Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Road Trip: Texas, Days 6 & 7

My note-taking in the past two days has been sketchy (if any at all), so I'm going to compile my thoughts as I put this post together, throw in some low-quality phone photos and call it a day-- or rather, two days.

Day 6


Good morning. I'm claiming this attitude in spite of a restless night of sleep. Jesus, please make it so. 

Today is C's last day of 40. He has some good things planned for tomorrow, so I'm praying that he will have no major interruptions. 

On the high level, he hopes to get up early to spend some time on his own and bring back doughnuts for everyone.  He started last Father's Day this way and discovered it suits him. He is hoping to fit in a visit to Penzey's Spices and the Space Center. Of course, we are all excitedly awaiting his gift opening. 

Tomorrow night also includes a visit to church and youth group and probably sushi at some point. 

2:41 pm

Our goal today is to use two of our CityPass tickets today, as well as visit the American Girl store so J can spend the money she's been saving. 

(And this is where my notes leave off, in hopes my memory is enough.)

At this point, my note plan was to reflect back a month or so to when I posted on Instagram about J's desire for an American Girl Doll and share with you God's blessing of an anonymous gift from one of our Instagram friends who felt called to fulfill J's hope. She received her American Girl Doll soon after and she looks just like her - straight brown hair and blue eyes. Someday back home, I should post the video of her receiving the doll. She was so completely joyful, she had me near tears as I witnessed her receive a gift so special from someone special God put in our lives. Since that day, she's had a new desire: to outfit the doll she calls "Jessica" with the finest clothes and accessories. 

Anyway, we headed downtown to visit the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston (MFAH). as it was one of our remaining tickets. This museum did not disappoint. It has a lot of large, dramatic empty spaces like most big city art museums seem to have, which make an equally defining statement as the abundance of art displays. The art was not only plentiful, but diverse and high-quality. There were original works from artists I've actually heard about, like Picasso, and large collections of work from artists I know less about, such as Braque.  There was a variety of artistic examples from sculptures to oil paintings and spanning thousands of years and cultures all around the globe.

The place was huge. And rich. And inspiring. And had more to take in than even 20 visits could cover. 

That particular day, it also had four kids who just wanted to go to the beach and whose levels of interest in art varies quite dramatically. We are their parents. So, we had to skim through most of the rooms and completely skip others. The good news is, I think Thursdays are free at the museum, so we can definitely go back repeatedly when we live here, in hopes of taking more in each time. 

While browsing numerous works of art, C's phone rang and it was a company here he'd applied to. They scheduled an interview with five people from the company to take place midday on Wednesday. Woohoo!  Wednesday would be C's birthday, but it didn't matter!

From MFAH, we headed over to Memorial City Mall in Houston. This was a more normal-sized mall, although it still offered an ice skating rink and valet parking. This is where the American Girl store is located. This store had J declaring that mall to be her favorite mall ever (and she actually enjoys malls, unlike her mama).

She purchased a seat that latches onto the table, for Jessica, so her doll no longer will take up human space when she joins us for breakfast. 

From there, we went to Cheesecake Factory for lunch. I had my favorite: Firecracker Salmon and totally abandoned my healthy eating habits to have Dutch Apple with Caramel Walnut Streusel Cheesecake (yes, it was as delicious as it sounds).

After cheesecake, we drove back to the Kemah Boardwalk where our CityPasses covered all day rides. Yes, more carnival rides. There were more at Kemah than at the Downtown Aquarium, though, so that meant even more fun. I rode some spinning ride with O (C refuses spinning rides, but they don't bother me).  O went through every emotion seven times while we rode. I kept reminding him to stay focused on my face when he would have terrified and nervous emotions, followed by sick feelings. Then he'd burst into a chuckle and try to say, "Weeee!" but before he could, he'd bust into maniacal laughter, which would return him to terrified tears again. 

Then I rode a double-decker carousel with J. I just sat on the bench and didn't try squeezing onto one of the circus animals. I worried that if I had, I might have been arrested for animal cruelty -- especially after the huge slice of sugar and fat I ate before we arrived. Believe me, the bench made for a fine ride. 

After that, I spent a lot of time on the boardwalk, watching seagulls and pigeons and trying to figure out if that big brown lump in the water was a rock or a seal (it was a rock).  Before we left, C and I (with Z and O) went in this ride that took us up high to see all of the area around Kemah. H and J opted out because of the height or maybe they just wanted to ride other stuff instead. 

We returned to the hotel by 6:30pm for dinner of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and salad and quickly headed back out to celebrate the anniversary of our good friends. Maybe you've heard of them? Their names are Ben and Jerry. Anyway, they were giving out free scoops of ice cream. 

In that same strip mall was Sushi Coast. C was anxious to find better sushi, so he picked out a couple rolls to try. We took those back to the hotel and enjoyed them on the patio while our kids went swimming in the pool and played basketball. 

What a long (but fun) day!

I was exhausted and fell asleep before 9:30pm. 


Day 7

I woke up at about 6:35am.  Today was my husband's birthday. After he showered and finished some extra research on the company where he was interviewing, he modeled his interview clothes and got my opinions. Then he headed down to the hotel computers to print out the company's official application for employment that they'd asked him to bring in (they had his resume for a little while), and that's when he got the message. His interview was rescheduled for Thursday morning. 

This was both a bummer and a relief. He was anxious to do the interview, but by pushing it off a day, he was able to now spend his birthday doing more of the things he originally wanted to do in celebration. 

After breakfast, he opened gifts. I told you previously I was excited for our gift to him this year ANNNND he loved it. The gift was meant to be a trip down memory lane of his first 40 years (before we lose our memories).  It included trinkets and examples (each item with a note to explain) of things from his life. There were some original Tinker Toys from his childhood (found those at Savers), a miniature model of the 1969 Ford Mustang he drove as a teenager, chocolate coins representing each of the jobs he's held and various reminders of marriage and fatherhood as well, among a number of other things. It was all wrapped inside an old Tupperware box (another Savers find) because I know how he prefers his wrapping to be something useful. 

After that, we headed to NASA's Johnson Space Center. This was birthday boy heaven, for sure. Turns out, every one of our kids enjoyed it, too. We barely scratched the surface of learning opportunities in that place. It definitely will go on the list for annual membership when we get here more permanently. The guided tour took us to Mission Control, to the Astronaut Training Facility, and to the Saturn V rocket, as well as pointing out many other locations along the way around campus. Did you know they still use the same bikes from 1965 when the campus was built to get from building to building? Pretty cool. 

When we left the space center, we took a drive around Seabrook. Originally, I thought we'd want to live there. But we worried they wouldn't have as much opportunity for the kids. So we turned our attention to the slightly bigger League City. But today, we learned that Seabrook's library is much more like ours back in New Mexico and that made a certain boy very happy. With a library like that, they are sure to have some good community events for kids as well. Of course the proximity to the coast there is very appealing, too. So now I'm feeling torn between League City and Seabrook. Well, it's good to know we have options. 

We hurried back to the hotel in time to grab a bite before church. Chicken Parmesan. 

We visited the same church in League City a second time. The boys got to check out junior high youth group this time. H had a good time. Z wouldn't admit to having a good time, but he's also slower to warm up in newer environments than his brothers are. Grownup service and kids' service are identical to Sunday mornings, so we will definitely need to decide what is best for our family. Anyway, I got more out of the message this time and J left feeling more confident this time, so I'm glad we got to fit in two visits this week. 

We headed over to Burger House for C's birthday dinner. The whole vibe of that place was kind of a downer. Service and facility were tired and unenthusiastic. However, the food was all made to order and tasty. C enjoyed his, but due to the elements that lacked, he called a "birthday dinner do over," so we will probably do that tomorrow night. 

Back to the hotel. Exhausted again. 

When we arrived at our door, we noticed the do not disturb sign on our door. As soon as we went in, it was apparent we did not receive maid service today. Turns out, O thought he'd hang the sign this morning. He didn't know what it said or what would happen, but I don't think he'll do it again. He was as annoyed as any of us that his bed wasn't made. 

Well, that's it for now. Sorry so long. Goodnight. 


  1. So glad J got to the American Girl store and cudos for the boys braving it out!

  2. I can't believe how many times I loose my comments lately. Anyway, thanks for the recap of 2 days of your vay-cay! I'm not going to stress about duplicating my previous comment.

    Love, Mom