Monday, March 30, 2009

Do or Do Not. There is no Try.

Last week was crazy -- I worked all week, covering 2 doctors being out, then got ready at night for Anna's birthday party and the amazing amount of people who came to help us celebrate. The day Anna was born, being the first grandchild on one side and the first in 10 years on the other side, a LARGE number of people came to meet her on her BIRTHday. My sisters Emily and Stephanie, my mom and dad, Anthony's mom and dad, his Uncle Volker, and my Uncle Tom all came to the hospital that day. By an extraordinary coincidence, all those same people were here this year on her birthday. Plus a few more cousins born to the family since then. Quite a celebration.

Anna requested a Star Wars Party, and we had 16 children attend. Emily helped me cut simple tunics from the 10 yard of cheap ivory muslin I bought, sashed with brown belts. Each party guest also got a blow up light saber - nice and soft in case they decided to hit each other. We played some games: 1)the young Jedi hit bubbles with their light sabers (Emily and I blew the bubbles from above, and the kids rushing to hit them were like a shark feeding frenzy), 2) the kids ran an obstacle course with a small picture of Yoda on their back (like Luke training), and 3) because the Jedi worked in teams, the kids had to figure out how to cross the hot "lava" of the pea gravel with just a beach blanket, a box, and a cookie sheet. It took a while for them to figure this team building exercise out, and it was hard for us adults not to butt in with suggestions, but eventually all the Padawans crossed the hostile surface.

I did not come up with any of these ideas; I poached them all from various internet websites. Also, I had extreme help from my many house guests, so it really all came together quickly. Anthony was, of course, provided the critical duties of calling in the pizza order and making the AWESOME R2-D2 cake!
Video courtesy of my dad

Here's hoping this week will be less insane, so I can catch up on blogs!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Awesome Trip

The cruise was wonderful. Another great family adventure. I have to say, I LOVE traveling with kids this age. Everything is new to them, and they are not afraid of something new. They are mostly un-self-conscious, and they love to be around us. Plus, no diapers.

Texas was cold and rainy before spring break, including the horrible drive down to Galveston. The next morning we awoke to blue skies and blue seas, put away our jackets and never needed them again. The first full day was at sea, then next morning we woke up in Cozumel, Mexico. Its one of my favorite places on earth. Since it is an island - and most of that protected park land - it is everything wonderful about Mexico, like beaches, and guacamole, and family-loving people. And nothing you don't - the ferry price from the mainland keeps criminals and drug cartels out of the place.

We all took a taxi to Chakanaab, a national park built on a coral reef. Anna loved snorkeling as much as the rest of us, lifting her head above water to declare, "The fish are glorious!" Colin suffered a little too much claustrophobia with the snorkel mask, and was content to view the fish through the beautiful aqua waters from my shoulders. Thank goodness the salt water makes us so buoyant!

The second port was Grand Caymans, and we took a charter tour to Sting Ray City. There is a sand bar off the coast where hundreds of docile sting rays congregate. These are not Steve Irwin's sting rays -- they are used to people, and will glide right against you. You can even kiss them and support them platter-like on your arms. Emily and I did, and their huge 5-foot long bodies are solid, all muscle, and very relaxed as long as you kept their gills underwater. We snorkeled a little while before heading back.

Our last port was Montego Bay, Jamaica. Everything I heard/read about this island was true - the people are friendly, poor, and aggressive in pursuing your tourist dollars. Everyone says, "No problem, mon." I smelled pot everywhere we went. HOWEVER, we did have a great day there. We were firm on the shuttle we got on, insisting that we only wanted to go to Doctor's Cave Beach, not on any kind of tour. The beach just cost $5 to get in, which is enough to keep you from being inundated with people trying to sell you stuff. I did let the braid lady do Anna's hair, and it is adorable. The water was as clear as glass, and the sand was soft and buff. The kids loved swimming out the the inflatable trampoline and digging in the sand for shells. Anthony and Emily took the kids on a jet ski ride. Anthony brought me a yummy frozen mango daquiri, with a stout rum floater. As we left, we found a taxi driver (Everton) who took us to eat jerk pork and chicken. OK, there were mostly tourists at the restaurant, but I did spot a local guy, who yelled out, "Coconut man! Come here!" and this little guy carrying green coconuts and a machete came over, chopped the top of the coconut off, put a straw inside, and let him drink it. "The coconut water is the only water that touches your heart," he said. "A coconut a day keeps the doctor away." It was only $3 for a coconut, so we got one and all tried the tasty water - nothing at all like coconut milk, this was light and refreshing. Colin would have sucked it all down if we let him. Then the coconut man chopped the coconut into 3 pieces and peeled out the "jelly" or the flesh for us to eat. Colin and I were the only ones who liked it, so we ate it all.

Then we had 2 more days on the boat, heading back to Galveston. There was so much to do on the boat - putt-putt golf, in-line skating, basketball, swimming. We didn't even get to the rock climbing wall! Colin loved "that game where you push the thing with the thing" (i.e. shuffleboard). There was even a small ice skating rink on board, and one night we went to a great show filled with many Russian skaters. There was a kids' club (i.e. free babysitting) for many hours during the day which gave a welcome break.

Oh, yeah, then there was the eating. The food was very good, and we all enjoyed our dinners together in the formal dining room. I was proud of my kids, always ordering from the regular menu. Colin nearly always had the salmon and Anna favored the Indian entrees. Also, I ate bacon for breakfast every day. Sheesh. We're all on diets now. No more bacon for me!

Now, if the boat would just stop lurching. None of us got seasick at all, but the first day off the boat I was pretty dizzy. Even today when I'm sitting still I occasionally feel a little rocking.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Adios, vaya con dios...

Sorry I haven't been posting much, and unfortunately it's not likely to get better in the short term. We are going on a CRUISE for spring break - a round trip from Galveston. It's great because we don't have to fly anywhere. ALSO my parents and sister Emily are going, too. We'll stop in Cozumel, Jamaica, and Grand Caymans.

Since internet access is exorbitantly expensive on the boat, I'll probably take a vacation from the blog, too.

We're very excited about our trip, but I have to work and pack between now and then. Hasta la vista, baby!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Weekend (recap)

Friday Night

Star Wars Episode 2 (the kids are almost done with the saga)


Sunshine Gardens Plant Sale (for heirloom tomato seedlings)
Phoenicia Bakery (for Greek food supplies)
Ballet (Anna's exam in 3 weeks)
Cooking (mostly Greek food)
Dinner party (mofungo isn't really Greek, is it?)


Clean kitchen (every single plate. Only 1 clean wineglass left!)
Bike ride (triathlon coming up in 3 months)
Spring Fling (school carnival/fundraiser)
Planting seedlings (mostly Anthony here)
Flop exhausted on couch (wouldn't you, too?)

Thursday, March 05, 2009


Its definitely spring here in Central Texas: everything's greening up and blooming, my coworkers are all getting the gardening itch, and my patients are itchy, too.

The long days usually bring an avalanche of eggs, as even our old hens feel the pull of nature. We got 4 eggs last Friday and Saturday, then none Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday. I feared we had a predator in our midst.

Something like this:

Or this

I was relieved on Wednesday to find an overturned flower pot full of eggs. Whew!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

It's what's for dinner

Anna wandered in the kitchen as I was cooking dinner: pasta with sausage and a cream sauce. I bought link sausages but took the meat out of the casings to brown in a pan. The empty pink casings were lying on a plate next to the stove.

"Um, what's for dinner?" Anna asked, suspiciously eyeing the spent casings.

"Don't worry, we aren't eating those," I told her.

"Good," she said, "They kind of look, you know, like a uterus from your work."