Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Back in the Saddle

Quick update to see how I like this blogging thing again...
  1. We've been back in school now for 4 weeks.  Marxo was sick for almost an entire week, but other than that, it has been fairly uneventful.
  2. Fellan has decided that he's really interested in riding his bicycle more, and that has given both the husband and me the kick in the pants that we needed to force more family bike rides on the kids.  :)  Plus, we finally invested in a roof rack for the car and we can now transport all 4 bikes on the car more easily, so that has opened up a whole new host of possibilities for quick trips to parks and such.  I hadn't realized how limited our riding had become due to our bicycle rack situation.
  3. Work is work.
  4. House planning continues!  We're in the last phases of design, then we'll move on to permitting, and hopefully, we'll be able to break ground by the end of the year. (crossing fingers)
  5. The husband and I are celebrating our 20-year anniversary tomorrow and as a gift to ourselves, we're going to head out to California for the weekend of October 5th to ride in Levi's Gran Fondo!  It's going to kill us.  Thankfully, the 103-mile distance was sold-out by the time we registered.  We're only committed to a maximum of 65 miles.  (but we reserve the right to wimp out and only do the 32-mile route...)
And that about catches you up!  What have you been up to?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Marxo's Masterpieces

Our elementary school participates in a program called "Writers in the Schools" during the 2nd grade year and now that school is finally over, Marxo brought home all the work that she did during the program.

As I read through her writing, I got more and more impressed and, being a proud parent, I just can't let these masterpieces languish in a folder at home.  :)

Here are a few of the best (not corrected for spelling). The first two were written during a field trip to The Menil Collection - I think they must have been prompted by something there...

I'm hiding I'm hiding
and no one know where
behind a red flare
flash of lightning
clouds that are clearing
I'm not in the constalation
I'm not in the building
or vases of difference carved wood stamps
or a marble pieces of glass or a kite
I'm not in a match box
I'm hiding I'm hiding
and no one knows where
can you guess where I was?

I'm an old man. My name is Fred. I'm holding a walker. It broke away as I got older. Now I'm only holding the handles. It's hard for me to stand up. As I'm hunched over my back starts to crack. Soon my body will fall off. If it does I will have no way of telling my parents, brothers, and sisters that I am broken. I will be dead as soon as I brake. The end of my life is near.

I dreamed
I was the sun
In the sky
Dancing with the wind

Ode to the Animals
Thank you peacock for your beauty and royalty.
Thank you flamingo for your balance.
Thank you ox for your strength.
Snake, your length is my love.
Giraffe, thank you for making me tall.
Mighty elephant I never forget where I came from.
Thank you pig for your bacon.
Cat, your love is my love.
Thank you dolphin for your intelligence.

Love is
Love is my family coming to visit me.
Love is spending time with my teacher.
Love is spending time with my family.
Love is my big teddy bear that I caught at Mardi Gras. His name is Theodore. I call him Teddy or Theo sometimes.
Love is kindness and care.
Love is aebelskiver that we eat at Christmas time.
Love is Mardi Gras that we only go to once a year. We catch doubloons, beads, and stuffed animals.
Love is the earth.
Love is everything.
Love is a birthday.
Love is my Jean K's gumbo.
Love is a sunny day.
Love is a hug and a kiss good night.
Love is a drawing that someone gave me.
Love is having a play date with my best friend.
Love is my cats.

Jumping on the couch
I have jumped
on the couch
that was in
the living room
I know
I was not
to do it
Forgive me
it was fun
so awesome
and so cool
I felt
like a bird
in the sky

Funny Flamingo
Funny flamingo looks like a yoga bird.
Funny flamingo makes me feel flexible.
Funny flamingo sounds like a graceful goose.
Funny flamingo makes me feel like I have to sing.
Funny flamingo tastes like a burnt chicken.
Funny flamingo makes me feel like I lost my apetite.
Funny flamingo smells like sweet bubble gum.
Funny flamingo makes me feel hungry
Funny flamingo feels like a soft feather.
Funny flamingo makes me feel warm.

Map of my heart
The map of my heart tells a goal. My goal is to love every pet, thing, activity and family member.
There are spcial places for everything I've ever loved and owned. I love my family and pets and everything I've ever owned like my American Girl Dolls and my ipod touch.
I love games, designing art, coloring, drawing, singing, music, school and everything else that I love. I enjoy doing those activities.
Magically my heart has room for everything I love.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Something that made me laugh today

I've been really busy at work lately, but thought I'd at least share this picture today.

I'm working on a project that is for a big company who really takes employee safety seriously.  It's nice, but this sign in the stairwell of our parking garage made me laugh this morning.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Oh, Pioneers...

When I was growing up in the 1970's, Little House on the Prairie was going strong and I felt so proud to have grandparents who were farmers and who had lived that story.  I even grew up in the town where the first homestead was filed under the Homestead Act of 1862, and I've visited several times throughout my life.

What makes you want to leave this? (Norway)
My view of history has naturally changed quite a bit since then and I can't help but feel some guilt about how the white men drove out the Native Americans and killed almost all the buffalo and helped to create "the most extreme natural event in 350 years."  Even the Homestead National Monument now has an "Opportunity and Displacement Exhibit" about the Native American culture that we destroyed.

...or this? (Germany)
But the thing that astounds me the most when I think about the pioneers is how desperate they must have been to leave beautiful places like the Northeast and Europe to come to the flatness of the Great Plains just to have a chance at a new life.  So many of the pioneers died on their way to find land, and if they made it and weren't able to build a house and get some provisions set aside for the first winter, they weren't likely to make it, either.

To come to this?
It takes some really hardy, no-
nonsense people to survive and flourish in a place like that.  As Garrison Keillor says, it's a place, "where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average."  Well, I definitely think of it as a place where all the women are strong, at least.  :)

This flat, unforgiving place.
On one of our most recent car trips, I read the first book of the Little House on the Prairie series out loud to the kids.  I don't remember it being so interesting when I read it as a child, but I was fascinated by the description of everything it took to live off the land and sustain themselves over the long winters.  Surprisingly, the kids were mesmerized, too - they loved it!

I'm not sure what got me to thinking about this today, but it's something that I think about often.  I'm still extremely proud of my ancestors, but I can't help but think, "Oh, Pioneers... you're crazy!" (and amazing)


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Origami Valentines
Fellan has an amazing ability for doing origami.  He first fell in love with making origami after getting an origami flapping crane from his school Librarian.  She gave him one and he opened it up and taught himself how to fold it again.  From then on, he has checked out every school library book on origami and has taught himself how to fold all kinds of things.

This year, he decided to make little boxes to hold Hershey's kisses for Valentines for his classmates.  We noticed that he didn't put his name on them, so we asked him if everyone in class would know that they're from him.  His response: "Oh yeah, I'm known for doing origami. I get in trouble a lot for folding paper when I'm supposed to be doing work."

At least he's honest.  ;)

Friday, February 08, 2013

Beauty of Houston

As I was taking pictures last Sunday morning, I stopped and took a picture of the path I had just ridden up and then turned to discover this spectacular sunrise through the bridge structure.  Who says Houston is ugly? ;)

Sunrise through the bike bridge

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Wow, they finally finished the bike path!

After we were awakened on Saturday morning with the news of our friend's death, we felt it would be appropriate to take a family bike ride in his honor that morning.

As you may recall, the bike path has been under construction for several years and we've been having to find alternate routes to avoid all the mess for that whole time.  But we haven't tried the bike path for a few months, so we thought we should go check it out and see how close to completion they were.

We made our way through Hermann Park and over to the "tunnel to nowhere" that we discovered about a year ago next to the path around the Hermann Park golf course.  At the time, it had a fence across the entrance and it wasn't connected to anything.  Lo and behold, though, a path has finally been installed leading to and from the tunnel so, full of optimism, we rode through it and set off to see if we could make it all the way to U of H again.

Happily, there are only a couple sections of dirt that we had to negotiate, so our bike route has finally been given back to us!

I was so inspired to know that we finally have our bike path back, I woke up early Sunday morning and got in another bike ride before the rest of the family got up.  This time, I took my phone and got some pictures.

No longer a tunnel to nowhere! Path from the golf course to the tunnel

The tunnel (left-hand side of pic) leads to the Braes Bayou path and cool new bike bridge

The path now runs along both sides of the bayou, connected by this bridge

Bike bridge!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

A funeral

Today I'll be attending the funeral of a friend of ours.  We met him through the preschool our kids attended together and I was the assistant coach on our sons' T-ball team that he sponsored and was the head coach for.  I have gone to many "Girls Night Out" evenings with his wife and our families tried many times, but unfortunately, only once were able to actually pull off a family bike ride together on a Saturday morning.

He was absolutely one of the nicest people I have ever met and his life was cut short in a horrible tragedy for which we still don't have any answers.  The viewing was last night at a funeral home and several people spoke about their memories of him.  Every single person talked about how infectious his love of humanity was and what an amazing gift he had for helping other people.

I've been trying to figure out what I can do to help his family get through this devastating event, but I know that his wife has been surrounded by her closest friends since it happened.  She is well-cared-for and she seemed to be holding up fairly well last night.

As we were leaving from the funeral home, I realized that it's going to be the help during the day-to-day living in the next few months and years that will be most useful to her and the kids as they try to accept this new reality.  And it made me really glad to be living where we do and to know that our tight-knit school community is ready and willing to help, just as he would have done if he were in our place.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Triathlon Training

A couple of weeks ago, we got an e-mail from our YMCA informing us that there would be a free Kids Triathlon Training Program that would be offered for members this spring - which, for us here in Houston, is early February!  The triathlon is in mid-April.  Since we've talked with our kids about how good they would be at triathlons, we thought this would be a great thing for them to do.  Luckily, they agreed.

This kids triathlon involves a 100 yard swim, a 3 mile bike, and a 1/2 mile run.  The only thing I thought might cause them a little bit of trouble is the running part.  I'd been out running with our son a few times last year and it seemed like he needed to stop several times during a run of only about a mile.  So, this past weekend, I figured we'd better get the kids out and running ...and get our parental-selves off our ever-expanding rear-ends, too!

So, both Saturday and Sunday, we went running with the kids.  I ran with Fellan and my husband ran with Marxo and we ran from our house to our elementary school and back - about a 2 mile run.

Fellan surprised me.  On Saturday, he wanted to stop and walk about three times during the run, but on Sunday, I think we only stopped once.  Then again last night the whole family went running after we got home from work and school and he again only wanted to stop once.  Truthfully, though, I think he doesn't actually need that break, so we'll have to cut that out soon.

Marxo's running abilities have also been a pleasant surprise.  I expected her to whine and complain about doing this training, but it turns out that she's motivated and excited about doing this triathlon!  I feel like she might be the one person in our family who could probably be running faster than everyone else, but her endurance is a little lacking.

The husband and I are the ones who are really feeling beat up by this family running thing.  By the time Monday came around, I could barely walk and after last night's run, my legs still felt like jello.  It's good for both of us parents that we're starting this training with a fairly short distance.  Hopefully this will help us to start getting ourselves back into shape, too.  :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Beauty of Houston

Ok, in an effort to make myself believe that Houston is not the Armpit of America, I decided I should take a picture of something beautiful about Houston this past weekend.  This is a view of our street in the pretty part of the neighborhood.  We live not too far from here, but don't have the full canopy of live oaks.

Canopy of Live Oaks

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Why Houston?

So, a little over a year ago, we bought the empty lot across the street from us with the intention of building a house on it.  Actually, we want a pool and if a house comes with it, that would be great, too.

I didn't mention anything about it because I never felt like it would become a reality.  Turns out that I was sort of right about it not becoming a reality - the design that our architects have come up with is so super-cool and spectacular that we can't afford it.  So we're having to delay the project to come up with more money.  We're not giving up, but we've had to accept the fact that we will have to wait one more year for our pool.  *sob*

While we were in Colorado, we visited with some friends who kept telling us that what we really need to do is move to Colorado and build a new house.  It's always a tempting thought, but we just can't imagine doing it.  While we hate the Houston heat and humidity, we've gotten to the point that we love our neighborhood so much that we can't imagine living anywhere else.

I just need to stop looking at pictures from anyplace else in the world because they put Houston to shame!!  I mean, look at this.  And this.  And this picture has been my wallpaper for the past few weeks.  Every time we return from vacation and drive from the airport or the outskirts of town, I'm struck by how ugly this place is.  It's too bad, really.  If you read about the history and culture of Houston on Wikipedia, it almost makes you want to live here!

Actually, that's sort of the point we try to make to people about Houston - it's a good place to live, but there's not much reason to visit.  And as long as you don't mind complaining about the heat and humidity to anyone who will listen, you'll be able to endure.  Houston - it's worth it. (!!!???)  Oh my gosh, if you don't click on any of the other links, you must read this one. It literally made me LOL. :)

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Back to work

After 17 days off from work, I had to finally come back to work this week.  We spent a nice Christmas at home and then headed off to Colorado for a freezing-cold ski trip for the New Year's week.

Unsurprisingly, I'm finding it hard to get back into the swing of work and that apathy has taken the place of any eagerness about blogging.  Too bad, too - on Monday, I was this close to posting a snippet about our vacation that I'm sure would have been engaging and cute in its brevity, but that enthusiasm seems to have gone missing sometime around 4:00 Monday afternoon.

Ah well.  I'll leave you with a picture of our Christmas Eve Aebleskiver instead.

Aebleskiver - worthy of a King, of course!