Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tornado plus 10.

Last night we were downtown for the pops concert, and as we walked toward Bass Hall, I couldn't help but think about the night 10 years ago that changed Fort Worth forever.

Bass Hall, although it was close to so much destruction, was largely untouched. Its angels with their trumpets still stand guard over that building, just as they have for more than decade.

But the old Bank One tower is no more. The remodeled building now houses condos and looks like this:
But 10 years ago, after the tornado ripped through downtown, it looked like this:The night of the tornado, one of our friends was working in that tower. Brett's sister and another friend were both driving to work and found themselves in the middle of the storm. We had friends who lived downtown, and as we found out later, a friend who had gone down to the basement of the downtown Y after seeing the large windows there bow in and out.

But our family of four was at Chick-fil-A in the suburbs. It was "family night," and in those days we spent quite a few Tuesday nights with some church friends at that particular restaurant. The kids were on the playground when a manager said they'd better come indoors; it was hailing. She came around a few times to say we were under a tornado warning, and when one was spotted on the northside near I-35W, she told us we all needed to take cover.

So where do you find cover in a glass-wrapped Chick-fil-A? Why, the refrigerator, of course! We huddled in the walk-in fridge, nervously joking about how long we could sustain ourselves with brownies and carrot salad.

It was nervewracking, but we were safe from the deadly winds, which ended up hitting south of us. It wasn't until later that night that we learned about the downtown destruction. We heard about the Bank One building, the Cash America buildling and Mallick Tower, and Calvary Cathedral, the church building that had been demolished.
We had no clue how that destroyed building would change our lives and the life of our church family.

It was soon after that night that our elders learned that Calvary Christian Academy had lost its home when the church was destroyed. We had room in our building, so the invitation was extended and accepted. CCA moved in and shared our classroom space during the week. Meanwhile, Calvary Cathedral was holding worship services in tents, and as summer approached, that arrangement became tiresome. That's when the church began using our building on Sunday afternoons.

Eventually, the Calvary leadership learned it was not feasible to rebuild on their old property, so they approached our elders: What if Calvary bought the Midtown building? Previously a church growth expert had suggested our congregation move, but months of trying to sell our building had gone nowhere. But then this?

It took a lot of prayer and a giant leap of faith, but the elders accepted Calvary's offer. Land was acquired for our new home north of town, and plans were set in motion to build on a pasture. When we drove up there for the groundbreaking, there weren't even roads yet, but there were plentiful cow patties! There were also bunches of signs for home builders.

Today there are bunches of HOMES.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

All we need's a horse.

Since moving in, our backyard has been Frisco's territory. On this sunny Saturday, we took it over for a couple of games of horseshoes.

This is our neighbor's redbud, but isn't it pretty? Funny to think that just a week ago, we had snow!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring showers?

Let the record show that it snowed on March 20, 2010, the first day of spring! The morning after, we still had remnants of Saturday's flurries.

It was pretty and caused no traffic issues, but seriously? MORE snow? Crazy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring break escape: Day 2.

I believe every American passing through OKC should visit the national memorial and museum. Although Brett, Katie and I had been there before, Ryan had not. Tuesday it was his turn to learn about the 1995 bombing.We started at the "survivor tree." I wanted him to get a good look at it before he saw photos of it from that April day, surrounded by crushed and burning cars.

Then we got a good look at the "gates of time," denoting time before and after the explosion.

From there we headed indoors to see the museum.
It is powerful to see the impact this event had on us as individuals and as a nation. In spite of the tragedy and loss, the museum is able to convey the incomparable Heartland spirit that carried people through those dark days, our first real brush with terrorism in those pre-9/11 times.

After the museum we went back outside to the symbolic memorial. It was overcast and cold, which seemed to fit our somber mood.

We visited the fence to find mementos other visitors had left there in memory of those who died.

Then we just looked at all those chairs, each representing a life lost because of the bombing.

A park ranger there said it was OK to walk on the grass to get a closer look, so Brett and the kids did.
Being there gave me the chance to tell Ryan about Baylee and the other children who were killed that day. I told him how her sweet, smiling face broke my heart when I saw her picture in the newspaper.
And we once again saw the survivor tree, still standing 15 years after the bombing that destroyed so much of that tree's surroundings.
We can never go back to that innocent time before the bombing, but there at the memorial, we can remember those who died or were injured. We can also pay tribute to all the people who showered Oklahoma City with goodwill.

From there we drove to Bricktown. We had a lunch date with Toby Keith!
OK, we had a lunch PLANNED at Toby Keith's restaurant. We're not exactly TK fans, but we love the food there.
For the second day in a row, we had some gooooood ol' home cooking. We really love the spicy creamed corn there!

What I don't love? That upside-down longhorn over the door. I know Toby's a big ou fan and all, but DUDE. It's funny to me that during our trip we saw more anti-UT shirts and stickers than pro-ou stuff. WHO'S YOUR DADDY, sooners? Obsess much?

We had planned to cruise the canal via the Bricktown Water Taxi, but it was a COLD afternoon! Instead, we took a brisk walk over to the land run statues:

The sun was teasing us, peaking out from behind the clouds to give us just a little warmth. Since it was warming up just a tad, we kept walking around the canal.
By virtue of my monthly Diet Coke with lime intake, I'm obligated to take pictures of the Sonic HQ on each visit to Bricktown.

I still love this mural, too. Katie and I have seen these Bricktown scenes four times now.
But how nice to get to show all of this to my boy! It was great for all four of us to explore the place together.

After this picture, we had (yet another) conversation about how hard it is to get Brett to really smile for pictures. He insists that you have to say something funny if you want a grin. My old standby funny line ("Dukakis!") doesn't work anymore. He insisted that if we want him to smile, we've got to make him laugh—for real.

Katie took up that challenge, zinging one-liners to get Dad to crack.
It worked! He smiled!
After our Bricktown stroll, we headed home, chilly but chilled out. Our quick trip was a great little get-away!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring break escape: Day 1.

Desperate for a get-away, we headed north of the Red River for a quick spring break trip.

Our first stop: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, home of the world's greatest pecan pies* and this:
Brett and I had visited this place a few years ago, but we were due a return visit.

Among the thousands of action figures and other collectibles is this diorama:

It's supposed to represent an adult collector's bedroom since no kid could afford all those figures! We mentioned how we could stare at that display for an hour and still not see every little thing.

Katie really liked the case with wrestling figures.
Apparently she has inherited her great grandfather's appreciation for wrasslin'.

Many of the larger figures were decked out for spring break: TOYS GONE WILD!

This was our first time to see the GI Joe set-up.

These sets of DC/Marvel Comics figures were new to us, too.

It's fun to see so many action figures in one place, including all the variations of a particular character, like the TV, movie and animated Batman figures.

Brett liked this display of robots and aliens.

The Star Wars wall is impressive.

We remember some of those Batman cereal boxes up there! It's neat that the museum also has boxes from Pizza Hut's Episode 1 promotion.

The diorama gets most of the attention, but this is the museum creator's favorite place:


Brett with Kevin Stark, the artist who began the museum with his own collection

One section of the museum is dedicated to military figures:
We were glad we detoured off 35 long enough to revisit the museum!

While at the museum, we asked the volunteers there where we should eat lunch. They recommended Mimi's:
For $6 we could have chicken fried steak or chicken and dumplings plus FOUR vegetables!
Talk about delish! It was wonderful comfort food, and everything—food, service, crushed ice—was excellent.
Yo, yo, yo, it was good!

After lunch we headed through some residential areas to find Field's Pies, home of the "world's greatest pecan pies."
This factory is past several neighborhoods and feels like it's on the edge of town.
To get our pies, we made use of the drive-through (and yes, we had to "honk for service"). Then we had the big debate: Which pies to buy? Brett was getting the pecan, but I don't do pecans. At one point we actually considered buying pecan, pumpkin, german chocolate and lemon chess, but four pies for four people? Even on "vacation," that's excessive! We settled for pecan and pumpkin. The pies were frozen, so we had to wait a big before we could test them out. (Well, we also had to wait until we found some plasticware, too, but if those pies hadn't been frozen, I wouldn't have put it past Brett to dig in with his bare hands!)

From Pauls Valley we drove northward and stopped in Norman and Moore to shop at their Vintage Stock stores. Brett and Ryan are huge fans of the chain with its used movies, games and CDs. After the Moore stop, we found a Whataburger where Brett got himself a knife and some forks.
At long last, it was PIE TIME!

The kids and I passed on the in-car dining. We figured we could wait until the pies had defrosted a little bit more.
Brett, though, had had pie on his mind since we'd seen the "world's greatest" billboard on I-35 hours ago. That boy was not waiting a minute more. His verdict?

*Thumb-lickin' good! He said it was truly excellent pie, but he'd have to say it's the world's SECOND greatest pecan pie. His mom's still has that title!

Of course, that didn't keep us from re-enacting the "world's best coffee" scene from Elf: "YOU DID IT! Congratulations!"

So after the pie stop, we visited a few more Vintage Stocks and then made our way to Half Price Books in OKC to visit Uncle Mike:

After getting in a quick visit and some hugs, we were off to our hotel for—yep!—pie and a swim. Dinner at Cracker Barrel followed, and then we collapsed in our beds, worn out from our busy day.