Friday, April 29, 2011

Mini-Vacation

Tuesday afternoon, after I got out of work, I headed over to Ariel's. I didn't want to get Aiden and bring him home since we'd be stuck inside due to the shelter-in-place. It ended up getting lifted right after I left home, but I had already decided to hang out with my sister for the afternoon, so I stuck with my plans.


I ate the lunch I had already packed for the day, then Ariel gave me a change of clothes so I could help her in the yard. She's in the middle of being taken over by sticker burrs. I know this is going to sound strange, but clover burrs are my favorite weed to pull. If you get the whole thing in your hand you can pull it out by the root. Since it's such a large plant, it clears out a lot of space all at once. It's very satisfying.


It was nice to get a little sun on such a nice day. A news chopper kept flying overhead. Still not sure what that was about since it was before the hotel collapsed. Maybe documenting the effects of the drought? Eh, not sure.


I picked Aiden up and got home before Travis, so we hung out in the yard for a bit before I started dinner. As soon as Aiden was in bed, I was out helping Travis lay the pipe for the drainage system. We got about half of it done.


Wednesday, I ended up leaving an hour after I got to work because the electricity was out on part of the island - the part of the island where Aiden's daycare is located. They called and said I had to come pick him up. Since we had the whole day ahead of us, I didn't want to run straight home. Travis had some drainage pipe leftovers in his truck that he was planning to return after work, so I headed over to his work to pick that up.


There is a really nice playground over by his boss' house, so Aiden and I ran by there.




Of course, 30 minutes after we got there, Aiden dropped a deuce in his diaper. I was stuck 20 miles from home, with no diaper bag and a poopy diaper. My solution was pretty horrible. Please promise not to call CPS on me. I keep a bag of wipes in my car at all times, so I wiped his butt and threw the poop in the trash, then put the same diaper back on him.


I am so mortified about that, but I didn't know what else to do! I've thought about keeping an emergency diaper in the car, but I don't know what the Texas heat would do to a diaper. Anybody know? Gah.


After I "cleaned" Aiden up, we headed to Home Depot. I made the return and picked up some more pea gravel for the drainage system. When we got home, I cleaned Aiden up for real, we ate lunch and then I laid him down for a nap.


Then I did something I haven't done in years. I laid out. In the sun. In a bikini. With a book and a glass of sweet tea. It was amazing. I haven't been in a bikini since I was pregnant! I was probably out there for about 45 minutes when I couldn't take the heat anymore. I moved into a chair in the shade of our Live Oak tree and continued my break. It was so strange to not be stressing about getting something done around the house. I guess I figured since I would normally be at work not getting stuff done at home, I wasn't losing chore time.


When Aiden got up from his nap, we each ate an Easter egg. Aiden loves those things. And honestly, I think this is the first year I have enjoyed them. I wanted to keep the free-day-fun going, so I popped Aiden in his stroller and we walked down to McDonald's. We each ate some ice cream, then I let him play with the kids in the Play Area.





When we got back, I set up the sprinkler to help cool Aiden off. He didn't quite grasp the concept of playing in the water spray. He just kept walking up to it, then getting mad because the water was getting in his face. After about 10 minutes of trying, I shut the thing off and handed Aiden the hose. He loves to water the plants, but I don't let him do it very much because it seems like a waste of water. Because he also likes to spray the grass and the tree and the house and the sidewalk... I figured the hose wasn't any worse than the sprinkler and he enjoys it more.


When Travis announced he was on his way home, I picked everything up and led Aiden into the backyard again. While he played with his trucks, I started dinner. When Travis got home, he grilled turkey burgers on his new grill and then we sat outside to eat the meal. We had corn on the cob (still left from Frohberg's farm!), burgers, Ranch-style beans and watermelon (from the Easter fruit basket Ariel and Robert gave us).

It was the perfect summer meal. Hopefully soon we will be enjoying it on our new patio!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Otomata

I came across something really cool last week called Otomata. It's a program that makes music when you click on the individual cells. I could play it for hours.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Apocalypse Now

I feel like there is mass chaos in my world right now. Here's a quick run down:



  • We are in the middle of a drought, which means there are burn bans.



  • Multiple power outages at the power plants in Texas City resulted in a shelter-in-place. That means there is so much pollution in the air that you are asked to stay in your house with the windows and doors closed, air off.



  • The main line of fresh water to the island has a leak. That has resulted in a water shortage for the island. No watering your yard, no washing your car and several of the labs at work had to close down due to low water pressure.



  • Yesterday, there was a water leak in the AC system at work. There was nothing but hot, humid air blowing through the buildings across campus. UTMB let us go home early because the condensation was building up on everything, resulting in a fall risk. It is much cooler today, but it's still a little humid.



  • Also yesterday, when I left work early, there was a collapse at a hotel they are currently taking down (with plans to rebuild). Hopefully the worker that was caught underneath the debris gets well.



  • There have been electrical outages across the island for the past day. Today, Aiden's daycare does not have electricity, so I have to take off from work and go get him. Travis has been struggling at work since they have limitations when the power is out.


Oh and Travis blew out a tire yesterday, so he's going to need at least one new tire. We'll probably get two though.



My mom said they have been dealing with nearly constant severe storms and tornadoes in Illinois. We've decided to meet on the coast in the case of an apocalypse. I'm getting the boat.

Still working on my green thumb

I'm going to bore you with some photos of our yard. It's just that I am SO excited to finally be doing some work outside. I LOVE gardening, but there hasn't been much to do without putting some money into the gardens. Since our plan was to just improve the interior of the house and sell it in three years, gardening was not an option (aside from weeding the existing flower bed).


I thrive in the sun, so I am currently in gardening heaven.


Hostas are a common plan up north and I really wanted to bring that in to our yard. It reminds me of home. We plan on planting Bluebonnets between each hosta. The tree around which these are planted is a pecan tree. The funny part is that the pecan tree is the Texas state tree. Bluebonnets are the Texas state flower. Travis said he wants to hang a confederate flag from the lowest tree branch and then he'll start parking his truck over there.



The canna lily I bought Travis for our anniversary last year is growing back strong.



To replace our four-year-old grill, Travis bought this monster:



That puppy weighs in at almost 150 lbs and is 6 feet wide. We pretty much designed the new patio wall around this thing. The left side is a gas grill, the middle is a charcoal grill and the box on the right is a smoker box. I plan on buying a brisket on my next trip to the grocery store. This is the grill he used to smoke the pork loin we had on Easter.


Travis bought the pavers we are using for the patio on Friday, but was only able to bring home half because of the weight limit on his truck. He went back Saturday and got the other half. Too bad we don't have a fork lift at home because it would have been a lot easier to unload those buggers.




That layout at the front of the picture is how we plan to place the stones. I am getting really excited about this new patio, but I don't know when we'll find time to do it. We need to do it over the weekend so we have several days in a row with the sand compactor. We're going to do this right, dang it!

Here's that killer trench I mentioned...




I've been watering our Sago palms when I water the rest of the plants in the yard. They have not grown at all since we put them in the ground. If anything, they've slowly been wearing away. I was ecstatic to see these alien fingers growing out of the center.



Except now all I think is ALIEN FINGERS when I walk by.


And a few shots of our yard critters... I've noticed a lot of them since I've been spending so much time outside.




Geico should pay me for this shot:




Those lizards are ALL OVER our yard. They particularly like to hang out around the three hose hook-ups and the compost pile. But they've been known to pop up just about anywhere.


Not pictured: The black catepillars that ate my ivy and the toad that shows up periodically next to my potted plants by the garage.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter in Photos

The Friday before Easter, we set up the supplies for dying Easter eggs outside on Aiden's picnic table. We couldn't figure out what to dye the eggs in, so we settled for our whiskey glasses. HA. Next year I'm using Dixie cups. Not only are they NOT glass, but they seem a little bit more family friendly than booze tumblers.




Travis had Saturday AND Sunday off this weekend, which was amazing. It's been a while since we've had Daddy around that much. We took advantage of those daylight hours together and got a lot of things done around the house. Travis put together his new grill/smoker that he used to cook a pork loin for Easter. He bought all the materials to finish laying out the drainage in the yard and for building the patio. He also got some fun stuff for the yard work. The mulch makes the potted plants look fantastic and he got new hoses to replace the ones that have been hit by the lawnmower a few times.


I spent a good part of the day cleaning the house in preparation for our guests on Easter. Travis even made it inside to dust while I baked homemade mini espresso cheesecakes. That was my first time to ever make real cheesecake (as opposed to that no-bake boxed kind).


Saturday, we met the Ramby's at their church for an egg hunt. After the boys filled their quota of eggs, and a tour of the church, we headed over to a restaurant on the bay for dinner. The kids were a bit rowdy - the boys were being boys and Skylar is teething - but the food was great. I'd like to go back again sometime, but I don't know if we'll ever be able to find the restaurant again!


Skylar sat up at the table with us.




Ariel, Robert and the Ramby's came over for Easter in the afternoon. Totally unplanned, all the guys wore teal polo shirts. Every time they stood together I started laughing again.



We had appetizers while the last of the food was cooking. The problem with appetizers is I'm not hungry by the time the main course comes around. Part of that could be because I always put out way too many options to snack on.




After the meal, we headed outside for another Easter egg hunt. With the boys still being so young, that mostly consists of a bunch of eggs strewn around the yard. And since Smarties don't fit in Easter eggs (darn it), there were also rolled candies thrown out there too.










The onlookers



After the Ramby's headed off to another Easter celebration, we sat in the backyard, wishing the patio would just finish itself.



I gave Aiden a few bites of candy and that kid was off like a rabbit on speed. He kept running back and forth down the sidewalk and then started throwing all his toys into the dirt pile that is currently taking up a portion of our yard. (Travis spent last week digging a trench for the drainage system that will divert rain water away from our backyard and patio. This week we will put the pipes down and fill up the trench that is threatening to eat my son alive.)


I think this was the first time Aiden has really had much candy. Occasionally I'll gave him a piece, but it's only one piece and those times are far and few between. He even spent a good five minutes telling us an animated story:




Aiden adores his Uncle Robert. Anything Robert does, Aiden wants to do. When he was at their house Friday morning (I had to work, but the daycare was closed), he wanted to share Robert's morning bowl of cereal. When Robert took his shirt off, Aiden wanted to take his shirt off. When Robert put on his shoes when it was time to leave for work, Aiden wanted to put his shoes back on.


And Sunday, when Robert sat in the hammock and ate a hard-boiled egg, Aiden joined him.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011

We're turning into crazy pet owners

I have mentioned in the past about our cat Bella with her behavioral issues. Sadly, the random peeing and pooing around the house did not go away. Bella has done it for years, but it has been concentrated mostly on Callaway's possessions (in the water dish, on the ground around his food bowl, his beds, etc). A few months ago, one of the cats started pooing on the guest bed. I was appalled the first time I found it. I was irritated the second time I found it. And the third time? I closed the baby gate to that room (since there is no door on that room) and covered the bed with a tarp (just in case).


That's how we found out it was Sagira doing the duty. We had assumed Bella, since she is the one who defies the litter box every few months. We had just assumed she was escalating in her defiance. Sagira is the only cat that can fit between the bars in the baby gate. When poop showed up again the following day, we knew it had to be her. Weeks went by with me coming home from work, heading straight to the guest bedroom to clean the poop off the tarp.



Finally, I couldn't take it anymore and I covered the gate with a piece of plywood. No cat was getting in that room if I had a say in it! The next day? Poop on our bed. Oh I was irate! When that became I daily occurance, I decided to call the vet for advice. She said the first thing I should do was open up that guest room again. It wasn't stopping the cat from defecating everywhere and it would most likely make it worse. She said cats need a quiet place they can wander off to be by themselves. Since our house is too small for all the humans and animals living within, our cats don't have that leisure. So the best we can do is leave every room available to the cats.


FINE. We gave it a try. It didn't help matters at all. Now, Sagira was pooping on our bed AND the guest bed. We have a tarp on the guest bed, so at least that one is covered. We are not so lucky with our bed. Thankfully we have two duvet covers, so we alternate between the two. One on our bed, one in the wash. I don't even put the duvet covers on the comforter anymore because I know I will be taking it off again the next day. And it's nice to know there are two layers of fabric between that poop and our comforter.


I COULDN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE. I broke down, shaking one weekend day because I had to throw away Aiden's Toy Story couch that he loved because it was covered in cat piss and I spent the entire afternoon cleaning cat vomit stains out of the carpet and poop off the beds. I told Travis we HAD to get rid of a cat.


At this point, both Sagira and Bella were NOT using the litter box. We decided that Bella would have to go, since she was the one who started this mess. And she is questionable with guests in our home. I knew she wouldn't get adopted at a shelter because she is psycho and won't let anyone but us touch her. That meant she would get euthanized. I figured we might as well do it ourselves. Then we would get to be there to say goodbye.


I had to stop several times while I was writing an email to our vet about our problem because I was crying so hard. No way could I discuss it over the phone with all the sobbing I was doing. That night, I was lying in bed, thinking about the cats. I love them all! We've had them for years. No matter how much they drive me crazy, they are a part of our family. I didn't think I would be able to bring Bella in for the euthanasia, but I knew I HAD to be there. If I couldn't suck it up, then it didn't seem right.


Then I remembered the cats' doctor saying we could try putting her on Prozac. At the time, that was not even an option. The thought of giving our cat an antidepressant was just absurd. Besides, I didn't want to spent $50 a month to medicate our cat.


As I last resort, I decided to ditch my reservations and give it a try. Turns out, fluoxetine (Prozac) is on the list of $4 medications at Target! AND, each cat only needs a quarter of a pill per day, so that $4 will last me two months between the two cats!


I marched down to that pharmacy, signed the waiver saying I understood suicidal thoughts were a side effect of Prozac, told the pharmacist if my cat had suicidal thoughts I would be sure to notify the proper medical professional, and marched right back out.


The downfall here is that we have to shove a pill down two cats' throats everyday. We tried sticking it in various foods and treats, but they would never eat the pill. I tried pilling the cats freehand, but that resulted in a few puncture wounds on my finger. So, we resorted to a piller. We stick the quartered tablet in the end of the pet piller, Travis scruffs the cat and I stick the pill in the back of the mouth before pressing the plunger to release the pill.


It's horrible. But worth it. We were able to give the medication three days in a row without forgetting and the messes stopped. Unfortunately, we forgot on Day 4. Then again on Day 6. You see the pattern here. The messes started up again. But that's when we realized it was only Sagira now.


The doctor had said that we might only have to do this for a month, to get them out of the habit of inappropriate elimination. Turns out it only took a few days for Bella, but we might have to do it again later if she starts back up. We are going to try 30 consecutive days of medicating Sagira before testing the waters with her again. We are currently in Day 3 of pilling only Sagira.


I really hope this works!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Overheard

Yesterday while I was waiting to meet Jenna for lunch, I overheard a very interesting conversation. There was a group of construction workers on the other side of the hallway, apparently also waiting for someone.


One of the guys says, "Aw man. You know what I heard? I heard that when you die, the coroner takes your gold crowns and then they become government property."


Another man in a reflective vest replies in disgust, "No way man! Really?"


Construction worker #1 continues, "Yep. We work our butts off for that grill and then the government gets it after we die. It's not fair!"


#1 pipes up again, "Ya you have to will them to somebody in order to keep 'em."


The others continue to moan in irritation about the government.


Good thing Travis plans to get a white "grill". Otherwise we'd have to work on our wills.


Really people? I mean REALLY?! If the mortician steals your gold crowns, that's on him. It has nothing to do with the government. I promise.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

White Trash Travis

If you are squeamish, particularly when it comes to teeth, you might want to skip this post.



When Travis was little, he was playing baseball at the park with his friends. He was playing the position of catcher when the batter decided to throw the metal bat behind him as he ran to first base. Unfortunately for Travis, the bat went right into his face and shattered his three front teeth. He started the trek home to show his mom what happened. Of course, as a mom, she flipped when her son came home with a mouth full of blood. They were able to get three crowns put over what remained of his teeth.



A few years later, he was having a water fight with his dad on their concrete patio when he slipped and fell, landing on his face. He broke a couple of those same teeth again and had to have those repaired.



Fast forward to high school... Travis' teeth are now too small for his mouth, so he has to get them replaced with adult sized crowns. I knew him when he had that procedure done. I know that it was not a cheap experience for single-mom Brenda.



For many years, Travis and I have been using whitening toothpaste. It became apparent that this was not the best idea for Travis because his real teeth were getting whiter, but his crowns were staying the same color. We decided that we wanted to get his crowns replaced again in a crisper shade of white, so when he went to his last dentist appointment he requested a quote for the elective procedure. The dentist told him sometimes the dental insurance doesn't cover it if it's for aesthetic reasons, but they sent off the request to our insurance anyways.



That weekend, Travis and I were in the middle of our daily snooze-button-party when there was a loud thud from Travis' side of the bed. He shoots up in bed mumbling loudly, "What was that?! What happened?!" Since I had no idea, I told him so. We were both awake so we got up for the day. Travis went to brush his teeth and noticed that there was a chip in one of his outer incisors - one of the crowns.



He went to bed with all his teeth and woke up with a partially missing tooth. I have no idea if that bump in the morning was at all related to Travis' now-crooked smile, but I'm willing to bet it was related.



Travis quickly voiced his fear that the insurance company would surely decline coverage now that it seemed he was purposely trying to damage his facade. Lucky for us, it was accepted that following week. They don't cover near as much as I would have liked. I'm just going to think of it as using a coupon. I'll take any discount we can get.



Since we were already making plans for the new patio, we decided to postpone this work until the fall. Then this happened:



Travis was unscrewing an exhaust fan cover in the ceiling. He thought there was still one screw left in the plate as he removed another screw, but he was wrong. It swung down and hit him smack in the front incisor, shattering it into four or more pieces. It's hard to tell if the front is still attached to the back. The good news is all the pieces are still holding on. Travis is being careful about what he eats until he can get the replacements.

He has an appointment for three new crowns set for May 2. That's two weeks of soft food for Travis. I sincerely hope that tooth stays together because I'm not going to be able to talk to him with a straight face otherwise. I told him either way, he should avoid wearing camo for the next couple of weeks.

I'm contemplating purchasing a mouth guard and a hockey mask for Travis to wear after he gets his new teeth. That way, we won't be spending thousands of dollars on teeth too often and maybe his pretty face will stay intact. I've already mentioned the ladder incident that scarred his face. A few years prior, he was standing on a ladder using a drill when he fell off. The drill went up into the air as he was falling, so that it landed on his face after he fell onto his back on the ground. The Phillips head drill bit landed right in between his eyes, leaving a plus-shaped wound behind.

Yep. Definitely getting a hockey mask.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Aiden's Life

Father and son


Happy boy


The sticks in the ground behind Aiden are elevation markers, in preparation for the yard renovation. Turns out, our front yard is much higher than the backyard. Which means when Travis digs the trench to lay drainage pipe, he's going to have to go really deep by the time he reaches the front yard. He started digging this weekend. We learned the watering the drought-ridden ground makes the process a lot easier. Then it's more like digging, than chipping away at rock.


Aiden likes the new motorized truck he got from the Ramby's. He is yet to learn how to turn, but he's got the "gas" down. Literally.


The stakes in the ground in this photo are to show the layout of the new fence. Travis was just getting started when I took the picture, but it gives you an idea of how far out the new wall will go. We spent some time sitting in our patio furniture where the new patio will be, to get an idea of what it will be like. I decided it's going to be awesome. The process of building it will be a little painful, but I think it will be worth it.




I'm working on convincing Travis to postpone some of the work until next summer. I know that just getting the patio laid and the wall up is going to be a LOT of work. Putting lights in the wall and building benches, a swing set and a sandbox are just too much for this year. Physically and financially. I keep hearing, "It will only cost a little bit more." Unfortunately, five little-bit-more's add up.

Aiden brushes his teeth every night. A few times a week (whenever Travis is around), I take control of the brush. Aiden doesn't brush his teeth as much as he does chew on it. I'm trying to instill personal hygiene into his daily life. But he just DOES NOT like it when I brush his teeth. It's a bit of a fight.



And now for the new addition to our bathroom!







Aiden's potty. And reading materials. And Potty Elmo.




Aiden has been showing some interest in his bodily functions lately, so I thought it was time to introduce the potty. I'm not planning on really getting into the potty training just yet. I just wanted to get the toilet into Aiden's life, so he could grow accustomed to it's presence.




I bought the potty Sunday afternoon and set it up immediately. It's awesome. It has frogs on the seat, which Aiden loves. It also has a spot in the back (the green door is visible in the photo) to keep flushable wet wipes and a little bar pulls out of the side where you can hang a roll of toilet paper. That part makes me chuckle.




Aiden was interested in it, but only to drive his cars all over it. I told him no toys on the potty, since it is going to be less than sterile sometime in the future. He wants to check out the toilet, but he seems a little shy about it. I asked him if he wanted to sit on it, but he said no. After it had been set up for an hour, and I was in the other room, Aiden finally opened the lid and sat down. I ran into the bathroom clapping and cheering him on. He gave me a shy smile, but after he got off, he didn't want to get back on.




I'm just going to leave it there for now. Hopefully he'll start sitting on it more frequently and then we can broach the idea of pulling down the pants. Ha!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Toy Story 3 on Ice




That's right. You read that. Buzz Lightyear and Woody on ice skates. Funniest concept ever. Last Thursday, our friend Jacen (whose house we stayed at during Ike) called to announce that his girlfriend Marina now had two extra tickets to see Toy Story 3 on ice because he had been called out on a flight. Marina's nephew no longer wanted to go since Jacen wouldn't be there. I'm so happy they thought of us because Aiden LOVED IT.




I was a little worried about how things would go since I had to wake Aiden up from his nap early so we could get there on time. He did really well until the last 10 minutes of the drive into Houston (it was held at the same place as the Houston Rodeo and the Texas Bowl this year). Thankfully he calmed down as soon as we got out of the bus. And by bus, I mean Marina's brand new Nissan Armada. That thing is a MONSTER. It seems like it should be required to have a special license to drive a vehicle so large.



I digress... When we plopped into our seats 15 minutes before the show was set to start we decided to get some grub. Since the girls (Marina, Marina's niece, Marina's niece's friend and Marina's niece's friend's mom - got it?) had to go to the bathroom, Aiden and I kept watch over our gear while they went to get us refreshments. Even before the show started, Aiden was in awe. He sat in his seat and just soaked it all in. The high ceilings, the far wall, all the people, all the people holding souvenirs with BUZZ ON THEM. Oh sheesh. He kept trying to grab the woman's slushy in the seat behind him because the cup was a giant Buzz head. It sort of looked like she was eating his brains out of the top of his head because it was a red slushy.



When the show started, Aiden just stared, open-mouthed. When Mickey Mouse came out (he gave an intro to the show), Aiden started screaming, "Kickey! Kickey!" and pointed at the giant mouse on skates. Then it was back to open mouthed staring while the toy soldiers came out and did their bit. But the second the main Toy Story characters came out, he was back to screaming names. After about 20 minutes, he caught on that you are supposed to clap and holler at the end of each scene.


Beautiful Marina and her niece Arian




The show itself was so funny. Between the giant characters skating around and Aiden's reaction, I was crying because I kept laughing so hard.





Barbie and Ken were the only male-female duo, so they had quite a few routines together. Ken had a plastic "wig" on and Barbie's hair was HUGE. Her skates looked like pink heels and when Ken skated he "walked" just like the character in the movie. Even his legs were a little shiny, like they were made of plastic.



Seriously, look at how ridiculous this is.



Despite Buzz's ability to do flips, I was most impressed with Ham (the piggy bank). I am almost completely certain that there was one person in that thing, skating on hands AND feet. Every once in a while, he would do a wheelie (for lack of a better term) that would be impossible if there were two people inside. I'm pretty sure there were two people inside Slink (the dog) and Bullseye (the horse). Ice skating is hard. I can only imagine what it's like with a giant potato costume on.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Yard Renovations


Travis and I have been making an effort to bring the plants in our yard back to life. So far, I have relied heavily on rain to support our plants. As it turns out (prepare yourself for a duh-statement), watering plants makes them happy. In the same vein, over watering your plants does not make them happy. I lost an oleander that way last year.


So far our garden is growing happily. I planted the last few rows yesterday with various types of peppers. And remember the pampas grass? It's growing at least an inch a day. Here it is after 8 days after being chopped down:
Last year for our anniversary, I gave Travis a Canna Lily. It was our fourth anniversary and the traditional gift is flowers. Well, I gave him the gift that keeps on giving! Sort of. It did well for a while, but then it seemed to slowly die off. Finally, this year when we had a couple nights that dipped below freezing, the plant disappeared completely. Travis was freaked that it wouldn't come back. I was a little worried, but I have seen Cannas bloom all over the island with little to no care. I had hope. And it looks like I was rightly so!
We were unable to sell the house last year as planned and we came to the decision that we would wait a few more years before selling. Since we will be here for a while, we'd like to do some stuff around the house because WE want it, not just because it will increase the value of the house. Because of this, Travis and I are planning to do some renovations to our yard. A few weeks ago, we became resolute in building a patio this spring.


I voiced these plans to my father, an architect, who quickly made bigger plans for us. He offered to build a privacy wall if we were willing to expand the fence into our front yard. I talked it over with Travis and he was totally on board. My dad has a drawing program that will prepare a 3D rendering of your drawing. He took this screen shot of our house with the new stucco wall in front:



I know it's a little difficult to see (bad quality, white house/white wall, etc). We are going to extend the wall in front of our house so we can have more fenced in yard for Aiden to play in. We plan to butt the patio into the corner made by the new wall and our driveway. It is going to be a huge project and therefore a lot of work, but I am ECSTATIC.


We have spent the past couple weeks trying to figure out what we'd like to do for the patio. Originally, I was hoping to use reclaimed brick from Galveston Island. Even though the price per brick was much better than if we bought brand-new, it was still too pricey. And we'd still have to knock the mortar off each brick before we used them. That's a lot of work for such a high price tag. We bounced around the idea of using free bricks Travis could get from friends at work. The problem was those were leftovers, so there wouldn't be enough to do the entire patio. We finally settled on these stones from Home Depot:



The best part is that they are currently sitting on a pallet that a forklift can lift right into the trailer. If we did any of the other options (reclaimed or leftover bricks), we would have to carry them by hand to the truck. No bueno.


My dad is planning to come down in May to help build the wall. Travis doesn't have any experience building textured walls, so he appreciates the help. Travis is planning to hard wire some lights into the wall. Then he can put his grill over there and have easy lighting. I sincerely hope this project turns out as amazing as it is in my head!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Girls Night Out

I made an attempt every day this weekend to get together with Ariel. Sadly, it never worked out because of her job. I finally realized that it would be nice of me to find time on her weekend to hang out. She usually has Sunday through Tuesday off, so I asked her to hang out with me Monday night. Since Travis had such a full weekend out of the house, I asked him to take Aiden so I could hang out with Ariel distraction-free.

It has been ages since Ariel and I were able to hang out like this. Usually our conversations are interrupted by me having to tend Aiden, or Ariel having to tend to her house or dinner or work. It was so calm that I kept waiting for something outrageous to happen on it's own. Lucky for us that never happened!



I picked up Ariel after work and we headed over to Fish Tales for dinner. It's crawfish season, so we ordered a couple pounds, shrimp cocktail for an appetizer and a few drinks. Oh and Ariel got raw oysters. I do not see the appeal in those balls of slime, so that one was all Ariel. It was a warm, sunny day, so we sat on the second floor balcony that overlooks the Seawall. Our only distraction there was the deconstruction of the hotel across the street. It was a little noisy at times, but we took it in stride.


After dinner, we walked downstairs to get Blue Bell ice cream cones. We hopped in the car and drove a few blocks down to a bar I had never noticed, right on the Seawall. Ariel's friend bartends there, so we hung out for a few minutes and Ariel finished her cone. On the ride over, half my cone melted out the bottom and all over my car. We resorted to Ariel holding the cone out the window until I could park and walk around to grab it. It was such a catastrophe that I ended up throwing most of it away.


Once we'd both finished our drinks, we walked a few more blocks down to a tourist beach shop. We both are in need of some summer clothes, so we thought we'd check out the sales racks. There were a bunch of dresses I think I might go back for, but nothing to wear on a regular basis. Ariel said there was another shop across the street from her work that usually has great sales, so we drove there. I found a tank top and comfy shorts for a mere $8!



We threw our purchases in my car and walked over to a local biker bar. Just our luck - we were the only girls in the place. We got in some good conversation time, but eventually the guys got up the courage to start bugging us. We moved from the back patio to the front patio to help avoid more conversing with strangers, but of course there were more guys up there. By that point, it was about time for me to be heading home, so we left.


I was in bed by 11, but I was POOPED the whole next day. I was so tired I felt sick. I think that I had a really busy weekend, followed by a really busy Monday night and my body just couldn't handle it anymore. I have spent the past couple of nights attempting to make up for lost time.


I think last night was the first real sleep I've had in weeks. I actually had what I call the nervous-pees before bed. I am so tired of waking up at least every other night needing to use the bathroom. So much so, that last night, I got anxious just thinking about it. I got up three times in the course of 30 minutes to use the bathroom before bed. The good news? I think it helped!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sunday with the Yeager's

Sunday afternoon we brought dinner to the Yeager's. Linsey's mom stayed with them for a week after Kenley was born, so they spent the past weekend learning to function as a family unit. I know how stressful that was for me without a toddler already running around, so I wanted to easy their day with dinner (and leftovers for later).



I made a no-stuff pepper casserole that was DELICIOUS. I stowed away the recipe for pulling out again later. I actually got the original recipe in the mail from the local grocer, but lost it somehow between making my grocery list and making the casserole. I had to improvise a little, combining some recipes online. I'd have to say I thought it turned out pretty good!

For dessert, we had angel food cake with fresh-picked strawberries and Cool Whip. It was nice to catch up with Linsey and Zach while Aiden played with Luke. Travis hadn't met Kenley yet - it was cute to see him holding a little baby again. It sounds like there has been a little stress in transitioning Luke to brotherhood. Hopefully things will smooth out soon!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Strawberry Picking

This past weekend, we met the Ramby's at a place called Froberg's Farm to pick strawberries. It was so pretty and the boys really seemed to enjoy carrying their buckets and filling them with berries. You'll notice in the first photo that Aiden and Blair seem more interested in the mud than the pretty greenery surrounding them.







Aiden has recently shown a lot of interest in mass transportation. The second he hears a plane or train, he starts looking for the source. In this photo, Aiden is saying "Where'd it go?" in reference to the plane we could hear, but not find.



And this is normal, right?



Also located on the farm is a farmer's market. They have huge amounts of fresh produce, jams, pickles, nuts, fried pies and homemade candies. We bought two strawberry plants ($1 each) and some produce that we needed at the house. Apparently they have a resident cat. This cat was so tolerant of noise. He just kept smacking his tail as I tried to get his attention. I didn't know if he was friendly, so I didn't let Aiden actually pet the cat. Man did he want to though.


When we were done at the farm, we headed to a barbecue place down the street that Chris and Alexa said was amazing. We had passed it on our way to the farm and were already interested in checking it out. Turns out we got our chance sooner than later!


The Ramby's were right. It was awesome barbecue. I got a brisket sandwich and sweet potato fries. Travis got a brisket platter with beans, potato salad and cole slaw. I LOVE barbecue and I really love BBQ sauce in the south. It has a lot of vinegar in it, making it much more tangy than it's sweet northern counterpart. Yummo! There is a BBQ restaurant opening down the street from our house. I really hope it's good because it is conveniently located less than a mile from our front door.

Monday, April 11, 2011

HD LED TV

We changed our satellite arrangement this weekend. Of course, when I called to cancel they suckered me into another package. I have really enjoyed having the DVR for Aiden's shows and the thought of losing that did make my skin crawl a little. We really minimize the amount of TV Aiden watches at home, since the daycare lets him watch it so frequently (it kills me). But I have to say those television shows can be pretty convenient when I need Aiden entertained for a few minutes in the morning while I get ready, or in the evening when I need to make dinner. It's sad, but it's the truth. All I can say, is I don't do it every day.


The other draw into keeping satellite is that we've been with DirecTV for two years, which means we qualify for some things for free. (I remember signing the contract when I was pregnant with Aiden.) When we bought our HD TV, we tried to switch our satellite dish to HD. They were going to charge $300 and we just weren't willing to pay that. But now they are offering it for free!


I took them up on that offer and downgraded to the lowest family package. So now we're paying half of what we were before, but still getting the kids channels we use the most. In addition to that, we have six months of Starz and Encore for free. Since we still have the DVR, I have started recording movies. BEST OF BOTH WORLDS!


We'll probably upgrade again in the fall when football season comes around. I'm sure Travis will want to have that at his fingertips, especially now that we have HD. We've had several complaints that watching our TV makes people nauseous because the clarity of the LED is so amazing. I can only imagine what people will think now that we're actually getting HD channels! LOL!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Working on the yard

Travis and I have been slaving away on this raised garden dealy. It took Travis three trips in his truck to get the garden all filled up. The bottom third is rock, then a layer of mulched leaves to prevent the soil from quickly falling through the rocks, then two layers of dirt. The top layer has compost mixed in. For some reason, Travis did not want to use our compost yet. It's all degraded and ready to go, but he wanted to save it to mix in the soil for fertilizer later.

Here's how we did it:


Travis stood in the truck bed (or trailer, as in this photo) and filled a bucket full of rock or dirt. Then he dumped it over the fence into the wheelbarrow, which I pushed up that plank and into the garden bed.


Here's the final product (minus the plants) and our full compost pile (to the right):

When Travis picked up the final load of dirt, he borrowed a trailer so he could also bring home half a ton of gravel. We've had a couple puddles forming in our driveway the past few years that needed filling in. Muscle man took care of that all on his own, without even getting a hernia. Now I feel super tall when I back out of the driveway and wait for cars to pass.


Tuesday evening we proceeded to plant all our seedlings. Like I said days ago, I know were are late in the season for this, but it's still worth a try. Hopefully they keep growing to produce veggies for us. We have lettuce, carrots, onions, cucumbers and lots of tomato plants. We also got some dill and cilantro from the Ramby's overflowing garden.


Also that evening, we took some time to cut down our pampas grass. We planted it in the summer of 2008 and it has exploded in growth since then. We knew it was supposed to be cut down every year, but we didn't do it for a while because we wanted to make sure the plant was established before we trimmed it back too much. After a year or so, we never trimmed it because we didn't know what time of year to do it.


Travis finally took the time to look up when this trimming should take place. Google said somewhere from the middle to late winter. Since are are past winter and working our way into spring, we know we are late (as we are with everything in our yard), but we went ahead and cut it to a foot tall anyway. As we were staring at the two forlorn reed stumps, I had a moment of fear that they wouldn't grow back. The following day, our neighbor voiced the same concern. The grass has already proven us wrong by growing three inches in just over two days.



I found out, soon after planting the grass, that the reeds cause a nasty sting when it brushes across skin. (On a quick internet search, I also just learned that it is deadly if swallowed. Note to self...) I wore long sleeves, pants and gloves to tackle this task, but Travis only wore a t-shirt. Of course, I got a lash across the face because it was the only uncovered patch of skin. Travis' arms were covered with angry red lines by the time we headed inside.