Tuesday, May 30, 2006
We had a great trip into Louisiana for Memorial Day. It was great to visit with everyone. Congratulations to Brent, Emily, and Kam on their new house. It is adorable.
Also, special thanks to the people in our family who have served our country. We appreciate your service to us and our country.
As I mentioned earlier, we did go camping a week ago. Sorry about the delay on the details. Here is the post I have been working on:
We are back from a great camping trip. I think it is obvious that we all enjoy camping and it is something we can enjoy together. We made many memories on this trip.
It all started with a last minute search to find somewhere to go. We were planning to go to Hunstville State Park, but we read some obscure note on the website that said they were closed for camping. Next, we looked at Village Creek State Park, but they are still struggling to recover from Hurricane Rita and it is a longer drive. Finally, we decided to try Brazos Bend State Park. We have been there before. It is a great park, but I really wanted to find somewhere to go where we wouldn't be camping right next to other people. It is hard to feel like you are really out in nature when you can hear other people snoring in the tent next to yours.
Upon arriving, we were told that all of the campsites were full and that we would have to camp in the overflow camping area. These sites are not as nice, but it wound up being a blessing: there were very few people there and I could imagine how close together everyone was at all of the regular campsites.
Things were a little hectic at first since we were trying to get the tent, fire, beds, etc., set up before dark. We eventually settled in and cooked some hot-dogs over the fire. Bugs and darkness eventually forced us inside the tent. We read some more of "The Hobbit" (Neo and I have been reading that for a while now) and drifted to sleep.
But then... it started raining. "Wasn't there good weather that weekend?" you are asking yourself. Yes. There was. It was beautiful outside. But inside the tent, it was raining.
Christian woke me up at one point to tell me she thought she heard rain drops. We listened for a moment, and sure enough, I heard a drop. I started preparing to move things away from the walls to try and keep the water from getting in the tent.
But then, a drop smacked me in the forehead. "What the ... " then another drop hit the bed... then one hit the sheets by my feet. "The roof must be leaking!" I thought... which got me out of bed pretty quick. We started turning on lights and found that the entire ceiling of the tent was covered with condensation droplets. Not a little bit... a lot! It was so covered with thick droplets that they were falling at an alarming rate. It was raining inside the tent. You could sit still and hear drops hit the floor about once a second.
Well, needless to say, it wasn't long before Christian and I were laughing. We were grabbing towels and trying to wipe the ceiling... standing on the air mattress, falling over, getting soaked in the face as we looked up to wipe. We were sleep deprived and quickly approaching delirious status.
We finally got back in bed to try and get some rest now that we have managed to wipe off most of the water droplets. This led to conversations such as "didn't you check the forecast for inside the tent?" ... and... "perhaps we could set up a tent inside the tent. You know... to keep the rain out."
The next morning, we cooked breakfast outside, which was not exactly enjoyable since the wind was blowing pretty bad. This caused plates and stuff to go flying around, food landing on the ground... oh well. Eventually, we had something to eat and cleaned up everything.
After breakfast, we went to see some alligators. After that, we drove around to look at the regular campsites. I think the overflow area was indeed a blessing - it looked like every cub scout troop in America was camping there. Apparently, it is like that almost every weekend this time of year.
We ate lunch under the trees. Mom took a nap in the shade and Neo and I walked around one of the lakes to find a "secret spot". We found a few of them. We found one which didn't have really steep slopes by the water so it was actually easy for us to stand and fish. We didn't have fishing gear, but decided we would try to come back later.
After mom woke up, we went on a hike on one of the trails along the Brazos River. Wow. Some very beautiful spots. There were a few places that cut off the path towards the river and the scene opened up like a postcard, like this one.
We were going to cook hamburgers for dinner, but we decided to go eat at a local restaurant. One the way home from dinner, we bought some worms and decided we would try to fish the "secret spot" before nightfall.
Neo and I swore mom to secrecy about the location of the secret spot and brought here there. We started fishing. I caught one bream. But, it wasn't long before Neo caught 4. He is proving to be quite the fisherman. Mom was trying to enjoy herself, but she had seen a snake on the way to the "secret spot" and was a little spooked. Neo was excited about catching his 4 fish. On the walk back to the truck, he asked... "Dad, do you wish you were me?" I said, "No. I'm me. I like being me." He said, "I know, but do you wish you were me so that you could be the one who caught 4 fish." We all laughed and acknowledged that, yes, you caught the most fish.
When we got back to the camp, we found that our neighbor count had went from 0 to about 10. The overflow area was full. Oh well.
We went back to camp, and made smores over the fire. They were really good, but we had supplies for way more than we could eat. So, Neo and I gave some away to our neighbors. Mom went to bed, but Neo and I stayed up pretty late playing with out flashlights and building the fire. He was amazed to see it get hot enough to melt an aluminum can. He was also amazed to see me put a stick near the coals but not touch anything and see the stick burst into flame. Before Neo and I retired for the night, we set up some "traps" for the raccoons so that we would hear them if they came around. The trap was very sophisticated involving a lawn chair positioned such that a slight tug would cause it to fall off of the table. We placed a piece of hot dog in each trap. As it turns out, the coons had all the food they could ever want in all of the trashcans so they didn't get close to our tent like they did the night before when we were the only campers there.
After we went to bed, it wasn't long before the rain returned. This time we at least knew what was going on. We wiped it down and slept better than the first night.
We woke up and had an amazing breakfast. The wind was calm. We had an awesome breakfast and some awesome coffee from our percolator. One lesson we learned is that it is hard to cook everything and have everyone sit down and eat at the same time without things getting cold, full of bugs, etc. We found it was easier to cook for each person individually. That made the food much better and freed up more supplies. Also, this allows the cook to eat last and enjoy his coffee in peace.
We washed all of our dishes, took down the tent and packed everything up. We went on one more trail in the swampy area of the park before we went home, but it was not exciting at all. It is so dry, the that lake areas were dry. Pretty boring. Nevertheless, it was helpful to walk off breakfast.
I think we are looking forward to our next camping trip and learning how to do it even better. Conversations are already swirling about used pop-up campers :)
All of the pictures from the event are here.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
What a wonderful day today is. Today is our fourth anniversary. Christian, I love you so much, and so deeply. I think about how happy you make me and how you are my absolute best friend in this crazy world. I love you princess. Always, always.
I also would like to thank all of our friends and family that have assisted us in our marriage. First and foremost, you have given us wonderful examples of love and understanding. You have also given us many things that allow us to focus on each other and our marriage... things such as babysitting, financial assistance, meals, help with the new house, etc. Those things add up. I want to thank all of you for helping Christian and I to get here and for helping us build such a strong foundation in our relationship.
Christian and I have officially declared this marriage year as "The Year of the Beetle" :)
Here is a few pictures for my "mushy" mood. Here is one that I think is one of our best pictures. Also, here is a picture of the flowers that I gave Christian this morning (notice how the leaves are shaped like little hearts).
We did go camping this past weekend and there is much to tell, but I just haven't had time to post all of the details of the trip. Hopefully I will have it up soon, so check back!
Saturday, May 13, 2006
This week we received a package. It had Neo's name on it and he was very excited to open it.
It was a wonderful, hand-made baseball bat that Paw-Paw ordered for Neo. It is beautiful with Neo's name engraved in the barrel and his initial stamped in the end.
But the most beautiful part about it is the story, which I will do my best to recreate here.
My dad was at a lumber store, looking to buy a piece of wood. He asked for any large pieces of ash that he could use to make a baseball bat for his grandson. One of the guys in line noticed that, and told him that he could make a bat for him. My dad said sure and took his card and gave him the correct spelling of Neo's full name.
After the guy left, the man behind the counter asked Dad, "Do you know who that is?".
"No. Who is he?"
"That's Jack Marucci."
"He made the 'Curse Buster' - the bat used by a Boston Red Sox player to break the Bambino Curse and ultimately win the 2004 World Series!"
Jack Marucci makes bats for everyone... including major league ball players. They are all made by hand in his backyard. You can read more about Jack and his bat business here.
Neo's bat is beautiful, and we want to thank Paw-Paw and Jack for such a beautiful keepsake in the family. You can see some pics of Neo's bat here.
In other news, we came up to Dallas to spend some time with Vince, Amy, Ethan, and Kyle, and also to look at a used car that Christian was interested in. After some inspections by a VW dealer, Christian purchased the car! It is such a fun car, but you can judge for yourself.
The poor Prizm will have to sleep outside once we get home. It has served us well.
I can't tell you how proud I am of Christian. She has worked hard to save up money, find a great deal, negotiate with the seller and make it all happen. She got a GREAT deal on it, and I am so very proud of her. You did it babe. Now enjoy it. Open up that sunroof, and turn up the radio!
Monday, May 08, 2006
Thankfully, we didn't try to go on the camping trip this weekend - there was a rather large storm that blew in Friday night that certainly would have made tent camping pretty miserable.
On Saturday, we went to take pictures for Neo's baseball team. The game following it was cancelled because of the rain. Good thing. The pictures took so long that we would not have made it out in time to play anyway.
After the pictures, we went to the shoe store where Christian bought me an early anniversary gift: 1 pair of dress black shoes and 1 pair of tennis shoes. This was great because I have had black slacks with no shoes to wear them with for about a year. Also, I have been wearing the same old dilapidated tennis shoes for about 4 years and they hurt my back and feet something awful. Now, I'm all set shoe-wise.
Later in the afternoon, we went to a birthday party for one of Neo's friends at school. It was at a gymnastics place, so the kids had a great time bouncing around, jumping on trampolines, and swinging on ropes.
On Sunday I woke up early to cut the grass. Afterwards, we went to church and then went to a small festival that the church was having. We had fun eating hot dogs, getting balloon animals, playing the cake wheel and even playing blackjack.
All in all, it was a good, fairly relaxing weekend.
Since I received my anniversary gift a bit early, I decided to give Christian her combination anniversary/mother's day gift a bit early as well... this.
This will be our first REAL family vacation together and I can't tell you how excited we are. When you think about raising a family, one of the fun ideas you think about is family vacations. I have always wanted to do something like this... in fact, I wish we could go every year... but it always seems just out of reach.
I won't divulge the exact date here, but it is sometime in 2007. The really hard part about this is that we plan on giving this as a gift to Neo for Christmas, which means we (including all of you!) will have to keep this a complete secret for quite a while. I cannot wait to see his face light up to hear that he is going to Disney world and on a big boat. We have all sorts of cute ideas for the gift - maybe a letter from Mickey Mouse... maybe a countdown calendar till we leave... Christian and I are very, very excited.
Looks like they aren't free though... I'm sure we'll find some money... I haven't even checked the sofa cushions yet!