Tuesday, December 9, 2008

'Tis the Season...

I was sitting in the dentist office waiting- room paging thru the holiday edition of a popular home & garden magazine. It was full of super ideas on decorating for the season. How to transform your house into a beautiful oasis of holiday cheer--how to make a place that will make your guests feel welcome and inspire family traditions that will last for years to come. I flipped thru the pages marveling at how someone can take a branch from a fir tree, a pinecone, & a bow and transform it into a beautiful centerpiece for the dining room table. I am amazed at how people can choose theme colors to decorate with that coordinate everything in the room to flow together. Pieces of fruit that automatically get tossed in my fridge to be soon consumed, are somehow transformed into expensive looking displays.

Every year I drag out the same bin of decorations. My tree looks identical year after year--no theme ornaments or color schemes that coordinate my gift wrapping to match my drapes. I'm not complaining. I love my Christmas decorations & tree ornaments--some belonged to elderly family members now gone, some adorned my family Christmas tree when I was a child, and new hand-made ones are added every year made by the kids. They are like dear, old friends who come by for their annual visit at this special time.
I was almost finished paging through the magazine, feeling envious of the holiday bliss these homes would bring these lucky families and feeling down -trodden by my lack of creativity, when I noticed that not one highlighted home had displayed a nativity scene. I didn't even see Christmas angels. One of the pictures had a caption reading that the true meaning of the season was being with your family. While I agree that this time of year is more fun spent surrounded by loved ones (that is the reason we are packing our 6 kids & 2 dogs to drive back to the northeast), it is not the TRUE meaning of Christmas.
When you walk into my house this time of year, you'll notice the Advent Wreath as the centerpiece of my kitchen table. My mantle display is a large "Story of Christmas" book that contains 25 smaller books. We read one book each night at dinner. The story starts with the Angel Gabriel appearing to Mary and ends the night that Jesus Christ is born. You won't find exquisite displays of greenery & gifts, but you probably will notice the ten nativity scenes I have placed throughout various rooms. I doubt you'll ever see my home pictured in a home decorating magazine, but I do hope if you visit, the reason for the season will be obvious & you'll leave here feeling that the Prince of Peace lives within.

God Bless Us, Everyone!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Boring Life

"Mom, your life is so boring!"

So came this statement the other day out of the mouth of one of my teen sons. My eyebrows flew up and a high pitched "crazy-person" cackle came out of my mouth, "Are you kidding me?!! Boring? BORING!!! I dream of being bored. I can't remember the last time I felt bored. I actually have fantasies about being bored! "

I don't think said son was still in the room by the time I finished my rant, but it didn't really matter. I do believe his statement wasn't so much about the amount of activity I have in a typical day as much as the type of activity. I admit, I don't jet off to attend the Academy Awards or climb any mountains, heck, I don't even ski. I don't win any contests for my laundry organization system or my plan-your-dinner for a month calendar but, in my daily routine, feeling that I'm bored has never been an issue.

His words came into my mind today as I scrambled to fit all of our obligations into the available daylight hours. Wednesday at this present moment happens to be an extremely busy day and while I longed for a lazy afternoon and maybe even a 20 minute nap, I thought I'd share a typical day in my (boring) life:

I was woken up by Mike at 5:45 am so I could drive him to the bus station because teen son (yep, same one) drives the other car to school & swim practice. After dropping off hubby, I begin my quiet prayer time on the short drive home with the hopes of 10 more minutes to finish after getting home. This particular day, I was met at home by little K wanting breakfast, 9 yo dog demanding breakfast, & a whiny puppy needing to go out and (of course) eat breakfast. I did finish my prayer time although "quiet" was no longer in the description.

Breakfast, clean-up, showers, & more puppy management came next. Oh yeah, I tossed a hunk of beef in the crock pot and dumped some BBQ sauce on top, set to low. Dinner's done!

Our school day began somewhere before 9. By 10:30 we were rushing out the door, books in tow, to pick up R from high school. He and M have orthodontist appointments at 11:15. Ortho done, drop R back at school and hit the gas station to fill up before our crazy afternoon.

Back home for a quick lunch, more school, more puppy management, change clothes & pack up for M's Pickwick Society meeting. (this is a Victorian based girls virtue/craft class led by another homeschooling mom). We stopped on the way to pick up my friend's 3 daughters for the meeting because she had another family obligation. Onward....

The meeting was in a park, which was good cause the weather was gorgeous and it gave the younger kids something to do while the older girls met. Promptly at 3:30 (ok--a teeny bit later) I rounded up the 6 kids spread out in various locations of the park, dropped 3 of them back off at their grandparents home, and headed back to our house with my remaining 3. Once home I led the battle cry "Ten minutes everyone, hurry!! A-- dress for soccer & look for your ball, M--get in your leo for gymnastics & get something to eat, K--go potty." I fed the big dog and took puppy out for well, you know. We piled back in the car, this time with Brutus (the big dog) because he always joins us on our afternoon drives.

First stop (4:50) the gym-- out goes M, second stop high school-- pick up R from afterschool activities, third stop--soccer field, make sure it's okay if I leave A there with coach while I finish my rounds, fourth stop--back home to drop R off so he can shower, eat, & get ready for his Confirmation class, fifth stop--bus station, hubby is waiting, sixth stop--home again to drop hubby off so he can eat & get ready for choir practice & take R to class (luckily at the same place), K & dog get out here too, seventh stop (6:00)--back to soccer field to pick up A just in time before it is pitch black out (no lighted fields), eighth stop-- back home again, finally, so I can get out, eat the crock pot dinner (I am so smart, I applaud myself silently), and give the car to hubby & R so they can go to their evening activities. I don't need to go anywhere again until 8:50 to pick up M from the gym.

It is 9:30, where has my day gone?? I don't see any amazing adventures and surely nothing I wrote is making anyone say "Cool, I wish I could do that too!" And yet, I don't feel bored. I definitely feel tired and think I'm fighting a sore throat, but boredom has not entered my mind. Of course, there are no impromptu romantic getaways with my husband, no spontaneous trips into the city just to find some interesting entertainment, not even a trip to blockbuster to rent the latest release. But what I did do was share a part of everyone in my family's life today. Whether it was listening to A read a first grade story book, helping M pick out a poem to share with her Pickwick group, or simply providing a meal & clean clothes to those I love.

When I was a little girl, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up-- a wife & mother, and I definitely wanted alot of kids (and dogs).

So, as boring as it might be, it looks like I'm living my dream afterall!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Saints Go Marching In

Dress up this year has never been so much fun for the kids. We did the usual Halloween stuff--talking about what to dress as all year long and then picking something from the costume trunk at the last minute. The kids came home with their most successful candy load since we've been here. (and no jalapeno flavored candies this year, yea!!) Along with all this fun, a couple days later Michelle, Andrew, & Kaitlyn got to dress up as a favorite saint at our homeschool group's All Saints Party. This is what I wanted to share with y'all (Texas accent).
One generous family in our group opened their farm property to all of us. We set up little games for the kids to rotate thru--all with saint themes like St. Martha's Bake Shop (decorate your own cookie), toss the halo on Mary, St. Peter's fishing boat, St. Paul's missionary journey (tractor ride), and many more. Everyone brought food to share and the kids collected little prizes or candy from each activity. The highlight was the All Saints Parade where the kids got to show off the patron they dressed as.
Getting ready to go: Michelle is St. Agnes (13 yr. old martyr), Andrew is St. Francis of Assisi, Kaitlyn is Blessed Jacinta Marto (youngest seer from Fatima)

Mary, holding baby Jesus, led the parade with the Popemobile close behind.

Here they come:

We had such a nice time celebrating the holy people we strive to be like, and also remembering the souls who've gone on before us that we need to pray for. The evening ended with a perfect sunset and a cross of clouds in the sky.
When we got home, the kids emptied their prize bags on the table. They each got a card of St. Anthony of Padua that was given out at one of the games. They also got lots of candy and religious trinkets. Two more holy cards were found in the mix. We're not sure who's bag they came out of or what game they came from. They were the only other saint cards we came home with. We marveled at the names on the cards: St. Clare & St. Helena. A little sign for us to know that our little saint was with us enjoying all the fun too!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Votes Are In

I could write about how disappointed I am that John McCain lost the Presidential Election. I've read the countless emails that've passed thru my in-box telling the horrors of Obama's personal affiliations, questionable experience, & un-Godly values. I participated in the emails requesting days/weeks of prayer, sacrifice, & fasting to plead with Heaven to not allow a man who does NOT believe in the sanctity of life to take power over our country. For months I avoided the liberal media in order to keep my health & sanity intact. I remained quietly hopeful that our prayers would be answered. My daughter said she knew McCain would win because so many people were praying and God would answer our prayers. I then gently reminded her of a gift God has given us all called Free Will. The ability to take all the good we've been given & reject it for our own agenda. She slowly nodded remembering the paradise that could've been ours if Adam & Eve hadn't made a bad choice.

What surprises me the most is that others don't see what appears so clearly in my mind. It's no secret that our earthly life is temporary and not the end all. We are here to live a Godly life and serve others in order to achieve Heaven for all-eternity. Our physical needs have always been met. I'm assuming the fact that you're reading this on a computer with internet hook -up that you're not too bad off! If we lose our job, house, or health we do not have to lose our FAITH. We can choose to Honor God in all we've been given....and have taken away. We can live all our joys & sufferings in union with Christ.

Some people say we can't vote on just one issue. I say we can! Life is the only issue that affects all the others. If you want a leader who will always value what's best for you-your leader MUST be pro-life. Why?? Someone who is pro-life is watching out for the underdog, the one who can't take care of himself, the one who is dependent or in need. Someone who is pro-life thinks of what is best for others and not just himself. I don't understand why this doesn't jump out and grab people. Are Americans so selfish & materialistic that they can only look out for their own needs & disregard the frail & helpless? Do we toss them aside & tread on them as we run to get in line to buy the latest gadget? Do we only keep what fits our plan without regard to what good may come from making a sacrifice?

What angers me the most are the so-called practicing Catholics who have the gall to distribute the Holy Eucharist at Sunday Mass & teach our children in CCD, but then place all that aside on Nov. 4 to vote for someone who goes against all the teachings of our faith! I can only imagine the sadness felt in Heaven over these situations.

I believe an Obama presidency will be an eye-opening experience for many. It will cause people to realize what is Good (from God) & what is not. My prayer is that non-religious Americans or those practicing heresy will re-kindle their belief in Jesus' teachings and depend on Him & not on a person with fake power. I pray that those of us with faith will not keep it under a bushel, but will join together and be a light to others. That thru our actions & convictions we will inspire others. And that if there is a time of sorrow, pain, & hardships to endure, that we will all put our trust in Jesus and know that there is a reason & that good can come out of bad.

I think the best we can do now is to take all the masses, novenas, rosaries, & petitions we so faithfully said and continue to pray them for the intention of the true conversion of President-elect Obama. That way we'll all be winners of this election!

God Bless America and have mercy on us all!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Back in the Swing.....

Life can only be on hold for a short time with our busy lives and so it's been time to bounce back from our difficult September. October really doesn't allow me to sit idle or rest for any amount of time. So, whether I've been ready to get back into some kind of normal routine or not is really not my decision to make. My obligations to my family haven't stopped, and so, neither have I.

Personally, I've had more doctor appointments and visits to the lab for blood work in one month than probably the past 10 years! I'm still not finished, as I have two more doc appointments next week to start off November. So far, my blood pressure is under control thanks to a cardiologist and two new medications. I'm still being tested for all kinds of weird disorders. Thank goodness I have what every lab technician has called "good veins".
Here's what's new:
Mike took a week long business trip to Canada and was glad he kept his winter coat when we moved. He joined our new parish's adult choir and started singing at Mass again this past Sunday.
Kaitlyn turned 5 early in the month. She was so excited to get an American Girl doll! She still teeters between being a "big girl" and wanted to be "the baby". I don't mind if she grows up slowly! She sure had fun on her b-day.

Gymnastics has kept Michelle full of excitement and anxiety this month. She competed in the local District Championship earlier this month. From there she qualified for the Texas South State Championship meet. This past weekend she was able to squeeze out another qualification onto the (entire) Texas State Championship meet. That is the most competitive meet she can qualify for at this level. It will be held in Dallas in the middle of November. She's hoping to get her personal highest scores on each event.

Kyle's swim season for both high school and his club have started their competitive seasons. So far he's been pleased with his performances. Nice to see his hard work paying off!
Reid's active with JROTC and has finally started his Confirmation classes in order to be confirmed this spring. He's been waiting a long time and is in a very dynamic and orthodox program. I'm excited that he's getting a chance to be catechized so well!

Brian's doing fine up in school and joined us this past weekend for some R&R before heading back to finish up the semester.

We had another family b-day with Andrew turning 7 a few days ago. He's been so excited all month counting down the days. He invited a few friends to a bowling party and I was really happy that all our family was there. Everyone had fun--the big brothers & sister bowling together and all the party kids in the lanes next to them. The little boys got to the point of pushing 3 balls down one lane at the same time and laughing the whole time! As we walked to the car, I asked Andrew how his party was. I loved his reply, " It was perfect! Better than I thought it would be." Cha-Ching--score one for a happy birthday boy!!!

Every time Andrew rolled the ball, he ended up on the floor!

Taking a break to eat.

Making a wish!

We couldn't leave Brutus out this month. His news is that he's become a Big Brother! Yep, just to add to the craziness, we added a puppy to our family! He's a 7 week old Beagle that will most likely be named Rocky.

Coming home:

Furry brothers :

Taking a ride thru the neighborhood:

As you can see, life is busy and full. I'm happy to be so Blessed to have some good stuff to post!
Thank you all for your prayers and support these past few weeks!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Our Little Saint

All summer long I've was planning on how I would post the news that, at my ripe old age, I was pregnant. I wanted to convey that although not necessarily how we had planned our family to grow, we embraced the joys a new baby would bring and, along with our kids, the excitement grew.

So, where was my pregnancy post? I kept waiting for the haunting feeling of "something doesn't feel right" to go away. I had ultrasounds, blood work, and weekly visits with my doctor where I heard the baby's heartbeat again & again. However, my blood pressure rose dangerously high. Was it my anxiety? It doesn't matter now because two weeks ago, at over 18 weeks gestation, the baby's heartbeat was absent. I had the feeling since the very beginning that we would not be bringing a baby home this pregnancy. Unfortunately, it's not the first time I've had these feelings, but it is the furthest I've ever progressed in a pregnancy only to lose the baby.

After the emergency situation with the hurricane was resolved and the hospital regained power, I was admitted. Baby Clare Helena was born at 5:30 a.m. on September 19. Mike and I got the chance to hold her and anoint her with Holy Water and Oil from Medjugorje that was Blessed by Pope John Paul II. Michelle knit her a little baby blanket that she was buried with and we also had our priest Bless a rosary to keep with her as well. I grieve with deep sadness the joys our family will miss out on by never bringing this precious girl home with us. We had all been looking forward to baby smiles and swaddles and the love we know grows everytime a new family member is added. But our little Clare had another path given to her by the Almighty. Our baby, although born into this world, will never be OF this world. She is a little Saint in Heaven looking down on our family and the world ready to intercede on our behalf.

A wonderful priest once comforted me after a similar loss by saying that until I see the Beatific Vision, I will never know how powerful my "Yes" to God is by allowing Him to create another soul into eternal life. He said then I will understand why God allows these souls to be conceived, but not brought forth to live here with us. Their work is in Heaven, helping us on our earthly journeys. Please don't forget to ask them to pray for you.

I believe that often we are given signs from God to comfort us when needed. I've received many of these signal graces in the past and prayed for one now. My favorite tropical flower is the Hibiscus. In May, I bought a beautiful Hibiscus shrub and planted it near our pool. when I bought it, it had many large red blooms. They soon fell off and by mid-summer I realized that this plant hadn't produced any other flowers. I started checking it weekly and noticed it was full of buds, but they never seemed to mature and open. I started to get frustrated and complained to Mike " Why are there so many buds and never any blooms??!!" I couldn't understand why this plant was refusing to show it's beauty. The night after praying for a sign that Clare Helena was safely tucked in the arms of the angels in Heaven, we woke and did the usual drill to get ready for Sunday Mass. As I opened the shades and glanced outside, I was struck by the sight of a bright red flower fully in bloom on my Hibiscus plant! I realized immediately that this plant did not flower all summer because it was not meant to bloom until the baby "budding" in my womb was fully alive and thriving in Heaven. The flower only lasted one day before closing and falling off. However, three days later, the day we buried our daughter, the Hibiscus opened two new blooms. Another confirmation to me that all is right and she is where God intended her to be from the start. Again, the blooms only lasted the day of her funeral and as of today, the plant has not bloomed again.

Although I am sad that my hopes were not meant to be, I try to remember that God only creates what is good and so His plan is the one that is best for us all.

St. Clare Helena, pray for us!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Weathering The Storm

By now I'm sure you all know that Hurricane Ike hit the Houston area very hard. Forgive me for not updating sooner, but after 9 days, our electricity just came back on! Here's how it all played out:

We squeezed in a little birthday party for Michelle at lunch-time on Friday, the 12th and the brave souls who came skid-daddled out to head home and hunker-down by early afternoon. By evening, the wind was picking up and darkness descending. We filled two bathtubs full of water, filled my big spaghetti pots with water, gassed up the cars, scavenged the grocery stores for more ice & canned goods, got the flashlights powered up, tucked the kids safely NOT in their beds, and went to sleep. I woke at 3 a.m. The power was already gone and the rain and wind were fierce outside. There was no more sleep after that. When daylight came and we could finally see outside, it was quite a sight. I've never seen such violent rain and the wind would come in powerful gusts. Our pool already looked like a swamp. We worried as two inches of rain was already sitting on our back patio and the pool continued to fill. Mike and I braved the storm at one point to go out with rakes and clear our three deck drains of debris so some of the rain could filter out. Amazingly we kept our phone land line all day as the storm ravaged. Friends and family were calling and we were filling them in that we were all okay so far. At one point we seriously thought the pool was going to over -flow. We moved furniture and rugs away from the back door and watched. When it was right at the brim, the internal overfill valve finally caught up with the rain and started to drain. Whew!! That was a close one!

By late afternoon, the storm finally left our area and neighbors cautiously crept out to survey the damage. We fared very well. Only one of our skinny palm trees behind the pool rocks fell over. Mike's been able to upright it since. We had alot of debris in the yard and pool, but luckily no damage to the cars or house. Here's how it looked after the storm:

Our other palm tree is supposed to be in front of the play house. It fell to the right.

Here is our swamp.... I mean pool! It usually is NOT green and that dark stuff on the bottom are tree branches.
Not too much clean up needed here.

Our neighbor across the street was the only one with damage to the front yard.

About 300 yards from our house is our bayou. It did it's job well and kept us from getting flooded. Here is a picture of how it usually looks:

And how it looked the day of the storm: (you can see some of our neighbors lost their fences on the left side)

The next day we walked up to our neighborhood center and pool/park. What a mess! I couldn't believe how much damage there was 3 blocks from our home:

Kyle had the job of "fishing" all the junk out of the pool, while Reid bagged it all up.

So, we survived 9 days without electricity. On day 7, a friend lent us their generator and air conditioner wall unit. It came just in time as the cold front we'd been fortunate to have at the beginning of the week ended and the humidity returned. The first 48 hours after the storm we had no phone lines including cell. That was a bit daunting knowing we had no way to contact anyone. During the power outage, we got the chance to talk alot with our neighbors since people were much more likely to be outside and Andrew & Kaitlyn made some new friends. Our evenings were spent either reading by flashlight or playing family board games. We ate delicious dinners of Chef -Boy- Ardee & canned chili over rice. I really missed having cereal with milk for breakfast! In many ways our time reminded me of camping and if you're not sure how that makes me feel, please reference my post titled "goodbye to family camping"! When our electricity came back on at 5 p.m. today, people were yelling up & down the street and honking horns. It's a good day!!!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Not Olympic Gymnastics

Michelle has worked hard for over 3 years as a competitve gymnast. This summer, she waited until the midnight hour to attain all her skills to move up to Level 6. But, the good news is, she made it and enjoyed her second meet this weekend. She won 2nd. Place All-Around and was happy with all her results. Level 6 is fun because the girls start to do no-hand tumbling on the floor and their first release move in their dismount on the bars. Here's a little sample of her floor rountine. Sorry it is so far away, there is no zoom in my movie-mode. When you hear the music start, you'll begin to see her better. Enjoy:

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Now This is Texan!

Shortly after moving here, we learned about the great rivalry between Univ. of Texas (Longhorns) & Texas A&M (Aggies). While silly at times to see adult alumni "duking it out" over loyalty to their school, it's also extremely entertaining. It didn't take us long to get caught up in the fun. Our oldest is in his second year at Texas A&M. Not only is he a student, but he is in the prestigious Corp of Cadets, the keepers of the Aggie Spirit. We now thoroughly enjoy all things Aggie!

We love that the school continues to follow an Honor Code used at the great Military Academies in the USA. We also love the school traditions, the fact that they are known as the friendliest college in the country, and their openness to family involvement. Each outfit in the Corp hosts a family picnic on home football game days where we munch on BBQ brisket & ribs and socialize with the other family members. We then are allowed to go into the Corp dorms (holes) and watch the upperclassmen call out the freshman (Fish). It's out in the quad after that to watch the band parade by and the entire Corp march past. We love it! Here's some of the experience we had at the first home game this weekend. (too bad they lost)

"Fish" lined up against the wall while the upperclassmen inspect them:

Out on the quad:

Brian is second one in the first row from right.

The kids pose in front of the cannon with one of the soldiers:

The cannon shot starts the festivities:

Brian's company marching by:

All the kids giving the Army Thumbs-Up! Gig 'Em, Aggies!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

School Days, School Days

It's that time of year again.....school for all six kiddos has officially started in our household, and just in time before my teens' brains turned to complete mush! It seems forever ago that it was the beginning of summer and we were totally immersed in the summer league swim season. Not to say we haven't been busy all summer. I at least know that it feels like I haven't had a break from all the driving, endless doctor appointments, and to-do list errands. However, lately I'd return home from driving all over the area to find my two high school boys lounging on the couch, eating snacks, and staring at the boob-tube while they watched "The Price is Right" or "Family Feud"! The survey says........" Get off your butts and help me clean this house!". (Oops, that's what mom says) They both assured me that this was what summer vacation was all about. Yep, it surely was time to get back to school.

It's our second year of homeschool for the three youngest. Kaitlyn was very excited to officially start Kindergarten (even tho she's not quite 5 yet). She started our day with the flag salute and then we did our morning prayers before starting lessons. Andrew has been doing schoolwork on and off thru the summer so that he retained what he learned last year. He is in First Grade now, and in typical little boy fashion, he let it be known that he'd rather be playing with his toys than spending the day in school. I think it'll take a few days to realize that 1st grade is a bit more challenging than last year had been.

Michelle's summer days were spent at the gym gaining skills to move up to the next competitive gymnastics level. She achieved her goals and has already had two meets of the new season. Her summer schoolwork consisted of reading the entire Laura Ingalls Wilder series ("Little House" books) which she finished before the end of June! She's happy to return to school and is in Sixth Grade this year. Her favorite subjects are History--she's studying the Old World this year and Science- she's learning about Sea Creatures and the Aquatic World.

Halfway thru our first morning of school, Brian called from college during a break in his classes. It was also his first day and he filled me in on how it was going and how the weekend had been while the older Corp guys (including him) got to break-in the new "Fish" in his outfit. He laughed about how nervous the new guys all were and I reminded him that it sounded just like him last year at this time! "It's so much more fun watching from the other side!", he laughed. We'll visit him this weekend at their first football game march-in.

Kyle and Reid headed off to high school early in the morning and both had positive reports when they came home. Reid will have long days, being done at 5 from his ROTC duties and Kyle will swim for the high school in the morning and then head down to club swimming afterschool, not to return home until 6:30 everyday. If that doesn't tire them out, than I don't know what to do!!

As for me, I am glad to get back to our normal routine. I never did get those long, lazy days I used to cherish in summertime. I mentally had a list of projects I wanted to work on, and somehow got none of them done! If summer is going to be just as busy as the rest of the year, then I'll gladly take the structure of the school year vs. the random chaos our summer seemed to bring. As for homeschooling, the most popular comment I receive when discussing our choice with others who don't homeschool is "You must be very patient. I just couldn't do that!" The truth is, I've never been particularly patient with my own kids. For some reason, I can be very patient with other people's kids tho! For me, it is a practice in learning to be patient with my children, and believe me, it is a challenge every day. It is also what I feel is parenting the way God intended it to be. We are entrusted with our children to teach them in all facets of life. When we homeschool, I feel I am satisfying the true meaning of parenting in the purest, most complete way it was meant to be. I certainly don't condemn those who send their kids to schools, as I still do my older ones and previously did for Michelle as well. I just wish I had known the truth about homeschooling 10 years ago. It definitely would have been a Blessing to our family!

Monday, August 18, 2008

We (Sort of) Found the Boardwalk

Had to take another technical break from blogging. Seems once we got the new computer up and running, it didn't like any of our old software, especially the one from my digital camera. Back up and working now!

One of our goals this summer was to find the beach in Texas. Okay, we aren't that stupid that we didn't know to look down by the Gulf. It's just that if you've ever grown up on the east coast somewhere between NJ and FL, you know what the beach, or as we say "the shore", is supposed to look like. Our first visit to Galveston Beach a month after we moved here was very disappointing. I knew there had to be better. I've spent the last two years jumping in on any conversation I hear when people are discussing beach vacations. I grill these people on what the beach looks like, is there a boardwalk, are there real beach houses or a beach town atmosphere? I've gotten some promising information from some Texans that makes me feel optimistic until I talk to someone who knows about the beaches on the east coast. These people shake their heads at me and say, "Don't listen to anyone here. They just don't know how it's supposed to be." This whole investigation reminds me of when I used to look for real pizza, but that's another story.
Here's what we're used to:

I've heard there is a somewhat decent beach 8 hours south of Houston called South Padre Island. I've heard it's somewhat like we're used to. But, I could drive two more hours in the opposite direction and be on beautiful Florida beaches where I know it's real!
If we couldn't have a beach experience this summer the least we could do is visit the Kemah Boardwalk here in Galveston. We spent a Sunday afternoon exploring this place I'd heard a bit about. Okay, weird as this is to me, the boardwalk is about half hour from the beach! It sticks out in the bay, it is about five blocks long and isn't even made of real wood! There were about ten little shops, many very expensive restaurants, and a small amusement park area. We took our family on a little train ride to see if we missed anything......we didn't. No Kohr Brothers soft custard, no waffles & ice cream, no homemade fudge, no touristy tee shirt shops, or seashell jewelry boxes, and no Hermit Crabs!

Here's what we found:

It did feel good to smell the sea water and watch the many boats out on the bay, but overall, I think it's one more thing I have to bid good- bye to while living in Texas!