Saturday, February 27, 2010

Farewell Buzzer Beater and Hello Dinger

The weather here in Central Texas has been absolutely gorgeous today! The kind of nice where you just keep looking up at the glorious blue sky and soaking in the warm sun on your face.

We started this morning off with Chip's final basketball game of the season. The Nets played an awesome game and Chip closed the season off with a game ending buzzer beater. We were lucky enough to catch it on video - check it out!


Now that is fun!

After the basketball game we hurried home to change into his baseball uniform for the first game of the new spring season. The whole family was pretty excited about getting back out to the baseball field and visiting our old friends and meeting some new ones. The kids were just as cute as ever and the first pitch couldn't come soon enough!

Chip hit the ball hard every time he was up to bat. He got out a couple of times on some nice plays by the first baseman, but eventually got the hit he was looking for. A hard hit ball to the fence in right center. He rounded all the bases before the ball even made it back to the infield! Nice hit Chip!

When he crosses home plate he always takes off his helmet as he is heading back to the dugout. Whenever he is lucky enough to cream the ball he always does his best to act all cool and collected like it is no big deal. Usually I make eye contact with him when he runs by and he gives me a huge grin like "Did you see that?" Today, when he hit the dugout I was waiting on him with my camera. Here is what he gave me.

Later in the game he played catcher. Would you look at how small that helmet is or how big his head is? It doesn't even remotely fit correctly.

During his stint as catcher he got in front of a bad pitch and it hit is face mask. Because it fit so terribly it cut his chin. He was sure to have me take a picture of his injury.

Harold has taken over as the team scorekeeper for his Dad and this was his official score keeping debut. Cardinals win 9 - 2. Great job Harry!

It was a really nice afternoon to be outside and a win to start the season was just a bonus!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Introduction to High School

Do you see the title of this blog? Do you hear me screaming like my hair is on fire?

What just happened here? When did I become the mother of a freshman in high school? Wasn't I just a freshman in high school myself? Oh, that was twenty nine years ago you say? Seriously, twenty nine years ago? Dang, if I wasn't feeling old already today that just did it for me.

High school has changed alot in 29 years. There are so many choices and decisions that need to be made in 8th grade just to get enrolled in high school. Keep in mind, that when I went to high school, you showed up, were thrilled with a top locker, tried to figure out who you had lunch with, took some classes and graduated. Surely it wasn't that easy, but I don't recall having to do anything much. I sure don't ever recall talking to a counselor. Had no idea what my class rank was. When I was in school they didn't have different levels of diplomas, either you graduated or you didn't. I miss those simpler times.

Here is a peek at some of the decisions that Harold is facing as a 13 year old:

First, he has to decide what kind of Diploma he wants to shoot for:

Magna Cum Laude Distinguished
Summa Cum Laude

The last two require advanced measures which means you have to score well on Advanced Placement tests, take a certain number of Dual Credit classes (High School/College Credit) or complete an original research project. Harold thinks Magna Cum Laude sounds about right. I say go for it!

Then he is given the opportunity as a freshman to enroll in one of three High School Academies. These are all at the local High School, but they are specialized programs geared toward educating kids with real life careers, specific job courses, exposure to endless possibilities.

There are three broad academies:

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Academy
International Business and Finance Academy
Professional Studies Academy

Under each of those Academies are a host of Strands that are more specific, like Architectural Design, Automotive Technology, Health Sciences, Government and Public Administration, Digital and Interactive Media, Law Enforcement, Computer Programming, Marketing and Information Technology.

On our high school campus we have a Culinary Arts Institute that the students run as a restaurant every Wednesday. They do the planning, buying, cooking, serving, books - the whole restaurant operation. On our campus they also have a full six bay automotive bay where kids learn to repair cars, work on engines, and whatever else happens in a regular car repair shop. Kinda cool stuff. We have an Open House thing on Monday where all the academies are putting on demonstrations and tours of the different facilities. We will be more confused than ever I am sure!

Thankfully, it is optional to pick an academy as a Freshman, but it will be mandatory when he registers for his Sophomore classes next year. Decisions, decisions.

During High School registration next month he has to turn in a 4-year plan that lays out all the classes he thinks he will take in each year of high school.

Once he decides on the classes, then he has to decide whether he wants to take regular on level classes or Pre-AP classes. Harold thinks he will take Pre-AP everything except Geometry. I say go for it! Heavy load but he is more than capable.

I have many friends who have kids in high school and apparently it is all going to fall into place and isn't nearly as complicated as it sounds. I am waiting for the dust to settle to see if that is true or not. Regardless, doesn't this sound a whole heck of a lot more like College than High School?

Makes me wonder what College is going to be like when Harold gets there. I am going to bury myself under a rock for four years and come out only to see that sweet boy walk across the stage and get whatever diploma they hand him. I don't want it to be so hard that he feels like he is in college at 14 years old. I still want him to have fun. Life is full of working and being responsible and deadlines and due dates. Put that off as long as you can is my train of thought!

Seriously, does this kid look ready for high school and a four year plan???

We have lots of decisions to make. If I appear to be in a drunken stupor for the next several weeks, just know it is completely intentional. A bottle of red wine may be the only thing standing between me and botching the future of my first born.

It is a lot of pressure!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Desperately Seeking Summer

I am desperate for an aimless afternoon strolling through the surf....

Lounging in the pool.

Loafing in the shade of a beach umbrella.




Beach Bodies.

Sand Castles.

Night fishing.

Skim Boarding.


Boogie Boarding.



Filling up a bucket.

Mornings on the balcony with the ones you love.

It doesn't get any better than a summer vacation at the beach. Can't wait till I can hear the waves crashing, the sand between my toes and the sun on my back. I am over winter. Can you tell?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bob Chronicles - Fourth in a Series

If you know what this crazy contraption is, you probably have one of these in your bedroom. Not the funny looking man with a crazy mask – just the crazy mask that goes along with a breathing machine for Sleep Apnea. This Bob Chronicle is a recap from a Sleep Apnea test that my Dad took a few months ago. He sent out an email of his experience and I will just give it to you straight from the horse’s mouth. Consider this a guest appearance by the man himself:

Sleep Apnea Clinic - The Procedure

I reported in at 8:30 PM as directed by my physician and was escorted to my private room by Dustin, a hospital Sleep Technician. Dustin explained the process of my overnight stay and what would be taking place in the next couple of hours. Basically he told me to get into my sleep wear, which I was wearing when I came in (shorts and tee-shirt). That was probably the easiest part of the whole night. After a short pause in activity he came back in and started placing wires all over my body. I believe there were ten attached to my head, two on my heart area and two on both legs. That was not all of course. Next he connected an oxygen clip on my finger, an air hose in both nostrils and some other sampling device also in my nostrils. Of course all these wires, hoses and clamps had to be taped down to insure they didn't get loose as I tried to sleep. After everything was connected, which took about 45 minutes I told him I had to pee. He didn't appear too happy with this but he should have asked before setting up bundles of wires up all over my body. Actually, it wasn't too big a deal to disconnect the wires, tubes, etc at the computer end of the bundles. Once that was done I got up and dragged all my stuff to the bathroom. I looked like a blown up robot with parts hanging all over the place. The next dilemma was making sure as I went to the bathroom that I didn't pee on the cables as I thought that could cause some electrical damage to some parts of my body. OUCH!

After a brief stint in the bathroom, Dustin re-attached all the stuff, turned off the lights and wished me happy dreams. I can't tell you how difficult it is to sleep with all the wires, tubes and etc but it took me at least an hour to get to some form of sleep. This is opposed to the 2 to 3 minutes it normally takes. After about 3 hours, say around 2 AM, I had to go pee again and that puzzled me since I hadn't had ANY liquid since supper, around 5:30. Not sure where all the liquid was coming from. So Dustin trotted back in and did the same disconnecting procedure as before. This time of course I had to be very careful in the bathroom as I was partially asleep and didn't need any shocks traveling through my body. I made it out unscathed.

It took another hour or so to fall back asleep but I did. The next thing I know Dustin was waking me up at 6:00 a.m. to start my out processing. He said he didn't think I had a bad case of Sleep Apnea but the doctor would contact me this week sometime. The bad news is he thought for sure I would have to have another test next Sunday evening. At least this time I will know how things are done, which will eliminate some of the anxiety I had going into this test. I will get you the final results after I get them from the Sleep Doctor.

I did learn one thing and that is not to drink ANY liquids at least 3 DAYS prior to the next test.

Post Script – Bob went back for the follow up test and was in fact diagnosed with a mild case of Sleep Apnea. Now he wears this contraption all over the dang place! Not really, but we sure had a good time staging all these shots on his last visit to Texas.

Here is the really funny thing….at night, when he has to pee, in his own home…he leaves the mask on and just pulls the tube from the machine. Easier for him than taking the straps and mask off. Trouble is, sometimes he catches a glimpse of himself in the bathroom mirror in the wee hours of the night and almost gives himself a heart attack. That is not a friendly site to see in dim light when you are a little groggy and sleepy.

Bob does a great job of documenting his trips to the doctor for the rest of the family. He is somewhat of an expert on the Colonoscopy Procedure and I have laughed until I cried with some of his prep instructions and how-to tips. If you were ever nervous or wondered what to expect from a Colonoscopy, stay tuned, there is much more to share!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

SNOW Day in Texas

Snowing, snowing, snowing, big, beautiful flakes...

A winter wonderland...

Picked them up early so they could play in the snow.

Not much snow on the street, but if you work together with your brother you can figure out a way to gather enough snow to play with. This method involves coolers, buckets of all shapes and sizes, spatulas and spoons. They scraped every flake of snow off of the car.

They got out the ladder so they could reach the top of the car.

Scraped the top of the garbage can. Definitely not for snow cream!

Little Chip doing the Dance of the Snow Spatula. It is an artistic display of joy devoted to the sweet, sweet magic of snow on the ground and no school. Really a sight to behold.

Catching some big snowflakes.

I got one.
This is way more fun than Algebra.

You better believe it!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Coming up Short

Wrapping up the weekend! Today was a good day. The weather was spectacular which always just puts a nice spin on a day! I got a couple of things done that needed to get done. First, I spent a lot of time marking items to sell in my 3 Day 60 Mile yard sale that is going to be held in a couple of weeks. It is something that I have needed to get to and today I finally took the time to do it. I also tackled that mountain of laundry I blogged about this morning! I got it all washed and dried, but didn't get it all put away. I got some of it put away, but that is not good enough. That means I wouldn't have even been the running for a medal in the Laundry Olympics. I trained really hard, I thought I was ready, but today I just fell short.

Speaking of falling short - Harold also wrapped up his flag football season this afternoon. The Cowboys lost in the first game of the playoffs. It was a tough one.

Doesn't he look intense in this picture?

And here he just looks cute. Harold, sorry for having to take another lesson from the school of hard knocks kid. One of these days....

Speaking about the school of hard knocks. Do you know who this arm belongs to?

It is Chip's best friend in the whole entire world - CV. We sometimes call him Poot, but I didn't want you to get the wrong impression about him, so we will just call him CV. Anyway, CV was hit in the elbow at baseball practice yesterday and chipped a bone in his elbow. May have also done some tendon damage, but won't know for sure until he sees and Orthopedic Surgeon next week.

He was very brave yesterday and all smiles today! He saw me coming with my camera and said to Chip "Oh no, its the camera". I am getting a bit of a reputation. He was still all smiles posing with his new injury so I got what I wanted!

Is there a life lesson to be learned from today? Here are a few options to consider: Life isn't fair, but it's still good. A load a day keeps the chaos at bay. Bad things do happen to good people. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

Something like that.

Looking Up...Barely

I am determined after my last couple of blogs to turn up the happy factor around here. First of all, yesterday's funeral for my friend's father-in-law was lovely. All the ladies in the neighborhood came together to host a reception after the service. It felt so good to be able to do something useful for the family. Not so good to stand in heels for 4 hours, but even though my feet are still barking at me this morning my heart is completely satisfied.

I did have a little slip up on the bread front. I did great in the morning - a couple of scrambled eggs with a few pieces of center cut bacon. I was scurrying through the rest of my morning going to Chip's basketball game and making arrangements with neighbors that were dropping off food for the reception at my house. Didn't eat anything before heading to the church at 12:00. Once there we were in high action. Setting up tables, laying out food and drinks. Once we got around to eating it was probably close to 3:00 and I was famished. I made a conscious choice to pass on a roll with his fabulous chicken salsa dish someone brought. It was supposed to be a sandwich but I just ate the chicken and salsa. Great job. Then I found myself with half of a half of a Roast Beef and Brie Croissant with some kind of incredible jelly. I gobbled that thing down before I even processed the bread portion. It is exactly that kind of careless eating that I want to avoid - but dang was it good. That was my only slip up - but Day One? Seriously. Restart. Now I am going to start over and my new end date will be March 22nd.

On the upside - I walked five days in a row this week. That is five hours of exercise and it feels pretty dang good. Hoping to squeeze in a bike ride today, but it is rainy and drizzly. Hopefully it will clear up this afternoon.

In other news from yesterday, Chip's basketball team got drilled. It was a train wreck all the way. He was getting terribly frustrated. Check out this picture where he looks like he is looking for divine intervention.

After the game I said "Hey buddy, how was the game?" He looks at me like I must be blind, deaf and stupid to ask such asinine question with such an obvious answer and says "We got killed. The end." That summed it up pretty succinctly. The snacks weren't even that good either.

Last night after a long day away from my little guys I came home and made them sit with me on the couch so I could hear about their day. Harold had been to his first Introduction to High School meeting on Friday at school. I had asked him about it on Friday, but all I got was "It was fine. Can I go over to Ryan's?" He wasn't in the mood to talk about it. Well last night he was giving me a little bit more information and I got a glimpse into his future. He says "Mom, they had all of these really cool jobs listed under each of the academy's you can pick. I mean really cool, like Restaurant Manager". I just cracked up! I could totally picture him getting a job as a manager at Logan's so he could eat unlimited rolls while on the job. Not sure if that will continue to be his "dream job" - but for a kid who doesn't like food it really doesn't seem like a good fit. Let him dream - I remember that I wanted to brush horses for a living and that didn't pan out for me. Plenty of time to figure it out.

On my plate for today is no bread, but a mountain of laundry. For real.

After gathering and sorting it all in one spot you can see that it is not for the faint of heart. I wonder if I can get it all done, folded and put away? It will be my personal challenge in honor of the Olympics. I can't skate fast, haven't had snow skis on my feet since I was in 5th grade, wouldn't dream of putting myself in a sled and hurtling down a icy chute, would be comical to imagine figure skating. My partner would have to pry me away from the wall. I don't like falling down. I really don't like falling down on ice. I have done it and it hurts! So, today I will do my personal best with what I can do - LAUNDRY!! It won't be easy either - I will have to push myself! Who am I kidding, it will be pretty easy but dang it will feel good if I can catch up before jumping into a busy week ahead!

Go Me!

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Day After

Feeling a little melancholy tonight. A good friend of mine, who's son is one of Harold's good buddies and who was a teammate on my 3 Day Walk team lost her father-in-law to leukemia yesterday. Even though they were expecting him to pass, I don't think they were expecting it this fast. Even though I think he was ready, I know that the people who loved him weren't ready. Sigh.

My friend's husband is a great guy. He is a nice, funny, genuine - just a super fellow. I am reflecting tonight and I am sure that his personality and outlook on life have so much to do with how his Dad raised him. He is surely hurting something fierce tonight over the loss of his Dad. I know first hand that watching your spouse lose a parent is unbelievably difficult and my heart breaks for my friend. You feel an incredible responsibility to be strong so that your spouse can fall apart. I mean they lost their parent and saying goodbye to the ones who have spent a lifetime loving you unconditionally, no matter what, no questions asked, forever and ever is supremely and sadly difficult. On the other hand, a mother-in-law and father-in-law are pretty darn close to being a parent to you and you would like nothing more than to curl up into a ball and cry until you can't cry any more. These were important, important people in your life. They made your husband into the man you love. It is as close to losing a parent as you can ever experience.

Today, I have thought so much about Joe and Louise, my father and mother-in-law. They loved me like one of their own and I loved them more than I ever dared to imagine I could. Today, on the way to pick up Chip from school I started crying in the car. Not sobbing, just tears running down my face. Just imagining what our friends are doing today...the day after. The day after sucks.

It has been nine years since Joe passed on 11/22/00. That date is just burned in my mind. We had to drive from Texas to Alabama knowing he was already gone. We weren't expecting it - we were planning to see him for Thanksgiving. The car was actually packed and the alarm was set to head that way the very morning we got the call. So we drove hours and hours the day after, and when we arrived we walked into the saddest, most distraught family ever. It was awful. My hubby was the strong one - he wanted to get things in order, make arrangements, take the burden from his mother. Anything to ease her pain. I was his right hand man. Give me something to do and I was handling it. Going through the motions.

April 10th 2009. Memories are still really fresh and emotions still kind of raw. So stunned to lose our sweet Louise so unexpectedly. Disbelief. Terrible sadness. The phone ringing, people stopping by, food everywhere, arrangements being made, so many phone calls and delivering of the sad, sad news. Trying to have a coherent thought because you have cried so much that your brain feels like a big bowl of mush. Eyes burning, swollen and red from the tears that just won't stop. Hard just doesn't do it justice. One foot in front of the other and the next thing you know the day after is over. You survive. Thank God.

I know our friends will come through it. We did. I know they have supreme faith in God and trust that they will be reunited one day with their loved one. It still hurts. In fact, I am pretty sure that I don't really know how to grieve. You hear it all the time that everyone does it differently. I don't know if I have done it at all. Sometimes I feel at peace with it and sometimes there is just a huge mass of emotion in my chest that feels like a burden I just keep carrying around. It comes and goes with varying severity. Maybe that is normal.

As a final thought, I can't imagine the day that I lose one of my parents. They have been part of my life since the day I was born (obviously, right?) But seriously, never have I made a life decision without their input. Never have I celebrated an accomplishment without hearing them telling me they are proud of me. Never have I endured a sadness without them to cry with. Never have I shared a funny story about my kids without knowing that they will laugh hardest of all. They are my foundation. They have seen me through every disappointment and celebration. They have been my biggest cheerleaders and confidants. I love them. Can't bear to think of losing them.

My heart just breaks for all the people I know who have lost their Mom or Dad. Most especially tonight for my friends who are living their day after today. Peace be with you.

After thought: I am on my own last nerve with all this introspective sadness. Tomorrow I am blogging about farts, burps, mud tracks - SOMETHING that will have me smiling while writing instead of crying.

Bold Proclamation

Hear me now - I am boldly announcing in front of God and my four loyal readers (thanks for letting me know you are out there!) that I am swearing off bread for the next thirty days.

Starting tomorrow and for the 30 days following, I am not going to eat bread. Not giving up carbs entirely, just the evil food group that is bread. No toast, no sandwiches, no dinner rolls, no pre-dinner bread at restaurants.

It will be hard, but I can do it. Please count yourself lucky that you don't live with me, because the first few days could be downright difficult!

If I fall off the wagon I will report it immediately on my Blog for the world to see. I mean for my four loyal readers to see. Thank you for allowing me to publicly announce my goals and intentions.

March 21st can't get here fast enough!!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Scars Run Deep

Today, at about 11:00 a good friend called and I answered the phone fully expecting to catch up on our day to day happenings. The first words out of her mouth were "Are you watching the news? A plane flew into a building."

My heart stopped for a split second and I was transported back to that terrible day so many years ago. I certainly don't think about 9/11 very often, but this morning it came rushing back so vividly and I was scared. Scars run deep I guess. I needed information fast. I asked questions and she told me what she knew.

When I learned that it was a small plane that flew into a local building in Austin I was hoping that it was just a terrible accident and that the pilot had perhaps lost control of the plane or had passed out, had engine trouble...anything but an intentional act to hurt innocent people.

Sadly, as the reports continue to come out on the news it looks like this fellow had a grudge or on-going dispute with the IRS and this was his solution. Fly his small plane right into the building. Where is the logic? How could this make sense to him? No other solution came to him, but to get in a plane and fly it into an IRS office building. I just have no words for how sick it makes me feel.

I don't know yet if they know if there were any fatalities. Surely the pilot perished. Can't imagine you can survive that kind of impact if he was in the pilot's seat. People were hurt and people were terrified for sure.

I think my perspective is so different now that I am a mom. What if your son was employed by the IRS. His goes to college and earns a degree in Accounting and is lucky enough to get a job with the IRS. On the daily it is his job to review company records. He finds errors, he reports them, there are investigations, people react, lives changes. It is a job and it may have cost him a life.

And being a mother I can't help but feel for the mother of the guy flying the plane. How that must cut you to the core to know your own son intentionally hurt others. Not in self defense, not to save someone he loved. It was about money. Some injustice he felt. What kind of person puts so little value on human life, even his own.

There have been so many senseless acts of violence recently in my little corner of the world. The first was just 13 days or so ago, when a 14 year old shot and killed another 14 year old at a middle school in my hometown in Alabama. This followed exactly one week later by a professor in that same hometown shooting and killing three other professors she worked with. Now this. It is too much.

There is real tragedy in the world with natural disasters in places like Haiti, people in hospitals fighting diseases they are powerless to prevent, children that are hungry, people really suffering and hurting. These senseless acts of violence are just infuriating because they are 100% preventable. One persons decisions change the lives of so many that didn't get a choice.

Let's all make a vow today to do no harm. Be kind to one another. Lift each other up. Stand up for each other. Encourage each other. Think before you act. If all else fails, go to bed - tomorrow will be a better day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

From the Vault

I have kept a number of emails over the years that still make me laugh when I read them. I have decided that every once in a while I am going to put them on my blog to relive some of these memories. I hope you enjoy a peek into the past with me. Let's start with this one that I sent out to my family after Chip's second day of Kindergarten.

The Chip Kindergarten Story begins:

Day One: Walked into school like a champ – no tears – no looking back – just walked in like he owned the place. I was waiting outside when he walked out of the door and he looked exhausted. I hug him.

Mom: “How was your first day?”
Chip: “Hey Mom – thanks for the new mat.”

I couldn’t figure out what he was talking about – but he meant the new nap mat that came with his school supply kit. Apparently, very cushy and he liked it. He told me that he did almost cry on the way to Art because he was missing me. Later in the afternoon...

Chip says: “Seven hours seem like twenty when you are in school.”

Day Two: Woke up – said he didn’t really want to go to school again. I told him I would go to jail if he didn’t go to school. He said “FINE – I’ll go!” Not too happy – but charged in there again – kiss for mom and then no looking back. When I picked him up today, he had a little more pep in his step. He said he almost cried again because he loved me so much and missed me when he was at school. My little cherub. We were walking to the car and he was telling me about his day.

Chip: “Mom, Ms. Cheung told us about the class rules. There are Green, Yellow, Red and Blue circles that show how you act. If you are good, Ms. Chueng has a smile and you get to stay on Green. If you make a bad choice, (he makes a serious face with an eyebrow raised) she looks at you and you have to move your name to Yellow. If you make another bad choice (he makes a mean, angry face) she gets angry and you have to move your name to Red. If you do it again (makes a mean, angry, growling face) she gets really mad.”

At this point we are at the car and he is strapping himself in his booster seat.

Mom: “Oh, I think if you get to Blue you have to go to the Principal’s office.”

My sweet five year old Kindergartener, sitting in his booster seat in my minivan says with gusto...“Hell yeah, you do.”

I spin around and say “Chip, we don’t say that.”

Chip: “I’m not at school.”

Nice….very nice…..
It’s going to be a long year……….