We tried to be strong. We tried to fight it. We thought we could mow the lawn and that would be enough.

But the creeping tendrils across the driveway and the high grass border along the fence...

I tried to use lawn sheers. I really did. But they left my finger badly bruised after just trimming one side of the driveway.

So, we broke down and did it: we purchased a trimmer/edger.

Ronak using the edger

No more laughing at the neighbors as they make perfect corners in their lawns.

Ronak and the edger

We've joined the masses. We've become suburbanites.

Ronak sweeping up yard waste

We can only take pride in our edger/trimmer being electric and therefore better for the environment.

And we don't have an underground sprinkler system or a Hummer or maid service... yet.

I'm still not used to the Texas "rest stops." They need a new name. They usually are just not that "restful."

Maybe it's because they are spread out so much that you are absolutely desperate by the time you finally arrive at one.

Maybe it's because there are so few trees, you are forced to stretch your legs in the blazing sun or back in forth in the shifting shadows of one of the three trees.

Maybe it's because the drink and snack machines are encased in thick metal bars as if they are imprisoned.

Maybe it's because there is so little parking, you don't feel welcome.

Maybe it's because the bathrooms don't have windows, but gaps in the wall, that give the impression that you aren't quite alone - as breezes and voices and birds drift in.

And all of the above describes one of the nicer rest areas. There's also something called a "picnic area" with no trees, no view, a table or two, trash cans, and a road lined with tractor trailers. (Not exactly what I think of when I imagine a nice picnic spot. We were just too spoiled in North Carolina.)

We saw some construction when we stopped at one of the "nicer" rest stops that looked like they were trying to create a bigger, better, perhaps actually restful, area. We saw a small playground and an attractive building that looked promising.

But I have to wonder why they chose to build this rest stop behind another, already established one, when there are so few rest areas between Dallas and Austin. Wouldn't it have made more sense to add another new, convenient location, so we travelers wouldn't have to arrive so desperate?

Still, I look forward to a rest stop that might actually inspire restfulness - in humans.

killdeer in grass

The birds I saw at one of the areas seemed completely content in the 100 degree sun...

killdeer in grass

...or the branch of one of the rare trees.

scissor-tailed flycatcher in tree

They don't require as much to rest. They aren't coming from air conditioned cars where they have been sitting with cramped legs for hours on end.

Their legs don't need stretching. Their snacks don't need restraining. They can park themselves anywhere. They aren't modest. And if they feel the need to go, well, they always have the windshields of our comfortable, restful, air conditioned cars, don't they?

En route to Chick-fil-a, we saw a beautiful building in the distance.

Waco, Texas Veterans Affairs, Medical Center

We were impressed by the architecture and forgot all about compounds and realized Waco had a longer, richer history than a footnote about a standoff in 1993. (Learn more about the history of Waco, Texas.)

For example, did you know that the Dr. Pepper soft drink was invented there and originally called a "Waco"? Or that this town was known as the top producer of cotton?

Or that Waco is associated with "The Crash at Crush" and the "Waco Horror" and "the tenth deadliest tornado in U.S. history"? (And that brings us back to the Waco we know.)

Waco, Texas Veterans Affairs, Medical Center

Still, the old buildings are beautiful and bring to mind the possibility of another kind of Waco...

Waco, Texas Veterans Affairs, Medical Center

...one that is majestic and grand with southern hospitality.

And then we arrived at Chick-fil-a (a very professional, pleasant place in general), where all hopes of that notion were dashed.

Where Ronak was first ignored, then received rude service at the counter, topped off with barbecue sauces handed to him as if he were an untouchable.

Meanwhile, I was in line in the restroom, in desperate pain, shocked at the attitudes of the self-centered people waiting with me. They purposefully ignored me, encouraged several small girls to cut into line in front of me, insisted that the girls (and a boy) "try" whether they had to go or not, and acted as if they owned the facility.

I was in the restroom so long that Ronak called me on my cell phone to make sure I was all right. Besides being close to tears from pain, I was fine, but ready to leave Waco. I ate my fries rapidly and proclaimed that I was ready to go.

Back in the car, we both vowed not to return to Waco and remarked how it was so odd that even a usually well-managed fast food chain could be ruined by such a place.

Still, we enjoyed viewing the beautiful buildings again, on the way out of town. Maybe Waco is just a place that should always be viewed from inside the car... with the windows rolled up... and the doors locked.

On our trip to Dallas last weekend, Ronak and I drove through Waco, Texas.

There's something eerie about traveling through a city which you've only seen on the news for a grim historical event: the Dravidian cult and the FBI involved in a standoff that ended in a deadly fire.

The last time we made the trip to Dallas, we just drove by Waco without stopping. This time, I was desperate for a bathroom, a snack, and a leg stretch, so we followed billboard directions to a Chick-fil-a within Waco, hoping to satisfy all of my needs.

The Waco, Texas seen along the highway was very different than the one we saw on the way to the restaurant.

Waco Memorial Funeral Home

On interstate 35, we saw this oddly shaped building...

Waco Memorial Funeral Home

...which upon closer examination, we discovered was a funeral home: Waco Memorial Funeral Home.

Waco Memorial Park billboard

A friend of mine toured the remains of the cult's compound during her stay in Texas. She said it was interesting, worth seeing, and left her feeling tense.

Waco, Texas billboard: Have it your way, Waco!

This Burger King billboard takes on a whole new meaning when thinking about the standoff. It left me feeling tense and not interested in eating there. Probably not their intention.

Waco, Texas church

Then we saw this advertisement for a different kind of church (and definitely not a cult). Not only can you Jazzercize there...

Waco, Texas church - 30 minute service

...you won't have to spend even 60 minutes in church each week (never mind live there). These guys can wrap up a whole service in half the time.

(Me, I'm waiting to see the drive-through place of worship. You order the type of bread or wafers, juice or wine you want at the order board. Tune your radio to the proper frequency to hear the sermon while you idle in line. Get your communion and give your tithes at the window. And you're all set until next Sunday. I wonder how popular that would be.)

After seeing these oddities on the main road, we expected nothing less on the smaller, local road to Chick-fil-a. In fact, we expected creepier, stranger, and more feelings of tension. But, instead, we saw a very different Waco that removed all thoughts of standoffs and burning compounds...

More on the "softer side of Waco" tomorrow.

Our house was already built for giants, with light switches and shelves located up high. (I can stand upright easily with plenty of head room under the shelves in the master bedroom.) But as my belly has grown forward, it has made it more and more difficult for me to reach safely for anything.

Wouldn't it be helpful if our arms extended at the same rate as our baby bump, so we wouldn't have to perform contortions in order to wash the dishes or get the laundry detergent off the shelf above the washing machine?

But until evolution catches up biologically, we'll have to adapt with tools - and contortions.

At first, turning my body sideways and reaching with one arm was a neat trick. But I'm not a bird with eyes on the sides of my head, and I'm in no way graceful these days. Twisting my head to see what I was doing while doing a side bend over the top of the washer, I came dangerously close to falling in on my head.

I could just picture Ronak returning from work and finding my feet sticking out of the washing machine, my body wedged in snugly. (Maybe he could hang towels on my feet, but they would eventually be dirty towels, with me as a permanent fixture in the washer.)

To avoid headstands in the washing machine, I moved my laundry detergent, dryer sheets, color catchers, and stain stick to the top of the dryer. It was messy, but I could reach safely for what I needed (well, except the clothing at the very bottom of the washer, but nothing can help with that).

To better organize the laundry room and make it easier for me to remain on my feet, Ronak and I looked to tools. We considered purchasing the Whirlpool cart that fits between the matching washer and dryer, but with shipping and handling, it seemed pricey. And we'd have to move the heavy dryer to squeeze it in.

Next, we found a slim cart unit at The Container Store, and we decided to go take a look at it.

Unfortunately, our Container Store didn't have one in stock and wouldn't have any for a long time. (It was a shame, because the shorter version of the cart that the salesman showed us, made us think that that cart would work well for us. But we didn't really want to wait until the end of July for it to come off backorder.)

The salesman gave us another option: a narrow plastic chest of drawers. We were shown how the lower drawers could fit a bottle of laundry detergent. I considered this, and although it wasn't ideal (since I'd be practicing squats with the extra weight of a bottle of laundry detergent in one hand), I decided it might work. (Falling awkwardly but close to the floor is definitely preferable to falling in the washer.) Then I saw the price tag, and thought again. It made the Whirlpool option look extremely reasonable.

So, we were back to square one - and contortions.

I was thinking about giving up and preparing to live with either a mess on the dryer or pondering life from the bottom of the washer, when I took a second look at the shorter version of the slim cart we had originally come to see. The detergent could definitely fit on the top, so I wouldn't have to reach or squat for it. Other, lighter products could be placed on the shelves below. And the cost was lower than anything we had looked at. We decided to take a chance.

We assembled the cart, and were happy to find that everything fit on it! Not only that, Ronak found a nice spot for the cart that allows us to leave the washer and dryer where they are - and doesn't get in the way of my hidden feet or expanding belly.

So, this time tools won. Messes and contortions can now be avoided. And I can wash my clothing without any fear of ending up inside the machine. That's real success.

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In 2007, we moved to Austin, and this blog chronicled our adaptation to Texas life: festivals, wildflowers, and bats - oh my! Then we had a baby, and that changed everything, so now, we blog about where to buy organic food, what parks are fun for babies, which exterminator is taking care of our scorpion problem. (You know, the usual parental concerns.)


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