Tuesday, August 30, 2016

August, where did you go?

I looked up and August is about gone.  It seems like the last month of summer flew by.  Mainly because we were so busy.  August 1 started Freshman Football, and Mermaid Cheerleading.  When I say start, I mean full on, pedal to the metal, jump in the deep end starting of football season.  This is Luke's first year to participate in youth football.  Five days a week for the first week, then jumping up to 6 days a week for the next two weeks, and after school starts, we go down to 4 days a week.  Cheerleading isn't quite so hardcore, they only practice 4 days a week. 

Luke and Marlina went to pick up his uniform and helmet.  Luke chose #1 after Cam Newton (his favorite football player at the moment).  When he got home, he put the uniform on and we went outside to throw some passes and to "try it out."  He ran a few routes and caught a few balls.  I made him drop and give me some pushups; basically anything to try and get him used to the uniform.  And thats when it hit me.  I pulled him aside and said to him, "Luke, I almost forgot one thing.  Up to this point in your athletic life, in basketball, t-ball, tae-kwon-do, baseball, etc, all of your coaches and parents and friends and relatives have told you that you were awesome and that if you just try hard and do your best, you will succeed.  Football coaches are a different breed, a different style. They yell.  They scream.  They tell you to try harder, that you are not doing enough.  They bully you.  But in the end, if they are good coaches, they will get the best out of you.  It isn't personal, they do it to everyone.  I just want you to be prepared."  "Ok Dad, whatever", is the response I got.

After the first few days, when it was 100 plus degrees, I could tell he was having a bit of a hard time.  But the little guy persevered.  He got hit and started to cry.  He popped back up and got in line.  He got to play multiple positions and learn an awful lot about football.  He made it through his first football training camp. 

Opening day came with nervous excitement.  He was ready.  He is the starting right offensive guard and he plays on all special teams.  Most of the other boys on the team have played football for one or two years already, so Luke starting has a nice ring to it.  Katie was not as excited as Luke
She was a little nervous, but soon another Mermaid grabbed her by the hand and led her out on the field.  Once there, she fully participated and had a great time.
Other than me having the flu, Opening Day was a huge success.  Marlina even won a Yeti cooler in the raffle contest.

On to the next games.  In case any of you need us for the next three months, we will be at youth football/cheerleading.  Go Sharks/Mermaids!





Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Glove World, FTW!!!

"Dad, can I have Glove World? Dad, can I have Glove World?  Dad, can I have Glove World?", that is what I heard about a thousand times on Sunday.  "Dad, do you know what would be cool?  If you got me Glove World!"  Katie has become infatuated with Glove World for SpongeBob Squarepants.
It is SpongeBob's theme park where they ride all these rides and play games, etc.  All day long, she kept asking me and asking me.  I had just about hit my limit when she told me, "Dad, I have an idea.  How about I do some chores around the house to earn enough money to buy Glove World myself?"  I stood in amazement, but quickly shouted, "That is a great idea!!!"  The next task was coming up with enough chores that a 5 year old can do well enough that I won't have to do them all again.  I raked my brain but finally came up with some chores for her.  On Sunday, Katie took out the trash all the way to the can outside, took out the recycling, put away the dishes, set the table, helped cooked dinner, wiped down the table and countertops, put away her laundry, cleaned up her room, straightened the upstairs playroom, as well as a few other misc. chores that I know I am forgetting.  I then sat her down and explained calmly to her that, due to her constant nagging, there was no way I was going to buy her Glove World, but that because she decided that she would work for the money, she had earned enough to buy it herself.  I was so proud of her.  She then explained to her brother the whole process and she even went so far as to tell him "Good things come when you go to work!"  I will definitely mark this in the parenting win column.

Glove World, For The Win!!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Rain, rain, go away....

Well, Thursday and Friday of our time in Maryland-Washington-Delaware was a washout, but we were determined not to let that stop us.  We had grandiose plans to hit the beach again, and maybe check out a few other beach towns.  Well the beach part of it was out due to rain, but we still got to travel around a bit and check out other parts of the area.  After a late start (we were with the Millers!) we ventured up to Rehoboth Beach, and specifically, the Dogfish Head Brewpub for a pint and an appetizer. 
When we got there, it appeared that the entire area had the same idea.  Approx. 1 hour wait for a table.  After taking shifts, sometimes guys at bar with kids outside, sometimes girls at bar, sometimes couples at the bar, we finally were seated upstairs where we enjoyed a wonderful charcuterie board with local cheeses made with Dogfish Head beer.  Marlina has me looking for some Stilton style blue cheese that I think I can get at HEB. 

Next up, we headed next door for some dinner at a restaurant that Ian and Ashly wanted to try.  I knew as soon as I looked at the menu that Marlina would not be happy.  The restaurant was seafood only.  In fact, the only non-seafood dish on the menu was a chicken dish on the kids menu.  She was a trooper and ordered that while the three other adults ordered a dozen raw oysters.  This is the first time I was ever asked what kind of oysters I wanted and was given an oyster menu.  Living on the gulf coast, you only get gulf oysters.  Up here in Yankee land, apparently there is a big difference in where the oysters are grown and how they are harvested.  In fact, one of the oysters that we ordered was called Smoke on the Water because the salt they use in the growing process is smoked sea salt thereby producing what they called "the worlds first smoked raw oyster."  It was ok, but then again, I am not much of a raw oyster person.  After the oysters, I had a wonderful scallop dish with pea puree that was wonderful.

 The next morning, we got up and watched it rain some more.  At that point, it was decided that we should head to Ocean City, Maryland for some brunch before it was time to head to the airport.  Ocean City was huge compared to the small beach towns we were in before.  We walked along the boardwalk in the rain, hitting shops when the rain got too hard or we needed to warm up.
  Then we fell into the Ocean City Taproom for some wonderful breakfast and a sunshine cocktail.  The kids ordered short stacks of pancakes that ended up being larger than the plates complete with whipped cream and all the syrup they wanted.  Marlina even found something she would eat there.  I ordered a breakfast cheesesteak sandwich which ended up being pretty good except that they had too many eggs in it.  Then we walked outside to watch a couple of F-18's doing some practice runs before the big airshow the next day.  Man, those things are loud. Finally it was time to head to the airport.  I am not exaggerating when I say five minutes after getting in the car headed westward, the skies cleared and sun was everywhere.  At least the ride back was warm.

We had a blast with the Millers and definitely enjoyed our stay on the Mid-Atlantic coast.  Can't wait to do it again.  Thanks again Ian, Ashly, Blayne, Caden, and Ela.  We love visiting ya'll, but come back home to Texas soon.


Monday, June 27, 2016

Here fishy fishy fishy....

As mentioned previously, the boys and I headed out fishing on Wednesday morning.  Early.  O Dark Thirty early.  We left the house at 4:20 to meet the captain at 4:45.  With an 8 year old and a 6 year old.  Both of whom were stoked to be going, however.  We climbed aboard the Captain Ike II (a little ominous for us coastal Texans who still remember the 2008 storm) and settled in for a long ride.
Captain Dave called us the night before to discuss the itinerary.  The tuna were located well to our south, so that was out of the question.  The tautog was out of season, so that was a no go.  Sharks were a plenty, and thats what the boys wanted to catch anyways, so shark fishing it shall be.  As we made our way out of the channel we watched the sunrise.
The fishing grounds were over 60 miles off shore, so the ride took a little while.  The boys closed their eyes ( I think I did too), and we motored offshore.  About 90 minutes in, some chatter started on the radio.  Someone had caught a tuna.  Good for him.  About 10 minutes later, someone else had hooked up.  We watch as the captain's eyes grow a little wider.  10 more minutes pass and Captain Dave turns to Ian and I and says, "We can fish for sharks like we planned, or we can just go a little further where they are catching tuna.  Your call."  Ian and I look at the kids, who were both sleeping, and nod in agreement, "Go for the tuna!."
We trolled for a quite a while searching for the fish.  The two families had to decide which one of us would reel in the first fish, so we solved it the best way we knew how: we did paper, rock, scissors.  Damn you rock.  Anyways, it was decided that the Millers would get the first fish.  All we had to do now was hook one.  After about two hours, finally, fish on!!
A nice tuna!  Then it was our turn.  I only prayed that it wouldn't take two more hours of trolling to find another one.  But the captain knew what he was doing and we had another hook up about 30 minutes later. 


Another nice tuna!!!  After that, the captain put us on some tilefish.  I had never heard of a tile fish, but we caught two different kinds: blue tilefish, and golden tilefish.  Both supposedly are great eating.  After the boys had caught a few, I insisted that I get a chance to drop the line and set the hook for myself rather than the deck hand doing it for me.  I learned this from Mark as he did the same thing the last time we went fishing.  This way, I truly knew what it felt like to get a hook up.  The same time we were tilefishing, Luke hooked into his catch of the day.  He hooked into a baby leopard shark.  It was pretty cool looking and both boys were excited about catching a shark.


All in all, we had a blast.  The boys got to go fishing with their dads.  The dads caught some tuna.  The boys caught a bunch of fish, and even a shark.  The Millers have enough tuna to last them all summer.


We had so much fun, I can't believe it was almost time for us to head back to Texas.  Almost.......



Thursday, June 23, 2016

Dela--where???

So, we left DC and headed to Delaware, and that means taking the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. 
Under normal circumstances, this would be considered ho-hum, but at rush hour, they institute an overflow lane policy.  They dedicate one lane on the opposite side of the bridge to flow outbound, with no barrier in between.  The bridge is pretty fricking high first of all, there are practically no guard rails, and now you are adding in that one lane of traffic is going the opposite way at 65 mph!  Guess which lane Ian wanted to drive on, "just to show you!"?  I clutched the oh-shit handle the entire length of the bridge, which takes you a good 5 minutes to get over. But we made it, and then on to the beach house.

 Bethany Beach, Delaware is a quaint little beach town.  It has a boardwalk that runs along the beach, complete with little shops and restaurants.  The beach was awesome.  Kate even got to touch a horseshoe crab. 



The water temp was a bit cool for Marlina, but I actually braved the waters and the waves for a nice swim.  The water was nice and blueish/green and you could see for a foot or so.  What surprised me the most was that everyone who was in the water was within 15 yards of the shore.  No one ventured out much past that, and I don't know why.  It did get deep pretty fast, unlike Texas, where you can wade for hours in 4' deep water.  Also, no fishing poles allowed on this public beach.  If you want to fish, you must go to the state park which is located just to the north.
After the kids had had enough of the beach, and Ashly got thirsty (there is not supposed to be any alcohol on the beach), the girls and the kids (minus Ela who was taking a snooze on the beach, and we all know not to pet the rattlesnake) headed back to the house to get in the community pool.  Ian and I hung out until the tide finally reached our chairs and Ela had woken up.  After that, we headed to get some famous Maryland blue crabs for dinner.
This was not my first crab picking, but it was my first crab picking in Delaware.  We didn't boil/steam them ourselves as that is a bit of trouble and it is just too easy to go and pick some up.  Ian ordered up two sacks of crabs (about 10 pounds each if I remember correctly) and we headed to the neighborhood crab picking shack.  The shack is a covered, screened in porch with a bunch of picnic tables.  The neighborhood goes there to eat crabs because they don't want to mess up their house.  And boy are those crabs messy.  The kids didn't last long, and I think that Luke was the only one to belly up to the table and eat some crabs with us, but there was a nice family from Alabama doing the same thing we were doing.  I tried to watch their technique, but they were moving a bit fast for me to truly study it.  I guess I will have to stick to the way Ian showed me.  I kept telling Ian that I felt like Anthony Bourdain taking a tour of Delaware, talking to the locals and getting their take on the world.  The weather was about 72 degrees, I was eating crabs and drinking pink wine with friends; I was happy!  But I had to get up early in the morning because we were going fishing.....

Stay tuned..


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Vacation time...

Well, it is that time of year again, vacation time.  Time when thousands of Americans head out from home in search of fun times and experiences.  This year we packed up the family and headed to Delaware.
We loaded the kids up and headed to visit our friends, The Millers.  Actually, we landed in Baltimore, and spent the night in Leonardtown, MD.    Leonardtown is straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.  I mean, check out their community bulletin board...
I kept walking around telling Ian I am amazed at how quiet it was there.  We had dinner at nice restaurant, then walked to go get ice cream.  Yes, I said walked.  In Texas, in June, you don't walk anywhere that isn't air conditioned.  It was sunny and 72 in Leonardtown.  I was with with family and friends, I was happy.
  

Next up, we headed to Washington DC to say hi to Barry and some friends.  We took the subway into town, as Luke and Kate had never ridden on a subway before.  That sucka moved pretty fast.  We hit the National Air and Space Museum and saw the Kitty Hawk plane, the Red Baron plane, replicas of aircraft carriers, and got lessons in flight.  The kids ran through each exhibit, not even bothering to read the plaques.  It drove me up the wall until we got to the Flight Lessons lounge.  There the kids got to touch and feel and play and run and make things move up and down.  They still didn't read the instructions, but rather grabbed the joystick and started experimenting until they got it right.  I stood back and was amazed at how the kids were not afraid to try anything as there were no consequences for failing.  The video game culture hard at work.  And not the arcade video game culture, where you had to keep adding money to the machine if you died, but the at home console game culture, where if you die, you just start over. But it was neat to see how fast they picked up the different aspects of what the machines/experiments were trying to teach them.  Experience is the best teacher.
From there we headed out to see the traditional Washington sights.


We even stopped off to see if Barry was home...
After a quick bite to eat, and a lovely Manhattan from The Old Ebbit Grill, the oldest saloon in Washington, we headed to Delaware..

Stay tuned folks....


Thursday, June 2, 2016

A little bit of chicken fried...

Well, I went to the doctor yesterday.  It's been 5 years since my last checkup.  I hit 40 this year and figured I had better get the ole once over glance.  I decided I had better warn Marlina in case she got some news afterwards that she didn't like.  "Babe, I just want you to be prepared regarding the doctor's diagnosis.  There is a distinct possibility that the doctor may say that I am an Adonis."  She rolled her eyes and moved on, but I know she was thinking about it.


Something else that's been on my mind lately segues nicely with this thought.  I went to lunch with my father the other day.  The special on the menu board was chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and cream gravy, the Texas classic. 
It looked phenomenal, but as many a grown up has found out, these delicacies are not exactly healthy.  In fact, they may be the worst food on the planet for you depending, of course, on what you put in your cream gravy.  "I'll  have the grilled chicken Caesar salad please," I said.  Then, my father says, "I'll have the chicken fried steak," as if there is nothing out of the ordinary.  I haven't had a chicken fried steak in over five years because I know how bad it is for me and I know I will be absolutely worthless for the next four hours.  Two days later, we both go to lunch with a customer who is in his 70's as well.  This customer also ordered chicken fried steak for lunch.  I was flabbergasted, until it hit me:  its the benefit/consequence bell curve. Both of them had already reached the height of the bell curve and were on the other side.  The benefits of eating that wonderful chicken fried finally outweighed the consequences of consuming it, just like it does when you are 18.  I sure hope I get to see the other side.  It looks delicious.

Back to the doctor's visit....I had my first EKG.  I had my first stress test on the tread mill.  I got my first finger....Yep, I hit 40, and that's when the fun begins, or at least thats what the doctor said as she snapped the rubber glove.  I had blood drawn, I peed in a cup.  At least they gave me a sandwich while I waited.  Then the doc came back in to discuss the results. 
Just kidding.  The doc said I was a normal 40 year old red blooded American male.  I had a little too much belly fat.  My cholesterol was just a hint higher than where is should be.  I should exercise more and drink less.  Other than that, I received a clean bill of health.  Oh yeah, she also said one chicken fried steak a year won't kill me.  Anyone want to do lunch?