Jun 30, 2009

Red Tape Day

Today I venture over to my local quick lube place and get the car inspected so that I can take the proof of inspection, the VTR 130-U form, the VTR 272 form, proof of insurance, my old registration and my first born to the county tax office so that I may stand in line all day and listen to Ella complain that she's bored. I know you're jealous.

Jun 27, 2009


Ella and I went to the bank yesterday as Dan's company doesn't offer direct deposit and our theory on that is it's not needed, guys in construction like to cash their checks at the bar on Friday afternoon and this way their wives never know exactly how much they make. But I digress, I took the check to the bank yesterday and while there I asked the gal at the counter if there was a good taco place we could hit on the way to the grocery. Really I was wondering which one we should stop at, as there is a taqueria on every corner right next to the thousand sushi places. The gal at the counter said she didn't live in the neighborhood (and apparently never goes out for lunch either) so the lady at the next desk pointed me three blocks away to the Taco Bell.

I punched in "Fast Food" on the GPS and found Freebirds World Burrito and Ella and I went to fill ourselves before we hit the grocery. Ella was immediately impressed with the giant sculpture of Lady Liberty on a motorcycle crashing through the wall and thought the line sign said the wait would be 11 minutes, it wasn't it was more like 4.

I got up to the counter and like Subway told the burrito maker I'd like 3 tacos and when he inquired what I wanted on them, I replied "I've never been here before, make what you like. What's your favorite?" his eyes lit up and he made me three chicken tacos with rice, lime juice, cheese, salsa and guacamole. I tried to eat all three, I wanted to eat all three, it just wasn't going to fit. While we munched I noticed all the tinfoil sculptures on the walls. I wanted to make one but alas I hadn't ordered a burrito and didn't have the tinfoil. Ella had a cheese quesadilla and for the first time ever in the history of ever she ate the whole thing. We spent about $10.00.

Ella gives it one thumb up. I agree. Did I mention they have beer?


Later in the evening after it cooled we packed up and went to check out Challenger Seven Memorial Park and all I can review for you are the monkey bars and slides because that's all the further we made it. Ella met some very nice children and they played across the three play areas while Dan and I hung out at the picnic tables. Ella left exhausted, sweaty and happy and I think we'll go back. I'd like to see the board walk and the mother earth mound. I also found out yesterday (Dan gleefully informed me) and now you may feel free to hurl the word "DUH!" at me that Houston has alligators! And some of them are big. I keep trying to think of something in northern Illinois that might be equivalent and I've got nothing. It's not like a fox can grow big enough to eat your dog or a small child. So today I read up on alligator safety.

Jun 26, 2009

SAHM seeks SAHM kid age 5 - SE Houston

We went to the other pool (there are two here the further across the street where the apartments are more full) the night before last and there were kids and Ella swam with them even though one of them kept picking on her (She handled it.) Dan and I looked around the pool wondering about the neighbors on the other side of the road. The parents of the kids Ella played with were tattooed, highlighted, tanned and having beers, they seemed nice enough but looked to be about 24. We are pale old nerdy folks - just probably not a lot in common there. There was a group of guys at the grill, they were muscled, tanned, highlighted and poking keys into the bottom of beers and shotgunning them poolside racing to get drunk. Saturday night there will be a luau at the pool so people can meet their neighbors and though we'd like to make friends, I just don't think we're gonna go.

I did a search this morning for "Houston Moms" and found this website called Meetup. I quickly found some groups of mommies within 20 miles of me and then realized a lot of the groups say things like "WE ARE CLOSING TO NEW MEMBERS, AGAIN....PLEASE DO SIGN UP TO JOIN AND YOU WILL BE PUT ON THE WAIT LIST." or the kids are between 0-3 years old. I did find one I thought I might like but they ask for a picture in their application and the thought of being judged by my picture and an application creeps me out, I really just want a similar minded parent who has a kid Ella's age to be where we are, we don't need to be BFFs or even talk, we could just sit on our respective benches in the park and read our books or blog on the laptop.

Today we are leaving the cave to run errands and maybe hit the local park. Perhaps we'll find another distant nerdy chick with a kindergartner in tow. This will all be so much easier in the fall when Ella starts school and I start derby.

Jun 25, 2009

Putting the Legs to Rest

I have not been roller skating. I'm waiting, Houston Roller Derby try outs are in August. In the mean time I had been moving boxes of things and going to bed sore and tired every day up until this week. So a few nights ago I did something I'd never done before, I went to the gym. The first day I walked two miles uphill and felt tired but didn't sweat as much as when I skate and to my disappointment only burned 200 calories. The stupid machine keeps track of it for me and I wish it didn't, I'd be happier if I didn't know. I don't even really care, but now I have the information and feel like I should be doing something with it, charting it or subtracting it from some magical daily number of caloric intake that I make up in my head because I don't even want to know what 4 honey covered waffles and a beer add up to.

In an effort to make my lungs feel like they are on fire, like when I skate, I tried a different contraption last night, the one where your arms and legs are going at the same time. This time the machine was keeping track of my heart rate to make sure I wasn't slacking or letting go of the handles to itch my nose or change the TV channel (and what DO people watch when they are on these things?) Right away it told me to slow down so I didn't keel over, but instead I imagined I was on the skate floor and did three miles in thirty minutes - ROAR! For the first time in weeks I didn't have crazy legs in bed last night.

Jun 24, 2009

Some Pics of Our Hovel

This is walking in the front hallway, a view of the kitchen and a little dining area.

Turning a corner to the living room

My trusty futon, what some of you may sleep on if you visit

The rest of the living room and the TV (see Mike no room for the Big Screen)

Looking back at the kitchen and entry way from the living room

What's left of my library. Yes we tried to cut it down to just two bookshelves and instead we have four - not too shabby

back to the dining room

Take a right into Ella's room (this is the cleanest it may ever be.)

It's pretty big

Her giant dress up box actually fits in her closet and then some (love having closets!)

Ok, I'm not taking pictures of our room yet as that's still a disaster and you don't need to necessarily see the bathrooms either (two) because they have swimmy suits and towels strewn all over them and I haven't found a place for all the elixirs and potions we need in ours but I can tell you they do have garden tubs so that is nice.

It's nice to have modern conveniences like a dishwasher and closets again. We've lived so long in a building built in 1887 with electric added in the 30s that I forgot what it's like to be able to plug in a hairdryer in the bathroom or use a blender on an actual counter top. I don't know who is more excited about closets me or Ella even though mine is jam packed with all the stuff we aren't even getting out of boxes right now (games, computers, tools, toys and antique dishes.) I was telling my pal Angela that I feel like Wilma Flinstone after she accidentally got drawn into a Jeston's episode.

Jun 23, 2009

The Big Move

On the way down to TX in the first 100 miles the trailer our car was on got a flat and we had to call a pit crew to fix it which knocked us off schedule for the rest of the trip. Shortly after we made it back on the road the apartment building office of the new place called to say that someone had driven a car into out building and wanted to apologize for all the noise and let us know they would be fixing it this week. We stayed the night in a Howard Johnson's where I shared a bed with the dog to make sure she didn't get up without me in the middle of the night especially since I didn't tell the front desk clerk we brought her and the next day we drove and sang and finished the trip home to the freshly smashed up apartment.

We unpacked the first three fourths of the truck on the first day and I worried the furniture wouldn't fit but as I began to unpack boxes and find homes for things I relaxed. On day two we were able to get Ella's bedroom set up and the truck emptied and made a giant trip to the dumpster where we threw most of our emptied boxes along with the moving truck keys into the compactor. On day three Dan went back to work, I cooked a lovely dinner and things felt a little normal until we had to tear the apartment apart looking for the moving truck keys. Eventually I called the emergency road side number and they hooked me up with a fella an hour away who would make new keys for me at no charge as long as I picked them up and while I was at it I decided to stop and get some very scrumptious Shipley's cinnamon rolls for him in hope of banking some good karma.

After returning to the apartment with the new key and then spending another hour and a half returning the moving truck we arrived back at the apartment to find a small line of tiny red ants marching into the living room and attacking a lone bit of potato chip on the carpet. Dan and I vacuumed them up and wondered if these were the fire ants we'd heard so much about. Dan had a bowl of cereal on the couch and we went to bed. On day four at about 6am, before Dan left for work, I asked him to please bring the dog out for a walk as we have been dutifully re-housebreaking her in the off white carpeted apartment and we'd been doing well. Dan lifted his shirt from the night before off the floor, slipped it on and put the dog on a leash. I stepped into the bathroom in my underwear and thought about making a little cappuccino for the two of us while Ella still slept.

At approximately 6:01am Dan whipped his shirt off and ran to the shower, the fire ants that had enjoyed the cereal bits left in his shirt the night before also enjoyed all giving the signal to bite Dan all at once delivering a fiery 30 or so tiny blisters to his torso by the end of the day. The shirt sat on the back patio until yesterday at which time I shook it out and promptly put it in a wash load of very hot water and towels. the exterminator arrived the same day upon my insistence with the main office who wanted to send him on the regular Monday but re-thought it when I told them I had a child and a small dog and a living room full of fire ants. I also bought a can of poison that I liberally sprayed all over the place I'm sure ingesting enough to piss fire ant killer. For the next few nights I made sure to turn on the flash light and check the perimeter of the bed before falling asleep. Apparently new construction kicks them up out of the ground and makes them angry and of course we live in the newest building. The exterminator will be here every Monday for the next three weeks.

Finally things are settling down, though the dog is having a terrible time. I tried to crate her in the kitchen and she's torn herself up biting at the cage and trying to dig her way out. I tried a different crate and then washed the other and still she makes a mess and hurts herself. Yesterday I called a local vet in frustration wondering what to do and was referred to a doggie shrink. One of the perks of living in a big city is the availability of Dog Psychiatry. A very dear women named Connie talked to me and insisted I trash the crate and trust the dog, before as a last resort putting her on doggie prosac. I am trying to trust the dog but it's off white carpet. I installed a gate so she is locked in the kitchen with a pillow begrudgingly sacrificed from my own bed but today after pool time with kiddo I arrived to see the dog greet me wagging at the door and the gate laying on the floor. I am still hesitant to leave her out and will continue to try the gate however if there are no messes on the carpet at the end of one month I will trust her.

Tonight I have one big project left, hanging art on these off white walls. Dan will be home soon and we'll set to work making this place our home with family photos and paintings at which time I'll finally take some photos for the blog and get them all posted so you can see what a wonderful place Dan picked out. On Saturday night, Dan's birthday, after dinner and a movie, we drove down to the coast and looked out into the ocean, though it was dark and we couldn't see much. Galveston looks steeped in history and old buildings as well as rich in culture and the beach is only twenty minutes from us. My favorite was the sign we passed just before arriving in Galveston reading "Welcome to the Village of Tiki Island" yes, it's a real place. On Sunday because it was Father's Day we drive around Houston and found two war game shops Dan will frequent. Again I am astonished by the construction of 6 story highways with steep climbs and turns. It's like downtown Milwaukee gone amok.

Yes, it's hot. Today it's up to 97 with a heat index of 105 however the ocean breeze cools the sweat on your brow so fast that when in the shade one barely notices the heat. We also have a pool, we've been there every day this week and as soon as I resolve my issues with the dog and stop jumping anytime I feel something crawling on my leg and we all feel comfortable and home Ella and I will venture down to the coast some morning and dip our toes in the warm gulf waters and build sandcastles for a few hours.

: Gateway to the West, Houston Highways, Our Driveway, Ella & I in the Pool

Jun 20, 2009

Mango Salsa

1 Mango diced
3 Roma tomatoes diced
1 Small onion diced
Fresh cilantro chopped

Bite sized tortilla chips

Jun 18, 2009

First Impressions

Shipley's Do-Nuts - yum.
Fire Ants - exterminator on the way.
My dog - good one.
Sushi - so fresh.
Constant breeze - lovely.
Sunshine - blinding.
Clothes - too many.
Furniture - all fits comfortably, but still to many boxes of computer cords and dishes.
Radio - one jazz station, one hipster rock station, one oldies station, one samba station, so far.
Freeways - like six story roller coasters winding through the concrete landscape.
GPS - saving my ass daily.
Produce - abundant, cheap and juicy.
The ocean - calling my name.
Downtown Houston - also calling my name.

Jun 17, 2009

It Only Takes One Person to Go First

Live from Houston

We made it. It's really sunny and the apartment is beautiful. I'm on day three of unpacking and today I should be hanging art and later venturing out to the grocery store where everyone will know I'm from elsewhere because my legs glow in the dark. We ordered Chinese last night, the walnut shrimp was fresh and the crab puffs (crab rangoon) had actual hunks of fresh crab in it. I'm going to dip Ella in sunscreen and take her over to the pool today. Later, if I can find my camera cord I'll post some pictures.

Jun 13, 2009

Pecatonica, Illinois

This is the last post from Pecatonica, IL. A giant thanks to everyone that came and helped us get it all in the truck. We'll see you all later.


We're going to get the moving van this morning. People are coming around 9 to help us load up. It's raining.

Jun 10, 2009

Petit Soprano

Ella is singing opera in the tub - she's practicing her vibrato and it has a pleasing echo.

Jun 8, 2009

The Last Strike

The lightning storm finished with a single flash and an immediate crack at 4:45 this morning. That's when I fell asleep wondering if it was our lightning rod it hit or a tree outside. At 7:15 I found the answer in no less than 15 fire trucks and an unreal amount of firemen standing around on my street. Ella's preschool is on fire. Of course we pulled on sweatshirts and went out on the front porch to investigate and then wandered a block to see what we could see and then finally wandered into the local one-stop and heard about a probable lightning strike to the building and how four foot flames were shooting from the roof at 5:00 this morning. Careful checks of surrounding roofs prevented any spreading like the last time downtown burned decades ago. On the way home, I broke the news to Mrs. Neighbor standing in front of her place we were leaving on Saturday and she bid us good luck while hiding a small pleased smirk.

Jun 6, 2009

Land vs Sea

I was talking with a friend last night about if my recent situation was a string of bad luck or good luck or what. The catalyst for the move was bad, but the move is good. I'll miss my friends and family but it's not like I'm going to live on the moon, we'll still talk and I'll still see them a few times a year when they come down and I come up. The thing that was the hardest to deal with was the thing I needed to get a handle on the most - the house and all the stuff in it. What was total chaos is now neatly packed into boxes and sorted, ready to go, what was garbage is on its way out of my life and what things I could give to others I did. For years I've talked about wanting to live near the ocean and now I find myself on my way there where wonderful new things await. So really, I don't think it's any kind of fortune, either way. It's like trying to decide if ostriches are good or bad in comparison to fractions; the only real conclusion I'm comfortable making is it's just different.

Jun 5, 2009

Things I Can't Take with Me

I'm trying to watch all my DVR'ed stuff before I turn the box in and go to basic cable. It turns out I watch a lot of crap and can only handle consuming it in small doses, trying to have a Make Me a Supermodel marathon actually kills brain cells.

Jun 3, 2009

Indi Anna Jones

Feministing this morning posses the question "If you could sit in a story meeting with Pixar or Disney and pitch a feminist heroine for their next blockbuster film, what would you pitch?" and I've been thinking about this for some time. I don't have a good story to pitch but I do have a good idea about what I'd like to see. I really think it's as easy as flipping the genders when casting. For instance imagine Raiders of the Lost Ark with women in it, Indiana is a rugged smart strong woman and every man in the movie is now a woman, every fainting woman instead a meek guy needing to be saved, would it change the story that much? Probably not. And while I love a "feminist movie" to me it doesn't necessarily mean I need the story to be raging against the machine, it just means there needs to be women in it. I like a good escapism adventure story too. is Twelve Angry Women really that different from Twelve Angry Men? So my answer is this: cast women and girls in the lead and supporting roles of a blockbuster, tweak the story a little and that's what's going to work for me.

Jun 1, 2009

Still Moving

I'm almost done packing. I'm down to deciding what I need to leave out so we can live for the next few weeks and what I can pack today. So that's good. I'm almost ready to start washing the inside of the house top to bottom and now I wish there were floor drains in every room so I could just hook up a hose and power wash the place in an afternoon. I think I'm going to venture up to see my Grand parents soon and then we wait. The big pack will be on the 13th and the morning of the 14th we drive.