselves from a CPS investigation.

Avery, of course, is part of the problem more than she is part of the solution. She is happy to leave toys laying around which turns our living room into an obstacle course for all of us. Half the time he falls over a loose piece of paper or a stray crayon. She also likes to throw balls right at his head before he has a chance to look at her. I think she sees that he is gaining on her fast and is doing whatever she can to stunt his growth.

I hate to tell her, but I doubt anything is going to stop this kid from growing at this rate.

I doubt that will stop her from trying.