Thursday, December 23, 2010

Black Gold

I've called Krista our golden dog, particularly because of her early battle with the parvo virus. She has cost us thousands of dollars. But it was so much fun having a dog that we got a second dog last May. Surely, with our hard won knowledge on how to protect a puppy, Winston would be affordable entertainment.

Winston was my Mother's Day gift. He should be this year's Christmas gift as well and probably next year's birthday gift, too, because Winston has created a whole new set of expenses.

Winston is exuberant! A few inches taller than Krista, he easily leaps over the baby gates placed to keep him in the kitchen. He is still in the puppy stage of chewing. He has chewed numerous papers and boxes, dog beds, my new boots and the cushion of our brand new couch. Fortunately, the couch was new enough I could order a replacement for the cushion and the boots were on sale when I re-purchased them.

And then there are the little things. Winston chews through his leashes and pulls the stuffing out of his toys. I give him "bones" to chew but Krista, ever the boss, takes them away. Fortunately, Winston likes his crate, since that is where he has to be when no one is in the house. Krista won't follow him into the crate, so he can chew in peace when he has a favorite treat. We go through lots of treats, enough to justify our Costco membership, for sure.

The other line item now in our grocery budget is Cheerios. Need Winston and Krista to settle down? Throw a handful of Cheerios on the kitchen floor. Need to work on good behavior? Feed them toasted oat by toasted oat. I should buy stock in General Mills.

But mainly I just enjoy our dogs. They are gorgeous. (And here they're sitting, quivering, intent on the next Cheerio!)

It's a great Christmas week so far. Kelly's full time job is going great. (Man, that sentence sounds good!) All the kids are fine, as a matter of fact. Ricky finished the Christmas shopping yesterday - that has to be a record, done three days before Christmas. Can't say too much about that now, though.

All in all, we are having one of our most blessed holidays ever.

Merry Christmas, Y'all!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Guest Post - Christmas Goodies

Time for a guest column!
My home growing up bore a strong resemblance to the June Cleaver house in that Daddy worked and the home was Mama’s domain.  She did all the housework, including especially the cooking (and we boys weren’t taught how to cook).  Now food was important in my house growing up – we planned car trips around favored restaurants on the road.  Dinner was always at 6, and we almost always had some type of a dessert.
Now Mama was a good but basic and straightforward cook.  The things she cooked were always tasty and well-prepared, but definitely not “gourmet.”  Our food was not very flashy.  But at Christmas time, the desserts did get a bit fancier, with a number of recipes my Mama accumulated over the years, ranging from divinity to teacakes.
Fastforward to my early years as a lawyer.  The first firm I worked at had a food feast for weeks leading up to Christmas.  Every day one or two of our group would bring in a treat, lawyers and staff alike.  And being competitive lawyer types, we didn’t buy stuff – we made it.  So I started learning how to make some of the really good treats my Mama made – pralines, divinity, etc. etc.
These days it has become my tradition to go candy and treat crazy during Christmas.  Beginning before Thanksgiving I start making candy, cookies and snacks until we almost can’t eat it all.  (Bear in mind that Kerry makes about 20 batches of her fudge for family, friends, and clients during this same time frame).  I use some of Mama’s recipes, some from my Grandma, and some from my mother-in-law.  I get new recipes from the internet and from the newspaper.  The first time I met my son-in-law’s parents, his father and I spent the evening comparing recipes.
So far this year I’ve made six batches of spicy Chex mix, two batches of peppermint chocolate chip meringue cookies, one batch of toffee, two batches of peanut brittle, one batch of divinity, two batches of Wyatt’s Cafeteria’s egg custard, and two batches of soft tea cakes.
Here’s what’s left to go (at a minimum):  more Chex mix, pralines, lots more meringue cookies (Kerry’s favorite), more toffee, more peanut brittle, white chocolate covered pretzels, more egg custard, at least two batches of sugar cookies (Kerry mixes the dough, I bake the cookies, and the kids decorate them), and I’m sure I’ll make more tea cakes.
Hungry yet?
If you read Kerry’s blog (and you obviously must!), you know our family moves at a ridiculous pace.  Now you know how we get the energy.  One of the things I enjoy about making all of this (besides eating it) is that every member of the family has their own favorites, and they seem to change over the years and even over the season as we gorge on one or another of my confection concoctions.
Merry Christmas from Ricky!  I love you, Kerry!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I'm going to the Ball - the 2011 Inaugural Ball celebrating the swearing in of a good man who has been my friend and client for more than twenty years. How cool is that?

This time my carriage will be driven by American Airlines, a nice break from the recent weekend trips. Starting at Halloween I have gone to Oklahoma twice, San Antonio twice, Indianapolis and Memphis. This weekend we are headed to Houston for a wedding and then one more trip to Oklahoma before the end of the year. So that's one plane trip (Indy) and 4,000 miles of driving.

The invitation to the ball could not have come at a better time, though. This holiday season started a little flat. I've had mild feelings of doom and gloom, feelings I couldn't shake off. Do I only have a few holidays left? Will my body ever return to "normal?" (There's nothing particularly painful, just annoying, lingering side effects from my colon dissection in June.) Am I fated to be that brave, stoic cancer survivor who eventually succumbs gracefully to a recurrence?

All stupid stuff.

Now the Christmas shopping is mostly done and even wrapped, the decorations are up and the first seventeen batches of fudge are finished and delivered. My oldest, after a year and a half of constant searches and interviews, just landed a full time job! My older son, a joy to have back in the house, has a renewed sense of purpose and optimism and is making serious plans for the future, determined to follow through. My married kids just received bonuses and good reviews at their jobs. My youngest has excelled at band (San Antonio & Indy) and soccer (Memphis), all while keeping up with his school work.

And right after the holidays, which are and will be awesome, I get to go to a ball with my own Prince Charming. Seriously cool!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How sick am I?

Just received a news flash.........

April 15, 2011 is on a Friday. However, that particular day is a holiday in Washington, D.C.

When a tax return due date falls on a holiday or weekend, the actual due date rolls to the next business day.

The due date for 2010 non-corporate tax returns is April 18, 2011.

Should I be concerned that my friends and I are giddy over having THREE extra days? That's at least 40 extra work hours to get done what has to be done.

It's a good thing, since our "dear leader" can't see fit to finalize (finalize, what a joke!) 2011 tax rates. Maybe by April 18th we'll know enough to make reasonable first quarter 2011 estimates, unless of course they decide to add even more holidays for the District.

Hmmmm.  More holidays in D.C. - could be enough side benefits to that to more than compensate for delayed and retroactive tax law changes.