Macrander Late Thanksgiving Poem

It's that time of year when plump, ready turkeys start to disappear, When the Macrander family near and far,

Start gassing up the commuter car.

For Emily, Thanksgiving day was held in Sugar Land,

Though why Aggie always gets the first invite, I don't quite understand.

Aggie at the Underwood Thanksgiving.

Aggie followed around cooks and sat in the sun all day long,

Because the bond between her and Kaitlyn's cat was never strong.

Sarah flew from Denver to be with the rest of the clan,

And told the family about her new boyfriend, Steve, not Stan.

Sarah and Todd by Todd and Nick's apartment.

In Baton Rouge, Todd and Nick were kind enough to host the whole group,

Though in such close quarters, Dad struggled to find a private place to...stoop.

We always cherish the moment we get to watch Dad cook,

Because we know these secrets are found in no book.


After Thanksgiving, Jarrod and Emily did arrive,

But only to hop in the car and head to New Orleans - another drive.

On the hunt for a restroom, we went into the mall,

And found a tree to take our Christmas photo by, oh so tall.

Merry Christmas from Nick, Todd, Sarah, Emily and Jarrod.

As with custom with every trip,

Each Macrander goes to Todd to get a clip.

Todd cuts Jarrod's hair.

After several days of family fun,

And starting to feel like we each weighed a ton,

We gathered around the apartment stairwell,

While Todd ran to apply some last minute hair gel,

And took this lovely family photo.

Macrander family looking spiff.

Christmas 2015 off to a Lights in the Heights start

Mom and Dad have begun their whirlwind tour of the US. First stop is in Houston. Saturday evening we went to a neighborhood festival called Lights in the Heights. We dressed up Aggie and took her with us.

Aggie dog dressed up for Lights in the Heights

There was a lot of booze, Christmas music and of course lights.

Mom and Dad at Lights in the Heights.

After the light party, we walked over to a favorite restaurant of mine, Zelko Bistro. Oh and the pose is because earlier in the evening I'd taught Mom about skinny arm and skinny leg. It's a thing.

Dad and I at Zelko Bistro

Sunday we went to Brookwood and looked at all the pretty Christmas things and ate a good meal.

Brookwood Community

Mom and Dad leave for Seattle on Wednesday and when they return they will be headed up to Baton Rouge to help Todd and Nick move into their new house.

Nick and Todd at their apartment

Finally, Houston gets a little Fall

Hello family! I didn't weekend update. Boo. But now I'm midweek updating! Yay!

Weekend Singlehood

Mom came into town on Friday, but then she and Dad went to San Antonio to spend the weekend with Aunt Susan, the new grand baby and the like (all you other relative people).

J was out of town, so I spent the weekend as a single gal living it up in the city. Actually, I was dog sitting for my amiga Caley who is in Nepal saving the children. It's funny when you're a dog parent and you get asked to watch someone else's dog, suddenly you find yourself looking for a dog sitter for your own dog while you watch their dog...thanks Jarrod.

So, while I was bumming around the city, The Little Dog went to the farm with J for some dove hunting. Apparently the dove "weren't flying" which means they get to live a bit longer.

As some of you may be aware, there was a little ATM versus Alabama football game this weekend. I'm trying to be a supportive girlfriend, so I decided to watch the game. This was me:

Emily watching the ATM versus Alabama fame

And this was Jarrod and poor Aggie Dog:


Anyone who cares knows how the game turned out. Mom and Dad were happy to watch the game on Aunt Susan and Uncle Chuck's 900 inch TV. Roll Tide Roll.

Monday Texans Funday


Monday, J and I went to Front Porch Pub in Midtown to watch the Texans game. Unfortunately, this game also didn't go the preferred way, so J and I went off on our own and played washers. J is all star at washers and I pretty much suck. Practice makes perfect, right? Well, I hope. The Underwoods play washers at pretty much all occasions and my "I'm just learning how to play this game" excuse is getting pretty old.

Weekend Update: Underwood Ranch Baby

Underwood Ranch Baby

This weekend J and I made our way up to Lometa to visit his family's land.

Since our last visit, the Underwoods have co-leased some acreage from their neighbor, a guy who's stocking up for the End Times. So, only somewhat worried that we'd be shot by something from his impressive arsenal of weaponry, J and I took the Mule buggy over to the new land to check out the new cows.

This visit to the farm was unlike any other visit to the farm that I've experienced since I began dating J two years ago. Why? Well, it has something to do with a disturbing trend that some people like to call a "baby."

Now she was very cute and well behaved, don't get me wrong. But I had this startling revelation that drinking until I can't stand up and playing washers til 3 a.m. may be a thing of the past. Also, and this is something I was becoming aware of as soon as I graduated - there is a huge range of experiences for the young twenty-something. It was just that until now, those experiences didn't include infants.

I did have a chance to watch the baby while her mom and dad were out shooting the handgun the mother got for Christmas. That was cool. I kind of understand now what Mom has been saying about liking to play with Aggie because she doesn't have to take care of her when she leaves. Yea, I feel the same way about babies right now. It was cute and made cool sounds, but I'm more than happy to hand her off when she starts screaming.

KitchenAid Mixer Update

The best news out of this weekend is that Mrs. Underwood called Bed Bath and Beyond and they will take my broken mixer and replace it with a new one!

I'm somewhat embarrassed that my boyfriend's mother had to do this calling around for me, but I really didn't even think to call the place she got it from. I thought that we'd for sure be way out of warranty. Also, now I know that Target has a 90 day return policy, so I guess that's points in favor of BB&B.

When my dog ate (or tried to eat) Turtles

The part where I left her alone Aggie, my twenty-pound mutt, spent some time in her early years out on the streets of of Baytown.

In every other possible way she is a civilized dog, except for this one thing. Whenever Aggie is left alone, she dashes to whatever food is around and devours it. This is often a problem because, well, it's not like I leave out Dog Food. It's always People Food and not the good, healthy kind. Insert story about the time she ate a plate of  Ghirardelli brownies.

Last night, I decided to go visit a friend and planned to be gone only for an hour, so, thinking she could be trusted and that I didn't have any food out, I did not crate her.

The part where  I was wrong

I returned home to Aggie poking her head through the curtains, wildly wagging her tail. She met me at the door. I should have known something was up.

In my living room there was a package of Chocolate Turltles on the couch and one on the floor - I wouldn't find the package in my bathroom until later that evening. Luckily the packages were somewhat chewed on, but otherwise intact. She wasn't able to make her way into any of them. Thank goodness, or we would have had another shit storm. Insert story about the time she ate a plate of  Ghirardelli brownies.

You see, what makes this funny is that the box of Turtles was on my kitchen table which is pushed up against the wall. Aggie, being only two feet on a good day tall, couldn't have just reached the box. No, I'm sure it was a charade. The Little Dog must have climbed up the two chairs, jumped on the table, then walked across the table to where the box was.

And she has a really little mouth, so she must have done this three times to account for each of the chocolate turtle packages that I found. I just can't imagine what was going on in her Little Dog brain each time she grabbed a chocolate, couldn't open it, then climbed up onto the table to grab another. Or why she stopped at three. And why she didn't try harder to rip open the package.

The part where I didn't scold her

Standing there in my living room, taking this all in, all I could do was shake my head. Aggie, I guess filled with guilt, ran into my bedroom whimpering with her tail between her legs and folded into a really little ball. And I just laughed. After all, I was the one who left out the chocolate. I just never thought she'd climb the table to get to it. Or that she could smell it.

So I went and grabbed her from my room, laughing, pet her head and told her it was all "OK."

Insanity Workouts and Cheez-its

Past the age of 25 there is a natural decline in the rate of the resting human metabolism. Initially, you may not notice the change but as years press on you suddenly notice that it takes significantly more activity to lose even the smallest amount of extra pudge.  Not to mention the extra effort needed to engage in fat burning activities as they directly compete with an ever growing list of “adult” responsibilities.

As a result, many of us turn to various weight loss/exercise methods to ensure that we are at least chipping away at our waist lines.  For me, I typically employ a mix of running, hiking and all around activeness in order to fight the battle of the buldge.  Recently I added an extra component to supplement running on rainy afternoons - Insanity workouts.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Insanity workouts I’ll keep it simple by saying that insanity is an accurate descriptor.  Each workout is approximately an hour long with 20-30 minutes of “warm-up” followed by a little cool down and then it pretty much kicks your ass.

Despite lingering hesitations and warnings from friends, yesterday on yet another rainy afternoon, I decide I am going to do an insanity workout.

Upon arriving home from work I am feeling a bit peckish so opt for a nice light snack before my workout, Cheez-its. Not just a handful of Cheez-its but at least 4, but possibly 5 or 6, heaping handfuls of the delicious cheesy snack cracker. Once I have sated my appetite I sit on my couch feeling somewhat guilty but determined that my indulgence will not hinder my insanity. Peeling myself off the couch I slowly pull on a set of my shortest workout shorts, shoes and a sports bra because nothing inspires working out like minimal clothing. Now appropriately dressed I turn on my computer, move some furniture for space, cue up a workout music mix and prepare to get my sweat on.

The video begins with some light stretching and jogging in place. Next, jumping jacks followed by high knees. “I’ve got this” I think to myself. Already I’m sweating. I feel it is important to add here that it has been rather hot these past few weeks and I’ve been using the air conditioner in my apartment minimally.  As a result the temperature in my apartment is sweltering.  All of a sudden the video kicks it up a notch and throws in some side to side lunges that involve you touching the floor. My stomach begins to turn. After about another 15 minutes of "warm-up", that feel like forever, we enter a short cool down phase. At this juncture sweat is pouring off my body like it has never done before. I grab a towel, a chug of water with barely enough time to get back in front of the screen before the bulk of the workout begins.

“Here it goes” I say to Dante who is looking at me balefully from beneath the kitchen table. I think he knows that this is about to not go well. Immediately side to side lunges ensue followed rapidly by skiers, climbers, burpees and jumping squats. I can barely keep up. It seems by the time I manage to get a move down they've already moved on to the next activity. As we enter yet another set I am actively feeling ill. I can feel the Cheez-its sitting like a brick in my stomach and that brick is rising. Still I press on. Well, that is until I burp mid set and a bit of vomit enters my mouth.  Next thing I know I’ve completely abandoned the workout out and find myself bent over the porcelain goddess. Gross, I know.

Sitting on my bathroom floor I lean against the cool tub and feel defeated. The sound of my workout mix still blares in the next room. All I can think is “Insanity workouts and Cheez-its do not mix”.

In which Emily Pontificates about Pet Ownership

I think I finally get it, Mom and Dad. I understand your reticence to acquiring more pet animals, despite the pleading of your adorable children.

Over the weekend, my friend’s 19-year-old daughter posted pictures of kitten that she found. They live in a somewhat rural area in Texas, so it’s not unheard for animals to get dumped or for cats and dogs to run amuck and just, you know, answer nature’s call and willy-nilly reproduce.

The kitten looks like if you took a cute baby cat and put it in the garbage disposal. Homecat looks a bit worse for the wear, if you know what I’m saying.

So I see this cat on Facebook, and see her plea to have someone find a good, loving home for the “adorable” cat and ALL I CAN SEE IS DOLLAR SIGNS.

You see, my friend’s family is already caring for one cat her 12-year-old daughter found earlier this year. It was one of those, “it adopted us” stories. Yea, you mean, you put out food and the cat kept coming back? Hm. That’s a real thinker. Wonder how that happened?

After her daughter, “became too attached to let it go.” My friend captured the cat and brought it into her home. Well, I’m sure to no surprise to you, Mom and Dad, that cat came with some invisible price tags.

When it started to rip up the leather furniture just doing its cat thing, my friend paid to get it declawed – which she was told by some well wishers that declawing is inhumane…I would imagine it’s more inhumane to beat the cat with a frying pan after it rips up a several thousand dollar couch…just saying.

THEN, after a routine checkup, followed by a special test (caching, caching) the cat was diagnosed with cat HIV. Apparently, FIV is pretty common, but it is like the number one or two killer of cats and even cats living with it and being treated for it will die at a much younger age than their non FIV counter-cats.

…But her daughters were so attached!

Animals, even domesticated ones, once free, want to get away from you. If you can catch them, they’re likely quite ill and unable to stir up the energy to run – or, in the case of The Little Dog, too pregnant.

I’m starting to think that a pet purchase is a lot like buying a car. You can buy a used one, but the less reputable the source the more likely it is you get a lemon. And, buying a used car, you go in knowing that in order to get it to run for any period of time, you’re likely to have to put in some money for repairs sooner than later. Dogs, like cars, need regular maintenance, to run for years to come. Unfortunately, cars come with insurance and dogs just come with Big Vet Bills. #DanteAteABall #AggieHeartWorms

I guess what I’m coming to realize is that there is a difference between, “that animal can be saved” and “I can save that animal.”

Bird Brains

My temporary officemate just bought his 12-year-old daughter a parakeet for her birthday. He’s a blue baby and hand raised (the bird, not necessarily my coworker). No $15 Petco purchase for my officemate. Apparently his bird has pedigree.

Prior to the purchase, we talked quite a bit about bird ownership. I got to tell him all about our family adventures with mean Keeter and sweet Neon. How Keeter died from a brain hemorrhage after flying into a wall when we moved to the Katy house and how Neon died by lethal injection after a large mass was discovered in her main cavity.

His family settled on a bird after deciding that any other animal would be too messy and too much work. Both kids have kept a fish alive for more than a year, so it was time, by his estimation, to move to something more land-animal-like.

I did tell him that birds are not a care-free pet. I’ll never forget moving out of the Kingwood house and seeing all of the seeds, feathers and poop left behind from Keeter that had been hidden behind the dresser his cage lived on. I did also tell him that birds, like fish and dogs, can get ill and quickly need pricey vet intervention for life-saving measures. Because sometimes it’s better (read easier) to spend some money than have to teach your preteen child about the value of life. (Thanks Dad for forking over the cash to humanely end Neon’s journey here on Earth.)

My coworker asked me what he should be prepared for as a new bird parent. I told him that with Keeter and Neon, we had one nice, friendly bird that loved to chatter and run around on the ground and one mean bird that never learned to talk and bit everyone. Birds are like cats. Some are nice and some, for some reason, suck. There’s not much science to it. It’s just rolling the dice.

A benefit to owning a caged animal, I suppose, is that no one has to walk it ever. Now, I love walking Aggie, but if no one in my house wanted to do the walking, I could see how it would be an issue. I do think it is funny though that these smaller pets are used, it seems, as starter pets. They’re like Hooked on Phonics for dog ownership.

Having a bird won’t trick my colleague’s daughter into no longer wanting a dog. And truth be told, if he would’ve been the one to walk the dog, then he’ll likely also be the one scrubbing the poop out of the bird cage on the weekends.

All this being said, I think birds make great pets. I’ve occasionally thought about adding a bird to my happy family with Aggie, but for now come to the conclusion that there is just no room for a bird. Oh yea, and J hates pet birds. But he also was resistant to the idea of getting a dog…and we see how that turned out…

Best part of a hairdresser brother? Free haircuts.

We're right in the middle of the Christmas season, so I figured it was time for a family update. After leaving San Antonio on Friday, Mom and Dad traveled to Baton Rouge to see Todd and Nick. On Christmas eve they went to a posh wine bar called WINO (Wine Institute of New Orleans).

I'm just going to say that Todd looks like he's not so happy in this picture.

Christmas morning dad got up early and made his famous cinnamon rolls. Nick's mom came over and enjoyed Christmas morning with the family.

For Christmas, Dad surprised Mom with a new iPad. We're not sure what we'll call this new addition to the family yet. iPad3? iPad junior? No worries. Mom's old iPad is going to Dad. Hopefully he won't break this one. Beware elder iPad.

Some day later, Mom and Dad went to Regis where Todd cut their hair. True Macrander fact. Todd cuts all of our hair. Every single one of us. I can't remember the last time I paid to get my hair cut or highlighted. That is wonderful. It also helps that Todd is giving of his time and very good at what he does.

Here's a picture of Alaska Mom getting her "Northern Lights" touched up.

Anyway, this evening, Mom and Dad are headed to Birmingham to see Mom's parents. I'm (Emily) already here. I got here last night and had the grandparents to myself for a whole evening.

Before coming to Alabama, I spent the holiday with Underwood clan. Let's see. Christmas eve for me was spent in the afternoon with Jarrod's dad's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Tappmeyer. Then we went to church. Then we chilled and napped. Then church again for the midnight service at Jarrod and I's church Canvas in Montrose. That was special because we usually meet in an elementary school and for this occasion we were in First Christian. I love celebrating the birth of Jesus with my wonderful church family.

Christmas morning we headed over to the Jarrod's mother's parents home for a brunch and then it was back to the Underwood home. I was surprised with a beautiful red KitchenAid mixer from mother and father Underwood and an ice cream maker from Dylan and Kaitlyn. I guess they know I like to cook, right?

The night came to an end with a visit from the Wiesendangers, Mollie and Layne.

Okay, I'm a person that stresses to the max over Christmas. I'm still waiting for the holy grail no-cry Christmas (maybe Christmas 2014??). But all said and done, I am blessed. I have wonderful family spread all over the country and my brother has a loving partner. I have Jarrod and his family is very gracious to me. And I have a little dog.