Monday, June 29, 2009

Fourteen Photos and Comments

In no particular order:

A shed-in-a-box is nothing like a bed-in-a-bag!
The shed is much harder to figure out how to put together.

How to build a shed.
See what I mean. This is part of the instructions for building that shed.

I love Buc-ees!

Panini Sandwiches
Panini means sandwiches in Italian. Not sure what a sandwiches sandwich is.

Things you don't want to see.
There are just some things you don't want to see in a dressing room.

Short Train
I think they forgot something!

Yankee gas
In Connecticut they call themselves Yankees, and they label their gas that way too.

Joseph's Shoes
The shoes my friend wore in public...I just don't know what else to say.

Liquid Nitrogen
Brr! They use this at NASA to test equipment in really really really cold environments.

Speaking of NASA, they scared me with this thing. I turned and there
was a person eye level to me coming at me! It made me jump!

Road Labels
I love knowing EXACTLY what the road is and where it is taking me!

Twin Fortunes
Frankie and I somehow ended up with same fortune the other day...hmmm.

pray for rain
This sign breaks my heart and scares me to death. It is so dry here!

and finally...

M & M slope field
I see a slope field...this is what happens after you go to a calculus
conference for a week. All you see is math, math, everywhere!

I hope you enjoyed my photos and comments.
Feel free to post your own comments as well!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Want to Become a Land Surveryor?

My husband and I got invited to attend an educator's conference in the Houston area that took place this week. It was hosted by the Texas Society of Professional Surveyors and Lone Star College-Montgomery. It was one of the best conferences I have attended.

We arrived at the college in the afternoon and registered. We were treated to supper and then a keynote speaker explained the profession of surveying. He told us that there are less than 3,000 registered surveyors (compared to 80,000 engineers) in the state of Texas and that they have an average age of 58. Most of them just happened into their careers, while others followed in the steps of their fathers. You do have to have a bachelor's degree to become a registered surveyor, but there are openings in the surveying profession that only require a high school diploma, if even that.

These are some of the reasons the TSPS (Texas Society of Professional Surveyors) are having conferences like this. They want to help promote their profession and they want to start in the high schools. They are hoping teachers can help spread the word. They also have something similar for high school students in Tyler, Texas.

The next day we started at 7 AM with breakfast, then it was off to outside. Now keep in mind this was the Houston area in mid June. It was hot and humid! But we were getting to play with toys so it made up for it! Sides, what are you gonna do about the weather? We got to use surveying tools that help find elevation, distance, slope, and so much more on a piece of land, under the ocean, and just about anywhere where boundaries are needed.

We learned about pacing, which is estimating the length of a piece of land by walking it out. We had to first find our own pace by walking a marked off distance of 100 feet. Then we took how many steps we had in that set distance and divided by 100 feet to find out how long our stride was. Each step I take is about 2.13 feet. Short legs. Then we were given an unknown distance and had to determine the length of it from our pace. So, if I had walked 20 steps, I would multiply 20 by the 2.13 to find the unknown length. This is definitely something that I can use in my classroom.

They were showing us things that we could bring into our classroom to help students have a better grasp of math concepts and that dealt with surveying. In another activity, we had to find a way to measure between two points where a direct measurement could not be made, maybe there was a building between the two points. Using those two points (A and B) we picked an arbitrary point away from them called C and then we had a triangle. We could measure from A to C and also from B to C. So we did that. Then we took both of those measurements and chose a dilation. We picked an easy on of 1/2. So if from A to C was 68.4 feet we would then measure to half that measurement of 34.2 feet and place a flag at that mid-point. Once we did the same for the other side we now had similar triangles. You can find missing measurements using similar triangles and proportions. I already teach this in middle school and geometry. Taking the students outside and having them measure things instead of just seeing in a book really helps make the concept real to them.

Outside again, the next morning we got to work more with some of the tools of the trade and then we got to have some fun. We were all given hand held GPS units, which were ours to keep! They were preloaded with points around campus...which side note...Lone Star College - Montgomery is beautiful and I am VERY impressed with the whole Lone Star College system. We split into groups and used our new GPS to go geocaching. It was so much fun. There are geocaching points all over and Frankie and I have plans to go find some this summer. I would like to let you know that even if you don't have a hand held GPS you can still do something similar called letterboxing. Our family showed us this when we went to Connecticut.

In the afternoons we heard talks on many different aspects of surveying. They do so much more than stand on the side of the road! :) This profession even caught my interest...

If you would like to read more about the conference you can from the Conroe Courier or Lone Star College. If you have any question about land surveying feel free to ask me. If I don't know the answer, I now know MANY people who can answer them.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Grandma Arva

During this trip to Houston we did get to see my grandma Arva. : ) She would shoot me if she saw what picture I put up...but it is so FUNNY! I don't think she was ready.

Grandma and Jennifer is a good one

Frankie, Grandma, Jennifer

Hey Jason, if you see this print it out for Grandma! LOL! Oh she is going to have a fit!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Yildizlar Mediterranean Grill - Houston, TX

One of the many blogs I read mentioned that had a limited time special going where you could get a $25 gift card to a restaurant on their site for only $2 just by putting a code in at checkout!! Normally, the gift certificates vary in price, but they are less than the $25 gift certificate price, most at $10. It is a good deal even without the code.

Since we were heading to Houston, I decided that I could save us some money by purchasing a gift certificate from There are stipulations on each of the gift cards but they vary. Some you had to spend $50 to use the $25 gift card and an 18% gratuity would be added before the discount was applied! I had to search to find one that I didn't mind the limits, and there were several.

I was able to search by area or by cuisine and it is not just Houston, it is all over America. The restaurants are not chains, so it gives you a chance to try something off the beaten path, maybe a cuisine or restaurants you wouldn't have tried otherwise. That was the case with us.

Frankie said he was game for anything, so I finally decided on Yildizlar Mediterranean Grill . We haven't had much exposure to Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food, so I was excited to try it. The stipulations were that we had to spend $35 in order to get the $25 off. It wasn't too hard to do and in the end we spent less than $13 for the meal including buying the certificate off the Internet. That is what we would have spent at a fast food place and the food we ate was 1,000 times better! Here was our order.

We shared an appetizer of stuffed grape leaves. (Still not sure what they were stuffed with but it was vegan and GOOD!) I got the lamb kabob plate with rice, squash, a Greek salad which had olives, feta cheese, and vinaigrette dressing, a small bowl of hummus dip, pita bread and tea. Frankie got the lamb and beef gyro plate with rice, potatoes, a Greek salad, a small bowl of yogurt dip, pita bread and tea. We also ordered dessert: lady fingers and baklava.

All of that for less than $13!! I was some wonderful food! They have sandwich plates with the same meats that are not as expensive so even without a gift certificate it would be reasonable.

If you are in Houston I highly recommend Yildzlar Mediterranean Grill.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Johnson Space Center - Houtson, TX

When Frankie and I were invited to an educator's conference in Houston, Frankie immediately said he wanted to go to NASA while we were there and I immediately started researching it online. That is how we work. He is the visionary and I make it happen.

The Johnson Space Center website was having a special offer for Memorial day, tickets bought online that weekend would be half off the regular gate price of $19.95 and would be good through the summer. Two for the price of can't say no to that! Tickets. Check!

Also during the summer Johnson Space Center would be featuring many artifacts from the George Lucas films including Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Frankie loves movies especially ones by George Lucas. Entertainment for hubby. Check!

Now enjoy some pictures from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.


Named for former President Johnson.


Astronaut in space.

Working Astronaut

Look! A real working "astronaut"! : P

First Men on Moon

First men on the moon.

First Moon Step

First step on the moon.

Saturn V

Saturn V - Larger than the Statue of Liberty!

historic mission control

Historic Mission Control: This is where the words, "Houston, the Eagle has landed." were heard.

state of the art

Up close of Mission Control. It was state of the art for the time.

In Orbit

I really like this picture. I think it is my favorite.

Here are my favorites pictures from the George Lucas collection:





It was very awesome to see all of this and it gave me a great appreciation of the space program and all they have done! It impressed Frankie as well. Now back at home he has been watching the NASA channel could be worse. : )

Sunday, June 14, 2009


To us Connecticut equals family.

Nieces and Nephew

We would NEVER go there for any other reason that I can think of. It is just too crowded for us and the state is too small. We are to use to our wide open spaces and super-sized state.

Plus, I don't think that I could ever get adjusted to winters up there! It was "cold" while we were there and it was the beginning of June. Texas temperatures were in the high 90's even up to the 100's. Texas doesn't have a reputation for being hot in the summers for nothing! But, in Connecticut it never got out of the 60's to 70's. That was of course a nice break for us, but I tend to like the heat.

I don't want this to be a bash Connecticut blog, there are some wonderful things up there. It is beautiful. Very green and lush, especially compared to our drought stricken south Texas. There are animals there that just don't like the heat of Texas unless it is fly by on their way to other places.

geese and babies

geese and babies in water

Here are just some facts about Connecticut that you may or may not know.

  • The sun comes up at 5:15 AM in the summer. That is insane!

  • What are people from Connecticut called? I asked several up there and no one knew.

  • In Texas you will see Texas flags almost as much as American flags. I don't recall seeing any Connecticut flags.
  • There are only THREE Super Wal-Marts in the whole state. For comparison there are 7 within 50 miles of my house.

  • There are about one thousand pizza joints in each city. None of them are pizza buffets like CiCi's. My brother-in-law, Keith, has only seen those on TV, never been in one. That is just sad and we will fix that when they get to come down next.

  • There are only two Long John Silver's in the whole state (not that I really just love LJS but this was an observation), and they are both attached to Taco Bells. For comparison there are 9 just in San Antonio.

  • There are very few GOOD Mexican food places...if any, and good, no make that decent, tortillas are hard to find.

  • With the lack of room to build ranch style houses they must build up. Most houses have at least 3 stories, if you count the basement. We saw many houses where the garage was under the first floor. For some reason I really like that. I didn't get any pictures though.
  • The don't really have service roads running parallel to highways. You are either on the highway or you are in a town.

  • Speaking of can go 25 miles and pass through 8 towns without even knowing it. Going one way on a street you see a sign for a town. Turn around and go the other way and where you saw the first sign on the other side is the sign for the town you just left. We never really knew where we were. I needed the GPS for every trip beyond three or four steps out the door. It makes it hard to figure things out when across the street is a different town and we are not talking about a suburb of a big city.

To finish up, I do understand that this has nothing to do with Connecticut per say, but this is where it was and I wanted to share it. We went to this place for kids where it filled with large blown up things for kids to climb and bounce on. There was this one thing in the shape of a caterpillar where kids went in one side, went through it and then came out the other. Here are the beginning and end, I just don't know about the person who designed it!

Questionable Caterpiller In

Questionable Caterpiller Out

I gotta say the out bothered me more than the in...

So that is all the Connecticut I have for you. Of course, if you have any stories to add feel free to comment!

After our visit was over we got on a plane and flew southwest...the direction...not the airline. :)

Airplane Wing

Monday, June 8, 2009

Nieces and Nephew

This is why we even go to Connecticut and if they lived somewhere else we would go there. We would go anywhere to see them.

Nieces and Nephew

Airyel (8 months), Me, Mahalah (6 yrs old), Frankie, Jonathan (4 yrs old), and Abby (7 yrs old)

Oh yeah, and their parents, but when you have four little people that cute to see, it makes all others pale in comparison. (Keith and Melissa, you know we love you too and come to see you as well!)

I would like to tell you about our nieces and nephew.

Every time we get to see our nieces and nephew we are amazed at how much they have grown and just how much fun they are to be around. This was our first time to meet little Airyel and she is just a gem. She loves the water! Warm bath, cold lake....doesn't matter she is happy! She has got to be one of the happiest babies I have ever met. Here is video proof and this was how she was pretty much the whole time we were there!

Jonathan has got to be one of the cutest little boys I have ever met and I don't say that just because I am his aunt either. Keith, his dad, says that all the time people are stopping them to comment on how cute Jon is. Take a look at this little guy:

Jonathan - age 4

He is a silly boy too. He would be doing something and I would take a picture. If he knew I took it, he would run over and say, "Let me see!"

He would then proceed to put both his hands on the camera over mine and tilt the camera this way and that way. He would move his head up and down to get a good look and the whole time his glasses would be at the end of his nose. It was just like an old man! There were times when I guess I didn't take enough pictures for his liking because he would tell me, "Take my picture!" and then he would pose with some toy. Too cute! He wants to be a fireman or a policeman when he grows up.

Mahalah is the quietest of the four kids. She is a very kind and compassionate child. She wants to be a chef when she grows up and LOVES to watch the cooking shows. She was telling me that she was going to become a chef at Friendly's (New England version of Denny's). I told her she could open a branch in Texas (They have free ice cream yeah open a branch here!) and we could see her more often. She liked that idea but was worried she wouldn't get to see Mommy and Daddy. I told her she could go back and forth. She was ok with that. I would so totally eat the food that she makes...just look at know it would be good!

Mahalah age 6

Abigail is the oldest and acts like the oldest. She is the boss, the leader, el jefe. It just makes it all the more entertaining to watch her in action with the others. She is very good with the baby. In fact, they are all so sweet to Airyel. Jon was constantly giving her kisses then he would run off and play. Abby likes to hold the baby and really knows how to make that girl laugh! She is starting to read and can spell words that I still have trouble with. (Beautiful...anyone?) The secret language of adult spell is soon going to have to become extinct in that house.

At the mall in one of the stores, Abby saw a mannequin and decided she needed to pose too. It made us laugh so then she continued doing it. I, of course, had my camera with me.

Abby - age 7

Notice how she even has the hollow cheeked look! Where do they learn these things!?!

She wants to race horses when she grows up. She is a horse fanatic! When she was younger she would say that her daddy was a big white horse and everyone else was just a brown horse. She claims she doesn't remember that though.

On one of the days we were there we all piled into the van...all eight of us...and headed to Quassy Amusement Park. It was the promotional night of $20 for a car load! Sweet deal if you ask me. It has a small roller coaster and other carnival type rides. It was at Quassy that I discovered my oldest nieces and my nephew are insane. My little 7, 6 and 4 year old nieces and nephew don't just LOVE to ride the scariest rides, they like to ride them with hands up in the air!! I rode one with roller coaster with Mahalah and she screamed because she likes to, I screamed because I am apparently a big ole' chicken! You couldn't even hear her scream over me. It was sad. At the end of the ride I had to hoist her back up into a sitting position because she had slid down so far.

Quassy is a neat little amusement park. I rode the Tilt-a-Whirl six times in various combinations of kids and adults so that we could make it spin more. The best spinning was when it was me, Melissa, Abby, Mahalah, AND Jonathan! By closing time the kids were so wired! This was the best picture anyone could get of them. They are all so goofy! They of course crashed on the way home. : )

At Quassy Park CT

One last thing about the kids then I will move on to a different topic, but really if you have kept up with me this long it must not have been that bad.

Now that the kids are older, one of there favorite things to do is attack Uncle Frankie. Last time we went up there it was attacking him with pillows on the couch:

This time it was more just sitting on him, using him as a punching bag, etc. He takes the abuse and loves it no matter what his expression might say.

Attack of Uncle Frankie

He lets them go on for awhile and then comes the part they love...he gets them back.

Revenge of Uncle Frankie

Jon often kept threating to give Uncle Frankie a widget (Keith talk for spanking) if he didn't stop picking on them. Like he really wanted it to stop!

That is all for this episode of my travel diary. Next time I will tell you about Connecticut itself, and all it oddness. Have a great one!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Leaving the Country of Texas

After a year an a half, Frankie and I got to travel to Connecticut again to see his sister, our brother-in-law, and their precious precious precious precious children. One precious for each child. Last time we drove, this time we flew.

The day of the flight went very well. The plane did not leave early so we didn't have to get up at some unsightly hour like 7:00 AM! We were able to pack that morning, which apparently was more than Frankie could handle. We took two suitcases. He put his stuff in one and mine in the other. I noticed that his clothes would fit better in one I was going to use so I wanted to switch. Here is roughly how the conversation went:

Me: Put your clothes in this bigger suitcase.

Frankie: But it would make it too heavy.

Me: It wouldn't be any different.

Frankie: If we put my clothes and both air mattresses in here it will be too heavy.

Me: Leave one air mattress in this suitcase and the other in the other suitcase.

Frankie: But where will you put your clothes?

Me: *giving him a look* In the other suitcase...

Luckily, we were able to get this all straightened out and finished getting things ready. We almost forgot to leave food for the cat. Oh, I would have felt just awful! But I did remember and he got super excited about getting that much food at once. I swear he drooled...which for our cat, Pan, is not that hard to imagine!

The car was packed with suitcases and dogs to take them to the kennel...the dogs that is...not the suitcases. The dogs don't care that we leave, as long as they get to ride in the car. The love we get from the dogs is heartfelt! Off we go...

At the airport they have computers to check-in yourself. We were going along just fine until the last step. I pushed one button and Frankie pushed another. Instantly, a message popped up saying, "Please see an attendant." It was Frankie's fault...of course. :)

Here is a great (read that corny) joke that we came across in the airport: Why don't dogs make good dancers? They have two left feet! HA!

We were soon on the plane towards our first stop, Atlanta!

Inside the Plane

I was hoping, just hoping, that I would get to see something, anything, dealing with the Atlanta Braves. (The best baseball team in the world!) After landing I saw this.

Not the Braves A

I thought for a brief moment that it was the Braves plane! Then I saw the side and it said AirTrans. I was so disappointed. I got over my disappointment quickly when we got to ride on the moving sidewalks. Those things are AWESOME! It feels like floating. I want one at home. I think I would go walking more! :)

I did get to see this at the Atlanta airport and it was good:

Seen In Atlanta Airport

Back in the air for our final leg of the trip. I love flying in the clouds. It is amazing to see them so close.

View at 30,000 Feet

We made it to Connecticut and to our family's house. But I will leave that for tomorrow. I am blogged out!