Monday, November 25, 2013

Mud and more mud...

Last week, my kiddos played outside a lot. I watched as they bathed and frolicked in the mud and thought about how fun it was doing that when I was a kid myself. I savored each moment they painted themselves (and hair) with mud. Times like this won't last long. After they finished playing, I rinsed them off with the water hose (brrrr) and then had them run inside into an awaiting warm soapy bathtub.

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He was actually posing as a zombie until I made him smile.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Left Out

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My kiddo has been having some issues lately...he just doesn't fit in with his friends. He is 'into' cowboy and military stuff and his friends...aren't. He has been acting out. When I spoke with him this evening, he described how he felt. He said it felt like everybody (his friends) were in a pile of awesomeness and he was in a pile of poop. He has some friends who just don't listen to him (and/or interrupt) and sometimes, his eyes water at school and it really embarrasses him. Wanting to be one of the cool kids has always been every kid's desire, I guess. Third grade is difficult and being in the same school with the same kids for years makes certain changes impossible. I'm going to put him in some other activities that involve other kids. He needs more positive outlets and to be away from negative influences. Just feels sad to see your kiddo feel so sad and left out. Here's to a new beginning...

I took this picture a couple of days ago at a birthday party while waiting for his brother to finish jumping on the bounce thing. I thought to myself at the time (before realizing that my kiddo actually felt left out with his friends at school etc) that he seemed out of place. Or maybe he was just dreaming of being a cowboy. :)

Friday, November 01, 2013

My Colorado Trip

A few months ago, my friend and her family moved to Colorado. I had some miles built up from my airline credit card so I decided to take a few days to go visit her. She is still new to the area and I thought it'd be great time to hang out while her kiddos were at school. I went last week and had an awesome time! I love being able to go visit my friends. I used to go see my other friend J who lived in CA or NY/NJ and I'd go about every other year. I miss seeing her too and I decided to just go for it...go see a friend and get away.

I loved seeing the landscape while up in the air. It was just so beautiful!
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One thing I realized within minutes of landing there...was that Colorado is full of 'Christmas trees.' I am severely allergic to those kinds of trees and it has been getting worse over the last several years. For years, we had a noble fir for Christmas and now, we can only have artificial trees because of my instant allergic reaction to the real kinds. I spent my few days there sneezing, having itchy and watery eyes, blowing my nose, and having tiny swollen eyes! I need to make sure my weekly allergy injections contain that stuff to help be around those kinds of trees! I took a picture of the backyard of my friend's house. photo P1090971_zps99b8856b.jpg

While I was there, I visited the Garden of the Gods. It was absolutely gorgeous!!! (This is me and my friend T.)
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Some other pics from there...
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And my favorite with the snow topped mountains in the background -
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We went to a mall one afternoon and look! There is a fireplace in the food court! (I've never seen that before!)
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We were going to go up to Pike's Peak but we didn't have enough time...Instead we stopped and took a picture of a stream near Iron Springs.

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We also visited the Capitol Building in Denver. I just loved the trees and the changing colors! There are some maple trees around here that change colors but for most of the trees, it seems they are evergreens and we(in the SE near the coast) don't have that changing of the colors like other states do. I just loved the yellow leaves in these trees right outside the Capitol!
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We went on a tour while walking around the Capitol. I learned that Katharine Lee Bates wrote "America the Beautiful" song after she went up to Pike's Peak in Colorado and saw the beautiful landscape. This tapestry hangs in the Capitol and has many important and influential people in Colorado's history. The tour guide had lots of interesting information and it was a joy to be able to hear about another state like that (as opposed to reading from books or watching tv.)
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We were also able to explore the rooms that the Colorado senate and representatives use. I noticed the extremely small seats (for people decades ago were measurable smaller than the current population) as well as the ashtrays on each seat. The stained glass windows were amazing and the tour guide discussed each person in each window and their significance.
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I felt guilty for not having my family with me...the older I get, the more I want them with me to visit cool places. I used to be able to just ...go... and not feel (too) guilty but rather enjoy the time away from everything at home. I don't know if it's the difference between going when I was younger as opposed to being older, or whether I just want to enjoy it all with them. Nevertheless, I had an absolutely great time and can't wait to go again (hopefully, after I have better allergy medicine with me!)

Monday, October 07, 2013

Raccoons and more raccoons!

As I was leaving my SILs the other day, I went by her daughter's house. I had seen a photo she had posted on FB about some raccoons near her house and I was curious about them. I had my oldest daughter and granddaughter with me and we were going to stop by for a little while (and see the place where the raccoons were which was along the way) and then go back home (a good two hour drive.)

There's a store near my niece's neighborhood and the raccoons will come out at dusk and beg for food. As we drove up to that side of the parking lot, they were EVERYWHERE! I went inside the store about bought some bread to 'feed' them and they'd come up and stand on their hind legs with their front feet on my legs waiting for me to drop pieces of bread to them. Totally scary! I was imagining their very sharp teeth and claws!

While we were there, it was quite an experience. They were polite...didn't come up and chew my leg or arm off and there weren't too many fights for the food we threw at them. I've never seen that many raccoons in one place in my life!

Of course, I was trying to take pictures!

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My niece feeding them.

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My daughter feeding them.

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Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Pop-Up Tent Camper

We have some really good friends who have had a pop-up tent camper for a long time. I've heard them talk about it but I had never been in one. We as a family love to go tent camping and love camping in general. I've seen people driving down the road with those pop-ups but have never known what they were actually like. Lo and behold, our friends upgraded and now have an RV so they wanted to sell this camper thing.

I went over to their house one day and took a look at it. It had air conditioning!!! And a heater! There was even a little potty and tiny shower area inside. Tiny. They were both really tiny. But I was impressed that there were anything like that inside!!! There was even a sink! And a stove (that you can take and use outside too.) And a refrigerator (it doesn't work but it's a great place to store stuff.) I had no idea it was like that! We have never camped in the summer (we don't like mosquitos and/or to be really hot and prefer to camp when it's really cold instead for those reasons.)

To make a long story short, we bought it from them!!! Now, all we have to do is plan an overnight or weekend get away to learn how to turn everything on etc. and we'll be more experienced to plan a longer vacation. A really close friend and her family moved to Colorado and we will drive to see them next summer. I am planning a nice long trek that way while stopping by a couple cool state parks along the way.

I'm super excited about all this! It's like a whole new camping kind of world just opened up and we're looking forward to using it!

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Calm Before The Storm...

My sister-in-Law, my hubby's oldest sister, is dying. Of course, we're all dying...we're all one day closer to death...but her expiration date is coming up faster than ours. She's enduring her third bout of breast cancer and it has metastasized. From what I have read (and/or heard her physicians say,) she has up to a few months left (I think that's an optimistic number.) I know so many people who have had cancer, who currently have it or have lost loved ones to one dreadful type of it or another. Each time I realized that someone I know and love is affected by it, I want to do what I can to make life easier for them.

I've been really close to my SIL throughout the years. She had a daughter the year before I had my first daughter. She had a few sons and then years later, had another daughter. I did the same kind of thing...had girls and then years later, had some more kiddos (boys.) We've been close. I will really miss her. So I've been going to see her once a week (at her home to cook/hang out) or to her hospital if she's there (and sit with hr.) for the last six weeks or so. She has ascites (fluid in her abdomen that fills it up...consisting of malignant breast cancer cells) and recently, tumor loops in her intestines (obstruction.) Did I mention that I'm going to really miss her? My boys and I took a trip a couple years ago to Hot Springs Arkansas and then on to Memphis Tennessee and we invited her to come along. It was a great time and we drove there/back and did touristy stuff. I had never gone with a family member on a trip like that before and it was a pretty memorable time. We had always hoped to do it again. She's always wanted to have an RV and go on a trip. A couple of weeks ago, I told her that at some point, if she wants to go, I will take the grab the kids out of school and we will take a trip! Just say the word and we'll rent one and go wherever she wants to go!

Anyway, she was discharged from the hospital from her last stay on Saturday night and I had planned on going to sit with her at the hospital on Sunday. Since her daughter's bridal shower was on Sunday, I assumed she was going to go. Since I try to avoid large gatherings (I prefer smaller groups,) I decided to skip the shower and just take a day trip with my boys to Galveston. So, we packed up a picnic lunch, sand toys and took off for the day. I wanted to NOT think, not be sad, and to laugh and enjoy the day.

We ate lunch AND dessert at a huge restaurant (the kid's dessert was a bowl of ice cream with different toppings that they could create a sundae themselves.) Then we rented a bicycle and drove all around the sidewalks and side roads. We even stopped at a park and played on the swings and slides. We then went to Rainforest Café and rode the little boat ride inside the restaurant (with robotic animals and noises creating a great atmosphere for kiddos.) Finally, we found a place alongside the seawall, grabbed our toys, chair, towels and camera and hung out for hours. We fed seagulls at the back of the ferry, watched dolphins swim (fins above the water) and even saw one jump...several times...that's a first for me while traveling to the other side of the island! We practiced my son's vocabulary (homework from school) on the way to as well as on the way back from there and enjoyed a great day! I can't remember how long it's been since I've laughed SO much and had such a great time with the kids. I let my son drive and control the brake and the brake didn't stop very well...which caused a lot of laughter for the good and bad scares related to that. He wanted to do it all day.

Here are some pictures from our day -

My 'lil one sat in the 'basket' and we sat on the seats behind him. So much fun!

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When I asked them to gather up the beach toys (and we have lots of buckets, shovels, stuff to make sand castles etc.,) I realized that these are what they consider 'sand' toys! I said...why not...and helped load them into the car trunk!

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My 'lil one was running around and when I took this pic, he was smiling at me and kinda facing me. I immediately thought of one of those songs from Bugs Bunny shows a long time ago...'Hello my baby, hello my darling...' Was it a dancing frog? I have no idea but I thought his smile was adorable!

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I wanted them to pose for at least one picture and asked them to come sit on a sand pile. My bigger boy jumped down to that spot and I said 'Stop - don't move! Smile!'

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I always keep an extra set of clothes in my trunk just for occasions like this...they loved getting dirty and sandy! We had everything we needed! I love their faces of happiness!

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My youngest couldn't see over the ferry gate at the front so I held him on my back the whole time. I didn't even think about make-up on this day but if I had put some on, I probably would have sweated it all off before this picture was taken anyway. And, of course, I'm wearing my favorite shirt.

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

End of Summer

It's amazing how fast the summer flew by. While I looked forward to new routines and having the kids away each day to school, I held on as long as I could to keep summer going as long as possible.

My friend with whom I hung out moved away to another state (her hubby got another job) and now, I feel sad that I won't have anymore spontaneous texts to go see a movie in the evening or someplace to hang out during the day while her kiddo takes naps (and watch a movie.) I love that I became close to someone enough to really miss them when they aren't here anymore. However, I will definitely make a roadtrip probably in the summer to go visit her and her family. Since our kiddos attended the same school, it seems even lonelier not to be able to discuss what's happening at their school too. Waaaah! I love that we have so much technology that we can email, call, text, send pics/videos, Skype, etc and use snail mail so that we can keep contact with other people. I remember the days where I had a pen pal and didn't know what 'long distance' calls were.

We squeezed in another jaunt out of town to visit my younger daughter who moved away and enjoyed some fun outings while there. I wanted to be able to see where she lived and picture where she went to work. She was sweet enough to let me sleep in her bed while we stayed there two nights (the kiddos and her slept on the floor in her bedroom.) She and two other roommates share an apartment. While we were there, she took us around to really cool places. One of the coolest was to watch the bats fly out from under the Congress Street Bridge in Austin, TX. "The Congress Avenue Bridge spans Town Lake in downtown Austin and is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America. The colony is estimated at 1.5 million Mexican free-tail bats. Each night from mid-March to November, the bats emerge from under the bridge at dusk to blanket the sky as they head out to forage for food. This event has become one of the most spectacular and unusual tourist attractions in Texas. The most spectacular bat flights are during hot, dry August nights, when multiple columns of bats emerge." We parked our car behind a building and walked up to see many flying out. The best time was a little earlier but there were still thousands that still were coming out as we got there.

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And we visited the state Capitol.

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We also went on a tour to visit some nearby caverns. My third grader loved the tour and really paid attention and asked relevant questions. Other than the hour walk in the very humid caverns that made you sweat profusely, it was very nice.

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This is a line of flint within the limestone rock.

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On the way home, we stopped a couple of places including a bakery and gift store. The bakery had excellent Czech Shortbread and fabulous pecan pie thingie with the best crust ever! Luckily, I didn't taste them until a couple hours later while I was driving or I would have bought more, lol! While we were in the gift store part of the bakery, there was a little tractor that my kindergartener's monkey had to ride! They were precious talking about how much 'Monkey' loved riding it so I had to take a picture.

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Tomorrow is the end of the second week of school and my kindergartener still clings to me as I thrust him out of my vehicle and I watch him start to tear up or cry as he is walked to his class by my older son. I know he'll get into the routine soon's hard for the both of us....but I love his big smile and happy conversation as I pick him up in the afternoon! Bring on the fall!

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

George Ranch Visit

I had a Groupon certificate to the George Ranch Historical Park near Houston, Texas and we finally visited there last week. We were on our way somewhere else and it was on the way so we stopped. We had forgotten how HOT it was though so we didn't stay very long. We will definitely return to see the rest of the Park. Luckily, we arrived just before the cattle demonstration. The park itself is still a 20,000 acre working ranch and the demonstration showed how they rounded up cattle and some of their practices they used in the last hundred years or so. There are cattle all over the place around here in Texas where we live and I've always wanted to stop at one and look around. This was the next best thing. And my son loved to see his favorite 'amazing' animal, the Texas Longhorn.

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And then they showed how they used to dip the cattle to eradicate a certain type of tick that killed many of them during the last century. It allowed us to see some cattle (and real cowboys) up close.

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There was a wagon that carried you around to the different residences on the ranch or you could walk around. We chose to wait until we return to see all of them but we did notice a warning sign if we chose to walk around, lol!

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And, my kiddo decided that even though he wanted to grow up to be a Navy Seal, he thinks being a cowboy seems even more cool. He loves the thought of using all the farm equipment as well as riding the horses to round up the cattle. Of course, he has now been browsing the internet looking for ranches where he could go and learn how to be a real cowboy next summer. Both my hubby and my kiddo got cowboy hats while there. Here is a pic of my kiddo the next day in front of my SIL and BILs tractor. He loves this blue 'working shirt' and wears it ALL the time! The new cowboy hat totally completed the look he wanted.

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Monday, August 05, 2013

TVs at restaurants...

It's my pet peeve, so to speak. I don't mind them, per se, but I happen to have family members who can't resist looking at them, even when they're muted. We went to a restaurant a couple of weeks ago. I noticed these two watching not one, but two different flat screen televisions that were on the walls. They were reading the subtitles or watching whatever was on (Full House reruns!!)I just figure that if you're at a restaurant, you're there to eat or visit. I don't want to watch tv there. At one point, I actually took a picture, lol! I definitely learned them away from the screens next time. It happens at home too so I can't blame them...too much!

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However, there are times, I do the same thing, in a way. If I am at home and am browsing through the tv channels, if I come across certain movies like Sense and Sensibility, Love Actually, You've Got Mail, any of the Bourne trilogy, I'm done. I stop whatever I'm doing at the time (or adapt so that I can watch too) and finish watching the movie.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


There have been many examples of kindness in my life lately. Just in the last week, there are several that meant a lot to me!

Earlier last week, I was at the hospital with my adult daughter, granddaughter, and by two boys. We were waiting to be called for my granddaughter to have an ultrasound on her head (possible hydrocephalus among other issues.) We were sitting around talking and coo'ing with the baby trying to be quiet (my boys are still working on their 'indoor' voices.) A man whom we didn't know was sitting near us started talking to my daughter about her daughter and they had a conversation. At some point, my daughter went to give her insurance information to the staff and the man started talking to my boys. I don't remember when he left but he returned with four little popcorn bags that were being sold near the entrance. We had been smelling that great popcorn aroma for a while too! It was a very kind gesture by him and we all enjoyed popcorn while waiting! Thank you Mr. Brown for your generosity!

On Friday, my daughter needed help to get huge couches moved from her two story apartment. They were heavy, it was really hot...Luckily, my brother and nephew were there to help. We had to make two trips with the trailer as there were some other (heavy) things too. It was so hot that as we were moving the furniture, the sweat went into my eyes and they stung so much that I couldn't even see. It was awesome that they were there to help because there was no way the two of us could have done it alone. Thank you Mike and Cody.

My friend Tina invited me to go to lunch with her on Saturday and go to the casino in the neighboring state. I can count on my fingers the number of times I've been to one and don't usually go. I've never been with a friend before either. It was a spontaneous offer and I checked with my nephew about babysitting and I texted her back that I'd love to go. Within a half hour, we were on our way. What I didn't know was that she gave me some money to use while playing. I used that money for the whole afternoon and came home with a little extra. We played Amazon Fishing or something like that where about five players play individually but then at random times, they all play together as fish swim by on huge screens on the wall in front of us. Just the comradery of being with a friend and the great conversation we had made it an awesome day!!! She was very thoughtful and I enjoyed the day so much! Thank you Tina.

While running errands a couple days later, I had about 45 minutes to spare so I stopped by my mother-in-law's place. They were just having lunch in the dining area and I went to her table that she shared with another elder gentleman. I walked up to her and started talking to her. She didn't acknowledge that I was there because she was concentrating with using her spoon to try to get her (mushy) food onto her spoon. It was so slow and meticulous as she has always been careful eating and with the progression of her Alzheimer's, it's getting more difficult. In the mornings, the hospice caregiver helps her with her meal. I pulled up a chair and started feeding her. She never looked my way and continued to eat. Later, the staff offered a dessert and as soon as it was put in front of her (beside her plate,) she started to try to pick it up to put it on her plate. She has always enjoyed her desserts! We have always had that in common. I then fed her the pumpkin pie and then the rest of her food. It was a quiet enjoyable experience for the both of us. She never did notice the person (me) feeding her and I didn't want to interrupt her concentration and deliberation in eating. I often thought about the times throughout the years in which we enjoyed each other's much I miss her...and how her example of kindness throughout all the years of being married to her son is now being reciprocated back to her in ways she now needs. Thank you Mom.

The day before yesterday, I laid around all day and ignored my dishes (enough for two days) and housecleaning. At one point, I walked in the kitchen and my younger daughter (who is staying with me this week as she's finishing up cleaning her apartment because she is moving to another city four hours away,) was cooking dinner for us. It was awesome to walk into the kitchen a little later and see that she had also done the dishes and cleaned the kitchen as well. I'm not sure whether it was because yesterday was my birthday or because she was just being nice but I loved that awesome kind gesture. Thank you S.

It's been a really nice week.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Our July 4th Weekend

We generally celebrate July 4th at my hubby's sister's house. It has become one of our favorite family traditions. This year, she had many family members and friends there to hang out, eat, visit and celebrate the Fourth together. We had an awesome time and the weather cooperated beautifully!

The previous week, my soon to be third grader broke his arm while playing with a neighbor on their trampoline. So he wasn't able to swim in the bay or do what he usually does but he had a great time nevertheless. He wanted a camouflage colored cast but settled for green instead.

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Of course, my boys had to wear their patriotic shirts and loved them. In fact, my youngest 'had' to wear his shirt the following day too (it wasn't very dirty, lol!)

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I loved all the decorations at SILs place! The kids helped place them on the bulkhead!

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At one point, my hubby came in and got my camera to take this picture. I agreed after I saw was a Kodak moment.

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We had LOTS of food including hot dogs, brisket and all the extras! There was so much great food that I didn't get to try a lot of it! My SIL is an awesome cook!

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My SILs house is the blue one with white windows! That house and their neighbor share the pier.

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Sunset. One of the neighbors had HUGE kites that they flew during the day. Watching them in the wind seemed so calming.

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One cool thing that occurred that husband's nephew's son (who has autism) held onto and enjoyed a sparkler. He stayed inside during the fireworks but watched them through the window. He is one week younger than my almost third grader.

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Such a great weekend...there were 14 dogs there and they all got along. More people than I could count. I loved helping out in the kitchen (aka hiding there away from lots of people) and it was just another great holiday to remember with my SIL and hubby's family.