Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Texas Travels - Part WHOOP!!

For a long time I've wanted to take our kids to College Station.
But when we come to Texas, we are usually on such a tight schedule that there is no time left.
This trip was planned with some cushion for just this sort of thing.
As we left the Houston area and headed towards Austin, we took a detour through Aggieland.
First I drove around looking for a few old haunts.
The town has changed so much.
I was able to find a Whataburger that I frequented on late nights after leaving my bartender job, but my old apartments and places of employment have been replaced with newer and bigger...
Some areas were really unrecognizable because of the growth.

And although the campus itself has undergone changes and growth as well, most of it remains just as I remember.
It's strange how something so far removed from your life can feel so familiar.

Our first stop was Kyle Field.
I don't believe for one minute that the temperature reading on that stadium is accurate.
We walked around campus on one of the hottest days of our whole trip with temperatures reaching 104!

Afterwards, we found a parking garage and took off for a walking tour of some memorable spots.
One of the places I took the kids was Sterling Evans Library.
What was crazy was how it smelled!
EXACTLY the same as I remember!
We took the elevator to the 5th floor.
This was the week of finals for summer school Ags, so while there weren't many people there, we were quiet for the sake of those who were studying...and...because its a library.  
You can't help but whisper.

I showed the kids the study carrels that I remembered soooooo well.
Ivan found a pencil and we grabbed some books so they could pose like studious college students.

After they had their turns, I showed them how real studying works!!
Or maybe that was just me!
Cool Hannah photo!
 And just some fun pics among the stacks!
 You can see by Ivan's expression that he is so happy to pose for these pictures...
 ...and Jenelle is sooo not into it!

Next stop was Mosher Hall in the Commons.
This was my dorm for the first two years and I didn't know if we were going to be able to get a peek at where I roomed or not.
I guess we looked innocent enough as I was able to easily convince a student to let us into the hall.

We walked to the 3rd floor
and there it 327!
I didn't want to stay too long...I felt like we were intruding a I didn't pay any attention to the names on the funny faces.
Hannah pointed out to me that they were...
This used to be a girls dorm!

We left the Commons and took a walk through the Quad that houses the Corps of Cadets.
Love this plaque that is inside the Quad.

Next a walk down to the MSC which had recently gone through some renovation.
Lots of nice changes, but somethings just looked the same to me and I loved that.
We spent some time and money at the bookstore.
Jenelle bought a hoodie that I'm sure will show up in future pictures as the weather grows colder.
Just look for a BRIGHT pink hoodie with Texas A&M on the front.
Wish I had bought this shirt...

Of course pictures at the Academic Building and Sul Ross statue were in order.

We saw piles of pennies at the feet of Sul Ross and I was at a loss as to why they were there.
This is apparently, a tradition that I didn't take part in when I was a student.
I found a great short article from the Battalion that explains the tradition.
You can read it here!

Carrying on down the walk and we came to the Century Tree...a 100+ year old live oak that has been home to many marriage proposals and even weddings!
Its big and beautiful and I can't even let my head go to a time when an amazing thing like this tree isn't around any more.

Just a couple more pictures Hannah took along the tour...

We left campus and found a Wings 'N More - a necessity!

Then, we made one more trip back to campus before we left for Austin.
I wanted to visit the Bonfire Memorial.
I didn't expect to be moved as much as I was powerful.
And until I read this - I wasn't even aware of all the beautiful details that were included in the memorial.
Its a short article...and worthwhile.
Each gateway held a likeness and signature of the victim as well as quotes, poems, letters, emails and memories that their families felt were important to share.
This particular poem was written by one of the Aggies who died in the collapse.
Everyone feels strongly about their university.
But for Texas A&M, truer words have not been spoken...

After a full, fun and hot day, we needed to move on.
It had been a long afternoon for some of us...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Texas Travels - Part 1

Seems like I can't get much taken care of in my blog lately without spreading it out over different posts.
Our trip to Texas already seems like such a long time ago already!
And the fact that I keep starting and stopping this particular post means that it actually WAS a long time ago!

It had been three years since we last visited and the kids and I were excited for our 2 week adventure!  Donald had a lot of work, and a possible federal jury duty assignment.
He didn't end up being called in, but was unable to make travel plans "just in case".

We started our morning very early with a shuttle ride to Seattle.
 Our first stop was Crosby to see Granny and Grandpa.
Granny took us to the Museum of Natural Science and IMAX in Houston.
We visited a Faberge exhibit that they were having.
I thought Faberge was all about eggs...but I guess it's about pickles too...
So many cool things to watch and see...
My favorites were the Gems and Minerals and the Paleontology exhibits.

Here's me and a giant sloth today.
 Here's me in prehistoric times if I actually saw a giant sloth.

After Crosby, we were heading to Conroe to see Meema and Papa.
On our way we stopped and visited with my dear friend Melissa...who I'd not seen in so long.
Too long!
It was a wonderful, emotional, special visit and we made promises to do it more often.
Time and love and life are too precious.

Next stop was Conroe and we finally got a chance to meet Cora Hodge "in real life"!
Cora is my cousin Ben and his wife Bridget's daughter.
An absolute doll!!
Sweet and beautiful and smart!
Just like our own children, she was born to two Aggie parents.
So...need I say more about her brilliance?
I'm so frustrated that Bridget and I didn't get our pictures together!!
After only meeting once years ago, we have become friends through our blogs.
And because we are both queens of the blog world, I know our infinite number of readers were probably waiting to see the two of us together.
So sorry to disappoint, but we won't make that mistake again!

As we said goodbye to Meema and Papa, I took a group picture.
Then went back and found this picture from our last visit.
Very cliche, but WOW, time flies! 
Pretty cool!

Except for us...we are timeless right!?

Next stop...
Home of the 12th Man!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Ivan's Birthday - Final Part

So the last part of Ivan's birthday celebration(s) was a party that he wanted to have with some friends.
Our neighbors were so nice to let us use their pool for the afternoon while they were out of town, so he invited four friends and they had a swim/eat/nerf gun war party!

I had an awesome helper...
 ...make that two!
Of course he had to follow us over!

We started with swimming and some lunch snacks.  
Lots of crazy play!

My main helper kept herself busy!

After swimming, I took the boys to a local park where they were going to have a large scale nerf gun war.
So while I did this...
They did some of this...
But a whole lot more of this...
I think the park was too big and they were making strategy up as they went...and those bullets had to be picked up each time someone emptied their magazine!
That was the part that was no fun.

With time running out before moms came back to retrieve their kids, we headed home for some cake and gifts.
Ivan loved all his gifts and had a great time!
He's fortunate to have a neat group of friends (David, Jared, Patrick and Tanner)  - some he's known for years and some only for this summer, but they are all welcome back!

And so ends Ivan's 12th birthday celebrations!

Next I'll start the tale of our Texas Tour!