Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Orange You Glad It's April Fool's Day?

I get a giant kick out of April Fool's Day. Thank goodness my kids do, too - by now they are used to me emptying out their Cheetos bags and filling them instead with mini-carrots (just re-seal the bag with double stick tape). Or making them a peanut-butter sandwich (spread the bread with butter, sprinkle peanuts on top and finish with another slice of bread).

But one of the best April Fool's jokes I have played happened nine years ago today. It's not often that things align quite this way, but when they do, you have to take advantage of it.

Nine years ago today I was pregnant with our second child. Hugely pregnant. Can't pick anything up off the floor pregnant. So pregnant that just possibly, your husband may want to sleep in another room.

When I woke up that Sunday morning a little bit early to get ready for church, it occurred to me that I had a once in a lifetime chance to be in fake labor. It took me just a few minutes to decide if I was going to go through with it, so I got all dressed and ready to go. My hospital bag was already packed. And I went in to wake up Mike.

I told him that I thought it was time to go to the hospital. Of course, like any almost-father would be he was very excited! He jumped up, showered and busied himself with the things he needed to do to get ready. I got our little two-year-old girl dressed and ready to go. There was lots of excitement around our house!

But after awhile I got a little nervous, and I wasn't quite sure how to "end" the prank. I really didn't want him to be upset with me -- letting an April Fool's joke linger is a sure bet that it will backfire. So when Mike was in the kitchen eating breakfast, I gave Sarah Kate a note to take to Daddy, "April Fool's." He was very surprised, but he laughed and handled it so well.

We even made it to church on time, although he did change into my least favorite pair of pants -- a bright orange number that mostly made appearances on the golf course. Knowing I would be by his side for the next 3 hours, I guess the joke was on me, after all!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Amazing Break, How Sweet It Was

I am really sad that Spring Break is coming to an end. We had such a great week, even though we never really left the city. The kids made a list of things they wanted to do, and we did our best to hit them all:

Kemah Boardwalk, check. New library, check. Doctor visit for a little one with strep -- not on the list, but check. Blue Bell, Space Center Houston, Rodeo Carnival, Children's Museum. Check, check, check, check. Beach visit for one of the kids with a dear friend, and all of us catching up with two families we love going through life with though we don't see them nearly often enough.

Baylor even made it to the Sweet Sixteen, so by all accounts our break was a huge success. Save one thing.

When we visited the Rodeo Carnival we had a specific goal in mind, and that was for Willie to do some Mutton Bustin'. You have to know him to appreciate the enthusiasm for which one would approach such a task ... When he knew the next day was Rodeo day, he dressed the part: Slept in his jeans and western shirt and was decked from head to toe in a leather vest, chaps and boots when he got up. Except when we arrived at the Carnival, all the bustin' spots for the day had been filled. For hours. He rallied, of course, but it was a constant theme: "Can we come back? When are we coming back? Am I going to get to ride a sheep?"

So, I ask you: What would you do?

I'll tell you what I did. I got up on Saturday morning and went down to the Rodeo, alone, to hopefully sign him up to be a Mutton Buster. I thought I would get a time slot later in the day, if possible ... no sense in bringing him along if he was to be denied again. So I arrived early at the Carnival and it was just me and the sheep. Seriously. I left my camera at home because I was charging the battery in hopes that I would need it to video him later on, but as it turned out I needed it a little earlier than I had planned.

While I was sitting there, with the sheep, two of the Mutton Committeemen arrived and we started to talk. We were visiting and watching the sheep, especially one that seemed to be a little restless.

As it turned out, OF COURSE she was restless. She was in LABOR. So, on Saturday morning while the Ferris wheels were still and the only sounds around were the clean-up crew brushing their brooms on the cement, we watched a sheep give birth to a lamb. Make that two lambs. Twin boys.

And it was amazing.

It was even more amazing than this:

Although I have to admit, I thought William's ride was pretty amazing, too.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Missed It By That Much

We are having a stay-cation this Spring Break, and we are having a grand time. Last week the kids and I sorted through all the options we have within a 90-mile radius of our home, and we came up with quite an impressive itinerary, if I do say so myself.

However, life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. Due to circumstances out of our control, we had to shift a couple of things around and put our Thursday trip to Blue Bell in place of our Tuesday trip back to the rodeo. This little change in plans occured around 11 in the morning ... a little later than the quirky "let's get up and go" part of me likes.

(If we are planning a day trip I like to go ahead and get out the door fairly early. None of this lolly-gagging around all morning business. However, lately I think God has been trying to teach me to be more flexible, and I don't mean by using my "Ten-Minute Pilates" DVD.)

But it was raining, and chilly, and Blue Bell runs tours through 3:30 p.m. during Spring Break so when we left at noon I was pretty sure we were in the money. Who else is going to be driving out to Brenham?

Ummmm, as it turns out, Everyone was driving out to Brenham. So when we arrived we saw familes huddled under umbrellas, the line snaking around the building halfway to the parking lot. I've been to Blue Bell lots of times and I have never seen anything like it.

I tend to be optimistic so I knew we were going to get in. I mean, we were this close to the tent that pretty much secured our tour:

I was still optimistic when the Blue Bell employee came around with her clipboard, counting families. And as she came closer to our little threesome I knew we would juuuuussssttt make it for the last tour, even though it was still two hours away. I even felt bad for the people behind us.

Except we didn't make it. We were one family away from securing the golden ticket. She finished up her tour calculations, looked right at us and said, "Sorry folks, park's closed. Cow out front shoulda told ya."
Okay so she didn't really say that. But we could hardly believe it! And, not a family who easily concedes defeat, we continued to stand in line for another ten minutes just in case someone else decided they didn't want to wait two more hours for a tour.

But no one did. Another Blue Bell employee told us we could go stand underneath a different tent to watch a video of the ice cream tour. Really? I mean, the tour is interesting and all, but if you've seen it once ... I put it in the same category as eating all your vegetables at dinnertime -- otherwise you can't have dessert! So we skipped that part and still had a great time. We managed to squeeze into the store with all the other dripping wet would-be visitors and buy a couple of T-shirts, as well as three scoops of ice cream. It's a good thing, too, because:

Rest assured, when we visit Space Center Houston later in the week, we'll be the first in line!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Order Up!

One thing we were really excited about doing at the rodeo last Sunday was eating. But we weren't going to waste our calories on just anything. It had to be something ... fried.

I really didn't know you could fry just about anything. From what I understand you can even fry Coke, and meatballs. We didn't see those booths at the carnival so we stopped here:

They were frying up everything on that "menu." But fried cookie dough? Something about that seems ... wrong. We let the girls choose their poison. They both chose this ... see if you can guess what it is:

What's that? Fried Twinkie you say? Noooo ... it's FRIED M&Ms. This may or may not come as a surprise, but it was truly disgusting. I decided that a better choice may have been the roasted corn booth next door. However, I really didn't think I could walk around the carnival eating a giant ear of corn on a stick, no matter how good it looked.

There must be some unwritten law that says to truly be carnival food, the food has to be on a stick. You have to be able to walk around, eating things you would normally never eat, all while talking to friends, waiting in ride lines and trying not to drip food on your sweater. This is what America is all about.

I think we can trace carnival food back to the Pilgrims:

Turkey legs. The original food on a stick.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's Rodeo Time!

Well, folks, it's rodeo time here in Houston, Texas and that is something I look forward to each year. For as much as I enjoy the rodeo, I don't spend that much time out there -- to be quite honest we really only go out about twice every year. That could be why I like it so much.

Caroline and I were invited to see the Jonas Brothers this last Sunday. I am not sure who was more excited:

I heart the Jonas Brothers. Have you seen their show on Disney Channel? We record it on the DVR and I think it is hysterical.

But it wasn't all about the Jonas Brothers on Sunday. We also did a little bit of the carnival. Since it was a church day and the show started early, we only got to ride a couple of rides but we hit the highlights (for us -- we are not all that much of risk takers): the ski lift ride that takes you from one side of the carnival to the other, and the giant Ferris wheel.

I am not a fan of heights, and I don't mind admitting to the occasional sweaty palm on the Ferris wheel. We usually ride the small one, the one where you dangle up at the top in the wind for what seems like eternity waiting for riders to get on and off. There are signs on the ride that tell you not to move around too much, and if you are sitting with our 5-year-old I'm just going to say good luck with that. I won't sit with him.

But this year for the first time we rode the GIANT Ferris wheel. And it was a piece of cake -- what with the little carts you get to sit in it wasn't anything like the smaller one. Even our friend who was with us who feels the same way about these sorts of things rode it.

The Ferris wheel was a lot higher than the lift ride, but when you're in the cart you can't see things like this:

Or this:

It's a rough job, but someone has to guard all the stuffed animals.

But in the end, maybe it was all about the Jonas Brothers.

And it looks like they may have enjoyed the rodeo, too.

Coming Friday: Order Up! Or, What Not To Eat at the Rodeo

Monday, March 8, 2010

I've Got Some 'Splaining to Do

Did you know that just anyone can start a blog? And I don't mean that in a self-deprecating kind of way, I mean that truly, ANYONE with opposable thumbs can have a blog. The setting up of the blog is not really the issue, although I am pretty technologically illiterate so I do have a learning curve ahead of me there. No, the real issue of this blog free-for-all comes down to what to name the blog.

I have spent more time than I care to tell you trying to come up with a name for this piece of Internet real estate. At first I tried to think of a name that would describe me, and I came up with Real Simple. But then I remembered that was the name of a magazine and no one would ever make it to my site because they would be distracted by clever ideas for reducing clutter on the actual Real Simple site.

So then I came up with Walk With Me, after something an old boss used to say to me when I worked in the Senate. It wasn't perfect but it was worth checking in to. As it turns out that name/web address is already taken BY SOMEONE WHO HASN'T POSTED ANYTHING SINCE 200o!

I was counting on my husband to come up with a cute name, because in the history of our marriage he has had more success with that kind of thing than me. For instance, years ago when I was working on a local fundraising event for a Senate candidate our "celebrity guest" was Sonny Bono. So Mike came up with a little slogan, "Come Cher Your Money With Sonny." We didn't use it, but still. The candidate got a kick out of it.

And then, when I started my failed hairbow business his was the mind that brought Houston "You Bow Girl." Fabulous name, terrible business plan. I take full responsibility for the latter.

So you can see where I may have been counting on him for something catchy.

But not this time. No, this time, as a last ditch effort I took one of those horrible Facebook quizzes that I normally block. But somehow it slipped through the cracks and I saw that a friend had taken the quiz, "What is Your Hippie Name?" So I took it.

And I got: Happy Journey.

Happy Journey. It's far from perfect and it does sound a little fortune cookie-ish, but I could work with it. And it fit the most important criteria: I could actually get a web address for it!

Well, kind of. I really wanted, but if you go there you will find an Indian travel service. Not Indians that live in teepees, Indians that live in India. I'm telling you, this blog naming business is harder than it looks.

So my new blog address is At least I think it is, but whenever I type that address in I can't get there. I guess anyone can start a blog, but it takes someone especially clever to find it again!

Happy Journey.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ready, Set, JUMP!

Have you ever really, really wanted to do something but you were afraid to try? And I don't mean like jumping out of an airplane or anything like that. I mean, you had a dream you wanted to follow but doing so was ... scary.

Well, my dream has always to be a writer. I have vacillated among several different types of writing -- from children's books, to historical fiction (or hysterical fiction, even better!) to Christian devotions, to silly little snippets of life. And I still haven't decided which one suits me best.

But I have decided to TRY. Because for a very long time I have been paralyzed by fear ... of rejection, of someone not thinking I'm funny, of putting myself out there in the written word.

No more. I mean really, what am I waiting for? So, to get the ball rolling, I have decided to start a blog. I know, some of you are rolling your eyes and thinking, "What is the big deal? Everyone has a blog." And you are pretty much right -- I just read somewhere that there are 1 million blog posts every day. That is a whole lotta blogs!

However ... I don't have one. I can also assure you that, to me, it is a very big deal. It kinda feels like jumping out of an airplane.

I am going to do a three-month trial period to see how it goes. That way if it's not working for me, or no one is reading it then I can pull the plug and no hard feelings. The blog and I will go our separate ways. For now, I'll post the link on my Facebook page and if you want to click on it you can. Or not. If you are so inclined, I believe you are even able to subscribe so that if there is anything new it will come right to your inbox. Or not.

My subject matter will be life, kids, God and even sometimes dinner -- because dinner appears to be a popular topic and my Facebook friends all know by now I am certainly no Iron Chef. My goal in all of this is to make someone smile with each posting, or give someone a new outlook on a situation. When I was in high school I was pretty shy (I still am) but then I realized that 95% of the time there was someone out there who was more shy than me. So I made it a goal each day to make someone smile -- and in a high school full of sullen teenagers it was not difficult to find a target to practice on. Usually it worked.

So I am hoping it will usually work here, too. And if you want to come along for the ride, I'd love to have you.