Archive for March, 2009

The Smith family is taking a huge step.  It is so huge I had to add a new category named “life changes” to our blog because nothing else sufficed.  I believe I am making the biggest sacrifice here, but I think that Michelle might argue that she is giving up the most these days.  So what is this momentous change I am talking about?  Well, I am sure you have deciphered it based on the subject heading.  We have cancelled cable television!

I admittedly watch too much TV.  My parents never had cable when I was growing up, but even then I watched whatever was on.  So you can imagine that I watched a bunch of bad shows, but at least that was in a glorious time before reality TV hit big.  But once I got to college (past my first semester) my eyes were opened by the offerings of cable television.  Of course, that was before I was paying for it myself.

It has now been almost 9 years that I have been paying for cable myself.  And I cannot claim one good experience with the cable companies.  Their practices border on the criminal.  I don’t think they spend most of their time on the just side of that border.  I’ll never know how the companies are able to legally maintain their regional monopoly scheme.  Whether it is Time Warner or Comcast, the result is the same.  Low quality product at a high cost with terrible customer service.

Their product is always changing, they never provide exactly what you want without giving you a bunch of stuff you don’t want.  Recent experiences have showed me that the uncompressed over-the-air (OTA) network high definition broadcasts look better than what the cable company provides.  Their high costs are what was the final straw.  They charge a significant rate for their service, but what angers me is the extra charges…

When I moved into my house 4 years ago, I finally asked for the HD DVR box, at the time it was $7 a month and you couldn’t buy it outright (now I know why).  The HD was great because I was finally properly utilizing my plasma TV.  Except it flickered.  It doesn’t flicker now with OTA broadcasts, but I digress.  The DVR actually changed my life.  I thought it would make me watch more TV but it actually made me watch less.  Before the DVR I was forced to run my life around a few of the shows that I “had” to watch.  Then when I got other free time where I could relax I had to watch whatever was on at the time.  Now, with the DVR, those two times are one in the same.  I make plans without regard for what is on TV (because frankly, I don’t want to be that loser), then when I do have some free relax time I just sit down and watch a show that I actually want to see.  Because of this, I have become more selective about the TV that I watch.  Through the experience I have noticed that I watch much less of those cable channels that show old movies or random tidbits of moderately entertaining shows.  So what do I watch cable for?  Well, what held me back was ESPN.  This is going to be my real sacrifice.  How will I feel missing an Aggie sporting event.  Honestly, I will die a little inside every time, but my family is worth it.  We got a new bill last month where they increased the “extra” services once again.  I was now paying $15 a month for this cable box after “renting” it for 4 years.  How could the cost of that box go up?  If anything, it should go down.  I could no longer pay for it.  That was enough.  The money we save and the statement we make by cancelling it will fill up that hole in my chest when I have to miss those sporting events.

Now, with regards to customer service, I won’t speak too much.  There is just so much out there on the web complaining about their service.  And I believe every word of it.  I will just say that I have never had a service guy show up on time.  I am also still pretty angry (I kept my cool on the phone) from talking to Comcast today.  They have to send out a technician to physically stop the cable service from coming to our house because we are keeping the high speed internet (going up by $10, without the package).  This visit is costing us $17!  I am cancelling the service, I am not hiring someone to stop the signal to my house.  If that is how they need to cancel it then that should come out of their end.  (Keeping my cool, keeping my cool, let’s move on)

So now what do we do.  I’ve already said I watch too much TV and the DVR changed my life.  I can’t just quit watching TV.  And why should we.  After Ike, when our cable was out for a month, I ran out and got a terrestrial HD receiver so that I could pick up the HD OTA broadcasts.  It worked great, and the picture looked better than the cable.  So, I am cool with that, after all, it’s free!  To complete our conversion we decided that we would get a Tivo.  The Tivo box isn’t that cheap ($300) and we still have to pay for a service.  The difference is that they are upfront about the costs.  We own the box outright now and we bought 3 years of service.  It was tremendously cheaper than cable and we don’t have to worry about monthly costs and unexpected rise in prices.  I am pretty sure that Michelle wants to write a review on the Tivo because she is enjoying it greatly in only a couple days of use.  We have barely even begun to touch all the media that the Tivo provides.

I appreciate the interest for those of you who actually read all the way down here.  I am sorry for the long post but I am not jesting when I say that this is a momentous step in our lives.  It is a scary step but I feel really good about it.  It is a very freeing experience and I doubt that I will ever regret it.  And as soon as there is a decent alternative broadband internet option we are dropping Comcast completely.

–Ries, I feel $80 a month lighter


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One of the strange things about being a mom is that you have feelings that work in conjunction with each other but are at polar ends of the spectrum. For instance:

As a stay at home mom (SAHM), I am on the job every hour of every day, every day all week long. Forever or until I get tired of him and give this kid the boot out of the house. Of course, I have a lovely husband who does a lot with Gideon and the house, but there is only one Momma and one set of milkies and does my kid ever know the truth of that.

Some days I get bored. Sometimes, I dream about what it would be like to spend an entire day all by myself, eating junk food and watching Firefly. Though I know I used to actually do that, the memory of it is a bit hazy. Sometimes, I just want a bath and a trashy book with which to rot my brain. Most dreams involve some sort of escape.

It is funny though that the opposite of this feeling of escape is missing my boy. We go to church nursery three days a week: Tuesday for women’s Bible study, Wednesday for Right At Home (a SAHM group), and Sunday for church. Gideon is in the nursery for 2-3 hours a stretch.

At the end of those 3 hours, when it is time to pick up my wee man, I think I am as excited to see him as he is to see me. Honestly, sometimes, I am more excited. I do not get paged (the parents are given beepers) much these days so he stays in his room without me the entire time now. At the end of those three hours, I miss him. While I am away doing stuff, I do not worry about him or miss him; he is in good hands. But when I see him again, I know he was missing all along.

I miss him as if I have not seen him in days. My heart and body physically lurch towards him. I scoop him up and squeeze him and breathe in his little body smell (which is slowly moving from sweet baby to active toddler). He grabs me and smiles and I know that he belongs to me. I know this on cellular level. This is mine.

I am not a hovering mother. I happily leave him with people at church, family members, and friends. I am not uptight about germs. I let him explore the world around him without many boundries. But I still miss him and I know it is because we are a duo, physically and emotionally.

One day, he will trot off, on his own,  into the world, and he will not need me as much. I think that day I will miss him, but be very proud of my very big boy.

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Originally uploaded by Wandering Eyre

I found this nice, fat baby in a field of bluebonnets this morning. I decided he would look great in my house, so I brought him home. I always thought the stork brought babies. Who knew they could grow in our terrible Texas clay?

There are more bluebonnet and Gideon pictures on my flickr page. Enjoy.

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As requested by Aunt Cherie, Fish Tacos.

For the fish, you can use any kind of mild flavored fish, like tilapia, orange roughy, or flounder. You can really use any kind of fish, but these are easy to find on sale and so that is what we use.

For the cole slaw , adapted from Cooking Light:

  • 4 c. thinly sliced green cabbage
  • 1 c. chopped tomatoes (plum or roma work best)
  • 1/3 c. sliced green onions
  • 1/2 c. fresh cilantro (or more to taste)
  • 2 tbl. lime juice
  • 1 tbl olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss well. Keep in refrigerator while cooking the fish. This can be made a few hours ahead.

Sour Cream Topping:

  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1/4 chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbl taco mix or seasoning

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate until serving.

For the fish:

Saute the fish fillets in a skillet with about a tablespoon or less of olive oil, a generous amount of taco seasoning or taco mix, and the juice of one small lime. The amount of  seasoning you use will depend on your taste preference. I also like to add a dash or two of cumin. Cook on medium heat until the fish begins to flake. You generally need about 2-3 fillets per person.


Serve fish and slaw in warm tortillas with your favorite toppings, including the sour cream topping above. Here are our favs: jalepenos, monterrey jack cheese, sauteed peppers, fresh cilantro, tomatoes, salsa, or Chalulah. Serve with black beans and rice.


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Recipe adapted from Cooking Light.

  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c. packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbl wheat germ
  • 2 tbl flax seed (ground or whole)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 rolled oats (quick will work as well)
  • 1 c. equivalent of dried or fresh fruit (original called for 1/3 c. ea. of dates, raisins, cranberries. I used fresh strawberries)
  • 1 c. milk or buttermilk
  • 1/2 applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 lg egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 c boiling water

Combine flour and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir in oats and fruit. Make a well in the center of the mixture. Combine buttermilk or milk, applesauce, vanilla, and egg; add wet mixture to flour mixture, stirring until just moist. Stir in boiling water. Let batter stand for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375.

Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated in cooking spray. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes ot until muffins spring back when touched lightly in the center. Remove muffins from pan immediately (you may need to run a knife around the edges to loosen) and place on a wire rack to cool.


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Originally uploaded by Wandering Eyre

This past week, Gideon and I went to a local farm and picked strawberries. He is not old enough to eat strawberries yet, but he had fun squeezing one I gave him. After being cooped up inside after days of rain, he was just happy to be out of the house.

Afterward, we had a picnic with the other moms we went with and their kids. It was fun and chaotic, as it always is when you get a group of preschoolers together. It reminds me of why I only want a couple kids. That and how quickly large numbers of little kids get on my nerves. They are cute and sweet, but I am always glad they are not all mine.

With our strawberries, we gave a few away, ate them as is, made fruit salad, and made (good for you low fat) oatmeal strawberry muffins. Yum! I will post the recipe later.

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New Banner

We have a new banner featuring the adorable boys of the Smith house. If you are reading this in a reader, come and see the cuteness.

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