Texas Adventures – Part 2

Texas Adventures - Part 2When last we met, our people had just left West, Texas, and were making their way through the deluge in two cars, one black and one white, down to Austin.

We pulled out of Slovacek’s parking lot and hit I-35 S for the remaining 2 hour drive. The weather vacillated between a good, heavy soak and, as some might say, “pouring pee out of a boot.” (That means it was raining really, really hard. And that’s not the precise saying, it’s more of the PG version. But you get the gist.) The white car and the black car became separated, but both drivers knew where they were going so we just planned to meet up at the restaurant.

As we were gliding through the water driving down the road, I got on Facebook and was assailed with messages from friends asking if we were okay and posting links to the Weather Channel and the National Weather Service and various other news outlets. Turns out there had been a tornado south of Austin and we were under a tornado watch with flash flood warnings all around. I pointed these things out to Terri and, for some unknown reason, it made us giggle. Maybe it was the hysterical laugh of those who are looking an unfortunate end in the eye. I don’t know. It was inappropriate, to say the least, but there we were, huddled together, looking at my phone and snickering quietly because we didn’t want the guys up front to know.

I really don’t know why we behaved so. There’s often no explanation as to why my family behaves the way we do.

Finally we made it to the restaurant.

If you ever find yourself in Austin I highly recommend you try the original Salt Lick in Driftwood.

The Salt Lick

As one who appreciates good food, I would say it was definitely worth the trip through Armageddon. One friend of mine suggested I order the brisket and ask for the end cut, which I did. Oh my, people. Here’s a picture of my plate. I ordered a combo which had pork ribs also.


But look at the brisket. See how charred and mouth watering it looks?


So here’s my take. The brisket was beyond delicious. It was both crispy and juicy, all at the same time, and melted in my mouth. (The taco soup I’m planning for dinner, which I love, is starting to sound a little bland.) I was much less enamored with the ribs and wish I would have just had a big ol’ plate of the briskety magnificence. Next time. Yes – I vow there will be a next time.

The barbecue sauce is very good as well. I’m just partial to a tomato based sauce and theirs is mustard based.

The rest of the fixin’s were good, too. I may or may not have licked my plate. And if I didn’t, I wanted to.

We all decided to complete the experience with dessert. I mean, right? So I had the boysenberry cobbler with ice cream and a cup of coffee. Mmmm…


Excuse me while I have a moment…

Okay. Sadly, I wasn’t even able to finish it. Oh, how I wish for a doggy bag right now.

The other offering was chocolate chip pecan pie and it looked pretty much droolworthy as well.

Pecan Pie

Dangit! I should have shared with someone. Why didn’t I think of that then? That’s what my greediness gets me.

Once the food was served conversation was a little sparse because we were all too busy making yummy sounds. When we did chat, the topic was pretty much the weather and the rain and the tornado farther south and the flooding and what a great blog post this was going to make.

When we left the restaurant we switched up the riding situation. Terri and I moved to Jarred’s car with mom and Michele moved to ride with Joe and David. Before we could leave Austin, however, the boys wanted to make a quick stop and see their tattoo guy. Unfortunately, the tattoo guy couldn’t make it into work because of flooding. But we were there long enough for me to get this picture:


I then posted it to Facebook with the comment that my mom, sisters and I were getting Mother/Daughter tattoos in Austin. People believed me and wanted to see a picture when it was done. So I found this picture on Google and posted it:


We laughed and laughed because, no. Even if we would get tattoos we wouldn’t get that tattoo. We’ll just have to put more thought into what we want before our next girls’ trip.

And just like that we were back on the road. Up I-35, headed back to West for a stop and then on to Fort Worth. Just out of Temple the interstate came to a near standstill. Jarred got off and found a way around to Bucc-ee’s and Joe eventually followed suit.

Bucc-ee’s alone was an experience. It’s an enormous gas station with a convenience store, deli, clothing and home decorating. Because you never know when you’re going to find just the right piece in a gas station. It really was a fabulous and magical place.

Anyway, long story just the teensiest less long, the interstate was flooded a few miles up the road and was shut down. A policeman at Bucc-ee’s was saying there was no way around it, but when Jarred and Joseph asked him about some roads they had mapped out he told them that should be fine. So we headed out again.

By this time it was dark and it was still raining, though not nearly as hard as it had been. Jarred was in front of Joe and all of a sudden this black sedan came whipping around us, over the double yellow line, and scooted in front of the vehicle ahead of us as a semi was coming the other way. Jarred said very unkind things about his brother for driving so recklessly and at the next opportunity he tried to catch up. But the little black car kept whipping around cars, trying to gain more ground. So Jarred kept whipping around cars, trying to catch up, questioning Joseph’s mental state the whole time.

Finally we came to a crossroads and there was the black car, waiting to turn right. We found out later from Michele that Joseph commented on Jarred’s idiot driving, wondering out loud why he kept going around all those cars and why he was in such a hurry. This, of course, caused us to dissolve into puddles of laughter.

You know – reading through this I realize that maybe we just think things are way funnier than they really are. Oh well. At least we have fun.

At one point Jarred said something about hoping he didn’t get pulled over. I told him I hoped not, either, but it would add considerably to the blog story. He did not oblige so I’m sorry. No story about getting pulled over by the police. Which is just as well. The rest of us in the car probably would have been laughing uncontrollably and Jarred could have been carted off to jail because of it. I have no idea what the charge would be, but I suppose it could happen.

One more stop at the Czech Stop in West for the much anticipated kolaches. As late as it was most of us just bought them to have for breakfast the next day. They made for a delicious morning repast!

We finally made it home unscathed and unticketed and saw this on-line:

Troy Flooding

That’s why we had to find an alternate route.

And to think, this is only Friday we’ve gotten through.


Good For The Soul

I’ve been stuck in a rut lately . You know how it is – every day you repeat the same task, the same function, the same drudgery . You are merely existing and not really living.

That’s just life and I see no help for it. At least not on a daily basis. But sometimes you just gotta get away from that existence and live a little. And that’s exactly what I’m doing this weekend.

I am in Cape May, right across the street from a quiet beach with five girlfriends. The kind of friends who will unashamedly make you pee your pants because they make you laugh so hard. They see you stand that certain way and know you’re just one zinger away from cursing your lack of Depends. Cruel women, and yet I adore them.

They’re also the kind of women who strive to know Jesus better. I think of them kind of like a soul trust – a brain trust for the spirit. The collective wisdom is staggering. I am so happy to be a leach to their oozing brilliance.

I love this very safe environment. We sometimes have opposing views about politics, church, books, fashionable hats and the like, but we love each other and we don’t waste time on such unimportant differences. The one thing we have in common is a very big, very awesome God. Well, that and a love of all things Outlander.

Some may say we should feel guilty about going away without our husbands, the other half of our whole group. And by “some” I mean our husbands. But I say I’m not into guilt so let’s make it up with a barbecue for the entire gang later this month and call it good.

This weekend is about recharging my batteries. It’s about getting away from the monotony of the every day and embracing this big, beautiful life. It’s about the peace that envelops me from gazing at a steel gray ocean and listening to pounding surf. It’s about tears with friends over a reenactment of the first Outlander episode or a real hurt that another is experiencing.

It’s about connecting. Connecting to each other and connecting to God.

It’s about disconnecting. Disconnecting from the stress of that daily life.

It’s about sitting on a balcony overlooking the beach and writing or reading. It’s about shopping and eating and coffee and wine and napping and sinking toes in the sand and breathing in the tangy air and just being.

It’s about living. And it’s good for my soul.




If You’ve Ever…

… had to read with your child for school – this link is for you.

… been told the night before a big project is due that, well, a big project is due – this link is for you.

… had to dress your kid up in some kind of a costume for school – this link is for you.

… been ready for summer before your kid – this link is for you.

And if you just like to laugh – the kind of laugh that makes you snort and unintentionally spew beverages – this link is for you.

Jen Hatmaker – Worst End of School Year Mom Ever


NoThanks – Day Nineteen

Tonight I’m thankful for a great celebration of the anniversary of my 39th birthday!

The morning didn’t start out so well. I had planned to leave early so I could stop by Starbuck’s and get my complimentary birthday beverage. Everything was running on schedule, but I didn’t account for my chatty family. Or the loose lid on my baked oatmeal container which fell off, spilling sticky baked oatmeal into my unzipped purse. Or the frost on the windshield of Todd’s truck that I had to drive this morning, making me have to wait for the defroster to kick in. To add insult to injury I don’t know how to work Todd’s stereo and was forced to listen to music I don’t like on the way to work.

Work was pleasant, though. Nothing stressful or difficult and coffee was involved. Starbuck’s coffee, to be exact. Not a white chocolate mocha or a pumpkin spice latte, but some delicious, hot French Roast nonetheless. After coffee, the half of the baked oatmeal that didn’t fall out of the container and a few projects, I was taken to lunch by a few of my friends. We had Mexican. It was delicious. And fun. And free for me.

From there I drove home and then Todd and I immediately left for a visit with his elbow surgeon. He had elbow surgery over a year ago and he still has severe tenderness and even nauseating pain when he rests his arm on a table or arm rest or whatever. The doctor’s office was running behind and we were there for nearly two hours. The doctor thinks he has scar tissue pressing on nerves in his elbow and we’re going to try some therapies before we get to surgical clean up. He’s also had a lot of pain in his right index finger and it turns out he sprained it. So yeah. He’s a mess. But at least now we know why.

Anyhoo, between the traffic and our stop for Chinese food it took us an hour to get home. When we walked in the door Shelby was making my birthday cake from scratch.

So the evening went something like this:



Scrabble (I won, but they said they let me because it was my birthday.)


Cake (It was spectacularly delicious. It’s her grandmother’s recipe with a secret ingredient that I am now privy to, but I can’t tell you because then it wouldn’t be a secret anymore. It was chocolate with a yummy icing, topped with dark chocolate pieces and then drizzled with peanut butter sundae topping.)

Yummy sounds

I think I’ll run to Starbuck’s tomorrow morning to get my belated birthday beverage to drink with my breakfast. The breakfast that’s chocolate with icing and dark chocolate pieces and peanut butter sundae topping. Just exactly like my birthday cake.

Best Weekend Ever

Day One, Thursday:

We had a firm, no exceptions departure time of 9-ish AM and successfully met the “ish” portion of our goal by pulling out of the driveway at 10:30. Our normal 6 hour, one stop drive turned into an 8 hour, four stop trip. Partly because of all the fluids I was drinking to keep my system flushed and partly because the truck runs through fuel like poo through a goose when pulling the trailer. Or maybe in this case it would be more appropriate to say it runs through fuel like pee through me when drinking a lot of fluids to keep my system flushed. Besides, I’m not so sure the “poo through a goose” saying is accurate. I’m not hip to the bowel habits of water fowl.

Anyhoo, we finally made it to the Virginia Byway, the road the campground was on. When I had originally put the campground address in the GPS (which on several occasions throughout the day wanted us to take some crazy route) only Virginia Byway showed up, no actual address. As we were winding our way west, blinded by the setting sun and trying to find the campground, it was like we fell off the end of the earth. There were no roads on the GPS, only a river. Not only that, but we had no phone service at all. And then we heard dueling banjos.

Just when I had given up all hope (not really, but it sounds so much more dramatic this way) we saw the light. Literally. We saw the light from the campground sign. We checked in, Todd got the trailer set up and we settled in for the evening. Unfortunately we were unable to call Taylor to let him know we made it safe and sound.

Day Two, Friday:

Katie, Sookie and I did a little exploring this morning and the campground is really nice. There’s a lovely pond full of ducks that intrigued Sooks to no end, but thankfully she didn’t try to catch one. Though if she had maybe I would know the deal with the poo and the goose, or duck, which I figure a duck’s fecal habits are probably very similar to a goose’s. We had a delicious breakfast of pancakes (no bacon – we’re saving it all for tomorrow’s breakfast) and Todd has gone off the mountain for a Wal-Mart run and to contact Taylor. The plan is once Taylor finishes his last class for the day at 1:00 he’ll come up and stay for a bit. He also has some friends that are coming up tonight for a weenie roast and s’mores-a-thon.

So stay tuned…

And I’m back.

Todd made contact with Taylor and gave him directions to the campground. Take Business Rte. 29 South out of Lynchburg to 130, aka Amherst Byway, aka Virginia Byway, aka Elon Byway where you take a left and drive about 16 miles to the campground on the right. Taylor said he’d be out to the trailer around 3:00. So when he hadn’t showed up by 4:00 this mama was getting a little agitated. Not only was my child somewhere between here and there, he had no way to get a hold of us. Once again Todd made his way down the mountain so he could call Taylor. Katie and I took Sookie for a walk and napped and watched a little Sleepy Hollow – anything to keep my mind off both my boys who should have been here and not there.

Finally they both pulled in around 5:30 and this was one happy mama! I think I nearly hugged Taylor’s head right off. Turns out he followed Todd’s directions – Business Rte. 29 South. Except the campground is north of Lynchburg.

Another hour or so later three of Taylor’s friends from school arrived. We roasted hot dogs and made s’mores and I think they had a good time. Eventually the friends left and the four of us settled in for the night.

At that moment, with Katie in her bunk and Taylor on the couch and Todd and Sookie and I on the bed (yes, I said Sookie. Don’t judge.), I was perfectly content. Not just a little, not even just a lot, but totally and completely.

Day Three, Saturday:

Taylor had to get up early and drive back to school for work. Good thing he knows the way now. The rest of us had a fairly lazy morning. Well, Todd did have to go back into town to buy sweatpants. He only brought shorts. I would go on about how I told him multiple times in the last week that it was going to be deliciously chilly this weekend and how yesterday he said he saw my lips moving but he never listened to what I was saying, but that would be rude and cast him in a bad light. And he’s already got the directionally challenged thing going against him so I’ll be a good wife and not harp.

And now I’m going to go outside and cook up the two pounds of bacon I brought to have with breakfast yesterday and today, but will be eating on BLTs and possibly burgers tonight instead.

So until the next time…

I’m back. I cooked two pounds of bacon in an electric griddle on the picnic table outside. I’ve decided bacon should always be cooked outside. Just saying’. Taylor showed up just as I was finishing my classic BLT and asked if that was his. I love him and I’m a good mom, but I’m not THAT good of a mom. He had to make his own.

The four of us watched RV – which never, EVER gets old – and then Todd grilled hamburgers. After dinner we played Bookopoly, a book version of Monopoly. I despise that game. Really a lot. But that’s what the kids wanted to play so fine. I’m kind of a good mom so that’s what we played. I don’t think it’s fair that nobody ever wants to play Scrabble. But do I whine about it? No.

Not a lot, anyway.

Maybe a little.

Anyway, Katie and I are much too ethical and not shrewd at all so we decided to consolidate our efforts and STILL ended up in the poor house. Todd and Taylor, on the other hand, concern me a little. Smarmy wheeler dealers, if you ask me. Sure, they both ended up with bank loads of money, but are they really happy? At least Katie and I know what’s important.

Taylor left to go down the mountain in the rain at about 10:30 last night. The mom in me hated – HATED – the fact we didn’t have phone coverage and he wouldn’t be able to call me when he got home. Does that ever end? I think prolly not. *sigh*

Todd turned the heater on last night and we think the clinks and clanks messed with Sookie’s delicate sensibilities because she was shaky and whiney and generally annoying. Seeing as how Todd was going to have to drive home through 15 miles of switchbacks or so pulling a 30 foot trailer, I felt he should probably get some sleep. So I mostly dealt with the dog, though her scratching and woofing still woke up Todd.

Which leads me to…

Day Four, Sunday

Our plan was to get an earlier start for our trip home than we managed on the way down. We figured we’d get up around 7:30 or so, secure stuff, hook up and get on the road around 9:00. Once again we got on the road around 10:30. The difference this time was that we managed the trip in 6½ hours as opposed to 8.

I did have a text from Taylor waiting for me when we finally got to where there was service. That and 80+ emails.

Now we’re home and everybody is comfortable, especially the dog. She’s sound asleep. Because, you know, keeping people up all night is exhausting business.

Five (+1) On The Day After Friday

I was on the run all day yesterday and the only chance I had to do my Five on Friday post (3rd edition) was as I was climbing into bed last night, but I would have had to do it on my iPhone and there was no way that was happening. So I’m changing things up a bit this week. To keep with the alliteration, this week’s edition is Six on Saturday.

Yesterday morning my heart soared with unabashed joy because:

1.     It was deliciously chilly and you all know how I feel about fall. It’s the most wonderful time of the year;

2.     I wore jeans for the first time in several months and they fit; and

3.     My Friday Bible Study Group (aka my Homies) had our first official meeting.

And all that was all before noon!

4.     Todd and I met some good friends (and made a couple new ones) at a new-to-us restaurant last night. It was my first experience with Guatemalan food and I am in love. And not just a little in love, but wholeheartedly.

5.     This morning was another CLEAR brunch and it was fabulous. I know I say that every single time, but it really was fabulous. If you live anywhere near me you should come. Really.


6.     This afternoon I went to a wedding shower for a young friend of mine at the house she and her husband-to-be will be sharing after their nuptials. I’d like to share a few thoughts:

        *      The house is a charming cottage with gorgeous moldings and hardwood floors and dormers and a wonderful side/back yard. It’s the perfect starter house and the vintage charm makes me the teensiest bit jealous. But in a good way.

        *      Her sister/my friend (and photographer extraordinaire) staged the shower outside under these wonderful large oak (I think) trees and it looked like something out of a magazine.

        *      It started raining, but the wonderful large trees of some type made a great canopy.

        *      The great canopy only worked for so long so we all grabbed stuff and moved the party inside.

        *      It was a great way to spend an afternoon.

She Said…

Katie: My friend ____ has a Phanatic pillow pet.

Me: Cool. We should totally get one of those Phillies Phanatic pillow pets we saw at Bed, Bath and Beyond for Dad’s birthday!

Katie: Um, that’s what I said she had!

Me: Oh! I thought you said “banana pillow pet” and I just played along because I didn’t want you to think I was stupid.

Katie: That ship has already sailed, Mom.


Katie: I’m texting with _____ and he wants to take me out on Saturday.

Me: I won’t be here, but he needs to come in and meet Dad before you go anywhere.

Katie: I texted him and said he has to come in and meet Dad and he’s a little concerned. I told him not to worry. I said, “My dad might look scary but he’s really a big teddy bear.” What else should I say?

Me: Tell him,”at least that’s what his prison mates called him.”

Katie: HA!! I’m totally saying that! [texting] He said, “Really??”

Me: Say, “Not really. They didn’t call him that at all.”

Maybe Growing Up Isn’t So Bad

Yesterday I found a box of old pictures out in the garage and looking through them brought back such happy memories and made me smile. It also made me the teensiest bit sad because I miss my cute “little” kids. Oh, how precious they were and what fun we had – the giggling and the snuggling and the playing. It doesn’t hurt that I was also one of their favorite people back in the day. Then they had to grow up and those apron strings they used to hold onto so tightly have stretched longer and longer and their grip has loosened. Almost sounds like a bad thing.

Except for they were cracking me up tonight. I mean really making me laugh. And it just reminded me (’cause I know this but I forget a lot) that while sometimes teenagers can be exasperating, they can also be a ton of fun. I may not get the snuggling (though I still get a lot of hugs) and playing is not quite the same, there’s still a lot of giggling. So I’m not the teensiest bit sad anymore.

My Work Here Is Done…

Katie’s friend, Devon, is spending the night tonight. Todd and Taylor are watching yet another painful baseball game and frankly I’m all baseballed out. So before Devon got here I told Katie that I would come down to the basement with them.

Me: We can watch a good movie and I’ll sit in between you guys and I’ll text my friends while you’re texting your friends and we can do each others’ hair and it will be so much fun!

Katie: Um, no.

Devon gets here, says hello to the rest of us and the girls head for the basement.

Me: You girls go on down. I’ll be there in a minute. Then we can watch “High School Musical, III” and talk about how cute Zac Efron and Corbin Bleu are while we do our nails!

Katie: Um, no.

I then sit down to play on the computer while the boys watch the incredibly boring baseball game and decide to text Katie downstairs.

My Text: Hey. What’s up?

From the bowels of the house we hear, “Stop texting me!”


Todd’s Text: Tell Devon I said, “Hello”.

When he didn’t hear any reply Taylor called her on his cell phone.

Katie: What do you want?!

Taylor: Dad wanted you to tell Devon hello.

Katie: I know! I got his text!

Taylor: Okay. That’s all.

The sad thing about all this is how highly enjoyable I found it. I suppose I should get a life, but it’s these simple things that make this existence so entertaining.