The Happiest Place on Earth

I thought this photo was eerily awesome. There was a storm rolling in just as we left the park.

We drove two days to Florida to attend the last flight of Discovery. She has flown 37 missions and we had hopped to see her last journey into space, however she just was not ready. Over the course of the week they had a few fuels leaks, a weather delay and finally they scrubbed the launch until early December when the next flight window opens (we won't be going back, this was our only chance to see a flight). We were really disappointed, but in the mean time we had a wonderful and much needed vacation.

We stayed at the Liki Tiki Resort, it was a villa resort with condos with washer/dryer, separate bedrooms and fully stocked kitchen, It was incredibly nice to have some room (and two T.V's) The resort had a mini water park which the girls loved. I know you are all thinking, what Renshaws actually dropped some cash? Have no fear, we didn't jeopardize our frugalness (not sure if that is a word), we booked through condosdirect.com and got the villa for $50.00/night taxes included. Would highly recommend them, great place to stay and about five miles from the Disney gates.

And of course you can't go to Orlando with little princess-obsessed girls without hitting Magic Kingdom. We ended up going on a Thursday, which was perfect. We didn't wait in line more than 10 minutes and we were able to do the whole park in one day and the weather was beautiful.

Erin loved the princesses, Ike loved Its a Small World and at the end of the day Eliza discovered Goofy's Barnstormer roller coaster and was hooked (surprise, surprise, Eliza like a thrill :) We made it from 9am to 7pm.

(ps, we love Eliza she is just anti-photographs right now).

Swiss Family Robinson Tree House
Ike stole Minni's chair from Eliza, point for Ike and man was he proud!
Jared is by far the most excited in this photo to ride the Astro-Orbiter

No ones eyes should be this blue :)
Erin and the castle


The Ike Man

He is getting so big. I gave him a haircut a few weeks ago and was thrilled to see his sweet little hairline is still there, which makes me think I am never going to let his hair grow out. Ike is such a happy little guy...except when large sticks linger overhead, sisters are nerve-racking!

Air Show

This year the girls were not interested in the airplanes at all and Ike completely freaked when a big bomber swooped overhead. But the day was beautiful and the kids enjoyed being out in the park.

Happy Halloween

We were leaving for Florida on Oct 30th but the kiddos still needed costumes for school outings and our wards Trunk-or-Treat. I told them they could either spend their money on costumes or spend it at Disney World. So they quickly decided a box it was. I thought it would be a walk-in-the park, how hard could a "box costume" be?

Eliza was adamant about being a "mink mi-pod", which is humorous because Jared had to bite his tongue and let his little girl dress as an Apple product as he is now a proud EVO owner.
Erin took it a step further and decided on being "a box of Shipley Do-Nuts", our favorite Saturday morning stop. Seriously what kid wants to be a box of baked goods?
I was able to put together Eliza's costume together for $6.00 and Erin's for $8.00 plus a few late nights and lots of glue gun burns. I kept thinking this is how I use five years of design school? But I must say I thought they turned out dang well and the girls we really excited. My mom always did an awesome job on homemade costumes so it was fun to pass along the tradition.
Eliza's preschool got to trick-or-treat all the high school classrooms and I heard she was the hit of the high school. She really got into it wearing all pink!
And Ike, well Ike was a left over elephant from the costume bin, but we used him a public service announcement to VOTE! I know, the kid is going to need counseling!


Kicked While Down

I had one of those weeks feeling as though I was laying on the sidewalk and the world was trampling over me. There was not a specific, catastrophic event, but the build up of of small events that nearly threw me over the edge.

Lets just say Tuesday started with a flat bike tire on the way to Erin's school (not cool when you are pulling 70 pounds in a trailer) and ended with a wonderful husband shoeing me out the door for a RS meeting so I could have some adult time, only to watch Isaac get stung by a wasp and his little hand swell up like a golf ball. So I opted to stay home in case one of us had to take him to the ER (luckily it was localized).

So I went to bed feeling sorry for myself and woke up Wednesday ready to take on the world again.....and that lasted about an hour, which brings us to the kicked while down part of my week...

Half way to school Erin announced she forgot her bookbag. We were running late, but still had time so we ran home. I took my keys out of the bike trailer (where I always keep them when I ride), opened the house door and hastily shoved them in my pocket and jumped back on the bike. I dropped Erin off and headed right back home and as I approached LC Parkway and began to cross the four lanes of heavy morning traffic I thought “ohhh, someone lost their keys......crap those are mine!”. Realizing they had fallen out of my pocket, I dodged angry people later for work, picking up mangled pieces that moderately resembled my keys. The sicking part was I had lost both my Kia remote AND my Honda chipped transponder key (pricy!) along with my house and mail key. Honestly how many people can run over them in under five minutes? By the looks of it most of the city, I am pretty sure there was a bus or two in the lineup also).

Luckily I had left the garage door unlocked so I called Jared and told him I was going to swing by his work, see if the honda key worked and grab his set of keys so the local locksmith could get a good cut. My broken Kia key barely turned over (by the looks of it I think I could stick a coat hanger in my ignition an it would turn over) but it started. I had to stop at Hobby Lobby and I locked my doors and took in my one mangled headless key. Ike was screaming so I gave him the key to play with and within a second it was gone! I walked the isle, asked the old lady at the front almost in tears if anyone had seen a half shaved off, dented piece of metal that resembled a car key...and then asked if I could use the store phone to call my husband.

Luckily Jared was at his desk and came and hesitantly dropped of his set of keys for me. We finally made it to the lock smith, she took one look and said “that looks like a bad day” and $$ later I had a new house, mail, and Kia key. She even bent my Honda key back so it would work well enough for a while so I didn't have to shell out $150.00 for that key alone.

By noon I was ready to throw inn the towel and become a hermit. No driving, NO KEYS, no communication sounded like a great life. I walked into the house mentally drained and changed Ike before putting him down for a much needed nap. And there it was, the shiny mangled Kia key. Ike was wearing overalls and he had dropped in down the front and into his diaper in Hobby Lobby.

On the bright side the week only got better :)


First Day of Trooper School

Eliza started Trooper School last week and she is loving it! Its a preschool program through the local high school. They admit high school students who are looking to go into pediatrics and elementary ed. I think there are around 50 high school studenst that rotate in and out throughout the day and 20 preschool students.

Erin was in the program for two years and we were thrilled with it. I thought Ike would miss Eliza dearly but he is loving the free reign, at least until about noon and they he starts looking for the girls. Eliza is so proud of her backpack, I had to laugh, its almost as big as she is!

Sally Forth II

I got my replacement kayak in last week. Don't ask how they considered the major gash in the middle of the underside of my boat a "seam split" but I was completely honest and upfront about running over a possible sawed off pipe in the midst of an electrical storm being blown across Clear Lake. So needless to say I was very happy with Sevylor customer service.

Last Saturday Cami and I took it out for her first voyage, starting in Nassau Bay and paddling up through the lower part of Mud Lake, a total of six miles round trip. The morning was absolutely beautiful as we were able to port in early enough to catch sunrise.
I have felt like the past three years or so I haven't had a true hobby that I actually love (who has time AND money with three kids)?? But this may just be it. I find the solitude on the backwaters a welcomed break from suburbia and the daily grind.

Cami and I talked a lot of identity that day, and while I feel like I have a solid identity I am comfortable with (I'm a Midwest Mormon farm girl, what else is there to say?) I seem to struggle this fall with finding my place in the "school community". All at once this country girl from humble but loving circumstances has found herself in the midst of middle class suburbia, rubbing shoulders with moms who eat, sleep and breathe PTA and their little worlds revolve volunteering, their one to two children and what happened on the latest reality show.

And while I ride my bike in a t-shirt and b-ball shorts to pick up Erin, the mother next to me walks up in black heels and a skirt that is way to short for any mid-thirties mama to be wearing. A lot of it just seems plain shallow, but then maybe I am just on my high horse. I feel like the whole situation is plain weird but I just have to deal with them during morning and afternoon pick up.

And so far this is the only gator we have ran into. Hopefully it stays painted on the sign :) I took this photo just for Big E :)

Cami and I were talking about porting out of Armand Bayou next week...eek!

The Week of Food??

I was trying to remember what we did this week that was mildly interesting, but looking at the photos whatever it was, it revolved around food. Ike learned a new trick, how to crawl up on the table. At first I thought he was doing it to get to the food, but then I saw him grab a bag of goldfish out of the pantry and proceed to climb on the table to snack. He must think its a safe harbor from Eliza.
The weather is FINALLY cooling off, we are now in the mid 80's during the day and we have even slept with the windows open a few nights this week. With the nice weather we have been having dinner outside...with the skeeters.


Seven Years....

Sunday we celebrated our 7th anniversary. How quickly time passes and how steady love grows.

Saturday night we went out to a swanky Mexican restaurant in downtown Houston (Armandos). The food was amazing (and I expected nothing less with the price tag :)! Then we booked second row seats for the Houston Symphony at Jones Hall. The nights performance was Wagner's Ring without words. It was a very nice night out and much needed.

Happy Anniversary to a wonderful man who has been there every step of the way. Here's to making the coming years as wonderful as the ones behind us!


MOD Open Access Family Day at JSC

Today we got to experience something that few civilians get to tour on the floor. Jared told me last week they were having a MOD (Mission Operation Directorate) Family Day. About once every five years they have this day and open most of the facilities. The last time we went we got to go on the floor but today they had all the astronaut training modules open to walk through AND we actually got a tour pool side of the NBL (

Neutral Buoyancy Lab). Which made me nervous having Eliza standing 24" from one of the largest pools in the world by volume. This baby is 40' deep.

Poolside at the NBL

One of my favorite tours was walking through the full size space station mock up. I get really claustrophobic, as even I had to duck through the capsules openings. Jared kindly reminded me that in space you can use all the area and not just the floor so it seems “bigger”. Floating or not it's tight quarters for six months.

Inside the Space Station Astronaut Training Center
It always amazes me to visit JSC and learn about the shuttle program and today as I watched Jared share his excitement about space flight with Erin (who is a budding space geek) it made me sad to think we are looking at the end of an era. The shuttle will retire this spring, possibly summer if we are lucky.

I think one reason they opened up everything today was for company morel. Come the first week of October, 1/3 of the people in Jared's area are getting laid off. We were blessed to make it through this cut, but its sad to see people who have worked so hard say goodbye. It makes for an unsure year for everyone. It will be interesting what the next step will be in space flight.

Kaminari Taiko drum concert

Last night we took the family to the Kaminari Taiko Drum performance at Miller Outdoor Theater in downtown Houston. This is one of my favorite venues because they have so many different types of shows and its all FREE.

And the theater itself is an open air amphitheater. You can either get seats (which we did tonight because the weather was iffy, thanks to Brittany and Derek getting there early) or bring a blanket and sit on the only hill in the city of Houston. People go all out and bring dinner, wine and cheese and you have everyone from families with little kids to college professors.

The performance was spectacular! Erin was memorized by the drumming acts (not so much by the Samurai warriors :). And I didn't realize the Taiko school is actually located in Houston and you can take lessons.


Interpretation of the "Chicken Dance"

I love my kids, I love how incredibly individual their characters are from one another.....and I love how Issac inherited his father's dance moves :D


The Kayaking Mishap

League City Lighthouse

I have been trying to get out on the water for over a month now and life has been nonstop. So on Labor Day my friend Kallie and I decided to take “Sally Forth” (my inflatable kayak) out to sea. Well at least out to Clear Lake.

As always we like a little adventure and Monday Houston was on the dirty side of Tropical Storm Hermine. It had been stormy all day but the radar looked semi clear so we thought we would port in between rain bands.

Our goal was to row over to the old League City Lighthouse. It's under lock and key, but you can row up to it from the lake. The homes were beautiful, its a part of League City you never see driving because it a gated community tucked away.

Bridge 270/518

On our way to the lighthouse it was getting dark but we were almost there so we pressed forward. By the time we took a few photos the sky was turning black with rumbling in the distance. We both paddled like mad and about half way back to where our car was the wind picked up, the waves began to whitecap and our boat felt a little heavier than it did six miles earlier.

We decided to head for Nassau Bay and digging as hard as we could we passed a sign on a buoy that stated “BEWARE OF ALLIGATOR”. We took a moment to ponder if it was a good thing or not the word alligator was in its singular form. Inflatable boat + rough seas + electrical storm + large pride-of-the-community alligator could really make for a bad day.

We finally made it to a boardwalk, not know how far it was to the car. We climbed up the ladder, heaving our air kayak, which now really (weighed 80 pounds) up on the walk, watching the water pour out of it. Needless to say somewhere in the alligator's back yard we managed to put a 10-inch split in the bottom of the boat. But FYI it stayed afloat.

Taking shelter from the storm

So we starting walking down the streets of Nassau Bay, mutilated boat in tote, attempting to find our bearings in the pouring rain. Guess it must be a common occurrence because no one even looked twice. And that is how our day on the lake went. Sally Forth is currently in for repairs and well Kallie and I have photos of the lighthouse.


A Picture Worth One Word....Seriously?

I was helping Erin with her homework and thinking (in my perfect world) Isaac and Eliza were playing so well together. And then he walked in. Eliza decided to use him as an art board "because she didn't want to mess up her drawing". There was no screaming involved so he was 1. thrilled for the attention or 2. knew that screaming would only make her do something more extreme.

Thank goodness for washable markers!