31 December 2011

Drydock Weatherford Lake

Lots of cheap real estate on Weatherford lake this year if you're interested! Don't buy a boat, there's more beachfront than waterfront real estate this year! Here's hoping it fills back it! Our lake is down too but not nearly this devastatingly.

Cactus azle western wear

I do not know much about the cactus on our property. Admittedly, it's a good thing they can survive Laura & I's lack-of-gardening-skills. I do know that if my cactus reaches THIS size, I will not be able to enter my driveway and it'll need to go one way or another! Found this beauty outside Azle Western Wear which is a CUTE little cowboy/girl shop. Probably owned by the two middle-aged people following me around the store trying to sell me everything from boots to wrought iron signs to top hats to huge belt buckles. It was a real treat! Save the sales pitches on every aisle, I'd visit again.

love them curves but they're hard to find

In the vast desert that is north Fort Worth. This image brought to you carefully, slowly and responsibly  (hehehehehe) on my motorcycle ride on 31 Dec 2011. This was taken on E Lake Rd of Weatherford Lake just south of junction w/ FM730.

Old gem. True beauty.

Found this gem on FM730 near (north) of junction w/ 1886. So awesome. Don't make 'em like they used to...

Yellow House...

and HUGE wrought iron lizard fouhd on Eagle Mtn Rd off 10 Mile Bridge Rd. Whoa baby. This picture and the other crazy ones about to come up to the blog brough to you from today's motorcycle outing on a BEAUTIFUL 70-degree SUPER sunny day in Texas on the last day of 2011. God bless TX...

My lil love bug

So cute. My little Claire Bear. So much fun w/ my baby this week! LOVE,DAD.

28 December 2011

Hey, look at the boob in aisle 36C!

Today I went to a nurse-in at Target. Google "Target Nurse-In" to bring yourself up to speed. Hurry. This post will continue in 30 seconds.
Just kidding. You have to scroll down, silly.
So I went as a show of solidarity. Anyone who talks to me on a semi-regular basis knows that I'm not opposed to formula if a mama needs it. Lucy had it for a few months, Claire has had the odd formula bottle (there are nights I'm just too tired to life my shirt up one. more. freaking. time.), whatever. Just keep the kid alive and thriving.
But for the 99%, I'm a pretty hardcore breastfeeder. I will say that it's not for the faint of heart. Claire and I are actually praying our way (and medicating - let's not get loopy, now) through a third round of thrush and I'm just about ready to scream. Well, scratch that. I've done my share of screaming over this whole mess, but there is just nothing that compares to feeding an older baby. For all you mamas of young babies out there who might be reading this, hang in there. The fun hasn't even started. Seeing Claire giggle as I whisper, "Mama gonna eat the baby" while I nibble on her fingers is just too rewarding to let a little thing like thrush keep us down. There is nothing in the world like nursing an 8, 9, 10-month-old. Of course, there are the gymnurstics to deal with, but we make do. Seeing the pure love between a crawler and her milk supply is just so fun and sweet. Claire loves a lot of things,
I just don't see the correlation between breastfeeding and indecency. I suppose I could take my shirt off and skip down the aisles of Target, but nursing my baby? For the love of all that is lactating, it's a baby eating. I suggest carrying a blanket with you to put over your head, should you run into a nursing mama. So, off we went, the Cookes Five. That's right, my manly man came with me to support his woman and her right to feed the dadgum baby wherever she so chooses. I believe he put it something like, "Somebody will have to take Claire home and give her formula when you land yourself in the clink for inciting a riot," but let's not split hairs.
It was mostly myself and 15 other women discussing amber teething necklaces and cloth diapers like hippy freaks so often do, but there was plenty of gross and indecent baby-feeding, too. Thankfully, the kind Targeteers were educated well in advance and left us the heck alone to feed the children from the tap and socialize. I'm sure ample media coverage and the threat of ICKY BEWBIES all over their cafes was enough to do the trick. (I did, however, buy a soda at the cafe. I mean, Claire was thoughtless enough to bring her meal from outside the store, and some places frown on that. Stinkin' babies. No manners at all. Somebody had to do the right thing.)
So yeah, it was memorable. I think I'll print out a couple of articles about the event for Claire's baby book. Such a cute little lactivist.

Laura Cooke
Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. ~ Mother Teresa

Lord have mercy it happened again.

I just typed a big (and rather funny) post and the entire thing deleted itself. Wordpress, here I come. Gahhhhhhh.....you've GOT to be kidding me.

24 December 2011

Mass Hysteria.

So tonight was Christmas Eve Mass. Let me paint you a picture.
Sometime in the past three days, Angie and I decided that we would all go to Mass together. Yes, our two familes (7 children in total) would fight through 2500 people and sit together at the 4pm Mass. Last year we went to the 4pm Mass. I was 6 months pregnant. I ended up sitting on the concrete behind a giant pillar. Did anyone offer a seat to the pregnant lady? No. Twice Yearly Catholics are ruthless.
So Angie calls today around 1:15 and says, "We should leave my house around 2:15 or so." I say, "Okay, cool, we'll leave here around 1:45." I hang up the phone and glance at the clock. It's 1:35. Wha??! So I start yelling and running around. All of the girls are napping, of course. I run into our room, where I see Molly sound asleep, in the clothes I'm planning to wear to Mass. They've been lying on the bed all morning, and Molly decided to change into them before she fell asleep. It's ADORABLE, but we have ten minutes. I wake her up and she mumbles, "I'm wearing yo cwose two hours!" Umm...okay. Molly is the first into her Christmas dress. Or should I say, her 2010 Christmas dress/birthday dress/Claire's baptism dress/2011 Christmas dress. I'm cheap, and who on earth buys a dress for their kid to wear once? I bought it extra-roomy last year, and this year it fits like a glove.
I throw on my clothes, and run into the playroom where Lucy is out cold. She comes to and growls, "I wasn't even sleeping for very long." Yeah. This from the kid who naps once every 4 weeks. I throw her dress over her head and Andrew rushes them into the car. I grab my sleeping Chubbers McGee from her crib and buckle her into her carseat.
Molly's howling, I'm throwing Santa threats around like they're credible and everyone smiling by the time we get to Angie's. Angie, her daughter M (who has been instructed to bring her biggest coat) and I jump into the car and peel wheels to the church, where there are approximately four cars in the parking lot. We cackle as we rush into the church, because we know we can sit wherever we darn well please. And we do. 20 minutes later, the church is filling up and we're thrilled to pieces with our "ten rows back, near the choir" seats. People rush up to our pews, see our coats laid out and then throw us nasty looks as they realize the pews are taken. Sheesh, people, get there early! We didn't give up our Saturday afternoon to play bridge, here.
The men finally arrive with the balance of the children. They range in age from 10 years to 8 months. 8 months, 2, 2.5, 3, 4.5, 8, 10. The two oldest are quiet and sweet. The rest of them are like...puppies. Yipping, squirming, whining, chewing on things, sleeping here and there, licking each other, howling...just like puppies. The church is just crammed with people, and we're all just relieved that we have a place to sit.
With about 30 minutes to go until Mass starts, people start looking around because something smells. It smells BAD. I tell Andrew it's Molly several times, he swears it's my diaper bag. I finally decide it's really Molly, and Andrew gives me loose directions to the car so I can change her. It was definitely her, and I definitely had ONE WIPE in the car. Of course. I get her changed and she still stinks. So I spray her skirt with the first thing I can find. She asks me, "Mama, whatchoo pwaying me wif?" I throw the bottle back into the car and grab the toddler. "Lysol, honey." She beams. "Ooh, dat so niiice!" Uhhh...yes.
We run (Mama in 4 inch heels - they make me 5'6". They're worth it.) back into the church and Mass is about to start. I apologize to everyone seated around me for the "did something die in here?" incident and nurse Claire real quick, as the bottle I brought may be filling, but it's no substitute for clawing at Mama in public while the dude behind her huffs in astonishment. (Don't make me use my "Baby Jesus was breastfed" line, mister.) We make it through the Penitential Rite and Claire is now happy and ready to play hard. Of course. She starts blowing noisy raspberries at the people behind her, stopping every few seconds to let out a noise that sounds something like a dog whistle. It's her new trick. While it may be ear-splitting, the look on her face mid-squeak is just too cute. The people behind us are cooing up a storm and Claire's just eating it up. Andrew and I pass her back and forth for 75 minutes while she drools on us and spits at the neighbors.
Mass is dandy, (with the exception of Molly sticking her hands up my skirt several times) and singing Joy To The World at the end of Mass is just perfect. The joy that this year as brought is undeniable, and Andrew and I are so, so, so tickled with the life we have together. Three healthy, slobbering kids, a new house to let them run, a marriage that nourishes us, a job that puts food on the table and challenges Andrew, friends who just make us so happy, a parish we love...in six short years of marriage, we've been given the moon and stars. To think that I thought he was cute from across the cafeteria...
Mass ends and we call ahead to Texas Roadhouse. 11 starving people headed out for steak and beer. Hallelujah, indeed. We put 4 of the kids at one table and keep the youngest 3 at the other with us. The oldest 4 just confirm what every patron thought when they saw us walk in. Noise and chaos, here to run you out of the restaurant. We ignore them, for the most part. The children, I mean. It's hard to ignore the tight-lipped grimaces from everyone else. But hey, what are you going to do? The best way to kill time between Jesus and Santa is with red meat, right?
Once we've completely destroyed the Roadhouse, we super-tip our server and bundle the kiddies into the car. Almost Christmas!

Laura Cooke
Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. ~ Mother Teresa

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19 December 2011

Mea Culpa

Having three kids is really farking exhausting. I feel like all I do is think, "Oh...I meant to do that..." But when I actually have the TIME to "do that," I'm too tired to do anything having to do with "that."

That includes blogging.

I'm going to try to get better about that. I promise. Maybe that will be my New Year's resolution? Excellent idea. I also need to update the pics on my sidebar, because that picture of Molly is definitely from a time when I still thought 2-year-olds were cute. I was so stupid then.

Today she took an orange marker. What did she color? What didn't she color? Let's see, she started with her arts-and-crafts table. From there, she went for...
...the carpet.
...the coffee table.
...the wool rug. You know, the one I love so much.
...several stuffed animals.
...Wii remote.
...TV remote.
...entertainment center.
...family room door.
...several walls.
...laundry room door.
...green chair.
...two white chairs.
...her arms and legs.

She's still in time-out. I plan on letting her out when she's 9. Or 10.

Let's see. What else happened today? Claire decided that she'll only sleep with classical music in the background. Just one song on a constant loop, thanks. Yeah. I have no idea how we're going to handle the rest of the night. At least we got her to stop using the seahorse toy to put herself to sleep, because having to run in every 7 minute and hit the little belly to make it play again was really not conducive to any sort of productivity in any other area of my life. Claire also OD'd on chicken piccata and may wake up in the morning looking like a caper. We'll have to see. It was the stuff of nightmares. Noodles everywhere, screaming for more...the girl loves her food.

I think that's about it around here for one evening. Just trying to win you all back over and convince you that I wasn't killed or something. I think The Facebook is partially responsible. I need to stop using that stupid website.

Well, I'm off to take a hot bath and eat some cookies. Really, anything that doesn't involve angel hair pasta or Molly would be a win at this point. Good thing she's the cutest, funniest kid I know.
When I was in the dating world, I had a boyfriend whose mother absolutely lost it if she didn't get to see her son on his birtday. She always said, "It's a holiday for me, too!"

I was thinking about that comment in Mass yesterday as I was listening to the homily about Mary and her fiat. Now that I'm a mother, Christmas takes on this intense, joyful meaning to me. Not because I'm a parent, but because I'm a mother. Mary said "yes," and I know now what it feels like to know that you're going to have a baby. Every mother across the world is one with Mary in this, that we know what Mary must have felt when she found out she was going to have a baby. It doesn't matter if it's your first or your fifteenth. Finding out you're going to have a baby takes your breath away. We're one with her in that we know what it's like to feel your baby move inside you. We know how it feels to see that baby for the first time. She may have given birth to the Savior of the World, but each birth saves someone, doesn't it? I always wonder if she spent her nights in bed wondering what he'd look like, like I've spent so many nights of my own.

Hearing Mary's story as a mother just thrills me every single year. I think in my head, "Oh Mary, you're going to LOVE being a mom!" I think of all the things Andrew and I have to laugh about as parents, and I know that Mary and Joseph must have had such fun together, even in the midst of the intense positions they'd been given. When there's a child in the house, there is joy. When I think of joy at Christmas, I think of all the joy that children bring, and I know that Mary must look down on us now and think, "If those weren't the best years..."

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a "wiwwy hot" wooden cucumber to eat.

14 December 2011

LOVE feeling better

Geez. The whole family has been deathly ill for like an entire month. It has really tested our patience and endurance the last month of 2011! That said, I feel better this morning! WOW! First morning that I've felt better in like 45 days. And, Laura is making pumpkin bread for our neighbors. She's the best. Off to the break room for some coffee. Pesky 0800 meeting interrupted my routine 0800 coffee consumption routine.

08 December 2011

Claire's Cowgirl Cute Corral!

We finished Claire's room right before Thanksgiving and I just realized I hadn't blogged them yet! Thanks to Grandpa Dick giving up a day of his vacation to paint, Claire is now cozy in her bubblegum pink room, sweetly accented with gray, black and white details! We love it!

Sent from my Samsung smartphone on AT&T

06 December 2011

Anna Lucille - 4 years, 5 months and 27 days of Sweet Perfection.

You know when you've hit on a good thing, and Lucy never leaves me with any doubt. With Lucy, the sun is always shining. And I do mean always. Lucy might have a pout or a meltdown...once a week? She loves to help Mama around the house, hold her sister, play with Molly, cut things out of paper, sing songs, play pretend, make up stories...she's just the best kid in the world.

Lucy is going to be starting kindergarten after Christmas and we're all very excited about our foray into the world of homeschooling. She'll be four and a half, but I do think that she's really ready. I'm not a pusher when it comes to formal education, and trust me when I say I'd be all too happy to unschool them forever. Having a 7-month-old leaves me incredibly unmotivated. Lucy has been working in a few reading and writing workbooks, and I think she's probably really ready to start setting aside some time in a formal "school day." Molly is getting to the point where I can distract her, and Claire's nap routine is finally evening out, so I think it's time. Right now we're moving into Book B of the Explode the Code starter series, and Lucy is really itching to read by herself. I'm not looking forward to teaching reading, to be honest. I want to fill her with information, but mechanics are not my strong suit. Thankfully, we're a family of strong readers and that's the most important foundation for teaching reading, so I guess we'll just jump in.

Lucy is so excited about Christmas this year. She and I had our very first Mother/Daughter date to see The Nutcracker and we had such a good time! She loved the dancing and was dying to buy her own Nutcracker to dance with. Sadly, we were in line behind the recipient of the last Nutcracker, so Saint Nicholas was kind enough to bring her a nutcracker ornament - the look on her face was priceless. She's been dancing around with the Nutcracker Prince all day, just thrilled to pieces to have one of her own!

We're going to see Santa at the Golf Club this Saturday, and Lucy is going to ask him for a "Hello Dolly." This cracks me up because she saw a LaLaLoopsy Doll in the WalMart ad and decided she just had to have it, but watched Hello Dolly that afternoon and has been calling it that ever since. I have no idea what LaLaLoopsy is, so I suppose Santa needs to do a little investigating!

As of right now, the entire family has been incredibly sick for about a month. I mean, we're really doing it up good. Colds, sinusitis, bronchitis, voices gone, thrush, colitis flares, you name it. We're one sick family. Lucy has managed to stay well through all of it, and is the only one who hasn't been hacking and coughing and medicating like crazy. Her immune system is just wild. I was thinking back, and I'm pretty sure she's actually never been sick, which sort of wows me. I think she's had one ear infection since birth. I wish I knew her secret. So she's been taking good care of all of us. The girl was born to be a nurse. She runs for tissues, holds Claire, wipes noses, does whatever she needs to do to make sure things are running in tip-top shape!

At 4 and a half, Lucy weighs about 35 pounds and is wearing size 8.5 shoes. She's a 5T is most clothes and really has her Daddy's body. Sort of like a rectangle with legs. Her hair is still bright red and the topic of many grocery-store conversations. She's a very gregarious girl and will take a few minutes to talk to anyone who wants to chat. Lucy is incredibly polite and does so well remembering her manners! She loves to pray and really loves learning about the Lord. I know that her guardian angel must just treasure her so much! She has so many questions, mostly about the way things are made. Today she wanted to know if all trees have to start out as bushes. So. Cute.

Lucy, Lucy, Lucy. She's our charming, darling girl. Wouldn't trade her for the world!

05 December 2011

Wherein I sound a little more positive than I did earlier.

Well, we made it through today. To be honest, I think the most exhausting part of the day was having to find my GI's office in the middle of Baylor All Saints. Is there anything worse than knowing you're about to find a tiny medical office in the middle of the hospital district? Yuck. And with three kids in tow, it's nothing short of daunting.

We left here around noon and swung by Sonic for a drink to take with us to the doctor. (I will admit right here and now that any posted "rules" a doctor's office may display are flagrantly ignored by the Cooke family. We eat, we change diapers, we use cell phones, we're really a dream.) We got to the hospital district with 15 minutess to spare, which is great because we parked in the wrong garage and had to walk about a block and a half in the freezing wind. After several calls to the doctor's office to find out just exactly where "Building D" could be, we ran into the office right on time and paid our $40 copay. ($40! There goes today's grocery money...) Now let me remind you that I have a cough for the ages, and as I'm trying to sign myself in (new patient paperwork + 3 children = gahhhhh), I'm coughing like a maniac, germs just a-flyin'.

We get called back pretty quickly, and they put us in the tiniest exam room they possibly have. Maybe...5x8? And we sit. For an HOUR. My girls? They were perfect. They sat together on a tiny foot stool and watched The Cat in the Hat on my phone while Claire screamed and clawed at my face. I tried to feed her, play with her, console her, strap her into the carseat and ignore her...nothing. She just wanted to stand on my lap and screech at the top of her lungs while I coughed so violently I could feel my heart dislodging from my ribcage. While I should have been praising my little angels for being so perfect, I was lamenting my own sorry state.

The doctor came in and was very odd. She was nice, but I couldn't tell if she agreed with me, thought I was nuts, or if I was just wasting her time. She had a very strange manner and all of a sudden I just wanted to cry and get out of there. She just kept looking at me like I was an idiot. It did, however, turn out that my self-diagnosis was spot-on and that my current GI is a complete loon. I will not be starting immuno-suppressants before Christmas, thank the Lord. We decided that the best idea would be to finish the steroids, give it a few weeks, do a quick scope to check the inflammation and go from there. I may or may not need some light maintenance drugs, but as my disease is "mild" and presents no real hardships for me, she said that a colonoscopy every 2-3 years and some light meds will work just fine.

She was nice enough to point us through the hospital to get back to our car, rather than make us walk the walk in the cold, so we hustled our biscuits back to our parking garage, where I did the "keep up for cryin' out loud" hustle to our car on the 4th floor. What's funny is that this guy, about 24 or so, was walking next to us and was clearly just over the moon. He said, "Are you here for a baby too?" I was feeling SO poorly that rather than get totally stoked for him and sing the praises of baby-producing, I looked at him like he had 4 heads and squawked, "Are you outta your MIND?!" I quickly realized that the poor guy's wife was in labor and changed my tune as I coughed and hacked in the cold. Lucy handled the entire faux-pas for me as she so often does, and told him that we just love babies and we're going to have a million more and please-tell-your-wife-congratulations! And then she gave me a, "Do I really need to talk to you about your manners?" look and told me to get in the car. Schooled.

We then went to Best Buy, where my children sat like little statues while Miguel kindly replaced my SIM card and fixed my whole texting issue. Mind you, they did not nap today. I was floored, but still too consumed with self-pity over my cough to realize just how awesome they were being. Even Claire just sat in her seat and smiled sweetly. Lucy mentioned something about Rudolph (obsessed.) so I decided to reward them for their awesomeness by just BUYING the doggone DVD already so that she can watch it until she fairly wears out over the whole thing. She was so excited I thought she was going to pop.

When we got home, I set to fixing dinner (scrambled eggs and madarin oranges. that's right. who treats you right?) and was tickled when the doorbell rang and it turned out to be a box of candy that I had the foresight to order last week from Bomboy's. (I happened to order it on a particularly rotten day, and what joy that it should show up on an even more rotten day!) I met the mailman at the door and boy was he shocked when I realized what it was and screamed, "THANK YOU SWEET JESUS!!!" and fell over the threshold coughing to death.

As soon as we got home I loaded up on all sorts of cough medicines and pain relievers and the like, and I'm really hoping to be IN my bed by 8:30. I need sleep. I need to recuperate. I also need to take the baby in for shots at 8am, so that's kind of a contributing factor. Getting out the door before 8am is pretty much my best trick.

I've gotta go. Stay tuned - plenty of cute pics coming up soon!

Santa Baby? You out there?

This is not going to be a very exciting post. Just an update for the records, I'm afraid. Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE to update with about 70 posts on the past month, but I'm afraid I'm completely underwater and it's all I can do to just type. Let me take this moment to say that I'm very glad I never went into professional blogging. Let me also take this moment to say that I'm very glad that I never went into professional anything.

Today is my 2nd opinion with another GI in the area. I'm really on pins and needles, hoping that we can find a plan that's less aggressive than removing my liver, replacing it with half my brain and putting me on aggressive immuno-suppressants for the rest of my life.

That said, my colitis issues are SO on the back-burner until I get rid of this insane cough. I get a cough like this every, single year. I HATE winter. I do mean that. I would prefer June year-round to the mess that November brings. The cold, the illness, the heating bills, the rain, the mud, the coughs and colds, the flu, the cabin fever. It's all terrible to me. All of it. I was just getting better and I woke up with the mother of all coughs on Saturday morning. :-( Woe. Woe. Woe.

I'm taking my cell phone back today. I love it, but it's not letting me send text messages. Fail. I can't do without that. :-( Woe. Woe. Woe.

Well, Claire is napping and the kids are watching Monsters, Inc., so I should finish up some chores and find some clothes to wear. As if finishing up some chores means they're ever done. Today I'm just over it all. Thanks for letting me whine.

04 December 2011

Major date night

Started with a trip to the museum to a cool George Washington exhibit. Neat guy. Next it was downtown to Jamba juice. Then we went to B&N for some relaxing magazine reading and book buying. Then, despite current GI issues, we satisfied Laura's craving for quesadillas at Qdoba. They were GOOD. Then, we headed back up north to Lake Worth. ATT was not open, GameStop doesn't fix broken skis, Albertsons still sells huge Hershey's pies and Best Buy customer service is still the best in the industry. With full bellies, calm minds, a new phone we head home to watch Lincoln Lawyer (GOOD).

03 December 2011

The fastest huge update ever.

1) we had lots of company for thanksgiving. It was so, so, so fun. Grandpa Dick was in from WA state, Andrew's parents and brother Tim were in from MD, Char and Ben came for turkey, it was so super fun. Grandpa was here for two weeks and just left yesterday. We had an awesome visit! Tonight at grace we wrapped up with a, "thank you Jesus for this food," and Mo said, "and for Grandpa." Sweet girl. Love her.
2) Claire got baptized! Andrew's dad is a deacon in the Church and we decided to risk the state of sin to wait until he could come down to baptize her. Ben and Charlotte are Claire's godparents and we're so excited! She was baptized on the 26th and then we had a huge bunch of friends out for desserts and fun. We are so blessed by our wonderful friends down here in Texas. God has been so good to us in the people he has sent our way, and see our girls tearing around the house with their buddies while we cram into the living room to laugh together is one of our greatest joys.
3) You may have heard that my health has been a little crazy. It has, but we're hoping that it's slowly ironing itself out. I will say that I'm losing the baby weight fast and furious, but I didn't want to do it via IV drugs and major GI issues. I met with my doctor today, and it feels like he's really trying to put me on too many drugs too soon, so I'm seeking a second opinion and seeing an osteopath next week to figure out where to go from here. For now I'm on steroids and I hope to be tapering down to a smaller dose tomorrow. I feel like I'm starting to pull out of the extreme fatigue, and we're hoping that I'll be eating normally by the end of the weekend. It's been so weird having no appetite, especially right at the beginning of the holidays! But I suppose it's good, in a way, because I'd just be hating my lack of self-control right now anyway. I ate a full breakfast this am and boy did I feel like a wild woman!
4) Andrew and I have a major date night tomorrow. Stay. Tuned.