Thanksgiving in Grandma’s New House!


First Thanksgiving dinner in the new house! Yeah!!


Jane also wanted to know what was above the garage so she could possible install a door up into there.  So we climbed up into the attic and took a look around.  

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Tiny Trains


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.

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September Mix


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.

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Here’s one of SNZ’s hit songs:

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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.

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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
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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.

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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!

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Ivy and Romeo go to the Circus!

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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. 🙂

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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!

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Another (not quite as) Big Blow Out Summer Vacation


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!

Sky Zone

Father’s Day at Dave & Busters

Fireworks downtown

Mom visits

FunPlex video

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.

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.

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!

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The Next Gold Medal Winner is….


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.

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Happy Birthday #8!


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.

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Fifi – Rest in Peace


Today, our min-pin Fifi passed away.

Fifi came into our life shortly after our other dog Tootsie was tragically killed by a car. Holly’s reaction to Tootsie’s death was to get another dog very quickly. Within about a week she brought home a registered min-pin named Fifi. Things didn’t start off so well… Fifi didn’t like me at all! She would literally freak out and run at the sight of me. Once I had to catch her and put her in the back seat of the car, and before the drive was over she had crapped all over the back seat. She also escaped the house one day and disappeared into the neighborhood. Holly had to put up signs saying, “Missing Dog” and call this number if you find her. Surprisingly, one person did call and say, “Hey, I think your dog is hiding under my house.” Yes, she was hiding under there, and Holly somehow successfully coaxed her out.

But as time went by, a curious thing began to happen. Fifi slowly warmed up to me and eventually became more of a devoted follower in my footsteps then the other dogs. I could take her off-leash in the park and not worry about her running away. In fact, she would stick close by my side or would come running the moment I called her name.

Fif was fat. She would eat like she had been starved, gulping down food whole and gobbling it up before the other dogs could even sniff it. That’s rather typical of a miniature pincher breed, so I wasn’t surprised. But she slowly grew fatter and fatter. She was obviously overweight, but I didn’t know how to stop her from eating so much and so fast. One day, however, she began to lose weight. Holly noticed it too and said, “Fifi seems a little skinnier!” For awhile, we both thought that was pretty great, but she continued to lose weight faster and faster over a period of 2 to 3 weeks. I thought, hmmm, maybe this isn’t such a good thing. Maybe something is wrong?

We took her to the doctor and, sure enough, she had a problem. It was Pancreatitis which was causing a diabetic problem (eventually she would be diagnosed as having Cushing’s Disease). She had to immediately begin taking 2 injections of insulin per day. Somehow I became the one responsible for giving her injections each day, although Jose would also help at times. I think Holly just didn’t like the unpleasant part of wrangling the dog and sticking a needle in her butt. I didn’t particularly care for it either, but I just considered it a fact of life and another chore to do each day. Eventually, I got pretty good at it. There were still plenty of times where I didn’t find the right spot to inject the needle and Fifi would whip around and bite my hand.

Over the next few months, Fifi would go through bouts of being fine and healthy and her usually bitchy self, to being sick and vomiting and losing weight again. She would always recover, though, from any moment of sickness and life would go on. But one day she became sick again…vomiting, not eating…and making a pitiful whimpering sound that we’d never heard before. In my mind I thought, uh oh, she’s reached the end of her illness. Holly thought the same thing and took her to the veterinarian. Sure enough, she had passed the point of no return. There would be no recovery this time. We made the decision to have her put to sleep.

Euthanized by the Heights Hospital for Animals on July 14th, Fifi quietly and peacefully went to sleep forever. Goodbye Fifi, you certainly brought some laughs and charm and drama into our life, and you will be missed.

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4th of July Weekend with Mom


Mi madre came down from Arkansas to visit for a few days. It was a pretty calm, non-eventful visit mainly because it was so hot outside. She preferred to stay indoors. But we did manage to go out and have some fun. We went to The Aquarium Restaurant, petted stingrays in their exhibit, visited the Planetarium at the Museum of Natural Science (which made Mom motion sick), and ate some delicious food at Grandma Jane’s house, and more food on the 4th and watched the downtown fireworks show.

Then back she flew to Arkansas. Only $168 roundtrip on United. Not bad!

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Father’s Day and Other Such Things


It’s been a busy few weeks with school ending and the summer season beginning. We kicked off the summer with Ivy going to Robot Camp at the Museum of Natural Science in Houston

Then I decided to try to get back into bicycling riding, and made a stop at the Waugh Bridge one evening to watch the bats fly away (as they do each night around 8:15 or so).

Then June 19th was Father’s Day and the ladies took me to Dave & Busters for some fun and games and good food.

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Ivy’s School Does Bollywoood


When Ivy said she was practicing for a dance in Helms Elementary international festival we didn’t realize she would go Bollywood on us and take center stage, but that’s what she did! She appears in this video at 2:15 and is on the far-right of the stage in the red belly-dancer outfit. Later, at 3:15 she moved to the center and is dancing with the boy in black:

I actually like some of these Bollywoood videos. It is cheesy sometimes, but it also very colorful and bouncy. This is my favorite:

Happy new year!

Non-stop Bollywood! Too much? Yes, probably.

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