Saturday, February 27, 2010

Grandmas Visit The City Of Angels: Day 4 - California Girls

By Sunday morning, we had grown more accustomed to the California clock. We slept until a decent local time (versus Friday morning when we woke before the chickens) and began discussing our day.

It didn't take long to realize that we had covered most everything that we had wanted to see. And, as usual when you have more than one woman making decisions, it took several conversations to get to the unanimous decision that we really didn't want to go anywhere. (It took several conversations not in order to convince one another, but because no one wanted to say it and 'ruin' the trip for everyone else!)

It didn't help that we would have to go swap out the rental car for one with working wipers before we could actually drive any place.

Once the decision was voiced by all three, we made reservations for Sunday brunch at Shutters On The Beach resort.

Beautiful place, by the way! We enjoyed a very leisurely first time ever to have Eggs Benedict. (I am more of biscuits and chocolate syrup kind of girl.) Everything was delicious. And Robin had an extra special treat when she was able to have her photograph taken with one of the characters from 'One Life To Live'.

After brunch, we strolled down to the beach so that I could FINALLY put my feet in the Pacific Ocean. That was my desire during Grandmas trip last year in San Francisco...but it was raining so hard on Sunday when we made our stop at the beach that I had to settle for putting my hand in the water instead.

I had to keep walking out farther and farther in hopes of catching a wave. Then all of a sudden it surrounded me as Robin took this photo.

But here is the picture that Stacy took at the same moment that Robin took the picture of the water washing over my feet for the first time.

Can you say COLD? This girl is used to water from the Gulf of Mexico. You know, the warm kind! Even in Florida where it is blue, it is still least warmer than this!

The waves were really crashing on Sunday. It was beautiful.

After taking several more photos of ourselves and of the people working out along the beach, we headed back up to our room.

This was our favorite snack of the trip.

You can take the Girls out of Texas, but you can't take Texas out of the Girls!

I was so glad that we had Sunday just to relax and get ready for the trip back home. It made it much easier to get up and pack on Monday morning. After packing, we had breakfast at the hotel, met our limo driver downstairs and made our way to the airport.

It was another wonderful trip with wonderful friends and filled with many wonderful memories.

In case you were wondering: It really was filled with wonder, y'all!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Grandmas Visit The City Of Angels: Day 3 - No Hillbillies Here

Saturday morning, we woke to a chance of rain and slightly chilly weather. As with most trips I take, I found myself once again lacking in the footwear department. Black heels and black flip flops...neither would do for a cool, wet day of walking. So, my 'Girls' backed me up when I said I needed to go SHOPPING!

We dressed and headed a few blocks down to Third Street Promenade. The Promenade is made up of mostly chain stores that I can find any day of the week here in Houston...but it was just what the doctor ordered for finding a pair of black Ugg's.

After picking up my boots, we stumbled across the Saturday Farmer's Market.

We picked up fresh strawberries, vine ripen tomatoes (it has been years since I have enjoyed one) and chili-lime pistachios. YUM!!!!

Next we headed into Los Angeles proper to visit The Grove Shopping Center and the adjoining Farmers Third and Fairfax.

It was a beautiful afternoon...with sunglasses being a must! After strolling among the shops, we decided to stop at Morels French Steakhouse and Bistro for lunch at the sidewalk cafe. It was so nice sitting around, visiting and watching ALL THE PEOPLE walking by. And dogs. Don't forget the dogs. I don't think people in LA go anywhere without their dogs!

Here's a picture our server took of us relaxing after lunch.

We saw one celebrity as we ate our lunch. Charlie O'Connell from "Dude, Where's My Car" was walking back to the parking garage as we finished up. Of course then we were on full celebrity alert! And though we spotted a member of the paparazzi taking photos at the eatery across from us...we never could tell who it was.

After lunch and a stroll through the larger Farmer's Market, we headed back to Beverly Hills to get our pictures made with the sign.

While we were there, two young girls came over to have their pictures made as well. So, we did the photo opportunity swap...asking them to take a quick picture of all three of us for a picture of both of them.

We rarely get pictures all together on a trip, but on this day we were able to get two!

After getting our pictures made with the famous Beverly Hills sign, we headed back to Santa Monica and turned north toward Malibu.

Malibu is gorgeous! We drove through just about sunset. See how pretty it is? The water, the mountains, the open sky. B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L.

As we made our way back into Santa Monica, we began having car issues. All of a sudden, as Robin was rinsing off the windshield from the light rain that was falling, we had a headlight and our windshield wipers go out...with water still all over the place! Thankfully we were only a few blocks from out hotel.

So, instead of going out as we had planned that night, we decided to stay close by and explore the Santa Monica pier instead. It was real close to our hotel, so it didn't require any driving.

I wanted to grab a funnel cake while we were there...but alas, after 10 plus minutes in line and no movement, I settled for a churro from a side cart instead. Oh well, it still counts as carnival food!

We walked back to the hotel, spent some time by the fire pit visiting, and then went in to the hotel restaurant for a late dinner.

It was another wonderful day at the end of Route 66.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Grandmas Visit The City of Angels: Day 2 - Hooray For Hollywood

Friday morning we woke up EARLY, due to the time change and resting the night before. Since we had a little wait before our rental car arrived, we took our time eating breakfast and getting ready for the day.

Today was our day to sight see! First stop: Grauman's Chinese Theatre

It was so cool to wander around looking at the names etched in the concrete. The hand and foot prints of all the leading ladies looked so small! Judy Garland's seemed the smallest, but I figure she was probably a child when she made hers.

We saw signatures from Bob Hope and Jimmy Stewart to Johnny Depp and Meryl Steep.

But, my favorite was this one:

My hand fit perfectly in Henry Fonda's impression.

Then I placed my hands in the cement right next to Marilyn!

(She looked so real it was a little spooky!)

After Grauman's we walked for blocks and blocks along Hollywood Boulevard just reading the names that line the Walk of Fame.

We picked up a few souvenirs and grabbed some nachos at The Green Room.

We had searched and searched for a certain star, but unable to find it after several hours, we headed back to the car. We found our note of the address and realized that we had walked the wrong direction and that our 'star' was only a block away.

So, we headed back out onto the boulevard to get our picture with this:
Since Robin and I had met John Stamos at the premiere of 'Bye, Bye Birdie' in New York last September...we just had to get our picture made with his star too! (Thanks for the idea, Brian!)

Next we headed into Beverly Hills and a cruise along Rodeo Drive.

We had dinner reservations at Mr. Chow for 9. So, after locating our restaurant, we headed back to Santa Monica to dress for the evening.

We had a lovely dinner at Mr. Chow. We might not have spotted any celebrities, but I got to see Robin do the unthinkable. She let the Maitre' D choose our menu for the evening. They always pick at me because I ask the waiter to bring me the specialty of the house. Well, let's just say this time it was a little more exotic than any where else we have eaten. When they placed the plate of calamari in ink sauce in front of us...I thought Robin might pass out! And I have to admit, my eyes got a little wide as well! It wasn't bad, but I would not order it again. Thank goodness for the lettuce wraps that were served alongside!

After dinner we drove over to the Beverly Wilshire for a nightcap before heading back into Santa Monica and our peaceful view of the ocean.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Grandmas Visit The City of Angels: Day 1 - Bohemia By The Bay

The Grandmas started really early on Thursday morning in order to make our morning flight. I left my house around 5:20 AM in order to pick up Stacy by 6. We knew that if we left much later we would find ourselves in gridlock traffic on 290. Thankfully, we missed it and arrived at the airport early enough to grab some breakfast and coffee before the flight. Robin was not far behind us.

After a three hour flight, we arrived in bright and sunny Los Angeles. Our driver met us as we departed our gate and ushered us through baggage claim.

He was kind enough to take a picture of the three of us as we started our Grandmas Gone Wild 3 weekend.

Chilled champagne was waiting in the car. We toasted our friendship and the weekend that lay before us.

It didn't take long for us to arrive at our hotel in Santa Monica. We checked in, but our room was not ready. We had a few hours to kill, so we headed out to the boardwalk and walked south toward Venice Beach.

What can one say about Venice Beach? It was such an eclectic mix of people and ideas and things. Body builders and street people and artists and musicians and a man walking on glass. A souvenir shop beside a medicinal marijuana store beside a surf shop beside a restaurant beside a smoke shop. People roller blading (even some over the age of 60) and playing basketball and hawking their wares and offering you that prescription for your 'headaches'.

The only word I can think of right now is bizarre! It had the feel of being in another world. Some of the strangest things were laid out as art and yet, mixed into the weird, were a few artists that had captured the beauty of the area.

We walked for blocks and blocks, picking up a few souvenirs along the way. And then, Stacy and I met Salty Salt.
Salty Salt is an artist who was trying to get his cd's out to the public. He wasn't the only musician out selling his wares, but he was the most personable without being pushy. He had us cracking up as he sang to Robin trying to get her to join us for a listen.

After our three hour jaunt along the coast, we headed back to our hotel to unpack and clean up. (You really feel the need for a shower after a few hours in Venice!)

We had a room with a balcony, and here was our view.
The Santa Monica pier is in the background. Among the trees is the Original Muscle Beach. There is still exercise equipment all around that gets used regularly. You can sit at most any time of the day and watch as people do all kinds of gymnastics routines on the bars and rings. There are people on bicycles and roller blades and joggers constantly zipping back and forth along the boardwalk.

Here I am standing on our balcony. It got pretty cool out if you weren't walking.

We hadn't stopped for lunch, so we decided to order up some chips and guacamole for a snack before getting ready for the evening. We sat out on the balcony and enjoyed the sound of the waves as we snacked. But, like eating outside on the Gulf, you have to watch out for the ever present sea gulls.

These two guys sat on the ledge of the roof above us until we had finished. They quickly moved in to see if we had any left overs for them.

It was time to unpack, get situated and start getting ready for dinner. We made it through the unpacking and getting situated, but we never made it out to dinner. No one wanted to say it, but it had been a very long day for all of us. We were going on a seventeen hour day. We ended up changing into pajamas and ordering up room service which we ate while watching a movie.

Not our most exciting start to a Grandmas trip...but definitely what I needed after all the hustle and bustle of getting ready to go!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Where Are The Grandmas? - Final Clue

Heading home today...but here is the final clue as to where we have been the last four days.

This is as close as I will ever get to the man after whom I was named. It was a cool experience.

I guess by now you have figured out where we are...but we will be leaving soon. It is time to head back home!

We will be planning next year's Grandmas Trip real soon!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Where Are The Grandmas? - Clue Number 2

A view of the mountains.
Still on Grandmas trip...I will post the final hint tomorrow.
Hopefully I will be able to fill you in on the details next week!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Where In The World Is Fonda?

First hint: the view from my patio this morning.

The sound of ocean waves crashing. The sight of palm trees swaying. White sand. Pirate sea gulls waiting to take your food. Fresh salt air.

If you are already privy to my destination, please don't spoil the surprise!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Thought From The Word

On Sunday night, I was reading in Beth Moore's new book So Long, Insecurity about our need (even as adults) to be loved like a child. She made her point by quoting Isaiah 46:4 from the New Century Version of the Bible.

Even when you are old, I will be the same.
Even when your hair has turned gray, I will take care of you.
I made you and will take care of you.
I will carry you and save you.

The words struck a chord in my heart...a chord of remembrance. I was taken back to our Sunday School class's study of Isaiah a few years back when we did Downpour by James MacDonald. I knew that those verses had spoken to me before. I could remember the cool salve that coated my heart at the time. Surely those verses moved me enough back then to highlight them, right? I opened my Bible (the one with the packing tape on the spine, not the new one that just still doesn't feel like it is mine) and sure enough in bright yellow highlights and underlined too... whom I have upheld since you were conceived,
and have carried since your birth.
Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am He, I am He who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
Isaiah 46:3b-4
New International Version

Monday, February 15, 2010

Where A Kid Can Be A Kid...

...a Mommy can get a headache

...and a Nonna can remember why she hasn't been there in over 10 years!
Last Friday, after taking Valentines pictures, I took the kids to Chuck E. Cheese.
My original plan was to treat the kids while their Mommy's had their nails done. But upon walking through the door, I knew that offer was off the table!

I might could have done it with one grandchild at a time...but three? No way!

Especially with one who had to sit at the table and two who wanted to run in opposite directions from one another...from ride to ride to ride.

Brooke couldn't finish one ride before she was ready to move on to the next one!
I think Meagan and Derrick have the right idea. You always need one more person than children to do Chuck E. Cheese. One for each child, plus one to sit at the table and watch all the stuff.

Maybe we can try again next year!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentines Day!

From our family to yours...
Hope your day is full of smiles!

Happy First Birthday, Maddux!

Such a sweet and happy boy!
Pappaw and Nonna love you very much!
One Year Old on Thursday,
Pictures Taken on Friday,
and First Birthday Party Today!

Yeah, that sure sounds like a typical Goode family birthday week!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

The good news is that even though the skies are gray and overcast this morning, it is not raining!!! Yay!!!!!

The bad news is that when Jim and I woke up this morning, our back yard looked like this.

Our park -like setting now resembles a lake. I checked the map to see if our 5 acres had somehow fallen into the swamps of Louisiana while we slept...but no, we were still in Texas.

The ugly news was that I had to wade through this just to get to my truck this morning.

The even uglier news is that my darling husband has to go home this afternoon and clean out a clogged culvert so that some of this water will hopefully run off.

I offered to do it for him since he had to be at a meeting first thing this morning, but he said something about being afraid I would get sucked up in it! Oh, okay, never mind then!

Chivalry is not dead, ladies!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ever Thought Of Joining A Book Club?

Well, here is your chance.

Over at the Living Proof Ministry blog, they have posted the first week's assignment and questions for Beth Moore's new book So Long Insecurity: You've Been A Bad Friend To Us. Click here to read Beth's post.

Roll call was Tuesday and I meant to mention it, but never did. If you would like to join the discussion group, click here to join roll call. All you have to do is leave a comment with your name, city & state, age (decade...20's, 30's, 40's etc.), married or single and leave an additional note if this is your first time to participate on their blog. Nearly 6,000 people have already signed up. Wow!

I started reading the book over the weekend and will probably continue to do so ahead of the discussion group. However, since repetition is the best way for me to learn, I have decided to go back over each assignment more slowly and let a little more sink in. I am already filling up my reading journal with quotes.

Can I just tell you that God brought this book into my hands at just the right time and leave it at that for now? I do not think it is any coincidence that my current study of the life of David and this book crossed paths at exactly the same time.

I hope you join me. I need some victory over insecurity...and something tells me I am not the only one.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

An Old Story; A New Day

Time: The Reign of Saul, First King of Israel
Place: The Valley of Elah

The battle lines are drawn: the Philistines on one hill, the Israelites on the other, the valley lies between them.

A 9 foot tall, heavily armored champion named Goliath of Gath issues a challenge. "This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other."

Saul and the armies of Israel are dismayed and terrified.

"For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand."

But, on the fortieth day, there is a boy delivering supplies to his brothers who hears the challenge. He asks why no one has responded to the giant from Gath.

"Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him."

"You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth."

"Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine."

The boy kindly refuses the armor offered him by the king and takes up the weapons that he is most comfortable using.

He marches toward the valley to meet the giant.

The giant laughs and ridicules.

The boy responds, "You come at me with sword and spear and javelin but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty...whom you have defied...All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord's,"

The boy reaches into the bag and draws out one of five smooth stones he has gathered from the creek.

The stone finds its mark, the champion from Gath is defeated.

The enemy army flees in fear. The Israelites, renewed in courage, pursue and defeat them.

What enemy are you facing today?
Does 'he' seem nine feet tall and fully armed?
I have a feeling the Lord has some victory in store for us soon!

From I Samuel 17

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sunday's Super Party

We had a Super Party last Sunday.

First, we celebrated Meagan's birthday with a family lunch of shish kabobs, baked potatoes and tiramisu from La Madeleine's (her favorite).
Here she is sitting in her birthday present. A new chair for their bedroom. My girl loves her some black and white!

After cake, we gathered around the television for the big game. Maddux was more interested in Pappaw than in the game.

Since our family and guests were split down the middle in their team loyalties, I picked up balloons to represent both the Saints and the Colts.

The bonus was that as the game drew to a close, these two each had their own set to play with!

The Colts may not have had a smile on their faces after the game, but we sure did...watching Miss Brooke with her hair standing on end.
It was a Super Sunday, in more ways than one!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Wonderful Wonderland

Whimsical costuming. Enchanting characters. Amusing routines. Authentic context.

What happens when a woman tries to have it all and to be everything to everyone? Most often, she loses herself. Her dreams, her passions. And all too often, she loses touch with those closest and most dear to her.

Thus begins the story of Alice Cornwinkle. She is on the verge of divorce, her daughter needs her yet she is on her way out the door again to meet an obligation of her career. After all, an author must schmooze in order to receive proper recognition, right?

Wonderland:The Musical is a Broadway Genesis Project that I predict will be a national hit. It opened in Tampa last December and will finish it's month long run here in Houston on Sunday. (If you live in the Houston area and have a free evening this week, I highly suggest you take the opportunity to go see it.)

The show is similar enough to the book that I think children will thoroughly enjoy the show. The dialogue is witty and entertaining to adults. The costuming and stage dressing will please them both.

My favorite characters were El Gato (a Latin version of the Cheshire Cat) and the smooth talking Caterpillar. The White Knight and his companions cracked Alison and me both up with their 'boy band' performances. While the Queen of Heats and the White Rabbit were both perfectly cast...and the costuming, other than one that I thought should be a little 'edgier', was inspiring.

I picked up the CD and have listened to it twice since Saturday night. From the boy band performance of "One Knight" to the rock opera-ish sound of "Misunderstood" by the Jabberwock...the music moves you. And "Love Begins" is a sweet ballad that leaves its melody with you long after the song has stopped playing.

What else can I say but Wonderland was wonderful!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Waiting For Alice

I am beginning to get very excited about this...

Wonderland started its run at the Alley Theatre in Houston on January15 and will be here until February 14. (Go here to see more info.)

According to the website:

'Wonderland' is set in present-day Manhattan and a timeless Wonderland. The new musical tells the story of author Alice Cornwinkle (a descendant of Lewis Carroll's muse Alice Liddell), who is struggling with her career and her daughter, Chloe.

You remember Wonderland...the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts and the rest? Now, they are most definitely and exactually back! In this world premiere of a new musical by acclaimed composer Frank Wildhorn and lyricist Jack Murphy and book writers Jack Murphy and Gregory Boyd, journey with modern-day Alice to Wonderland and the Looking-Glass World where she must find her daughter, defeat the Queen and learn to follow her heart.

Doesn't that just sound like a lot of fun? Alice, Wonderland, Manhattan, learning to follow your heart.

Alison and I have GREAT seats and will be taking it all in tomorrow night at 8:00! I am getting excited!!! (Oh, I already said that, huh?)

And for my spell check friends, the write up actually says 'exactually'! Really! Go check it out for yourself.

I so amuse myself (and thankfully, it doesn't take much), while reading over the post I realized that I am going to see Alice with Alison...get it Alice-son! And we are eating at Kim Son before the show. I crack me up!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Happy Birthday, Meagan!

May your birthday make you feel as beautiful and special as you are!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Up For Change?

As I mentioned in last Tuesday's "What's On My Nightstand" post, the first of the year found me deeply engrossed in Cathy Alter's book Up For Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex And Starting Over. It was an interesting read, to say the least.

The following is the book's description from the back cover:

"By age thirty-seven, Cathy Alter had made a mess of her life. With a failed marriage under her belt, she was continuing down a path of poor decisions paved with a steady stream of junk food, unpaid bills, and highly inappropriate men. So what did she truly want? A decent guy. A nicer home. More protein. Her list could easily be transformed into the cover lines on every women's magazine: Find the love you deserve! Paint to the rescue! Eggs-actly perfect meals!

"Cathy gave over her life to the glossies for the next twelve months, resolving to follow their advice without question. By the end of her subscriptions, she would get rid of upper-arm jiggle, crawl out of debt, host the perfect dinner part, engage in better bathtub booty, ask for a raise, and rehaul her apartment. What actually happened was much less about cosmetic change and much more about internal transformation. Singular in its voice and yet completely universal, Up for Renewal will appeal to all who have ever wondered if they could actually make their life over."

Each month, for one year, the author chose an area of her life to work on. She read women's magazines and found two things to concentrate on for the month she was in. Whether the information came from Cosmo, Real Simple or Allure...she was determined to follow their counsel.

I recorded more quotes in my reading journal from this book than any other. My favorite was, "Anything can change a life that's ready to be changed."

Another that made me stop and think was, "This was not the life I wanted. So I sat down and asked myself what I did want. It proved to be a surprisingly difficult question, a Riddle of the Sphinx..." Hmmm.

A few days before I started the book, I read an article in "O" magazine titled "How I (Finally) Got in Shape" by Michelle Burford. In the article, Michelle talks about how on January 1st for 15 years she would make a commitment to lose weight only to be 'uncommitted' by the first week of February. That is until last year, when her doctor gave her a wake-up call. So, she decided to set small, doable goals she called her If-I-do-just-two-things-this-year list. Her two things were to do fifteen jumping jacks every day and to take one tablespoon of flax seed every 24 hours. By June she added power walking to her list...and by the end of the year she had lost 40 pounds and her blood pressure and cholesterol were both back to normal.

With twenty-one days left in January, (the time they say it takes to establish a habit) I made my list of two things.

#1 - Pay attention to what I eat. Not just is it healthy or not, or is it the right portion size...but also, enjoy it as you eat. No more lunch in front of my computer, snacks while driving or dinner in front of the television. If I was going to take the time to eat something, then I was going to enjoy it. Otherwise, why eat?

#2 - Exercise for at least 15 minutes every day. I even went out and bought a Wii Fit Plus to help make it more fun than walking in this rainy, overcast, cold weather we have been experiencing lately.

I would like to say that yesterday, February 1st found me well on my way to success. But alas, my good intentions only lasted for two weeks. It is that third week that kills me every time. I have a lot of things that I could blame it on...but really, I just get tired of the self-discipline.

It is now time to get back on the wagon again. My doctor has been telling me for over a year now that I am at a cross roads of sorts with my health. Prehypertension is slowly sliding toward the real thing. I have to make some lifestyle changes or medicine will be my only recourse. I guess it is time to 'get real' with myself.

I am so glad that Michelle ended her article with an old Japanese proverb, "Fall down seven times - get up eight."

I need to get to my Wii now!

After I posted, I noticed that it was "I Read It!" Tuesday at 5 Minutes for Books. This isn't really a book review, but I did hear about this book from their website.