Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day of School 2008

Always a milestone. Always bitter sweet.

I spent a lot of time with the kids this summer, and for that I am grateful. I'll miss them during the days, but will get a lot more done!

Bridget is going into fourth grade. Always a big year in terms of expecting more responsibility from the kids. Fewer reminders, fewer "mulligans." If they forget their homework or lunch, tough cookies!

Aidan starts Big Bad Middle School. Well, I'm pretty sure it's not Big and Bad these days, but no matter how much anti-bully indoctrination they've thrown at the kids the last several years, kids STILL will be kids and can be cruel. I think Aidan is a pretty normal kid though and there are easier targets than him out there, so he'll be fine. He really enjoyed orientation and seeing friends, the excitement of changing classes, having a locker, etc. But still quite a bit of nervousness..... lots of questions and "what if..." posed to me over the last few days. He's even started calling me "Mommy" again. Very sweet and I know he is maybe grieving in his own way for the childish things of elementary school. Like recess!

Enjoy the photos!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Notes From the Road - Part III

Wednesday was just another crappy day in paradise. More beach time, and this time joined for a couple of hours by our friends the Jacksons who also were vacationing in Destin at the same time.

It was a bit hotter, so I spent a LOT of time in the water. Barnacle Bridie is a bit less clingy today.

Aidan began a sand castle which Ray and Bridget helped him finish. Before it was time to go, he finally released The World's Largest Hermit Crab back into the wild. I'm sure the hermit crab was ecstatic not to have to endure the car ride back to Texas.

Sushi was the dinner du jour, followed by a game of checkers on the giant checkerboard. The kids whooped us good!

Thursday AM and time to hit the road. Five states in one day. 14 hours total in the car. We actually lengthened our trip a bit by going through Alabama and Mississippi on back roads. Wanted to go deeper into those states for a little "local color." Very beautiful scenery and you don't have to get too far off the beaten track for life to be completely different from ours. I didn't keep count, but I'm pretty sure I saw more mobile homes than standard houses.

Mid-day, when we were still in Mississippi and Butterfly Bladder Bridget had to go potty (again!). I checked the map, and the next town was Bukatunna. Just a wide spot in the road, really. With two gas stations. Randomly pulled into one and hustled Bridget thru the little store to the loo. What a pleasant surprise, perhaps the cutest (and cleanest!) public restroom I've been in! Cute sconces on either side of the vanity mirrors, pot-pourri on the counters. Anyway, business accomplished, back out into the store and I notice they have a cafe of sorts. All the patrons are at least a hundred. And wearing plaid. And goggling at us foreigners in the SUV, wondering how come we're sooo far off the super-highway. I see Ray at the head of the cafe line with a big smile on his face.

THIS is why we come on the back roads. They were frying up chicken giblets! In the back woods of Mississippi! They pair perfectly with Diet Doctor Pepper and we enjoyed a box for the next several miles.

So.... if you ever find your self in Bukatunna, MS..... it's an Exxon station. Tell 'em the yuppies in the SUV sent ya.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Notes from the Road - Part II

"The sea is so salty that if you had a quarter of a quarter of a teaspoon in your pantry you'd have enough for ANY recipe you could think of."
- Bridget (August 2008)

That is funny, as she thinks of the ocean in terms of food.

We had dinner at a "crab shack" the other night. Bridget is scared of the ocean, scared of our taxi driver, but totally willing to suck a raw oyster from it's shell.

That's my girl. Fearless of food.

Today is Tuesday and we spent pretty much all of it on the beach.

There were two highlights of the day. Parasailing and a random singer in a bar at the Sandestin Resort.

Aidan and I went parasailing. I checked my fear of heights on the beach and Patty H would be proud of me. The "Sky Pirate" picked us up and headed out to slightly deeper water. The two 20-something chicks running the boat and sails were real pros and very nice. They deployed the chute behind the boat at a fast idle and then hooked Aidan and I in while still on the aft deck. Then they went full-throttle and let the winch holding the 'chute loose and we sailed several hundred feet into the air. The view was marvelous. It was great to do this with my fearless boy who enjoyed the sights and spotted some huge nurse sharks swimming in the waters below us.

We even got to do a "touch & go" before we landed, which is where they slow the boat enough for you to dip your feet in, and then take off again to pull you back up into the sky.

After a nice rest at our hotel we headed out for dinner.

The resort has a large "mall" of restaurants, shops, and various entertainments that is only for resort guests. Ray had a craving for steak, so that narrowed down our restaurant choices. We had the kids meals and appetizers served right away and then sent the kids away to enjoy the various amusements while we enjoyed our steaks and wine.

Then, the true entertainment of the evening happened.

There were a couple of live music venues at this "mall," and we heard strains of Billy Joel, Elthon John and the Eagles from 2 different bars as we enjoyed our meal. Kids in tow, we wandered around and were sitting by a play area when a "guy and a guitar" started playing. But he had a singer too. And he was GOOD. OMG. REALLY GOOD.

He was a lead singer from some local-yokel band, but he was AMAZING. Did a lot of Journey, Scorpions, Styx, etc. We installed the kids w/ a couple of Cokes and a view of the Olympic broadcast and made sure they knew what a special singer they were hearing. We enjoyed every second. Still don't know who this guy was, only that he played in a local '80's band. Really a privilege to listen to someone like this.

I hope my kids understand why I was making them listen to these "oldies."

All in all it was a great day. We love Destin. We love the private beach, the white sand, the lovely weather (well, I know that's a crap shoot), and the fact that where we are staying is unexpectedly a part of this larger, lovely resort.

One more day on the beach.

Then a dozen or more interminable hours in the car. So far, it's been totally worth it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Notes from the Road Part I

We're in Destin! It is so pretty! And we're not going to have a hurricaine!

Life is good.

Nawlins was fun. Brief, but fun. We arrived in the afternoon and headed straight for Bourbon Street. Um. That. Was. A. Mistake. I had no idea it was so raunchy! Every other business is a strip joint or a titty bar. The bars all have guys outside holding up signs that say "Big Ass Beer!!!" Waaaayyyyy too much stuff to have to explain to the kids, so let's get off Bourbon Street, thank you very much.

Gawd, don't I sound like Miss Priss!

Had a WONDERFUL dinner at NOLA, one of Emeril's restaurants. While the food was amazing, the real highlight of the evening was watching Bridget experience food of that caliber. She was vibrating with excitement the moment we walked into the door. She read the entire menu and selected a filet mignon with a bleu cheese stuffed portabello mushroom. Aidan ordered pasta from the kid's menu. So, Ray, Bridget and I ordered 2 entrees to share between the 3 of us, the filet and a wonderful smoked duck. I also enjoyed a salad of lump crab and jullienned celeriac. Bridget analyzed and savored every bite and even gave the waiter new ideas to pass along to the cook about incorporating the restaurant's logo into the presentation of their food.

Took a river boat cruise on Sunday morning and really enjoyed the sights and the knowledgeable commentary from the staff. Learned a lot about New Orleans and the agricultural, refining and shipping businesses on the mighty Mississippi.

Back into the car to head through Alabama and Mississippi for Florida. Wondering the whole way if we're to be turned around and evacuated back out due to Fay.

Finally arrived in Destin, FL about dinner time. Stumbled around the town looking for our hotel, the ever-swanky Residence Inn. Finally found it, as it's hidden from the world in the Sandestin Resort community. This is an amazing an unexpected bonus as this is a private resort with private beaches, and a whole shopping/dining area that has everything you could ever want. All accessible by regular shuttle vans.

Monday morning, after the complimentary breakfast buffet, we headed to the "Gulfarium" where the kids had an appointment for a "dolphin encounter" with Kiwi, a tropical spotted dolphin.

What a neat experience. It started with the trainer talking to us about how to behave with Kiwi and why. Then, the kids got into the water with the trainer and spend the next 30 or so minutes learning about dolphins with an up-close and personal example right in front of them. They got to ask her to do behaviors and tricks, reward her, touch her, get kissed by her, and be right there in the water when she swims so fast to jump out and touch her hanging ball. Photos and video to follow.

After we saw the rest of the Gulfarium, it was BEACH TIME!!!! We headed to our own private resort beach where there is a full bar and cabana boys. Snow white sand, azure water and plenty of sunshine as Fay decided to head east. Body surfed, skim-boarded, swam in the waves and generally relaxed. I think today we'll build a sand castle.

Two more days until we climb back into the car for the interminable ride back to Texas.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Road Trip!

Destination Destin!

Got a flyer in the mail from Disney the sparked a chain of events that is resulting in a Team Glynn Road Trip.

Disney sent us an invitation (at least Bridget saw it as such). She excitedly took it to Daddy, begging to be allowed to go. We haven't had a vacation in a while and I haven't been out of Flower Mound in over a year, so I was curious to see how this would play out.

Alas, the black out dates all coincided with school vacations. Dratted Disney.

But Bridget wouldn't give up. She wanted to go somewhere. Anywhwere.

Ray continued to indulge her. Let's look up things using the Marriott points and the American miles. Getting a Grand Alignment of the Planets in terms of free plane tickets and free hotel is difficult. Let's consider something right here in Texas. All these ideas pointed us towards Seaworld in San Antonio.

Sea World! Bridget wants to swim with dolphins!

She is now excitedly bouncing around while Ray and I are surfing the internet checking out the Marriott properties in San Antonio and information on Sea World.

No dolphins.

You can swim with a beluga whale or sea lions.

But no dolphins.

Bridget is crestfallen. No dolphins!

We head back to the Marriott website and noodle beach properties within "driving distance."

Since coming to Texas, I occasionally hear folks talk about their vacation in Destin, FL. We look it up on the internet. Hmmmm... looks nice! Pretty beaches! Lots of Marriott properties! Hey - they even have a Gulfarium where you can....

.... swim with a dolphin!

Book it, Dano!

Um.... it's TWELVE HOURS by car from here.

Hey - New Orleans is ON THE WAY! I've never been before, that sounds like FUN!

So. It's all set. We leave in the middle of the night Friday and head for THIS lovely hotel right near the French Quarter.

After 2 days and a night in Nawlins, we head to Destin for the rest of the week. Our plans include sitting on the beach, swimming with the dolphin, sitting on the beach and sitting on the beach.

Thank you, Bridget, for your persistence!

Monday, August 4, 2008

It's All About Bridget

If you want to read All About Aidan, click here.

Bridget competed in her final horse show of the summer, The Battle of the Barns. This show is a sanctioned show and step up from her summer series, which is a "schooling show," meaning if you make a mistake, you can try again, and the clothing rules are relaxed too.

The Battle of the Barns is a yearly competition between about a dozen show barns here in North Texas. Usually, horse shows are for individual points. At this particular show, they average each barn's points and award an overall Barn Winner each year. I'll end the suspense, our barn did not win this year, boo hoo. The added competition really heightened the "team spirit" among all the riders and they were all so supportive of one another.

It was a busy day with lots to do, as you would know if you read this prior post.

Bridget did extremely well. She had two "over fences" competition, and one "flat class" where she was in the arena at the same time as all the other riders. Her first "over fences" was flawless. She kept the horse at the perfect speed and never missed a single diagonal. This means that she was posting at precisely the correct time, not only when she circled, but even between jumps which isn't required, but very much Icing On The Cake. Her 2nd "over fences" the horse got a little excited and kept trying to canter. Bridget rode him the best she's ever done when he gets this way. The final competition was "equitation on the flat" where ALL the riders are in the arena together and working through various gaits, being judged on how perfectly they can hold their hands, wrists, back, head, knees, heels, shoulders, seat, rhythm.... you get the picture. This arena was smaller than what she is used to, and there were a LOT more riders in there than she's ever had to deal with before. It can get a little scary trying to keep a dozen horses spaced out safely, and Bridget completely amazed her Fan Club with all the perfect decisions she made in terms of when to circle or cross the arena to maintain a safe (and visible to the judge!) position.

All in all, she took a 1st and 6th in the "over fences" divisions (the 6th was the Excited Pony's fault), and 2nd in the flat class.

If you want to see what a flawless "over crossrails" trip looks like, just check out the video!

It's All About Aidan

If you want to read All About Bridget, click here.

As promised, I have an update for you on Aidan's swim meet last week.

My Boy did GREAT!!!!

As I've said before, this season is a "build" season for him and I didn't think he'd even qualify for Champs, much less PLACE in anything, being one of the youngest kids in the pool.

Well, I'm here to tell ya....

My boy, in the 200 back, only his 2nd time ever competing that event, placed FOURTH overall. It was awesome. He took an astonishing 7 seconds off his time.

He placed 8th in the 100 back, taking amost 3 seconds off his time.

Here is a video - it's 3 minutes long and probably a bit boring for non-swimmers, as it's just 3 minutes of backstroke. BUT - see how he BUILDS in speed and turnover. He did a GREAT job!

All in all, he competed in 6 events, and took time off in all but one of them. All those early mornings when he wanted to sleep, but forced himself out of bed to train, they were worth it.

Here are his meet results:

50 Free Best time: 34.18 - Meet time: 34.06

100 Free Best time: 1:15.31 - Meet time: 1:4.38

200 Free Best time: 2:57.22 - Meet time: 2:45.34!!

50 Back Best time: 41.23 - Meet time: 41.49

100 Back Best time: 1:29.94 - Meet time: 1:27.18

200 Back Best time: 3:10.08 - Meet time: 3:03.72

I'm so proud of My Boy.