A Fall Filled With Adventure!

Back in Michigan, fall was always a time of adventure for us.  Our last year there, we took a cruise on the S.S. Badger for my birthday, then went camping for Halloween (and first started discussing living aboard–we thought we would move to Lake Michigan in 2 years!).  In Texas, however, daily life has been adventure enough.  We’ve been learning our way around Houston, and getting settled into a succession of new homes.  Our only trip was visiting the cabin at Canyon Lake for Thanksgiving (which we will do again this year!).

But now that we’re living comfortably on the S/V Morning Mist, the adventure bug is biting us once again.  Until recently, it had been 3 years since we’d cruised.  We’re all thinking that it’s time to make life interesting again!

And interesting it will be.  We have so much planned for October and November, that I’ve had to set up a Google calendar!  We’re visiting San Antonio next weekend, and a highlight of our trip will be a special needs amusement park.  After that, Rob and I are attending a moped rally in New Orleans.  The week after Halloween, Beanie will have her first competitive cheer competition!  And then it’s off to Canyon Lake two weeks later!

And all that excitement is in addition to our adventures this weekend and last weekend.

“Rockstars!  Rockstars!  Rah Rah Rah!”

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Living in an urban area has had many advantages for us, and one of these advantages has been the number of “mommies'” groups available to join.  I joined Moms of Galveston Country, which lead me to two other special needs groups on Facebook.  It was through these groups that I first heard about Rockstar “Special Stars” Cheer.

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Beanie has always had kind of a “cheerleader” personality, especially with her pigtails!  So a free, special needs competitive cheer group seemed to be right up her ally.  The group has kids ranging from age 8 to high school, so the older kids help keep an eye on their younger “buddies.”

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From her first rehearsal, Beanie was in love!  The parents get to watch the practices on monitors in the waiting room, and it is a delight to watch, as I get to know the other mommies.  And don’t let the “special needs” part fool you–there are some talented tumblers in this group!

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Beanie’s first performance with the Rockstars was last weekend, at the Down Syndrome walk in our town.  They don’t have their uniforms yet, but their t-shirts coordinated.

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The fun began with dancing, and of course Beanie attracted attention!

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She immediately fell in with some local junior high cheerleaders.

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Who let her borrow their pom poms!

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Finally, the Rockstars had the stage.

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Beanie gains some altitude as a part of their routine!

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And this is my favorite picture of her cheering!  It’s definitely a fun, low-pressure group, with some talented athletes!

Setting Sail Once Again

Grandma and Grandpa took Beanie home from the cheering event, and Rob and I headed over to the S/V Reprieve, three slips down from us.

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My friend, Deanna, greeted me with a birthday bouquet.  We piled onto their boat with two other couples.

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We rounded Clear Lake Shores island.

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And then the reason for my flowers was revealed, as we made our departure, past the Kemah Boardwalk.

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The whole “flock” of sailboats was out on Galveston bay!

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We were quite well-fed on our journey!

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I was a little exhausted…

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And while I was getting sunburned, this is what passed us…

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Meanwhile, this is why I have blisters on my back…

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And then I woke up in Galveston!

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We arrived in Galveston in time for dinner (it was a 6-hour nap…I mean sail!).  The marina we stayed at was near the Strand, which is the shopping/tourist district.  So we walked into town, hit the shops (the three of us ladies bought $10 dresses!) and enjoyed dinner at a shrimp restaurant.  Two of us had been wearing our bathing suits under our clothes, so we spontaneously jumped into the marina pool, before retiring to our various beds on the boat.

In the morning, we had some company in the marina.

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We headed out at a leisurely pace, stopping for lunch and swimming at Red Fish Island.

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Underway once again, there was no wind, so we motored back toward the bridge that led the way home.

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It was a fun, wonderful trip, and now we’re eager to get our boat up and running, so that we can cruise next summer!

The Cardboard Challenge

This weekend, it was all about cardboard.  Beanie had the opportunity to create something out of garbage, for her school’s “Cardboard Challenge.”  She eagerly went to work on a Pokemon stage, which she displayed at school this morning.

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Of course, Beanie’s favorite part was exploring the other creations!  She spent a lot of time in the Tardis.

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October has been a great month so far, and we look forward to sharing our upcoming fall adventures with you!

 

Snowball Fight in Adventure Field

Sometimes, we just have fun.

We’ve got a structured evening routine, here on Breaking Tradition, but it does leave room for fun and games.

For example, yesterday, I came home and read with Beanie while dinner cooked.  Then, after I ate, I got her started on “homework,” which meant writing a letter to a friend in Michigan. Then, after piano practice time, we played rhyme Dominoes.

After that, we had an hour until shower time.  What were a mother and daughter to do?

Well, we headed out to “Adventure Field.”  There are two good-sized grassy areas in the marina, and Beanie has named them Adventure Field and Chaos Field.  Last night, she wanted to go to Adventure Field.

We couldn’t find her ball, so we brought a bag of cloth “snowballs,” made by one of our friends in Michigan.   A fun (and funny!) evening ensued.

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I hope your October is treating you equally as well!

 

The Quest for the Chickenpox Shot

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The week before school starts is a crazy time.  I’ve been getting back into the routine of waking up and leaving every morning, packing my lunch, attending training sessions, looking at my caseload, preparing lessons, meeting with co-teachers, and setting up a classroom. It’s definitely a time when I write fewer blog posts and rarely check in on Facebook!

And then, on Wednesday, it occurred to me that I am not the only one in my family who will be going back to school.

Sure, I took Beanie’s IEP over to her new school, as soon as their office opened.  And I wrote their special education department head a lengthy e-mail, explaining all of Beanie’s idiosyncrasies.  But I hadn’t bought a single school supply.  And I hadn’t taken her to get her booster shots.

Vaccines are complicated for us.  When she was 13 months old, Beanie ended up in the hospital with a reaction, after getting the MMR, Chickenpox, and three other shots.  After that, we decided (with our new doctor’s blessing) to only give her one shot at a time, and to space them at least a month apart.

This plan worked well.  She got a slight fever for a few days after her MMR booster, but nothing as serious as what we had encountered the previous time.  Everything went wonderfully until only the Polio and Chickenpox vaccines were remaining.  When we showed up at the doctor’s office to get these, they were out of both.

They continued to be out of both everytime we came in, for a year.

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When we moved to Houston, I forgot about getting the boosters, until it was mentioned when I signed Beanie up for school this year.  Students can be sent home on the first day if they are not up to date on their shots, so I wanted to take care of this right away.

The first issue was getting ahold of Beanie’s shot records.  We had lost our copy in the move, and her school records were in limbo for some time.  On Thursday, I called and learned that they had arrived at our new school, so I came in and got a copy.  After working until 6:00, doing home visits, I rushed home and scooped up Beanie, life jacket and all, and drove her to the clinic, which closes at 8:00 on Thursdays.

We made excellent time, arriving at 7:30.  On the way there, Beanie found her smelly markers in the car and gave herself a cat face.  She decided that she was Meowth, the Pokemon.

I darted into the clinic, with Meowth still wearing her life jacket, and handed the receptionist our shot records.  She eyeballed us skeptically, then said that those two shots were the only two they didn’t have in stock. Frustrated, I asked if there was anywhere we could go, and she produced a list of clinics in the area that would accept our insurance.

One clinic was nearby, so we drove to the high rise building that housed it.  Beanie squealed in excitement, and whispered, “It’s a hospital!”  It’s been a few years since her frequent hospital visits, but Beanie still remembers how much she loved that place.

We ran into the building, only to find that the clinic was closed.  As we made our way across the parking lot, and into the neighboring CVS store, Beanie yelled, “I need to go to the hospital!”

CVS had neither shot in stock, but the pharmacist recommended Walmart and Walgreen’s.  The Walmart was a block away, so I plopped Meowth (still wearing her life jacket) into a cart and ran inside.  After a long wait, the pharmacist said they were out of the shots until the next afternoon.

Walgreen’s was across the street, and they had the Polio but not the Chickenpox vaccine.  However, their pharmacist told us that we needed a prescription to get shots from a drug store.

So, admitting defeat, we headed home.

As I drove past Beanie’s school, I slowed down and considered stopping to find out who her teacher was.  I decided against this, as it was 9:00 and we needed to be getting home.  However, my pause attracted the attention of the police officer in the parking lot, and he pulled out behind me and followed me to the marina.  As soon as we were in the gates, he turned on his lights.

The very polite officer introduced himself and, after verifying that I wasn’t a criminal, wrote me a warning for a tail light being out.  This made Beanie’s day, and she couldn’t stop talking about the police officer who “rescued” us!

So back to the drawing board.

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On Friday, I made my way down the list of clinics.  The clinic in the “hospital,” had the Polio shot but not the Chickenpox vaccine.  The health departments on the list did not accept private insurance, but they recommended the Redi Clinics that happen to be located in HEB grocery stores.

I Googled Redi Clinics and made my way down that list.  After encountering a few that did not have the Chickenpox vaccine, I found one that was getting a new shipment that afternoon.  I figured we were golden!

I got home at 5:00 and promptly called that clinic.  They were out already!  I was finally able to locate a clinic two suburbs over, that had both shots.  Scooping up the life jacket-clad friend (no cat face this time!), we pointed our Volvo toward Friendswood.

Beanie was fascinated to see a doctor’s office in the middle of a grocery store, and she anxiously awaited her shots.  (She had been practicing with her Doc McStuffins doctor kit).  We were in good company–the waiting area was overrun with kids waiting to get shots.  We bought a soda from the nearby check-out and enjoyed it until we were called.

Beanie was beginning to lose heart, when the nurse finally called her name.  While she eagerly took her place on the examining table, and readied her leg, the doctor showed me Beanie’s shot record, as well as the immunization requirements for Texas schools.  It turns out that Beanie does not even require anymore Chickenpox boosters!  After all that….but I was relieved, since she had a reaction last time.

After learning that Beanie was tipping the scales at a whopping 41 pounds, it was finally time.  Beanie got the shot in her leg, since she’s still so tiny.  She gritted her teeth, then smiled when she got her band-aid and a sucker from the “big girl” box.

As we were leaving, she yelled out to the doctor and nurse, “Thank you for the shot and band-aid!”

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Adventures in the Big City

Hello, folks–I am once again connected to the digital world!  I had intended to show you pictures of my apartment today, but we were too busy having adventures today to finish furnishing it.  We won’t add much–just a table and chairs and a lamp.  There is a gigantic Salvation Army store in the area, so we will pay them a visit tomorrow.

In the meantime, I am no longer homeless, and for the first time in my life I am living in a home owned by someone else.  It’s great–we feel like we’ve outsourced home ownership!  We have gone from living in a town with two traffic lights, to living in the fourth largest city in the US.  (Technically, we live in a suburb, but we’re just outside of the city limits).

Naturally, such a transition would bring with it some adventures.

So, today, I am going to entertain you with some stories of our adventures in Houston.  I have to tell you, last summer, when I was at the marina in Ludington, I never imagined that a year later, I would be here!

Story #1: Fun With the GPS

My parents were nervous about driving in Houston.  So they had us take the lead.  Rob has driven through Houston once, and I have twice–but, other than that, Detroit is the only city any of us had experience driving in.  While it’s smaller that Houston, it’s set up in such a way that one can’t help but get lost.  Detroit is enough to scare anyone out of city driving.

But, we were good.  We had the GPS on our Smartphone going, and we’d even bought the larger data plan.  We would take 59 in, then get on the tollway, which would take us straight to El Dorado Blvd, which would be our new address. 

The first problem occurred after we drove up the crazy overpass to enter the tollway.

“EZ Pass Only” the sign said.  The tollway no longer had tollbooths.  During the two months that we were frantically emptying out the house, Texas’s DOT was busy removing the tollbooths and computerizing their system.   As we do not yet possess EZ Passes, we had to quickly find a way off of the tollway, and find a road going in a similar direction.  We took the last exit, which led us to the beltway.  Instead of flying above all the rush hour traffic, we were caught in the thick of it.

We were sure we saw my parents enter the tollway, but they, too, bailed at the last minute.  Our GPS gave us a more complicated route, then it died because the battery couldn’t charge fast enough.

Fortunately, every road in Houston goes in the same direction, so we guessed, until we saw something familiar.  We temporarily lost my parents, who were following their GPS, but eventually we all ended up on El Dorado.

Story #2:  Anybody Home?

So, around 6:45, we arrived at the apartment complex.  We slipped through the gate, behind someone, and parked in front of the office.  The door was locked, with a sign up saying, “Will Return at 8:00.”

Still frazzled from the drive through Houston (did I mention it was 102 degrees that day, and our car has no air conditioning?), I could have cried.

I called the number on the sign, but only got management’s voice mail.  We were prepared to meet my parents at their hotel, when I found a way, through the phone system, to contact maintenance’s voicemail.  The super called me up within 10 minutes, and said he would make some calls.

While we were waiting, Rob decided to take a ride on his tall bike.  He attracted a lot of attention, and one resident–who talked just like us–approached, looked at our license plates, and congratulated us on getting out.

Finally, about 30 minutes later, the manager arrived and I got to sign my life away.  There are some very important rules at this apartment complex.  Here are some that you need to know about:

–These apartments are not infested at all.  We have agreed to make sure that we ourselves are not infested, and to call the exterminator if we happen to be.

–We have agreed not to make mold.

–We can have our trash picked up 3 times a week.  I’m just going to pretend I don’t know that.  That would enable me way too much…

–We have agreed to eat the white chocolate-macadamia cookies that are baked in the office every morning.  Okay, we didn’t put that in writing, but we shall do it anyway.

So we got moved in to our apartment, which didn’t take long because we didn’t bring a lot of stuff.  You’ll get pictures tomorrow, but I will tell you that it is perfect.  It’s not too big, has a cute kitchen and a nice balcony/patio, and we can use grills, the laundry room, and either of the two pools.  Which we’ll be doing a lot of, since it is crazy hot.

Story #3:  Real Food

In Harrison, Michigan, we had a Spartan store and a Save a Lot.  They were both overpriced and had little-to-no selection.  Our small independent store was better–and on the other side of the path through the woods–but the selection was still poor, and the produce were always past their prime.

For real food, we had to drive an hour to Mount Pleasant, where we could visit Kroger and the food co-op.  There was a small farmer’s market on weekends, and the Amish store was on the way.

Now, we live 2 miles from a Kroger.  I went there today.

First, keep in mind that I have been craving real food for some time.  We have spent the past 2 weeks living with relatives, who knew that they would not see us until Christmas.  So they made us their tastiest, sugary treats.  Before that, we had been in survival mode, eating our fair share of Hot N Ready pizzas.  Junk food has affected my waistline, energy level, and mood.  It got to the point, on the way down, where I skipped dinner, because I couldn’t stomach any more garbage.

So, here I am, at Kroger, in Houston.  (There are many Krogers in Houston–this one was in Clear Lake).  It was huge.  Like, Texas huge.  Which makes sense…

But it was WHAT they had, that was impressive.  They had sushi, a bulk foods section similar to the one at the co-op in Michigan, a huge natural foods section, nearly all produce available organic, cheap seafood (in Michigan, it was prohibitively expensive), and a large variety of grassfed beef.  They sold kombucha (the real kind, that you have to be 21 to buy) at the grocery store!  There were vegetables for sale that I had never heard of.  So, of course, I had to buy them.

Which brings me to my next issue.

With the veggies, were cactus leaves.  I have never eaten a cactus.  Now I have the opportunity.  Why would I want to go my whole life without eating something, knowing that I have the choice to do so?  So, of course, I bought one.  I have e-mailed my foodie (and Houston-dwelling) friends, hoping for some suggestions on how to prepare it.

Soon, we will eat a cactus.  I will let you know how tasty it is.

Story #4: My Morning Walk

I woke up this morning, feeling guilty and negative.  I was analyzing my past behavior, and feeling unworthy.  I tried to rationalize it, saying to myself that I had been suffering this winter, and that is why I acted selfishly at times.

The rationalizing didn’t work.  Then I read a poem that a friend wrote on their blog, about staying in the present moment.

It dawned on me that my reality now involves taking a walk through palm trees every morning.  EVERY morning, even in December.  That I am surrounded by birds, flowers, and really cool looking lizards (and no cockroaches or snakes!).  By moving here, and making this my reality, I have basically forfeited my right to whine and feel sorry for myself.  What’s done, is done.  I’m not proud of my past, but I’ve learned.  Because I’ve learned, I can teach.

No matter how much of a screw-up you are, if you wake up and see palm trees in the morning, you don’t get to complain.

So, here are some pictures from my morning walk today.  I think we chose a good neighborhood.  Don’t you agree?

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Day Two: Out of the Midwest and into the South!

Today’s drive was MUCH more pleasant!

First, we made breakfast in the kitchenette of our weird hotel room.

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Once we hit the road, we enjoyed the scenery of Arkansas.  There is a hot springs national park, and we can pictures ourselves enjoying some winter vacations there…  Here is the view from the rest area, where you can camp for free (we intend to do this, when we bring the LeSharo down).

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We had no question in our minds, when we crossed the Texas border.

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Look, it’s so hot that you can fry eggs on the road!

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There is a theory, that Houston was designed by dropping a bunch a spaghetti noodles on a table and designing the overpasses accordingly!

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I was at the wheel, as we drove through Houston, and it was fun to see Rob and Beanie’s reaction to the large city.  We are not in northern Michigan anymore!

They also loved arriving at Chris and Kelly’s house.  We brought our Victrola, and Chris and Kelly were happy to get it.

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I am glad to be here–it’s like returning home!  (Which is good, because soon it will be home!)  I was also very happy to share this place with Rob and Beanie.

A Very Long Day

The longest run that we have ever had on Moonraker, was 13 hours, when we brought it back from Alpena, two years ago.  Today, under the best of circumstances, we would have been on the road for 14.

Riding in the car is not like sailing on Moonraker.

  • There is no autohelm, that we can set, then sit back and read a book or watch the scenery.
  • Beanie can’t get out of her seat, and walk around and play.
  • We can’t easily access a fully stocked kitchen.
  • There is no head in the car, so, having a newly potty trained kid, we had to stop every 3 hours.

That being said, we did survive that great hardship!

Here are some pictures from our adventures.

Beanie snuggled up with "Monkey Friend" as we hit the road at 6:00 a.m.

Beanie snuggled up with “Monkey Friend” as we hit the road at 6:00 a.m.

The Volvo station wagon was ready for this adventure!

The Volvo station wagon was ready for this adventure!

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Low, dark clouds over the Grand Prairie in Illinois.

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After spending hours on the Grand Prairie (which is not interesting to drive through), we finally crossed the Mississippi.

Later this summer, we’ll see the view from the water!

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As we came into Arkansas, I saw the most beautiful–and most unusual–sunset I have ever seen.  The sky was overcast, with very dark clouds, that looked like storm clouds.  But the sun, as it was going down, shown through the dark clouds, in a few breaks, causing brilliant rays of light to descend through the darkness.  All of this was reflected in a flooded field below.  I thought this image was the perfect metaphor for this summer.

Unfortunately, I have no picture of this.  As I got my camera ready, we became stuck in a traffic jam, and trees blocked my view.  By the time we were able to move on, the sun had already set.

We spent an hour in this traffic jam, just outside of Little Rock, because drivers refused to merge (due to road construction) until the last minute.  We had reserved a room at La Quinta (Chris and Kelly guaranteed  that it is cheap!) using their mobile website, which holds the room for 4 hours.  I tried to call and give them our credit card information, so that we could have the room held longer, but I could not get through to a human being (and being on hold would use up all of our minutes).  So we chanced it–the room would expire at 9:25, and who would be looking for a room after that?

Well, apparently everbody.  20 minutes after our room expired, someone else snatched it up.  We drove, well-aware that we were in a city we did not know at all, looking for a cheap place to stay.  Finally we saw an Extended Stay America.  We’ve got a weird suite, complete with a kitchen.  And it even came with someone’s Chinese leftovers in the fridge–BONUS gift!  Yeah.

So, today, we’re on the road for 8 hours.  Most of it will be spent in Texas.  We’ll see the desert, before arriving in Houston.