Monday, June 11, 2012

Car Wash...Crazy Town!

I am officially on summer break and loving it!  I don't ever wake up before 8, and can eat lunch whenever I want- yippee!!  One of my student's parents gave me a gift card at the end of the year to get my car's interior and exterior washed and cleaned- I have never been so excited.  My car has seen better days, and there is some kind of sticky syrup in my cup holders that now has sprouted mold.

So, on my first Monday of summer, I made my way to this lovely place called 'Mister Car Wash', where the nicest people explain my different cleaning options, where I can get a nice cup of coffee while I wait, and even give me a hug when I tell them how much my car needs this.  I hand over my keys and find a spot to wait while I watch the cars going through the wash just outside.

Everything is going just fine until I see all of the workers start to leave the cars they are working on and run over to where the cars are going through the wash machines/assembly line.  Ooohhhh, no.  My first thought:  Maybe a child has wandered where he/she shouldn't be and people are running to make sure everything is alright.

Next, I see a parade of police cars come racing right towards the parking lot, and the workers are now shutting down the gates to the washing section so that no cars can enter or exit. second thought is:  Maybe I should have stayed home today!

A mother with her three young kids, who was also waiting for her car to be cleaned, starts to become 'mama bear' in every sense of the word.  She tells us all to get down behind the couches, and I listen!  I am so confused at this point, but still have my complimentary popcorn from earlier, so I have that on my side :).

The saga continues as the manager breathlessly comes through and says that a bank robber has chosen this car wash to park his 'get-away' car in, and has been ambushed by the police in the front of the carwash line.  Ok, my third thought is: how far can I squeeze myself underneath the couch so that nobody can get me- to hell with the popcorn- it was too salty anyways!!

The next part happened so quickly, I didn't even have time to process it.  The 'robber' came running through the waiting room, fired two shots into the air, and then left as quickly as he came, shouting swear words over his back.  He jumped the fence just next to the lot, and was gone.  The policemen came racing after him, yelling at everyone to stay down- and then it was over!

Everyone went back to work, the guy shining shoes in the corner went back to shining, and the mom with three kids got into her clean car and drove off.

My fourth thought- WHAT WAS THAT!!!  I may be a little midwestern transplant in the big, southern city, but holy moley!!  Ah, the term 'we aren't in Kansas anymore' took on a whole new meaning.

The nice man who had cleaned my car so that it looked better than I bought it gave me a hug, probably seeing the look of being stunned on my face.  I took my beautiful car, and went to Dairy Queen.  One brownie blizzard later,  I decided it was time to go home- and watch the local news channel to see if the story made it.

Summer sure is starting off with some excitement!  Whew!


Monday, April 30, 2012

Hormones in the workplace...

My lovely 10 year olds from earlier in the year have now arrived at springtime, and I can actually see their hormones taking over their minds.

1.  Their new favorite words are 'annoying' and 'ugh'!!
2.  They cannot remember where they put ANYTHING, and insist to me that I must have lost their cell phone, because where else could it be!!!
3.  They will literally zone out mid-sentence and look at me with a look that says, 'where am I right now?!'
4.  I have at least 2 criers a day, sometimes they know why, and sometimes not.
5.  They remember every detail of what happened in the latest lunchroom 'drama' incident, but can't recall any algebra for the math test.
6.  They have lost all body control, and upon standing up to sharpen their pencil, manage to trip over nothing, and fall down, really hard! Also, the rest of the class doesn't even notice anymore!!
7.  4 of my students are taller than I am, and 2 of the boys have a budding mustache.
8.  I sadly know more about the gossip of who likes who in 5th grade than what is happening on the daily is constantly changing and the center of all our universes :)

I come home to sweatpants, a husband that listens to my stories, makes me tea and brings me back to reality- All in all, I can't imagine doing anything else.  I would gouge my eyeballs out staring at a computer each day, or dealing with customer service situations.  I can easily forgive the actions of 10 year olds, and they listen to advice and love you even though you just told them they have 30 math problems.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Musings from a busy lady...

1. The AC in my car is starting to make funny a Houston summer that equals death!
2. Yesterday I put pink nail polish on my toenails and it was enough to really brighten my day.
3. Talking with my family on the phone gives me peace with the world.
4. 5th graders are some of my favorite people to be around- especially when they play tether ball at recess and yell "NO MERCY!"
5. I am teaching about the Holocaust right now, and need many more trips to get ice cream after school than usual!
6. When I get older, I wonder if my hair will turn gray in a sophisticated way...probably not!
7. What am I going to wear tomorrow- ugh!

I hope you are musing about upcoming vacations, or which type of dessert to eat after dinner :)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Festivals? Why yes please!

There is something about large crowds, fried food and middle aged men with fanny packs that embodies a good festival experience. I don't know if it is festival season here in Houston or what, but there have been some cool gatherings and such lately.

Here we are at the Bayou City Art Festival in Memorial Park. It was HUGE, with over 300 vendors spread out within the park.

It was amazing to see all the different mediums of artwork. The experience confirmed how unartistic I am, but inspired me to try and be a craftier person...hmm...maybe knitting would be safer than welding metals like this!

These beautiful sculptures were made out of coiled and wrapped wire. If only I had $450 to spend on one- it takes some serious commitment. Someday when I grow up, I'll get a couple to put in our parlour :)
Instead of buying a painting or sculpture, I went for a pretty green bracelet.

This guy was incredible. He slowly meandered through the streets, and had the persona of a tree, very regal and poised.

Our next endeavor was BINGO! Granted, it's not a festival, but it should be! We met up with some friends to experience the lure. The church parking lot was packed, mostly with buicks and cadillacs...perfect! It's not legit bingo if the median age of the players aren't 75 years plus. Once in the church basement, it was on! We purchased our packet of game sheets, our very own dobbers (those who aren't aware, they're basically ink blotters), and some cokes to keep up with the professionals. People were READY!

Each game had different ways to win- four corners, crazy kite, blackout, postage stamp, and the list goes on! There were 'specials' with different colored boards, 2 bingo callers, a projection of the ball and number, and a lit up spread at the front of the room with all the numbers and letters called thus far.

Man, we had walked into an underground, serious, gambling ring masked beneath a catholic church facade!! We knew it was serious as soon as the first game started. Everyone immediately stopped talking, and all you could hear was the sound of dobbers dobbing, and a few oxygen tanks clicking. If someone did call bingo, everyone in the room gripped out 'NO' and 'Uggghhh!!"

If you did win, the cash prizes were pretty good! The smallest amount of money you could win was $70, and the grand prize that night was $750!!! Man, we were not messing around on that one! I ended up winning one of the small prizes, and turned three sheets of red. I did not anticipate actually winning, and when I did, I wanted to make sure I had dobbed correctly! Our friends informed us that if you call out bingo, and didn't really get one, that people get pretty mad...eeek! Luckily, I did everything correctly, and could take everyone out for frozen yogurt. Yep, that's right- I was the sugar momma, bingo winning, frozen yogurt buying winner of the night!

Bingo turned out to be pretty amazing, and lucrative for out grandma's, Chelsea needs a new pair of shoes!!!

The most recent festival we attended was just today, a Palestinian Festival. It was really fun! The music was so very cool to hear live, with families dancing and singing along. The handicrafts and goods being sold were so unique and beautiful, and all the vendors were focused on projecting information about the culture of Palestine.

Going to this festival really made me want to travel. I love to be immersed in another culture, and experience something new for the first time. I'm hoping there is a Hawaiian festival next- because I could really use a mai tai and a beach... :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Break Compilation

The rest of the spring break week passed in a lovely blur! Here are some of the highlights from the rest of the week...

One of my favorite things in the world, is to take nature walks. We live right next to the Buffalo Bayou, with awesome trails for hiking and biking.

I always feel like there are such interesting bird houses by where we live. Houston is actually in the migratory path of a lot of birds, so we will see all kinds of interesting bird houses that people put up to accommodate them.

Sangam and I watched the movie 'My Idiot Brother'. It was pretty good! Sangam makes popcorn on the stovetop, heating up the kernels- one of my favorite things:)

On St. Patrick's Day, we decided we needed to see the Houston Parade. In Minnesota, we would go to the St. Paul parade, which was awesome! I didn't want to get my hopes up, but was pleasantly surprised...

Dancing clovers, very clever!!

Sangam and I made sure to wear green :)

The roller derby is huge in Austin and Houston. Here are some of the ladies showing off their skills :)

Irish wolfhounds. These were the biggest dogs I had ever seen. They had very intense, yellow eyes, but were very friendly and let us pet them.

Later that day, we tried a new place to eat, called CoCo's. Definately the best crepes I have EVER had!! There were so many international people eating al fresco; Sangam and I felt like we were abroad listening to people speak Italian, Portuguese, Russian (I think) and others I couldn't recognize.

To finish out the week, Sangam and I met up with our friend Katie and some friends on a camping excursion to the Brazos Bend State Park. It takes courage to set up a tent next to these big guys!!

Camping is fabulous, because there is nothing to distract you from just being with people and enjoying each other's company! We took a walk around dusk, which happened to be when the gators were on the move, we saw a lot of them!

On Sunday, we decided we just weren't quite ready for the fun to be over, so we went mini-golfing. Here are some 'action shots' of our stellar skills :)
I hope you all have a happy start to spring!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring Staycation!

Ahhh, it's spring break week! In Houston, this is the best time of year, weather wise. It is a balmy 65-75 everyday, with sunshine and blue skies. So, this year, we decided to stay in Houston and get some much needed rest and relaxation, and save a little moola at the same time!

I decided that in between doing the necessary things like getting the oil changed in my car, and cleaning our apartment and getting my dental checkup out of the way, I would sprinkle in a fun/new thing each day, to spice things up a bit.

Monday: Wabash Antiques and Feed Store

When I walked in, I wasn't sure what I would find, a cat greeted me at the door, and the smell of pet food and pollen filled my senses- hmmm...
I rounded a corner, and oh boy, there were some hearty looking chickens! They were happily eating, and laying eggs galore- you could go in a pick some up, talk about fresh! I was a little apprehensive of walking into the crowded henhouse to take their eggs, maybe next time :)

There were baby ducks, bunnies and even roosters! It felt like spring had sprung right in the middle of Houston! I had an urge to take home these baby ducks, letting them swim in our bathtub to welcome Sangam home from work- eek!

The more I explored, I soon realized that this little store was filled with secret rooms hidden at first, but once you followed the hallway, it opened up into these spaces FILLED with goodies!

I know there is such a thing as too much color, but I think you have to try really hard to accomplish this. I am in love with bursts of bright, vibrant colors. Someday, I want to have a big back yard with little foot bridges, tree houses and these metallic, colorful flowers creating a path of whimsy, ahhhh...

I was so pleased with my Monday fun activity, life is grand when you have the day off! This curvy cowgirl showed me to my car, how nice :)

Tuesday: Operation Banana Bread

I've always gobbled up my Grandma's delicious banana bread, but had never made a batch of my own. What better time to try a baking endeavor than when you are making it for Sangam Napit, who loves practically anything! We had some frozen, black bananas so I thought, here goes! Stage #1: Mash the frozen bananas...brrrr!

Stage #2: Mix in the butter, sugar, vanilla, flour and a pinch of salt! I am always amazed that what I am mixing is going to turn into something that actually tastes good...especially when it looks like this...hmmm...
I asked Sangam to take my picture, it's important to have domestic tasks documented, like seeing an albino squirrel, you need to capture illusive images when they happen!

Out of the pan and into the oven...

The apartment smelled fabulous, Grandma would be proud :) Here is my lovely husband, who raved about each bite as we had some afternoon tea and fresh banana bread. Satisfaction, check!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Rose Colored Glasses in February

I don't know why I love February so much more than January! There is something about this month that just makes me happy. We are on the cusp of spring inklings, there are Valentine's day greeting card commercials that make your heart swell, and I just feel more motivated to smile more each day. Heck, I even painted my nails the color 'falling in love' pink with sparkles :)

Now, granted my family has 3 birthdays in February (grandma feb. 19th, mom feb. 3 and me feb. 23), there is Valentine's Day, and I am officially done coaching basketball as of February 2, 2012, which could account for the burst of happiness and feeling of freedom. Granted, I loved coaching those girls, and wore my heart on my sleeve every game- watching my team of 9 sixth through eighth graders hustle their butts off even when down by 30 points...but, I do like having an afterschool cup of chai on my porch while the sun is still up! At one point, I had such a vivid dream about coaching, that I woke myself up yelling, "box her out!"

Throughout this season, I have been so humbled by the experience of coaching. It was an ultimate test of trust in my girls, watching them fail, wanting painfully to get out there and make everything better, and then understanding that all I could do was call a time out- or yell words of encouragment or wisdom (which was hard to come by with me :)

Looking back, I know I will always remember these girls the most- my first season ever coaching. We lost every single game, but it was one of the best things I have ever done.

Happy February :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

We Need A Little Christmas!

Sangam and I had such a wonderful time being home over Christmas Break! We were able to spend time with a lot of fantastic people we don't get to see nearly enough! Catching up with my college roomates was like taking a breath of fresh air. Bethany is a new mom, and it was surreal to see her, totally in that role, and doing beautifully. Jessica and Cathy are fantastic as always, running marathons, producing web series and conquering the world!

It was a much needed trip to see my sister! I am so thankful to have the close relationship I have with her. I am so proud of her, as she successfully finished her student teaching, and is gearing up for the teaching world- she will be an AMAZING teacher!! The older we get, the more we realize how alike we are. Here she is with her cute patootie boyfriend Allen- he is quite sweet :)
My mom had a total knee replacement surgery December 12, but was doing so well here, Christmas Day. She has been through the wringer with surgeries lately, but this surgery and her next (another total knee replacement this summer), are going to be transformational to the quality of her life, woohoo for that!
The 'menfolk' did a fair amount of bonding. I love that about the Holidays. We would just play cards, or go for a walk with one another. Every time we go home to visit, it feels like precious time, where we just want to soak up the people we are with. I could actually feel myself unwinding during the first days of the break!

My dad took Sangam and I pheasant hunting. Mind you, it was the third time I had ever held a gun (the other two were at gun safety class, and practicing at the shooting range with dad!) Sheesh! We walked up and down these fields, and literally, I felt panicked for the first twenty minutes! When a pheasant actually flew up right in front of me, I screamed... Oh well, at least it was a pretty day and I got to experience something new! Sangam on the other hand, was a natural, and kept up with my dad pretty well. We ended getting a few birds, which we cooked up that night- pretty delicious!

It was a blast seeing the girls and company :) at a soiree hosted by the soon to be Mr. and Mrs. Katorski. Jenna and Nathan put on a fabulous partay, and it was so fun catch up with some people I had not seen in a long time! Getting together with my high school girls always makes me feel so joyful! There is something about friendships that have stood the test of time. These girls knew me before I ever plucked my eyebrows for gosh sakes! The time always seems to fly by, and it's time to head home again!

I felt spoiled by all of the love and fun family and friends we were surrounded by.

God has blessed my life so richly, and sometimes I need the Christmas season to remind me of just how lucky I am to have such wonderful people in my life!

I know I am a sap- but I can't help it...My family is just dang cute!

Even though Christmas is over, and I am now knee deep in my routine again, with palm trees instead of snow, I am continuing to keep Christmas in my heart- all the days through :)