Friday, August 31, 2012

August 2012

Most of August was spent either watching the four Rusch kids or keeping up with my own household chores.  It was a full load.

One weekend we spent an absolutely perfect day with our dear, dear friends, the Fillmores!!! They live in South Carolina, but were visiting family in Texas. They were driving back to South Carolina, so we found a random spot on the map somewhere between us and their parents, which ended up being Davy Crockett National Forest.  I finally got to meet their sweet new baby girl and all of our boys got a chance to get reacquainted.  We all used to go to the same church in California.  It turns out that Davy Crockett National Forest is not an ideal meet up place.  The only public section was closed and barred.  We totally made the best of it though.  We drove down a dirt road into the forest, and after concluding that we weren’t headed anywhere, we pulled off the road and just set up a picnic in a clearing we found.  It couldn’t have been nicer.  I cherish our few hours with Paul and Mel!  I love those guys and seeing them only made me miss them more!

For my 33rd birthday, we drove to the Gulf Coast.  On the way, we passed through Houston, and stopped at Corner Bakery for lunch.  Corner Bakery is one of my favorite cafes and we hadn’t been to one since we were last in California.  We all stuffed ourselves full of our favorite familiar flavors.  Yum!  We also got to drive near NASA headquarters.  We’re looking forward to making another Houston trip sometime to check out the NASA museum.  We finally arrived at the coast.  I remember feeling awed by the drive.  We drove as far down the coastal road as we could go and ended up at the farthest possible end of the island.  We drove through some remarkably gorgeous wetlands on the way.  At times, the narrow bit of road was sea level, or slightly below sea level, with a very slim amount of land on either side to separate us from the ocean.  It was bizarre.  A storm was moving in, so we wanted to hurry and enjoy the ocean before the storm hit.  We started just rolling up our pants legs and playing in the waters, but soon decided to change into our swim suits and fully enjoy it.  Unlike the CA beaches, the Gulf waters are nice and warm, which is the only reason it was possible to play in such weather.  Caleb and I got scared off for a little while because Jon was cautioning us to do the “stingray shuffle,” which means to shuffle your feet as you walk out into the water so you don’t step on a stingray and get stung.  Instead, the shuffling motion will disturb the stingray, who will then be more likely to just swim away and not sting you.  This was a new experience for me and something I never had to take this into consideration in CA.  It took Caleb and me a little while to get our courage up, but we eventually did, and enjoyed ourselves.  The Gulf Coast is notable for being shallow very far out.  I have a picture in my head of Jon and I sitting way out in the waters looking around at the eerie view.  I felt like we could have been in a dystopian novel with the crazy pre-storm weather painting everything in an overcast humid haze, painful needles of ocean spray shooting at us from the strong winds with a surprising intensity, industrial factories obscured by the mist far off on the horizon, and a deserted beach that felt like it was at the ends of the earth.  It was awesome and felt like we were the last people alive.

After having our fill of playing in the ocean, we got back in the car, and explored more of Galveston.  We ended up at a huge gift shop and boardwalk area.  The boys hiked down the jetty while I meandered around the gift shop.  Of course that’s when the storm hit, while the boys were in the danger zone far out on the jetty.  I anxiously waited and waited, and finally they got to me.  They were fine and had been close to shore when the pounding rain and high winds hit.  Jon left the boys with me and went to get our car so I wouldn’t also get drenched.  Then we ate at Joe’s Crab Shack for dinner.  That surprised me.  I didn’t know it was a big chain.  We finished off our time in Galveston with wandering around the piers behind the restaurant.  The rain had softened and the sky was turning beautiful colors with the sunset.  There was a historical sailing vessel, sea lions, and sea birds.  It was really nice.

On our drive home, we stopped back in Houston to hit the new Trader Joes.  It was surreal being in Trader Joes again!  I think Jon and I were both a little giddy.  We loaded up on all of our Trader Joes favorites.  We hadn’t been to our favorite little grocery store since CA.  I may have even done a little happy dance in the aisle; what a perfect way to top off my birthday celebration!

We started our homeschooling year the last week of August.  I didn’t really get a break between watching the Rusch kids for the summer and beginning our homeschooling year.  I really needed a transition time, but that was lacking.  What can you do, but just get to it?  I do better when I have time to mentally process what has happened and what needs to happen.  I’m so thankful that our CA school is letting us continue with their program another year and provided me with all our curriculum again.  Opening the text books for the first time on the first day of schooling is stressful for me.  I expected the curriculum to be pretty much the same as last year, and I was hoping I could pull off this no prep work thing.  Caleb’s English curriculum turned out to be very different from the previous few years’ curriculum. I haven’t been happy with it and it just doesn’t work for us.  I’ll have to figure out something else that will fit our needs better.  In the meantime, though, we’ll use it.  Everything I was given for Ben is fantastic and we’re really enjoying it.  All in all, we’re on the right track.