Tuesday, August 28, 2007

It's a Jungle Out There

My Eldest states that, and I quote:

Mommy! First grade is a JUNGLE.

She didn't exactly go into to details, but she did say that she had a great day and she really liked her class and her school.

Prayers answered.

Thank you, God.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Hunter Green and Navy Blue.
Thin Red and Yellow stripes cut through the dark colors.

A matching headband.

Pressed white shirt with a peter pan collar.

New white shoes and white ruffly socks.

A backpack (re-used).

A Wonder Woman lunchbox in tow (re-used).

A young girl bravely goes into the home of the Fightin' Falcons.

Today, My Eldest started First Grade, where you "get your very own crossing guard". *chuckle* The things she gets excited about never cease to amaze me....

NO! I didn't cry. Almost I did, but I didn't. I refused to. I figure she's a big girl, so am I. We have to be big girls together in this thing called LIFE and grow up no matter how much we don't want to. *pout*

For the first time in her life, she got herself ready AND on time. I think now that the world is supposed to end, so be weary. You had warning.

Backpack firmly afixed to her shoulders and back, she kept bugging me as I was prepping for work: chop, chop, Mama. Are you ready yet? How about now? We're going to be late. Mama, c'mon!

(Somehow the roles had reversed. Yet another sign to the End of the World.)

I kept answering: I am! Almost! Not yet...I just have to fix my hair! No we aren't going to be late, silly girl. Are you excited, Love?

Smiles galore all morning and all along the drive to the school.

We listened to Jack Johnston (love him!)...the soundtrack to Curious George. On it is a song called, "We Will Be Friends" and it's about the first day of school. Very appropriate selection by her -- all on her own. No help from Mama.

So we get to school and I'm snapping photos of her in front of the school, in front of her locker then next to the sign on her classroom door that colorfully says "Welcome to First Grade". The teacher is frantic with parents and kids demanding her attention, so My Eldest and I sneak behind her and find My Eldest's desk.

My Eldest is totally stoked that you get your own locker and desks at this school, by the way.

Sitting cautiously, My Eldest looks around. She has one of those scared smiles on her face. And her already big, brown eyes are even bigger. They are screaming, WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING HERE?!

I take one picture. "Smile." I sweetly tell her. *snap*

I take a second picture. "Sugar, SMILE. A real smile, honey." She has a shit-eating grin on her face and her eyes are darting all around. It's very obvious she is nervous. And scared. And uncertain. And uncomfortable. And wondering how she got to this place called First Grade.

She tries her hardest to smile sincerely and I figure it's time for me to jet. So, I go around and hug and kiss her goodbye, then ask, "You going to be okay, Love?"

Gritting her teeth, averting my eyes and feigning a smile, she moves only her mouth and responds, "I think so".

I giggle....inside.

I smile at her, kiss the top of her head and say, "you'll be fine. See you later, okay, baby?" And off I go without looking back.

I do hope she's made some friends today.....

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Offshore Excursion - Part 2 of 2

I ate a hearty continental breakfast and headed excitedly to the office. I was plain giddy, for today, I was not going to have an ordinary work day; it was going to be an extraordinary work day.

I met Charles at the office and we left within an hour of my arrival. We had to drive about 1.5 hours to Rockport, Texas.

We arrived at the tiny airport to find ourselves stepping over bodies sleeping, curled up and trying to rest. The people were out front, all around the back, and swarming the inside. Hurricane Dean caused some evacuations, so this day was a clear day which meant the crews return to their posts. The helicopter companies were making a killing that day!! It took all day long to get people back offshore.

The platform we were going to was what is referred to as "shut-in". That means it isn't currently working; no oil or gas is being produced. I was told that in the well file, there were only schematics and notes about why the well was shut-in, so our mission today was to take as many pictures as we could for the file. Between the new pictures and the notes, the operations folks could make decisions on how to proceed with getting the well up and running again, keeping in mind all of the regulatory considerations, the safety compliances, geographic and seismic data, etc.

Charles and I have the best conversations on our way down to Rockport. He lives in Louisiana and he was making light fun of people who don't know much about the energy industry and folks who don't know much about agriculture. We passed by some cotton fields and he said, "I just tell investors that's sugar cane. Hell, they don't know the difference." I quipped, "So, are those sugar cubes growing on those stalks?" Charles laughed and asked if he could use that line.

We get there and sign in. Ugh. Signing in gave me stress because they asked my weight. It makes sense, but how embarrassing. I was asked that not only once, but TWICE. Ugh.

I get briefed in Helicopters 101 and slip on a lifejacket, get buckled in and get some pictures taken. I was given the honor of riding up front with the pilot. On the return trip, I rode in the back (with a hottie 20-something who was a real gentleman).

The pilot gives me another crash course on helicopters, and we lift off. Very cool!! I felt my adrenaline rush and I found myself smiling, enjoying the adventure.

The bottom of the helicopter was see-through. I learned they call the front of the fuselage the "bubble". I understand why now. I was hypnotised by the scenery all around me.

We fly 53.3 miles to the platform. It's very windy, and the sea is a bit choppy. The further we fly out, the more clear and blue the water becomes. The pilot does a stellar job landing the heli on the helipad.

The helipad is nasty. It's covered in seagull crap. It smells rank. There is a rectangular opening where stairs lead downward. The helipad is about 100 feet from the surface of the ocean water. The stairs lead to a level that is 60 feet from the ocean's surface. Charles and Hottie head down the stairs without hesitation. Me, however, I look at that hole and there is no reailing to hold on to. I didn't want to sit in the shit. The pilot watched me then offered his hand to help me get started. (What a gent!) I take the first few steps holding his hand until I can grab hold of the railing that starts underneath the helipad. Once I get down those first few stairs, I'm home-free.

I start walking everywhere, taking pictures, soaking it all in. I snap pictures of the lifeboats, solar panels, gauges, a crane, shackles, a toolshed, and all kinds of other stuff. I ask a few questions here and there. The next level down is 10 feet from sea surface, then the lowest level is 6 feet above sea surface. Some waves were swallowing the 6 foot level this day.

I catch the pilot cat napping and snap a picture of him. I got the biggest giggle out of him because he wore his steel toe shoes without socks. Ew. I later learned that he is originally from British Columbia, and spent many years in Seattle. He most recently was flying helicopters fighting wildfires in Minnesota. He had been in Texas one week exactly, and he had been offshore as a passenger only a few times in that week. The excursion I took with him as our pilot was his FIRST one by himself! Glad I found that out later....

Just before takeoff, I pull out my cell phone. It's my wedding anniversary and I really wanted to share the moment with My Husband. I called him but got voicemail. In any case, we were on that platform together and it was fun!

We load back into the helicopter, and head to shore. The pilot circles around the platform a few times so that Charles can take some arials. That was pretty cool to feel the helicopter kind of sideways. The two of them chatted away and were men. The Hottie turned on his speaker and said, "hey y'all! Didjya forget there's a lady here?". I didn't mind the cussing, but I was verrrrrry flattered by Hottie's awareness and chivalry. *sigh* It's nice to know that some gentlemanliness exists in the younger generation....

We arrive back onshore, go to lunch and then Charles and I head back to the office. We get there right at 5:00 and said our goodbyes. I order a pizza, watch "Cash" and veg in the hotel that night.

I learned a lot and am very honored to have been given the chance to do this. I realize it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do it and not many people get to, so, thanks to that Ops Manager for allowing me to go! And thanks to all those special guys who treated me so nicely along the way.

Below are just a few pictures I took.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Offshore Excursion, Part 1

I am employed by a private mid-sized oil and gas upstream company. I love the company for which I work. They are family-oriented, promote from within, and we play equally as hard as we work. We also are a fairly young company in terms of employee ages. I'd guess that the average of age is approximately 30-35. I'm a little bored with my day to day tasks, but I really have a good situation, so I don't complain. I've worked there six years and have had tremendous opportunities both professional and personal come my way. This last week was no exception.

A few years ago, we acquired some properties offshore. We've slowly built up our offshore portfolio. As a result, we have a few field offices in the Gulf of Mexico region. From Tuesday through Thursday, I flew to South Texas to train some new employees.

First day, the operations manager takes me to lunch. We B.S. about the company and swap some stories. Laugh.

Ops Mgr: So this is the first time you've EVER been allowed to travel to a field office??
Me: *nods yes*
Ops Mgr: *shakes head side to side and rolls his eyes*
Me: I did bring my boots though in case you were going to let me go out and see a well! *smile and giggle*
Ops Mgr: You did?! You've never even been on a field trip??
Me: Nope. Never.

We eat a little bit as it's quiet for a short time.

Ops Mgr: Do your boots have steel toes in 'em?
Me: *laughs* No! No...they don't. *laughs again*

We continue with our meal and just talk amongst each other. Once lunch is done, we drive back to the office so I can continue to train the new hires. About an hour later, the operations manger escorts one of the other company employees and introduces me to Charles.

Charles and I exchange handshakes and pleasantries.

Ops Mgr: Go to Academy tonight, Jackie. You're going offshore with Charles tomorrow.
Me: *holding back extreme glee* WHAT???!!!!
Ops Mgr: You need steel toes to be safety compliant. This is work related so you can expense them, too.

I'm smiling like a cheshire cat. I am doing all I can to contain my excitement and be cool.

Me: Well, COOL! How FUN! Thank you SO MUCH!!

We all go our separate ways and my mind begins to spin. Did I bring the right clothes? Tomorrow is my wedding anneversary....I hope I don't die.

As the day draws to a close, Ops Mgr invites me and Charles to his house to meet his wife and daughter. Charles and I oblige. Later we go eat at local joint that makes chicken fried steaks, pork chops, etc. I opt for salmon. Ops Mgr's wife gets a rock in her salad. And the waitress in a high-pitched mousy voice says (as she's walking away...), "Oh! I'm so sorry. Sorry 'bout that".


I digress.

Charles, Ops Mgr and I discuss anything I might need to know about FLYING IN A HELICOPTER and the platform itself. Of course, safety is the first topic of conversation. Dinner wraps up and Charles and I drive to Academy to buy my steel toed shoes (which were kind of fashionable considering what they are... I mean, how fasionable can steel toes work shoes *be*??) I buy some socks because in my infitinite wisdom to pack boots in the first place, I had a hiccup in the brain and didn't bring socks. Duh.

I digress.

Back at the hotel, I prep my overnight bag for "just in case".

Rewind: In the car on the way to Academy, I ask Charles, "is there anything I need to know about tomorrow?" He explains a few things, one being, that I should pack a very light overnight bag "just in case".

Me: Just in case what??
C: In case you have to stay overnight. It's unpredictable out there. Anything could happen. It's not likely, but it's still possible.

(play foreshadowing music here)

Me: *gulp*
C: So gitchyer toothbrush and that kinda thang and you'll be jes fine.
Me: *nods*

Fast Forward (I always misspell forward. I always spell it foward instead of forward. Every time I have to backspace and retype it. Sheesh. I digress.) back to the hotel.

I've been given safety glasses, hardhat and now I have my shoes. I feel official.

I have a hard time sleeping because I'm so excited.

Part One is ending now. I'm sleepy. And hungry. And if I don't go to sleep now, I'll eat. And I don't want to eat.

Nite, nite.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


It was a Friday.

There was a 57 Chevy waiting to take us to a party.

It started at 7:00 p.m.

It had rained in the mid-afternoon, cooling the Texas summer heat for August 22nd.

The church was simply decorated with candles, greenery and a few pew decorations.

He looked terrified.

I didn't cry....amazingly.

We walked down the aisle, the three attendants first. My Eldest joined us in the procession. The priest was last.

I could go on and on with details of my wedding day. Those are a few....and it was a lovely day.

I'm out of town for my fourth wedding anniversary, but I haven't forgotten it.

I called My Husband from 110 feet above sea level today. I stood atop a helipad on an offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico and called him. I paid roaming charges and was disappointed to get his voicemail instead of him "live". I left a message anyway....

Honey, I'm here in the Gulf and by calling you, you are here with me too. Happy Anniversary. I'm lovin' ya. Bye.
And on the way back to shore, I smiled thinking about dancing with him at our reception to our song....

~What a Wonderful World~

Monday, August 20, 2007

Wonder Girl

I'm depositing from home.

I'm packing for a work-related trip.

I have sweet potatoes boiling.

My Eldest is hanging out with me.

I turn on iTunes.

My Eldest, freshly bathed, is sitting in her jammies - spaghetti strap nightgown covered in cherries.

Droplets of bath water plop onto her bare shoulders.

From her neck hangs a shiny, red Wonder Woman cape.

She is reading the new issue of Money magazine.

She is also newly adorned with a butterfly (temporary) tattoo on her left upper arm.

We are listening to My Baby Monsters podcast which has a 5 and a half year old girl who is doing some story telling and silly banter with her daddy. It's adorable so far. It's very child-like.

I am caught in this strange time warp or something. I've just taken a mental snapshot of My Eldest being both adult and child.

What an odd mental snapshot.....

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Itch Scratched

I "teased" you with the Panther/Falcon/Magnet reference. Now you can finally have that itch scratched. Such sweet relief!

School is about to start. And if you were a loyal and long-time reader of my blog (hint to guilt, guilt, guilt that I am intending VERY tougue-in-cheek), you'll recall the turmoil I endured making the decision to send Me Eldest to parochial school.

Her Kindergarten year was fabulous, although I suspect she was slightly bored. Luckily her teacher worked with her reading level. My Eldest was given some extra TLC from her teacher in regards to math and writing. She would allo My Eldest to some extra attention in these subjects as the other kids were learning basic phonics. We considered ourselves blessed.

The summer has come and almost passed. School starts on the 27th in most of the public school districts 'round here.

My Eldest will not be returning to her Panther Home.

Instead, she's entering a magnet school and will be a Falcon!

Yes, she's in public school. It specializes in classical arts, humanities, languages, cultural arts, music and the like. She still has to wear a uniform, but at least I can buy it at Target or The Children's Place! We managed to get to the used uniform sale and get some good school spirit wear for a reasonable price.

My Eldest is looking forward to First Grade at her new school, but naturally, she expresses sadness about leaving her friends from Kindergarten. I think most, if not all, are returning to the church for school. My Eldest loved the library at the public school...."it's so big, Mommy!".

So are you, baby girl.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Falcon Magnetizes to a Jaguar

You're wondering, aren't you?
You're wondering what that title means.....
Lucky for you I can put you out of your misery and tell you the answer.
Wonder if I should make you wait?
I think I will......
(wont' be worth the wait, though.)
Actually I have a ton of work to do and need to do it before I blog. :)

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I feel like my life is about shuffling. Certainly there *has* to be more to it!!

Of course, I'm saying that very tongue-in-cheek. I go to church. I know God has a plan for me. I know I was designed for something greater than myself. But I wonder what all this shuffling is contributing.....

Shuffling papers from my desk to the filing cabinent.

Shuffling money from one bank to another.

Shuffling toys from one room to another.

Shuffling this and that to here and there.

I seem to expend so much energy bending down, picking up, reaching around, multi-tasking, cleaning, moving. I swear I should be much thinner!! There's just something not right about being this out of shape while being this busy.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Vocabulary Lesson #1

at·trac·tive [ ə tráktiv ] adjective

1. good-looking: good-looking or sexually desirable
2. agreeable: pleasing in appearance or manner
3. interesting: interesting or appealing because of the probable advantagesan attractive proposition

Editors Note:
4. resembling a tractor

My family went to an End of Summer Swim Team Party at the neighborhood pool where My Eldest did all of her award-winning swimming. As we rolled slowly into the garage, she slumped her shoulders, sighed heavily and despondently said, "I'm soooo attractive" as if it were a bad thing.

My Husband: Attractive?! What do you mean?

My Eldest: It means I look like a tractor!

Then she rushed inside and pouted until shower time.

I think I'll write Encarta and the Oxford Dictionary people and notify them of their oversight.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Belated 100


I just noticed that the previous post was #100, heretoforth affectionately renamed,
Episode 100

Thanks for tuning in!

If only I could make some of this while blogging (without Adsense!)


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Memoirs of a Panther

High school was a special time for me.

I didn't finish college, so I don't have that magical collegiate experience from which to draw.

Instead, I draw on high school.

I've managed to be found or to find many of my high school acquaintences as of late. It's been rather amazing, really. I love technology!

So now, I'm feeling all giddy. Feeling sixteen, seventeen and eighteen. I've posted all kinds of pics on classmates.com, hunted folks down on myspace and even emailed a few here and there. It's been really nice, and I must say flattering. I'm flattered that so many of them remember me!

Sometimes I right back there when I hear Depeche Mode or Erasure. I remember crossing the border and feeling T E R R I F I E D that if I was caught down there my dad would get kicked out of the Army! I was always the designated driver.

I remember my sorority initiations. Gawd. Chico's Tacos sauce with pee, mustard, salt, pepper, hot sauce, ketchup -- you name it -- mixed together, handed to us in a soda cup with a straw and we were told to take a drink. I'm glad I had the smarts enough to cover the straw opening with my tongue and feign a sucking action (keep your jokes to yourself, please. I know what you're thinking...). During those initiations, there was a talent contest (no it did not consist of me wrapping my lips around something else to suck! There's that mind in the gutter again!). I sang "Happy Birthday Mr. President" a la Marilyn Monroe and WON! I won the talent contest by mimicking someone else's talent! Now THAT'S talent! At the end of it all, I had a very, very tall shaving cream crown and was dubbed Miss Ascarate Park. I'm still proud of that accomplishment to this day. (Ascarate Park was a scary park too -- lots of gangs hung out there and it was very seedy and dirty.)

I guess this isn't the most exciting post, is it?


Wednesday, August 01, 2007


I am taking My Eldest to buy a flower girl dress for a wedding we are both honored in which to be standing. We pull into the gas station first.

Eldest: I can't wait to be a grown-up, Mommy. Why can't I just be a teenager right NOW??!!

She is quite flustered and exasperated because I had just clarified to her that she cannot wear heels at the wedding. I informed her that she could wear a slight heel appropriate for six year olds, but what she is wanting is "the kind all the teenagers are wearing!".



Me: I know you will have trouble understanding this when I tell you. And I know you will not believe me. BUT....Us adults are always wishing we could go back in time and be kids again. You kids are always in a hurry to be grown up. Trust me, Love, it's much funner to be a kid than an adult.

Eldest: I don't know about that.

Me: Do you want to be the one to have to go to work, to wash the car, do all the chores, make dinner, balance the checkbook, schedule appointments? (I named about five other adult things, too.)

Eldest: Uhhh -- that part might be painful.

She looks out the window.

Click. The pump is cueing me that the tank is full.

Thank goodness! This has been painful!