Monday, October 31, 2011

Dancing and more...

I have several things to talk about that don't go together, but I'm putting them all in one post anyway!

The first is about our dance class.  We've been taking dancing lessons for the past couple of months.  It's a "Round Dance" class - read the part about "cued round dances" in the link.  That's what we're doing.  The session we're taking right now is Waltz.

Mostly, we've just been interested in learning to dance (because we think it's a lost art in the United States!), we heard about this class, it's really inexpensive ($10/adult per session), and we can take the kids to it, too!  The husband and I took Swing Dance classes many, many years ago, but haven't tried anything like this since.  It's turning out to be pretty fun.

The classes are for an hour and 20 minutes every Sunday afternoon and the kids are learning right along with us.  We tried to have them learn together, but Fellan has a hard time paying attention and keeping up with the cues for the whole time.  Some of the other adults ("angels" who know all the dance steps already) at the classes paired up with them for a couple of the classes.  But for the last two classes the husband and I have been dancing with them for the first hour of the class and then they go sit out for the rest of the time.  That's actually been working out really well - they just don't have the attention span to put up with the entire class.

I was really impressed with Fellan for the first part of class yesterday - he knew all the steps, kept up with the cues, and did really well.  (And he was very proud of himself.)  It quickly devolved into him rolling around on the floor, but at least it was good for a little while!  :)

Next on the list of topics is the weight loss contest - we're at the end of the 3rd week today and I'm down 2.7% so far.  Almost on track to get to 10% in 10 weeks.  Tonight is going to kill my progress temporarily since it's Halloween, though.  We invited all our neighborhood friends to come over for pizza and drinks before trick-or-treating.  I'm going to have to work out extra hard for the rest of the week.

And my last random topic for today is cat fights.  Specifically, our cats!  The new cat, Spot, continues to terrorize our old cat, Midas.  Midas is 18.5 years old and has a hard time getting around anymore.  He spends 99% of his time in our bedroom and only goes to the laundry room in the hallway outside our bedroom to eat (occasionally) and use the litter box.

However, Midas has increasingly been enticed out of the bedroom over the last few weeks.  Spot will come upstairs, stalk down the hallway, come into our bedroom, and then growl and hiss at Midas until Midas decides he's had enough and chases Spot down the hallway and part-way down the stairs.  We haven't seen Midas move that quickly in about 8 years!

It sounds horrible, too.  Spot makes the absolute worst screaming noises.  Every time I hear them, I'm convinced Midas must have her in a choke-hold out in the hallway.  I'll run out there, bracing for a horrifying scene, and there's... nothing.  Midas is usually laying in the hallway (completely worn out from the effort) and Spot is sitting at the top of the stairs looking at me like, "What?"  I've only seen them trade punches once and neither seemed to interested in doing much damage to the other.

It's getting rather old, though.  If Spot would just be nice to Midas, there wouldn't be any trouble at all.  Midas would love a warm little body to cuddle up with now that the weather is finally getting cold.  But at this point in time, I don't see that happening very soon.  Too bad.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I grew up in Nebraska, so coming to Houston after college was a big culture and climate shock!  It bothered me a lot the first few years that there were no seasons here.  I would joke with people that it was like living in a sensory deprivation chamber and that there were only two seasons: Daylight Savings Time and Not.

It was especially strange to me to see all the plants and trees be green year-round.  Flowers in January?  Really?...

But for the past year, Houston has been in a drought.  It's the first time I've ever seen Houston turn brown.  People's yards are dead and driving around, you can see that about half the trees along the highways are brown.  Pretty sad.

One thing I didn't notice until recently was that along with the rain, the mosquitoes had kind of gone away.  That is, until this past week.  It finally rained for almost a full day about 3 weeks ago.  And that was the trigger for the mosquitoes to come out of hiding.

We walked the kids to school on Friday morning last week and got swarmed by mosquitoes the entire way there.  They were biting us through our clothes and a couple of times, I had to start running to get away from them for a few seconds of peace.

It's crazy around here lately!  The mosquitoes are EVERYWHERE.  I kill at least two per night in our house and just in the last couple of days here at work, I've killed 4!  (and my office is on the 7th floor of an office building - they seem to be hitching a ride up the elevators and then coming through the security doors on our floor.)

The guy who sits next to me likes to tell everyone that there are two kinds of mosquitoes in Texas: the small ones that can get through the screen door and the big ones that can open the screen door.  Hardy, har, har...

(But I'm almost beginning to believe him.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Yesterday, Marxo had to get some teeth pulled.  She is the product of two people who have/had crooked teeth and is therefore pretty much doomed to a childhood full of orthodonture.

Fellan already started the process last fall with a palate expander and then this past May, he got brackets put on his two front teeth to pull them together. (Can't believe I forgot to include this tidbit on my blog!)

Brace Face!
Even though it seemed that Fellan's teeth were going to be really bad considering the way they first started coming in, I'm afraid that Marxo's little mouth is going to doom her to even worse things than Fellan.  Her first two permanent teeth (bottom front) came in over the last few months and one of them is almost completely sideways.

The last time we were at the orthodontist's office with Fellan, we asked him to take a look at her teeth and I think it took him about 2 seconds to look in her mouth and immediately start filling out "extraction orders" to our pediatric dentist.

Yesterday was the dreaded day.  She had already lived through getting a pedunculated pyogenic granuloma removed about a year an a half ago (which involved a trip to the oral surgeon and IV sedation, and which, once again, I can't believe I didn't document on here!), so she expected the worst. We kept on telling her she would have an oral sedative and that they didn't have to stick anything in her arm, but it really didn't make a difference to her.  She would cry about it every time we mentioned her impending "doom".

Amazingly, she didn't freak out too badly when we got to the dentist's office.  There was a little crying, but she pulled herself together and bravely went back and drank the oral sedative.  Then we had to wait for 45 minutes for it to kick-in.  I was expecting her to become loopy and act drunk, but that didn't happen at all.  She did seem to calm down a little, but she continued to work on her word-search puzzles while we waited.

When it was time to go back for the procedure, she calmly walked back and apparently had no trouble at all with it.  They said she was just fine during the whole thing.  And this morning she told me, "Next time I have to get any teeth pulled, I'm not going to be afraid at all." Poor thing.  Unfortunately, there probably will be a few more "next times".

Here she is showing off her toothless grin!  She lost her top tooth this past weekend while we were out of town in NYC.  Luckily, the tooth fairy found her at Grammy's.  And we found out this morning that the tooth fairy pays double for extracted teeth! :)


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

NYC, Take 2

We're becoming quite the jet-setters here lately.  This past weekend we went to New York City again!

This time, it was for a friend's 40th birthday.  She and her husband had planned a trip to NYC to celebrate her birthday and he decided it would be fun to invite some of her friends and surprise her by all showing up there.

It worked.  We all met at a restaurant on Friday evening.  We were a little late, so our friend was already there and when we walked up, she asked us, with a bewildered expression, "Why are you here?!" To which I responded, "Because it's your birthday!!!"  She was really surprised.

First, though, the trip up there...  We flew into Newark, but there was bad weather in Newark on Friday morning, so our flight was delayed by about an hour and a half.  We finally made it to our hotel and got checked in at 4pm, but we still hadn't eaten lunch!  No worries, though, when we checked in, they told us that there would be free wine and cheese in their lounge from 5pm to 8pm that night.  It sounded like a good idea at the time.

We got to the wine and cheese room a little before 6pm, loaded up our plate with cheese and crackers, and accepted a couple of over-full glasses of red wine from the server.  After finding a table to sit down at, we overheard part of the conversation from the tables next to us.  The people were from Canada, in the mining industry, and talking about the Oil Sands.  This was right up our alley!

So, we struck up a conversation with them.  Eventually, a Swiss couple came into the room and sat down with us and then a British man came over to introduce himself.  With this mini-United Nations, we attempted to solve all the world's problems.  And after three more glasses of wine, we were certain we'd gotten everything back on track.

But it was time for us to head off to the surprise dinner by that point.  We were supposed to be meeting at 9pm at an Italian restaurant in the middle of Chinatown.  A likely location. (?)  The food was really good, but the husband and I kept waiting for them to bring out the main course.  They brought out several small plates of food and nobody else seemed to be eating.  Since we didn't want to seem gluttonous, we nibbled along with the rest of the group, and when midnight rolled around and the food was all taken away, we finally figured out these were tapas plates and there wasn't going to be a main course.  Oops.

Everyone chatted for a little while longer and at about 1:30am, the husband and I made our way out of the restaurant and to the subway station.  The others apparently went in search of pizza! (that would have been a good thought)  But after not sleeping much on Thursday night, I was really ready to head back to the hotel.  We got on the subway and I promptly fell asleep on the woman sitting next to me.  I woke up when my head apparently started drooping over onto her shoulder and she sort of pulled quickly away from me.  "You haven't really lived until you've fallen asleep on someone in the subway in New York City," I always say!  ;)

Saturday morning came early and we kinda missed it.  We grabbed some croissants and cantaloupe (the "gourmet" free breakfast at the hotel), showered, and met the group for lunch at Stage Deli, where we opted to split a rather benign grilled cheese and tomato sandwich.  After not eating most of the previous day and replacing that with drinking instead, neither the husband nor I could stomach much more.

Most of the rest of that group had gone for a run in Central Park that morning and needed to go shower before doing much else.  We decided to meet for drinks mid-afternoon before the husband and I needed to head off to meet my pen-pal for dinner between shows.

While they were getting cleaned up, we thought it would be fun to go down to Greenwich Village and wander around for a little while.  And it turned out to be a good decision because we got to see some of the protestors marching around.  I took pictures.  :)

Look! Real live protestors!
Such anger and violence! (not really)
It was sort of hard to figure out what they were protesting.
After our dose of anti-capitalism culture, we headed back uptown to get a dose of theater culture!  First, we stopped in to say good-bye to our newly 40-year-old friend and then we went to meet my pen-pal friend.  When we came over Labor Day Weekend, the two cast members who played the managers in the Phantom of the Opera were being replaced with new blood, so there's now a new picture of Carlotta out front.  Sorry for the glare, but I kind of liked the way her face ended up framed by it.

Carlotta with new managers
We thought it would be fun to see the performance again while we were there so we could catch more of the details of the show.  It didn't disappoint.  It's amazing that they put on this show day after day after day, but the performances continue to be so good every time.  My pen-pal said she learned a lot from working with George Lee Andrews about how to bring his best to every single performance during his 23 years there.

Each Saturday night after the show, one of the dressing rooms becomes an impromptu bar and the cast has a drink or two together since Sundays are their days off.  So, after having a few drinks with the cast (sounds so "fabulous", huh?! [it was pretty cool!!!]), we walked out of the theater only to find that there were still people hanging out waiting for autographs.  We quietly stood out of the way while Carlotta, Monsieur AndrĂ©, and Monsieur Firmin signed playbills for their adoring fans.  Afterwards, we whisked Carlotta away to find a quiet place to hang out and while walking down the street, we happened to see John Larroquette getting into his limousine.  (I heart New York!)

Our flight left early the next morning, but that didn't stop us from staying out late once again.  So, after 3 hours of sleep, we somehow managed to get up and out of the hotel the next morning, and made our way back to the heat of Houston.  The kids seemed to survive the weekend with Grammy and PaPa and I was asleep on the couch at 8pm that night.  Whew.  I'm getting too old for this.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Doing it again...

Well, I'm doing it again.  I've gotten sick of looking at the flab in the mirror and instead of waiting for another contest to come to me (because it seems I'm only motivated by competition!), I've started my own contest here at work.  And I've got 26 other people signed up so far!!!

The contest works like this:
  • Pay $20 to enter the contest
  • Weigh-in every Monday (starting this past Monday)
  • Lose 10% of your body weight by Dec. 19 and win 1/3 of the pot (divided equally between winners)
  • Maintain the weight loss until Jan. 30 and win the remaining 2/3 of the pot (again divided equally)
10% is a pretty aggressive goal, but one that I'm hoping to be able to make in the 10 weeks I have until Dec. 19th.  I did a pretty good job of "bulking up" over the weekend, too, so without trying too hard this week, I've lost about 3 pounds.  :)

Anyway, I'm hoping this will, once again, get me healthy and back to regular exercise.  One thing's for sure - it's forcing me to really keep track of everything that I'm eating.  And I think that's a good thing.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Marxo is 7 today!

Well, my baby girl turned seven today!  Hard to believe.  Today is also picture day at school, so she got to wear one of her new birthday outfits - she looked very stylish.  :)

We had just about everyone in town this weekend for the birthday festivities.  My parents came down, the husband's folks were here, the husband's brother, sister-in-law and kids came to town and we all celebrated in style.  My brother wasn't able to make it down this trip, but he'll be here at Christmas, and that's not too far away.

We had Marxo's party at a place called Mad Science.  There were lots of kids that ended up coming, so I was stressed out during the whole party, trying to count the number of kids that came, figuring out how many were in the same household, and then trying to decide which kids weren't going to get party bags since they were the siblings of kids that were invited.  I always have so many leftover party bags, I tried to only buy what was necessary, but this time, that kinda bit me in the butt!

Anyway, the kids all still had fun and Marxo appreciated everyone coming.  I only got a couple of pictures with my phone, though, so I'm going to have to get everyone else to send me theirs!  Here's the birthday girl getting ready to blow out the candles...