30 April 2009

Happy Birthday, Lleyton!

Yup, the next "graduating class" of grands is turning two this year and Lleyton leads the pack. Today is his official 2nd birthday although, owing to his daddy being away on a "Training Mission" (fancy talk for "I guess they are going to keep him employed because they're a-sendin' him on a trip far away and at great expense to teach him something"), his actual party will be much later.

Our little man has made GREAT strides this past year and we are pleased as punch with him! And MOI gets to spend a week with him and his mama and sister in a couple of weeks (woohoo!) while his dad continues to train (man, them's gotta be some BIG "corporate abs" after three of the four weeks of training!)

So, for now, Happy Birthday, my man! Hope you and your mom and sis have a GREAT day of fun surprises and we'll see you soon. We'll be sure to "bring the goods" for ye!

We love you, LL!

25 April 2009

Take me out to the ballgame...in STYLE, I might add...

Those of you who know me well know I'm not a big sports person. Yes, I've been to the Men's Semi-Finals at Wimbledon...and had to have the game of tennis explained to me. So sad. And I watch golf on TV occasionally if Tiger is playing (which means I've watched very little the past year). Still trying to figure out why there are all these birds involved in it. And my idea of a Decathlon is a race through a shopping center to get in and out of 10 stores with a list and a credit card and finish FIRST. (Hey, don't knock it till you've tried it...)

So when Mike told me he could get 4 tickets to an Astros game, I was a bit "blech" about it. Then I thought, why not? I never go - when we get tickets, Tim, Megan and Kennedy usually go with Mike. But this was a Tuesday night, not a weekend. They weren't able to drive in from Pflugerille on a weeknight. So I decided to "give it a go" and we invited our friends Tim and Beth to join us. And off we went.

You've heard the term, "Diamonds are a girl's best friend"? Well, if you're not the world's biggest sports fan and you're headed to Minute Maid Park, that is a true saying indeed! Little did I know that said tickets were (gasp!) in the Diamond Club section!! Oh my - I didn't even know such a place existed. You know where George H and Barbara sit when when go to the Astros games? Just behind home plate? THAT is the Diamond section. But wait - that's not all! Parking was alongside the STADIUM! That's it - park, walk across the drive, show ticket and then enter a special entrance to go downstairs to the Diamond CLUB! Clean bathrooms. Long buffet. Unlimited "chow-down" until the 7th inning. Then out to the seats within "sweating distance" of the players. I mean, I could see which players had acne for goodness sakes - it was THAT close! And when the players came to bat, Beth would give me a brief history along the lines of, "That is so-and-so. He used to play for the Astros but went to the Dodgers last year. He's really tall and cute". All the "histories" had "he's tall and cute". Maybe I should look into this game more seriously?? Who knew? (reminded me of the little known "change shirts between sets" moments at Wimbledon - sorry guys, only at the men's matches...)

So we fill our bellies, trying to act like "yeah, we do this ALL the time" and not jump up and down screaming, "OH MY WORD! THIS IS THE MOST FANTASTIC THING!! WISH I'D TOLD THE KIDS WE'D BE HERE!!! WILL WE BE ON TV??? WHY DIDN'T I WEAR SOMETHING NICER??" (Limited success in that department - I'm sure I stuck out like a sore thumb; or more like a mule in with the Grand Champions...)

We finish eating and head out to our seats - did I mention that those seats are REALLY close? Oh yeah, guess I did. Let me tell you, when you sit where we did, you think twice about picking your nose. (I actually thought about it THREE times...) Anyway, we're sitting there taking it all in and here comes a lady with a tray asking if she can GET US ANYTHING! "Ice cream? Popcorn? Something to drink?" I felt like the chubby kid's first visit to an all-you-can-eat-Chinese Buffet. I DID show admirable restraint and tried to order only that which I would have ordered and PAID for under normal circumstances. Okay, I would not have had 4 diet Cokes with lime nor a plate of nachos with chili and queso. And probably not the popcorn either. We would have bought ONE diet Coke and split it truth be told.

I am so ashamed.

And you know the "fun" experience of trying to get to a ladies' room in the 'where normal people sit' part of the stadium? The waiting in very long lines for a toilet that is one cousin removed from a port-a-potty in cleanliness? Not a problem here - just walk down a hallway, pass by the STILL serving self-serve buffet line of many varieties of food and viola! there are the restrooms - marble and granite floors and walls. Clean stalls. No waiting. No suspicious "spills". Lots of paper towels available after washing of hands with SOAP (not the dregs left when it ran out during the first couple of innings). Depart to return to seat by passing by the dessert section and picking up a cookie or two while weighing the odds of also grabbing some cotton candy or Cracker Jacks. And here's the irony - most of the ladies in the Diamond Club obviously DON'T eat all these foods temptingly arrayed (either that or...well, I won't go there).

So thanks, Bobby (head of company Mike works for). We had a BLAST!! Enjoyed myself IMMENSELY!!! Our guests had a great time too! Thanks for a great evening!! And feel FREE to do it again sometime.

Oh, and I think they also played a game of baseball, but I'm not sure - I wasn't paying attention.

22 April 2009

Taking a dive in the gene pool...

This is my mother and her little brother, my Uncle Charlie.

This is Kennedy (2nd from the right), my granddaughter and Mom's great-granddaughter.

Is it just me or do they share a striking resemblance??

I never noticed before today how similar they look at the same ages. My uncle scanned a TON of family photos and copied them onto a hard drive for me. I noticed how they favor each other as I was loading them.

Perhaps I'll find more "genetic patterns" as I delve into the files further!

16 April 2009

"Out of the Mouth of Babes" - Part Double Deaux

During my recent stay in Pflugerville, since I was staying five nights, Kennedy gave me her bedroom to sleep in and she slept on a pallet in Lleyton's room. On Tuesday, she was trying to get some of her toys out of her play kitchen in her room and solemnly told me, "Your stuff makes it hard to get in there!" I had my suitcase right in front of said kitchen.

"Well, tomorrow you will have your room all to yourself and you'll get to sleep in your own bed again!" I told her. "Why?" she asked with a puzzled look on her face. I told her that I was leaving Wednesday night to return home and that my suitcase and other things would be gone. She looked down for a minute, thought about it and then slowly said, looking at me, "Why, Gramma, that's so sad!"

It warmed my heart to know that she was going to miss me.

Then she added, "But I do like it better when you sleep in the living room."

"Out of the mouths of babes.." Part Deaux

Yesterday morning, as Megan, Kennedy, Lleyton and I sat at the table for my last breakfast in Pflugerville this trip, I was reading my emails (yes, Emily Post and Miss Manners - I DO read my emails on my laptop...at breakfast...at company's house...in my robe...cry me a river...). Suddenly Megan said, "CHERI! Pick up your computer NOW!"

As I whisked it up I noticed the river of water and ice coming my way from an overturned glass (the culprit will remain anonymous - but I will say it wasn't me!). I got my laptop up just as the water met the edge of the back so all was well. I wiped off the tiny bit of water and, in my best British accent, said, "Jolly good show!"

Kennedy frowned and said, "Why do you say THAT, Gramma?" I explained that I was relieved that my computer was okay and that her mom had warned me in time for me to take action. And that that was good!

Well, last night I had dinner with them at Pei Wei before heading back to Katy. I pushed my iced tea over so Megan could sit down and it started to spill when it caught on something. I quickly righted it, started mopping up the mess and laughingly told Megan I was trying to keep up with her. Suddenly we hear a very loud exclamation from Kennedy, "JOLLY GOOD SHOW!"

Megan and I looked at Kennedy, looked at each other and busted out laughing.

That kid is sharp!

13 April 2009

Now that I have my new garden...

With my new landscaping in place, I need a good gardener! This fellow might just fit the bill - plus he comes highly recommended! And he is a hard worker - he didn't complain until we made him put the lawnmower away and come inside.

Taking a short break to discuss the job with me.

Here he directs one of his staff.


...then back to work!

Although I'm sure Mike will have a safety issue with the bare feet thing...

10 April 2009

Part II - "After"

So, without further ado, I present the "new and improved" back yard...

Izzie and...

Shelby checking out their new "master bathroom".

All three new crapes and the relocated Dr. Suess tree.

Noches white crape myrtle on the right, "Dr. Suess" tree on the left. We wanted crapes on each side of the bay window but for SOME reason, pool pipes and the sprinkler system messed up the symmetry!

The Dr. Suess tree was relocated to allow the two remaining crapes in this bed. No problems with pipe here!

We had the sickly Blue Junipers behind the pool but no longer! Now we have replaced them with Forest Pansy Redbuds. Again, the symmetry wasn't perfect but those PESKY pipes for the pool waterfall...

Oh yes, my lovely crape....

These three bears have been with us for the past 15 years - we got them when we lived in Naperville and they have always represented Jennifer, Tim and Chris - my "three bears". Very sentimental about them. They've traveled the world with us on our transfers - some people have "Flat Stanley"; we have "Our Three Bears".

When I get back home, I'll take photos of the front where the holly trees were replaced by Japanese Yews. Enjoy! I know we are...

Extreme Home Make-over "Garden Edition" - before...

I had a lot of trees replaced/added Thursday in our "Operation: Keep the Garden Alive" project. Evidently, we had trees literally committing suicide (I guess they heard that I could kill a silk plant and decided to not wait for the inevitable?). The guy with the tree service (I'll call him "Bryan"...because that's his name) told me, before the excavation began, that my trees most likely had been put in the ground incorrectly. When trees are grown in containers, as many nursery specimens are, the root systems curl around within the pot as they have no where to go. When planted, the roots should be loosened, even hacked off to a certain extent, and then planted in loamy soil so the roots can grow out instead of continuing to "swirl". Well, mine weren't and they did. When the holly trees were dug up (wish I'd taken a photo of this), the roots were literally strangling the life out of the plant. Hence, suicidal trees. I decided to replace all four hollies as they were crooked from Hurricane Ike, required complete replanting (dugging up, hacking the roots, replanting, restaking) and then there wasn't a good prognosis they'd even make it after that was done. And the cost to do this vs. replacing them was about $200. So I opted for new trees WITH one year warranty.

I may be agriculturally challenged but I do know a good shopping deal when I see one.

In the photo below (taken last December), you can see the holly trees and how sparse they look. At three years of age, they should be lush and full, not "transparent". They reminded me of Charlie Brown's Christmas tree a bit...

The area behind the pool was pretty bad too. We had blue junipers and they don't do well in humid environments (hello!!! Original landscaper guys???? WHY did you not tell me this???) They were full of brown patches and had mites.

Above: this area around the bay window of the master bedroom was "okay" but needed some "oomph" (as in taller trees!) I do like the sunbathing penquin on the rock however...

I left the wisteria "as is" - I love how it literally free forms everywhere, and soon it will have fragrant deep purple blossoms hanging heavy, with hummingbirds and butterflies "on holiday".

The remainder of the trees (Italian Cypress, lacy-bark elms, oaks) were treated by radial pruning of the root systems, restaked and deep fed. And I added 3 tall Neches Crape Myrtles, 3 Forest Pansy Redbuds and replaced the holly trees with Japanese Yews. Today I'm just showing the "BEFORE" photos and later on I'll show the "AFTERS". I'm heading to Pflugerville today (should be packing instead of doing blogging but oh well...) so I don't know if I'll get the photos of the "Extreme Home Yard Makeover" taken before I leave or not


We ended up transplanting the Dr. Suess tree to the bay window area because the sprinkler system and pool equipment pipes got in the way of symmetrical planting of the (originally planned) crapes either side of the window. Below you can get a better look at Senior Penquin and his siesta!

Yes indeed, that is a dead Japanese Boxwood.

Shock...botanically speaking that is....and in a later post, awe!

07 April 2009

Bragging rights...

I've had my dad's high chair ever since my mom moved from Lubbock down to the Houston area to live near us. Dad passed back in '02 while we were overseas. Mom, little by little, went through the entire household, culling the contents, calling to ask, "Do you or Mike want (item)?" We moved back to Texas in late 2005 and soon after started our "Campaign" to get her to relocate after 48 years in the same city. We didn't have to campaign very hard as she had a contract on house to be built by June 2006.

So more "culling" was called for. I debated about whether or not to keep Dad's high chair. All my kids were grown, and while I had grandchildren, the high chair had several layers of paint on it and I wasn't even sure what wood it was constructed from! But last autumn, when I had a restorer out for something else, I asked him about it. I found out it was made from maple. And that it was in very good shape given it's age and use. And that I could afford to have it restored.

Several weeks ago, Rick brought it back to me and I was in awe of how beautiful it was! He took it right back to the bare wood, stained it a dark oak color to be close to the color of my Welsh sideboard and then put protective finish over it all. It's just plain gorgeous!

So in all its glory, I present my lovely "old" high chair. Ca. 1929.

03 April 2009

A garden of a different variety...

...seems to be what Jamie Oliver and his wife are growing. Now I like Jamie Oliver - he's becoming a celebrity cook in his own right here in America but he's been a major player for years in the UK. I always liked the the commercials he starred in for Sainsbury's (Britain's own version of H.E.B.) grocery stores. And his unaffected style of simple "cookery" (always loved that term - that and "tom-foolery" and the judicious use of "whilst"....only in England!) is a breath of fresh air in the over-populated world of celebrity chefs. That and the fact that he doesn't swear a blue streak like "he who must not be heard" who can burn your years as well as your fingers in a hot kitchen.

But I do get a chuckle out of the names he and his wife have chosen for their three offspring, one of whom was born this morning: Petal Blossom has arrived in all her spring glory today! Appropriate for what I assume is a lovely spring April day in England.

And she is welcomed by her sisters, Poppy Honey and Daisy Boo.

Are these children or Care Bears? Or perhaps a line of fragrances? lip glosses!?

Surely they will be friends with Gwyneth's daughter, Apple. And perhaps her brother, Moses, will lead them all.

I'm just glad I rethought my initial "perceived favorite name for a daughter one day" or poor Jennifer would have been forever known as April Dawn.

Lucky for her I came to my senses...