delicate Emma. . .

I finally have a camera!!!  Praise the Lord, I finally have a camera.  I started with two pictures of the kitchen I just finished painting. . .and when I say “I” I really mean Mom.  Thank God for Mom and her ability to show up at a moment’s notice and paint a kitchen. . .or a bedroom. . .or three bedrooms. . .and refuse my money and buy me lunch.  I love you Mom and thanks again.

Okay, so two pictures of the kitchen and my newly charged battery and I’m off to go get my early Christmas present (hair colored and cut) with everything from diaper bag essentials to tap shoes for Emma’s dance class tonight.  I have everything but the children because Mom’s finishing up the kitchen while Ellie sleeps and is picking Emma up from school and then bringing Dust and the girls to meet me at Shaynah’s Scissorhands Salon.

Leotard, check.  Skirt, check.  Pantyhose, check.  Dance bag with tap and ballet shoes, check, check, check.  Diaper bag for Ellie, check.  Camera, check.  I have everything, I just need the other Tows that complete the Case de Tow.

My hair looks awesome, we pick up diapers from Wal-Mart, we still have $16.95 in the bank (Praise the Lord, it’s pay day tomorrow), we are totally ready for Emma’s dance class which is the last class until after Christmas and we get to watch her.  Dustin hasn’t ever seen Emma dance, so tonight he will see how productive his $38 is. 

Needless to say, Emma was adorable and made the cutest faces while she danced.  She was half a step ahead of everyone because she was proving to us that she knew the steps first.  We’re going through a competitive phase and with Dustin and I (the most competitive people I know) having offspring, let’s just say this phase is going to last awhile.

As I start to take pictures of my little ballerina, my camera beeps at me.  “No memory space on internal memory,” it said.  Leotard, skirt, pantyhose, dance bag with tap and ballet shoes, diaper bag, etc.  I remembered my brand new, just out of the box camera, but not the memory stick.  I was able to take four pictures of Emma and a short video.  Normally you would be going through 20 photos of Emma preforming demi-plies, arabesques and pas de bourrees, but alas, no. 

I’m putting the memory stick in as we speak, so fear not.  Come Monday morning, there will be more than enough photos of Casa de Tow’s Christmas Decorating 2008.  Have a great weekend!


Emma’s best friend Keeley just to her right and Emma pretending to be a flower or something delicate in nature. . .hey, I played contact sports growing up, I still don’t know the meaning of delicate or how to be it.


I love this picture.  My goofy tap dancer right before she tears a hole in pantyhose no. 4 (we’ve gone through now four pairs in less than two months).  This tap dancing can get pretty brutal.


I am sad. . .

Like peanut butter without jelly, spaghetti without meatballs, jalapenos without cream cheese and bacon, I am without something.  We learned early on from Dad that you never leave home without it.  Sadly, no it was not his credit card, it was our camera. 

I have been 27 hours without a working camera.  It took it last breath as I was trying to get a picture of the Christmas decorations Dust put up yesterday.  I was able to get the usual “Dustin don’t fall off the roof while putting up lights” picture and then the “these directions don’t make any sense?” pictures.  We were going to put up the Christmas tree tonight, but without pictures detailing every ornament being put up on the tree, I don’t think so. 

I know most of you are sad about possibly missing ornamental placement pictures, but fear not, for Dad did remember not to leave home without his credit card.  Sadly, he also forgot that I knew his work number and alas my new camera will be in my hands by Wednesday.  Or more like Thursday because UPS refuses to accept “Panhandle” is an actual place and not a term describing a part of Texas.  So like our new cellphones, my early Christmas present will be delivered to Mom and Dad’s house and then safely in my hands (and not in Ellie’s because I’m pretty sure Ellie was the “taker of life” when it comes to my camera’s last breath).

Hopefully we’ll finish with the lights on the house this weekend and I’ll be able to post those pictures.  We want to write something on the roof, but with Dustin’s spelling. . .I’m thinking I might have to make the trip up there.

27 years, 1 month and 15 days ago. . .

I came into this world and met my sister.  Having almost three years on me, she knew how everything worked.  (MY TEACHER)  I followed in her footsteps, usually underfoot, and annoyed her quite a bit growing up.  I followed her because she was the person I wanted to be.  (MY HERO)  So many Halloweens, I dressed the same as her and so many Halloweens she was mad at Mom and Dad for letting me.  (MY IDOL)

No matter the stage we were at in our lives, I always knew I could tell her anything.   (MY CONFIDANT)  She was the one I asked embarrasing questions to and gave me the answers that didn’t make me feel so embarrased.  She was the one that pierced her ear cartilage so that Mom and Dad would let me.  (MY ALLY)  She was also the one that said that hurt like Hell and to not do it.  (MY VOICE OF REASON aka The VOR)  She was the one I told when I got my first tattoo and she was the one that said Mom and Dad were going to kill me.  (MY PSYCHIC)

She was the one I asked how pink the line needed to be and she was the one that said you’re pregnant (all the while giving birth to Jack a mere four hours earlier that same day).  (MY DOCTOR)  She’s the first one to say you’re crazy followed with how can I help.  (MY SUPPORTER)  Without my sister, my life wouldn’t be the same.  She’s the first one I call when there’s good news or bad.  And she’s the first one to be proud of me or tell me I’ll get through it.  The word sister has so many different meanings, but to me it’s most importantly best friend.  I know turning 30 might not be the best thing, but without you, I wouldn’t be my best.  I love you and Happy Birthday!!

And what’s a Steph blog without a few quotes. . .

She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities.  She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway.  She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark.  She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink.  Some days, she’s the reason you wish you were an only child.  ~Barbara Alpert

How do people make it through life without a sister?  ~Sara Corpening

Sister to sister we will always be,
A couple of nuts off the family tree.
~Author Unknown

my goodwill. . .

My friends laugh at me because instead of eating when I’m stressed, I organize.  Hence the kitchen cabinets/pantry switcharoo a few months ago.  Maybe it was the being allergic to chocolate or my dislike of sweets, but when the world. . .or our finances. . .get me down, I turn to my inner Martha and re-organize.  Dustin hates when he has to look for his boxers, but better that than a 400-pound wife with eating issues?!?

I make monthly trips to Goodwill.  My motto is if you haven’t used it/worn it in a year, you’re not going to.  My family has a history of being. . .how do I say this nicely. . .attatched to what they consider valuable memories aka pack rats.  I think we also have a family history of high blood pressure, but that’s for another post. 

The inner pack rat in us all says, “Hang on to that shirt, you’ll fit into it eventually.  You might need that George Foreman Grill one day.  Pleather is cool, no one can tell the difference.  It’s okay to have 14 different picture frames under your bed waiting for their turn to be put out.  Isn’t the term more is always better?!?”  That inner pack rat makes you buy and hang on to things that most normal people would put down or throw away.  As Mom has said another man’s trash is still trash.

When it comes to my house, less is more.  I put everything I can up on the walls, I don’t have accessories (probably because I have small children) and I really hate clutter.  I told Dustin this is why I get tattoos, they don’t take up room in my house. . .

toophies woe. . .

For those of you with children, you will understand that in some point in your adult life, you have added extra letters to the names of your child’s body parts.  For example, when your helping your daughter put on her shirt, you put her armies in the holes.  Put one leggy in one panty hole and the other leggy in the other panty hole.  The list could go on and on and I will admit that I have not called it an arm or a leg or even said toe (we call them piggies) since the early part of 2004.

Teeth are no different.  Bad Mama here ASSuMEd Ellie might be cutting her 2-year-old molars a little soon, but failed to check out what was going on in said pirhana’s mouth.  The last time I felt a tooth, I had teeth marks on my index finger for a couple of hours and it hurt to bend it.  I learned my lesson.  Poor girl, she’s not cutting just one or two, but all four.  We are having serious toophy problems at the Casa de Tow. . .which are leading to serious sleeping problems. 

I don’t go to bed until pretty late and then Ellie was up on and off from 1:30 a.m. to 3:00 a.m.  Motrin works pretty good, but it’s like my child’s internal medicine clock goes, “Okay, that was four hours and two mintues since Tylenol.  Where’s the Motrin??”  If the flushed cheeks, fever and constant toophy pain weren’t enough, let’s not forget the massive amounts of slobber (which leads to sores from the binkie) which leads to runny noses and who wants to forget the runny #2 diapers.  It really is a vicious cycle that everyone is lucky enough to be apart of.

One thing about my girls, I never know when they’re cutting teeth until they’re practically all in.  We usually have two days of crankiness per tooth, so Ellie’s eight days should be ending pretty soon.

Dustin got tickets for the Discovery Center at work earlier in the week.  Normally it would cost us about $20 to get in, but Pantex were giving them away for free, along with dinner.  Dustin’s been wanting to go for years and I’ve wanted to take the girls, but there was no way I could keep up with them and not lose my mind. . .or start drinking right after lunch.

We skipped the football game (did I mention it was the last game of the season?) and opted for a trip into town for a little family fun.  I’m pretty sure we are now one of the outcast families in Panhandle for we have sinned one of the cardinal sins. . .thou shalt not miss a Friday Night Football Game in the State of Texas.  We’re all going to Hell, but at least we got free dinner and probably some form of the common cold from touching everything that everyone else touched.  Ahh, the Discovery Center, keeping antibacterial soap in business since I was a little girl.



Typical Friday in the small town of Panhandle. . .everyone wears purple.  Ellie got an early Christmas present from Nana and Papa so she could be a typical Panhandlian.


Breeding dogs by touch screen.


Checking out the DNA through blood slides. . .okay, I don’t know what was really in that slide, but everytime I watch a CSI rerun, that’s what their slides have. . .


Emma’s looking at different types of animal poop.  Yah, that exhibit was pretty gross.  As well as the different types of pooping (aka, the runs) one may have. . .and let’s not forget the station that had you sit in a chair and push a button to show you how a baby, a man or a dog might sneeze and then air blows at you on the side like someone sneezed on you.  I see Nana cringing now as she’s reading this!


The tornado exhibit. . .aka the circledy air exhibit.


Ellie liked putting her hands in the cloud machine.  This area was all about weather.


Not too mention goofy people playing with the exhibits in the weather area.  I’m pretty sure I was the only one with a camera taking pictures, so that got a couple of looks anyway, but then Dustin doesn’t help when he poses like this.


The circledy air thing again.  “I touch, I touch.”  Followed with Daddy grabbing Ellie as she got one leg and a belly into the circledy air exhibit.


Notice Ellie holding on to the skeleton’s hand like she made a new friend. 


I swear, Emma probably said, “Nice to meet you!”


Daddy and Emma making cloud rings.  Dustin was getting a little frustrated with the other kids not waiting their turn so that he could make a really big cloud ring.  Silly children wanting to play with the children’s exhibits.  Dustin also decided he wants his 30th Birthday Party at Discover Center.  Dustin also called himself a nerd because he loved all the science exhibits they had.  Dustin’s wife also agreed with Dustin.


Cousin Chuck (boy does that sound like we’re a redneck family) enclosing Emma in the bubble. . .and not getting any of the bubble sticky on her when the bubble popped. . .thank you Cousin Chuck.


“I made it in the hole!!”


“What’s he playing with over there??”


The girls particularly enjoyed the video cameras because they would run backward and forward to see themselves on the TV.


Apparently this is Emma’s signature face involving the monkey ears and stuck out tongue.


Emma did this one on her own. 


Nothing like a little overpriced ice cream to hit the spot after an evening at the Discovery Center.


I’m pretty sure this is going to be our Christmas card for this year.  Go Panthers!!


There was this pulley system that shot a ball into the air when you pulled down on the rope.  Emma wore herself out pulling and pulling the rope down to shoot the ball in the air.  She pulled the rope all the way down a couple of times and would end up lying on the floor!  I got her fourth or fifth attempt on video when Daddy looked back and though Emma was having trouble, so he stepped in.  That pulley system has nothing on Emma’s 36 pound frame. . .

twik tweet. . .


here kitty, kitty, kitty. . .

“What’s a pirate’s favorite letter?”  “R!”

This is how we roll.

Yah, my camera’s starting to make me mad with the pictures.  Best Buy will become my friend before Christmas.

Ellie had this look like, “Who is this stranger talking to me and giving me candy?  Strangers with candy are nice people.”  We’ll have to have a talk about strangers and candy because Halloween totally messes that concept up.

“I runnin Mama!”

“I could totally get use to this.”

“C’mon Ellie, there’s another house with a light on!”

Emma the Pirate, Mama the candy holder and Ellie the kitty. . .the really, really slow kitty.

Thank you for the butt shot Dustin.

Notice the candy holder is now holding the really, really slow kitty.  Wait for it, the kitty is trying to tell the candy holder and the picture taker that she is possibly tired and now not understanding the rule of “No Candy Until We Get Home.”

That’s the face of an angry kitty. . .or a whiny 2-year-old. . .

Ellie’s not crying or screaming or doing anything a normal toddler would do in these circumstances of getting as much candy as you possibly can and then not being able to eat any of it.  She just decided that this house with the porch light on and no one to answer the door would be a good spot to lay down and take a little cat nap.  Ellie just didn’t want me to take any more pictures.  This is a “No Mama” picture.


We made it through another successful Halloween.  That is if successful means your black kitty lays on someone’s front porch because she is too tired and hungry to continue.  Ellie didn’t cry and Emma didn’t whine, so all in all it was a very successful Halloween.

Ellie managed to say “twik tweet” and “tanku” alot during the night, but more confusing than understanding a toddler was how people handed out the candy.  Some let you pick out what you wanted, while others chose for you. . .let me tell you, this confused our 22-month-old quite a bit.  Therefore, Ellie had no choice but to walk through their door and reach into the bucket herself and choose what she wanted, which was usually a “tucker” (sucker) or four tuckers.

Emma the Pirate was too busy running from door to door as if the candy would run out and she wouldn’t get any.  At one point I said, “Emma if I don’t hear you say thank you one more time, we’re going home and we’ll be done for the night.”  The next house we went to, the man hadn’t even dropped the candy in her bag before she said thank you.  He was talking to Dustin and didn’t respond with a “you’re welcome,” so Emma repeated herself. . .four more times and each time louder than the one before.  Each time looking at me like, “Mama, I’m saying thank you, I promise.”

Needless to say, after an hour and a half of Trick or Treating, we went over to James’ house for a Halloween pary.  Emma has made a some friends in Pre-K and so has her Mama.  The kids all played and the adults sat around the table and actually got a chance to talk.  I swear if Hell hasn’t froze over yet, I don’t remember the last time I had a full conversation without changing a diaper, wiping hands, settling an argument, etc.  We had such a good time, we didn’t even get home until after midnight.  And the drive all the way across town.  Seriously, that two and half minutes felt like an eternity!  I love Panhandle. 

I’m not sure if we bribed the girls to sleep in the next morning, but whatever we did, it worked.  Ellie didn’t yell for me until 9:45 a.m. and Emma didn’t wake up until 10:50 a.m.  Funny how as a parent, anything past 8:00 a.m. is sleeping in. 

Anywho Halloween 2008 has come and gone and now it’s time to start thinking about Christmas, mainly outside decorations.  Dustin’s already got his tongue slightly poking out of his mouth like he does when he starts to think or as Emma calls it “using your smart head.”  LED lights will become our friends this year mainly because Dustin read you can connect 29 strands together off of one outlet. 

Lord help us maintain our marriage during the moments when he decides to start stapling lights on the roof during naptime.  Help us maintain our friendships with our neighbors during the moments of our lights shining through their house at all hours of the night.  Let us not go overboard with our decorations this year eventhough we purchased (on clearance) a 10’X15′ inflatable that has a sound and light show.  And Lord, help my husband spend his $100 Christmas decoration allowance wisely and NOT ON SOLID WHITE LED LIGHTS. . .yah, I’m talking to you Dustin, you can do blue, red, orange, green, etc., but not the solid white.  And lastly Lord, let the decorating competition on our block not get out of hand, but help us decorate to the best of our ability and beat our neighbors because I’m afraid Dustin has already started the trash talk and he’s a UT fan, so that’s two strikes against him already. . .amen.