November 28, 2009

You Sank My

Oh, come on! I had to!

That is the Battleship Texas, from WWII. We did not get on it; we opted to take a couple of photos, marvel at the hideous-ity of "battleship gray", condemn the mosquito population to a quick and painful death, and then leave.

They were terrible, those mosquitoes. Biting through shirts and jeans, no less.

I mean, seriously!

Here is another terrible thing: the sweetness, it shall kill me.

We actually came here first. Where? The San Jacinto Monument. It is Texas's version of the Washington Monument, though much larger (imagine that). It is located where the battle of San Jacinto took place, which was a defining battle in the Texas revolution.

It looks huge. It is only about twelve feet taller than the Washington Monument, but due to the geography and lack of buildings nearby, it looks much larger than the one in D.C.

Inside the base is a museum that covers about 400 years of Texas history. The museum is small, which was good because both Papa Jim and Grandma read every single word in the place. Every. Single. Word. Thankfully Perpetual Motion was happy to be somewhere new to least for the first few minutes. After that, it was a tad bit more difficult to keep her quiet in there.

Visitors can take an elevator to the top of the obelisk and catch some impressive views of the port area as well as the marsh. There were quite a few ships out there minding their business.

Look strangely familiar, anyone? Yet another reason the San Jacinto Monument is always compared to the Washington Monument. Pretty, even without Lincoln at the other end.

Finally, a photo of me and the girl-child. We are just about done dodging the mosquitoes and discussing the fabulous color of the ship.

By the way, she now calls me Ama. Like, Sister Mary Ama (why it makes me think that, I have no clue, but there you are). Apparently she enjoys leaving off the first M, and so now I am Ama. There could certainly be worse names...

November 27, 2009

New Park!

One of our friends had a birthday party at a park that was new to us. The park itself is excellent. There are plenty of tables and benches for eating, all of which are under a sun shade. There are also many swing sets, some of which are also under sun shades. Papa Jim spent over half of our time at the park pushing Perpetual Motion in the swing.

Can you tell that she enjoyed herself?

There were two large play structures, one for smaller children and one for larger. Of course, Miss Thang saw all of her friends on the larger of the two and decided that she should be over there as well. The slides were a big hit.

After some playing, we all sat down and had snacks and cupcakes. We sang Happy Birthday and then dove right in. Perpetual Motion managed to pick up the cupcake at one point, rip off the top, get the icing all over her hands and then (of course) wipe them off.

Oh, yes. She wiped them onto her shirt. Chocolate. On white. It was awesome.

Tomorrow I'll show you Texas's version of the Washington Monument.

November 26, 2009

We All Scream for Ice-Cream!

After the highs and lows of the miniature horse farm, we piled into the car one more time and headed over the the Bluebell Creamery.

Are you salivating? 'Cause you should be!

We decided not to take the tour, and instead spent our time wandering around the grounds and letting ourselves be entertained by Perpetual Motion and the hat.

She had so much fun putting it on and taking it off and (as you can see above) saying "hat" all the while.

Then came the ice-cream samples, which are more like a scoop and a half (for $1). Being on the cusp of utensil independence as she is, Perpetual Motion insisted on doing much of the spoon-to-mouth motions herself. This led to a few dribbles:

Thankfully, there are many tiny napkins at the ready and we all cleaned up nicely. Once we'd had our fill of the ice-cream, we headed out front to check out the cow.

This photo? Perfect example of the day being long and tiring and of little children being D-O-N-E done with it all! We packed up and went home! Tomorrow I'll fill you in on a birthday party we attended while everyone was in town.

November 25, 2009

Prepare Yourself for the Cuteness

I warned you:

The miniature horses were very friendly. This one especially liked Perpetual Motion and had no worries about her shouting or dancing around from excitement. As you can see, it even gave her little kisses when she first greeted it.

This boosted Perpetual Motion's confidence so that she was eager to give the horse a hug. She hugged and hugged. Another horse came up and lil' miss tried to hug it too, but no way was that going to happen. So she went back to horse number one and hugged away.

All of this was terribly cute. And then the above occurred. Can you tell what is really going on in that photo?

Oh, yeah.

That horse? It liked Perpetual Motion so much it thought it would be a great idea to give her a love nibble.

Perpetual Motion did NOT appreciate it, not one bit.

Oh, the travesty. Oh, the indecency. Oh, the insanity that followed.

Eventually she calmed down and even pet some other horses, but man oh man was she mad at that horse. I can't really blame her; she was being loving and did not expect the horse's version to be painful.

What can I say? That song had it right: love hurts.

November 24, 2009

Roses And More

Grandma's fourth day here in Houston was a busy one for everyone. Perpetual Motion didn't have school, so we decided to drive up to Brenham, Texas and see a few things. We mainly went for the Bluebell Creamery, but since we were already up that way we decided to see some other places as well.

We began at the Antique Rose Emporium. This place has every kind of rose bush you could possibly be looking for. They also decorate their different areas with some really strange items, like the above bottle tree. Most items of this nature are for sale as well, so if you see something you like, you can take it home.

Among the gardens is a butterfly section. There were many of them twittering here and there; Perpetual Motion was fascinated. The one shown above had rather pretty colors we thought.

This fountain was a big hit since it had water. Apparently Perpetual Motion is like her aunt R-Shelly because the both of them are slightly obsessed with fountains. R-Shelly contains her excitement a little better than the itty one, but not by much!

I had to show you this photo as their expressions are hilarious. Methinks they are done with the photo-taking portion of the morning...

Um, yeah. Want a bed frame in your garden? Here's how to do it!

Tomorrow: Miniature Horses of a Nibbly Sort

November 23, 2009


On our second day together, we all visited the Houston Zoo. Perpetual Motion was just a tad excited to be there when we arrived:

We went over towards the large animals first and saw the elephants. Basically, every time we saw a new animal, Perpetual Motion would yell out at the top of her lungs in excitement. She couldn't believe that we were seeing so many animals, and since she now knows what some of them are and what they sound like, it was very exciting for her.

We arrived at the elephants at a good time as they were being fed a snack. In order to get their food, they had to perform tricks. Some were taking a bow, some would hold a foot up to shake, and others would wave hello with their trunk. It was fun to watch.

Then there was the male elephant. He was none too happy that the others were being fed when he was not. He went back to the large metal gate and used his trunk to slam against it, knocking it so that all we heard was a very loud clunk, clunk, clunk. Then he came over a bit and raised his trunk up like so:

It is a good thing the tusks are not pointy, eh?

We enojyed ourselves this morning looking at all of the animals and plants. The zoo has some of the most interesting plants and trees that I've ever seen, like the Silk Floss tree pictured below:

It has thorns (ha-yuge ones) that go from the base of the trunk up to the branches.


We made it to the lion enclosure in time to see a keeper talk. They were demonstrating how they have trained to lions to come over to them and take injections without being sedated in any way.

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to be responsible for that task.

Our morning was very full, so we rested in the afternoon a bit. Tomorrow I'll tell you about our trip up to Brenham.

November 22, 2009

Arrival and Playground

Grandma, Guga and Papa Jim arrived on Monday, November 9th. Perpetual Motion had been in school that morning and I was given a very good report. Finally it seems she is getting used to going there. I picked her up from the church, ran home to let the dog out one last time, and then we got right back into the car to head to the airport.

Airplanes! Did you know they are there? It is A-MA-ZING, I tell ya!

She was so excited about seeing the airplanes that she frowned at me when I told her who was there to see her. We sneaked up on Guga, me asking Perpetual Motion to say her name, and HELLO! WOW! There is Guga!

Grandma was standing with Guga and we hadn't seen her in a while, so Perpetual Motion acted all shy at first.

Then. Oh, then.

We saw that Papa Jim was waiting for the luggage.

"Down! Down! Down, please!"

And off she went, running to him, that funny man.

The whole way home all she talked about was airplanes. She was even seeing them where they weren't. Also, airplane comes out as "ehr-pweeeeen", with an emphasis on the "pweeeeen".

Later in the week, we went to the playground, where sliding was all the rage:

Once at the bottom of the slide, Perpetual Motion enjoys messing with the rocks on the ground. Lately she has been practicing talking on the phone, where anything can substitute for a real phone.


If the doctor discovers rocks in her ears the next time we visit, I won't be surprised.

She commandeered a couple of pumpkins from her friends and practiced putting things into them and taking them back out again. After all, that is what we learned on Halloween...isn't it? That people put things into pumpkins so that you can take them out?

We had fun, and it was just the beginning of our time together...

Nope, Not Me!

As Karen and Brianne so kindly pointed out, my wording on the last two posts might make some think that I am the one expecting. It is not me, and hopefully no one is totally freaking out because they think I didn't tell them something! A friend is due in a couple of weeks and requested the hat and infant cocoon, so I am just working on them for her.


Not I, Not I.

November 21, 2009

Newborn Santa Hat

Here are two photos of the newborn Santa hat. Forgive me for using Mr. Brown's cow, but I have no other model.

I made this one this week...began it on Tuesday or Wednesday and finished it Friday.

Hopefully it won't be too big on the baby! I made it smaller than the instructions, but we won't know for sure until he or she arrives!!

Next project to start is a cocoon/pod for the baby.

I Made This Hat Yesterday

Props to my model; she managed to keep it on long enough for me to take these photos.

Even if she did keep twisting it around on her head just for kicks.

The pom-poms were a new thing, but they came out rather well I think.

I am currently working on a long elfish santa hat for a newborn to be.

Hopefully he or she will enjoy it as much as Perpetual Motion appears to enjoy her new hat.

November 20, 2009


Yesterday morning was quite chilly for Houston, so I decided to put Perpetual Motion in a dress for the first time in a long while. This probably does not make much sense to those of you who have warm weather, but previously she was wearing thin leggings and shirts. This dress is corduroy and comes with a long-sleeve onesie as well as tights, so the warmth difference is significant. She looks thrilled to be in it, doesn't she?

Honestly, I think that first photo was just because I grabbed the camera, since her next photo included running in a circle and laughing...while holding her new friend: the hanger.

I believe she is beginning to understand that when I hold the big black thing that beeps and clicks, she should ham it up. If so, we should have some great photos in the near future.

Also: that dress? Too cute.

And I am not of the too cute variety.

She had a good day at school. She made a turkey and shared snacks and walked her own self into the room to play for the second time - a definite improvement. When we got home, she immediately asked for the lights. Lights! On! Lights!

The tree thrills her. She asks for the lights first thing and then stand there gently touching the tree, the limbs, and oh my goodness the necklaces!!

They are oh so pretty.

She loves the tree so much that she will randomly give it hugs:

Thank you tree for being in my house and for having lights and necklaces. Love the tree.

What else does she love? Making messes while I cook. Which is better (I think?) than fussing while I pay attention to the hot stove instead of her.

Another love is that of an odd kind of dress-up. Here she is with her new shoe and purse:


November 18, 2009

Holy Tiredness, Batman!


Man, oh man am I tired.

The girl-child was up late Monday night and early Tuesday morning due to a raging case of diaper rash.

We had visitors all last week.

I am tired. As in I took a nap when she did Tuesday afternoon and was still so tired when we woke up that I was all discombobulated. Not a good feeling.

My Christmas tree? It is up.

Don't judge me.

Child of the raging hind quarters loves the in she goes over and hugs it. Also? The tree is wearing NECKLACES! ALL OVER. Apparently red, shiny garland is a wonderful thing. So far I have convinced her that they are the tree's necklaces and we don't take them off. She appears to love the tree sooooo much that she is okay with that. We'll see how long that one lasts.

Why is it up now? Well, we will leave for the week of Thanksgiving for some much needed family time. As in just the three of us. If all we do is sit in a hotel room and stare at one another, that will be good for us since we will be spending time together for once.

We should all be shocked and amazed.

Also, we leave town for Christmas itself, so our Christmastime begins right after we return from the Thanksgiving hullabaloo (staring contest in a hotel) and ends prematurely sometime before the actual day. I am thinking that OUR Christmas will be a week early. Yes, I know you are amazed that I hold the same amount of power as those who long ago made the decision to celebrate Christ's birth on December 25th, but there you have it. You can celebrate it at your house whenever you want to, too. Since the child is young enough to know no different, we shall make the best of our always out of town on holidays life and celebrate whenever we want.

Next year? It might be in August.


Now? I am going to go and attempt a hat. Also, I will watch some television of the Gibbs variety.

I thank those of you who gave us some movie suggestions. You totally rock.

I'm OUT!

November 17, 2009

Suggestion Box Office

Audience Participation Greatly Appreciated

Please help us with our movie selections!

Casa Clementina recently became a member of Netflix. Thus far, we've only viewed two movies. The first was the latest and not so greatest Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Our chagrin was a result not of the movie and its plot or lack thereof; rather, it was the time frame in which the story was told. Two and a half hours of my life were taken from me, people. At least an hour of that was most definitely not needed. Our level of disappointment was amplified by the fact that Lil Miss Thang woke up the following morning at about 4:30 am.

The second movie viewed was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Can you tell that Rocket Man has been the only one making the list on Netflix? Anyway...this one was better because it took place in an hour and a half. A completely acceptable time-frame for that type of movie.

What I am looking for from you, my readers, is suggestions for future movie-watching of the Netflix variety. The movies don't have to be short (as may have been implied thus far in this here post), but if they are long-ish then the length needs to be warranted. Also, although we like to think, we'd rather not watch a movie that is so deep that our heads explode.

One last helpful hint: we were out of the country from early 2006 until early 2008, and because of the whole I was pregnant and we were establishing ourselves here in Houston thing, we basically haven't watched any movies since we left for Spain in 2006. What this means for all of you is that any good movies you've seen in the last four years or so are totally game.

If you have some movies that you think are worth watching, please leave a comment (click on the blue link at the bottom right corner of this know, the one that most often says "0 comments") telling us what you suggest. Likewise, if there are movies that got all sorts of hype (Transformers, I might be sneaking a look at you) but wasn't really up to par, feel free to let us know.

Seriously, people: HELP!


November 16, 2009

Salzburg, Austria: Schloss Hellbrunn

Many places in Europe are known for their Christmas markets in early December. Not to mention the music performances that are available all over town. Schloss Hellbrunn was one location for a market. It was built to be the summer day palace for the Archbishop of Salzburg, and since he always returned to Salzburg for the evenings, there isn't even a bedroom on the premises.

Another big draw are the grounds. There are trick fountains that get you very wet, but they are only open in the warmer months. Usually there are also tours of the palace itself, but since we were there during Christmastime we instead were able to walk through the rooms and see craftsmen and women making a variety of things by hand. It was very interesting.

This is the courtyard. The green stand in the center is selling warm drinks and food. Mostly mulled wine I imagine. Had we not had our rather fuzzy experience the first evening, we may have indulged; it was certainly cold enough for it.

I am not sure if it is clear in the above photo, but it had begun to rain by this point. I have one photo that is all umbrellas. What amazed Rocket Man and I most about this was that every individual had their own umbrella. No one shared. This made for some very interesting navigation, especially in the small winding streets in old town Salzburg. To say that we were poked a few times is definitely an understatement. On the plus side, neither of us had umbrellas, so not only could we move faster, but we were covered quite a bit by everyone else's umbrella.

The inside of the palace was decorated for Christmas, including a few trees like the one above. We always use artificial trees, but the real ones are beautiful. I didn't feel comfortable taking many other photos inside since there were so many people making and selling original work.

We walked around the grounds a little bit before the rain got very heavy. I am sure some of you recognize this gazebo from a rather popular film. There is a tour for The Sound of Music that many people encouraged us to take. The above photo is of the gazebo now located at Schloss Hellbrunn that was recreated in Hollywood (larger) for filming.

We chose not to do the tour for a few reasons. For starters, Rocket Man isn't exactly into that sort of thing. Another is that much of the movie is a fabrication; the family did not do what the movie claims, and the people of Salzburg don't understand how people believe it to be true as it was not. The von Trapps did sing as a family, but the entire storyline about his being forced to join Hitler's army and all that results is made up. Hollywood chose picturesque Salzburg as their location, but some sets were created (like the cemetery scene) while many other portions were filmed outside of the city.

More than anything, we wanted to see Salzburg for what it has to offer. We wanted to know its history and see it for what it is, not for what someone imagined. We had a really good time. There was a lot of rain our final day, not to mention a ton of people, but as we had seen most of what interested us the first two days, we did not mind. We spent our afternoon purchasing gifts for family members and finding warm, dry places for lunch and dinner. In all, it was a very good trip and I would suggest going to a European Christmas Market town in early December to anyone.

Tomorrow? I have no idea what I'll write about...but something, so stay tuned!

November 15, 2009

Salzburg, Austria: Untersberg

On our final day in Austria, we decided that we would get out of the city for a while. Included in our Salzburg card was a trip up the Untersberg as well as entry to Schloss Hellbrunn, both of which are a little ways away. We had to pay for the second half of the bus ride to the lift up the mountain, but that was less than two euros each.

Our drive through the countryside was not too long, and we were able to see some very quaint small towns along the way. It would be very easy for someone to stay in one of those towns and still get into Salzburg whenever they please. If you were looking for a place to stay that is very quaint and has less people, it would definitely be the way to go.

The day was shaping up as chilly and cloudy; there was a lot of low cloud cover our last day. This meant that we didn't get the best views while up on the Alps, but you can't control the weather, so it is what it is. We still had a lot of fun up there.

The building above is where you go to get your lift tickets and then ride up. I think the man on the side of the building is pretty funny. We headed inside, obtained our tickets and then had a couple of coffees while we waited for the lift to return and pick us up.

Just before going in, I took some photos of the area around the lift, and this one? It is for Jenky:

I would show you what our view out of the car was like, but basically it was a photo of a window out of which one could see nothing but white foggy clouds. Oh, yes and occasionally some rocks came at us out of nowhere. The visibility was only five feet at most, so we couldn't see much at all aside from the car itself.

I probably shouldn't even have had my camera out up there, as the air was very moist and the temperature was definitely below what we had been experiencing down in the valley. Rocket Man took the camera for a photo of me and then he tried to get a photo of the nothingness that was our view. Imagine whitish-gray. That was it. He pointed the camera, messed with the zoom a bit and declared that it wouldn't focus.


'Cause there was nothing for it to focus on.

There were a couple of men up there who were planning to hike to the next station, which in decent weather, is supposed to be quite a nice thing to do. Considering the weather and also the fact that my leather shoes had very slick soles, there was no way we were going anywhere. We did walk a tiny ways uphill away from the station and to get back, I had to walk right behind Rocket Man and basically let his feet stop mine from sliding all over the place.

Good times.

Everything up there was frozen. Pine bushes, leaves, and every other thing you can imagine. We did notice the markers for the trail, which are painted to look like the Austrian flag.

After just a little time, we were frozen as well. My hair was completely stiff and even Rocket Man's eyelashes were frozen. We took refuge in the lift station and waited for the car to take us back down to the bus.

From there we took the bus back towards town but got off at Schloss Hellbrunn. We saw some crafters making all sorts of things by hand and also the gazebo that was created in Hollywood for The Sound of Music. More on that tomorrow!