Family Time In Texas

We are all settled in Texas for about a week to visit with my sister, her husband John, and their daughter Alicia.  We spent four days driving from Florida to Texas, which seemed like an eternity for us.  Normally, we travel 300-400 miles a day, as we are more of a destination traveler (get from Point A to Point B).  Since we had four days to cover 1000 miles, we just broke it up.  No early morning departures, and we would arrive at the campground in the early afternoon  It was a bit odd for us.

One of our nightly stops was in Gulfport, Mississippi.  We drove all the way down the coast to Biloxi, to see how well the cities have recovered from the hurricane.  The casinos are back, as well as Waffle Houses….seriously.  We still have never eaten at one, but they have about a dozen of them lining the coast between Biloxi and Gulfport (which are 15 minutes apart).  There are lots of empty ocean front lots for sale.  And the houses that are currently under construction are built on stilts.


We arrived in Texas last Thursday, and went “back to school” on Friday to see my sister’s fifth grade robotics class.  The kids are very engaged during this time period, and two of the teams have qualified for a national competition.  I asked the kids if their robots had any flame throwers or razor blades, but they disappointedly said no, they were not allowed!

Here’s some photos of the robots.  In competition, they pick up the red, green and blue discs, and place them on posts.  They are scored by the number they place on the posts (double the points for each of the same color discs placed on the posts), as well as the number of discs moved behind the post line.  There are two robots in the “ring” at a time, but they do not compete against each other, they have to work together.  Dan really liked the idea they had to collaborate to get their best team score.

MAH04698 (3)Here are some of the other robots custom designed and made by the students.


DSC04690My sister LuAnn is watching over one of the teams as they build their robot.


I was amused by the signs posted in the bathrooms.  Perhaps these should be posted in “adult” bathrooms as well.  We can all learn from these students!


My brother-in-law John suffered a stroke last summer, so we are so grateful to have this time to visit with him.  He told us he is doing better, but still has problems with vision in one eye, and has times when he forgets what he is doing.  His doctors had given him some glasses that were supposed to help strengthen his eyes, but he did not think it was working out, but wants to try a new prescription.  He has no speech impairment, but has lost a lot of weight (not sure if it’s due to my sisters cooking!), and is trying to gain some weight back.  So I made a big batch of chocolate chip cookies, and he did a lot of sampling!

My sister and Alicia have off this week for Spring Break, so we have a few “touristy” things planned in Dallas.  On Saturday we checked out a local craft brewery in Garland where they live, Lakewood Brewery.  The beers were very good, and the owner of the brewery actually gave the tour, which lasted about an hour, even though there are only two rooms.  He is very proud of the work they do at the brewery.


Wim Bens, President

The brewery has a wide variety of beers to sample in their taproom.  One of them, “All Call” a Kolsch style beer, is in honor of law enforcement and fire fighters.  A portion of the proceeds from the sale of that beer is donated to the Guns and Hoses Foundation of North Texas, which helps with financial support to the families of fallen first responders.  They have patches from many departments across the country that have visited their brewery.


LuAnn and John enjoyed several of their beers.  Cheers!



While we are off playing tourist this week, I think Makena will have a few things to say, so stay tuned!

Quote for the day:  “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” – John Dewey


8 thoughts on “Family Time In Texas

  1. Love the robots, Jonell! Diana and I got to try out a DaVinci surgical robot once that had us doing the same thing…rings on a pylon. After we finished, we saw that the actual rings were only about 1/4″ in diameter, They looked much bigger through the eyepiece. Who knows…maybe a few of your sister’s students will become surgeons! Very cool to think of the possibilities.

    • It was fun to watch how engaged the students were. Under the competition rules, teachers are not allowed to build or design the robots. The kids are required to do all the work and have to explain their thought process in the competitions. Some teams were disqualified when the kids couldn’t explain their work and it was discovered the teachers built the robots. It really makes the kids think about what works, what doesn’t, and how can we improve it. Robotics is the wave of the future!


  2. Hey there! If you haven’t been yet, go to Uncle Julio’s Mexican Restaurant and try one of the two Chocolate Pinatas. They’re incredible!!

  3. Wish you were closer to us down here in the valley. Would love seeing you guys again. But it is still 10 hours south. Sounds like you are having great family time. Miss you. Iris Hallin

  4. Always enjoy your posts and happy to hear life is still going great for you all. We still travel but not as much as I’d like. Love the Robots.

We would love to hear from you! Please feel free to comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s