Saturday, June 28, 2014

3 for 3

Youngest Son killed tonight. With Oldest Son out for the evening, Commuter Husband, Youngest Son and I hit the game closet.

Game #1: Beat the Parents
Beat the Parents is a question and answer game where you move forward with each question answered correctly. There are different kinds of questions for the kids and the parents, of course. Youngest Son trounced us and indeed Beat the Parents.

Playing Beat the Parents on the bed in our bedroom since all other rooms are out of commission due to remodel - not ideal but comfortable.
Game #2: Stratego
Commuter Husband went one and one with Youngest Son. Once again Youngest Son came up victorious. I asked Youngest Son how he beat Daddy in Stratego and he confidently replied "I'm just better than him." True.
Stratego placed strategically in game closet - ha!
Game #3 Clue
Now this is My Game. I have been playing Clue since I was Youngest Son's age (yes I played 37 years ago!) We carefully gathered our clues. I had it narrowed down to two in each category. I was afraid Youngest Son might have the mystery solved. I took a chance and preempted him by declaring "Mrs. Peacock with the Rope in the Study." Darn it - it was Professor Plum. Within two turns, Youngest Son won. Again.
Youngest Son moving Mr. Green towards the Conservatory. Youngest Son approaches each turn with dramatic flair and an occasional accent as well!
Needless to say, Youngest Son was smiling like a Cheshire cat with his 3 for 3 win record tonight. Note we are way too competitive in this house to throw any games his way thus all his fair and square. Well played.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Camping with the Prius!

It is a significant day for Commuter Family. We are making our first camping trip in the Prius V. We have all four family members and our stuff for two days of Yurt camping at Lake DeGray, Arkansas in the back of the Prius. Last time we did this trip, we had our trusty Ford Expedition packed full! Our new bike rack did not get here in time but not stressing over it.

AND we only left 50 minutes past our desired departure time. AND Commuter Husband and I did not have a major marriage meltdown. AND all that when I have only slept 7 hours in the past 48 hours which typically shortens my fuse.

AND we have 13 fried pies from Baker's Ribs! I am so ready to unplug for a couple of days.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Click, Click, Click

On Monday mornings at around 3am, I am awakened to the sound of hard soled shoes on the wood floor: click, click, click. In my groggy state, it takes me a moment to figure out what is happening. Then I remember, it is Commuter Husband leaving for Houston. He is attempting to arrive in his Houston office by 8am to start his workday. I reach over to the empty side of the bed and confirm he is not there.

I have a series of emotions run through me at that moment. I am grateful that he has stayed a third night and is willing to leave at the ridiculously early hour. I snuggle deeper in my comfortable bed and I am glad to not be up at that moment. I have a tiny wave of sadness jolt through me although it passes as I start to think about the busy day and week ahead of me. I reach over to set the alarm and I go back to sleep for a couple more hours.

Being a Commuter Family is not easy. The trade offs we make require tough, adult choices. We do the best we can with our talents, our baggage, our priorities and our situation.

Click, click, click: the Sound of Commuter Husband's Love for his Family.

Commuter Husband snuggles with Oldest Son and Youngest Son as he has Father's Day breakfast in bed. The leftover lasagna was made by Youngest Son earlier in the week. The cards are hand made and written from the heart by the boys. The magazines cover Commuter Husband's interests: cooking (Cooking Light), beer (D Magazine) and music (Rolling Stone special mag on Bob Marley.) Bob Marley said "Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet." We do try to feel it ...

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Glimpse of NOLA

We concluded our vacation with a Saturday night stop in New Orleans. Apparently, Commuter Husband and I have never been there together – really must go back without minors.


Our first stop was Felix’s on Iberville St. Our wait was short even though there was a line already out the door. We went for the obvious food choice: Char-grilled Oysters sitting in a huge pool of butter. Commuter Husband, Oldest Son and Youngest Son gobbled up a dozen and then Oldest Son ordered another dozen for him! We added Turtle Soup, Crawfish Etouffee, Red Beans & Rice and Fried Pickles. And the obvious desert choice was beignets at CafĂ© Du Monde. Oldest Son and Youngest Son were impressed with the powered sugar volume!

Across from Acme and so good! 
Three oysters left and some bread to sop up the butter gravy!
Cafe au lait, beignets, hot chocolate, milk and coffee for Commuter Family.

We did brave Bourbon Street with the boys since it was still daylight. I am afraid they received some questionable exposure – perhaps the “banana shaped body part” strapped to the foreheads of two young men was uh, um, hmmm … slightly embarrassing for me and obviously funny to my male companions. We also saw several brass bands leading the way for celebrations, a big ass beer (yes that was what the glass said exactly) and a silver painted man (head to toe) who flipped off a passerbyer.

It was at this point that we quickly turned off Bourbon Street and onto St. Charles to walk through Jackson Square. A full wedding party was coming out of the Saint Louis Cathedral and with another full brass band leading the way. Youngest Son wanted his fortune told but $30 was more than he was willing to spend.

We wrapped up our evening browsing through Peaches Records. Youngest Son wanted the $31 Queen record but settled for the $10 Bon Jovi CD. As we walked to our car, Youngest Son even caught some beads thrown to him from a party bus.

A 40th Birthday party dancing through the French Quarter.
Commuter Husband lived in NOLA as a child. He told us about meeting Al Hurt (middle) and Pete Fountain (right.) These statues are part of Musical Legends Park.
Commuter Husband and Youngest Son among so much vinyl!

This morning we headed west to the Laura Plantation. I highly recommend for anyone in the NOLA area. Our well-spoken tour guide educated us about the history of the Creole sugar cane plantation and owners as well as the slaves who worked it. We toured with a group of eleven Italians which was also interesting. Each member of Commuter Family enjoyed the outing.

The Creole style plantation built in in 1804 on 12,000 acres.
Guillaume Duparc and his wife Nanette started the plantation and its four generations of owners.
Oldest Son and Commuter Husband looking at the family tree inside the house.
Oldest Son looking over the back of the plantation and the original kitchen buildings.
Youngest Son chatting with an Italian who flew into Houston from Italy. They are walking toward the kitchen gardens.
Oldest Son and Commuter Husband reading the Code Noir decree passed by France's King Louis  XIV.  The Code Noir defined slavery conditions in the French Colonial Empire such as all slaves must be baptized as Roman Catholics.
Youngest Son and Oldest Son entering a slave cabin and looking at the sugar cane fields. These slave cabins were inhabited until 1977 by descendants!  
Youngest Son asking tour guide about slavery and trying to understand the concept that many were not really free after Civil War. Sharecroppers made $12 per year thus had no immediate way to escape poverty and the plantation. 
Of course Youngest Son wanted a Creole Cookbook!
Pecan tree between plantation and Mississippi River (levy in background.) Beautiful.

Oldest Son is Older

This interesting color combo is what Oldest Son has chosen for the wall colors in his room. Did I really tell him that he could can pick out what wanted!?!!
Oldest Son is 14 years old. Oldest Son is a 9th grader. Oldest Son is a full blown teenager. There is a very clear dark, bolded and flashing line between parenting children and teens. Each week brings a new set of parenting considerations. Many of which we have planned for and several have descended upon us unexpectedly.

At this moment in time, I could not be prouder of our teenager. He is exhibiting many behaviors we have hoped for and showing himself to be a young man of integrity, responsibility and thoughtfulness -all with a healthy number of eye rolls of course. We will see what tomorrow brings.

Oldest Son gets a well deserved 8th grade graduation gift ...

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Rough Waters and Scuba

Gear ready!

Our St. Maarten excursion off the Disney Fantasy was the first ocean dive for Oldest Son and Youngest Son. We were quite excited about the two-tank dive. However, this inaugural outing did not go exactly as planned.

Our dive master prepared us for the dive and also gave instructions on the best place to get sick off the small boat (interesting call out.) Our first dive was at a depth of 60 feet and around a ship that had sunk during Hurricane Luis in 1995. We geared up, took a giant step off the back of the boat and descended. It was a wonderful underwater experience where we encountered a hiding nurse shark, circling reef sharks and a large eagle-spotted ray. Along with lots of tropical fish, we saw a barracuda with a hook and line hanging from its mouth! We saw a resting turtle up close and two frolicking (very Disney) turtles swimming around each other. Our dive master also took us through a short corridor of the ship where we saw the porcelain god; the boys thought that “sunken treasure“ rather humorous. We ascended with a three minute safety stop and climbed back up on the boat to move to the next dive site.

The sea was really, really rough. Youngest Son, who is prone to motion sickness, started hurling over the side. We do not tend to coddle the boys too much so we assured Youngest Son he would feel better when back in the water. Commuter Husband also explained to him what to do if he vomited in his regulator (breathing device) under water. We strapped on our tanks and reentered the ocean for the second dive. Youngest Son was not going down far so I went back up to help him. He could not clear his ears and equalize to make the 45 foot dive. Commuter Husband surfaced too and helped Youngest Son back to boat. Meanwhile, Oldest Son and I completed another terrific dive. By the time we got back in the boat, BOTH Commuter Husband and Youngest Son were extremely seasick. Thankfully we were back to dry land soon after and they recovered quickly.

Lesson learned: Youngest Son must take meds before entering small boats on rough seas. 

Our first stop when we got back on cruise ship! This container is "help yourself" at the health center.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

1st Cruise - The Ultimate Requital

 A Disney Cruise is where we are this week. How did we get here? Not the normal way, not at all.

This story begins in 2008. No, Our Once Upon a Time really started in 2003 when our Commuter Family met Buzzy Family in Dallas where our collective children went to Temple Preschool. Buzzy Family is Dr. Mom, Buzzy Dad, Buzzy Oldest Son, Buzzy Middle Son and Buzzy Daughter. Buzzy Middle Son and Buzzy Daughter are the same ages as our boys. Our story has included eleven years of shared adventures, vacations, outings, dinners, conversations, laughter, tears … and all the many, many things that life long friends share. Even with Buzzy Family’s move to Atlanta, we have made it a priority to share meaningful times.

I could write numerous reflections about Buzzy Family however this post is about the Disney Cruise. In 2008, Dr. Mom asked me to help with her start-up medical device company. Buzzy is a needle pain relief device that she invented - see BUZZY SITE. Dr. Mom has poured her heart, her brains and her life into this venture. I helped her for the first few years and then I as well as the rest of Commuter Family has helped ad hoc here and there the past several years. Back in 2008, Dr. Mom told key women who were contributing that she would take our families on a Disney Cruise when she hit certain business success thresholds. Guess what? Dr. Mom is gifting seven families – yes SEVEN!!!! – this seven day Caribbean cruise on the Disney Fantasy. Fantasy is the exact right word for this amazing trip and friendship.

Youngest Son gets ready to board with lanyard and Disney pins ready!

Dr. Mom gifted us even more luxury: Champagne, Chocolates and a Disney Robe. We are toasting from our balcony – looks like Youngest Son swiped my glass of bubbles!

First night happy hour in the Buzzy Cabin!

Youngest Son marking up his Disney Planner … so much freedom and so many activities, movies, games, shows, etc.

Yes we totally WON the Know it All Trivia – most of the credit goes to Dr. Mom, Buzzy Dad and Commuter Husband.

This picture says it all … Youngest Son relaxing after snorkeling in the blue waters of  St. Thomas where we saw rays, turtles, barracuda, a puffer fish, tropical fish and a small school of reef squid!