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Hey Working Moms!
Do you - like me - want to order a wife
off Amazon? Well, we can't. So here's
the next best thing to help you stay

"Just One More" - C'mon, make a box!
And make a difference.

Hey - It's Us!

It's a mighty big world. Better have a sister to hold you.

Yo. Chill'ax with these blogs we love. Peace out.
Rachel's My Space
Durham D'Railed
Lisa's Boys
Ah So - Allie's Cats
Always Wanted Four
A Twist of Kate
From Russia With Love
Family Reunion
The Bryants
One Day More
Long and Winding Road

My other virtual world - Thanks to Rachel:

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AT&T U-verse Rocks!
Let me hook you up with U-verse -
it's way, way cooler than cable.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Deep in the Heart of Textes

You know I contribute to an AT&T blog about working moms and cell phones?   Which the girls think is hysterical, since they are so much more techy than am I. 

But here's something even I use (though Rachel's the one who told me about it) -  Cha-Cha.  242-242, texted on your wireless phone to get answers to questions.  Last's week's CalmCoolConnected post about Cha-Cha generated numerous email questions to me, plus (at last count) 16 of the comments that I so desire.  I live for comments.  I love comments.  I want to marry comments.  So please - if you go watch this little video clip - click the "Comments" link, scroll to the bottom, and "Leave A Reply."  They're why I get up in the morning.

Here's the clip:  Learn About Cha-Cha

And here are questions I've been asked:

What's the catch?  They have to charge something.
They do.  But they charge their advertisers, not you (the textor.) 

Is it really free?  Or, as Rachel say, "Free 99!?"
As long as you have a texting plan on your phone.

Will they start spamming me with all sorts of ads?
Not according to their privacy policy.  We use cha-cha all the time and so far - no weirdness.

Who actually answers the questions?
I suspect folks in a call center far, far away.  I would not pursue "Cha-Cha Specialist" as a career choice.

Are their answers any good?
For us they have been.  I've not asked the meaning of life or anything like that.

Guess what?  I asked Cha-Cha what a penguin, boot, train, whale and piano have in common!
Me too.  And I got the same answer you did:  "Black and white."  Which tells me the puzzle must be really old, because not all boots and trains are black now.  But at least - mystery solved.  Or as solved as it's likely going to get.  Where's Nancy Drew and Nero Wolfe when you need them?

Can you call Cha-Cha?
You can call 1-800-2-cha-cha but we don't.  In fact, I'm not sure my kids would know how - you know, that whole "talking on the phone" thing they used to do.   I'm not sure Rachel, Lois or Hannah actually speak words now, other than, "I need...." and "She took...."

Is Cha-Cha 24 x 7?
They say they are but I can't verify it because I'm not.

I don't have AT&T Wireless.  Will Cha-Cha work with my service?
(sigh)  Yes.   But you should get AT&T Wireless.  And you should call or ping me so I can hook you up.  Do it now.  Operators are standing by.

I have another very handy texting trick that I'm saving for another day. You're going to want to know it.  So.....


Posted at 07:10 pm by beckyww
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Honorable Mentions

Hannah was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society tonight, as were 170 other 7th and 8th graders at Bush Middle School.   To my amazement (and gratitude), they finished in an hour.  I'm considering this a dry run for Rachel's high school graduation in June, when I'll make sure every family member has at least one book or a DS Lite with fresh batteries in-hand for the duration.  Her class has 650+ upcoming graduates.  So maybe we'll also pack water bottles and snacks.  And blankets.  And jammies.

The scholar and her parents.  With three teenage daughters around, Keith and me, we ain't too smart right now.  Most evenings, we are totally void of any intelligence, say our progeny.  But we're a figurin' we'll get a whole lot smarter in 'bout 10 - 15 years....

Keith usually stays home w/Julia (strict bedtime) on Wednesday nights while the older girls and I go to church.  Tonight, Rachel and Lois had to take Julia with them.  Rachel was so afraid she'd forget to run by the children's room and pick up her youngest sister that she wrote "Julia" in what she thought was erasable marker on her hand.  Well, it was a Sharpie.  Fail!  Honorable intention, though....

Still no real answer - but some Honorable Mentions....

Speaking of "Fail" - well, I still don't have an answer to this puzzler.  Friends contributed some Honorable Mentions, but none of the answers sang to me.  Connie, Aimee and Lois R. all thought it might be the objects' ability to make sounds.  Well...they do....but dang, the boot is a stretch.  Connie and I also shared the "black and white" idea, which proves how smart she really is.  Aimee and I also pursued an oil thread.  Whales were hunted for oil, you have to oil a piano and a train, there is polishing oil for boots and it turns out even penguins have oil in them.  But why not a spouted can?  Or a dipstick?  Or Jed Clampett?  Mayme was thinking maybe they were the "largest" of something which they could be, but....  Vicki - who teaches - said based on her experience, a student's real-life answer would be "ummmm....."    Renee - always the pragmatist - questioned whether the bottom left object was really a penguin at all.

I've got a copy of this puzzler in my inbox at work and at home.  I can't file it or delete it until I've got an answer.  Just can't.  It's a matter of honor now.

Posted at 07:15 pm by beckyww
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Sunday, April 19, 2009
I Wonder

I've purchased a package of 10 plastic hangers every Saturday for the last six weeks.  That's 60 hangers.  Today I yelled from the utility room, "I need hangers.  Lots of hangers."   Silence.  Then a few sputtering, "I don't have any."  "No extras in my closet." 

I wonder where they go.  I added 60 hangers to the (undoubtedly) hundreds already in the house.

I cooked six lbs. of hamburger after lunch today (which was - surprisingly - burgers) to freeze in two-lb bags.  Most of our favorite recipes begin, "Brown two lbs. of lean ground beef" - and in the evening, there's time only to assemble, so I cook the meat ahead.  And what do I find but an empty snack box.

I wonder who puts an empty snack box in the freezer?  I'm suspecting it's the same person who puts empty Pringles cans back in the pantry.  And leaves 1/2 of one pretzel in the jar on the counter.

Rachel and Lois have gotten me hooked on Fail Blog, which I now peruse about once a week.  Every day for two weeks, I've stared at this page from a child's workbook, wondering what a whale, piano, penguin, train and boot have in common.  At first I thought "five letter words" - whale, piano, train, oops, "penguin" and "boot" blow it.  Then I thought maybe it was some first vowel pattern, like train, penguin,  piano, boot....oops, "whale" blows it.    Then I thought color pattern - black and white piano keys, black and white penguin, black and white whale...oops, the train and boot blow it.  Then I thought "track," like maybe it's a player piano with music on a track, the boot and the penguin leave tracks, the train runs on a track..but what about the whale?  I even googled the words, and found others have posted their frustrations with deciphering the pattern.

So what's the pattern for the bottom right box?  I am not getting it.  And it's bugging the heck out of me.  And I wonder why it bugs me so much, too.

Wishing you a wonder-ful week....and please let me know if you figure out the pattern.  Then I can go back to fretting about hangers and snack boxes.

Posted at 01:55 pm by beckyww
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Thursday, April 16, 2009
Keep the Change

Just in case you were wondering what Ted Nugent sounds like when he's playing the National Anthem at the home of Texas liberty - the Alamo.


Keith was one of the 16,000 at the San Antonio Tea Party last night.  I would have loved to have gone, but someone had to manage the home front.   

Keith's video reminded me of when I talked my way into a press pass at 1986 San Jacinto Day festivities because I really wanted to to hear - and be near - Jerry Jeff Walker. 


Read my lips:  #41 (to be) was there, too.


But Jerry Jeff was da man of the hour.

That was then.  This is now.  And now it's time.  Really - it's time.


Add hot water.  And stir.


Posted at 08:00 pm by beckyww
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Saturday, April 11, 2009
And That Means

Easter weekend.  And that means...

Lots and lots of cookies on Friday, with an assortment of sprinkles which - for some reason - included Batman and Sponge Bob.  Had to finish the cookies before Saturday because Saturday means....

The church Easter Egg hunt, with three goofy, bunny-eared hiders.  While they were hiding plastic eggs (to be counted and redeemed for candy post-hunt), the little kids were busy which means....

Learning about Jesus' last days, including the Last Supper and after which means...

Praying the garden of Gethsemane, and writing the name of someone you pray for on a rock.  After several serious lessons are reviewed, it's time for a little fun and that means....

Lining up for the egg hunt.  Julia has a basket but chose a plastic grocery bag because it's less likely to spill.  Get ready...get set....and that means...

Go!  Julia found a wooden egg, too, which got her a special Easter game as a surprise.  And now it's almost time to leave, and that means....

A little parting gift for a big sister.  "Rachel - I need to show you something."  Rachel fell for it - and got a headfulla cascarones for her naievte.

So Saturday is almost over.  And that means it's time for Sunday. 


Please, Lord, do not ever let me forget the cross and the empty grave amidst all the fun and frolic. 

Because that's what Easter really means.

Posted at 01:35 pm by beckyww
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Saturday, April 04, 2009
Serendipity Saturday

Here's some randomness on Serendipity Saturday.  Nothing relates or really makes  sense.  Sort of like real life.

You will recall my progeny dissing my 20+-year-old lipstick last year.  Today Rachel bought me a new lipstick, a gift which I accepted because my treasured lipstick case finally broke.  So I will be utterly gorgeous at church tomorrow.  Don't sit near us - I'll be such a vision of loveliness, your thoughts will not dwell on spiritual matters.

Goodbye, old friend.  (sniff)

Rachel went to get this new lipstick in her Focus.  Which wooks a widdle Lagomorpha-like. 

Ummmm....what's up, Doc?

Our church's Women's Ministry hosted its annual Spring Fling last night with a 50's theme.   Hannah went with me to help take pictures.  But not this one.

Why Keith handles Driver's Ed

Rachel worked childcare (Parent's Night Out), accompanied by her favorite assistant.  I offered to take Julia home with Hannah and me when our dinner finished at 9 p.m.  Nope.  She wanted to stay with Rachel until closing at 11 p.m.  I know where I rank.


Keith and I have been checking online today, trying to get a sense for how the strike talks are going.  Or not.  In 1983 in Houston, we had a three-week strike, followed by Hurricane Alicia, followed by a major late-September flood....all in the midst of pre-Divestiture tasks.  I worked every day from August 7 through mid-January, with two days off:  Thanksgiving and Christmas.  If they strike this time, Keith will be working 12 x 6, but, at least at the moment, I won't have to do so.  And I am thankful.
In 1983, I worked six days a week in my Comptrollers unit, then Sundays in Directory Assistance (DA).  This might be an ear piece I...ummm...."borrowed" from DA.  It just might be in my scrapbook, with a notation of my average call handle time of 32.8 seconds.  Eleven-year-old Sarah and her best friend Eileen spent one Sunday afternoon calling 1411 and asking for "Aunt Becky", to the tune of $100 worth of DA charges (400 calls.) 

Donnette, Gaye, Kim and me (front)....when we were still energetic enough to work 12 x 7. 


Posted at 03:32 pm by beckyww
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Sunday, March 29, 2009
Teacher, teacher!

Our church recognized Julia and 40 other kiddos this morning for their "Pastor's Pals" bible memory work.  With each grade level, the requirements are more stringent.  For second grade, Julia memorized the 10 Commandments, the greatest commandments and a regular verse.  When Rachel, Lois and Hannah were doing this, they always hoped the children's minister would add John 11:35 to the list of eligible verses.  Ummmm.....no.

That's my girl - bottom row, second from the right  When I go to heaven, God's giving me her beautiful glossy hair.

After church, the children's minister treated all the Pastor's Pals to Incredible Pizza.  Rachel, Hannah and I went along for fun.  Julia tried to act "cool" and distract me while Rachel seruptitiously salted her already over-salty mac'n'cheese, thinking Mom was too dumb to notice.  Fail!

Rachel and Hannah demo'ed their mad hoop skills in quest for more tickets.  Rachel gaves hers to Julia, who receemed them for a ball and some manner of tongue-dying candy.  Hannah is now the proud owner of a gynormous Hannah Montana pencil.

Julia and I continue to slug away at a children's story bible every night.  She gets so excited when she recognizes a story, or relates a story to what she's heard in Sunday School.  Two weeks ago, I casually mentioned I was worried about something.  Julia immediately scolded me with, "Mom, we're not supposed to worry.  We're supposed to pray."  When we started the read the story of Jonah traveling to Ninevah via whale gut, her face lit up and she stabbed the page telling me, "Mom, I know this story, Jonah wanted to get away from the Lord, but he couldn't - because God is everywhere."  Well, yes.  Yes He is.

I know many people would scoff at Pastor's Pals and bible story books.  After all - bible story books are diluted, they're not the pure Word of God.  And why should kids be bribed/rewarded to learn scripture?  The knowledge itself should be its own reward.  And I could have argued that position, too - before I had kids.  And before I had a child that didn't hear a single bible story until she started learning English at age six.

Reality is that Pastor's Pals and bible story books are venues not only to teach Julia about God, but also to make me examine what I truly believe myself.  If my faith is so etheral and jargon-packed that I can't explain it to a child...well, then, I really don't know what I believe.   I just know the pretty words to spit up and hope no one challenges my pablum.

Julia told me at Christmas, "You are my Jesus teacher."  But she's wrong about that.  She's the one who's teaching me..

Posted at 02:18 pm by beckyww
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Sunday, March 22, 2009
Episode 9 of "A Man and His Pond"

The water is 60 degrees now.  So the koi can be fed.

Notice the reflection at the water's edge.  I am going to have fun with my waterproof Olympus this summer!

Posted at 05:36 pm by beckyww
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Thursday, March 19, 2009
Go Ahead. Try This at Home.

Julia is practicing to participate in the American Heart Association's "Jump Rope for Heart."

Those whooshes you hear?  Watch carefully.  Those are "double unders."  She's twirling the rope under her twice for each jump.

Go ahead.  Try this at home.  Hurmph

Posted at 05:09 pm by beckyww
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Friday, March 13, 2009
Now I Can Break Out the Whips and Chains

Nobody adopts accidentally.  You might get pregnant accidentally, but you're sure not adopting accidentally.  Sometimes - facing the mountain of paperwork, interviews, medical exams, background checks, etc., you wonder if you're ever going to adopt at all, or if someone 100 years from now is just going to stumble across your withered corpse hunched over a stack of paperwork clutching a blue-inked pen with your eyes forever frozen scanning the horizon for a notary.

A tiny fraction of that paperwork is a lengthy written personal evaluation done in preparation for a social worker visit.  Keith is not keen on questions more personal than, "What's your name?"   So imagine his delight when - in October, 2004 (Julia came home in May, 2006) - he and I each had to answer literally 18 pages of questions like, "Describe why you are not satisfied with yourself" and "What are your three main fears or concerns?" - all before our first social worker visit.

I had never before had any meaningful contact with a social worker.  I'd met a few social work majors in college - generally people whom (to me) seemed to be trying to compensate for majorly messed up home lives of their own by trying to fix everyone else's.  But here I was in October, 2004, chasing dust bunnies and mentally preapring for whatever else I might be asked by whom I pictured to be an 80-year-old drone in bi-focals and corrective shoes, eager to peer under my couch cushions.

Instead - our agency (Buckner) sent us Jennifer, a super-friendly, well-organized social worker from Ft. Worth, who specializes in adoptions.  One of the first phrases out of her mouth, "I don't care about your dust bunnies.  And I don't even look under my own couch cushions."   I knew I liked her right then.

Jennifer did the required pre-placement family visits before Julia arrived home in May, 2006, as well as the required post-placement visits (monthly for six months, then on the year marks.)  We actually looked forward to them.

Today was huge for us.  Today was our last required post-placement visit.  We're coming up on the three-year mark of Julia's adoption, and that's the last post-placement visit required by the Russian government.  Jennifer flew in to ask a few more questions, check out the house, talk to all of us (individually and together) and share a pizza.


Everyone in the home has to be interviewed alone.  Rachel told me later, "Mom, I told her how you beat me every night." 


When we started in 2004, Jennifer was taller than Lois and Hannah.  Not so much now.

So as soon as Buckner files this last report, stick a fork in us, we're officially "done" with what we owe the Russian government.

Of course, we'll never be "done" with what we owe Buckner.  And everyone who helped us bring Julia home, like Jennifer - with whom I want to be friends for a long, long time.

But in the meantime - it feels good to be "done."  


Posted at 07:33 pm by beckyww
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