Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sad News

We were very excited to go to my doctor's appointment today. Today was the ultrasound and we were all anxious to find out if the baby was a boy or girl. However, the nurse was unable to locate the baby's heartbeat. She left and then my doctor came in and did an ultrasound and we could see clearly our sweet baby, but there was no heart beat nor any movement. Trent was with me and we are very sad. I have had a miscarriage before, and while they are not easy to go through, I do know that time will help ease the pain and memory. I just wanted all of you to know, because really the hardest thing about it is just telling everyone. It is like you have to relive the disappointment over and over again and see the sadness in their faces and hear the sadness in their voices. So, we will continue on, probably just as busy as normal. We do appreciate all your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Home for Rent

We will be renting our home for three years while we are in NY. Any takers?????

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The Dance

The Dance Recital

Friday, the girls had their dance recital. They looked beautiful and danced well!

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Madelyn's big rides

Madelyn has started riding her own bike to and from school in the afternoons when we pick up the girls. (not in the morning, because we are usually in too big of a hurry)
You see, she gets distracted rather easily.
Whoever came up with the line "stop and smell the flowers" must have watched Madelyn a few times.
And if Madelyn stops to do it, then Adam has too as well!
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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Closet cleanout

In Houston, the seasons are 2 fold. There is summer (and spring and fall) where you would never wear long pants, long sleeved shirts, coats, or mittons and winter -- where you might wear long pants, long sleeved shirts, coats or mittons. The winter season starts the first week of October. The summer season starts the first week of April. (Now, there may be an occasional morning like this morning where your kids are in flip-flops, shorts, and short sleeved shirts and it is a little chilly to ride your bike to school so you occasionally throw on a fleece). But last week I tackled the closets! All long pants, jeans, sweaters, coats, mittons, hats, long sleeved shirts are gathered . . .
unhung . . .

and then neatly boxed away for next October. It is a very cathartic process for me. Only the best clothes get packed away and the rest get donated or disposed. And for me, the sight of nicely labeled boxes is so very rewarding. The only problem is, I don't know New York's seasons very well. It was winter there this weekend and summer doesn't sound all that warm sometimes and so I may have to break these boxes out soon. Oh well.
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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My Friday Adventure

The other thing about our trip is that we did not have the "eyes of a tourist" we had the eyes of a family of 7 who needs to find a place to live. I think that makes a big difference in a trip. Things that were shiny and glitzy are fun to see when on vacation but when househunting it kind of leaves you looking for something more. So on Friday morning, Trent went into the office and I headed out. First, I walked to the Gershwin Theater and got there at 9 am. I wanted to see if there were any tickets available for wicked. The box office did not open until 10 so I walked around and called and checked on the kids. I was first in line and was told that the only seats left that night were single tickets for 125 dollars. No, thank you. 250 bucks and we don't even sit by eachother???? But I did notice the sign about the ticket lottery. It said that 2 1/2 hours before each show, you may enter into a lottery for 28 front row tickets for $26.25 each. Then I went and got a subway map, took the Q line to 42nd street and the 7 to grand central, bought a round trip ticket on the metro north rails 10:35 local and headed to Stamford CT.
At the stamford station (1 hour and 15 minutes later) (the express train is quicker, only 46 minutes), I picked up this beauty of a rental car. I also got a garmin GPS navigational system and headed out. I drove to the 2 church buildings (Stamford and New Canaan) and the neighborhoods around each and to all of the schools that were ranked 10 out of 10 on in New Canaan, Darien, Stamford and Wilton). Things are VERY, VERY different there than I am used to in Texas. First, if there are any fences they are rock and look like they have been there for a hundred years. Second there is no sense of a neighborhood like I am used to. No central parks, green belts, bike trails, no sidewalks for that matter. The majority of houses are old, old, old. Here are 2 that I thought were cute. One is very, very tiny, but I probably could afford and one is huge and I can't afford it.
But the vast majority of homes, I did not care much for. Here are some other interesting things.

1. The ground is mostly rock (thus the rock fences). But it means that they don't have water lines, sewer lines, or gas lines. Each home is its own little island. In reality that means each home is on well water, each home has a septic tank (which I have learned means you CANNOT have a garbage disposal), and each home has a heating oil tank of 300-400 gallons that must be filled by a oil delivery man after you have negotiated a contract and rate.

2. The current price for heating oil is $3.57 a gallon (excluding delivery charges) and the 2 families of 4 kids we spoke with have their 400 gallon tanks filled every 2 weeks in the winter 7 months and once a month in the spring summer and fall. The delivery charges range, but they said each delivery was about 200 bucks. OUCH!!!!!! So, for all of you Houstonians complaining about your 300-400 dollar summer electric bill, just keep in mind that in New England people can pay 1500 dollars a month or more on Heating. CRAZY huh?

3. Since we are looking at rentals, I have figured we can afford a home that is about 2400 square feet. (mind you, it is well, well, more a month -- nearly double our current mortgage on a 4000 square foot home. )

4. The schools in the suburbs are good, really good.

5. Since each home is on an acre or more, the driveways are long. Most people have them plowed in the winter, because if you are a commuter racing to the train to catch the 5:55 am express to grand central you don't want to shovel a 1/4 mile driveway of snow starting at 4 am. Some landlords include snow removal in the rent, but if they don't it is about $45 each time.

6. A monthly train pass is about $260-300 depending on what station you go to.

My little excursion out to the suburbs was EYE-OPENING! How people live there, I don't really understand. It seems kind of antiquated and yet, the people love it. The families we met were awesome.

Our little adventure there is for only 3 years and I am sure we will learn a ton and meet so many new people, but I think I will be glad to come back to Houston.

All this info made us start to wonder about just living in an apartment on Manhattan -- so we have been gathering info about that too. I'll share it with you another day.

I caught the train back in to Grand Central, and met up with Trent and we went and tried the Wicked ticket lottery. We did not get picked. So we had dinner, wandered, explored, breathed in more 2nd hand smoke than our entire previous lifetime combined, and headed back to hotel around 11pm exhausted.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Times Square

Trent and I went to New York for an office visit / exploratory trip this past weekend. Trent had never been before, and although I went for a couple of days when I was 18 I don't remember how to get anywhere and things have changed a lot in 14 years. So we were New York rookies. The Ernst and Young office is located in the heart of times square. In case you can't find the address, the huge Neon lights that say "Ernst & Young" can help you find your way to work. We stayed at a hotel in Times square and had many opportunities to walk through it and all I can say is WOW! Where do all the people come from? Wow, could you put any more electric screens and billboards anywhere?

This picture was taken in the early morning so you will notice the throngs of people are not there. But let me guarantee you that by 7 pm well past midnight it is standing room only. So many street vendors, so many people, so many, so many, so many . . . you just have to see it to believe it. (Oh and as far as I could tell, Thursday night was just as busy as Friday or Saturday night. There are so many things to see that you cannot even notice every sign, like this for example. . .

Why did it take us 2 days to notice the coldstone creamery directly across from our hotel entrance? Ice cream . . . that is something I usually notice any time, any where . . . but not in times square.
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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Madelyn started speech

Her first day! She was so excited!
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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Snakes alive . . . and then dead

Last night, I put the girls to bed and then the phone rang. It was Trent. He was at Home Depot and was wondering if the water softener needed more salt, so I went outside to look. This was at about 8:20 pm. (and yes, in Texas water softeners are outside -- in fact ours is buried right in front of our house with bushes hiding it). I checked it and then saw our neighbor getting the mail. She and I wave a lot and rarely talk, but when we do talk we have a lot to talk about seeing as we rarely talk. So we are chatting and about 10 minutes later, out walks Julianne and Madelyn. They came out the back door and through the gate and then all the way down the driveway. They are hysterical. They are certain I have been abducted by aliens and are never coming home again. I calm them down and tell them to go lay on the couch and I would be in in a minute. They head in and not 2 minutes later they come back out, this time with the phone. Trent is on the line and he wants to know what kind of lettuce I want (romaine --in case your curious, since he is now grocery shopping for me at HEB and I emailed him a list to follow -- don't you just love blackberries!). I tell the girls to go in and this time they won't. Felicia and I continue to try to chat, but finally I sigh and say, "Well I have got to get these kids to bed -- so we'll catch up again soon." We head up the driveway and as we are about to walk through the gate this is blocking our way. . .

Now, it is really dark (and I don't have the outdoor lights on) and I can clearly see the black and the yellow stripes, but the red ones are hard to distinguish -- and I don't want to get too close. I rely on my ever stagnant snake knowledge "red and yellow kills a fellow, red and black friend of jack" But for the life of me I can't tell which color is where and I am not about to pick it up and ask it. The problem is, I cannot get in the house, the snake is effectively blocking us. Right then, Catherine (who is in the house) tries to come out. I scream, "Shut the door, SNAKE!!!!!!) She slammed the door and the blinds come flying up and I wish, I wish I had had my camera because her face with the wide eyes looking out through the bright lights of the door windows was priceless!

I told Julianne to run to the neighbor's and tell Felicia to get Bobby to get the snake. And Julianne ran, and my neighbor's ran and brought a shovel and axe and now the snake is history.

My neighbor ran off to dispose of it, and I did not get a picture. He yelled -- I think it has red and black together -- so I am supposing (hoping) that it was not poisonous.

Thank goodness for brave neighbor men!!!

Trent and I had been debating who had to go grocery shopping -- Trent felt he made the right choice after hearing about the snake!!!!