Back in Pearland (minus kids)

Trlica and I arrived back in Pearland yesterday a litle after 4 o’clock. We had heard that lots of water blew in around doors and windows and that a lot of people had roofs that looked OK but had lost sheetrock from the ceiling because the rain blew through vents and such. We knew the power was out for most of the city. Here’s our story:
Before we left Kingsland (where my mom and dad are… they kept the kids for us - thanks guys!) we purchased a window unit air conditioner. We found ice on the far side of Austin and filled up our ice chest. We couldn’t find any 5 gallon gas cans… and it only got worse from there. Gas stations were empty starting in Rosenberg (about 40 miles outside of Houston) - fortunately, a few gas stations along Highway 59 had power and had received deliveries. We only had to wait about 10-15 minutes in line for our “last chance” gas there. When we pulled up to a line of pumps that were empty, with a policeman standing by them, we expected to get turned away and sent to another pump. Instead, he let us pull up and park. When I got out of the car to fill ‘er up, I heard lots of screaming and looked up to see a bunch of policemen drawing their guns and chasing a car that pulled alongside us. We were pretty scared. We don’t know the story, but we expect that it was someone “breaking the rules” for lining up coupled with the police “zero tolerance” attitude. It was pretty frightening.
When we got to Pearland, we went to our property and checked out the damage we knew we had there (our generator was out there and was taken by a friend of a neighbor when they came to check on his house… he thought it was a gift from heaven to find a generator and two full cans of gas… he took the gift). The shed was completely stripped from the wood foundation, and the sprinkler control unit was the only thing that kept the shed tethered to our property. Some of our trees were bent sideways, but everything seemed to be alive, and there was even citrus still on the tree. Wow.
When we got to our house, we talked with our policeman neighbor and listened to his harrowing stories about how the walls of the house were visibly shaking and the windows buffeting in and out - before their satellite dish ripped off the roof and started hammering back and forth on the rest of the roof (it was still tethered by cable). They took a fair amount of damage, with water coming in through the ceiling and a good portion of their roof blowing off. Trlica and I walked around the house to survey the damage: the trampoline was half way in our other neighbor’s yard and twisted something crazy. The fence between the policeman’s yard and our yard was mostly in our yard - our yards were one big happy yard. Our mountain laurel tree and our peach tree were both blown over (the peach tree was supporting a fence), but they were both able to be righted and resoiled and they should survive. Our plastic storage closet was in 8 pieces, but should be able to be put back together just fine. Then, Trlica asked me if that noise was a generator (it was - but not ours) and proceeded to complain that she wasn’t going to be able to sleep with that much racket right outside our window. That’s when I noticed that our main air conditioner was running… WE ALREADY HAD POWER!!! The interior of the house: we think a little water might have blown in around the back door, and our bedroom windows may have leaked an ounce or two, but was dry by the time we got there. That’s it. Our roof took zero damage - most of the roofs in our neighborhood have serious damage. We’re thinking we need to bill our insurance company for about $20,000 for avoided damages since we funded a new roof out of our own pockets a couple of months ago. Yeah Brinkman! Good roofing!
Our neighbor’s friend (that took our generator) brought us back the generator and two full cans of gas right before we got home. His power was back on too. We’ve since then taken the generator to the church hoping they will get some use of it (and the air conditioner). I cleaned up around the yard a little this morning and helped the church crew cut down some trees in the neighborhood around the church for those that are in need. I’ll be doing this for the next couple of days. I’ll also have to clean up around our property a little - lots of downed limbs but no tree trunks damaged.
Chainsaws are AWESOME.

Praise God - He is good.
Curt

Ike scares the @%! out of Jackson (sort of)

Well, we fled Ike and are up in Grand Praire with the Cosbys watching coverage of Ike and the damage obsessively. I work in the Chase Tower in downtown Houston and there are hundreds of windows blown out of that building - the photos look pretty bad. We will see whether my office is empty or not!

We are anxious to get back into town to assess damage to our house. Preliminary reports from neighbors indicate that our house windows are still intact, but the fence is gone. We will see what the inside looks like when we get there.

Meanwhile, the really big news is: JACKSON POOPED IN THE POTTY! He has been working really hard on becoming potty proficient and has been doing a really good job with Number 1. This weekend, he has added Number 2 to his repertoire, so we are very excited about that.

To all of our friends in the Houston area, our prayers are with you - stay safe.

Trlica, Curt, Celeste and Jackson

Ike & Prayers

Well, we’re on our way out of town fleeing from Ike. Trlica and the kids got stuck for hours in Rita traffic, but we’re making great time now that I’m here! Hopefully it will be a nonevent and just a long weekend for us. We were puzzled about Brazoria county issuing an evacuation notice yet Celeste’s school was open for business. Sounds like a communication / nonrecognition of authority issue to me. We’re taking the conservative route though.

Celeste said her usual prayes last night:
“Now I lay me down to sleep.
I play the Nord
my soul to keep.
My angels watch me through the night.
Until I wake in mornings light.
Amen.”

Then proceeded to ask God to not let the Hurricane hit… Texas! Now that’s serious faith!

CK

Starting Kindergarten

Well, Celeste started Kindergarten this week. We dropped her off at her new school (which was packed with people) on Monday morning. She was very excited and seems to have taken right to it. She did much better than her parents… we can’t believe it’s already been five years. Sure doesn’t feel like it. She looked so pretty and we’re so proud of her we can hardly stand it. Of course, when we picked her up on Monday, we met the usual “I don’t know” as we grilled her on every little part of her day. She conceded a few pieces of information here and there, but ended up with “You’re wasting my time. I’m trying to read this book!” as we pulled into the Chick-Fil-A parking lot. Rude, yes. Justified… well, it was a bit provoked by our unbounded questions… so we let it slide. Funny, absolutely.

Kids - you gotta love ‘em.

Summer Fun

Despite the multitude of changes that are happening in the work world, the family life side of things is going well. We took an end of summer trip to lake LBJ this past weekend to let the kids hang out with their cousins and play in the water. They had a blast… well, except that Jackson ate so much fruit that he had blisters on his butt from all the acidity of his poop. That wasn’t part of the fun-train. Did a little swimming, a little arts & crafts, “drove” the boat, AND…

1. Got pulled in an innertube behind the boat
2. Swam in the actual lake
3. Rode the Ski-Doo (Celeste by choice, Jackson by brute force)

In our world, these three events are a frog’s hair short of bona-fide miracles. We’re extremely pleased about this development. Hopefully next year we can progress to water skiing and actually preferring to swim in the lake rather than the pool. (Yeah, it’s dirty, but so what - it’s more fun!)

Other items of note:
1. We are having some irrigation put in on the property (or “Prop-E-Da” per Jackson-speak) so that I don’t have to manually hose the trees and bushes down for an hour a couple of times a week. Hopefully, this will allow for more time to “care” for the crop, which should translate into healthier plants and more food. Yeah food!

2. Celeste is starting kindergarten in 5 days. It’s too fast and/or not fair - she’s growing up too quick. She’s very excited about it though. I hope she stays that way.

A Great Loss

Dr. Ralph Feigin passed away on Thursday August 14th. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in October of 2007 and continued to perform the jobs of Char of the Department of Pediatrics for Baylor, and Physician in Chief for Texas Children’s Hospital until the very end. There’s not enough room here for me to describe how great this man was, so I’ll quote one of my colleagues instead: “The man exceeded the myth.” I’m going to miss him. Whoever replaces him will have some extremely large shoes to fill… it’ll be a struggle to step into an environment where the velocity of growth is so fast (a very ambitious electronic medical record, a completely separate campus in west Houston, a new maternity center, and a new neurological research center) and the economy is seemingly so primed for a recession. Good luck, whoever you are.

Sea World 2008

Tubing at the Hyatt Hill CountryWearing Dad\'s hat in the lazy river
Well, we just got back from the summer 2008 Sea World tour. (And by “just” we’re talking about 48 hours ago.) We had a ton of fun and will be posting video and pictures of it in the next week or two… time permitting. We started off Wednesday with a tour of the Natural Bridge Caverns right outside of New Braunfels. The kids “sluiced” for treasures and ended up with a couple of pretty rocks. Jackson was more about throwing the treasures into the stream of water than he was about discovering the treasure, but Celeste thought it was pretty cool. It was a great workout too, since Jackson needed to be carried just about the entire way. From there, we travelled up to San Antonio to stay at the Hyatt Hill Country and play at Sea World. Lots of fun there too. Shamu, roller coasters, and dolphins on the first day, and the water park on the second day. Kids vote: water park rocked. They loved the wave pool. The other attractions were tolerable (except Celeste really liked the lazy river as well), but the wave pool was boss. We did pretty good in the sun with some liberal application of SPF 50, although even that isn’t quite “IT” in terms of total protection. We had dinner at the Magic Time Machine and were waited on by Indiana Jones - the kids enjoyed this way more than we thought they would: it was very kid friendly - had magic potions that bubbled, balloons, and face paintings. On Saturday, we hung around the hotel and played in the lazy river. Celeste got a fancy hair braid and had a spa day (toenail painting) with mom. The boys floated on the river and drank pina coladas - Jackson outdrank his daddy. That night we had dinner with Dennis & Jeanne (good friends dating back to college and med school) but Curt had to call it short on account of… we’ll call it “dyspepsia.” Fortunately, we were all well enough in the morning to go back to the New Braunfels area to see their children’s museum. Jackson spent 93% of his time playing with the first thing he saw: wooden trains. Celeste roamed around the complex, and we all had a grand time. From there, we wanted to go to the Gristmill restaurant in Gruene - but daddy’s iron filament was off by about 2 miles to the south. Celeste suggested he “be smart because I’m pretty hungry” and we ended up finding it in less than 45 minutes. Yeah Dad!

Notable memories:
1. Jackson only tried to drown twice in the lazy river… pretty good considering how enthusiastic he was and how swift the river is!
2. Breakfast buffet: 1st course: Fruit Loops 2nd course: Lucky Charms
3. Jackson won’t wear a hat unless it’s daddy’s.
4. Celeste really liked swimming in the lazy river and the wave pool… and she really swam! (Also, she refused to use the innertube - she preferred swimming.)
5. Water TAK! (aka Jackson’s tackle)
6. Jackson singing ABC’s and counting to 10 (except 4) in the car.

Random musings

Well, it’s been awhile since we put anything up. Not that there’s nothing to put up, there’s just too little time to cover it all. So, what’s happening? you ask… here we go.

1. Starting in late 2007, I considered a job being offered by the University of Texas / Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. I wasn’t really looking to move, but the job being offered was for Chief Medical Information Officer / Medical Director of Informatics - which is stuff that I’ve got good training for and haven’t really had a lot of opportunity to use (consistently) in my current job. It had a lot of great things to offer, and it took me about 8 months to work it up, only to decide it wasn’t quite compelling enough to move from Baylor / Texas Children’s Hospital. Of course, once I decided to stay, the powers that be decided it was time to re-engineer the operations of our critical care section… so I’ll let you know around Christmas if this was the right thing to do or not. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

2. For our anniversary, I got Tra a Roku player… by way of disclaimer, I don’t have any known financial interest in NetFlix… that being said, this is the coolest thing ever. If you have an account that allows for unlimited movies in a month (we’re talking way less than $20 / month), then you can eat as much streaming media from NetFlix as you can stomach. It’s done wonders for our TV junkiness - we’ve been watching The Incredible Hulk, Leave it to Beaver, 30 Rock, The Office (and the British “The Office” on which it is based), and lots of other stuff. Come to think of it… that’s probably why we haven’t blogged much this past month.

3. To offset the negative health consequences of the anniversary gift, I joined a fitness club and signed up for some personal training sessions… the theory being that I’ll actually work out if I’m paying for it, since I have some very strong obsessions about not wasting money. So far, the theory isn’t really holding up as well as I was hoping… I could be doing better in this department.

4. The kids have been a lot of fun lately. Jackson took some swimming lessons a month or so ago and is pretty comfortable being dunked in the water, even though he’d drown if we didn’t save him (he just doesn’t realize it yet). Celeste can just about do it on her own. She can swim fine, but she likes to stand up when she breathes - hasn’t quite “mastered” the whole “lift your head, take a breath, and keep swimming” cycle: she can do it but she doesn’t really want to do it. Celeste is getting to be a pretty good reader in her practice book, and Jackson is impressing us all the time with his communication skills. Tonight he was saying his prayers all by himself, and after the 3rd verse or so, he drops the “I forgot” bomb on us. We thought that was a pretty advanced verbal skill for 27 months. He also parrots everything. Nonstop. Constantly. It’s all good times.

Anyway, that’s enough for now. Have a great summer.

Curt

Progress on Our Electric Vehicle!

Curt purchased a brand new Mazda 3 in February so that Revolt Custom Electric in Austin could dismantle the engine and convert it into an electric car. Curt was really inspired to hop on the EV bandwagon after I rented the movie Who Killed the Electric Car? We are both very excited about a car that we don’t have to take to the gas station or the Jiffy Lube. Aaron Choate and his partners at Revolt are making progress on the car. You can see photos of the conversion here:
http://www.revoltcustomelectric.com/projects/2008-mazda3/

Berries

This past week, we’ve eaten about two dozen blackberries from our back yard. And today, we had the first batch of blueberries off the property. Yummy!

Peaches died on the branches this year :(

Will be tilling the gardening bed to transplant the tomatoes later this week. Not looking forward to that.
CK