Friday, December 29, 2006

Noles Strike Again!

FSU 44, UCLA 27
December 27th, 5pm pst. ESPN

CAN YOU BELIEVE IT????!!! The Noles finally showed up for a game this season (unfortunately it's the last one)! GO NOLES!!!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

What a GREAT holiday!

O.K. This really rambles, but it truly represents the laid back kind of holiday we had here. What a cool holiday we had. Dad was in town and we had a blast. One day we hopped on the metro and headed over to see the National Christmas Tree right in front of the White House. It was tall, very tall, but it wasn't too crowded there so we got to get up close. There was no one on the Metro and not very many people downtown. There were also little trains running all around the tree, and there were trees from each state decorated by folks in that state. We hung out there on Christmas Eve Day, which was a good decision as it rained on Christmas Day all day.

We had decorated our tree at home with a garland of scrapbook paper that the boys (and our good friend Sami) helped me loop around and make. I wasn't quite into the whole holiday thing when we put up the tree initially, but I had to decorate the tree somehow nand this is what I settled on. The tree already has lights, but I wasn't excited about having to drag out all of the decorations only to pack them up a few days later. I'm all about having the Christmas tree up in February, but we're moving in January, so that was out of the question. But, as it grew closer and I started wrapping presents, I definitely got into the spirit of Christmas. We had a nice relaxing Xmas and it will definitely rank up there on the good holiday scale.

We opened stockings on Christmas Eve as we always do, then Dad let us sleep in on Christmas morning (gotta love Baba for that!!!). The boys were very patient - cranked up, but patient. We finally dragged out of bed and headed upstairs and started opening presents. We all wear Christmas Hats and the kids hand out presents (now that they can all almost read the names!). The boys had a great time, as did Baba, Tom, and I.

Here are some assorted pics of the day. Hope your was as good as ours!

Tom attempting to tear into a gift

Each of the boys picked out a game for Daddy.

My new SKATEBOARD! Tom got me one that I had to put together so I could learn a bit more about it! Watch out - here' I come (all decked out in wrist, elbow, and knee guards of course...and some bruises and scrapes, or which I am already the proud owner!)

The Callanens gave us this COOL game - Hullabaloo (from the Cranium folks). The boys LOVED it, and everyone was playing.

Ian playing Santa

Sam was so careful at first opening gifts. That was until he realized that everyone else was done
and he was only half way through!

Sam and Ian studying their new Dora Game Boy game.

Phipps men never do read the instructions...unless they can't get their Transformer to transform.

Trash Man Max

Ahhh...Game Boys...

Baba enjoying his new toy

And last but certainly not least - my new slippers! These are sooooo cool. They are comfy and stuffed full, and warm. You can get them at I think I'll get a few more pairs...Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 22, 2006


I found the coolest thing ever... One of the IRW Instructors posted a link on our message board to a web cam in Africa. It is just about the coolest thing ever. I'm not behind the times - I've seen many many live web cams. But I've never seen a live animal web cam where you weren't guaranteed any action (it's not like htose at teh zoo where they are pointed right at the animals in their cage - you have to "catch" them on the screen). This one has cool sounds and centers around a watering hole in Africa. As I type this it is pitch black and nothing is on the screen (aside from the pond itself and the stuff around it which you can see in night mode), but you catch it at the right time and there are all kinds of animals. I've heard, but not seen, all kinds of birds and bugs. There are zebras, wildebeests, some kind of antelope type things, baboons, and these cool stork type birds (who knows - maybe an Ibis?). There's someone operating a remote because periodically it zooms in on some unaware animal or group of animals. Anyway, go check it out - it is fun to see and the kids like looking at the animals too (although of all the folks in the house I think it's the coolest!).

Monday, December 18, 2006


First off, I'm messing with my template, so this puppy will look a little different as I figure this whole blog template thing out. I really wish I had the Matrix trick where I could download the knowledge right into my brain and I'd know it. But since I don't, I get stuck with these not so cool blog templates on my way to the ULTIMATE template. Enough geeking out for now - blog might be different or I might just leave it back at that first pink blog if I get mad at it.

So, the second day of house hunting was much shorter. I went with Jennifer (our realtor) and the three boys on Friday after school to the first of three houses and knew right away that it would definitely work for us. It's a beautiful house nestled in a nice area amongst **cough, cough, sputter sputter** a few million dollar homes and right across the street from a TWO million dollar home. As Tom pointed out last night - "Yeah, uh, can I borrow some sugar? " He he he...anyway. There are some more reasonably priced homes (well, if you think that $500,000 to $900,000 is reasonable) nearby as well, and ours falls into that category - asking price was $800,000. We're renting of course, so it is MUCH less than that - WHEW! The house itself is a nice big house that has three levels - two stories and a basement that is fully finished for about 3/4 of the footprint of the house Rest of it is the laundry area and storage place). It has 4 bedrooms and 3 baths, plus this big basement space, this monster deck - and one of the coolest parts - a MUDROOM. Who knew that a girl born and raised in Texas would get so excited over a mudroom? Well, it's happened - I am certainly excited. It also has a two car garage plus a bunch of extra space for your stuff. We are definitely folks with stuff, so that's a super double bonus for us. The house sits on almost an acre, so we have a great big old back yard. Unfortunately it is right on a busy street. But, while we were inside we didn't hear any road noise. Also, since the property is so big you can play out back and there's no concern about the ball rolling into the street. Well, there is a basketball hoop out front, but not sure how you can play out there unless you are a big kid or a grown up. The driveway is set up such that you don't have to back out onto said busy street, and there's also room for four or more cars plus the two in the garage, so people can park there easily when they come visit.

Max can stay in the same school that he's in because he's in a magnet program, but he'll either have to hitch a ride with Dad on his way to work or catch the bus to school from the local elementary. Not sure how long that ride is, but we'll get that all figured out in due time. For now I'm just so excited to be getting out from under this landlord who doesn't have a clue. We'll sign the lease in the next day or two and then hopefully get the keys and such on Jan. 15.

The best part of all this is that Tom, in his infinite nerdiness, has decided that it would be "cool" if he rented the place sight unseen, How's that for pressure? No, really, no pressure - I'm just so excited about it and he hasn't even seen the place! Anyway, he'll see it before we move in, but he's being a dork and doesn't want to see it before he signs the lease. Doesn't even want to drive by it. What a goofball.

Oh. Maybe that isn't the best part. According to Tom, the address is the best part of this house (remember that he hasn't seen it yet, so it's not like he's swinging for the outfield with this one) is the name of the street. Initially I had seen this house but had ruled it out because of the name (well, that and the distance but come to find out it isn't really that far). I told Tom that we'd never live on a street with this name, but once again I find myself in that position of being utterly and completely wrong. We are moving onto...don't laugh too hard..Hummer Rd. Yes, Hummer Rd. ...sigh... That's enough house stuff. I'll get some better pics up as soon as I get then scanned in or as soon as I take a few myself.

So Sam decided that he'd wear underwear over the weekend. Daddy apparently has that effect on the kiddos. He (Sam, not Tom) was wearing the underwear just fine and has had a few accidents, but is starting to pee in the potty - and we count that as a BIG score. We were out for about three hours today, and aside from hitting the head three times in Target, he did a pretty good job. Baby steps I keep telling myself, and Tom keeps reminding me. One day all the boys in this house will wear underwear. Can't imagine, but I went out WITHOUT a diaper bag today. How bold of me to do this when we are not quite out of diapers. I did take a spare pair of underwear and shorts (yes, it was 70 degrees here today), and yes, we did need them in the end (after Target of course), but no, it wasn't a disaster without the bag. It's been six years with a diaper bag (current bag only about two years, but who's counting just how many bags I've gone through???!!!). What an odd concept.

That's all for now. We had a good day, which was a nice thing. Good days are coming more and more often lately. Seems like the turmoil of the summer has settled and things are slowly getting back to normal, whatever that might be in our new adventure we call living in Virginia. The boys are causing all kinds of trouble, the grass is growing, and the sun is shining. Perfect day if you ask me.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

House Hunting Day 1

Saw four (actually five) places today. Four were on the list and the fifth we saw a sign and ducked in.

Place #1 - a beautiful townhome. Four bedrooms, modern, raised ceiling, two car garage and plenty of space (bigger than our house in Texas!) but no lawn or place for the kiddos to play. It was also FOUR STORIES. At least two and possibly three flights of stairs up to the bedroom - just hope that you don't break a leg while living there. In general very nice - still under consideration.

Place #2 - T/H right near place #1. Big problem - backs up to a fire station - you can see the trucks pulling out from the back windows. VERY LOUD sirens, and nice, but not quite what we want.

Place #3 - a house that sits on some land. Very nice farmhouse style. First on my list, but a bit more than what we are willing to pay. Turns out that the owner is a realtor who owns a bunch of rentals (like 500 or something crazy like that) and won't budge on the price. Plus, he charges more for cats. No go on this one.

Place #4 - another house that was kind of weird. House itself is beautiful but the layout is strange. Three BR right next to each other and a HUGE basement with another BR type space. Lots of room, right near a school, and great lawn for kiddos to play in. On a semi cul-de-sac, so not a lot of traffic. Weird things were that there was a pedestal sink in one of the bedrooms (not the master), and that the island in the kitchen was crooked and partially blocked the egress from the kitchen. Odd. Landlord won't budge on the price as it was just listed and the folks before were paying more than what it is currently listed for, and it's more than we want to pay.

Place #5 - a house around the corner from #4 that is for sale. BEAUTIFUL house. Owners inherited it from deceased parent. Big open picture windows up front and beautiful wood floors. The basement is the same size as the house, and the house is a good size. Basement fully carpeted and finished - very nice. Not sure if Tom would go for the big open windows, but it is open to what would be a formal living room and the kids play space, which gets cleaned up each night. So, very lovely house. Owners might have a contract on it, but if not they want least want to wait until the spring to rent it as things pick up around here in the spring. Bummer. Very nice house.

So, we're off today to look at #6-8. He he is on Hummer Rd., and Tom voted for that one sight unseen. One has ugly blue shutters and the third is on a weird plot of land who knows where. Hopefully one of these will work out. If not, then we might just hit up the first townhouse and park it there. Like I said, it's a very nice house, and I'd be all over it if there was a yard or a place to play and ride bikes, or if it didn't have FOUR stories. Maybe we'll end up there and I'll have the most beautiful legs on the planet...I'll keep you posted.

Monday, December 11, 2006

They dug through my undies AGAIN...

Who knows what the TSA is seeing in my luggage when they scan it, but for the SECOND time in the past four months they opened it up and searched it. Problem is, they searched the luggage full of DIRTY CLOTHES that we wore for four days at Disney. We were ripe after a day at the park, as were our clothes, so I can only imagine their faces when they opened up our luggage. Then again it can't be the worst they've seen...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Very Random Thoughts

Today was one of those hang around the house in your PJ's kind of days. I love those days when you drag out of bed and never quite get going. It's wasn't for a lack of energy or a lack of ambition, we just had nothing pressing today, and our wonderful children (called this today because of how they behaved...) let us sleep in. We all just hung out and did basically nothing today.

Well, I guess one thing I did do was call a realtor. I met her when I visited the open house of a property that I refer to as "The House I Lust After." They have been trying to sell this place (around the corner from here but in Lake Barcroft - so they have lake access) since last March. She took over the sales contract in September and dropped the price down and had an open house. Me being the nosy neighbor stopped in. It was a beautiful house. I cam home and told Tom that he shouldn't let me go to things like this as it only causes trouble. Anyway, we weren't looking at buying and they weren't renting. Then, a month or so ago, to my amazement and complete glee, they put it up for rent. The House I Lust After was available - out of our range - but all things are negotiable in this market. Now all we needed to do was to get our landlord to figure out if he was going to make the repairs (long story that will come later) or let us out of our lease. So, he agreed to release us from our lease. When we got back into town last week I immediately checked on The House and it was under contract. I am crushed, but I'll get over it. It was a beautiful house though.

Anyway, called the realtor after hunting up some places around here that I'd like to see. Hopefully she will find some others and we will start our hunt. We need to move quickly as we need to be out of here by Jan 31., but we have time to look and be picky. As one friend said, "It's where you live and eat and sleep - of course you need to be picky." Hopefully won't be too tough in this market.

So I'm not in the Christmas spirit this year yet. Weird as I usually have all of my decorations up before this time. Matter of fact I'm usually driving Tom nuts about the decorations by this time. I'm sure he doesn't mind, but I'm just not quite in the spirit yet. Hopefully something will snap and I'll get those Thanksgiving clings and door decorations down and get that tree and all the rest of the Xmas and Hanukkah stuff up. I at least need to get the tree up. That would be so uncool to NOT have a Christmas Tree this year. Maybe I'll get the tree up and then get the boys to make stuff and we'll decorate it that way. For some reason getting the tree up seems like a daunting task. Not sure why. I'll keep you posted on what happens.

I wish everyone who has a blog would update it regularly. Not daily necessarily, but on a regular basis. I have one friend who has pics from Halloween sitting on the last post that she wrote. I'd LOVE to hear more about her exploits and that of the newest addition to the family, but man, nothing. Also, there are some bloggers who I have come to really enjoy reading - mostly because of their wit and obvious enjoyment of writing. Occasionally they take a lot of time between posts and it's almost like an addiction. I feel a longing when they don't post and want them to hurry up and write something more. I wonder if you can get addicted to reading blogs. I guess it isn't all that bad since I don't get to read as many books as I used to. It's not as stimulating intellectually, but it's reading. Aside from the newspaper and it's daily delivery I rarely read anything above a First Grade level. Blogs are escapist for me. So please, if you do have your own blog, keep up with it. I can't wait to read the next installment.

On this topic, I love seeing pictures with blogs, so I'll toss a few this way. I have lots more Disney pics, but here are a few that I'll share now. The important piece of info that you need to know is that my kids LOVE the Power Rangers. They dressed up as Rangers for Halloween, and watch an episode almost every day. They are not picky about their Power Rangers - they love them all (did you know there were like 13 different incarnations of Power Rangers? We are currently on the Mystic Force set!) Anyway, we were at breakfast at MGM and saw that the Rangers along with the Cars characters were going to be out there just as we were finishing up breakfast. So, we headed out to the back of the park and hit pay dirt (or so I thoughts). Max was stoked - ran right up and started posing for pics. Ian on the other hand was mortified and wouldn't leave Grammy's arms. He kept asking to go home. Poor guy was surrounded by Rangers wanting to play and he wanted to run and hide! Sam, on the other hand, found his hood and did try to hide. The Pink Ranger managed to coax a small grin out of him, but he too wanted nothing to do with them. Guess seeing them in real life is waaaaay different than watching them on TV. Gotta keep that in mind for the next time. Hopefully they will be as excited as Max was! (And too bad I didn't get a pic of the back end of the Red Ranger. He had some very nice assets if you catch my drift.) Enjoy!

Max's Power Pose

Sam's Hiding Spot

Ian and his three Power Rangers

Friday, December 08, 2006


It's been almost five months now since my mom passed away and I have yet to share her obituary here. Not quite sure why the oversight, probably nothing special, but I thought I'd share it now. While it's tough to really sum up someone's life I think this does a pretty decent job of conveying the person that mom was. She was a strong woman who excelled at surviving, and it was something from way out in left field that got her in the end. Glioblastoma. What an odd smallish sounding word for this killer tumor. A brain tumor. Who knew that something so far off from all that she had wrong with her would end her life. She was a fantastic person and I'm crushed that I didn't have more time with her nor do my DH or the kids, but there's also a peace that I feel in her death. I guess it's those years of "training" that she has given me in dealing with death and dying, in realizing that life not only has a beginning but an end, and that we do not get to choose when that end comes about. It's also that understanding that life is not about what we are missing out on, but who we are and what we choose to make of the life we have.

So, here's the obituary to read. Enjoy the fact that you knew her if you did, but don't mourn her loss, for she is dancing wherever she is now.

Joan A. Meltz Born in Newark, New Jersey on Sep. 21, 1946 Died Jul. 26, 2006 and resided in San Antonio, TX.
Joan DeVaney Meltz, a 35-year resident of San Antonio, died peacefully in her home on July 26, 2006. She was 59 years old. Joan was a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend.

Joan was born in Newark, New Jersey on September 21, 1946. She married Martin L. Meltz in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, on August 7, 1970. She earned a B.A. degree from Our Lady of the Lake University in Speech and Hearing Disorders in May, 1974, and earned a M.A. degree in Counseling Psychology from Trinity University in December, 1978. She worked as a psychotherapist and counselor, both part-time at the Ecumenical Center for Religion and Health, and in private practice.

She was preceded in death by her parents, John DeVaney and Grace McLaughlin DeVaney. Joan is survived by her husband of thirty-five years, Marty; daughter, Suzie and her husband Tom, precious grandsons Max, Ian and Sam; sister and brother-in-law, Ann DeVaney and David Sonneborn; niece, Kristin Becker and her husband, Michael Henninger and their child Oscar Beckinger; nephew, Erik Becker and his wife, Michelle Nord; sister, Suzanne DeVaney; brother and sister-in-law, Hugh and wife, Norma Solena DeVaney and their children, Melissa DeVaney, Ana Sofia DeVaney and Alan DeVaney; sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Gail Rubman, Lewis Rubman and their son, Aaron Rubman.

To know Joan was to know a caring, loving, and accepting woman. Everyone who met her genuinely adored her. Joan was a strong woman who demonstrated her strength through her struggle with her chronic illness, always managing to remain upbeat and joyful while showing a true zest for life. Joan was rarely without opinion on political issues, and actively supported causes related to women’s issues, separation of church and state, and quality education. She was a staunch supporter of peace, and was intolerant of violence. Her beautiful soul will live on forever in everyone who knew her.

Joan’s ashes will be distributed in the Pacific Ocean near the Golden Gate Bridge. A celebration of her life will be held for family and close friends in Sausalito, California, and another in San Antonio in September for her many friends and family here.

You can see it here and leave a note if you like: Mom's Obituary

cold children and an odd request...

As I was tucking in the kids tonight I realized that their little fingers were freezing cold and that their rooms were a bit colder than the rest of the house. The temp is set to 72 degrees, but our downstairs master rarely gets above 65 unless we have the space heater on. I can't imagine what their rooms are - quite chilly. Anyway, I started piling blankets on them and was wondering if this is the right solution. For years I never quite understood the function of the comforter. I always thought it was nice cover for the bed once it was made. Guess it really does serve a purpose after all - it keeps one's toes from freezing over night. Maybe I need to dig out those comforters for the two little guys so they can un-bury themselves from those 8 or so blankets that they do have (from their family though - I tell them the blankets are giving them Grammy hugs, Mimi hugs, Cousin Kris hugs, etc.). Need to study more about this - still haven't mastered the cold weather gear - and it's about 22 degrees outside right now.

O.K. cold children covered, I received an odd request, sort of. The newspaper guy stuck an envelope in our paper a day or two ago, with an envelope with his return address on it and a Happy Holidays card in there. All printed out on labels, nothing handwritten, and I have no idea who this person is. I've never had any interaction with my newspaper delivery person other than getting my paper every day, and I'm not honestly sure if I should be offended about getting this in the paper. I think that it is odd for a service person to ask for a holiday gift directly. I have no business relationship with him, I tend not to tip folks extra for the holidays, and I have never made cookies for the mail carrier or the newspaper delivery person. Does this mean that if I don't give him a tip that my newspaper will end up on the roof, in the middle of the street, or on top of the car? Does he expect a tip for good service? I'm already paying for delivery of the paper, and generally you tip for service above and beyond. It's like rewarding your kids for behaving at the store - we don't because we expect it of them. No clue what the local etiquette is here though. That might be the kicker. If folks around here tip all their service providers, then this might be par for the course. I just think it's a bit odd to be so forward as to ask for a holiday gift from a customer.