Friday, December 09, 2005

Happy Hanukah vs. Merry Christmas

Just wondering....if you're not Jewish, would you be offended by seeing a blue & white sign that said "Happy Hanukah" at your local shopping place? Me either. This week I was at Target when I saw an endcap completely decked out in blue, white & silver with displays of all kinds of Hanukah goods from Menorahs to Dreidels to Hanukah gift wrap. At the top of the display and on each shelf was a banner that read "Happy Hanukah". My first thought was "how cool...I didn't know they sold Menorahs at Target!". But then, as I thought about it, I became extremely offended.

Not because I'm offended by the reference to Hanukah, but rather by the lack of reference to my holiday, Christmas. I mean, Hanukah stuff takes up exactly one endcap in the store....not exactly making or breaking the bottom line for Target. Christmas stuff, however, takes up aisles and aisles of the store totally dedicated to the holiday. Target and all other similar retailers completely depend on Christmas sales to make or break their bottom line for the year, however you will not see "Merry Christmas" anywhere in their store, or in their ads. Why not?? If you want my money, want me to buy Christmas trees (Lowe's calls them Holiday another holiday where people put a pine tree in their living room!!), Christmas cards, Christmas decorations and Christmas gifts, then wish me a Merry Christmas for Pete's sake!! Don't take my money and then act like my holiday is so evil and offensive you can't even refer to it! I mean, who is being inclusive here and who is being exclusive? I'm thrilled to see a Hanukah display and I'd be just as thrilled to see displays for every religious holiday with all the related goods and trimmings. Just don't exclude mine and make me feel like my religion is somehow too offensive to be mentioned by name.

Incidentally, I hear that Target and Sears are re-thinking their "no Christmas" policy due to a sales problem and will actually refer to Christmas in their upcoming ads. Nothing lack crappy holiday sales to bring out the inclusiveness in corporate America!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

In the Christmas Spirit!!

And yes, I said Christmas....not Holiday Spirit, or Season's Spirit....CHRISTMAS spirit! I'm really enjoying it more this year than I have in the past few, for whatever reason.

One reason is that I'm really enjoying a particular gift I'm giving this year. My Mom and Dad live in a small condo, and she wanted her *one* flower bed redone. This is right up my alley! I just had to recruit a couple of siblings to pitch in on the cost, and I get to plan it, sketch it out, and get my hands dirty! It's been so fun...first seeing what types of flowers she enjoys (roses & lilies), then choosing the varieties so she has lots of colors and something blooming from early spring to late fall. Then sketching it out to see how it will look and where everything will be planted. We've already removed all the old plants, installed a new border, added garden soil, planted the 2 anchor plants - antique roses, and added the soaker hose and of course the garden flag. All we have left is to receive and plant the lilies, cover with mulch, and arrange some lava rocks for downspout coverage. So fun!! The "giving" of the gift is lasting the whole month long, so it's really a blast.

My children are at the prime ages this year, too. Big J woke up this morning and sleepily asked "is Santa coming tonight?" Hilarious! They are SO into everything. Decorating the tree, making ornaments, reading Christmas name it, they're enthused about it! Sure does make everything more exciting. I've even downloaded Christmas ringtones for my phone that they helped me choose!

Happy December 1st, and remember to enjoy the next 24 days because it will all be over way too soon!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!!

As you celebrate with friends and family, please take time to thank God for your blessings and pray for those who are missing loved ones at the table this year.

Cpt. Jason Snelgrove....we're gonna miss you! Hurry home safely and I promise to fix all your favorites next year! We're really gonna miss ya on Friday. We might be the only Aggies there! BTHOTU!!!

Big L and I are hosting the big hooha this year, and we're expecting around 18 tomorrow. After going over the menu, we're going to have enough food for twice that.....although what am I saying? It's MY family.....we'll eat it all!

Yes, the look of the blog has changed yet again. Mainly because something went haywire with the blogfrocks template I was using, and I'm tired of always having to fix it. So....I guess I'm just gonna stick with the basic old blogger stuff. Incidentally, this is the same template I was using when I launched Texasbug over a year ago.

Have a wonderful holiday!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Missing Friendswood Girl!

Friendswood, Texas
Missing Since: November 11, 2005 at 05:00
Age: 16
Missing From: home on Bougainvilla Lane
Sex: female
Height: 5ft. 6in.
Weight: 130 Lbs.
Eye Color: black
Hair Color: black
Race: black
Birth Date: December 29, 1988

Distinguishing Marks: Acne on face
Clothing Description: May be wearing a red jacket with "Cotton Bowl" on front and back.
Jewelry: Silver hoop earrings
Chastity, We love you. Please come home. We want to know your safe.--Your Family

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Please call the Friendswood Police Department at 281-996-3300 if you have any information about CHASTITY MONIQUE PETTWAY JACKSON- Case number: 051849
Or, call the Laura Recovery Center at 281-482-LRCF(5723) or (toll free) 866-898-5723; FAX: 281-482-5727
Download Flyers
Recovery Effort E-mail:

Sunday, November 13, 2005

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today, was a day that, although I didn't know it at the time, would be a day I'll remember forever. November 13, 2004 is the day that Captain Sean Patrick Sims was killed in action in Iraq. It happened on a Saturday morning, and I didn't find out about it until the following Monday.

These are the times when I wish I were a writer instead of an accountant. I would love to capture my memories in a way that make you, the reader, feel even a fraction of the emotion that I feel. Sean and I met in college and dated for a while in what was a pretty serious relationship. After we broke up, we did not stay in touch, but I'd just run into his best friend and his wife at an Aggie football game, so I was contemplating contacting him to catch up. I knew he and his wife Heidi had recently given birth to a son, and I was interested to hear from him as a father. But, that was not to be the case. Instead, in a very weird turn of events, I've now struck up a friendship with his wife, Heidi, whom I've never met in person. When I tell people this, they always give me a strange look and say "you're friends with his wife? That's strange". But really, it's not when you think about it. In her words, we are the two people who probably knew him the best, and we're able to talk about Sean in a way that neither of us can with anyone else, because they didn't know him like we did. Crazier things have happened I guess!

Anyway, Heidi's post today tells the story of how she found out the news that Saturday evening. So...I'll tell mine as well.

On Monday, November 15, I had a business lunch with a very nice girl about my age who works for a payroll service. She and I were discussing client of mine that I had in mind for her service, and she was telling me how she could improve their payroll issues. I really enjoyed it because I like Hilary, plus I always like getting dressed in casual business clothes and going into the city. It reminds me of my former life, only I still get to go home, change into pajamas, and play with my kiddos! Anyway, as we finished I walked her to her car to get some printed materials to give to my clients. We even made plans to get together for some Christmas shopping in the next week or two.

I opened the door to my Expedition and started to climb in. Just as I'd tossed my purse to the other seat, my cell phone started ringing. With my door still opened, I saw that it was my niece Rachel calling from Oklahoma, which was odd in the middle of the day, so I answered quickly. (Rachel's husband Jason is in the Army and they were stationed at Ft. Sill at the time). "Hey Rach!....What's up?" I hear controlled tears in her voice as she says "Something bad. I have some bad news". I think she went on to say she wasn't sure if it was a good time to call me, and that she didn't know how to tell me this, etc. , but my concern for her caused me to interrupt with "it's fine...what is it??". I'm already thinking....something with Jason...a fight...I'll fly up there and make them make up....I'll help her fix it, whatever. She may be my niece, but my maternal instincts extend to her as well, and as a result I want her life to be perfect. So, my first reaction is that somehow it's not and I *must* fix it. She responds "They're saying.......They're saying Sean is dead". My response: "Sean Sims? No, no, no." Then it hits me. "Oh my God. (deep inhalation) Oh my God! (deeper inhalation) Oh my God!!! NO!!! Are you SURE??? How do you know?" She responds "Abby (her younger sister) saw a friend's post about it on, she wasn't sure it was the right Sean so she called me first, and I checked. It's him, I'm so sorry." This is the point where I begin to cry and sob hysterically. My car door is still open, and I'm at a trendy restaurant in Rice Village, and none of that ever crossed my mind. I cried and cried and cried until I finally registered Rachel's voice asking me if I was going to be OK and how would I get home. OK, reality. I realize I have to get it under control. I assure her I'll be OK, that I won't drive until I've calmed down, and that I'll call her as soon as I get home. Then I hung up and called my husband. The first words out of my mouth must have been assurances that nothing was wrong with me or the kids. He very lovingly let me cry and get it all out until I was calm enough to drive home, which must've been 20 or 30 minutes later, at least. The whole parking lot scene lasted around 45 minutes.

Luckily, I'd arranged for my kids to be cared for until much later, so I got home to an empty house. I sat down on the couch and immediately started searching the internet (and crying). First I went to to see this post that so blatantly just layed it out there for anyone to discover. There I discovered one of Sean's buddies from L-2, Mark, who had also found out via the texags post, and was demanding details and confirmation. I was so grateful for that, because that's what I wanted to do too. I posted to see if he remembered me, and he did, and we then started conversing regularly via email as the days unfolded. After I'd read that post, I started searching. Every scrap of info, which was much more that I expected to find, on the internet. Then i remembered that I'd just seen his best friend Dave and his wife Michelle at a football game, and I had their phone number! What a strange thing that I'd run into them the week or so before and I hadn't seen them in 10 or more years until then! I called Michelle and left her a message that I knew and to please call me back, which she did. Turns out, she'd wanted to call me, but in her words she was too scared to actually be the one to tell me. I was so grateful to have her to talk to, because she was the only person I knew who'd actually known Sean when I did, other than my niece, and we had many shared memories to go over. My niece Rachel had been 13 at the time I dated Sean, and would come spend the weekends with me at Texas A&M, hang out with Sean and his buddies with me, and go to the football games. She'd even known Dave & Michelle. That whole experience influenced her to go to Texas A&M, and knowing Sean influenced her to date and eventually marry a Corps boy of her own...Jason. So I was very grateful that it was she who gave me the news. But for the grace of God I would've just happened upon it at, which would've been much more horrible for me, I think.

< be continued....>

Friday, November 11, 2005

Some Very Special Veterans

On this Veteran's Day, I'd like to take a moment to say Thank You to some very special Veterans in my life:

First of all, my Dad

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Fireman 1st Class, H.S. Shuman, who served in the Navy on Okinawa in World War II at the age of 17.

Next, my father-in-law

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Wayne Kitchel, Army officer serving in Korea

Next, someone very dear to my heart who gave his life for our country on November 13, 2004 (more posts to follow this week)

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Captain Sean Sims, US Army served in Iraq and Bosnia. Be sure to check out his wife's blog at Learning to Live

Next, someone whom I've gotten to "know" after receiving a memorial bracelet with his name on it

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Master Sgt. Kelly Hornbeck from Fort Worth, TX who gave his life for our country on January 18, 2004 in Iraq

Last, but most definitely not least, my niece's husband who is currently serving a second term in Iraq. Unfortunately, all my photos of Captain Jason Snelgrove, US Army in Iraq, are on the computer that crashed so instead I'll give you a link to his awesome blog, There and Back Again

Have a wonderful Veteran's Day, and say a prayer today for the families of those who gave their lives for your freedom!!

I'm in Limbo....

for a while. My laptop bit the dust! Luckily, I did have a desktop that i could start using, but I'm not going to be my usual blogging self until my new lappy gets here. For one thing, the computer didn't have Mozilla/Firefox on it, so I'm having to try and remember all my user names and passwords! I was so spoiled with it before...

Hopefully by Wednesday my new toy will arrive! Woohoo!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Your Monster Profile

Creepy Lunatic

You Feast On: M&Ms

You Lurk Around In: The Hearts of Men

You Especially Like to Torment: Blondes

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Why I'm Voting "No" on Texas' Prop 2

First let me start off by saying, yes...I am still a Christian! In fact, that has a lot to do with why I'm voting no on Prop 2 (designating marriage as one man, one woman). I do not have a problem with a law that would simply do what I just stated....confirm that "marriage" is between one man and one woman. However, Prop 2 goes way beyond just that. It does not allow for any kind of legal standing for other people, and I would like to see this. I see no reason why the law cannot allow for 2 adults of the same sex to designate each other as next of kin for hospitalizations, inherited property, etc. This type of thing is not allowed for by prop 2.

Not only that, but I'm sick to death of Christians acting like homosexuality is the greatest sin on the planet and warrants all of our resources, time and effort to stop it. What about adultery? It's sin, but not illegal. Same goes for sex before marriage. Is anyone fighting to put unwed mothers in jail? I don't think so. Even better....why not pass a law that says its illegal to remarry after divorce? After all, that's what the Bible says, right? The problem is that too many Christians break that rule, so they'll never fight to make it a law. That's exactly my point here. The fact of the matter is that most people simply cannot imagine themselves being homosexual, so they think it's the worst thing ever. Anything they can imagine themselves being tempted to do....not so bad, and definitely shouldn't be illegal.

Additionally, I do not believe that the Bible should be the standard for the law of the land. Just because we might possibly have the majority right now does not mean that we should legislate our faith. Heaven forbid the majority ever fall to the Muslims and we find our grandchildren living under Sharia law! It's just not right.

Lastly, I do not believe it's what Jesus would have done. Jesus was all about social justice, and that's what this law is about (or against, in this case). Jesus spent all of his time with those who were outside of the law, and outside of the religious, moral lifestyle of the day. He did not spend His time trying to change their behavior, He spent it trying to change their hearts. If we as Christians are so concerned about homosexual behavior, our time would be much more well spent developing friendships with gays and introducing them to the One who can change their lives. As it stands, I'm sure they only see Christians as antagonists who want to make their lives miserable and who seemingly hate them. I could not blame them for making those assumptions, based on the way "we" love to bash them.

As a human being, I cannot help but care about those who live in a lifestyle that is so shunned and despised by Christians....those called to love all. I sympathize with the fact that they are simply asking for a few laws to make their lives far less legally complicated. The passing of this law has nothing to do with whether or not having homosexual relations is a sin or not. This vote should not be a statement of one's morality or personal choices of lifestyle, as those have no place in the legal system. It is simply a matter of social justice. Until a law is presented that will provide social justice for everyone, it won't be getting my vote.

I need to add a special note of thanks to my brother, Ken, whose phrasing I occasionally borrowed in this post!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Swanky Conservative has such a great post on Texas' Prop 2 and why you should vote "NO!" on it, that I don't even need to add anything!

Just go read it yourself, and enjoy!

Monday, October 24, 2005

America Loses an Icon

Rosa Parks passed away today at the age of 92. She sums up her amazing life story with this quote:

"I'd like for [readers] to know that I had a very spiritual background and that I believe in church and my faith and that has helped to give me the strength and courage to live as I did."

Mrs. Parks also wrote a book on her life titled Quiet Strength.

America will miss you, Mrs. Parks.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Anne Rice Shrugs off the Occult for Christ

Anne Rice has not only discovered a new faith in Christ and embraced Christianity, she has also written a novel based on the life of Jesus as a 7 year old aware of his Godly connection. What a transformation! Fans of Lestat and her Vampire Chronicles series will be upset, I'm sure, as she's given up writing anything that doesn't "please The Lord".

Her new novel, Christ the Lord, Out of Egypt reflects immense historical research and time spent studying the faith as well. Should be a great read! It's out November 1st, and I've already pre-ordered mine!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Record-Breaking Continues...

It's official. For the first time since the naming of storms began, the World Meteorological Society (a UN organization)has never run out of names on the pre-determined list. Until now.

Tropical Storm Alpha has formed near Hispanola, in what has now become the most active hurricane season in history.

I'll admit, It's weird. But before everyone starts freaking out....just keep in mind it ain't global warming, so don't even start with that goofy stuff!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Houston, We Have a Series!

History is made as the Houston Astros earn a spot in the World Series for the first time ever. GO 'STROS!!!!

Astros Win Game 6

Monday, October 17, 2005

Revisiting Katrina

Well, we kinda figured that after the big Hurricane Rita evacuation, that most of the Katrina evacuees would not return to this area.

Not so! We just welcomed a displaced family into our garage apartment over the weekend. They are a young couple from Slidell, LA with a 6 year old daughter. They have a very "Louisiana" french last name, and they definitely have the LA accent! Very sweet couple and we're so glad they're here.

I'll keep you posted as to the ins and outs of sharing our space, but for now (day 1) it's going fine.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Texas Aggie Football Weekend

WHOOP! Well, at least this weekend was a little better than last for Aggie Football fans. The Princess and I actually skipped the game due to us still recouperating from being sick and all....but Big L took Big J and they had a blast! They even got to meet a hometown hero in person....#19, Jaxson Appel! WHOOP!

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Big J (the youngest guy) along with his cousin Cole and a friend climb on the PMC canon before March In.

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Jaxson and Big J!

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#19 Jaxson Appel, #1 Reggie McNeal, Big J, Uncle Jon, random kid, Cole, Garrett

Jaxson was super nice to take time out with these boys and show them around the locker room at Texas A&M. It doesn't hurt that they BTHOOSU, either!!

Colorado Weekend

Big L's parents gave us a weekend trip to the Texas A&M vs. Colorado football game in Boulder last weekend. Obviously, the game was both humiliating and disappointing. The weekend, however, was a blast! We met the absolute nicest, most fun couple ever. He is a retired vet and she is just a ball of spunk and energy. We not only hung out with them at the hotel bar, we also shared flights on the way up and back. They were the highlight of the weekend! Well, that and the breakfast buffet....

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Big L and me at the bar before Midnight Yell.

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Our new Aggie friends

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This is what happens when you ask drunk chicks in bars to take your picture!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Heidi's Blog

OK, I'm posting this because I'm getting more than 5 hits a day on this site from those of you are searching for Heidi Sims'blog (wife of Cpt. Sean P. Sims).

It's definitely a must-read, and I'm more than happy to direct everyone over there to follow her journal as she learns to live as a widow and single mother.

I was planning on posting a link to her blog anyway, but the demand I'm seeing has prompted me to get on with it,and it seems appropriate since today is the 11th month anniversary of Sean's death in Iraq.

Enjoy: Learning to Live

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Truth about Bush's Approval Rating

I grabbed this little bit of analysis from a Powerline article I was reading today:

But are Bush's numbers really that bad? His current Real Clear Politics average stands at 41.7% approval. That is at or about the low point in nearly five years in office. How does it compare to other presidents' lowest poll ratings? Actually, it's not bad. Here are the low approval ratings for the last seven presidents:

*Johnson: 35%
*Nixon: 24%
*Ford: 37%
*Carter: 28%
*Reagan: 35%
*Bush I: 29%
*Clinton: 37%

Kinda puts it all in perspective, doesn't it?

First Female Airman Casualty

Please take a moment to read Slaglerock's post regarding the passing of Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Jacobson and leave a note of condolence.

We thank her for her sacrifice and service to our country, and our prayers are with her family. God Bless you!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Sometimes it's GOOD to be a Packrat!

Here's an excerpt from an email I received today from a guy I met in High School, when we worked together at Walmart:

It's been a long 14 years, man has time flown by. I was thrilled when I made contact with you, wasn't sure that I would be able to. I know that the question of why after all these years am I looking you up? Well the biggest reason is to tell you Thank You. During my 9 months spent in the gulf war, I was actively writing to you and to over 40 different people whom I have never met from all over the U.S.. After the war was over and I returned back to the states I had put the war letters in a box and sealed them up. Over the years I have always kept you and the other folks on my mind, wondering what everyone was doing, where are they now, do they have families, etc? Some of those people were 10 yrs old at the time and now are grown adults.

After 9/11 happened and when the U.S. went again back to Iraq, memories and feelings from when I was in the war had come back. I kept thinking about everything that happened while I was there. So a couple months ago I took out the box of war letters, which had been sealed closed for the past 14 years, and began to re-read the letters. I read about 250 letters from you and everybody else. Yes I have every letter you sent me. When I finished reading the letters I realized just how much you and the rest of America truly were behind us being in the war. But more personal to me was the fact that so many people like you Nancy were supporting me. You kept me in your heart, thoughts, and prayers while I was there. You helped to keep me motivated and keep focused on doing my job so that I could come home safely. It's a feeling that I can't explain, I guess you must have to be in battle to understand. Now that I have grown older over the years I have learned to appreciate things more. What everyone and you did for me really did mean something to me during the war and you did make a difference out there. Nancy I will always hold a place in my heart and memories for you and the others who cared and supported me while I was at war, until my dying breath. And for all that you did, from the bottom my heart I THANK YOU!! You meant a lot to me. Sorry it took 14 years to tell you. I should of told you when the war was over.

So what does this have to do with being a packrat? Well, it just so happens that somewhere in my attic is a rubbermaid container with most, if not all, of the letters that Pat wrote to me from the war, and some pictures he sent. Now that he has a wife, daughter, and step-daughter, I'm sure he'll want to share those memories and thoughts with them. I suggested he could use them to put together a journal of his war experience.

I know they are there because just last year I was digging through them to find and send a picture of a soldier to another wonderful family.

Why did I keep all these things for so long? Maybe God had a plan....

When it Rains....

I know it sounds petty compared to the earthquakes, etc., but here's what's going on in my little 'ole world:

1. After flying all the way to Boulder to support my team, the Aggies lost (and I mean LOST) to Colorado in a very disappointing and humiliating game. Big L and I have been in a blue funk ever since. Not to mention tu won and the techtards won, so that makes it that much worse.

2. My 3 year old son has a stomach flu and tossed his cookies (for the upteenth time since 9pm last night) in the car while waiting to pick up The Princess from Kindergarten.

3. After arriving at the pedi with The Boy, his towel, and his bucket I discover The Princess is running fever....she has strep throat.

4. The pedi fully expects them to "switch" illnesses in a couple of days.

5. Big L and I will probably be puking with a mammoth sore throat later this week.

As a result....posts may be scarce! Hope to be back soon!

Monday, October 03, 2005

New MilBlog

OK, yes, I'm a little partial since he's my niece's husband ( nephew-in-law??) but you really need to check out and bookmark There and Back Again. The blog chronicles his second one-year tour of duty in Iraq, this time a Captain in the U.S. Army.

Y'all go read this....

Tisha Sharp has a fabulous post that you should all go read. And tell her I sent you!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Back to the Routine...

Well, school here re-opens tomorrow. My mom, Big J's babysitter, got back home today, so it looks like I'm back to the old tax-return grindstone tomorrow as well. We are fortunate, in that the IRS has issued an additional extension until Feb. 28th for all the individual returns that would've been due October 15th. This takes some of the heat of "busy season" off, but we still need to get them done by the end of the year because the firm counts on that for budgeting purposes.

At any rate, tomorrow marks our official re-entry into the land of the living. I've taken full advantage of the unplanned days off by doing things around the house I've been meaning to get to for some time. I even unpacked a box on Big L's side of the bed that had been there since we moved in! I've gone through drawers, cabinets and closets....even re-arranging my pantry. I didn't get everything done I had planned. I still haven't gotten out my fall decorations. Maybe tomorrow after work...

Linens & Things

On Monday, I received an email from a friend telling me about some great towels on sale at Linens & Things for 2.99 each. Not to mention, she had a coupon code for another 10 percent off. Well....since the newest towels I have are 9 years old, I decided to stock up. I even had them delivered to my local store, so I could save on shipping costs. I received an email confirming my order, and one that advised me that my order was ready for pickup. Woohoo!

Just as I was planning to go pick them up....I get an email saying my "return" was processed. Wait! I don't want to return them, I WANT them! So, I call the store and they say to call coporate headquarters, which I do. Apparently the "sale price" was a mistake, so the computer processed an automatic return of my purchase. I say I want them to honor their advertised price and give me the sale price on the towels. After a polite, but longer than necessary conversation, I ask to speak to a manager. I am left on hold for 10 minutes before I get to talk to "Tony". Tony says, "I'm sorry m'aam, but the pricing you saw was an error and our computer automatically caught the error and issued a refund to you". I say "Yes, but I want you to honor your advertised price". He says "All I can do is offer you a refund of your shipping charges". Shipping charges?? For an order that was cancelled?? Gee, thanks. Not to mention, there were NO shipping charges because I was going to pick them up at the store. I mention this to Tony. He says "I'm sorry, but I can't honor the price because it's less than we actually paid". I say "I can't imagine that 10,000 people ordered these towels on that's not going to kill the store to honor the price for one customer, not to mention it is poor business practice to do otherwise." Tony responds "I'm sorry but that's all I can do for you". I say "You didn't do anything!" *silence on Tony's part* so I say "So what you're saying is you can't do one single thing for me to make up for the fact that you processed a sale and then refunded it without my knowledge or consent for a mistake that your computer made". He says "that's right....I can't do anything".

What ever happened to "The Customer is Always Right?". Sheesh! Was it gonna kill 'em to sell me the towels at their advertised price? It's not like I was buying 500 of them for resale! It really irks me how the lack of customer service or even concern about the customer's satisfication is becoming the norm. Not to mention....I wanted those towels!!!

So, I'm doing what I told Tony I would do....letting everyone know about the customer satisfaction "policy" at Linens & Things. Buyers beware.....

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Tax Relief Granted for Hurricane Rita

Tax Relief Granted for Hurricane Rita: "Tax Relief Granted for Hurricane Rita

IR-2005-110, Sept. 26, 2005

WASHINGTON - The Internal Revenue Service today announced relief for taxpayers affected by Hurricane Rita. The President issued major disaster declarations covering Texas and Louisiana effective Sept. 23, 2005.

Taxpayers affected by the hurricane may be eligible for relief. Deadlines for affected taxpayers to file returns, pay taxes and perform other time-sensitive acts have been postponed to Feb. 28, 2006, the same extended date that Congress granted to taxpayers affected by Hurricane Katrina.

In the hardest-hit areas - those counties designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as "individual assistance areas" - the tax relief will be automatic, and taxpayers won't need to do anything to get the extensions and other relief available.

In Texas, nine counties are in this category for individual assistance: Chambers, Galveston, Hardin, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Newton, Orange and Tyler. In Louisiana, five parishes are in this category: Beauregard, Cameron, Calcasieu, Jefferson Davis and Vermilion.

In areas of Texas and Louisiana where FEMA has determined damage is more isolated - designated as "public assistance areas" - or for other taxpayers outside the hardest-hit areas whose books, records or tax professionals are located in the affected areas, people will need to identify themselves to the IRS as hurricane victims.

Taxpayers who need to identify themselves as hurricane victims should write "Hurricane Rita" in red ink at the top of their tax forms or any other documents filed with the IRS. Taxpayers who need to alert the IRS or have other Rita-related questions can also call the special IRS disaster hotline at 1-866-562-5227.

Read the rest here.

Our Theme Song

My friend Jill and I were *finally* getting dressed to go out to dinner with our families last night....for the first time in a week. This may seem very "petty" (no pun intended) but for us, it was a sign that life was returning to normal. We both agreed that this song had been playing in our heads for days, so we put in the CD and sang along:

Our Theme Song

Monday, September 26, 2005

Cindy Sheehan Makes Light of Hurricane Rita

In This post at Phil's Observations, we get the following quote as reported by Fox News tonight:

Cindy Sheehan grumbled this weekend that cable news networks were paying more attention to Hurricane Rita than to her anti-war rally in Washington, posting a message on the liberal Web site writing, "i am watching cnn and it is 100 percent rita...even though it is a little wind and a little is bad, but there are other things going on in the country today...and in the world!!!!"

That was too much even for some Daily Kos readers. One responded, "shame on you, you're jealous of media coverage of other's suffering," while another wrote, "The right-wing media has painted you as a self-centered, self-absorbed woman and you're living up to that image." Sheehan later posted an apology.

You HAG!! I really can't put into words how this makes me feel. I'll give you a's mostly obscenities.

Evacuation Photos

I only got a few photos on the way out before it got dark. Our entire return trip was after dark, so I didn't even try. Here they are:

Here's Home Sweet Home after we boarded up some of the bottom windows....all we had time for:
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Big L made good use of our old fence gate on the front door:
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10 minutes from our home, here's where we found ourselves:
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A little humor for the road:
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Just in case you were thinking of stopping for a coke and top-off:
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And this one sums it up with the noticeable lack of people heading south:
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Home Sweet Home

We are so thankful that we have one!!

Here's our story:

Tuesday evening, the reports showed Rita getting bigger and heading straight for us. L and I already have the policy of evacuating for anything greater than 100 mph, so it was a no-brainer that we would leave. I haven't evacuated since I was 12, for Hurricane Alicia. When I returned from that storm with my family, there was evidence of tornadoes in our yard, and we had some minor roof damage. We also lost our major appliances. I started 7th grade living in a pop-up camper and eating off of a camp stove. I was not looking forward to repeating that this time!

The hard part was knowing what to pack. Yes, we knew all the basics.....I backed up my photos and other files from the desktop, packed our insurance papers, birth certs, etc. I dumped out some rubbermaid containers of gift wrap and ribbons under my bed and re-loaded them with pictures from the walls. No art work....all family photos. L kept saying if we got a direct hit we would lose our roof. But then, we live on a creek so flooding was possible as well. Where do we put the sentimental items that we can't take with us? Like the hand-woven laundry basket that my great-grandmother brought on the boat from Germany in the late 1880's. I put it on the first floor on top of the washing machine. These were hard decisions! I couldn't care less about our furniture, tv, etc. But the sentimental items.....that's different. I DID load some plastic containers with my scrapbooks and other photos to take with us. We decided we would not crowd the roads by taking my car. Plus the gas mileage on mine is atrocious. L's diesel truck holds 40 gallons which is like 600 miles worth, so that's the way to go for us.

Anyway, finally we set off about 5pm on Wednesday. We got about 10 miles before we hit the major traffic. We averaged about 5 mph, when we were moving. We had prepared....we had plenty of water, drinks and snacks. Our tank was full. We saw lots of things that I'll never forget. The smart vehicles had several extra plastic gas tanks strapped to the top of their vehicles. We passed on woman standing in her yard with a baby on her hip just staring at the 3 lanes of non-moving traffic. There was a car with it's hood up in her driveway. I saw a truck pull over and pop it's hood. A 40ish man went to look under the hood and what appeared to be his dad sat in the passenger seat....with an oxygen tube in his nose. At 4:30 in the morning I saw a car pulled over with a very old man, bent from osteoporosis, standing at the back stretching his legs. You could barely see his wife's white head sitting behind the wheel, waiting for him. It was discouraging to have been on the road for 9 hours and still be close enough to the coast to be watching people boarding up their windows as you drove by.

Starting about 1am things got a bit dicey. We were stuck on a 2-lane highway (trying to avoid the "parking lot" of I-10 that we’d heard about), and we actually had the truck in park for over 30 minutes about 4 different times during the wee hours of the morning. People would get out, mill around, go to the bathroom on the shoulder, get snacks & drinks, etc. Then some started to get really frustrated and would just take off into the oncoming traffic lane, passing everyone else who was waiting in line. Twice, from my vantage point,I saw a car have to go in the ditch to avoid a head-on collision. I actually called the Office of Emergency Management, who had a Ft. Bend County Sheriff's officer call me back. He said he'd had several complaints from our area, that they were sending troops out there to direct traffic, etc. He finished the call by saying "stay safe and watch your back". Comforting! We never saw any troops, however. Finally we decided to u-turn, go back 12 miles, and take a road over to I-10 to take our lumps there. Good decision. Although it took almost an hour to get ON I-to once we got least the cars were moving again. 5mph beats sitting in park any day!

We arrived at our room at Lake McQueeny at 7am, extremely exhausted. Our kiddos, mercifully, had slept for most of the trip. The problem was that transferring them to their bed woke them up. We had high hopes of at least turning on cartoons and dozing while they watched tv, but the tv only got 1 channel and it had the news, and then The Price is Right. So, we unloaded the toys we'd brought and got some very interrupted sleep for about 3 hrs. Then, the kiddos were hungry and ready for McDonald's.

We have some friends in New Braunfels who very graciously rescued us from our 1-room shelter at Lake McQueeny. We moved to their newly remodeled home that they were planning on moving in to on Saturday! On Friday, L took all the kids, including their 2 girls, down to the Comal River to play and swim while I helped Shannon pack for her move. We stayed up watching Rita do her thing on Friday night, and then we realized we'd most likely escaped major damage.

Once our neighbor reported that our power was restored, we decided to leave Saturday night at 8pm. We didn't want to get in the way of any emergency/supply/FEMA trucks, so we avoided I-10. We went south to Hwy 59 and took that East to Houston. It was eerie to drive into the 4th largest city in America and see nothing open. Not even a 24 hour Walmart!

You know that feeling you have when you drive up in your driveway after being gone a while? Multiply that times 100 and that's how we felt as we pulled up saw that we still have a home. We escaped the "dirty side" of the storm, we were spared. The relief was enormous, although we realize others weren't so fortunate.

It's been 20+ years since the last one...let's hope we get that long before we have to do this again.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Can't Sleep

I fell asleep on the couch around 11pm. L joined me and we woke up now,
uncomfortable and went up to bed. Now that I woke up to move, I can't go
back to sleep. I just read the latest update (new data comes in at 2am) and
it is worse. Check it out at this weatherblog:

Steve Gregory

I was talking on the phone with a friend, whose house we considered staying
at, and she was asking how the packing was going. I told her, it's hard to
do anything! The worse the predictions get, the harder it is. I mean, what
do you leave behind when you don't expect to have anything upon return?
Larry's convinced that if we get a cat 4 we will lose our roof for sure.
However, we can't really put everything on the first floor because we
*could* flood too. I mean, obviously I'm packing bins with pictures &
scrapbooks, backing up pics fromt he computer to CD, taking important
papers, etc. It's just weird. She summed it up by saying "'s summing up your life in 30 minutes". Yep.

We LOVE falling asleep on the couch and as L snuggled up in there with
me I said "this may be the last time we ever do this on this couch". He
goes "yep...I'm gonna miss this couch". And then I think "this is
CRAZY!" it really going to be that bad? Who knows. But it sure seems
so this time.

Even my aunt from WV called us to make sure we were getting out and to see
what my mom's plans were. I hope we'll look back on this next week and
laugh at our panic.....but somehow I don't think so.

Please say a prayer for those of us who seem to be in the direct path of what will apparently be a monster storm. I'll keep in touch as I can...

Monday, September 19, 2005


Yeah, I think I finally have it how I want it. Thanks so much to Elisabeth at Blogfrocks for her help in fixing *my* problems. Now if only I can get my Haloscan comments back....but I least I got the Blogger comments up and running again.

Not sure how much I'll be posting this week, though. I'll probably be evacuting by the end of this week! TS Rita is shining her evil eye on the Houston/Galveston area. We'll see...

Under Construction!!

Please be patient.....I'm working on a new look here, and it'll be up and running soon (I HOPE!!!!)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Blog Frustration!!

I don't know what happened while I took the summer off, but I can't get anything to work right anymore. Blogger wouldn't let me change my photo....the view is all screwed up in Mozilla/Firefox and I can't figure it out, etc.

Should I relocate? If so, to where? I'd really like to just re-create the whole look of this thing, but it's almost like the language was changed while I was gone. I can't get it to do anything I want anymore, and it's so frustrating!

Suggestions anyone?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Still waiting....Lots of Useful Info

We're still waiting to hear from our church as to who we will be hosting. I've already been emailing friends & family to be ready to help them out with gift cards, groceries, etc. They say it should be within the next 2 days.....meanwhile here's some really useful info:


Hurricane Katrina Assistance

State Government Insurance Help Lines

Texas Department of Insurance Consumer Help Line

Louisiana Department of Insurance Consumer Help Line
225-342-5900 (outside Louisiana)

Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation

Mississippi Department of Insurance Consumer Help Line
800- 562-2957
601-359-2453 (outside Mississippi)

Alabama Department of Insurance Consumer Help Line
334-241-4141 (outside Alabama)

Immediate Disaster Assistance from the American Red Cross

If you have immediate emergency needs for food, clothing, shelter, or medical care contact one of the local offices of the American Red Cross. You can visit a local office or call their toll-free number at 1-866-438-4636.

Federal Government Help Line

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

You may qualify for assistance from the federal government. You can apply by calling 800-621-FEMA (800-621-3362). The information you will need includes:

  • The street address of your damaged property
  • Your current mailing address and a telephone number where you can be reached in the event you have been forced to relocate
  • Your Social Security Number
  • Your household´s approximate gross income at the time of the flood or, if you are reporting business damages, the gross income of the business
  • Information on the type of insurance coverage you have, particularly flood insurance

National Flood Insurance Program

If you purchased a flood policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), please call this toll-free number to file a claim


Where to go for Assistance with Insurance Questions

Location of Disaster Recovery Centers - Will be announced shortly.

List of Carriers by State


Property & Casualty Companies

Life, Accident & Health Companies


Property & Casualty Companies

Life, Accident & Health Companies


For Information on jobs, check out this site



WASHINGTON, D.C. - The American Red Cross has created and launched the Family Links Registry, which will aid individuals who are seeking loved ones and family members in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The Family Links Registry can be accessed by visiting or by calling:

1-877-LOVED-1S (1-877-568-3317) to register.

Evacuees wishing to inform loved ones of their location can register their name by clicking on "Family Links Registry" on or by calling 1 877-LOVED-1S. Concerned friends and family can register the names of their loved ones and view the list of those already posted. Due to the extent of the damage and the number of people displaced, concerned friends and family members are encouraged to visit the site daily to consult the list, as it will be updated continuously.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Personal Impact of Katrina

Nothing to complain about at all.....our personal impact comes in the form of giving up our office in order to house a family in our garage apartment. We are doing this through the coordinating efforts of our home church, Clear Creek Community Church. I just spoke with a man tonight who informed me that a family should be matched up with us within the next 3 days.

Apparently the matching of stipulations by both parties takes longer to work out than you would think. The only stipulation on our part is the ability to go up and down stairs, since it's an upstairs apartment. Also, it is limited in space, so only a family up to about 4 or 5 would be comfortable.

Big L and I are really excited to have the opportunity to help in this way. We had never equipped the apartment with a stove until this weekend, because we've never used the space for long-term living before.

We're also a little nervous, being that we're going to be living in close proximity to this family, and we have 2 small children of our own to consider. We're just praying that the whole thing will work out well.

I'll definitely be posting our exerience on this blog, so if you're curious to see what happens when you let perfect strangers live almost in your house.....stay tuned. It'll be exciting I'm sure!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Info for Katrina Evacuees in Texas









FREE NUMBER: 1-888-312-4567.


FEMA 1-800-621-3362 OR 1-800-621-FEMA



Update on Red Cross Ops

American Red Cross launches largest mobilization ever

09:53 PM CDT on Monday, August 29, 2005

From 11 News Staff Reports

In the largest mobilization of resources for a single natural disaster ever by the American Red Cross, a coordination center will be set up at American Red Cross national headquarters to coordinate the delivery of mass care services with governmental and non-governmental partners.

Mass Care

In Louisiana, the American Red Cross currently has 74 shelters/evacuation centers open, housing 18,628 people. In total, the Red Cross has 202 shelters housing 29,873 people. Locations for 25 kitchens have been identified and are on stand-by and will be activated when the storm safely passes. A total of 885 Red Cross have been assigned and are responding to Hurricane Katrina. The American Red Cross is recruiting 1,900 Disaster Services Human Resources volunteers in the next three days to assist in the relief operations.

There are currently 166 Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) deployed to support the disaster relief efforts. Each ERV is capable of distributing 5,000 meals per day or can be used for giving out clean-up, comfort and salvage supplies. There are currently 2,500 clean-up kits and 5,000 comfort kits awaiting delivery. Contents of a comfort kit include shampoo, conditioner, soap, razor, shaving cream, toothbrush, toothpaste and lotion. A cleanup kit includes: broom; mop; squeegee head; pail; scrub brush; sponge; disinfectant; detergent/degreaser; bleach; gloves; and trash bags.

Disaster Welfare Inquiries

People outside the disaster area trying to locate a family member in an area affected, should contact their local Red Cross chapter for help. Chapters may be located at

Emergency Financial Assistance

The Red Cross will provide direct financial assistance to disaster victims in the form of Client Assistance Cards for basic needs such as food, clothes and temporary housing. This will be done through call centers set up by the American Red Cross. Please call 1-866-GET-INFO for more information.

Mental Health Services

The Red Cross provides mental heath services to disaster victims by providing immediate crisis counseling by licensed mental health professionals. In the event a victim needs longer-term care, the Red Cross will refer them to other community-based professionals.

Further Information

In addition, updated information may also be obtained on the following Red Cross websites: or The information hotline has been activated and may be reached at 1-866-GET INFO.

Donation Information

All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. The public can help the victims of Hurricane Katrina and thousands of other disasters across the country by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). State of Texas Hurricane Relief Fund - To donate call 713-284-8877

Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to the local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Blogs

As I discover blogs from those directly involved in or affected by Hurricane Katrina, I'll link to them here:


Latest from LA Emergency Management....

Here is the latest information from the Louisiana State Police Headquarters (LSP) and the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness (LOEP):


· US 90 is closed E/B at the Terrebonne Parrish Line which is near Houma.

· IH 10 is closed at the IH 10/IH 12 interchange in Baton Rouge for all E/B - S/B Traffic on IH 10 and IH 12.

· IH 55 is closed at IH 10 for all IH 10 E/B and IH 55 S/B at Hammond

· LA 61 is closed for S/B traffic at LaPlace at the IH 10 Interchange.

There is a suggested detour at IH 10 E/B @ IH 49 at Lafayette for all IH 10 E/B through traffic. The recommended detour route for all IH 10 E/B and W/B traffic along the Gulf Coast is IH 20 across northern Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.


· The official guidance for Louisiana Evacuee's remains the same. The State of Louisiana is not letting them return to any affected area. They are requested that they remain in place and await further instructions, and understand that this may be days.

· No individuals without written authorization on their person from the State of Louisiana, LSP, LOEP are being allowed south or east of the above checkpoints. There are no exceptions.

· There are no numbers for citizens to call at this point, and Louisiana State Police is requesting that individuals DO NOT call, as it is just making a shaky communications system prone to further failures.

At this point the best source of information are the 24 hour news channels.

· The State of Texas Governor’s Division of Emergency Management will be coordinating all assistance to the State of Louisiana. At this time, Louisiana is determining what their needs are and will be prioritizing these needs. The Friendswood Fire Marshal’s Office and Office of Emergency Management is monitoring the situation.

Monday, August 29, 2005 Weather News from New Orleans

I've been hunting all day & this is the best info on damage to NOLA I could find:

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Race against time to rescue trapped residents
Lower Ninth, East N.O., Treme, Lakeview hardest hit


4:15 p.m - An unknown number of residents were trapped Monday afternoon in trees, attics and roofs in New Orleans' hardest-hit areas, and officials are positive that the devastating flooding from Hurricane Katrina is claiming lives.

Police/Emergency scanner traffic was busy Monday afternoon with reports of trapped residents, some calling and pleading for help as heavy storm conditions still limited efforts to rescue them. There were reports of buildings collapsing with people still inside. And officers reported some people slipping into the water.

Authorities were racing the clock at mid-afternoon, with hundreds of people trapped and buildings collapsing under floodwaters that reached to rooftops.
The hardest-hit areas of the city appear to be the Lower 9th Ward, eastern New Orleans, Treme and Lakeview near a levee breech.

Hurricane Katrina plowed into this below-sea-level city Monday morning, ripping holes in the roof of the Superdome, blasting out high-rise windows, knocking out power citywide, and leaving residents of flooded neighborhoods in their attics and on rooftops awaiting rescue.

The poor and frail, sheltered at the Superdome, remain in a sound structure, officials say, despite extensive roof damage.

In downtown New Orleans, buildings collapsed, windows blew out of high-rises--including 5 floors of Charity hospital--and hotel guests huddled in dark hallways.

Even at Entergy's command center next to the Superdome lost power. Entergy President Dan Packer calls Katrina "the worst [disaster] we've had in our company's history.''

Terry Ebbert, director of homeland security for the city of New Orleans, said Monday afternoon he is positive there are casualties resulting from Hurricane Katrina, based on the number of calls to emergency workers from people trapped in trees and attics.

In some of those cases, authorities lost communications with those pleading for help.

"Everybody who had a way or wanted to get out of the way of this storm was able to,'' Ebbert said. "For some that didn't, it was their last night on this earth.''

Police are currently fanning out across the city in squad cars, trucks and boats to assess the damage and rescue people where possible.

Ebbert said the city has 100 boats currently stationed at Jackson Barracks on the Orleans-St. Bernard parish line.

Authorities are trying to get a good look at the situation before dark.

Ebbert said it could be two months before electricity is restored to all of the city.
He said Entergy will send 4,500 workers to the region, who will be housed in quarters barges on the Mississippi River.

Though damage is extensive, Ebbert said if the storm had passed just 10 miles west of its track, the city would have been inundated with 25 feet of water.

In Orleans Parish, a breached levee at the Industrial Canal caused flooding of 6 to 8 feet in the Lower Ninth Ward; no major floods have been reported in Uptown. Flooding is reported to have topped 10 feet in St. Bernard Parish, and similar conditions have been reported in parts of Jefferson and St. Charles Parishes. Jefferson Parish officials urged residents to boil water before drinking.

High winds have damaged parts of Uptown New Orleans, including the Napolean Avenue area, the location of Memorial Medical Center. In St. Bernard Parish, the roof has blown off the Civic Auditorium.

The storm, which bore down on the Gulf Coast as a Category 5 hurricane, was recently downgraded to a Category 2. FEMA Director Mike Brown has arrived in the capital city of Baton Rouge and will hold a press briefing with Governor Blanco at 3:30 p.m.

Senator Mary Landrieu issued a statment praising local officials for their handling of this disaster.

Katrina has shut down oil production in the Gulf, and is blamed for the rise in oil prices to $70 a barrel. President Bush weighed a decision on whether to release some oil from the nation's petroleum reserves to help refiners hurt by Hurricane Katrina, administration officials said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Major Devastation Expected

Please join me in praying during the night for the residents of New Olreans and surrounding areas. I understand that some cannot afford or do not have the means to evacuate.....but as a coastal dweller, you don't jack around with a category 5....especially not for a hurricane party on Bourbon Street. Here's the offical National Weather Service's expecations for the damage. Reading it gave me goose bumps.

Urgent Weather Message from NWS New Orleans


1011 AM CDT SUN AUG 28 2005







Saturday, May 07, 2005

Road Trip 2005 - We're Home!!

I know, I know.....I've skipped about 8 days here. Just wanted to let you know it went great, we just ran out of internet access (!@*) and I've been busy washing about 15 loads of laundry.

I will post the details of the second half of the trip this weekend, so stay was exciting!

Monday, April 25, 2005

Road Trip 2005 - Day 6

Wow, it is COLD! The temperature dropped to the low to mid 50's and we all packed for 60's at the coldest. We managed to suffer thru it, though, an go see all the war memorials, plus Lincoln. We started off with a bang at the WWII Memorial, because we didn't know how much PawPaw would be able to handle. Big L pushed him all day in his wheelchair, and PawPaw gladly let Big J snuggle up there in his lap to keep them both warm! I'm going to post Big L's version of it today, and let him be the guest blogger:

first day in to dc. we took the metro bus a short trip out of our park
to the greenbelt subway station. the subway was very fast and really
cool. Houston needs some sort of mass transit.

by the way- low last night in the lower forties. low tonight upper 30s.
we had to run the rv heater last night and tonight. again, to my
amazement flawless operation.

first stop was the ww II memorial. "We came not to conquer but for
freedom and to end tyranny" . downright awesome. you just need to come
see it. its an incredible tribute with granite, water pools and
fountains. has great quotes from famous ww II era leaders engraved in
various places. was really cool to see paw paw tear up along with
granny. granny was more of an out right cry. we took a miillion
pictures you can check out for yourself. paw paw was wearing his WWII
veteran cap. a . a number of people young and old would just come up
and say thank you. a young marine came by and shook paw paws hand and
said "its men like you that made me stay in". while walking down the
sidewalk beside the lincoln memorial (i was pushing paw paw in the
wheel chair) i see a young late high school or early college age girl
with a small group of other girls swerve toward us and say "thank you
for your service, sir". also, a grandmother came up to paw paw and said
"my grandson wants to get your autograph". the boy about 10 came up and
paw paw signed a wwII memorial postcard: to my buddy michael, HS
Shuman, fireman 1st class, US Navy. Several other vets were there and
paw paw traded pacific stories about okinawa. i listened to an old
marine major who survived a bad fight in anzo italy. he said we lost
more guys in that anzo battle than we did storming normandy.

the other highlight was the korean war memorial. the statues of the
soldiers walking in battle conditions is awesome. it has a huge black
granite wall with images of soldiers etched in its side. also engraved
in the wall is a large "freedom is not free". we took several pictures
of me and the kids and some with just the kids in front of the soldier
statues. we told them both about their grandady fighting in the war.
they tried to soak it in and i hope something sticks so they can
remember how fortunate they are and how both of their grandads served
america's call of freedom.

The lincoln memorial, vietnam memorial, and women of the vietnam
warmemorial were also incredible. TB's bugging me about hogging her
computer so that'll have to wrap for today. L

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Road Trip 2005 - Days 4 & 5

These 2 days are getting lumped together because they were relatively uneventful.....and I'm tired.

Day 4 - We got up early so as to depart from Chattanooga at 8am, which we did. The only problem was that PawPaw wanted to stop at a Lowe's to get some stuff for the RV. We got directions from the campground and headed out. An hour and a half later, we pulled out of the Lowe's parking lot.....without having found what we came for, despite 3 trips in for returns/exchanges. Now we're running behind on a very long day of driving. At one point, we look around for Big J and discover him sitting on the night table in the back, looking out the window, and waving to all the truckers....they loved him!

Luckily, Big L makes great time and we get to our beautiful campground in Staunton Virginia in time to pull in a get set up before dark. (We also discover that they only offer dial up internet service, which Big L and I decided wasn't worth the trouble.) This was the plan because the kids are getting what we've now identified as the fateful disease "RV-itis". We hoped to get to our new site in plenty of time to run and play at the playground, fish the lake with Daddy and explore. Too bad it poured down rain from the moment we arrived until after we were asleep!

Day 4 - Well this was the easiest day of travel so far....only 3 hours! Shortly before making the necessary exits to find our campground, I call ahead to assure our reservations, etc. I am informed that their wireless high-speed internet connection is not complete and won't be for another 2 weeks. I cancel our reservations! I exhaust all the campground brochures we have on hand to no avail, so it is time to call in the internet troops. Big L and I begin calling internet-savvy friends who can help us find a new campground in our area. KoOk comes through and finds us a gem which we quickly relocate to and settle in. It is fabulous!

1:00pm - The ankle-biters and I head out for "my event" of the trip. I have been a part of an email group since the days of onelist (remember that??) that revolved around women who were pregnant and due in March of 2000. The March Moms is what we call our group. These ladies and I have bonded and formed a friendship that is now approaching 6 years! Today I got to have lunch with (if you can call Mickey D's lunch!) and meet "in real life" 3 of those wonderful ladies. It was great! Our kids played on the playground and we got to see each other and actually here each other's voice instead of the usual.....reading daily emails to/from one another. Of course our time went by too fast, but it was super fun.

3:30pm - I return to the campsite to find clean towels (compliments of Granny), an outstretched and secure awning (compliments of PawPaw and Big L) and 3 tired campers! We decide to take an evening drive and go to dinner. This, I now realize, is going to be the sticking point of the trip. Up until now, we've eaten aboard our mother-ship almost exclusively. We have planned, however, to start eating out the next 3 days because we plan to be away from motorhome during meals. Let me just say it this way....PawPaw don't like "fancy" food. And by fancy, I mean anything seasoned with something other than salt & pepper. Also, anything that doesn't include a very large portion of beef. We chose Italian because Big L knows me well and he knew I was long overdue for a pasta fix. Not to mention the T-Bug spawn love their "noodles & cheese". PawPaw couldn't even read the menu so he didn't try. He split a pizza with Big L and was fine. Big L and I love to eat at restaurants, try new foods, and especially sample the local specialties when we travel. PawPaw and Granny like easily identifiable, country-style food only. I'll keep you posted on how it unfolds.

Right now, Big L and I are scheduling our activities for tomorrow a bit differently because it looks like PawPaw is going to wear out before our time here is up. He's already rubbed a big blister on his foot and we haven't even gotten started. Thank goodness we brought the wheelchair! Tune in tomorrow for news of our first day of sightseeing......have you guessed where we are yet??

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Road Trip 2005 - Day 3

Wow, is it only Day 3?

7:30am - Rise & shine for T-bug....I'm off to the office to buy our tickets for the big 3 - Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, Rock City & Ruby Falls.

7:35am - Granny notices a water leak under the sink....all of our towels are wet. Good thing I packed bins of extra towels in the basement! PawPaw is sure he fixed it by tightening the connections. "Must've come loose from all that bouncin' around on the road yesterday". Hmmmm.

10:00am - We're finally driving off on our day's adventure. I must say, I highly recommend all of these attractions. They don't have the man-made feel of amusement parks, etc., they are highly focused on nature, and not stuff you see everyday! Having said that, Ruby Falls did it's best to make the tour as hoaky as possible, complete with pumped in music, timed lighting, etc. (although it turned out to be my favorite site!) Not to mention, the tour guide went so fast if you stopped to take a picture (I maxed out my storage card today) you got left in the dust. Big J kept saying "the pack is leaving us!". When we did get to the waterfall at the end of the caverns, however, it was amazing. 145 drop into this 5 foot deep pool. Big J's reaction....."When can we come back & fish in there, Daddy?"

lunch - We take a break and drive into town, not knowing what we'll find. Luckily the road we're on leads us right to Downtown Chattanooga, where we stop at Sticky Fingers. Being the proud Texan I am, I immediately informed our waiter that since I was from Texas (home of superior barbeque) their ribs would have to be mighty impressive. Well, they were!! I had the sampler rib platter which included ribs in your choice of 4 preparations (they offer 6). I chose Memphis Wet (BBQ sauce), Carolina Sweet (honey BBQ), Whiskey and Dry. I love them all but the dry. I have to say the Memphis Wet was my favorite and they were some of the best ribs I've ever had. If you're in Tennessee, you've gotta check them out! We were all fat & happy so we returned to Lookout Mountain for the rest of the day.

We finished up the day at Point Park, home of the Battle Above the Clouds from the Civil War, when the Union soldiers defeated the Confederates and took over their stronghold on the mountain. It was quite an impressive battle ground park, and we all enjoyed it. Big J just liked the cannons. After all the battle talk, he informed us that he wanted to go "do a battle...right now!" Do they have a Jr. membership in the NRA I wonder? Anyway, PawPaw wanted to sit and look out over the Tennessee River, so we left him there while we roamed around. No big surprise, when we returned he had made a new friend and was talking his ears off. I'm glad he enjoyed the battleground because both Rock City and Ruby Falls were not wheelchair accessible and he just couldn't handle the walking required. He napped in the minivan, of course.

We returned to the RV to find the water leak had continued all day. Big L and PawPaw determined that the pressure from the campground hose was causing the leak, so we unhooked and now we're fine. We just have to keep the motorhome's tank full so we have water. Can somebody say Marriott??

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, we hit the road again. Hopefully the next site will have wifi as good as this one.....and I'll update you again then. I'm going to add to these posts with some pictures, but it's already midnight and we're getting up at the crack of dawn so I've gotta hit the hay.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Road Trip 2005 Live-Blog Event - Day Two

8:00am - The troops are finally rousing. Thankfully (and surprisingly!) we all slept fairly well in our mobile accomodations. We had noticed a Cracker Barrell last night and decided to go out for breakfast this morning. In hind sight, we probably shouldn't go out for breakfast on the same day we let the kiddos sleep in.

10:20am - We are finally leaving Slidell, LA and heading onward.

11:22am - We cross into Mississippi. Take a short stop for a photo op, and we're on down the road, and making great time. The scenery is taking a turn for the better. Beautiful red clover lined the highway. Also, they apparently planted Magnolia trees all along the interstate. Although they weren't blooming, they were very pretty also.

1:30pm (give or take) - We cross into Alabama. Short break at the Welcome Center, a little lunch, and we're on the road again. The scenery in Alabama is truly beautful. Rolling hills, lots of shades of green trees, and more red clover. The further north we go, the more beautiful it gets. This is by far our favorite state so far!

Some time after dark - We cross into Georgia, then Tennesse, then Georgia again. For some reason, when Big L tries to turns on the headlights, the fuse for the cruise control goes out?! Granny & PawPaw are getting very edgy and generally flipped out. I guess it's past their bedtime! I ride shotgun and direct Big L into our campsite for the night. Big improvement!! This one has excellent wi-fi connection right in the comforts of our motor home, we're close to the bath house and playground, and it's very pretty here. Finally!! We've also altered our route home so as to avoid I-10 through southern Louisiana. Let's just say their highway maintenance leaves a LOT to be desired and once was enough!

I'm so impressed with how well the kiddos, especially The Princess, are doing after 2 whole days in the motor home. They were sure hoping to get out and run on the playground tonight, but it was too dark, and after the time change it was 10pm! Tomorrow, however, is a kid-fest. The RV is staying put and we're off to see some sights. Woohoo, that means I'll at least have wi-fi tomorrow night!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Road Trip 2005 Live-Blog Event - Day One

In case you're just now joining this adventure, be sure and check out The Cast of Characters

And we're off!! Well, not exactly yet, but today that is. Right now I'm the only person awake in my household. Why? Too excited to sleep, of course! I know I've passed this trait on to The Princess because last night, about 45 minutes after she had gone to bed, I went upstairs to pack some last-minute item. I heard rustling, looked around, and there she was - propped up on one elbow and grinning from ear to ear. "I can't sleep, Mommy! I'm too excited!" I love that!

Last night Big L was choosing the CD's he wants to bring along, as he's been put in charge of the music selections up front in the "cockpit". He had a hard time narrowing down his choices........he had to pick only his favorites from his 30-some odd Willie Nelson CD's

Now I do need to fill you in on how this live-blog event is going to work. I will only be able to post in the evenings when we "dock" at a wi-fi enabled campsite. I will not be revealing the ultimate destination of this trip.....that's for you to figure out by tracking our progress! I will, however, reveal each stop along the way once we've moved on. (and no cheating by those who know us "in real life".....KoOk)

OK, time to go wake up the family and get this show on the road!!

9:50am – We’re on the road!

10:05amBig L notices some slack in the minivan on the trailer that we are towing. As we pull over to adjust the straps, I notice the distinct aroma of brake smoke. “Hmmm, PawPaw, that smells like when you leave the emergency brake on”. PawPaw responds “Naw, that’s just ‘cause I got on the brakes a little to hard when we stopped.” Big L returns from adjusting the minivan straps and announces that the emergency brake was engaged on the van and smoke is pouring out from under the hood. Nice! PawPaw, of course, still denies that what we smelled/saw was anything other than him “getting’ on the brakes a little too hard”. Big L obviously didn’t buy it because I saw him double checking the location of the fire extinguisher! As it turns out, those loose straps saved our rears. PawPaw has now been gently instructed by Big L on the differences between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive when it comes to emergency brakes. Oh, well. All is well and we pull out again……to the sound of the metal steps (that were supposed to be up) scraping the curb.

11:45am – the ankle biters are snuggled in Granny’s bed watching A Bug’s Life on the portable DVD player. We have a laptop in the front with GPS monitoring keeping up with our elevation, location, and distance to riding shotgun and talking about tI am on the couch writing this up for later posting to the blog. Technology rules.

6:05pm - We pull in to the campsite at Slidell, LA and realize it wasn't quite all they had advertised. First of all, their "playground" consisted of one old metal slide, one swing, and an old set of monkey bars. Secondly, and far more disappointing, their "internet connection" consisted of a phone jack in the office, which closed at 6:30pm. Nice. So far, we're just passing throught and we're ready to move on out of Louisiana. The kiddos are exhausted so we decide to let them sleep in as long as they will tomorrow morning.....

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Happy Tax Day!!!!

WOOHOO!! I'm all done with this tax on!

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Countdown to Road Trip 2005 - 7 Days Out

To give you more of a mental picture of exactly what type of vehicle will be housing the Cast of Characters on this trip, here's a summary:

Our RV does NOT resemble this:

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Our RV DOES resemble this:

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Day of Silence at Local Schools

Have you heard or read about the planned Day of Silence for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender students at school? You would think this would be an activity/event found on college campuses, but you'd be wrong. Participating schools include a multitude of public high schools, junior highs and even elementary schools.

The Day of Silence was organized by pro-homosexual activists seeking to affirm Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender youths who are "oppressed by silence every day"

To see if your local schools are participating, you can check here. I was quite surprised to find my local high school on the list!

A big hat tip to my friend Valerie for this story!

Monday, April 11, 2005

It's the Official One-Week Countdown....

Until Texasbug's Road Trip 2005 Live-Blog Event! That's right, we're off on a cross-country RV trip beginning Tuesday, April 19th and I will be blogging about our journey each day....thanks to the wonderful invention of wi-fi at the campsites!

The cast of characters are set for a hilarious adventure! Here's the lineup:

PawPaw - 78 year old WWII Vet who never meets a stranger and tries to order chicken-fried steak no matter where he is (T-Bug's Dad).
Granny - 76 year old who has the energy level and spunk of someone 15 years younger (T-Bug's Mom).
Texasbug & Big L - two 30-something CPA's fresh off of tax season and looking for a change of scenery and some relaxation.
The Princess - 5 year old spawn of T-Bug & Big L who is currently packing color-coordinated flip-flops for each outfit!
Big J - 3 year old spawn of T-Bug & Big L who has already given PawPaw a heart attack by turning on the generator by himself in the RV!

If that's not enough to supply a comedian for years to come, I don't know what is. Add that to the fact that we will be travelling for 2 straight weeks in an RV that is not exactly a spring chicken and you start to get the idea. Big L and I are already referring to ourselves as the "white-trash hillbilly's from Texas", which is, I'm sure, what everyone who sees us coming is going to think!

Are you ready?? It's only ONE WEEK until the Road Trip 2005 Live-Blog Event!!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Texans Against Broadband?

Believe it or not, our "beloved" state legistlators are trying to enact legislation that would ban municipal wireless broadband networks. Why? To protect the big telecom companies who want to charge you for their service, of course! Hat tip to Above the Crowd for his excellent article on the subject (via Hill Country Views).

In case you're new to this topic, there's an awesome question and answer with Jim Baller at For a brief description of what's at stake, I copied this excerpt:

Specifically, I learned that, at the turn of the last century, when electricity was the great new technology of the age, the private sector focused first on electrifying the major population centers and literally left most of America in the dark. Recognizing that electrification was critical to their economic development and survival, thousands of communities that were not large enough or profitable enough to attract private power companies created their own electric utilities. Municipal electric utilities also emerged in several large cities, in which residents believed that competition was necessary to lower prices, raise the quality of service, or both. Most of these communities found that they could provide for their own needs better and at far lower cost than the private sector could or was willing to do. Eventually, hundreds of these communities sold their systems to private power companies, having fulfilled their purpose of avoiding being left behind in obtaining the benefits of electrification. Most communities, however, retained their systems. Today, approximately 2000 public power systems continue to exist and thrive, providing their communities significantly better service at substantially lower prices than investor-owned utilities provide.

Now, the history of the electric power industry is repeating itself in the communications area. Indeed, for many of the communities that were left behind by the private electric companies, its "deja vu all over again." This time, however, there's an important difference -- communities with their own electric utilities are now in an excellent position to provide for their own current and future communications needs. Because municipal electric utilities, government facilities and schools are significant users of advanced telecommunications services, these communities have built-in "anchor tenants" that can ensure a sizable revenue stream and lower project risks. They have decades of experience in providing high technology products; dealing with residential, industrial and commercial customers of all kinds; and furnishing technical support and customer service. They have access to essential rights of way, poles, ducts and conduits. They also have a century old ethic of universal service.