Headed to the North Country

Ah, and we are off, by the time I post this we’ll be sitting in a warm house on the frozen tundra of Iowa. Thanks to Jared’s new trusty computer I can write on the way. The 1200+ mile drive from Houston to NE Iowa is not an exciting one; it becomes one of those road trips where your goal is to get from point A to Point B as quickly and efficiently as possible. That efficiency plan would be called I-35. In past trips we have always drive from Houston to Des Moines in one day. But now Erin is potty trained (although a blessing in every-day life), her pea-sized bladder and addiction to liquid means we stop every 100 miles. And then add a nursing baby, so this year we decided to do the trip in two days, which thus far has proven to be a great idea.

We left at 10 am yesterday and headed north through the sprawling metropolis of Houston, past the refineries and miles of concrete. North of Houston is the Sam Houston State Forest, showcasing beautiful towering southern pines ,that makes me jealous that I live by the bay, and one Texas-size statue of Sam Houston that stands next to the interstate. It’s a four hour drive to Dallas, one strait long drive, where the radio stations of Houston fade and there are only three music genres to listen to: gospel, country, and Dallas gospel-country.

For once we made the transition from I-45-I-35 and again headed north. We saw a swarm of birds, they almost looked like locusts, turning the sky black, winding and diving in the sky completely synchronized. And then we hit the Oklahoma border. For the first time in months, I see topography, the interstate winds through the dormant oak savannah, and then scrub junipers. As the sun sets the road cuts through large limestone outcrops and my memory reverts to my childhood playground of the towering limestone bluffs of NE Iowa and the Mississippi. And I am ready to be home, ready to see the rolling miles of fields dotted with towns. I am ready to see seasons, and to breathe clean air, and to wear a pair of carharts and work, really work ….and as I reminiscence about the land and upbringing that is a closed chapter in my life, I pass a bill board that says “We’re more than a feed store…” with a woman in a black party dress wearing a diamond necklace and earrings. And I thought, are they attempting to break into a high-income market of ranchers or are they running a prostitution business on the side? Get your grain..and your woman, talk about one stop shopping. And that’s where my deep thoughts of the trip ended.

We made it into Oklahoma city about 6:30 and stayed with Amy & Derek, one of my close high school friends and her husband. It was so good to see them again, we sat around and caught up on the last year and watch part of “Animal house”. They just purchased a cute house in the burbs of the city, who would have ever thought we would both end up in suburbia. We were laughing because they had a lien put on their house for having a brick mail box, now we both answer to a grass Gestapo.

After a scrumptious breakfast we headed north once again through upper Oklahoma where Erin boredom was relieved by “count the radio towers game” We started with “I spy” but there isn’t much besides towers and miles of brown grasslands. We stopped at a few rest stops in north OK and southern Kansas and there are massive groups of Asians traveling today. They were all from Dallas traveling to Kansas City and were very excited about the teepee bathrooms at one of the rest stops…..and we head north...

At the Iowa/Missouri border we hit the fog that preceded a blizzard front. We made it to Des Moines safely.



Completed bikes ready to be delivered

Saturday we took our church youth downtown to Reliant Stadium and joined 4600 other volunteers to build bikes for needy children. There is an organization that raises money to donate 20,000 bikes each year (yes I said each year) to children in low-income neighborhoods in and around Houston. Those 20,000 bicycles come in 37-50 lbs boxes....and in lots of pieces :)
My SIL Britt and I volunteered to work the "box pit". We spend most of the day in the wearhouse part of the operation loading boxes of bikes on carts and wheeling to the building teams on the floor. It took some convincing that us two women could lift 40+ pounds, but we let out Iowa work ethic shine. These two farm girls still have some bailing skills, we loaded over 800 bikes each in about two hours. There were about 6 of us loading and we would load up to 60 bike on a cart in a few minutes and wheel them out. We would barely get out of the gate and you would step away as people mobbed the cart to get another bike. I think everyone had a great time, except my back, who keeps telling me that I'm not 18 anymore :)
Wonder how they deliver the bikes? They bring in 100+ semis. The semis each take a neighborhood, they open the back doors and hand the bikes out as they drive down the street. There is more to the project than just giving out bikes, they have been tracking the socio-economic stats of these neighborhoods over the past five years. They are finding that gang violence is down, employment is up, and parents are more involved in their kids school because not only do the youth have transportation, the adults also use the bikes to get to work and school.
Have a Merry Christmas!


Chick Party...

Erin decided to paint my nails for me last night, she did an ummm......abstract job :) We had a good time, she was so excited.

Fa la la la freaken la

Tis the season. Everyone finally finished puking and we passed the nasty bug on to some good friends. I found out that red powerade was a bad idea to give Erin to help keep her hydrated...maybe Santa will bring Emmy some new carpet for Christmas.

My holiday spirit is lacking its typical luster. The tree is set, the lights are hung and half of our glass ornaments have been shattered. I think part of my less-than-enthusiastic Christmas spirit is because its still warm out and probably that I have been covered in puke for the last week strait.

So I ventured out to Hobby Lobby yesterday to pick up some decorations and a few yards of fabric to make a Christmas present. I hate how the "hobby" part of the store is not in the "lobby"- its freaken in the way back of the store. And on top of the practical things being on the back wall they make you walk through narrow isles of ugly chickens and fake grapes - all of course are breakable.

So like any mother, I load Eliza in the cart and take a deep breath and tell Erin "Don't touch anything"! And like clockwork that small phrase triggers something in my childs brain that says GO GO GO! Before I could finsh my thought I saw Erin take off, pulling her knees to her chest, her body angeled forward and head thrown back like an Olympic 100 meted dash sprinter, her tongue hanging out the side of her mouth like some rabid animal on the prowl and her scrawny arms flailing beside her as the immense speed makes the glass ornaments hanging on the shelfs chime as she sails by coming within inches of knocking something off.

I stand there knowing I can't catch up lugging Eliza, so I wait there and contemplate how it is I don't beat my child some days and wait for the gracefulness of her feet to give way as I listen to Deck the Halls being broadcasted over the load speaker. There it is, she face plows into the tile, just barely missing a shelf full of vases and I make my move. And then I spend the next twenty minutes listening to her scream because she has to sit in the cart.

I made it out alive, with my fabric, but left my sanity somewhere in isle 5.


Solitary Confinement

What a week. We have been passing the flu back and forth all week. Erin picked up a stomach bug and was really sick for about five days. Eliza also picked it up and I spent the first part of the week doing massive loads of laundry and wondering if my carpet will ever be the same.

Then yesterday after avoiding getting sick all week, Jared and I both came down with it last night. So todays we are just laying around the house, hoping that everyone will recover. Hopefully tonight i'll feel well enough to bleach down my house.