Friday, February 27, 2009

Please, Place Your Votes

Robin has set up a poll in her sidebar concerning who you think 'Mary' might be from my Day 3 post. Please go here to place your vote. I was going to set up another poll on my page, but thought it would be fun to see every one's votes in one place.

Don't worry the truth will be revealed once the polls close on March 12th!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Streets Of San Francisco: Day Three

Saturday morning did not find us rising quite as early as we did on Friday. We didn't have any appointments, as Saturday was going to be our 'free day' to just do what we wanted, when we wanted. There was plenty left on our list...Chinatown, Haight-Ashbury, walk the Golden Gate Bridge, lunch in Sausalito, etc. However, due to 'Mary' feeling a little 'under the weather', the Girls very graciously gave her time to get moving. Actually, around noon they were preparing to head out to Chinatown to pick up a few souvenirs without 'Mary'...but she managed to pull it together and go with them.

We walked the long way around to Chinatown so that we could enter under the gate at its southern end. We had intended to rush in, pick up a few things we had seen during our Tour of the City the day before and rush out. Yet, when we entered Chinatown, the desire to hurry quickly faded. Maybe we were expecting the same Chinatown we had experienced in New York...rushed, crowded and invasive. Instead we found a relaxing atmosphere where people went out of their way to help you find what you wanted with smiles on their faces.

A bit of trivia for you: San Francisco's Chinatown is the largest outside of Asia.

We asked a local shop owner where to find lunch and were directed to the R & G Lounge where we had some of the best Egg Drop Soup I have ever eaten (it had mushrooms in it). After lunch we walked the two blocks back to the shops and finished our shopping for the day.

The next 30 minutes I would really rather forget, as we trudged UP the hills to make it back to the flat. Seriously, it was horrendous trying to walk those hills. I only thought going down the day before was bad. Once we had an all uphill climb, I almost didn't make it. You would know that not a single available taxi drove by us. I had to stop at least three times to catch my breath going up each block. And that was with Beverly walking behind me trying to help push me! I cannot even begin to imagine how I would have made it if I hadn't been working out since the middle of January.

Since we had a late start that 'Mary' felt was her fault, she suggested we hire a car for a few hours to see some of the sights that we had missed. Beverly really wanted to go into a few of the vintage clothing shops at Haight-Ashbury. We freshened up a bit, called for a car and headed out the door again.

These pictures were taken during our tour the day before, but I wanted you to get a feel for the area. I didn't take any pictures on Saturday...but one of the other Girls may have a few. There wasn't a need to take a lot of pictures when we were mostly shopping, I guess.

We started out in a resale shop that has been in the area for years. Bev found a few things that caught her eye, but the next store really got her attention. It had nothing but vintage clothing from the 50's through the 80's. We walked through playing 'remember when'. It was a pretty cool place. The stores closed early and we didn't get to make it down to the record we headed to North Beach for a bite to eat. Since both our driver and Patrick (our tour guide from Friday) had recommended Calzone's...that is where we headed. They were the largest calzones I have ever seen. Two of us shared one and still had to take leftovers home. (I had the pizza, just so I could compare it to Grimaldi's in Brooklyn. My thoughts: tie, but now I can hardly stand to eat pizza here in Texas.)

We headed straight back to our flat after dinner, because we had a day trip planned for Sunday. I will fill you in on the delightful surprise I received on that trip next time.

City By The Bay: Day Two

Friday morning, I awoke after a good night's sleep around 9 AM...wait a minute, that was 7 AM in San Francisco! What a wonderful feeling to know that I had time to spare in getting ready for our morning's outing. After a luxurious SECOND cup of coffee with the Girls...we headed out the door for our tour. We walked a few blocks over...not too bad, since most of it was down catch the cable car. Unfortunately, our cable car didn't look like this. Our car was pretty crowded, so we couldn't sit together. Two of us were able to sit in the open air area and the other two sat inside looking out the window. Like us, most on the car were visitors heading to Fisherman's Wharf for a day of sightseeing.

We had an appointment with "Mr. Toad" for a "Tour of the City". We traveled the city with our tour guide, Patrick, in a 1921 Rambler. It was open air, so I had to slip into my sweater pretty quickly. This picture was taken under the Golden Gate Bridge a little further into our tour...but you get the idea of how we toured the city in style!

Patrick is an actor and he helped us spot not only the local landmarks, but he also referenced the movie settings as we passed. We saw the church where Robin Williams filmed 'Bicentennial Man' and the park from 'So I Married An Axe Murderer', and more. We stopped and took pictures in front of "Postcard Row"...otherwise known as the home of the Tanner family from Full House. Maybe one of the other Girls will post it. I don't have a copy of it myself. (Check my sidebar for Stacy's and Robin's blogs to see more pics and hear more stories. It will be interesting to read our different accounts of the trip since last year I was the only one who blogged!)
This was cool too! We were able to watch fortune cookies being made in Chinatown. Did you know that the first fortune cookie was made in San Francisco? Me neither. You know how the fortune cookie has influenced my life. Without it, I may never have gone on my first Grandmas Gone Wild trip! (Just kidding! But I do like reading my fortune cookies.)

Do you recognize this? Okay, me neither...but I learned that this was the setting for the "Summer of Love". No that is not another movie title, but the beginning of the Hippie movement. There will be more to tell on Haight-Ashbury in tomorrow's post, but let me just say that this place was 'interesting' and had a funny smell!

After driving through a section of Golden Gate Park (the flowers and trees were beautiful), we headed down to see the bridge. It is huge!

I can't remember all of the trivia that Patrick gave us on the bridge many times the cable from this bridge would wrap around the equator, etc. I do remember him saying that it takes four years to paint the bridge. There is a crew that works five days a week, eight hours a day painting. Four years later they get to the other which point it is time to start over again! I think this random trivia stayed with me because it reminded me of cleaning your kitchen or doing your laundry. As soon as the job is complete, it is time to start again!

We watched surfers under the bridge. I got some great shots of a few of them. I felt like, click, click, click...until they dove off their boards!

Mr. Toad's Tour of the City was three hours long and my second favorite thing of the weekend. I really felt like we 'saw' the city and got a taste of it. If I had it to do over again, I would have taken better notes of what we saw and Patrick's recommendations of places to eat!

Our tour brought us back to Fisherman's Wharf. We grabbed a bite to eat at Fisherman's Grotto #9. It was a 'quaint' place that reminded me a little of Tavern on the Green, but 'grittier'. The inside was lined with carousel poles at each booth. I didn't get a picture, but it was pretty cool looking...even if our seat was unusually situated.

After lunch, we spent several hours touring the boardwalk at Pier 39. Here is a picture of Robin in front of the tulips. The flowers were beautiful. I think I enjoyed them so much because they are the types that don't do well here in the heat of Texas. They reminded me so much of spring.

Just around the corner, we enjoyed the barks of the sea lions. There were about a hundred of them floating on small docks just off a pier. These two were in the midst of some kind of conversation.

We did a lot more shopping before calling it a day and heading back to the flat to get ready for our dinner reservation.

Now, I haven't said a whole lot about the 'walking San Francisco' thing...although Robin has mentioned it on her blog. After the reservations were made for dinner at Harris' Steakhouse, Robin ran a map so that we would know how to get there and how long to plan. It was .7 miles away. We figured we would leave the flat forty five minutes early to insure that we had plenty of time to make our reservations. Let's just say that .7 miles to your restaurant in San Francisco is not like walking .7 miles to your restaurant in New York City! Add to this the fact that myself and one other Grandma were crazy enough to wear boots with heels to take this trek! It took us almost forty minutes to make it to the restaurant.

Dinner was great. Being from Texas, we were ready for a good steak! I had my first 'fois gras with truffle sauce'. I am glad they didn't tell me what it was until after I ate it...but it was delicious. As a side note: though the food was great, I wouldn't recommend checking more than one coat. Right, Lola?

We caught a car outside the steakhouse and proceeded to the Fairmont Hotel for a nightcap at the Tonga Room.

There were tiki huts and a lagoon in the middle of the room. The live music was performed from a boat in the lagoon and occasional rainstorms fell around them. It was cool. We even talked the hostess into giving us lei's!

Thankfully our flat was just a block away, because when we left the Tonga Room, ONE of us had Conga'd at the Tonga just a little (okay, a lot) too much!

Tune in tomorrow for Day 3.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

San Francisco: Day One

Grandmas Gone Wild:Part Two arrived in San Francisco around noon on Thursday. Our driver met us at the baggage check. Bless his heart, look at all that luggage! He even carried it all up a flight of steps when we arrived at our house.

As is our tradition, we made a toast to friendship as we enjoyed the sights of San Francisco out our windows.
We took a little time refreshing ourselves from the flight and unpacking before eating lunch at the Nob Hill Cafe down the street. We then headed toward Pier 33 to catch the ferry for our evening tour of Alcatraz. What a beautiful place. It was hard to believe that it was once a high security prison while looking at it from across the bay. See...
If you are ever in the Bay area, I highly recommend the Alcatraz Night Tour. The price includes the audio "Doing Time"...where you are guided through the prison by the voices of both former inmates and former guards. For the night tour, your boat is the only one on the island. It has an eerie feeling at times. Especially when you hear the sound of the doors clanging closed!

This is my favorite picture of the landscape on Alcatraz island.

That is the remains of the warden's house behind the lighthouse.

Look at these tiny cells. I cannot even imagine being locked in there for longer than a minute! Pictures can be deceiving...but basically behind this twin mattress is the small toilet. The sink is beside that with a small seat and table in front of the sink. I believe the cell is 5' wide and 9' deep.

Here is a picture of me and the girls in front of the prison with San Francisco in the background. Yes, those are our headphones around our necks!
These signs hang in various places around the island warning everyone to keep away.
Alcatraz was by far my favorite of the weekend. All you had to do was to look at my souvenir suitcase to know that. I filled it with coffee cups, t-shirts and more. I brought home several signs with the Alcatraz regulations on them to hang by the kids bathroom. My favorite is Regulation #5: "You are entitled to food, clothing, shelter and medical attention. Anything else that you get is a privilege." Too funny!

The ride back to Pier 33 was beautiful with the lights of San Francisco shining before us.

We walked down to Pier 39: Fisherman's Wharf for more shopping and dinner. We enjoyed one of the best crab dinners I have ever eaten at The Crab House. Look at this Crab Feast for four!

Does this not look amazing? I couldn't help but think of William the whole time we were eating. He loves crab and he would have been in heaven for this!

After dinner, we caught a taxi back to the house. Our driver was from Malta. I don't think I have ever met anyone from Malta before. After a few minutes unwinding together, it was off to bed and a good night's sleep because we had another tour scheduled for the next morning!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

San Francisco Is Still Standing

We are back! We had a blast! Emily Rose*, Lola*, Tabitha* and I had a grand adventure in Fog City. I will try to share parts of it with you over the next few days...but suffice it to say, I can't tell you everything! (Ha!)

Be back tomorrow with Day 1 of Grandmas Gone Wild: Part Two!

*Names have been changed to protect somebody, though precisely whom is open to debate!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Guilty Pleasures

As Jim and I were getting ready for bed on Monday night, I commented to him about my excitement regarding this trip to San Francisco. No surprise there. But I followed it with, "...since you traveled a lot and don't like to travel anymore." He countered with, "don't be making excuses for yourself."

That took be aback.

Do I make excuses for myself? Yes!

Why? I don't know!

It is not like he is against this trip in the least. I didn't have to bargain or beg to go. We are not going to miss a mortgage payment by me going. The children are old enough to hold their own and don't require his constant attention (though even when they did, he never said anything about me taking a weekend away).

So why the guilt?

I have always dreamed of traveling. Nothing too exotic...I am not that imaginative...but of seeing the US and all her glory. I would love to spend a week in a cabin somewhere in the mountains of Colorado or browsing the museums in Washington, DC. And there are so many friends and family spread out across this nation that I would love to spend time visiting face to face in their element.

Growing up, my family didn't take vacations. Other than visiting family, I remember only two outings. An overnight visit to Six Flags Over Texas in the Dallas area and a weekend in Biloxi, MS.

As our children were growing up, we didn't really take vacations either. We would visit family members on holidays and, once we moved to Texas, we would take visiting family to see the local sights...sometimes staying away for the weekend.

Did I ever think I would really see New York City, much less twice in one year? No way. Atlanta? No, Ma'am! San Francisco? Nope.

Maybe that is why this feels like a 'Guilty Pleasure' dreams are coming true and I am not real sure how to handle it!

I will accept this as a gift from the Lord and try to enjoy every single minute of it.

Anyone out there feeling me? I would love to hear your story.

I don't know if I will post from California. I can't decide whether to hassle with taking the computer through airport security or not. If not, I will have pictures next Tuesday...Wednesday at the latest.

California or bust...y'all!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Let's Go To San Francisco

In less than three days I will be in San Francisco with three girlfriends for "Grandmas Gone Wild, Part Two".

I have so much to do. I have not even begun to pack, even though I have to be at the airport on Wednesday evening in order to catch an early morning flight.

I need to do some more laundry tomorrow. Our water was off when we arrived home from work this evening. I guess someone had a bad leak that needed repair. It came back on around 8...but Jim and I were busy processing deer meat. (Tell me we are not multi-talented!)

I am about to crawl in the bed. I have to be at work early tomorrow morning to finish up payroll and get the monthly billing completed before we leave. I have a hair appointment and an optometrist appointment tomorrow as well. I have on my last pair of contacts and I hate to travel without an extra pair. I am always afraid that I might lose one and spend the rest of my trip unable to see well!

I need to get busy laying out my clothes. It is hard to think 'layers' when you live in southeast Texas. We wear capris and sandals for much of the year!

I will try to post more tomorrow evening! Meanwhile, please check out Kelli's post from today. (You can click on her name in the side bar to your left.) She has a cute, cute, cute picture of Maddux with his eyes open. In my defense, she had to give him a bath first to get his eyes open long enough for a picture.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Perfect Sunday Afternoon

Doesn't this look like the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon?This picture was snapped on Super Bowl Sunday. Davin had been following 'Pa' around the property and trying to play basketball with Uncle Brian and Uncle Will. When Jim saw him slowing down, he put him in Uncle Brian's hammock and swung him twice...and out he went.
He slept for an hour!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

To My Valentine

If I had to describe you with an image, this would be it:
You are my Superman in camouflage! Always up to the thrill of the it deer, turkey, hog or duck. Thanks to you, I don't have to worry about buying saran wrapped meat from the grocery store for a llloooonnnngggg time! More than that though, you have been a wonderful provider for our family in more ways than I could ever recall. You have made me stronger and better than I ever could have been on my own. You have given me an earthly glimpse of the Father's unconditional love. Thank you for loving me and our family with all your heart!
I love that you are right at home with a baby in your arms. I guess after five of our own you are quite the expert (even though you still get a little nervous with the newborn grand babies). You are the best "Pa" in the whole wide world! See: here and here too! And I love that you still look at me like this:
Just in case you missed it in the picture, I love you even more than when we stood in front of that little Arkansas church and said our 'I dos' nearly 28 years ago. I am absolutely crazy about you!
Happy Valentines Day, Sweetie!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Meet Little Mister Maddux

Maddux Cade
Born February 11 at 12:07 pm CST
7 pounds, 5 1/2 ounces
19 inches

One of his first photos. All nice and pink, lying under the warmer.
Look at all that hair!

It is not as bad as it looks.
His cries sound more like little piggy squeals.

Resting peacefully after a long morning's work.

Sweet Prince.

Brooke meets her new little brother.
Look at that sweet smile on her face!

We were so proud of her that we sent out for her sushi immediately!

Warming up!

Maddux felt like a rock star, what with all those flashes.

Auntie has already put him to sleep! That girl has the touch!
I already know that everyone will want to see him with his eyes open...but we couldn't get that picture today. We also tried to get a picture of the new family, but Brooke was having nothing to do with it! I will try again tomorrow.
Good night, ya'll!
And Sweet Dreams!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Baby News

Okay, I can't hold it in any longer. I have to tell someone before I burst.

Jim is not answering his phone and Kelli has not posted I am going to spill the beans for once.

Maddux should be arriving on Wednesday around noon!!!

Kelli went to the doctor this afternoon and due to her weekend of contractions, the doctor has decided to induce labor on Wednesday morning. My understanding is that Kelli and Matt have to be at the hospital at 4 AM, the doctor will be in to see her by 8AM and they are expecting to have a baby wrapped in blue blankets by noon.

I am sure that Matt and Kelli are both working like bees to get that crib set up tonight! Matt is off work for the next few days, so this should work out great for both of them. He will be able to finish his shifts while she is in the hospital and then, hopefully, be on vacation once she comes home.

Looks like it is going to be another exciting week around our house!

Friday, February 6, 2009

First Annual Super Ping Pong Tournament

Last Sunday night, during the Super Bowl, the guys at our house launched the first annual, double elimination Super Ping Pong Tournament.

Here is the motley crew just before the final round. (As you can see, Number 1 Son was not in a good mood. His little brother had just knocked him out of the tournament and a chance at the $30 grand prize.)

Our final two contestants were Casy and Will. Will had lost his first round, but fought his way back to the finals. Casy managed to hold him off: 2 -1. Casy was the undisputed, undefeated Super Ping Pong Tournament Champion of the evening. The power must lie in that red paddle!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Out Of The Ashes

As I was preparing to leave Meagan's after Kelli's shower last Saturday, Davin ran up to me to hug me goodbye...or so I thought. Instead he grabbed hold of my neck and started reaching for the door repeating "car, car". He wanted to go home with me. How could I say no?

After all, being a grandmother has given me some perspective on his request.
1. The day is quickly approaching when he will be in his 'mommy stage" and will not want to be with anyone but Meagan and Derrick.
2. Though he asked to go home with Nonna, she is actually the quickest way to get to Papaw, or 'Pa', as Davin calls him.

Within a few hours of arriving at our house, he had already been riding on the Ranger and the tractor; played with all his toys; had dinner and had started walking in his sleep. I dressed him in his pajamas and thought surely the time for bed was almost upon us. But no, he kept himself busy between playing with toys in the living room where we were and checking in on his Uncle Brian and Uncle Will who were playing video games in Will's room.

About 9:30, he had just wandered back into Will's room when Debbie whispered to me, "Fonda, grab your camera." I looked over into the game room to see this.

That is Jim's ash bucket for the fireplace...and those are the ashes from the last few fires all over his head and face! he was throwing them straight up in the air and watching them fall.

It took me 10 minutes just to get all the ashes washed out of his hair. My bathtub looked a mess when he finished!

As we dropped into bed about midnight, I told Jim that I didn't know how in the world we raised five children. Just one for one night wore me out!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Welcome Party For Maddux

Last Saturday, Meagan and one of my Best Girls, Robin, hosted a baby shower for Kelli in honor of Maddux's quickly approaching arrival. The idea was to supplement Matt and Kelli's pink collection with a little bit of blue so that Maddux doesn't grow up with a complex. They received lots of clothing for the little we just need him to get here in order to wear them!

This first picture is of the soon to be "Big Sister" with her Auntie. Her little teal sweater outfit was just soooooo cute!

The shower was done in a sports theme, heavy on the baseball (Matt's favorite). The food was plentiful and things you can pick up at a chicken wings and sub sandwiches. The cupcakes were made by one of Kelli's friends, Jennifer. Red velvet baseballs...Yum!
Here is the beaming Mommy-to-be opening Maddux's crib set. So cute!

There was tons of baby blue and brown baby clothes. They will match nicely with all of Brooke's pink and brown.

Kelli and Matt picked up the crib now she feels a little more prepared for his arrival. I am sure that all the cute things that they received last Saturday have helped that feeling as well.

As I mentioned in an earlier email...we are on 'Blue Alert". Waiting to hear that they are on their way to the hospital any day now. I will keep you all posted.

Keeping It All In The Family

I know I promised pictures this week...and they are coming. Hopefully before the day is over. I just had to let you all know that I have been sidelined by the contagiousness of family. I caught a stomach bug that hit me hard on Monday night. I am thinking I may have caught it from Kelli's family who were all down with illnesses late last week. Then when I woke up this morning, I couldn't open my right eye...a result of Davin's pink eye that he woke up with at my house last Sunday morning.

Ahh, the joys of staying close to family. I told Jim at this rate we couldn't afford to have many more grandchildren! I would be sick all the time.

Meanwhile, we are anxiously awaiting Maddux's big arrival. Kelli called after her doctor's appointment yesterday to let me know that she has dilated to three and the doctor offered to induce her next week. She is trying to wait until Matt's vacation begins on the 16th...but before I leave on my next Grandmas Gone Wild trip to San Franscisco on the 19th. Because of his imminent arrival, I went straight to see my doctor this morning. I can't be quarantined from our new family member upon his arrival. That would be horrible!

Well, I need to get back to the business at hand. Lots to catch up on since I missed work yesterday. I will try to get pictures of the baby shower out before I leave the office today. Hope you and yours are having a wonderful day!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Busy Week

Well, I really meant to post again before now. Honestly, I did. It has just been a very busy week.

Monday afternoon was set aside for a visit with my trainer. Nick pushed me a little harder than I am used to. I didn't realize how much weaker my left arm is than my right until he had me doing shoulder exercises. Let's just say that if I had to lift both arms over my head twelve times each...the left arm only made it all the way up about 6 out of those 12 times. He assures me this will get better in time, but if he had started over each time I stopped like he threatened...I would still be at the gym!

Tuesday I was supposed to go out to dinner with some girlfriends for a birthday celebration. Due to some appointments gone awry, we weren't able to make it. However, it all worked out for the best as Casy and Debbie arrived around 5. Casy had tests scheduled for Wednesday and a visit with the doctor scheduled for Thursday.

Wednesday I headed back to the gym for my second workout of the week. Thursday was a FULL day...I started out at the dentist's office to get my teeth polished, followed by a birthday lunch for one of the ladies in our office and then I met Casy and Debbie for his doctor's visit.

Friday we spent the day at the Houston Auto Show...where I drooled endlessly over the new Chevy Camaro. SWEET!!! I will try to post some pics later this week.

On Saturday I attended a baby shower for Kelli. 19 days and counting for the arrival of Maddux! She was blessed with so much nice stuff. (Again, I will try to post pictures early this week.)

Today we are expecting a house full for Super Bowl. I am not really pulling for either team, but it will still be fun. Jim smoked a brisket overnight and we now have ribs on the grill. Yum! So, I am off to finish preparations. I will talk to ya'll later! Have a great Sunday!