Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Long Weekend

 Dining Car

After the last shuttle flight landed and all of the stress leading up to it, M and I decided to get away for a long weekend.  It was pretty last minute, so we stayed within driving distance and booked my parents to stay with the kids.

We decided on New Braunfels, which is in the San Antonio area and still takes a great bit of pride in its German heritage.  Just to be different, we booked rooms at a cool hotel that was built in 1929.   The rooms were ok.  There was no central air, so each room had a window until.  The bathrooms had not really been updated, but the age of the hotel made that all forgivable for the sake of staying someplace a little more unique.

We went to Gruene, TX (pronounced "green") and had a great dinner and walked by the historic dance hall.

Gruene Hall

 It was relaxing just what we needed!  Later that night, about 12:30am, we were startled by the sound of our adjoining door opening!  We assumed that like most hotels, there was either a double door or the adjoining doors could be locked to prevent the person on the other side from busting in.  Not so.  Let's just say that his little entrance into our room was less than ideal timing, if you get my meaning.  The guy was drunk, came back to his room, and thought it was the bathroom door.  At least that's what he said.  He very quickly closed his door and apologized, of course, but it scared the crap out of us.  Plus, how embarrassing!!  I don't think he really saw anything, but still.

M went down to the front desk and they moved us to another room.  Of course, the window until wasn't on and it took about an hour for the room to cool down enough to get to sleep.  When we went to take a shower, there was a dead cockroach in the tub,  The next morning, we packed out things, made a reservation at the Hampton Inn and went to the front desk to get a full refund.  Of course, the desk clerk did not have the authority to do that, so after a few phone calls, they would only refund us for the night we weren't going to stay in the hotel.  So, I brought out the big guns.  I told the clerk to relay a message to the Manager:  If we don't get a full refund, at 8am on Monday morning, I am going to the BBB, Facebook, Yelp, City Search and Twitter and I am going to write this entire story down, including the hotel's dirty bathrooms and lack of security.

We got a call 10 minutes later from a very apologetic manager offering us our refund and another free night.  We took her up on the refund, but declined the free night.  That's the power of social media, I guess.

Despite the rough night, we had a wonderful Saturday!

We found a little railroad museum

Train Set

Lots of funky antiques

Cowgirl Up

and we even found a little a martini bar that served the best cucumber martinis I have ever tasted!

It was nice to get away, even if we did end up inadvertently putting on a show.  It wouldn't be a good vacation without a good story, right?  Oh, and the Hampton Inn was awesome. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hormones are the Devil

I have really come to hate my hormones.  It was like as soon as I decided I wanted to have children, there they were, mocking me.  Oh, you want to get off of the pill and get pregnant?  Hahahahaha!  Fool!  Now, pull your hair out for six months and have fun with that 52 day cycle.  After I had L, it actually seemed to help things.  It's like the shock of pregnancy evened things out, but that was not meant to last.  After E, my low progesterone screwed my milk supply and when I was finally done with that struggle, I got back on the pill.  I love the pill.  I lost weight and I felt even.  Best of all, I didn't have to face the wonkiness of my hormones.  A few months ago I realized that I couldn't keep taking those things like I was 25.  I'm 35 and it's time to face the facts that I need to do something more permanent that has fever long term health risks.  M is not keen on getting an operation because of this study and I have given up trying to convince him otherwise.  I am still in the information gathering phase, so we'll see where that takes me.

In the meantime, I am determined to win.  I gave birth to two healthy kids, didn't I?  I lost the baby weight both times, didn't I?  Hormones will not get the best of me.  Some days, though, some days it really feels like they will win.  The second I got off of the pill I gained 7 lbs, which is driving me insane.  I can feel the approaching mood swings when I really feel like crying because we are out of my favorite hummus.  I have devised conversations with myself, where the rational Miss K tells the hormonal Miss K, Calm down.  This really isn't worth getting upset about. This is not really you.  I hate it.  I hate feeling like such a cliche! 

So, to the gym I go.  The battle rages on.  I will win!  I will not let this get to me!  I realize that this isn't a big problem in the grand scheme of things, but I guess I felt like I won the battle with my hormones since I have two beautiful children.  Oh, how wrong I was, but it's not over, yet!

Friday, July 8, 2011


I remember watching the first shuttle launch on the news.  I remember my teacher crying when Challenger was lost.   I remember when endeavor made a cross country tour on its way from California to Florida, the cars lined up at the side of Bergstrom AFB where the special shuttle carrying airplane made a stop. I remember meeting my first astronaut. I remember crying with M when we lost Columbia. I remember being deep in the East Texas woods looking for shuttle debris and the feeling in the pit of my stomach when I found a circuit board on top of the the leaves.  Now, I will remember watching the last shuttle launch on a big TV, in a room full of fellow space workers, completely silent.

Everyone is trying to be optimistic, and it's true that we still have ISS until 2020 and there are other projects in the works, but all of this feels like an ending.  It feels like the end of something that really captured everyone's imagination.  It feels that way, I suppose, because we don't really have a plan for what's next.  Not really.  Low Earth Orbit (LEO) space travel will be turned over to commercial ventures, and perhaps it will become commonplace, but I truly believe that human beings have a need to explore beyond that. We owe this to our children and to future generations.  There is so little wonder in the world today, but this is something that still touches even the most accomplished among us.

We all knew this was coming and I am not arguing for a return to the shuttle program, but where are we going now?  Where is our direction?  There is no agreement on a path and no consensus on where human space flight will go from here.  That is what makes people sad.  That is what breaks my heart when L tells me "I want to be an astronaut."  I tell him that he can because I want to believe that we will get back on track.  I hope we do.

Thirty days after landing, thousands of workers will be let go.  They will turn in their badges and try to figure out what to do next.  As you think about what the shuttle program has meant to you, spare a thought for the people who loved it enough to make it their job.  They will retire or move on to new careers, but if you've ever known anyone who has worked for the space program, you know that a piece of their heart will stay there, forever bound to the idea that we must explore and reach beyond our place here on earth.

Godspeed, Atlantis.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Do it yourself

It's that time of the summer when I start to long for a vacation.  It's so hot, much hotter than it normally is at this time, and it sucks the very life out of you.  Even small tasks seem difficult when the humidity is 80% and the heat index is over 100.  Last year, I promised myself we would take a proper vacation, but with the insanity of the last shuttle flight and a possible new contract at work, I'm not sure it's going to happen.  I find that so depressing.  E has been extremely clingy.  I thought it would go away when she felt better after a brief illness, but I am still unable to leave her line of sight without hearing "Mommy! Where are you?"  I love my children dearly, but I would like to use the restroom, or make dinner in peace.  Two demanding toddlers and a life full of responsibilities makes me a little itchy for some sort of break.  We might make it to Illinois in the fall, but even that is uncertain right now.   My only escape has been reading.

When I was a child we lived on an acreage and really didn't have neighbor's, and the neighbors we did have didn't have kids my age.  When most kids were running next door to play with friends, I was reading a book.  It was a habit brought on by boredom and a need to escape the tension in the house brought on by my mother's eating disorder and depression.  I completely escaped into books and became obsessed with the stories and the characters.  I wanted to be in the books.  If I was more talented, I probably could have written one, but I have settled for being a happy consumer.  I love that obsession.  I love thinking about how the author came up with the idea behind a book, and I wonder about the characters after the book ends.  (What happens to Johanna Mason??)

As I wrote in a previous post, I can't believe I ever left reading behind.  I'm glad it's back.  I really enjoy writing my reviews, although I might be the only one who reads them. If I can't go somewhere, at least I can spend my evenings reading.  Of course, that might explain how messy my house looks at the moment.

Are you on Goodreads?  It's an excellent way to keep track of the books you want to read. Let's connect here.

I just read a really good, but kind of spooky book called Dismantled.  My review is here.

**I took the above photo at Ikea. The title means "Do It Yourself".  My other favorite Ikea book title is "Married to a Communist". 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Two Years

The last two years have been a whirlwind.  I look at E now and I see a little girl, walking, talking and interacting with the world around her.  In some ways, time has crawled, but when I see her playing with friends or laughing with her brother, it seems like time has raced by, never looking back.

I make mental notes to myself all the time of books and experiences that I want to make sure E has and things that I want to share with her.  I want so much for her to have the confidence that was so difficult for me to develop.  I want her to have the support system to propel her into life, full speed ahead.  Having a daughter is such a scary thing these days.  I see older children and teens doing idiotic things and exposing themselves to such dangers that I wish I could keep E in her crib forever, safe in her comfy cage until I lift her out.  That isn't the way it works, and even now I see the independent and stubborn streak that frustrates me and gives me hope that this is a girl that knows her own mind.

She is my smart, strong and beautiful girl.  I am so glad that she's ours.  Happy Birthday, E.  I love you.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Dark Days

Keeper of the Seagulls

I just finished reading The Hunger Games series and as my husband and I were joking about those first few months after E was born, The Dark Days came to mind.  There was no nuclear war or widespread annihilation of a population, but those first several months with a toddler and a newborn were tough.  Ok, they were pretty awful.  My heart trouble, our cramped and tiny house, and L being too young to really understand that this baby was here to stay all created a situation that still gives me a touch of the PTSD, to be honest.  We moved, sold our old house and were down to one car.  I love my children more every day, but I never want to go back to the way I felt then.  I was tired and overwhelmed and even though I wasn't, I felt alone.

It's almost two years later, and we have survived, just as everyone said we would.  We found a bigger house, E started sleeping through the night, L got used to his sister and his new bed.  Things are certainly still hectic, but I just feel like I am dealing with it better than I was.  It's like we're just on the edge of finally feeling like we might actually have it together.  I only have 3 classes left in grad school, I finally got a promotion at work, and the kids are thriving. We still have a mountain of boxes to go through, but it's a smaller mountain than it was.  That overwhelmed feeling is still there, but not as often.

One thing that I have slowly started to get back, is myself.  I don't know why, but it occurred to me the other day that the last 6 years have changed me beyond anything I ever thought possible.  Marriage, career, and kids:  those three things have molded me into someone who is completely different than the music teacher that wrote lesson plans every night and never missed happy hour.  Some of that is good.  Most of the changes are positive, but I find myself missing other things.  When the Spring semester ended, I picked up my nook and read a non-school book for the first time in years.  Yes, years.  I can't believe I ever stopped.  I immediately fell into my old habits of staying up until midnight telling myself, just one more chapter, over and over again.  I joined Good Reads and I think I've read about six books in the break between semesters.  It feels so good to have something in my brain besides schedules, meals plans, and HR related topics. My friend Maura also pointed out that it's important for the kids to see me reading.  Of course, they really see me staring at what must look like a giant iPhone to them, but by the time they are teenagers, I'm sure my nook will evoke laughter similar to what the 1990s giant cell phones do now.

My next wish was to join a book club, but I know that to have one would mean that I would have to do all of the work.  I learned the hard way through the parents group I started that people are more than willing to show up and less willing to make an effort to keep something going.  That's ok, though, because most of the people that I would like to talk to about books are online!  I decided to start up the old book blog again and use it as a place to write about the books I read and give people a chance to give me their thoughts.  Maybe no one will read it, but at least I have a way to write about books that I truly love.  The first thing I want to do when I finish a book is discuss it with someone, but L and E have very little interest in dissecting character motivation.

My first post is about The Help.  Please visit it you've read it, or even if you haven't, because I would love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Between Here and There


I feel like I've been in purgatory for the past few years.  I live in this in-between place working to finish school, waiting for funding to stabilize so I can have a promotion, and wishing my life was less hectic.  This semester has been the hardest, so far.  Two classes with one being very high maintenance.  (That's code for "the professor is a dick.")  Combine that with a very, very busy April and I am down to my last weekend with a 30 page paper to write and two days in which to finish it.  M is taking the kids to my mom and dad's and I will  stay at home and write a very mediocre paper. 

I know the finish line is within sight.  I know that this time next year, I will be finishing my last course and walking away with a Master's in HR, but I am so tired and missing some of the confidence that I had when I started.  It was so much easier when I was in high school or even an undergrad.  There were cheerleaders everywhere; parents, classmates, and teachers were all available to tell me I was smart and that I could do it.  Now?  Now I'm a mom, I work full time, and I am expected to have the inner fortitude to man-up and get it done.  Grad school is an every-man-for-himself kind of place.  Everyone works and everyone has a completely separate life outside of school.  There are no cheerleaders, just professors that sort of care, but mostly they would like you to shut-up and just do the work.

People always say to me, "I don't know how you do it."  I'm not sure that I'm really doing a very good job at work, home, or school.  If you are willing to do everything kind of half-assed, you can appear to do whatever you want!  My only other choice is to walk away, and I am way too close to being finished to really do that, although I fantasize about quitting school almost every day.  I am ready to have my life back.  I am ready to read books that aren't about employment law and dedicate more time to the Foundation.  I miss my friends, online and IRL, and I am ready to stop feeling like I have been a terrible friend to many people that I care about.  I am ready to just be a working mom instead of a working mom in school who must be crazy to do all of this.

If this really is my purgatory then I can only hold out hope that all of this torment will lead to heaven on the other side.  A heaven with a promotion and time to spend with my family on the weekends.  And wine.  Heaven must have wine.