Texas Mini-Retreat

I’m back! I recently went on a mini-retreat weekend to Denton, TX as part of a CHASA moms retreat. CHASA stands for Childhood Hemiplagia and Stroke Association, and Wyatt is a right side hemi with CP – meaning he has cerebral palsy and his right side is affected. Our whole retreat was for moms with children just like Wyatt, to get away for some rest and to make connections and share stories with women who are in our situation. Who truly get our children, because they have children of their own whose challenges are the same challenges. All of our kids are different of course, different symptoms and severity and stories, but essentially, we can all speak the lingo and talk the talk and laugh and share the tears. Which we did.

This was my first weekend away from Wyatt since he has been born, and it took so much for me to get on that plane. It helped that my stepsister was going as well – she is also mother to boy with CP hemi. My guys left me at the airport and Wyatt was sobbing. It was heartwrenching but I did it. I want to raise Wyatt that despite being nervous and afraid, we do the things. And that starts with me. So I boarded the plane and headed off to Dallas!

Our hotel, The Embassy Suites in Denton, was insanely awesome. It was huge (Katherine and I kept telling each other that everything is bigger in Texas!), with beautiful pools, a green lawn, a giant wall of plants – it was also practically brand new. They also practice green housekeeping and are very environmentally friendly – paper straws! (I was also happy to read that Delta offset our carbon footprint by donating to the nature conservancy for our flight!)

My pasty white self was a little intimidated by that Texas is hot sticker! Lol. I survived though. Our room was super cute and perfect for the two of us. Katherine is a night owl and I am an early bird, so it gave us somewhere to hang while the other was sleeping if we didn’t want to be out of the room.

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Plus, there was a complimentary happy hour from 5:30-7:30 every night…

We got there on Thursday and had a meet and greet with the other moms late that afternoon, followed by dinner wherever we wanted. They had sign up sheets for different restaurants and we opted to stay in and eat at the hotel restaurant with a group of women that night. It was a nice way to start the trip and relax after a big day of travelling.

Friday morning we had a workshop on cultivating creativity, pleasure and play delivered by the wonderful Keri Riggs. I greatly enjoyed her talk about self-care and the importance of it, and learned a great deal. I brought home a lot of self-awareness about what I need, how to get it, and also how to help Billy take care of himself too. Can’t forget my guy needs it too! Plus, I got a new journal (love!) Our workshop was followed by a luncheon where we chatted with the ladies at our table. It was a nice morning.

The rest of the day was ours to play with. Keri had told us to really think about how we recharge – and as an introvert I recharge by lots of alone time. Katherine is an introvert as well, and we split up for the afternoon. She basked in the sun by the pool while I read and wrote in the room. It was lovely. Later we met back up for happy hour at the hotel bar, went to dinner, and on a ghost tour of Denton! I love a ghost tour. I’ve been on them in Gettysburg, New Orleans, Savannah,  and Key West, and Katherine was awesome enough to join me on one in Texas. It was the perfect night! Texas was having a “cold front” while we were there and I was very grateful. There was a breeze stirring about Denton Square, it was a cooler evening, live music was playing, the trees all had little lights, and all over people were enjoying the night, sprawled across the courthouse lawn enjoying the weather and community.  Shelley Tucker did a great job on her ghost tour- I learned so much Denton history – and to be wary of ghosts around the town!

We went home and crashed out! Well, I did at least. Lol. The next morning I got up early and had breakfast at the enormous breakfast buffet, which was delicious, and then Katherine and I met back up to go shopping!  We headed back to Denton Square, where it was much hotter than the night before! We sat in the shade of the courthouse, listening to a little folk band play, just talking and sharing, before hitting the shops! I picked up souvenirs for the guys, and I had promised my mom and dad both that I would buy something for myself…so I did. And I absolutely love it! It is the perfect memento for my trip, and for my office.

I love it love it love it! I can’t wait to hang it up!

We did a little more shopping, had lunch at this great place called the Lion and Crown, and ended our morning with Katherine getting her own perfect memento, a tattoo to represent where she is in her life.

We didn’t leave the square though until we went to the place I had been wanting to go for months – Gnome Cone! There are two locations in Texas, and one had just opened in Denton! I was so excited!! Lol. I opted for the Troll’s Blood flavor – it must be a little known fact that it tastes like pina colada…

We went back to the hotel after, and met up with the group for happy hour and dinner at an amazing Italian restaurant, Luigis. It was a very special night out, with lots of sharing and laughing. I made some new friends, new connections, and learned a lot on my trip, and even got some rest and relaxation in there! The bonus was getting to know my stepsister a whole lot better – I really loved that.

And of course, gnome cone.

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz

My week last week was so different and out of routine for me – I went to Texas! I was away from my family for the first time in four years, and I have to admit, it was tough at times. I missed my guys so darn much. I did have fun though so all the missing them was worth it. I hope to share my adventures with y’all this week! And as I am writing this Saturday, I am still in Texas – I land tomorrow afternoon and I am excited to see my kiddo and husband. And to watch the end of the Tour de France with them too!

I read less than I had anticipated last week! In my downtime on my trip I actually tried to catch up here, with commenting and even wrote a post. I also did a little planning – I never get enough time as I want to mess about here, so it was fun for me to get to do that.  I did finish one book and start a new one. So I apologize, the books are not different from last week!

Read Last Week:

Reading this Week:

 Nine Coaches Waiting: The twisty, unputdownable romantic suspense classic by [Stewart, Mary]

I’m hoping to finish at least one of these before the end of the month! I need to catch up on my Paris in July posts!

Posted Last Week:

What Wyatt’s Reading – July

To Boldly Go..

Book Review – Cherokee Summer

What about you guys? What is going on in your neighborhood?

What Wyatt’s Reading: July

What

We have been reading up a storm this summer! I missed May and June, and I don’t want to list every book that we have read together, that would be overload, so I am just going to share a few of our favorites from July, as well as the few we read together as part of Paris in July. I got the kiddo in on the action! Lol.

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First up, our Paris/France reads!

Kitty Kat Kitty Kat Where Have you Been was such a fun look at all the places to visit in Paris – and even included a page on the Tour de France! That was a fun one to read together, since Wyatt knows that we are watching the Tour since it is on everyday for a while. Lol.

The Cat Who Walked Across France – This book was so good, but it was also so sad! 😦 I did love the ending though.

Babar’s Guide to Paris – Another “travel guide” for kids to Paris, but this one beloved character Babar and family introduced not just to places, but the lifestyle and culture – of course, in a kid friendly way. I loved it.

And finally, Madeline. What can I say about this classic that I read when I was a child? Just such a great little book.

And now for our favorites so far for July!

We read Imogene’s Antlers and Deer Dancer the same day that we made Wyatt’s own antler crown. They were both fantastic stories and Wyatt loved having his own antlers after seeing the book character’s antlers. Lol. Wyatt absolutely love Little Blue Truck – I read it so many times to him. We are going to have to read the rest! We also read Summertime in the Big Woods, which was a bit long for him so we read it in chunks at lunch time. I loved this one because Little House was my favorite book series as a kid, and I like introducing it this way to Wyatt before we get into the big chapter books. Wait Till the Moon is Full is another long one, but Wyatt didn’t seem to mind as much, but he loves the moon and night sky. And then finally The Things that I Love About Trees was another good one as we spend a lot of time lately under our own tree.

Any recommendations or favorite picture books? I love to find new ones!

To Boldly Go..

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Saturday was the 50th anniversary of when Neil Armstrong took those first fateful steps onto the surface of the moon. And in true me fashion, I wanted to make a little celebration of it.

We didn’t do anything too big, just mostly celebratory food – astronaut ice cream, Oreo Moon cookies, that had little space pictures imprinted on them, and for Billy and I, Blue Moon beer. I also found some free printables from Fiddlesticks Home, and I love the one about footprints on the moon. We had fish sticks and macaroni for dinner, I thought it kind of brought back the era of tv dinners and was kitschy. We ate and watched a replay of the big event on television, and frankly, 50 years later, it still inspires awe, if not even more so. I think watching it now, with the technology that we have at our fingertips everyday, compared to the technology they had back then when they were sending people to the MOON, is crazy. There is more tech in my phone now, I am pretty sure. I can’t even imagine what that felt like, to stand there, and look back on earth. It actually freaks me out a little!!!

Then Sunday, in keeping with the theme of space exploration, we went to the Star Trek Exhibit at Henry Ford Museum. I have been wanting and wanting to go, and it seemed like a great time. It was jam packed but I loved it! I want to go again in the morning some time so I can see more of it, but it was still pretty awesome!!!

It kicked off with a real astronaut spacesuit from one of the earliest missions.

And then costumes from the shows! I took pictures from my fave Star Trek, Next Generation, but they had costumes from all of them, including the original. It was super cool.

My husband and child were turned into borgs! We also saw a Jeffries Tube that Wyatt and his cousin played inside of. And the props were also super cool – they had a “real” original Tribble, an alien parasite from one of the episodes that looked like some plastic thing you’d get as a prize at a carnival, the actual replicas of the ships, and then fan flotsam and jetsam, like a program from a Klingon Hamlet! It was really super cool to see.

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I of course had to get Wyatt a few souvenirs while I was there…

It was a great weekend, full of space, truth and fiction.

Live long and prosper!

Book Review: Cherokee Summer

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Goodreads Summary:

When Ace leaves home to spend the summer in Cherokee, North Carolina the last thing she expects to find is a boyfriend—until she meets Cherokee Tribe member John Spears. As Ace and John’s friendship blossoms, they find their life experiences mirror each other and they fall in love. Despite hurdles thrown by well-meaning family members and jealous frenemies, the star-crossed lovers remain committed to their mutual belief that the universe has drawn them together. However, when Ace sends John a strange text and then suddenly disappears, the two must rely on their trust in each other to save both their lives and their love.

My thoughts:

I requested this book from NetGalley because I was in the mood for some YA and summer was in the title. Pretty simple stuff – but the story I got was anything but. I thought it was going to be a quick little fluff read, but this book dealt with some heavy, important themes that affect today’s teenagers. Alcoholic parents, racism, autism, abandonment, divorce, mental illness, personal safety, teenage sexuality. I wasn’t expecting the depth of the story that I got, but I loved it.

Taken apart, you might think it tried to cover too much, but Antony handled it all brilliantly and with great balance, sensitivity, and mindfulness.  The main character, Ace (love that name for her!), is mature far beyond her years. Her dad has checked out of the family, and is there but not really there. Her mother is an alcoholic, a family secret. Her younger brother has autism. And Ace is the glue to hold them all together, forgetting about her own needs, to tend to her family. Until this summer, when her father relocates them to the casino at Cherokee, North Carolina for the summer, and Ace meets John, a member of the Cherokee tribe, and another teen with more on his plate than he should have, and they find themselves drawn together as if they were meant to be. These kids are dealing with issues they should never have to, and are doing it well, and try to carve out something for them as well. However, things start to fall apart and unravel, and things come to a head when Ace disappears suddenly.

I really enjoyed this read, and read not just the responsibility that these characters bore, but also their fear, their desperation to have a typical life, even guilt over wanting to have something for them. I was really rooting for these two!! This book was fantastic, and I highly recommend it!

 

Thank you to NetGalley for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review!

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz

This past week was a flurry of activity! I am leaving this week for Texas, while my two guys are staying at home. I am anxious and excited all at the same time! I am trying to get everything ready for them before I go too, so I am super busy getting my own stuff together, cleaning everything, planning everything – so much to do!! We also had a few days of excessive heat, which didn’t help with running errands, but oh well – I still have a few more days before I take off!

Read Last Week:

I holed up for a few days with Wyatt, reading a bunch of books to him, but I haven’t gotten much reading of my own done. I did start a book by Mary Stewart, who I love, and I am enjoying it. I hope to finish it by Thursday as I am just packing my Kindle! If not,  I will just buy the Kindle version I guess though..lol.

Loaded on my Kindle to read:

The whole purpose of this trip is a mom’s retreat, with lots of free time, so hopefully I get lots of reading in!

 Nine Coaches Waiting: The twisty, unputdownable romantic suspense classic by [Stewart, Mary]

Wildfire at Midnight: The classic thriller you will not be able to put down by [Stewart, Mary]

Have I mentioned that Mary Stewart is a comfort read author for me? Lol.

Watching:

The Tour de France. It’s pretty much all we watch for 21 days in July.

Posted Last Week:

Paris in July: The Tour de France

How about you guys? What is happening in your neighborhood?

Paris in July: The Tour de France

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I had intended to post much earlier, but, better late than never!

My husband and I are huge fans of the Tour de France. He started watching much longer ago than I did; I just started watching in 2014 and get excited for July knowing that July means the Tour! I do not have a team allegiance, but generally I am rooting for Astana or Movistar. This year, I am #teammovistar! I had high hopes for Mikel Landa this tour but an unfortunate fall in Stage 10 put him far behind; I am not sure it is in the cards for him this year, and besides, I think his team was pushing Quintana anyway.

I am a person who makes mini-celebrations of many things, and the first day of the Tour is one of them. The morning of Stage 1, we got up early to get breakfast from a new cafe that opened near us, called Provence, which is French inspired. We picked up quite a few delicious bits to enjoy together as we tuned in, and we were not disappointed!

 Wyatt loved the corn cookie, which seemed like it was a sugar cookie and cornbread combined. It was really good! We also had a raspberry breakfast cake, a scone with lime and spruce tips, and a chive cheescake! It was the proper kick off to the Tour!

 

It really feels like so far, this race has been wide open, without the presence of Chris Froome looming over the race. He is such a skilled and fantastic rider, and I think every year the riders start out knowing he is the man to beat. This year, though, things are different. There were many different theories on who had the best chance to take the yellow jersey and win it all, with the number one being Geraint Thomas. Like I said though, I’m backing Movistar this year. My husband is a big Froome and Team Ineos (formerly Skye) fan though, and found himself without a dog in the fight. Over the weeks so far, he has begun rooting for Julian Alaphilippe, a French rider for Deceuninck- Quick Step who is the present overall leader for the Yellow Jersey. Billy also is a fan of Peter Sagan’s, a sprinter who knows how to find his way through the group in those mad dashes to the finish line!

So far, this race has been pretty solid, with some amazing breakaways that resulted in stage wins, including the recent stage win by Caleb Ewan, who actually had a crash during the race and still managed with the help of his team to win the stage! The smallest guy in the Peloton kicked it up into high gear, after finally finding a team that believed in him. Stage 10 was a bummer for some big contenders, including Mikel Landa, as it was a tough stage with the crosswinds, and many riders lost precious time. And unfortunately, riders have had to leave the race due to injuries, as some of these crashes are bad news. They travel at such high speeds on their bikes, along narrow, winding roads, filled with people on the sidelines cheering them on, not to mention the sheer number of other riders in the peloton. I tell people all the time that don’t watch that cycling the Tour is a dangerous race, one that is very tough on the riders from the sheer amount of racing they do day in and out, 5-6 hours a day, up mountains, racing racing racing. It is definitely not a race for the weak of heart.

Some quick little facts for you:

The race was started in 1903 by a cyclist and reporter, whose newspaper sponsored the race in order to encourage more readership. The paper, L’Auto, was printed on yellow paper, which is why there is a yellow jersey.

The race is 23 days, 21 Stages, and 2,200 miles long, through all sorts of terrain, including the Alps and the Pyrenees.

The Yellow Jersey, or Maillot Jaune, is worn by the leader of the race, determined by the fastest combined times overall, not by who wins the stage, which confused me at first. Being a stage winner is still a huge honor and accomplishment however! As of now, the Yellow Jersey rider is Alaphilippe.

The Green Jersey is worn by the rider who is the leading sprinter. This year that is Peter Sagan so far.

The White Jersey rider is the best young rider. This year’s best young rider so far is Enrich Mas.

The polka dot jersey is the jersey is the jersey worn by the best climber through those mountains, called the King of the Mountain. The current King is Tim Wellens.

  Peloton is the name for the big giant group of riders, the pack. There are usually breakaway groups in front and stragglers, but the peloton is the pack of the majority.

I’ve added a few books to my reading list – there are so many about the Tour!

I really want to read Lanterne Rouge, which is the name given to the last place rider overall. I like that they have their own designation – and it’s a poetic sounding one at that.

For someone who never watches sports on television, ever, I am a huge fan of the Tour! I recommend giving it a try! We have big plans to actually go see a Stage or two of the tour in about five years, when Wyatt is older. I would love to stand along one of those old roads in the French countryside, cheering the riders along.