Friday, May 30, 2008

Our New Lifestyle

Toby started his new second job this week. Even though he hates welding, he has been sucking it up and taking it like a man. He does say that the company he is working for is at least a good company, which I am sure aids in his tolerence of welding.

As for me, I am thankful that this job is alot closer to the house therefore, more convenient for me to take him to work and have access to the car. After all someone has to run all the errands. This week has been the first time Summer and I have been off and alone together in 5 months. It was like we had died and gone to heaven.

We don't mind being with Toby most of the time but there are times when we like to do girl shopping and don't want to have to be interrupted by a man who has to "go home and poop" which I am sure is triggered by the hatred of shopping. :-)

He is still keeping his job at the tat shop because he loves to tattoo. Who am I to interfere with a man's true passion????? We do see him alot less and I'm sure that it will take it's toll eventually but for now we are surviving.

Being stranded at the house is tolerable for me because I LOVE my house and my neighborhood. Summer has a blast with the kids in the neighborhood and I am glad she finally has neighborhood playmates that we can all tolerate!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Today's Quote

Contrary to what we usually believe ... the best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times.... The best moments usually occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile."

—Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"The Birds"

When we first had a nest of birds on the front porch it was a cool and exciting thing. We watched the mama and daddy bird feed the babies and sit on the nest. We studied their behavior and looked forward to the babies arrival.

Unfortunately once the babies hatched "all hell broke loose". The mama bird has been very protective and makes sure that noone is near the nest....that includes family members/neighbors...anyone that may be on the front porch or front yard. This includes "calling" all her bird family members in to dive bomb us if we even poke our head out the front door.

Not to mention the poop I have had to clean off the porch while avoiding mutiple bird attacks. They make a terrible mess and their domination of their "territory" makes it hard to enjoy the front yard.

I am anxiously awaiting the babies to fly the nest. I noticed this morning they are excercising their wings and fluttering in the nest. I am looking forward to their departure as much as I was anticipating their birth.

On another note, we ended up getting a small swimming pool to cool off in throughout the summer. Unfortunatley, we discovered a small pinhole in the side of the pool after we had it filled. Toby suggested that we dump out the water and patch the hole but I did not want to waste the water....instead I duct taped the hole.

I don't know if the hole was there when we bought it or if it got there while we were trying to assemble the pool. There was alot of wind and we kept having to force it down to the ground while filling it up with water.

It seems fine with the duct tape and has survived several neighbor kids jumping around in it. I think it will survive.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Texas Heat

The clock just now turned 8:45 pm. It is finally dark. I guess I never really paid a whole lot of attention to sunset times in Alabama but for some reason it seems like the sun sets much later here. Which in turn means that Summer stays outside playing much that she has neighborhood playmates to stay out and play with.

I guess my parenting skills falter along the lines of "playtime". I can remember being Summer's age and having to go to bed at dusk. My bedtime would be eight o'clock. I can remember lying in bed still hearing the kids out in the street playing while I was suppose to be going to sleep. I always felt like I was missing out on something, although now I know I probably wasn't.

It has been really hot during the day here climbing close to 100 degrees. We don't have many tall trees here so there is nothing but blaring sun and not much shade. The upside to this is there is not too much humidity so you mostly feel the hotness and not the smothering suffocating humidity. In the early morning and evening it is quite comfortable and always with a breeze. Hopefully this is just not a tease and it will remain this way througut the summer.

The past week Summer has spent most of her days underneath the waterhose, sprinkler and on the slip and slide.......oh, and the next door neighbors plastic pools that she bought to keep the kids cool.

We have no trees in our yard and there is not much shade......much different from our home in Alabama where the whole yard was covered by shade and you never saw the sun. Needless to say, Summer and I are beginning to blend in fine with the culture here thanks to our nice tan we have going on. :-)

There are plenty of places to keep cool around here but I have been thinking serious and hard about buying another pool like we had in Mobile. We all really enjoyed the pool. It was also fairly easy to maintain and not too, too expensive to keep up.

Sometimes you just don't want to swim with every Tom, Dick and Harry and their kids.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Canoeing on the Colorado

Honestly, I have never really liked canoes, but since they are easy to access and cost me no gas money they are my means to the waterfront. I have always had a fear of water...or should I say, a fear of what might be in the water. Being in a canoe does not give me a sense of security at all.

If you knew me and my fear of water, you would wonder why I even try to venture on a boat of anykind. All I can say is my love of the tranquility of outdoor life on the water outweighs my fear enough for me to take the chance of being swallowed up by some unknown underwater creature.

So today was our first canoe trip. I was actually surprised at how close the Colorado River is to our home. Only a few miles and we were at the canoe rental place. It's in the next podunk town called "Webberville" and the old man running the place smelled like a brewery. Good thing he didn't seem to drunk....yet anyway.

He gave us our map and we were on our way. I was really uncomfortable at first. The river is alot wider than what I am used to canoeing on....and of course alot deeper than what I wanted it to be. Or so I thought. There were alot of shallow pockets which Summer and I were very glad to see. Still I was a little paranoid about some big boats speeding by and knocking us over with the waves.

The river reminded me alot of the creeks and rivers in Alabama. There was even SAND on one of the little spots we stopped off. The day on the creek was very relaxing and very HOT. There isn't much shade on the Colorado.

There wasn't anyplace you could actually swim on the river, that is, unless you wanted to try to get out of the canoe without flipping it or swimming along the bank with snakes and other creatures. When we got home my neighbor and I were taking turns cooling the kids off with the water hose. She had here hose on them at her house and I had a sprinkler on here for them.

After a little while I went inside upstairs. Shortly after I got sat down at the computer I heard Toby hollering that Summer had lost her tooth! Her tooth has been loose for a while but not loose enough to be coming out yet. Seems the kids had got to rough-housing around and Summer's tooth got in the way. Anyway, she is a couple dollars richer today.

Here she is snaggle-toothed holding her tooth:

A Day at Austin's "Beach"

One of the main things Toby and I were worried about when we were moving to Austin was that it was not on the coast therefore there were no beaches. With both of us growing up near the water we were accustomed to water activities and we wanted to keep it that way.

After some good research and help from a friend of Toby's who used to live in Austin, we found out that Austin is full of water. The Colorado River runs right through the city. There has actually turned out to be more water access here than I even imagined. You can swim in most of the lakes and creeks here. Mobile has alot of water surrounding it, but who in the world wants to swim in the Mobile Bay or Dog River??

There was another discovery Summer and I made while swimming in the springs today. There is no sand to stick to you, there is no salty stickiness after swimming..hence, making the sand stick to you, there are no creatures in the water waiting to attack i.e. jellyfish, crabs, sharks, etc.

Although it was a very hot day, the natural spring fed pool at Barton was still freezing. Summer was chattering non-stop but she didn't let the cold water stop her.

Here are some pics of the pool. Make note that this is not a regular pool. It is a natural pool so it has algae, plant life, salamanders, and fish swimming around in it.

I tried to get a shot of the whole pool but it's too big. I can only get a section at a time.

Here is Toby about to take a dive off the diving board.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Homeschool Field Trip to the Crow's Nest

A couple of month's ago we signed up for a field to The Crow's Nest Farm which is only about a mile down the road from us. Unfortunately, when I signed up I didn't realize it would be the week Charlie was here.

Because of the male Ackerman tendency to use unacceptable language I had forbid the boys to go. It seems this language only intensifies when you get 2 or more Ackerman's together and I really didn't want Summer and my reputation ruined. After all, we know when and where the language is acceptable......Ackerman's haven't learned this little secret yet.

Toby was pouting a little about not being able to go. I really did want him to go so I relinqueshed and told him he could go but Charlie had to stay....from experience I know it is easier to control one than two. Thankfully, Charlie didn't pout about not being able to go so problem solved.

It was the day after the hail storm so it was really chilly outside, hence the reason you see Summer with a jacket on in the middle of May. There was a hay ride, a short film about the farm, plenty of farm animals, an inside display of reptiles, insects, etc., AND the kids got to milk a cow!

I really didn't think Charlie would have been interested in the farm, but after our visit I had wished I had let him go. It was interesting enough I think even he would have been intriqued.

Here are some pics of our day at the farm:

I was trying to get a pic of the peacock with his feathers you can see Summer was not wanting to be photographed with him.

This was a pet cemetary they had set up for all the animals that had ever been on the farm and had died. I wish I had got a pic of the whole cemetary. They had memorial statues for each and every animal from the snakes to the farm dogs.

You will probably have to click on the pic to see this. It was a prairie dog pen. The prarie dogs were so cute to watch. They kept popping up and down out of their holes and wrestling with each other. So cute.

The Babies Are Here!

It's been a long wait, but the baby swallows are finally hatched. Mom and dad swallow are taking really good care of them feeding the around the clock and making sure they "fuss" at us when we're outside.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


We had a really good time visiting with Charlie this week. As usual I am elected to take the visitors to the airport because Toby usually works very late on Friday nights and needs his sleep to be able to be at work the next day by noon on Sat.

I really HATE being the one to take my loved ones to the airport. There is something so final about dropping them off at the airport. I feel that if someone just left my house and said goodbye it would not seem so final to me. Either way, even though I did not spend the whole day crying after Charlie left....I did shed a few tears after I dropped him off at the airport.......but don't tell him that. :-)

It's a really strange feeling being away from your family and friends. When we were living near them we really didn't see them all that much. I think it's just having the access to them that makes you feel "family secure". Even so, I LOVE it here. I'm not so sure Toby shares the same sentiment. He has had to take second job aside from his tattooing. Thanks to our wonderful president our economy is taking a dive and "service" industries like tattooing are going right down with it.

Homeschooling Summer is so easy here and there is so much to see and do. I think if he ever wanted to go back to Mobile he would have to go without me. Hopefully he won't.....but you never know.

But for now I am very grateful that we have a second income. He will be working for Siddons Fire. They build fire trucks and he will be doing the welding on them. The pay is good but he is also keeping his tattoo job just because he loves tattooing. SO, that leaves us with one day a week to do family outings.

With us having only one car I am also grateful his job is near our house. When I need the car I will be able to take him to work and keep the car. Summer and I will be doing most of our excursions alone. I really don't know Austin that well yet, so our field trips will be limited to familiar areas. I am really going to miss our family time.....and I am sure Summer will miss it too.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Our Week With Charles

Okay, honestly my full intention was to keep up the events of this week on a daily basis. I learned after having Lucas here it was very hard to look back on a previous week and remember all the cool details of the week.

Unfortunately, when we have visitors we are having so much fun that I just don't have the time it takes to sit down with my blog SO.........I will have to try and recap the week with the best details I can recall. Yes, memory does go as you age!

Since Austin's extracurricular activites have such a wide range Toby and I have only done 1/4 of what there is to do just in the city. We took Charlie to most of the same attractions as we did Lucas so I won't bore you with a carbon copy of the same kind of pics. We did visit a place that Toby or I have not even seen yet. Even though the weather was warm it really isn't warm enough to be swimmming.......but Charlie had an itch to go swimming so that is where we went....swimming at Deep Eddy Pool. Or should I say THEY went swimming. I am too cold natured to be out flapping around in a pool in 75 degree weather.

Summer and Charlie checking out the geese at the pool.

Here they are freezing their you know whats off. All of them were cold but Summer was sucking it up. She was having a blast swimming around in there. I was really impressed with her swimming abilities. She has never had any formal swimming lessons but she swims very well. I think I have to thank my niece, Megan. Last year they spent alot of time together in our pool in Mobile.

On Charlie's last day here we took him to Walnut Creek, one of our favorite places here. Of course my very mischeivious brother-in-law couldn't just walk the creek line, he insisted that we all climb to the top of the cliff overlooking the creek. Of course Summer was all for it and climbed a very steep cliff gracefully. I can't say the same for myself. It was very brushy to the top and steep and hilly and even though I made the climb without any accidents I was a little worried about coming up on some rattlers. The creek is beautiful, but we do see a snake or two every time we go there so I had my eyes and ears peeled. And Toby well....he just climbed along because he knows it was useless to argue with his very strong-willed brother.

While we were there we even found some impressions of fossils in the rock. Shells, turtle shells and what looked very much like a trilobite. I took a picture and came home and did some research. From my findings these "animals" are very prehistoric and are at least 250 million years old or older. From our history and museum tours we have learned that some of the rock here is millions of years old and there has been many, many dino bones found in the area. It's so cool to find "old stuff" on our own. Summer was loving going around looking at the rock trying to find the impressions.....and she even found a few.

If you look in the middle of this rock pick you can see the "what we think is" trilobite impression.

Charlie got to even experience the massive hail storm we had here a few nights ago. Now we have permanent dimples on our car. :-) We had all just gone to bed when the hail started. I initially thought it was someone throwing rocks at the house. I had never witnessed a hail storm before so my eyes were glued to the window watching the storm. Maybe it's just because I am immune to hurricanes after living through several of them, but I would have to say that the hail storm was pretty nerve wracking! Thank goodness we didn't get any damage to our home but from what I have seen on the news it looks a little like a small hurricane hit in some areas.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Visitor

Charlie, Toby's brother, flew into Austin this morning. It's always nice to get a family member to come visit in our new home. Even though we do not miss the city of Mobile, we do visit our family and friends.

On Charlie's first day here Toby had to work the day shift at the tattoo shop. Charlie, Summer and I opted to go with Toby to work and venture the big downtown city of Austin. I figured since there were so many other things to introduce him to during his week here, this would be our only chance to let him see downtown.

I really hated Toby couldn't "sight see" with us, but he needs to be there when the money is coming in.

So, off Charlie, Summer and I set for the 6th street strip. It was a really hot day and we were pouring sweat from all the heat. Our first stop was the Austin State Capitol a few blocks away.

The antique water fountain on the Capitol grounds.

Here is a pic of Charlie resting on the video room floor of the Capitol. I think we were wearing him out!

After the Capitol we checked out a couple of cool little stores and a old Catholic Church.

After all the walking we did, we all needed some liquid energy. I knew from previous downtown trips there was a Jamba Juice downtown. It was just what we needed to trudge on.

We walked a few blocks to the Congress Avenue Bridge where the bats are and checked out Lake Austin. Afterward we walked back up 6th Street and Charlie spotted a wake board competition they were having in the streets of downtown. They had a HUGE pool set up for the event. I had never heard of "wake boarding" before but obviously it is a big water sport event because Charlie knew exactly what is was and he was very excited about it......and so was Summer.

We stood out in the heat for almost an hour waiting on them to get started. Even though I was kind of hot and miserable I was glad that Charlie's first day in Austin he was doing things that were fun and exciting for him.....after all he is on vacation!

Here is a pic of wake boarding:

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Today's Quote

Bad habits are like a comfortable bed, easy to get into, but hard to get out of.


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sunday Driving

I was never really a big fan of the flea market in Mobile. Matter of fact, I really almost hated it. But since it was Sunday and Toby didn't have to go into work until later in the evening we decided to visit the flea market not far from our house.

I have to say for flea market sake it was a pretty interesting one. It was alot like Mobile's but had some twists in it, like fortune tellers, barber shops, a large band stage with a large outside picnic area and tons of snack areas.

Toby had a really good weekend tattooing and worked alot of late hours so he was pretty wore down. I knew he didn't feel like doing our usual hiking/exploring adventures so we decided to visit the next town to the east of us......Elgin, Tx.

I love to go visit the different towns surrounding Austin. You never know what you will find in them. Last week when we went to the Nature Center homeschool field trip, it was an hour away from us in a city called Bastrop. I really got a good feel for the place and it seemed really nice and the scenary there was beautiful, but unfortunately 25 miles from Austin didn't appeal to me. I have to be in close proximity to a larger city for convenience sake.

Anyway, we visited Elgin...that's with a hard g, like in any area some cities have really weird pronunciations different from the way they are spelled, so that when used wrong, will pinpoint you out as a transplant. Our realtor gave us a quick rundown of correct city and street pronunciations when we first moved here to spare us the disgrace of being a "transplant". :-)

Elgin reminded Toby and I both of small towns in Alabama. It was the first place that we have been here that we could say seemed "southern" and Alabamaish. The homes had a southern historical look to them .....unlike the homes in Austin that have a spanish architecture to them.

Aside from having a hometown feel to it, Elgin had nothing of interest there. We probably won't go back unless prompted for another reason.

I am looking forward to our next neighboring city visit in Round Rock. It is a little north of us about 20 miles. It's one of the more "in" places to live around Austin and more than we could afford from what our realtor I have never been there yet. I have a Cracker Barrell gift card that I intend on using there...Round Rock has the closest Cracker Barrell to us. Shame on Austin!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Summer The Panhandler

It seems this larger city may be having a negative influence on my daughter. The other day we were out and about at lunchtime so we decided we were going to grab a bite somewhere. Toby made a suggestion and Summer chimed in with her restaurant suggestion with much intsistence. We have a normal habit of taking turns suggesting places to eat with Summer usually bucking anyplace but her choice.

Anyway, I informed her when she got a job and was able to pay for the meal she could choose the restaurant to eat. She then told me that it would be easy to get the money by standing on the corner with a cardboard everybody else.

In the next few days I caught her on the stairs laying under a blanket. I asked her what she was doing and she told me she was being a homeless street person. Here is a visual of her homeless:

I guess these are just a couple of the negative influences a larger city can have on an innocent child. :-)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Another Playdate

We had our second park playdate with our new homeschool friends today. We met at a different park that was closer to where I live. It's the cool Walnut Creek park that I had posted about previously with the large rock cliffs and the creek.

Angela had been to the Walnut Creek Park before but did not know about the hiking trails or the creek. We took a hiking trip through the woods to the creek and walked a little way along the creek with the girls. It was a nice walk. Most the "chicks" I have ever known in the past don't really like to do hiking or outdoorsey kind of things. It was kind of nice to have someone who didn't buck the idea of trekking around out in the woods and breaking a little sweat.

She is also a native of Shreveport LA and has only been in Austin for a couple of years so we are getting to learn the area together.

Since spring has sprung, I have taken notice to the weather here. It is really hot during the day and the sun actually feels hotter on your skin...but not humid like in Mobile at this time of year. Once the sun starts to go down it cools off to a very comfortable temp. The breeze we have here also helps with cooling things down. I have used my AC very little.

I have also noticed people around here really like their dogs. They seem to take them everywhere with them. They are always running on the trails with them and the dogs are splashing all in the creeks. I hope all dog lovers will forgive me, but there is no way I would take some nasty smelling wet muddy dog that's been running around in water on dirt trails all day in my car with me ANYWHERE...and I don't even drive a nice car. Even in my neighborhood people have these big huge dogs that they keep inside of their house. I could never imagine letting some big nasty pooping/puking hairy dog in my brand new house, much less on my brand new carpet...YUCK