Saturday, June 30, 2012

Old Fashioned Chores

Oldest Son not quite sure of next step ...

Situation: Dishwasher not working. Waiting on repairman quote.

Interim Solution: Wash the dishes by hand

Instructions to Youngest Son and Oldest Son: "(1) Clean food off on left side of sink with disposal, (2) wash dishes on right hand side in soap filled sink, (3) rinse soap off and (4) put on towel to dry."

Youngest Son: "Is that the old fashioned way?"

Then ...

Oldest Son completes steps (1) through (3) and then asks: "Now what do I do?"

This A average, Private School educated child does not know what to do with the wet dish?
And we are parents who actually make our kids do lots of chores ... sheesh ...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Motel 6

Looks okay - right?
We are a family that really likes to go places. However, our travel budget is quite limited thus we are very creative and opportunistic about our travel choices.

Last weekend we opted for Motel 6 in Webster, TX. Commuter Husband convinced me to give it a go and he was right. It was fine. Here is my review with 0 being the lowest and 5 being the highest:

5 -- Price: $59.99 for double beds and then we got another 10% discount for AARP (thanks honey!)
4 -- First Impression: See above - when we walked in, we had a favorable response
4 -- Cleanliness: All looked clean and in good repair
4 -- Television: Flat screen with a few premium channels
4 -- Wireless: $2.99 extra and connectivity good
4 -- Soap: Provided small bars
3 -- Location: 15-20 minutes out of Galveston, an easy and traffic free drive straight up I45
3 -- Bed Linens: Sheets felt okay, pillows not feather but comfortable, bedspread was too light weight
3 -- Size: Decent size room with desk, bathroom small but workable
3 -- Pool: Had one, not fancy but wet
3 -- Clientele: Admittedly, we were a bit skeptical about other guests, made sure to park in well lit area
2 -- Towels: Bit scratchy but it is just a towel
2 -- Food: Looked like some kind of delivery service was available but did not try it, vending machines
0 -- Bathroom Extras: None really - no shampoo, no hair dryer, no lotion

We will try Motel 6 again ... oh my ...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Oil & Gas - Fathers & Sons

Youngest Son's photo taken at the Ocean Star Offshore Energy museum in Galveston.
Commuter Husband started with Oil & Gas Company on April 23, 2012. Our Commuter Family began.

There were many reasons to choose this path. The primary being a great professional opportunity for Commuter Husband and returning to the duel income family model. We are diligent (paranoid even) in assessing how it is "all" working.

This week Commuter Husband received very good and very positive feedback that he is doing a great job - exceeding expectations. And Commuter Husband really likes his job and the people he works with daily. So Happy.

There is symmetry to Commuter Husband ending up in Oil & Gas Company in Houston Texas. Houston is also where Commuter Husband's Father retired from an Oil & Gas Company in the 1980s. Commuter Husband's Father was a geophysicist who literally worked around the world and whose family went with him. Commuter Husband lived in many places such as Peru and Libya (he was there when Gaddafi took over!)

Last weekend we spent a couple hours at the Ocean Star Offshore Energy Center in Galveston. It is a museum about offshore rigs and drilling. Oldest Son and Youngest Son saw and learned exactly what their grandfather did as a geophysicist and the industry in which their father now works. Commuter Husband's Father passed away before I met Commuter Husband and long before his grandsons were born. I think Commuter Husband's Father would be proud and perhaps he is even smiling down on Commuter Husband.

Ocean Star Offshore Energy Center museum in Galveston, TX.
Commuter Husband explaining to Youngest Son.
Oldest Son checking out how the oil works it way through to the earth.

Youngest Son dressing up like Oil Rig Dude.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Home Alone

I am Home Alone.

Our 1st weekend in Houston actually climaxed in Galveston on Sunday. We dropped off the boys for a week at Sea Camp at Texas A&M University in Galveston. Oldest Son is in Coastal Ecology and Youngest Son is in Adventures in Marine Biology.
An odd foreshadowing sensation felt when dropping off boys at college dormitory. 
(Youngest Son unpacking in his room)
Commuter Husband choked up a bit as we drove off Sunday afternoon. I was perplexed since Commuter Husband will see them next weekend "as usual" and the boys have been to sleep-away camp in summers past. So why the sadness? Commuter Husband remarked that he will not get to Skype or talk with them this week ... heart thump ... the boys have a very loving and demonstrative father.

Mommy with Commuter Husband (me) did not react quite the same way. Honestly, I am looking forward to the one week interlude of no daily logistics to organize for Afternoon Nanny and the kids and the play dates and the Hebrew tutoring and the meals and ... all that stuff required to run a household and work full-time.

The weekend in Houston was a gift of precious family time.

The week away is a gift to our sons to help them be independent, foster a love for learning and support their personal life journey.

My week alone is the gift of much needed time to re-charge.

I hope this photo foreshadows a lifetime of brotherly love.
(Youngest Son and Oldest Son on Kemah Boardwalk.) 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

1st Trip To Houston

Commuter Husband has traveled back to Dallas seven weekends (3 of those have been via Southwest.)

On Thursday, Oldest Son, Youngest Son and I packed up the 2002 Ford Expedition and headed down I45 for Houston.

Thursday - Commuter Husband's Temporary Home Away from Home
As we entered Houston, Youngest Son did a compare and contrast commentary of Houston to other places we have visited. We arrived in the heart of Houston (Commuter Husband's Sister's home) after exactly four hours on the road to see where Commuter Husband has stayed weekdays for the past eight weeks. 

We had fun a Chinese Dumpling dinner with Commuter Husband's siblings: Commuter Husband's Sister, Commuter Husband's Brother-in-Law and Commuter Husband's Brother. We also dropped in on Commuter Husband's Niece at work for few minutes. Commuter Husband's Sister shared frozen grapes with the boys on her back porch which were "inhaled" by the boys.

So far so great. But Then.

We pile into Commuter Husband's room for a slumber party experience. Oldest Son starts coughing and coughing and rubbing his nose. The Cats. Despite everyone's best efforts, Oldest Son is having an allergic reaction to The Cats. So, we do what all families would do ... Commuter Husband and Oldest Son go to sleep in the Expedition in driveway. Relief is immediate. Problem solved.
Awesome Urban Living & the Expedition that provided dander free nighttime quarters for Oldest Son.
Friday - NASA and Kemah Fireworks
We arrive at NASA by 10am and do not leave until 8.5 hours later. Our family does enjoy a good museum experience! We had the privilege of participating in Lunch with an Astronaut with David Hilmers who had flown four Shuttle missions (wow!) He is simply inspirational and we are fortunate to have been able to meet and talk with him.

We re-fuel with local Vietnamese food and stop at the Days Inn (not exactly luxurious but clean, practical and economical) for quick rest then off the Kemah!

Commuter Husband who lived in Houston in his twenties has never heard of Kemah - seriously? We are going for the Kemah Boardwalk 9:30 fireworks over the bay. The fireworks were stunning and such a fun atmosphere. Kids got cotton candy and funnel cake for desert. Perfect end to a terrific day.
Funnel Cake & Cotton Candy!
It is good to see where Commuter Husband lives and spends his days. It is also good for the four of us to  be together away from the grind of Dallas. 
Very good.
Kemah Boardwalk Fireworks

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Beware ... TMI Below

Feeling Really Good: 
I finally got to the dermatologist. Got those troubling spots removed.
Got a full body check which included disrobing down to my bra and panties.
Like the doctor.
Like the nurse.

Get Home:
Please tell me it isn't so.
There. On the back side. Is a HOLE in my underwear!
Now, feeling really embarrassed.
Gracious doctor obviously pretended not to notice.

To Do:
Schedule time in the lingerie department.
(Note to self: This might also be a good time to replace my only bra that has the under wire busting out.)

Sunday, June 10, 2012


I watched the Randy Pausch Last Lecture this weekend (along with Commuter Husband, Oldest Son and Youngest Son). There is the immediate impact when watching this talk for the first time (which is significant and includes tears.) Then there is the lingering thought of how can I relate to what he has said. Unpacking that relationship can provide content for many blog postings. Today, I am going to focus on achieving dreams.

Randy Pausch by his own description said he had a great childhood. His own personal childhood dreams and how he achieved them (or not) reflect a healthy parental experience and space to explore his best self.

So what were my childhood dreams? Silence. 
Without going into all the not-so-fun details, I was way more focused on surviving childhood. Fortunately, I did survive by being an over-achiever (remember that post about Grit.) Thus, I have "lots" to show for that journey but my childhood dream bucket is pretty empty.

I do have dreams. They just emerged later in life when I had the emotional time to think about it. Are they achieved? Not really. So the lingering thought from watching Randy Pausch's inspirational advice is what do I do about it at age 47 with three other immediate family members to consider too?

Being a Commuter Family puts every decision under a microscope (at least for me) and as we struggle through the weekend logistics, I am thinking hard about those dreams ...

Here is link ... recommend you carve out the 76 minutes to watch:
Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams
"Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch (Oct. 23, 1960 - July 25, 2008) gave his last lecture at the university Sept. 18, 2007, before a packed McConomy Auditorium. In his moving presentation, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," Pausch talked about his lessons learned and gave advice to students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals."

Saturday, June 9, 2012

First Suit

Celebrating the Moments. 
Being Thankful.

The Windsor Knot is named after the Edward VIII, The Duke of Windsor. 
The Moment: Commuter Husband standing behind Oldest Son creating a half-Windsor knot with a red tie complimenting Oldest Son's first suit.

Thankful: Commuter Husband is in Dallas today and can show Oldest Son things I simply cannot. 

First Suit. Age 12. Oldest Son.
Being a Commuter Family creates a heightened sensitivity to everything. We choose to see this as an advantage.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"Forget" - Word #1 for Summer 2012

In our house, discipline and consequences are constantly evolving. These shifts occur as kids get older, mature and change. Also, Youngest Son seems to develop some kind of resistance requiring frequent paradigm updates!

"The Summer 2012 Consequence for Unbecoming Behaviors
 Look up a Word in the dictionary and write (Spanish) or type (English) two paragraphs (at least 3 sentences each) defining the word and how it applies to your behavior. Use correct grammar. Examples include: respect, honor, loyalty, family, annoying, condescending, insubordinate, contradictory, compassionate, argumentative, etc."

The first offense goes to Youngest Son (of course.) He forgets to strip his bed for linens on washing day and while Afternoon Nanny in charge. Even though I reminded him before I left for work and even though he has been doing this for years. Hmmmm. Guess he is writing a paper on Forget. Youngest Son protests that "this is not fair." I ask him if he wants to write a paper on Fair. Protest ends.

Here is Youngest Son's effort - formatting is exactly the way he did it:


To not remember what happened or what he or she said.
I forgot over night. But I paid the price.
      Next time I will remember by writing it down.
And if I forget to look at the paper we have a problem.
So next time I remember.
And if I don’t I will be in big troubleLLL L

And the next offense goes to... drumroll please ... Oldest Son. And surprise. It is the same word: Forget

Oldest Son writes the following:

To forget- The act of not remembering

            To forget is a verb describing the act of not remembering. I forgot to turn off and on the pool pump. This is an unacceptable display of forgetfulness.
            To help me remember to not forget next time I will put up a sign to remind me. This will remind me because I will put it on my door and I will see it every morning. After that I will never forget again.

It will be interesting to see the Word collection of Summer 2012!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Blue Doggies & Holding Kittens

Youngest Son wrangling "Blue" Doggie
Commuter Husband and Youngest Son completed 2.5 hours of Operation Kindness training Saturday. Youngest Son can now officially walk the dogs, play with the cats and help out at the no-kill shelter monthly. However, he must have an adult with him till age 13 (3 more years.)

We are ever so conscious of those precious weekend hours. We are trying to align hours allocation with values. Youngest Son needs an activity that is altruistic (don't we all?) and Commuter Husband needs to spend one-on-one time with Youngest Son that is special to just him. Youngest Son also loves animals but we can not have a dog or cat due to Oldest Son's allergies and asthma. So Wallah! Commuter Husband and Youngest Son will spend a few hours each month at Operation Kindness.

Youngest Son came home Saturday morning excitedly telling me all about it "Mommy it was so fun! I got the walk the dogs and hold the kittens. I just need 8 hours volunteering and then I can take training to walk the Blue dogs! And the next training date is next Saturday ..." Green Dogs are the easiest to walk then comes the Blue Dogs and of course Youngest Son wants to walk the dogs that actually walk him!

Yes, Youngest Son embraces all with gusto and a sense of adventure. Thank You for This Child.

Friday, June 1, 2012

No Guns = Happy

Fridays at Love Field
Tonight on way to pick up Commuter Husband ...

Oldest Son says "You know what makes me happy? No one with big guns on the way to the airport."


Well, this requires some background ...

Our Commuter Family has actually done this commuting thing before ... from Summer 2008 to Summer 2009. I was the one commuting then and it was between Dallas and Mexico. I would leave Sundays and come back Fridays. I did the weekly commute for several months and then was able to commute a bit less frequently while working remote.

Commuter Husband would pick the boys up from school (3rd grade and kindergarten) in Bucerias on Friday afternoons and they would head to the Puerto Vallarta airport. On the way, there would be heavily armed Policia at both check points and in towers. Yes - very large, black, automated weapons. It was amazing how quickly we got used to the scary men with guns -  it was part of our everyday scenery.

I will say commuting to Mexico and coming home to this backyard was amazing ...
La Cruz, Nayarit - View from our master bedroom