High School Senior Pic FAIL

As a mom, there are some of those moments that you look forward to with your children. A child who made it through 12 years of education is an accomplishment that is celebrated in many ways, a graduation ceremony, prom, college visits in some cases and pictures.  Usually it’s the picture with the cap and gown that you remember.  Lately, it has become popular to take pictures of your senior with scenic or meaningful backgrounds and you can truly come up with some unique casual photos that are creative and are more than just the solid color backdrop with the “say cheese” smile. My plan was to use one of these “senior” pictures in my son’s graduation announcement.

I have been talking to my son for weeks about arranging for a picture.  He liked my idea of taking the picture at Minute Maid Park.  He was trying to make arrangements so that we could go and take the photo of him on the field and unfortunately never got a call or email back.  Photographers charge $500 for a session, and we just didn’t want to spend the money.  We just want a decent picture.  My husband has a friend with a fancy camera and he said he was willing take the picture.  To set that up required taking away his time and he lives further away so when my daughter suggested taking the picture with her boyfriend’s camera, I thought, why not give it a try.

I bought a nice button up shirt in Astro’s colors and wanted to try taking the photo in a few different settings.  A local neighborhood practice ball park, by the railroad tracks, around water, etc.  I wanted to try blurring the background leaving him in focus and was really excited about getting creative with it.  Sadly because I didn’t give my daughter’s 18 year old boyfriend ample time, it caused an argument.  It was 10:30/11:00AM on a Sunday.  I didn’t even push a specific time and said we’ll go looking for a spot and then he can meet us.  Because I dismissed the need to schedule this session with her boyfriend down the street, my daughter said I was being difficult and I was kicked out of my own photo session with my son.  (She suggested to my son that the three of them go on their own).  I like to give myself some time to evaluate before reacting, so I returned home and let them do their thing.  I did explain that I was disappointed and sad that I wasn’t included.  I managed to get one picture on the scoping session before it ended abruptly.  If you have ever tried taking pics of little kids and they cry, this is the 18 year old version of that effort.  My son’s point is that he had in mind a different place.  No one seemed to understand the idea of taking pictures at different spots, all within minutes of each other and on the way.  With busy work weeks, I don’t see that I have to execute the same level of effort just to get family together to take a picture.  You never know what goes behind the seemingly effortless amazing senior photos other people have.

I’m taking a relatively sad day and making it playful…here is my son’s graduation picture.  He loves baseball and you can come up with your own idea of what his expression says about graduating.  My thought….”Oh no!  Now I have to go into the real world!”  Priceless!  I did get to play with some effects in an imaging program, vignette, didn’t get the blurred effect though.

travis senior picture

High School Senior Pic FAIL

Cajun Crawfish Trip

This year was my second annual Crawfish Tennis tournament in Lafayette Louisiana.  It’s definitely nice to be invited to go with a group of tennis friends.  I booked a room and shared it with two others.  There was a king-size bed and a pull out couch, the only room options for the Staybridge.  I will say that this hotel is so much nicer than the Wyndam!  It was rainy and fortunately the clay/har tru courts absorb the water and you can still play on them.

We ate lunch on the way at Steam Boat Bills in Lake Charles.  It’s a “hole in the wall” place.  I don’t think the food is anything extraordinary.  I had some etouffee and a boudin ball.  A boudin ball is filled with pork with organ meat and rice, rolled up in a ball and fried.  (We don’t eat this often!!!)  Dinner was pretty cool, it was at Blue Dogs which features artwork (not originals) from a local artist, George Rodrigue, who died in 2013.  I had Pompano.  I love the fish and always try to get fish like I can in Florida. The best fish I’ve found in the gulf is drum and red fish.  I’m not really sure where they got the pompano, hopefully Florida.  It’s a good fish, not fishy-fish.


We did play tennis, this trip is really about the party.  The food is worth mentioning because it is so different than what we usually eat.  Texas has crawfish boils, however I have never seen anything like the crawfish in Louisiana.  The crawfish are big and they are meaty.  We get about a pound of crawfish and I only eat the tails which you peel with your hands.  It tastes kind of like shrimp.  The claws are good too, they were sharp and cut my hands without a tool to crack them with.


Our team traveled together, texted to stay in communication, ate together, etc.  While we didn’t win all of our matches we always supported each other.  I got to learn more about the people on my team.

About Lafayette…First and foremost, the people we met from Louisiana were very nice!  And I hope not to seem discriminatory with mentioning there are so many poor areas and in between road ways that are not kept up.  You can see the really rich and the really poor, not much in-between.  We drove around a lot!  It would seem there is an issue with gangs based on the signs in establishments (although we didn’t see anything like that).  Louisiana is the most alcoholic state in the USA that I have seen.  They sell alcohol everywhere, even available for drive thru pickup.  The event had beer, beer and more beer.  Not to say Texas doesn’t love alcohol.  I think the policies are different.

It was a good time for sure.  I love going.  We bring a large crowd, five teams of six plus extras.


Cajun Crawfish Trip

Three Themes

Life is such a joy with Luna!  We have been going to the dog park more often and I spend most of my time with her.  Sadly now I am dealing with her diarrhea issue.  I switched her diet to chicken and rice and she hasn’t gone in a day.  I don’t know if she was stressed by leaving her in her cage for a few hours, or if she ate too much of a bully ring, or something else.  There is no telling.  We play and she is my buddy.  We sleep together and I just love her so much.  We are going to Florida for Spring Break and have to leave her with the breeder.  I am so sad about it.  I take her everywhere and as much as possible leave when someone is here to be with her.  She is my best friend.


Still working on my daughter’s chair that matches her table.  This has been quite a project.  I didn’t realize how frustrating it would be to have the seat stained and the rest painted.  There are so many options for winsor chairs, all wood, painted, and even the two toned.  I’ve never seen the two toned with a painted wood that has a glaze.  It looks kind of messy, but it makes the paint less of a contrast and more antiqued.  This reminds me of the colors of dark coffee and light coffee.  My daughter said to just go with it.  I put on a clear finish that turned milky!  I panicked and sanded it down and re-stained the seat.  I keep having problems with the meeting of the spindles and the stained seat.  You don’t want paint on your stained seat and you don’t want stain on your painted/glazed spindles.  There is no way this will be perfect.  I will say it’s a labor of love.  I hope it turns out nice.   The struggle is real when you live in 90% humidity, drying is an issue. The chair is in the bathroom so the dog won’t get it. 🙂


I love the fact that I got this chair for free from a friend and re-purposed it.  I learned a lot about the style of this chair and it’s history for this reason.  Isn’t it cool to have a story about the very pieces of furniture that occupy your home?

Today we visited our new house to see the floors that are now in!  They look amazing!  I have dark wood floors throughout the house in the kitchen and most of the living spaces.  The bedrooms have carpet and the bathrooms have tile (as well as the laundry room).  I have learned on the first floor that as much as you can do without carpet, the flooring will last longer. We decided to stop by a furniture place I remembered passing on our search for neighborhoods.  We have looked at the regular more popular furniture stores and not found anything that we like.  This place was different.  And they charged a minimal fee to have a designer help us with the size and spacing of furniture.  I am so excited to have a designer help with our living room, dining room and my office space.  I didn’t realize how important the living room design was until I asked a design student to help make my living room in my previous house cozy and then had a stager help with selling the home.  Can’t wait to see how this turns out.  I think with someone that has an eye for design, it will be great.  The lady I met, Dawne, said her design experience came from her mother and that her mom worked in a fashion store from a young age and had a natural talent for putting together patterns.  I looked at the store’s website and found their blog.  I think it will workout perfectly.


Three Themes

30 days to close

Just about.  The house is coming along.  May of last year we chose to build a house, setting in motion a year long project.  Most of the time it doesn’t take that long to build a house.  We delayed the builder as long as they could go.  We put our house on the market in September, sold in a few days and moved into an apartment.  We dealt with the Design Center and choices with the builder, very confusing as to who does what with Toll Brothers.  We took advantage of a national sales event which gave us credits to use during the building process .  Most of the credits were used towards the extended kitchen island, exterior covered patio, and master bathroom.   For the most part we stuck to our budget.

The results are that we are happy with the exterior.  Adding corbels was extra for the elevation we chose, once painted dark,  they should pop.  My husband made a good choice with the double door entry.  And I’m happy with the changes we made to extend the kitchen island, move the fire place so that it isn’t centered on the wall, have a large covered patio and what the builder considers a luxury bath which gave us a short hallway to our bedroom off the living room.


And I like the vanity nook too (we converted the linen closet to a vanity nook for $700 bucks).  This idea solves the problem of a place to put on make up.  The nook idea worked.  All of the linens can be stored in the cabinets.  We are liking the floor plan!


Not sure we are loving the the cabinet and interior wall paint selection.  The builder grade paint has very little pigment.  Hopefully with neutral you can’t go wrong? My husband thinks it looks like we couldn’t make a decision between warm tones and grey tones.  I wish the builder would have had a little more options in customizing the kitchen cabinets.  They are a little plain.


The fireplace stone is from Eldorado stone and the color is castaway.  At the last minute, I went for a warmer tone on the stone choice.   We won’t get the exact living room setup as my idea picture I had posted a while back, however it will be close enough.  To get the firebox off the ground and narrow is really expensive for some reason.  And I though it was expensive enough just to make the change we have.  The fireplace is not wood burning , it’s just gas, so there is no need for a hearth which sticks out too much in this space.  For now we are leaving out the mantel as well.

The wood floors are to go in this week.  I still can’t believe we are this close.  For four months we have been living in the apartment.  I can’t see us living in the house, however I am looking forward to it.  It will be a major change in routine. Everything will be different.

So much to do before then.  I submitted all of the paperwork they requested for closing which was a lot.   Who doesn’t have things they don’t want to do?  Who knows how long we will be in the new house.  I remember when we moved into our previous house, I had hopes that my kids would go to school there and that we would stay in the house for their entire school years.  We were really fortunate to achieve that.  I wonder what it would be like to know ahead of time how it will work out?  We still went through hell with my daughter and had to change schools, for the most part it worked out.

Who knows what life will bring in this new location.  The best advise is to not be tethered to anything.  God provides what you need and you need to go with it.  I really wish I would have fully understood this earlier.  Still, so happy we were able to achieve our life in one place for a long period of time.  That is done and can’t be taken away.


30 days to close

Paris in Houston

I’ve never been and want to go some day to Paris.  I love French things.  Why not set the mood of Paris on a rainy day?  What comes to mind for me is cafes, crepes and poodles.  “Lu” is my dog.  She is a Bichon Frise which is another French origin dog, just not as iconic as the Poodle.  We actually met a man who had a Bichon Frise that he named Paris.  We went to the dog park for the first time.  Lu has had all of her shots so we could finally take her.  What an exciting experience!  I didn’t know how she would act with other dogs.  We put her on the harness and leash and she was so excited about all of the smells.  The park we go to is one of the best ones I’ve seen.  It is 188 acres, has a large fishing lake, a big dog and little dog fenced in area (both sides have access to the water).  There are always people running, walking or biking around the lake.  The trail is 2 miles around and this is my favorite place to ride my bike.

luLu would go up to other dogs and stand on her hind legs and put her front paws on their back.  It seems dominate, however she would also lay flat in front of them as if saying I just want to meet you.  Once we saw she wasn’t being aggressive, we took her off the leash.  She ran around with a dog we met, Jolie.  She looked like she was having so much fun.friends

A chihuahua named Tinkerbell kept coming up to her and growling.  It was so funny, Lu wasn’t chasing her and the dog would go away and come back to her and growl at her.  Lu handled it well, she basically ignored her.  It’s interesting that some dogs are social and some scared or maybe a little aggressive.  I am thrilled to have her behave well and can’t wait to get her into her training.  I am very driven to do all I can to have Lu behave and be social…I’m scarred for life with the memory of our previous Bichon and how aggressive and antisocial she was with people outside the family.

On with the cafe…My daughter needed help setting up her unfurnished apartment.  After our urban adventure not too long ago, I have been working on her table.  I ordered an inexpensive unfinished 36 inch pedestal table off of Amazon made of rubber wood.  The small dining space has been a challenge to put in the right size table.  The free one was way too big, so I went with a 36 inch and it seems small.  The free chairs seem too big around the table although I have seen smaller round tables with Windsor chairs and it looks fine.  I’m really happy with the dark espresso finish and painted glazed two tone bottom.


I will be working on the chairs next.  They will have an espresso seat and painted glaze everywhere else.  I just don’t know if I want the Windsor chairs with arms or without.  I found a pair of Windsor chairs without the arms on Offer Up for free and I just might go get them.  Apparently Windsor chairs date back to the 17th century.  They are made of all wood and the process of turning wood for the spindles, carving the seat and bending the wood by steam to create the arched back.  The chair may have received its name from the trade town of Windsor in England so says Wikipedia.

Now for some crepes!  I discovered they are pretty easy to make in a blender.   Today’s crepes will be strawberry, banana, Nutella and we will also have ham, cheese and spinach.  Yum!

Paris in Houston

Urban Adventure

My daughter decided that a class size of 300 or more students in her junior year was not for her.  So she decided to switch to a different campus at the same school. It’s 1 hour further away.  Then the headache begins of changing campuses.  First re letting her studio apartment.  Fortunately, a studio is something the people seek and she was able to re-let.  She found an apartment,unfurnished and began the process.  She moved and slept on the floor until we could get a truck to bring some furniture.  Our furniture is in storage.   I rented a Penske truck from Home Depot ($30 plus $.60 per mile).  And I found a free table from a friend and planned to raid our storage for a bed, table ,dresser and couch.


This is where the adventure began.  We picked up the free table.  My daughter was worried it was too big.  Then we hit the storage facility.  As we opened the garage to see the contents for the first time, instantly my daughter thought it wasn’t worth it.  We had to move around furniture to get to the sofa that was in the back.  All together it took 3 hours to get a mattress, a dresser, a sofa and a console table.  Worth it?  I think so.


We then headed to her apartment.  She has one stair case to her 2nd floor apartment that goes straight up.  It’s narrow.  Her boyfriend was really concerned about getting the sofa up the stairs.  I re-assured him it was possible and that we would find a way.  We had to shift that sofa a certain way and take it step by step.  By the end it sounded like I was having labor on those stairs.  There was no one around willing or able to help…we did it!

The table was too big.  We kept the chairs and drove the 5 foot table to Good Will.  I offered to purchase an inexpensive table that would fit.  Her apartment is in a nicer area.  It’s an older apartment complex and her apartment is newly renovated.  Nice.

I am starting to see my daughter’s adult personality shine through.  And it’s pretty cool.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds.  Considering all that we have been through.  I am surprised and happy to see her dedication to school and work.  There was no guarantee she would choose a path of education.  She is not into the typical college campus life style.  Neither was I.  This is where I get in trouble, thinking I could write the story for my daughter got me in HUGE trouble before…I let go, and she begins to pick up exactly as I saw myself at her age.


Urban Adventure

The Good with the Bad

I think I’ve been guilty of not accepting what I would consider unpleasant emotions well.  It isn’t realistic for life to go on with only certain emotions.    Happy feels better than sad, anxious or uncertain.   Those unpleasant feelings are motivators to do something about it.   I think it is normal to strive for being content.

A new puppy is great!  She is a great source of companionship.  With that comes some unpleasantness.  She has eaten some strings, while annoying it’s dangerous.  It kept me up worrying about it after I pulled out an 18 inch shoe lace that she was trying to cough up.  (It had made it all the way down to her stomach.)  I feared surgery on a little pup.  And while she is so little, I can’t leave her for too long.  Her spirit is amazing.  She loves to see people and is a big time cuddle bug!  I absolutely love her.



The building process on the house is coming along too!  We have now been in the apartment for 3 months.  This sacrifice will be worth it because we don’t have to worry about selling our house, who knows if it would have sold so quickly when we are ready to close on the new house.  The peace of mind has been good.  There have been so many decisions and more to come.  This week we viewed the progress.   The kitchen cabinets and countertops were in!  The three major areas I had to modify have turned out good.  The kitchen had a bump out above the cooktop that was awkward, so we changed to a vent hood that would look ok with a build out around the weird bump to the ceiling.  This is one of the benefits of viewing the same plan in the build process. You can see things you need to change.

IMG_0348 (1)

The plan had the fireplace in the middle of the wall in the living room.  I didn’t like the idea of having the TV over the fireplace and didn’t want the TV on the opposite facing wall.  So we had the builder move the fireplace over so the TV and fireplace can be on the same wall side by side and also bump out the fireplace so it isn’t just flat on the wall.  The fireplace will have stacked stone from the floor to the ceiling.  Can’t wait to see the final result.  So far it looks like it will work.


I am certainly not like one of those stars on HGTV who can just visualize how things will turn out.  People who can do that have a gift!  I feel as though I’m living the shows a little.  This has been like an episode of Property Brothers, where you have a budget and need to make a change, it cost more than you have budgeted,  so you have to find other areas to cut back.  You really need to spend the money in the areas that matter and cut back on the ones where it doesn’t.  For instance, the plan shows the house with a barrel tile roof which is absolutely gorgeous and comes with a hefty price tag.  A composite roof is easier to care for and allows the money to be spent on other things.  These kinds of decisions are key to a final outcome that fits the bill!

Moving to the other side of town will have some good and bad also.  Hopefully we will accept both and find contentment…and that definition is ….

A mental or emotional state of satisfaction maybe drawn from being at ease in one’s situation, body and mind

This knowing there will be a spectrum of emotions that go with it.  To be O.K. with the chaos around you.

The Good with the Bad