Erin Enjoying Shamu

Erin in the 4-D theater
Erin's 10-gallon hat...she decided on the pink fuzzy cowgirl hat

We took our first family vacation since our honeymoon over five years ago (a vacation outside driving to Iowa). Thursday morning we left for San Antonio. It never fails; wherever we go the rain follows. As soon as we hit the San Antonio city limits the drops started to fall. Thursday afternoon we spent on the River Walk and the Alamo.

After being drenched we headed to our hotel – we went classy this time and stayed at the Hilton Spa and Resort. Actually we got lucky on Priceline and got a better price on our room than staying at the Super 8. Thursday night we hung out at the heated outdoor pools even though it was 60 degrees out and the hotel had several fire pits on their patio so we sat around and roasted marshmallows and mingled with people who well, probably don’t drive gold Kia minivans.

Erin making out with Shamu and Eliza conked out

Friday we headed out to Sea World, despite the 80% rain chance. San Antonio is… more like was… in middle of a record drought. We walked around Sea World most of the morning in a torrential downpour. The only thing that was open was the Shamu Show. Erin LOVED it; Eliza was too blued-lipped freezing cold to really care. We got a two-day pass so we decided to catch the bus back to the hotel and while we were waiting for the bus to come the sun came out. The afternoon was beautiful and no one was at the park so we enjoyed an afternoon of no crowds and no lines.

Erin's the one in the yellow rain jacket....hunched over....praying for survival

Erin rode her first “mini” rollercoaster. Unlike Eliza she is our cautious one, she rode it a few times (it went a whopping a 14mph) and it kind of scare her. However, somehow Jared coxed her into going on the Journey to Atlantis ride, the boat ride with a 100ft plunge at the end. There were no tears, just a firm statement that “It was NOT fun…. I think dad lost some credibility and Erin will have a complex about amusement rides for years to come. I was really surprised she even considered going on it, let alone actually making the journey, but that was the only time. She decided the raging river was the perfect ride.

Eliza drenched from shamu's big splash... yes I used my kid as a shield to stay dry....

We retuned to Sea World for part of Saturday, Eliza decided on Saturday she LOVED Shamu also and then headed back to Houston. Little did we know the downpour we were in on Friday in San Antonio moved east and mixed with a moisture rich system off the Gulf and Houston experienced a rain that put the Ike precipitation to shame. We got somewhere between 7-9 inches of rain, someone told us it rained an inch in just a few minutes. From the skyline of Houston south on I-45 we probably saw 80+ stalled cars (and cars still stalling, like the scores of stalled cars wasn’t sign enough that your tiny car can’t make it through). We saw some cars attempting to drive through flooded roads, water past their wheel wells. The feeder roads that run next to the interstate were submerged and the interstates we littered with people walking shamefully home as their car stood smoking and submerged in the water they thought they could cross. It provided good entertainment for the slow drive home. Part of our neighborhood flooded, but we were still high and dry, although it came too close for comfort. All in all it was a wonderful weekend.

What should have been the feeder road next to I-45



Zoran and Melissa are good friends of ours. Zoran and Jared graduated Iowa State Aerospace together and both of our families ended up in Houston.

Iva is Zoran's sister who was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer this winter at age 27. Right now she is in Austria going through treatments, but the family’s goal is to get her into M.D. Anderson. Because she is a not a citizen all medical expenses need to be covered from personal funds.

If you are looking for a good cause to donate to, check out her website. If a money donation is not an option, please remember her in your prayers.

Iva Milenkovic is 27 years old and battling a rare and aggressive form of cancer called extra-skeletal osteosarcoma. Unfortunately, there are very few hospitals in the world that have the expertise necessary to treat these cancers. One of them is the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

Being from a foreign country with no international insurance, Iva must cover all costs from personal funds. This is where we need your help. Your generosity can help save her life. Every dollar donated goes directly to covering Iva’s battle against cancer. Unfortunately, we do not have time to wait, so please donate now to help save Iva’s life.



We had a wonderful Easter, at least a wonderful Easter without photos of the girls in their dresses.

Jared’s dad always took his daughters Easter dress shopping - unaided. It’s a risky venture, a father with two little daughters with big blue eyes and the perfected “But Daddy, its beautiful and I love it!”. Jared has decided to carry on the tradition, which I think is really cute. So last Wednesday night while I was at mutual he took both of them to Kohls to pick out their dresses. Erin's was pretty hideous, but very much “Erin style”, and she is madly in love with it. Eliza’s was really cute. However, there are no photos. Easter morning I couldn’t get them to sit together and the second I did Eliza fell off the back of the couch face first onto the hard wood floor. The next chance I got they were both mottled in chocolate. Maybe next week….

Easter morning the girls were so excited. Eliza ran right by her new little people school house and headed for the chocolate. My kid can now say thank you, please, shoe and chocolate….go figure. The Easter bunny brought Erin a guitar, which she loved! And Eliza loved eating Erin’s chocolate when Erin jammed on her guitar.

All meeting were canceled for church, except for Bishopric, so we just had to go a little early so Jared could attend that. It was really nice to have a Sunday morning home together. I love all the traditions of Easter, but I am thankful for the chance to sit and reflect on the Atonement and Resurrection of the Savior. We went to church and had a really nice sacrament meeting and then came made it home just in time to host dinner. We had a full house, but it was a nice relaxing dinner with some old friends and a few new friends.

Jam Overload....

Kallie and I successfully canned 24 pints of strawberry jam from our strawberry picking outing a few days before. It was our first jam canning venture since our childhoods and we managed not to burn down the kitchen. We had a really good time. I finally figured it out on the last 4 pints, replace a cup of fresh strawberries with frozen raspberries and it was perfect. I found a recipe that does not use pectin and uses almost half of the sugar called for in the pectin recipes. I also made some jalapeƱo freezer jam. Now we have enough jam for a year.


Causalities of the Strawberry Field

Yesterday was exactly what I needed, a day away from the grind of suburbia. People had been talking about Froberg farms. I have been to a few “farms” around here and they are typically yuppie tourist traps more than functional agricultural units. Much to my surprise this gem was only about 20 miles from home. Their main venue was pick your own strawberries. I debated about going thinking, they would be picked over, and at $1.50/lb how good could they be? Much to my surprise the plants were loaded with dark red delicious strawberries.

An elderly lady gave the little ones instruction to not pick the flowers and only the “really” red berries. We grabbed our buckets and walked out to a sprawling 15-20 acre field of raised rows of strawberries.

Erin caught right on. Most of the kids we went with lost interest after picking a pound or two. Erin returned with a full bucket, over 8 lbs! Eliza also enjoyed picking them. She had picked a half of bucket before she decided to taste test. The look on her face was purely divine. By the time we were done picking Eliza was just sitting on the ground eating them, covered in red juice.

She would not even let me carry her bucket to the pay station, it was over 5lbs. I told the guy who weighed us out to add another dozen to my order for the field casualties. He looked at Eliza stained in red strawberry juice and smiled and said “I don’t see anything”.

We shopped their vegetable market for a while and then went and sat under a sprawling oak and had some snacks. With all the development you rarely see a century oak like this one, the arms sprawling swooping to the ground. We sat under it for sometime enjoying the last days of beautiful weather as the kids bounced and played on the low branches.

Now I have 20 pounds of strawberries sitting in my kitchen. Tomorrow Kallie and I are going to take our first try at canning strawberry jam.


Peanut butter...a hair gel alternative

Eliza likes to watch Jared do his hair in the morning. I walked into the kitchen today just in time to see her take a handful of peanut butter and methodically smear it through her hair. Watching her mannerisms..., I knew she was mimicking how Jared applies gel. She thought she was very cool with her newly styled hair. Bath time required a high-powered garden hose.
And yes the fashion police were on holiday today.


Why do I need a boy when I have Eliza?

People say that boys are destructive…so is Eliza. The kid has no fear. My mom keeps saying she looks so fragile. If it was not for good medical insurance this kid would financially break us. She has had her tubes a month and last weekend she ruptured her ear drum from her first ever ear infection. So now she is back to being half deaf for the next few weeks to a month until it heals.

Then Thursday we were at a friend’s house visiting teaching (we have issues with our kids bleeding on her carpet, sorry jen :). Eliza was eating lunch at the table and she always stands on kitchen chairs and has tipped ours backwards several times. This time she did it and hit her front teeth on the way down on the back of the chair. She pushed her front two teeth way back. After we got the blood cleaned up we spent a good chunk of the afternoon at the dentist office.

Luckily she didn’t break off the roots. He said they would be discolored from blood seeping in and would slowly move back into place, but would probably always be set back a bit until they fall out. I can handle that, I was so afraid that the roots would be broken and the teeth would fall out and my kid would never lean to talk. We were hoping that she would learn a lesson from the experience, not so much.

We are looking forward to a week with no medical appointments….knock on wood.

Grandma Visits

Things have been crazy the past month. Grandma Renshaw came and stayed with us for a week over spring break. Jared was working the shuttle flight and I was working in an office about 20 miles away trying to wrap up a 530 page catalog. We didn’t see much of her, but the girls had a blast hanging out with grandma. She was a huge help! On night we went to the Boardwalk at Kemah. They have a double-decker carousel which is really cool. Erin loved it, but I think the hour wait got to Eliza, but the time Jared got her on the horse she was screaming.