Sunday, December 14, 2014

Houston Never Ceases to Amaze Me

I have driven up and down 45 hundreds of times, maybe thousands of times. I always see the very large building as I cross over I-10. I was told many years ago that it was some kind of hospital, maybe even a mental hospital. For some very odd reason I never went by to look at it until today and I found a rare hidden jewel at 2015 Thomas St. This is a must-see for anyone who loves old architecture. The building was built as a hospital for the Southern Pacific railway in 1910!!

According to the very little research I've done, and the tiny bit of information about it on the web, it seems that the Southern Pacific was called the Galveston Harrisburg and San Antonio RY Co. at the time. Unfortunately the only information I could really find is that it's thought to be haunted.

The building now belongs to the Harris Health System. It's called the Thomas Street Health Center and according to Wikipedia it "was the first freestanding HIV/AIDS clinic in the United States, and today treats nearly a third of all HIV/AIDS patients in Harris County."

Here is a view of the doorway.

Behind the building there is this really interesting boarded up building. It would be amazing if they could renovate it to use it. It kind of reminds me of shape of the Alamo building with that little curved front center.

I love it when I find new buildings like this. It just reminds me that I haven't seen all of Houston and that there's so much more to see in this amazing city of ours.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Vanguard and Magnet School Applications Round 3

Vanguard/Magnet application time Round 3 for me. On April 11, 2006 I wrote about Miranda being accepted into the Vanguard program at Oak Forest in Kindergarten. Then on April 1, 2012 I blogged about middle school. Now here we are almost three years later and we're applying to four different high schools.

Miranda's medal, 3rd Place UIL with Lanier Theatre Group

This past October I wrote about Seth and what an amazing year we're having in the 5th grade. We had a good 3rd grade but then in 4th grade his school went through a terrible ordeal Seth had a really tough year. He lost half of his teachers and he had a whole new administration. This year he had new teachers but it has been a completely different experience. He just made a 360 and I couldn't be happier.

His teachers, especially his science teacher have recommended that he apply for Vanguard. I'm not limiting him to just Vanguard. We're also applying to Magnet programs like STEM, a science/Montessori school and foreign languages. Miranda is applying at DeBakey for health professions, Carnegie Vanguard, Lamar and Bellaire IB. If she goes to Bellaire she wants to pursue her love of languages like German and Japanese and she can learn Russian.

It's amazing that I'm doing this for the third and final time with Miranda. This is it. Next we'll be applying for colleges. Wow! Just wow!

After this I will be a pro in the whole application process. I hope that parents come across my blog when they Google Vanguard in HISD or Magnet Schools and that I can offer up some advice or direction. I should write a blog on best tips and I can get input from other Vanguard/Magnet experienced parents. There's an idea for a future blog post.

For now, I need to finish Seth's applications. I still have one more document to upload. HISD has really impressed me with the online application process. It has made everything so much easier, especially when applying to multiple schools. New parents will never know the joy of paper applications and making copies of all the paperwork that us pioneers experienced.

Miranda's applications are done but she needs to take an admissions test for Debakey. Now we wait on decisions until Spring Break or shortly after.

Monday, November 10, 2014

My Life and My Proposal to Myself

My life is insane. It's crazy busy and I'm always going 100 miles an hour, especially during the week. That's why on the weekends that I don't have the kids I just want to sleep late and not do anything. Of course it doesn't always work out that way because inevitably things come up even on my kid-free weekends.

My kids and my dad keep me really busy. My daughter with her drama rehearsals and lacrosse. My dad with my repetitive trips to and from the little restaurant where he likes to hang out and everything else in between that I do. Even my son is going to get busy now with the school newspaper. And I like to do things for myself too.

I like to go to book readings and art shows when I can. Sometimes I drag the kids along with me. Then there's my career of course, especially now with the long commute that I have to and from Tomball. I'm home in the dark with no time to exercise like I should. I need to make accommodations for this new schedule so that I can exercise and take care of myself. I also need time for my writing, my blogging and my video project with my dad #dichoaday.

Mama with her Kids

I can't even imagine adding another person to the mix at this point in my life and having to worry about his needs. As harsh as it may sound, I'm so glad I don't have that added stress in my life and I don't know if I'll be ready for that any time soon. I'm so busy I don't have time to feel lonely or bored. I don't even know the meaning of the word bored. If anything I wish I had more time.

It's been three years since my divorce and it doesn't even feel like it's been that long. The time has gone by so fast and there's still so much I want to do. I want to be married to myself now. I want to do what makes me happy, despite all that I have to do taking care of everyone else.

That's why Gwendolyn Zepeda's poem "Proposal" resonates with me. I think that's what I'll do. I'm going to propose marriage to myself and I'm going to propose that I live the life I've always wanted doing the things that matter to me. Maybe I'll even buy myself a wedding dress and get myself a cake.

I love the last stanza of this poem. "I've finally captured the girl I deserve." I am ready to be my own bride.


I'm ready to be my own bride
and lie in my wedding dress in my own bed.
I'll lock the rest of the world outside.

It won't be you at my side.
It won't be Jesus, it won't be the sea.
I'm ready to be my own bride.

Once married, there's no need to hide
myself from my spouse, there's no need for shame.
I'll lock the rest of the world outside.

I gave myself a merry ride
but the chase is finally over.
I'm ready to be my own bride.
I used to feel lonely inside
but I figured out the cure for that.
I'll lock the rest of the world outside.

The day has come and I swell with pride.
I've finally captured the girl I deserve.
I'm ready to be my own bride.
I'll lock the rest of the world outside.

By Gwendolyn Zepeda from her book of poetry, "Falling in Love with Fellow Prisoners."
Reprinted with the author's permission.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Forgetful Father

My father is forgetting. It started a couple of years ago, gradually, but now it happens more times than I like.  

One day a couple of years ago we were at a funeral service for my great uncle. We saw a woman we knew and her son and daughter in law. We said hello to her and when we got in the car to drive to the repass my sister and I started talking about the woman and her family. My father told us he didn’t know that woman. We were surprised. We didn’t think it could be possible that my dad could forget this woman and her late husband.

“Daddy, don’t you remember Jesse’s sister married Ester’s brother?” we asked.

“No,” he answered.

“But Daddy surely you remember David and Gilbert,” we insisted.

“Kind of,” he answered.

“Do you remember David and Sandra?”
For some reason he did remember them, probably because Sandra was a good friend of our older sister for many years and he had seen them as recently as the baby showers for my kids 8 and 11 years earlier.

However no matter how many different ways we asked him if he remembered David’s parents he did not. He even became irritated by our questions until my sister signaled to me that we should stop asking.
The same thing continued to happen and I started noticing a pattern. My father was forgetting people he didn’t really like in the first place.  My sister and I marveled at this. How cool is that? To get old and forget people you never even liked. It takes out all the stress of not liking people now if you’re not even going to remember them later. Everyone I’ve told about it also think that it’s the best thing to look forward to in our old age.

Unfortunately there’s also a bad side to forgetting. He also forgets to take his medicine sometimes. It’s gotten to the point that I can’t leave him the pill box with the entire week’s worth of pills because he will take the wrong day, or take the night ones in the morning or he’ll take them twice. So now I only leave him the medicine he needs to take. If I’m home I can give him the medicine and watch him take it. If there isn’t any more medicine on the kitchen table he doesn’t take anything twice.
Sometimes he forgets that he has a key to the dead bolt and sits outside until I get home. He’ll insist that he came up to the door and the door was locked and he couldn’t open it. Or I get home and his key is in the door. Other times I’m at home and he comes home from his restaurant and sits outside because he’ll say that no one was home to open the door, even though he has a key, even if he didn’t knock on the door or ring the doorbell or even if my car is obviously parked in the driveway.

Those are the scary times. The times when I worry. When I worry that one day something will happen to him because he forgot to do something. Especially now that I’m working full time. I know that it’s time to either hire a care-giver to come to the house or he needs to go to an adult day care facility but he’s still independent-thinking enough to not agree with that arrangement. He doesn’t want someone else caring for him and he sees an adult day care as one step away from a nursing home. So I struggle. I struggle with making him happy and keeping him safe.
Then we have days and weeks where everything works out fine. There are no mistakes with his medication. He comes and goes freely without any problems or confusion with the door. And I fall into a comfort thinking everything is okay.

It used to be that he was forgetting everything recent but could still remember stories from long ago. Now it’s getting to where he’ll tell me a story he’s told me before but he changes something in the story. He told me a story about a man who lost both arms in an accident with a train and he said that years later his brother saw the man and that he also lost both legs. I ask how and he says he has no idea and that he never asked his brother. But I know that he did and I know that he told me this story a long time ago but now I can’t remember how the man lost his legs either.
I asked him one day if he found it sad that he couldn’t remember people and he says no because he doesn’t know that he doesn’t remember them. He just thinks he doesn’t know them. I ask him, “But what if I tell you that for sure you knew that person. Does it make you sad then that you don’t remember.”

“No,” he answers, “Because I don’t really believe you.”
I find that comforting somehow. To think that at least it doesn’t bother him and it doesn’t make him sad. I find it comforting to think that maybe that’s what happens when we get old. We just forget and we aren’t sad because we don’t think there’s anything to be sad about.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

It Gets Crisp in the Fall

Fall has begun in Houston and I couldn't be happier. Fall, Winter and Spring are my three favorite seasons in Houston because they all kind of merge together to make one big season that isn't Summer.

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.

 I totally agree. That's how I feel about Fall. It's a new beginning, with school and football season starting and all.  This fall there's a marked change in the air. One is my new job and my new beginning. I'm starting a brand new chapter in my life working for Houston Community Newspapers and the other is the change that has occurred with my son Seth this year.

So far this school year Seth has gone through such a change. It all started a few weeks before school started when he completed 4 weeks of math tutoring at Sylvan. I noticed a marked change in his concentration and on how seriously he took his studies. He was very concerned about completing a math summer school class before going back to 5th grade. I'm so glad I made the investment in Sylvan. I don't know if it was what they taught him or just an all over change in his attitude or both but he started 5th grade with a completely different attitude.

You all probably remember all my posts about the challenges that I have been through with Seth. Last school year things took a turn for the worse and it was so bad I didn't even blog about it. Seth's school was one of the schools being investigated for cheating on the STAAR test. He lost 2 of his 3 teachers last year and had a tumultuous year. He also found out at the end of the school year that he was losing his new principal who had just completed her first year there.

This year he started 5th grade with a new principal and 3 new teachers. When I attended his Open House I could see right away that these teachers got him and his sense of humor. I think that they genuinely like him and enjoy teaching him and Seth feels that. So it's a wonderful and rare combination of Seth going to school with a better attitude and having great teachers. I feel like I've won the teacher lotto this year.

He brought home the science homework above and I was all "What?" Then he brought home his progress report and I almost fell out. He had all 90s/As and a 100 in Language Arts. I felt so much joy and he was so proud of himself. I loved how happy he was. It made me happier.

So far so good! It's been a good Fall. I started my new job 2 weeks ago and it's been a good start. I can't wait to really start selling and making a bonus. That's when I will feel like I'm really doing a good job and truly working.  On to a better Fall and starting over and finding Seth a great middle school.