Friday, July 29, 2011

Two People, One Story

We still haven't bought the car. They said the loan process needs to be accepted by our preferred credit union before they can agree to the terms of our counter offer. Travis has been driving the Mazda for a few days now in the event that he needs to return it. That means I've been driving his truck. Which gives me hives. That things is SOOOO tall. I couldn't tell you what's behind me. I have to do a lot of parallel parking in my day, so it's been a rough few days.

I'm too busy to write much, so I will leave you with this enchanting video titled "Splitscreen: A Love Story".

Splitscreen: A Love Story from JW Griffiths on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Here's the wall as of yesterday:

The white wall on the left is painted with primer. The gray wall on the right has been primed and covered with stucco. I'm bummed that we can't paint the stucco for a month, but we'll survive. There's lots to do still besides paint the wall.

This is going to be repetitive for my Facebook friends, but here you go anyway...

The car dealer we've been working with was not at the dealership last night. Without him, they accepted part of our counter-offer. They said we could take home the car we would like to buy if our dealer accepts the other portion of our counter-offer. Travis is going to call him today to see what he thinks. If all is well, then he's going to go ahead with buying it tonight.

2011 Mazda CX-7
Pearl exterior, black and tan interior

No turbo engine means less pick up at acceleration, but much better gas mileage (20/28 mpg!)

It looks like our total payments (between the car note and insurance) will be an extra $20/month. BUT. We only have to put $500 down (instead of $700 for four new tires on the Murano) and we should pay off enough in 3 years to get a new car IF we want to. I love this car so much more than the 2008 Black Cherry version. I love that there is no way it has been in any car accidents. I love that everything is new and fully functional - no stains, no smells, no scratches, no dents. Oh and it has tinted windows and a nicer sound system. Both were items Travis was going to request in the 2008.

I've got my fingers crossed for tonight. That said, I won't cry myself to sleep if we don't get it. Although I have a good feeling we'll get it for what we want. Ugh, I hate buying a new car!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

On the Fence

As of right now, I still don't know if we are going to get that Mazda. Although, we should know by tonight. Travis went up to talk money last night and we weren't too happy with their offers. They are offering $2000 less than the NADA recommends for a lower quality Murano. I am aware we've had some problems with the Murano in the past, but as far as I know, there's nothing currently wrong with it aside from the fact that it needs new tires. And those don't cost $2000.

We still have the Mazda, so Travis is taking it up there tonight with a counter-offer. If they don't accept, then we're going to decline. If that's the case, then we'll probably wait until we get our tax refund next year to put down on a new car. I'm in no hurry at this point, so it's not a big deal.

I really like the Mazda though. My biggest problem with their offer is that it would put us under for even longer. I like this car, but I would like a bigger vehicle in a few years. We wouldn't be able to get out of this car for 5 years and that's too long for me. If we wait until next year, then I might aim at getting the CX-9. It's pretty much identical to the CX-7, but it has third row seating.

My foot is doing much better today. There is only a bit of swelling right around the bite.

Things are moving fairly swiftly for me at work. I start in the new lab on Monday, but I will be coming back periodically to do work for my "old" boss, aka The Boss Man. I've been busy with training and getting signatures approving my training and that will continue for the next year probably. I'm only making the first steps now. I'm looking forward to a change of venue and daily tasks, but I will miss my old lab. I really get along with The Boss Man and I know how this lab works. The new boss seems really nice, so hopefully that lab will be just as awesome.

I keep meaning to take a photo of the wall progress, but I haven't yet. We need to buy a gallon of primer paint, which I am planning to get tonight. Travis has stucco up on about a third of the wall. I think he's getting pretty good at it!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Yeager Farm

Saturday afternoon, I hobbled over to the Yeager's house, along with my husband and son. Luke turned 2 on Friday, so they had a party to celebrate. Linsey went all out this year and arranged for a petting zoo to be set up in her backyard, along with a pony for rides. Aiden was not interested one bit in riding the horse. He did enjoy going in to see the animals in the petting zoo though. He especially enjoyed harassing the animals as they were carted off in their cages. We had to tell him more than once NOT to bang on those poor animals cages. UGH.

After food and fun, we headed into the AC for presents! The Ramby's were there:

Our friend Katie even came to take photos of the entire event with her new professional lens:

Alexey, Nadya and Kate came to see the fun as well:

All the kids watched on as Luke opened his loot. You can just barely see Luke in the middle of all the gifts. The girl standing to the left is Katie's daughter.

After seeing some of Luke's gifts, I want to head back to the store to get Aiden a couple of items. But then again, I don't want to spoil the kid TOO much. I mean, we barely have room to store the toys he already has!

We stuck around for a few minutes to help pick up some trash, but then we had to get to the dealership. I love getting a new car. I do not love talking with car dealers. I think I would have preferred to stay the rest of the night at the Yeager's!

Monday, July 25, 2011

We keep making changes...

Last Wednesday Travis was working on the wall again and I mowed the lawn. It has rained enough lately the grass decided it would start growing again, and our yard was much overdue for a trim. It has been neglected lately due to all the work on this wall. While mowing the lawn, I came across two fire ant hills. The first I didn't notice until I was coming back to pass it. That was about the time I felt the first bite. By the time I could dig under the tongue of my shoe to smash the little bugger, he got me again.

I used to have severe reactions to fire ant bites. I finally went to the doctor at one point and she said I have hypersensitivity to the bites, which means that my reaction gets stronger each time I get bit. Oh and there was nothing she could do to treat it. I just had to wait it out. But after I had Aiden, my allergy seemed to have gone away. Aiden turned 2 July first. Between the time I had Aiden and now, I have been bit by a fire ant three times. And I never had a severe reaction. Until this past week, that is.

The bite itself swelled into a welt that night. Thursday morning, after my walk into work, half my ankle had swollen and after my walk back to my car after work, the rest of my foot swelled up. Friday was the worst of it. It was so swollen that I couldn't put my foot flat on the ground. It felt like it would burst with the pressure of it. This is what it looked like Friday night (with a little petechial hemorrhaging around the bite):

Every day the swelling seems to go down a little more. It gets worse when I walk a lot or when I'm in the heat for too long. Today the top of my foot and ankle are still swollen, but at least I can pull my foot up now. I haven't been able to bend my ankle for four days! Oh and I can wear shoes again.

To top it all off, I misused some crutches on Friday and severely bruised my underarms. Who does that?! The muscles in my shoulders were so sore on Saturday and Sunday. So stupid.

Saturday afternoon during Aiden's nap, Travis started looking through AutoTrader. In case you don't know, that's a website for advertising vehicles for sale. We were planning to start looking for a replacement for the Murano in December, but there are several things that need to be done on the car. Since it would be annoying to drop $1500 into a car that we are planning to get rid of in a few months, we decided to look into getting a new car now. The four main points for us are lower payments, certified pre-owned, large trunk space and NO BLACK INTERIOR. We live in southeast Texas. What was I thinking purchasing an all black car?!

We had one car in mind when we went to the dealership, but we decided to look at a couple other cars. We looked at a Mazda CX-7, Ford Edge and Ford Explorer. The Mazda CX-7 won. We liked it better on the inside and it comes with some perks being a certified, pre-owned foreign car from that dealership. (Like free oil changes for life!) The problem was it was 8:30 at night and we had Aiden with us. He was delirious since it was 30 minutes after his bedtime. I told the dealer that we would come back Monday to deal with the financial side of things. That's when he offered to let us take it home for the weekend while they keep the Murano for appraisal.

I said sure! Why not?! So here it is:

Black cherry exterior, black and tan interior

Turbo charged 4 cylinder with AWD

Seats 5, large storage space, good gas mileage and in our price range!

While we were talking to the dealer Saturday night, we let Aiden roam free in the cars. It helped corral him so we could focus more on our conversation with the dealer. Now Aiden things the car is a jungle gym.

It doesn't have all the bells and whistles that the Murano has, but I need to let go of that. Lower payments = less fancy buttons and switches. It also has less leg room in the back seat, but after we get another car seat back there (maybe in the next year?) it won't really matter. We're hoping to get at least three years out of this car before we need to upgrade to a larger vehicle. By that point, we should have two loans paid off and will be able to afford a nicer SUV.

Auntie Ariel is coming up tonight to hang out with Aiden at home while we head to the dealership to talk money and do a little haggling. I think it will be a lot easier to negotiate a few items this time since it's not imperative that we get rid of the Murano today. We have eight months to find a good deal. Crossing my fingers that they don't figure out what a piece of crap that Murano really is.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lazy Time

I've been feeling a little drained from this whole flip-flop job situation, so I haven't been up for much. As of today, my salary is covered through August. Whenever September comes around, the highest bidder wins as far as I'm concerned. I really prefer to be in control of my life and this whole not-knowing-who-or-where-I'll-be-working-next-month thing is taking it's toll. Looks like it'll be another month of not knowing.

Due to my lack of enthusiasm at the moment, I spent a lot of time watching movies this weekend. Sunday, we left Aiden with the sitter and met Ariel and Robert for dinner at Chili's. After dinner we saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. I'm a huge Potter fan, so of course I recommend it.

Throughout the rest of the weekend, I watched movies when I had time. Those films include: Eat Pray Love, Prince of Persia and Did You Hear About The Morgans? I was not disappointed with a single one of them. So I guess I recommend them as well!

I watched a portion of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie with Aiden on Monday. He really liked it. I'm hoping this will be our segue into potty training. We have a pirates potty book and corresponding stickers. It would be nice if we could find some way to get him excited about this whole using the potty thing. He's such a stubborn kid. I have a feeling he will fight it all the way to the end. I still haven't pulled the potty back out of the closet, but he has finally started showing some of the signs that he's ready. SOME. He knows when he's got a poopy diaper. Sometimes he'll get me a clean diaper, the wipes and the baby powder. He doesn't claim to be very aware of peeing though.

Maybe I'll pull the potty out again in a couple weeks. We can decorate it with stickers and make a big deal out of it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Few Changes

My dad left Wednesday night after we had all gotten home from work. He wanted to drive through the night (less traffic, means better time) so he took a couple naps throughout the day to prepare himself. Ariel, Travis, Aiden and I all waved goodbye as he and Callaway drove off that evening. Aiden started screaming crying as soon as Callaway and Gpa climbed into the car. Callaway sat in the back seat and just stared at us with his tongue lolling out to the side. Travis was upset to see him go, so of course Ariel and I started crying as well. It was all very horrible. ON my birthday. Ugh.

We ordered pizza for dinner and tried to forget about it. In the long run, I know it will be good for us. Hell, it's good for me in the short run. Most of the times when I think about Callaway are the times I had to take care of him: feeding him, him waking me up first thing in the morning to be let out, him knocking Aiden over trying to get in the back door when we get home at night. I also think of him when I see his race tracks in the yard and the dog bombs he's left behind, or when I see the trellis he tore out from under the house, or when I see the crappy flower pots I'm using because he broke our nice ones.

I'm sure this all makes me sound like a complete asshat, but that's the relationship I had with Callaway. Travis is the one who had anything more than that and it makes me sad to think he won't have that. I do get a little sad when Aiden opens the door to the garage when we get home and yells for Callaway. Or when we drive away from the house, Aiden still says, "Bye, Callaway!" Oh that one breaks my heart the most.

I think Callaway will be better off with my dad. As much as Travis loved Callaway, he didn't have much time to spend with him. My dad works from home most days and when he has to go to a job site, he just takes Callaway with him. My brother his home from college for the summer, but when he goes back to school, my dad won't be alone now. He'll have Callaway to take care of, and that makes me feel so much better for the both of them.

The other big thing going on in my life at the moment is my job. My future changes every other day. One day I'm moving to another lab, the next day I'm going to take an administrative position. As of today, I'm staying with my current boss, but getting paid from a different group, meaning my work might change a little. The reason things have been changing so frequently is because everyone has to arrange for funding me, and sometimes it doesn't work out. With less than two weeks until my pay ceases, I am getting more and more anxious about my status. I have confidence that I will have a position here at UTMB come August 1. I just don't know where I'll be.

Travis has spent every other day working on the wall. Most days he doesn't need my help because he can do the stuff himself faster than he can tell me how to do it. I plan to help tonight though, since we'll be putting the plywood up on the other side of the wall. I can always hold up a board without being told how. Travis ran electrical through the wall so we can eventually put up lighting and outlets.

The wall looks great so far. I think our biggest test will be with the finishing touches. If we do a bad job putting on the stucco, then we'll have to stare at it for as long as we live in this house. I really hope this looks as amazing in real life as it does in my head!

Friday, July 15, 2011

I Wish I Were a Photographer

Someday I'd like to have a nice camera so I can take nice photos. But nice cameras are a pricey venture, especially when you start factoring in lenses and cases. Someday...

In the meantime, I will take photos with the camera I have. Sometimes I like to get a little artsy with my shots.

Galveston Railroad Museum foyer
(built in 1911)

The Strand

Shearn-Moody and 25th St.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Last Supper in Texas

Last weekend my dad said he wanted to have a patio party with Ariel and Robert so he could spend some time out there relaxing before he left. So Tuesday night, everyone got together and my dad cooked dinner. I loved having everyone together.

They're good people.

Because it was hot and there are a hundred flies the second you say the word "food", we ate dinner inside. But then we retired to the patio for dessert. I have a bunch of cookies leftover from Aiden's birthday, so I threw them on a plate to take outside.

When I got out there, Ariel had a surprise birthday cake and presents waiting for me! It was so strange to have that for ME. I haven't had a birthday party with gifts in YEARS. And it's been years since I had a party at all.

Even though it was five minutes until bedtime, we let Aiden have cake and cookies with us. He scarfed down that cake. It was impressive really.

Travis was so tired from being overworked lately. He fell asleep in his chair around 9:30.

The gifts were really fun. They wanted to focus on gifts we could use on the new patio. I got a table runner and a decorative placemat to set in the center of the table. They even found a BBQ condiment set that looks like mini Webbers. So cute! They also bought me a Christmas ornament. My dad has always looked for fun marine ornaments for my tree since I sort of have that theme going on. This year, I got a "Cat" fish.

How creepy is that?! LOL! It's totally going up on the tree though.

Happy birthday to me!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Aiden's Current Obsession: Trains

Sunday afternoon, we took a break from the wall to go see the Galveston Railroad Museum. They closed down after the hurricane to make repairs and only opened back up a few months ago. My dad went a couple times before the hurricane and he really wanted to take Aiden because of his current obsession with trains. I would really like to go back for the Harborside Train ride. They have this mini-version of a train that can drive on the road. It was in the 4th of July parade we saw last weekend. Aiden would LOVE it. I would also like to go back when we have more time. We only spent an hour there, but there was so much more to look at!

Inside the terminal, there are a bunch of life-size statues of people. They are all white, which gives a ghostly aura to the giant room.

Then there are the trains...

Aiden ran frantically from train to train. He was so excited he wanted to see all of them at once! We would be standing in one train and he would stick his head out the window and point to another train he wanted to go see. I'm not sure if he grasped the concept that we were actually INSIDE the trains he so badly wanted to see. Either way, he loved it. He seemed more interested in the steam engines than the passenger cars.

They have trains from many eras, so there is a lot to see. Some of them are like monstrous pieces of metal art and others would be at home in a Steven King movie.

"Allllll aboard!!!"

This crane car was built somewhere around 1914 if I recall correctly. I can't imagine living in a time when it was normal to work on a train like this. There are so many places to get injured that it gives me hives thinking about people being anywhere near these machines while they are running. I suppose thats the worrywort mom coming out in me.

This car was really cool. There were cloth seats below and giant pull-down half-circle beds above. It was probably a luxury in it's day.

This next one smelled like rotton green olives and belonged in a Steven King movie.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sort of like the Great Wall of China...

... this is the wall that never ends. I've lost track of what days we did what. But I do know the order. First we set the poles:

Then my dad and Travis built the concrete brick wall.

We have been working on this wall every single day since I can remember. Will it never end? It took them 24 hours of labor over the course of 3 days to complete the brick wall.

Right now, we can see just over this brick wall (see the following photo). But we are making it taller with wood from here. This portion of the wall, which will surround the grill, will be about 8' tall. There is a short portion of 5'-wall that will be on either side of this tall wall. The rest of it will only be about 4' tall. This tall brick wall will give Travis some privacy while he stands at the grill. We didn't want to do the entire wall really high because we still want to see the neighbor's trees and it would be nice to maintain a breeze within the yard. If we go too high, the wind won't be able to reach us.

I'm sure the preceding paragraph does not do our plan justice. I will post photos later so you can see what I mean.

After completing the brick wall, Travis started on the wooden, 4'-wall. He had it framed and half of it covered in plywood in one afternoon (Sunday).

We made a giant size Jenga game out of the post leftovers.

My dad has offered to take Callaway home with him. He knows how much all the animals have been stressing me out lately and I think he has secretely wanted another dog ever since his elderly dog passed a little over a year ago. Cody was a black lab mix who was about 30 pounds lighter than Callaway. I think that Callaway would be a good match for my dad. Callaway is needy and my dad needs someone to take care of now that all his kids are out of the house.

I am not sure if we will be sending Callaway home with my dad yet. Callaway is Travis' dog and he gets to make the decision. I know he doesn't want to give up his dog, but at the same time, we have had some serious issues with him lately and I've run out of ideas on how to handle it. We found out this weekend that our creepy neighbor two doors down has been shooting his pellet gun in his backyard. Callaway goes absolutely bezerk, inside or outside, when that gun starts going off. And I swear, Creeper goes out 20 times a day. Sometimes he just opens his back door and stands inside, with the gun hanging out the door, just to pop off a few rounds. I don't get it. It's annoying, but not illegal, so there is nothing we can do about it. We could go over as nice little neighbors, but I'm worried that will just make it worse.

This is probably why Callaway so frantically escaped his kennel a few weeks ago, and destroyed all the plants on my back porch, and escapes from the yard EVERY OTHER DAY. Last week he escaped from the yard and it took an hour of searching to find and catch him. My only other option would be to buy a metal frame kennel to keep Callaway in on the inside of the house. If we leave him loose in the house, he'll go nuts every time that guy shoots the gun. I feel bad for Callaway. I know there could always be something that might scare him, but right now this one is in our face.

My dad is planning to head back home Wednesday, which means Travis has until tonight to make his choice. This could be very sad...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Big Fish

Have you ever seen the movie Big Fish? Basically, it's this movie about a man who grew up listening to the grand stories of his father, only to grow up and believe himself foolish for ever believing him. Sometimes this is how I feel about my dad. I'm sure some of what he told me as a kid were exaggerations in an attempt to keep me from doing something I shouldn't be. And then there are stories like this one, that he stands by to this day...

Soon after graduating from college, my dad lived with five other roommates in a house. Every year the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus visit Champaign, Illinois. He said the circus performers always parked there "train" car between the railroad tracks and the power plant down the street from his house. One year, he got curious and decided to get a closer look at where these guys live. It was dark out, so he didn't notice the railroad tracks and quickly lost control of his Triumph Bonneville. He wasn't badly injured, but he was partially wedged under the fallen bike. Suddenly, he was lifted upright, along with is bike and then set right on his bike like a doll. He was confused and disoriented. As he looked around, he realized that the Strong Man from the circus show had righted him and his bike.

My dad thanked him and then the Strong Man invited him into their train car. Since that's what my dad was their to see, he said 'sure' and went in to meet the rest of the crew: the juggler, the clown, the acrobatic woman, etc. They hit it off and my dad quickly invited them over for dinner. They stayed up late into the night talking, but when he woke up the next morning they were all gone and there was a 4-foot, paper-mâché clown standing in the living room.

There was a note on the table thanking him for his hospitality and explaining the clown. They had previously been on tour in France and had taken this from the last venue they had been to. They said not to take off the necklace because there was a myth that if that pressed butterfly left the statue, it would come to life in the middle of the night.

I grew up with that clown sitting in the back corner of our TV room. Because it was there as long as I could remember, I never questioned it. Not until I was older, when my sister and I would get a little crazy in the house and knock it down, did the story of the necklace get told to us. Then when we told our friends about it, they would freak out and not go anywhere near it. Occasionally, we would knock the clown over and his head would get knocked off (my parents had to glue that thing back on hundreds of times) and the necklace followed behind. We would frantically try to get him back upright with his charm ON.

My dad later told me that one night after he had obtained the clown, his cat knocked over the clown in the middle of the night. The noise woke him up in his attic bedroom, but he didn't get out of bed to fix the clown. At that time, he had a terrarium with several lizards that he cared for. He said that night after the clown fell over, he dreamt about sword-fighting with these upright lizards that were larger than he. When he woke in the morning, all the lizards in the tank were dead.

After telling his roommates the story, they all admitted they'd had bad dreams as well. One dreamt he was dead, lying in his coffin during his wake. He watched as each of his friends and family members walked by his casket. Another dreamt about falling off a cliff to his death, and so on.

From then on, they made sure that charm remained around the neck of the clown.

What do you say? Fact or fiction?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Our Happy 4th

For the 4th of July, we went to a parade in the morning in Galveston. Aiden stood back for the first third of the parade, but then finally accepted that he should run to grab the candy like the kids around us. It was ridiculously hot, so we were happy to get back to Ariel's for lunch. We grabbed Subway on the way over and by that point Aiden was on the brink of a meltdown. Half a sandwich and 30 minutes later he was happy as a clam. Lucky for us, he went down for a nap fairly easily in his travel crib.

That afternoon, we had a few friends over to Ariel and Robert's and grilled some burgers. I brought Aiden's new tee ball set over. He and Elise had a great time practicing their swing. I was proud with how quickly Aiden honed his batting skills.

Elise and Aiden get along so well. It was great to have her there to help entertain Aiden. She's almost two years older than him, but she is slows down to keep Aiden's pace.

Jerry is fresh out of nursing school and he found a job in the ICU at a local hospital. He came by after his shift and showed off his fancy scrubs.

Michelle even came by. I brought leftover cupcakes from Aiden's birthday party to eat after dinner. I offered one to Michelle. She took one bite and goes, "Oh, is there banana in this?" I said yes and then quickly realized Oops! Michelle is allergic to bananas! She spit it out quickly and was fine. Thankfully she doesn't swell up and die from bananas.

We all wore beads from the parade and I brought over the red and blue leis from Aiden's party.

Aiden's bedtime is 8 pm. The fireworks were at 9:15, so that was a bit tricky. He did really well with it though. He didn't actually get cranky until he had to wake up the next morning before he was ready to get up.

We walked a few blocks down the street to Ariel's and plopped down in the sand to watch the fireworks. We were pretty far away, but I think that was a great way for Aiden to experience fireworks for the first time. They weren't all in our faces and booming in our chests. He didn't get scared at all and seemed to enjoy himself actually. As long as he could be by Elise, he was good.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sunday Funday...

The Sunday after Aiden's birthday party, we spent the entire day working on the wall (aside from the couple hours I had to run into work). Over the course of several hours, I dug one and a half post holes. Tuesday night, Travis did eight in two hours. I don't know why I even wasted my time trying.

After Aiden woke up from his nap, I threw on his swim trunks and let him loose in the yard. It was nice to have that redneck kiddie corral leftover from the party. See that orange construction fence in the background? It's hideous, but awesome for parents with small children. The good news is we won't need it anymore after we get the wall up.

Ariel even came over to help us in the afternoon. She took a break to chase Aiden around. It will be nice to have Auntie Ariel around as Aiden gets older. She is so great with sports and active fun. Perfect for a little boy!

Sooooo much concrete. While I was "digging the post holes", my dad and Travis dug a hole for the footing. A portion of the wall is going to be 8' tall, so we need to have a nice, strong foundation to keep it from topping on us while we sit on the patio.

The Ward's left their mark, although you'll only be able to see Aiden's hand print after we build the wall.

When they were done pouring the concrete, we called it a day. We snacked and relaxed for a bit before Aiden went to bed. Soon after that, Ariel, Travis and my dad left for Ariel's softball game. I stayed home and got stuff together in preparation for our 4th of July celebration. I fell into bed like a log around 11 o'clock. Apparently, everyone else got home soon after that and stayed up until 2 in the morning, chatting on the patio. It's funny how much use that patio is getting lately and we haven't even made it a private area yet!