Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Help a brotha out and win three cases of wine!

A friend from college broke out into the world of wine, transforming it into a unique business - create your own wine label - or He gained notoriety through various publications, including our alumni magazine by UT, the Alcade. He has recently expanded his wine business, partnering up with Dr. Wilferd to bring into the forefront as the #1 wine portal on the internet. To read more about the marriage of those two businesses, click here.

I share all of this with you because he has opened up a contest to anyone who wants to participate. Here is what he wrote about the contest:

You have the opportunity to say, I named that wine! Help and come up with brand names for the following wines and win 3 FREE cases! We're naming a Bien Nacido Pinot Noir, a Mendecino Sauv Blanc, Cabernet Sauv, and Syrah. Be creative. We're keeping this contest open for one week.

You can post qualified answers to Twitter @personalwine or visit the Facebook page to submit your answer/s. And be sure to tell him Martina sent you. :)

{click the photos to visit ^^above or - below}

**As for me, this is how I remember Alex. :)


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gorman Falls - AKA the death march

As a kid, we spent a lot of time hiking and camping and finding neat little out-of-the-way places that few others knew about, much less got to enjoy. Gorman Falls was one of those places. At the time when I was a kid it was privately owned and my recollection was one of a lot of fun. I hope I'm not confusing one experience with another, but I remember camping in the cabins, swimming with the catfish {I kid you not!} and just sitting under the falls, enjoying that amazing cascade of water over my head. It's since been bought out by a state park and due to the sensitive ecosystem, the falls have been roped off and I'm not sure about the catfish swimming.

On Labor Day, I thought we would essentially venture into the unknown and share one of my favorite childhood memories with my kids. I looked it up online to make sure it was open to the public, get directions and see how long the trek was - in other words, make sure it was not going to kill the kids walking there and back. The website said it was about a mile or so, so we packed up sandwiches, snacks, drinks and piled into the car to head out in the direction of Lampasas.

We had no clue how off the distance was.

We arrived around 11:45 a.m. & quickly adjusted our plans to include eating our lunch at the picnic table at the entrance to the trail instead of taking it with us to the picnic table by the falls.

~Good thing~

The temps were rising, the sun was out and the breeze was scant at best. Don't worry, this story gets better - before getting MUCH WORSE. I have this brilliant idea to take pictures, so we need to take my camera bag and Neil has the unsaid job of carrying Drew for that mile. We start off, and we're having a great time. Seriously! The kids are looking at all the rocks on the side of the path. Then the rocks make their way into the path. Then tree stumps mixed with rocks and gravel are the path. Then BOULDERS and slick rocks are the path! We walked what must have felt like two miles, the last 200 meters {according to the website, so who knows if *that* is even correct} were a 45 degree if not more decent to the falls.

The falls were gorgeous, but noticeably affected by the severe drought conditions. So, there was that initial feeling of 'oh no, we walked all that way and half the falls aren't even "working"!', but we peered over to the side and saw a family enjoying the water that came from the falls and spit out into the nearby river.

**Oh, did I mention we had run out of water by this point? Keep that in mind - it becomes a very interesting detail later. I promise. **

So, we decide to cool off in the water. We peeled off our socks and shoes and the kids waded through the water - the ICE COLD WONDERFUL HEAVEN SENT WATER. I put my wrists in the water to cool myself down and told the kids to put some cold water on their flushed cheeks. Drew took to that task like a fish in water. I didn't want to leave. I couldn't drink the water because Neil insisted he would not be going to the ER for dysentery. But, it was SO nice cooling off and after the scorching two mile hike in, I wasn't feeling like I could honestly make it. So, we stayed as long as possible before the ascent up the solid rock steps {rock climbing shoes might have been nice that day!} and back on the boulder/rock/tree/grasshopper trails.

And that's when the trouble set in. I was determined to just forage ahead and do my best.

Yeah. Not so much. At my worst, I had to stop and catch my breath every 20 yards or so. Paige was my cheerleader, never leaving my side when I lagged behind...repeatedly. She would grab my hand and say 'c'mon Momma - I'm not leaving you!!'. And finally, the lack of water got to me. The inevitable dizziness and spots in the eyes set in.** Neil decided to run back to the car {as much as you can run over rocks anyway} to grab some more water. Every piece of shade had my name written on it. I wasn't getting up unless I could actually see the next place I would stop. What felt like forever passed and Neil made it back and announced that that trail *had* to be easily two miles, if not more. He was drenched from sweat, brought back some hot water that we all shared - fun stuff - and we labored on through the 90+ degree heat back to the car.

We did eventually make it back to the car, but the entire trip took over four hours {not including driving time which was another 1:45 minutes} - there, back and enjoying our time by the water.

And so, I tell you this so you can appreciate the photos a little more than usual. :)

** I am thinking I am deficient in iron because I have always been plagued with these symptoms in the heat, regardless of how fit/unfit I am physically.

{me at Gorman Falls in the early 80s}
{the falls on Monday}
{getting ready to start our unknowingly long hike - Jonathan brought his water fan with him, which turned out to be a lifesaver!}
{Dad and Drew - before the heat set in}
{here I am already getting left behind, lol}
{the view before the descent - about halfway through the hike}
{down by the water-ahh, nice cold water!}
{I call this one - Footprints - can you guess whose feet these are?}
{behind the water stream is where the falls *would* be cascading}
{Ashley in action - I figure I'd better let her play with my camera or I might never get in any shots!}
{the view behind us as we were facing the falls}
{while I was dying, Ashley grabbed some nice Ansel Adams-esque type photos}

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Our visit with Goofy Daddy...err umm, Kevin and family

So, we are getting ever so close to the beginning of our trip. Tuesday evening we went to visit with Kevin, one of Neil's good buddies, and his family. They had just welcomed a baby boy to their family, so we brought dinner with us - rotisserie chickens {my chicken carving ROCKED!}, salad, cookies and they {over} boiled fresh corn - I don't judge, it was pretty good!

These three guys formed a band in college - I can't divulge the name. Well, I can but I have to ask how it's spelled and well...Neil is busy FB'ing and watching t.v. and get the idea. we are with a lot of pictures that need explaining. Let's get started, shall we?

{the trio - Larry, Curly and Moe AKA Neil, Chris and Kevin}
{I gotta be honest, I'm not sure what's going on here}
{uh oh...this one just looks like they got caught; either that or I got caught - quick - DUCK!!!}
{we copied the picture from last year of these two perty girls together}
{and a new guy joins the group this year - Mr. Emmett}
{Neil dares Kevin to do chin ups and even though Kevin's not entirely convinced he won't bring down the door jamb, he does it anyway and if memory serves me correctly, he does six? pull ups}
{Chris brought his guitar and Neil played a few notes}
{Miss Aria bein' ever-so cute}
{Paige says 'if this thing falls down ONE MORE TIME I'm outta here!'}
{Aria shows off her bracelet collection, including one we got her when she was an infant - she can still wear it!}
{and we're back to the guitar playing and miscellaneous kid and toys to decorate the photo}
{just to be clear, Drew is NOT playing with a tea set - are you convinced?}
{Kevin and Jonathan - Jonathan didn't want to stay and play with cousins - he wanted to visit Kevin............'s legos ::sigh::}
{and I'm pretty sure this song goes a little something like this: 'oh Lord, won't you please - get that camera outta my face!' Sorry Janis}

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Paige's first day of preschool!

{~first day of school smiles~}

Today, my Paige-y started preschool. Even though the oldest two are already in school, I still found myself in a mad dash this morning giving/taking last minute baths/showers, throwing a lunch together, realizing a water bottle was missing and trying to find a substitute that would actually fit in her lunch bag, waiting patiently for hair to dry so we could comb and put it up with a pretty clip, getting myself presentably dressed, Drew dressed, Paige dressed in her green shirt with the 'leaves', remembering her nap mat, emptying out her backpack from last year, taking out the old change of clothes and putting in new clothes, and vowing to make it to the grocery store to get the remaining supplies needed for her class.


But it all happened and we made it there right at 9 a.m. - thank goodness for coffee and resolve, lol.