Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.
Psalm 63:3

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Green Valley Ranch

Sweet Man's job brought him to a meeting here. I think of myself as a pretty adaptable soul. I may complain about my surroundings, but soon enough I will accept and maybe even appreciate them (see this, then this.) I'm not complaining about these surroundings. It has taken me approximately a day to feel like I am not going to be discovered and kicked out of this place - maybe a taste of heaven in more than a few ways. So, I'm truly appreciating my surroundings. Here's why:

I take my bath here:

I wear this as much as decency allows:

This is my view from the treadmill:

I read my book and Bible here (2 4 days in a row - hollar!): 

I walk here for a daily nosh:

And the spa...beyond luxury. Steam room, sauna, hot tub, shower goodies, slippers and pics, please. I didn't even have any treatments, but sitting in the lounge, munching on an orange and granola, reading a magazine...that was enough for me. Maybe a pedicure tomorrow...we'll see.

I don't have pics of the movie theater and outdoor shopping. And there is a huge casino here. I've never been to a casino - didn't know what I'd find. But I walk through one daily and have no desire to plug money into a machine or sit at a table. Interesting. 

My best friend love is here. Perfection. But I miss my babes and am anxious to squeeze them. Thank you, Mimi, Opa, Grandma, and Grandpa J for taking good care of them for us!!!! 

So, I'm not sure why God let me come here, but I am grateful He did.

Coming Home

I have looked forward being back in Ohio. I really looked forward to be back in our own house, sleeping in our own beds. This trip has held some unexpected surprises. 

Bug, Bean, and I arrived in Apple Valley Wednesday afternoon. Good plan - a little buffer time before the craziness of our busy weekend. Grandma and Grandpa J welcomed us into their cozy and spacious log cabin. After my last bit of the 20 hour drive, it took me a minute to see the beautiful new staircase they added to the loft where the grandkids will be sleeping. Sweet Daddy rolled in a few hours later. Just being in their house relaxes me - probably having extra adults to dote on my babes. Or the cups of coffee and the snow falling. I sat on the couch a lot. The next day, I sat on the couch until I moved and sat in the recliner - it was a busy day for me. There was even a bit of video-gaming for Momma which doesn't happen often. Being there was just what I needed.

After that bit of recovery, we headed to our house Friday morning. I was itching to get the van unpacked and we did so quickly. When we travel with Sweet Daddy, we have 3 big locker trunks full of stuff: one has books, one has art stuff, and one has household/kitchen stuff. Then we have luggage and bins with clothes, toys, etc. Most of it landed in a pile on the garage floor. Some was toted inside. Sweet Man had planned a day out with the boys so he was off. And the kids and I were kidnapping Mimi to go run errands in preparation for their birthday party on Saturday. 

After a very successful trip to Columbus, Bug, Bean and I went back to the house to relax and wait for Sweet Daddy. It was about 5 o'clock. About 7:30 we realized that the heat, which had been turned down during our travels, was not kicking on. Sweet Man diagnosed that something was wrong with the furnace. Brrr....we decided to have a slumber party in the living with our pull-out couches, electric blanket, and fireplace. We survived the night even though the inside temp dropped to 47 degrees. Needless to say I didn't sleep well. 

In our short stay, we had managed to pull random belongings from bins and trunks and strewn them all over the house. But we had a party to prepare. And ourselves to get clean. We managed to do it. 

The birthday party at the Works Museum was a success (thanks to  Sweet Sister-in-Law and Mimi) and we got to see many of the kids' friends and some of our family. I was exhausted after it and we needed a place to stay. We were all feeling sick, too. Sweet Daddy's sweet sister and brother-in-law offered to take us in, in spite of our coughs and vague flu-like symptoms. We got there and Bean and I catnapped on the couch at their house while the boys picked up pizza for dinner. I slept very well that night, with the aid of Nyquil.

It was good to be back in our home church for Sunday morning service and to see so many great friends. 

Time to gather up for the coming week. I realize now that had I known that our furnace was not working, I would never have gone to the house and certainly would not have unpacked anything. In preparation for our trip to Las Vegas (Sweet Man has a meeting and invited me to come along - yes, please) we had to pack up and clean the house for showings. The logistics of staying in our house, which has only furniture and none of our stuff, was too crazy. I didn't anticipate the stress of trying to find belongings and trying to pack them again. I need to be so much more organized. 

Figuring out what I needed from our boxes, from the store and what we could live without was difficult. And then packing for 5 categories - ugh - 1. going with the kids to grandparents' while we're in Vegas 2. going with us to Vegas 3. staying in the "on the road" stuff 4. going to storage in Apple Valley 5. the constant purge pile. And sorting, scrambling and cleaning in 45 degree temps - not fun. The kids were crying, I was yelling, we were all freezing. But we finished quickly and then off to Mimi's for chalupa - warm - and Opa let me build a fire in the fireplace - double warm - and the kids took naps in their new beds at Mimi's. 

That night, sweet sister and brother-in-law graciously took us in again for another good night's sleep. 

I am glad to be home for a little while - I may just not be in my own home. These days, we are depending on the kindness of family and they are certainly rising to the occasions. Thank you, all! 

(remember that Seinfeld episode when Kramer has lo-flow shower heads?...
looks like Bean's hair is another victim)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rest stop

I'm writing from a hotel room on the edge of Louisville, Kentucky. We are a mere four hours from Central Ohio - piece of cake drive tomorrow. Last night's stay at a Knights Inn was rough to say the least. Several lights didn't work, the fridge didn't work, the neighbors were rowdy, and I swear someone knocked on my door at 5:39am. Bean wanted to take a bath, but I determined that she was already much cleaner than the tub, so nope. This night, I will sleep. Well.

But I digress. 

I could probably start a new blog dedicated to the searching out and use of the public bathroom. Life on the road in unknown territory has developed this new keen gypsymomma sense.  I like to imagine myself, standing astride a bathroom entrance, feet firm and fists on hips as I scan (like the Terminator) for sink, soap/sanitizer, good lighting, and toilet paper (y'all know - one oversight is all it takes.) And I can quickly determine if Bean will be able to reach the sink by herself, have to be lifted on a knee, or need a hoist up onto the counter to wash her hands.

My growing-up Bug presents a new challenge. He has become annoyed by having to go into the women's room: partly because Bean sees the women's symbol and declares "this one is for the princesses!" and partly because older women still declare "look at the hair!" and tousle him. Yea, he's pretty much over going into the women's room. Which begs the question: when do I let him go into the men's room by himself? Not yet, I hope.

The worst is when we have found a fantastic playground, but alas, the restrooms are locked up for the season -b.u.m.m.e.r.

The best is discovering the "family" restrooms - aaaahhhhh - privacy....well, at least from strangers. 

So, we have found some rotten bathrooms and been pleasantly surprised by others. The following are the best from our recent travels:

Joe's Crab Shack, Kemah, TX: Clean with colorful, handmade wall mosaics of various sea creatures - the three of us had to peek into each stall to discover all the different ones

McDonald's Playland, Grenada, MS : restroom located in the playland area - so we don't have to scurry and get 2 pairs of shoes on to dash through the restaurant to restrooms when Bean shouts "Mo-om, I gotta go potty!"

Any SuperTarget, TX: They each have a shorter sink, lower soap dispenser, and towel roll for shorter people - no hoisting! They're usually very clean, too.

Space Center Houston, TX: small white tile, very clean, great lighting, very cool entry with oval shaped vestibule with flat wall in middle to shield ladies from outside eyes, plenty of stalls and the handiest stainless steel stepstools that fold out from under the sink for short ones. Leave it to NASA.

Memorial City Mall: Large, newly renovated, "family" restroom, all tile - the best part - one big potty and one cute little short potty

Sidenote: I have also discovered a new phenomenon in the south - charming rest area/visitor centers. Very different from the cement and stainless steel rest areas of the north - you know, the ones that make you gasp when you sit on the cold potty seat. 

The first one is in Beaumont, TX on I-10 East - brand new building, immaculate bathroom, volunteer staff who made up "goody bags" with water bottles, stickers and mints for Bug and Bean while we used the facilities, cup of coffee for me 

Another one we found is just inside Mississippi on the Louisiana state line on I-45. Think Cracker Barrel: rough-hewn log construction and fireplaces flanked with leather furniture, rocking chairs and too many tapestry throws and pillows. The staff again charmed my kids and offered them Sprites and chatted with me. 

Of course, the best potty trips are the ones escorted by Sweet Daddy or a grandparent.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Halfway Home

Well, that may be overstating it. The kids and I traveled 8.5 of the 20 hours today, leaving the palm trees and 60 degrees of Houston, driving through the bayous of Louisiana and down the red-earth shoulders of Mississippi highways. Grenada, MS is the stop for the night. Bug and Bean are road trip troopers, I must tell you. I just keep throwing snacks into the backseat and we stop for a break when I need one - they don't seem to need to stop as often as I. Of course, the DVD player and Leapsters help. Bug and I did play a partial round of Alphabet and he looked at several books as Bean dozed. Right now, we're at a McDonald's with a Playplace (sorry, J) which is a welcome sight for a momma who has strapped her children into seats for 9+ hours today. But I sit here on my buns in front of a piece of glass that helps me see the world - not much different than  the driving part of my day. Hope you are cozy and safe and have a warm bed awaiting you, too.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009



(That's a cyber-yell. Can you hear her?) And doesn't that just about sum it up?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Houston, we problem....

We went to the Space Center Houston for our Sunday-funday outing. But not until after we attended another fantastic church - Gateway Community - there's somethin' about these Texas churches: all large, but surprisingly organized, welcoming, fun for kiddos, and Spirit-filled. do they do that?

We are in the thick of NASA country. I didn't realize that fact until I started to pass cross streets named Gemini, Moon Rock, and NASA Parkway (that was a big clue.) I discovered that we could spit and hit "Rocket Park" and the Space Museum, so today was the day to visit - Sweet Daddy didn't want to miss it.

A-mazing - really - I can't get my head around how these scientists did simple things, like how do radio signals reach to the shuttles in orbit? Not to mention, how do they get those big things through our atmosphere and out there? and back? Seeing footage of astronauts tethered to the shuttles, but basically floating free in space - yikes!

The exhibits were awe-inspiring. The knowledge and technology that God has allowed man to develop is stunning. As a frequent small-space dweller, the efficient use of space was particularly inspiring - if you've ever seen the footage of the astronaut who runs the inner walls of a pod: he's running on storage cases mounted to the inside of the pod - suitcases, really. We walked through a replica of that pod. And they even gave props to the Russians in the space race. I was puzzled that the Challenger and Columbia tragedies were not specifically honored, but is it possible that we missed some exhibits? (fighting cynicism, here)

Lots of the information was over my head. There was a certain concentration of space geeks, speaking all manner of languages - so for kids, some of the exhibits were not so engaging. But they have the coolest playspace for kids. We spent oodles of time there.

And I have 2 more words for any of you who may travel this way, someday: Lupe Tortilla: good Mexican food. The one here in Clear Lake/Webster has a big sand area for the young'uns to play - fun, fun! Sunday-funday!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Some news

We're heading home for a little while. The kids and I will start the drive home on the Feb. 16th and try to arrive in Mt. Vernon on the 18th. We didn't think Sweet Daddy would be joining us, but he will! He'll fly home on the 18th too. After a couple days with his parents, we'll head south and be in Granville/Newark. Saturday we have a birthday party for the kids. Then Monday, Sweet Man and I are off to Las Vegas for a conference. He'll fly back to Houston for a couple of weeks....okay, I can tell your eyes are glazing over, so cut to the chase; too many contingencies ~ Bug, Bean, and I will not be coming back "Hooston" as far as we know. Which is kinda sad, because I really like Houston and know my way around, sort of, and have really settled into this hotel room. After a little break from traveling, we will be ready to go wherever the storms hit in April ~ that's the name of the game.

Of course, all of this could change in a moment....

Tonight, we are going to Chuck E. Cheese (ugh - don't think I've been there since 6th grade!) for Bug's birthday. But we'll be able to see you Ohio folks soon!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More Randomness

Total cop~out today. Those of us on Facebook  know these lists are rampant right now. Here's mine for you non~FB people.

P.S. Check out my new playlist. "Lucky" is a great Valentine's Day song; "Somebody More Like You" is not.  Oh, and "Wedding Dress" has some PG language.

My list of random things::
1. I am on the hunt for the perfect pair of cowboy boots

2. Healthy eating is a nice idea, but I can't walk past discounted baked goods - shocker - the day old rack - I don't always buy, but I always look

3. I have little tolerance for people who are not real with me - real, good or bad - but I struggle with being real myself

4. I am extremely grateful to my parents for teaching me to read, swim and read music - if I can help my children learn those things I'll be pleased 

5. Clutter is my enemy (not in others' houses - but my own)- I really appreciate surfaces free of stuff and rarely achieve it

6. I have had 5 perfect days in my life and plan on having more

7. I don't like snow, unless I'm watching it through a window as I sit next to a roaring fire

8. I'm a different person when I can see/hear/smell the ocean

9. My husband is the perfect man for me - he is unconditional love in the flesh

10. Good live music feeds my soul

11. I wish I were more freely creative - anything I make is usually a stolen idea

12. I must shave my legs everyday - not for you, for me (even on a backpacking trip, right, girls?) 

13. My childhood memories are few but mostly fond, especially summers at SVP

14. I was in a bad accident when I was young, but I was not severely injured

15. I want everyone to know/experience/believe the deep love of God

16. I am very thankful that God doesn't stop communicating with me, even though my default mode is to ignore Him

17. I am not religious - but I love the freedom of true worship of the One God

18. I love to read - but all the conditions have to be just right for me to finish something - uninterrupted quiet with a book that doesn't waste my time

19. Someday I would like to earn my pilot's license

20. I want to raise a dog and chickens 

21. More often than I should, I make grand proclamations about a change I want to make in my life, and usually I fall flat on my face

22. I miss my Granny and Gramps - they really loved me (and all my cousins) and I them - my good dreams take place in their house

23. I think my kids are enchanting, especially when they sleep - and no one else has to agree with me

24. Much to my husband's and my chagrin, I really like reality TV - that's as specific as I'm going to be

25. I don't like perfume or cologne, but LOVE the smell of clean clothes

26. Among my favorite things are clean sheets and new wiper blades

27. I have the tendency to speak the wrong thing at the wrong moment, but when I write, I feel more confident - I obsess and edit and tweak and if you ever read my blog, you'll notice I change old posts

28. My favorite beer is Belhaven Scottish Ale - I have approximately one a year

29. I don't mind blood but am no help whatsoever with foot injuries - I'll probably faint if I even hear about one

30. I fainted once listening to the story of a foot injury - it was when Amie Patin's little sister stepped on a needle - uuuuuhhhhhh, here I go 

31. I've lived in the south 3 times now, but there seems to be a big rubberband on my ankle snapping me back to Central Ohio

32. I am different than I was 2 years ago because of what God taught me through Celebrate Recovery. And I want to be different in 2 more years.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Random Sundayness

After much discussion, Sweet Man and I decided to try Houston First Baptist Church today, largely because I am a huge fan of Beth Moore and her Bible studies (see )and she is a member there. Just in case you're wondering, A Woman's Heart: God's Dwelling Place and Breaking Free are my favorites.  Anyway, SM agreed and the address was added to our GPS. We tried to make it to the 9:10 service but with a 39 min. drive between hotel and church, that was ambitious. By the time we closed the hotel room door, we would have been about 30 minutes late, with no wiggle room for traffic, getting lost, checking kids into preschool rooms, etc. We pulled away anyway and decided to go to breakfast close to the church - SM's idea - good thinkin', honey. 

Lovely meal was had by all at Denny's and we arrived in time for the 10:45 service. Kids were herded to their appropriate rooms, without so much as a look back at us. We chose a seat in the second tier of a big worship center as the music was starting. Within a verse, I was crying - which means it was good. Don't know why that's my barometer, but it is. During meet & greet, I noticed a slight woman in a cheetah print jacket with "biggish" strawberry blond hair, many rows ahead, but sort of right in front of us. "Maybe that's her, I thought. Nah, I only see her from the back, it's probably not." Hopefully, this isn't building too much suspense, because I didn't meet her or anything.  But at the end of the service she turned around and started speaking to someone and I saw it was definitely her. 

The service was great. A man named Dr. Tim McKenzie spoke a message called "And God Said: the Voice of Creation."  Pretty amazing. Kids were happy except that they did not get to play outside on the very appealing playground we saw on the way into the building. When asked how Sunday school went, Sam replied, "This is not a playing church." 

We headed home for a rest and as soon as I opened the room door, I knew something was amiss. Now, living in an extended stay hotel is a bit different. Some days the sweet ladies come through and "refresh" the room, some days, they clean everything and change linens, and some days we don't even see them. And being here only a week, I'm not sure what happens on any given day. So, all week, before we leave the room for the day, I clean up: make bed, fold blankets, put toys in bin, empty sink, clear off surfaces, etc., just in case they come through. I don't want them to have to clean around our stuff. This morning in the rush, I assured myself that it was Sunday and they wouldn't be working and so I just left the shrapnel of our morning and closed the door. Of course, they came today, argh...and cleaned around us. And it was pretty bad. Is there any difference between embarrassed and humbled, really? 

After resting, we headed to Kemah Boardwalk, which is north of Galveston. We had heard there was a play area at the Joe's Crab shack there and we wanted to let the kids run. There wasn't, but we discovered a really fun place. It's like a mini Coney Island (from what I've heard, 'cause I've never been to Coney Island) - visitors can just walk around or go on rides, play games, etc. We had dinner, drove mini-monster trucks, rode a train around the whole place and walked a little. We are savvy travelers and steered clear of the Dippin' Dots cart - so overrated. Kemah, like Galveston, sustained much storm damage from Ike and is in the process of rebuilding. We'll definitely go back and bring anyone who wants to visit. Might be a good date destination, too - and we'll be having one of those Feb.14th - yea, baby. 

No Super Bowl for me - it's on, but I don't really care. I'm off to bed, y'all.

On the train in Kemah