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Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Glass Castle

I started reading The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls today. I usually hear about interesting books from my book forums or from friends, but I just happened to see this one as I was browsing the book store one day. It sounded like something I would like to read, but I chose not to get it. Since then, I keep going back to it when trying to decide what to read, so I finally got it.
I very rarely stop a book before finishing it, but have done it with the last two that I have attempted to read. I am so tired of shallow, "go nowhere" books. I don't quit reading them as much for the lack of plot or their ability to keep me interested, as I do for the poor quality of writing. Even a book with a less than interesting plot can keep me sucked in if the writing is truly good. I've heard that The Glass Castle is not only interesting, but is written well. This is what I am hoping for. If anyone has read it, I would love to hear what you thought about it. If you are the type of reader that cherishes really good writing, I would love for you to let me know what you thought of Jeannette Walls' writing in this book. I'll share what I thought of it when I'm finished. I started on it today and can safely say that it isn't going to be one that I put down early!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Summer Vacation 2007

Another summer vacation is over.....how sad. I'm always happy to get home, but sad that it is over!
We went to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas this year. The kids have been asking to go to Six Flags for a couple of years. We took them to Six Flags when it was in New Orleans, but they were a lot younger then. Now, they like the big rides, so we are all able to ride together. Patrick will not ride anything that takes him upside down, but will do anything else.
We left Friday after Jeff got off of work and got to our hotel around midnight. The hotel was great...very kid oriented. The pool was huge and they showed poolside "dive in movies" every night. That was fun and different! The hotel was located right between Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor...We could see Hurricane Harbor from our window!

On Saturday, we went to Ripley's Believe it or Not and then to Build a Bear. This is the first time that we have ever taken the kids to Build a Bear and THEY LOVED IT. Seriously, I think it was the funnest part of the whole trip. It's such a precious little place if your kids are into stuffed animals, which all of mine still are.

We went to Six Flags on Sunday. We had planned to go on a weekday, but decided to go on Sunday while the hurricane weather still had things cooled off a bit. We were able to enjoy about 4 hours of NO lines. We were able to ride something and jump right back on it or just stay seated to ride it again if we wanted to. We have really gotten spoiled to this since we try to never go places during busy seasons. I just have no desire to stand in lines for hours for anything...that just isn't fun to me at all. I was so happy that there weren't many there. Even when there were more people after 1:00, it still wasn't bad. It was, however, hotter than we thought it would be. We left at 4:30 with plans to go back that evening for the shows and all, but the kids wanted to stay at the hotel to swim and watch the movie, which was absolutely fine with Jeff and me! We enjoyed Six Flags, but not as much as Sea World, Disney, and Universal Studios. The roller coasters are fun, but we like other things mixed in with it, like more virtual reality rides and exhibits. Six hours of nothing but roller coasters and thrill rides is more than enough for one day!

We spent Monday at the Fort Worth Museum of Science. The last time we were there was seven years ago....it was nothing like we remembered it. We had a good time....watched an IMAX movie and saw the Star Wars exhibit along with some fun hands on stuff. It was a nice break from the heat. We had planned on going to the zoo, but decided on the museum instead because of the heat!

I think we all had the most fun on our last day there.....we spent it at the Six Flags water park, Hurricane Harbor. We got there at 11:00 and didn't leave until it closed at 6:30. We were so waterlogged and tired, but had so much FUN! It's huge and crammed with whatever type of water fun you can imagine at a water park. I can't believe that I spent so much time hating water rides in the past....they are so much fun to me now! We have decided that we WILL go to one of the Disney water parks next time we go to Disney World. Hurricane Harbor was fun....funner than Six Flags to me!

Every day we planned to eat at the Rainforest Cafe' but could never fit it in, so we ate lunch there before heading home on Wed. I think the kids were a little overwhelmed with it all....what an amazing place to eat. There's no way to take it all in with so much to see and hear while eating there. They even had women walking around making balloon animals for the kids. It was a cool way to end our vacation!
It was nice to get home, but as always, I hated to see it end. Because we always wait until the public schools start back and about a week before we start back with our schooling, the end of our vacation is also the end of our summer break, so that makes it even harder when it is over. It has been a GREAT SUMMER!! It came and went too quickly, but then again, it always does!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Day The Music Died

It was early 1970 something. I was in the very back of a green station wagon with my sisters....maybe a cousin or two. The windows were down, blowing warm summer air in while cigarette smoke swirled through us, refusing to be blown away. "Don't stare at the man driving the car behind us...you'll make him nervous." My Dad informs us of this from the front seat, which seemed a mile away from our cubbyhole with no seats in the rear of the station wagon. I remember how the whole presence of the moment always felt different with the lack of females(meaning mothers) in the house...or in this case, the car. All I could see was the back of my Dad's head as he talked of men things with my uncle. The men never did "watch" us as closely as the Moms. They were always a little more lenient, which might explain why we were allowed to pile in behind the seats instead of on the seats...though we wouldn't have been wearing seat belts even had we been there. As the smoke swirled and the men's voices hung in the air...with the wind blowing through us and me trying hard not to make the driver behind us wreck, we all started singing along to the radio.

Bye Bye Miss American Pie
I drove my Chevy to the levee
But the levee was dry
Them good ol' boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing this will be the day that I die

Pure happiness and freedom, elation, and adventure....then......................................
One of my earliest memories of carsickness.
Suddenly, the warm wind blowing over me was like a blanket trapping me inside with my stomach screaming for everything to stop....stop the car...stop the smoke from swirling around me and inside of me.....stop the good old boys from singing about wine and death. Then, it was my sisters screaming for the men to stop the car so someone could clean us all up after my stomach won the battle.
I don't remember everything coming to a halt. I vaguely recall the sweet release that follows throwing up, but do not remember the details that followed. My mind does not see the car pulling over and my Dad getting out to clean me up.....does not remember arriving wherever my Mom was. I don't remember the song ending or what came on after it. It wasn't important....it was there but only as an afterthought...the epilogue at the end of a book that had already satisfied the reader without it.
Is this how all of our memories present themselves? When I think about my childhood, it is as looking at a painting.....a canvas colored beautifully with my life as I remember it, but if I look more closely I see that it is actually thousands of tiny pictures...bits of memories... that, when squeezed together, form "the big picture". In one corner I see Vicki and Lori beside me in the back of the truck playing "One Tin Soldier" and Lori teaching us dances in front of the record player. There is Daddy with a hammer in his hand building the home that we grew up in and Mama taking care of me when I had the mumps. In another corner there are holidays and vacations...trips to our grandparents and the dusty road that led us home. These are the things that I see if I look closely, before I step back and see it as a whole picture.
I heard American Pie on the radio today. That song has always pulled me in for all of its random thoughts that make no sense if one attempts to understand them separately. However, I can't help but sing along...the best that anyone can possibly sing along to it.....because I know that it all comes together as something that I can understand. It is American Pie....a classic that takes me back to that hot, summer day in the back of that green station wagon. I don't have to understand the separate parts of that song anymore than I do the fragments of my childhood... fragments that present themselves as separate memories only when they are pulled away from the whole picture for a moment.
I always return the fragments to their rightful place. Not every fragment is without blemish, nor does every one depict a perfect moment in my life, but together, they form a perfect picture....a picture of my past...a past as only I can see it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Madison has always looked forward to getting old enough to babysit. Jeff's mom calls her over sometimes to help with her younger cousins when they are at her house. She's gotten to spend the last couple of weeks helping out for 3-4 hours a day with her 4 year old and 1 year old cousins. She loves it! I think she is at such a great age for this because she's old enough to be responsible, yet young enough to still enjoy playing. Her 4 year old cousin, Jayden, loves her. She doesn't see Madison as someone who is babysitting her, but just as another playmate.
I bought Madison the greatest little babysitting kit from the bookstore. She is unorganized in some ways, but so loves to organize certain things in her life, so she was very excited about her kit. It's just so hard for me to think of Madison in this role. She's always going to be my baby and need me to take care of her...in my eyes, so it's hard to think of her in a care giving role. When I watch her with her younger cousins, it's sometimes like she is another person. It gives me another perspective of her and helps me to appreciate her as an older child...not just my baby. It has been a great experience for her....not to mention that she loves the idea of making her own money. Being able to help her Mimi with the girls has been a great introduction to babysitting for her. It has given her a chance to experience it without total responsibility. I appreciate my mother-in-law for giving her this opportunity!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Happy Birthday Josh!

My neighbor, Josh, is having his 8th birthday party today. The party will be at an indoor playland with a medieval theme, so I made him a castle cake. It's amazing how relaxing something like this can be...I had a great time doing it!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Do You Want A Trip Down Memory Lane?

Clean out a few closets!!
This is what I've been doing for the past week. We're getting new carpet in all of our bedrooms and playroom. Yes, I am very excited about this, but considering that the closets are part of the bedrooms, they have to be cleared out. Now, I am not a trashy, cluttered person, but my closets tend to get that way. I guess most people are the same way, otherwise, our secrets wouldn't be called "sketetons in our closets"!
Whatever amount of time it should take to go through any given closet doubles as I get sucked into to photo albums, old purses, boxes, scrapbooks, old shoes(yep, even those hold memories), and way up high in the top of my closet.....my wedding dress.

Pictures like this one leave me wondering when our babies stopped being babies.
What can suck you in quicker than a box full of old letters? Even the box takes me back. I made it in my college woodshop class....the semester that Jeff and I started seeing each other. It's a treasure as well as all of the old letters inside!

The greatest thing I found was a record player and my records/albums. Most of them were kid albums and 45's that I once bought at a garage sale, but then there were the 45's from my childhood. It's the most amazing thing to me how tightly sounds from your past can take you back...much like smells. I sat and listened to those little 45's and I was a child again...making up little dances with my sisters or learning about first love in my teens. I sat that needle down on those records and waited through the first scratchy sounds in that little gap before the song starts...then it was as if the record player had never gone away.
The kids LOVED playing with that old thing. The songs were old and outdated, but somehow made new again by the novelty of the turntable and needle. What a find!

I have a long way to go before finishing the "clean sweep". I'm quite proud of myself for the things that I've managed to let go of. However, once everything is cleaned out and we step back to marvel at a job well done, there will be spaces reserved for those special treasures, and they will still be there on our next trip down memory lane!