Our area Girl Scout Council put on a “Daddy/Daughter Dance” and lots of people showed up! I’d guess about 500 dads and daughters. We ate food and watched a magic show, and then boogied the night away on the dance floor.
The Phaaaaaantom of the Opera is here, standing in liiiiiiine
Gettin’ down on the dance floor.
We are the white people in this line up, in case you couldn’t spot us.
Ivy’s girls scout troop
On Sunday, we made a trek to Jane’s house to install a TV antenna and have some picnic food on the patio. Both missions accomplished! I love Sonoma Chicken Salad sandwiches!
We stopped at the Go-Kart place along the way and went a couple of rounds. Fun!
The Super Bowl came to Houston this year…and not only Houston, but our neighborhood! Some of the activities were just a few blocks away in the temporary night-club that was built called “Nomadic”. Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars did shows there, but I didn’t see them come and go. Our neighborhood was sanctioned off as a no-parking zone, so people were parking nearby and strolling through our ‘hood to get to the show (the unhappy face in the image below is our house, the yellow dot is where everyone is going). ESPN also did a glitzy, red-carpet style event one night a few blocks farther up the street. Our neighborhood was ground-zero for the SuperBowl parties and shows. Check out this article from Sports Business Daily about that very scene. Club Nomadic Becomes Epicenter…
Taylor Swift put on an excellent show as well, but it was invite only and $2,000 per person! OMG. No thank you.
There were even some left-wing protesters capitalizing on the crowds and spreading their hate: Donald Trump Sucks!
The week before SuperBowl 51 was full of lots of things to do, especially downtown at Discovery Green Park. Lots of exhibits and food and shows and even a carnival type ride. It was all pretty nifty, I thought. We went twice during the week before the huge crowds would show up on the weekend.
On Saturday, while hanging out at the house, some jets went flying low over the house and scared the #$@# out of us! It startled the dogs, too, and set them to barking. Were we under attack? What the heck was that?? It turned out to be the Thunderbirds doing a practice run for a flyover during the Superbowl. So the next day we were prepared and (tried, at least) to capture the flyover on video. Thunderbirds fly over! NRG stadium is about 7-8 miles away from us, so either there was a slight delay in video broadcast, or the Thunderbirds were flying really fast! From the time of their appearance over the SuperBowl to flying over our house was about 16 seconds.
Here’s a video compilation that someone else made from various cameras:
On Sunday, we bought some meat, invited over Jane and the neighbor kids and we had our own little party. It was nice! Great weather and good food. 🙂
Buying meat at B & W
Kids playing PlayStation
Ladies get crafty
Crafty and cooky
Like lots of people, I got a little bored by the 3rd quarter and figured the Atlanta Falcons had it wrapped up. So I went outside and sat by the fire with Jose. But a little white later I heard my neighbors shouting excitedly. I assumed they were watching the game and something cool happened. Sure enough, a quick check on my phone and I saw the Patriots were making a HUGE comeback. I came back and watched them tie up the game with less than 1:00 minute to play. Then, of course, in OT they score a winning touchdown. What an exciting end to SuperBowl 51!
The Half-time show was perhaps the best half-time show ever! Usually, it is kind of lame in some degree, but not this time. Lady Gaga was patriotic, technically daring (performed with synchronized drones), non-political, jumped from the roof, gave a shout out to Texas and Houston more than once, said ‘hey’ to her mom and dad, and put on a heck of good show. It appeared flawless (no wardrobe malfunctions). So kudos to Lady Gaga! GREAT job!
I was curious about where she stayed while in Houston and how much practice went into that performance.
Here’s some answers…
She stayed here -> Luxury AirBB <- I've driven past there many, many times!
And she practiced at NRG stadium...
December has become a month of lots of work! It is jam-packed with school activities and Christmas travels and vacations and endless messes to clean up, and on and on and on. Honestly, it kind of wears me out sometimes with literally 16 hours of work/fuss/etc for 7 days a week for 2 weeks. Usually the last few days of vacation from school I’m just dead-tired and slogging through the day. That’s pretty much the case right now (school starts tomorrow), so I decided to sit on my butt for awhile and update this blog.
Of course, there’s lots of fun and good stuff in the schedule, and when it is all said and done that’s what you remember. What was the good stuff this month?
Well, first, after 2 long weeks of practice, Ivy hit the stage in her school’s Christmas Program – The Nutcracker. Ivy was an Arabian dancer and is the 4th from left front row.
The following Monday we decided to hit the ice at Discovery Green Park downtown. It was supposed to be half-price night, but after a 30 minute wait to get in we’re told it’s no longer half price! Jerks! Oh, well, we rented our skates and got on the ice anyway. I can still scoot around the ice fairly well; I didn’t fall down at even once. Ivy did fairly well, too, although she fell multiple times. With a bit more practice, I’m pretty sure we could both be pretty good at ice skating.
On Wednesday Dec. 21, we embarked on our ‘Christmas Tour 2016’ with our first stop being Hot Springs, Arkansas. We spent most of our time downtown in the park along Bathhouse Row. I did the 1 1/2 hour spa package at Buckstaff Bath. It’s an interesting experience where you strip down naked and wrap up in a sheet (like a toga), and then an assistant leads you to a stall with a huge lion-footed tub. You climb in, lay back, and let the hot water and whirlpool soak all your cares away. Later, the assistant leads you to other stations such as a ‘sits bath’, a ‘needle shower’, steam sauna (with steam coming from the hot water straight out of the ground), and finally a 20 minute massage. I enjoyed it and felt relaxed and very clean afterward. I really liked the atmosphere of the place, as well, with it’s 1920’s look and feel – lots of tile, old-timey fixtures, exposed lead pipes, and so on. Check out the photos from the Fordcye Bath House Museum next door to get an idea of what it is like inside.
On we went to Harrison, Arkansas to stay at my Mom’s new house. Nice! Very spacious. The yard is huge! After unpacking and getting a night’s sleep, off we went to Branson for some food and fun. Ivy and I went to Silver Dollar City even though it was cold and rainy. My neice Tiffany gave us some free tickets, so we couldn’t pass up that opportunity. Ivy walked through her first cave – Marvel Cave. She wasn’t freaked out at all be 500 feet below ground. By the time we exited the cave, the rain had stopped and all the rides began to open. She rode 2 small coasters and enjoyed it (Fire in the Hole, and Thunderation). I got to ride the big coasters as well. The park had added two coasters since last time I was there – Powder Keg and Outlaw Run. We ended up staying until closing time at 10 p.m. Great time! I totally enjoyed it. Ivy did too. We were both wore out when the day was over. 🙂
Christmas eve we had some downtown, so we trekked to Branson again to watch “Star Wars: Rogue One” on the big Imax screen. Then later in the evening it was family get-together time, only this time I met several new people from mom’s husband’s side of the family. We had lots (lots and lots) of food and opened presents and so forth. It was all a good time. No fights. Only one spilled plate of food.
The Christmas Tour continued as we made our way to Fayetteville and stayed with Jenn & Wes, and then went to candlelight service on Christmas morning at Christian Life Cathedral. We had lunch at iHop (which was super-packed and busy, surprisingly), and then went with my sister/brother-in-law and Jim Gooing to see the movie “Sing”. Good flick! It’s clean, charming, and funny.
The Christmas Tour continued as we made our way to Dallas, Texas! After a good night’s sleep at a Holiday Inn Express, Holly made a 2 hour round-trip to somewhere in Texas to pick up a dog she bought. Yes, she bought a dog. Now we have 3 dogs. It’s a min-pin (just like Fifi, our previous dog who died last summer). It’s a puppy, and acts very much like a puppy – hyper, whiny, playful, and poops and pees everywhere. Oh joy.
We continue on to Dallas and stop in at Aly Murad’s (Holly’s cousin) new house and visited with Aunt Toni and Uncle Nabil, Melanie (Aly’s wife), Jamal (Aly’s brother), and Aly’s 4 kids. Really nice people! Very inviting, warm and welcoming, and fun to talk to! 🙂
I ducked out for a little while and met up with my friends Charles and Tina Deitrick for lunch at El Fenix.
Chuck & Tina Deitrick
Aunt Toni Uncle Nabil & Cousins
Playing with 2 cousins
The new dog
Then we made the final 4 hour drive back to Houston. 6 days of non-stop go go go. Everyone was exhausted. Well, every ADULT was exhausted. Ivy was fine and ready to open more presents when we got home.
Ivy got a Clue for Christmas. She won the game on the first try. And keeps on winning. Maybe we have a detective on our hands.
Ivy and I had an odd moment at Kentucky Fried Taco Bell. While we were in the restaurant and I was eating some chicken and she was eating a taco, a really big creature walked in the door. He was dressed in sweat pants and a hoodie, was very tall and bulky, and strutted in like he was somebody special and was carrying a HUGE belt. It had WW on the belt and he was clearly flashing it around. He even propped the belt up on his table so it was visible to any passerby. I didn’t know who he was. Had to look it up. He’s Booker T, a professional wrestler from the 90’s and 2000’s! I should’ve got a selfie with him. But he was kind of freaking me out.
This was the belt he was carrying
Turns out he is kind of a big deal.
On December 21st, 2016, Booker T announced he plans to run for mayor of Houston (2020).
Up next was a 10 year anniversary on December 30th. We celebrated with a $111.00 dinner at a well-known restaurant in Houston called “Taste of Texas“. GREAT food! Lots of it, too.
M E A T
Another cool bonus was winning a couple of tickets to a concert! I signed up on Facebook to win some tickets to a show at House of Blues in downtown Houston on New Year’s Eve,…. and won! I took Jose and we saw Josh Abbott Band. Good show and very lively crowd!
I was impressed with the opening act, too. I had never heard of them, but they put on a good show and got everyone dancing. Here’s one of their videos:
We heard there was a display of tiny trains at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, so we went to check it out. We took some time to check out the new Animal Art gallery, as well as the “Cabinet of Curiosities” section too.
This whole month was such a collusion of activities and events that I just decided to sort of pile it all into one blog post. Here’s the highlights:
I kind of like swing music, so when I heard the Squirrel Nut Zippers were doing a show at Miller Outdoor Theater I decided to go. Nobody else wanted to go! Losers! Oh well, whatever. I went by myself. Much to my surprise, the opening act was a band called “Shiny Ribs” which turned out to be quite a hoot! I’ve since learned they are a sort of a thing in Texas. Hailing from Austin, they make the rounds and have developed a pretty big following.
Here’s one of SNZ’s hit songs:
After much anticipation and waiting, Cafeza finally opens across the street from our house! Yeah, we now have a hip new coffee shop to hang out and be all cool and stuff. It seems to be an instant hit. I see customers over there all day and night.
Jose gets his surgery!
After a year of dealing with doctors and clinics and paperwork and, worst of all, recurring kidney stone pain…Jose finally got his checked into LBJ Hospital on a Friday and had the kidney stones removed via laser. He was worried and fretting before the surgery mainly because of… well,… where the laser gets inserted… As you can see from the picture, it looks a little unpleasant. OMG.
But I reminded him this is way better than the old method of actually cutting a person open and digging out the stones with knives.
The hospital was very attentive and assuring and took care of him quite well. He was in considerable pain afterward and somewhat stoned on pain medication, but he was released later that same day and spend the rest of day sleeping. He spent all of the next day sleeping too, but by Sunday he was much better and kind of bored.
By Monday, he was completely fine and ready to work. No more pain! No more kidney stone problems – hopefully forever!
We celebrated with a ride on some Go-Karts. 😀
Ivy and Romeo go to the Circus!
Well, they go to a Circus show at Miller Outdoor Theater. It was the Phare Cambodian Circus on tour and performing at MOT for just one night. Most of the kids in this circus are underprivileged and disadvantaged, but this Circus takes them in and gives them education and training. They even get to go on tours and see the world! Good deal for them. 🙂
Jane returned from her trip to South Dakota where there is no food and no one fed her anything (not really), so we picked her up from the airport and took her out to eat and fatten her up at one of our favorite places – Sweet Tomatoes!
I also took Romeo and Ivy to an event called “Jurassic Quest” at NRG arena. It turned out to be a bit of a disaster! As soon as we arrived, the event was shut down due to a fire. The fire was put out and eventually the event opened again, but it was more than an hour wait to get tickets. Once inside it was super-crowded and noisy, and we had to wait in lines again to do anything. By the time we left the kids were cranky, Romeo was mad at Ivy, Ivy was being a turd, and I was tired and annoyed. I don’t think we’ll be doing Jurrasic Quest again anytime soon. It’s a great idea, but managed and executed very poorly.
School starts on Monday. Thank God. Summer time was so much fun when I was a kid, but now I’m a grown up and it is…well,… it is still fun, but it is a lot of work too for the parents. I can totally relate to the mom’s who post pictures of themselves celebrating when their kids go back to school in the fall.
This summer was packed full of activities (and some drama) just as much as last year, but perhaps not quite as much. Ivy was a little more content to do nothing for stretches at a time and just play a video game on her iPad or watch cartoons. That made life a little easier for me. Still, I didn’t want too much idle time, so she got plugged in to several camps and VBS’s, as well as trips to the Museum, swimming pool, and a water park. Some of the highlights…
SkyZone Trampoline – Romeo and Ivy spent a couple of hours jumping around like crazy people.
Downtown Library – We got our cards and spent some time reading and playing games. Also rode a mechanical shark.
Robot Camp at Museum – The very first week of summer was spent at HMNS at Robot Camp and learning how to program a robot.
Impact VBS – As always, Impact Church had its 6 week VBS which is more like a summer camp. Fun and learning every single day from 9 to 12!
Texas Oil Ranch – At the end of Impact’s VBS they took the kids to the Texas Oil Ranch for a day of fun.
Splash Town Water Park – I took Romeo and Ivy to Wet-n-Wild mostly because I wanted to go! LOL! All 3 of us had a good time. 🙂
Gymnastics classes – Classes continued as always Monday and Wednesday.
Dog Show – Holly and Ivy spent a Saturday at a Dog Show in Houston.
Rollerskating – We went skating more than once! Ivy is getting better and better each time. I’m getting worse.
A Broadway show with Grandma! – The 2 ladies got to see “Wicked” at TUTS!
Father’s Day at Dave & Busters
Swim classes – link to other blog of gold medal winner
gymnastic classes –
Landed a role on TV twice!
Two times this summer Ivy ended up on local news, although not in any starring role. Just as an extra in the background. We heard “Great Day Houston” was doing a live broadcast from the Summer Street Art Studios near our home, so we hustled over and placed ourselves in the crowd. We got to cheer and make noise as they had a little art contest and gave away some prizes. We walked away with 2 t-shirts and some sunglasses.
Great Day Houston TV show
Great Day Houston TV show Winter Street Studios
Great Day Houston TV show Art Studios – work of art
At the end of summer, though, we just happened to show up up at swim class at the same time as ABC13 arrived to do a story on Simone Manuel. The night before Simone had won a gold medal in Rio Summer Olympics, and it turns out she got her start in swimming right here at the Houston Swim Club where Ivy is taking classes. Ivy was on camera in the background as they interviewed staff such as the woman who actually taught her how to swim as a child. Later, we finished up swim class and, as it turns out, Ivy completed her class on the same day anniversary as her very first completion of a swim class several years earlier.
Graduated from Sting Ray to Tiger Shark
Her classmates. Brother and sister team.
Ivy just finished her last swim cass. Success! They threw her in the pool and she floated on her back as well as turned and paddled her way to the side of the pool.
More Drama than a Telenovella
This summer we also saw some drama from our neighbors and friends, as well as the death of our own dog Fifi. First, Romeo (the boy across the street) and his momma moved away to Sante Fe, Texas. That kind of put a hole in some of our summer activity plans because many activities included Romeo (like going swimming or bike riding). Ivy was upset for awhile when she learned he was gone, but she didn’t have to stay upset for very long because Romeo and his Momma had to return in late July. The house they were staying in caught on fire and burned down! No one was hurt, but the damage was severe. So they had no choice but to return to their house here on Summer St.
Fifi’s death brought on some sadness in June. It was the first living creature Ivy has known fairly well that has died. She cried, of course, on the first day. Then continued to cry at random moments in the week or so ahead. We were even at Home Depot one afternoon when, for no apparent reason, she starts crying in the aisle. I asked what was up and she said it was about Fifi.
Ivy’s friend Karma also had some difficulties enter her life and impact our summer activities as well. I didn’t really know what was going on for quite awhile, but eventually we learned Karma’s mom landed in jail. In mid-August, we got the not-so-great news that Karma had moved away to Florida to stay with relatives. Will she be back? I hope so. But it may be awhile. 🙁
We ended the summer with a day-trip to Galveston and took along the Chihuahua. It was his first time to the ocean. He was not impressed! He didn’t care much for it at all.
Then we also went to the annual downtown Theater District Open House and checked out some of the shows and exhibits. We got an hour of Houston Orchestra, plus a sample of the show “Stomp”, and also a sample of the kids day camp at Alley Theater. Good stuff!
Yesterday, a Houston native that got her start in swimming at the Houston Swim Club won a gold medal in the Rio Olympics! Simone Manuel surprised everyone and perhaps even herself by winning the gold medal in the Women’s 4x100m relay race. It was a surprise to us as well to learn she learned to swim here at the same place we’ve been taking Ivy for 4 years now. Houston Swim Club does a fantastic job of teaching kids – even babies – how to swim. Ivy is now a ‘stingray’ and learning the freestyle (or frontcrawl) swim.
Today, just as we arrive at the pool for class, Abc13 News arrives too. They are here to talk about Simone Manuel and her start in swimming at the club. Ivy didn’t get interviewed, but she was in the background in a couple of shots. For whatever reason, Abc13 did not put the video on-line, however the transcript of the video is here.
Another birthday rolls around. Age 8! Leading up to this day we discussed a variety of things ways and places to have a little party – Chuck E Cheese, Children’s Museum, etc etc – but it was all a bit too costly. Also, we weren’t sure who exactly could attend, so finally, Holly said we’ll just have it at our house. I was a bit hesitant because I knew that meant a lot of work. Sure enough, it was a lot of work. Even the day of the party was a lot of work (about 5 hours non-stop of kids in the house and people coming and going). But it all went really well and everyone had a good time! The theme was Minecraft and included Minecraft treats and decorations, and of course, several kids playing Minecraft on the Playstation 4.
I was really impressed with Ivy not wanting or even expecting any birthday presents. We told people it was okay not to get any gifts, or if they did just make it something cheap. Several people brought a card and money and Ivy scored $50 (which we later used for a trip to Wet n Wild Splash Town)! But she wasn’t even expecting that either. So, I think that’s awesome! She just wanted to have some friends attend her party and have some fun. A girl after my own heart! It’s more about collecting experiences and moments and memories than collecting stuff.
That’s not to say she didn’t get some cool stuff anyway. Grandma brought over a Magic 8 Ball, and Amie brought a Monster High doll. I don’t know why Ivy likes those creepy monster dolls, but she does.