Thursday, April 22, 2010

Loving Houston

I've visited a lot of cities but one of my favorites is Houston, Texas.

Although I'm in Houston this week under real difficult circumstances, I'm still enjoying the energy that this city produces. I'm a city girl by nature so being in such a fun city makes my heart race with excitement.

When I was in college I had grand plans of moving to the great city of Houston with my best friend, Gail. My plans were interrupted when I met my husband, fell in love, and decided to stay put in Louisiana. I seldom got the chance to travel to Texas but now that my parents and sister live here, I find myself rubbing elbows with friendly Houstonians much more often then I ever dreamed possible.

Some of the things I love about Houston is....

1. K.S.B.J. Radio Station - I just love listening to music on K.S.B.J.. So much so that I listen online while I'm working from home in Charlotte, NC. They play a great mix of contemporary Christian music that compels me to tap the top of my steering wheel while driving up and down Hwy 1960. The great d.j.'s and fun commercials keep me entertained while sitting at all of those traffic lights.

2. Retail, Retail, Retail - I've never seen so many shopping options in all my life! I'm almost positive there is a mega-mall every 5 miles. It's a good thing that I don't live here because the cute boutiques and fancy stores would be way to much of a distraction and definitely not a good choice for my bank account.

3. Pappasito's Restaurant - For three years I've been hearing all about Pappasito's but never had a chance to eat there. Finally, this trip I made a point of setting aside one night to meet my sister and brother-in-law for dinner. It was so crowded and a bit noisy...well...really noisy, but the food was to die for. I got a dish called Green Chili Chicken which sounds sort of gross but it was delicious!

4. Blue Bell Ice Cream - No trip to Houston would be complete without a healthy heaping bowl full of Blue Bell Ice Cream. They have a creamery in Brenham which is also on my "to do while in Texas" list. You can see how the ice cream is made and get lots of samples too :) This week I had Chocolate Moo-llenium Crunch. Whoever created this flavor must have known what my love language is. Here are the ingredients:

Rich chocolate ice cream with a combination of dark chocolate chunks, creamy caramel chunks, roasted pecan halves, chopped almonds, walnut pieces, and peanuts.

Yummy!!! Are you hungry now?

The thing I love most about Houston is the people. They are so warm, friendly, and inviting. I've met several Houstonians this week and every single one of them have greeted me with southern hospitality at it's finest.

Do you have a city that you love to visit? If so, what do you like about it? Maybe your favorite place to visit is back home where you grew up or where you lived for a while. Maybe your favorite city is where you're living right now. I'd love to know...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Feeling Overwhelmed

A good friend of mine told me that she wants to have the following statement engraved on her tombstone when she dies:

"Here lies ______. She is no longer overwhelmed"

We both laughed about it, but now that I've had time to mull that statement over in my mind a while, I'm realizing just how much truth lies within it.

Lately, I have been feeling extremely overwhelmed. One indication of that is my lack of blog posts. You can always tell when my life is throwing a bunch of curve balls. Days or even weeks will go by and you don't see anything new on my blog.

Besides traveling a lot with work, I've also been taking care of my parents who are both extremely ill right now. My mom was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease over 20 years ago but the last 5 years have been absolutely brutal. She now has Dementia as a constant companion and lives in a skilled nursing facility because our family can no longer properly take care of her at home.

My dad has always done an outstanding job taking care of my mom. They have been married for fifty seven years. With each anniversary, their love for one another keeps growing stronger. The decision to put her into a skilled facility just about ripped my dad's heart out but he was diagnosed with lymphatic leukemia over two years ago and all of those chemo treatments have completely depleted him also.

In January, his oncologist announced he was cancer free after receiving the results of his pet-scan. There was not much time to celebrate because he woke up the next morning with a very bad outbreak of shingles. They had appeared all over his face, forehead, and even in his eyes.

Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. On top of the shingles, he got bronchitis, a stomach virus and the flu. Within 2 months, he lost 25 lbs. His blood pressure started to go crazy and every time he would stand up, he'd become dizzy, often pass out and fall. We also noticed he was very disoriented and was having trouble formulating sentences at times.

Last month he ended up in the hospital and after running a slew of tests they determined that he was having mild strokes which are called t.i.a.'s. The doctor said that often times these t.i.a. strokes are warning signs that a larger stroke is about to happen.

Sure enough, last Tuesday my dad had a stroke and this time it was major. He couldn't speak, couldn't walk, and the left side of his body (from his face to his foot) was drooping. Back he went to the hospital and has been there ever since.

Because of work, I wasn't able to see my dad until yesterday. He looked so thin and frail that it almost took my breath away. Aside from my dad's physical illness he is also slowly grieving the near and inevitible loss of my mom. I forgot to mentioned that the weekend before my dad's stroke, my mom developed pneumonia which is often times the final stage of Parkinson's patients.

I can't begin to put into words how hard it has been having both parents so sick at the same time. Life can be challenging enough but now I find myself living in a season of sandwich parenting. I'm having to take care of my children and take care of my parents all at the same time.

When I've shared my current situation with others they always say "How on earth are you able to handle all this at one time?". Honestly, I can't, I won't, and am well aware that I'm not able to on my own. The only way I'm finding the strength to deal with all of this is through my faith in Jesus and prayer.

I know that God has a good plan for my parents. Plans to prosper them and not to harm them. Plans to give them a hope and a future. I know that although their circumstances look grim that God is completely in control of the situation. I know that He sees all things, knows all things, and is with them when I can't be. I also know that He promises to work all things according to their good and ultimately for His purposes and glory.

This is how I find rest in the midst of feeling so overwhelmed. This is what gives me the strength to move forward with hope and not fall into a pit of self pity or shake my fists at God and become angry. This is how I receive encouragement when the future looks so grim.

Do you feel completely overwhelmed right now? Are your current circumstances more than what you can handle? Does life seem completely out of control? Are you wondering why God would allow certain situations to take place in your life?

How do you find strength in the midst of your personal struggles. Where do you go to find peace and encouragement? What do you do when you're completely overwhelmed with life's circumstances? I'd love to know.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Photos of FRC Regional Competition

Here are some photos from the FRC Competition last weekend.

This is the challenge area. It's a giant soccer field where the robots compete.

This is part of the viewing stands. There were 44 teams represented with lots of fans!!!

Here is Team S.P.O.R.K.

Here is Brody with the trophy for "Best Website Design" Award. He designed the team website along with 2 other teammates.

The Robot

Going home...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

F.R.C. Regional Competition

Our family celebrated Spring Break last weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina by cheering on Brody in his first ever F.R.C. Regional Competition. Brody attends Pine Lake Preparatory and their team received two awards and will compete in the World Championship Competition in Atlanta, Georgia on April 14-16, 2010.

Brody's main contribution to the team was working with two other team members to design their own web site. It certainly paid off! Below is the area publication that was posted this week about the F.R.C. Regional event. Later on this week I'll post some pictures and video of the event. It was incredible!!!!

Congratulations Team SPORK

Robotics Win Rookie All-Star & Best Website Awards

Ingersoll Rand & Pine Lake Preparatory’s Award Winning Team Proceeds to Robotics World Championship

April 3, 2010

Pine Lake Preparatory’s Upper School robotics team, named Team SPORK and sponsored by Ingersoll Rand of Davidson, NC, won the Rookie All Star and the Best Website Awards at the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) NC Regional Tournament April 2-3, 2010 in the Dorton Arena in Raleigh. The Rookie All Star is the highest honor available for a rookie team and earns the honor of competing at the World Championship in the Atlanta Georgia Dome on April 15-17. Over 1800 teams from 12 countries began this season; only 297 teams will compete in the Championship games.

Forty-four teams from across the nation and Brazil competed at the NC Regional. Only six of these teams earned a merit based qualification for the World Championship. Team SPORK was the only one from North Carolina to do so.

Students are given six weeks to design, build, and test an autonomous and remotely controlled robot using standardized and fabricated components. This year’s mission is for the robots to control and kick soccer balls into goals on a 27’ x 54’ field with bumps, ending the game with the 160 pound robots suspending themselves from 7’ towers.

Team SPORK students and mentors have enthusiastically dedicated over 200 hours after school and on weekends during this intensive season, which began on January 9 with the NC Kick-off at Penske Racing. Team SPORK is also dedicated to mentoring other students in robotics, math, and science. More information can be found at

The team is coached by Audrey Cundari, who teaches calculus, physics, and robotics at Pine Lake Preparatory. The web team is mentored by JD Mills of Utilipath.

Ingersoll Rand has been a major corporate partner for Pine Lake Preparatory’s FRC robotics team this year, offering the use of a manufacturing building, fabrication tools, and over sixteen employees, who have joined other community engineers in mentoring the 23 students of Team SPORK. Other major sponsors of Team SPORK are NASA, Newell Rubbermaid, and Lowe’s Home Improvement, which have donated funding, equipment, and tools.

The FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is an international challenge for high school students. Its mission is “to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.”

Ingersoll Rand is a global diversified industrial firm providing products, services and solutions to enhance the quality and comfort of air in homes and buildings, transport and protect food and perishables, secure homes and commercial properties, and enhance industrial productivity and efficiency. Driven by a 100-year-old tradition of technological innovation, we enable companies and their customers to create progress. For more information, visit

Congratulations to all and gratitude to John Moloney for creating the collaborative PLP/Corporate partnerships!