Sunday, October 21, 2012

Time to Streamline!

Combining this blog with my other Lifelong Learning blog

Go To My New Lifelong Learning Blog

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Stay in the Moment!

This has been a hard lesson for me to learn over the years. Something great happens and I want to scramble around and make The Whole Experience even better.  It doesn't always work out though.

Today, I was typing away on my laptop at my kitchen table. I kept hearing birds squawking in the backyard. Not the usual morning chirping, but serious bird noises. I kept thinking, "Grackles!" 

But then I looked up. 

Sitting on my porch swing was this huge majestic red-tailed hawk. It was watching me. I stood up, and it turned its head. I have no idea how hawks' minds (or vision) works, but it seemed to want to watch me out of one side of it's head. Maybe it was just scanning for an escape route. 

I should tell you, my backyard is tiny. I mean teeny tiny!  And the neighbors' houses are incredibly close.  Oh, Suburbia! So the idea that a hawk would even BE in my neighborhood never crossed my mind.

But here's the crux of my issue. Instead of just looking at him. Thinking about him. Enjoying his beauty. I got up to go get the camera. He sat still.

No batteries. ugh. 
No SIM card. oh well.

So I scramble through drawers trying to find some decent batteries. 
Then I have to find my glasses because I can't see which way the batteries need to be inserted. 
Then I discover that they are dead batteries...or at least one of them is...or in the wrong way.

So where's my phone? Not the best camera at all, but maybe it would do.

The Hawk is STILL sitting there watching me. Patient. Quiet.

I inch toward the patio door. 

I begin to raise the blinds VERRRRRY SLOWWWWLY.

I glanced away FOR A SECOND! 

And he was gone.

Something about this scenario made me think about all the Moments I've missed because I was busy trying to capture it or make it better or ...something.

I think that needs to change. 

Thank you to My Hawk for that little nudge.

**and these pictures are from Wikipedia - I obviously missed the shot!

Monday, September 10, 2012

In All Different Directions!

As usual, our family is going 90 mph in all different directions these days.  Here's what we've been up to for the last 3 weeks...


Alyssa has added more days to her work schedule at Milk + Honey. She's really enjoying her weekly Apprentice program - learning a lot and making a good impression.  This week, she has models coming in to get various styles, so she can be "checked off." When she completes all of this - probably in 3-4 months -  she anticipates being "given a chair" at the salon. Very exciting!!
We all had a lot of fun fishing and sailing at the end of last month at Lake Texoma - see more at A Long Line of Lake Lovers. And, then, a couple of weeks later, Alyssa had a wonderful trip to the beach with Josh's family. She LOVES the beach, so 4 days at a lovely condo in Corpus Christi was perfect! They caught quite a few fish, saw a few dolphins and maybe even a shark. It sounds like September, when the crowds have died down, is THE time to do a beach trip!
Alyssa's "Wedding Update" is that she found The Dress. Next stop...Invitations.
On a side note... Alyssa's fiancĂ©, Josh, turned 21 since I last reported in.  After our fishing trip, we decided to get him a bow fishing kit.  With all the carp at the dock, I think he'll love using it there. He's already being practicing and is becoming quite good with the bow! He loves "outdoor stuff" so I'm glad we found something for him on his "Big Day."


Katie finished her summer work at Cinemark. Luckily, she's been accumulating free passes (one of the perks of working there!) so I anticipate more movie watching for all of us!
We've been busy shopping for "L.A. Clothes" - since most of her NYC wardrobe is for much colder weather than she'll see in southern California. She is not sad to leave that New York weather!
She's been having a lot of fun with Zumba classes at the local 24 Hour Fitness.
We're working together on a cookbook, so she'll be able to make various dishes that she grew up enjoying.  She probably won't be home for Thanksgiving this year, so she wants to learn how to make all of our family specialties! :::sniff, sniff:::
Katie's been a huge help to me with getting Grandma to her multitude of dental appointments lately. (See below)
And... I just realized that the next time I "report in," I will probably be back from taking her to California. I'm going to miss her!!


Michael has been busy trekking across Nicaragua. He teaches in the eastern side of the country, but is often called back to Corazo area for Peace Corps training classes and workshops. It doesn't hurt that his girlfriend lives in La Paz and her family kindly allows him to stay there with them.  Considering his pay is about $100/month, and his food options are pretty bad where he lives, I'm happy that he has a family who feeds him whenever he's there!
Michael has had very little communication lately because his computer crashed. This is not an easy fix in a 3rd World country. Kathya thinks she knows someone that can fix it, but we'll see. In the meantime, she loaned him a computer from her family to take back to his house in Muelle de Los Bueyes (south central Nicaragua). Only problem was, he confused the 2 power cords and took the wrong one back. Considering mail is completely unreliable, he has to wait a couple of weeks to get back over there to get the right cord. All of these computer issues are troubling him because he and Kathya are trying to work on her Visa to come back to the USA with him for Alyssa's wedding next April.  Only about 10% of Nicaraguans who apply for visas are granted one, so we're a little worried. Cross your fingers!
On Wednesday, Michael experienced a 7.6 earthquake which occurred off the coast of Costa Rica but shook Nicaragua as well. He felt the tremor and said it lasted longer than any he remembered in Alaska or California. All day long, Nicaraguans anticipated a tsunami from the quake, but by the end of the day, the warning was lifted without any tsunami. He called to tell me about it, before I could hear about it from the computer or the news.  I'm glad because I would have been worried sick if I couldn't find out about him.

I found a different video and shared it at my earlier blogpost, "Mom! It's an Earthquake!" 
But here's CNN's report on this earthquake, with experts, maps and explanations:


After a couple of months of exercise (including weekly with Michelle, the trainer) and wishy washy dieting, I stuck with the Fuhrman Diet. And lost 7 lbs. in 2 weeks! For some reason, I fell off the wagon and ate all kinds of unhealthy stuff. So now I'm back on board. The diet is primarily plant-based. Crazy, seemingly excessive, amounts of leafy greens as well as 1 lb. of cooked veggies and 1 lb. of raw veggies, at least 4 fruit, and 1 cup of beans. That's the minimum! Really makes for a messy kitchen though. Oh well.
I offered to help my longtime friend, Linda Dobson, with her publication Parent at the Helm. The books she wrote really helped me tremendously when we first started homeschooling, so I am happy to help her out with PATH. I've written a few pieces and now I'm learning Wordpress, behind the scenes. I really like it so much better than Blogger, but I'm not sure about moving everything to a different blog. We'll see. If I can figure out the Wordpress "themes" down the road, I might do it.
And speaking of road... I'm looking forward to Katie and my road trip to California at the end of the month! Driving there, flying back.


Ron is still ordering parts and working on the motorcycle. Luckily, we have Grandma's Toyota Camry for him to drive to work.  He's had a couple of really great sailing weekends. He's doing different things with the sails, so he can control the speed and the ways the sails catch the wind. And, he bought the decal for the boat name change... O Susie Q.  We'll take a picture the next time we go up there (or he might go up while we're gone to California.)
I've never had a boat named after me! Kinda cool!


I was sitting at my dining room table when my mom came up to me.
"Look at this," she said casually and placed a whitish almost plastic looking thing in my hand.
"What is it?" I asked.
"My tooth!"
Why this grossed me out, I have no idea. My kids have put far worse into my hands in years past. But this really bothered me.  Oh well.  I got over it.  Grandma's "chipped" tooth turned into 6 visits to the dentist and oral surgeon!  She needed a root canal, a crown lengthening, a post being added, a temporary tooth, and still a permanent one to go in there! Wow!
She's really enjoying all the activities that her apartment complex sets up. So, in spite of her forgetfulness and real need for a lot of help, I'd like her to stay there as long as possible. We're talking about how the next step is to move in with us - and she isn't resisting that. But, just like with the car, why resist until it actually comes to pass? Then, we'll see how she is with resistance. Hopefully, that's a little ways off.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Gays, Rights, and the Bible

I am saddened that many people feel that homosexuality is a sin. But people have the right to believe whatever they want.  What they don't have the right to do, however, is create a law that imposes their religious beliefs legally on another American citizen. As Ron's dad's used to say, "Believe whatever you want, just don't put it on me."  

When it comes to legal rights, we have to get out of the pre-Civil Rights days, and get up to speed here.

So consider me just another voice urging for us to be fair.

I've collected a few media-related ways to convey some of these thoughts. I'll probably add a few more as time goes on. It's my hope that everyone will consider some of these points, although I know that's unlikely. Still, just like I've always taught my kids, you have to stand up for what's right - regardless of what the fallout might be.

First is this video from starting with:
"You're against gay marriage because of your religion? No you're not."

Often, I've heard the argument - within my own family even - that marriage is a biblical covenant. But that's not really true. Marriage is a legal state, that we simply cannot ascribe to some Americans and not others.  Because if you want to think of it as more of a biblical state, and if you didn't watch the video, here are a few problems with this argument:

But this poster above only pertains to the Old Testament. And those who oppose Gay Marriage often cite Paul's letters in the New Testament as to why homosexuality is a sin.

So I went and did some digging around. I found a really well documented piece, What the New Testament Says about Homosexuality,  from the Westar Institute, a non-profit research and educational institute dedicated to the advancement of religious literacy. This piece addresses some of the issues that have arisen because of translations as well as context. I'd really recommend reading the entire article, but one of their conclusions is this:
Jesus never spoke about homosexuality, and we simply have no way of determining what his attitude toward it might have been. Moreover, there is nothing about homosexuality in the Book of Acts, in Hebrews, in Revelation, or in the letters attributed to James, Peter, John, and Jude. Further, homosexuality is not mentioned in ten of the thirteen letters attributed to Paul. It is only in Romans 1:26–27, 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, and 1 Timothy 1:8–11 that there may be references to homosexuality.2 The paucity of references to homosexuality in the New Testament suggests that it was not a matter of major concern either for Jesus or for the early Christian movement.
While I typically do not quote so much from anyone else's work, I would like this information to be available here. The Westar Institute goes on to conclude that the New Testament is only referring to certain types of homosexuality:
  •  If homosexuality is exploitive, then it is wrong
  • If homosexuality is rooted in idolatry, then it is wrong 
  • If homosexuality represents a denial of one’s own true nature, then it is wrong
  • If homosexuality is an expression of insatiable lust, then it is wrong
But we could say exactly the same thing about heterosexuality, couldn’t we? 
        If homosexuality is not necessarily any of these things, however, then it would appear that the New Testament has nothing to say about it in any direct sense. Speaking specifically of the Pauline letters but in words that are applicable to the New Testament as a whole, the Pauline scholar Victor Paul Furnish puts it as follows: 
"[Paul’s] letters . . . cannot yield any specific answers to the questions being faced in the modern church. Shall practicing homosexuals be admitted to church membership? Shall they be accorded responsibilities within a congregation? Shall they be commissioned to the church’s ministry? The Apostle never asks or answers these questions. . . . On these points there are no proof texts available one way or the other. It is mistaken to invoke Paul’s name in support of any specific position on these matters "
In short, there is nothing in the New Testament that tells us directly whether homosexuality per se is a good thing or a bad thing or simply a fact of life.  
        To be sure, when we consider its overall message, the New Testament may provide some indirect guidance regarding homosexuality. Indeed, it may well be the case that a twenty-first century “Paul” would revise Galatians 3:27–28 to read as follows:
" For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female, there is neither homosexual nor heterosexual; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. "

Back to me again... thanks for reading.

And some of my similar blogposts:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Me and the Mormons

This morning, I got up to walk Lake Pflugerville. My trainer wants me to do a 5K next month with her, so I have to keep pushing! As I pulled up, I noticed that the parking lots were full of cars. Last week, when I went, it was full of dove season hunters. So I turned to the dogs to see if they knew what was going on. Nope.  Just dog drool on the windows - no response.

The wind was really strong and temps were lovely - about 72! We got out of the car, untangled our leashes and started on the trail.

Going over the first hill, I could see tons of yellow vests.  Little kids, teens, adults, all over the place. Some were in the water with rakes, others were pulling up boards from the worn out docks. Teens were painting the wooden trash containers.  I couldn't really tell who all those people were. It reminded me of our years in Wichita Falls. For several years, we participated in Teens Make A Difference Day - sometimes with Girl Scout troops, sometimes with our 4H group. With 4H, we often got the heavy duty jobs, clearing brush or some other such thing. As Girl Scouts, we were often given painting jobs or landscaping work.  It was fun, and like this, there were hundreds of groups of teens all over the city in matching shirts. Each year, a different color.

But unlike our Teens Make A Difference Days, these weren't just teens. It seemed like families with all ages. Little kids were running up and down the trails, moms pushing strollers, dads in the water hacking at all of the overgrown marsh.  Kids of all ages were picking up trash. And EVERYONE wore these yellow vests.

Finally, I got up close enough to see.


My only experience with Mormons was when we lived in Alaska. It seemed there were lots of Mormons stationed at Elmendorf AFB.  The Mormon women down the street invited me to participate in their monthly craft extravaganza at their church and even taught me to quilt.  They were all about doing things together, very family oriented, so that was nice. I did get roped into a couple of Amway nights with them - that was uncomfortable. But I survived.

We even toured a huge Mormon Church in Anchorage, before it was "consecrated," or whatever they call it. It was a really interesting tour, hearing about how they baptize their deceased family members, seeing the room where their weddings take place, looking at their artwork and listening to their history. And more gold and ornate fixtures than I've ever seen! A Mormon woman who lived down the street from us joined us on the tour. She able to share even more information. It was all fascinating, really.

But...back to my Mormon Invasion at Lake Pflugerville.
I'm not exaggerating when I say there were hundreds of Mormons participating in this clean up of our 3 mile lake. I'll have to look in the paper to see if anyone covers it. It was impressive.

And it was really wonderful seeing that community service is alive and well.  I like seeing a church group shouldering the workload, instead of showing us their position by eating at Chick-Fil-A.   The workers were all friendly and eager to pet the dogs.  I thanked a few of them for coming out to work on the lake, as they drug their shovels and started heading back to their cars. They seemed a little taken aback that I did. Not sure what that was about...

The dogs and I ended our little walk with Gracie swimming at The Beach, and Buddy running along the edge. I sat there on the rock, while they frolicked and the yellow vests dotted the shoreline.  I'd been worried about all the overgrowth that you could see in the water and along the edge. But now, thanks to the Mormons, Lake Pflugerville was going to be in great shape!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

"Mom! It's an Earthquake!"

Michael called at 9 a.m. to ask if I had been watching the news. I hadn't. I had barely poured my cup of coffee! He went on to tell me that he'd just felt an earthquake in Nicaragua and wanted to know what I could find out about it.  He said that reports were that it was 7.9 but some were coming in as only 7.6. He didn't have much more information than that. The strange thing, to him, was how long it lasted. How it just rolled and rolled. He said it was very odd to feel the earth move underfoot like that.  My friend Pam had just been telling me about a recent earthquake in southern California that actually made her nauseous. This was a new feeling for her too, and she's certainly felt her share of quakes. Michael said that no one near him, had been hurt. He was staying at Kathya's family's house in Carazo, on the Pacific side of Nicaragua. They were all acting fairly calm, but curious as to what information Michael could find out from me. I immediately began to comb the internet.

The earthquake was actually off the northern coast of Costa Rica, 87 miles west of their capital, San Jose. It was centered more than 282 miles deep. But you can see the close proximity between Carazo and Costa Rica! No wonder they felt it!

Tsunami warnings (meaning they are imminent) were in effect for the day. Michael was on higher ground - should I be reassured that he was on a side of a volcano?  Anyway, the tsunami warnings were eventually dropped with no occurrence striking any of the Central American coastline.

That night, my friend Lisa called to see if I had heard from Michael. She reminded me of the the earthquake that hit Nicaragua in the 1990's - 116 people killed, 68 missing, and 1350 homeless. I had forgotten! Luckily, this one wasn't nearly as devastating.

September 2, 1992 Masachapa Nicaragua earthquake
Considering the region is full of active and sleeping volcanoes, we'll see if this earthquake does anything to stir them up!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sunday Morning Poetry

My Haiku 

September morning 
Taking the dogs to the lake
Hope it's not too hot.

A Lune (3-5-3)

Dove season
Truck filled parking lots
Shots fired

But, naturally, I cannot say it all in a 17 syllable Haiku or its shortened Lune version. 
So... here's the rest of it.      

Morning Bustle at the Lake

Dogs excited for "A Walk!"
Gravel crunching beneath my feet
The sun glistens brightly on the water.

A hot air balloon glides by overhead
Swimmers lap across the lake
Fisherman chat between their boats

Women with strollers
Men with headphones
All jogging for health.

Unleashed dogs splash happily at the shoreline
A lone heron perches on the rock.

Birds flutter in the marsh
Dove hunters fire in the distance.

The humidity rises with the sun
Low clouds roll across the sky

Waves lap against the rocks
And around the final bend,
A gentle breeze, at last.

Ron's camera phone doesn't really do any of these justice. It was quite pretty out this morning.

Friday, August 31, 2012

NaBloPoMo - so-so successful

Not to be confused with SO SO Successful!!! It was more of a luke warm, or so-so, run at it.

The original plan was to write daily for the month-long blog challenge.   I tried to write daily, and for the most part, I did that. Here, I wrote 24 days/posts. At the Lifelong Learning blog, I wrote 3 more original pieces (some I copied over here.) And I did the Unschooling Blog Carnival  this month - that took a little time.  Plus I wrote something for my friend, Linda Dobson at the Parent at the Helm newsletter. She has been publishing some of my blogposts over at her newsletter and I'm going to continue to help her out over there a little. I've been toying with the idea of combining all of it into one Wordpress blog - which seems logical. We'll see. Linda's blog/website is Wordpress, so I'll be learning it.

I'm not going to do the National Blog Posting Month Challenge again UNTIL my book is done. I'm on a roll now, and I'm ready to complete this! I will keep you posted.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Grandma's Car

This is my mom and her friends in her 1st car. It was 1948 and she was home from college for the summer.
She was so disappointed to learn her dad wouldn't let her take it back to school with her
- she was just to use it while she was home on Summer Break.
They called this car, The Doorknob Car, because it actually had a door knob instead of a car door handle.
She looks happy, though, doesn't she?
I wrote Whatcha Drivin'? last fall about taking the car from my, now 82 year old, mother.

She's still not happy about it.

It's such a strange predicament to be in. My mother was always a "take charge" person. She worked outside the home while most of my friends' moms stayed home.  I'm only mentioning that because it's part of what makes this so uncomfortable for me. It's such a strange turn of events.

Her forgetfulness continues to increase.
Her balance is shot.
Her ability to process what's being said is...sketchy.

But at every opportunity, my mom asks me when I'm going to let her drive again. She wants to pick up her friend and drive to Mass. She wants to go to the grocery store, or Walgreens, or out to grab a hamburger.  Truthfully, it would be SO much easier if I just let her. And the odds are, she'd be ok. For a little while. We've all seen some terrible older drivers.  Yet, there they are, motoring along side us on the roads. Until they plow through the pedestrians at the local farmer's market. ::sigh::

In all of my blogging this past Spring, I forgot to mention that at one point, Mom took matters into her own hands. I was having a particularly frustrating day. Her conversations seemed to be on a loop, and I was telling her for the umpteenth time that she wasn't going to drive. I told her that I would come get her and take her. But I'm sure she could hear the exasperation in my voice. It wasn't that it irritated me to take her anywhere. It was more that she required the same conversation to happen 3-4 times in the same hour.

A couple of days went by and I didn't hear anything from her. This wasn't typical. So I called her:
"I should tell you something," she said very matter-of-factly. "And you're not going to like it."
"Martha took me to Carmax and I bought another car. Because you must just want my car."
"Yes. You were not nice to me and I just got mad and decided to do it myself."
"What do you mean I wasn't nice? I've spent at least 4 hours with you every day for the past week!"
"Your tone."
"I cannot believe you did this."
"I did. It's an older Toyota Camry. I like it. It's silver. It has a lot of miles but it was only $5000."

I was shocked, really. Granted, she was being encouraged by her friend, Martha. The two of them talk a lot about how "These kids think they know everything." Even when we are trying to listen and help all the time.

So I took the Honda back over to her and told her to keep them both. I was frustrated.  So both cars sat in her parking lot.  Most of the time, she didn't drive - just to Mass, and to Walgreens and HEB. A few days went by. and we talked more calmly about it. She agreed that much of it had to do with pride. People in her apartment complex frequently asked her where her car was.  It must be so hard to watch your children take away your independence, piece by piece.

Of course, true to form, she added, "You know it's really all your own fault. I was mad that you spoke harshly to me and I wanted to show you that I could too go out and get whatever I wanted."

Glad we got that settled: My fault.

Within a couple of weeks, she got sick while Ron was out of town. I needed her car to get groceries for her. From that point on, I just didn't give it back. She had a couple more small falls in the apartment and then started to see her own foggy moments. I've pointed out to her that the brain's ability to process is NECESSARY when you drive, and I think she's seeing that. Of course, then she forgets and we start over.

She's asking less frequently, probably because I'm very conscious about how I word things. I refer to it as HER car.  I don't try to get her to AGREE to the decision about driving - something I was always wanting.  I had to just let that go.  I gently say, "OK, well, I'll come get you and we'll go do that."

Of course, some parts of a personality stay strong. Like today, when I was going to be out all day, I asked her if she needed anything before I left the house. Her response?

"Nothing really... except my car."


"Of course. See you tomorrow, Mom!"

Related blogposts:
What? July is Over?
Blogposts about Grandma

Friday, August 24, 2012

She Said YES to the Dress!

The Mori Lee dress she THOUGHT she wanted
Have you seen all the bridal shows lately?  Four WeddingsBridezillas??  It's overload, in my opinion. And it really pushes brides today into ideas (and budgets) that are out of their leagues. I watched a Say Yes to the Dress episode where the girl said her budget for the dress was $3000 (!) and the clerk shook her head saying she'd have a hard time finding many choices in that low range.  That's insane! Then we'd turn to a show about receptions and see that the family spent $40,000. Did you know that the average American wedding costs $25,000??  Shocking! How do real people do this? These shows make extravagance seem commonplace and to be expected.   When I got married in 1987, I bought my dress on sale for $99 at JC Penney!  While I knew we wouldn't be recreating those days, there was just no way we'd be anything like the families in these shows.

Lest you think I'm only concerned about budgets and costs, today was only about dresses. Yes, we gave the clerk our price range - and no, she didn't flinch or make tsk-ing noises. She even told me later that she was deliberately pointing Alyssa into directions of lovely dresses that stayed within my range.  She thought it was really cruel when dress consultants show dresses that the bride cannot afford. I'm glad we were on the same page for that!

Today was Wedding Dress Quest - Day 2.

A week ago, we went to Alexia Gavela. It's a cute little house crammed full of wedding dresses. We had called for an appointment a week before, but somehow when we got there, they couldn't find it. No matter, they let us come on in and start looking around.Alyssa had some pictures on her phone of dresses she liked, and the clerk helped us find some similar to them.  

Grandma, Katie and I all sat in the back, while Alyssa came out, modeling the dresses.  They all looked beautiful on her, but nothing really clicked. Afterward, she asked me if I felt like something was just "off" today. I told her that, for some reason, it felt like we were just playing dress-up - not seriously looking for a WEDDING DRESS.  Between modeling and community theatre, dance classes and Girl Scout outings - we've spent a lot of time in dressing rooms. Maybe it was because the house was small and the dressing room area seemed more like a living room... we just weren't feeling it.

We let another week pass and thought about where we might like to shop next. We had been to Alfred Angelo for a bridesmaid dress, and both times we were there, the staff was frantic and stressed. We decided we'd probably skip getting a dress from them... or at least we'd try some other places first. So we decided to try Belle Saison. They didn't require appointments and so the four of us decided to go see what they had.

We were pleasantly surprised at the space! Rows of dresses, all organized by designer. The front desk girl was friendly and competent, offering to get us a bridal consultant and explaining how we should just get started browsing and selecting. They had little bells attached to ribbons, and we were to place them on the hanger of the dresses Alyssa wanted to try on.

Tracie, our consultant, came out to meet us all. She asked what kinds of dresses we were interested in seeing.  Alyssa showed her some pictures and even had a particular Mori Lee dress that she heard wouldn't be available until the end of September.  Tracie told us that designers frequently release pictures of the dresses in the magazines 4-6 months before they even make it to the stores.  So our option was to look for some similar ones, which we did. And Tracie went to look for our little bells we had already hung on dresses - she said it was like hunting for Easter Eggs!

Anyway, here's how our progression of Wedding Dress Choices has gone so far. Alyssa has been madly pinning them on her Pinterest board so we came in with some ideas.

Initially, Alyssa loved this Vera Wang dress that Kate Hudson wore in Bride Wars. We thought she'd like the fitted bodice and then the flaring out at the hips. Unfortunately, when she tried something like it on, the dress was overwhelming.  It was really difficult to move around in and Alyssa said she was drowning in it.

Then she moved to Mermaid Dresses and dresses with Keyhole backs.

But after trying on dresses at Alexia Gevali, we discovered we like the look of satin. Certainly, she liked the feel of it! From Mermaid, we moved to "Fit and Flare" and when we got to Belle Saison, we were back to more lace again.

While Alyssa introduced herself to the consultants at both stores, saying she liked Bling, she tended to actually move away from it when she tried bedazzled dresses on. Evidently, a wedding dress with a lot of bling tends to make people look at the dress, and not the bride.  So we started to look at dresses without bling, but adding some bling on a belt. Or a little bling in the back or on the veil.

 After a couple of hours of trying various styles, Alyssa narrowed it down to two.  We grabbed different veil styles and Katie arranged and rearranged the trains. Everyone gave their opinions.  We didn't really think she'd make the decision that day, but she did! We agreed, it was an absolutely gorgeous choice!

We even did a little re-enactment from one of the shows:

"Is this Your Dress?"
"Yes. This is My Dress."

Woo hoo!!!

Several people have asked if I got teary when .Alyssa come out in her wedding gown. It was a "Wow" moment with her stepping up on the pedestal, lights shining just enough to make everything spectacular, mirrors all around. And even though I seem to be on an emotional roller coaster these days, I didn't really. I did, however, go back to the dressing room after she hung up the dress. It was just Alyssa and me and her wedding dress. I told her that she looked so happy in that dress and it was just beautiful on her. She looked at me with this look of...I don't even know what... gratitude, happiness, love... and then, I did tear up a bit.

I'd love to share the photo, but we're trying to keep it a bit of a surprise. Alyssa ended up choosing a combination of styles: A champagne satin with ivory lace overlay, very antique-looking. And just enough sparkle that will show up in the lights and not jump out at you with "Whoa! that's bejeweled!"

So, there's your introduction to bridal dress styles - probably more information than you wanted to have. But, hey, that's what our lives look like these days!   I'll leave this blank spot here for after the wedding - then I can show you what the dress looks like ;)

[ Alyssa's Wedding Dress Choice ]
[                   to go here                  ]
[                after 4/26/13                ]

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Betwixt and Between?

Willy Nilly.
Waffling. (oh, I should NOT use that one!)
Hot and Cold.

All these words can describe my relationship with what food path to take.  I seem to blow in all different directions when it comes down to a dietary plan.  I get to a point and I jump ship.  You've seen it. I started with trying Vegan (Forks Over Knives) in March 2011.  That lasted a few months. Then I came back to it this year. This time, limiting pasta and avocados. Gail sent me the titles of some books by Gary Taub. I read them, and it lingered in the back of my head. I lost a little weight but it started to plateau. About that time, Linda told me she had read Taub's book and was doing great with the High Protein, No Carb diet...just adding in a few strawberries for breakfast.  So I decided to do that. I was a little nervous about all that meat, knowing I have high Blood pressure and high Cholesterol. But focusing on insulin production made medical sense to me - I was diagnosed pre-Diabetic as well.

Then I read Dr Fuhrman's analysis of ketogenic diets like this.
Actually, he looked at lots of them: Dr. Fuhrman Compares Eat to Live with Other Diets.

While I certainly never felt hungry AT ALL with the high Protein diet, I never really felt like it was a good idea to eat sausage several times each day. What if I really was endangering my health? After all, I'm over 50, severely overweight, and already with multiple diagnoses. Sounds a little like playing near a highway, to me.

Shifting Gears Again
Are you surprised?
I've decided to join Pam in a 6 week trial - no exceptions, follow the very best we can.
So here's what I'm going to do: Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman's 6 Week Plan
UNLIMITED: eat as much as you want
  • all raw vegetables (goal: 1 lb. daily)
  • cooked green vegetables (goal: 1 lb. daily)
  • non green nutrient-rich cooked vegetables (such as eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, onions, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower)
  • beans, legumes, bean sprouts, and tofu (goal: 1 cup daily)
  • fresh fruit (at least 4 daily)
  • cooked starchy vegetables or whole grains
  • butternut or acorn squash, corn, potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes, breads, cereals (not more than one serving (1 cup) per day)
  • raw nuts and seeds (1 oz. max. per day)
  • avocado (2 oz. max. per day)
  • dried fruit (2 tablespoons per day)
  • ground flaxseed (1 tablespoon per day)
  • dairy products
  • animal products
  • whole grains
  • between meal snacks
  • fruit juice
  • starch vegetables and whole grains

More to Read and Watch
Healthy Permanent Weight Loss Strategies That Work
How to Eat Healthy When You're On the Go
Who to Trust?
I'm not sure about this, but it's interesting: Powdered Gooseberries - Anti-Oxident Breakfasts

This is long, but REALLY worth watching!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Long Line of Lake Lovers

  Dontcha just love a little alliteration? haha!
1971 - How cool was I? I had a swimsuit with SLEEVES!

But it's the truth. My family comes from the midwest, so we weren't often running to the beach each summer. We were, however, running off to The Lake. As a kid, we'd go to the Lake of the Ozarks with other families in the neighborhood. It was the most wonderful vacation! One of the families had access to a giant lake house. The kids would sleep upstairs on the balcony and in the bedrooms while the adults...well I don't really know where they stayed. We would just go to bed listening to them laughing and playing cards downstairs. Our days were filled with Shasta sodas, open-faced grilled cheese sandwiches, and fishing for perch off the covered dock with various dads as they took turns showing us how to bait a hook and remove a fish without snagging ourselves. Delightful memories!

Later, when I was a teen and well into my twenties, my dad owned his own pontoon boat on Lake Ray Hubbard outside of Dallas. We'd gather friends, pack a ton of food and drinks and moor the boat off a sandy edge of the lake. We'd swim, play on floats, relax and enjoy the sun. It was definitely The Party Boat.

And, when I was going through my mom's pictures during her recent move, I found this one. It must be around 1922. My dad is the small child on the man's shoulders. They were swimming in the lake outside Fort Scott, Kansas.

Sailing in California
So, not being one to break with tradition, my kids have had plenty of lake experiences. In Alaska, we spent a lot of time at playing at Mirror Lake or Goose Lake on Elmendorf AFB.  We put a sailboat in at Folsom Lake outside Sacramento and resumed our love of boating.  We'd head back to Texas to sail with Ron's brother Scott and their family on Lake Tawokoni, east of Dallas. And when we moved back to Texas, we'd have a boat at Lake Arrowhead and then later at Lake Travis.  Our family camping trips would always be near lakes or rivers. Ron was the sailor and I was the swimmer - so we must have been hardwired for spending time on the water.

Now that the kids are grown, we're still on the water. And this past weekend, we enjoyed another weekend on the lake. This time, it's Lake Texoma - a huge lake that is on the border of Oklahoma and Texas.  Ron went ahead of us and got the boat ready.  It's big enough for us to sleep aboard, and this was the first time we've all joined him on this kind of sailing adventure! Ron's "New" Boat.

Katie was able to make trades for her work, Alyssa is off on these days. All we had to do was wait for Josh to finish his firefighter shift. Dodging rainstorms all day and evening, Alyssa and I packed the car. Katie had to work the closing shift, so she didn't get home until 2 a.m.  Luckily, Josh was at the fire station near our house, so we were able to be on the road by 7 a.m.! They were all pretty sleepy, so I drove the whole way.

When you have to drive for 4 hours, you have a lot of time to ponder. I missed having Michael with us - he would have stayed awake and chatted the whole time with me.  Katie falls asleep the minute the car pulls out of the driveway. That's only a slight exaggeration - she's just always been this way!  Poor Josh had had calls all night long, so even though he was tired, he just couldn't sleep in the car. Luckily for smart phones, he was able to pass the time looking up all the different fish he'd be able to catch on Lake Texoma, what bait he might need, what the weather would be like, etc.

By Dallas, everyone was awake again.  I felt like a tour guide as I explained what some of the downtown buildings were, and the different parts of Dallas. Growing up there, I had lots of stories of learning to drive there, knowing people from different parts of town, and silly stuff my dad used to tell me as we'd drive around. The kids all humored me!

We made it to the Bait and Tackle shop, kind of a grocery store at the edge of the lake, and bought fishing licenses. Josh has really turned Alyssa into a fisherman! She loves it. Of all the kids, she was the least fond of lakes. She LOVES swimming, but when lake water is murky, she's just SURE some Alligator Gar is swimming near her and about to take off her toes.  Ron was never a fisherman - he's the only person I've ever known that could go on a fishing trip in Alaska when the salmon were running and catch NOTHING. The fish practically jump into your arms then - but not his. So watching her get excited about rods and reels has been fun. Listening to Josh and Alyssa quiz each other about  how to tell a white bass from a largemouth bass and a carp from a catfish is pretty interesting too.

It wasn't long before we had the car all unloaded and Ron was taking us out onto the lake. The kids took turns lounging on the the bow of the boat. The wind wasn't that great so we sailed out toward the dam and took down the sails.  The kids fished a little, but didn't have any luck.  So they pulled out the rafts we had brought, ate our sandwiches, and just hung out on the water. Ron had installed a great new ladder on the side of the boat. But I had major coordination issues and just couldn't seem to master it!  Once again, mom ends up the butt of the jokes for that afternoon - but, hey, I'm used to it!

We started to head back toward the marina, everyone feeling a little sunburned. Just as we took the sails down and decided to motor in for a ways, the wind picked up. So we hoisted the sails again and suddenly took off!

The boat went faster than I had ever gone, and of course, Alyssa got a little panicky. Not being the sailor, I don't know the terminology. Although, it would be a good idea to look it up, because when you have your husband decide to teach you how to sail in a stressful situation, it's not pretty. I know my kids are used to a little shouting when Ron and I trying to accomplish something, but poor Josh. We might have startled him a little when Ron jumped up to do something with the sails and handed me the tiller, shouting,
"Just keep us on course!"
What the heck did that mean? What course?
"Put her into the wind!"
No, it wasn't that I didn't hear him! And no extra volume would help me figure out the lingo.
"Do you mean pull the stick toward me?"
Well, I won't bother you with the deterioration of that rather loud sailing instruction. Suffice it to say that we've been married for 25 years and our language can get a little "salty" under stress. Have you ever noticed that voices can really carry on a lake? I'm sure people in Oklahoma AND Texas could hear us! Yeah.

So, the boat was heeling (tilting, to the rest of us) - a lot. Katie loved being able to reach into the water on the low-side. Alyssa was sure we were going to capsize and at one point sat on the floor of the cockpit clutching a floating cushion, just praying it would all end quickly. I wasn't really sure what Josh was thinking, but he was trying to learn those sailing terms as quickly as possible! Eventually, Alyssa got used to the speed, and while I wouldn't say she enjoyed going fast, she was able to get off the floor and sit in the seat with Josh.  Ron returned to the helm and continued to instruct us all on what the boat was doing, how it was adjusting to the wind, what we could do.  Josh told me later that he felt like he    
learned more on that little 30 minutes of sailing  than he ever thought he'd learn.  He was even able to take the boat in toward the marina himself!
Tiki Bar with stove and lights

When we came back toward the dock, fish were jumping everywhere! Our fishermen were excited. Luckily, the marina restaurant was closed so we cooked our hot dogs and sausages at the little Tiki Bar on our dock.  This way, they could start baiting their hooks and get fishing! The idea of fishing off the sailboat didn't really work out that well. Even when we were going slow, the bait would drag along the top of the water. It just didn't work right. So they were happy to get the chance to fish again.

Sadly, they didn't really have the right bait for the fish around there. Alyssa caught one little sunfish, and that was it. They were up until midnight running up and down the dock with flashlights and putting their poles into the water at different spots. Huge fish - that they later determined to be carp - were banging into the styrofoam that holds the dock up. They even spotted big Alligator Gar- fearless fish that came over to see what the net was all about.

 Everyone slept well on the boat (sorry for the blurry pic) and the next morning, Ron got up early to cook breakfast and Josh was ready to start fishing again. The temperatures were changing so there was just a little steam on the lake. Josh and Alyssa ended up paddling around the marina in the dinghy, Achilles.  Which reminds me... our 40+ year old boat has had several names and Ron pulled the last one off. He just couldn't see himself sailing Venus. So we're all making suggestions and voting on a new name. In the running are: The SusieQ, O Susanna, AlyKat, AlyssaKate. I think it will end up O Susanna! I'll keep you posted.
When I look back at family vacations we've had over the years, they seldom happened in the summer.  But we'd almost always fit a Lake trip in there somewhere - the weather usually being perfect for sailing, swimming, and fishing. Even though the kids are all grown, I'm happy to say the tradition continues!

                                              My little slideshow of the Lake Texoma Trip

Sunday, August 19, 2012


I guess that's really false advertising. There weren't Pomegranate[s], plural. There was one. 

And I watered it and watched it for months. 

I purchased the miniature pomegranate tree from the Natural Gardener in south Austin last spring. It had little flowers about to bloom. I watched the blooms open up with such hope! The fragrance was divine.
But, alas, only one lone fruit remained on the tree. 
So I protected it. 
I put a little fence around it to keep the dogs from digging it up. 
And I waited.  

We first found out about the joys of pomegranates in Davis, California. Our friends had a pomegranate tree outside their front door. They taught us how to open the fruit in a bowl of water - keeping the juicy little seeds from spraying out around the room. We had such fun with that fruit and always loved eating them over there.

If you know what pomegranates look like from the store, you know they're not always pretty on the outside.  So I was unsure of when to pick ours from the tree. Part of it began to turn brown and I worried that either the heat or some other catastrophe had befallen my little fruit. 

Then one day, I went outside to water and discovered it had fallen off the tree! There my little fruit sat, on the ground, in it's little fenced raised bed... waiting for me. Hooray! I was excited! But what if it was rotten? It would be such a disappointment! 

I called to Katie and told her our little Pomegranate was finally ready. She didn't even know we had a Pomegranate tree. I am just in my own little world so often, it seems. Anyway, she was thrilled okay with with trying it out with me.

We gathered our bowls of water, and split the pomegranate. 

Success! No rotten fruit! And delicious - just the way we remembered it from California!

Katie and I chatted a little more about pomegranates and she finished hers off with glee finished half the bowl and wandered away. So, not to let all those antioxidants and vitamins go to waste, I took some pictures and finished hers off too. Yes, with glee. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

For the Love of Storms!

Today started out overcast, with the sun peeking in and out.  It was hot and muggy. A typical Austin August day.  We got all inspired about picture taking, after Ari came over and did Katie's official HeadShots for Los Angeles. So here are a couple of pictures we took on our own. Aren't they beautiful?

Katie didn't have to go into work until 5 p.m. so we got to hang out together. And one thing she and I have in common - we love stormy weather! Rainy weather is few and far between around here, so when storms move in, we get excited!  Something about watching the dark clouds rolling around almost makes us giddy! We made a mad dash for lunch at Dairy Queen and took pictures of the clouds as they swept across the neighborhood. We love the blues and the grays and the almost purplish colors in the sky. Low clouds moving quickly, higher and brighter clouds above that. And the smell! Knowing that the rain is close - all because of the smell. Don't you just love that??

 And then the rain came! Yay!! And even though poor Hank was upstairs cowering from the thunder, Katie and I moved to the covered patio in the backyard and chatted while we listened to the rain.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Busy Lives

Update Time....

Michael ~ We don't hear from Michael every week and this is one of those weeks where we didn't.  If you had asked me if 5 or 10 years ago if this could ever happen (the not talking to him part), I would have never been able to imagine it. I might have even burst into tears at the sheer THOUGHT of not speaking to him daily. I only say this because I still run into people who feel this way about their children. And somehow, Life just takes care of it. They grow and go off on adventures, and luckily, it doesn't usually happen all at once. And you just kind of ease into it. I feel a little sad, writing that now, but he's happily cavorting around on adventures, and that IS what he wants. So that's what i want for him. I'm still planning to spend a couple of weeks in Nicaragua in November/December, when he has a work break. And he'll be back here for Alyssa's wedding in April. There are moments when I miss him terribly - but it's not constant, like I always thought it would be. I guess this is just what having adult children is like. :::wistful sigh::::

Katie ~ Katie is firming up her apartment options for Los Angeles. She and two of her friends are doing the paperwork to get a really nice 3 bedroom gated community apartment. Plenty of room for Mom to come visit!! She's working a lot, trying to save as much as she can for the California Life!  She and I will probably drive out there around the 15th of September.  It will be here before I know it!
Tomorrow, our friend Ari is coming over to do new Head Shots for auditions out there. Ari does great work, so I'm sure her photos will look wonderful. Katie's also making it to lots of free Midnight Movies because of her job at Cinemark. Fun!!

Alyssa ~ Alyssa is in Wedding Mode - big time. This week, she tried on dresses, signed with a caterer, made all the food selections, did a second meeting with the florist for minor changes - and I'm sure there was something else, but it tires me just to write all that!  Wedding planning with the internet at your fingertips is an entire different ballgame than when I got married in 1987!  Pinterest pictures, blog suggestions, online registries - wow! It's pretty cool, really.  Alyssa's other big news is that Milk n' Honey offered her a position in their new Apprentice Program. She started this week. Lots of studying and hands on work. It's going to be hard, but it will be so great to learn even more.

Ron ~ Ron has had some motorcycle problems this week. He broke down on the side of the road. Bummer - especially when it's 100 degrees by 11 am! But all that is forgotten because he's heading up to Lake Texoma in the morning for 3 days! This is an exciting trip because Katie, Alyssa, Josh, and I are all going to go up there on Sunday. The kids are so excited to go fishing there. We're all going to sleep on the boat!! I'll let you know how that goes. :)

Tonight's dinner:
Lemon Pepper Tilapia
with a hearty veggie soup/stew
Sue ~ I'm not really sure where my week went. I spent a lot of time taking my mom to dental appointments. She had a crown fall off, so she has quite an extensive "treatment plan" for it. She'd love to be driving herself to these appointments, but there's just no way she can manage it. She doesn't agree. It's a hard spot to be in - for both of us. I'm still working out and trying to figure out what to eat. It's hard to know what to do - high protein, low carb? plant-based, non-dairy? high veggie, nothing processed? What does "balanced diet" mean anyway? It certainly changes depending on who you're talking to! But the exercise seems to actually be changing the shape of my body, and I'm down a couple of sizes. That' a good thing! Ron got the ladder attached on the boat, so I'm looking forward to lots of swimming at the lake this weekend.
Oh! And I have been busy this week blogging daily for the NaBloPoMo challenge. Some of the days, I even wrote more than one blogpost! I'm sure my friends are getting tired of seeing my Facebook Updates! haha!

Forgot to mention, Grandma is going to stay at our house this weekend with all the dogs! I think it will be okay. I guess we'll see!

Related Blogposts:
Videos, Boxes, and Even a Wedding
Ron's "New" Boat
July Update: What? July is OVER?