Sunday, December 28, 2008

For the Love of Dogs

We love dogs. We absolutely love them and the bigger, the better. Actually, we don't so much like little dogs. Chihuahuas in particular. I'm sorry to offend any Chihuahua lovers, but seriously, shouldn't they really be cats? Typically, they're mean and won't let you near their owners. Truthfully, they scare me, though I admit I have encountered a small number of them I thought were cool. I could probably count those on one hand. We're just more of a big dog kind of family.

I know I've whined about the dogs being in the house since Ike and still being without a fence, but my biggest complaint is that we can't ever really have a dog break. For one, they can escape from one of the neighbor's yard's, and Jaxon thinks our back neighbor is a meter reader and tends to bark at him when the neighbor is outside in his own yard doing his own thing. Not to mention that Abby is now 12-years-old and she often leaves us surprises due to her lack of bowel and bladder control as she begins to show her age.

Now we also have Charlie staying here. He's Lauren's new adoptee/rescue from College Station. Unfortunately, she started the adoption process and bonded with him prior to fully investigating the pet policy at her apartment complex and learning that he weighed 11 pounds more than they will allow. Call me crazy but we have volunteered to house Charlie for her until her lease is up in the late summer and she's able to move into a more pet friendly complex. However, the offer is only good as long as our fence is back in place and we have a fully functioning back yard to utilize prior to her returning to school in mid-January.

About a six weeks ago I started receiving emails from a co-worker about a local animal rescue organization and some rescued dogs needing homes. Those emails have completely torn at my heart strings and since those emails started coming my way, I've learned that there is such a thing as foster parents for dogs and cats. Who knew? As a result of effortlessly forwarding on the emails, my sister-in-law has been approved to adopt a rescue from them and will be bringing her new dog home soon.

I've also signed up with them to volunteer. Tomorrow the kids and I will be going to help clean kennels and play with five rescues that are currently being housed at Pet Paradise, a boarding facility for animals to stay while their owners are away. They are generous enough to donate a number of their spaces to help house animals for this organization while they're awaiting adoption and aren't fortunate enough to be placed with a foster family.

I'm excited and looking forward to it. As a matter of fact, we're on "Holiday Hours", since we're all out of school/work, but everyone is willing to be up tomorrow by 8am in order to meet and play with Luke, Peaches, Paco, Bingo and Chance. That speaks volumes because we're not morning people! Without doubt, I know we'll have more fun than the dogs will, and we'll probably leave wishing we could take them all home with us. If only we lived on a farm!

Dakota Rescue.

Take a look at Charlie. Doesn't he have a face that would be hard to turn away? I'm proud of Lauren for saving him. Oh, and we all just love saying, "Sorry, Charlie" and also talking to him in a British accent like in the hilarious video featured here.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Gift Creativity (or Possibly Too Much Time on One's Hands)

My brother’s personality really showed this year in his Christmas gift giving. We started drawing names last year for all of the kids making our gift giving a little easier on us all. We haven’t done adult exchanges since we all started having multiple offspring.

This year my brother had drawn Lauren, Cassidy and my two nephews names. They’re all at the age where they really only want cash or gift cards if given a choice. It’s so hard to pick something out for a teenager and please them these days.

The first one to open her gift from my brother and sister-in-law was Lauren. She unwrapped a perfectly rolled up wad of 50 one dollar bills and when she attempted to unroll them to see exactly what it was, it ended up looking like a perfectly orchestrated magic show. The dollar bills unrolled just like a roll of toilet paper. The dollars had been strategically taped together one by one and then rolled up. I wish I had pictures but we weren’t warned ahead of time so everyone was caught by surprise, although my sister-in-law did get it on video. Cassidy had watched Lauren and knew better than to try and unroll hers when she opened them. Smart girl!

My nephews were the next victims. Trevin opened a shoe box of 50 wadded up one dollar bills, or I should say crumpled up one dollar bills, basically they were all wadded into balls. DJ was next and his dollar bills had all been stuffed into an empty beer bottle. He was very excited about breaking the bottle to get to his money.

I couldn’t help but wonder how long it took him to tape together one hundred one dollar bills for Cassidy and Lauren, to crumple another 50 and then to stuff yet another 50. He really needs to get a life! He did mention wondering if the tellers at the bank thought he might have a big night at the topless cabaret planned after he went by the bank to get the 200 one dollar bills.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Around Here

Christmas is a little bit different at our house this year. We’re not having a tree. Cassidy is the only one really bummed over it, but she’s accepted it. It just isn’t practical with our current living arrangements. Lauren came home for the holidays and brought her new dog, Charlie, adding a third dog to the mix. When Charlie and Jaxon start playing they get pretty hyped and up and a tree wouldn’t last a full day in this house. On a bright note, we are expecting the check back from our mortgage company any day and as soon as it arrives we will call the fence people and have them start on our fence ASAP. The dogs will still come inside to visit and sleep but we will finally have some much needed peace and quiet inside without tripping over dogs 24/7.

Christmas also feels different now that there is no one left who believes in Santa. The night is much easier on us now, but I will forever remember the days when they all still believed. It was always a challenge waiting on the kids to fall asleep after a long night with my family and our gift exchange. It seemed to take forever to get them settled down once we got home. Of course, we had to put out cookies and milk for Santa and then sprinkle the front yard with reindeer snacks (oatmeal and carrots). We were usually up all night assembling and arranging toys. Let me rephrase that, Les assembled toys while I arranged things and did kid checks.

Santa has never wrapped any toys for the kids. Each kid has a spot and all of their presents from Santa are neatly laid out and displayed. If there was a toddler kitchen set then it was all set up with the food (waffles in the toaster, etc) and ready to play with, and the same with a doll house, farm animals or tool workshop. We only wrap a gift or two to be from us that they open after seeing what Santa has brought.
That is how my Santa did our Christmas and it carried over for my kids. I could sit in front of my spot for ten minutes staring and picking things up and then look again and see something that I hadn’t yet noticed. I never felt like I missed out on opening gifts. I always liked looking at all of my things neatly displayed. My Santa would even put an outfit together on the couch or chair and I do the same. We also have a rule that was also carried over from my childhood that the first one to wake up has to wake everyone else up before they go into the living room. We all go together. My brother was always the first one up and I know that he always sneaked a good peak before waking the entire house. I am pretty sure my kids do the same thing but generally they abide by the rules. In this house it is usually Cassidy who wakes up first.

The kids usually have to wait on me to slip on my house shoes on and wash my face. Oh, and I usually have to run to the potty first. I remember the excitement as a kid of just dying to get into the living room to see what Santa had brought and how I could hardly contain myself while my parents were getting up and ready and having to wait for the all clear of us all being ready to go together.
Things are definitely different now that we don’t have much to assemble as the kids grow older and we don’t have to try to hide boxes deep in the trash anymore. One year we were almost busted when a box was left somewhere in the garage and we were questioned about why Santa would leave the box here. We’re definitely not up all night into the wee morning hours like we used to be. I will always miss those days but I’m not complaining.

One of my favorite Christmas Eve memories was about five years ago when we had ordered Cassidy and Cadent electric motorized scooters. They had a seat that could snap on and off so you could either sit or stand when you rode. They actually went 12 mph. and were so totally cool. Les got them all put together and charged up and we wanted to try them out. It must’ve been 3 or 4am and it was a very, very cold Christmas here that year. We got all bundled up and took off on the scooters. We rode around the entire neighborhood and in the parking lot of some businesses in the front of our neighborhood. It was freezing outside but we were having a blast. They were so much fun and I wasn’t sure how I could give them up to the kids. We laughed so hard riding around on those things until we almost ran the 2 hour battery charge down. I have to say those scooters were one of the best Santa gifts ever purchased in this house. They were a big hit with the kids, too. I was a little bit worried about them controlling them or having an accident after experiencing just how fast these things could go. That same year my sister’s kids got gas operated ones that went much faster than ours and they were also much louder. The next day our street was full of kids and scooters and parents waiting their turn for a ride.

We still have fun arranging their loot but it rarely takes very long and we actually get more than two hours of sleep now. As always, I am looking forward to seeing their reactions tomorrow and hoping everyone is happy with their gifts.

I am currently in a battle with Les over letting the kids open a joint gift right now. It’s a big gift, not a small one and one we can all enjoy, which is EXACTLY why he wants them to open it now. I said NO! Perhaps a smaller gift, maybe, but not one of their large ones just so he can entertain himself tonight. He’s not very happy with me now.

Who knows, in another few years when everyone is in high school maybe we’ll do what my sister does and have Santa very late on Christmas Eve and then everyone can stay up all night playing with their new gadgets and sleep in for a change. But I’m standing my ground on this. It’s a major part of their Christmas and will be wrapped for them tomorrow. (One of the few wrapped items they will have here to open).

Merry Christmas! Jesus is the reason for the Season!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Little Things We Expect From Our Children

I recently told this story at a party we attended and felt it was blog worthy so I am sharing it.

During Lauren’s junior and senior years of high school she worked at a well known sporting goods store (Academy). As an employee she received a decent employee discount. I think it was 25% or something. During Christmas of one of the years she was working there we made arrangements for her to meet us at Academy so we could do some Christmas shopping and she could save us some money. Yes, I am openly admitting that we used her discount. So, sue me!

Keep in mind this store has everything from clothing to fishing and camping gear. There’s not much you can’t get there, except milk and eggs. We shopped and shopped and ended up buying most of the younger kids Santa gifts and also some gifts for our nieces and nephews.

When we were finally finished shopping we called Lauren to come on up to the store to meet us so we could give her the basket of goodies and the money to pay for the stuff and use her discount. We were going to make the exchange and wait over by the exercise equipment right next to the check out area. We had a wide variety of items in our completely loaded down basket and the look on her face when she saw the basket was one I will never forget. Let’s just say it was the look of complete horror. She was so not happy and not looking forward to going through the line to make this very large purchase. We really didn’t give her much of an option. It was her duty as our child to help us save some money at this time of year.

I’m not sure if it was the bicycle, the roller blades, the skateboard, the basketball, the Astros jerseys, ball caps or what exactly it was to cause her such embarrassment, but if I had to bet on it, I’d go with the bicycle. I do remember her saying something like, “Do you really think they’re going to believe I’m buying my brother a bicycle for Christmas?”

As we waited for her to pay we got the giggles as she continued to shoot us dirty looks the entire time she stood waiting in line. They were the I can’t stop laughing we really need to get out of here giggles.

In the end she saved us over $150 so it was well worth the attitude she gave us for it. I’m sure she was mortified at the young age of 16, but she eventually recovered. That was the one and only time she ever did that for us. It just wasn’t worth forcing her to do it at gun point the following year.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Explanation for the Lull

Obviously, I’ve been neglecting the blog. I’ve had a few loyal readers mention to me that they’re tired of checking here only to find that I still haven’t posted an update in almost two months.

Believe me, I love and miss blogging and have many failed attempts at a new entry saved to my drafts, but I just haven’t been able to produce a finished product. My brain has felt like mush. I think it might be writers block or so I’ve heard.

Truthfully, I’ve found myself in a bit of a funk since Ike hit back in September. Granted, we were luckier than so many and spared any serious damage, but things have still haven't got back to normal, and it’s been somewhat stressful. Between trying to maintain the house with two big SHEDDING dogs living in the house 24/7, (thanks to our insurance company dragging their feet and us still not having a fenced yard), my intense interest in following the missing toddler from Florida case, and my addiction to facebook, I have been letting my blog (among other things) fall by the wayside.

I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and feeling more like myself again. Now, if I can just refrain from surfing the web for the latest information on Caylee Anthony and limit my facebook time, I might actually get around to updating more regularly. For now, this is all I’ve got but it's better than nothing, right?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


We managed to pull off a surprise birthday party for Cassidy last Friday night. I actually planned it (with Katy's help) very spur of the moment (because that's how I tend to operate), and it turned out very well. I rented a room for the night at a nearby hotel and invited her closest friends.

The plan was for Katy to invite Cassidy to spend the night with her Friday but Cassidy declined because she wanted to wake up at home on her actual birthday. That meant that I had to pack her a bag and hope she didn't notice anything missing. The only thing I forgot was her toothbrush.

I went early to check in and get the room ready. Everyone showed up on time and I let the girls decide how we would handle her arrival. They wanted the lights turned off whenever she came through the door and to hide in various places throughout the living room. Obviously they would jump out and yell "surprise" whenever she came in.

Her dad had told her that we were going to dinner for her birthday but they would first have to come by the hotel to pick me up. I was supposedly there to visit with some of my old high school friends who were in town for our reunion and wanted them to meet my kids. Later she told me she was really annoyed about having to meet "these people" and really upset that we weren't planning anything special for her birthday weekend. She even called Lauren complaining.

Les called from the parking lot to let us know they were on their way up. My friend, Shelli, stood behind the door and opened it whenever they knocked. I was standing against the wall so I could flip the lights on after they got through the entry way. Les came first with Cassidy and Caden following closely behind him. He took a few steps inside saying, Hello, hello?" I thought she was looking right at me, (she was six inches from me) but she later told me she couldn't really see me. I flipped the lights on and the girls all jumped out and screamed "surprise". She was actually confused for a moment. It took her a minute to process it. (We were once thrown a surprise going away party and it was one of the strangest experiences I've ever had. It's like slow motion where your mind takes a moment to register why people are jumping out yelling at you and then you finally realize what is happening)

We ate pizza and the girls swam in the indoor pool. I was a little paranoid about the noise level but the girls were great. I was really impressed with how well behaved they all were. We were so, so bad at that age. We were loud, obnoxious and out of control! I was expecting it to be a LONG night but really lucked out. I gave the girls the big bedroom and slept on the pullout couch bed. We woke up the next morning and and gorged on the free breakfast, which was one of the best I've ever had.

The staff at the hotel were in on my plans and couldn't have been any nicer. I've still got to go online and give them a five star review.

It was really awesome to see her reaction. After the shock wore off she had a million questions about how I was able to pull it off. Everyone should be surprised like that at least once in their life. (Lauren, I owe you one!)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

We Survivied Ike

It's definitely been an interesting week and things are still not back to normal. We just got power back last night and most people are still without. Most businesses are still closed and most people have not yet returned to work. Traffic is terrible because traffic lights are either out or just flashing. Some stores are open without electricity. Gas lines were horrible for days after the storm but have gotten better as a few more places have started opening. I think our local Wal-Mart is still running on a generator and only has limited cold foods. I never knew bread and milk could be such a commodity. Luckily, I bought two gallons before the storm. The day before the storm was a grocery store and gas line hell. I had to buy bagels because there was no bread to be found. I did get plenty of ice, water and other necessities though.

The storm was supposed to hit us sometime after midnight last Friday night/Saturday morning so I wanted us to all sleep together in the living room. The winds had picked up in the afternoon and by evening were getting strong. The kids played outside until dark, then we all showered and got ready to hunker down. (By the way, Karen, I heard that word ALL WEEK from the news media, too!) We fully expected to lose power so we had flashlights and candles ready to go, along with a radio and battery operated TV. We were all set up with the air mattress in the living room and a kid on each couch. Once the wind got stronger and the rain started we let the dogs inside and watched TV until we lost power at about 10:30pm. We were all bummed that it went out so quickly! We turned on the radio for news and within an hour had all four fallen asleep. Caden slept through it all and Les slept through most of it. Cassidy and I both woke up continually throughout the night. The howling and squealing wind was scary. I would doze off for a while but the wind was worrying and waking me. I kept in touch with friends/family most of the night via text. The cell phones didn't start acting up until the day after the storm. Everyone would lose service on and off for several days afterward and some people could only text.

Our set up for Ike.

I woke up at 4am and it was completely quiet outside. Absolutely no wind or rain. I text'd Kelli asking her if it was over, not realizing we were in the eye of the hurricane and that we had another round coming our way within the hour. She told me to go outside and see if we had any damage. I grabbed a flashlight and took Jaxon with me cause I was scared. (Abby is going deaf and she slept through most of the noise). There were trees down and debris everywhere, leaves and twigs all over our cars and house, limbs down all over the place, but no significant damage. Cassidy and Les woke up and followed me shortly after. The still and quiet didn't last long.

We were still awake when it started again but at some point managed to doze for periods of time. Les had to leave for work at around 7am. It was still very bad outside and I was scared for him to drive, and also scared a tree might fall on the house or something after he left but he had no choice. He's emergency personnel and had to be there for his shift. Thankfully, we were all safe when it was over.

Our house and street the morning after. We had minimal damage. Like almost everyone else we lost most of our fence, a strip from our carport, some pieces of our storage shed, tree limbs and shingles.

I was surprised when I looked out into our backyard and was staring right into my neighbor's backyard. We lost 85% of our fence on all three sides. The tree on the right was laying on the power lines. We've had to keep the dogs inside almost 24/7 now and it's been a PITA. It doesn't smell all that great either. We can chain them in the front for a while as long as the mailman has already been by.

Our new bigger back yard.

By Sunday we were miserable without power. Lauren wanted us to come to her apartment but I just didn't want to leave. There was a lot of clean up left to do and I felt like I should be here to keep up with the animals and house since Les still had to work. We were able to get a generator Sunday evening and that made it so much better. It was expensive to keep running and required daily trips to get gas and waiting in those long lines but well worth it. We were able to run a few fans, our frig., watch DVD's, charge our phones and plug stuff in if necessary. The generator made a world of difference but it was still a rough and long week. I was definitely not cut out to be a pioneer woman.

Just like almost everyone else in this city we were eating from the grill almost everyday last week. We ate so much BBQ this week I don't think I want to see any for months but I'm DYING for Mexican food. We also had plenty of company. Everyone was in the same boat but it made it better to suffer together.

As odd as it sounds, we sort of had a routine this week. It usually required a trip to the gas station and a ride around town to keep from losing our sanity. The first few nights there were curfews and the main roads were so dark it was eerie. I had to break the curfew a few times to drive my nephew back to his apartment.

It was a good sign when the tree cutting trucks swarmed the neighborhood yesterday. I watched them cut the tree that was hugging our power lines from my bedroom window. By the way, it's not even our tree and everything he cut fell into our yard. Oh, and the tree cutter's do not take the limbs with them. Apparently that's our job, but I'm not complaining. Thanks to these guys Center Point was able to get to the power lines and I'm happy to report that we got power last night and slept with a/c for the first time since last Friday night. It was also nice to shower with a light on, rather than by a lantern or candle light.

The kids got out of school on the Wednesday before the storm and will not return until next Thursday, that is as long as power has been restored to all schools. Basically, we're on a two week break, if you can call it that. We're all going stir crazy. Everyone I know is feeling it. We've hung out, had some fun and made the best of it but we're all ready for life to to get back to normal soon.

A few shots of our area.

In spite of it all, I would do it again. I never wanted to evacuate. I was afraid of getting stranded out of the city and not being able to get back in to check on my family and our house. I don't regret staying here. We live fairly close to the bay but weren't under mandatory evacuation. I'm impressed with how well my house withstood the winds and thankful our friends and family are safe.

Thanks for the well wishes and Lauren for updating the blog. I've been so lost without the internet and might not ever catch up on my daily blog reading.
Teedee, how is your mom and her place? All of your family okay?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Update from Lauren

Thank you so much to everyone who kept my family in their thoughts and prayers this past weekend. All of our family and loved ones are safe and grateful no major damage has been done.

My mom requested I post an update blog since my family is still without electricity back home. I stayed in College Station and anticipated Ike to do a little more damage here in Aggieland than what was done, but thankfully nothing severe occurred and I still have air conditioning and running water.

Cell phones have been a big issue the past couple of days and I have only spoken to my mom a handful of times since Ike hit, our main conversations are in text messages. Our house withstood this ugly hurricane with minimal damage. We lost some shingles on the roof and the fences in the back yard are fallen down. Along with other minor things this is about the extent of the harm done.

They have been without power since the last post and are now running two fans, the fridge, and a T.V. off of a generator. Abby and Jaxon have to stay inside due to the lack of fencing, which I’m sure is quite interesting since we acquired a cat a few weeks ago…

I’ll leave the details for my mom to cover at a later date since this is all second-hand info and I wasn’t there to experience the eye of the hurricane… besides, she’s probably foaming at the mouth to share the stories ☺

My prayers and condolences go out to anyone who has suffered because of Hurricane Ike.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Yikes! Just Waiting on Ike

We’re preparing for Hurricane Ike’s arrival tonight. Things are pretty chaotic around here. The wind is picking up and it looks eerie outside. We have everything we need and have made all of the necessary preparations. I expect to lose power pretty early in the storm, and to be without it for an extended period of time (but would love to be wrong).
The candles and flashlights are ready to go. We have ice, water, food, etc. We’re letting the dogs inside soon and putting the air mattress in the living room, where we will all stay together throughout the night.
The cell phones are charged and we hope to have service to keep in touch with our family and friends who are also riding out the storm.
Lauren was supposed to be home this weekend. By mid-week we knew we might be in the path of Ike and it became obvious that she should stay in College Station. They’re going to get bad weather and hurricane force winds, but she’ll be safer there than she would be here. I just wish she was with us because I think we will be just fine. She’s worried about us and we’re worried about her. I don’t like being away from her during all of this.
We’re watching local coverage while we still can. Galveston is already a mess and Ike won’t be making landfall until the early morning hours.
I’m sure my phone will be in overdrive tonight as I try to make contact with all of my friends and family throughout the night. I hope we don’t lose service.
I pray that we all weather this storm with minimal damage.
We just lost power but its back on for the time being, so I better go and hope I can post this before it’s off for good.
No time for spell check!
We love you, Nawen! Wish we were together but glad you are safer where you are.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

California Dreamin'

So, Lauren is officially off at school. She headed back yesterday. It feels weird. I’ve never gone longer than two weeks without seeing her and that was only once when she was out of town. It’s not like she’s in another state or anything, but I seriously doubt she’ll be coming home that often with the gas prices being so high, not to mention the amount of study time she’ll be putting in this semester.

We were talking about her cooking yesterday (especially to save money by not eating out) and it hit me just how clueless she is about cooking and grocery shopping. I actually feel guilty that I never forced her to learn how to cook. First of all, I’m no Betty Crocker, but there are a number of dishes that I can cook and cook well, though that hasn't always been the case. I’ve also been known to pull out the cookbook and try something new every now and then. (Granted, not as often as I should) Overall, cooking isn’t something I enjoy that much so don’t let me give the false impression that I’m really into it, because I’m not. However, I might like it much more if someone came along behind me and cleaned up the mess.

Lauren can make breakfast stuff, spaghetti and she loves the frozen pasta dinners that you toss into a pan for a ready-made meal, but that’s about the extent of her kitchen skills. I’m going to email her some easy recipes and suggest some must have items to have on hand for cooking at all times.

As she was leaving yesterday I thought back to the first time I moved away from home and just how clueless I was. I was eighteen-years-old and wet behind the ears with a two-month-old baby in tow. We were moving to Ft. Ord, California so Les could attend DLI for a year. My parents both took a week off from work to drive our car to California for us. Lauren and I were flying there courtesy of Uncle Sam. The plan was that mom and dad would arrive a few days after we did and stay for a week to help us get unpacked and settled into our new place. We had movers, also courtesy of Uncle Sam, to transport all of our earthly belongings from Texas to California.

We were moving into a 2-bedroom, 2 bathroom trailer located on Ft. Ord Military Base. We’d lived in a small house just a few blocks from my parent’s home right after we’d gotten married, but were only there for a few months before Les left for boot camp then I moved back home. I never really got domesticated or experienced being on my own until the move to California.

The movers came with all of our stuff that week and mom and dad helped us get all set up. We had hand-me-down couches (that actually received lots of compliments that year), a small dining table, our bed and dresser and Lauren’s crib and furniture. The trailer we rented was new and very nice and spacious. The trailer park itself looked like a regular little neighborhood/community complete with driveways and fenced in back yards. When we were done unpacking, it looked good, especially for a young married couple just starting out. We were very proud of our new home.

I’ll never forget how scared I was when it came time to drive my parents to the airport and say our goodbyes. I was 1800 miles from home and had no idea when we could afford a visit back to Texas or if my parents would be back to visit us anytime soon. I was a huge Mama’s girl, totally dependent on her, and completely clueless about managing a house and family. I’d been living back at home with them for months waiting until Les finished boot camp and got his official orders to move to California. My parents were very attached to Lauren (she’d come home from the hospital to their house) and were emotional about leaving us, too. I felt a panic set in as they started to board their plane back to Texas. How was I ever going to survive so far away from home, especially with Les being in school for such long hours and not having any friends or family nearby? I had pretty good maternal instincts but what if I couldn’t get Lauren to sleep at night and mom wasn’t around to help me when she was cranky? How was I going to care for this baby all by myself? (Les didn’t count; he was pretty clueless about babies back then). I was terrified. I was also sad that it would likely be many months before I would see them again. I’d never been away from home before (besides church camp) and it felt like I was being thrown to the wolves.

Did I mention that I also didn’t know how to cook a blessed thing? The most I was capable of cooking was a grilled cheese sandwich, scrambled eggs and bacon. Once, I’d even once blown up a glass dish that I was cooking bacon in while in the microwave. (There was a huge explosion and shards of glass covering the inside of the microwave) Oh, and I used to stir hamburger meat for my mom if I happened to be in the kitchen while she was cooking and she asked me to. That was the extent of my cooking capabilities and nothing more. I’m so not kidding. I had no idea how to make a meal if it didn’t come right out of a package and go straight into the microwave. Les could cook but it wasn’t exactly ideal for him to do so considering he was leaving the house everyday at 5am for PT, in class all day long and then studying for several hours every night. He was learning to read, write and speak Korean, which was intense, and he didn’t have time for much else during the week. If left up to me, we would’ve starved to death or just lived strictly on grilled cheese.

That next year would prove to be a challenge, complete with financial stress, homesickness, cooking 101, meeting new friends and learning to adjust to Military life 1800 miles away from home. (To be continued).

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Big Day

We spent all day Friday packing a rented trailer full of furniture and miscellaneous things belonging to Lauren. On Saturday we all got up and drove to College Station and officially moved her into her new apartment.

As we pulled into the complex we were amazed at the number of moving trucks and trailers, just like the one we were pulling, lining the parking lot of this enormous complex. As we started the long process of unpacking, we couldn’t help but notice all of the other parents doing the exact same thing.

Just when Les and Lauren’s roommates Dad were about to start unloading the heavy stuff, the Calvary pulled up. That would be the seven young men you see pictured below with Lauren. They were hired by the complex to drive around all day and help people move in. We just thought they were angels who arrived in the nick of time. Did I mention that she lives on the third floor? I think Les wanted to kiss these guys but instead he just tipped them.

We spent most of the day unpacking and trying to get her settled into her new home. By the end of the night we were all worn out. After packing and unpacking for two solid days it made me greatly appreciate the many times my parents helped us move from town to town during our Military years.

She’ll be back home tomorrow to spend another week before school starts so I haven’t yet felt the emotions of a real goodbye. As excited as I am for her, I do anticipate some booing and hooing on my part.

Her apartment is very nice. She has two roommates. Her bedroom is huge with three big windows making it feel so bright and open. They also have a huge swimming pool, work out facilities and even a small movie theater, which by the way, Caden and Cassidy loved. I know she’s going to love it there. College Station is a great town and she has lots of old and new friends there to keep her company. (It was great to see you, Trey! I know I don’t even have to ask, but please keep an eye on Lauren. She’s kind of a big deal to us!)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Tagged for a MeMe

I was tagged by Ronni at Ronni's Rants to do a meme as follows:

The Rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you. (See above.)
2. Mention the rules on your blog. (Here they are.)
3. Tell about six unspectacular quirks of yours.
4. Tag six fellow bloggers by linking them.
5. Leave a comment on each of the six blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged.

I am breaking the rules (for myself) and only tagging three fellow bloggers. (I don't comment regularly on all of the 100 plus blogs that I read, so I am not sure they would participate if tagged by a "lurker"!)


1. I cannot go barefoot, even in the house. I must have slippers or flip-flops on at all times, unless I am swimming or walking around a pool/lake/the beach.

2. I must have a LARGE cup of ice water next to my bed every night before going to sleep. I may or may not touch it, but it must be there just in case I get thirsty.

3. I have two special pillows and do not share them. (Everyone in this house knows that) I also have a third pillow but am not so particular about the third one. I will use any third pillow, as long as I have my special two. When traveling I must take at least one of them with me, depending on how much room I have to pack them.

4. I keep my cell phone on vibrate 95% of the time because I hate the sound of it ringing. I rarely turn the ringer on unless I’m waiting on a very important call.

5. I hate waking up to an actual alarm clock so I use an old cell phone, also on vibrate, which I stick under my pillow at night and the vibration wakes me. I hate the sound of an alarm, mine or anyone else’s.

6. Whenever we are go on vacation, (even just a weekend away) I have to clean the house before we leave, even if that means I am up all night packing/cleaning. (Which is almost always the case)

Sadly, I just realized I could post so many more quirks. I have only touched the surface of my quirky personality. To prove my point, here's an old post from 06 where I share many more of them.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Bring it on, Edouard!

It appears that we are in the path of a Tropical Storm, possibly strengthening to a category 1 hurricane by the time it makes landfall tomorrow morning. I'm ashamed to admit this, but I'm excited. No, I don’t want anyone to die or for the storm to severely damage or flood anyone’s property, but I do admit that I like storms. My friend, Kelli, and I are always excited when we find out we may be getting bad weather, especially TS or hurricane type weather. I guess that makes us twisted individuals or something. I have a friend in Corpus that is the same way and we usually fight over whose turn it is to get a storm. (Houston/Galveston or Corpus Christi/Padre). It’s usually just us wanting a day or two off from work! Since I'm off for the summer that really doesn’t apply now, but I'm still excited so I guess I really am twisted.

I was in junior high in 1983 when Hurricane Alicia hit. I remember the heavy winds and stormy weather very well. It was exciting and scary. We lost power and ended up all playing games and huddling together waiting on it to blow over. We were without power for almost two weeks afterward and had to stay with my grandparents. Being without A/C in Houston (especially in August) is never fun.

In 2005, when Hurricane Rita was churning in the Gulf, the city personnel and media had the entire state of south Texas in a panic. Evacuations were mandatory in most places, voluntary in others. They were preparing us for storm surges and major flooding. People panicked and the majority of the population in the area decided it would be safer to evacuate, mandatory or not. Most people began leaving their homes two days before the storm was scheduled to hit land. She was going to be a category 5 and people were terrified.

It was a big deal and the city was basically shutting down. I didn’t get off work in time to leave with my family and my husband was required to stay for his job. Once my parents and siblings had left and were already on the road, I really didn’t want to take a road trip with the kids and dogs all alone. I ended up waiting around before deciding what to do before what I was seeing on the news helped make the decision for me. All roads and freeways leading out of town were like parking lots. It was complete chaos. People were running out of gas on the feeder roads, driving the wrong way on the freeways trying to get off and find somewhere to get food and gas, getting sick from the heat, running our of food and water in their vehicles, etc. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on the news and wanted no part of it.

It took my family, who were all driving in a caravan with a travel trailer and RV over 24 hours to get to my grandma’s house, which is typically a 3.5-hour drive. It was a nightmare.

The kids were upset with us for deciding that we would stay here. They wanted to be with their cousins on what they thought would be an awesome and exciting road trip/adventure. Plus, they thought we were basically setting them up for sure death. I saw the news and was in constant communication with my family. I knew it was no adventure that I wanted any part of. Funny note: (sorry, Mom) my mom actually had to squat in a parking lot to go potty. There was no other option for her at the time. That was huge and probably a first for her. I was so proud! I never knew she had it in her.

We were prepared to go to work (the police station) with my husband if things got too bad here. The building is old and tough and safer than our modest home. I took all of our pictures and home videos and stacked them up high in the house in case of flooding and we waited for the storm of the century.

The city was like a ghost town. Stores were closed. Roads were totally clear of other cars. I think we were the only people on our street that stayed. Our entire neighborhood seemed deserted and we seemed to be the only people left for miles. All of our friends and family had left. After two days of complete boredom, constantly watching the chaos of the evacuations on the news and the anticipation of what we had in store, we decided to go for a drive to get the kids out of the house.

It was so cool. We were the only car on the entire freeway. We drove for miles before seeing anyone else on the road. We drove to Kemah, which is usually packed with people on the Boardwalk and surrounding restaurants. There wasn’t a soul in sight.

On our way home we actually passed an open convenience store and everyone got so excited. We stopped, mostly to stock up on junk food, but I think we wanted and needed to see other people. At that point, we were feeling pretty alone. There were a few people inside. I remember meeting one couple that had stayed to keep an eye on their restaurant. We told the kids to get whatever they wanted. We were sick of them whining about the fact that we were the only people who stayed and how we should’ve gone, too. Believe me, the people who did leave went through hell trying to get out of town and I did us all a huge favor by not joining everyone else. We spent $60 on junk food before heading back home and that shut them up for a while.

In the end, the storm took a turn east more towards Louisiana making landfall as a category 3 and all we got was some heavy rain and winds. There were some branches down in the yard, but the storm barely even woke me up. I slept in the living room with the kids and when I heard the wind I got up and checked things out but then fell right back to sleep.

I was asked to drive by some houses after the storm to evaluate any damage, since most people were stuck out of town for a few days waiting to get back home and were anxious to know what, if any, damage they were coming home to. Fortunately, no one had extensive damage, mostly just fallen branches and limbs.

The city has since worked on improving emergency evacuation routes but I don’t think most people have much faith in the system. For the most part, the next time we are encouraged to leave, I seriously doubt that most people will go willingly after their hellish experiences in 2005. It'll be like crying wolf, in my opinion. No one will ever believe the big one is actually coming.

As far as this latest storm goes, it doesn't sound too scary. I have candles on hand (always do) but don't anticipate needing them. Cassidy and Caden are at their Grandma’s and we’ve opted to leave them there. She lives farther from the coast than we do in a house made of cinder block. (That house isn’t going anywhere). I’m sure she’ll try to coax me into coming over, too, but I’ll just stay here with the dogs. I’m trying to persuade Lauren into staying the night here just because I'll feel better if she is with us. As a precaution, most people are off from work tomorrow so maybe I’ll have a few friends over tonight for a hurricane party! Of course I hope and pray that no one is injured or loses their homes and/or businesses. Really, all we ever want is just some heavy rain and a day (or two) off from work. Is that asking too much?

Here are some before (the calm before the storm) and after photos from Rita, in no particular order. (Notice the looks of sheer displeasure on the kids faces).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

And This Years Award Goes To.........

We went to Incredible Pizza tonight and most definitely got our moneys worth from our visit. We had two coupons for one free adult and child dinner, plus a $10 token card that expires Thursday and we didn’t want those to go to waste. We all ate and played for free. We actually have two more left but I seriously doubt we’ll use them before Thursday. That just might be too much pizza and fun for one week. Although, it would be another free dinner and I’m all about not cooking whenever I can get away with it.

We all bowled and played miniature golf. The kids rode go-carts and bumper cars before we left for the movies. This is where I earn myself yet another nomination for Mother of the Year. I know, I really should let some of you other mother’s out there have a fair shot at this nomination and award, but I just keep going that extra mile.

We’re all big Will Ferrell fans in this house and were dying to see Step Brothers since we saw the previews. I just didn’t know that it was rated R until after we bought our tickets and were actually walking into the theatre. Cassidy brought it to my attention. We really do have a PG 13 policy. There are exceptions, (like allowing Cassidy to see Strangers, which was rated R for violence and language) but for the most part, they aren’t allowed to watch rated R movies.

So, there I was, faced with the realization that I wasn’t expecting. I had screwed up by assuming it was PG 13. I cringed and hesitated before finally going on into the theatre and hoping it wouldn’t be that bad. I guess you could call that wishful thinking.
We covered their eyes twice (in between bouts of our own hysterical laughter).

It was somewhat awkward sitting there laughing hysterically and grimacing at the same time. At one point I actually asked Les if we should just get up and leave and we both gave it some serious thought before agreeing that they’ve probably heard it all before (and maybe even worse) at school. I mean my first rated R movie was Young Lady Cha*terly, which made this look like a G rated Disney film (and I was younger than Caden when I saw it late at night on cable TV)!

As we were leaving the lights were still off and Les whispered to me, “Let’s get out of here quick before someone sees that we have our kids with us”. Then we walked shamefully to the car.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

We're Back! (In One Piece)

We pulled into the driveway last night (ummm, or this morning) at 3am. Ahhhh, home sweet home. We decided we couldn't miss the fish and shrimp fry so we stuck around for dinner and got a late start back home. We were technically paid to stay through Sunday but always prefer having a full day of recovery before going back to work, so we didn't care what time we got home as long as we woke up in our bed today. (which by the way, was after 1pm) Of course, this is my first year to not have to return to work tomorrow since I'm off for the summer but Les has my deepest sympathy.

In spite of it raining the first three days we were there, we still had a blast and were actually wishing we had stayed the full two weeks. I'm actually leaning towards going back with Lauren and her friend tomorrow for a few more days. It's a five hour drive but worth it.

Highlights (and non-highlights) of the trip:

Having Lauren ride to and from with us for the first time in about five years. It was nice to have her stuck in the car with us again for a change.

Les and I being stuck in the tent in the rain for hours at a time on and off for the first three days then realizing we'd forgotten to even pack a deck of cards. At least we had vodka, 7 Up and our excellent personalities to keep us from shooting ourselves.

Repeatedly sweeping our picnic area off and hosing down the dirt from our outside camping stuff after each downpour, only to have another round of rain come through a few hours later making everything dirty and nasty again.

Going out into the rain about 100 times to move the dogs from their chains to the tree to inside of our utility trailer to keep them dry. Fun? Not so much.

Taking the kids Geocaching in the rain. That was really cool. If you haven't heard of Geocaching before, it's basically like a scavenger hunt for something that you use a GPS to locate. People from all over the world participate and post the coordinates of things they have hidden on a website. Les had written down all of the ones located in the park prior to our trip so we decided to go even though it was raining. You have to use a GPS to locate it. We were basically hiking through the hills and trails trying to find the hidden object. Other than the fact that I forgot my tennis shoes (among other things) and got two huge blisters on my feet from wearing my water sandals, it was awesome and the kids loved it. The rain made it more adventurous.

Staying up with some people in our group late into the night laughing and sharing our greatest poop stories of all times. I laughed so hard my stomach and face hurt. A few of those stories might make it to the blog one day (with identities protected, of course).

Losing track of the day of the week and having someone else remind us that it was our 21st wedding anniversary. Hey, at least we BOTH forgot!

Sitting down at the picnic table and being stung where the sun don't shine by a bee. I ran into the tent screaming and jumped onto the bed sitting up on all fours asking Les to make sure the stinger wasn't still in. It wasn't, but it hurt like hell for 20 minutes. At least he finally quit telling me that the bees weren't going to hurt me anymore. LIAR! I knew there was a good reason to be scared of them. They hovered over the kids empty Coke cans all week. Those sneaky and unwelcome bastards!

Making it through the entire trip without a single episode of family drama!(Or at least any major drama!) Record books! Note: This could be a result of the fact that our site was located a good distance from camp central, so we had more of our own personal space than usual.

Sleeping in a tent while it rained. Now that's a relaxing and peaceful sound.

Not having to use the park showers one single time, thanks to our new handy dandy camping shower that TOTALLY rocks. (see below) Note: Sold at Academy for $40 and worth every cent!

Having great mother daughter bonding time with Lauren for an entire day of just the two of us relaxing in the water for about five plus hours. We got so burned! Turns out she loves sitting in a chair in the water for hours on end as much as I do. (as long as the cooler is nearby) Who knew? Oh, and among other things she shared or confessed to me, she told me all about the times she used to sneak out of the house during her junior and senior years. What am I supposed to do now except laugh? It's not like I can ground her now. I was actually so shocked that I couldn't stop laughing! OMG! I was the master at that age but had no idea that she had ever pulled it off. She even used the pillows in the bed trick. Whatever, I invented that! I threatened her with her life that she better not ever tell Cassidy her tricks.

Having to use wet wipes to clean my feet every night before climbing into bed to wipe the dirt off of them. You just gotta love camping!

Washing dishes after the guys have cooked for like 40 plus people, not so fun.

Our tent totally rocked and withstood the rain very well. It was big enough for our bed, two chairs and the tons of tubs containing all of of our "stuff". Plus, we could easily walk around and had plenty of open space. Everyone made fun of us for bringing two TV trays to use for our night stands. These would be the same people who are living it up in their travel trailers! We have an air mattress on a stand so it's pretty cool that it doesn't sit on the floor. Oh, and did I mention that we also take a portable air conditioner every year that keeps us from dying in the Texas heat? We're usually freezing in the mornings. (see below) Does that make us real redneck campers? Please, don't answer that.

I actually had so much fun that there's a good chance I'll be going back for a few more days with Lauren and her friend for the rest of this week. She came home with us to ride back up tomorrow with her friend (and to see her boyfriend for a few days) before returning for the rest of the week. Caden decided not to stay for week 2 but if I end up going back tomorrow, he's going back with us.

It felt good to sleep in my own bed and to actually have and keep clean feet after a long, hot BATH, but I would love a few more days of the river and some quality time with the friends and family.

These are the pictures I took with my phone, I've been way too tired and lazy today to bother loading the pictures from the cameras. Did I mention I slept almost all day? Cut me some slack on run-on sentences, spelling or grammatical errors.......I'm still recovering. I have two huge trash bags of laundry to do and 2,000 tubs to unpack but haven't so much as lifted a finger all day. Sigh. However, Caden and I are catching up on all of the shows he DVR'd while we were gone.

Here's a little taste of our week.

Lauren and Caden used this tent. (mostly Caden) Lauren had her stuff in it but for the most part she floated from trailer to trailer (and earned quite a reputation for making her rounds through the park! Ha! Of course, they were people in our group!) Cassidy visited us but she and her friend had their own bunks in MeMe and PawPaw's trailer.

"The shower"

The good 'ol A/C. See it down there on the right?

Our site.

The master tent that totally rocked. It's new and pretty roomy.

Oh, the view and just a short walk away from our site. Also where I spent the majority of my time RELAXING in my chair.

The dogs haven't moved since we got home.