Sunday, June 27, 2010

Playing Catch Up

I don't have much time this morning to write, so very quickly: Brenda is in Tennessee on the farm with Grandma and Grandpa. Ariana is going to summer school (I requested it, the school didn't seem to think she needed it). I bathed Athena with flea and tick shampoo yesterday (she took it better than expected). Kayla moved into her new apartment on June 4.

I got an email and found out about the German Marshall Fellowship. I asked Senfronia Thompson to nominate me and she did. Now I have to write two essays and submit my application. I've got a couple weeks until the deadline.

We had early turn over for the first time in Harris County this year so work has been rather hectic. It's been nice.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Wonderful World of Disney

I don't know how I managed to go this long without reporting on our trip to Disney World. I'm going to blame it on school and work and family commitments but the truth is, I know I've been slacking. I am going to start this post and update it as I have time. There is lots to tell and I don't want to ruin it by rushing.

First, we flew Continental Airlines out of Bush IAH. I had my list and I'd checked it twice. This trip was in the making for 14 months and nothing could go wrong. The bags were packed and we awoke at 4:45 a.m. There was no complaining from anyone even though my family is notoriously not good with mornings.

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

I was supposed to have a video to go with this post but when we got home last night the DVD would not work. I'm a tad irritated. I paid $10 for a 55 second DVD and then the darn thing doesn't play! But I will always have the memory of the first time my daughter was thrown from a mechanical bull. That's right. Brenda rode the mechanical bull at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and ended up biting the dust. She actually held on for longer than I thought she would and I'm right proud of her.

Brenda, Ariana and I left home around 8:30 a.m. and, after a stop at Ryan's for their breakfast buffet, made our way downtown. We parked in the garage at work and took the train to the Reliant Park. Getting there was a breeze. We got through the gate and headed straight for Kids' Country where the girls started off the day with a few rides while it wasn't too hot and the lines were still short.

It didn't take long before we ended up at a booth and procured two cowgirl hats. I and others made the mistake of calling them cowboy hats but with these girls you only make that mistake once, let me tell you. They matched their hats to their shirts, Ariana got pink and Bre got black. Then we stopped off to watch the Radio Disney team perform on the kids' stage before checking out the exhibits. We saw rabbits, a big ole turkey, sheep and some huge bulls. The girls got a chance to climb up inside a John Deere tractor and we watched a heifer judging for a few minutes before heading off to find some lunch.

If you've never been to the rodeo, let me warn you that it is anything but cheap. Our lunch was a turkey leg, a hamburger, 3 chicken strips with fries and 3 sodas. The bill = $27.45. And the place was so crowded we ended up sitting on the ground to eat.

From there we headed off in search of horses. An extended tour of the carnival grounds later, we finally found the arena and some horses in need of petting. There was a beautiful black mare and a gorgeous palomino, among others. We stayed in the a/c for a while but had to head over to Reliant Stadium to get our seats for the start of the rodeo.

I have learned my lesson about cheap seats. Every time I buy seats I choose the economical option. Then, when I arrive at the stadium, I suddenly remember that I am terrified of heights. We take escalators up six stories just to get to the concourse. The whole time I am holding on with both hands and willing myself not to look down. Then, we find our section and enter only to face a nearly vertical incline. We were 11 rows up last night. The steps are not only steep but quite narrow. I am a large, clumsy woman who is afraid of heights. This is not a good combination.

Aided by my two lovely daughters and the $10.50 beer I bought, I managed to make it to my seat. I determined not to get up until the show was over. 2 hours in and with the concert still to go, the beer changed my mind. It wanted out. By this time, the stadium was filled to capacity and we had to climb over the four people between us and the stairs. I held on to the railing with a death grip and managed to make it without tumbling down to my certain death. The bathroom trip was uneventful except that I left Ariana's light saber and she cried for 10 minutes when she realized. But I was not going back.

Then came the music. We had seen bareback riding, steer wrestling, mutton bustin', barrel racing, team roping, saddle bronc riding and bull riding. It was time for Jason Aldean and he did not disappoint. He started off the show with one of our favorites, Crazy Town. We have to wait through about 8 songs before he got to the song that made us buy the tickets in the first place, Big Green Tractor. Clayton got Ariana hooked on it at Christmas and I bought her the cd. When we found out Jason would be at the rodeo, we had to go. My little pink cowgirl perked right up and sang along word for word. By then, we were all pretty tired, and it was some dogged determination that kept us there until we heard "She's Country." As soon as the last note was played we were up out of our seats and headed home.

The train back downtown seemed to take forever to arrive and it was absolutely packed to the gills. But we made it back to the car and hit I-10 West. I called and ordered pizza which we picked up on our way. All in all it was a great day.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Brenda Rides The Tractor and Other Farm Fables

Ariana washing udders.

Brent and Brenda Ann
We spent the week between Christmas and New Year's with my folks on the farm and, man, did these girls have fun! They milked cows, bottle-fed baby calves and shoveled silage. But the very best part was spending time with MeeMaw, PawPaw, Uncle Brent, Aunt Amber and all those little cousins that seemed to keep multiplying. Clayton got Ariana hooked on the song "Big Green Tractor" by Jason Aldean while Brenda and Shelby bonded over playing cards and board games. They can't wait to go back. In fact, Brenda plans on spending most of her summer up there!

New Year, New Post

I'm going to skip all the usual garbage about resolutions and such. I mean, I'm sitting on my wide behind eating cheese dip and drinking Dr. Pepper, so clearly exercise and diet aren't on the agenda. Much has happened in the two months since my last post. And much has stayed the same. In the Happenings column:

We flew to Orlando the Sunday before Thanksgiving and stayed five days at Disney World. This, however, deserves its own separate post since it is, after all, a List Item. Complete rundown of vacation hijinks coming soon. Two weeks later, Kayla and I were headed home after work when we were involved in an auto accident downtown. There was severe damage to LadiBug (Kayla's car) on the driver's side but we were not injured. The woman who hit us behaved like a rabid bat. I was cited for making an illegal turn and have to go to court Jan. 28. I would just pay the ticket except it doesn't have an amount. We had a good experience with our insurance company (Progressive) and I don't think I would ever switch now.

A week after the accident, Kayla moved out. It came a bit earlier than we had planned and is an adjustment. Mostly, I'm okay with it, though I did have a "moment" in the garage one evening as I was starting a load of clothes. I think it was brought about mostly because now that she's out of the house I'm having to wash clothes again.

Of course, JoJo had already flown the coop in June to move to Tennessee and live with his dad so in little more than 6 months we went from 4 kids at home to just 2. Ariana moved into the newly-vacated bedroom and we are in the process of painting it to match her bedspread and rug. Her room is really cute, uber-chic girly-girl stuff. I'll post pics when we finish.

Brenda is still trying her best to participate in every club, sport and extracurricular activity offered at her school. Undefeated volleyball season, currently working on an undefeated basketball season and appearing in the Winter Works presented by the Alief Junior Jazz Ballet.

I had to work the week of Christmas so we stayed home Christmas Eve and went to my in-laws' house on Christmas Day. We had a great dinner, played a couple games and got a chance to visit with some family members.

It was the first Christmas I wasn't with all my children and that was tough. JoJo was in Tennessee and Kayla was in Lafayette with her boyfriend. He got an urgent call from his mother the Sunday before Christmas - his father was dying. They made it to the hospital in time to say good-bye but it was incredibly difficult. Mr. Art was only 49 and it was unexpected. The funeral was held the day after Christmas and Kayla stayed by AJ's side the entire time. I'm proud of her for the mature way she handled such a difficult situation.

The little girls and I left for Tennessee on Dec. 27 and made it in 12 hours. They were actually quite good on the trip. My only complaint was the excessive number of bathroom breaks but as the day wore on they did get further between. Recap and pictures of the Trip to the Farm also coming in separate post.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I Miss My Baby Boy

It's been five months. Five long months. I miss him. I worry. A lot. Sometimes I go for several hours without thinking or worrying. Sometimes I can't go 2 minutes. Occasionally, I lose it. Like the day I sat in the car in the parking garage at work and cried. It was brief and I managed to pull myself together and go in and have a semi-productive day. Tonight, I was lying on the couch watching Grey's Anatomy. This episode featured a premature baby who nearly died. I cried. It reminded me how much I love my son and how incredibly worried I am that he is out there, right now, getting into trouble, getting hurt, missing opportunities, messing up his life, risking his freedom and how utterly helpless I am to do anything about any of it. In fact, the more I try, the harder he resists. I know that I wasn't a perfect mother. Hell, I wasn't even a very good one. I screwed up. A lot.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Greek Sucks

Rapid fire catching up on the mundane happenings in my life: got food poisoning and had to go to the ER, flew to Tennessee to see Mom and rest of family and pick up a car, listened to a book on CD on the way back, caught the flu/bronchitis/pneumonia (they can't make up their minds), read a book or two, remembered that I really like my job despite the crap I go through some times, became addicted to Mafia Wars, fell behind in my Greek class because of my repeated illness and am going to have to drop it which means I may not graduate in May after all, learned that Mackenzie Phillips is not the only person to have been involved in an incestuous relationship, acknowledged but did not celebrate getting another year older, carried my husband into the house after his back went out, worried incessantly over my teenage son who is determined to ruin his life before he is 20, carved a magnificently scary pumpkin, welcomed my friend back from maternity leave, measured suitcases to make sure we wouldn't have to check them and slept. A lot.