Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Double Digits!

And time continues to fly by.  My sweet little baby girl turned 10 two days ago.  How is that even possible????  Craziness.  She's grown up so much and she is so funny and smart.  I can't stand how awesome she is.  She didn't have a party because, well, it's hard to do that when all of her close friends are in Fort Worth and not here in our new surroundings.  Lucky for her, we overcompensated. We surprised her on Sunday after church with a special present - a new American Girl doll named Maryellen and a matching dress.  After that, we took her (and the boys) to the American Girl store and bistro.  She loved it! And she loved the food (which is maybe more surprising!)

The boys, however, were less than thrilled.  George was especially put out, but warmed up after awhile.

The next day we had dinner after soccer practice at the local hibachi place and then we came home to open more presents!  Yes, we spoiled her pink!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

What's that smell?

It's the strangest sensation to walk my children to school and be taken back in time to the days when I was going to school here.  I feel like I've been transported in time like one of those movies - Peggy Sue Got Married or whatever other movie does that sort of thing.  The smell of the cut grass carried through the humid air and baking under the hot sun is the most peculiar yet distinct scent and it takes me back to days on the practice fields behind my school where I practiced drill team routines for hours, getting ready for the Friday night game.

I'll admit that high school isn't something I talk about a lot.  I mean, the people who talk about high school are promptly met with a badly sung rendition of "Glory Days" in most cases.  But, I'm not talking about high school, but more the undeniable scent of my hometown.  It's amazing.  I don't think I even knew it had a scent until I came back and smelled it.  Of course, I could do without the tinge of cow manure, but I guess it wouldn't be the same without it. And the farms are close. In fact, this is a picture of a "farm" just outside our neighborhood.

There's a Friday night football game this week at the high school Luke is going to attend, and I'm tempted to go and unleash a flood of memories.  What do you think? Should I do it?

I'll tell you that it will never be the same.  That old saying, "You can never go home" is absolutely correct.  Often times I look around this place and feel like I've been transported through time just like Back to the Future: Part II.  It's really weird.  I really am in 2015 and returning to my hometown in the future.  I'll say it again: It's really weird.  Luckily, my hometown isn't quite the mess that Hill Valley is in the movie, but there are new stores built up all over, and old, foundational stores and restaurants that are shut down.  I can't describe the sensation.

Just to add some color to this post, here we are walking home from school!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Oh the joys of parenthood! And I'm serious this time.

There are some moments of parenthood that you simply cannot possibly recreate and when they happen you will never ever forget them.  One such event happened this week and it was an absolutely precious doozy!

I had sent the kids up to bed and then Luke showed up downstairs.  I put on my mean-mom-face and asked, "What are you doing?"

He responded, "Uh, I was going to bed, but Evie is upstairs crying."

Of course, I asked why and he told me what had happened. Although I was skeptical, I went on up just to see for myself, and this is what I saw...

If you're a girl, I promise this has happened to you at some point in your life.  And if not, then please don't mention it and so the rest of all of us mortals won't feel bad about our inadequacies.  This definitely happened to me, but (embarrassingly) it happened after I was married but before I had kids.  I'm ashamed to admit that I was probably 20 years old when I tangled my hair up in a brush.  I've officially dubbed this incident the "Comb Catastrophe."  Pure awesomeness!

I convinced her (while I suppressed my laughter) that we should take a picture so that she could laugh about it afterward.  I'm not sure how I got her to agree to this through the tears and embarrassment, but she did, so I took that awesome picture.  Definitely winning Mother of the Year for this one! And then I spent the next ten minutes gently unwinding and untangling her hair from a pink comb.  I asked her why she had felt the need to comb her hair in bed when she was supposed to be sleeping.  Of course, she gave me a completely reasonable answer (one that I would have probably given when I was a kid) by just shrugging her shoulders and saying, "Because I wanted to."  She was patient and sweet.  And I was finally able to get her to stop crying when I explained that she should have come to me as soon as it got tangled so I could help her.  After all, this is my job as her mother.  I mean, really!  This is the shit I actually pictured myself doing when I thought about becoming a parent.  I'll admit there was a lot of stuff I would have never expected, but this was actually on my list for taking care of a little girl!  I also used this as a bigger teachable moment.  The point is that she has to be able to come to me with all of her problems even when they are embarrassing or when she thinks she's going to get in trouble.  I really emphasized this to her, jumping all the way into the future for examples such as when she wrecks the car, or she gets in trouble at school.  It was one of those parenting moments that felt like an after school special or a Punky Brewster episode.  It was awesome. And eventually, I freed all the hair from the comb and she looked like this.

And after some gentle brushing, all evidence of the Comb Catastrophe had disappeared.

She is awesome!  She has allowed me to fulfill one of my expectations of motherhood.  What a blessing she is.  Now let's hope she calls me when she gets arrested!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Tonight when I was tucking in my little angels/devils, the kids asked me to sing.  To be honest, I'm not a great singer, but I'm okay.  Chuck likes to make fun of my key changes, but whatever.  I can hold my own at church anyway. So I decided to tackle Somewhere Over the Rainbow with my mediocre voice and vocal range. Yeah, I'm awesome.

Anyway, this is totally not the point of this story so I'll get on with it. George wanted a different song (no surprise there).  I asked him what he wanted to hear and Evie had come into the room to listen too.  He said they heard a new song in music today.  He sang me a song about seesaws yesterday, so I was interested to hear today's song.  He mentioned a song called Sing, Sing, Sing and Evie got all excited because apparently she had heard it to.

She started to explain, "Mom!  It's called Sing, Sing, Sing and it's on YouTube."

George interrupted to say, "it's by Louis Prima."  Needless to say, my head whipped around to face him with shock in my eyes.

I asked incredulously, "You know who sings the song?!"

Evie piped in again, "He doesn't sing it; it's all instrumentals."  My head whipped back to her as my mind processed the fact that she had just used the word "instrumentals".  I mean, seriously, I'm really impressed.  Can't wait to meet this music teacher!

The kids suggested that I Google "Sing, Sing, Sing by Louis Prima" so that I could hear the song.  Of course, it was the second thing I did after they went to bed (first on the list was filling my empty wine glass).

So, here's what I found about Sing, Sing, Sing by Louis Prima!

Awake with Chickens

So, tonight is our first night in our new home.

It's weird.

Like, super duper weird.

G fell asleep first.

After warm milk, Evie fell asleep next.

Luke needed some lavender oil in addition to the warm milk, but it still took awhile for him to fall asleep.

I'm awake.  Dammit.

The pets are also awake.  Dammit.

And Chuck?  Yeah . . . definitely asleep.

The days are filled with unpacking boxes -- lots and lots of boxes.  At the end of each day my feet are killing me!  And I ordered some new tennis shoes last week, but I accidentally had them delivered to my old address.  Oops.  I guess I'll figure that out later today when the rest of the world is awake.

Until then, here's a pic of me at our new house.

And here is a picture of Luke at a new restaurant we discovered last weekend called Seasons Harvest Cafe.  It is literally out in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by cow pastures.  The family that runs it is totally granola, but I loved the food!  It was a bit weird when the chicken was wandering around our tables on the patio, and even weirder when the rooster chased down Luke and weirder still when I found George playing in the composite heap . . . seriously.  Still, I'd love to go back soon!  And I really love the genuine smile on Luke's face in this picture!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Dear Friend...

Remember my pen-pal in Alaska named Maxine?  Well, here's my letter to her (and to you!).

September 1, 2015

Dear Maxine,

Here I am writing this long-overdue letter to you from my mother’s home in Spring, Texas.  It may come as a surprise to you (mostly because I’m only just now telling you or because, like me, you never imagined that this could happen), but Chuck and I have relocated along with our three kids to Spring, Texas.  Did you gasp?  I did. Several times, in fact.  Isn’t it bizarre?  I have to admit that never in all my years of marriage did I ever foresee that we would live in Spring.  Of course, God has his own way of surprising us at every turn, so I don’t know why I’m continually taken aback by the twists and turns in life.

Of course, I guess you’re probably wondering what led us here.  Frankly, so am I, but when I think about it and tell people it all sounds quite reasonable and normal.  Nonetheless, it feels anything but normal in my shoes these days.  The process all began very late in the school year—maybe April or May.  Chuck was receiving calls from multiple headhunters and the opportunities just seemed to be falling in his lap.  It’s no secret that the last couple of years have been a bit rough and led to some drastic changes in our life plans and career plans.  Still, we were okay just chugging along in our Fort Worth home of over 10 years, but one opportunity was just too good to pass up.  So we took it!  Well, Chuck took it anyway. 

He was offered a position with a large bank to be in charge of something to do with all of their auto finance across the country (forgive me for my lack of specificity, but I still have no idea what he does on a day-to-day basis…it’s seriously above my head).  The catch was that bank's United States headquarters are located in Houston, Texas.  Specifically, near the Galleria if you know where that is.  Honestly, I’ve only been there a handful of times in my life and would have to get directions just to go have lunch with my husband!  Anyway, the bottom line is that he loves his new job.  It’s a huge culture change and very different from working in subprime auto finance as he had been for the last 15 years (although it can’t be too different since it’s obviously still auto finance overall).  Nonetheless, he’s embraced it and is quite complimentary of all his co-workers, which I think is lovely.  We are all very excited for him!

On the other hand, we all gave up quite a bit after 17 years of making Fort Worth our home.  I basically left all the social circles I had enjoyed over the years, including my friends from college, law school, the legal community, junior woman’s club, various charities, my book club, and all the kids’ schools.  In fact, some of our closest friends threw us the most amazing going-away party!  It was like saying goodbye to our family.

Moving wasn’t actually a difficult decision to make.  It was logical.  Chuck was offered a better job in a city where we would be closer to family and better able to provide for our family.  We would actually be selfish parents if we had turned down this amazing opportunity.  Lucky for us, things seemed to fall into place as soon as we made the decision.  Our house sold before it was really even on the market.  We found a house in Spring that fits our family perfectly and is in the right school district and is super close to my mother—the person our children adore and will feel most comfortable with.  And even though we aren’t quite in our house yet and school has started, my mother has generously invited us—all of us—into her home indefinitely. And just to be clear, “all of us” includes, my two dogs, two cats, two hermit crabs, one fish, three kids, one husband, and loads of suitcases and boxes that didn’t quite make it on the moving truck.  She’s a saint.  Period. Lucky for us, we move into our house today! 

At this point, we are still just waiting on our things to arrive and for some final finishing touches to be put on the house, but we are planning to sleep there tonight.  It really is quite beautiful.  I never imagined I would live in this neighborhood when I was growing up, so it’s kind of like achieving a childhood dream to live there.  Of course, I no longer look at everything with the eyes of an awed child anymore, so it’s different than I thought it would be in almost every way.  For example, when I was younger I never noticed how meticulous the landscaping was in this neighborhood.  As an adult, I’ve caught myself thinking, “How will I ever keep my yard looking as nice as all the neighbors??  How much does a landscaper cost?  How long will it take to mow this large yard with our tiny push-mower?”  I know it’s weird, but those are my thoughts.  So adult, right?  When did that happen?!

With all that said, we are loving the idea of having a “new” house.  The constant repairs and creaks in the 1942 Fort Worth house were no longer as quaint as I had perceived them to be ten years ago.  I’m ready for something that’s a little “newer” (as in built in 1993).  The windows in this house weren’t installed during World War II, and I’m very grateful for the advances in insulation, and an A/C system that wasn’t inefficiently retrofit into my house.  Plus, the kids each get their own room with a spare room available for guests.  We have a pool and a spa, a huge kitchen, and a three-car garage.  Huh.  I just realized how suburban I sound!  But, in all honesty, that’s what we have become—suburban. 

For years we rejected the Fort Worth suburbs, not because there is anything wrong with them, but rather because we loved being in the middle of everything—the zoo across the street, amazing museums and restaurants just minutes away, a well-established and award-winning elementary school in a tree-lined neighborhood, a hop skip and a jump from downtown, the art district, and the historic stockyards.  How could I possibly give all of that up? Not to mention all of our friends?


It was hard, and yet so easy at the same time.  It was the right decision for Chuck and our family, but we all miss it so much already.  We moved down here almost three weeks ago after we closed on our Fort Worth house.  We finally closed on our house in Spring last Monday—the same day the kids started school.  We are hoping to get settled this week.  The kids are ready for that, and so am I.  I’m hoping that once we are surrounded with our own junk, we will start to feel more at home and less like homeless vagabonds. 

I love that Chuck has so easily found a place at his new job, but the rest of us have to work a little harder to start a new life down here.  The kids all started at new schools—Luke in 6th and in middle school (gasp!), Evie and George in 4th and 1st respectively and attending a new elementary school just down the street from our new house.  We actually walk there!  They have already made friends, which is wonderful.  They are so resilient!

Now that we are here, I’m surrounded by all of my siblings.  (yes, they all live in some area in Houston, too)!  All five of them—Cathy, Joan, Mike, Mary, and Tom (and their respective spouses and children).  Oddly, I’ve seen or talked to all of them in the last few weeks.  It’s definitely a record since we aren’t in the midst of a major holiday.  At least there are positives to this move!

So, the real question is why haven’t I told you until now?

Well, I really don’t know.  Maybe I didn’t want it to be real. Maybe I thought it wouldn’t actually work out.  Maybe I’ve just been too busy to breathe.  Or maybe it’s a combination of all three and everything else in life that keeps us all busy running hither and thither.  But now you know.  Now it is real.  I live in Spring, Texas.  Again.  And in my sentimental moments I realize that I have returned home – where I grew up with my family, where I went to school, where my oldest friends live, where I lost my dad and healed my heart, where I planned my wedding to the love of my life, and funny enough, where I met you!  How could this be anything other than wonderful?!

All of that aside, I’m smart enough to recognize that my location in this state, this country, this planet, doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of my life.  The most important things and what defines my “home” are my husband and children—my family.  And how blessed am I to have them under the same roof with me—healthy and safe and loved?!

So, there it is.  That’s my crazy news, without all the crazy details of the move as it unfolded over the summer.  I probably should have recorded all the insanity that goes hand in hand with relocating a family of five, but between the whirlwind of activity and exhaustion, there was no way to accomplish such a feat. 

On the bright side, maybe I’ll remember to pick up a pen more often and send a letter.  And if I’m super lucky, maybe I’ll also remember to stamp the envelope and put it in the mail (truly the most difficult part for me – I can’t tell you how many letters I’ve written and never sent!).

In the mean time, I hope you are well and enjoyed the warmth of the summer! You are in my thoughts often and I’d love to hear how you are!

Much love always,