Thanksgiving Day Food and Fun

What is there to do on Thanksgiving Day after stuffing yourself with lots of food? Head to Galveston, of course, and ride the rides on the Pleasure Pier!

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National Funeral Museum

What better time to go to the National Funeral Museum than during Halloween? That’s what we did today as school let out at 12:30 pm. We did the tour of the museum, as well as paid $5 extra to walk through their creepy haunted house.

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Gone Fishing

One day in September when the weather was nice, Jose said he wanted to go fishing. I researched a little on-line as to where people go fishing close to Houston and discovered a park near the Baytown Bridge called Bayou Nature Center. It turned out to be a really nice place! Jose caught a couple of fish and Romeo caught 1. Ivy didn’t catch any fish at all and was a bit upset about that.

Jose wanted to go fishing again, and Ivy wanted to go the beach. I didn’t feel like driving all the way to Galveston, so I decided to try out this place called Sylvan Beach in La Porte. It’s a nifty place on the bay with a man-made beach and a big play area for kids. It also has a pier that you can pay $4.00 and walk out on to go fishing. Jose wanted someplace with less people so we drove about 2 miles north to Morgan’s Point. He didn’t have much luck catching a fish, but Ivy did! She caught her very first fish!!

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Ivy Sommer Dutton’s Super Summer Break

Another summer break is almost over with school starting August 24th. But it hasn’t been a boring summer for Ivy! We kicked off the summer immediately with 2 weeks of Swim Classes at Houston Swim Club – Sharpstown location. Then tt was another round of Vacation Bible Schools, and as usual Houston had plenty to choose from. This year, however, Ivy went to 1 VBS that lasted for 6 whole weeks. It turned out to be GREAT! It was at a small church within walking distance to our house, and they had plenty of things to do all day long. They challenged the kids to memorize all of the books of the bible and if they did they’d get a special treat – a field trip to an Oil Ranch. Much to my amazement Ivy did it! She got to spend the day – which was actually on her birthday (July 23rd) – at this Texas Oil Ranch.

Ivy also really enjoyed going to Second Baptist Church and they mega-VBS with lights and smoke and super heroes.

Not all of the summer camps were Christian-oriented. She also did a week of science camp at the Houston Museum of Natural Science and studied Kitchen Chemistry. I enjoyed going there each day to drop off and pick her up. I’d often hang around and check out some of the exhibits.

There were lots of activities and fun, but the best part wasmaking some new friends. Across the street we met Romeo (age 6) and his niece Breseis (age 7) and her brother Adrian (age 4). We also invited Julie (age 10) from next door to come over and play too. We had lots of fun on several different days including a 2 trips to the Natural Science Museum, and 1 trip to the Children’s Museum, a quick visit to the observation floor at Chase Tower, and an ‘End of Summer’ party at our house. In the meantime, we also just spend some time at home playing video games and building stuff with the magnetic tiles.

Not everything in summer was great – there was a broken arm in the middle of all that fun. But she seemed to deal with it just fine and got lots of people to sign her cast. It was finally removed and life was back to normal. You can read the details on this blog post.

As for her birthday… well, Ivy had a full-blown birthday ‘bender’. The celebration lasted for 3 days! First, on her actual birth day (July 23rd), she went with Impact Church to the Texas Oil Ranch for goat-petting and barn-swinging and other fun stuff. The next day she went to Melly Tovar’s house for the day and had a party there with cake and a pinata! Then on Saturday we had her official birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese which turned out to be fun for everyone including the grown-ups. All of the grown-ups noticed that Chuck-E-Cheese has improved their food. It used to be kind of ‘meh’, but now it is actually pretty good pizza and sandwiches!

Ivy got this cool bicycyle for birthday. 🙂


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Broken Arm!

Ivy broke her arm June 18th! I got the news while I was still in Belize. It appears she was climbing like a monkey up a doorframe in the house and slipped and did a dive into the floor. With arms stretched out in front of her, she managed to break one bone and she dove into the floor. 🙁

It was a stressful evening, as you can imagine, as Holly took Ivy to the ER.

But it seems by the next day Ivy was just fine and enjoying the attention she was getting from her new pink camouflage cast. By the time I returned it was covered it autographs and she seemed to be in no pain at all.

I took her to the next doctor’s appointment. These photos were taken June 29th during the return trip to the orthopedist and the downgrading of the cast.

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Servolution at a local school

I didn’t get enough hard work and sweat in Belize, so I decided to sign up for Servolution and help clean up a local elementary school. We also fixed up the weight room at the high school next door. My team mostly stayed in the principles office and nurses station to clean and paint the room.

Lots of work was done in just 4 hours! Good times. 🙂

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Belize with a Bunch of Guys from Church

Lakewood Church decided to have their first ever Men only mission trip and send their guys to Belize. The trip was multi-purpose with some of us doing construction work, others doing ministry outreaches into prisons, and all of us being camp counselors for a weekend. This turned out to be one of the most remarkable/difficult/wonderful/exhausting/action-packed weeks of my entire life!

The action began before the Mission even started, actually, by participating in a Servolution. We went downtown to a shelter and worked in the kitchen and laundry for the day. I mostly worked in the laundry room.

But, finally, the day of departure arrived! We each met at Bush International Airport bright and early and checked in our stuff. A few hours later we were in Belize! Our host Michael Simmons of Cayo Tours met us at the airport with a big van and escorted us (for what seemed to be forever) to the place we were spend the night. I was prepared for something as basic as a cot to sleep on in a barn, but our accomodations turned out to be much better than that! Way better! It was Robert’s Grove Resort right on the Caribbean sea. The rooms were air conditioned and had comfortable beds and hot showers. Each morning we’d gather at the dinning area for a continental breakfast, and then have our devotionals out on the little cabana at the end of a pier.

I’ll never forget our final night at this resort because of a strong storm that blew through. I found a porch with a hammock and enjoyed the balmy breeze while watching the lightning and storm clouds roll across the ocean. It was mesmerizing and very relaxing.

If you ever go to Belize, I recommend staying a Robert’s Grove Resort. Others recommend it too! It has some high reviews on TripAdvisor.

Of course, we were in Belize to WORK… and work we did. Oh wow, it was difficult at times. Very hot and sweaty. A couple of times I had to just stop and rest. At one point, I thought I was going to have to quit working altogther! It was only noon, but I was spent. Suddenly, though, some clouds and rain moved in and I was able to cool off and regain my strength. Back to work I went!

Four days of working on this church was wrought with challenges and set-backs. The equipment we needed to hoist lumber overhead had decided it was not going to work at all. So we had to improvise. Plus, we were working with guys we had just met – a few from Kentucky, and a few guys from Belize and Guatemala. Tempers flared a few times, there was some grumbling and complaining, but there were also plenty of laughs and good moments. There was also an ABUNDANT supply of mangos within reach from several trees. We were eating mangos all day long! It’s a good thing I LOVE mangos.

Ultimately, our goal up getting a portion of the roof up was accomplished!!

Then came the Boy’s Camp. We packed up our stuff and said goodbye to Robert’s Grove Resort and headed to something more primitive. It was all the way over on the other side of Belize (in the Cayo district in the town of Benque Viejo del Carmen (western side of Belize on the border of Guatemala) and at a camp with a few dormitories and a kitchen. What a contrast to where we had been!

We were thrown right into the action as soon as we arrived. I wasn’t too happy about that, and I could tell right away we were being assigned roles as camp counselors (not something we had been told so far). The group about 14 boys that I ended up being assigned too was rowdy and unruly! At first, I thought it was just me not doing a good job, but at dinner time I could tell the boys at my table were terribly behaved compared to the boys at the other tables. After getting out of hand a dozen times or so, I finally went to the main Counselor guy and said, “What the heck is going on here??” He informed me that my kids were from the worst neighborhood and borderline delinquents. Okay, well, that made more sense, but I wish they had told me that earlier!

We survived until bedtime, and – I hate to admit it – I deliberately escaped being assigned a counselor for the boy’s dormitories. I’ve been around summer camps enough to know that is PRANK time. Sure enough, the guys who stayed in the dorms with the boys were pranked nearly all night long. I think they finally got to sleep around 3 a.m.

The grown-ups sleeping arrangement was in a room with no air conditioning, about 20 beds, and a shared bathroom facility. But, honestly, by the time we arrived I was exhausted and had no trouble going to sleep. What’s more amazing about that is the fact I didn’t have a pillow or blanket! Only a sheet to cover the twin-sized mattress. There was also a ceiling fan directly above me on full blast (which I absolutely hate), but none of it bothered me at all. I closed my eyes about 10 pm, and the next thing I knew it was morning! I didn’t wake up a single time in the night.

The next couple of days went more smoothly and was chock full of activities and even a jungle adventure near the Mayan ruins.

We took time out to visit the Mayan Ruins which was just a few miles away from the Camp. What a nice treat! From the top of the ruins you could see into Guatemala, as well as see wild monkeys rambling around in the trees. These were the Xunantunich Mayan Ruins.

Then off we go to our final stay at Banana Bank Lodge. It was dark when we arrived, so I really couldn’t tell what the place had to offer. So I just took a shower (after shooing away the frog that was in the bathroom) and went to bed. The next day… wow! What a cool place! It was like a tropical zoo with peacocks and parrots and all kinds of flora and fauna. At one point a spotted a howler monkey on the stairway by the pool and went to investigate. I thought it was wild, but it wasn’t. It was the pet of the owner of the resort. He was a very friendly guy and said to just be still for a moment and the monkey will probably come sit on you. Sure enough, that is exactly what he did.

There was an awesome art gallery on the second floor, which apparently I was the only one from our group that found and explored. Oh well, you guys missed out.

We also a few hours to go cave tubing! That was cool! You can float on an inner-tube through cave and marvel at all kinds of rock formations. I loved every minute of this! If you are ever in Belize you MUST go cave tubing. Check out a video here.



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We Are on the Local News (again!)

Ivy and I headed downtown to the Comic Book convention at GRB and literally had just stepped out of the vehicle when a reporter and cameraman began asking us some questions. They were wanting to know if people had difficulty getting downtown or parking with the huge influx of people (about 30,000 people attending the convention). Ivy was dressed as BatGirl, while I was dressed as regular ol’ super hero me.

I wasn’t sure if they’d use our soundbite because there were thousands of people to talk to and I really didn’t have anything profound to say, but later that night we watched the news and – sure enough – there we were! How fun!


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The Wesens

I found a bizarre little app and decided to have a little fun with it.

Meet the Wesens!

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Art Car Parade

I’ve been to the Art Car Parade only one time several years ago and didn’t really like it very much. It was mostly bohemian and had too many pot-smoker, anti-christian, and prissy gay guys prancing around in high heels. It was kind of a turn off, so I never cared to go back.

But today the weather was nice and there was nothing else to do, so I asked Ivy, “Do you want to go see a parade?”

Of course the answer was YES! So off we went. She enjoyed it for awhile, but about 2/3 of the way through the parade she had enough. “When does this end??” she whined. It did go on for a long time. Hundreds of cars!

It was as bohemian and offensive this time around. Lots more families and regular people in the parade. I saw only one prissy guy in high heels. Only one pack of pot-smoking NORML people were at the very end of the parade. No anti-Christian parade cars at all this time.

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