Monday, July 25, 2005

When is the Weekend?

I know, it's only Monday, but I'm tired! We had an action-packed weekend, with not much relaxation thrown in. Darren stayed home on Friday, preventing me from doing my usual thing of sitting in front of the computer for hours. I used the time to finish the Harry Potter book. I know that opinions vary about this one, but I liked it better than the fifth one, and thought that she did a good job of leading into the final book. Friday evening, we took Zach to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I liked it much better than the first movie, since it had less songs and was more closely related to the book. Darren was disappointed that the Oompa-Loompa song wasn't in this version.

Saturday, we had a barbecue for my sorority alumnae chapter. After two months of planning, we only managed to have five members show up, but we did have a lot of fun. It was hot, and I consumed massive amounts of liquid, but it wasn't unbearably hot. If the camera batteries hadn't died, I'd have pictures. The only downside to the afternoon was the flies. I think that every fly in the state of Texas converged on Creekwood Park that afternoon! I'm glad I had some Ziploc bags to store all of the food in. Those flies were vicious! Besides swatting flies, Zach and I spent a while feeding the ducks and fish in the pond nearby. Fish sure like hot dogs! Zach had another little boy to play with, so they ran around and did little-boy things, like poking sticks in the mud at the edge of the pond.

After four hours at the park, we decided that we needed to go swimming. So, we hauled everything home, changed into bathing suits, and headed for a pool. There are 12 public pools where we live, but this one is the best. It's round, is about 2 feet deep, and in the middle of it is a structure with slides and fountains. Off to the side is a ten-foot-wide slide that Zach loves to go down. When we go there, Darren and I get to sit in the water while Zach runs around and does his thing. Too bad it's always crowded...

We had Zach snoring on the couch by 9:00 that night. It was so exciting, because he rarely gives in before 11:00. That child does not need sleep! He doesn't nap, and every evening starts out with Darren and I being hopeful that this will be the night that we get him to sleep without a fight. We give him a bath, read stories, and tuck him into bed. Usually, before we can make it downstairs, we hear his door open, and there is a request for another hug, water, or to use the potty. He is a master, and can make this go on forever. Taking away toys does not deter him, nor does a spanking. He is determined to delay bedtime and come downstairs! The fight generally ends with Darren and I begging for mercy, and one of us passing out in his bed. He'll wonder why he is an only child...Anyway, Saturday night, Darren and I were able to watch an entire movie, eat ice cream, and not have anyone climbing on us. What bliss!

Yesterday wasn't as exciting as Saturday. I folded laundry, Darren went rock-climbing at the YMCA, and Zach played in his pool in the backyard. We watched too much Scooby-Doo, and Zach went to bed at 11:30. I guess he's trying not to spoil us!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Pictures from our Las Vegas Trip

This is a picture of us under the arch at Valley of Fire State Park
These are some of the formations at Red Rock Canyon
Hoover Dam
the famous sign

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Cramming it All In...

There are three weeks of summer left, and just like every year, I start panicking that I haven't gotten everything done that I wanted to accomplish. In a way, it would be nice if we had year-round school, so that we could get a couple of weeks off a few times a year. I wouldn't feel nearly as pressured to maximize the time, and wouldn't get bored.

So far this summer, I have been to Florida and Las Vegas, cleaned out Zach's room, learned to knit, done a lot of scrapbooking, joined the pools, joined the YMCA, read a lot of books, and started a new business. What I still want to do before I go back to work is clean out our office, paint our bathroom, and plan Zach's birthday party. I've worked in my classroom for the past two days, and spent all afternoon making curtains for it yesterday. I have the new Harry Potter book, but am rationing it so I don't finish too fast. It's rained every day for the past two weeks, so we haven't been able to swim.

Besides that, I don't have too many exciting things going on right now. Zach and I are getting tired of each other. I haven't been a good mommy this summer; I haven't taken him to story time at the library, and we haven't gone to the children's museum here. With the rain, he's spent a lot of time watching TV, which he really enjoys. It's really too hot to play outside, as well. He's going to spend a few days with his grandparents in Louisiana at the end of the month, and I think he'll really enjoy that. I'll miss him, though.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

This is Me Getting Nervous

I am a pretty creative person. I've always enjoyed arts and crafts, and even majored in art for a while in college. I had a ceramic painting studio for nine of the longest months of my life, but I'm better now... Since we have been married, Darren has watched me experiment with various art-related hobbies. We've been through the candle-making phase, the soap-making phase, the jewelry-making phase, etc. For the past six or seven years, I have been interested in scrapbooking. For the longest time, all I did was go to hobby stores and buy all sorts of scrapbooking stuff, but I never did anything with any of it.

My neighbor invited me to a Creative Memories show last summer. I went to one six years ago and liked their stuff, but thought it was too expensive, and not something I wanted to invest in. Scrapbooking always intimidated me, because of how complicated some people's pages are. I knew that I never wanted to waste that much time on one album page. Anyway, the consultant at my neighbor's show last summer wasn't into all that complicated stuff. Her mission was to show us how to organize and store our pictures safely. If we wanted to get into album-making, fine, but we didn't have to. If we did decide to do an album, she explained that our goal should be to get the pictures on a page, and write about them. Stickers and all that other stuff are nice, but not necessary. I really took that to heart, and finally began working on all of my pictures. I had boxes of them everywhere, and I finally got them all sorted and organized. I began making an album for my son, since I hadn't done too well in the baby-book department.

Since then, I have been going to this consultant's class once a month to work on my album, and stealing time when I have it at home. My son loves to look at the pictures about him, and he tells people about "Mommy's scrapbook." I have been trying to figure out how I can make some extra money to support my scrapbook habit, and help other people get their pictures organized. I don't have a whole lot of friends who scrapbook, but a few who might get interested if I make it simple for them. Anyway, I decided today to become a Creative Memories consultant. I'm nervous about it, because I am afraid of failing. I sold Pampered Chef five years ago, right before we moved to Texas. I did well with booking initial shows, but didn't book any off those initial shows, and ended up having to stop selling it. I really want to do well with Creative Memories, and I have e-mailed everyone I know, as well as placing ads on a few local online garage sales. I've booked one show, but want to book two or three more, so I can feel comfortable with this. My kit should come in early next week, and hopefully I will be writing on here later this month about how well I am doing, and all of the shows that I have booked. Stay tuned...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Viva Las Vegas!

We had a wonderful time on our trip. As usual, we packed in more activities than thought possible. We are not the kind of people who go on vacation to relax; we go to "see stuff!" We left our house at 5:30 Monday morning and arrived in Las Vegas at 8:30, their time. We got our rental van, loaded up, and headed to Red Rock Canyon, which was beautiful. Zach especially enjoyed hiking to a cave. That evening, we checked into our hotel, ate dinner at the Rainforest Cafe, and walked to the Bellagio to see the water show. By then, we were all so tired that we were miserable, so we took a taxi back to MGM, and went to bed.

Tuesday, we ate breakfast at the buffet and headed out to Hoover Dam. Due to security measures, it took a while to get there, but it was worth it! Lake Mead is beautiful, with unreal, green water. We toured the dam, visited the hot and crowded gift shop, and headed back toward the city. We ate dinner at one of Wolfgang Puck's restaurants in our hotel, then went across the street to Monte Carlo to see Lance Burton, a magician, perform. Zach really enjoyed it, as did we, but Lance has an annoying voice, and doesn't seem to move his lips when he talks. After the show, we took a taxi to Fremont Street, and watched the light show there. Darren and I enjoyed seeing the old-time casinos down there.

Wednesday, we ate breakfast at the hotel buffet, then went north of town to Valley of Fire State Park. We drove out in the middle of nowhere to get there, but the rock formations were beautiful there. We climbed on some of the rocks, saw some petroglyphs, and hiked 1/4 of a mile to something called Mouse's Tank. That was in 115 degree heat, walking in sand. There were some interesting petroglyphs on that hike, but we got to the end, and Mouse's Tank was a small pool that you had to lean between rocks to see. We went back to the hotel that afternoon, where Mom and I lost $20 on the slot machines, and Darren and Dad took Zach to the pool. Darren and I went to dinner that night at Top of the World, which is on the 107th floor of the Stratosphere. That was really nice, but you have to walk through a crappy mall to get to the elevator, which I could have done without. The restaurant revolves, and they have a photographer who comes around taking pictures. The food was really expensive, but good, and we had a really good waiter. After dinner and dessert, which was a chocolate version of the Stratosphere, we went up to first the indoor observation deck, then the outdoor one. It was really windy up there, but there was good view of the city. You could also look up and see the four rides on top of the tower. We were not crazy enough to ride one of those! Darren and I took a taxi back to New York, New York. We planned on going to Coyote Ugly to get drinks, but were too full.

Thursday, we decided to spend the day on the Strip, looking at all of the hotels. We rode the monorail fron our hotel to the Sahara, went shopping at the Bonanza Gift Shop, and walked to Circus Circus. There, Zach rode some of the kiddie rides at the Adventuredome. We took a taxi to the Mirage, and walked through there. We saw one of Siegfried and Roy's white tigers, then walked to Caesar's Palace. We had lunch at a deli in there and saw the living statues perform. After that, we walked to the Venetian. We had margaritas at a restaurant in their mall, then went on a gondola ride. We had a female gondolier, who sang "O Sole Mio" to us. Zach especially enjoyed that, adding one of his songs. After the Venetian, we walked through Harrah's, and took the monorail to Bally's. We walked through there to Paris, which I really enjoyed. It didn't seem too authentic, though, because everyone working in there was Asian. We then went back toward the hotel, walking through Aladdin to the mall next door to MGM. We took Zach to the 4-story M&M store, which I enjoyed. You could buy anything M&M, from Christmas ornaments to clothing, there. They had a whole wall filled with different colors of candy, and you could make a blend of whatever colors you wanted. We went and watched people climbing on the rock wall at the arcade after that, then went back to our room. At about 11:30, Darren and I decided to go and get dinner. We didn't know what we wanted, so we decided to walk to New York, New York, to an Irish pub that was there. We ended up on the wrong walkway, and at Tropicana. We decided to go exploring, and walked through Excalibur to the Luxor, back through Excalibur, to NY,NY. When we finally got to the pub, I didn't have my ID with me, so they wouldn't let me in. We went back to MGM, waited in line, and ate at the cafe.

Friday, we packed up after breakfast, drove around for a while, and headed to the airport. We got there early because of the recent terrorist attacks, but our plane was delayed for three hours. When we finally boarded, everyone was given free alcohol, which was nice. Zach fell asleep on the plane, but my mom spilled her drink on his head, waking him up. Afterwards, he entertained the people around us with singing. We got back to Houston at 11:30, and home at 1:00.

It was a great trip, and I can't wait to go back! I just want the suitcases to unpack themselves, and all of the clothes to wash themselves and put themselves away. Is that too much to ask?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Off to Las Vegas!

It always seems that vacations sneak up on me. I'll shop for new clothes and things days in advance, find someone to feed the cat (thanks, Haley), and clean the house. I always put off the major task that I dread--packing! I really hate to make the decision about which clothes to take, and which to leave behind. I'm always worried that I will forget something important, so the inner packrat kicks in, and tells me, "Pack everything!" My husband, however, does not share that viewpoint. An example of this would be a conversation that we had today:

Him: "Go upstairs and pack!"

Me: "As soon as I finish checking my e-mail (I didn't get any e-mail this weekend)"

Him: "I'm not going to be some goddamned sherpa walking around the airport with all of my earthly possessions!"

Me: "We're only taking two suitcases, a carry-on bag, my purse, a stroller, and the car seat."


It's now 11:20 at night, we are waking up at 4:30, leaving for the airport at 5:30, and are leaving for Las Vegas at 7:10 tomorrow morning. Darren is on the phone with Hertz right now, trying to rent a car seat for Zach. That would be one less thing to lug through the airport.

Anyway, we are off to gawk at all of the cheesy sights of Las Vegas for five days. We won't be doing much gambling, because we will have a three-year-old with us, but I'm sure it will be a lot of fun. I can't wait! See you Friday night!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Dumb-asses in Suburbia

It seems there isn't enough for the teenagers to do at night where we live. It does seem to me that the whole town shuts down at 9pm, and the only thing left to do is go to IHOP, the movies, or a party at someone's house. We don't have any sort of "teen center" or teen club here, and I guess the kids are going to get bored with boozing it up at someone's house after a while.

When I was a teenager, we entertained ourselves by hanging out at Taco Bell, playing illegally at an elementary school playground (Castle Park was what we named it), stealing street signs (or borrowing on a permanent basis, as we called it), or just driving around. We never did anything that was considered harmful or REALLY destructive.

Anyway, most of the teenagers where we live seem to be overly-privileged. They drive nicer cars than mine and fork over thousands of dollars for school dances. It also seems to me that they have no regard for possessions, and treat them carelessly. I'm not speaking about all of them, but the large majority, it seems.

In The Woodlands, most neighborhoods have names, and signs with those names, at the entrance to them. The newer neighborhoods have signs made of stone, which are pretty substantial. The older neighborhoods have signs made of wood with the name carved into it, and they are pretty cool-looking. In recent years, The Woodlands has begun replacing these signs with stone ones, which diminishes the state park-like feel of the area. Someone, or several someone's, has been driving his or her car into these signs, and knocking them down. I don't know if it a group of teenagers who are doing it for kicks, or someone who lost control of their vehicle. I personally think it is the former; a teenager with a Jeep or some other type of 4x4 which is high off the road. We live off a fairly major street, which is one of the few major streets without ditches. People have also been driving through the yards of the houses on that street. It's just sad...

Our neighborhood, up until yesterday morning, had one of those previously mentioned wood signs. During the night, apparently someone drove up onto the median, through the plants, and knocked our sign over. When I left to take Zach to school yesterday, there was a cop, Park Ranger, Woodlands Community Association person, and maintenance guy standing by the sign. They were all kind of scratching their heads at the sight. When I returned home, they were loading the sign into the back of a truck. I bet that we don't get another wood sign, which is a shame. They have a lot more character than the stone ones, but are more susceptible to termites and weather.

Anyway, I'll get off my soapbox now. I hope they find the person who is doing this, and make them carve new signs, or trim the ground cover to perfection at the entrance to all of the neighborhoods.