a new beginning. . .

Well, let’s recap the month of September.  Our computer crashes, I fall while running and sprain my ankle (that thing is turning colors and swellin’ like a felon) and a washer machine breaks.  When it rains, it [explicit deleted] pours like a son of a [explicit deleted].  If you can’t fill in the [explicit deleted] then your September has run a little smoother than ours.  I’m not complaining and I will be the first to say that it could be worse. . .that is after I’ve had a drink.  Dustin and I have been lucky, but this past month has been a little rough. 

Anywho, I’m being very picky on what goes back on my computer.  I have found a new editing program for my pictures and it uploads straight to my new blog.  No middle man and extra programs to download. . .and less work for me, that’s the big one!  So, this will be my last post.  Dry those eyes, dry those eyes.  Fear not for I have already posted on my new one. 

The new blog is:  www.casadetow.blogspot.com

Hopefully my awesomest sister (yah, I know that’s not a real word) will help me bring all of my old blog entries over to the new blog.  Probably won’t happen, but I’m just putting it out there.  Thank you for the wonderful years and see at the new blog!

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summer fun. . .

The Tow girls have gotten together with the Sims boys quite a bit this summer.  It seems like at least twice a month, we are headed to Jess’ or they are coming up here to stay at Mom and Dad’s house.  Either way, we’ve all had a ton of fun and a lot of sun.  We go through a bottle in about a week and half!  Please summer don’t end, I can’t handle losing my tan!

Seriously?  One out of six looked at the camera when I said, “Hey guys!”

Even in her pajamas, Ellie takes after her Daddy and gets up early to fish. . .or she takes after her Mama and sleeps in til 10:00 a.m. and just wears her pajamas all day!

Daddy, the fish and Ellie

Mother shows son how to hold a fish after taking out the hook to deposit fish back in to the lake.  Son observes and is ready to try.

Son doesn’t realize how of a slippery little sucker that fish is and that it will wiggle in his hands and he drops the fish. . .

Mother shows son again that maybe two hands will help get the fish back to the lake. . .

Son attempts for the second time. . .

Second attempt failed due to fish probably peeing on the son.

Son gives it another try and goes in with two hands.  Fish is quite still.

Son successfully “shoots” the fish back into the lake like a basketball.  Time elapsed. . .5 1/2 minutes.

There’s Papa.

If there was more than three feet of water below Dustin and tree stumps, I would have pushed him in.  Instead, I told my daughter to pretend to push her Daddy in.  He totally would have done it to me.

Uncle Dust preparing to launch Luke.  This game lasted for hours.

See the kids in the background?  Emma’s is saying, “Awesome!” because that is her word for everything.  Jack is barely able to contain himself so he can be next in line.  Lukey is loving every minute of it!

Jack and Uncle Dust

Jack and Dustin’s arm that is already getting tired.

Ellie wasn’t all about the throwing so early on in the day, so she opted for being gently tossed into the pool.

Emma can’t go anywhere near water without holding her nose.

Ellie is like a fish.  That kid loves the water more than anyother kid I’ve ever met. 

I’m so glad she didn’t start out holding her nose.  She’s the one you have to watch because she thinks she’s invincible. . .why do I feel I’m going to have problems with her later on???

Throw no. 54

Mom and Dad’s patio furniture by the pool. . .don’t mind the child being thrown in the pool.

The rocker and fire pit table is a nice touch as well. . .again disregard the falling child.

There’s the Ellie we all know!  The no fear Ellie that will leap off of anything whether you are ready or not.

Lock up you daughters. . .

Luke (4-years-old, Jack (6-years-old), Emma (6-years-old) and Ellie (3-years-old)

I love this picture.

Here’s our first attempt at a nice family picture.  Look at Dustin.

I know the sun was bright, but c’mon Dust.

Dustin looks a little possessed here.

Jess was trying to take “sexy” pictures of me.  First of all, me and sexy is just a funny combination and then the fact I was laughing and Jess’ knees were in the picture is a nice touch.  Grrrr baby!

Dustin laying the smack down on his nephew.

Ohhh wait, someone’s taking pictures of us?

Notice the flying child about to crash into Jack and Dust? 

We introduced the kids to the game of chicken and then it was on!

Nana and Papa

I love Luke’s expression!

my liver is evil and it must be punished. . .

So I finally got to attend my first motorcycle rally.  Three days of no kids and a designated driver. . .hence the title to this blog post.  When am I ever going to get another chance to eat my food at a restaurant when it comes to the table rather than taking a child to the bathroom that waits until my food arrives?  When am I ever going to get a chance to not refer to myself as “Mama?”  When am I ever going to get the chance to do what I want to and not have to think of a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old?  On the back of Dustin’s motorcycle I yelled, “I want these three days to take care of the rest of the year that we don’t do anything!” 

First of all, I’ll admit, I was nervous about what to wear at the ROT Rally.  I knew my best choice for color was black, but my wardrobe to say the least is a little. . .different.  My motorcycle boots are zebra print, oh yah, I’m a hardcore biker chick.  Dustin told me it didn’t matter what I wore, we would see all different types of people there.  Some with leather chaps, some with out leather chaps, some with clothes, some without clothes.  I was totally unprepared for my first biker experience.

To show how not biker I am, I opted for flying to Austin.  I knew I would not be a happy passenger on a nine hour bike ride to Austin and so did my husband.  Apparently my cousin Diana and our friend Cindy thought a plane ride sounded a little more fun, so we set out early Thursday morning to our state’s capital.  FYI:  I’m not that great of a flyer, lots of deep breathing and holding on to the arm rest are involved when the plane drops at leat 500 feet.  Apparently I screamed a little too loud and most of the passengers thought it was funny.

What do I want to do when I get to Austin?  Eat a Chuy’s. . .and get a tattoo, but we’ll get to that later.  Ever since Jess and Aaron lived in Austin for Aaron’s internship, I was introduced to the wonderful food of Chuy’s.  Eat at Chuy’s, check.  Shoot, the trip just started and I’m halfway done with my to do list.  Thursday was lots of walking around at the rally, looking a vendors, pricing tattoos, taking pictures of ourselves in front of an inflatible penis and blow up doll, you know the normal stuff us biker people do.  Hey, when in Rome?  Friday was Luckenbach, Texas.  Dustin wanted to drink a beer in Luckenbach, Texas.  Too bad Waylon and Willie and the boys couldn’t meet them down there!  It took us a little while to find it, but a good band was playing and I got some good pictures of us there.

Friday night was 6th Street.  I have never seen so many people in one area.  Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister led the bike parade from the fairgrounds to 6th Street.  Later that night, he was walking past us and Dustin yelled, “Hey Dee!” and he yelled back, “Hey guys. . .and girls!”  The “guys” were our group and the “girls” were me and Diana!  How many times did I text Jess and Erin that Dee Snyder said hi to me?!?  I also chose this evening to bar hop.  Refer to the first paragraph of me having a designated driver.  So whiskey sours, $2 margaritas and a giant swirly drink helped me experience 6th Street in Austin.  I’m pretty sure I told a lot of people they were awesome because that is what I do when I drink. . .too much.  I also drunk dial my sister. . .a lot.  Too many funny things were awesome and the bands in all the bars were awesome. 

So after the awesome time Friday night and getting back to the hotel sometime after midnight, Saturday morning rolls around and my stomach is rolling right with it.  I vow not to drink while we float down the river, but again refer to paragraph one.  We make the drive to New Braunfels and I have had 11 hours to shake off the night before.  I was alot more still than I have been the entire time on Dustin’s bike and then he turned up his radio and said, “Don’t you love this song?”  Big mistake.  It’s like on Footloose when Sarah Jessica Parker is in that different town that has the bar and everyone is dancing but her and then an awesome song comes on and she yells that she has to dance.  Yep, I was still for 45 minutes, but after that, the music moved me.  It may have moved me ugly, but nobody knew me down there.

If you ever go near Austin or really New Braunfels, you have to go float down the river.  You have to.  Four and half hours floating in a tube, drinking and soaking up the sun became one of my top four moments.  Three way tie for first is marrying Dustin and the birth of both my girls.  And this floating phenomenon beat out the day Dish Network hooked up my DVR (that was a life changing moment right there).  Maybe you could go without the solid drinking for four and half hours and somehow reapply sunscreen, but I wouldn’t trade that day for anything.  Not even all the moments after the floating of the river such as:  (1) The needing Chuck to help me and Diana walk up the path to the shuttle.  (2) The falling off the bike when Dustin hit the chunk of concrete.  (3) The losing my dinner from the night before (because I skipped breakfast and lunch) at the bbq place after we were done floating.  (4) That really nice fellow biker chick who told me from the next stall that “you get that all out Honey and you will feel so much better.”  And then she found me at the table later and gave me all of her tums.  (5) That hour long ride where I swore if Dustin hit another bump I was going to lose my Chuy’s from the day before.  Nope, that day was awesome.

We headed back up to the rally that evening after I took a much needed nap.  That worrying about what bikers wear at rallies went right out the window.  I managed a longsleeve t-shirt, stretch shorts, croc sandals and a bandana with my sunglasses.  Ohh yah, I’m a biker chick. . .with a serious headache that even the sun is hurting my poor head.  I kept thinking of the song “I wear my sunglasses at night.”  That was me.  I managed to hold down a hot dog and half a Sprite, so the evening was looking up.  (I know Mom is shaking her head while reading this and I’m sure Dad has done this before at some point in his life.)  Bret Michaels was the final concert and it again was awesome.  The other half of my to do list didn’t happen because we floated down the river for over four hours.  And at some point on the river I declared that I wanted a battleship tattooed across my chest.  If drinking and bad decisions ever went hand in hand, it was at that moment.  All the vendors packed up at 8:00 p.m. so my ROT Rally souvenir tattoo would have to wait.

Sunday was a little sad because our trip had come to an end and my liver had declared me an unfit owner.  I was however ready to see my girls and get back to my old life.  This trip was, for lack of better words, awesome.  It was nice to just be Steph for three days and get to hang out with adults.  But in the end, I’m glad it was just for three days. . .being a biker is a lot of work. . .and you throw up alot!

There were thousands of bikers coming through Luckenback this weekend and apparently the family of five that included the pregnant mom pushing her 2-year-old in the stroller didn’t get the memo.

Diana’s in the red shirt at the bar saying, “You want one?”  I had so much fun with her!

“Hey Louie,” Dustin, “Cousin Chuck” and “Nancy” enjoying their beer.

Apparently this is what the future holds for my husband if we go to too many of these rallies. . .

I don’t know why people always take this type of picture?!?  It never turns out right.  It’s like I’m saying, “I was here and so were my nose hairs that I’m trying to show everyone!”

Me the Biker Mama

This is our group that ran around during the rally.

Louie and Cindy

Doug and Katie

Chuck and Diana

Dustin and me. . .he takes a lot of pictures like this because I’m always behind the camera.

I’ve got an awesome zoom lens on my camera, so I was swiveling around taking pictures of randomness. . .people, flowers, cows, you name it, I was taking a picture of it.  I later found out that Dustin doesn’t like me as a passenger on his motorcycle.  My dancing to my MP3 player and constant moving is a little distracting for him as well as difficult for him to drive.  I’m still trying to get him to buy those walkie talkie radios for our helmets so we can talk to each other the entire time.  He says no. . .okay, he says hell no.

Chuck never smiles for the camera.  I finally got one of him.

Crap, he saw me.

This is one of the many shirts Louie wore during the rally.  I should have taken a picture of each one each day, they were awesome!

This is us up on the highway. . .still taking pictures, still dancing to my MP3 player.  If we had those radios, he could tell me to be still. . .

Yep, we are pretty high up and I am just snapping away.  Snap, snap, snap.

When we finally went to the Capital, I din’t have my camera, so I was trying to get a few shots of Austin as we flew down the highway.

I already miss home.  Dustin can’t go to Wal-Mart because of all the people.   Four o’clock traffic was not fun with it being 90+ degrees outside.  By this time I had rolled up my pant legs, again, I’m such a biker.

This is the semi right next to us.

Dustin was in the bathroom with me getting ready while Chuck and Diana were in the bedroom.  Dustin put my sandals on and came out of the bathroom and he ran into Chuck wearing my motorcycle boots.  They had a good laugh over it, but I thought my shoes were going to smell if they didn’t take them off soon.

last day of kindergarten. . .

It’s kind of sad that my little girl starts 1st grade in the fall.  First grade will come and go and then we’ll send Ellie off to Pre-K and then college for both girls. . .grab a kleenex. . .I can’t take it.  Wait, what’s that?  I get to delete my alarm on my phone?  No more waking up in the morning to an annoying ringtone?  No more looking in the mirror and thinking, “My hair totally doesn’t look like I slept crazy.”  That’s right. . .it’s time to get back into our old routine.  Nine months out of the year we are not in our routine, but for three glorious months, we do what we want.  And we stay up late and sleep in.  Goodbye school, hello summer!!

This was Dustin’s Friday off, so he got to experience the early morning drop off.  Actually, he got to sleep in two hours and wondered why it was after 8:00 a.m. by the time we left for school.  Silly man, the tardy bell doesn’t ring til 8:15 a.m. and there’s traffic.  Okay, so maybe our small town doesn’t have any traffic. . .ever, but it is humanly impossible for me to get out the door before 8:00 a.m.  Miracles are more likely to happen.

“Let’s go get Emma!”  How many times did I hear that the last week of school.  Ellie understands this nine months out of the year we aren’t doing our normal routine.  She loves summer because her Emma is home and they can have sleepovers in each other’s room every night!

“LET’S GO GET EMMA!!”

. . .and rock on.

Dear Mrs. Thompson,

You’ve been there for all the ups and downs we had during Kindergarten.  From anxiety separation in which she begged you to let her call her Mama to getting our stick switched when she stepped in a rain puddle after you said don’t step in that rain puddle.  You’ve seen our alligator tears and you’ve difused the situation wonderfully.  We are going to miss you, but remember Ellie will be there soon!

Emma’s Mama

Dustin picking Emma up from her last day in Kindergarten.

Ohhh my baby is growing up. . .wipes tear.

pee wee track meet. . .

I have found out that my child was not built for speed.  Emma also is not the competitive type.  She tied for second to last in the 50 yd dash and the 75 yd dash and couldn’t be happier.  And this is why I love my little girl.  She actually told me after school, “Mama, I was so happy for my teammates!  Some of my friends came in first place and second!  We did so great!”  I wonder how long it will last before she gets a taste of victory.  For right now, watching her leisurely jog down the field during the race was definitely one for the photo books!

Each grade wore a different colored shirt that said, “OUR SCHOOL IS PAWSOME!”  The kids got to run through the panther like the football team does and with the same music.  It was really cool! 

We’re at the football stadium and I’m sitting up in the stands with the other parents.  Imagine roughly, two parents per child, not to mention grandparents and even some aunts and uncles all at this Pee Wee Track Meet.  Out of all those parents, Emma finds me in the stands and then jumps up and down waving.

Emma is the happiest runner.  She was actually moving pretty quick during this race where the classes race each other.

Emma looks like a cut out of a runner.

Emma is next to Sydnei with the pink hat.

She starts off strong and then starts looking around and noticing the wind. . .and the butterfly that the wind has brought in. . .and Sydnei’s cool pink hat. . .Emma gets a little distracted!

Big sister got to show little sister all the cool things a big Kindergartener does during the afternoon part of the track meet.

This was Emma’s excited face.  She loves bouncing all over the place on the boucers.

Dustin swears every time he sees this picture it looks like Emma is passing gas and out comes a yellow bubble!

Ellie and her acorn.  You can tell her it’s a pine cone but she won’t believe you.  We had a huge pile of acorns by the end of the afternoon.

Juliet and Romeo. . .I mean Emma and Spencer.  These two adorable kiddos played the leading roles in their class for the Romeo and Juliet play.

Pass the ball over the head, pass the ball through your legs, repeat.  Emma passed the ball over her head to Ellie and Ellie passed the ball through her legs to Spencer.  Emma is turning around and witnessing Ellie perform this correctly and is telling, “You are really good at this game!” and Ellie is responding with, “I know, I really am!” 

Here’s Emma telling me that Ellie really is good at this game.

Here’s Ellie doing her excited face because she’s proud of herself.  It’s funny because Ellie’s excited face and her shy face both involve her tongue touching her chin!

A friend of mine Maria and I had a bet going to see if her daughter Lexi or my daughter Emma would be the first to cry during the afternoon activities.  It was almost like the game Clue.  Instead of Colonel Mustard in the Library, it was Emma in the Bounce House.

Here’s Emma bouncing onto the slide after going crazy in the bounce house.  It was the second time in there that she managed to fall in a corner and get trampled on by four other Kindergarteners.  No bleeding or bruises, but she swore to me she couldn’t even walk!

Let’s do something a little easier and without so much contact with other kids! 

This girl can hula like no other kid I know.  She walks around carrying on a conversation with you and keeping the hula hoop going.

This was after a minute or two.  She started out with five hula hoops.

A little while later. . .

still going. . .

By now, Emma’s eased three of the five hoops down her legs and is just working with two.  Can I enter her into some contest for hula hooping that pays for a college education?  Surely there is some kind of sport that involves the hula hoop!

Rylee, Emma and Maycie being serious. . .

and the girls being silly!

Ellie latched on to Emma’s teacher Mrs. Thompson because she gave Ellie some goldfish when they had snack time.  We love Mrs. Thompson!  You talk about awesome Kindergarten teachers, here you go!  How are we going to get through 1st grade without Mrs. Thompson?!?  I think it’s going to be rough on us all!

Doesn’t she look so tiny?  Heck, all the girls look tiny!

Emma cleared 4′.  She didn’t want to sprawl in the sand like some of the other girls and get it in her shoes!

Here’s Emma jumping a little more than 4′.  She did awesome!

And that’s how it’s done. . .

Ellie gave everyone a congratulatory hug. . .she’s the class little sister.

Ahhhh, a sweet moment.

level 1 completed. . .again. . .

My kids are not in it to win it.  They’re not even in it for the glory.  They’re in it because Mama wants to run to Wal-Mart or Old Navy or Kohl’s or all three for 52 minutes once a week by herself.  There, I said it. 

Both Emma and Ellie have done gymnastics since they were 2-years-old and potty-trained, that’s the big stipulation.  If the child is not potty-trained, you enroll them in a “Mommy and Me” class.  I can pay $68 for an entire semester where I do everything or I can pay $68 an entire semester and Miss Brandi can do everything. . .and I can go grab Starbucks and not have to share my chai tea latte with Ellie.  There, I said it again.

I think Emma wants to do dance once more in the fall and Ellie’s going for a third round of gymnastics.  Ellie loves the cartwheels and the flipovers and I haven’t even mentioned the trampolines.  Not too many pictures were taken because I was too busy running around chasing after Ellie!

“Hand hand foot foot. . .hand hand foot foot. . .hand hand foot foot.”  This phrase has been repeated down the hallway, in the livingroom, in the girls room, where ever there is enough room for a cartwheel, for the last four years!

This is Ellie if she were to have a face lift done at the age of three!

This is Ellie on the way down after the big jump before!

Ellie enjoying the gymnastics party.  Mmmm water.

edjukashun 101. . .

How many had to sound that out before you smacked yourself in the forehead and said, “Oh, education.”  I’m pretty sure this is how Emma would spell education because if you attended her birthday party and received a thank you note, she spelt everything out a 6-year-old would.  Or really sounded everything out and that’s how it was wrote.  “Ant Debee” was one of my favorite spellings along with thanking Nana and Papa for the “sun ceechers” (sun catchers).  I’m sorry Emma, but the English language is a tough one.

One more day of school tomorrow and it seems like this year has flown by.  Really since January, this year has flown by.  Separation anxiety got the best of my little girl and it was touch and go for the first three months of school.  We had a system and it was cry every morning before school, look like you were going to break down right there in the doorway of your class and then when I picked Emma up at 3:00 p.m. everything was great.  I know Mom is laughing because this was me for church camp almost 20 years ago when I called Mom crying to come pick me up and then by the end of it, I had the best time.  Yep, paybacks.

Emma was exhausted and emotional and we hadn’t even hit the teenage years.  When she was losing weight (which everyone knows she doesn’t have any to lose) and lost her appetite, something had to give.  Emma complained of her throat hurting and I don’t know why I didn’t look there months earlier.  Poor girl, her tonsils were so large they were overlapping.  The ENT we went to said those were the biggest tonsils he had ever seen and about two weeks into December and after her tonsils were taken out, we got our girl back.  All wonderful, loveable, non dramatic (well as dramatic as a normal 5-year-old is) Emma.

Life was now good with Emma and she loved school.  She wasn’t so cranky in the morning which meant that Mama wasn’t so cranky in the morning.  The months before the Christmas break made me think, “I don’t want this to be the next 13 years of school!”  We’ve always known that when Emma doesn’t feel good or is sick, that child is emotional.  Now we’ve got our routine down and every morning is a great morning and Emma talks non-stop until we pull into the driveway after I pick her up from school.  Shocker, I know.

She’s starts a new chapter after tomorrow and my little girl will be a 1st grader in the fall.  How many times have our friends with older kids told us that it happens right before your eyes?  Dustin says how six years has gone by so fast and soon it will be another six.  Soon Ellie will be starting school.  I dread and look forward to it at the same time.  Bittersweet you might say.  I don’t dwell on the past but look forward to what the future has planned for my girls.  But sometimes it is nice after a long day when they’ve had their baths and are in their pajamas, they crawl up in my lap and give me that moment of still being needed or really wanted.  Congratulations Emma on such a big accomplishment.  You’ve made it through Kindergarten, now you’re ready to take on the world. . .well, almost ready, Mama still has to help tie your shoes sometimes!

At the beginning of school, Emma’s teacher had the kids wear the color they were learning about that week.  I didn’t get them all depending if it was raining outside or if we were running late, which we were always running late.  RED day.

This was also Grandparent’s Day.  This was also when Nana, Papa, Meme and Papaw got to witness Emma’s breakdown at lunch time because she didn’t want me to leave her.  Today, the day before school lets out for the summer, was the first time I’ve eaten lunch with Emma since that wonderful day back in the fall.  We’ve come such a long way!  GREEN day.

Not to be left out, Ellie often wore the same color Emma did to school.  Ellie also found a rock she thought needed to be in the picture as well.  GREEN day.

There’s a little sassy in this picture.  By now football season had started and all (and I mean all) the kids in town wear their football jerseys and cheerleading uniforms to school every Friday to show school spirit.  This looks like her little cheerleader pose.  BLUE day.

Here’s my little angel.  Well into October and I am a sucker for Halloween shirts.  Especially after Halloween when they are 50% to 70% off.  You really need to go to Target and stock up, it’s awesome!  BLACK day.

Another one of Emma for the same day.  I tried to get Emma in the same spot for each picture.  You can notice the trees changing and the grass.  BLACK day.

Why is she wearing a mask?  Why does she look like Superman ready to take off his shirt to expose his superhero costume underneath?  She’s 5-years-old, that’s why.  The mask didn’t make it to school, but Emma did think it made an excellent accessory.  I really quit asking questions when she decided to wear her Snow White costume to Abuelo’s for lunch one day.  I went through a different colored sock phase. . .for 13 years. . .she’ll be just fine. . .look at me. . .crap. . .   ORANGE day.

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