Monday, June 30, 2008

The Guadalupe

Toobing and camping this weekend went great! We left Friday afternoon for the campground with Shannon and Chris. I think we got to our site around 6pm. I could not believe it when we got to our site and it was the exact same two we had last year! What are the chances? Well, it turns out the chances are pretty good. I guess they try to put people who reserve two or more sites together at this location. I'm guessing its because one of the sites is pretty small compared to the rest and it is on a hill, so there is no place to park. Next time we go I'm going to request a different site because the slant of those sites really gets to you after a while. Not to mention you have to arrange tents and beds according to the slant so you don't spend the entire night rolling over your significant other. Anyhoo. We had plenty of sunlight hours to put up our tents and set up shop. Jenna and Seth borrowed our other tent, so we set that up for them before they got there.

Chris brought two hammocks. Of course he and Travis had to test them out immediately.

The boys started up the fire and the grill so we could get dinner started - hamburgers and brats. We ate dinner and even had time for S'mores before Jenna and Seth finally made it to the site. They had to work until 4pm and then they stopped for dinner on the way. We all stayed up until 1am and drank a little too much cerveza. Despite the late night, we were all up by 8am. I guess we're all used to our daily routines. Travis made breakfast burritos and then we packed up for the river.

Here's our camp during daylight (it is so pretty there):

We had a couple run-ins with "nature" during our first 20 hours. A little before Jenna and Seth arrived, Mr. Skunk decided to pass through our campsite. We all stayed calm in hopes that the animal would leave us alone. Until Chris threw a rock at it. UGH. Thankfully, he was just scared off. I would have ripped Chris open if that animal would have sprayed us. I have never been sprayed, or had a dog that was sprayed, in my life. And I'd like to keep it that way, thank you very much. Our second run-in, was with a creepy, crawly poisonous creature - the
Texas Giant Centipede. !!! While we were waiting for breakfast to be ready, he ran under my chair. I didn't even notice until Jenna pointed him out. We got a photo and then Chris set him back in the forest.

YIKES! Gives me the jitters just looking at the photo.

Our plan for tubing, or toobing, as it is spelled down here, was to do the same schedule we did last year: take the bus upstream, float back to our campsite to stop for lunch, then get back on for the other half of the ride where we would be picked up and brought home by the bus again. Unfortunately, water flow was at an almost complete standstill. It took us 7 HOURS to do what took us 3 or 4 last year. The huge bummer for me is that I did not pack a lunch since I thought we'd be back by that point. I at least brought a few snacks. I usually eat every two hours, alternating snack and meal. 7 hours of crackers and granola bars just didn't cut it for me. About an hour before we finally made it to our campsite, I completely ran out of juice. I decided I would just float it out and hope I made it there before I passed out. Luckily, there was a random hot dog stand on the side of the river. Chris got out and grabbed me some chili Frito pie. Not my favorite, but desparate times call for desparate measures. About 15 minutes after scarfing that down, my energy came back and I was able to paddle myself the rest of the way back. We were all burnt to a crisp by this point, so we were ready to get back. I don't have the photos back from the river yet. I brought a waterproof disposable camera with, so I'll get those up later.

We were all so worn out after the river that the evening quickly fizzled out. There was a fight between two drunk dudes at the campsite next to ours. After one of the guys left, Chris invited the rest of them over to help finish our food for dinner. While dinner was cooking, I decided to run and take a shower. Despite the peanut butter sandwich I devoured when we got back, I felt dizzy while standing in line. I had to postpone the shower to lay down in the tent while I waited for dinner. I've found that when I'm this far gone, the only thing that will bring me back is protein. Travis was awesome and brought me a fajita to the tent. I was able to eat that and drink a bottle of water while I waited for life to return to my body. It was horrible. I got up and ate a little more, before heading back to the showers. I was still dizzy, but I think it is mostly because I was still getting my land legs back. I felt like I was floating in a toob for the rest of the night.

I'm sad I felt so crappy because it sounds like I missed a lot of fun. Everyone played washers with the neighbors while they waited for dinner to be ready. Then afterwards, everyone headed down to the pavillion to watch Seth sing karaoke. He's known for his amazing skills at the mic. Actually, that's how Jenna and Seth met - at a karaoke bar. He prefers to sing Prince, but the DJ didn't have that. He settled for Lisa Lobe. I know that sounds strange, but you've gotta know the guy to understand. So sad I missed it...

Sunday morning we all got up and assessed the damage. Everyone was sunburnt. Bad.

Shannon and Seth

We had camp coffee and then loaded up the trucks.

Jenna, Chris and Seth

Jenna and Seth were ready to head home. Sunday was Seth's birthday and they didn't want to spend the whole day on the road. We, on the other hand, headed to a local German restaurant called Oma's Haus. I guess the area is known for it. It was awesome. I tried schnitzel for the first time ever, which brought to mind Tenacious D. Good stuff. After we picked up some extra sausage links for our neighbor, Cowboy Willy, we started the ride home. It seemed a lot quicker than the ride there. Despite the three feet of grass growing in our lawn, Travis and I took the night off to rest. Why is it that we always need vacations from our vacations?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Crazy Choices

So, there is this guy who is selling his life on eBay. It looks like the auction time is up around 11pm tonight (Central time) if you want to get in on it. I have worked so hard for everything I have, I couldn't imagine giving it all up like this. Then again, he does have some reasoning behind what he's doing...

Friday, June 27, 2008


Well, I was a bum last night. I got home from work with a pounding headache and decided to lay down for a couple minutes before heading to the gym. After 15 minutes, I still had that damn thing. I decided not to go so I could recuperate for our weekend trip. We're heading to New Braunfels to toob the Guadalupe River and camp out. Jenna and Seth are going with since they don't have the kids all summer. Other than that, I think its just Shannon and Chris going. We tried to get a few other couples to come along, but its getting more difficult with all the babies now. We are carpooling with Shannon and Chris to help conserve gas. Jenna and Seth have to work later than us, so unfortunately they have to meet us there. I can't wait to use the new gear!

We are super busy at work, so it looks like the next few months are going to be CRAZY. Woohoo!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Now I can say I work out!

Going to the gym last night was very encouraging. I was nervous at first, like I always am when I first start working out again. I always feel like an idiot because I don't know where anything is, so I end up wandering around like a lost child trying to figure out where the machines are that I need. And then I feel like everyone is staring at me. The gym is great though. It is brand new, with brand new everything. I did a 13-minute cardio work out on the elliptical trainer. I think that is the first time I have ever done it successfully. I don't know why I had such a hard time with it before. ??? I know 13 minutes isn't much, but it was all I could handle on my first day. I plan on going longer tonight, but not starting with as much gusto as I did yesterday. Lol! After cardio, I began my meander through the machines. Once I found the equipment I needed, that was a slow process in itself. I had to figure out how much weight I needed on each one and then I had to do it again when I went back for my second reps!

I think the most rewarding workout last night was my back and neck exercises. My chiropractor gave me a series of exercises with light weights that I am supposed to be doing 3 times a week to strengthen my neck and upper back. Yaaaa, that stopped after about three weeks. I know that is so bad. I mean, it's my health we're talking about here. I am so excited to get back on track with that.

At the end of our workout, Travis and Chris tread water for 30 minutes. I wanted to join in, but didn't realize we were getting in the pool so I was without swimsuit attire. I'm ready to go tonight though!

There are some tennis courts at the gym and it looks like no one uses them. I'm hoping Travis and I can get up there occasionally on the weekends. We both have rackets because we used to play together. We haven't been in over a year though. That has got to change.

I feel okay today. Travis was asking me if I was tired, like he expected me to be a limp noodle after a workout. I don't feel sore yet. That will probably hit me tomorrow. Today I just feel weak. I attempted to go up the stairs into work and almost didn't make it to the top! It feels good though...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Insane-O-Flex Me!

Watch out Carl! Here I come! Travis signed us up yesterday at a gym near our house. It is brand new and HUGE. I've never worked out at a large gym before, so this will be a whole new experience for me. Travis was so excited about starting, he went in yesterday afternoon (work got rained out). He loves it. It's great because we have access to the weights, machines, tennis & basketball courts, pools and sauna. I paid a small fee to also do the classes. I'm pretty pumped about this because I have never taken part in these. I figure it will be something nice to change up the workout routine and it will force me to keep up the pace. I find that when I do weights by myself, I kind of poop out by the second round of reps.

Another exciting point about this is Shannon and Chris just got a membership there. Shannon and I are hoping to do some of the classes together - another fail-safe to force me into the gym. I usually enjoy working out for the first month or so, but then I start to get bummed about all the free time I've lost. Although, now it might be easier since all of our friends have babies/kids. When we lived above the bar a couple years ago, we constantly had people stopping by to invite us out with them. It's a hard decision when you don't have very many responsibilities: Bar vs Gym. I don't have that pressure anymore, so hopefully I'll be better about going.

Travis is the one who wanted to go in the first place. He loves working out. It is nuts to me that he doesn't mind going to the gym after 10 hours of hard labor in the hot, humid, Texas sun. Plus, there's softball once a week. When my brother was here, he went running with him a couple times and ran the 4 miles, or whatever it is, that my bro does every morning. No way could I just up and run 4 miles. Hell, I can't even jog for 10 minutes without getting a stitch in my side! I'm hoping that will change soon. Shannon and I are hoping to work our way up to the Spin Class. Here goes!

By the way, Travis apologized to me yesterday at lunch for being an ass about that book the night before. It's awesome that he noticed how it affected me. I guess he was just tired and wanted to relax/not think. Not sure why he didn't just SAY that, but whatev. =)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Oi Baby

Ugh! I had another bad dream last night about being a mother. I think I have a dream similar to this at least once a week! Travis and I have been talking more seriously lately about starting a family of our own. There are still several obstacles in our way, so no word on an actual date for this to begin. I think all this "serious talk" has gotten me fired up on the subject. I purchased a book on Amazon last week that I've been wanting to get since it came out. It was put together by my favorite blogger, Dooce, but now I'm wondering if it wasn't another subconscious grab in the dark for something closer to parenthood. The book is titled Things I Learned About My Dad: Humorous and Heartfelt Essays.

I started reading the book last night and found it HILARIOUS. There are some serious essays, but for the most part I was laughing out loud. Whenever that was the case, I wanted to run and share it with Travis. While we don't have children of our own, we do have a million friends with kids. Not to mention that we each were kids ourselves at one point. With fathers. So we can relate. I definitely recommend this book if you like to read. Unfortunately, Travis does not like to read and he eventually got irritated with me because I kept sharing excerpts with him. I was saddened that he was not more interested in this stuff, but he really has never been much of a reader. I started to get a little stressed about us getting pregnant because I know he won't be the one to run and look up information when needed. Possibly due to the way things left off when we went to bed, I had a horrible dream. Nightmare, if you will.

I dreamt I was pregnant and on vacation with a faceless friend. We were sitting in the hotel room when I started to go into labor. Being as it is a dream, we decided to stay in the room to have the baby. An hour after Baby popped out, my friend suggested we go down by the pool to get drinks. I agreed, wrapped Baby girl in a blanket and headed downstairs. Once at the pool, I quickly forgot about the baby, got in the water and sipped on a tropical drink. When it was time to leave and we were walking away, I remembered that I had a baby and had left her underneath my chaise lounge chair. When I ran over to get her, she was cold and had turned into a doll (similar to this one, minus the clothes). Hoping to revive her, I held her close to warm her up and she turned back into a live baby. This went on throughout most of the dream - going some place and forgetting I had a baby. After about three times of absentmindedness, I realized that I had not fed her at all. I told my friend that I needed to find a place to feed her, when all of sudden she turns into my friend Shannon and tells me that I had missed my window of breastfeeding within a few hours of birth! Now I wasn't going to properly bond with my child! Ahhhhh! I spent the rest of the dream trying to find a private place to feed her.

I woke up exhausted.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Last Weekend in Town

We have the house back to ourselves - my family has gone back to Illinois. I miss them already, but it is nice to have our private space again. We had a great final weekend with my dad and Alex. Thursday night we went to the dog track. My sister made a couple bets for my brother (illegal, I know) and now I think he may be addicted. LOL!

Making out with the glass

It took me a long time to get myself to this track. I worry about the dogs being mistreated, although there is no way to prove that. I only hope that this track is too small for there to be a lot of pressure on the dogs. I finally started going ONLY because of 50 cent night. Beer, hot dogs and popcorn are all 50 cents! Margaritas are only $1! I bought nine hot dogs, three beers and a bag of popcorn for only $6.50. Holy cow! We got quite the group together to go to the races this past week: Sara, JR, Logan, Shannon, Chris, Ariel, Robert, Travis, Alex, my dad and of course, me. Logan was so funny. He was testing out the waters with this other little girl who was in the stands with her dad, when she leaned in to give him a hug. We couldn't see his reaction immediately since he was facing the other way, but he soon put his forehead down on the bench and we could hear him crying. Too funny.

My dad and Chris, jabbering away
Ariel, Shannon and I
Friday, my dad and Alex picked me up for lunch. I took them to this awesome Mexican restaurant where you pretty much have to speak Spanish to pick your meal off the menu. My dad likes original places and this was one near my work. I ended up getting out of work early, so we went to the beach for a little while. Travis is back to his regular schedule so he had all day Friday off. In the morning he went wake boarding with a friend from work. Between that and the beach he went to the chiropractor for a massage and adjustment. He pretty much slept the whole time we were out on the beach. Ariel came over for dinner and I made Alex's favorite - BBQ stuffed baked potatoes. YUMMY.

Saturday we got up bright and early to go to the tire shop for my dad's car. I just sold him my Neon and it already got a punctured tire! Thankfully I still had the warranty on that tire, so the replacement was free. We paid for the other one so that there were two new front tires at the same time. Afterwards we ran back home to pick up Travis and Alex and we rode around Houston for a while. There really isn't much to do in the city except for bar hop or go to the theater, but my dad wanted Alex to see it before they went home. We made a quick detour to Kemah for dinner at this awesome barbeque place. They had live music outside, so we sat in the "backyard".

On the way back we drove through the oil refineries so they could see where Travis worked. After that meal and a few beers, we HAD to take a nap. We slept for a couple hours and then got up to watch a movie. We eventually ordered pizza and Ariel hung out with us for a few hours before she had to be at work. We called it an early night since they left early on Sunday. I guess that's how we roll - lotsa food, drink, friends and family. =)

It was an awesomely full visit with my family!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Other Stories

I have heard a couple entertaining stories from my friends lately, and since they do not have their own blogs I figured I would do them Internet-justice and retell them on mine.

Our friends Jenna and Seth noticed a strange, musty smell around their washer. They assumed there was standing water in their washing machine and since they were getting ready to leave for a week to visit family in Maryland they didn't have time to take care of it. They got in late, late, late on Tuesday night, so they pretty much came in the house and went straight to bed. The next day at work, Jenna was asking me if I knew where there could be standing water in a washer. Of course, I didn't know the answer to this, but that's how I was updated on the situation. When we met for lunch on Thursday, she told me that they had solved the problem. When they got home Wednesday evening, they opened their garage (right off of the laundry room) and there was a horrific stench filling the room, along with a gazillion flies everywhere. Their first thought was that one of the neighborhood cats got stuck in their garage and died. That probably would have been easier to deal with. Turns out, their freezer died (probably a few days before they left on vacation) and all the meat and Popsicles and frozen meals for the kids had rotted in the Texas heat and humidity. There were maggots EVERYWHERE. They came to the decision to just unplug the freezer, wheel it out to the street and let the garbage men thank them later. Jenna said she was mortified because their whole cul-de-sac wreaked of rotten meat. After spraying the entire garage down with Raid, the decided to purchase a new freezer this weekend.

The other account I have is a little less on the funny side. Our friend Chris (husband of Shannon) was doing some door-to-door advertising in a nice neighborhood in the town we live in. He was walking back to his truck to head home and as soon as he got in, two men walked up on either side of the vehicle and demanded that he give one of them a ride. Chris told them that he was just heading home, but they were pretty adamant that he do what they say. So, one of the guys piled his stuff in the back of the pickup and jumped in the passenger seat. He did some quick thinking and pulled into a gas station. The guy started banging on the door, screaming 'What are you doing?! Bring me to where I said!' Chris opened the door and said that he was thirsty and needed to buy a drink. The guy demanded money for himself. Chris told him he only had a few dollars to purchase his drink, but he could have his change. I think since the door was open to the truck he accepted this and followed him in. After Chris made his purchase and passed over the change, he made a quick escape to his truck and took off. When he got to their work warehouse, where Shannon was still working, he realized the guy's stuff was still in the back of the truck. He was going through it and putting it all into the bag when he grabbed the guy's red t-shirt he'd been holding and found a gun hidden inside. !!! Chris promptly headed to the local police department and since this all happened in a matter of minutes, the police were able to go to the gas station and pick the guy up. Chris waited back at the gas station to identify him. When the police brought him back and asked him about the gun, he claimed that it was not his and it belonged to the other guy who told Chris to give him a ride and that he didn't know who he was. So what do the police do? They let him go! Right in front of Chris! I am quickly getting a bad taste in my mouth for cops. Does anyone know a good cop?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

My Very Own Laundromat

I had a MUCH NEEDED laid back evening yesterday. My dad planned a "guys night out" with Alex, Robert and Travis. He's been wanting to do that for a while now, in hopes of getting to know the guys better (without the girls getting in the way). It sounds like they had fun. Perhaps too much fun. They went bowling and got pizza and beer for dinner. My dad loves darts, so he brought his along and they played a game of Cricket after bowling. They didn't get home until midnight!! I know Travis has got to be exhausted. I feel like we have been running a marathon for over a month now. I love my family, but I know we'll both be glad to have a few nights to ourselves after they leave.

I, on the other hand, had a very calm evening. They boys left almost immediately for the bowling alley, so I heated up a frozen pizza and turned on the DVR. I caught up on a few shows and then took a break from sitting to do a little cleaning. I haven't had any time to keep up with housework with family in town. I always feel better sitting on my arse knowing that I've done something productive for the evening. Plus, I like being able to walk through the house barefoot without forming a carpet of pet hair on the soles of my feet.

Somehow, Travis managed to find the energy to get up this morning and hook up our new dryer. Yup, that's right folks. We had our new washer and dryer delivered yesterday! All I have to say is hooray for 12-months-no-interest! Thankfully my dad is in town so I didn't have to take the morning off to accept the delivery. Everything went smoothly, except for the plug on the dryer. We had to pay a separate fee to get the plug. I don't understand why that's not included in your purchase, seeing as when you buy a lamp or a blender or a clock or a fridge, etc you don't have to go purchase a plug too. So stupid. Anyhoo, turns out they gave us a plug that doesn't even go with our outlet! I cashed in on marrying an electrician because Travis was able to switch the plug (whip) from the old dryer to the new dryer. It was so disappointing to come home last night to brand new, shiny appliances and not even be able to use them. We got lucky too because usually people have the old appliances carried off, but we kept ours because Ariel wants them. If our whip doesn't fit her outlet, Travis said he'll trade it in at Home Depot. They owe us.

This morning I got to do the first load in the new washer and dryer. =) I usually bring Callaway outside with me when I go out to the garage to do laundry. Today was no exception. Freaking hilarious - Callaway is AFRAID of the new washer! They are both front loading and have a glass door so you can see the clothes spinning round and round. Just like at the laundromat! (Thank god those days are over.) Well, it made Callaway nervous so he hid behind me. I stepped aside and he moved behind me again! I laughed at him, called him a weenie and let him go outside. That dog...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Babbling Blair

Alexa and Chris came over for dinner Monday night and got to spend some much needed time together. Things have been crazy lately with my family being in town, and Alexa's family being in town, and Chris being gone on flights (he's a pilot) almost constantly, so we haven't seen much of each other lately. I CANNOT believe how much Blair has grown since we saw him last. He is so talkative and very animated. He was telling us stories all night long! It was funny when Sara came over and talked with Blair. Mom and Dad said he was being shy, but he opened right up for Sara. TOO CUTE. Check out the photo re-cap:

Fun with Dad

He kept trying to turn his head to see Chris.
Mommy and Blair
Two hot mamas and their beautiful sons

Me. Learning how to scare the crap out of the kid.
He started screaming bloody murder
when I made a kissing sound at him.

And my very exhausted husband trying to entertain Blair.
I think Travis was too boring for him after all the dinner fun.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Devoted Dad

"I saw a wino eating grapes and I was like, 'Dude, you gotta wait.'" -Mitch Hedberg

After the trip to San Antonio, we decided to come home right after brunch. That gave us a little time to take a nap and get unpacked. I was able to play a little catch-up on a few much needed house chores. My dad was able to round up the whole family for an evening of music and food at the local winery. We did a little wine tasting inside the winery to help choose which wines we wanted to buy. I'm not going to go into detail about how many bottles we purchased between the four of us (we bought for my dad). =) With wine in hand, we headed out back to grab our food and find a spot to sit. There was a woman performing blues and they served sandwiches and salads for dinner. It was a very nice evening to be spent outdoors. I was surprised at how many people were there. I would really like to go back again this summer. They have someone performing there every weekend. If we do go back, I have to remember to bring chairs - that place was packed! There were even people who brought their own tent and set up shop out in the middle of the grass! Hard core.

The other performer of the evening was..... ROBERT!

"The Kids"

After the winery, we drove by the Dragon's Den. AKA, the leader of the KKK. SCARY. I really don't understand that mentality, but that guy has absolutely no problem advertising who he is for everyone to see. He has a giant dragon statue that appears to be swimming in and out of his lawn. And there is a giant fountain out front with a million dragons all over it. Disgusting. We stopped at a nearby gas station and look who we saw:

Us! Live! On TV!!

Here's a close-up:

Everyone stopped by our house for a little while to play Guitar Hero. We are currently dog-sitting for our friends Jenna and Seth. Their little Chihuahua mix is named Halen, after Van Halen. He is the cutest little thing, but afraid of EVERYTHING. Especially Callaway. I mean, who isn't?


Thanks, Dad - for always being there.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Good Ole San Antone

This past weekend Travis and I went to San Antonio with my dad and Alex. It was a bummer that Ariel couldn't go because she had to work. Travis and I visited San Antonio for the first time together last year for our first anniversary. My family had never been, but they thought it was beautiful. We left Friday morning and made it to our hotel by lunchtime. We stayed at El Tropicano (Holiday Inn). The place was awesome, but we just happened to be staying there the same weekend as the Ladies Patchwork Guild. Travis accused me of putting us in a hotel filled with old ladies on purpose. If only I could take the credit for that one.

Above the front desk

We did a lot throughout our three-day weekend, so I'm not going to go over everything in detail. We saw the Alamo, walked the Riverwalk, visited El Mercado and ate out A BUNCH. We were super disappointed in El Mercado. My dad expected to see chickens getting their head cut off, but there was no such thing. Just a lot of crap for sale, cheap. I did buy some jewelry. It was a deal! $8 for a bracelet and ring. Ha!

Walking the Riverwalk

We had the breakfast buffet at the hotel each morning, but went out for lunch and dinner. We went out for Mexican (50-min wait), Italian, BBQ and sang along with the piano man at Durty Nelly's Irish Pub. We pretty much spent the weekend overeating and over-drinking. It was awesome.

Alex at the Alamo
50-minute wait

Crazy hotel phones
Shops at La Villita

Oh ya, and a bird pooped on Travis. LOL!

Friday, June 13, 2008

More Reading

I am out of the lab Thursday and Friday, so I figured I would just put up a new link to another blog I read. The new one is What Would Tyler Durden Do? It's some guy who pretty much just talks smack about celebrities. Good for a laugh every now and again...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sushi Bar

Monday night we took my dad to a place we used to go every week for dinner. We had dubbed it Wasabi Wednesday. Alex had been there already and he really liked it last time. I will still go back there to eat, but I think I had a little bit of food poisoning wake me up at 1 in the morning. It was horrible. I still felt crappy the next day, but not as bad as I did then. Everyone else is fine. We all shared the appetizers, so it had to be a roll of sushi I had that no one else did.

We enjoyed Banana Tempura with ice cream for dessert, then walked across the street to the coffee house. The weather was amazing, so we sat outside. It is funny how many people I still know that live around there. Travis and I lived in an apartment above a bar for two years and made quite a number of friends around the area I guess. When we were outside the coffee house, I tried a sip of Ariel's wine, Pinotage. I had never heard of it before and wanted to give it a try. Boy did I get a bitter beer face!

This photo is for posterity.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hoping for a GREEN thumb

OH, what a wonderful Sunday! The first thing we did was work in the yard. My dad bought us four red oleander bushes as a housewarming gift. I went with to the Garden Center and decided (mostly because everything was half off) that I would buy two pots of pampas grass. My grass is not quite as beautiful as that photo, but hopefully it will be someday. We didn't think about the fact that we would actually have to PLANT six pots. Next time I'll have to plan for that. It took all morning to get everything in the ground. We put the pampas on either side of the driveway for a sense of entry. We have a corner lot and there is no landscaping on the lesser-busy street. Hoping to spruce things up over there, we lined that side of the house with the oleander bushes. I can't wait for everything to get established and start growing. The red flowers will be gorgeous!

Sara and JR came out to check out what we were doing outside on this ridiculously hot and humid day. Even my scalp burned where the parts are in my hair. Travis was a bit hungover from card night, but he still worked hard. Perhaps, the hardest. No way could I have planted these all by myself. The soil here is horrible - the clay turns into clay rocks about a foot down.

Working hard. In the shade.

See the little bushes along the house? We used the dirt we dug up to fill in various holes in our yard. Hopefully that will make mowing a little easier in the future.

Watching Travis work.Withering pampas. I hope they perk up!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

High School Sweethearts

TODAY IS TRAVIS AND MY ANNIVERSARY! We have been married for two years, but we have been dating for almost nine years. That number is just plain crazy to me. Since tonight is Travis' softball game, and we really want my dad and Alex to go to a game, we celebrated by going out for dinner in Houston on Sunday night. We went to fondue restaurant called the Melting Pot. It was a whole new experience for us. We had the four course meal they call Big Night Out, which included a cheese fondue for an appetizer, salads, a Caribbean broth fondue for the meat and veggies and the Toasted Turtle dessert fondue. It is all kept warm on a hot plate at each table. EVERYTHING WAS DELICIOUS. Between all the food and the bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, I was ready for sleep the second my butt hit the truck seat! We had a great time and I definitely recommend it to anyone who likes food. There are over 130 locations in the US, so you'll probably find one in your area.

Dessert spread

Two years down, a lifetime to go.

The tradition for a second anniversary is cotton. Travis and I have fun trying to find gifts that meet the traditional criteria. This year I bought him a cotton rope hammock that we are going to put up in the backyard. Travis bought me a couple summer outfits. I find this hilarious. I just cannot picture him picking out clothes in the ladies department. He said he felt like everyone thought he was a perve poking through women's clothing. Lol! I love what he chose for me and he was mostly right on sizes. The shorts fit perfectly, but the shirts were one size too big. It's awesome that he found stuff I like. I guess he does pay attention to me occasionally.

My dad and Alex also got us a couple gifts. They gave us the game Cranium WOW, which is the newest edition with cute little guys and exchangable hats for you to push around the board. Keeping with tradition, they also gave each of us Rose Bowl Illini t-shirts, similar to the ones they gave Ariel and Robert. It has been another excellent anniversary.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Food, Family and Fun!

The fun just never stops! I've been having a great time with my family. We had a VERY busy weekend. Friday night we made our own pizzas. Usually I buy the raw, frozen dough and let it rise, but they were out of it at the grocery store. Instead, I bought the pre-cooked kind. The benefit here, I've found, is that it only takes about 10 minutes to bake that way. With the raw dough, it has too cook up to 30 minutes, depending on how deep the toppings are. We made two pizzas and they were DELICIOUS.

After dinner, Kai stopped by with his kids. I only get to see them about once every six months, so I am always blown away by how much they have grown. I remember when I was a kid and my parents' friends would tell me they couldn't believe how tall I was getting. I thought they were crazy because I felt like I couldn't grow fast enough. Now I understand. My dad loves kids (which makes me excited about him becoming a grandpa someday) and kids love him. My dad was trying to get them to pat their head and rub their belly. When he showed 4-year-old Brennan how to pat his head and then asked him if he could do it too, he leaned over the back of the couch and patted my dad on the head. LOL! That's what my dad asked him, I guess!

Saturday we slept in due to the late evening the night before. I had to go into work for a little while, so I dropped my dad and Alex at Ariel's apartment. She had asked if my dad would help her replace her flat tire with her spare and then figure out how to get new tires. My dad had planned on doing that while I was at work, but no one answered the door. They waited there while I ran to work and they were still sitting on her steps when I got back! I went and banged on her door. No answer. I tried the door knob and sure enough, the door was open. So I went inside and banged on her bedroom door! Robert finally came out and told me he would be down to help (he had the keys to her trunk) After that fiasco, we went to a local burger place for lunch. It is right on the water and despite the umbrella at our table, we all got a little burnt.

That evening we had Sara and JR over to help teach my family how to play Liverpool Rummy. They caught on fairly quickly, even though the rules are a little tricky. My dad was a trooper and stayed up until 1am when we finished the game! My brother really enjoyed the game, so hopefully we'll be able to play a few more times before they leave for Illinois again.

Third Coast, baby!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Late Nights

First off, I've started a Flickr account. I'm over the whole Ringo-closing-down thing and have learned to love this new site already! I am going to be picky about who I let see my photos, but if you want to be my friend, give it a try. I have this irrationally intense fear that someone is going to stalk me online and find me in real life. Therefore, I am weary about giving random folks access to my account. =/

These last few days have been exhausting. I haven't really had a chance to catch up on my sleep since the New Orleans trip. Wednesday night I went with Travis, my dad and Alex down to visit Ariel at the bar where she works. We enjoyed her excellent Mojitos and didn't leave there until 10:30pm. Arg. Alex has been there before, but it was nice that my dad finally got to see her place of employment. This is probably the longest job she's ever held. I really feel like she is maturing.

The Red Bull table

I love my husband. =)

Last night we went over to Ariel and Robert's new apartment for dinner. I was the only one who had seen it before, so it was new for everyone else. We brought along housewarming gifts since this is Ariel's first real place of her own. They have done a very good job of getting everything unpacked and organized. Plus, they've bought a bunch of new stuff to decorate the bathroom. They are really making it their home. My dad and Alex gave them dishes and Illini shirts. Travis and I got them wine glasses and a bottle of wine. We even got to use the new stuff for dinner. Robert made a fabulous chicken alfredo pasta dish with veggies, garlic bread and salad. For dessert, my dad made flaming carmelized bananas.

Animated Alex
Dessert on fire. Step away.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

New Orleans in June

OK. So I'm still tired, but at least I can remember my name today. The trip to New Orleans was SO FUN. Monday night I stayed the night at Ariel's apartment since it was closer to New Orleans. I know it was only 30 minutes closer, but that makes all the difference when you are driving six hours each way! Ariel just moved into a new apartment so it was neat to hang out there. For dinner we walked to a nearby sandwich shop on the Gulf. I was the first to drive Tuesday morning, so I didn't stay up late.

We began our journey at about 8:30am. Ariel and I had a pretty good time just getting there. We made it into town about half an hour before our dad and brother's train got in - and that's only because the train was early. My dad is such a goofy man. He wore all black and a silver vest, to help us all get into the mood of Mardis Gras/New Orleans. Ariel and Alex had never been to New Orleans before, so the first thing we did was walk around the French Quarter. We walked down Bourbon Street and even went into a voodoo shop. We got lucky when my dad asked for a psychic reading and there was a thirty minute wait. I did not want to do that! I'm not much of a believer...

My dad, my brother Alex and my sister Ariel

For dinner we went to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. We had a few drinks and the food was great. We all had seafood. Our server was a little weird. She kept asking my dad if he would adopt her. Not sure what was going on there.

I couldn't leave town without having a Hurricane!

On the walk over to Cafe du Monde, there was a mini parade going through Jackson Park. We followed it until it stopped, only to find out that it was a fake Mardis Gras parade for some picture that was being filmed. There was a sign that said it was "tentatively entitled Mardis Gras" and by standing in that street we were agreeing to be extras in the film. Ha! Keep your eye out for the film. No idea how big it is, or even who the actors might be, but you might see my family and I in the background! There was this creepy Joker guy that was following the people who were watching the parade. He even flicked my dad off with his giant gloved hands when he took a picture.

We took a couple minutes to grab beignets and coffee at Cafe du Monde. Delicious sugary, doughy goodness. My dad thought it would be a good idea to blow the powdered sugar across the table. We were all already covered in it.

After dessert we started the trip back to Texas. We had a great time in just a few short hours. Thankfully, Ariel drove home, so I was able to nap for a little while. We stopped to drop off Ariel, which is why it took us longer than expected to get back to my house. I didn't lay down for my "pre-work nap" until 4 in the morning! It's going to take me a few days to recover from that. But hooray for family!