At Work and Play

Just a few weekends ago, while daughter Trinidad was out-of-town for a marching band competition, my husband Jody and our three younger children – Rane, Eva, and Zack – made our way to Oklahoma City to attend the annual Plaza District Festival.

While I worked on gathering video, photos and interviews for an assignment, my family enjoyed the festival and my husband met with a few of his old friends…

The finished video for my assignment:

The Flash Mob:

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Zack on a Summer Day

Zack on his way to getting his hair cut a candy store...

…in a candy store…


Zack finally settled on Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans


Zack shares a jelly bean with sister Trinidad…a soap-flavored jelly bean

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Sweet Treats

Every weekday from 6-8 p.m. is Happy Hour at Hastings in Norman, Oklahoma. Drinks at the Hardback CafĂ© are buy-one-get-one-free during Happy Hour, and every once in a while, my family gets to indulge in some rather expensive sweet treats there. I won’t pay nearly $5 for just one drink, but I will splurge and pay that for two!

One recent evening Trin and I shared a mocha frappĂ© while Zack and Jody shared a berry smoothie. I always have the whipped cream from the frappĂ© added to the smoothie – which is the way I think it should be anyway 🙂

Probably my favorite drink on the planet - mocha frappé!

Probably my favorite drink on the planet – mocha frappĂ©!

Even though Trin and I are sharing the mocha frappĂ©, she can’t resist tasting the berry smoothie. I’ll admit…I couldn’t resist, either 🙂

Zack tries to drink as much of the smoothie as possible before taking it to Jody, who is already inside the bookstore.

Despite Trin’s warning that “dad will get mad”, Zack also tries to suck up as much whipped cream as possible before having to go into the bookstore and give up the smoothie to Jody.

It’s hard to avoid watching cable TV – we don’t have it at home and Trin succumbs to the temptation rather than continue monitoring Zack’s smoothie consumption.

For the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh

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Love Puppies!

Our puppies have grown!

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.  ~Roger Caras

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Bright Sunshiny Day

Sadly, our riding lawnmower died, but happily we were able to get a push mower. I’m most happy that I was able to persuade my husband to spare the sunflowers as he worked to beat back the jungle we call our yard 🙂

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Status Update


As many of you might know, Oklahoma City and the surrounding areas were again hit by tornadoes last night (May 31, 2013). What I thought was going to be a peaceful night at home after yet another family trip to Dallas to see the hip specialist yesterday turned into chaos and confusion on every level imaginable.

Not the least of the many problems stirred up by last night’s tornadoes was the damage done to the reputation of bona-fide storm chasers. Worse was the damage caused by the irresponsible urging of TV meteorologists  for people to try to outrun the tornadic storms. All the 5 reported fatalities were people caught on the roads – roads that were as much flooded by vehicles as by water.

Just a few weeks ago I began a Master’s degree program in New Media Journalism. I shared the following, slightly modified, with the closed Facebook group I belong to as part of my coursework:

Lyann Valadez:

When talking with my admissions advisor during the months leading up to my enrollment in FSO, I stated that one of the reasons I want to study New Media Journalism is that I have promised to “ride shotgun” with my future-storm-chaser daughter. Even though we are being taught that journalism is not about our personal journey, I want to learn how to use journalism to help my daughter with her endeavors to use storm chasing to benefit society.
The Tornado Titans status  update today really struck a chord with me. I will say that my family was astonished when we heard the TV meteorologist urge people to try to outrun the storm last night. All the eventual fatalities were on the roads (among them a young woman and her infant daughter) – the roads were flooded with vehicles as well as water. To me, last night was representative not only of the chaos and confusion these terrible storms cause, but it was representative of irresponsible journalism.
My comment on Tornado Titans’ status update (below) reads: Storm chasing for thrills is bad news any way you look at it. I have a daughter who wants to be a storm chaser, and her heart is in it for the right reasons – eventually she will become a meteorologist and her goal is to add to the understanding of tornadoes in the hopes of saving more lives (and property) from the devastation of these storms. We have chased one storm – from Norman to Shawnee on 5/19 – and we did not go so far as to gawk at the havoc that tornado produced.
Storm chasers, real storm chasers, work to benefit society and do not detract from the efforts to help other people. My daughter and I chased that one day to give her a taste of what she’s in for, and since then we’ve kept out of the way – we were very lucky, in more ways than one that day, and we know it. How we will proceed from here, I don’t know, but I do know there are bona fide storm chasers out there who do much more of a service to society than most people realize, and I am proud my daughter wants to join the ranks of the chasers who take tornadoes seriously. Tornado Titans are among those chasers. We are thankful they are safe, and we appreciate their position in the dialogue this has brought up concerning chasing and safety.

Tornado Titans – Extreme Weather and Storm Chasing:

A message from Tornado Titans co-founder Chris Sanner this morning: “So many things to say this morning, so as the personality type I am, here’s a list:
1)I was not with Brandon and Brett, thank God they are ok. Brandon has apologized for their chase decisions yesterday and I believe forgiveness should be heavy on everyone’s hearts but I do think key lessons were expressly learned by many chasers yesterday. No video is worth your life and getting close carries some HUGE risks. Let that be a lesson to everyone, this is a time to learn from other’s mistakes to be sure.
2)I was 1.5-2 miles south and west of the tornado at all times yesterday and when it took it’s southern jog I bailed south. We got blasted with the extremely strong RFD for a brief time and that in and of itself was an incredibly dangerous situation. I don’t regret any personal chasing decisions but the combination of the Canadian River, erratic storm motions and….
3)…the fact OKC evacuated south made chasing impossible yesterday. I’m not sure what made KFOR think this was a good idea to recommend but I’m not going to be nice about this. That reckless comment could’ve cost the lives of thousands. It’s criminal to go into a theater and yell fire, I think this is a similar situation. Ridiculous behavior that could’ve turned out much worse. I expect nothing short of an apology from that station.
4)Nothing yesterday got us closer to being perceived as anything but reckless thrill seekers. I for one am fully in support of any and all efforts to police chasing in any way at this point. The numbers are a joke (largely have ruined chasing on the big days), and I have zero problem with any attempts to try to cut those down even if it means I have to stay at home. The fact emergency management had to respond to CHASERS instead of people who were VICTIMS is a HUGE shame. I’m sick to my stomach about that. People could have (and very well might have) died because chasers themselves chose to become victims and had to be responded to.”

I, too, am sick to my stomach – the recent spate of storms and devastation is heart-wrenching, mind-boggling, and stomach-churning.

I can only hope that people do not lose sight of the fact that there are responsible storm chasers out there who are risking their lives not for the thrill of the chase, but for the hope of helping to save lives.

And as if I don’t already have enough blogs to manage, I am having to develop a website-blog for my coursework. My most recent article there was a “localization of a national news story” about the Moore tornado of May 20, 2013, if you’d like to check it out 🙂

To see my May 19th chase with future-storm-chaser Daughter Rane: check out A First.

Thank you to everyone who expressed concern for my family’s safety during these recent stormy days. I have found a wonderful world of cherished friends here on WordPress, and for that I could not be more grateful.


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Ice Camera Action

Daughter Eva was recently in an ice show at Blazers Ice Centre in Oklahoma City.

Training for the show was as much about life lessons as it was about learning a skating program. Ten days before the show another skater’s family complained they didn’t want Eva skating to what they claimed was the same music as their daughter’s – the song was Diamond’s Are a Girl’s Best Friend, and the clips were so different you wouldn’t even know they were the same song if someone didn’t tell you. At any rate, our wonderful coach, Carmon, and her daughter Catie (a beautiful and talented skater in her own right) choreographed a new program for Eva, and Eva did a beautiful job learning the new program on short notice.

While Eva was initially extremely upset by the change-up, she pulled herself together and made the best of a terribly stressful week. Her original program will be polished and used for competition later this year. Kudos to Eva for learning to take the bumps of life in stride!

Many thanks to dearest Santa Ralph, whose generosity has made skating possible for our family – on top of making certain my children had a Christmas last year, he has provided ice time and coaching for us this year.
Thank you so very much, Ralph – you have made such a positive difference not only in the life of my family, but in the lives of so many others, words really cannot express our appreciation.
Hugs and more Hugs,
The Starfish Family
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