Friday, June 30, 2017

I might have done that a few too many times too.

Yesterday morning, Katrina woke up at 10:30, which is possibly the latest she's ever slept, so naturally, when she finally DID wake up, we all commented on it. Turns out...she stayed up until 2:00 in the morning finishing her book.

And honestly, that is one thing that i will never (as long as it's not a school night) ever be upset with my kids for. "Oh, you stayed up all night reading? Totally legit."

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Library! Picnic!

Today all three kids came to work with me. I gave them each a scavenger hunt-like list of things to find in the library (authors with our last name, a book with the word "chicken" in it, a place you'd like to visit). Houston and Katrina both found every single thing. Zane got about halfway before giving up, which honestly? Is more than i'd kind of expected. They all had fun, and i was super-proud of how really well-behaved they all were. I have a lot of groups of kids to compare them to now, and they were absolutely awesome.

Tonight we had a picnic with all of the relatives from my mom's side of the family that live in the general area. Or at least all of the relatives who could make it. The picnic was supposed to be yesterday, but we got rained out, so we moved it to today instead. And for most of the time, it was perfect. After we ate and had been sitting talking for a little while, it started to look and feel like it was going to rain. (Me: "It's going to rain." My dad: "No - i was looking at the radar, and it showed that there's no rain!" Me: "Um, i'm looking at the sky, and ... it's going to rain." 3 minutes later: Rain.)

So it started drizzling, and then it started raining in earnest, but only in spurts. My kids are the proverbial "not smart enough to come in out of the rain" type of kids, apparently, because as soon as it started raining, they all ran around getting soaked while the rest of us took shelter under the pavilion.

Some people left as soon as it started raining. Some of us stayed and talked with some of the relatives we just don't see very often. And i was reminded, as i am every time we get together with family, that i just really, really like my relatives.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Just a summer day

I've been giving the kids little challenges to do while i'm at work - things like, "Make brownies!" or "Find something that looks awesome under the microscope and draw me a picture of it!" or "Play a game that you've never played before!" And sometimes they do it, and sometimes they don't. Katrina's done all of them so far, i think, but the boys are a lot more apt to just ... not. Today, they got individual challenges, and Houston's was to make a cool animal out of Lego. So he made a cat. A pretty awesome cat, honestly.

Katrina wanted to have her friend Alex over today, but Alex doesn't wake up until after i'd be at work, so Katrina was all, "What if i ride my bike to her house and then we can ride back together!" Which would be fine on the way back, but it's a bit farther than i'd like her to go on her own yet. So instead, all three kids rode their bikes to get her and bring her back. Yay! Bike ride!

Houston's been begging me to teach him to play Tripoly, ever since last week when they were supposed to play a game they hadn't played in a long time, and they wanted to play Tripoly but couldn't figure out how to play it. But having at least 4 people is best, and Zane insisted that he didn't want to play because he didn't like it. (His dislike of the game is based on his last time playing it, back when he was about 4 years old.) So today, with Alex here, we had 4 people who were all willing to play! Yay! Zane watched us for about an hour and then was all, "Can i play?" Because it's a fun game!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


A couple of weeks ago, Juanito called me and said, "So i was just driving down the road, and all of a sudden the car started whining really loudly, and then it threw something out of the engine, and...the alternator is broken." Those aren't his exact words, but it was "Something, something, something, car broken, blah blah blah." And so, for the past weeks, we've been using one car, which only works because i'm sleeping when Juanito is at work and he's sleeping when i'm at work.

But tomorrow we will actually need both cars, and so tonight Juanito gritted his teeth and tucked his hair up into a plastic bag (because...dreads) and got down to the actual work of fixing the alternator. So now we have two cars again! Yay!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Adventure Monday!

Today was Monday! Hence: Adventure time!

It was Juanito's weekend off, AND Beth had today off, and so they both joined us for our adventuring. Yay!

After a quick stop at Meijer for some picnic-y foods, we headed up to a tiny town about 45 minutes away, where there is a giant slide that goes down the side of a hill. It wasn't super fast today...until Houston took off his sweatshirt and sat on it, took off his shoes and rolled down the cuffs of his jeans so that they covered his feet, and flew down the slide so fast that he flung right off the end of it and tumbled to a stop in the dirt. That, of course, created a new flurry of excitement wherein everyone had to pass around Houston's sweatshirt (it was the fastest) and have a go. Fun for all!

After sliding to everyone's hearts' content, we climbed back in the car and headed up to Montague, where the World's Largest Weather Vane lives. (It's 48 feet tall, and the arrow is something like 26 feet long.) And, i mean, it's not like a weather vane is the MOST exciting thing in the world, but now we can all say that we saw the Biggest! One! Anywhere!

Around 14 years ago, Beth and i went to Montague with Houston and had a picnic and let little 1-year-old Houston play on the playground, and so we knew there was a park nearby. We didn't know exactly where it was, although we were pretty sure it was by the water. So we started hunting, and found a spot with a field and a boat launch and a marsh walk and picnic tables, and decided that that was a lovely enough place to eat our lunch. It might have been nicer if it hadn't been quite so cold, but everyone who had hoods put them up, and we soldiered on. (I mean, it was probably in the low 60's, so it's not like we were in Siberia, but when the clouds were covering the sun and the wind was blowing, it was cold.)

We were all excited about the marsh walk, because there's one near us that we used to love, but it's been closed for a couple of years now, so this sounded promising. And it was pretty...but it was also incredibly short. It was like...walk a 100 yards, turn right, and that's the end. But it was still pretty enough to sit and enjoy it for a bit. And! There was an island? In the middle of the lake? With plants growing on it and stuff? And it was totally moving. Like...just floating along as if it's perfectly normal for islands to just meander downstream.

Anyhow. We stopped at an actual playground (probably the one we'd gone to years ago) so the kids could play for a bit, and then headed home. And that was mostly it, except that on the way home, we stopped to see a mini-Stonehenge. It's adorable - maybe 1/2 or 1/3 size - and i totally wish we could have gone closer, but it's on private property, so we had to content ourselves with standing by the gate, peering in. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017


We spent most of the day at my parents' house today. The kids all played together like crazy. It was a pretty chilly day, especially for the end of June, which meant that they could all run around outside for hours without getting sweaty and hot. So...i guess that's one thing that the cool weather is good for. (I would still choose to have it be hot most of the time. At least in summer.)

I spent a lot of the day being the token Democrat in a house full of Republicans, so...that was exciting.

Hey! Let me tell you about what Zane is like in church! That's not political!

So Zane is Zane, which means that he is a wiggler and a fidgeter, and he is not someone who can sit still and listen to anything for half an hour. Even when i'm reading Harry Potter, which he wants desperately to listen to, he spends the entire time moving and flipping upside down and hanging off the couch and .... So there's no way that he could sit and even pretend to listen to the sermon, and if we tried to make him just sit still, he'd drive everyone in the entire section insane. So we let him bring things to do.

He has an entire binder that he's assembled over the past year, and it includes paper and pencils with which to draw, comic books, books about facts about nature, Boys' Life magazine, and i don't even know what else. And with it he is able to mostly sit still.

And then, when we are standing and singing, he usually goes back and forth between Juanito and me, hugging one of us for an entire song, then switching to the other, and back. He does not like the loudness of the singing, and during the singing he does not sing along, but then i often hear him singing or humming the songs we sang later on in the week.

And lately, for reasons that i cannot possibly BEGIN to explain, he has started crab-walking everywhere. Today we were walking back down the aisle after communion, and he randomly dropped to the ground and crab-walked the rest of the way to our row. And he's crazy fast at it - he can crab-walk easily as fast as a normal person can walk quickly. He is absolutely one of the weirdest kids sometimes. (And i did have to tell him that crab-walking is not appropriate in some venues.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A very Katrina-y day

Katrina came to the library with me today, because every day is "bring your daughter to work" day when you work at the library! She picked a good day to come - there was no drama, and she got lots of space to herself and lots of quiet. She started out drawing and writing articles for her magazine, and then eventually grabbed "Divergent" off the shelf and spent the rest of the time reading. I asked her if she liked coming with me because it was quiet or because she got to spend time with me or because it was just fun to come to the library, and she said, "All of the above." But i suspect that "because it's quiet" is a pretty big percentage of the reason.

And then Katrina and i went to "Once Upon a Child" (a store where they sell nice used clothes) because they were having a giant sale and she needed shorts, and let me tell you.... Finding cute and also modest clothes that actually fit a 13-year-old is unreasonably hard. Nobody should be wearing shorts that are that short, especially children. And i will never understand why clothing stores can't all have a conversation and be like, "Okay, THIS is what we're going to call size 12, and THAT will be size 14. Sound good? Okay, let's ALL DO THAT THEN." That would make life a lot easier.

A few days ago, Katrina and Zane brought my giant Harry Potter Lego castle upstairs and were all, "Um...if we promise to be really careful, could we make this?" Zane lasted approximately long enough to build one room, and then Katrina spent the next couple of days working on it off and on, and today she finished it, and it is now sitting on top of the bookcase, being all cool.

Friday, June 23, 2017


I was sitting next to Houston today, and i noticed just how much his teeth actually have moved. He has big gaps in between teeth that used to be touching each other. Orthodontia is working! And also, weird! I would not have thought that that's what the first step would be, but i guess it makes sense.

Juanito, Katrina, and Zane went to pick strawberries this morning. (I was at work, but Katrina stepped up and "made sure to be really, really picky and only pick the good ones" in my place.) So now we have a whole bunch of fresh strawberries, some of which will hopefully stay good long enough that we can eat them tomorrow! Juanito's going to use some of them, he says, to make jam. And Zane desperately wants smoothies. So! Yay, strawberries!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Ortho! Work! Books!

This morning was an orthodontist appointment for both Houston and Katrina.

Houston, who has had his weird metal devices, rubber bands, and a retainer for over half a year now, got some new little brackets added to his teeth. These are on the canine teeth (i think), and instead of wearing his retainer/rubber bands all day and night, he now has instructions to only wear them for about 12 hours a day. Otherwise, apparently, the teeth with the brackets might start to twist or move weirdly. So. Progress is being made! Next month: actual braces!

Katrina had her "Let us check if she has all of her permanent teeth now" appointment (she does), and so next month she's going to get ... something done. Braces? Some weird device like Houston's? I don't know. They were going to still decide. But she's all signed up now, which means that we've got two kids for whom braces are forthcoming! Kids are expensive!

Zane, meanwhile spent the entire day - from first light until bedtime - at his friend Justin's house. I saw him for about 30 seconds this morning before he left with Juanito and then again for about 30 seconds when i got home, after he should have been asleep. But he seems to have had fun.

I worked this afternoon, and usually work is lovely and at least relatively quiet for most of the time, because it IS a library, after all. But today? There is something in the air today, because people were kind of insane. For the first time since i've worked there, we actually kicked out a group of kids, because they were TERRIBLE. There were 4 of them, and they were there for like...hours...and they were screaming and pushing each other and throwing the kids' toys all over the place and screaming some more, and eventually my co-worker was like, "Okay. That's it. I've given them multiple warnings, and they are just finished." Hallelujah. Oh, and also, someone was looking at porn on one of the computers that's right in the middle of the library, and we have no idea who it was, so that's fun.

And then tonight i had book club. We read "The Nightingale," which was both well-liked by all and also was good for discussion, and that is both rare and awesome. It seems like most of the time, either a book has a lot of discussion but people hate it, or people love it but there's not much to discuss. Yay! 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


I'm currently reading three different books with the kids. (I'm also reading 3 books on my own, because apparently i'm stupid.) Most of the time i'm only reading one book with the kids. Maybe two, if it's around someone's birthday and i'm reading Harry Potter with just them or something.

But right now, there are three. So first of all, i started reading "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" to the boys, because Katrina was ... somewhere. I'd only read a chapter or two, and told Katrina that she could totally catch up before i read the next part, but she decided that she wanted to read that one on her own, so i'm reading that book with just Houston and Zane.

And then i had been reading "Masterminds," which the kids all loved, and when we finished it, everyone wanted to read the sequel...but there weren't any available copies. So i put it on hold at the library, and we waited.

In the meantime, Zane has been begging to read the next Harry Potter book, because his birthday is nearly here, and it's just easier to read more often during the summer, so we started on "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."

And then today, the next "Masterminds" book came in, and all of the kids NEEDED to read it immediately.

AND SO. Reading time has gotten significantly longer than it usually is. honestly okay with me.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Adventure Monday, the first

Mondays are my day off, so this summer we're switching from Adventure Thursdays to Adventure Mondays. Today was the first official day off for Katrina and Zane - the first day that they'd usually be going to school but aren't - AND it's a Monday, so it was the perfect day to start off the summer.

We started the day by going out to breakfast with my parents. Pancakes! Fun! The kids got all you can eat, and Zane finally declared himself full after his 8th pancake. That kid is a bottomless pit.

After breakfast, we stopped at the store and got a giant frisbee thing, and then went to my kids' favorite park. Usually i can know what color shirts my kids are wearing, and then i can easily find them simply by color. And usually a shirt that's bright green like Zane's was would be the easiest thing in the world to spot. But today, there were three giant groups of kids there, obviously from some daycare-type places, and one of the groups had shirts the exact color of Zane's shirt and another group was wearing blue shirts the exact color as Katrina's. So that strategy worked not at all today.

Anyhow. It's the kind of park that's all wooden and is sort of like a castle? Like, with lots of little places to hide and explore and climb on? So the kids ran around like crazy and got all hot and sweaty, and eventually Houston and Katrina got bored and wandered over to where i was. So then the three of us went to the giant field and tried to play frisbee and realized that we are all remarkably terrible at it. However! If you have a giant, soft frisbee and it's a somewhat windy day, and none of you particularly care if the frisbee is dropped more often than it's caught, then it's really fun even when you suck at it! Zane joined us for a little while, got bored, and went back to the playground. Katrina suggested trying to throw the frisbee from one end of the field to the other, to see who could get there first, so we did that, and she totally kicked our butts.

When we were finished playing and Zane still wasn't bored, Katrina and Houston got out their notebooks and started working on their magazines for a little while. (They both have magazines. Houston's is "The Egg," and Katrina's is "The Kat." They are completely ridiculous and carry silly stories that they make up. They're quite entertaining.)

And eventually, finally, Zane was ready to leave, so we all piled back into the car and went to another park, this time to feed the ducks. One of the first things Zane asked me on his very first day off was, "It's summer! Can we go feed the ducks?!" So now we have.

And that was all i could think of to do today, because i just wasn't feeling terribly creative. So we came home and everyone read and played and generally hung out. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Anniversary + Father's Day

Today is both Father's Day and our anniversary, so we kind of, sort of celebrated both things.

Juanito woke up at about 2:00, and soon thereafter the two of us went out for a late lunch without children to celebrate the fact that we have been married 23 years. (Seriously. 23 years. We got married when we were 22, which means that we've been married a year longer than we were alive before we were married. What?!)

And then we came home and got the kids and headed downtown to walk around and swing on the giant tire swing and take silly pictures and just enjoy the lovely day. And i was reminded, as always, that our kids are the best kids.

At one point, we stopped in Rosa Park Circle and somehow got on the subject of dreams, and after a while, Houston was all, "Well. And then there's my shopping cart dream." The rest of us were all like, "Whaaaaat?" And he said, "Oh yeah. That was a recurring dream that i had. There was a white room with a shopping cart in the middle on a pedestal and it was turning around and around, and that was the entire dream. And for some reason, for years, that was my best dream ever." Bwahahahaha!!!

Saturday, June 17, 2017


That's the only picture i actually took today, so i guess that's the one i'm using. Those were the shelves of kids DVDs when i got in this morning. And on the one hand, i get to have a feeling of accomplishment once they're all orderly again, but on the other hand, OMG WHO DOES THIS?!

Last night and into this morning it rained and poured and thundered and lightninged and was altogether impressive. Katrina and i both woke up early, way before the boys woke up, so we got to sit in the front room together and cuddle and quietly watch the storm. It was quite lovely.

And then i went to work, and then when i came home we cleaned the house, and then Juanito and Zane went to a bonfire at Zane's friend's house and i went to Beth's house and Katrina and Houston stayed home and rested. And that was today.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Last day of school!!!

Today was the final day of the school year! Yay!!!! It also marks the very last time i will ever have any children in elementary school, because next year Zane will be in 6th grade, which is middle school. How did my kids get so old???

I didn't get to pick them up from school for their last day (sad!), but as soon as i got home, we headed out to Steak 'n Shake for our traditional start-of-summer shakes! Beth, who has been a part of the tradition as well, was only able to come for a short time, but she still showed up to celebrate with us, and that was awesome.

Because it's really hot and muggy, we decided to skip making the house even hotter by making pizzas, and instead we grilled hot dogs and brats and just had them for dinner instead. (And when i say "we" grilled, i actually mean "Juanito grilled.") It was a perfect first-day-of-summer dinner. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Family! And a graduation for people we don't know!

My little brother Rick and his family surprised us all with a quick 1-night visit. Yay! Of course, it was the one day a week when i work until 4:00, and we had to be at the graduation for Katrina to play in band by 6:30, AND Juanito had a meeting at 4:00 with a potential ArtPrize vendor (He got it! He has a host place for ArtPrize! Yay!), so we ended up with approximately one hour to actually get to visit with them. But it was fun to get to see them even for a short little time. My parents got pizza for everyone, and every single person in my family was there (except one niece who is up at a cottage with friends), so it was insanely crowded and chaotic but awesome.

And then Juanito, the kids, my mom, and i all piled into the car and went to see Katrina play in band. The 7th graders were playing for the 8th graders' graduation, which meant that we had to go to 8th grade graduation for people we don't actually really know, but since everyone else was there to see the graduation, we got prime seats in the back near the band. Perfect! My mom was out of the state for Katrina's other concerts, so she was really happy to be able to make it to at least one of Katrina's performances. And, since it was only the 7th graders, we got to hear what they sounded like without the 8th graders. (Katrina has told us repeatedly that the 8th grade band is just terrible, so they make her band sound worse. And...i think she's actually right.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Last day of school (for Houston)!

Today was the Last! Day! Of school! for Houston. He had his final exams, and then celebrated by spending the rest of the day reading and occasionally exclaiming, "I'm so happy that i don't have any more homework!"

Monday, June 12, 2017

I am sad.

Today we said goodbye to our VW bus, which we've had almost as long as we've been married. To be fair, it's spent the past 15+ years sitting in our backyard, being used as a plaything by the kids, but we all loved it, and it's a sad day. It sold rather more abruptly than i had expected, so Katrina came home from school, noticed that it was gone, and promptly burst into tears because she hadn't gotten to say goodbye or take pictures with it before it was gone.

The rest of the day (and also all day Saturday) was filled with weeding and raking and trimming trees and bushes and clearing out garbage from the backyard. On Saturday the kids and i weeded the garden, which ... i'm really hoping that at least most of what we pulled out were weeds. I am SO not a gardener. And we pulled out all of the weeds on the side of the house, which was a formidable amount. We borrowed a trailer from my dad and filled it with (Juanito's) trash - old tires and random pieces of wood and ... i don't even know what all. And then he brought that to the dump and we filled it again, this time with yard waste. And once that gets emptied tomorrow, then Juanito will fill it AGAIN, this time with metal to bring to the scrap yard. And then...we shall see. The backyard is not as embarrassing as it used to be, but it still needs some work.

Houston has exams this week. (I am trying to mostly let him do it on his own this time, but i'm not succeeding completely, because i think that left to his own devices, he would just...not study. Kill me now.)

Meanwhile, Katrina and Zane are in their last week of school, which seems to mean that they go to school and ... do nothing. For the past weeks, there have been So! Many! Events! Field Day and Track Day and Happy Fun Day for the grade school. Katrina got to go to the movie theater to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie because she did well on the standardized tests. Zane had beach day today. Katrina has beach day on Wednesday. Zane went to Michigan's Adventure last Wednesday. And.... Dude. I know there's always end of year excitement, but this is just insane.

REGARDLESS! Last week of school!!!! And there was much rejoicing!!!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Here we go again. Hopefully.

So here's the thing: I don't actually have any good excuse for not writing. I mean, i have excuses. A big part of it was that i just didn't write and then i didn't write again and then i was going to have to catch up or just ignore everything that happened that i didn't write about, and that was just overwhelming or sad, so i just...kept not writing. And then i missed Houston's birthday, which meant that i was going to have to write that before going on,'s been three months, and it would be kind of weird to be all, "So it was Houston's March...." And so here i am, in June. 

Things that have happened: 

1. Houston had a birthday. He's 15 now, and i really should write a post about him, because he really is just still absolutely awesome, especially for a teenager. I might still write that post. Or i might not. (I wouldn't probably hold my breath, though.)

2. Beth and i went see U2's Joshua Tree reunion tour concert, and it was AMAZING. Because...U2!!! We were really far back, and they were essentially just tiny little figures way, way down there, but their concerts are just incredible, and i don't even care that we couldn't really see them. 

3. We got to visit with Karen and Amiya on Memorial day. Everyone in my family is just utterly besotted with Amiya. She is darling and adorable and i so, so wish that we lived closer! And it was also fun to get to hang out with Karen and catch up with her a little bit. (She is also quite awesome.)

4. Katrina got two baby guinea pigs. They're sisters, even though they don't look alike at all, and if we hadn't gotten them straight from the owners who were all, "This is the mom and this is the dad, and here are the three siblings," i would not have believed that they were related. The third sibling was a boy, and we do NOT want more guinea pigs, so we couldn't take him. I'm hoping that he didn't actually end up as snake food.

5. The kids had Spring Break, and we didn't actually go away this year. Instead we drove out to Detroit for one day and spent it exploring the city, and then we drove to Chicago for another day and went to the zoo for half of the day and then walked around the city (and walked and walked) for the rest of it. We also visited my Aunt Angie's house in Kalamazoo (which is HUGE and amazing and my kids were all, "Can we go back there soon?") and went to Meijer Gardens for a day. So nobody was sitting around bored.

6. Katrina had two band concerts and Zane also had one. Both of them love band this year, which makes me really, really happy, because Katrina absolutely loves playing her flute and didn't enjoy band at all the past two years. The band director is new this year, and she is so obviously much, much, much better than the past two directors. No comparison. This last concert, the 7th and 8th graders played all movie music, and the kids were encouraged to dress up in a costume from one of the movies whose music they were playing. Katrina borrowed our friend Keren's Princess Leia dress, and she was the cutest Leia ever. (There were a couple of girls dressed up as cats, and Keren, Beth, and i were all trying to figure out what movie they were from, and i was all, "Well. They're playing James Bond. They might be dressed up as Pussy Galore????" Which seemed incredibly inappropriate, but...? But then they started playing "The Pink Panther," and we were all, "OH! GOOD!!!!!")

7. Juanito and i both had our birthdays and now we are both halfway to 90. That's like...really old.

8. We moved the kids' bedrooms around! Katrina moved into the room on the ground floor that has served, at various times, as computer room, home school room, art room, and reading room. Zane moved into Katrina's old room. And Houston now has his same bedroom to himself. They all love having their own rooms, and two of them have been doing a much, much better job of keeping them clean. (I won't name the one who's a slob, but his name starts with a Z.)

9. I started working at the library, and i love it. I work 20 hours a week, and i'm mostly at work while the kids are in school, so it's kind of a perfect schedule. I will be kind of sad this summer, though, when we don't have as much time to just do whatever we want whenever we want. 

And i think those are most of the highlights. 

This week is the last week of school (WOOHOO!), and that means that Houston has exams. This is a conversation we had on Friday afternoon:

Me: "So in English you've read 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and 'The Scarlet Letter' and 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God' and 'The Crucible' and...other stuff. But some of that was first semester. So which of those things are going to be on the exam? Do you know?"
Houston: "We're doing prefixes."
Me: ".....?"
Him: "What?"
Me: .....blink blink....
Him: "What?"
Me: "What do you mean you're 'doing prefixes'?"
Him: "We're doing prefixes."
Me: "For the exam?"
Him: "Yes."
Me: "Like...knowing what they mean?"
Him: "Yes."
Me: "And...that's all that's on the exam?"
Him: "Yes."
Me: "That makes no sense. Have you studied prefixes?"
Him: "Yes."
Me; "Oh my gosh! Give me more to work with here!!!! WHY is the exam just prefixes?"
Him: "I don't know."

Seriously. Sometimes communication is really not Houston's strong suit.