Sunday, November 30, 2008

End of Thanksgiving Weekend

Since Thanksgiving is all about family, food, and feeling thankful for both, here are a few photos of our day that hopefully express my gratitude for all that I have.

The day before Thanksgiving Jordan helped me make an apple pie. She also made banana bread all on her own from start to finish (I guess that job of mine can now pass down to her!).

Earlier that day, Jensen helped me make sugared pecans that we took to some of our friends and neighbors. Those are a traditionally southern thing that I now love. I didn't have my camera out that early in the morning so I missed the shot of her in her cute!

In goes the turkey on the big day itself.

The whole feast.

The boys that I love.

And the girls that I love too!

I've lost track of how many of these hand turkeys I've received over the years, but I love each and every one.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Day Before Thanksgiving

It's the day before the big feast and the girls and I have been cooking already. More info and photos when I post about Thanksgiving later in the weekend. First, an update since my last post.

Jordan had her first ever middle school orchestra concert. She is playing the violin. The concert was on Nov. 11th. School started on August 29th or something like that. We missed two weeks of school due to the hurricane. So that means that these kids have only been playing these instruments for two months. A concert? Really?

At the start of it, the orchestra director said to us that even if our kids go on to be in the high school orchestra and are playing mozart and beethoven, that no concert would be more beautiful than the one we would hear tonight. And I think she was right. These kids had never even seen these instruments before two months ago and here they were playing songs that we actually could recongnize. Now, granted, they were simple songs, but I recognized them. I was duly impressed.

At the end they did a funny thing. They had been playing Twinkle, Twinkle (like I said, simple songs) and one kid piped up and said that the song was so easy that they could play it hopping on one foot. And they did! Very cute. I wasn't prepared so I didn't have my camera ready, but I quickly took it out.

Next, another kid yelled out that the song was so simple they could play it with one hand tied behind their back. Half of the kids set down their instruments and used their bows to play a neighbor's instrument. Funny.

Lastly, someone called out that the song was so easy that they could play it in their sleep! All the kids in the orchestra laid down, all the while playing the song perfectly.

It was a fantastic ending to a really great performance! Jordan might continue on in orchestra and if she does I bet this is the concert that I will remember most.

Monday, November 10, 2008

So proud of this girl...

Jordan's last meet of the season was yesterday. She has worked incredibly hard for the past year and yesterday had her best competition yet. She received her highest scores ever in all four events and her highest all around score. Go Jojo!

Don't they look like they're ready to kick some butt?

Look at those legs!

I totally skipped over Halloween

The election kind of took over but we did celebrate Halloween and had a great time.

The elementary school kids had early release that day and got out at 11:30. I hosted a mom/kid get-together and rented a moonbouce. We had lunch, a drink or two, and watched the kids play. The weather was absolutely perfect. Everyone went home around 3:00 or 4:00 and by 6:00 we were at another neighbor's house for a cook-out before our two hours of trick or treating. It really was a fun night. I love when Halloween falls on a Friday!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

An Historical Day

Jim and I both voted early but I spent the day at an election anyway...the Shadow Forest Election. Over the past week students have made campaign posters, the 5th graders "registered" all the other students in the school and explained the process to them, all students have been talking about the candidates in their classes and today it was time to cast their votes. The school computer lab was turned into the polling location for this special event. I was even one of the "Election Officials." And better yet, I think both Jackson and Jensen voted for Barack Obama (it took a little persuading for Jackson but I was relentless...the kids in his class have a lot of influence...everyday he'd come home from school and I'd have to start all over with my speech).

Jackson carefully studying the ballot

Happy he made the right choice :-)

A little persuasion trying to go on here...the "official" helping Jensen asked her which picture she "liked better" (huh?). I had never even shown her pictures of the candidates, we had just discussed names. Jensen pointed to John McCain. I said, "Whoa, whoa, whoa! Jensen, who do you want to vote for?" She said, "Rock Obama." Good thing I was there.

The Shadow Forest election will go overwhelmingly to McCain. I'm hopeful the national election will have a different result. It'll be interesting watching the results come in tonight and in the morning we'll wake up to a new leader who will shape the future for these two.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Big Honkin' Update!

Here it is...everything that's been going on with us the past few months.

In the waning days of summer before school started, we made a last trip to the beach for the day. After the devastation in Galveston due to Hurrican Ike, I'm not sure when we'll be going back. I'm glad we had this last day...

Trying to keep Jackson busy those last few days before school started, we went out and got a Lego kit. I thought he would work on this over a couple of days, but instead he worked on it for several hours straight and finished it that same afternoon! I just love this picture of totally represents how he looked at the end of a great summer...tanned, bleached hair, happy.

The week before school started Jordan got braces put on. I took this "before" picture on the way to the orthodontist, but forgot to take an "after" picture. Eleven years old, getting braces, starting middle school, growing up...*sigh*

We celebrated Jim's 44th birthday by going out with a group of friends to a fun wine bar and then to dinner at Del Frisco's steak house.

Labor Day weekend we rented two boats on Lake Conroe with a few friends. This time we rented a pontoon boat, like we usually do, and a speed boat so the kids could go tubing. The kids had a blast!

Another competitive gymnastics season got under way. This is Jordan's whole team and her with her two best friends on the team, Jayda and Hannah, all looking cute in their rock star warm-ups!

So far we've had 3 meets with 3 more to go...Jordan is improving her scores with each meet. I continue to be so impressed with her attitude and work ethic...she has to work hard at gymnastics, it doesn't come easy...but she loves it and won't think of giving it up. She sacrifices a lot of social time to be in this sport and sometimes I wonder if she's making the right choice, but for now it's what she really wants to do so we let her do it.

Jensen has entered the world of soccer. The jury is still out on whether she likes it or not, but she sure is cute!

And there you have it.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Hurricane Ike

Wow! I can't believe it's been more than a month since I've posted here. Promise to do a little better but before I get to what's been going on since the start of school, I thought I'd post my hurricane update. Most people who read this blog will have already read about this in e-mail but I wanted to post it here also so I have a record of it.

Well, two weeks to the day after hurricane Ike hit Glaveston/Houston and points north, I can finally report that we are back on our feet and fully functional. It’s been a long two weeks. The storm itself was something that I don’t ever want to experience again. The kids and I will leave town next time if at all possible.

We lost power on Friday, Sept 12th about midnight and it did not come on again until this past Thursday, Sept. 25th…12 ½ days later! I don’t think anyone dreamed the power would be out that long but with 2 million people without power and the amount of damage there was I guess that’s just how long it takes. Since the power came back on Thursday I’ve been doing nothing but cleaning and doing laundry! You would not believe the amount of laundry after two weeks of not doing any. Luckily I had done every stitch of laundry the day before the storm so we had enough things to last us but it was starting to get pretty gross around here.

We were very lucky and didn’t sustain any damage to our house except for a small tree that got uprooted in the backyard. Three houses on our street had trees go through the roof and one house had a tree go through their fence. Here are a few pictures of some of the damage on our street.

Those first few days after the storm we lived with flashlights. We did have our gas cooktop that worked so we could cook and we had running water so we could wash dishes, etc. and shower. Two families on our street had generators and they let us put a few things in their fridge that they were keeping running but for the most part we salvaged what food we could to ice chests and ate the pricier cuts of meat people had in their freezers. I had gotten about 5 bags of ice the day before the storm but by the day after it was starting to melt and we needed to find more ice. Searching for ice became my main job in those first few days. This is southeast Houston and even though we had a cold front come through after the storm, temps were still in the mid 80s so ice did not last long. By Monday after the storm there was one grocery store up and running. I had to wait in line for about an hour to get into the store and they were rationing out ice to 5 bags per family. That was the story for the next few days… more stores opened up but they were mostly using generators for power and couldn’t keep things cold. When they got a delivery of ice it was gone almost immediately. I’d have to go to 5 or 6 different places to find one that had ice and then often they would only let you buy 2, 3 or maybe 5 bags if you were lucky. Whoever in the neighborhood went out for ice tried to get some for everyone or would call and tell us where they found ice. This went on for about a week for us. Our neighbor directly next door got a generator delivered from his company on about Tues or Wed and they let us run an extension cord from it. We could turn on a lamp (that was heaven!!) and power a fan but we couldn’t hook up a refrigerator.

After a week of no power Jim went out and bought a generator. I was never so happy for a purchase in my whole life! With the generator we were able to hook up a refrigerator and stop living out of coolers. We also hooked up a couple of lamps and another fan. I could actually run the vacuum once in a while and blow dry my hair!! Now instead of foraging for ice I had to make daily runs to the gas station for gas. It took about 8-10 gallons a day to keep the generator running. By this time, getting gas was not a problem but in the beginning people had to wait in lines for 2 or 3 hours to fill up cans for their generators. There were only a couple of gas stations that were open and had gas. Next time I’ll have to stock up on a few days’ worth of gas before a storm hits. Also on my hurricane preparedness list for next time is a window air conditioning unit and an HD antenna for the tv.

The kids have fared very well…two weeks off of school (not sure yet how they’re going to make that up), playing with their friends all day everyday and staying up late. They really didn’t complain about not having tv, computers or video games. It’s going to be hard to get back to our routine when school starts back up on Monday.

Once again, like after our fire, we were reminded how lucky we are to have friends and neighbors that care for and look out for each other. With no family near by to lean on, this is extremely important for us and we’re so grateful. Now, back to our regularly scheduled lives…

Monday, August 25, 2008

Another First Day of School

A kindergartner (gasp!) a fourth grader (gasp!) and a middle schooler (gasp, gasp!). Jackson's face tells his whole story...not excited to be going to school. Jordan looks pretty happy and actually did seem pretty excited about today. Jensen has kind of a pained expression on her face but in actuality she was very excited to be heading off to Shadow Forest. She has her fisher price camera in her hands and asked if she could take it to school today to take a few pictures. Of course!! Girl after my own heart. Here are a couple of her photos:

Here's Jackson with his new bike he just got yesterday:

A couple of classroom photos and Jensen's new teacher, Mrs. Clift:

This was the moment of the day that pained me the most. Dropping Jordan off at middle school. When I took Jackson and Jensen I got to walk them into the school, go into the classroom, meet their teachers, see the other kids in the class. With Jordan going to 6th grade you get none of that. You drive them up, drop them off, and say goodbye. I don't know all the kids in her classes anymore, I don't know her teachers. I don't love that, I have to say, but I have to come to grips with it.

At the end of the day, all the kids seemed to be okay. Jensen had a great day and really seemed to like being at Shadow Forest. She's already scheduled a play date for tomorrow!

Everything seemed to go well for Jordan too. She got to all her classes okay, sat with friends at lunch and made it through the crazy, free-for-all dismissal process that's so unlike the orderly, sane elementary school dismissal.

Jackson had his typical first day..."horrible" was his exact word when he got home today. But that's okay. I've come to realize that Jackson does not transition easily from summer to school. It's hard for him and takes a good couple of weeks to get in the groove. I feel comfortable, though, with his teacher and his class. I think he'll end up having a good year even though he completely disagrees right now!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A new use for SU paper

Last Thursday was registration day for Jordan at Riverwood Middle school along with about 300 other incoming 6th graders. We stood in various lines to get her schedule, put money in her lunch account, get her textbooks, purchase a planner and a t-shirt, and the most exciting thing of all...get her locker assignment.

With that many people there at once it was a little nutty but also exciting to see so many faces that we knew. We found Jordan's locker (an upper one which is a bonus) and practiced her combination. At RMS they sell "locker shelves" which are basically 6 pieces of raw wood cut to fit inside the locker to stack on top of each other to form two shelves. Our neighbor is an 8th grade teacher at RMS and had given Jordan a set of the shelves at the beginning of the summer. She informed us that most of the girls do something cute with the shelves--paint them, cover them in fabric, etc.--and most of the boys leave them plain. We were at a little bit of a loss as to what to do with Jordan's shelves over the summer so we did nothing.

That day at registration you should have seen the production of mom's strewn all over the hallway floors frantically trying to cutely cover their daughters' locker shelves. We saw everything from fabric to different colors of duct tape being wrapped around the shelves to scrapbook paper. BINGO! I have tons of scrapbook paper that doesn't get used for scrapbooking so that was the perfect solution for us.

I found out that all the frantic preparations weren't really necessary that day since the school would be open everyday until school started so we could go back anytime and organize her locker. That day we went home and picked out some paper from my stash that Jordan liked. I went and bought a roll of clear contact paper and then got busy. We got the shelves covered and the next day (after Jordan got her braces put on...that's another topic), when it was much calmer, went back to put the finishing touches on her locker and put her supplies in.

These pictures are likely to be the only ones you see of Jordan at school this year and she really didn't want me to take these but since there was not another soul around to see her mom being a geek I didn't leave her any choice.

Doesn't this place look huge??