Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hawks v. Raiders

Welcome to Texas High School Football, right? It was 100 degrees still at 5pm, HOT! And one side of the stadium is shaded, the home side thankfully, but everyone sat together to be in the shade anyway. It was Riley's first real freshman football game. I can't say I understood all that was going on, but you could tell it was a first freshman football game! There were fumbles, dead balls, etc. But, they all did great and there were some good plays. Riley is number 8, wide receiver and corner back. His undershirt kept coming un-tucked so you can tell which one is him because it looks like he's wearing a light gray fanny pack. I was surprised that most of the players seemed about his size. I always worry that he's going to be the smallest kid out there and get hit hard, but I think he's caught up with the boys his age (some of them) so he didn't look very small out there. Until the varsity football players came to watch the game, now those are some big boys! I dread our food bill if Riley keeps this up...

Anyway, here are some pictures from the game.  Here he is in the center, holding on to the other guy:

 Talking to the coach:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

First Day of School

Can you believe we have a High Schooler?! I can't, that's for sure. Riley is starting his freshman year at Hendrickson High School, and he's pretty excited about it. He has a block schedule, meaning he has 4 classes each day. ROTC, football, French and Algebra, then English Pre-AP, football again, World Geography Pre-AP, and Biology Pre-AP. Some days he has to be at school early (7:30am) for football or ROTC, and most days he has football after school too, till 6:00pm, making for some very long days! He's excited about the new school, new schedule, and new opportunities. He will be starting math tutoring soon also. I found a math tutor that used to teach physics at Brentwood Christian School, which is the school I graduated from!

Regan started her last year of elementary school! She also has a new teacher, she's new to the school also, so we had no idea about her, but Regan was excited. She said she made the first day go by super fast, so that's a good thing! Regan is on Safety Patrol this year, and she will join choir again, and I think her friends have finally convinced her to join the dance club, and I'm working on her to join the photography club! She will also be getting math tutoring this year, we want to make sure that STAAR test in the spring is not going to be an issue for either of the kids!

So here are the obligatory first day of school pictures!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Day Six - Sick Day at Sea

Not much to report about this day. We woke up, and went right back to bed. Well, I did, I think David went to brunch! I got up and went to lunch, but only ate about half a burger, and then went back to bed. I was wanting to go see a show at 2:30, so I wanted to lay down for about 30 minutes and ended up sleeping for 3 hours. I don't know what we had, but it was fever, headache and body aches, pains, and stomach issues. Just not fun at all. Finally made it up for dinner and then took Regan to look at the pictures, then David took her to play some games in the arcade, and Riley was out playing with his friends all day. At least one of us was having fun! Regan would go out for a bit, but she just kept coming back.

After dinner, I packed, and by pack, I mean I shoved everything we had into a suitcase. I was not in the mood to do any sorting so who knows where anything is at this point!

We had to get up at 7 the next morning for debarkation, so we went to bed early again, and I was happy about that!

Day 7 - not much to report. We got up, I finished packing while the kids and David had breakfast, we said goodbye to Erwin, and hit the dock. David got the car, we hit the road. We stopped in Elgin for BBQ sandwiches to bring home for lunch, grabbed Princess and made it home in time for a nap.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Day Five Cozumel and Dolphinaris

This is it! The event we've been waiting for! Honestly, I don't know if this was more for Regan or for me! No, really, it was for Regan. But man, this was awesome. So, we docked and got off the ship early (like, super early) and then had to wait for our shuttle bus, so we shopped around the cruise ship port a bit. Everything is a little over priced there, and really, it looked like Florida or something. Very touristy, and just not my idea of real Mexico, too polished.

But, it was pretty. The water, again, is amazing. We found some shirts that the kids wanted, and said we would come back so we don't have to lug anything around all day. We got on our taxi to Dolphinaris, and had to go through the spiel, no sunscreen, no jewelry, no sunglasses, no shoes, etc. Then we got in the super cold water with the dolphins and the trainer. We were the first session of the day, so it was nice. I was afraid it would be over before we knew it, but it was a nice long time. First he went over all the rules and the hand signals. We were in a group with another dad and his 2 kids, and just us, so it was a nice small group. He showed us the way to hold our hands and face, and have our dolphin, Simo, come over and give us a kiss on the cheek, and then to turn and give her a kiss on her chin. Then we got tol hold our hand out under her chin and pet her back, but not near the blow hole (which I always thought was just a hole, but it opens and closes like an eyelid or something). Then we got to pet her on her belly, and then swim across the lagoon and wait for her to come over and swim by us, we grabbed her fins and she swam us back to our spot on the other side of the lagoon. And Simo was fast! It was so neat. Then we got to put on masks and she would swim right under us so we could reach out and pet her and watch her swim. We got to pet her a lot as she swam by, and feel her tail and fins, and everything. It was neat, they are so soft and rubbery/leathery feeling.

We were in there for about an hour altogether. Then it was time to wash off and look at pictures. Of course, we are suckers, and how can you swim with dolphins and not have proof, right? (No cameras allowed in the pool, of course) so we worked a deal with them and managed to get all the pictures on CD, and get the DVD and 4 8x10 prints. The pictures are awesome though. I'm really glad we got them. And how many little girls can say their very first kiss was with a dolphin?

Then we had lunch that was included in our package, so we had fajitas and quesadillas and then decided to head back to the ship. We were still pretty tired from the day before, and David's knee was hurting, so we just went back a little early. We did stop and buy some t-shirts and our traditional magnet, and then managed to get back on the ship before the crowds returned. Regan, David and I took a nap while Riley met up with his friends.

Since we had some extra time, I made the kids dress up, I actually put on make up, and we went down for pictures before dinner.  The have picture booths set up all over the ship with different backgrounds and they aren't that expensive, and when are we ever going to get it together for a family photo again?! So much to their chagrin, we posed. They had a neat black and white background, and we were all in black and white, so we did some there, and then some in front of a cruise ship background, and some of the kids in front of a pirate background. They were pretty neat, and it was really hard to narrow it down to just a few! (But I did, one of all of us, one of me and David, and two of just the kids)

Then we went to a magic show that was pretty cool but Riley said had too much dancing. I think he was just upset that we were making him hang with us for a while and not with his new friends. Then we went to dinner where he came with us his one and only time, but left before his entree so he could go to his club Mardi Gras party!

David and I got a souffle this time, and not the warm chocolate melting cake, and maybe that's where we went wrong, I don't know, but that night David and I got so sick. But, we went back to our room, and went to bed a little early cause we were just feeling wiped out by that time.



Monday, August 19, 2013

Day Four- Progreso, Yucatan, Mexico

This was the port I was most looking forward to. I had heard mixed reviews about it, some people think it was dirty and didn't like all the people begging for money, but to me, it sounded like the good old Mexico that I remember! I first went to Mexico on a missions trip when I was 14 years old, and it was such an eye opening life changing event for me. I was hoping my kids would get a small taste of that, and I think they did.

I warned them up front that it is a very poor country and there are people begging, but Regan told me I didn't prepare them enough. We got off the boat, and first, it's gorgeous. The water is blue as can be, the sand is white, and there is one of the world's longest piers. It's almost 5 miles long. As you get off the ship, you walk through a nice little shopping area, and then to the shuttle buses. We caught a shuttle right away thank goodness, and it took us right into Progreso where we paid $5 a piece for a double decker tour of the city. It was neat, it just went around for about 20 minutes but we got a taste of what the city is like. There are some really nice old buildings, and right next door, a building that is crumbling and falling apart. We saw the markets and hotels and restaurants. We saw one called Buddy's and an American standing out front with a microphone saying they had clean bathrooms and good food (more on that later).

So when our tour was over, we made our way to the beach, stopped every 5 seconds by someone who wanted to sell us something. We did buy "air conditioners" (fans) on the bus cause Regan wanted a pink one, and the guy went from 2 for 10 to 2 for 5!

The beach was beautiful. We found a palapa and sat and ordered drinks and some nachos and let the kids go swim for a bit. We joined them, and then they wanted to do the banana boat. After a while, Riley and David wanted to rent a jet ski for an hour, so we let Riley haggle over the price. We told him the highest price we would pay for an hour, and let him go see if he could negotiate it down any. He did pretty good, so the guys set off on the jet ski, and Regan and I changed and walked around the town. I'm an adventurous traveler, so I had no qualms about walking around town. We bought some jewelry, shopped in some neat little Mayan shops, and found the market. I love markets. I don't know why, but I just love seeing all the stuff for sale in a market. Especially in other countries. I'm sure they think I'm crazy asking about what everything is, but I had honestly never seen a real live dragon fruit before! And there was something else that looked like a giant, squishy artichoke that I had never seen before either, but whatever it was, it didn't translate. At least, not into anything I could understand!

Anyway, we shopped and had to stop at every poor starving, stray dog. We looked at the fish market. Since Progreso is right on the ocean, many people fish every day, then go right to the fish market to clean and sell their catch. It smelled, and it was awesome. Regan wanted to buy some of the octopus and squid to feed the stray dogs.  We did get some t-shirts and some of those cute little animal bobble heads, and more jewelry!

Then we met up with the guys at the showers, and headed to Buddy's. This is where things took a turn. As we were walking in, the guy with the microphone asks Riley if he wants to judge a dance contest, they need an impartial jury. I'm (naively) thinking salsa dancing or something, so we order drinks and have a seat, and they turn Riley's chair around to face the dancers, who they promptly march right up on top of the tables! They were in bikini's, or cover ups, and drinking shots of tequila. At this point, we've ordered, we can't just walk out, Riley is looking at us like, what now? And we are looking at each other like, what now? So we sat there for a bit. It was all pretty funny, there were 5 girls, and some of them really did not belong in bikini's, and one girl was rather large, and hilarious to watch. She ended up winning the entire thing because she really put herself out there! We laughed quite a bit. The food was okay, nothing great, but not horrible, so we paid and were leaving about the time they started lining up body shots (just in time).

We were going to do a massage on the beach, but found a place that was indoors, because by this time, we were all hot and sweaty. We negotiated a price, and for all four of us to get a 45 minute massage (that's all we had time for at that point) was only $40. The kids were excited for their very first massage! And we were in one giant open room with just some beds lined up. We tipped them $5 each, and they were very sweet, and let us take a picture of them, all smiles!

Then we headed back towards the shuttle, with some last minute shopping along the way. David found a coffee shop for him and Riley, while I picked out a nice chess set (deer bone and turquoise) and some real Mexican vanilla, and then the kids wanted to knock off sunglasses, Riley got yellow Oakley's, Regan got some pink Ray Ban's, and David gave a dollar to a little old lady who was begging, and I thought she was going to climb in his pocket and come home with us. She went on and on thanking him and smiling and shaking his hand.

David was done shopping by then (lightweight) and so we got on our shuttle to head back, tired and the boys were beat up from their little jet ski adventure. I think they wiped out a few too many times, and David was pretty sore. We got back on the ship, rested a bit, Riley went off with his new friends, and then we had dinner in the dining room again.

Every night the wait staff would jump up on some tables and sing, and it was always pretty hilarious. Tonight it was the one about the apple bottom jeans and the boots with the fur (I don't know the name of it, but it's hilarious) and they did a great job with it! We left laughing for sure.

We went to bed early since we had to get up early the next day for the highlight of the trip, swimming with dolphins!

Progreso, Mexico

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Day Three - Fun Day at Sea

Day Three was more of Day Two. We walked around the ship, had breakfast at the buffet, Riley made some friends so we hardly saw him during sea days. Regan was at the older end of her age group so she thought some of the stuff they did in her kids club was "baby-ish" so she would come and go a lot. They did have a Mardi Grad party at night that she went to and enjoyed. She got a goody bag with a stuffed animal and some beads, and stuff.

David and I had fun just walking around checking things out. We sat out by the water a lot, looking out at the blue water. It was amazing how blue it was so quick out of Galveston!  It rained some, but it was neat watching the storm clouds roll in. We took a nap too, and sat on the balcony.

We watched some people in the casino, we sat in the piano bar and listened to a Filipino man sing like Frank Sinatra! He was pretty good! We went to a show that was a "World Showcase" with songs and dances from around the world, pretty neat. This was "Elegant Night" and I forgot to pack David's dress pants, so even though I think he could have gotten away with nice jeans, we didn't feel like trying. We ate dinner off the Lido Buffet (just okay) and then went back to the comedy club. We're pretty boring I guess. It was fun to people-watch and see people dressed to the nine's and nearly falling down drunk!

Then we tried to get to bed early since we had an early start the next morning.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Day Two - All Aboard!!

We had to get up pretty early to get to the ship, and make a bathing suit run. We were hoping to find a Target or Walmart on the way to Galveston. We found Target which was great since I was just there trying on bathing suits the week before, so I didn't have to worry about trying anything on. Grabbed one, David grabbed some water shoes, and we were off!

David dropped us off at the Carnival dock, with all our luggage, and he went to to park, and we were able to board right away. We got right on, went to our room to drop off our stuff, and went straight to Guy Fieri's burger joint for lunch. The burger's were pretty good, and we got the kids signed up for unlimited soda and got them some cute sports bottles, and I got my "Drink of the Day" which was a yummy fruity drink with an umbrella (which is exactly what you should drink on a cruise ship!)

Then we walked around to find everything, and check it all out. We found an arcade which, of course, meant the kids had to play a few games (all 3 of them).  Found the casino, dining rooms, piano bar, all kinds of neat looking places! We walked around the outside of the ship, checking out the pools, the water slide, the putt putt golf course, the basketball court, the kids clubs, and the dolphins! The water was ugly green in port, and not much of a view in Galveston, but there was a good breeze and dolphins swimming around, so it was feeling "vacationy".

Then it was time for "muster stations" where we had to line up and try to understand the captain over the loud speaker talk about where to go and what to do in case of emergency. It was a giant pain in the butt, but we had to do it, by law. So glad when that was over!

Then we had to do an orientation about the kids clubs and make sure they were all good to go for that. And then we just kind of wandered around till our appointed dinner time. We chose the late seating (I wouldn't do that time again though) and so our dinner was at 8:15 in the Paris Dining Hall. Our wait staff was Reizel and Igusti from the Philippines, and Mahardika from India. They were SO nice, and David was always chatting them up about home, how long they had been with Carnival, all about their kids, time off, etc. The food in the main dining hall was good, but not great. Except for the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake. That was to die for! Regan had that every night, I had it every night but one! It was so good. I kept wanting to take pictures of the food because it always looked so good, but we were always so hungry since our seating was so late, that we would dig in before I would remember!

There was a comedy show that night that David and I went to, it was fun to do since it's something we enjoy but never make time for at home. The kids were at their kids clubs having fun, and we could stay up as late as we wanted, and enjoy ourselves without worrying about the kids! We also spent a lot of time on the balcony. I am spoiled now, and I don't think I would ever do a cruise without a balcony now. It was nice to sit out there watching the waves and hearing the ocean.

When we got back to our room each night, our bed was always turned down, chocolates on the bed and a cute towel animal waiting for us! Erwin was our steward and such a nice man. He was there every morning when we woke up, ready to go in and make the beds, and there every night when we left for dinner to turn down the beds. He has a daughter at home in the Philippines that is Regan's age, and has a heart defect, so he works so hard to pay for her medical bills. They work long, hard hours on the ship, and I just really felt for him. He was so sweet, and would tell us every day "Good morning Mr. David, Mrs. Denise!" We just both loved him!! We told him we would be praying for him and his daughter, so if you think about it, say a prayer for Mr. Erwin and his family.

These are all the pictures from the ship. I didn't feel like splitting them up by days!

Carnival Triumph

Friday, August 16, 2013

Getting out of Town is Always the Hardest!

The "plan" was simple, when David got home from work, hopefully early, we head to Houston to spend the night with Benny and Christina so the kids can hang out at least for one night, and then we are closer to Galveston on Saturday morning so we can board the ship early.

Of course, nothing can be easy, or go as "planned".  We got an email late Thursday from the place where we have been boarding Hunter lately, to get him used to the place for this trip, since we were going to be gone for 6 nights, we didn't want to just leave him somewhere and have him think we ditched him. Well, they had an outbreak of mycoplasma and while they would still board the dogs, they would be kenneled most of the time. Only out for individual walks, no group play, no water time, no pond, it sounded sad. So I spent the morning scrambling, trying to find a place that would keep Hunter on short notice. Most boarders want them to come for a day of evaluation first, so it was rough, but I found a place right down the street that even gave us 2 free nights, and they had a web cam so I got to go home and watch him play with the other dogs for a while! He seemed to be having a good time, so then it was off to board dog number 2. Princess stays with a friend of mine who grooms her, because she breeds, and owns, very small dogs, so Princess fits right in.

Then, David wanted us to meet him for lunch at his favorite Friday lunch spot, Perry's Steakhouse, downtown. This was kind of a kick-off-vacation-right kind of lunch. They have a lunch special on Friday's only, the worlds largest pork chop for 11 bucks. Seriously, it is huge. The kids enjoyed their fancy lunch, although for the life of him, Riley couldn't figure out why the businessmen who eat there prefer listening to classical music instead of Daft Punk.

Thankfully, we had a late lunch and David didn't have to go back, so we went home so I could finish packing. I had started packing the day before and had the kids done, just had me and David to finish up. But with dealing with all the dog issues, I ended up in a rush and forgot a few key items, namely, my bathing suit! David and I went to the beach last month, and when we got home, our bathing suits were wet so I put them in a trash bag, with my nice Chaco water shoes. Well, Riley saw a trash bag and threw it away! So I had just gotten a brand new bathing suit, washed it, and left it hanging in the laundry room. Also forgot David's nice pants for our fancy dinner, and my razor, and David's water shoes.

Anyway, Riley had football practice late, and it was picture night, so David didn't want Riley to miss that, so we figured we would head out as soon as pictures were over, hoping they would do freshmen first and we could get out quick. Well, it was 7 before we were on the road. We got in to Benny and Tina's around 11 and stayed up visiting till super late (or early!) I don't think Riley and Jeremiah even went to sleep at all.

But it was fun to catch up, and I had 7 bags of clothes for Joy, Jeremiah and Tina's new grand baby Aubrey! We decided to tell the kids about the cruise the night before because Riley had a scrimmage game on Saturday morning that he didn't want to miss. He kept asking us why we couldn't just leave on Saturday morning instead of Friday night. We didn't want him to think we didn't care about his game, but we really had to be there by Saturday morning! And it was such a mad rush to get there, and so late when we got in, I didn't take any pictures! We did get to meet Josh's new wife Ashley too, since they had come in to town to surprise Tina for her birthday.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


I realized I'm kind of behind on updating but there hasn't been too much going on, so don't worry, you didn't miss much :)

First, we had Elise's follow up appointment on the MRI on the 6th, it went surprisingly well! Trista and her friend Nancy drove Elise down and we met David for lunch at Freebird's so he could spend some time with his favorite baby. Then we headed down to the appointment, and it was kind of odd. We had to wait forever, the doctor came in finally and just goes, "Uh, yeah, it's gone." We just kind of stared at him a minute before we realized what he meant. He said the cyst has "mysteriously disappeared." Then said, good thing we didn't do surgery! So, that was that. Great news, and what we had been praying for! (We do we always seemed surprised when God answers our prayers?)

Then they went home after the appointment (and after we did a drive by of some of Austin's best goodie places)

And then Riley started football practice from 8-12 every day, and I've just been the taxi. Regan has spent the night with friends, and we've just been plugging along, trying to avoid the heat, and getting ready for vacation.

Speaking of...we leave tomorrow! We told the kids we are spending the week at Galveston, and we are going down tomorrow night to spend the night with their cousins, Joy and Jeremiah. We haven't had a chance to do cousin camp this summer, and Regan was so disappointed, until I told her that we would be able to spend ONLY one night with them. She jumped up and down and said, "Mom, one night with Joy is ALL I NEED!!"  She's very excited!

Then on Saturday morning, we will head to Galveston, not to stay there for the week, but to surprise the kids with a cruise! We are going to Progreso and Cozumel, and will swim with the dolphins in Cozumel. I know Regan is going to FREAK. I can't wait. I am excited to have time with the kids (and David) before school starts back up and we are all running ourselves ragged.

So stay tuned for a ton of pictures when I get home! We are going to be radio silent for the whole trip (another thing I'm excited about) no phones, no i-things, just family time. Good old fashioned family time!

See you next week!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Another Court Update

We had another court update. It was really a status update on Elise, and Kenzie came this time, so it was an update on her as well, how much she has done and what her plans are. She is wanting Elise back, but has a long road ahead of her. Having her live with her in a shelter is not an option, and she's doing very well right now.

We go back in October, so we will see how things progress between now and then. "Dad" is now out of the picture since he decided he doesn't want to be involved, so that's a good thing. But here is the cutie patootie, she's so adorable!!