Saturday, March 28, 2009

Holocaust Museum, Houston

Today was another long day filled with interesting things. The first stop was at a place that I was greatly looking forward to visiting. I can say after visiting that it meant far more to me than I thought it would.If you are in Houston, we recommend visiting the Holocaust Museum Education Center and Memorial. As we were standing in the garden, Austin asked me why I make him visit places like this because he feels so sad after being there. So we spent some time talking about why I find it important to do so, even though I know he will feel sad-as will I. We talked about what happened and how it happened and what we think about it and I pointed out that we can't change the past. What is important to me in sharing the past with him, beyond the fact I think it's important to honor those involved, is that I hope it spurs a desire in him to not turn a blind eye to the atrocities that are happening now in Darfur and other such places and reminded him how we have done some very modest things to help victims of hatred through this organization: The Invisible Children and how good it is to know that people helping made a difference in Uganda.I told him it is likely that some day there will be a museum in remembrance of those victims and when his children and grandchildren ask, "How did this happen?" as he had with me that day, I hoped he had an answer that he was at peace with personally for his part in what is happening today. We have a chance to make a difference today so that his answer and mine and yours can be something other than, "We didn't know". We live in a different time period where we can know. And we can help because we do know. When you know better, you can do better. We know better. I want to do better and I hope he does too, especially after today.

Dr Suess Wants You!

Gallery of some of his work that we viewed while at the Holocaust Museum:

Museum of Fine Art, Houston

Since we read Stories from the Silk Road a few years ago and just read the book A Thousand Splendid Suns and are getting ready to read Three Cups of Tea, this exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston intrigued us. We hadn't planned to go today, but when we saw it was right across the street from where we parked, we couldn't resist at least going to take a peek at it. We spent about an hour there, just enough to whet our appetite.Here's a little blurb from their website: Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul explores the rich cultural heritage of ancient Afghanistan from the Bronze Age (2500 B.C.) through the rise of trade along the Silk Road in the first century A.D.

We hope to return later this week to do the tour so we'll try to get pictures then.

Downtown Aquarium Houston

Some more fun at the Downtown Aquarium Houston. This fun was at the aquarium part:

Downtown Aquarium Houston Rides

This was one section of Downtown Aquarium Houston that we visited. It is the section that has games and rides.

Austin and I rode the Ferris wheel together:Nathan and Austin rode the Lighthouse Drop together:I think the kid sitting in between them looks like Dewey from Malcolm in the Middle. Dewey is our favorite. Just thought you should know that.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Riddle For You

Question: If you are a man and you smash in the front bumper of your truck, what do you do?

Answer: Put a cattle catcher on the front so if you hit something again, the bumper won't budge.

If you recall, handsome hubby went bump in the night and hit a boulder and the truck was hurt and the boulder was not. This was way back in Connecticut and we had to wait until now to get it fixed. Why? Because this is where you not only buy cattle guards and have them installed, but you can do it for a really awesome price. Lovely.

After paying some hard working, honest men more money than I've spent on my hair for the past year, this is our truck:
I can hear Diana laughing from here. Let the record show, I really love this guy. There is no other logical explanation why I'd drive this truck. Especially now that he got it "fixed".

Oh my. Enough said.

On a side note, Austin asked Nathan how much it cost to fix the truck. Austin is fascinated by how much things cost and always asks this question. Nathan decided to use this time as an opportunity to teach Austin a handy math principle that relates to rounding numbers. The rule is when you spend money, you round down...when your wife spends money, you round up. Hmmm...I'm pretty sure I don't remember that rule being taught when I was in school. This must be the "new math" that I always hear about.

NASA Johnson's Space Center~Houston TX

Today we visited the Space Center in Houston. We first did a tram tour of the behind the scenes buildings and people here, which was cut very short due to a storm. In fact, we were only able to see the inside of one building and the old mission control room:
At this point my camera battery died, so the rest of the pics are from Nathan's cell phone.

Next we saw a show that was about Living in Space that had a module set up to demonstrate what it is like living in the space station. The man doing the demonstration brought up the little fun fact about them working on a way to purify urine to reuse it on the space station. We read that when we were going to watch the shuttle launch so it was neat to hear it mentioned again.
We also visited the Starship Gallery with these being some of the things in the collection there: an original model of the Goddard Rocket; the actual Mercury Atlas 9 "Faith 7" capsule flown by Gordon Cooper; the Gemini V Spacecraft piloted by Pete Conrad and Gordon Cooper; a Lunar Roving Vehicle Trainer, the Apollo 17 Command Module, the giant Skylab Trainer, and the Apollo-Soyuz Trainer.
And then we did a bunch of modules they had in the center of the space station. We thought this place was very cool and would visit it again.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Locals for Now

We seem to have hit another rainy patch here the last few days and we encountered our first storm that was windy enough to shake the RV. Pretty interesting feeling, but nothing compared to going through hurricanes.

Two things that we have enjoyed since coming to Texas are the scenery: and BBQ'ing:I love being able to travel and seeing new things and meeting new people but I love just hanging out and soaking it in as well. We are not merely traveling in the same ways we used to when vacationing, we get to live in each and every place and that's a different thing than being merely tourists or travelers. It just has a different feel than when you pass through on your way back and forth to "home". For us, this is home. Next week, someplace else will be home. And I never thought that part would be such a wonderful thing.

I hadn't fully pondered all of that until we hit the local library, and asked if there was any way we could get a library card here so Austin could check out books on tape and guitar songbooks instead of just sitting and reading while at the library. The librarian asked if we were local and I said, yes...for now. She asked to see a Texas driver's license and I explained that I did not have one but how and why I still considered myself a local for the next few weeks at least. She finally said if I could prove that I am receiving my mail here, that she'd give me a card. I am getting my mail here so I went home to get the proof and she graciously gave us two cards when I returned.

I've been pondering since how I've heard the phrase "citizen of the world" and while it is cliche,
I have a better understanding of what that means-to us at least-now that we are living this way. We don't have attachments in the same way to a specific place so we seem to instead be shifting to a place where we are attached to this world being our home. We seem to be gaining a new appreciation for that and a new understanding of the responsibility involved in that. I really can't put it into words more than that; I just know this has changed us and that was one lesson I didn't expect to learn along the way.

I've also noticed that all of us, teens included, have a different awareness of our space in this world. Of how much we consume in every day ways. It's impossible not to be aware when you have to attend to every aspect of the reality of consumption and waste and deal with it rather than having it be someone elses problem. We do all of the dirty work so we know this equals this. It's pretty cool actually. Another unexpected gift.

So, as this bench down at the lake says, I hope we remember that while we do try to live this way:...we also hope to remember to cherish our gift in a way that doesn't rob others of the same opportunity to enjoy the same gift when they pass through. I want to continue to live as citizens of the world instead of only worrying about what we can enjoy while we are passing through. We always were only passing through in some way, shape and form-we just weren't very aware of that fact before we lived this way. It's ironic to me that in living a life of passing through we have become more aware of how much we don't have to live our lives that way though, no matter what our journey.

I also love it when life seems to be meandering along in the most deliciously lazy feeling way and all the while you are growing in big ways and didn't even notice it. It's like backing up to the doorpost and measuring yourself and realizing you grew inches when you would have guessed millimeters. I especially love it when I realize that has happened with our children and we were merely co-attendants in the process. As any parent knows, it doesn't always work that way so it's an unexpected gift to me when it does. And as I'm sure you've figured out after reading this post-I love unexpected gifts.

Living the life in beautiful Texas and loving being a local for now!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Today was a long day because we spent it at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo which was full of things to do and see. This day was personally very touching to me, having grown up quite a bit of my childhood in Texas, which makes me at least a quarter Texan I think. Because of that, I wanted to share the things that make this state unique with my children and today was a great representation of that.First, we visited the carnival rides and food section. Every time we are going somewhere, Austin's first question is what are we going to eat. Today we ate out twice. He said that combined with everything else made this the perfect day.
Some stranger offered to take our picture. Smile everyone. Or not.Let's try that again. Smile everyone. Well, almost this time. Check out the horse statues in the background. They were very cool.We then headed over to watch some cowboys doing their thing.We were so impressed!More cowboys waiting to do their thing:and we are still impressed!Next up was the Xtreme Bullriding:We were really, really impressed with this! We agreed upon leaving, this day is one of our faves!Living the life in Houston, Texas!