Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Great Houston Blizzard of 2008

There are few surprises left in life. Technology has advanced so much that very little is left unknown or to our imaginations. We usually know about major events before they happen ... and in 20 different languages, thoroughly analyzed by news pundits and internet gurus.

So imagine the surprise and thrill that millions of Texans got to experience yesterday afternoon when SNOW magically and unexpectedly began to fall. We knew it would be cold, and some weather guys and gals actually predicted a little bit of sleet.

But it was so much better.

Yesterday I was reminded that life can still be unpredictable, in a good way. I also learned that dogs and two-year-old kids sure love snow. And even adults giggle like children when it falls in December in Texas.

I'm so glad we didn't know it was coming -- it would've spoiled the surprise.

Monday, December 08, 2008

My heart was jump-started again

I finally saw Twilight.

I never thought I'd have that heart-racing feeling during the movie like I had when reading the series for the first time. But I did. It might not have been a technical or special effects master piece (to put it kindly), but what it was was exactly what made me fall in love with the book to begin with -- a perfectly intense love story about two imperfect beings.

I loved that it was cheesy. I loved that I already knew what would happen in the end. The fun of it all was feeling it again, and seeing my favorite characters play it all out on screen. The sexual tension between Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) was hot! Totally hot. I joked with a friend of mine that I needed a cigarette after sitting through it!

And speaking of Robert Pattinson, can I just say, damn! He's absolutely the perfect Edward. Out of respect for my husband and for my marriage vows, I'll refrain from saying anything more than that. :)

So it's time to read the whole series again. My heart needs it. In the words of Edward Cullen, it's my own heroin. And maybe I can look at it through fresh eyes again, now that I have some faces in my mind.

God, I can't wait for Stephenie to release Midnight Sun. And I'm anxiously anticipating my next Cullen fix on the big screen when New Moon comes out next year.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

turkey, pumpkin pie, and football

Ahhh, Thanksgiving time in Texas. For literally generations of families, that's meant the annual showdown between the Texas A&M Aggies and University of Texas Longhorns (or t.u., as we Aggies prefer to call that school in Austin). For the past several years, due to extraneous and bulshitty reasons, the game was moved to the day after Turkey Day, and consequently has became known as T+1. This year, however, the game has rightly been moved back to where it truly belongs -- Thanksgiving Day. Glorious.

Plain and simply, my beloved Aggies are going to get stomped on the gridiron. t.u. is tougher, faster, and very obviously, more talented. Texas A&M has a new coach, old players with bad attitudes, and some new players with not enough experience to keep their heads cool. It hasn't made for a pretty picture this season.

But during the Lone Star Showdown, none of that matters. As cliche as it sounds, you can throw the recordbooks out the window when you're playing this rivalry game. The Aggies have sucked the last two seasons as well, yet managed to pull out a victory against the 'Horns. I don't think that will be the case this year, and again, I think it's going to be a long day for the good guys in maroon and white.

But hey, it's Thanksgiving, and the Aggies and Longhorns are playing football. So it's all good.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My cup runneth over

"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over." -- Psalms 23:5

I am so very blessed. Sometimes, my heart is so full of gratitude at all I've been given, that it almost takes my breath away. And during this time of Thanksgiving, I'm especially grateful for all the gifts in my life.

Perfection, in any way, shape or form, isn't a part of the picture, but I don't think it's meant to be. When I was feeling particularly low a few weeks ago about an event that really sucker punched me in the gut, a good friend gave me some excellent advice -- think of something you can silently say to yourself each and every time you start to feel overwhelmed. The quote I've found myself now repeating over and over is, "The secret to having it all is believing that you do."

And I do. Truly.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

TWILIGHT ... it's almost here

... the movie, that is.

Nothing could ever even come close to replacing the greatness of the book, and so far, the movie reviews I've read aren't that glowing. But who cares?! A full 90+ minutes of Edward and Bella on the big screen can't be all that shabby!

And there are some seriously yummy boys in this flick. Cam Gigandet ... WOW.

So fun.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

It's been a while

... about a month and a half, in fact, since I last blogged.

Hurricane Ike was my last subject. The killer storm had a huge impact on our city, and personally, was a very exhausting time for me and my family. I kind of lost some of my desire to sit and write for a while afterwards. That happens from time to time, I know. But there's no point in writing if you just don't feel like it.

But here I am. Back in the saddle again. Today is the day after Barack Obama's historic win for POTUS. It is my hope and prayer that he truly will be a uniter and not a divider. Although I have immense fears regarding his extremist liberal record, his policies and his overt socialist beliefs, I was raised to respect the office of the Presidency, and I will continue to do so, despite the fact that he did not receive my support.

I was proud at the grace and humility displayed by John McCain in his acceptance of defeat last night. And rather than riot or claim unfairness or hidden agendas, Republican voters appear to also be handling last night's results as an opportunity to regroup, rethink, and move forward -- the very best mentality of what makes our country great.

So, I guess it's the dawning of a new day. To all the democrats who have been crying, complaining and bitching for the past eight years, here's your opportunity to step up. At a dangerous time in world history when firm and consistent leadership is a must, let's hope our new President has what it takes.

Mr. Obama, let's see what you can do.

God bless America.

Friday, September 26, 2008

2 weeks ago

14 days ao, Hurricane Ike made landfall.

14 days ago, we lost power at 11:45 p.m.

Maybe this weekend will bring some relief? Please, oh, PLEASE, CenterPoint Energy, come to our rescue.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

still no power

Things I'll never take for granted again ...
  • going to the bathroom with the lights on
  • the garbage disposal
  • the ceiling fan in my bedroom
  • the quiet hum of the air conditioner
  • the dish washer
  • the front porch light welcoming me home in the dark
  • my TV and DVR (I've missed recording so many of my favorite shows!)
  • cold milk from the refrigerator
  • quickly throwing something in the washer and dryer

Tomorrow marks the 2-week point without electricity. Hopefully I'll be able to celebrate the "anniversary" with an announcement that the lights have come back on.

Keep on keepin' on, CenterPoint folks! We're still sweatin' in the dark in my neck of the woods.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

still waiting for the lights to come back on ...

... or more importantly, the air conditioner.

Hurricane Ike very rudely shut off my power 11 days ago. Center Point Energy released an outage update map a few days ago stating that electricity would be restored to my zip code by yesterday (Monday). According to their website, crews are working "24/7" to get the power back. For all of their hard work during an unprecidentedly difficult time, I'm eternally grateful. BUT ...

... we're still waiting for electricity.

And Houston in September, without power, is not a comfortable place to live.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

my city

I love the weather. I've even written about my love of thunderstorms in this blog. When I was in high school, I wanted to be a meteorologist. And until I saw how much math and science it would require in college, my post-college plans were to go work for the National Hurricane Center. I've experienced a hurricane before, as well as a few tropical depressions and storms, so I'm really no stranger to the whole thing.

But this was different. Very different.

I'll never forget the noise that the house made when we finally lost power. It was right before midnight. There was a surge of energy, and then a strange screaming sound. I even asked my mom who was yelling outside. No joke. I thought that was probably the worst of it. But I was wrong.

Around 4:00 a.m., I was really afraid. It was a kind of fear I've never really felt before, where you have no control of mother nature. I started to question everything -- all the decisions I had made as far as riding out the storm, where the safest place to be in the house was, whether or not I should wake up Aidan and move him, whether or not the house would continue to hold up (which it did, thank God), and just about every other thought that came in my mind. And just about when I thought I couldn't take anymore, Ty called and informed me that the hurricane-force winds hadn't even hit us yet. I felt sick.

Finally things did start to die down, and the winds began to fade. And in place of Hurricane Ike, the first cool front of the year blew into the Houston area. Not to sound sacreligious or anything, but it was almost as though God felt like he must owe us a break. Thank goodness, because the temperatures were stifling in the house without air conditioning.

We're cleaning up now, but my city is wounded. We're still without electricity, but we're so blessed. So many people lost everything, including their lives. It's going to be a long time before things are "normal" again. Ty is here, and it made all the difference in the world -- Aidan has his daddy for a while, and I have my best friend. It makes things a whole lot easier to take.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

hurricane ike

Here we go, Houston. It's time to hunker down.

It doesn't look like we're going to be able to dodge this one. The Houston/Galveston area is currently in the direct path for a very BIG hurricane, with landfall expected early Saturday morning. And I'll be honest ... it's pretty scary. The forecasts have become bleaker and bleaker for our area. Every time I turn the TV on, the news gets worse and storm seems to have taken even closer aim at us.

I've decided not to evacuate. I'm on the west side of Houston, and hoping that we'll be able to ride things out. I just don't want to brave the mass exodus out of the city, although we're still considering heading out to College Station at a moment's notice, if things change any more. Trying to move the dogs, Aidan, my mom, and all of our important possessions in a Honda Accord just isn't something I think we can do without Ty here (and where oh where is his big ol' truck when we need it?).

We've been compiling supplies all hurricane season this year, but it still puts a pit in my stomach as I second-guess myself and our readiness? Do we have enough water? Do we have enough batteries? Do we have enough lighting? How about communication with the outside world? I have Ty's crazy-fancy radio, but I've never used it. I've got my laptop and plan to take home my work laptop as well, for a back-up.

So here I sit in my classroom at 7:10 a.m. Thursday, watching the news and listening to the stern tones and warnings of city officials and the Mayor of Houston discussing a possible 18-foot storm surge.

God bless Texas and the city of Houston, and God keep us safe.

Monday, September 01, 2008

unsung heroes

As Hurricane Gustav currently pounds away at New Orleans, I, along with the rest of the country, am following the coverage closely on the news.

Once again, as was the case three years ago during Hurricane Katrina, the men and women of the United States Coast Guard have stepped up and are admirably serving without hesitation. A runaway barge was just secured, in chaotic conditions, by the swift and heroic actions of the USCG. FOXNews' Shepherd Smith went as far as saying that it could've been a definitive move in saving the city.

I've expressed my frustration time and again over some of the sometimes random and seemingly unnecessary operations and trips that Ty has been forced to endure, at the expense of distance away from our family -- and Lord knows I've been vocal about the shortcomings and "wrongs" that we've felt from this branch of the military.

But when push comes to shove, it's times like the current state of things that remind me why he's doing what he does what he does, and why it's very much needed. Even though most folks don't even realize the Coast Guard does anything but board boats checking for life jackets and alcohol, I'm glad they're out there doing what they do, day in and day out.

Friday, August 29, 2008


John McCain just elevated himself about a gajillion spots in my book.

What a gutsy, unpredictable, bold and fantastic move he made by choosing Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.

God, I'm so thrilled. As a woman, a conservative, and yes, a feminist, I'm feeling hope for the first time during this campaign season. She's a hunter, a fisher, a member of the NRA, a mother, a sports fan, and someone who has spent her political energy and influence taking on corruption. It doesn't get much better for me!

Radio talk show host Tammy Bruce had a great take on things ...

I have to confess, I didn’t give him enough credit. I have come to support McCain grudgingly, only after Giuliani and then Romney. And when the VP stakes began both on my Web site and radio show Palin had been a consistent favorite of readers and listeners. As disappointment and even hostility with Washington has grown, McCain has done something so many of us were hoping for–he made a daring, maverick and ultimately the right choice for his running mate.

A choice reflective of real change, but change based in principle and true progress....

There were many other predictable, perhaps safer, choices McCain could have made which would have satiated the conservative based. Yet, he chose someone who has the qualifications and has a history of also walking the maverick walk, but does not necessarily have the traditional resume, and that’s exactly what we want in a day when trust in government has never been lower.

Sarah Palin is a perfect choice and moves me from grudging support to full, invigorated advocacy for his campaign.
You go, girl!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

first week

Back to school -- three simple words that inspire so much pain in the lives of kids all over the world, yet so much happiness in the lives of their parents.

Teachers are stuck somewhere in between. :)

This was our first week back to school with our new students. So far, it appears that I lucked out -- I have a great class, and that's a huge chunk of what can make or break your year. Hopefully I'm not jinxing myself by saying (or typing) it "out loud."

Anyway, I thought I'd throw out some of the best things about the year so far, even though I'm only 3 days into it ...
  • I have a student in my class named Johnny Walker. Seriously. And he's adorable.
  • The new "coffee bar" in the lounge that the parents are putting together for us every day. Yeah the coffee is weak, and it's not that great, but still. It's the thought that counts.
  • My snazzy new ACTIVboard set up in my classroom, along with the document cam. I can't for the life of me figure out how to set it up, and there appears to be no one else around me who does either ... but we'll get there. And the potential is totally amazing.
  • The fact that I don't have to commute 2 hours every day (even though I'd do it again in a heartbeat if it meant having Ty home!). It's changed my life and is keeping sane, despite the fact that I actually seem to be going insane.
  • My girlfriends
  • The fact that I'm now productively "on the clock" / calendar

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

a really bad day

It's far too late for me to be up, yet here I sit. Mainly because I need to purge the nastiness of my day.

A dear (and very smart) friend told me today that "being happy is about finding peace in your every day, no matter what that every day is."

So true.

I think I may print that out and tape it up behind my desk at work ... along with my satellite picture of the Christmas Eve snow we received in Houston a few years back, and Ty and Aidan strolling together at the Astros game (right after Aidan learned to walk). Those are my "happy place" things.

Today SUCKED. No two ways about it. Some of it was petty and insignificant. Some of it a little bit heavier. But regardless, I felt like the world was out to get me. Which is a pretty pathetic outlook, and one I don't usually have.

To make it short and sour (it wasn't sweet):
  • The school district I know and love -- the one I grew up in (K-12), did my student teaching with, and have spent the past 12 years teaching in is really starting to piss me off. I don't know if it's public education as a whole, or what. But I'm so f'ing sick of the standardization of everything. Whether it be state tests, lesson plans, gradebooks, teachers, or whatever. It just goes against everything I stand for. Part of the greatness of education is experiencing differences in personalities and the way things are done from year to year, depending on which teacher you have. We're slowly but surely losing that ... purposefully and deliberately weeding the individualism out of our teachers. And it's a crime.
  • In the only spare 20 or so minutes I had available, I went to pick up my contact lenses today (had the Dr.'s appt. last week). I rushed over to Eye Masters to grab them, only to be told by a bitchy emo girl with attitude that I had to see the doctor again to get them "fitted." HUH? Isn't that what you originally measured my eyes for last week at my appointment? So even though I'd already paid for my contacts, they wouldn't give them to me. On top of that, they had no appointment times today or tomorrow (just for me to stick the freakin' contacts in my eyes and the doctor to confirm that they're "ok" ??), so I now have to wait 'til Thursday to go back. It was horrible, and it got ugly. I asked to see this policy in writing, and they couldn't show it to me. I asked for a refund, and they wouldn't give it to me. If I had more time and energy, I'd make it my mission to bring them some major trouble. And the emo bitch didn't help. I could go on and on ... but I'm getting sick just thinking about it. And an entire waiting room full of eye patients got to witness this altercation. Ugh. I'm going to go pop a few TUMS.
  • I had to go to the Hallmark store to grab a Baptism card for my nephew (the occasion is this Saturday). I'd just picked up Aidan, so he was with me. Like all Hallmark stores, this particular establishment had racks upon racks of Ty Beanie Baby-type animals. Aidan found a Blue (a la Blue's Clues), and began to make small, 2-year-old barking noises. The woman at the cash register looked at him and said, "Oh, please don't touch that, honey," (in a really abrasive tone). So I took the toy from Aidan. She then looked at me and said, "You really need to control your child." No joke. Yep. That's what she said. I walked out without my card. It was horrible. I was pissed off, humiliated, and exhausted.
Now for my pity party ... it's really hard being a "single" mom (which I currently am since hubby is deployed for the next 20 months). And it's equally hard being a single mom with a full-time job. Plus, I just miss Ty. Very, very much. I fear that my emotions are starting to get the best of me, and that's unacceptable.

Thank goodness for cold glasses of gin and tonic ... and good friends with equally good listening ears and strong shoulders.

Tomorrow WILL be a better day.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Twilight coming earlier

November, not December!

The object of my obsession will be arriving in theaters a few weeks earlier than previously expected. Twilight, the movie based on one of the greatest series of books EVER (written by Stephenie Meyer) will be released on November 21 rather than December 12. Yippee! Thanksgiving will be that much more festive!

Here's the explanation from Stephenie's website:

So, many of you have heard that the release of the sixth Harry Potter
movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, has been moved from this
Thanksgiving to next summer. First and foremost, please know that this schedule
change has absolutely nothing to do with Twilight, me, or Summit Films (so
enough with the imdb death wishes, okay?). This is Warner Bros. decision, and it
was not motivated by anything Twilight-related.

Now for the good news! Though we're all sad
to have to wait for Harry Potter, this open spot at the theater creates a cool
opportunity. The good people at Summit were thrilled to let me know that now
Twilight fans are going to get their movie three weeks earlier than scheduled.
That's right—Twilight will be released in theaters November 21st! Let the
merry-making commence!


WORKS FOR ME! Crazy and coincidentally enough, I may actually be arriving in Forks, WA that night to stay with Ty for Thanksgiving (haven't decided yet). How wild and crazy would that be to get to see the movie in the actual location of the book? My heart is pitter-pattering just thinking about it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

an Olympic "Why?"

File this under totally inconsequential and petty ...

... but why do some of the female gymnasts (thank goodness, not the Americans, it appears) plaster their head with those [white] bendy metal hair clips? I understand wanting to keep the little wisps of stray hairs out of their faces. But why not use the more inconspicuous bobby pins?

So annoying.

Go, USA!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

music suggestion, du jour

First off, I can't believe I haven't blogged since TS Edouard! Yikes!

I've actually thoroughly been attempting to soak up my last few days of summer before returning back to work, which I officially did today ... so painful. I'm trying to be positive and energetic about the upcoming school year, but my heart just isn't into it right now. To be fair, I'm not much into anything at the moment, other than good wine (or cold beer), sitting out by the pool, and hanging out with Aidan. But I've got a classroom full of young minds that need me, regardless of my emotional state, so I need to step up.

I'm digressing ... supposed to be talking about music. Focus.

I was listening to my usual "in the car" music the other day (XM Flight 26) and the DJ was introducing a song. She described seeing the artist at a live performance in NYC and said he was remarkably talented, so I was really anxious to hear the song. I immediately loved it -- Come On Get Higher by Matt Nathanson. It's awesome. The crazy thing is, he's just released his sixth (yes, SIXTH!) album. Where the hell has this guy been? Or where the hell have I been??!! Apparently he's got a pretty big following. I need to get out more, I guess. He's incredible -- his acoustic sounds go straight to the soul.

I love what he has to say at the end of the bio on his website ...

"In some ways, I think this is a really mature record, but I don't think it's necessarily one that says 'okay, I'm an adult now," he says. "A lot of times when artists 'mature' in a certain way, they lose the stuff that drew you in and actually blew your mind in the first place. I don't think you need to stay stuck in perpetual adolescence, but you do need to keep part of you frozen -- so you don't lose touch with the wonderment of seeing the world the way you did at 17. I want to hang onto that."

Word, Matt. You've got a new fan down in Texas.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

rain-maker Edouard

A fun way to spend a Tuesday ... sleeping in with my little guy (the 2-year-old, not the 37-year-old), leisurely drinking my coffee, enjoying the dark skies and rain outside, and having absolutely nowhere in the world to be. It's a pretty great way to start the day.

Aidan is thrilled with the "just in case" flashlights we've got on hand. He keeps insisting that I turn off all the lights so he can get the full effect of things. It's a hoot ... mainly because I remember being a little kid myself and getting a huge kick out of the flashlights and storms -- that's big-time fun.

Tropical Storm Edouard is currently pushing his way on land and through the Houston area right now, but it looks like we've dodged another potential bullet. Some of the talking heads on the news were just commenting that if this storm had made landfall at Kemah rather than where it did, we could've been looking at an 8-10 foot wall of water ... and this was only a tropical storm, not a hurricane.

All of these little "test drives" will hopefully prepare us for the big one. Yeah, most of Houston is shut-down today for basically just a really good thunderstorm system, but it never hurts to be safe ... rather than sorry.

Monday, August 04, 2008

the calm before the storm

Looks like we're about to get hit by our first storm of the season tomorrow. Tropical Storm Edouard is churning in the Gulf, right off the coast of the Louisiana. And current indications have the dude pointing squarely in our direction, as far as landfall. So the Houston/Galveston area is currently scrambling to prepare (this one really snuck up on us).

I headed out to Kroger and Costco this morning to stock up on the essentials, which I hate to admit, I hadn't done yet this hurricane season. Costco was a mad scene, of course. I dreaded even going inside, but surprisingly, people seemed to be much more friendly and helpful than usual. People were patient, helpful with one another, and smiling.

Times like this always make me proud of my neighbors, and proud to be a Houstonian and a Texan. Tough times seem to bring out the best in us.

Anyway, it doesn't look to be too fierce a storm. But a hurricane is a hurricane. You just don't mess with 'em. Hopefully we won't even need our batteries, flashlights, and bottled water. But as those of us who've been born and raised on the Gulf Coast always remember, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Sunday, August 03, 2008


I don't know if anyone who is reading this is as much of a Stephenie Meyer fan as I am (except for B, whose devotion to all things Meyer-related eclipses [haha] my addiction). This sounds far too dramatic, but I've almost breathlessly been awaiting the release of Breaking Dawn, Meyer's fourth (and supposedly final) book in her Twilight series. August 2nd has kind of been a beacon on the horizon during an otherwise tough summer -- in a nutshell, yesterday was a big day for this reader.

So I started reading ... and reading ... and reading ... and reading (I didn't turn off the lights 'til well after midnight). The first few chapters were captivating. For those of us who have been following Bella and Edward's love story, it was exactly the dream that we'd been waiting for -- pure bliss.

Then (insert dramatic music), things took a decidedly unexpected turn -- something began to unfold that I did not see coming, which is usually the mark of a great plot, right? Well, I'll be honest: reading through it was agonizing. So much so that I had this queasy, sick feeling throughout the 300 or so pages that it took to get through the "event". It reminded me of how I felt throughout most of Meyer's Host -- "This is disturbing. How did her mind come up with this?" To put it mildly, I was heartbroken.

But ... because of my 'In Stephenie I Trust' outlook, I kept reading. But I've got to be honest ... it was HARD. The more I read, the more I shook my head. What was she thinking?! How could she do this to me?! All of my favorite characters were there, but it was all wrong! Had Stephenie fallen and hurt her head while writing? Had she encountered a rebellious stage in her own personal career that she was now purging through Breaking Dawn? I don't know what to say, other than I was sort of mindlessly following the book along last night, not really grasping what I was reading...

... until page 387. And, coincidentally, the title of that chapter is New. Just when I thought I couldn't make it through the second half of the book, it was like an oasis in the desert.

I've now entered the second half of the book, and although things aren't perfect, and I still don't really see where Steph is heading with all of this madness, I'm starting to smile again. Things are starting to feel sort of right again in the world of Forks, Washington.

So, onward I now read. What a wild ride it's been so far. It's only 9:00 a.m., and I woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a truck. Wish me luck. I'm goin' in ....

Friday, August 01, 2008

we're officially ON THE CLOCK!

Ty's first day of work at his new unit is today. Yippee! The countdown can now begin! I know it's never a good thing to wish time away, so I'm not going to do that. But I am going to hope that it flies by ... rapidly. How's that for rationalization?

And to close the whole circle of my Twilight synchronicity journey, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Breaking Dawn will be in my happy little hands tomorrow! When I first heard several months ago when the release date of Breaking Dawn was (exactly one day after Ty's arrival in Forks/La Push), I attributed it once again to that weird, crazy, meant-to-be energy that has surrounded me since we received his orders to Quillayute River, and I began reading my favorite series ever. I'm not losing my marbles ... only continuously trying to get through this whole wild ride with some understanding of why it's happening -- with faith and hope.

As my sister says, there's no such thing as a coincidence!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Firefox ... I made the switch

I just divorced a long-time partner ... Internet Explorer and I are no longer together.

For the past few weeks, IE has been acting really weird. I've frequently been getting error messages when I try to click a link on a page before the page fully loads. I then have to stop, back-track, and refresh the window. It's like it overloads or something. I have a spankin' new laptop, so I know the problem isn't the machine.

The final straw came today today at a district training I attended. Several of us were getting some weird errors when trying to access certain portions of a program that required us to run the internet at the same time. The woman conducting the class informed us that they've noticed the same issue repeatedly over the summer during different sessions. She said it only acts "buggy" with IE.

She strongly recommended using Firefox instead of IE. Soooo ... I came home and did some research.

According to ScanIT (a web consultanting company that specializes in network security audits):

Internet Explorer was around 80% unsafe during 2004, while FireFox barely "missed" around 15 percent. The results are based upon a tester developed by the company, Browser Security Checker, used by around 195,000 clients last year in order to detect whether their systems are vulnerable and whether the browser is the access gate for malicious codes.

According to ScanIT CEO, David Michaux, "around 98% of the Internet Explorer users were exposed to online threats during 2004; 200 days out of the whole 2004 (54% of last year) was dominated by activities specific to this worm or virus which exploited browser’s vulnerabilities".

As a comparison, FireFox was only left unprotected to known vulnerabilities for 56 days last year; the open-source online browsing solution seems to rule.

That did it for me. I downloaded Firefox. All my bookmarks and cookies transferred over, but my tags and buttons didn't. After doing a quick search, I found a Mozilla add-on extension that fixed the problem for me, so now I'm good to go -- links and all.

It feels sort of weird. There are a few differences. But I was really getting frustrated with the problems I was having, and I can already tell the difference (I haven't had a single one of the above-mentioned error messages). So far, so good!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

a really fun wine

I say fun, because the whole experience begins with the label, and the label on the Magnificent Wine Co.'s House Wine White is unique and really eye-catching! And check out the website and the picture of the proprietor -- he's definitely not your stereotypical winemaker.

House Wine White is a chardonnay blend grown from grapes in Washington (for some reason, I can't seem to escape that state these days) -- specifically, on the east side of the Cascade Mountains in the Columbia Valley. It's a total "every day" wine ... nothing pretentious or flashy. Just a really good glass of wine!

The vinyard's website describes House White as "an absolutely delicious handful of grapes squeezed in a will please you to the max. Full of beautiful, floral, flavors, this wine is mouthfilling and fresh. You will find it difficult to release the glass from your hands." It doesn't have the oak-iness of a typical chardonnay, likely because it's a blend. I enjoyed it.

Mom and I have made a conscious effort to try several different wines this summer. Some have been keepers, others have been forgettable. This one is definitely on my "keeper" list. And as usual, it was purchased from the fine folks at Costco. ;)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

narrow-minded people

Ty arrived to the Forks/Port Angeles area today. It's been a long week, but at least he made it safe and sound. He's sort of in shell-shock right now. We all are. The reality is pretty much sinking in. He said it's drizzly (shocker) and about 59 degrees. Perfect weather for vampires. ;)

One of his very first [not-so-warm] greetings came from some intolerant individual who felt the need to peel off the McCain 2008 sticker from Ty's back windshield. What the hell is wrong with people anyway? I swear, I just don't get it.

Can you imagine having the audacity to look at something that belonged to someone else, disagree with it, and then physically destroy it as a result? It makes me sick. More so than usual because it was someone giving Ty a symbolic middle finger, when the only reason he's out there in the first place is because he's serving his country.

So ... to the petty, narrow-minded asshole who can't accept the fact that different opinions are what make this country great, I say to you -- kiss my ass. And don't mess with Texas [license plates].

Friday, July 25, 2008

Texas heat

Some more shots of A. We've been staying with Aunt B in College Station all week. Nothing but laziness and fun! Oh, and I've been doing a lot of scrapping with B (one of my big summer goals!). I think I'm getting better at it ... well, at least my pages don't look like thrown-together preschool art anymore.

Oh, and a big sigh of relief for dodging Hurricane Dolly. Whew.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


getting ready for breaking dawn!


In preparation for this grand and monumental event, I'm re-reading Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse. I'm about half-way through Twilight, and I'm already picking up on so much more the second time around ... now that I know what to look for! I'm also discovering that it's a totally different experience, especially after reading chapter one of Midnight Sun (Edward's perspective) on Stephenie Meyer's website (that's a WHOLE other conversation! Holy smokes!). I was afraid I wouldn't enjoy it, or get as much out of it as the first time around, but it's a totally different experience ... in a good way.

I love these books. There are so many different aspects to them that have come to mean so much to me. I wonder if Stephenie would think I'm just another freaky groupie if I wrote her a letter telling her all about the Twilight synchronicity (Ty moving to La Push, etc.) that I've experienced in my life since first discovering the series (Thanks again, B!)? Who knows? Groupie or not, I'd like to tell her about it some day.

Back to soaking up some rays ... and Twilight! Bella is about to discover about Edward's sparkliness in the meadow! :)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

summer memories

Yesterday we all got together over at my dad's to say goodbye and wish Ty well on his "journey." Fajitas, margaritas, family, smiles and lots of hugs.


A few of Aidan...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

building forts

When I was a kid, I LOVED to make forts. Not fancy wood forts outside, or treehouses up in the branches, but rather detailed engineering marvels carefully assembled from couch cushions, pillows, blankets, and heavy books to hold everything in place. We'd strategically place our building "materials" between the coffee table and chairs and end up with the perfect hiding place. You know the kind I'm talking about, right? The ones you'd always make when you had a friend come over to spend the night?

It was even better when you added flashlights and some goodies from the kitchen (i.e. a bag of chips or a few stolen cookies from the cookie jar). We'd always start out planning to stay up all night, but usually ended up cratering around mignight. And then on Saturday morning, you had a nice comfy pile to lounge around on while watching cartoons. Ah. Great times.

Over the past few days, Big A has started to show interest in this time-honored tradition of childhood, and it's cracking me up. Except he calls it his "house." I'm really having to hold myself back from dragging out a bunch more of stuff from the linen closet ... to really add to his meager little structure. But right now, he's content with 2 of the big couch cushions -- one propped up between the coffee table and the couch, acting as a back wall, and the other lying on top, acting as a roof. HE LOVES IT. He crawls under there and says, "Mommy! Come see me!"

It's fun watching the pieces of my childhood appear in his. Makes me smile at the most unexpected times -- thank goodness. :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

life can be hard

It's been a lazy summer. I haven't blogged in about a week because, to be honest, I've been avoiding the big ol' elephant in the living room (and not wanting to talk or even write about it). We've been spending family time together, running errands, getting things ready, and basically laughing and crying a whole lot.

I'm so blessed. My life is so very, very full. I have a son who I simply couldn't live without. He's healthy, happy, and the light of my life. That right there should be enough. But I have more -- MUCH more. I have a husband who is better to me than I deserve. My parents are still alive and well, my twin sister (and best friend) is close enough to give me grief when I need it (and does she ever), and I'm literally surrounded by good friends and family. Seriously. What more could anyone want?

Which is why I feel so conflicted and guilty feeling the way that I do. It seems so selfish to be wanting more. But I do. I want our family together -- Ty, Aidan, and me. He leaves Monday to begin a two-year tour of duty far from home, and my heart aches so much, I just don't know how I'm going to find the strength to do it. And now that the reality of it is almost here, it's much worse than the thought of it ever was. And he's not even gone yet. I'm just not handling this with much grace.
I'm so proud that he's serving his country. So very proud. But I'm angry at the same time. I'm angry that we're "hoping" to see eachother for a few days in September, if we can make it work. I'm angry that Aidan is going to have to basically live without his daddy until he's four years-old. I'm angry that some small USCG station sitting on an Indian reservation in the Northwest is getting my husband, even though we need him so much more than they do.
I still can't believe we're in the situation that we're in, and I know that so many people have it so much worse. I keep thinking, "This just isn't how it was supposed to be. It's not what we planned." But then I try to remind myself that nothing ever is.

There's really no rhyme or reason to this blog entry. Other than I'm really sad. And it sucks. And my heart hurts.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

layers of paint

For the past few weeks (yes, WEEKS!), Ty has been painting the exterior of my mom's house. It really needed it. Being the swell guy that he is, he of course stepped up to the plate.

It's been a monster job. There's just no other way to describe it. The prepping alone took almost 2 weeks. He borrowed the power washer from his [old] unit in Galveston and blasted away all the old stuff in order to make room for the new. Along the way, we've had some good laughs.

First and foremost, who in the HELL paints a front door salmon pink? By our calculations (similar to rings on a tree. LOL) and with some input from Mom, we figured that the people who owned the house about 40 years ago did exactly that. I think it was actually the second color though. The first looks like it was a mint green. And you just know that the lovely people who did it probably stepped back and said, "That looks beautiful."

Mom's front door is going to be red. Her inspiration is the front door at Talbot's -- brass kick-plate and all. I bet in about 50 years, someone will be removing paint and discover our layer of red and think to themselves, "Who in the HELL paints a front door red?"

I sort of feel like I've been blasting away at a lot of the old stuff and getting ready for the new as well. Life is full of color, for sure. Sometimes the outside coating chips and peels, but if you dig down deep enough, you can usually find some interesting stuff! A fresh coat of color shakes things up every once in a while.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

yippee! my boy loves books!

I think it's official ... Aidan loves books! And I love that he loves them.

Since he was an itty-bitty thing, we've read to him. Not because we were trying to force it on him, or attempting to mold him into an early prodigy, but rather because he loved it. He couldn't get enough of books, especially the DK My First board books. I blogged a few months ago about his love of Ant and Bee and the Rainbow (which is still a bedtime favorite). And now he's currently into anything about firetrucks, construction vehicles, letters, or numbers -- a typical boy. It's really a lot of fun to watch his interests change.

Today Aidan and I did some babysitting. We watched Aidan's cousin, Grant (my sister's 4-month-old son) for a few hours while his mom and dad were away. Grant was Aidan's first big visitor to his new house and bedroom, so he was anxious to show off all his toys and books.

The highlight of the day was watching Aidan "read" to Grant. He'd show him the pages in the way he's obviously used to experiencing read alouds being presented at school -- you know, where the book is held up so that the pages are visible to the audience. He pulled two books off his bookshelf to share with Grant -- his DK Firetrucks book, and, of course, Ant and Bee and the Rainbow.
It was awesome.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


There are few things that are more spiritual to me than a good ol' fashioned Texas thunderstorm. Even as a child, I don't ever remember being afraid of storms. In fact, when I was in high school and getting ready to head off to A&M, I fully intended to major in meteorology. I love weather and how it develops. It fascinates me. But specifically, I love thunderstorms.

When Ty and I lived out on the west coast, the storms were amazing in a different kind of way. They were majestic, for sure, but they weren't as cleansing and fulfilling for me as a thunderstorm. There's something about seeing the flashes of lightning in the distance and waiting for the storm to approach. The wind picks up, the trees start to talk, and the temperatures begin to gloriously drop. The sky darkens, except for the streaks of light, and all is right in the world.

Big A and I were here tonight on our own -- probably very indicative of many nights to come. I'm embarrassed to admit that I got really choked up about it all and I let it get to me. In fact, I think I was on the verge of a panic attack. But then my friend, the thunderstorm rolled in. Rather than make me nervous, it calmed me. Aidan and I snuggled on the couch and enjoyed the storm as the lights flickered on and off.

I hope I'm teaching him to love these storms and not fear them. They're such a part of who I am, and they comfort me.

Friday, June 27, 2008

costco -- why I love her so ...

  • Less than a mile from the house is that beacon of American gluttony. That oh, so marvelous place that serves our desire to have everything all in one place (aka ... laziness) -- Costco! I don't know what I did before Costco. Really. I can't remember ... it's all a blur.

    There are so many reasons to regularly head down Bunker Hill to Costco ... let me count the ways:

  • Their GAS PRICES! Need I say more?

  • As part of my ongoing summer project (scrapping), I just ordered over 300 pictures for development. They were ready for pick-up an hour later, for less than $30! Costco will also mail them out to you for FREE, if you so desire. Can't beat that with a stick!

  • Their wine section is top-notch. Our local Costco has a super-knowledgable and friendly sommelier who is always willing to lend a helpful opinion or suggestion. Three bottles of La Crema chardonnay for $29.99?! C'mon! That's a steal!

  • Fruit. Always fresh. Always yummy. I especially love their raspberries, blueberries and limes. You can get a ton for very little money.

  • It*se*bit*se panties by French Dressing -- they're awesome! And no creeping up! :)

  • Books, books and more books.

  • Scrapbooking paper (who knew?!)

  • Gorgeous flowers

  • Spinach salad with poppyseed dressing

  • Fresh feta-stuffed filet migon

  • Tortilla-crusted tilapia

  • And my personal FAVORITE -- their huge wedge of parmigiano reggiano. You seriously, seriously, SERIOUSLY can't beat the price anywhere. We always have a big chunk in the refrigerator for cooking, or just nibbling on with some wine in the evenings before dinner. Amazing.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

losing my keys ... or my mind?

Monday morning I woke up, got dressed, fed Big A breakfast, and then got ready to head out the door to take him to school. Small problem ... I couldn't find my car keys -- ANYWHERE.

Usually when things go missing, we have a set group of spots to check where Aidan has taken the stolen booty (i.e. underneath the hood of his toy Jeep, inside the Cuisinart wine cooler, in a side pocket of his backpack, and so on). So I didn't panic ... yet; however, after checking all the usual spots, and then some, I had to concede that this might be a little bit more of a difficult hunt than I'd originally thought.

Thankfully my mom was still home and was able to drive Aidan in to school for me. So I stayed behind and continued the search ... ALL DAY.

In the end, I started researching how to order a new remote key for my car (and found several cute new Hondas I'd love to have, BTW!). It started to sink in that maybe my keys had found their way into the trash or something and were long gone. After tearing up the house for two days, it didn't look at all promising.

Yesterday I borrowed Ty's spare key to my car for a quick trip to the grocery store. After filling up the basket with overpriced produce, pudding cups and Lean Cuisine frozen entrees, I began to load up the car. As I was putting Aidan in his car seat, I casually reached down for my keys (yes, THOSE keys), which were sitting on the car seat between Aidan's booster and the door. It wasn't until I went to turn the key in the ignition that I realized it wasn't Ty's single, ring-less key that I was using, but rather an entire set of keys on a keyring.

Holy crap. They were in the backseat, next to Aidan's carseat, the whole flippin' time, My routine is always to set them down on the seat before I unhook him from his safety-harness, and then pick them back up before closing the car door. This time, I'd forgotten.

Time to change my routine.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

flooding in the Midwest

...received this from a friend today. Thought it was worth posting.

Where are all of the Hollywood celebrities holding telethons asking for help in restoring Iowa and helping the folks affected by the floods?

Where is all the media asking the tough questions about why the federal government hasn't solved the problem? Asking where the FEMA trucks (and trailers) are?

Why isn't the Federal Government relocating Iowa people to free hotels in Chicago?

When will Spike Lee say that the Federal Government blew up the levees that failed in Des Moines?

Where are Sean Penn and the Dixie Chicks?

Where are all the looters stealing high-end tennis shoes and big screen television sets?

When will we hear Governor Chet Culver say that he wants to rebuild a "vanilla" Iowa , because that's the way God wants it?

Where is the hysterical 24/7 media coverage complete with reports of cannibalism?

Where are the people declaring that George Bush hates white, rural people?

How come in 2 weeks, you will never hear about the Iowa flooding ever again?

Friday, June 20, 2008


I'm taking an online class this summer for staff development credit at work that requires me to create a blog and sort of chronicle my learing on it as I go.

So I created the blog, but it's not a fun "ME" blog. It's more of an academic type of thing. Regardless, it's time-consuming and requires regular posting. I've been working on it over the past few days, so it's kept me from having much creative energy left-over to blog on my "ME" blog (this one!).

Anyway, I was sort of dreading the whole project, but I'm actually learing some stuff! Imagine that! One of the tools I explored today was mashups ... specifically, Mosaic Maker on If you've never played around with it, and if you're a picture junkie (like I am), I highly recommend checking it out! I'm attaching the project I made today -- obviously, the theme is Big A. It was fun.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

father's day

In honor of the three most important men in my life -- 2 are fathers, one a son.

Happy Father's Day.

Friday, June 13, 2008

honeymooning in Carson City

Five years ago I was preparing to do the craziest thing I've ever done in my life -- get married in Las Vegas. I spent my last day of swingin' singlehood with the people I love the most ... my closest friends and family. It was great. Kickin' back by the pool, soaking up rays, and strolling down the strip was a fun way to spend the hours before tying the knot. Great memories.

Tomorrow is my anniversary. When I look back at the past 5 years, I can hardly believe all we've been able to cram into such a short period of time.

Talk about an adventure. As stated, married life for the Farrells began in Las Vegas. We spent our "honeymoon" roadtripping across the western states. I have some particularly fond memories of Carson City, Nevada. I'll never forget the older couple (in their 80s, at least) whom we met at the blackjack table at the Best Western. They wished us well by providing us with words of wisdom on life and love and marital bliss. That gentle old man still had a sparkle in his eye when he looked at his bride. It was awesome.

We ended up planting some temporary roots in Long Beach, Washington where we were fortunate enough to be stationed, care of the U.S. Coast Guard. I had a tough time adjusting from life in Houston, Texas to life on the Long Beach Peninsula. But looking back, I can't think of a better way to spend the first year of marriage -- together and dependant only on eachother. I learned a lot about myself, and even more about my new husband.

Since then, we've lived in Pearland and Friendswood (two suburbs of Houston I knew little to nothing about, despite the fact that I've grown up in this great big city), and now find ourselves living with my mom (again, courtesy of that good ol' U.S. Coast Guard)! Aidan and I will be here for the next two years while Ty completes a tour of duty far, far away. Our current living situation sure makes that tiny apartment in Long Beach seem huge!

Along the way, we've become parents. We've evacuated from hurricanes. We've been through sickness and health (Ty now has one less gall bladder to kick around). We've been through richer ... ok ... poorer and poorer. We've grilled countless steaks and chickens, taken long walks pulling Aidan behind us in his little red wagon, decorated Christmas trees and strung lights outside, and even hosted a Thanksgiving where I served raw potatoes. Basically we've lived a very blessed life.

My guy isn't perfect. It annoys the hell out of me how he "sings" along to songs when he doesn't know the words. He's terribly dramatic when he catches a cold. And the inside of his truck looks like he's been living out of it for years. But you know what? He's mine. And I wouldn't have changed a single minute of this blur of a half-decade for anything. Except, maybe ... Ty's orders to Quillayute River. I really could do without those, but I digress....

I can't wait to see what happens next. It's starting out with an unexpected twist, that's for sure. But based on how we've ridden out the storm so far, I have a feeling that the fun is only just beginning.

The man DOES owe me a real honeymoon, however. Carson City was a nice stop along the highway, but I'm aiming higher. :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

my baby isn't a baby anymore

** Nostalgic post warning **

Last summer, Aidan was just learning how to walk, and wobbling all over the place! This summer, he's climing up and over everything (and has suffered more than one bruise as a result), playing with trucks, pointing out all the diggers and dumptrucks that we pass in the car, and basically, becoming a TOTAL BOY. He's not a little baby anymore.

Yesterday afternoon he was "lounging" on a chair outside, and it made me smile to look at him. I snapped a few pics of my big boy. Thought I'd share it today.

And special, heart-felt prayers to the four families who lost their sons when a tornado hit a Boy Scout Camp in Iowa late last night. I can't even imagine the pain they must be suffering.