The internet is cool

I’m on a train in Germany right this very second.  How cool is that?!  In about 3.5 hours, we’ll arrive in Paris.  I’m loving the free wifi!

Digital cameras are cool, too.  Here are a few pictures of our trip so far!

There are tons of bikes and graffiti everywhere.  But somehow, European graffiti just seems cooler than graffiti in the US.

The Cologne Cathedral is so enormous. It just towers over everything!  It’s hard to even get it all in a picture.  I had no idea how huge it would be!

Today we climbed to the top of one of those towers.  My legs haven’t stopped shaking since.  It was a crazy number of stairs, but really cool once we got up there.

Here is the view from the top.  Again, it really doesn’t do it justice.  It was a bit of a hazy, cloudy morning, and I’m sure the view is really amazing on a clear day.

And here we are on the train.  I have a feeling I’m going to have a large number of self portraits of Derek and I.  This one came out pretty good!

Hope everyone has a great Monday!  I know that I am.  I’ll admit that yesterday, at the peak of my exhaustion, I was really doubting my decision to come on this trip.  But after a solid 11 hours of sleep, I’m feeling great today!  Thank goodness.  I know Derek is relieved, too.  He agrees that I was not very fun yesterday.  But fun Meg is back!

manpris and mullets

I can hardly even believe it, but I am in Germany!  My luggage, however, is not.  It’s still in Amsterdam, but should be here later tonight.  I hope it makes it because I did not follow that travel rule about packing a change of clothes and toiletries in my carry on.  I figured it wouldn’t be an issue.  My bad.

It feels sort of surreal.  I think that feeling is mostly coming from exhaustion.  I knew I needed to sleep on the plane.  In my head, I knew that was they way to get acclimated to the time change quickly.  I left Texas at 3 p.m. Saturday and arrived in Amsterdam at 7:15 Sunday morning (which felt like 2:30 Sunday morning).  I slept for 30 minutes of that flight.  At first I was awake because I wasn’t tired.  Then I was awake because I couldn’t get comfortable.  But I think the main reason I stayed awake is because of my own personal entertainment system.  I watched Marley and Me, Yes Man, and The Changeling.  I played Tetris and Sudoku.  I listened to a little bit of Britney Spears and the Juno soundtrack.  I loved my personal tv!

I did sleep on the hour long flight from Amsterdam to Germany.  It was on this teeny tiny little plane.  We taxied for a solid 15 minutes and I was really beginning to think that maybe we were just going to drive the plane to Germany instead of fly it.  But we finally took off.   The plane was a Fokker 50 (I think that is German for very, very tiny.  16 rows, 4 people across.)  which totally made me giggle in my head.  Or maybe out loud.  I was a bit delirious by that point.

Seeing Derek’s face after a long day/night of travel was wonderful.  He’s been on 4 business trips over here, so he’s like a professional at the train system and getting around.  After I took a quick power nap, we went walking around and got something to eat.  Then it was back to the hotel for another little nap. I think in a little bit we’ll head back out. 

It just feels so surreal to be here.  International travel is weird like that.

A few observations…

European men like their manpris.  You know, capris for men.  They are everywhere.  The mullet is back.  I am trying to convince Derek to go home with a mullet and manpris but no luck so far.  Germans love their ice cream.  There are ice cafes on every corner.  I ate wienerschnitzel (actually it was jaegerschnitzel, but my professional German husband told me it was better.)  It was quite tasty.  All the stores are closed because it is Sunday.  Little kids speaking German is just about the cutest thing ever (oh, how I miss my babies already!)  History is actually pretty cool when you are looking at excavated roads and buildings from the Roman times.  Being in Europe makes me want to say “bonjour” every time I make eye contact with someone even though I am not in France.  

On that note, I’m going to wrap this up.  Let the adventures begin!

(and Nonny, if you read this, give the boys and my girl some hugs and kisses from me!) 


Plugging Along

Just plugging along here…slowly and surely getting everything ready for the big adventure.  We are all almost packed and my list of little things to do has more things than not checked off.  I’m usually not this good about getting stuff done ahead of time, but something about being on my own makes me use my time a little more wisely.  Except for today when I ran into the mall “real quick” to pick up some make-up, and ended up shopping for an hour and a half.  Oops!  I thought maybe a trip to Paris warranted some new clothes, but I have become the pickiest shopper ever and I didn’t find a single thing.  If you want to know exactly which stores I shopped in at the mall, just follow Camryn’s cheerio trail.  I appreicate her helpfulness in making sure that we don’t get lost.

The other night, I took the kids to the park.  Really, the only time we can play comfortably at the park is after 7:00 p.m., and there is the added bonus that the light is really pretty right then.  I wanted to take some pictures for Camryn’s birthday invitations.  (Hold up for sec…let’s have a moment of silence and disbelief that my baby girl is going to be 1 in a few weeks.)  One year ago, we looked like this.

And now she is this.

But don’t let that sweetness fool you.  She was not in the mood at all for a photo shoot, as you can plainly see by the first picture (of 165) that I took…

And the last picture that I took.

She wasn’t this mad in all the pictures.  There were many that were some variation of this face.  It doesn’t exactly scream “come have fun at my birthday party!”

Then I decided to change her into a plain white shirt instead of the birthday girl shirt.  She got very offended that I would do that in public, right in the middle of the park.  I’m glad to see my girl has learned about modesty at such a young age.  She just better keep that up and always cover herself accordingly.

She kept crawling over to the gate that separates the pool from the park.  She’s a smart one.  It’s been 100 all week, and she knows that the pool would be way more fun than taking pictures.

So we moved locations and I was getting a few pretty cute ones.  Then she started to do this.

And then she fell off of the little basket (no harm done…just made her a mad…)so I gave her my phone to cheer her up.  Worked like a charm.  Girlfriend loves the phone already.

So I stealthily took it away, hoping to get just a few cute ones.  Um, that did not go as planned.

So I did what any good mom would do.  I gave it back to her.

In the end, I did get one for the invitation.  Thank goodness, because I don’t think I have it in me to do that again any time soon!

Nothing better

Nothing better than a quick summer storm that provides some excellent puddles.

Connor was too engrossed in this Lego’s to join us, but Logan had a blast splashing, and Camryn loved watching.  She was cracking up the entire time.  It was so cute!

Of course, the fun was short lived because it got miserably hot and humid pretty quickly. Not that the kids cared.  It was all me cutting the fun short.  They would have stayed out there for much, much longer.  At what point do we lose that “I don’t care about the heat” quality?  My kids don’t seem to notice and definitely don’t slow down, even when it’s 100 outside.

Did I mention how happy Camryn was to be out there with Logan?  She had a really cranky afternoon, so we definitely welcomed her sweet smiles.

I will be so sad when the foggy boots don’t fit anymore.  Luckily Connor also has a pair so Logan can get a few more years out of them.  Seriously…kids and rainboots equals automatic cuteness.

Besides playing in the rain, the kids and I are keeping busy with lots of board games, swimming, Wii bowling, movie nights, and VBS.  My goal each and every day is to absolutely run them ragged so they crash by 8:30.  Of course, to tire kids out that much means that I am also exhausted.  Such is the summer life!

(note to anyone who may visit the blog…i know it looks weird.  I’ve been playing around again.  I feel like I have the shortest blog theme attention span ever.  I just can’t find one that I love and don’t want to change all the time!)

Bit of a heavy heart

I have started this post like 10 times, and I just keep deleting. I feel like I can’t even make a clear thought in my head, much less on my blog. That probably has something to do with the 4 hours of sleep I got last night in combination with a heart that is a bit sad. First of all, the 4 hours of sleep thing…we stayed out last night until 1:30 a.m., which in mom time might as well have been an all nighter. Some of our good friends are moving, and we all got together last night (sans kids) for one last shindig before they leave. We ended up playing Texas Hold ‘Em until ridiculously late at night. Just so you know, as it turns out, I actually have a knack for the poker thing. Who knew! It was so much fun, but holy cow am I tired! After we got home, I just couldn’t sleep. My stomach was hurting. I tossed and turned. I worried. I played a million what if games and I let my mind go down a road I never let it go down before Derek travels. I think I finally feel asleep sometime after 3 a.m. and the Princess was bright eyed and bushy tailed at 7:00. It’s been a long day.

I feel so unequipped to handle everything when Derek is gone, especially in the summer when I have to be on my A game all day, every day. He is truly everything I could have ever hoped for in a husband and as a father to my kids. He is patient when I am not. He is kind, and funny, and giving, and a leader, and man of integrity.  He picks up the slack when I’ve had a hard day.  He tells me I am beautiful, and I never for one second doubt his love or devotion to our family.

I had a total breakdown in the middle of church, which actually is the best place to have a breakdown. I have such good friends, and they are taking good care of us, filling up our days with fun and filling my heart with encouragement that everything is going to be fine.

Connor and I cried together today as we waved good-bye to our favorite man.

I’m freaking out about leaving the country without my babies. Just thinking about it makes my stomach do flips, and while I know in my head that everything is going to be fine, and that Derek and I will have a blast and get some much needed time together, and our kiddos will be in the best possible hands, it’s still hard to think about being that far away from my cozy little life.

Plus I’m a nervous traveler.  Just flying to Oklahoma City or Dallas causes my sweat glands to go into overdrive.  So going to Germany?  Yeah.  I’m crazy nervous about it.

Pray for me, please.  I’m doing my best, but most days it really feels like my best just isn’t good enough.  Especially when my better half is missing.

Happy Father’s Day, Derek!

So much fun for just one weekend

It all started late Friday afternoon.  Patrick, Noel, Kristin, mom, and Nick all arrived from California, Oklahoma, and Arlington for the 2009 Mook Fest, otherwise known as a family get together.  It was so fun all being together…14 of us in all!  Some of the highlights…

-Seeing the movie Up (loved it).

-Connor’s swim meet, with quite the cheering section for his last race.

-Both boys crashing on Saturday afternoon, although Connor denies that he feel asleep. You can see for yourself that he was clearly awake and just “resting”.

-Going to the Kemah Boardwalk. We played at the splash park, ate seafood, watched the boats, and even rode the rollercoaster. Only the grown ups (minus mom, Nick, and Noel) rode the ride. Connor proudly announced that he was tall enough to ride it, but thankfully he had no interest in going on it. It was the roughest, most violent roller coaster I have ever been on. He would have freaked out.

– Going to the beach. Everyone loved it….everyone except Camryn, that is. She is her father’s daughter. Derek tolerates the beach, and I really think he had a good time on Sunday afternoon. But he would never choose to go to the beach without prompting from me or 12 other members of my family. The boys had so much fun playing in the water. Connor learned out to body surf, and Logan was fearless and definitely had all the adults on their A game to make sure he didn’t get out too far by himself. The beach is so much work, but I always think it’s worth it in the end. I will say, that will probably be our only trip to the beach this summer. Camryn just really didn’t like the sand or the wind and then she got really, really tired but wouldn’t get to sleep. Poor baby girl…thank goodness her Mamaw and Pawpaw were there to help keep her happy(ish).

-A feast for dinner on Sunday night. There were enough leftovers to feed all of us for at several more meals. I don’t have to cook this week! Everyone (except me and Kristin…we had to take a little shopping trip) made kabobs of all different kinds of marinated meat and veggies, salad, corn on the cob, asparagus, fancy schmancy pizza, fruit salad, and cake. It was amazing.

-Connor and Justin had a sleepover. I love that he has a cousin his exact age. They have so much fun together!

-Playing Settlers of Catan.

-Just hanging out, catching up, all of us together. It was a jam packed weekend, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who is exhausted, and I will be a slave to laundry over the next couple of days. I love my family so much, and I’m so thankful that we were all able to be together for a few days.

This post would be worthless without pictures…



I obnoxiously took self portraits of myself with each of the kiddos.

Camryn looks happy in that last picture, but don’t be fooled.  This is more a more accurate portrayal of how she felt about the beach.

Luckily she’s got Mamaw to help cheer her up.

I am so lucky to have such a great sister and great brothers. I love being from a big family!

A little off

For years, Full House was my very favorite show.  Remember that episode where Steph and Deej knock a hole in the wall with a curtain rod?  They try to fix it, even asking the handy Uncle Jesse for tips, only to realize that fixing an apple sized hole in the wall is no easy task.  So they move Danny’s dresser and everything on that wall over 6 inches to cover it up.  Danny doesn’t really notice that something is wrong, but he drops his keys on the floor and sort of stumbles around until the girls come clean about their little mishap, thus learning yet another important life lesson about telling the truth.

I’d like to think that I’ve learned the importance of telling the truth, but just like Danny, I am a little off tonight.  Tomorrow night, I am hosting bunco.  Fun times, but let’s just be honest for a second.  There is a little bit of pressure to have a welcoming, pretty home and good food.  Y’all have seen the messes that are a part of my daily hourly existence.  In order to prevent a major stress meltdown tomorrow, I’ve been getting stuff done slowly all week long.  I’ve (almost) got all the prizes together.  I’ve got all the food and drinks I need.  I’ve done all the cleaning I can do until tomorrow. (There is no point in cleaning the bathroom before tomorrow afternoon because I can guarantee you that one of my boys will get pee on the floor.  Or the wall.)

I decided that I would prepare all the food I could tonight.  I took the easy way out for a few things and got some heat and serve appetizers from Sam’s.  I’m also having hummus with pita bread, veggies, ranch dip, fruit, oreo balls, and sensational strawberry dessert.

I started with the strawberry dessert.  I mashed, mixed, and wondered why mine was so much whiter in color.  Oh…maybe because the cool whip is supposed to be divided and not all dumped into the cake part.  Oops.  I just hope it firms up in the freezer.

Instead of just using ranch dressing in a bowl and calling it dip, I bought the seasoning mix.  As I was stirring the mayo, milk, and seasoning, I kept thinking it was very runny for ranch dip.  Oops….for dip, I’m supposed to use sour cream as the base.  I just made ranch dressing, which I have plenty of in my fridge.  I’m serving it tomorrow anyway.

Next I made hummus.  I love hummus, and it’s so easy to make (that recipe isn’t exactly what I do, but it’s pretty close.  I like to add paprika and use sea salt).  I guess I was feeling a little overly confident in my hummus making abilities because it just wasn’t right.  Then I remembered that I usually add the liquid from the chick peas a little bit at a time, and tonight I just dumped it all in, and it was way too runny.  Luckily I had another can of beans, and with a little bit of this and a little bit of that, I got it done.

Last up, the oreo balls.  They turned out great.  Except my chocolate coating was not firming up.  Not to worry, once I popped them back in the fridge, they were good to go.

I love bunco and my group.  But I’m glad I only have host it once a year.

(and maybe next year I’ll remember to pick a school year month.  It’s probably much easier to get stuff ready if I don’t have 3 kids underfoot 24/7.  Not that I’m complaining.  Love those little munchkins.)

On a totally unrelated note, my little swimming all-star swam 32 laps during his 45 minute practice this morning at the swim-a-thon fundraiser.  32 laps.  Maybe it’s just me, but I think that’s a long way for a little guy to swim.  I did the math, and that equals just under a half a mile.  I swam some laps the other day to get myself ready for the parent relay race coming up in a few weeks.  I did 8 laps and had to stop and rest.  Thank goodness the parent relay race is only 1 lap!

she strikes again

We’ve always referred to Logan as Captain Disaster. He earned the nickname by doing things like this:

He still has these tendencies. I just walked into his room, and his nice, neat pile of laundry is now strewn all over the floor. Of course, now he isn’t a year old, so it’s not quite as endearing…and he doesn’t get off scott free anymore.

I have pictures of Connor’s messes, too, but most of them are not digital. Connor’s poison was ripping magazines to shreds and emptying wipes containers, one wipe at a time. He also created this masterpiece one time:

Camryn is definitely at that destructobot phase. Nothing is safe. Her favorite past time is emptying bags. She’ll be entertained for so long with her diaper bag in front of her, or my wallet or purse.

This morning, I put her in her high chair with some puffs and left the room. Usually I pull her high chair away from the counter, but this morning I must have been distracted and didn’t. She didn’t waste any time leaving her mark of destruction.

Is it any wonder that I feel like I never get anything done?

(I have more to say, but I have to go…I have 4 boys here dying to go to the pool, and one baby girl currently pulling everything off of the art shelves.)

Down to an art

I think I’ve almost got this packing for 3 thing down to an art.  This is my third Friday spent organizing and getting ready for a swim meet.  The checklist:

-Tent, blanket for the ground, stroller, and chairs loaded in the van.
-Diaper bag packed, including 2 bottles, 2 meals, several snacks, diapers, wipes, paci’s, spare outfit just in case, sunscreen, bug spray, and soft fuzzy bear for nap time.
-Food bag packed, including bread, peanut butter, nutella, pringles, fruit snacks, goldfish, granola bars, dried pineapple, applesauce, plates, spoons, and a knife.
-Cold bag ready for the morning. Just need to throw in 2 gatorades, 2 juice boxes, 4 water bottles, 2 diet cokes, grapes, watermelon, apples, string cheese, and yogurt.
-Entertainment bag ready. Contents include markers, paper, and coloring books. Lego’s are also ready to go.
-Swimsuit, shirt, crocs, towel, and goggles out.
-Cami’s clothes laid out.
-Alarm set for 5:40.

The beautiful thing is it took me less than half an hour to get everything ready to go! You should have seen me the first week. It was quite the scene, in large part because I needed to do some major grocery shopping, so the food bag was a major source of stress. I feel like a swim team pro now.

Actually, since I officially survived the first day of summer (and had fun doing it), I’m feeling pretty professional right now. I’m also feeling list-a-rific…here’s a rundown of our day.

-Connor slept until 7:15. (That’s pretty much sleeping in in Connor Land.)
-Logan slept until 9:45. He does that about every 10 days since he should really nap more than he does, which is never.
-Little C and I worked on balance and saying mama and danced to the music on her stage. (this is seriously one of the greatest baby toys I’ve ever owned! She is crazy about it.)
-Big C and I played 3 games of Candy Land. He beat me 2-1.
-A little bit of cleaning in preparation of bunco at my house later in the week.
-Worked on the biggest Lego project to date.
-Played at the park. (and got eaten by mosquitoes.)
-Connor did 32 pages in a math workbook. I know, crazy, isn’t it?! His teacher gave it to him, and he is very serious about finishing the whole thing this summer. He might be the only kid in America who did school work on the first day of summer. He says he is going to work on it every day. When Connor get something in his mind, that’s that. He should be good and sharp for 1st grade in the math department!
-Logan played with play-doh for so long. I love that stuff.
-swam for an hour.
-walked to swim practice (Connor rode his bike, Camryn and Logan rode in the stroller.) The pool is only about .5 mile away, and walking there is our new thing. But when we got there, the swim team was nowhere to be found. So we walked to the farther pool, thinking maybe it got moved. Nope, not there either. We ended up going about 2.5 miles and all had a great time. I see some fun walks/bike rides in our future. I got home, checked my email, and found out that practice had been canceled. Oops!
-Ordered pizza for dinner. Vegged out, bathed 2 out of 3 kids (we figured Connor didn’t really need a bath since he’s swimming tomorrow morning. Frequent swimming counts as a bath in our family. Never mind that he rode 2.5 miles on his bike in Houston in June. Just don’t get too close to his head.)

So all in all, it was a great first day of summer vacation! One down…79 to go.

First and Last

This morning, Connor requested that I count out 169 cheerios because it was the 169th day of school. Have I mentioned that Connor has a thing for numbers? He cracks me up. I’ll admit to feeling a bit bittersweet about this whole last day of school thing. I just can’t believe that I have a first grader!

August 25, 2008, his first day of kindergarten.

June 4, 2009, his last day of kindergarten.

Logan, Camryn, and I headed down to the bus stop for one last time. Logan did his customary bus race. He does this every day, and I’m glad I took my camera today so I could get a picture of it.

Camryn sat, happy as a clam, in her stroller.

Remember the first time Connor rode the bus? I was so nervous, but of course it turned out fine.

He loved riding the bus this year. He loved it so much that we almost had a little issue yesterday when I took him home from school after his graduation. I have heard horror stories about kids on buses, but we have had a great experience. We loved Mr. J, our bus driver, and I am so thankful that we have this great service.

Connor is just thankful that school’s out for summer!