Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Flower Girl

Reagan was in a wedding last weekend for some good friends of ours. We were pretty nervous about her being a flower girl as at the age of two, she can be pretty unpredictable in how she'll choose to behave. But our friends wanted her to be part of their special day and were willing to take the risk.

The Dress
Reagan's involvement with the wedding started several months back when we had to get her flower girl dress. We went with the couple to go look at the dress that the bride had selected and try it on Reagan. Reagan is quite the girly girl and loves nothing more than dressing up in pretty things. I put the dress on her in the fitting room and brought her out for everyone to see. She twirled for everyone and looked at herself in the mirror. Then when it came time to take the dress off, we had trouble. She fought me every step of the way in getting the dress off. She kept sobbing, "my dress, my dress."

It was quite a deja vu experience to when I was trying on my own wedding dress. My mom, sisters, and nieces were with me. The youngest niece was just Reagan's age and is another girly girl. Since she saw me trying on all of the dresses she wanted to try one on too. She picked out a dress and her mom put it on her. When it came time to take it off, just like Reagan she just kept crying "my dress, my dress" and didn't want to take it off.

Since we had the two year old in the pretty dress, my sister wanted to put other girl in a dress too and take a few pictures. She was four at the time. She had quite a different reaction from her two year old sister that wanted to live in her new dress. When my sister tried to put a dress on the four year old she cried, "No! I don't want to wear the dress! I'm TOO YOUNG TO GET MARRIED!"

The Shoes
As any good girly girl would be, Reagan chose a pair of heels to wear with her dress. Of course, this would not be her first pair of heels. Before summer started she chose a pair of sandals with a little wedge heel that she wore all summer long and wore out and outgrew. So when it came time to wear these little shoes with the heel, no problemo. She ran, jumped, hopped, and danced the night away in those shoes. You'd never have known she was wearing a heel. She did better than some of the adults that were there that clearly put on heels twice a year and acted like deer on their new legs.

The Rehearsal
We practiced with Reagan for days before the rehearsal on walking down the aisle with a basket and tossing rose petals. It wasn't going so well. Sometimes she would toss the petals out and then immediately turn back around and pick them back up and sing the "Cleanup song" while shoving every last petal back into her basket. Other times she would take out one petal at a time and strategically place them all equidistant from each other in a perfect straight line. It took her five minutes to place about ten petals five feet and if you tried to hurry her along she'd pitch a fit.

So when it came time for the rehearsal, Reagan wasn't cooperating. She boycotted her nap at daycare that day and she was tired, cranky, in a new place, and lots of new people. She finally partially cooperated but it wasn't making me feel any better for the following big day. I told the couple it wasn't too late to replace Reagan with Bailey. They could just wheel Bailey down in a wagon and plunk her on the floor and she wouldn't make a peep. They tried to assured me whatever Reagan decided to do would be fine (I think they were trying to talk themselves into believing it too). I wasn't buying it, I didn't believe they were either.

The Wedding
When it finally came time for the wedding, Reagan pulled it all together and was a champ. She walked down the aisle with the other flower girl, she even tossed a few petals, she posed in pictures. She did unfortunately only stand in the line for a few minutes before she decided she'd rather sit with us. That was fine. But then she started talking and when I tried to quiet her she pitched a fit. So I had to take her in back and miss most of the wedding. But truthfully I saw more of the wedding than I ever expected in the first place. The last wedding we went to I missed the whole thing because Reagan had just learned to do somersaults the day before and insisted on practicing her newfound skill in the nice long, and open aisle. At least she didn't do any somersaults this time.

The Reception
Reagan is the original party animal. She shook her booty on the dance floor all night long. She danced with anyone that approached her and even showed off a few breakdancing moves she had learned from a previous wedding reception with her cousin Noah.

More Pictures
Here are some additional pictures from the wedding. I had hoped to get a lot more photos, but I had my hands full and took very few pictures this time. From what I could tell they actually had an awesome wedding photographer anyway so I know they aren't lacking in any awesome shots.

Congratulations to Dave and Lori!

Friday, September 26, 2008

In my dreams

Oh hi, Honey! You're home! *kiss, kiss* I hope you had a good trip and enjoyed your week. Here's the kids, the keys, and there's a Stouffer's Lasagna in the freezer. I'll be at the Marriott if you need me. No, I'm not telling you which one.

*sound of screeching tires as I pull out of the driveway*

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dear Gwyneth Paltrow of GOOP

Ok, I normally could care less about celebrities and I've never actually blogged about them before, but this particular thing hit some kind of hot button with me. Here's my letter to Gwyneth regarding the launch of her website GOOP.
Dear Gwyneth Paltrow:

I love you, I really do. You're a vision of ethereal beauty with a fresh face that is never too overdone, you have a perfect body, and beautiful naturally blonde hair. Your kids are adorable and well behaved (even with their crazy monikers). You pull off a perfect British accent despite being born in LA. You married a guy in a band, how cool is that?

But I've got to tell you, this latest little adventure of yours, I don't think it was a very good idea. Maybe it is more of the execution than the concept, but I'll get to that later. I mean, you're launching a website. You're calling it GOOP. What the hay wagon is GOOP? Are you trying to coin a new phrase? Try something that isn't named after the junk you find stuck to the bottom of your shoe. GOOP doesn't sound ethereal or lovely, it sounds clunky, dirty, like stuff lubricating an engine of a 1973 Gremlin. I don't think it's a very good name, but you must have a perfectly good explanation for it. Actually, scratch that. You named your kids Apple and Moses. I think you should have lost your right to name your site, or a pet hermit crab for that matter. But that's not really my issue.

My issue is really the site itself. You've got these catchy little bits like "Make", "Go", "Eat", "Be", etc. and when you click on them at the moment you get the following blurb:

GOOP, a collection of experiences. GOOP, what makes life good.
My life is good because I am not passive about it. I want to nourish what is real, and I want to do it without wasting time. I love to travel, to cook, to eat, to take care of my body and mind, to work hard. I love being a mother who has to overcome my bad qualities to be a good mother. I love being in spaces that are clean and feel nice.
Over the years, I have tried lots of different things. I have made lots of mistakes. But I have figured some things out in the process and I would like to share them with you. Whether you want t good place to eat in London, some advice on where to say in Austin, the recipe I made up this week, or some thoughts from one of my sages, GOOP is a little bit of everything that makes up my life.
Make your life good. Invest in what’s real. Cook a meal for someone you love. Pause before reacting. Clean out your space. Read something beautiful. Treat yourself to something. Go to a city you’ve never been to. Learn something new. Don’t by lazy. Workout and stick with it. GOOP. Make it great.

I can't deny you your right to want to be the next Oprah or Martha Stewart. But really, you lost me on your first sentence: "My life is good because I'm not passive about it."

Oh, thanks for that. I was wondering why my life has sometimes been crap. It was because I didn't work hard enough, I didn't seize myself up by my bootstraps, see what I wanted, and gone for it? You mean if I had taken the same steps in your life and had followed a macrobiotic diet, learned a British accent, and practiced cupping, I could have had your life? I could have been the Oscar winner, married a rockstar, and launched my own perfume?

Come on. Let's face it. I could never be you. Your life is good because you were born into a good life, a life of privilege. You were born into fame, born into fortune, born with gifted genes. You attended exclusive boarding schools and were given things in life most only read about. I don't doubt you work hard in your life, but you have made a great life even better by that work. Most of us are starting with a lot less to work with.

I mean, have you ever been me? Were you ever in my shoes? I mean, if you started where many of us did, then you can color me impressed. Let's see, have you ever eaten Ramen noodles for four days straight, floated a check to the electric company, or been so low on "E" that you tried to turn off the air conditioner in 100 degree heat and even turned off the radio? Have you ever used a bottle of Nice 'N Easy or Sun In to color your hair? Have you ever bought your cosmetics next to the bandaids and toenail fungus cure? Did you ever think Applebees was "good eatin"? Did you ever take swimming lessons at the YMCA, hung up a pin up from Tiger Beat magazine, or take a summer job bagging groceries or flipping burgers? Have you ever served a Stouffers frozen Lasagna entree for dinner?

Your life if good now because you have assistants, nannies, stylists, makeup artists, managers, housekeepers, and PR people. I AM all of these people for me AND my family. Yes, I might have a little more time on my hands to do all of the things you do if I had a little help to get things done too.

And what is all of this about you sharing recipes you created with us? You follow a macrobiotic diet. When was the last time you scarfed down a twinkie or savored a bowl of chicken alfredo pasta? What are you planning to cook, exactly? If your planning on sharing with us your recipe for raw cauliflower with a side of pine nuts, mmmmmm there's good eatin. Look, just a heads up as your new BFF that's just keeping it real, if you serve that up as dinner around here us peasants are likely to revolt. However, if you plan to share your latest recipe for pot roast, do you really think we are going to believe that you chow on a hunk of chuck and dip your bread in the gravy and then wipe your mouth with a torn off paper towel? It's just yet another way you just aren't "just like us."

Launch your website, share your cool stuff. But do you really have to be so condenscending? We're on to you GOOP girl.

I call it "Fishy"

This is Reagan's latest work of art. She said it is a "fishy". She told me the pointed side (left) is the head with the fish smiling and the other side (right), where her hand is, is the tail.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mama Kat's Giving Away a Hoover

Yes, that's right. She's giving away an awesome new Hoover vacuum. Go enter yourself here.

I already own a Hoover. It's awesome. But it is 17 years old. I paid $99 for it in 1991. Best $99 I ever spent. It still runs and looks brand new. Maybe that's because it spent most of its life in a safe protected closet not being forced to work. But that was before I had kids and before I've been without a housekeeper for six months. Now that baby gets some serious use. I can speak from experience that it can inhale an entire box of Honey Nut Cheerios in just one swipe.

About the same time I bought my vacuum, my Mom bought a Kirby from a door-to-door salesman. If you're a door-to-door salesman, just go to my Mom's house. She'll buy your stuff from you. Encyclopedias, magazines, wrapping paper, vacuums, beef steak of the month club, whatever, she just can't say no. Anyway, she paid about $900 for this glamorous top of the line Kirby. It was even supposed to fluff your couch cushions, sand your tables, and blow up your beach balls for the pool. Of course she never used it to sand or to blow up beach balls, just vacuum. And it didn't really do that very well. And where is that Kirby now? It's been dead for about a decade. Some investment that was.

Maybe it's high time for Mama to upgrade? My current vacuum actually even still uses vacuum bags. Do you know how hard it is to find vaccum bags these days? Even the cheapo vacuums are bagless now. I think my current Hoover should be bound for the Smithsonian while I upgrade with a new one I'll be winning from Mama Kat.

On the off chance I don't win that vacuum, let's hear your recommendations? Is everyone still drinking the kool-aid and loving their Dysons? Or does the Dyson go the way of the Kirby after a few years of use? Does your vacuum blow up beach balls? Sand tables? Clean a fish tank? Have any other "special" talents?

Update on Atlanta Gas Shortage

Just a quick update on where things stand on the Atlanta gas shortage. Basically, it's gotten worse. Radio stations are now reporting "where to find gas at this moment" along with the regular traffic report. It's quicker to name the few gas stations in town with gas than to give the traffic report.

After taking the girls to the doctor and to school today, I needed to get gas. I found a gas station with gas. I got in line with the 50 other cars waiting and started playing with my new iPhone (which rocks!). Employees were doing their best to direct traffic but it didn't stop a few dummies from rolling in on two wheels and stealing a spot at the pump. When that happened, horns would honk furiously, the employees would yell at them, but they'd ignore everything and get their gas anyway. I'm not sure I'd brave that in Georgia. In this state you don't need a permit to carry a gun in your car. I'm afraid it's just a matter of time before one is used over this gas situation.

A mere 45 minutes later, I still wasn't even into the gas station lot when an employee walked to the street and started taking down the gas prices on the sign. Out of gas! Ugh. I drove off towards home looking for another gas station with gas. No luck.

Now I'm going to have to see if 1) the truck has enough gas and 2) I can get both the girls' car seats in there. Otherwise I'll need to take off two hours of work this afternoon before I got pick up the girls from daycare to go fill up the van.

Apparently a lot of the problem stems from the fact that in Atlanta we have special gas because we are big time polluters and we have a special forumula to help keep down pollution. The governor has asked for a temporary reprival from the EPA to allow us to use standard gas to try to get the supply back into town. Yesterday afternoon that request was granted. We'll see how long it takes before we see that impact us at the pumps. I'm guessing it won't be at least until the weekend.

And what started all of it? Panic from the hurricanes. You see in Atlanta we're special. We are panickers and hoarders. Don't believe me? Just go to the grocery store any time the word "ice" or "snow" is mentioned. You won't find a gallon of milk, a bottle of water, a loaf of bread, or a battery until you get to the state line. We go clean out the store like we are going to be shut in until spring thaw. So when the hurricanes were coming through, people panicked and filled up. I think you followed the dominoes falling from there.

No gas? What country am I in anyway?

Do you live in Atlanta or another area affected by a recent gas shortage? Share your story here!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Uh, oops

So since my good sport of a husband took all of the flack for the snake story, I figured it was only fair I share with you the rest of the weekend (the part where I DON'T come off as the hero in wrestling a man-eating, oversized worm to its doom).

But before I do that, let me tell you about how Bill has taken his snake notoriety. One thing you should know about Bill, he dishes out as much as he takes. Which is probably why when some of his real life friends saw the snake story they didn't hesitate to call him and goad him about it. But Bill takes it all in stride. When he read the story he laughed and he admitted it was pretty darn funny. Bill has always been a terrific sport about being the subject of a blog story and is amazingly supportive of my blogging. That's evident enough by the fact that he wrote Reagan's birth story for me just last week. Is it a coincidence that I posted the snake story AFTER he gave me the birth story? Uh, let's move on...

So Bill was doing some yard work. I decided I would help him out. I got out my favorite tool--the electric hedge trimmers. I carefully plugged it in, made sure the cord was secure, and let 'er rip. I was going at the hedges like I was Edward Scissorhands working a masterpiece. Twigs and leaves were flying, sticks were dropping, bugs were running, and Bill casually worked his way into the other end of the yard.

About 15 minutes in, I took one particularly graceful slice at a bush that needed the attention that only an artist could give. Ok, that's what it seemed like happened in my mind. What really happened is I took a sideways whack at a bush and chopped the extension cord in half. I heard a loud pop and a flame shot out as the hedge trimmers promptly died.

As I stood there stunned and trying to decide whether I like the smell of burnt wiring, Bill calmly interjects:

Bill: You cut the cord, didn't you?
Bridget: Uh, yeah.
Bill: Well, to your credit, it took you longer than I thought it would.
Bridget: What are you talking about? I've only been at it 15 minutes.
Bill: Yeah.
Bridget: ...something unintelligible as she walks to unplug the cord...

Behold, my handiwork:

Bill says I'm now banned from doing yard work. Was that all it took? I should have done that years ago.

Backseat driver

Bill is gone this week, so I get the duty of taking the girls to and from school each day. Since I work from home and the school is five minutes from Bill's work, normally the responsibility falls with him.

This morning we started the 30 minute drive to school. As typical for me, I immediately start swerving in and out of lanes. Reagan protested at once. She said, "No! This lane!" and points to the right hand lane. See, Bill is a much more conservative driver than me. He stays in the same lane and moves to another lane at precisely the same spot each day. Reagan knows this and had no problem telling me I was doing it wrong.

When I decided to take a different turn than Bill makes, Reagan once again expressed her anger. She pitched a fit and kept saying "No, go that way!" until I turned back onto the path that Bill normally takes.

While I'm glad to know my 2 year old can find her way home when she is 30 minutes away, I'm going to have to work on her and explain that "Daddy's way" isn't the only way to get there.

On a related note, when a school bus drove by she told me, "I want to drive a school bus." I don't know if she meant she just wanted to try it out one time or if she has career aspirations for being a school bus driver. If it's the latter, I'll remind myself that we will encourage our children to be whatever they want to be and then I'll think of what I'll do with all of that money I won't have to pay towards college.

Beep, beep! All aboard!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Trauma in the ER

When the girls have to go in for wellness visits I make Bill come along too. He is there for one purpose--to hold the girls when they get their shots while I go running to the waiting room like the yellow belly coward that I am. I can't stand seeing the girls being put through pain. They are over it in a minute, I'm traumatized for days.
So today I took Bailey by myself for her first visit to the Urgent Care. She had been coughing and wheezing for a few days and having a hard time sleeping at night so I took her in to make sure she was ok.

The doctor prescribed a breathing treatment for her. They brought in a tiny little mask and hooked it up and said, "Just hold this mask over her face and let her breathe normally for about ten minutes while the medicine runs through it."

I dutifully held up the mask all of the sudden I was wishing she was getting shots instead. At least that would be one prick and it's over with. My laid back, always smiling, never cries baby hauled back and let forth some of the mightiest screaming and fisticuffs fighting I have ever seen from such a tiny tike. I went through ten minutes of sheer trauma while trying to console her and trying to keep her hands off the mask while I tried to hold the mask on. It was not a very well orchestrated effort as the nine month old was definitely getting the upper hand on me.

She's doing better now. Me, I'm not so sure.

Running on empty

When Katrina hit New Orleans, in Atlanta we were hit with a rare problem--we ran out of gas. In one day all of the gas stations ran out of gas, some stations running up the price to $6.00 per gallon before they shut down the pumps. But within a few days, gas was running again and we were back to our normal ways.

When Ike hit Texas last weekend we found ourselves in a similar situation. Gas stations were running out of gas. Only this time, more than a week has passed and instead of getting better, it seems to be getting worse. Some gas stations near us waited nearly five days to get their first shipment of gas in only to sell out again in two hours. Today, we passed over a dozen gas stations in a ten mile stretch and only one had gas. The line was stretched all the way down well into the street as people waited and hoped to get the only gas for ten miles. Angry horns were honking and traffic was getting tied up as cars wouldn't allow traffic past them for fear of someone cutting into line.

I'm just glad I don't still drive my Infiniti SUV. That car protested profusely when I tried to cheap out and put anything other than premium in it. That wouldn't be happening these days. On the rare occasion I do see gas, I only see regular. It's been 1.5 weeks since I've seen a gas station with any higher grade.

Price has never really deterred us from changing our habits with gas consumption. When prices went up we complained a bit, but we didn't change our ways. This week, for the first time ever, we actually thought about our trips. Price may not deter us but availability certainly does. When you think you may not actually be able to replace the gas in your tank and may find yourself stranded with two young kids, you start to think twice about whether a trip is really necessary. We skipped our beloved weekly trivia game with friends as that would consume nearly 1/4 of a tank. It seemed frivolous under the circumstances.

Here's hoping our supply is back to normal again soon. I'm wondering what the supply is like in the rest of the country. Are the pumps keeping up with demand where you are?

Update 9/22: Here is a link to a CNN story talking about this issue. For a time, CNN actually had my blog linked to this story today. How cool is that? I had over 300 hits coming directly from CNN to my little old blog to see my story.

Friday, September 19, 2008

What's for Dinner, Jalapeno Cornbread Casserole

Here is another unique recipe that you can do with a pound of ground beef. This one takes a bit more effort and time than the Sloppy Joe Pie, but it is well worth the rewards in my book. This is one of my favorite recipes that my Dad and step-Mom, Kerry, make. It may not look like much, but this stuff is gooood!

Here's Dad and Kerry when Reagan was just two months old, aren't they cute together?

Somewhere in between running marathons, triathalons, kayaking, and biking they cook. I'm not sure where. I'm tired just typing about their activities.

Now to do this recipe right, you're going to need a good old heavy cast 12" cast iron skillet. I suppose you could use something else, but it just won't be quite the same. You could always run to the store and get a cast iron skillet, it's something every kitchen should have and it's pretty inexpensive. But you'll need to clean it and season it before you use it. There is just nothing like an old, perfectly seasoned skillet for cooking fried potatoes and onions, fried green tomatoes, fried chicken, or Bill and my favorite-duck. If your unsure about how to season, clean, or store your cast iron, click here for tips.

Now, I also have to fess up to something. I changed the original recipe (who's surprised?). Dad approved of all of my changes until I mentioned the Jiffy cornbread mix. Yeah, he's a bit of a cornbread snob. He wasn't impressed with that change. So I'll tell you how I shortcut things (and perhaps shortcut flavor in the process but I won't admit it) but at the end I'll post his recipe in its original form so you can decide which one to use (Use mine or I'll never talk to you again. Ok, I'm just kidding. sort of).

This uses peppers but the overall taste is medium to mild in hotness to me. So feel free to add more or less peppers to your taste.

Prep time: 30-40 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes

2 boxes Jiffy Corn muffin mix
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs
1 (160z) can cream-style corn
1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound cheddar cheese, grated
5 canned jalapenos, seeded, cored, and diced
1 packet taco seasoning mix
4 canned chipotle peppers, diced
cornmeal for dusting greased pan

* Preheat oven to 350
* Grease 12" cast iron skillet, dust with cornmeal. Set aside.
* Combine cornbread mix, eggs, and milk according to package directions, fold in can of creamed corn, and jalapenos. Set aside.
* Brown meat drain, add taco seasoning according to directions.
* Saute onion. Combine onion, taco beef, and chipotle peppers and set aside.
* Pour half of the cornbread batter into your skillet.
* Spread half grated cheese evenly over batter.
* Spread meat mixture evenly over batter.
* Spread remaining cheese over meat mixture.
* Top with remaining batter.
* Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

Dad's original recipe:
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup milk
2 eggs
¾ teaspoon soda
½ cup corn oil (original recipe calls for bacon drippings)
1 (1-pound) can cream-style corn
1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound cheddar cheese, grated (original recipe call for round cheese?)
5 canned jalapenos chopped

Combine cornmeal, milk, beaten eggs, soda, oil and corn. Mix well and set aside
Brown meat until crumbly. Drain well on paper towels. Pour half of the cornbread
Batter into a well-greased cast iron skillet that has been dusted with cornmeal. Sprinkle grated cheese evenly over batter. Sprinkle meat evenly over the cheese, then sprinkle the chopped onions ( I sauté the onions in the same pan after browning the beef) and jalapenos over the meat. Top with remaining batter. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes.

Original recipe comes from the book "Texas on the Half Shell"

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Let me start by saying my husband, Bill, is a manly man. He's a guy's guy. He hunts in camouflage wearing something that is supposed to smell like deer pee (Or maybe it is deer pee? Never mind, don't clarify this for me. Some things are best not knowing). He plays Fantasy Football and Baseball and watches the games so he can get a first glance into how "his" players are doing that week. He can tinker with broken things and makes them whole again.

When it comes to creepy crawlies and critters, once again, Bill is my man, my hero, my macho man. He kills roaches in just one step. He balks at the black widows that occasionally invade the garage and basement. When the possum found its way into our trash, but didn't find its way out, Bill took care of it. When the shrew, mole, countless frogs, and other creatures found their way into our pool but didn't find their way out, Bill took care of it.

But I've learned there is one exception to Bill's creepy crawlie machismo. Like Indiana Jones, he has one known weakness...SNAKES.

Recently, a snake made its way into our pool and into the filter baskets. When Bill went to go clean out the basket, he stuck his hand down inside and promptly pulled it back out when he discovered the snake. (I envision it was followed with a scream only a tween at a Jonas Brothers concert could rival, but he won't fess up to that part). Here's our conversation when he came back inside:

Bill (eyes wide and excites): Whatever you do, don't go into the pool!
Bridget: Ok, how come?
Bill: Because there's a big old snake in it! It's like this long (stretching his arms about 18")!
Bill: I can't believe I stuck my hand down in there! I was trying to clean out the basket and picking up some of the leaves and there he was! I'm trying to drown it. I'll go check on it later.
Bridget: I'll go get it out.
Bill: You can't just go sticking your hand in there and yank out a snake like that! You don't know if it is poisonous. That thing could kill you!

Bill pauses for a minute, goes to the drawer...

Bill: Here, at least use some tongs

At this point I am amused that he was concerned enough for my safety to ask me to use tongs, but not concerned enough that he was willing to capture the poisonous, serpentine creature himself.

Together we go down to the pool. I asked him to bring the camera so we could capture my wrestle with the beast on film. Maybe I'd get a guest spot on some talk show somewhere or, krikey, maybe even become "The Snake Hunter." I cautiously open the lid and look inside for this snake that in my mind is as wide as my fist and as long as a car.

Once I found the snake, I pulled it out. I attempted to use the tongs to appease Bill but that just wasn't working. So instead, I grabbed the snake around it's gullet while at any moment it might strike. It's tail was moving and the head was opening in protest to me grabbing it. Then I briskly walked it toward the back of the yard and flung it as far as I could.

I asked Bill if he got some good closeups of the snake so that I could look it up. He said, "Oh, yeah, I good some good closeups of the whole thing!"

And here it is! Here is the vicious man eating reptile in the flesh:

Are you scared? You shouldn't be. I zoomed and cropped this baby by about 1000%

Here is the original "closeup" shot. Apparently, closeup to Bill means he was able to see any of the tiny, baby snake while filming from half way across the yard.

And to put it into further perspective, here is me picking up the snake off the ground after the tongs failed to do the job. Can you see the snake? Yeah, I hardly can either. Squint really hard.

From what I could tell, it was a gray rat snake. Perfectly harmless. But I am now armed knowing Bill has one weakness. Priceless.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

All About Reagan, Part VI: The Birth (by Bill!)

Part I: Introduction
Part II: Conception
Part III: The First Trimester
Part IV: The Second Trimester
Part V: The Third Trimester

It's been a while since my last "All About Reagan" post. I left you with going into the doctor's office and hearing that the baby was going to have to come quickly as they could get it scheduled. Most of what happened after that point was a blur to me. So, I have something very special to offer today. My wonderful husband, Bill, graciously agreed to write the birth story from his perspective. He really put a lot of thought and effort into this. I really appreciate it and I know Reagan will too, oneday.

I love you, Bill! Thank you for writing your side of the story.
So without further ado, here are Bill's words...

It was May 4th and Bridget had another one of her twice-weekly checkups at her OB’s office. She had been going in for these checkups for several weeks now because of general health issues, e.g. high blood pressure, diabetes, stuff like that, all pregnancy related. These checkups usually went pretty smoothly as far as I could tell. On this particular day the doctor performed a non-stress test and she didn’t like the results. Apparently Reagan’s heart wasn’t accelerating (or was it decelerating? I forget.) like it was supposed to and she had decided that something needed to be done about it.

Bridget called me at my work sometime in the mid-afternoon. She was very upset and crying. My male intuition immediately told me something was wrong. Naturally I asked if she had wrecked the brand-new van or bounced a check but she just told me “no”, that it was a little more serious than that. Bridget told me to get to the hospital ASAP because we were having a baby that very day! Needless to say I wasn’t mentally prepared for that little piece of news and I immediately started to get both nervous and excited at the same time.

Well, being the super-organized family that we were at the time of course we had not packed either of our hospital bags. It was too late for that now. I told my boss what was going on and then I jumped in the truck and headed to the hospital. I think it was a Thursday.

I got to the hospital and found Bridget in a bed in one of the rooms in the Women’s Center. She looked terrible. I could tell she had been crying and she was extremely nervous about the upcoming emergency c-section. I calmed her down as best I could. I’m pretty sure I have her a hug and a kiss and said some comforting things like “it will be OK”, and “the baby’s only 3.5 weeks early, which is not too bad for a girl”, and “the doctor has done a bunch of these c-sections before so I’m sure it will work out all right.” Honestly, I was trying to calm and reassure both of us at this point because I was starting to get pretty nervous myself. I’m pretty sure I didn’t tell Bridget she looked terrible. If I did tell her that I don’t remember doing it, so she can’t really hold it against me.

Anyway, after sitting in the room with Bridget for a little while we both started to relax and it was then that we realized that we didn’t have a camera. We wanted to take pictures of Reagan’s birth and we were missing a somewhat critical component. I called my good friend Dave and asked if I could borrow his camera and if he would mind bringing it by the hospital. I explained what had happened and what was going to happen and he was more than happy to help us out. I promised Dave I would try to get as little of the birth-goo on his camera as I could. He laughed and looked at me funny, but he still let me borrow his camera. Did I mention what a good friend Dave is?

At some point in the process the anesthesiologist came in to the room to brief us on what was going to happen and to make sure Bridget was prepared. He gave Bridget some nasty looking goo and told her to drink it all down. It was supposed to stop Bridget from vomiting in the operating room while she was under anesthesia. From the face that Bridget made it tasted even worse than it looked. I was just glad that they didn’t ask me to drink any of that stuff.

I remember asking the doctor about how much longer it would be before it was show time and he said we were only about 30 minutes away. Everything was happening so quickly. I started to get nervous again but I tried to hide it. I didn’t want Bridget to get any more upset than she already was.

Soon after that a nurse brought in one of those blue disposable paper suits and handed it to me. I would need to wear that to go into the operating room. I didn’t have to take off my regular clothes, I just had to wear this paper suit over my regular clothes. Apparently it represses germs. I think they made me wear it just to make me look goofy. Regardless, I quickly dressed and Dave took a few pictures of me. I looked so silly. Like a 6’ tall smurf. I don’t know how many apples that is but it’s a lot. About that time Dave decided he’d had enough fun and wished us luck and left.

Soon after that the nurse came in to take Bridget to the operating room for her spinal block and to get her ready for the grand finale. She helped Bridget out of bed and noticed that Bridget wasn’t wearing any socks. I thought that was funny. I mean, how did the nurse not see Bridget’s butt all hanging out the back of that hospital gown? But no, all she cared about was that Bridget wasn’t wearing any socks. I guess you get desensitized to bare rump after working in a hospital after a while. The nurse went and got Bridget some socks, which I helped put on her feet since Bridget wasn’t really in much condition to do it herself. In fact, I’m pretty sure Bridget hadn’t even seen her feet in several weeks at that point. But I digress.

So the nurse walked Bridget and I down to the OR and then they made me wait outside while they put the spinal block in and then got Bridget all strapped down. It took about 2 hours, but the clock on the wall must have been running slow because it said only about 15 minutes went by. I was really starting to get nervous and excited at this point.

Finally the nurse came out and said it was OK for me to come in to the OR. I walked in and it was pretty much just like on TV, except the room was smaller and the nurses were bigger. Someone told me to stand up at the top of the table, up near Bridget’s head. They put up a screen that was about 6’ wide and maybe 2’ tall, and it kept Bridget from being able to look down and see anything. That was a portent of things to come, as I would find out soon enough. Someone slid on of those little round chairs you see in a doctors office my way, but I decided I was going to stand so that I could see the action. I’ve been deer hunting a few times and have seen more than a couple of deer get field dressed so I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to pass out at the sight of blood.

The doctors came into the OR at that point, and started poking and prodding and smearing some antibiotic liquid all over Bridget’s stomach. Then they put some sort of sticky plastic coating on her stomach, I guess to help prevent the skin from tearing. It sounds gross, but it didn’t really look all that bad.

So the doctors get out a scalpel and they start cutting into Bridget’s lower stomach region, making fairly delicate incisions. They were using some sort of hot glue gun looking thing after each cut, and from the god-awful smell that thing was making I could tell they were using it to cauterize the surgical site to help reduce bleeding. Holy cow does burnt flesh smell terrible.
So the doctors are cutting away slowly but surely, stinking up the room as they go, and before too long they get to the point where it’s time to cut Reagan out of the uterus.

At this point I’m standing at the head of the table, looking down to where the doctors are doing their work, and everything seems like it’s been easy as pie. So the doctor makes the cute into the uterus, and OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!! there is a freaking HUGE rush of fluid and what appears to be watery blood that come absolutely pouring out from Bridget. It looks like there are gallons of this stuff. I have never in my entire life seen anything close to anything like this. I am holding on to the top of that little barrier that prevents Bridget from see anything, and I go absolutely white knuckled. My heart stops. My breathing stops. I am sure that something has gone horribly wrong and I am now watching my wife and baby die right in front of me.

I almost, almost shout out “Oh my God is that normal?!”, but then I remember Bridget lying there on the table and I don’t want her to panic. I manage to hold my tongue and I pray that either this is normal or, if it’s not, that the medical staff will know how to handle it and they’ll save my family.

Well, apparently what I saw –is- normal, because the staff just started cleaning up the fluid and then started working on getting Reagan out from inside Bridget. I started to relax. My heart started beating again. I’m not sure when I actually started breathing again.

One of the doctors worked on positioning Reagan’s head for exit while the other doctor started trying to push the baby out. Apparently you push the baby out by having a doctor push down as hard as they can on the chest/upper stomach region of the mother. I could tell it was really putting Bridget in a lot of pain because she started groaning and making a lot of noise. I just hoped that it wouldn’t take too much longer, because I was sure that Bridget was going to have either some cracked ribs or a crushed chest.

After only a few seconds I could see Reagan’s head, and after that it was only a few more seconds until they had Reagan completely delivered. She looked like a little gooey alien. But she was mine and she was beautiful.

Reagan Laura Fitzgerald
May 4, 2006 8:02 PM
6lbs 2oz, 18.5 inches

No, this isn't the end, this is merely the beginning. To be continued...

I wanna be a cowgirl

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My remberance of 9/11

It was September 10, 2001. As the plane made its approach into the Newark airport, I did my usual routine. Looking out the window, I looked for the Twin towers of the World Trade Center. They were always so easy to spot on the edge of the skyline. From there, it was a straight shot down to find the little green spot that was the Statue of Liberty. I never got used to how tiny Lady Liberty was against the massive skyscrapers. The pictures and stories of her always seemed to make her seem much bigger in proportion than she really is.

I found my Twin Towers, found the Statue of Liberty. Check, and check, my ritual was done and I could go back to my latest James Patterson book that was never really worth the time, but it was the only thing left in the newsstand selection of 20 books I hadn't read.

I picked up my rental car, drove to my hotel and checked in. I considered going into the city for dinner. I was just across the river from Manhattan and had nothing to do until I started teaching my class the following morning. But I decided I was tired of the city and same old same old and ordered room service and worked on reading my book.

Morning came and my day started just like the other 300 classes I had started before. I greeted students, made sure the computers were setup properly, familiarized myself with the facility, and made sure I knew who my contact was if an issue arose. At 8:30 the class promptly began and I started my introduction that at this point was a memorized speech.

Around 8:45, a student's phone rang. I made a mental note to make sure I moved up my "please silence your phones, put pagers on stun, etc." speech and glared at the student as she took the call in the middle of the class. I was hoping she saw my evil eye. Only as I was giving her the evil eye, I was noticing something in her eye--tears and panic. I was caught off guard and paused to look at this student and tried to imagine what sort of family emergency has just happened. She put down her phone and with a trembling voice and trying to hold back her tears said, "Something has happened. There was an explosion or something at the World Trade Center."

With the vast numbers of people that work at the WTC and being just across the river, I don't believe there was a single student that didn't also panic. No one in that classroom was without a loved one, a neighbor, or a friend that didn't work there and was immediately concerned for their safety. We stopped class while everyone started making phone calls, getting on the internet, going outside to see if we could see anything. Details were sketchy but it was clear that something big had happened. Then we find out it was a plane that crashed through. What a terrible accident, how could that have happened? Wait! There's a second plane! It just crashed into the other tower! This wasn't an accident! Our nation is being attacked and I'm sitting 10 miles from the epicenter.

We dismiss class and tell people to go home and try to find out what has happened to all of their loved ones. The phones were completely overloaded and everyone was having trouble getting through. My sister, Tara, was the first to get a message to me. Her message was, "Hey! I was just checking to make sure you are ok. I don't know where in the world your are today, but given your history of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, I'm guessing you are in NY. Call us and let us know." I was finally able to get through to her and to Mom to say yes, I was in NY, but I was fine. That didn't stop my Mom from being near hysterical but I assured her I was ok and not in danger. Was I in danger? I didn't really know. I still didn't know entirely what was going on. My statement meant I was alive and ok at the moment but I wasn't going to tell her that distinction.

In my stupor I go back to my hotel to watch the news and surf the net to figure out what is going on. On the way I could see the smoke pouring from the towers. I wasn't close enough to see the towers. I couldn't handle looking at them yet anyway. I learn the Pentagon was also attacked and there's word of potentially some heroes that ensured a fourth plane wouldn't take another target. Then, right there on my TV, it happened. I watched the first building buckle like a house of cards. I began sobbing thinking of all of my students and their loved ones. There were husbands, wives, sisters, even children in the daycare. How many were lost? Shortly after I see the second building collapse and I can no longer sit in my room.

I got into my car. I drove down towards the towers. When they were in clear view of the massive black pouring of smoke, I pulled over. Right there on the interstate I pulled over to the emergency lane and with everyone else and got out of my car and stood along the wall. There were no more towers to see, only smoke. I wish I had paid more attention to them yesterday. I wish I had known that would be the last time I would set site to the grand buildings. I would have looked longer, I would have gone into the city and taken another tour of them, I would have done a lot of things different.

I don't know how long I stood there crying just watching, sobbing, being numb. Emergency vehicles were constantly roaring down the interstate behind me, heading for the scene. Every time I heard their siren it jolted me out of my trance for just a second. Finally I put my thoughts together and decided I would do the only thing I could do, I would go donate blood. Surely there were many injured survivors that would need blood. I could do that. I found out a location of a Red Cross. Apparently half the city had the same idea. I was turned away as they couldn't handle any more donations. Defeated and unable to help in any way I could fathom, I went back to my hotel.

When I got to my hotel, the scene had changed. They were using the lobby as a makeshift treatment facility for emergency workers suffering from smoke inhalation and other minor injuries. Camera crews from neighboring cities had checked in and set up shop. I went to my room and cried again. I had never felt so alone. It was too far to drive home and the airports were shut down tight. I was stuck. I had no one I knew, no one who loved me to hug me and tell me everything would be ok. I cried myself to sleep.

A few hours later I woke with a start. Had I left the iron on this morning? What is that burning smell? I checked the iron. It was unplugged and put away thanks to the housekeeping service. Was it my curling iron? No, it was off too. I stepped out of my room and still smelled that wretched smell that burned my nose. My heart was heavy as I finally processed what that smell was. It wasn't the curling iron, or the iron, or the air system. It was the smell of the burning of two giant skyscrapers, two planes, and all of the people for whom it became a tomb. It was the smell of death. It is a smell that didn't escape me the rest of the time I was there and a smell that still plagues me to this day. This was the most vivid of my memories.

The next morning I showed up for class. I figured it had been canceled but no one was able to get through to tell me otherwise. I had nothing else to do anyway. To my surprise, six others showed up too. I learned that many in that class lost loved ones. It wasn't the news I wanted to hear. But there were six out of 24 that had shown up, that had all friends and family accounted for, and they wanted to learn. So I taught. I finally had a purpose in all this madness. I would teach my class and they would help me get through this.

Normally I teach a class by using humor. I skipped the jokes that week. I wasn't in a funny mood and it seemed inappropriate to laugh anyway. I bought them pizzas during lunch and held to every minute of class as precious time for me to have someone to talk to, people to listen to, people who would keep my mind off of what happened 10 miles away.

When the class ended that Friday, I was fortunate enough to be able to make the very first flight out of Newark when it reopened that day. It was times like these that I was glad I put in over 200,000 miles a year on Delta. They saw to it I was going home as soon as I could. My stepdad had been working in Princeton about 45 minutes away. My Mom begged and pleaded with me to drive home with him instead of getting on the plane. I calculated the amount of time I would have to spend with my stepdad in the car and decided I'd rather take my chances with the terrorists in the sky.

Although the airport was nearly empty, it took me four hours to get to my gate. They rifled through everything I owned while it was open on a table for any passerby to view my panties and my other contents. They took my tweezers, my favorite diamond chiseled tweezers that could search and pluck any stray eyebrow hair. They confiscated my water. They made me turn my computer off and on half a dozen times. But I wasn't complaining. I figured all of these precautions weren't going to stop another terrorist attack, but it still made me somehow feel safer nonetheless.

My plane left that Friday afternoon. Just four days after the world had changed. As the flight took off, it flew in the familiar pattern and over near the Twin Towers and Lady Liberty we go. Only this time there would be no towers to begin my ritual of finding The Statue. Instead, the smoke still billowed as black and strong as ever where the buildings once stood. No one spoke as the flight flew past. Tears glistened in everyone's eyes. I paid my respects, said a prayer, and wondered what life was going to be like after today.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The "Ida Bear"

The picture below is Reagan with her "Ida Bear." Ida, (pronounced ee-DUH) was an Au Pair in the US a few years ago. We got to know her really well as she was good friends with our Au Pair at the time. Ida gave Reagan the bear for Christams when Reagan was just seven months old. It came from Sweden where Ida is from and lives today. Reagan loves this bear. She sleeps with it, and carries it around everywhere. We've been fortunate enough to keep in touch with Ida and she reads this blog regularly. Maybe one day Reagan will get to meet Ida once again and thank her for the bear in person.

Here is Reagan with her Ida bear when she was nine months old

And here is Ida, the beautiful, sweet girl of the namesake bear

Ida and Reagan when Reagan was seven months old.

And here are just some other random pictures I've taken over the past week.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Being a rock star...

is tiring work.

Reagan also tried to talk me into buying her a Dora doll at the store today. She held it lovingly and said, "But Mommy, it's so ADORABLE."

Friday, September 5, 2008

What's for Dinner, Baked Spicy Cheese Grits

Last weekend we had friends for dinner and I served these grits as one of the sides. Our friend graciously and cautiously put just a little on his plate to be kind and said, "I'll just take a little, I'm not really a grits man." Well, three helpings later and a to go box for lunch the next day and I had a convert who discovered he did in fact like grits. He just never had them cooked like I made them. Over the years we've served dinner to many LDS/Mormon missionaries and they've been from all over the world. It isn't unusual for us to get a call saying, "Hey, can you make your grits? We've got a new guy who says he's tried grits and he doesn't like them."

So, this recipe is dedicated to all of you who just think you don't like grits. Really, just try them!

Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes

1.5 cups Quick cook grits (this is key- not instant, not regular, they need to be quick cook)
1.5 sticks butter (Did I say this was a low cal dish? I think not)
1 lb Velveeta Mexican cheese (I prefer the hot when I can find it, but mild works too)
1 pkg Bacon bits (the ones in the plastic pouches, I prefer the Oscar Meyer bacon bits)
1 Tbls Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp Seasoning salt
2 tsp Kosher salt
2 tsp hot sauce (I often add a lot more because we like the heat. Add more to your taste)
3 eggs, beaten

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Stir in grits, and reduce heat to low. Cover, and cook 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Mix in the butter, cheese, seasoning salt, kosher salt, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce.
4. Continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted, add in bacon bits.
5. Remove from heat, and fold in the eggs, add to 9 x 13 baking dish
6. Bake 30 mins in the preheated oven, or until the top is lightly browned.

* When you add the grits to the boiling water, do so slowly and while whisking the grits in the pan. This will prevent the grits from clumping as you stir them in.
* To keep the eggs from scrambling when you add them to the grits, mix a little of the grits with the beaten eggs to slowly bring up their temperature (tempering). Once you have incorporated some of the grits, you can go ahead and add the rest of the grits. I go ahead and do all of this in my baking dish to prevent me from having to wash one more dish.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Weekend Recap

We had a nice, quiet holiday. We spent it entertaining friends. We had friends over Friday and Sunday night for dinner. I've got some recipes from it to post for you, but like a dummy I forgot to get pictures. No matter, you'll just have to envision the awesomeness that was the baby back ribs (mmmm, can you smell them through your screen?), baked spicy cheese grits (hear me out before you go "eeewww!"), and Mad Hatter salad ("what's that?" you say?). There was lots of other food to be had too, but those are the recipes that I'll be sharing with you later. There was hot tubbing and Wii-ing.

Maybe Wendy will let me share with you the video of her husband doing the hula-hoop on the Wii Fit. It's not quite as entertaining as the video of me warbling out "Good-bye Earl" at karaoke night Saturday night at a bachelorette party (I really need to get out more). I'm not sure entertaining is really the word, actually. It is probably about as painful to watch that video as watching the first American Idol auditions every season. I can just see Simon watching me with his eyes tearing up and his body wretched over in pain. He at least would have put me out of my misery 20 seconds in instead of enduring the entire 4 mins and 17 seconds and would have interrupted with "That was some of the worst singing I've ever heard in my life. I think I can still hear dogs barking from four streets over. Do yourself a favor and NEVER, EVER sing again. Not even in the shower." I can promise you that video will NEVER end up on my blog. I'm cursing camera phones. If that video should ever find it's way to UTube, I'll be minus one friend and no, I won't tell you how to find it.

We also took Reagan to get some shoes for a wedding she'll be in weekend after next. I'm a little nervous about the wedding. The last wedding she attended I had to take her out because she kept trying to do somersaults down the aisle. We'll be practicing with her little flower basket and throwing petals, but frankly Reagan is pretty unpredictable. There is no telling what she might decide to do. The shoes we bought have a little heel on them. She seems to take after her mama and prefer shoes with a little lift. Considering the height predictor it calculating her to be a statuesque 5' 3" when grown, I guess she may as well get used to the heels now. She wanted to wear them as soon as we bought them. She ran all over the mall in them. I don't know how many two year olds can run and jump in a little heel, but she's got it down. She is a total shoe addict
(again, like her mama) and very particular about her shoes. I think a follow up post on shoes will be in order later.

I'm almost afraid to post this next statement for fear of jinxing the whole thing, but it appears we may be out of the terrible twos. Reagan started pretty early; she was full on in the throes of them before 18 months. But the last several weeks she's been very well behaved, has been listening to her teachers, and tantrums have become almost non existent. Do I dare dream?

And finally, speaking of dreaming, we have been able to get a little more of that lately. Bailey has at least dropped one nighttime feeding fairly regularly. She is down to just one a night, most nights. This brings me exceedingly great joy. I think she also might finally be getting in some teeth. She's only been teething for 4.5 months. It's about time those suckers start coming in, now that she's 8.5 months old.