Monday, July 30, 2007

The Finals Countdown

Arghhh - it was one of those weekends. The weekend before a final exam. I've spent this weekend with my nose in my textbook, notes, and taking practice quizzes online. I'm beat, and particularly tired of marketing.

I'm one three hour test away from completing my second year at the University of Texas at Dallas. I have taken 30 credits so far, as I work to complete my BS in Business Administration. Sometimes I think the degree is aptly named - a BS!

I'm tired, but I am always tired at the end of a semester. This summer seems to have been particularly hard - somewhat due to the class and somewhat due to work. I've been getting hot and heavy into work, and have putting an increasing number of cycles towards that. The last thing I want to do at the end of a workday is school work. Don't get me wrong, I like to learn and I love the competitive nature of being in school (and doing better than the rest of the class), but it is hard to work eight to ten hours, then sit in a class for four more. I am just so fantastically lucky that I get to spend as much time on school work as I need, and that my company reimburses me for the cost. Unfortunately, even with taking five classes a year, I won't graduate till sometime in 2010.

I hope the kids understand the hard work, and I hope they learn from it. Perhaps they will decide to go to school right after high school, so they don't have to go through what I go through.

Just think, next semester starts in three short weeks.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Twice In Two Months

After living in Texas for over seven years, I finally got to San Antonio. Not once, mind you, but twice over the course of about six weeks. The first was a one day business trip in early June. The second, our long awaited camping trip with good friends.

It would have been another camping cancellation, and as of Friday night/Saturday morning, it should have been.

We left for our trip at 6:45 am on Friday morning. The kids were great, the forecast was not. We hit such a storm in Austin, that we couldn't go more than 20MPH. Unfortunately for us, that storm was the edge of a monster system that reached all the way to San Antonio and further, all the way to Laredo. It rained most of Friday.

However, the incredible thunderstorms early Saturday morning were what really had me questioning our safety. It poured down, there was incredible lightening, thunder, the whole deal. I was afraid we were gonna get zapped or washed away. However, the camper really did AWESOME. No leaks and no real wet areas inside. It really held up well.

After everyone teasing me about the fact that I didn't sleep all night (by the way, the kids slept through the whole thing. It wasn't until I went to check on them at 6am that Cassie woke up and started crying that she was afraid. She came and slept with me, but she had no clue daddy was more frightened than her).

Saturday morning was wet and ominous, so we ditched our plans for Six Flags and went downtown instead. It stopped raining, and we enjoyed the River Walk, some Tex/Mex food, the Alamo, the Guinness Book for Word Records, Ripley's Haunted Adventure and Dave Crockett's Tall Tale Ride. We went back to the campsite and swam and had a great "breakfast for dinner". Sunday was dry and hot and the outside of the camper dried up so we could pack it up without threat of mildew. The ride home was mostly dry and we're home and camper is cleaned up and safely in the garage.

I learned two things this weekend: 1) We can camp in the rain, 2) I won't camp in thunderstorms if I can avoid it.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Rain Schmain

One way or another, we are gonna get wet!

Early tomorrow morning we leave for San Antonio with the camper in tow. As mentioned in an earlier post, we are meeting some friends for camping, grilling, swimming and Fiesta Texas'ing. We're only going for the weekend, but it'll be a packed weekend.

Unfortunately, scattered thunderstorms are in our forecast. I'd probably cancel again, but since we are meeting friends and the kids are stoked, we'll take are chances.

I'm just hoping that our 12 year old pop-up camper is waterproof. We shall see!

I'll post all about it when we get back.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hot Sauce and Half-Shells

About two and a half months ago, upon arriving home from a business trip on a Friday evening, I bummed a cigarette from a neighbor. The date was May 4th, and it was the last cigarette that I have had. At the time, I started working out, but haven't kept that up. In the same period of time, I haven't even tried to diet. It's been pretty hard.

However, this Monday I started my diet again. I'm at 300 lbs, and I've gotten disgusted enough to do something about it. I've had a great two days ending at about 1950 calories for each. It's been relatively easy, as well. Angie bought a bunch of different diet foods for me to help.

I use a website, to track my intake. The site has a lot of foods listed, so you can search your food and enter how much you've had. It tracks the calories, fat, carbs, protein, etc. You can also track your progress with your weight, interact with others for support, get recipes, and meal plans.

I have a lunch planned today, and I was pre-planning my menu choices to stay in line with the diet. We are going to Flying Fish and they have a great grilled menu. I'm getting grilled tilapia and a dozen raw oysters. The amazing thing is that the entire meal is only a couple of hundred calories. Grilled and boiled seafood is an awesome way to eat - low fat and carbs and huge amounts of protein. Hopefully, eating like this will help me melt the pounds away. My goal is to be at 199 by my 40th birthday.

Next week I'm back in the gym.


Sunday, July 15, 2007


The wet weather that Texas has been experiencing has been a mixed blessing. Looking back at last year, we were suffering through a prolonged drought, lake (reservoir) levels were very low and the city we live in was exacting water restrictions. Amazing the difference a year makes. We've had almost two months of constant thunderstorms, north Texas has been flooding as lakes are overflowing and I've yet to run the sprinklers, but have a lush green lawn. In fact, looking at this month's water billed, we used 5,100 gallons. Twelve months ago, we used over 50,000.

Unfortunately, because of these thunderstorms, and the constant threat of thunderstorms, we've been unable to use our camper. In fact, we've had three cancelled camping trips, with only one outing actually completed. This last weekend was the latest cancellation, as Cassie, Angie and I were going to spend a day swimming at Bonham State Park. We have several more trips scheduled, but the storms look to continue so we're not sure if we'll make them or not.

This coming weekend we have scheduled with some good friends in San Antonio. The plan is the camp at Blazing Star RV Friday and Saturday nights, and go to San Antonio's Six Flags (Fiesta Texas) on Saturday. Perhaps the kids will get some swimming and we'll do some grilling, as well.

Next month, we have two trips planned. One to Lake Tawakoni State Park and one to Tyler State Park. Hopefully, we'll have normal Texas weather to enjoy (hot and dry).

Ultimately, however, the real camping season this year starts in September. The plan is to camp in State Parks near public hunting lands. Texas puts aside almost two hundred lots of acreage dedicated to dove and other hunting. With a public annual hunting permit, we'll be able to hunt these lands for free. Dylan and I may try our luck at some public hunting for hog, deer, javelina and turkey, as well. Some of these hunts are lottery based, but we'll be putting on our entries for the drawings.

Hopefully, it won't be too wet to go.


Monday, July 09, 2007

In a New York Minute Maid

This weekend was the culmination of a week's "forced" vacation. My company shut down operations due to the Independence Day Holiday, so I got to play with Cassie and Marissa all week (Angie and Dylan were away at church camp). We played games, went out to eat, rented movies and ate popcorn with M&M's. All told it was a good week - but not quite a vacation - at least until the weekend.

This weekend we've started a new annual tradition for our family. We went to Houston to watch the visiting New York Mets battle the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park, and several amazing things happened.

First, the game: A 17-inning pitchers duel that lasted five hours and nine minutes. OK, so I know your thinking that a five year old and two eleven year old girls, and an almost 40-year old woman weren't going to be into that (Dylan couldn't come with us because his all star baseball team made the championships, and he had to stay back to play). The fact is that the girls wanted to stay (all except Cassie, she was done by the eleventh inning). We stayed and saw a couple of amazing plays. The Mets won when Carlos Beltran hit a RBI single in the 17th. He had also made one of the most amazing catches I have ever seen to save the game in the 14th inning.

On Sunday, we drove to Kemah Boardwalk and enjoyed some rides, some games and some great seafood.

Some of the more interesting things from the weekend:

1) Marissa has come to like baseball. Why? Because she learned that David Wright is a cutie. She can't get enough of him. She didn't want to leave on Saturday night. She watched the game on Sunday on TV as we ate lunch. She wanted to see pictures of him on the computer. Ahhh - puppy love.

2) Cassie actually behaved for the entire game. Yeah, she was antsy at time and never stopped talking for the entire five hours, but she was well behaved and even watched some of the game.

3) I got two for the price of one...when we planned this weekend, I originally was going to get tickets for the Saturday night game AND the Sunday afternoon game. Angie said she would rather go to Kemah, so we didn't. However, I basically got to see two games on Saturday night.

4) We pet (is it "petted") and fed stingrays. They're slimy like catfish.

5) When driving hundreds of miles, get behind someone with a radar detector. It will save you money.

6) There are a lot of Met fans in Houston. We sat with many fans with Met's jerseys and hats. Marissa, who is usually more interested in not being embarrassed than having a good time even got into the spirit - she high-fived anyone with Met gear on as we walked out of the stadium after the game.

Next year's schedule isn't out yet, but you can count on us being in Houston for at least one Met game next year. We already planning it.