Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Cultural Heritage Project

Marxo had to do a cultural heritage project for school this week.  It's due today, in fact.  She had to answer a bunch of questions about our family and then do the "art component" of the project. (It's a Fine Arts Magnet School, which means that they actually get to do art in school like I did when I was growing up, unlike a lot of schools now who have cut everything extra out of their curriculum.)

For the art component, she was supposed to choose a medium (in her case, she chose playdough), make the project, and then write a two-paragraph essay about it.  The first paragraph was supposed to describe why she chose her medium and the second was to describe how it relates to our family culture.

Being of basically mixed-breed ancestry on both sides, or in other words, "American", this type of project is always difficult for our kids.  But we have a couple of traditions in our families that help to save the day.

My mom's heritage is the outlier in our case - she was born and raised in a town that was settled by Danish people and she therefore happens to be able to trace her entire heritage back to Denmark.  I bet she's in a small minority of 4th generation Americans who can claim only one country in their heritage.  Hmmm...

Anyway, as I was saying, my mom's heritage is Danish and when I was little, she decided to introduce a delicious custom to our family: eating Aebleskiver (pronounced, in my mom's hometown, as "Eb-a-skyoo") on Christmas Eve.  Back when she did this, the only place to get an Aebleskiver pan in Nebraska was her hometown hardware store.  I think they're a little more common now, but mine also came from Ace Hardware in Minden, Nebraska.

(As an aside, there's also this card game called Some R Set that I'll have to tell you about sometime - those cards could only be bought in one special store, too)

Anyway (again) Marxo loves Aebleskiver and she looks forward to Christmas Eve so she can eat her fill of blueberry Aebleskiver.  Soon, we may have to start tripling the recipe to keep up with her!

The only other "tradition" our family has is that we are sort of required to attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans every year because the entire husband's side of the family gets together for that.

So, Marxo decided to combine these two traditions into her art project.  (drum roll, please...) Presenting King Aebleskiver riding his Mardi Gras float!

King Aebleskiver on his Mardi Gras float

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Our church has a "bread ceremony" every November where everyone brings bread that they either make or buy that has some sort of personal meaning to them.  One of the ladies at our church grew up in Brazil, so she brings a type of "cheesy bread" (can't remember the name!), another lady brought cinnamon raisin bread this year because it reminds her of her mother, and every week, I bake bread for our kids to use for their sack lunch sandwiches, so I just make a half-loaf of that and take it.

The people who brought bread then bring their loaves up to the front at the beginning of the service and tell about their significance and leave them in the front, then some people up front cut up all the bread while the minister is talking, and then everyone in the congregation files up to the front and takes a piece of bread and gets a cup of juice.  Sort of like communion, but since it's a Unitarian Church, they don't call it that.

Anyway, this year, they also wanted a child from the congregation to stand up front and say what he/she is thankful for.  They originally asked Fellan if he would do it, but he didn't want to. Marxo, however, enthusiastically volunteered to take his place and started rattling off a list of things she was thankful for.

She wrote them down on a piece of paper and then memorized it  (but took the paper up with her, just in case).

Marxo's "Thankful" speech
It says: "I'm thankful for my mom and dad because they give me food and a home.  I'm thankful for my brother because if I didn't have him I'd have no one to play with.  I'm thankful that we pay taxes so that me and my brother can go to school."

The original version of this said that she was thankful that we had money to pay for school, but we had to explain to her that everyone who owns property pays taxes and that's what pays for school.  I love that she just incorporated that right into it and didn't try to find something else to change it to.  Proud of my little socialist. ;)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Chick Flick(s)

This past weekend, the boys had a Cub Scout campout, so us girls were left to our own devices for Saturday.

I talked Marxo into going shopping with me because we needed to get some Christmas shopping done for my family.  (Every year we trade off which family we spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with - this year, it's Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with the husband's family.  And, as long as we're up in Nebraska for Thanksgiving with my family, we also celebrate Christmas while we're there.  Which means we have to have our Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving for my side of the family.)

Anyway, we headed off to Walmart to get some shopping done and afterwards, we swung by IKEA to get a late lunch.  I actually left from IKEA with only one purchase for less than $4. I was impressed with myself.

By the time we got home, it was getting towards late afternoon and Marxo wanted to use the computer to look up some information on a school project she's doing for dance class.  She's supposed to answer a bunch of questions about Gene Kelly.  We (or at least I) had a lot of fun looking up videos of Gene Kelly dancing. That guy was good!

Then it was time to figure out what to do for supper (turned out that some leftovers needed to be eaten) and then start our evening of movie watching!  I figured now would be as good a time as any to introduce the concept of the "chick flick" to her.  I wanted to watch Steel Magnolias, but figured that would be too sad for her.  Then I was torn between a couple of different movies, Sleepless in Seattle and the original Footloose.  We finally settled on watching both of them.

We popped some popcorn, and ate some candy (that we had gotten earlier in the day at Walmart), and popped some more popcorn and had a great time watching the movies.  And then we ate some more candy.  :)

Marxo thought Sleepless in Seattle was just "OK" and I have to say that I agree with her on that.  But she really liked Footloose.  I had a hard time watching a young Kevin Bacon taking out his frustration by dancing his way through a warehouse.  It seemed a little melodramatic to me, but I guess as a teenager in 1984 when it came out, that must have been really cool because I remember everybody loved the movie back then.  (while watching it, however, I realized that I had never actually seen the movie!)

It was a fun evening, though, and most of all, I enjoyed just hanging out with my little girl. My mom will be sure to tell me that "before long, she'll be off to college!" And more and more, I realize how true that is.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Marxo is Eight!

Today is Marxo's birthday!  This picture was taken while they were walking to school this morning just at about the moment of her officially turning eight.  :)

Eight years old today!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Help, I've fallen... off the face of the earth

I'm pretty sure this happens every year around this time: I seem to completely fall off the face of the earth.

School is back in session and 4th grade is kicking our butts.  I can't believe the amount of work that is required of 9- to 10-year-olds these days.  I remember 4th grade and I most definitely was NOT expected to spend time outside of school doing anything like homework.  The reason I remember this is because I desperately wanted homework!  I had a brother four years older than me who got homework every day and I wanted some, too!  (yes, I was that kind of a nerd-kid...)

But anyway, as I was saying, we've had some trouble getting transitioned into 4th grade with Fellan.  The first week of school was awesome.  The second week of school was abysmal.  The third week of school was only slightly better, but we seem to have been getting a little better every day since.  At this rate, though, it will be Christmas break before we get back to the high of the first week.

I can't remember if I mentioned that we had some educational testing done for Fellan again this past summer.  It was the same testing that we had done last year - we wanted to see if getting his eye problems corrected did anything for him and his dysgraphia.

We finally got the test results back a couple of weeks ago.  She confirmed again that he has dysgraphia, and had some good news and some bad news for us.  The good news is that his overall IQ score has gone up quite a bit over the year and that's mostly due to the fact that his eyes are working together now and he's able to process some things better.

The bad news is that he's still having the same troubles with writing.  And since he has gotten older but his writing ability hasn't matured, it's actually considered to be worse this year.  This is particularly bad news because the standardized tests for 4th grade include two hand-written essays as part of promotion requirements for him to go to 5th grade.  (Damn you, George W. and your standardized testing!)

We've met with his teacher and given her his test results and the recommendations from the woman who did the testing.  Luckily, his teacher this year has had kids with dysgraphia before, so she's familiar with it.  And she has no problem with modifying his work so that he can physically write less.

She also told us that she knows there are ways to allow a student to type the essays for the standardized tests and then have a teacher/counselor transcribe them onto the official paper.  But we need to get him classified as ADHD to have that type of accommodation.  The school district apparently doesn't recognize Dysgraphia as an official diagnosis.  The hoops we have to jump through...

In other news, I have pictures from our trip to Colorado (which includes pictures from the US Pro Challenge bike race!) and pictures of a science project that has already been done for this year's Science Fair.  So there's more to come, hopefully soon!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mugging for the camera

I didn't intend to leave that sad post up at the top of my blog for so long, so I'd better post something to lighten the mood.  Which means, it's time for a kitten picture again!

I think I've finally decided that the orange and white one in front here is my favorite...

So Darn Cute!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Goodbye, old friend

This past weekend, our neighborhood grocery store closed.

Fiesta was a great grocery store.  Our neighborhood is quite a mix of ethnic backgrounds and monetary income levels and the store did an amazing job of catering to everyone in such a small space.  The produce was always fresh and varied, there was a Hispanic section with everything you could imagine, an additional "ethnic" section with all sorts of imports, and one of the managers was the self-appointed wine steward for the entire neighborhood, getting awesome deals on really good wines and passing his knowledge and savings on to the customers.  I could run to the store, grab milk, wine, grapes, flour, and parmesan cheese and be back home within 10 minutes.  Plus, they played "oldies" music from the 50's and you couldn't go shopping there without singing along with the tunes.

Last year, though, the abandoned old apartment complex across the street from Fiesta was bought by another grocery store chain, HEB.  They made quick work of tearing down the old and putting up a brand-spanking new grocery store.  It opened in November last year.

Now, don't get me wrong, the HEB is a very nice store.  They had a web contest where neighborhood people could choose from three different architectural designs before they started construction and they built the winning design.  It has a large organic produce section, a bakery, a cheese section (complete with cheese expert who will help you find whatever you want), a big wine/beer section, a pharmacy, and an outdoor patio where they regularly have live music playing.  It's pretty much everything you could ever want in a grocery store.  They even built the parking lot around the huge oak trees out front and they have a permanent "food truck" in the parking lot.  Very fancy and very politically correct.

So when the HEB opened, everyone started wondering when Fiesta would go out of business.  I mean, who would go to such an old, run-down store right across the street from such opulence?

Me.  That's who.  And apparently everyone else who ever frequented the Fiesta.  Every time I went to the store, the HEB parking lot was full, but the Fiesta parking lot was just as full as it had ever been.  And I would run into the same people I used to run into at the store.  After the initial fear wore off, we all became confident that our beloved Fiesta would be able to weather the storm.  It seemed that the people who shopped at HEB were not former patrons of Fiesta.  We weren't sure where they were coming from, but don't question a good thing.

And then it happened.  It was rumored that a developer bought Fiesta's shopping complex.  But no announcements were made and business continued as usual.  Then it was confirmed that Fiesta's shopping complex had been bought.  But no announcements were made and business continued as usual.  Then suddenly, at the beginning of July, Fiesta announced that its last day of business would be July 15, 2012.  They're going to build a big apartment complex on the site.

Trying to look on the bright side, I told myself that at least now I wouldn't have to feel guilty about the little shopping that I had already started doing at HEB.  I mean, when you have a cheese expert available to you, why not take advantage of that?  And if the organic section is as big as the whole produce section in the little Fiesta, doesn't it make sense to go there to grab the ingredients for your salad?

So, this past weekend, we stoically made our last shopping trip to Fiesta and bought several things we didn't need - as a sign of solidarity.  And even though I was sad to see the rusty old shelves peeking out from the last of the canned goods, I thought it wouldn't be all bad to have a bright (naturally-lit-through-skylights!), fresh environment to add to my shopping pleasure.  Here I come with my guilt-free conscience to HEB!

But last night we needed to run to the grocery store for milk.  Like we end up having to do about three times a week because our refrigerator is so small (don't get me started about our refrigerator...) and we were struck with the sudden knowledge that we wouldn't be able to just run into the store, grab some milk and be back to the car in the span of about two minutes.  We wouldn't even be able to make it to the dairy section in the span of two minutes after parking, walking through the parking lot to the store, and then walking through the entire store (with intentionally mis-aligned aisles, which must somehow either make the store not seem so cavernous or make people buy more stuff, but end up just pissing me off), and a wave of sadness and regret washed over me.

New is nice, but our friendly neighborhood store, that timed their over-buying just right and ran extension cords from generators to their cash registers during the power outages of Hurricane Ike to make sure nobody went without staple foods, will always hold a special place in my heart.

RIP, Fiesta

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Kittens - Week 3

Today, the kittens around the corner are 3 weeks old!  I texted our friend earlier today and made her send me some pictures so I could update my blog.  ;)

Peek-a-boo, I see you!

We visited the kitties on Tuesday evening and hopefully we'll get to see them again tonight.  They're still just a little wobbly on their feet, but there are two of them that don't mind getting picked up and cuddled.  I plan to take full advantage of that tonight!

Monday, July 02, 2012

Not-so-smart Spot

Spot is such a cute little kitty, but she's not really very smart...

Wow! What is out there?!
She loves to sit inside our shower and look through the glass blocks at the TV or whatever happens to be on the other side.

While I was taking these pictures, the husband started playing with her through the glass blocks. Not so bright, but oh-so-cute! :)

I'm gonna get you!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kittens around the corner

A friend of ours who lives around the corner from us ended up adopting a stray cat that was wandering the neighborhood.  The poor cat was really hungry, but very sweet and she just couldn't resist. (Actually, it was her daughter that couldn't resist! But anyway...)

They took the cat to the vet to have it checked out and discovered that the cat was pregnant and due within about a week! *Surprise!*

Of course, by this time, the daughter was even more in love with the cat and so they took her home to prepare for the birth.

And we waited, and waited, and waited some more.

Finally more than two weeks later, the kittens arrived!!!

We were just as excited as they were to hear that mama had delivered two healthy kittens early last Thursday morning and the kids got to go over to their house to see them before they headed off to summer camp for the day.

I, on the other hand, had to wait until that evening to visit the newly-expanded family and by the time I got there, there were two more kittens!

Mama, with 3, 4, 2, and 1
The first two had arrived early in the morning, but then the second two came out late that afternoon.

We have been having fun for the last week, making nearly daily visits over there to see the kitties.  Last night, we paid them a visit and their eyes are just starting to open.  Mama kitty is doing a very good job of taking care of them and I can't wait until they get a little bit older and bigger so that I can hold them and cuddle them without Mama getting too upset.  :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Homemade Runza Recipe with Pictures

Today I'm providing another public service announcement for Runza-loving Nebraskans who don't happen to live in Nebraska anymore and can't just drive through the Runza drive-thru on a whim.  (My previous public service announcement on how to re-heat frozen Runzas is here.)

Last week, I started thinking about Runzas and how good they are.  And I realized I didn't have any frozen Runzas in my freezer with which to satisfy my craving.  So, I posted a plea on Facebook, asking my Nebraska friends if any of them had an authentic-tasting Runza recipe they could send me.  Within just a few minutes, a lady from my hometown church sent me a recipe and it was vouched-for by another friend who had used her recipe, so I figured I'd better give it a try.

So, this past weekend, I made Runzas from scratch!  It took about 4 hours of total chopping/cooking time (which would definitely be shortened by buying shredded cabbage!) ...but it was totally worth it.  Please keep reading to follow along with my quest to reproduce the incredible Runza.


1 pkg active yeast
7 c flour, divided
1/2 c sugar
1 T salt
3 T butter

Mix together:
1 pkg yeast
2 c warm water (120*F - 130*F)
1/2 c sugar
1 T salt
2 c flour
Add 3 T melted butter and 5 c flour. Knead and let rise 2 hours or until doubled. Push down and let rise 5 minutes.  Divide into 15 balls.  Roll thin.

2 lbs hamburger, browned
2 c finely chopped onions
5 c chopped/shredded cabbage (1 head)
2 T water
Add water to browned hamburger and put onions and cabbage on top of hamburger.  Steam 15 minutes and drain.
1.5 t Worcestershire sauce
1.5 t oregano (or less)
1.5 t black pepper
1 T seasoned salt

Put 2 generous spoonsful of meat on each rolled dough.  Roll up. Let rise a short time (5-10 minutes). Bake at 375*F for 20 minutes. Can be frozen before or after baking depending on your preference.

Seasoned salt:
2 T salt
1 t sugar
1 t paprika
1/4 t turmeric
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t celery salt

The ingredients:
The ingredients
When I went to buy the ingredients for the Runzas, I couldn't find any shredded cabbage, and not having ever cooked with cabbage, I wasn't sure if I would need one head or two heads to get 5 cups of chopped cabbage.  Turns out only one was necessary.  (Will be looking up cabbage recipes to figure out what to do with that other head this week!)

Also, yes, that onion is the same size as the head of cabbage.  I think the tag at the grocery store said they were "Colossal Onions".  I just had to take another picture for scale.

"Colossal" Onion
I figured the chopping of the cabbage would take quite a bit of time, so I started with that.  I cut it up, and cut out the core.

Cut up cabbage
And then chaos ensued.

Cabbage carnage
My original plan was to use the shredding blade on my food processor to get the cabbage pieces small enough, but with my cheap food processor, I ended up with big chunks of cabbage in with the shredded cabbage.  So then I tried just chopping it by hand, but that was going to take forever.  So then I ended up using the chopping blade to get it semi-small.  And I took those pieces and chopped them to the right size by hand.  It took a long time.  Next time, I'll drive to a different store and buy some pre-shredded cabbage!

The onion chopping went much more smoothly.  I got out my mini-chopper to make sure that the onion pieces were finely chopped and I ended up only using half of the colossal onion to make 2 cups of chopped onion.

Then it was time to make the dough.  I've never made dough by adding yeast to a mixture of water, sugar, salt, and flour, but I followed the directions exactly and then added the remaining flour and butter and let the stand mixer do the dirty work.

I love my stand mixer!

Dough, ready to rise
And then I took a break for about an hour and fifteen minutes before I started on the filling.  :)

The filling was pretty easy to cook up.  I browned the ground beef and readied the chopped cabbage and onions.

Cabbage/onions ready to go in
And since it said that the cabbage and onions were supposed to steam for 15 minutes, I figured that meant they were just supposed to sit on top of the ground beef.  So I plopped the whole bowl of cabbage/onion on top and put the cover on.

Prepare to be steamed
Sure enough, after (a little over) 15 minutes, the cabbage looked nicely cooked.

I'm steamed!
Time to add the spices.  The recipe called for "Seasoned Salt", which I assumed probably means Lawry's Seasoned Salt, but I didn't want the MSG from the Lawry's, so I hunted up a recipe for seasoned salt and mixed it up beforehand. (recipe included above)  My homemade blend is in the little jar in the middle.

Spice magic
All stirred up.  Looks promising!

Finished filling
By this point, the dough had been rising for 2 hours, so I got it out of the cold oven where it had been rising and punched it down before I remembered to take a picture.

Dough after rising
Honestly, though, it didn't really deflate at all so this is pretty much what it looked like after it had risen.  I had to go back and look at the "before picture" to make sure it had risen at all because I was expecting much more volume.

At some point during the rising of the dough, I figured out that I don't own a rolling pin, so I had to get creative...

Rolling pin, a.k.a. Pellegrino bottle
The recipe says to divide the dough into 15 balls and roll them thin.  Ok, this is the only part of the recipe I didn't follow exactly, I mean, 15 balls?!  Are you kidding me?  How do you possibly divide a huge mound of dough into 15 equal-sized balls?  Instead, I took the dough, divided it in half (or as close as possible), then divided that half into half (or as close as possible), and then tried to make 4 similarly-sized balls out of that.  This then made 16 dough balls of what turned out to be varying sizes, so maybe I should have just gone with 15 anyway...

Now for the hard part: filling the Runzas.  I was fairly worried about how this was going to turn out.  My favorite Runza is the Cheese Runza, so I put some American cheese in each one, too.

Filling the Runzas

Filled and pinched shut
And placed onto a non-stick baking sheet
The husband took some action shots while I was whining about how long this was taking and how I figured they probably wouldn't even taste right and I had done all this work for nothing.

Come on, stick together, you stupid dough!

How many more do I have to do?!
Finally, I finished them all and figured out a way to get them to all fit on the baking sheet!  Into the oven they went and I anxiously waited to see what would come out.

Pretty maids all in a row
They looked pretty good when I took them out...

Well, they look like Runzas, but how do they taste?
I was so worried, taking that first bite.  Could it be possible to have actually recreated the taste?...

YES! I was stunned.  They tasted just as good - dare I say, even better?! - as an authentic Runza.  I ended up eating one and a half of these marvelous creations and spent the rest of the evening flying high about my accomplishment.

And now we have some Runzas in the freezer, just waiting to satisfy those cravings for The Good Life.  :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Eyes Have It

As you may recall, Fellan seemed to be having some eyesight problems last year and we took him to have his eyes tested by a special eye doctor.  She determined that his eyes weren't working together correctly and prescribed him some prism glasses to use while he was reading or doing school work.

Well, she wanted Fellan to come back for a follow-up visit sometime in June and we just had that appointment on Monday.  Turns out, his eyes are tracking together perfectly now, and he no longer needs to wear his prism glasses.  Which is good, because he hasn't been wearing them for the past month and a half or so.  I guess he had pretty much figured out that he didn't need them anymore!

She did say that he's a bit far-sighted now, so she prescribed him some reading glasses for that.  We'll have to get that prescription filled pretty soon because Fellan cannot be stopped when it comes to reading.  He's become a reading maniac.  And it's so nice to see.  :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

It's fun to play at the Y-M-C-A!

The summer is upon us and we have been making the most of it.

The kids are in their third week of summer camp this week and they're having a wonderful time.  They have activities scheduled all day long from Monday through Thursday (music, art, cooking, Mad Science, photography, gym games, as well as swimming every day) and every Friday, they have a field trip to a place like Putt Putt Funhouse or Moody Gardens or iT'z.  Summer Camp is all fun all the time!

On top of that, though, we've also joined the YMCA for the summer.  I guess my expectations must have been really low because I've been completely blown away by how nice it has been to have this membership!

They have bicycle spin classes several times a day (plus Yoga, Zumba, Pilates, etc.) and last week we were able to make it to three of those spin classes before we had to take a break from killing ourselves over the weekend.

But we didn't let our tired bodies prevent us from taking advantage of the pool this weekend.  On Saturday, we rode our bikes to the YMCA (almost 5 miles from our house), spent a couple of hours playing around and swimming in the pool, and then rode back home.

I feel like a kid again - happy to have a summer of freedom! :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012


The kids have two containers in their room that serve as their laundry hampers.  One container is for light-colored clothes and one is for dark-colored clothes.

One day, they were being goofy and they wandered into our room with the lids of those containers on their heads.  The husband thought it would be fun to help them with their creativity, so I now present you with a pictorial series entitled "A Father's Pride".  (Seems fitting since Father's Day is coming up on Sunday!)

Bow Ties

Insect Eyes

Bow Head


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

100KON - Houston Memorial Park Picnic Loop Division

This year's 100 Miles of Nowhere turned out to be quite a bit different than last year's...

For one thing, neither the husband nor I are fit enough to attempt riding 100 miles in one day right now.  So, on Monday before we did the event, I suggested to the husband that maybe it would be a good idea to ride 100 Kilometers of Nowhere instead.  The relief that exuded from him was palpable.  He had been thinking the same thing, but was afraid to suggest it.

Once the elephant had exited from the room, we both started looking forward to our 100KON.

And, instead of doing it on the official weekend this year, we thought we'd to try to beat the heat a little bit, so we did it on Friday, May 4.

Car stocked with drinks, food, ice-cold wet towels, and tools
We didn't advertise the event to all our friends this year because we were in such pathetic shape. We even briefly considered doing the "simultaneous relay" division like a couple of our friends did last year just to save us those last 12.4 miles. (they each rode 50 miles together)  But, we figured we should try to be as true to the race name as possible.

Before the ride, I was fresh and full of energy.  How hard could riding 100k be, anyway?  It should be a breeze!

So happy! ...and so naive
When I turned on my bicycle computer, I realized that my suspicions were true: the last time I rode my road bike was last year's 100MON!  I just had to document that for posterity...

Wow! The last time I rode my road bike was last year's 100MON - should this be considered foreshadowing? Yes, it should be.

I also thought it would be fun to document the pains in my body BEFORE the event...
Sara's pains: left knee hurts, back is sore
Husband's pains: lower-back pain, general nausea

Sound like we're in for a fun ride, doesn't it? Har, dee, har, har.

We got about 20 minutes into the ride before this started happening.

We need to find a new trucking company?
The husband is a petroleum engineer who does mostly drilling work, so his job follows him around 24-7.  I've gotten used to it.  Sort of.

By mile 16.5, the pains included the above, plus...
Sara's pains: right hand numb
Husband's pains: left hand numb, hoping to avoid hospitalization this year (back-story: the week after last year's ride, the husband ended up in the hospital with unexplained abdominal pains for 3 days)

But we soldiered on and eventually made it to our break for lunch at just over the half-way mark.  By this point, it was really getting hot and I was beginning my downhill slide.

The heat, my God, the heat!
I tried to make sure I ate enough and drank enough water and gatorade, but the rest of the afternoon was just a blur of pain.  I didn't have the energy to continue to document my pains at each mile-marker, but by the end, my legs were cramping (which has never happened to me before!) and it was all I could do to finish the 100 kilometers.

It helped that there was quite a bit more of this going on...

What now?!
Oh, you decided not to use the trucking company I found this morning?
After stopping with the husband several times, I decided to ride the remaining few miles by myself, so I left him to finish dealing with the rig on his own.  I figured he'd catch up to me by the end, but by that point, I was riding so slowly, he easily caught me within only a couple of laps.

We finished the 100 kilometers with 0.12 miles to spare!

100 km (62.4 miles)
Of course, the husband was still getting work e-mails and texts, but by that point, I didn't care.  I was done with the worst ride of my life!

You keep working, I'll be over here recovering...
Feeling much better now!

Breaking out the laptop! This must be serious.
So that's the report of our 100KON this year.  We'll be back next year, but next year, I'm taking the training portion of the ride preparation a little more seriously.

Oh, and I almost forgot, I get to proclaim which divisions we won!

Well, I guess I'll claim that I won the "Houston Women's Happy-I-Didn't-Die Division" and the husband once again took first place in the "Most Billable Hours While Riding Division".  Until next year!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Fellan turned nine!

This past weekend was Fellan's birthday.  We had two parties for him - one with just the family and one with a few friends.

For the family party, Fellan requested a chocolate, chocolate chip cake.  This happens to be our family's favorite cake (and also pretty much the easiest cake to make!), so I happily obliged.

You can never have too much chocolate!

Fellan originally wanted to have another "Mad Science" birthday party with his friends, but we had talked about only inviting his good friends and I didn't want to pay that much for a party with only 6 kids!

So I talked him into having a party at the park with water guns and water balloons.

It turned out to be great weather and the kids had an excellent time.

One of the kids apparently didn't think the water guns got him wet enough...

Water balloon fight!

Fellan's request: Chocolate cake with green letters. "Happy Birthday" in cursive.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Better Year

It's been awhile since I wrote an update about Fellan and his Dysgraphia and eyesight problems.  I guess I haven't been thinking about it as much because everything is going so much better this year for him in school than last year!

Last year, at the end of the year, his teacher had basically told us that public school was not the place for Fellan.  That sent us into a whole tailspin of testing, touring and applying to alternate private schools, more testing, receiving a diagnosis of Dysgraphia, and eventually MORE testing and determining that he has some vision problems.

Luckily, after all of that, this year has been so much better than last year.

Within the first week of school last fall, we met with Fellan's teacher to explain to her about his problems with Dysgraphia.  The woman who did the testing gave us a list of suggestions for his teacher - such as not forcing him to do writing work and trying to help him to focus better on his work by folding his paper over, etc. She was extremely receptive to the idea and it has shown in Fellan's confidence and enjoyment of school this year.

We've met with her a few time throughout the year, too, and every time we meet with her, she gives him glowing reports.  He still can't sit still, but she's able to redirect him most of the time and he does fine on his tests, so even though it looks like he's not paying attention, he's definitely still learning.

The most significant change we've seen in him, though, has been his reading.  About 3 months ago, it was like a light bulb went off in his head and he started devouring his Percy Jackson books.  He had been slowly, slowly reading The Lightning Thief over the previous three months, but Zoom! In about three weeks, he read the remaining 3/4 of the book!

And he was off to the races from there.  He is now starting the 5th book of the series and I'm thinking about maybe doing a family book club this summer to start reading the Harry Potter books.  None of us have ever read them, so it could be a fun thing for the whole family to do.

I'm so happy and proud to see him finally blossoming scholastically.  We knew it was in there from the beginning, we just didn't know how to get it out!  Maybe it's all the testing we had done and the occupational therapy that he's been doing.  Maybe it's the fact that the teacher is supportive of him as a person this year.  Maybe it's just that he's maturing and all of this would have happened naturally even without the extra work.  Honestly, I don't care what made the difference.  I just hope it sticks.  :)

Proud Cub Scout with the awards and belt loops he earned this year