Monday, December 21, 2009

Mr. Tom's Nativity

I prepared an “optional” game for the kids that came to our really fun preschool teacher’s Christmas party last night. It was entitled “FIND THE NATIVITY SCENES” and the object of the game was to wander through the house and write down all the Nativity Scenes that you see. Because, you see, as I was decorating for Christmas I suddenly realized that there were at least 17 different Nativity Scenes of some sort around the house. Simple enough. Or so I thought.
Here is one.

And another one.

And another.

But here is one that my friend, Mr. Tom thought he found.

Don’t you think that is stretching it a little? He thought i was trying to sneak one by him...right there between the muscadine jelly and the Christmas cactus. Honestly, Mr. Tom. Maybe he had just read my story about Baby Jesus in a Walnut Shell, and was going for Baby Jesus in an Acorn.

The Gift

Grief is powerful.

Ten years ago in early December, my Dad went Home. I remember that first Christmas, how I was ambushed by waves of grief when I least expected it. Like one day in Dillards, when O HOLY NIGHT, Dad’s favorite Christmas song, came over the loudspeaker, and I had no where to turn from the raw and painful emotions. I hid in the clothes rack for a while, then just finally handed the sales clerk my purchase with tears streaming down my face, and no explanation on my lips.

Or like when we went to see Mom, and I would go in Dad’s closet when no one was looking, so I could hold his clothes up to my face and breathe in that wonderful, sweet, rugged Dad aroma. Dad smelled so good. So familiar. I could just stand there and breathe deeply and actually still smell him. Something so tangible I could hold on I could remember him.

You never knew when it would just come over you from nowhere. A song, a smell, a child’s laugh, anything precious could trigger it without warning. Yet as time began to heal the painfulness of absence, it happened less. Mom eventually cleaned out Dad’s closet. Time passed. Things changed.

But back to the gift.

Duane brought it home from work this week. A navy blue Mr. Rogers sweater of Dad’s. Mom gave it to Duane during the closet cleaning era, and Duane kept it at his office in case he ever needed to warm up at work. He said he didn’t’ know what to do with it so he brought it home -- had rarely worn it and needed the closet space now. I held the folded sweater up to my face. Inhaled. Remembered . After ten years, surprisingly, still smelled like Dad.

You never realize the things you will miss the most -- their smell, their voice, their handwriting…. The things that you can no longer have once they cross over.

But this Christmas, I received a gift.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Baby Jesus in a Walnut Shell

My daughter, Kari, called this week with this question:
“Mom, would you be upset if I used “Baby Jesus in a Walnut Shell” as a White Elephant gift?

Sigh. I remember the very night she made Baby Jesus in a Walnut Shell. She was four. It was at Joys of Christmas, a wonderful child focused Christmas celebration at the little church we went to. My best friend and I were preschool and children’s ministers and Joys was our solution to beginning the Christmas season focused on the biblical celebration of His birth. It was an evening of untold wonder, capped by the Hanging of the Green worship service where the focus continued on the children, who with their families participated fully in the evening worship, and decorated the church for Christmas.

“I guess not, sweetie. But…do you really want to…I remember the very night you made it.”

“Exactly. You remember it. I don’t. And don’t you still have another one?”

Yes. I just hot glued the other Baby Jesus in a walnut shell’s bonnet back on last night.”

“Mom! That’s the point. Baby Jesus didn’t have a bonnet.”

Sigh. “Whatever. It’s yours.”

The next day I got this text: Titus found Baby Walnut Jesus and would like to hang him on his tree in his room. (Titus is three) Thought that would make you smile.

Then thirty minutes later, this text: Now he is hanging walnut Jesus on Elli’s pigtails. o.k. walnut is a keeper.

Hope your Christmas is a keeper, and likewise makes you smile.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Things that make me Happy - Part 4

Snow. In Texas.
December 4, 2009

Favorite parts of the day:
1. Picking jalapenos in the snow.
2. Sitting on patio with a bowl of chili, watching it come down.
3. Seeing a car full of teenagers stop in front of the house, hearing all this commotion in the front yard, going outside to see what they were doing, and finding:

I could hardly wipe the smile off my face all day long.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Saying Good-bye

Took my eighty-two year old mom to say good bye to her best friend of fifty years. We were hoping they could sit in the porch swing with a cup of coffee like they used to, chatting and laughing, patting each others hands, and wrapping up any loose ends or words that needed to be said. But Miss Dorothy quickly and suddenly grew worse, and when we got there she was unresponsive, no longer able to sit, or speak, or stay awake for very long…or maybe even recognize those gathered around her.

My Mom is a remarkable woman. She believes that dying is just another chapter of living, and that it will be o.k., and it is good. So, she still gathered her best friend up in her heart and forged through their good bye single-handedly. Mom sat on the bed and kissed her forehead, told her she loved her so very much, asked her to squeeze her hand if she knew who she was. Miss Dorothy never took her eyes off of mom, and squeezed her hand.

Miss Dorothy’s family moved across the street from our family in 1959. She and Mom became fast friends, as we tend to do with those who we grow up through life with. They had coffee breaks twice a day – at 10 and 3. At ten, to give them some get up and go for the house cleaning chores lying before them, and at three, to shore them up for the afternoon ….before the school bus delivered us kids back home again. So sitting on the bed by her best friend, Mom told stories about those early marriage days, the kids shenanigans, and how in the world they survived it all! The day Miss Dorothy’s son slammed his finger in the door and severed it, and Mom picked it up, wrapped it in a paper towel and took him to the doctor to have it sewn back on because Miss Dorothy didn’t have a car. The day Miss Dorothy’s skinny little two –year old daughter climbed up on the kitchen table and ate 7 bananas, and by the time they discovered her, her little belly was pooching out so unimaginably bloated! The day Miss Dorothy’s oldest daughter, my brother, and I decided to dig a swimming pool in our backyard and my brother got hit in the head with the shovel and had to go get stitches. Mom chatted and laughed, and patted Miss Dorothy’s hand.

Mom and Miss Dorothy have been friends for fifty years, yet thirty-nine of those years, their friendship was long distance. Miss Dorothy still lives in the same little house, but my Dad got transferred to Dallas, then to Memphis, then retired to Paris. Yet they remained best friends.

Mom bent down and whispered in her friends ear, “ You are my forever friend. You know that, don’t you?” Then she said out loud, “Dorothy, can I pray for you?” Dorothy nodded her head- it was a very definite response. My Mom thanked the Lord for her friend, and their long and good friendship. She committed her to heaven, asked the Lord to walk her home. Then instead of saying goodbye, she said, “Wait for me at the eastern gate. I’ll be there soon. You’re just going to beat me home.”

She told Miss Dorothy that she didn’t want to wear her out, and she looked tired. Mom knew that hospice had just given her some pain medication that was making her sleepy. Mom told her that we’d go get a bite to eat, and come back to see her again before we had to leave town. So we did.

When we returned after about an hour-and-a half, Mom asked if Dorothy was asleep. Her daughter said that she hadn’t shut her eyes since we left. I believe that she fought through the medicine to be able to see Mom one last time. So we left them alone this time, to wrap up any loose ends and say whatever words were left to be said.

It wasn’t at all the way we hoped it would be. But when you have a best friend for fifty years, you do whatever you have to do to send her on her way in peace. Dying is afterall, just another part of living. And it will be o.k. And it is good.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

A Texas-sized Rooster

My dear husband jumped in whole-heartedly to "Trunk or Treat", our church's newly revised fall festival. In its simplest form, the point is to decorate your car's trunk, and sit beside it in the church parking lot passing out candy as kids walk by. So here ya go ---

Life is fun!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Things that make me Happy - Part 3

Widow's Tears (Achimenes)

These flowers leave me speechless. They date back to the early 1900’s, and belonged to my great grandmother, Ida Mae Gulley. My mom, who is 82, remembers them in flower pots and some in hanging baskets on the big long front porch (and the screened in back porch) of the old white farmhouse where she was raised in southeast Oklahoma. When my grandmother, Jodie Elizabeth Ingram, went to be with Jesus in 1968, and my parents were cleaning out the old house to sell it, my Dad found one dried up old flower pot stuck behind a door like a door stop, in the dining room. Dad, a horticulture major at Oklahoma A & M (now OSU) thought he knew what they were, and decided to take them home and give it a try…


Every spring and summer they bloom profusely. Every winter they die back and spend the cold weather months reproducing in the garage. So every spring, we have to re-pot them, and there are more and more baskets to give away. My family has probably given away hundreds of baskets of Widows Tears to friends throughout the years.

These flowers are a part of our lives now. When our kids were each about seven months old, I dressed them up in the same little yellow Feltman Brothers bubble, and took a picture of them in the same little children's rocking chair at my parents house, with the same big pot of widows tears growing in the background. One Christmas my sweet husband went to a lot of creative trouble, found the photos, and had them framed together for the best present ever.

My friend, Marjorie, said she remembers these growing wild in her native Jamaica, so I gave her a hanging basket last year. No one else I know has ever seen them.

My widow’s tears never look as good as Dad’s did, being that he not only had a green thumb, but a green arm as well. But this was the best year ever for them. Aren’t they amazing?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Things that make me Happy - Part 1

I have decided to write a new blog series entitled "Things that make me Happy!" Feel free to look for subsequent posts in the coming days.

My Mom loving Titus.
Eighty years difference, but mysteriously bound by mind-boggling love...

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A Virtual Blogging Disaster

I admit it. I am a virtual blogging disaster. I blog, oh, maybe once a month....maybe. I really don't want to waste your time reading if i don't really have something blogworthy to say or reveal or comment about. So perhaps that explains why i don't blog except maybe once a month. Life can be so status quo around Houston.

So i won't bore you with how busy life has been since August. But i WILL eventually upload pics of our mid-September party, where all the kids and grandkids and my little mama converged at my house in Houston for a few Mom could meet Elli for the first time and i could use the occasion as an excuse to get everyone together... Eventually, i said. I really will. Maybe soon.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dr. Nick

This is my son-in-law.
Isn't he distinguished?
He is a doctor.
Today is his 30th birthday.
Happy birthday, Dr. Nick!

Friday, August 21, 2009

A little poetry is good for the soul

This is one of my mom's favorite poems. I had it read at our wedding. Just wanted to refresh myself on it's simplicity and becomes more clear as we continue our journey.

"This loving you is, then, of all things, earthly.
You are a part of everything i know-
of color, and of laughter,
and of seasons,
of sea and star,
and of the winds that blow."
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Miss Elli

Do you see a trend?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Word Verification

Many of us have Word Verification activated on our blogs, to prevent something… I don’t know what, but it seems like a reasonable thing to activate in order to protect your blog from unimaginable who knows what. However, when I was commenting on a friend’s blog tonight, my word verification was “KWOOPY”.

Now I wasn’t an English major, but really now – is KWOOPY a word? If so, then use it in a sentence. My kid has a kwoopy little cough? How can you verify a word that isn’t a word?

So then for fun, I pretended like I was commenting on other blogs, so I could check out my theory that word verification is a total farce. BINGO! My next five words, no kidding, were

Bathesce – the essence of a warm, soothing bath?
Ponpadoo – gotta be a 1950’s style hair do
Pediti – sounds like an itty bitty foot
Qaucke – can you even have a q not followed by a u?
Aazoti – maybe a new type of pasta?

My conclusion? Word verification is a left wing conspiracy to usurp the fundamentals of English. There can be no other valid assumption.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Today is a two-fer. It is Father's Day. And it is also my grandbaby's first birthday. So a short word about both, for the record.

1. Father's Day:
I love my husband. He's mostly pretty much a mess, but he keeps our lives interesting. I know he completes me, because we are so totally opposite in about every way imagineable. But despite the ways the Lord uses him to build character in me, he is loving and generous and funny (sometimes) and adventuresome. He is even getting better at bringing me flowers - just because! He's a good dad, and an even better grandfather (or Baba, as Titus would call him.) Here's to you, hon. Happy Father's Day!

I miss my Dad. There was something almost magical about his blue eyes, they always seemed to twinkle with life...even to the end. His life was marked by unconditional love and patience that was beyond measure. His Father's Days were marked by lunch at El Chico every year, because WE loved Mexican food. (He didn't.) One of his favorite sayings was, "the joy is in the journey!" and he and mom lived it out. He finished well. Here's to you, Dad. Happy Father's Day! You simply beat us home.

2. Elli:
And now, Miss Elli! Happy birthday! It has been one interesting year for us because of you! You have stolen our hearts, and you grace our lives in ways even yet to be discovered. So here's to you, as well, little one. The joy, indeed, is in the journey.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Me and the Guys

Didn't want to change my profile photo, but wanted to share a pic of me and my guys.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Home Is Where the Mother Is

I went to see my little mom last week. She’s 81 years old, about five feet tall, and pretty spunky, just the same. I love her stories. I love it how she can remember what Jeffrey used to do when he was five and I can’t (life was such a fog when the kids were small and our goal was simply to get them all in bed at night.) I love it that she still keeps up with our next door neighbor in Shreveport, Louisiana even though we moved away 38 years ago. I love that she cherishes certain day lilies growing in her garden because someone special gave them to her. I love that every now and then she gives me a call and says, “I just had a yen to talk to you!” I love that when she saw her first great grandchild and was asked how it felt, she simply summed it up in one word – continuance. I love that when we moved her out of her house a few years back, she could tell a story about every quilt she had and every knick knack on her shelf, and basically knew who had given her what and why and when. I love it that she can remember things like that, because I can’t remember anything. But more than that, it professes to me the value she places in relationships. She paid attention along the way, and remembered the things that were important. The relationships.

My parents moved around some after Duane and I married, so when someone asked me where “home” was, I always just said wherever they were living at the time – Dallas, Memphis, Paris. Because really, home wasn’t a certain city, home was simply where they were.

And still today, I believe with all my heart that “home is where the mother is.”
Mom’s were a great idea. Thanks, God!

And I love you, Mom!

caption: mom and sweet peas
a sweet pea of a mom

Monday, May 04, 2009

In Lieu of the Flu

With everyone around Houston so preoccupied with the Swine Flu, and waiting for the next shoe to fall or school to close, I thought I would post something to help take our minds off of things.

The Doneraki man.

The Doneraki man is a north Houston icon. Everyone in the Champions area of Houston knows him. He stands on a busy street corner (FM1960 @ Champion Forest Drive) in a sandwich sign everyday (for at least the last ten years,) waving his arms at the traffic and promoting Doneraki’s Mexican food restaurant a half block away. The Doneraki man, we have decided, is the younger brother who can’t cook.

The Doneraki man started out with his sandwich sign and a sombereo. Rain or Shine, Hot or Cold (in Houston, Hot or less hot) there he stands. He is so famous, we sometimes talk about him at lunch.

One day I drove by and heard a sound like a loud fart and discovered he had added a bugle to his advertising mania. Remember how 6th grade trumpet lessons sounded? Like that.

Recently I noticed he was getting even more creative. He has left the bugle and replaced it with toilet paper rolls, one in each hand, stuffed with long, white cloth napkins that stick out of each end, which he waves at people as they pass by.

Why does he wave? Why does he stand there in the sweltering heat? How much does he get paid? Why did he leave his post one day while I was watching and go bum a cigarette from a lady across the street waiting at a bus stop? These are all questions I would respectfully like to ask him someday.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Famous Quotes

My friend, Jules, and I have a habit of recording “famous quotes” when we are together attending a children’s ministry conference, staff meeting, etc. Sometimes they are profound, sometimes they don’t make sense at all, sometimes they are just pretty darned funny. So here’s a few for your reading enjoyment:

“You’re so big and sweet!” Miss Pattycake

“I want to give you 2 ‘F’ words….” An unnamed Minister of Education in a large southern Baptist Church in Georgia, speaking at a Children’s Pastors Conference. (We never heard the 2 words, b/c we were so stunned by the quote we were kicking each other under the table to keep from laughing. Though I think one of the “f” words might have been “focus”.)

“Dedicated and medicated” Gigi, in describing children’s ministers without true balance in their lives

“In two days, tomorrow will be yesterday.” Crabby Bill

“Aaarggghhh…" Cap’t Jim the pirate.

“Did you know one billion oh ninety-five million people live in India? Good God, that’s a lot of people!” Said with a really bad southern accent by an unnamed museum visitor reading the signs at a museum exhibit on India (quote shared by our friend, Marty, but laughed at by all of us)

“I will be a fly on your wall.” Another unnamed Minister of Education stating he will be involved in the lives of his staff

“Jesus came to fill His Presence in the storms of our life.” Anonymous (I’m not willing to expose this person because she is Jules favorite person to stalk at conferences and holds the respect of a lot of children’s ministers across the country.) And yes, i know the quote makes no sense whatsoever. It was on a powerpoint slide.

“We all have a Crap Meter. When we hear something and think ‘that’s not true’ our Crap meter goes off. (then, somewhat under his breath) Can I say Crap up here?” a crazy man keynote speaker at a children’s ministry leadership conference. (Might I add that when he said “crap”, the Anonymous person referred to in the above quote closed her notebook and folded her arms. Bad sign for the crazy man. He just lost all chance of ever presenting at a children’s ministry leadership conference again..)

“It’s BROCCOLI!” mean waitress, responding to our friend Lezlie’s two questions : “What kind of broccoli is it?” and “How is the broccoli prepared?”

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Angels and other Mysteries

I am not a theologian. There is so much about God that I can’t even wrap my brain around. I think the Sovereignty of God is easy for me, because of that. Yet at the same time, I love the supernatural side of God. I think most of the time we are so busy in our lives and so sterile in our “religion” and even our relationship that we don’t take time to meditate on the supernatural part of God. The mystery. Then we are surprised if we ever notice it or are ever blessed enough to experience it.

God is honored for what he keeps secret. Proverbs 25:2

To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Luke 8:10

Let man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 1 Corinthians 4:1

One of the most intriguing verses in the Bible to me is Hebrews 13:2 --Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some have entertained angels unaware.

When our kids were growing up, we chose to teach them about angels. The Bible tells us that children’s angels continually behold the face of the Father. We recognized their participation in our lives as messengers, protectors. As we slept at night and drove down the highway, the preceding prayers were for the protection of angels around our house, around our windows, and around our cars. We knew definitively that the reason our house was the only house on the street that never was robbed wasn’t because of the big friendly dog in the backyard, but because of the angels who stood guard over our home. However, when the van flooded in high water just a block from our driveway and two never seen before teenagers appeared from nowhere and pushed us into the driveway, and refused to accept money because as they said, “we just came here to help…” it was my preschool daughters who asked if they were angels…not me.

Mandisa sings a song that got me to thinking about the times in my life I could not explain…the mysteries. It may not be totally theologically accurate, but it brought back some of the mysteries of my personal faith journey. Listen to the words of “God Speaking” by Mandisa --

Have you ever heard a love song,
That set your spirit free?
Have you ever watched a sunrise,
And felt you could not breathe?
What if it’s Him? What if it’s God speaking?

Have you ever cried a tear
that You could not explain?
Have you ever met a stranger
Who already knew your name?
What if it’s Him? What if it’s God speaking?

Who knows how He’ll get a hold of us?
Get our attention to prove He is enough
He’ll do, and He’ll use whatever He wants to
To tell us, I love you

Have you ever lost a loved one
Who you thought should still be here?
Do you know what it feels liketo be tangled up in fear?
What if He’s somehow involved?
What if He’s speaking through it all?

His ways are higher
His ways are better
And though sometimes strange
What could be stranger than God in a manger?

Who knows how He’ll get a hold of us?
Get our attention to prove he is enough
He’ll do and He’ll use whatever He wants to
To tell us, I love you

My mother in law was dying of cancer. She had breast cancer that metastasized into the liver. We made a few trips home in the last months to see her. One day Duane mentioned to his sister and me that as her organs began to fail one by one and her body began to slowly shut down, that it was almost like someone was going through the house/ through her body turning off the lights. One by one. I thought that was a pretty accurate word picture.

About a week later, his sister called me. She asked if I remembered what Duane said, and if we had shared that with anyone else. I asked why, and she told me this story. She had called her mom that morning to check on her and her mom said that the strangest thing had happened. She was sleeping in the lazy boy in the den, because she just couldn’t get comfortable in bed. The lazy boy faced down a long hallway that had three bedrooms and a bath off of each side of it. She was dozing off, but woke up to see a man in the house going from room to room and turning off the lights. She thought it was Duane’s younger brother, Craig, who had let himself in to the house, and was perturbed at him for not stopping to give her a hug first. She realized that it wasn’t’ Craig, but then dozed off again. It must have been a dream.

My sister-in-law whispered, “It wasn’t a dream, was it?” I don’t think I could even answer her. Within a few weeks, Duane’s mom was in the arms of Jesus.

Who knows how He’ll get a hold of us? Get our attention to prove HE IS ENOUGH.

Job 11:7 Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Still Trying to Figure Him Out

Conversation last Saturday.

Becky to Duane: “Why don’t we plant a lemon tree?”
Duane to Becky: "O.k."

What Becky would have done:
Go to garden center, buy lemon tree, dig hole, plant lemon tree.

What Duane did:
Go to garden center. Talk to someone about lemon trees. Look at lemon trees. Decide to go back home and find a good place to plant a lemon tree. Decide to renovate the entire back flower bed to make room for lemon tree. Begin digging up twenty year old banana trees in flowerbed to make room for lemon tree. Begin digging up brick edging from around the flower bed. Carry bricks to truck. Carry bricks back to flower bed to use as fillers because we didn’t have enough dirt to fill in where we dug the brick edging up. Go back to garden center and buy 200 pounds of rock to use as edging. Work until dark replacing brick edging with rock. Wait a week. In the meantime talk to everyone he knows about lemon trees. Go to visit a neighbor who has a lemon tree in his back yard. Get up the next Saturday and continue the project. Run out of rock to edge the flowerbed. Go back to garden center. Buy 75 more pounds of rock to finish edging the flowerbed. Buy lemon tree. Go back home. Finish reconstructing the flowerbed. Plant lemon tree.

Ya gotta love him, but does the man not drive you crazy?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Free Make-up

My friend, Lezlie, called me this morning and told me that all the big, fancy department stores were giving out free makeup today! She heard something on the radio about a multi-million dollar lawsuit/settlement that required them to just simply pass out make-up until they had completed their penance to society...or something like that.

Well, it wasn't exactly what we envisioned in our heart of hearts...But, we lined up in Dillards with hundreds of other women to get this amazing free offer. The line snaked through the cosmetics department, and though it was long...moved fast. All we had to do was sign something, take our pick of one out of about nineteen specified items, and make a run for it! Yea!

I got some free Lancome mascara. and Lezlie got some free Ralph Lauren Romance shower gel. FREE! Stuff we would probably never buy, but hey - it was FREE!

Our in-line conversation went like this,
Lezlie: "Men would never do this."
Me: "I know. Duane would say, 'How much does that stuff cost? Ten bucks? Here's ten bucks, just go buy you some."
Lezlie: "I know. They would never wait in line for free anything."
Me: "I know. Men would never do this."

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Christmas 2008

So we were a little ambitious with all the plans described in my earlier post, "Home is Where the Heart is", and we didn't factor in time eater-uppers like lost luggage and extreme temperatures....but all in all, Christmas was a sweet time. And at least we were mostly all together...except for Ashely's husband, Nick, who is in his second year of residency and could not get away. However in his honor, Ashley made a little foil Nick to represent him. (Isn't it sweet? She's holding his little foil hand!)

So the best thing about Christmas was just being together. And the second best thing was that Titus gave us our grandparent names. I am now "Nana". Duane is now "Baba". Titus can't say his "P's", so we were thinking he meant "Papa." But when Kari corrected him, "You mean Papa." Titus said, "NO. Baba."

We have since discovered that Baba is "a very old African grandfather." Interesting.

Here are some other favorite pictures from our sweet Tennessee Christmas.

Besides a Christmas Eve Service with Tammy Wynette and her son singing, "Christmas Shoes", and thin, scratchy towels...everything was simply wonderful. I missed Christmas in Houston, but i wouldn't mind doing this again!