Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's Me Against the Dust

screened in porch in the making.....future fun



One year I will arrive at the farmhouse, walk in, turn on the light, unpack my suitcase and be done with it.... but not this year.  When you are renovating a house over years and years, every time you show up it is an adventure!  I have begun to hate sheet rock dust.  It's me against the dust and the dust is winning.  To add to the sheet rock dust, this year I have the pleasure of being here for pollen season too!  White dust mixed with yellow pollen, such a lovely touch!  Go ahead write your name on any surface in the house, because you can!  Who needs post-it notes?  We have pollen and dust covered tables to write messages to each other!

I doth protest too much, it is great to be here!  Today was as good as any mid summer day can get and it is only the end of May.  I hope this is a sign of weeks to come.  They say they have had tons of rain and it is a late spring so we need a little sunshine and warmth.  Bring it on! I left a drought in Texas, maybe it followed me here.  We don't need a drought either though, TJ has spent the last 2 days planting the garden and it needs water to produce the mass quantities of vegetables he is expecting.  So mostly sunny and warm with a couple of days (or nights would be better) of rain each week would be perfect.  I'm asking too much?


The lilacs are blooming and the sun in shining, it was a good day!




 
I continue to be amazed at my ability to fill the days while I am here.  There seems to be an endless amount of work to be done every day.  If we ever finish this place I won't be able to come here any more because I will have no idea how to fill my days, there will be nothing to get done!  Good thing that time will never come!  This place is a double edged sword.  I love the renovating and fixing, painting and cleaning but I would also like a few days when I could look around and live in the finished product.  Will it ever be finished?  Probably not!  Two steps forward and one step back.

Need dirt delivered?  No problem!





I have been enjoying the small things these days.  Life is so much simpler here.  A sunny day and a hard day's work are all you need.  We wake up, work or maybe play a little, all day....eat a great dinner, because dinner is always great when you are starving after a hard day's work,  and when we go to bed we are totally exhausted!  Exhausted in a way we do not know at home.  This has got to be good for you....it just seems like it is the way life is supposed to be lived.  The way people used to live before things got complicated.  I really never saw myself as a "country girl".  I love the creature comforts but life here is a rare and precious experience that is lost in most of our lives. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Canadian part of the Chronicles is Here!





It is that time of year again.  The annual migration to the north is upon me.  I will be spending the summer in Nova Scotia. 

As my days here wind down I find myself thinking about all the things I will miss when I am gone.  Don't get me wrong,  I like my life here and now!  I have my routine and I like my routine.  I love my French classes and Madame Tres Chic and I enjoy my golf games (surprisingly).  I love my book club and my bunko group.  These will be things I will miss and I wonder if things will be different when I return.  If I leave it for a long time, can I just pick up where I left off?  I hope so!  I will miss my church and miss my sister and her family.  I will miss going out to eat.  There are not many restaurants at the shore and we hardly ever eat out while we are there.  I will miss shopping!  I love to shop!  Oh... Canada has stores too?  Awesome! Never mind.



I also find myself thinking about the material things I will miss. I am going to miss my car! We drive TJ's old Ford F150 truck at the shore and it is not quite the sweet ride that I enjoy down here. My back is bracing itself as I write just thinking about the bumpy roads in the man-truck.  As I pack my clothes I sadly look at my closet and say goodbye to some of my favorites that just aren't making the cut.  Can I really go 3 months with what I can pack in one....or two... suitcases?  Remember, I will need warm clothes and cool clothes, that takes up a lot of suitcase real estate!  I know that when I get there I will probably wear the same pair of yoga pants and the same fleece when it is cold and the same pair of shorts and a t-shirt or a bathing suit when it is warm so what am I worrying about?  Bye bye clothes.  Bye, bye shoes.   I will also miss my dishwasher!   No DW at the shore.....and airconditioning.  On those hot muggy days, AC would be nice.  My king size bed!   Well, you get the picture.

Of course, I will not be missing the heat and the humidity.  Even though we get our share of humidity in Nova Scotia too.  I will not miss the scorching days that are Houston in the summer. 

There are many things that will fill my days and nights at the shore.  I am not worried about being bored or anything while I am there.  I love that place and this is something that I have looked forward to for most of my life.  Spending the summer at the shore.  I just hope the participation exceeds the anticipation!

And just in case you are thinking of coming by our house and taking all of our valuables while I am away, think again. I have hired armed guards to watch over my dryer lint collection and my 8 track tapes so step away from the door before the swarm of flying monkeys gets you! Seriously, TJ (aka armed guard) will be home and the neighbors (aka flying monkeys) are on high alert so go find your own dryer lint collection and 8 track tapes!






Stay tuned for the "real" Canadian Chronicles! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The End of An Era

Our last child has finished school!  My LG  graduated from Saint Louis University last weekend and if you add it all up, starting with our oldest's first year of kindergarten and ending with the final graduation last weekend that makes 28 years of kids in school!  I must say, we ended on a high note.  We partied like it was 1999!


The happy, excited and beautiful graduate



We ended our schooling years on a high note with almost all of our family and all of LG's friends.  The weekend was a test of our stamina!  How many consecutive days can you wake up really early and stay up really late ( we are talking single digit A.M. hours here) and still look stunning, be social and stay awake for all of the commencement ceremonies you attend?  We managed at least 2 out of 3 for both days. 

I must say, I am going to miss school.  It has been the best 28 or 44 years of my life, if you count the years I spent in school myself.  What will we do next semester?  No classes, no tuition bills, no exams....we might just enjoy it all!
LG and her SLU of friends


obligatory parent/graduate photo



She graduated and now she is escaping?



The weekend was a testament to LG and her SLU of friends.  They are an exceptional group of people (but of course everyone says that right?  But really they are!).  Such a unique blend of kids from the academic to the musical to the creative to the technical.  We were all treated to a slide show at the post commencement party for LG's group of friends.  The slide show was put together by a few of the guys and it featured photos and videos of all of the group from the beginning of their years at SLU until graduation.  The slide show made us all realize how close this group of kids has become over the last 4 years and that college is so much more than classes.  It is sledding in the snow, costume parties, spring break trips taken together, boyfriends and girlfriends, service projects, laughter, tears, late nights and early mornings, music and dancing, sports events, being silly and being serious and thrown in to the mix are classes, studying and learning.   I dare say they had the time of their lives.  So it was an end of an era for all of them as well. 

LG introducing one of the creators of the slide show


The weekend was amazing, the last 28 years were more amazing.  It has been a lot of work and a lot of fun.  What's next?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It Was Like a Corona Commercial

Just chillin' on the beach in the Cayman Islands
Does this not just cry Corona commercial?  I never knew this place really existed!


Take a white sandy beach with crystal clear blue water, add 4 sisters and one good friend, top with abundant sunshine and nice breezes, provide a few really good laughs, insist on happy hour every day on the beach, eat some really good food, swim with the tropical fish, and add a little peace and quiet, mix well and what do you get?  A sister week to remember!  I am one of 4 lucky girls who have sisters who enjoy a good time together.  We try to do this once a year and we are successful most years but other times life gets in the way.  All the planets aligned this year and we had a great trip.

Our friend Karen came along and with her she brought party favors!  She is so much fun and adds a lot to the trip!

Including cheezy coozies and visors specially made for us!


Here is Karen's special visor, notice it is black and ours were white!  She continues to crack me up!
She also made her own cover-up with special artwork.  Did I mention that my sisters all look like Barbie?



Yes, Karen and I were on a tropical island with Sporty Barbie, Suntan Barbie and Snorkel Barbie. A girl needs to have her self image fully intact to go to a tropical island with those 3 bikini clad Barbies!  Karen and I survived by wearing our "I'm with the Barbies" (she brought an extra for me!) cover-ups!  I think Karen will now be Crafty Barbie and I will be Bighair Barbie because this is what happens to my hair when left to it's own devices.....

Lots of hair + salt water + wind = Bighair Barbie



Other names we took on during the course of the trip were from Gilligan's Island.  Gilligan, Skipper, Ginger, Mrs. Howell/Lovey and Mary Ann took a half day boat ride into the Caribbean.  Now I am not a boat person.....I find that whenever you go on a boat you are at the boat lover's mercy and no amount of time on a boat is too much for a boat lover.  15 minutes is usually too long for me to be on a boat.   It is not because of any seasickness issues, that is not the problem.  I think the issue is being trapped on a small watercraft and not having any control over what will catch the boat lovers interest for the next hour or more.  So the Barbies took the show on the road/water and went on our "3 hour tour" which turned into a "5 hour tour" because Snorkel Barbie and Crafty Barbie along with our most excellent boat driver/lover/owner/tour guide kept finding interesting things to do in the clear deep water.  The first hour was a bit rough and I thought I might just have made a huge, colossal, monumental mistake in judgement by agreeing to go on this boat ride.  Then he stopped the boat and put the anchor down, ahhhh.  We all jumped in the water wearing our snorkel gear and proceeded to see some of the coolest tropical fish ever!  It was like being in an aquarium. 
Bye land, see you later...I hope!

The pirate flag should have tipped me off!

The next fun event was Stringray Island.  We got to swim with the stingrays....if we wanted to.  I did get in and touch the stingrays and experience it but then was relegated to passing out squid to the people in the water to feed to the stingrays.  Snorkel Barbie is also apparently the Stingray Whisperer.

Nice stingray....shhh



We pretty much had to drag Crafty Barbie, Snorkel Barbie and our captain out of the water to get them to go back to land.  Sporty Barbie and Suntan Barbie were about to commit mutiny unless they got back to shore....and fast!  They have both been cured for any future boat rides should the opportunity ever arise again.

The rest of the trip was non-eventful unless you count eating at a restaurant with Suntan Barbie wearing a hot pink blinking sash that said Birthday Babe.  Not that we do not already call attention to ourselves without blinking sashes! 

As always, we had to do the Formation (so nicely featured on Crafty Barbie's coozies) again, we've still got it!  We also invented a new Formation.  Yeah, no attention drawn to us doing that!  Ha!  and I have go to hand it to Crafty Barbie for her perfect selection of beachwear for that event!  Touche'.
Formation #2



Sporty Barbie wearing Crafty Barbie's beachwear!



This has gone on way too long so as your reward for reading this far I will now give you some beautiful pictures!  Go get a Corona and enjoy the pictures!
the beginning of a beautiful sunset


The middle of a beautiful sunset


The end....of the sunset




Get that Corona!
A little wild life on the side of the road



Goodnight, moonrise at sunset.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Football and First Communion

Football and First Communion....because they go together!  We were in Baton Rouge this past weekend and attended my nephew, Luke's ( who shall be referred to as The Football Master from here on out) , First Communion.  We had a great visit in Baton Rouge.

I always envied couples whose parents lived in separate cities.  Why?  Because when you visit either one you are not torn as to which house you will stay or who you will eat lunch with or who you will eat dinner with or how much time you spend with each.  When we visit BR we are always torn between two families.  We were there this weekend specifically for the First Communion and to see our California family members.  But....this was Mother's Day weekend too!  Needless to say, we did a LOT of visiting!  Not complaining because it was fantastic to see so much family in one weekend but we have got to keep moving if we want to fit it all into one weekend!  Luckily our two sisters are very accommodating and manage to host everyone at their houses to cut down on the traveling.

The First Communion was lovely.  I just loved seeing all the kids in their white clothes all looking so full of anticipation and hope.  We could all learn something from them.  Wouldn't it be perfect if we had that same hope and excitement every time we received Communion?  We should....but speaking for myself here...we don't.  They were the perfect picture....just look for yourselves.
That is Luke/The Football Master in the front with the light blue jacket and white pants on between the two girls.



After the First Communion we all went to The Football Master's house for a crawfish boil!  YUM!  Check out this feast!

I LOVE Louisiana!





They slaved away in the heat to cook that feast!



Meanwhile, The Football Master, showed us his skills.   All he wanted to do was play catch, you know football season is only 3 1/2 months away, gotta practice!  The videos were shot with the camera sideways and since I am not a technical wizard, I can't figure out how to rotate it after downloading it so you will all have to turn your computers sideways to view the video.  Go ahead.... I'll wait.  Turn that computer on it's side..... and witness Luke, The Football Master in action!

video


The kid has a future as a receiver and his passing isn't too bad either!  Maybe it was all the crawfish and then again maybe it was the First Communion.  Great day!

Hope all the moms out there had a wonderful Mother's Day.  We were very lucky to see both of our Mothers on Mother's Day and some other very special mothers in our family.  Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Anticipation vs. Participation

My mother used to tell us that anticipation is better than participation.  This statement was usually in reference to premarital sex and was one of her ways to encourage us to....wait.  I guess she figured our imaginations were much better in the sack than it was going to be in real life.  Why ruin all those great fantasies with that awkward first time?  Thanks Mom.

If you think about it though, how many big events in your life have you anticipated with great expectations?  The first day of school, that first kiss, high school graduation, college, the first day at a new job, your wedding, the birth of your first child, your first grandchild, moving to a new place, visiting some exotic land, my golf game on Tuesdays?  How many of these experiences created serious fluttering in your heart and kept you up at night before you actually lived them?   How many of them actually lived up to your expectations?  How many of them disappointed you?  Some of them might have exceeded your wildest dreams!  Those are rare and exquisite experiences that need to be treasured.

On the flip side, sometimes we anticipate with dread. Final exams, leaving someplace you have grown to love, breaking up with someone, going to the doctor (or is that just me?),  any science class (just me again?), going to confession, surgery.  These anticipations can also be greatly over exaggerated in our imaginations and turn out much better than we expected.  Sometimes they are just as bad as we thought they would be and then sometimes, and hopefully seldom, they are worse than we thought.  Such is life.

I am currently anticipating the month of May.  There are so many things to look forward to.  I am going to see family I haven't seen in a long time.  I am going to travel to places I have never been to before, I will see my youngest child graduate from college and finally, I will be heading to the shore for what might be the longest stay I've ever had there.  I anticipate these events with my usual positive spin....everything is going to be great!  But am I setting myself up for disappointment?  Will the real things live up to my expectations?  Will anticipation be better than participation?  The thing about anticipation is that it lasts for a long time and as far as participation goes, when it is over, it is over.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Maddness

Has anyone noticed that May is possibly the busiest month of the year?  I seem to remember that every May was craziness when my children were younger.  There were end of the year projects due, banquets to attend, final exams, and everyone tried to fit into May whatever they forgot or neglected during the rest of the school year.  May was always "fully booked".  I think that month might be June if you live in Canada.  Life according to the school calendar.  I figured that once I had no one in grade school, May would be just another month in the calendar.  No such luck.  I just got back from an.....awards banquet!  Go figure!  May is shaping up to be a month of madness.
I have counted the days I will be in Houston in May... 13.  Less than half of the month will be spent elsewhere.  Lucky me!  Maybe. I might just be the most exhausted mother with no school projects under my belt during the month of May.  Today was the ESL (English as a Second Language) banquet.  I've crossed over from mother to teacher and still have/get to go to the end of the year banquet.  It was a lovely and humbling experience, I am so proud of all of the people there.  They are all taking positive action to improve themselves.  That being said, I'm just glad French class is not having an end of the year party, graduation or banquet that I know of.  

May 2011 will include an awards banquet, a First Communion, a graduation and a significant birthday celebration for someone very close to me.  I probably have an end of the semester French project due that I have not been informed of yet too!  Like always, the question is...how many things can you fit into the month of May?  I guess we shall see....

In other breaking news...the month of April passed in Houston with .11 inches of rain (basically none).  We are now 7 inches below average for the year.  This may not seem significant for those of you who live in California or Arizona or New Mexico, but for Houston, a month with absolutely no rain is big news!  Yes, it is dry out there.  Dry does not mean not humid unfortunately.  We have had plenty of humid days but no rain.  It is getting to the point that when it does actually rain here there will be people dancing in the streets!  Churches all around are praying for rain, the radio stations are telling people to pray for rain.  Things are getting serious.  Predictions are for rain tonight or tomorrow, at this point I will believe it when I see it.  Good month for golf just glad I'm not a farmer.  Let it rain!  (you won't hear that from me very often)
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