Sunday, January 24, 2010

Adventures in Houston

I remember as a little girl my dad saying that instead of going on vacation we should just fill our suitcases with bricks, run around the block a few times, then burn our money and call it a day. He was only half joking. I guess I would have to throw in pinch the baby for 10 hours and soak at least one pillow case in puke. My husband’s been trying to convince me we need to buy an RV, but I’m starting to think it would be better if I could get him to sign a contract in blood promising we’ll never travel anywhere again, ever. Ok, that’s kind of extreme. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. I mean we did have a great time in between the hard times. The highlight of our trip was being a part of my friend Wendy’s wedding.

Wendy and I bonded when I was in graduate school and she was a post-doc just over from China. I owe my Tuesday night Bible study to Wendy who first suggested I start it. I remember one night Wendy came over and let herself in and I jumped as I came around a corner in my house and saw her there. She scared me. I said, “Wendy, what are you doing here?” And she reminded ever so sweetly, “It’s Tuesday, right? Don’t we have Bible study?” I’ve never been good at keeping track of what day it is. Now I have my kids to help me. Wendy and I had some good times together. Our boss would yell and scream at us, but we had each other. The more he hated us, the more we took comfort in our friendship. It was kind of like hazing. God was gracious and at the end of our time in that lab we got to travel to Washington D.C. together and present our research at a big cancer meeting. This was 4 years ago and she’s moved on since then. So, naturally I was thrilled when Wendy told me she was getting married, and that she wanted us to be a part of it. It was my first Chinese wedding and it was loads of fun. The getting there was another story.

Our trip was not without its humorous moments though, so I’ll share a few of those first.

You know your kids don’t get out much when…

1. Your girls agree shortly after arriving at the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Houston that they want to honeymoon there someday.

2. Your boys think the Metro makes Houston the coolest city in the world and announce they want to live there someday.

3. Your kids refer to the plants in an outdoor mall as a jungle. (We live in West Texas where there aren’t lots of trees.)

4. Your 10 year old son hears a siren and says, “Mom, is that the wind?” (Again, it’s a West Texas thing.) I said, “No, son. You’re safe here.”

5. Your 3 year old gets all excited about a city bus and calls it a “really big car with pictures on the side.”

6. You’re waiting to be seated at the hotel restaurant and notice your 8 year old daughter isn’t wearing any socks or shoes. And you have to explain to her why she must return to the room to get her shoes before sitting down to breakfast.

You know you have a big family when…

1. You have to stay in two hotel rooms.

2. Everyone in the hotel is staring at you and asking, “Are they all yours?”

3. It takes the hotel restaurant 20 minutes to rearrange tables to seat you.

4. People waiting for an elevator with you decline to ride with you saying, “We’ll catch the next one.”

5. You leave 2 kids in the room napping with their dad and you still get people staring at you while window shopping.

Some humorous or not so much highlights from our trip…

1. During the rehearsal Baby Lu kept toddling off. I lost sight of her one time and worried. In a minute she came toddling back into view carrying a huge ball. I have no idea where she found it, but she sure was pleased with herself.

2. When boarding the Metro we get everyone seated and notice our 3 yr old has gone the wrong way. We yell at him and he panics and starts to get off the train just as it’s about to leave. I screamed and thankfully the doors closed before he could exit the Metro. When I asked him why he did that when we could have been separated, he gave me his pat answer. Cuz.

3. Watching the Measle (6) do the macarana during karaoke at the wedding banquet. I have no idea where she got those moves.

4. The French fries. When we first found our hotel rooms, there was a plate of half eaten French fries sitting outside the room across from ours. I had the hardest time keeping Baby Lu out of those fries. It was there the next morning, too and every time Baby Lu walked into the hallway to go from one of our rooms to the other one, she was tempted by those fries. Well, we stopped at McDonalds today and she finally got her French fries!

5. The wedding banquet was at a very nice Chinese seafood place and everyone was really dressed up. We had changed out of our wedding clothes that afternoon and went in jeans looking like complete slobs. Then 3 of Wendy’s college roommates drew the short straw and had to sit at our table for the duration of the banquet. They were so sweet and helpful, but we felt terrible about turning their fun reunion into a night of babysitting our kids. We had to move the Measle who figured out she could get Mei Ling to give her unlimited soft drink refills. And at one point Mei Ling said to me, “He (referring to our 3 yr old) says he wants to do a roll on the floor.”

6. My foray into Books-a-Million in which I browsed through the Religion/Inspiration section. Now I remember why I don’t spend a lot of time in Religious bookstores. The first title that caught my attention was “Paul was not a Christian”. The author got me with that title and I had to pick it up. In this book the author argues that Paul never became a Christian, but rather he went from being a Jewish bigot (persecuting other faiths) to a religious pluralist. I had two thoughts. First, she must not have read many of his epistles. Second, I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t die for just one of many ways to heaven. I’m not going to give my life for my faith unless I’m absolutely certain, it’s the one and only way. And just as I was about to leave I noticed a book in the “Reluctant Demon series”. I kid you not. It’s like, “I didn’t mean to rebel against God, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Or, “I didn’t want to possess that person, I couldn’t help it.” What’s the world coming to? I can’t believe there’s a market for books about “reluctant” demons.

7. The angry men on the corner in front of our hotel holding up signs of Jesus with horns yelling that He’s the “white devil”. That was just lovely.

8. The icing on the cake came in the middle of the night last night. I heard Measle (6) wake up and fuss. I asked her if she was alright and she said she was ok, but that her hair was sticky. Then I smelled it. She had puked all over herself and all over her pillow without waking up. She was sleeping in it and it was all over her hair and her pajamas. So, I got to strip the bed and put the Measle in the shower to wash and condition her hair in the middle of the night. You can imagine what the room smelled like this morning.

Needless to say we’re all so happy to be home! We must be gluttons for punishment, though, because we're already talking about our next fun family adventure!


  1. First of all...your children look so beautiful! And second...that last pic of Baby Lu needs to be blown up and displayed...or put into a magazine. She is adorable! Your post made me laugh. Especially the part about your girls wanting to honeymoon at that Courtyard Marriott! Too cute!

  2. Oh my! You definitely needed my books! I hope you find some time to relax!

  3. Seriously, how precious are they?! Just darling!! Love your blog, thanks for stopping by and visiting mine. :) Now following!

  4. Celee, thanks for sharing! We are starting to plan our summer vacation with our 5 kids and are facing the two-room issue and other challenges. The fact that three of them are teenagers will make things easier, but expensive! How wonderful that you have kept in touch with Wendy and you all were a part of such a special time for her. You do such a great job on this blog--you truly have a gift.

  5. We also took a trip recently, and other than a trip to the doctor and a sick kid, our trip was very calm, compared to yours! The wedding pictures are wonderful. At least you have some good family memories to talk about this trip for years to come!

  6. I love your "You know you have a large family when"...I, too, have 5 kids, and get asked those same questions over and "don't you know what causes that?" And, we have to stay in 2 hotel rooms. I live in Southern TX, and honestly, when I came to TX, for some reason I expected to see more large families...



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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.