This year we got to do Thanksgiving TWICE! Once at Grandma Jane’s house on November 18th (yes, a bit early on purpose), and then again on Thanksgiving Day in Arkansas at Grandma Shirley’s house. Both dinners were awesome! Leftovers were awesome too!
On Wednesday, Nov 22nd, we headed north toward Arkansas, but made a stop in Dallas to have lunch with my pal Charles Deitrick. We chowed down at the Spaghetti Warehouse in downtown Dallas.
Then headed north to a Hotel in Durant, OK for the night.
Then off we go to Harrison, Arkansas…and arriving just in time to eat!! What a deal.
Nom nom nom
More nom nom nom
Holly and Ivy
Grandma and grandaughter
Jenn, Wes, Zack, and mom
Lloyd and Mom and Glenda
Glenda steps up to the plate
Nom nom nom
The next day we head north to Branson, Missouri for a great day at Silver Dollar City. Thanks, Tiffany, for the comp tickets!! Saved us a fortune. I took Ivy and Broc and we spent about 7 hours in the park. It was their Christmas season, so there were millions of lights on trees and buildings. It was stunning! All of the rides were open as well (except for the river and log water rides), so we rode lots of stuff including the Thunderation. Ivy and Broc both rode it, but that is as daring as they’d get. I had to ride the big rollercoasters by myself.
The weather was perfect all day, and the kids were both very well-behaved and content with just about anything I said to. The only drawback to the day was waiting in long lines. It was near record attendance at the park with about 22,000 people (the record is 24,000).
Holly and mom went to Branson as well, but they went to the Showboat Branson Belle. They claim to have had a really good time.
Tiffany, Ivy, & Broc
Tiffany and her Xmas tree
Ivy talking Pokemon with Tiffany
wonky sideways mirror hall
Gravity is weird in here
After a good night’s sleep and some great leftovers for breakfast, we hit the road to return to Texas. But first stop along the way was Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The town itself is very quaint and interesting, but the Crescent Hotel is interesting all to itself. Supposedly, it is haunted, so we decided to go do a little amateur ghost hunting.
Visiting the haunted hotel
See the ghost?
Ghost in the mirror again
A brief stop in Fayetteville, Arkansas to see Jennifer and Riley, and we even went to see the new movie “Coco” together. We went to a theater with reclining seats! That’s the first time I’ve seen that. I have to say it was quite comfortable. I like it!! I hear there is a theater like that somewhere in Houston. I’ll have to find that.
Then back we go to Houston with an overnight stay in Dennison, OK. The last few hours of driving were torture, but aren’t they always? We made it home safe and sound.
It’s Halloween! On October 31st, our school held a Book parade in which kids could dress up and parade around the school in the costume of the character of their favorite book. Ivy chose a Zombie Cheerleader from the book “My Little Sister is a Zombie Cheerleader”. She can be seen at 3:25 and 5:35 in this video…
After school, we went to Trinity Lutheran Church downtown for their annual fall “Trunk or Treat Festival” and scored lots of candy and food.
Then settled in for a night of Baseball watching as the Astros tried to beat the LA Dodgers in the 6th game of the World Series.
It’s kind of amazing how halloween has changed. I remember just being dropped off in a neighborhood and walking from house to house and gathering BAGS full of candy. No more of that! It is too dangerous these days to go door to door. So these Trunk or Treat festivals are pretty cool. A lot less walking, too. I like it. 🙂
Every spring and fall the Art Studios up the street from us do an open house. It’s pretty cool, I think. All the studios are open and you can browse room after room of art. They always have free munchies and wine scattered about as well.
This time I took 4 kids and they seemed to treat it a bit like Halloween – loading up on candy and treats at every studio. Of course, I sipped a bit a of wine at each stop, too.
Walking illegally on the railroad track to the art gallery
Don’t touch the exhibits! touch touch touch
Getting tired. Pausing for a moment in this studio.
Okay, I’ve gone through 3 wedding rings now. No, not 3 marriages, just 3 wedding rings during my 10+ years of marriage. First, a traditional Silver ring, then a more expensive Titanium, and finally a cheap(er) Silicon ring.
The first ring I bought when I got married was a traditional Silver ring. Honestly it never fit right and was kind of annoying. But, you know how it goes; there is pressure to spend some bucks and do the traditional thing. Unfortunately, it would come off easily, and one day while walking the dogs, it just popped right off my finger without me even noticing. Later that night my wife – being a detailed oriented person – noticed it wasn’t on my finger and asked, “Where is your ring??” Suddenly, I was aware it was gone. I knew it could’ve only come off during that walk with the dogs, but a thorough search and backtracking of my steps turned up nothing.
Traditional Silver Ring
So, I decided to replace it, but this time get something unique and what I actually liked. I settled on a black titanium ring with gold stripes. It just looked cool, I thought, plus the selling point was the super-hard metal that would last forever. The price was around $200. I actually ordered it on-line with the typical skepticism of whether it would even fit, but it fit perfectly. So this ring stayed on my finger for several years to come.
But, as time passed, I gained a little weight, and this ring that used to fit perfectly was now snug and creating a rash on my finger. It was often itchy and next to impossible to pull off of my finger. I literally had to use petroleum jelly or baby oil to lubricate my finger and then twist, twist, twist and pull to pull the thing off. It was painful, as well, to pull it off. After several attempts to clean it and wear it again…each time with same irritation and discomfort, I finally just took it off one day and didn’t put it back on. Done with that.
So, I go shopping again for a ring and I stumble upon an advertisement for a Silicon ring. What’s that, I wondered? It claimed to be much more comfortable than a traditional ring, as well as MUCH more safe because it is flexible. I decided to give it a try mainly because the price was so low…anywhere from $10 to $80 for a ring. I figured, well, there’s not much to lose! Just a little cash maybe. Let’s give it a try. So I ordered a ring… 3 rings, in fact, for just $25.
A week or so later, a dude from Amazon tossed a box over my fence, I opened it up, and there lay 3 nice little rings… slipped one one… ahhh! So nice and comfortable. Yes, it is flexible. Much like a rubber band, but only thicker. It slips on and off easily, but while it is on it does not slip or move around, and doesn’t irritate in any way. It also comes with some peace of mind knowing it won’t get caught on machinery and rip my finger off.
So, my advice is go for the silicone ring right from the start. Yes, I know there is a bit of a stigma there – it’s a cheap ring, whereas I’m supposed to be spending thousands of dollars on wedding rings, right?! Well, go ahead and spend thousands on her ring, but for yourself just know that a man’s ring is potentially more hazardous or likely to be lost. No, it won’t stay on your finger permanently forever. There are many situations where it will need to be removed. It probably won’t shine forever either. It WILL lose its luster after awhile and lots of wear and tear. Spend your money on a ring that is comfortable, safe, and flexible. Actually, it’s more likely THAT will stay on your finger longer than an expensive gold-plated diamond-covered piece of rock. The only downside is that a silicone ring isn’t going to be shiny and sparkly. No one is going to look at your ring and say “Ooh, that’s nice!” And there is always that subtle fear that some snooty jerk is going to look at your ring and quietly condemn you as cheap. Just laugh and ask why are they looking at your ring anyway? Shopping around?
If you want more reviews, just go look it up on Youtube. There are LOTS of reviews, comparisons, and even advertisements for silicone rings. Like this one…
School vacation is almost over! So once again here is a summer vacation review.
This summer wasn’t quite as full as the last few summers. I didn’t feel like being on the go-go-go every day, and Ivy indicated she didn’t want to be super busy either. Much to my surprise she was often quite content to just be at home and do nothing (well, watch cartoons or play on her iPad). But still, we managed to pack in plenty of activities and fun and accomplishments.
Impact VBS – What an awesome church. This 6 week vacation bible school is more like a Summer Camp. The kids got to go places and do lots of things, and even got a bag of school supplies and some Sketcher shoes that light up!
St John’s VBS – Another round of this awesome and exciting VBS with Jenna Kuykendahl
Girl Scout Sleepover – Spent the night with a bunch of giggly girls at “The Cottage” (Girl Scout headquarter house in the Heights).
Got on TNT Team – Tumbling and Trampoline here we come!
Vault! – See video below.
Eclipse Day at SplashTown – See video below.
Hurricane! – See video below.
Vault Daycamp Only a few blocks from our house is this awesome training center for acrobatics. Ivy did 5 days in a daycamp for kids. 4 kids altogether participated, and everyone seemed to really enjoy it. Heck, it looks fun to me too. I want to do that!
Splashtown day of the eclipse! It’s a bummer that we couldn’t fly our private jet to Wyoming and watch the total eclipse. So the next best thing is go to a water park! Ivy, Jose, and myself spent the day at Wet n Wild in Houston. It was fun! We also brought along some special glasses to look at the eclipse which was about 60% here in Texas.
School is supposed to TODAY (Monday, August 28th) but right now there is Hurricane Harvey is blowing through and causing havoc. The first day of school was cancelled…and then the entire week of school has been cancelled! An epic amount of flooding is going on, and more flooding is expected. It will be Wednesday or Thursday before the rain stops. We’re sitting here in the house safe and dry, but bored to death. Mom was here (Ivy’s Grandma Shirley) as her husband and his daughter and grandsons were down in Surfside on the beach. But they had to evacuate because of the hurricane, and on Sunday they made their way out of town toward Austin and then on to Arkansas.
Today my good friend Rusty passed away. I’ve often wondered when that day would come, and how it would happen, so today I found out. He died quietly in the back seat of my truck on our way to the Heights Hospital for Animals. Ironically, he passed away almost in the same way we met. In 2004, I was doing satellite dish installation in Arkansas and went to this really run-down home full of dogs and cats. Of all the dogs running around, only one was on a leash. I asked the homeowner why was he on a leash? The guy said it is because this dog constantly tries to escape and run away from us. I thought, “I can see why!”, but didn’t say that out loud. I just felt a little empathy and took a few minutes to pet him. The owner saw me and said, “You can have that dog if you want.” I honestly wasn’t looking for a dog to take home, but I considered it in the moment. I decided to take a little risk and remove the chain from around his neck. I was thinking, okay, perhaps he’ll run away, but a life in the wild would be better than chained up here in this pit. The dog immediately made a bee-line for my truck (the door was open) and jumped right in. I sat in the driver’s seat and he snuggled right up next to me as if to say, “Okay, I’m ready, let’s go!!”
So we did. That would be the first of many, many rides in the truck. He often didn’t even seem to care where we were going. He just loved get in the truck and go.
Driving to Texas
Hey babe. Can I buy you a drink?
Can I check my email?
There’s little people in there!
After that first day, it didn’t take long for this dog to become a good friend. He was an incredibly quick learner, and in fact learned the basics (sit, stay, speak, and lay down) in just one day. He also was house broken in just a matter of 2 or 3 days. He stuck to me like glue everywhere we went, and would even follow me down to the creek and jump in the water if I was in the water. Rusty become the first dog I ever had an emotional bond with. I didn’t know it was possible to love a dog like a child or any other human, but yes indeed that is certainly possible. He was an ever-present furry friend through many days of boredom, aggravation, poverty, wealth, sickness, and everything else you can think of. I’m glad he doesn’t speak. He could probably tell some stories about me! LOL.
I moved him from Arkansas to Houston, Texas in 2007 and was a little worried about how he well he do adapting to life in the city (and me too for that matter). We both did fine and he quickly found there were plenty of rabbits to chase along the Bayou near downtown Houston, and…omg…the beach in Galveston was just loaded with stinky, smelly dead things. He would literally roll around in that stuff and cover himself in stink. It was awful a couple of times driving back from Galveston.
Hallway at the Alexan Lofts
You gonna eat all of that?
I love the smell of dead fish!!
Ivy and Rusty
Ivy and Rusty
Rusty napping with baby Ivy
Beach beach beach
Walking on the Bayou in downtown Houston
Rusty was a one-person dog with me being the one person. He didn’t particularly like other dogs either, but he would gradually accept the presence of our dogs Tootsie, and Fifi, and even Potrillo. Amazingly, he got along very well with Potrillo and would even share a food bowl. That is something he’d NEVER do with any other dog. I think Rusty thought Potrillo was his child. LOL.
Potrillo arguing with Rusty
My belly is ready to be scratched
Around 2014, though, he began to noticeably age and lose some of his sense. He used to be scared to death of storms, but now it would thunder and lightning outside and he would flinch. It was because his hearing was slipping away. Then his eyesight began to fade as well. I could toss food to him and he wouldn’t even see it. Only his sense of smell remained and he’d follow his nose to the goodies I had tossed.
I knew Rusty didn’t have too much longer left in this world, but still I was hoping for a few more years at least. That wouldn’t be the case. In June of this year he suddenly began having difficulty breathing. I took him to the vet to see what the problem was, but the price to find out was HUGE – like $500 or more. I thought, well, maybe I can figure this out on my own and give him some natural remedies. I’m pretty sure it was some sort of fluid building up around the lungs. It was causing his blood pressure to rise and difficulty in breathing. After about 7 days, I realized nothing I was doing was fixing the problem, so I set an appointment to the doctor again for July 12th at 10:00 a.m.
During the night on July 11th, Rusty’s behavior changed slightly from the norm. He disappeared in the middle of the night. I think he was uncomfortable or possibly in pain. In the morning, I found him laying in the living room floor just sort of zoned out. He wasn’t whimpering or in any obvious pain, so we just went about our normal morning routine. I got Ivy ready for her daycamp at Impact Church of Christ, and picked up Rusty and carried him out to the truck. He actually got a little excited…like he always does…when I put him the truck. I guess he thought we were going to the park or something.
Maybe the excitement put him over the edge. On our way to Daycamp Ivy turned and looked at Rusty in the backseat when I asked, “What is he doing?” She said he was just breathing heavy. About 9:35 a.m., when she exited the truck and went into the church, I saw Rusty rustle around and move to the other passenger side of the back seat. He continued to breathe heavy, but he was just staring at me with a far-away look in his eyes. I drove on and headed toward the clinic for our appointment at 10 am.
As we were driving up Heights Boulevard, I turned up the volume on a song on the radio by The Bleachers called “Rollercoaster.”
When the song ended, it became quiet in the truck…I mean very quiet…I suddenly became aware there was no sound of breathing from the backseat. I glanced back and, sure enough, Rusty was not breathing. I pulled over to the side, turned and scratched his head. Nothing. I poked and shook him. Still nothing. He seemed to be gone. He must have passed away somewhere between I-10 and the library on 13th street on Heights Boulevard.
But suddenly, he twitched. Maybe he is still alive?! So I drove on to the clinic (only about 5 more blocks), picked him up and carried him in. I told the doctors he twitched a couple of times, so he might still be alive, but after a few minutes the doctor said, no, he is gone.
I left Rusty with the veterinarian to be cremated. It was a sad day.
I’m really glad things ended in the same way that it began…just me and Rusty in a truck. That seemed to be his most favorite thing in the world. I’m also glad he seemed to pass away quietly and with no apparent pain. I’m also glad he waited until Ivy was out of the truck in her daycamp. It was only 5-10 minutes after she exited the truck that he passed away. If he had died while she was still with us I’m afraid it would’ve been traumatic for her. Rusty has been a part of Ivy’s life since the day we brought her home from the hospital. I remember how curious he was about the baby, sniffing and even licking her head.
Overall, he lived a good life and chased a lot of squirrels and cats. I’m glad I was a part of it. Goodbye, my friend. Hope to see you again in Heaven.
BHP Billiton spent a lot of money to build a new skyscraper in the Post Oak area. Holly already worked on the 22nd floor of one of the older buildings, but BhpBilliton decided they needed a new one. It was finally ready in the spring and Holly packed up her stuff and moved to the new office on the 13th floor of the new building. One fine afternoon in May – Ivy’s first day out of school, in fact, we decided to drop by and check out the new place.
School finally came to an end and Ivy completed 3rd grade successfully. Grade average? I think a B. She did well okay in ever category, but excelled in mathematics. She showed signs of being an artist as well. Didn’t do so great in Spanish reading, but she didn’t fail either. I think she just didn’t have any real motivation to get better at speaking Spanish because all of her friends and family speak English. But, she has two more years to go at this Spanish-language school, so maybe she’ll get better.
Otherwise, she was ready for school to end. Mr. Tomaz was her first male teacher and a bit more of a task master than she had experienced before. He sent homework home with her EVERY night! Even I got a little frustrated with the amount of homework. She was definitely sick of it by the end of school. The past few months we had to endure lots of complaining and resistance to doing homework each night. But she did and passed 3rd grade with a B average. Excellent!
Girls from class
Usually, on the first week of no school we’d send Ivy to a day camp at the Museum of Natural Science. But this year she just didn’t want to go, and we didn’t want to spend the extra $200. So we had a week to piddle around and kill time. What to do? Let’s go to the Art Museum! Ivy has shown an interest and aptitude in art, so I thought maybe exposure to fine art would be a good thing. I quickly learned she is not quite ready for that yet. The only thing she noticed was all the BOOBIES! Boobs and naked people everywhere in the museum. She could see their boy parts and girl parts. Ewwww!
Miller Outdoor Theater music history
Statue kickin’ Ivy’s butt
Dancing with a statue
Outside of the Museum
Panoramic shot inside Museum
She’s not quite getting it
Strolling thru the museum
Me pretending to contemplate this work of art. Really just sitting down.
Deep contemplation of this work art.
We both noticed the little teddy bears in his eyes