Saturday, December 28, 2013

I Must Have Been a Good Boy

I tried updating the previous post to add this, but Blogger for iPad and going through the Google app to the web version of Blogger were no bueno either. So, I will just have to blow my 400TH post on showing off The Queen's absolutely awesome anniversary gifts to me.

OOoooo, what have we here? The Dave & Busters gift card is obvious, but it's intended purpose is stress relief. It will get good use. But, what about the rest???

MMMmmmm, a bag of M&Ms. The edible kid, not the Cutest Little Girl in the World (TM) kind. We have a history of M&Ms in this family. When I was slogging the commute back and forth between Dallas and Houston, The Queen sent me off with care packages of M&Ms and stuffed animals (there is still to this day a stuffed frog [aka Froggie the copilot) in the rear window of the Maxima. 

[drool, slobber, smack, ommmnommmnnommm] Ah, a veritable smorgasboard of chocolate (or "chockit" as M&M calls it). The 60% dark is just about as Dark as I like a chocolate to go. I will eat as high as 72%. Anything beyond that and it's too bitter for my taste. The white chocolate is self explanatory. Let's take a closer look at the rest...

Now, at first glance, I laughed when I saw these. I can, however, happily report that they are quite tasty. Sadly, the beef jerky doesn't taste too much like beef jerky and is more like regular milk chocolate with tiny bits of jerky in it. It's still good though. The BBQ tater chip flavor is very good. 

If the BBQ tater chip flavor is very good, the firecracker is awesome sauce in your mouth. It starts off with a little sparkly, then goes slightly salty, then the pop rocks really kick in and finishes with a little spiciness from the smoky chipotle. I never would have guessed that it would be as good as it is. I will be getting more of this. 

I will be reporting on the last of the Anniversary gifts after it is completed on Monday. 

10 Years Ago Today...

...The Queen and I said "I do."

Looking back, I amazed at what we have been through. We married right at the end of 2003. 2004 was pretty quiet all things considered. In 2005, The Queen lost her job taking 40% of our income with it. Just a few months later, we moved to Houston because of a better job opportunity for me which brought about half of that lost income back. At Thanksgiving that year, I came down with pneumonia, spiked a 105 degree fever, and The Queen thought I was dying (might have been for all I know...I really didn't care at that point).

2006 brought us the onset of The Queen's "mystery illness" that resulted in her moving back to Dallas without me so that her parents could help take care of her while I tried to find work back in Dallas. It took me almost two years to the day before I was able to get back to Dallas full time (that is one reason among many that my car has 345,000 miles on it). Two years of living in a friend's spare bedroom to save money. Two years of getting up at 4:00 AM Monday morning to drive to Houston and leaving Houston at 4:00 PM Friday. Two years of not knowing when the next panicked phone call would come from The Queen regarding her health and dropping everything to break every speed limit between Houston and Dallas to get home (three and half hours door to door is my best time from I-45 and Beltway 8 in Houston to I-20 and 408 in Duncanville if you ever want to give it a try).

It was no fun at all.

2008 to 2011 saw The Queen's parents and grandmother living with us. A 2200 square foot house gets to feeling a tad cramped with five adults, three dogs and two cats. Especially when one of the five is over 90 years old and in need of assistance for every need. More so when one of the other four works from home. We made it work some how.

2010 saw improvement in The Queen's health. It also saw the heart wrenching decision not to continue trying for kids of our own. No need to cry over that though because...

2011 opened with the passing of The Queen's 94 year old grandmother after a long, slow decline. It was as much a relief as anything, and she passed peacefully in her sleep. Following that, The Queen's parents took their leave of Castle Erickson and moved out to a house on my brother in law's property that they renovated while The Queen and I jumped head first into the world of foster parenting (and a brief dalliance with law school for me). Our very first placement was the little girl who would become Princess M&M. The end of the year saw me recruited in record time for what I consider to be the best job there is in my field. I ended my 9+ year (split up by an interlude at a company whose name I will not speak...[hock, spit]) relationship with my former employer on our 8TH wedding anniversary so that I could start...

...2012 with a fresh beginning at the new company. 2012 was a rocky year of ups and downs with the foster care system and the saga of M&M; however, by the end of the year, it was clear that we would be adopting her which brings us to...

2013. We started the year off right with the adoption hearing for M&M in January which still seems like it was just yesterday. The rest of this past year has been a blur. The Queen's health has taken a bit of dip again. Some of it is from the stress released after we adopted M&M and bailed out of the foster care system for good. Some of it is allergies. Some of it is a yearning for freedom from all the baggage (physical and mental) that we have accumulated over the years.

Looking ahead into 2014, I am working feverishly to declutter us from our excess physical junk while trying to get the house ready to sell. Our hope is to sell our house and downsize to a small rental for a time while we get our bearings on where we want to be and how we want to be there.

So, if you know anyone interested in a nice, 2 bed, 2 bath, 2 car garage, 2 living area, 1 sunroom/office/extra bedroom, 2269 sq. ft. house on one acre with a 1600 sq. ft. workshop conveniently located to Dallas and Fort Worth, drop me a line. I'll make you a fair deal.

Truthfully, despite all we have been through, I feel blessed. Blessed to have a wonderful woman who puts up with me and my imperfections. Blessed to have had a lot of good times interspersed among the trials too. Blessed to now be a father and a husband. Blessed to be here at all to enjoy it.

So far, we've lived 10 years of our vows: for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.... We haven't gotten to "until death do you part" yet; and, God willing, that will be a long time coming (although there have been times I thought I spotted The Queen searching the backyard for a good spot to bury me). I won't say marriage is easy because it does take both people working together to keep it going, but I will say that ours has been less difficult that most simply because we spent a lot of time (six and a half years in fact) dating, getting to know each other and making sure we were on the same page.

I am scheduling this post to publish at the time we have reservations to sit down for dinner at the "scene of the crime" so to speak. We will be dining at the restaurant where we had our first date, and where I proposed to her.

Reata is in downtown Fort Worth, and it is easily in my top three favorite restaurants ever. If you ever find yourself in Fort Worth, I highly recommend it.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Random Update and Stuff

Life, it seems, is never content with it's usual hectic pace. No, it has to find new and interesting ways to blow past the cops at warp 9 with the stereo blaring at 11!!!

First up, The Cutest Little Girl In The World (TM) got her first haircut last week. She was completely unphased by the whole event. Mimi was present as were several older ladies getting their hair done as well. One and all commented that M&M was so well behaved. The stylist was surprised that she sat through the entire thing without fuss or moving her head around.

The Queen was proud and justifiably so. It's her efforts in training M&M on a daily basis with lots of love and attention that get us the results that seem to mystify some people.

Case on point: we went for a stroll around the Granbury square on Sunday and stopped in a coffee shop for something warm to drink. It was around about M&M's nap time. We told her it was nap time. She asked to be rocked for a bit by both of us and then said "Bet." (bed). We put her coat down on the booth for warmth, and she promptly laid down and slept for an hour. She slept through the little boy her own age who came in, running around, hooping and hollering and making his parents crazy. She slept through us getting up, putting coats on and picking her up to leave. The mother of the little boy asked us how we do it. We told her, and she looked at us like we were aliens. People think it can't be done with their child, but it can. All it takes is patience, firmness, love and consistency.

I will get a picture of this sooner or later, but I saw a sign for a business that was amusing:

               Marian's Perfume Shop
               Concrete Tools
               Janitorial Supplies
               Plumbing Supplies

Seems like an odd mix to me.

Moving along to movements. M&M is well into her potty training now. She's really pretty good about telling us when she needs to go with or without a diaper. We're not quite ready for all night without a diaper, but we are making progress. The Queen did have a brilliant idea though. She bought a second potty chair for the royal chariot. Now, anytime M&M needs to go, The Queen pulls over, pops the rear lift gate, sets her on her throne, lets nature call and then gets back on the road.

I thought it was brilliant.

In other news, M&M's bladder can hold a surprising amount of liquid. Unsurprisingly, there is very little time between consumption and elimination.

I love that little girl.

In other news, customer service continues to be a dying and almost lost art. I went into two locally owned stores over the weekend to have a peek and was completely turned off by the lack of customer service.

The first experience was a stop into a western store to look for a new pair of boots. I despise most country music with a passion reserved only for child molesters and inconsiderate drivers; however, I have come to terms with the fact that a good pair of cowboy boots are about the most comfortable footwear on the planet for a man. I had a problem with plantar fasciitis about 18 months ago. Nothing helped until I bought a pair of boots. Problem solved. I even go through airline security in those having learned the fine art of pulling those things off without a boot jack.

Anyway, I was looking for a pair of brown boots to give my black ones a break. I walked into the store which was not terribly busy and appeared to be staffed by three or four younger people (late teens to early twenties). The employees were congregated around the cash register and appeared to be engrossed in something on the computer or the desk (I never got close enough to investigate). I aimed for the men's boots and started looking for my size. Finally, after a few minutes of looking clueless, a young man separated himself from the herd and came over to ask if he could help. I explained that I was looking for 10 1/2 to 11 and inquired if they had wide widths in stock. He explained that he had very few, if any, wide sizes and promptly shambled off to rejoin the herd.

No offer of further assistance. No inquiry as to exactly what I was looking for. No suggestion of alternate options. Not even a "sorry, have you thought about putting your feet in a vice?"

The second experience was worse than the first. I was driving along and saw, out of the corner of my eye, the siren song of "GUNS, TACTICAL, ARCHERY, AMMO" painted on a store front window with a blinking, neon open sign that I had not seen previously. A hasty U-turn later, and I was promising The Queen that I would only be a second or two.

At the most.

Turns out I was over estimating my time needs by a factor of double at least.

There was a few boxes of 12 gauge. Several items of camouflage gear for hunting. And not much else. I walked in and spotted a gentleman behind the counter. I was the only customer in the place. The guy behind the counter was on the phone with a distributor catalogue out on the counter in front of him to a page showing an AR-15. Not once did he acknowledge my presence. Not a "I'll be with you in a minute." Not a "Hello." Not even a grunt.

I left.

Oh, and I met GunDiva. Finally, after "knowing" each other on blog for about four years, I happened to be in her state for business a couple of weeks ago. She's a very nice person. I was disappointed that I didn't get to meet Bill, Juanita or Jay, but I did get to meet her sister. GunDiva even brought me a half dozen cookies (which were YUMMY!!!) and a gift for M&M (a copy of the children's book her husband Jay wrote and's way cool).

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

You Can't Handle the Cuteness!!

Okay, I know there are some out there who are just dying for their latest fix of The Cutest Little Girl in the World (TM). And, as the keeper of The Cuteness, who am I to deny you.

Zonked in the back seat of Daddy Hawk's car. She wasted no time kicking off her shoes and socks before getting down to some serious snoozing.

Chilling in the shopping cart with a 'nana. Who doesn't want to kick back and be chauffeured around Whole Foods?

M&M and her little Mona Lisa smile.

No cavities? Check. Nostrils clean? Check. Sound asleep? Yep, you betcha.

And, so it begins with the fifth generation.

Dead to the world. One of these days, I'm going to have to put a chalk outline around her.

Ride 'em....giraffe??

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

One Of These Days...

..., I'll get around to telling the story that goes with this picture.

One family. Four generations. All pilots.

I'll save you the trouble of guessing, the tall, skinny kid second from the left is Daddy Hawk on the day he soloed an airplane for the first time.