Matilda

I had been planning to take Clara to see Matilda the Musical since I found out it was coming to town months ago. We invited her friend Cianna to join us as a gift for her birthday. She had never been to a live performance, so it was a real treat for her. We had dinner at Chili’s with Chris and Robert before we headed downtown.

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I gave myself ample time to get to the theater. By my calculations, we should have been arriving 45 minutes prior to the start of the show. As it turns out, we sat down with about 1.5 minutes to spare! I’m not real familiar with downtown, but I can get to the theater which is right off of the interstate. As luck would have it, my exit ramp was closed so it added several minutes to get turned around. No biggie, still doing ok on time. At this point I was slightly turned around, but was pretty sure the direction I needed to go. I got going the right way and saw streets blocked off near the theater. ALL THE STREETS are blocked off! They were breaking down a festival of some sorts that was very near the theater and had so many streets blocked off. So I’d go a block and see an entrance to a parking garage, but it would be on a one way street and I couldn’t get to it. So I figured I’d go up a block and come back around. Only to find the next street blocked off! I was soooo mad! I circled around those few blocks for 30 minutes. I couldn’t tell where I could park on the street and was afraid of getting towed. I eventually found a parking garage and got parked up on the 8th floor and started walking. I eventually called Chris to give me directions to the theater. We were like 6 blocks away! We had to walk through the closed off streets where they were packing up the festival. The sidewalk all around the theater is also torn up due to construction so we had figure out how to get to the door. When we got up to our seats I asked if we had time to use the restroom. She said if we hurried. Thank goodness because I couldn’t have made it until intermission. We got sat down and the lights went down. Oh man, I was a mess. I couldn’t even enjoy the show because of how stressed out I was. I’m guessing we weren’t the only ones completely blindsided by the downtown mess. They were allowing people to be seated for the first few minutes after the show started.

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Part of the reason I couldn’t shake my distraction was because I was worried about getting back to the parking garage. The way we had walked it was just getting dark and we didn’t pass anyone except one security guard until we got to the festival area. The parking garage was vacant and was reserved below the 8th floor, so I knew I would be uneasy going back by ourselves after 10:00 p.m. I talked to Chris during intermission and he gave me directions to get back to the garage quicker (it was actually only a couple of blocks away; we had just taken the scenic route), so that eased my fears a little and allowed me to enjoy the second half more. I kept telling him, “That’s it; I’m getting a smart phone!” He knows me though and knew I didn’t mean it. He just needed to talk me down :) And buy me a map to downtown Houston.

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So our walk back was much quicker. There were still several police officers at street corners because there was a little festival cleanup still going on, so their presence was a big relief for me. The garage wasn’t too bad either and we just quickly made our way to the car. There was a sigh of relief when the car came into view. Then I had to call Chris again to get me back on the interstate because there were so many detours due to construction and I was so turned around. Oy. Let me tell you, I was so glad when I finally got on that ramp. For the first time all evening, I could finally relax.

As for the show, it was okay. I guess I may have enjoyed it more if I had been in a different state of mind. The kids spoke with such heavy English accents that it was tough to understand them. There were a couple of fun parts, but there just wasn’t anything too memorable about the show. The songs were just so-so and I could’ve done without Matilda’s mom’s competitive dance partner Rudolpho and all the innuendo surrounding that. I’m pretty sure that character wasn’t even in the book or movie. The only saving grace was Miss Trunchbull. She was played by a man and he was outstanding. All in all though, I don’t think I would recommend it. I had high hopes for it given the fact that it’s been touted as the best musical since The Lion King. Oh well, they can’t all be amazing.

But, the girls enjoyed it, we made it to the theater in time and I successfully managed to get us all home safely, so I’m gonna call it a win.

The Magician’s Nephew

We started the morning off yesterday with first day of summer cinnamon rolls, which were a hit.

Then we picked up Clara’s friend Abby and headed to the Miller Outdoor Theater for a children’s performance of The Magician’s Nephew. It’s the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia. It was written after The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, but is the story of how Narnia was created. (By the way, there is conflicting opinions on which order the books should be read, chronologically or in publication order. Lewis himself said either way is fine. I’m in the LWW first camp. I think discovering Narnia through the eyes of the Pevensie children is much more magical.) I loved the book; I think it’s one of my favorites of the seven.

Anyway, back to yesterday. When we parked, Robert jumped out and said, “Nice cap.” I couldn’t figure out what he was talking about and didn’t see anyone wearing a cap, so when I finally asked him what he meant, he pointed to this beat up old car’s tire and said, “Nice cap.” Ha! We had to take a picture to show Daddy.

The Miller Outdoor Theater, located in Hermann Park by the zoo and Houston Museum of Natural Science, is a free venue. There is covered seating and a hill above that you can sit on for the performances. Chris and I attended a concert here years ago. You can bring in chairs, blankets and food. We got there early because I wasn’t sure how quickly the summer children’s performances fill up and I wanted to make sure we weren’t in the sun on the hill. The show lasted about 45-50 minutes and the kids enjoyed it. Even Robert sat still the entire time.

Afterwards, Clara and Abby wanted to get all of their autographs. Clara also wanted pictures with all of the actors. This actress played two roles, Aunt Letty and Jadis (the White Witch).

This is Digory, the young boy who, along with Polly, witness Aslan creating Narnia.

This is Uncle Andrew, the crazy magician who’s discovered how to enter another world. He was my favorite character. He also played Aslan and was sweating profusely in his robe while signing autographs. Clara asked, “Where’s Aslan?” and her mind was blown when I said he played both parts and wanted to see the names in the program. She couldn’t figure out how he had time to change. She was disappointed that she didn’t get a picture with Aslan. She’s loved Aslan since the time we read The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe several years ago.

And this is Polly. Both of the girls really wanted a picture with her.

After getting our autographs, we ate a quick lunch in the park and then explored a little. I’ve never walked around this part of Hermann Park. We came across this art exhibit/play structure that was really cool. The kids loved running in and out of all the little rooms.

We were all plenty hot, sweaty and tired by this point, so we headed home. The girls didn’t want the fun to stop, but I wanted to nap, so I was a mean mom and took Abby home. Robert ended up taking a 3 hour nap when we got home. I don’t remember the last time that happened.

Girls Weekend

Grandma came to town on Friday afternoon for our weekend of girly fun. On Saturday, we took Clara to the American Girl store so that she could buy Julie’s matching pajamas for herself. She’s been saving since Christmas for them. We had planned on having lunch in the bistro, but I didn’t realize reservations were required. They would have put us on a wait list, but we weren’t planning on sticking around the mall, so we decided to go next door to Panera Bread instead.

Right after we ordered and sat down, Clara realized she was missing one of Julie’s shoes. Looking at this picture we had just taken as we left, it was on her foot, so it was lost between there and Panera in the span of about 5 minutes. We looked for it and even asked if anyone had turned it in, but no luck.

After lunch we stopped in at a miniatures store in an antique mall to look for things for Clara’s dollhouse. There was a sign on the door when we got there that they would be right back, but it was about half an hour before she showed back up. We spent the time peering in the windows all around the store marveling at all the tiny things. We were so excited to finally go in.

Poor Clara kept getting in trouble for touching stuff. To be fair, it was a bit irresistible, but there was a lot of antique, very expensive things in there. We spent a looong time in there and picked out a Victorian era living room set, an old wood stove, ice box and sink, along with some wallpaper for those two rooms.

That evening was The Wizard of Oz at the Hobby Center. It was raining when we left and we knew that several streets around the theater would be closed for an event on Sunday, so I was a bit apprehensive about the drive and making it there on time. Dinner didn’t go quite according to plan, and then I remembered I didn’t bring cash for parking and when we got in the car, we didn’t have enough gas to get us there and back. So I was a little frazzled getting us there, but we did fine and got there in plenty of time.

We all enjoyed the show but agreed it wasn’t as great as others we had seen. The set wasn’t nearly as spectacular as other shows. Still a fun show though. Toto was awesome; he didn’t miss a single cue.

The next day we were up bright an early for church and then came home to start work on the dollhouse. Clara was getting ancy to do something, but Linda and I were having to do a lot of brainstorming on exactly how to go about the process. It seems easy until you actually start planning out steps and figuring out what order to do things in. She wasn’t real happy when I told her we wouldn’t have a finished room that day. We finally decided to prime and wallpaper only the first floor. Here Clara is gluing the stairs and priming the movable walls. I’ve painted the stairs and ceiling and cut the paper and sprayed it with a sealant. I should be able to glue the paper on tomorrow. I’ll post pictures when I get the first floor done. I hope it goes on ok. Eeek!

Willy Wonka

Clara and I went to see Willy Wonka at an area high school Friday night. This girl loves her some theater. After each scene or song, she would scream at the top of her lungs while clapping above her head. It was such fun to watch her enjoy something so much. Before it started, it was announced that at intermission they would be selling concessions. They would have chocolate bars for sale and there were 5 golden tickets hidden in the chocolates. The winners would receive a season ticket to the school’s performances this year. Marketing genius. Seriously, there was a run on chocolates. A girl not too far ahead of us in line got one and they told her to wave it in the air and were shouting, “She found a golden ticket!” So much fun!

Now Willy Wonka is her favorite performance she’s attended to date. Yes, a high school production ranks above such broadway hits as Wicked and The Lion King. She did admit that her favorite will probably always be the last one she watched, no matter what it is. And she’s probably right.

Best Children’s Classic Ever

Y’all know I love a good classic children’s book. I’m discovering most of these treasures for the first time right alongside Clara. I’m pretty sure reading to her in her bed at night is going to be one of my favorite mom memories of all time. I don’t think I’ve read any that I haven’t liked, but I have found a new favorite. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess. It is so, so good! Clara and I were on the edge of our seats just giddy with excitement wanting to know what happens next. I’m usually pretty strict about one chapter a night, but with this one, I just couldn’t help myself. She got two, sometimes two and a half chapters as we neared the end. You’d think I had just told her she could get up and have a big bowl of ice cream or something by the sound of her squeals as I told her “Ok, just one more chapter.” I have to confess I almost snuck the book out of her room on more than one occasion so I could read more, but I didn’t. I was good.

Sara Crewe is the most humble, grateful, strong, respectful, imaginative, compassionate and loving child you will ever have the pleasure of reading about. Whether she is wealthy and spoiled or treated as a slave and going to bed hungry, cold and unloved, she never loses her beautiful spirit. She is a wonderful example to share with your daughter. Or just read it for yourself . I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I found a used copy of the Shirley Temple movie today that I plan on watching with Clara and I want to get the version that came out in the 90’s as well. Anyone seen it in stores? I’m probably going to have to get in online since so many stores have cut way back on their dvd sections.

Bia and Myrt Myrt Visit

My mom and Myrt Myrt came for their yearly visit this past week. They got here around 4:00 on Monday. Each year we try to take them somewhere to eat that they haven’t been before but it’s getting harder to do that because they’re getting most everything we have in Midland/Odessa now. They hadn’t been to Freebirds before though, so Freebirds it was.

My mom wanted to get each of the kids something and I told her Clara has been wanting Kit’s dog Grace to go with her dog Pepper she got for Christmas. She loves that dog. We’re not too far from the American Girl store, so that’s what we did on Tuesday. I don’t have to tell you, Clara loved the store. Of course once she saw everything on display, suddenly she wasn’t so sure she wanted Grace. She eventually decided to get Julie’s pet rabbit, Nutmeg. Since we won’t buy her any more dolls, she’s decided she wants to save her money to buy Julie. Nutmeg and Pepper are getting along very well. He’s been very gentle with his new friend and even lets Nutmeg ride in his pet carrier with him.

Bia wanted to get Clara a few new school clothes, so we did that while we were at the mall. Bia and Myrt Myrt have a bit of an obsession with Cheesecake Factory and since they don’t have one of those in Midland yet, they go every chance they can get. What do you know, it was right next to the American Girl store. So we got a piece of cheesecake in lieu of lunch since we had a late breakfast. Then Bia took the kids on a train ride around the mall and then Robert played on the indoor playground for a while. This one was a huge castle.

 

We got the kids home for naps while Bia and Myrt did a little more shopping. We had a quick sandwich for dinner and then the girls got all dressed up and headed downtown to see Wicked at the Hobby Center. After I introduced my mom and Myrt to the joy of musical theater last year when we saw The Lion King, I was so excited when I saw Wicked would be here during their trip this year. Since Chris and I saw it in London, I knew it would be ok for Clara. There is one small part that I wish wasn’t in there, but other than that, it’s completely family friendly. I think there was more inappropriateness in Beauty and the Beast with the french maid character and Lumiere and that’s a Disney show.

I digress. It’s been very rainy here this week so I wanted to make sure and be at the theater in plenty of time in case of bad weather and evening traffic. So we made sure to leave the house a little earlier than I had planned. We got there in plenty of time and found our seats. I thought they had opened the doors a little earlier than usual because the theater was almost full and it was still half an hour until curtain. Then the lights went down and the announcer said to turn off cell phones and the music started. I couldn’t believe it. It started at 7:30, not 8:00 like I thought!! (weekday shows start at 7:30, weekends at 8:00) Why do I keep doing this? At least this time we made it in the nick of time. Most of the time, I miss whatever it is I had scheduled, like trains and airplanes.

Clara took Nutmeg to the show because she thought a rabbit would be quieter than a husky dog. Everyone loved it. I have the soundtrack so we’d been listening to it leading up to the show. Clara loved that she knew the songs. I had discussed some of the story with her beforehand so she would understand what was going on. She had lots of questions and the show is filled with great things to discuss with kids. (Just the show; don’t read the book to kids. I understand it’s highly inappropriate for kids.)

The next morning, Robert woke up with a gunky eye. Yay for indoor play places! Bia and Myrt left that morning for the next stop on their Texas tour and the kids and I headed back up to the old house after they left. We had our house painted last Saturday. The painters finished in one day and Chris walked through the house and paid the guy. Chris pointed out the trim in a couple of rooms that didn’t look finished. The guy assured him it just wasn’t dry yet. Well, when we went to the house after church on Sunday, lo and behold, the trim still looked just as bad. So Chris let the guy know he was going to need to come back and finish the job and he got really defensive. It was pretty clear it wasn’t going to be easy to get him back out. We were hoping to put the house on the market as soon as it was painted. Soooo, all that to say, I spent about 3-4 hours finishing up the painting on Wednesday. All three bedrooms needed a coat on the ceiling trim and two bedrooms also needed a coat around door frames and outlets. I had to get the ladder out for our bedroom because the ceilings are so tall. I also went ahead and painted our downstairs closet since it was covered in marks and screw holes.

 

When we first got to the house, Robert had a big goop of green in his eye. I just wanted to get the house finished, so I put off making an appointment for him. He would come find me every little while because his eye was dripping. One time he came to me and there was a green blob the size of a lima bean hanging out of his eye. Gag. I’m sparing you the picture. So I called and made him an appointment for the next morning. Which meant I had to drive back up to The Woodlands.

We didn’t get home until 8:00, but I completely finished everything that needed to be done at the old house and it’s ready to list! So we went back up Thursday morning for Robert’s appointment. Turns out he has a severe case of pink eye and the infection had moved into his eyelid. So he’s on an oral antibiotic and an eye drop. The doctor said if he woke on Friday and it was worse that he might need to be on IV antibiotics. Yikes! Thankfully after a couple doses of antibiotics, he was looking much better. This picture was Thursday night after a couple of doses.

Houston Museum of Natural Science

Chris got up early this morning and went to the old house to meet painters. We finally found someone who was reasonably priced and they got there at 6:30 this morning and have just finished. Chris went back up this evening to walk through and finish paying them. We should be able to put the house on the market next week. Finally!

After he got back from Spring, we headed off to the museum. This was Robert’s first time there and Clara hasn’t been in ages. They recently expanded their paleontology and Egyptian exhibits so it was fun seeing all of the new stuff. There are so many dinosaur models! The kids really enjoyed the dinosaurs.

Clara wasn’t too fond of the Egyptian exhibit though. They now have a large number of mummies and sarcophagi, at least compared to the previous exhibit. Clara was seriously creeped out by the mummies. One was really well preserved and the face was uncovered. She no likey that guy. I hope she doesn’t have nightmares.

I wanted to walk over to the statue across the street from the museum because I had never been over there before. Turns out it’s a statue of ‘ol Sam Houston.

Then they chased a poor unsuspecting group of pigeons for a few minutes. I love this picture. Huge smile, hair flying, bird in flight.

And this is across the street at Hermann Park. It was 1:00 by this time and really really hot, so we called it a day.

Beauty and the Beast

Clara and I enjoyed a night out at the theater last night. We saw Beauty and the Beast down at the Hobby Center. It was cute, but couldn’t compete with The Lion King in my opinion. Clara said she liked Beauty and the Beast better though. I’m sure it had nothing to do with dressing like a princess for the occasion.
I surprised her with her dress right before we left. As you can imagine, it was a hit. I considered getting her a Belle costume, but liked the idea of this dress since it’s Belle-ish and can be worn again. Plus, I found it at an amazing price that I couldn’t pass up :)

We went to Zio’s for dinner and Clara drew pictures of all of the characters on the tablecloth. At the top, it says “Belle (me)”.

It was raining, so I wanted to be sure and get there early. Clara was pretty antsy as we waited for them to open the doors. She really enjoyed the show. It dragged in parts so she got a little squirmy at times, but she hung in there and almost made it to the end. She ended up falling asleep about 10 minutes before it ended, so I woke her up at the end when the Beast turns back into a human. I couldn’t let her miss the climax.

After the show came the brutal half hour or so of slowly moving along with the crowd to the parking garage, walking up the stairs to the 5th floor and then sitting in the car until we could drive out of the garage. Throw in a very sleepy (and whiney) little beauty and another half hour driving home and I was glad to crawl into my bed. (After putting Robert back to bed three times and completing Sunday school preparations, that is.)

Post July 4th

Clara went with Grandma and Grandpa went they left to go home on the 5th. She got to go to the rodeo on Thursday, a splash pad on Friday and she and Grandma had a girls night out to see Brave on Saturday. Clara helped Grandma make a pie for Grandpa’s birthday too.
On Monday, Robert and I drove to pick Clara up and stayed overnight. We had a belated birthday dinner for Grandpa at Cotton Patch and then came home to eat pie and play in the backyard. On our drive home, my low tire pressure light came on and I quickly exited the highway to check it out. I was hoping there would be a gas station to pull into, but no luck. I couldn’t even pull off the road because there was no shoulder and steep ditches on either side. I pulled onto a smaller road and I looked up and saw a yellow CHURCH sign, so I pulled into the small church parking lot.
I got out with my tire gauge and could hear air coming out of the tire as I approached it. I had run over a screw. Clara of course needed to use the restroom at that very moment and couldn’t hold it even for a minute, so we went inside. There were several cars in the parking lot, but there was no one around the front. I could hear someone praying in a back room, but I didn’t want to disturb them, so I herded Clara into the restroom, grabbed a pen with the church’s address at the front desk and headed back outside.
I wasn’t too far away from Chris’ work so I thought I’d see if he could come rescue his damsel in distress. No luck. He didn’t answer his phone. I ended up calling AAA. We’ve had it for 5 years and that was the first time we’ve used it. All in all, it could not have been a more pleasant experience. (Except for not having happened at all of course.) The rain had stopped, it was nice and overcast outside, the kids played on the church playground and after about 20 minutes, a nice man arrived, figured out how to unleash my spare from it’s holding spot underneath the car, and had us back on the road in no time. AAA rocks! I’m so thankful that I was able to get to a safe place before having a blow out and that the entire ordeal ended up being nothing more than an inconvenience.
The next couple of days were filled with Clara grandparent detox, tire fixing, and preparing for babysitting over the weekend. Oh, and lots of rain.
We kept Levi and Ellie on Friday and Saturday night. We hit the park Saturday morning, played with legos, cleaned up toys, watched a movie, made cookies, played some more, cleaned some more, took sandwiches to a different park for dinner, played on the playground, home for baths, accidentally broke a lightbulb in the lamp horsing around, and then up early and to church on Sunday. We handed them off to their grandma at church. Whew. Four kids was a lot of work.
And then on Monday afternoon, Bia and Myrt Myrt came for a visit. It was storming out so the kids climbed up in Bia’s lap for a movie.

   

The next day, Bia took us school clothes shopping and got the kids a few new outfits. I picked up Clara’s new school shoes too. We went back home for naps and then that night us girls headed downtown and went to see The Lion King.

Clara did not want to stand by this sign at first. She eventually relented. This is Rafiki the crazy baboon. In the musical, Rafiki is a girl. Ironically, she ended up being Clara’s favorite character. They didn’t allow photography inside the theater, so these are all I’ve got.

The show was a-mazing! I loved every minute of it. If you get a chance, you should definitely go see it. There was a little more potty humor than I prefer, but it’s that way in the movie too. I think there’s a little more in the musical though. All of the animals and the singing is just so beautiful. One by one the animals come on stage and each is more fantastic than the last.  It was overwhelming and it brought tears to my eyes. (This from someone who is not normally moved to tears by any art form.) Clara was in heaven. I can’t even imagine how grand it must have been through the eyes of a six year old.

This was the first theatrical performance both my mom and Myrt had been to and they were blown away as well. I don’t think they had any idea what to expect, but they’re hooked now. We’re already planning to see Wicked when they come next summer :)

Getting out of the parking garage was fun. We were on the roof, so we got to sit and wait for a very long time and then I took a wrong turn trying to get on the interstate. All told, it took an hour to get home from the time the show ended, so we got home around 11:30. And then the little one decided to wake at 4:00 for playtime. I went into his room about 4 times. Around 5:00,  I saw a light come on downstairs. I went down and he was playing in the playroom. So to keep him from waking anyone else, I turned on cartoons and dozed on the couch.

Don’t let that smile fool you.

This is more accurate.

The kids and I did absolutely nothing yesterday after they left. I finally pulled myself off the couch and took them to the splash pad this morning and then cleaned up the house this afternoon.

And now, I am caught up and can mark that off of my to-do list.

The Princess and the Pea

Clara and I enjoyed a girls only outing yesterday morning. We went to see a performance of The Princess and the Pea put on by Houston Grand Opera. It was part of a free children’s series, so it was the perfect length for kids at 45 minutes and it was free, which also equates to perfection in my book. Nugget came home from school with Clara again this weekend, so he got to tag along.

We got to meet a cow princess before the show……..

And then the real princess after the show. This was the only cast member she really cared to take a picture with, which was ok with me since we had to wait about 15 minutes to see her.
The production was very small with only five cast members that played multiple roles. There was a fight scene that included a dragon and ogre that were full size puppets. Those scenes were a lot of fun for the kids. And then the bass came out as one of the girls vying for the prince’s hand and that part was great. It was a fun little show and the best part was getting to spend a little one on one girl time with Clara.