adventures, Boat, Family Fun

Some Smaller Adventures

Good afternoon!

While we have been recovering from our road trip to Michigan, we also have been having some smaller adventures. Summers are much shorter than they used to be, but we are determined to have as much fun as possible!

Iliana is Off to Summer Camp!

On July 4, two days after we got home from our road trip, Iliana and I took a two-hour trip to Brenham, where she would be volunteering at Camp Blessing. Camp Blessing is a camp for kids and young adults with special needs, and Ili has been a camper there twice. This year, she was ready to volunteer as a cabin hand.

Even though I wasn’t there, the camp uploaded pictures during the week!

When I picked Ili up on the 9th, she and her new friends were excited to tell me about their antics during the week! She was also excited to tell me about all the campers in her cabin.

Of course, we stopped at Freezy Frenzy on the way home…

And we surprised Daddy with a Burger King crown that had “Dork” written on it! Um…it’s an inside joke…

Happy Fourth!

While Iliana was at camp, Rob and I went out on our smaller sailboat, to watch the fireworks and celebrate the fourth of July!

21 Years! (And counting…)

Our anniversary is July 7, but Rob has Tuesdays and Wednesdays off during the summer, so we celebrated a little early. We were exhausted from the Michigan trip, so we decided to keep it low-key and rent a small unit in Montrose, which is one of our favorite destinations for a quick get-away. It’s hard to believe that next year, I will have been married for half of my life!

And of course we did some thrift shopping!


In the marina where we live, many people have flags on their boat, denoting their various views. There are some Trump and MAGA flags, some Pride flags, and other various flags.

Before we started all our traveling, the three of us sat down and discussed which flag would best demonstrate our views as a family. We found a very clear winner, and it arrived during the week.

I hope the rest of your July is egg-cellent as well!

adventures, Family Fun

Cross-Country Jeep Trip!

Good morning, folks!

We have just returned from our cross-country road trip, in our 1999 Jeep Cherokee. I thought tonight would be the perfect time to share some pictures and stories from our adventures.

Here is a picture of our Jeep:

We have owned this Jeep for 7 years, and we initially paid $1300 for it. It’s been “Old Reliable” over the years, so we decided it was time to take the Jeep on a road trip to Michigan, to visit family and friends.

Why Michigan? Well, we owned a house there 9 years ago…

We lived in Harrison, at the beginning of the “snow belt.” We bought a sailboat, an Islander I29 named Moonraker, when Iliana wasn’t 2 years old. We launched it for the first time in 2010, when Ili was 3. We tried cruising it the next year, but a navigational error led to us running aground and ending our season early. In 2013, we were finally successful, when we cruised from Bay City, on Lake Huron, to Grand Haven, on Lake Michigan, over the course of 93 days.

This changed us. We obsessed over our plans to sail the Great Loop (we weren’t that far from the Mississippi when we ended), but life had other plans. When things weren’t going well at work (I already hadn’t loved my job in a few years), we knew it was time for things to change.

We considered finding work in a port town on Lake Michigan and living aboard seasonally, but soon it became clear that the obvious answer would be to move to a warmer climate, where we could live aboard and sail year round. We had long fantasized about moving to California. In fact, in 2008, we had said that we would move to California in 5 years (although I hadn’t really meant it at the time). Again, life had other plans.

My brother in law and his wife had been living in Texas for 5 years, and they helped me to get a preliminary phone interview with the school district they worked for. After that, I had my foot in the door. Having never set foot in the state, I accepted a job offer after a Skype interview.

On August 1, 2013, we arrived in Texas.

That first year, we visited Michigan twice, but the visits (which were costly and time consuming) became less and less. The last time we visited was in 2018. I was unemployed and quite a bit heavier.

So my ego had a bit of a reason to be excited about this trip as well! On Friday, June 24, after Rob got out of work, we loaded up the Jeep and drove toward the Arkansas border, until we were sick of driving.

Day 0: From Kemah, Texas to Carthage, TX

Miles Traveled: 220

Happily, my Texas crab sticker arrived before we left that day. We were prepared!

This was our first time bringing Jasmine, our dog, on a road trip.

Our goal that night was to drive until we got sick of driving. I was hoping to make Texarkana, but we ended up stopping in Carthage. We decided to stay in a hotel due to the crazy heatwave that was going on in Texas. Thanks to Google Maps and the search feature, I found a reasonably priced hotel with a HUGE king room! (We have to problem sharing a bed, and we slept in close quarters for most of the trip).

Day 1: From Carthage, Texas to Terre Haute, Indiana

Miles traveled: 756

Total miles traveled: 974

The drive from Houston to Michigan is a 3 day trip, although we have really pushed in the past and done it in two. We knew that if we could make Terre Haute at the end of the day on June 25, we would be good to go. With the limited time we had, we were eager to see everyone!

So we left our hotel room at 7 am, Central Daylight Time, and arrived at the Terre Haute Campground by 7 pm, Eastern Daylight Time.

It was a long, long drive.

Jasmine took plenty of walks…

We crossed the Mississippi…

The campground we stayed at had previously been a KOA, but now it was independently owned. The office closed at 6, so we were unable to get firewood. I did not have success buying it from other campers, and I momentarily mourned the loss of Southern hospitality…

But our neighbors saw Ili and me looking for scrap wood and gave us plenty of wood, along with roasting forks! We enjoyed talking to them, and it was a fun night. They loved hearing the stories of our adventures, and I thought their accents were cute. (I suppose if I noticed Midwestern accents, that must mean I no longer have one…Boo!)

The campground was very lively…A bit too much so for weary travelers, as the partying continued until 2 am. It was also quite hot, and our site only had a hook-up for a trailer, not standard outlets. So we were unable to use our fan. I found an outlet in the restroom for my coffee maker!

But I had forgotten about the summer storms in the Midwest. It rained at 2 am, which ended the parties and cooled the air. We were then able to sleep until 7 am, which seemed like a luxury.

Day 2: Terre Haute, Indiana to Three Rivers, Michigan; Alma, Michigan; and Midland, Michigan

Miles Traveled: 470

Total Miles Traveled: 1,444

Illinois comes after the Mississippi, and Michigan is entered through Indiana. How much time we spend driving in each state, however, depends on the traffic and the overnight destination. When we stay in Effingham, Illinois, for example, we spend a day driving through the (painfully boring) Grand Prairie of Illinois. Indiana has never been much better, and during this trip it was looking to be a freeway run through farmland and road construction.

Until we made a wrong turn.

Our GPS then routed us through an adorable succession of small towns and cute houses. It was definitely a treat!

We crossed the state line without any fanfare and soon found ourselves in beautiful country, winding through forests and farmland in southwestern Michigan. A friend of mine from high school had moved to that area and invited us to lunch. So we began our day by visiting Loren and Katie in Three Rivers.

We had a great time catching up, before heading to Alma, to visit my grandma. The weather was beautiful, and we had a nice stop at a rest area in Lansing.

Alma was our next destination. My grandma, who is 93 years old, lives in the Michigan Masonic Home in that town. She has Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, which were mild for a long time before suddenly getting worse. She has stopped eating and spends most of her days sleeping in her recliner chair. We decided it would be best if I visited her alone, since seeing her like this may upset Iliana. I brought pictures and did not know if I would see her awake, or if she would recognize me if I did.

Rob and Grandma in 2018. I look a lot like she did when she was younger.

We had a wonderful visit. She recognized me, and she recognized Rob and Iliana in the pictures I brought. The conversation was light and repetitive, but there was a lot of connection that transcended words and memories. When I left, I said, “I’ll see you later.”

Michigan Masonic Home

After Alma, we headed up toward Midland, where Rob’s dad and stepmother live. However, there was a detour we needed to take.

When we first got married, Rob and I paid $1000 for a mobile home on a used car lot. We then had that mobile home moved to Pleasant Beach Resort on Wixom Lake in Albright Shores, Michigan.

In spring of 2020, during the pandemic shutdown, the earth dam that creates Wixom Lake, as well as the dam that creates the next lake downstream, failed. Wixom Lake is now currently a river. So we took a detour and drove past it.

Our trailer was no longer in the park, and nobody remembered us. We were, however, able to get pizza from Sandy’s Market, which had been a regular occurrence when we lived there. Sandy has long since retired and sold the store, but it still bears her name.

We later learned that the dams will likely be rebuilt, starting next year, which made things less depressing.

Albright Shores was 15 minutes away from Dad and Linda’s house in Midland, and we would be staying there the next two nights.

Rob’s dad injured his knee when he slipped while skipping stones on Lake Charlevoix, so he was a bit laid up. However, it was wonderful to be able to see him again!

We stayed in their motor home, while I kept referring to as “The Boat.”

Day 3: Midland, Michigan

Miles Traveled: 0

One can not pack light while traveling to Michigan in June. Our suitcase was filled with jeans, sweaters, short, and tank tops. And we wore all of them while in Michigan.

We awoke Monday morning to temperatures in the 50’s.

That afternoon, my brother-in-law and his wife joined us, with my 4-year-old nephew, William.

William is a fun, energetic young man, who absolutely loves outer space. To surprise him, Iliana and I bought him some goodies at a gift shop back at home. Living near the space center made being a cool aunt very easy!

I had fun catching up with the other Mrs. Rosselit (who, interestingly enough, is also a teacher)!

Rob’s aunt and uncle were able to join us for dinner, so we did a lot of catching up!

In the northern latitudes, it gets dark much later in the summer. I was surprised that I was able to take this picture at 9:00 pm!

Day 4: Midland, Michigan to Grand Haven, Michigan

Miles Traveled: 152

Total Miles Traveled: 1, 595

On Tuesday, Rob woke up with a stomach ache, which we later suspected was from something he ate that didn’t agree with him. I was afraid that the rest of our plans would be cancelled, so I was distracted when Iliana and I met my brother and my aunt for lunch (and I forgot to take pictures).

When I returned, however, Rob was still not feeling 100% but was ready to continue onward! We headed southwest, through Mt. Pleasant, the town where Iliana was born.

We had a pleasant drive to the Lakeshore in Grand Haven, where we had ended our 93-day cruise in 2012.

When we arrived, the beach and the walk to the lighthouse were closed, due to the rough water. Lake Michigan will always have a special place in my heart, and it was every bit as beautiful and as terrifying as I remember it to be. And the smell of the air is like no other place I’ve been.

My friend, Jamie, who had been friends with Rob in high school, and connected with me through blogging after our sailing trip, joined us for dinner.

We were treated to a beautiful evening.

In 2012, we spent two weeks moored at the seawall in Grand Haven. The seawall was free at the time, and we really enjoyed the town. We were right across from the musical fountain, which did a performance every evening.

So, of course, on this trip, Iliana and I made our way down the river, to the fountain. We found some gigantic snow cones on the way.

The fountain show was lovely, and I even caught Ili singing and dancing a little. Afterward, she remembered watching the fountain in 2012, and recalled a few more adventures from that trip. (She had previously not remembered anything from the trip).

The show was paused at one point for a freighter could leave the river. The captain blew a master salute as they passed by.

We saw a few sights on our walk back to the campsite, but the water was still too rough to walk to the lighthouse.

Day 5: Grand Haven, Michigan to Buchanan, Michigan

Miles Traveled: 100

Total Miles Traveled: 1,694

We put Kreg the off-brand Keurig to work first thing Wednesday morning!

It was a beautiful morning, and the Lake was its famous bright blue color.

I had Rob do a mini photo shoot on the beach, before we left to visit Chris, Kelly, and William in Buchanan.

And yes, I kept a Ziploc bag of sand from the beach…

In Buchanan, Chris and Kelly had a belated birthday dinner for Iliana, complete with a very nice calligraphy set.

William was excited to show us his plush Betelgeuse that Kelly made for him!

Chris and Kelly live in a small town in a wooded area, and their yard is gorgeous.

Mulberries are in season in Michigan, which made me very happy!

Kelly was tasked with assembling William’s solar system model that we brought for him.

And Iliana took some time to relax!

We approved of the word art in their basement…

And of course Rob and Chris had to get a picture together! They call themselves the “Bro-sselits.”

Day 6: Buchanan, Michigan to Portage Michigan and Jasonville, Indiana

Miles Traveled: 363

Total Miles Traveled: 2,058

Our morning began with a visit to Rob’s aunt, uncle, and cousin in Portage (near Kalamazoo). Iliana enjoyed playing with Rob’s cousin’s kids back when we lived in Michigan, so it was a fun reunion! And Aunt Sue’s breakfast casserole put us in good stead for what would end up being a long day on the road.

A large portion of our drive would be spent in a parking lot in Three Rivers. Chris had a moped that he no longer uses, so Rob decided to take it home. Chris also had a trailer for this moped, although the trailer was a little worse for wear. We decided to stop in Three Rivers to change the tires on the trailer, but this ended up being easier said than done. We found tires easily enough, but finding grease for the bearings was another story.

Luckily, there was a Goodwill in the plaza! Goodwills in Michigan have much lower prices than the Goodwills in Houston. I found some accessories, as well as a fun dress and some Coach shoes. The fake pearls and earrings went well with my sundress!

After our loud night at the campground in Terre Haute, we decided to stay in a state park. We found Shakamak State Park in Jasonville, Indiana, which is very close to Terre Haute. We could only get a primitive site, but it was inexpensive and the weather was perfect. We knew electricity would be a must the next night, when we would be in Little Rock. It was a beuatiful, back-to-nature camping experience, and there were more fireflies than I have ever seen at night! This was also the only night on the trip when we were able to see the stars without any light pollution.

Day 7: Jasonville, Indiana to Bigelow, Arkansas

Miles Traveled: 534

Total Miles Traveled: 2,592

We weren’t in a big hurry to leave Shakamak on Friday, but we knew that we had a long drive ahead of us. Luckily, there were lots of state parks to choose from in Arkansas, and, of course, we had to choose the one called Toad Suck Park.

So we packed up and prepared for another day of driving! I worse my dress from the Goodwill in Three Rivers.

Most of our morning was spent driving through Illinois. I know I complain about Illinois a lot, but we did find a very pretty rest stop on Rend Lake, which was a welcome break from the Grand Prairie. Actually, it was the prettiest rest stop on our trip.

And yes, Iliana and I are close enough in weight, that we were able to teeter-totter!

Jasmine was enjoying the ride.

On thing that Illinois does not have, are gas stations. We had a close call when we were 30 miles from the state line, and our GPS ended up leading us to a very small town with a station that had antique pumps. Luckily, they also had ice cream.

30 minutes later, we saw a familiar bridge…

And soon we were back on our side of the Mississippi!

Toad Suck Park is located in the greater Little Rock area, on the Arkansas River. It wasn’t for backwoods camping experience that we had at Shakamak, but it was a very nice campground, located right next to the dam.

And I knew right away that we were back in the South, when the couple who were staffing the office gave me a hug after we signed in!

Day 8: Bigelow, Arkansas to Kemah, Texas

Miles Traveled: 488 Miles

Total Miles Traveled: 3, 082

Kreg was busy as we prepared for the home stretch!

I wore a shirt that I borrowed from a friend, just for the occasion.

And, of course, we needed to take pictures by the sign!

Our ride home was uneventful, except that I was able to do a Google search for “taco” and found many nearby options!

This establishment had the added bonus of decorative armadillos…

So what is next for us? Last night, Iliana took a Covid test for camp and was negative. So today, in a few minutes, we will be leaving to take her to Camp Blessing, where she will be volunteering for a week. Rob and I are celebrating our 21st anniversary on the 7th, and we are planning a simple getaway to Montrose.

And, of course, I will be wearing lipstick for the Fourth of July!

About Us, Boat, Family Fun

Updates on Our Adventures!

All right, friends, it has been awhile since I posted an update. I have a very tight routine during the school year, with minimal decision-making, because my job requires constant decision-making. And also, I can not stand disruptions at work, so I try to avoid doing any non-school business during the school year.

So you can imagine how jarring it has been, to move right in the middle of the school year!

And add to that, multiple freezes and unusually cold weather, and you have a recipe for crabbiness…

Nevertheless, we are moved into our new home, and we are very warm and toasty here! So I thought I would share some of our adventures since Christmas break.

Getting Settled In

My goal was to get as much moved as I could before break ended, and we made a lot of progress!

My incense and yoga plaques found a home in the main salon…

My tea kettle settled happily on the stovetop.

We have almost never planned our last night in a place, during a move, and this was no exception. We rang in the new year on Cruise Forever, and we have not slept in the apartment since then (we are officially moved out on February 8).

One of the first things I did on the boat, was take a bath. I have not owned a home with a bathtub since 2014! We don’t have enough hot water to fill it even halfway, but it is enough, and lovely. The tub is extremely deep and the same length as the tub in our mobile home.

Rob has occasionally washed the dishes…

Iliana made herself at home…

She loved lounging on our bed!

We bought yet another Walmart Keurig. We name the “Kreg”!

We had some time to walk the docks before it got dark…

2022 promised great things for our family!

Paring Down

We were once minimalists. Then we lived in the apartment for almost 2 years. It was time to pare down again!

We cooked some meals in our new kitchen.

We burned incense.

Ili spend some quality time with her saxophone and guitar.

We had custom stemware and travel mugs printed…

My vintage handbags made it onto the boat!

We enjoyed meals in our horseshoe dinette!

Boat Schooling

Most people assume that live aboard families homeschool. We do not.

And if you have looked at Iliana’s pictures, you may have noticed her uniform and assumed she goes to a private school. She does not.

When we first moved to Texas, we enrolled Iliana in a traditional public school. With all of our moves and with her special education services, she ended up going to 4 schools in 6 years! She started attending a public middle school, through the district we were zoned to, but because of her special education program, she didn’t get home until 5:00 pm or later. There were a lot of bussing complications over 2 weeks, and the school was 30 minutes away by car, so driving her was not an option for us, with our jobs.

That was the year that I started working at Odyssey Academy, which is a charter school. There are a lot of misconceptions about charter schools, but they are actually just public schools that are not a part of a school district in the traditional sense. Odyssey has 3 campuses, but nobody is zoned to go there. Parents must request to have their child attend, and they must provide their own transportation with a few exceptions (high school students can go to their previous campus and be bussed to Odyssey’s high school, for example). Students wear uniforms, classes are smaller, but it is a public school with no tuition other than paying your taxes.

The best part? While there is a geographic zone that is allowed to attend Odyssey, it is much larger than the zones for the local public schools. Basically, if we move to any marina in this county, Iliana will still be eligible to attend. So she did not have to switch school for this move. As long as we stay in the Houston/Galveston area, she can count on graduating from Odyssey.

The middle school modulars at Odyssey! And Ili and her bestie walking together.

The added advantage is that her classes are small, and she has had the same teachers through middle school. Special education is handled on an individual basis, so Iliana has been supported and challenged appropriately. She is in algebra and pre-AP language arts, and has gotten “masters” on the state test in both areas. She sees a therapist weekly at school, and she will continue to work with the same therapist in high school.

I definitely recommend charter schools to anyone living in a transient situation, and to anyone who is looking for something that is a better fit than their zoned public school. (And yes, they treat their teachers well too! I am on my third year working for Odyssey, and it is the best job I have ever had!)

Update: Before publishing this post, Iliana and I went to a meeting at Odyssey’s high school, where we discussed her options. Students can go to Collegiate High School, where they start their freshman year taking high school classes on the campus of a community college. In the upcoming years, they take college classes and graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree. Students also have the option of doing dual credit, where they take high school classes on Odyssey’s campus in ninth and tenth grade. In eleventh grade, the teachers from a different community college come to Odyssey’s campus and teach college classes. Then, during their senior year, the students are bussed to that college’s campus. They will either finish with an associate’s degree, enough credits to be close to an associate’s degree, or a vocational certification. And of course, there is the option of taking traditional high school classes.

I decided I would leave the decision up to Iliana, but I was hoping she would choose dual credit. She asked a lot of questions during the presentation, and we took an impromptu tour of the high school afterward (a perk of having a mother who is a staff member!). She listened to her music during the drive home, then announced that she would like to do dual credit! Parenting win for me!

Freezes and Low Water

Our first, very cold, morning on the boat, we noticed that our world was slanting to port. When we went for our morning walk, we saw that someone had pulled the plug on Clear Lake!

We could see our prop and rudder. Our boat was leaning on the dock, and the intake for our a/c unit was in the mud. This meant that we could not run the unit, which meant the only heat we had was our electric fireplace. After Iliana took a shower, the bilge pump would not turn off, because the float was stuck due to to tilting boat. Our toilet could not draw lake water in order to flush, so we had to flush it using the hand shower.

We have since had multiple freezes this winter, and we are very prepared now for a grid crash. (And we have a Mr. Buddy heat for the super cold nights and just in case our a/c intake ends up in the mud again!) However, it has not happened, and this winter was been more annoying but less dramatic than last year.

Happy Birthday, Rob!

This blog post has been a work in progress, with me getting spurts done before the next major event happens. And between writing the first part and now, Rob turned 44.

Ili was eager to decorate!

Every year, I take Rob on a weekend getaway for his birthday. Two years ago, we had our “last normal” weekend and went bike riding in Montrose…

Last year, we went “glamping” in Conroe, and most likely caught Covid while we were there…

This year, since it was going to be cold out, we rented a house on the Southeast side of Houston and went thrift shopping!

Crab Day, Salon Visits, and a New Piano!

When you’ve been married for 20 years, Hallmark holidays get a little boring. So Rob and I have decided that Valentine’s day is now Crab Day. We celebrate by eating all things crab! This year, we had fake crab, crab cakes, and crab dip.

I have been slowly getting into a rhythm at the boat, but it wasn’t until I got my nails, done, that I felt like a lady again!

After! I also got my toenails painted pink!

While we were on the weekend trip, Iliana stayed with her grandparents and got herself a new hairdo!

Yes, she also got a new phone during this time! She took excellent care of her iPhone 6S that she has had since fifth grade, so when she wanted a new Android, we were happy to get her one. She chose a Samsung Galaxy.

And yes, we got a piano for the boat! Our beautiful electric piano from the apartment would not fit here, so we bought a Korg keyboard that fits perfectly into the desk in the main salon. (Ili and I both play).

So that is a summary of our latest adventures! Life is settling in, in spite of yet another cold snap. Thank goodness for the marina’s hot tub! (That is where I am heading tonight!).

Family Fun

Christmas Break!

Happy Sunday, all!

Today I have more pictures to share with all of you. The past three weeks have been an eventful blur, due to some exciting news that I will share in another post, when the time is right!

But first, our Christmas activities! I will admit that we didn’t do one everyday, but we have kept in the spirit.

We made God’s eye ornaments…

Then we broke into the foam ornament-making kit and let the creative juices flow!

Then it was time to make some extremely tasty dipped pretzels…

…And friendship bracelets!

The dipped Oreos were especially yummy!

The foam snowflakes were fun, and Rob’s coronavirus snowflake helped to commemorate our adventures last March!

Because we hadn’t eaten enough sugar, we made cookies and had a popcorn and cocoa bar!

We made fancy s’mores and I drank plenty of my beloved St. Regis non-alcoholic wine!

We enjoyed green waffles, and I made myself waffles eggs Benedict…

I deviated from my usual French manicure for the season…

Rob and I had a lovely time at my work Christmas party at Waterford Harbor, a very nice marina not too far from where we used to live. We even briefly crashed a party with some boaters afterward!

Shortly after the party, some things happened and we missed a few days of Christmas activities. I did, however, count down every morning on social media, with selfies at morning duty! The teachers follow themes with our dress during December.

Then Iliana got me back on track my starting the cookie house!

And we even made some bead and pipe cleaner ornaments!

So here we are on Christmas break! I have just over two weeks off, so I will have time to catch up on everyone’s blogs and share more of our adventures.

I hope your holiday preparations are also fun and low-stress!

Family Fun

Thanksgiving Week!

This week marked our ninth Thanksgiving in Texas. Over the years, we have celebrated with Friendsgivings, potlucks at the Yogi Bear campground, and small gatherings with my parents. Last year, we have a socially distanced meal with my parents, and it was the first time we had them over since the start of the pandemic.

Our week began with a trip to the Shard Yard with our friends from Michigan.

We had a great time creating our masterpieces!

For Thanksgiving, my parents decided to do their own thing and go camping, so we created a feast for three.

I’m pleased to say it was a resounding success, and produced so many leftovers that I will not have to pack lunches for the next week!

Everyone relaxed while I cleaned up, and then I surprised them by bringing in all of the Christmas decorations!

We enjoyed this year’s matching pajamas!

We put on some final touches…

And had some fun taking selfies!

Since my job keeps me busy, Christmas involves a lot of planning ahead. I finished all of my shopping before Black Friday, and I bought enough activities for Iliana and me to do one each day, from Black Friday until Christmas. The first activity she chose were ugly sweater cookies.

The next day, we made chocolate candies!

Every year, we have intended to send out Christmas cards, but last year was the first time it actually happened. I had discovered Postable, which prints and mails your cards for you. I like to send postcards, with a short message. It’s a good way to update everyone without having to write a long Christmas letter. Unfortunately, none of our digital cameras were working, but we used my phone to take some fun pictures!

And the winner….

I hope everyone in the U.S. had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I hope all of you have a joyful holiday season!

Family Fun

Fall Adventures!

Happy Thanksgiving week, y’all!

Since it has been awhile, I thought I would share some pictures from our adventures this fall. It has been another whirlwind of a school year, and while I usually do a good job prioritizing self-care and family, while still getting the important things done at work, at this point my writing has not made the priority list. But things have been going well.

One of the newest additions to our life this fall, is Rob’s wind surfing board!

For Halloween, Iliana made multiple costumes for herself, and she enjoyed some independence at a lock-in at the library!

And of course, none of us are too old to carve pumpkins.

Last year, Ili decided that she was too old for trick-or-treating, so we drove to Clear Lake Shores Island and handed our candy from our tailgate. This year we did the same, but Iliana noticed that many teenagers stopped by for candy. So she left Rob to hold down the fort and did some trick-or-treating of her own!

And in case you are wondering, I went as the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse!

I did some thrift shopping, and Iliana was happy to borrow some of my finds…

I found myself a lovely non-alcoholic wine that is only 1 smartpoint per glass…

Iliana spent a month designing a mouse trap car that ended up winning first place for distance!

And finally, right before break, Iliana’s class put on “Colonial Day” for the school. Ili was the schoolteacher, and she used hornbooks to teach phonics. She had fun but decided that she will leave the reading instruction to me!

So there is a quick update on our fun! I will do a Thanksgiving/gratitude post at the end of the week.

Family Fun

5k’s and a Brief History of my Running Habit

In first grade, I learned that I was a slow runner.

We were in P.E. class, playing a game called “Snow White.” One person was Snow White, and they stood in the middle of the gym, while the class ran across. Snow White tried to tag as many people as possible, while avoiding getting tagged by the Wicked Queen.

I was a lanky, energetic 6-year-old, and of course I raised my hand eagerly when the teacher asked who wanted to be Snow White. It surprised me when the entire class burst out laughing when I was chosen. The teacher said, “Now, just because someone isn’t fast, doesn’t mean that they can’t be tricky.”

I was surprised to learn that I wasn’t fast, and that apparently this was common knowledge in the first grade. I was quickly tagged by the Wicked Queen after everyone safely made it across the gym.

And thus began my dislike of physical education class.

In fourth grade, when we did relay races, I was moved to a different team for each round. I was the only one who was moved in this way. And everytime I was put on a new team, the members of that team groaned.

We did physical fitness testing every year, and I learned that I was not flexible. We had to do this v-sit, forward bend, where they would measure how many inches we reached past our feet. The last time I did it, I got -10. My teacher told me that I needed to be more flexible.

Our teacher had a quarter mile track drawn in the grass behind our school, and we would occasionally go out to run a mile. I learned that for some unknown reason, my legs would start screaming at me well before a quarter mile was up. I could, however, walk indefinitely.

Over time my legs became very muscular, but I was never able to run. I even tried a couch-to-5k program in Prevention magazine. I could do intervals of running and walking, but I never could run very far in a stretch.

We moved to Texas, and Rob and Ili rocked her school “Mustang Stampede,” while I took pictures from the sidelines.

And then this happened….

Yoga has changed my life in many ways, and running is one of them. Stretching my hips and hamstrings allowed me to take a larger stride and run without pain. Shortly after I started practicing yoga, I decided to sign up for an untimed 3k “Family Fun Run.” Ili ran the 1k.

By August, it was time to try a real 5k. Rob and I signed up for the “Night Moves Trail Run.” We would run the race at night, then camp in the park where it was held. My training was going well, and I knew I could do it!

We excitedly lined up at the starting line, and everyone was too shy to go to the front of the group. Knowing I would be passed, I marched to the starting line and announced, “I am going to be victorious!”

Once we started, I was in the middle of the pack, and Rob was in a commanding lead. Then we entered the woods, where the trail was poorly marked. After tripping over a few roots, I walked with a group of other runners, trying to find our way with someone’s GPS. I actually stopped at the rest stop and poured water over my head. Then there was more getting lost, until we found our way to the road, just in time for an ending sprint.

Much to my dismay, Rob was not at the finish line to cheer me on. My time was terrible–I had finished my first 5k in 57 minutes. But still, I had finished my first 5k! I marched to our tent to give him a piece of my mind, but he was not there. In fact, he was nowhere to be found.

At this point, I was starting to get worried. We had been given GPS trackers, so I asked the officials if they could track him down. It turns out that the GPS trackers were not working.

Finally, after an hour and a half, a very exhausted Rob ran across the finish line. It turns out that he had gotten lost by himself, since he had been in the lead. At one point he had ended up on the 10k course., and, regrettably, he had not stopped at the rest stop.

I decided that my medal was well-earned! And surprisingly, I finished in the first half for my age group.

September came along and brought with it another trail race, the Zombie Run. This time, it was light out and the course was well-marked. However, we had to wear belts with strips of ribbon velcroed to to them. During the course, we would encounter “zombies,” who would try to pull off the ribbons. Once all the ribbons were gone, we were “dead.” There were prizes for the winnings “survivors” and “zombies.”

This race was a challenge, because we had to sprint everytime we encountered a zombie. It was actually a relief for me, when I was finally “dead.” In the end, I finished in the top third of my age group, with a time under 40 minutes. Rob was a “survivor” and finished in second place overall.

The rest of fall passed without any fanfare, until we were greeted by a chilly December, and my friend suggested that we run in the “Santa Hustle” in Galveston. This was my first road race, and the temperature was in the 40’s.

We ran in a loop, and the longest stretch was into the wind, along the seawall. There were over 1000 runners, and all three of us set personal records, because we were so cold and wanted to get it over with! My time was 34:58, and I finished in the top quarter of my age group.

That was the last 5k I ran, for a long time. The next school year was extremely difficult, and it took me a couple years to get back on my feet. Then 2020 and the pandemic happened. We did a virtual race, the “Social Distancing Run,” but that was hardly scientific.

So here we are, just coming off of a spike in Covid, but still with things returning to normal, especially in Galveston county, where the virus hasn’t been as bad. September 30 is my 43rd birthday, and when Rob asked me what I wanted, the answer was easy.

It was time to start running 5k’s again.

I am determined to eventually run a marathon, but I want to keep doing 5k’s until I break 10 minute miles. Then I will move on to 10k’s, and so on.

So we found ourselves a race in Galveston, and I actually trained a little bit this time.

This race was a road race along the seawall, and it was not officially timed. However, I do know that I finished in 33 minutes (not sure how many seconds). So it definitely was a personal record! Rob finished 4th overall.

After the race, we enjoyed a walk on the beach…

…and a lovely lunch with a view!

We picked up Ili, who was with her grandparents, and she wanted to go sailing. She enjoyed being on crew, so I had an easy time!

Iliana was right at home at the helm!

When we got home, Iliana informed me that she is going to start training for her first 5k, and she asked me how I stretch. She and I have the same tight legs, so I showed her how to do my pre-run yin stretches.

I should have known where this was leading! As soon as her stretches were done, Ili changed into running clothing and said, “Come on, Mom! It’s time to start training for my first 5k!”

She did impressively well, for her first day of training. And I think I will sleep very well tonight!

Family Fun

Back to School!

In the most normal of years, the beginning of the school year is akin to crashing a boat into a dock. But it has been a long time since I have seen “normal.”

The 2017-18 school year began with Hurricane Harvey and ended with me going on medical leave.

In the fall of 2018 I began my break from full time teaching and started subbing in two districts. In the spring, I accepted a long term subbing position, which was interrupted when a factory caught on fire. During the fire, I worked at Odyssey, where I was later hired as a behavioral interventionist for the next year.

I began my new position normally enough in the fall of 2019, and Iliana started attending school at Odyssey as well. Then came March 2020, which was anything but normal.

We began last year virtually, then had a week off for a hurricane that turned and missed us at the last minute. By September I was teaching full time again. The year was a weird combination of virtual and in-person teaching, with a two-week intermission when I finally caught the plague. At the end of the school year, I was offered my new position, which means that I began the year as an aide and ended the year as department lead.

And so, welcome to back-to-school 2021!

Last Hurrah: A Bike Riding Trip in Montrose

The last weekend before school started, we decided to get an Air BNB in Montrose. It was an adorable little historic apartment!

We packed our folding bikes and headed downtown, where we easily found the Buffalo Bayou trail.

Downtown had more businesses open, than they did on our spring break visit. However, there were more restrictions due to the Delta variant.

2. The “D” Word

It hadn’t surprised me that downtown was stricter, but then Ili and I decided to visit Armand Bayou nature center, once of our favorite woods-walking venues. It was beautiful…

But it surprised me that they had tight restrictions! Some made sense, like wearing a mask when you walk up to the payment window. But others seemed overly cautious for an outdoor place. It was starting to make me nervous.

Then our state entered into a weird battle over masks in schools. Our governor has banned schools from enacting mask mandates, but a local judge ordered one anyway and it was upheld in a higher court. Which means that the schools, who really have no interest in taking sides on political things like this, are strongly encouraging mask wearing.

Personally, I have mixed feelings on the whole thing. I am fully vaccinated and have had the virus, and I have researched the chances of me catching it again. It is a small enough risk, that I am willing to take it. I am definitely not going to stay home or change how I am living my life in a major way.

And yet, I kind of get the reasoning behind requiring the masks at school. Most of the students can’t get vaccinated yet, and kids are getting sick with the Delta variant. From what I have read, the chances of me being contagious are small, but we don’t know for sure which adults have been vaccinated, who has had the virus, etc. So I got myself a shield with pink glasses and created a rhinestone tiara above it! And Iliana got a new set of sequin masks.

While I understand the reasoning behind the masks, I am glad that school is being held in-person this year. There has been a very significant slide, both academically and emotionally, from the year and a half with no in-person instruction for a number of students. Right now, with what we know, I think the benefits of being in school definitely outweigh the risks. I will be glad when the children have an opportunity to be vaccinated.

3. Two Cute Iliana Stories

This has been a year of growing up for Iliana. We recently went to our storage unit and found a leopard print parka that Iliana enjoyed wearing for years. It doesn’t even come close to fitting her now! I asked Ili if she wanted to donate it, and she hesitantly agreed, although she wanted to take a picture of it first.

The next day, when my grocery delivery arrived, the young lady who brought them, surprised me with a bouquet of flowers that had been on clearance. On a hunch, I asked her if she had a little girl. She said yes, she had a 5-year-old. And it turns out that her daughter needed a new winter coat and loves leopard! So Iliana was delighted that her coat went to a good home, and she enjoyed the flowers in her room.

Iliana is loving school this year, and she is taking an extra science class, as well as attending science camp through NASA. She has dutifully studied her chemistry lessons every night, and on Friday her teacher excitedly told me that Ili had gotten 100% on her test! We celebrated with ice cream, of course!

Have a wonderful week, and I hope your fall is starting out well!

About Us, Family Fun

8 (years)

Grew up in a small town
And when the rain would fall down
I’d just stare out my window

Dreaming of what could be
And if I’d end up happy
I would pray

Trying hard to reach out
But when I tried to speak out
Felt like no one could hear me

Wanted to belong here
But something felt so wrong here

So I prayed (I would pray)

I could breakaway

I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly
I’ll do what it takes ’til I touch the sky
And I’ll make a wish, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Out of the darkness and into the sun
But I
won’t forget all the ones that I love
I’ll take a risk, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Wanna feel the warm breeze
Sleep under a palm tree
Feel the rush of the ocean

Get onboard a fast train
Travel on a jet plane, far away (I will)
And breakaway

I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly
I’ll do what it takes til’ I touch the sky
And I’ll make a wish, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Out of the darkness and into the sun
I won’t forget all the ones that I love
I gotta take a risk, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Buildings with a hundred floors
Swinging around revolving doors
Maybe I don’t know where they’ll take me,

Gotta keep moving on, moving on
Fly away, breakaway

I’ll spread my wings
And I’ll learn how to fly
Though it’s not easy to tell you goodbye
I gotta take a risk, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Out of the darkness and into the sun
But I won’t forget the place I come from
I gotta take a risk, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Source: MusixmatchSongwriters: Benenate Bridget Louise / Gerrard Matthew R TBreakaway lyrics © Wb Music Corp., Almo Music Corp., Music Of Windswept, G Matt Music, Friends Of Seagulls Music Publishing, Avril Lavigne Publishing Llc.

It was been a wonderful 8 years in Texas, and I look forward to many more!

About Us, Family Fun

July Adventures!

Oh, wow! Where did July go? It has been a busy, fun month for us, with all that we could ever hope for summer to include. As I am getting ready for the back-to-school professional development next week, I thought I would take a break and update y’all on our adventures!

The Fourth (and Our First Time Hosting Since the Plague!)

When we first got married, we lived on a lake. We spent our time hanging out with two other couples, and on the fourth of July, we always invited them over to watch fireworks on the boat with us.

Yes, that is the lake that no longer exists, since the earth dam broke last spring.

The problem is that one couple is not in the picture, which is okay, because they have moved to Texas as well and we took a picture of them this year on the fourth!

We found a good anchorage on the bay and grilled up our dinner. Then this interesting-looking barge anchored disconcertingly close to us…

We realized that they would be shooting the fireworks from that barge. We wanted a front row seat, but we didn’t want to be so close that we had to worry about a hole being burned into to top of our boat! We moved back a little bit, and still got to be right underneath the fireworks.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening!

Summer Camp!

Two days after the fourth, it was time for Iliana and me to take a road trip. Our destination? Camp Blessing Texas!

Ili made a grand entrance, with all the staff cheering for her!

At camp, Ili met Baily, her high school buddy who hung out with her all week, and the two of them went to the cabin to get settled in.

While Ili was away on her adventure, the camp posted daily pictures, so we could follow along!

Days 1 and 2

Days 3 and 4

And then it was time to pick her up! Ili had a great time, and made a lot of friends.

Camp Blessing is located in the same town as Camp for All, so of course we had to stop at Freezy Frenzy on the way home! This time, Iliana drew a picture to put on their wall.

20 Years!

While Iliana was at camp, Rob and I had our own adventure. You see, 20 years ago, on July 7, 2021, this happened:

I decided to begin our celebration with a cake!

Rob approved…

Since Rob had the next two days off, we left early in the morning for an adventure in San Antonio. We got permission to park at our Air BNB early, so that we could explore the town on bikes. We started with tacos for lunch…

…And had lots of fun exploring the River Walk!

We then enjoyed our stay in a beautiful apartment in a cute neighborhood on the Riverwalk.

The next day we arrived at home in time for a beautiful sunset!

Iliana Stays Busy!

Once we got home, Iliana realized that she loves spending time at the marina, and she has been exploring the water in her new kayak.

She also has been having fun with black-and-white film photography. Stay tuned for some of her prints, once she finishes her roll of film!

And tonight she joined us on a bike ride to the food park in Clear Lake Shores. We ate at Okies, which, hands-down, has the best Shirley Temples in town! (I’ve introduced Ili to the joy of the Shirley T!)

And yes, Rob rode his penny farthing, but you will have to wait for Ili’s prints to see that!

Back to School

Not long after our return from San Antonio, I had my first meeting regarding our return to school. I am one of the special education department leads starting this year, so I will be helping to lead a training starting on Monday, and from there on it’s back to career-woman-mode for me! I will still update y’all on my adventures and thoughts, but it will probably only be once or twice a month. I will also aim to check in with everyone else’s blogs that frequently as well.

I hope everyone has had a fun, “normal” summer!