Search it
Recent Comments

Entries in life together (68)


In Less Than Thirty Hours

Mid-afternoon, Sunday:  stuff packed in car; kids packed in car.  I think we might leave soon.

Michaela's ready, and she doesn't mind me taking her picture.

Christian is ready (six hours ago!), and he does mind me taking his picture.

Eliana doesn't really know we're leaving on an overnight trip, she's just glad we're all together.  She also doesn't mind me taking her picture.

It's a good thing, since if she asked me to stop I might cry.  Look, she's just a picture waiting to happen.

Mike gets his stuff loaded in the front, so he can do some work while I'm driving.

(My timing needs to get better; he was smiling just before and after this picture.  In the photo he looks as though he were searching for his wallet and none too happy not to be able to find it.  I'm here to tell you, that isn't the case.  Wallet-check!  Happy-check!)

Let's get on the road!

Um, where did she go?

I'm beginning to think that we are, in fact, not going to leave after all...

But eventually we are all in the car and we head down the road.  Houston, here we come!

Now, as exciting as the Terra Cotta Warriors are, we are mighty tempted to stop when this sign appears...

Who can pass up "awesome restrooms"?!  They are also touted as being "the most famous" bathrooms in Texas, as well as being likened to a throne for weary passers-by.  It's a hard call, but we drive on.  The old clay guys are waiting for us, but not for much longer!  We only have until midnight before they close the doors on this exhibit.  Pedal to the metal?  You are talking to the right person.

We think the traffic might hold us up a couple of times, but eventually we make it to downtown Houston.  It is as black as night, folks...

because, well, it is night.  We race on.

Our adventure continues as we try to find first the museum and then a parking space at the museum.  Mike has taken over the wheel for the last few minutes of our journey, and I am so glad.  I hate finding things in the dark, and I hate parking.  It is perfect timing!

The kids have been great and are relieved to get out of the car.  I'm not sure what is going on here, but it looks like Christian is taking care that Eliana heeds this warning.

We all make it safely inside, in spite of the many dangers we encounter as we walk up the sidewalk!

In the main hall of the museum stands a replica of the First Emperor of China (as opposed to the real First Emperor of China; he'd be pretty, um, unpleasant to have around at this point).  The kids are thrilled to get their picture taken with this statue.  (Look!  Even Christian!)

We are close now, but have yet to eat dinner or buy tickets.  Since it's almost 8:00 and the kids are a teensy bit hungry, we feed them.  Conveniently, there is a McDonald's located in the museum lobby, where Eliana beholds something so wonderful, so amazing, that she can't take her eyes off of it. 

Yes, tiny Build-a-Bear Workshop bears in the Happy Meals; try comparing what some call the Eighth Wonder of the World to that!  You just can't, people.  You just can't.  She is so taken with those bears, she wants to get them out of there, and tries.

Unfortunately for her, going behind the display gets her nowhere, but I think it is a smart thing to try.  She has good brains, she does.

There are so many fascinating things just in that entry hall that we could stay there for a couple of hours, not pay a thing, and head home with happy kids.  They think it is great fun to crank the handles on the machines that flatten out and embed an image on a penny, even though we haven't paid for it, so the handles just go round and round, making a fabulous grinding noise.  They spend ten minutes doing this.  And not on just one machine, either. 

We run into a horseshoe crab, which is randomly located right outside the IMAX theatre in a smallish aquarium with no other tanks around.  I think this is strange, but it keeps them entranced for quite a while as Mike waits to buy the tickets, and as he determines whether or not to get a museum membership, and then finally makes the purchase.  Christian thinks this guy is pretty funny, as the crab goes back and forth across the side of the tank, climbing the thermometers and showing us his underthings.

This is about the time when Christian turns around giggling madly and tells me he just saw its weenie.  And right after that Eliana says with the biggest smile rounding out her round little cheeks,"Its weenie!  Its weenie!"  I really hope that Ms. Carey is prepared to explain to the Co-op next week what a weenie is.  Or maybe her classroom of two-year-olds will already know, and she can just move right along, move right along.  There's always going to be that kid in the two-year-old class with an older brother...

Do horseshoe crabs have weenies?

We finally make it upstairs and just outside the area where the Terra Cotta Warriors are, there are several glass-enclosed scenes of wild animals from different parts of the world.  Eliana is rooted to the spot when she sees the zebra; you may notice the Terra Cotta banner behind her, but what can sway a two-year-old from the wild animal kingdom?  Certainly not an amazing archaeological discovery that is over 2000 years old.  How can that compare to a stuffed zebra?!

And this is where I have to set my camera aside because no photography inside the exhibit is allowed.  I am sad, but I understand why.  I also obey...I do not sneak any pictures.  It is all so interesting; Michaela really appreciates the significance of the experience.  Christian does think the sword and daggers are cool.  Eliana just wants to walk, and shake the glass enclosures that are protecting the 2000+-years-old historical artifacts from damage; this results in a restraining order (or just getting carried by her dad) so she neither appreciates the exhibit nor thinks it is cool.  Note to self: toddlers + delicate ancient pottery = stroller ride.

She does enjoy seeing the life-size horse, but that might be it.  Until we make it back out to the zebra.  And the crocodile.

As far as the exhibit goes...I feel like I have had a little nibble of some wonderful dish, and while it was a great experience it left me wanting more.  After seeing the pieces that were on display as well as the murals that were on the walls throughout the rooms of this exhibit, I can only think that to see the pits where the discoveries have been made in China would be phenomenal.  It's amazing that these things have survived to this day (and probably would have been in even better condition had looters not robbed the tomb of some of its treasures shortly after the emperor's death), and that those who are working on this project have been able to do the restorations that they have been able to do.  It's fascinating. 

I have to say that one thing that stands out to me as I walk through and look at the warriors' faces, each one unique, is that they all look happy.  Proud.  There is a slight smile about the mouth, dancing at the corners.  This intrigues me.

Michaela takes her time, writing things down in her journal, and drawing pictures of different things (taking pictures-not allowed, but no one said anything about drawing them...).  She makes comparisons and reads the information.  I enjoy watching her take it all in.

I take Christian and Eliana in to the gift shop, which has a video running depicting life at the time of Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi.  Of course, it is a battle scene and Christian stands for a second watching before I change  his direction; that's just what I need for him to see at 10:00, right before he goes to bed.  He keeps trying to sneak a peek.  I try distraction.  We discover a neat clock, and for the life of me I cannot think of what it is called or find info about it, so, sorry, that's all you get about that.  We also go back to the wild animals and look at all of them six hundred times while waiting for Michaela to be done.

We leave the museum and get in the car and as Mike and I note what time it is (10:38 p.m.) we look at one another and both are like,"That's it?  It feels like it's three hours later."  It has been quite an experience, and one we don't regret at all, but we are exhausted.  Eliana is asleep in a few short minutes, and it is pretty quiet on the way to the hotel.

Mike has gotten a sweet deal on a nice hotel room, and it so happens that the only kind of parking there is valet (I think that was included in our sweet deal-he's savvy like that).  We drop off our car and haul our stuff upstairs (actually, someone takes it up for us, this always makes me feel super weird), and get the kids changed, brush teeth, and put them in bed.  By this time Eliana is awake, and having had a twenty minute nap, she is ready to go.  Unfortunately, I am done for the night, and just want to tie her up and set her under the covers (with her head sticking out!)...her energy drains down pretty quickly, though, and she goes on to sleep, as do I.  There are a couple of things I want to take a picture of, but I think the camera is in the car and we have no convenient access to the car.  I stay in bed and drift off.

Just a side story...Right before all of this, I am in the lobby with the kids and Mike finishes unloading the car and comes in to check in.  He has a couple of things in his hands and isn't sure where to put them.  I say,"I'll take the camera and hang it on my shoulder."  I see it with my eyes.  I offer to carry it.  And then I totally forget that it is with us once we get upstairs, since I don't see the camera bag. 

I realize that we have the camera in the morning as Mike starts shooting pictures of the kids in the hotel room.  I exclaim,"I didn't know we had the camera up here!  I thought it was in the car."  He reminds me of our conversation the previous evening, with his head tipped to the side and his eyebrows raised. 

Where is my brain?  Can someone please return it to me at the soonest possible time?  I am lost without it.  Thank you.

Back to taking pictures of the kids...

They love to be in a hotel, at least for a little bit.  It's so new, and different, and...well, I don't really know why it's so much fun.  There are a couple of beds, a desk, and a seating area all in one space that isn't very big.  But somehow that adds up to very interesting.

They are happy wherever we are, for the most part.

At the end of our time, I can say,"Houston, it was short, but it was fun...see you next time!"

And there will be a next time...we got a membership.  And there is a Chronicles of Narnia exhibit.  Oh, yes, we'll be back.

Twenty-three hours after we begin this journey, we set out for home. 

Why, yes, yes we are crazy.  But it's so much fun! 



A couple of years ago I bought the kids chore charts; here's a little peek into my organizational skills-I just got around to hanging them on our fridge.  I stuck some magnet strips on the back and voila! Up they went. I'm too lazy to put the proper accent mark on that French word, please forgive me. 

Michaela discovered them on the refrigerator this evening and immediately erased her name and wrote the proper identification on her chart.  She then filled in all the blanks as she saw fit.  These are her DAILY chores. 



It must be worse than I thought around here.  I better get a move on.

I have to admit that it did make me laugh out loud.  I don't know where she gets her ambition from.  A generation removed from us, I think.


I Should Have Known

Michaela and Christian went outside late this afternoon to help their dad cut the grass.  Not that we have mini-mowers; they love to be out and they love to be with they determined to find something useful to do in our front yard. 

Before he began mowing, all three of them went around the yard picking up large sticks that had fallen during all of the big rains that we've had recently; they also worked to remove the large mushrooms that insist on growing in our yard.  I won't mention what else they found on the mushrooms, but I will say that it is related to a very recent and gross post.  As long as they stay outside, and off my kids' shoes (or my kids in general!), I will be okay.

They also lent themselves to pulling and digging up weeds, which they have loved to do for a long time.  This works out well, since we always have a plethora of weeds which need to be dug up. 

Now, some of those folks who read this know how crazy I am that I am overly worried when it comes to germs, particularly germs that come from outside.  (The germs in our house, and in our car...well, they're ours.  So they don't count.  Unless you're my mom, then they do, particularly the ones in our car.)  I do, however, manage to let my kids play outside; when they come in, they go straight into the detoxification module bathtub and everyone stays happy.  Today, shortly after I heard Mike through the front windows (I was standing there with Eliana while she watched everyone else outside) telling Michaela to get up out of the grass because of the things-I-will-not-mention-that-were-on-the-mushrooms, that very same Michaela burst through the front door and ran into the back of the house.  I thought maybe she had to go to the bathroom-it seemed so urgent.  I called after her, and I admit it, I was freaking out on the inside because of whatever yucky stuff she may have brought in with her grassy, fungus pants (shoes get left by the front door-ALWAYS...I'm sure you're surprised); I had to ask her what she was up to.

Her reply?  "It's a secret!" 

I pressed,"What is it?" 

She yelled,"I'm writing a note!" 

She came out of our schoolroom with a pen in her hand; I, of course, said,"You didn't even wash your hands!"  She looked exasperated, rightly so, and told me it wouldn't take long.  Then she tilted her head to one side, sucked in her cheeks a little, and raised her eyebrows, as if to say,"Are you really going to make me get in the bath already?  I'm just writing a note, you moron." 

I left her alone to do whatever secret thing she was doing. 

She ran back outside after a couple of minutes and a bit later I poked my head out the door to tell them they needed to come in to bathe and get ready for dinner.  She asked me if I had gone into the schoolroom; I said that I hadn't but told her I would.  I left them out there for a bit longer, and went to check out the secret.

First, there was this...

And below it was this...

Inside was a note...

"This is for you, Mom.  We picked it out front.  Christian and Michaela   For your thirty-fifth Birthday."

This is where my children's hearts lie.  They see beauty in everything and they want to share it.  How I long for eyes that were as seeing as theirs. 

In spite of all the ways I am different from other moms (and they notice) they love me and long to show me that they do.  It is humbling...I learn so much from them.  That is an irony of parenting; often, I find that in their innocence and inexperience lies a great deal of genuine, sweet love-of life, of others, of the world around them.  It's something that I have lost, but get to participate in through them.  And this is a moment that I must go back to on those hard days, during the times when I think that I don't get paid enough for this job (or at all); I must remind myself that I do, in fact, get paid.  I get paid in weeds, and in love.  What could be more valuable than that?


Because It's Fun

I've been playing.  My new lens is interesting.  I am still figuring it out. 

I should probably read a manual here and there, but...I'm a rebel like that.

Speaking of is what I did with the Rebel + my new lens...

You know you are Christina when you try to adjust the distance while taking a picture with a lens on your camera that has only one focal length.  (I'm thinking of starting a section on the blog...You know you are Christina when you...[insert any number of stupid stories here])

My readaholic...

You guys, I promise that Christian has two legs. 

Just some fun on a Friday.


Flash Back to FlashForward

Last night Mike and I had a date.  Before anyone gets too excited I want to tell you it involved sitting on our blue denim couch watching a new TV show together on our big screen, but we had such a good time.  He put his legs over mine.  And then a little later I made brownies and we ate almost the whole batch just the two of us.  It was so much fun.

Watching a show together was always our thing.  Well, maybe not since we were first married; the first year we were married we didn't realize we had cable, or it wasn't hooked up or something, so we never watched TV that year, just rented movies sometimes.  I don't remember watching TV shows together until our third year.  And especially after Michaela was born.  We watched Alias!  I remember he said to me that there was a new show that was really interesting and had some good and complicated relationship story lines, and we watched and were hooked.  It took some weird turns over the years, but we were faithful to the end.

There were some times when we took a hiatus from our show-watching together, because of circumstances...when we lived in Kentucky he traveled about half of the time.  I watched enough TV for the both of us those two years!  I think during that time I watched every single episode of Friends and Frasier twice.  I also watched a lot of edited-for-TV movies on TNT.  The kids went to bed pretty early at that point, so I had a lot of time on my hands.  And a lot of laundry to fold (that never seems to change, no matter what stage we are in).  Watching TV is a good folding-laundry activity.

In the two years since Eliana has been a part of our family, I haven't really watched any TV.  At first she was a great sleeper, and then, as with each of my other kids, her sleeping habits got worse, and I have never been able to (strong enough to?) work towards healthy sleeping with very young babies.  It never seemed to work out that I could watch a show, even though there were shows I was interested in.  (Pushing Daisies was one of them-I love quirky that still on?  I haven't checked.) 

Anyway, the other day Mike told me about a new show that sounded's FlashForward.  And goodness, whoever came up with this story has got one wild imagination!  Has anyone else seen it?  It has quite a plot.  I have been sucked in and now there is no way I'm not finishing it out!  Hopefully it will take; we did watch Journeyman together, but it didn't make it past its initial season.  (And that was during the last two years, so I guess there has been a little TV in my life relatively recently.)

By the way, Joseph Fiennes must be one of the top five most intense looking people on the planet.  I think that Colin Farrell is another...the other three spots are up for grabs.  Any input?  How can someone do that with their eyebrows for such long periods of time (like always)?  You know, that  \  /  thing with their eyebrows.  Do you know what I mean?

I am looking forward to relaxing (okay, relaxing isn't the best word since the show made my leg muscles go tense until I made them stop, then they'd do it again until I noticed and made them loosen up...) with Mike and watching this show.  I also love watching a show like this with him because he always has such as interesting perspective on things.  I am simple...I watch a show.  I laugh.  I jump.  I cry.  But I don't often go below the surface; he does.  I am going to pick his brain along the way, get his commentary.  He helps me to think about things in ways that I normally wouldn't.  It'll be fun!  I'll grow.

What are you watching this fall?  What is your favorite kind of show?  I don't even know what else is on right now, which is probably a good thing!