Friday, January 30, 2009

I found myself (really)

I was digging around on the web today, just killing time really (I didn't feel like doing housework) and I found an old picture of myself, in a bikini no less. Here's how it happened. Back in 1987-88 I dated a professional photographer in Mexico City named Hector Velasco. Fast forward to 1992...I was living in Cancun. Hector came to Cancun to take some pictures for a print advertising campaign for the Sheraton Hotel chain. He needed a model for some of his pictures, so he asked me to do some modeling for him. I didn't get paid. On the contrary, I helped him lug up all the cameras, tripods, extension cords, lights, etc. to the hotel room to take the pictures. There are lots of big heavy cases of camera equipment to lug around when you go on a photo shoot with Hector. Anyway, we get all the stuff up to the room and I change into my bathing suit. He takes a bunch of pictures, with and without me in them. Here is one of the pictures he got that day. Click on the following link.

He later gave me a positive of a slightly different pose. I have a copy of that picture hanging in my bathroom. It reminds me of how skinny I used to be. Here is the picture I have hanging in my bathroom. It's a picture of a picture, so the quality is compromised.

The "champagne" in the champagne glasses is really watered down beer. With the right amount of water, you get good champagne color and bubbles.
Apparently, Hector is doing pretty well as a professional photographer. If you want to see his entire web site, here is the link:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Summer and Winter in one week

I have heard people comment that they wouldn't want to live in Texas because they wouldn't experience the changing of the seasons that one gets farther north. I beg to differ. We get the changing of the seasons around here, it just changes in one day instead of taking months. Here's what I mean. Last Friday, I took the kids to the park to enjoy what I knew would be the last nice day for awhile. It was about 80 degrees and poor Garrett was roasting in his long sleeve shirt. Erin dressed more seasonably in short sleeves.

Within 12 hours of taking these pictures, a cold front came through and dropped the temperature to about 30 degrees. It stayed pretty cold for the next few days, and then last night we got an ice storm. We got about 1/4 inch of ice and then some sleet on top of that. It was bad enough to shut down schools and a lot of people stayed home from work. Gary worked from home. Here is our front yard this morning.

It may not look like much, but that is a layer of ice with some sleet on top. It crunches really hard when you step on it. I thought this picture of ice in the tree branches was pretty cool.

The kids had a blast playing on the ice for a while. Garrett kept running on the sidewalk and street and would fall every time. Finally, he fell hard and started crying, so I had to take him in to Daddy.

We went from Summer to Winter in less than one week. And the forecast for the weekend.....60's, so we'll call it Spring. If you don't like the weather in Texas, just wait a day or so and it will change.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Christmas at the Duke's

We had a great Christmas this year. It's always fun when you have little kids that still believe in Santa. Erin is starting to ask a lot of questions about Santa, like how does he know we live in a new house? She was very afraid that Santa would deliver her presents to the wrong house. Also, we don't have a fireplace in the new house, but we had one in the old house, so how would Santa get down the chimney if we didn't have one? It was non-stop questions. I wonder if she will still believe in Santa next year. Here is the food Erin left for Santa, with broccoli for the reindeer. She is always very concerned that Santa get a good snack at our house. Maybe she thinks he will leave more presents if he is well fed. The snack this year was peppermint bark (white and dark chocolate with candy cane pieces) and chocolate milk. It was a lot of fun decorating the new house and Christmas tree. Here is how the outside of the house turned out.

And the Christmas tree...

MaMaw (Gary's mom) loves to sew and do all kinds of crafts, especially for Christmas. Notice the tree skirt. MaMaw made that using strips of material from old table cloths and other leftovers from Christmas projects past.

Every year she makes Christmas shirts for all the women to wear to their annual day after Thanksgiving shopping spree. They usually hit all the door busters that start at 4:00 am. I always manage to find a reason not to participate. Shopping at 4:00 am is not my cup of tea. But here is this year's Christmas shopping shirt.

MaMaw, sewer extraordinaire also made beautiful bath robes for all four of us. Here are Gary and the kids in their Christmas bathrobes.

The kids had just taken a bath when I got this picture. Notice that Garrett's and Daddy's bathrobes match.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Flat Stanley, Flat Sarah Kate

Erin's cousin, Sarah Kate, sent Erin a Flat Stanley with a letter explaining the concept. Flat Stanley is a book about a boy who gets flattened when a whiteboard falls on him. Since he is flat, he can now travel around in an envelope because the mail is a lot cheaper than an airline ticket. At school, Sarah Kate made a Flat Sarah Kate and sent it to Erin. Erin had to take Flat Sarah Kate somewhere, take pictures, write a letter explaining where she went and then mail the Flat Sarah Kate back to Sarah Kate's school. Erin and I decided to take Flat Sarah Kate to the Fort Worth Stockyards. This is the letter we sent along the with the pictures.

Flat Sarah Kate’s Big Adventure to Fort Worth TX
November 9, 2008
Flat Sarah Kate got mailed to Fort Worth Texas to see her 5 year old cousin, Erin. Erin took Flat Sarah Kate to the Stockyards. You see, 100 years ago, all the cattle in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado came to Fort Worth to be sold. Even today, you can still see a lot of different cowboys in the Stockyards. Flat Sarah Kate saw some real cowboys (picture #1), a tin cowboy (#2), a movie star cowboy, John Wayne (#3), a football Cowboy, Tony Romo (#6), and a little girl cowboy riding a mechanical bull (#7). Finally, Flat Sarah Kate visited some cowboys in jail. Cousin Erin had a lot of fun showing Flat Sarah Kate all the sights of Fort Worth Texas.

We had a lot of fun showing Flat Sarah Kate the sites in Fort Worth.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Nutcracker

Erin and I had the privilege of attending The Nutcracker right after Thanksgiving, thanks to a friend at church that was able to get free tickets. We had Saturday afternoon matinee tickets. We enjoyed getting all dressed up for the occasion.

We drove an hour to Dallas and after getting lost, made it to the theater with 15 minutes to spare. We had great seats, lower level, about half way back on the left side. Erin loved the ballet. It lasted about 2 hours and she sat still and paid attention the whole time. When she gets bored, she gets restless and wiggly, so she was definitely not bored. At intermission, we went out the the lobby and walked around. I got this great picture of her in front of a Nutcracker.

It was a great Mother-Daughter day!! And Erin got tons of compliments on her Christmas dress. It's all sparkly, which she loves.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Halloween, a hallowed evening indeed!!

We had a lot of fun on Halloween night. Erin dressed up as Aurora (aka Sleeping Beauty). Her long brown locks are from a wig I bought at a garage sale that day. I thought it added a nice touch to the costume, but it made her look more like Serena, Samantha's evil sister on Bewitched (for those of you who are old enough to remember that show).

Garrett dressed up as a vampire. I thought he looked very dashing is his black cape.

I had no intention of dressing up, but I found these wigs at a garage sale and one of them inspired me to dress up as a hippy. Judge for yourself if I look like an authentic '60's hippy.

We went trick or treating with some friends in a nearby neighborhood because there are very few houses in our neighborhood. The kids got a ton of candy and we all had a great time. We even got candy from one of Garrett's teachers. It was a howling good time!!!

I was pretty proud of my jack-o-lantern this year. I used an apple correr to cut out the eyes and nose. I thought it turned out pretty cool.

The day after Halloween, Garrett decided he wanted to try on Erin's costume. Garrett is always copying Sissy. So here is Garrett as Aurora.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

First day of school

Both Erin and Garrett started school in 2008. Erin started Kindergarten. She was very excited on her first day. Always the model, here she is posing on the morning of her first day.
When she got to school, she settled right in and never looked back. She loves her teacher, Ms. Wilsie and is always excited to go to school every morning. Our school district only has half day Kindergarten, so Erin attends from 8-11:00 am.

Erin and her class took a field trip to the Stockyards in Fort Worth to ride the Polar Express (or at least a train that was decorated to look like it). Erin had a great time on the trip and even got to meet Santa!

Here she is getting off the train. Her first train trip ever.

Garrett also had his first day of school in 2008. He started Preschool for Special Needs in September right after his 3rd birthday. Garrett is considered developmentally delayed. We noticed a few months after he was born that he wasn't doing the same things as other kids his age. He rolled over at about 7 months, he sat up at about 11 months and he walked at 22 months. At almost 3 1/2 he can put two or three words together and his vocabulary is limited. He has had extra help with his development since he was 1 year old, including physical, occupational and speech therapy. He continues to get all three therapies at school. Here is Garrett on his first day.

He looks a little nervous in the picture. He really didn't understand what "school" was or where he was going. I think he just got a sense that he wasn't going to be with Mama and Garrett loooooovves his Mama!! Now Garrett loves school. There are three other girls in his class, plus his teacher and an aide, so he gets lots of individual attention. He has progressed remarkably since he started school. He can count to 20 (with some help), he can sing the ABC song (with help), he can even make some of the letters with his hand using the Manual Alphabet. His speech is what has improved the most. I don't think he could put two words together when he started school and now it's 2 or 3 words consistently. But despite his limitations, Garrett has a great sense of humor. He makes us laugh all the time. I got to go to his class Christmas party meet the rest of his classmates. Here is Garrett doing a craft.

And giving his friend Mia a big hug. He talks about Mia all the time.

And with his teacher Ms. Hartweg.

Come tour our new house.

I've decided to start blogging again. It's such a great way to keep everybody posted on the Dukes' comings and goings. Now that I have a video camera, I plan on posting videos of the kids. For my first installment, I will give you a video tour of our new house. We moved in in June of 2008 and absolutely love the extra room. This house has 4 bedrooms and 2.5 baths in 3098 square feet. Now all I have to do is figure out how to import a video.

Notice Gary's sunny disposition in the video. The house tour continues:

Uploading video takes forever, so I'll be uploading more pictures in the future.