Friday, March 27, 2009

What Happens in Mexico...

...happens at a much slower pace.

I arrived at the sunny Los Cabos airport on Sunday (3/22) a whopping 45 minutes early. The pilot had warned us that arriving early might be a problem because the Los Cabos airport is so tiny. He said there may not be an open gate that we could deplane from. Well, we arrived in Los Cabos, and there was an open gate, but the Los Cabos airport would not allow us to use it. While we sat on an active taxiway (which meant we had to move around in a circle around the airport as other planes arrived), air traffic control in Houston tried to negotiate with the Los Cabos airport to let us deplane. Finally, about 5 minutes before our scheduled landing time, we were able to park at the empty gate. There were no jetways, so we had to deplane on pull up stairs. As everyone was rushing to get their stuff together to get off the plane, the flight attendants came over the intercom and announced another delay. You are suppose to complete your customs forms while in the air so you have them ready when you get off the plane. We had run out of the visitor forms, and the Los Cabos airport momentarily decided we couldn't get off the plane until everyone had the forms. Fortunately, it was only a momentary delay.
Overall though, my flights were just fine and smooth. On the long stretch from Newark, NJ to Los Cabos (5 hours and 5 minutes) I even had an empty middle seat next to me. I also managed to escape all random searches both into Los Cabos and back into the US.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Elizabeth Johnson

Five years ago today my grandmother passed away unexpectedly. I was extremely close to her, talked to her on the phone at least once a week, spent the summers in Georgia when I was little and continued to go once a year by myself in college. She was an amazing women. I will write a book about her. She was in high school during WWII, spent 21 months in a sanatorium with tuberculosis, raised 4 children, maintained many lifelong friendships, loved to travel, and loved me. Well, she also loved other people, but I was the first granddaughter which, in case you didn't know, is the absolute best role to have in life. I have written several essays and journal entries about her. Here is an excerpt of the wonderful adventures I had at my grandparents house:

"playing with my Barbies for hours; having flower sales with all the artificial flowers in your house; playing games with you at the dining room table; sitting in the chair next to Granddaddy and watching Braves games; sitting on the floor in front of you and organizing pictures; cooking in the kitchen; organizing all kinds of things in your house; the show Cousin Mike and I put on for you for your anniversary (47?); the time the air conditioning broke and we had to sleep in very little; the time you had to go out of town for a few days and it was just going to be Granddaddy and I…you taught me how to braid my own hair for camp the next day; I loved looking through your high school yearbook; I loved watching you mow the lawn on the riding lawn mower; I used to play in your make-up and go through all the old dresses and try them on; I tried on your wedding dress."

Happy Birthday, Jacob

You are missed!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Since I just mentioned Texas Spring, I thought I would share some lovely bluebonnet pictures.


Two things I hate about Rhode Island: state income taxes and being away from family. Contrary to popular belief, or at least some of my musings, I do like many things about RI, one of which is distinct seasons. Distinct seasons means that I can pack away all the sweaters and winter clothes in buckets, shove them in the back of the closet and leave them there until the end of August. Likewise I can leave the bathing suits and cute tank tops bucketed until May. This year, I had to pull them out early. If I was more entertaining, I would take a picture of the disaster I created searching through the 4 or 5 buckets looking for bathing suits and shorts. Don't get any crazy ideas that we are having Texas-like Spring temperatures. No sir-ee. I'm going to Cabo, for 5 days. That's right. On Sunday, I leave (around breakfast time in Germany) on a jetplane for sunny Cabo San Lucas. I intend to wear flip flops everyday and fully intend to leave the sweatshirt I am wearing right now shoved right at the bottom of the dirty clothes hamper. I promise to avoid drinks with ice or anything that was made with tap water. I fully plan on spending as much time in the pool/ocean as possible, in the shade, of course. Get your fill of my wit before Sunday because I'm going on vacation! The above picture is not of Cabo San Lucas, since I've never been there. It is, however, a picture I took with my ancient (non-digital) camera back in 2001 when I went to the Bahamas.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Last year, I celebrated St. Patrick's Day in Chicago. The closest I will come to celebrating today is putting green food coloring in my water, but I have fond memories of last year's festivities!

View of the green river from the top of the Sears Tower.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Free Compliments

There was a segment on Good Morning America yesterday about two college kids that stand in Times Square giving away free compliments, just to make someone's day. Compliments are wonderful, when they are in fact compliments.
I hate to workout. I don't use the word hate lightly. I detest working out with every bone in my body. Until I was a junior in college, I never did it regularly. High school band should not be the only form of exercise a high schooler gets. Unfortunately, I don't have skinny genes (or jeans, for that matter), not to mention the high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and breast cancer that runs in my family. I might hate working out, but I will always do it. Sometimes it even makes me feel good, but I would like to keep that a secret.
When I was working out today, walking around sunny Riverside and pretending I was in California, I started thinking about how I could use free compliments when I am working out. I do get a lot of thinking (and reading) done when I am working out, but bright ideas like this are usually triggered by an event. I was walking down the street, and some guy in a passing car yelled at me, "Work it, Baby." I know very few people who actually look good while they are working out. I haven't worn shorts in over a year to go walking, and I am sure that my rosy cheeked, wind-blown face is less than becoming. Maybe this guy was just so excited that he could roll down the window without ice crystals immediately freezing to his face. Or perhaps he was just jealous that I was burning off all the calories I had consumed for the day while his beer gut was just expanding from all the "fun" he had last night.
Either way, I started thinking about actual compliments that would encourage/help me work out. Here are a few that came to mind:
  • Running makes your butt look good! I stole this compliment from a sign I saw at Brenna's triathlon.
  • Woo-hoo! It's a staple for me.
  • Way to keep your cholesterol in check!
  • Your skins glows like a thousand splendid suns.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Rhode Island Scrapbook--Warren, RI

Since we are moving back to Texas (and I don't have enough to do already), I have decided to begin work on our Rhode Island scrapbook. My two least favorite things about Rhode Island are state income taxes and being so far from all our that order! There are, however, a multitude of things about Rhode Island that we will miss and have shaped our life here. I will use this forum to begin laying out my ideas, since my intention is to be a little more creative with this scrapbook than most I do. It's a win-win since now everyone we know will also have a little piece of Rhode Island through my/our eyes.

I begin with Warren, RI, which is apropos since I am sitting in our favorite coffee shop, The Coffee Depot, but more on that in another post. Warren was incorporated in 1747 and is located about 20 minutes from our apartment (that's about 7 miles in Texas terms). It is 6.5 miles and has a population of about 11,000. It is part of the East Bay of Rhode Island located between the towns of Barrington and Bristol.

We like Warren because it is quaint, and the town has worked really hard to "clean-up." To me, it has that quintessential New England style where you can walk down the street, have lunch at the cafe, get your haircut, see your neighbors, and enjoy the sea (or Bay in this case) air. It's a town full of small businesses and artists. For us, it's well worth the "long" commute.

The Joy of Children, Part 4

At our Post-Engagement Pre-Wedding Celebration (PEPWC) so named because Matt didn't understand why we were having a party, after having 2 engagement parties, that wasn't our actual wedding, and he didn't need to wear a tux to it.
Heere ends "The Joy of Children" series, and I have saved the longest for last. Brace yourselves for the Turman's. I met the Turman's when I worked at the daycare. Matthew was 2 and Kathryn was 4. Their mom, Beth, worked at Dell (a good distance from the daycare) and was often late to pick the kids up. It wasn't long before we decided that it would be more economical for the Turman's if I just started taking Kat and Matt home a couple of nights a week. And so began my future...almost 8 years ago. So, to recap, when I started babysitting for the Turman's LJ was in 4th grade, Kat was 4, and Matt was 2. They are now in 11th grade, 7th grade, and 4th grade, respectively.
After the UT Baseball team won the National Championship in 2003
It wasn't long before the Turman's became my Austin family. I began by just dropping off or picking up kids from various sporting/school/church events, but quickly became a regular football/basketball/tee ball/softball/soccer/volleyball game and band concert attendee/avid fan. I was overjoyed when LJ began 5th grade and was reading Shakespeare in his Language Arts class. Kat taught me how to roller blade, and all the kids taught me how to play tennis. It was with the Turman kids that I first watched "The Sound of Music" on a very rainy July afternoon in the midst of an indoor camping adventure. I have been to the movies on many occasions with all or one of the kids (Pirates of the Caribbean, The Lizzie Maguire Movie, Phantom of the Opera). When LJ becomes a renowned concert french horn player, I will write his life story and enjoying sharing the story of hearing "Hot Cross Buns" on his mouthpiece in 6th grade before he was allowed to touch the actual instrument. I helped Matt learn how to spell his name on many car rides home from the daycare. I could keep going, but then I would have nothing left for my memoir.
After watching The Nutcracker, Christmas 2007
I can't pinpoint exactly when the Turman kids became more than an extra job. It was before I graduated from college and moved back to Dallas. That is when LJ wrote a paper about missing me for his English class. That is also when Kat wrote a story about jumping on the trampoline with me. There was a period of about 9 months when I lived with the Turman family. They were all a much need blessing in a very hard year. I started dating Nicholas while I was living the Turman's, and they quickly learned to love him like I do.
At our rehearsal dinner
There was no question that all the Turman's would participate in our wedding. Beth was a bridesmaid, Johndad was an usher/reader, LJ played the french horn, Kat was a Jr. Bridesmaid, and Matt was an usher (and quite dashing in a tux!).
At our wedding reception
Due to LJ's stellar music ability, he has been coming to a summer music program at Tanglewood in MA. It is affiliated with Boston University and a really cool place to be. Naturally, Nicholas and I were strategically placed last summer to be LJ's New England contacts! LJ and I had a nice drive to northern NH (really late at night) for his french horn camp. Then Nicholas and I picked him up at Tanglewood at the end of the summer and safely dropped him off at the Boston airport.
After a Young Artist Orchestra concert at Tanglewood
In between, the whole Turman family flew to Boston to initially drop LJ off at Tanglewood. Then we spent a week in Cape Cod over July 4th. We had a great time at the beach, enjoying lots of yummy seafood, fabulous whale watching, and Spades!

On the boat to go whale watching, off the coast of Cape Cod.
We have had some good times with the Turman's and look forward to many more! Kat and LJ are both taller than me, now. Hopefully I have a few years left before Matt catches up!
Christmas 2008

Dropping LJ off at Logan Airport before church

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Joy of Children, Part 3

Another family here in RI that I spend a lot of time with is the Sprout Family. I get my "baby-fix" with 4 month old "Miss Wiggles," my toddler-time with 2 year old "Bruiser Boy" and my princess-fun with 4 year old "Tater Tot." Tater really likes to draw, is in love with Ariel from "The Little Mermaid," and enjoys being a big sister. Bruiser is very 2, loves cars, trains, and balls, and is trying really hard to practice his words to express his desires. G-Baby is cute, adorable, and a very good 3rd child. She just learned to roll over, loves to smile, and likes to be in the same room as her older sister and older brother. Since I don't see my nieces and nephews everyday, the Sprouts help supply me with lots of "cute kid" stories to tell Nicholas each night at dinner.

Tater Tot making a gingerbread house

Bruiser saying cheese for the camera.

G-Baby smiling at silly Dana

Big sister and Big brother reading to little sister.

Happy 9th Birthday Sarah!

Monday, March 9, 2009

My Bucket List

Last month, my book club read "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch. He was a professor at Carnegie Mellon that died of pancreatic cancer but gave a "last lecture" talking about his childhood dreams and how he acheived. For our book club meeting this week, we were suppose to write down our childhood dreams and items we would include on a bucket list (things to do before you die). Randy had some pretty specific childhood dreams like being a Disney Imagineer. All I remember wanting to do when I was little was be a teacher and a lawyer (although not at the same time). I will let you think about how I think those dreams have been modified in my current life, since I am neither a teacher nor a lawyer despite pursuing pathways to both careers. Here are some items from my bucket list:
  • Write and publish a book about my grandmother
  • Always take classes
  • Own/run a business
  • Travel always--Spain, Italy, England, France, Costa Rica, Brazil, Egypt, Morroco, Panama, Ireland, Scotland, Greece, Czech Republic, Norway, Sweden, Finland, name a few places I'd like to visit.
  • Buy a car with cash
  • Leave a legacy for my kids

Out Like a Lion

This weekend, we had some beautiful weather. In fact, I saw a flower!

Now it seems that winter will go out like a lion, not a lamb. Today we have seen rain, sleet and now snow. You are not seeing static in the video, those are just huge snowflake balls.

The Joy of Children, Part 2

My youngest sister is 12 years younger than me, and I worked at a daycare during college. As previously noted, I have several nieces and nephews, and I've been babysitting since I was at least 10. It seems that I am attracted to families.
I found it difficult to make friends when we moved to RI. I work from home, and Nicholas is busy at school. We were blessed to find a church we love and as a result, friends (though they are not our age and have kids)! The Eide's have 2 1/2 year old twins. We'll call them mini-Liz and mini-Nick, since the twins really are clones of their parents. We have enjoyed hanging out with all of the Eide's.
Liz and I share a birthday (April Fool's Day), and both our Nick's (henceforth referred to as Nicholai) also have holiday birthdays (Groundhog Day and Christmas Eve). Besides enjoying spending time with each other, we have a ton of other things in common, but I'll spare you the long list! The purpose of this discussion is the twins.
Since we hang out with the Eide's a lot, the twins know Nicholas and I pretty well. Due to Nicholas' schedule, I end up at the Eide home a lot by myself. I enjoy the days when I walk in to the response "Hi, Dana!" instead of "Where's Nick?" Here are some pictures of our good times together!

Making a gingerbread house at Christmas time. Don't be fooled by mini-Liz's Halloween shirt. :)

I know it's hard to tell who the adult is in this situation, but Nicholas really does enjoy playing with the kids. They are playing in the recent addition to the house. I helped Liz pick out the carpet. It's made of recycled plastic bottles.

You can never start practicing too soon for your driver's license. Mini-Liz was driving to work and mini-Nick was driving to the boat shop.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Glass + Photography

Around RISD, the "+" sign is used instead of the "&" sign. When I was in school, I learned that an "=" sign usually followed a "+" sign. Here, the "sum" must be conceptual art and a gem on your resume. I've decided to take a break from myself and write about my husband. It's only fair. One day, when he reads the blog, he can comment on himself. In his defense, I make him laugh everyday so he doesn't need to enter cyberspace to get his daily fill.
RISD has a wonderful program during the Winter. Instead of get a long vacation between semesters, RISD students take a 6 week wintersession class. This is technically the golden opportunity to take an interdisciplinary class since most of the regular semesters are filled with required classes. Also, undergraduates have a freshman seminar their first year and don't declare a major until the end of their first year. Wintersession is an opportunity to explore your interest in a major.
This past wintersession, Nicholas' final wintersession, he took a class through the photography department called Light, Time, Space. The idea was to explore those concepts in the dark room in new ways. As a result, Nicholas is now taking an independent study class (in his final Spring semester) with a photography professor. He is making photograms in the dark room. He takes one of his glass pieces and places it on a piece of photo paper in the dark room. Then, he flashes light through the glass piece from above to expose the photo paper, then develops the result. He creates different prints by holding the light at different distances from the glass/paper and by moving the glass piece to different angles.
For his final project for his wintersession class, he tried to use the UV light from molten glass to create an image on paper using the cyanotype process. This involved using a trash can as a dark room, and several trips back and forth across the street between the dark room building and the glass hot shop. The result is below. The blue image is the UV light and the infrared heat reflected from the trash can (the ridged lines).

Here are some pictures of the "process" with Nicholas in the hotshop.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Joy of Children, Part 1

For all of my adult life, I have worked with children in some form or fashion. For 5 years, off and on, I worked at a daycare in many capacities. I taught 4-5 year old classes, 3-4 year old classes, subbed in all classes 18 month to 5 years old, and planned/taught summer camp for 4 years. I loved it. I loved being called Miss Dana. I loved doing artwork with the kids hands. I loved walking in after having a bad morning only to have a 3 year old tell me I was beautiful. I also loved going home at the end of the without kids. I would do it again if there was any way to make a decent living at it, but right now I am the breadwinner. Working at the daycare had a drastic impact on my life, but there will be more on that later. Enjoy some pictures of my daycare days!
The Ellis girls were some of the first people I babysat from the daycare. We hung out in my first apartment a lot. This is a picture of a Halloween when we decorated/carved pumpkins. I think it was my first time to carve pumpkins! I have had a lot of "firsts" with kids I have babysat (a.k.a. my second childhood).
Hanging out on the toddler playscape. Yep, the little boy in the cool car is none other than Matthew Turman. This was taken before I started watching the Turman's. How do I know this? I misspelled Turman on the back of this picture! Matthew was an usher at our wedding and is now 10 years old. Coincidentally, he is one of my favorite people and leaves the best voicemail messages. When we told him we were moving back to Austin, he screamed into the phone and started jumping up and down on the couch, quite possibly the best reaction we received from anyone!
This was my last summer camp. All the kids are wearing tye-dye shirts we made in camp. I used to be an expert. We had a sock hop this summer and asked all the kids to wear 50's clothes. One of my co-worker's (Miss Katy) told the kids it was also going to be her birthday. One kid went home and told his parents that they were having a sock hop for Miss Katy's 50th birthday party. One little girl asked her mom to check the tag on her clothes to see if she was size 50. Another little boy told his dad he had to bring 50 pair of socks to school.

This was the last class I taught at the daycare. I left them at Christmas time to start working for dNovus. I do remember all their names (although I was good enough to write them on the back of the picture)! The coolest thing I did with this class was organize a school-wide Halloween carnival. In preparation, we painted white T-shirts with neon paint and had a black light dance to the Monster Mash. They thought I was silly.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Nieces and Nephews

We have a whole slew of nieces and nephews. We love them and miss them all very much!

Timmy, Tanner, and Frankie

Bailey Dee Ann

Kellie, Sarah, and Elgin