Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ohio Trip 2009 Concludes with a Grin

Well, our Ohio trip is quickly coming to a close. It's been wonderful. I realized toward the end that because we have a slower schedule here, I've realized how tired I am. As such, I have been able to go to bed at a decent hour, sleep in a bit and take an occasional nap. Ahhh. I'll now return to Houston better rested and ready to conquer a 2-day work week.

Today, I helped PaPa Don remove the old pea vines, till the garden and plant some new vegetables. Little K helped pull up some of the old vines until she fell backward onto her rump. PaPa Don & I roared with laughter. Suddenly, Little K claimed that something bit her leg & she was going inside. I think something maybe bit her pride but that's about it. The rest of the gardening was quite a workout. After a shower, packing and an early lasagna dinner, we'll head to the Dayton airport to begin our return home to Houston. What a wonderful trip. Now I just need to make sure we don't hold off for a year before coming back.

Little K is negotiating her pay with PaPa Don now. It's somewhere between $100 and 40 cents. I'll bet she settles on the lower end of the spectrum. Better go help.

Happy flying. Until the next nap time...

City of Houston's July 4th Celebration

Looking for some fun for July 4th? Read this article for a good description of the City of Houston's fireworks party. It's the largest in the area but, boy, is it crowded. For more ideas on July 4th activities, read my July newsletter. Subscribe online in 2 minutes or less.

Until the next nap time...

Monday, June 29, 2009

More Updates from the Ohio Trip

Yesterday, we had another blast in Ohio with our family. After a quick trip to church, we played, I mean, worked in the garden by picking red potatoes, peas, cucumbers, garlic and (Little K's favorite) raspberries. All this was after filling ourselves with Grammy's famous biscuits & gravy. Who couldn't be successful after a breakfast like that? We topped it all off with those tasty raspberries right off the vine.

Around noon, it was roaring in the 80s and surprisingly hot. I realized how little we work outside during the day in Houston's summer. We headed inside for lunch and what I thought would be nap time. No dice. Little K in PaPa Don's automatic chair and curled up, but only to watch the boob tube. At least she relaxed some.
She later played the flute's that Grammy discovered in her stash and colored a bit. The flutes are proving to be quite entertaining. Little K plays the conductor while PaPa Don & I try to play the flutes to her instruction. It always ends in a comical disaster because we can't keep up with Little K's musical mastery!
Next up, we went to cousin Bentley's house and then to her parents' club pool from 4-6:45 pm. Little K did great at practicing her swimming. Those swim lessons are paying off. When Little K saw Bentley laying on the chaise, Little K decided she wanted to be like Bentley, the big girl. During the pool's adult swim, Little K and cousin Bentley had a few snacks poolside. Bathing beauties (see photo).
For dinner, we returned to Uncle Sean, Aunt Patty and Bentley's house for delicious barbeque. I was so pleased to see Little K and cousin Bentley (almost 9) playing together -- from chalk to catching lightning bugs back at their house. GoGo the yellow lab provided some exercise, too. With no nap on Sunday, Little K fell asleep in the car on the way home but slept soundly all night - in the bed beside me. It's the first time she's ever slept in the bed with me all night. It's nice.
On Monday, we helped PaPa Don pull up the pea vines and till the soil for the next batch of beans. Well, he did most of the work since a long nap was finally in order after lunch. Tonight, we'll eat dinner at 5 pm and then head to a local elementary school where they're showing several movies for families for only $4 each. I can't wait to see how it's done and bring back some good ideas for our own school. PaPa Don is tired from yard work and says he doesn't want to go on the Girls Night. I told him that was fine because "Girls rule. Boys drool." Little K agreed.
More updates from Ohio tomorrow but then our return trip to Houston in the evening. Until the next nap time...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I Eat the Peas. PaPa Don eats the Pods & more from Ohio

Not everyone gets to know their great-grandparents but Little K is different. On Friday, Little K and I flew from Houston to Dayton, Ohio, where we were greeted by PaPa Don & Grammy (my mom's parents).

Now I have to fill you in on the lead up to this trip. As a child, I'd visit Ohio once each summer to bake with Grammy and pick peas in PaPa Don's garden. PaPa Don even wrote a song about our pea-picking adventures that detailed how I ate the peas and he ate the pods. As I grew older, who ate the pods became a bit of a game.
Today, Little K continues by telling PaPa Don that he's stuck eating the pods because she eats the peas. Weeks before our "trip to Mecca", PaPa Don sent her a name tag. He said he hadn't seen Little K in SO LONG that he might not recognize her without the name tag. Artificial pea pods hung from the necklace-like name tag which read: "Hey, PaPa Don. It's me, Little K. I eat the pods." My whipper-snapper daughter quickly instructed me to edit the name tag so that it correctly read "... I eat the peas."
So yesterday, Little K ran to PaPa Don & Grammy, wearing her edited name tag AND a T-shirt that read in large pink letters: "I eat the peas. YOU eat the pods." PaPa Don's camera snapped photos quickly as his great-granddaughter sported her digs. Somehow, I don't think we'll forget the "gotcha" moment at the Dayton airport.

Before heading to PaPa Don & Grammy's house, we stopped by Aunt Kenny and Uncle Brad's house for a delicious chicken dinner. Cousin Lauren, called "the other kid" by Little K, was soon convinced to participate in drawing instructions led by the youngest family member. Interestingly, Lauren is no little kid. She graduated from undergrad at the University of Miami in Ohio in May and will work with children with ADD and ADHD in Cincinnati starting next Monday. Still, she must have been the next youngest attendant at the dinner party so Little K immediately took to her.
The teasing continues today. Uncle Sean made an appearance after riding his bike to PaPa Don & Grammy's house. P U! After Little K scarfed down all the raspberries by herself, we picked peas in the garden. She repeatedly scolded her mother for eating them, saying we needed to save them for inside. She clearly doesn't grasp the concept of finding the fattest pea pods and eating them before PaPa Don does. I, on the other hand, remain the master. We also picked more raspberries and a bright red tomato (for you Mom).
Next up, we began baking a chocolate cake that we later frosted into a 3D Barbie doll cake wearing a pink sun dress. Grammy & I shoved her into the freezer so her icing wouldn't melt. (It's in the 80s here today.) I joked that the two old bits got tired of the pretty princess with the skinny waistline so we SHOVED her in the freezer. It felt good.

A quick trip to an estate sale resulted in treasures for PaPa Don and a cross necklace for K. Who knew $1 necklace would bring so much joy?
Tonight, we'll have ham and stuffed mushrooms with the greater Ohio clan, followed by the dissection of a pink Barbie doll cake. If I don't gain 5 or more pounds this trip, I'll be floored. But the memories are sure to last a lifetime. If only everyone was as blessed as we are.
Until the next nap time...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I Can't Thank You Enough

Our Father's Day was really nice. We spent most of the day in Galveston with my in-laws, honoring Popi as well as my husband Trent, Little K's Daddy. Sunday evening, Trent ran to the grocery while I started the laundry. Luckily for me, my parents stopped by so Little K and I could spend a little time with my dad, PaPa, on Father's Day, too.

Sunday evening before dinner, Little K & I gave Trent his presents. After opening the first one (a selection of spices for grilling from Penzey's Spice), Trent said: "I can't thank you enough."

Little K questioned him on why he could NOT thank her enough, so Trent explained the expression. Then, he opened his next present (a coffee mug with photos of us decorating the sides). "Oh, thank you Little K and Mommy," he said. "I love it."

"I can't 'your welcome' you enough," Little K said. How precious.

Hope your Father's Day was great. Until the next nap time...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Economy puts a damper on summer camp enrollment"

There's an interesting article in the Houston Chronicle titled "Economy puts a damper on summer camp enrollment". In short, the article says that parents are postponing summer camp until they are positive they can afford it so there are more last-minute enrollments. Other parents are choosing cheaper alternatives (day camp versus over-nights, local camps versus international trips).

The article cites parents pulling money from their 401Ks to fund summer camp, which seems nightmare-ish to me since you pay hefty fines for pulling early from a 401K and that certainly depletes your savings. Little K is in year-round day care/nursery school until next year but I'm keenly aware of the needed options for affordable, quality summer camp.

How do you keep your kids busy during the summer without breaking the budget? Working parents need options during the day for sure. My book 100+ Activities for Houston Kids offers loads of fun activities but does not substitute for day care/summer camp. My guidebook suggests affordable activities for families outside work/school hours. So really, what are your plans for keeping your little ones occupied during work hours? Please post your ideas to the blog through comments. Thanks.

Until the next nap time...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Road Trip Weekend

Little K has made leaps and bounds at swimming lessons over the last two weeks. I think the ration of one teacher to 3 kids is wonderful. Plus, Little K listens better to an instructor versus a parent when in the water. She's so proud of herself, too. She's finally putting her face in the water (YEAH!) and yesterday she opened her eyes under water. This is a big deal for my 4-year-old. Plus, the instructor's backyard is an oasis and melts away my stress as I watch from the patio, the fan blowing a breeze across my face. Ahhh...
This weekend, we are heading to Sulphur Springs, TX. to visit my mother-in-law's sister and extended family. (Thanks to Karen at Pet Pals of Houston for house sitting and pet sitting all weekend!) While Little K met two of her Sulphur Springs cousins a few years ago, she barely remembers them. I'm excited for her to see the small town in east Texas where her grandmother, CiCi, grew up. Of course, getting to know her (now) three Sulphur Springs cousins is important. I've been amazed at how many people don't know their first cousins. Our family has been blessed to even know fourth cousins. Maintaining those relationships has provided such connection in my own life that I believe it's fundamental for my daughter. Enough of my soap box.
So small-town Sulphur Springs will host the Dairy Festival this weekend, which includes a parade, hot air balloon race and more. Since my mother-in-law was crowned the Dairy Festival Queen many moons ago (yes, everyone giggles. It's great!), we thought this would be an ideal time to visit. I can't wait to report back.
Hope you all have a great weekend whereever life takes you. Until the next nap time...

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Frightening Fuzzy's Pizza

Thought I should share this disturbing tale about Fuzzy's Pizza in Houston to keep parents and grandparents aware.

I am still at a loss for words over the verbal assault that took place last night, Monday June 1st, 2009, at the hands of the owner of Fuzzy's Pizza on Antoine Drive..all less than three feet from my 2 year old son who was in my arms. Even more amazing is what set this man off is the fact that he couldn't fill a to-go order completely.

I had my 2 year old son with me, we had paid and were waiting on the order. The buzzer went off and we went to the counter where the owner handed me one salad. I told him we had two salads and four slices of pizza. Frustrated at that point, he went back to the kitchen and returned with the pizza slices. I told him we were still missing one salad and he went irate. He screamed "I didn't take your order!" I told him he needed to calm down, that I was just trying to get what I ordered. At this point he began yelling "F--- You, I am the owner, F--- You". This was all about three feet from my son, whom I was holding. He then came around from behind the counter to get closer to me and my son, as he continued with the F--- You's, even with me saying "I have a baby here".

When I looked at my son, he was shaking and crying as he looked at this man still screaming at us, so I got him out of there.

Sadly, we live in a world where a father can't protect his son and put another man with these character traits in his place, as I would certainly be facing lawsuits if I had laid a hand on him. So my only move is too spread the word about this place and what other parents could be exposing their children to. My wife and I looked at restaurant reviews last night and sure enough these owners have made it common place to cuss and scream at patrons because of their own frustrations. It was always between two adults up until last night, when this man involved my 2 year old child.

My hope is that all who read this will (i) never go to Fuzzy's Pizza again, and (ii) forward this email to all you know. The only way to get back at this man who holds absolutely no concern for children is to hit him where it hurts, his business.

Thanks for taking time to read and if this infuriates you as it has me, please forward to other Houstonians. Several people have already informed me they will be sending personal letters to the restaurant to advise the owners they have become aware of this incident (feel free to use my name) and will never eat at Fuzzy's Pizza again. If you'd like to also send a letter, their address is:
Fuzzy's Pizza at 823 Antoine Drive Houston, Texas 77024
Thanks, David

Until the next nap time...

Double the Doctor Visits

Yesterday, we did double duty with doctors. First, we took Dutch, our puppy, to the vet to be neutered. Veterinarian Dr. Clint said he'd call me when Dutch was finished with the procedure and waking up. When my phone rang during a meeting just before 8:30 am, I was shocked -- well, terrified at what could be wrong. In fact, it took less than an hour for the neutering process and now Dutch is running about as if he just had a nap. Phew!

Yesterday afternoon, Little K had her 4 year old visit to the pediatrician. A full check up and FOUR SHOTS later, Little K was tearfully eating ice cream. What a day!

Until the next nap time...

Monday, June 01, 2009

Cheap Summer Movies in Houston

I love a good movie. While NetFlix is super convenient, there's just something to be said about a movie theater. Luckily, the MarquE on I10 will be hosting the Family Film Festival again this summer, which includes FREE G- and PG-rated movies at 10 am on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. It's a great treat for families looking for a way to escape the heat. See the image to the right for the movie line up based on date.

Not to be outdone, the new Studio Movie Grill at Town & Country (called City Centre) combines dinner & a movie. The seating is roomier than traditional theatre seats and a waiter/waitress brings a menu and food to your table.

Yesterday, our family went to see "UP" and really enjoyed it. My husband and I agree that we'll be hard pressed to go to a "regular" movie theatre again.
The movie "UP" was entertaining and wove in some positive messages (like don't wait until you have enough money to make your dreams come true. Do it now.) We saw the 3D version so we needed to wear the provided 3D glasses. Little K did not care for that so instead she watched the somewhat blurry show without the 3D glasses. Oh well.
One tip: make sure you grab your credit card at the end of the movie. My husband accidentally grabbed the receipt but not his credit card. Oops! Overall, you'll spend the same amount for admission here as a traditional movie. And the lunch/dinner prices are the same as most restaurants so why not combine the two? Just don't overorder like we did by ordering popcorn snacks AND lunch!

Studio Movie Grill will be featuring the "2009 Summer Movie Series" with $1 kids movies this summer at 11 am Monday - Thursday. Adult tickets are $2. If it's rainy or just too hot, this would be a cool way to have lunch and a movie. The summer line up is on the Web site or you can peak at the graphic posted here. Enjoy!
Until the next nap time...

Great Summer Opportunity for Kids under 15 Years

When I found out about this family-oriented and community-outreach program, I begged for the details. It's called the "Friends For Life Tuck-in Service" at Friends for Life (FFL) and is a cool way to help local animals without having to adopt another one.

This is a weekday 4:30-6 pm program in which young people under 15 and their families "tuck in" the FFL cats for the day including feeding, cleaning and even reading a story to the kitties. FFL has told the cats that they are about to have extended family and they are very excited! From a parents' perspective, this teaches kids the needed responsibilities of caring for pets, charting the tasks completed and even measurement when kids measure the food scoops.

Join Carol and Peggy at the Center on 19th Street in the Heights for the first training Tuesday, June 2, 2009 4:30- 6 pm here at the 19th Street Center at 246 W 19th. All training/tuck in sessions will be held in the same 4:30-6 pm time slot. Each family will receive a manual at training.

FFL will be doing several training evenings in the next few weeks. They want to make sure everyone has plenty of individual attention, so they are limiting each training session to two families at a time. After completing your initial training, FFL welcomes your participation in training new families in the program.

Please take a look at the scheduled training evenings below and email Peggy Clark (peggy@adoptfriends4life.org) to let them know which time slot works best for you and your family. Please also list a 2nd date option as a back-up alternative. They will contact you to confirm your tuck-in appointment.

Week 1:
Tues June 2
Wed June 3
Thurs June 4

Week 2:
Tues June 9
Wed June 10
Thurs June 11