Monday, June 30, 2008

Our One Day a Week Excursion

It is said "when you have money you have no time, and when you have time you have no money". I am seeing the truth in that statement. I have a 4 page list of things that I want to do in the Austin area with only 1 day a week to do them.

On Sunday, Toby's off day, I usually have an activity planned out for us. Unfortunately, on that day there is usually some sort of "business" Toby has to take care of on our only play day. So that leaves us cramming two days into one. It usually is a more stressful Sunday than a relaxing one. Either way, that's the way things are now so we do the best we can.

I can't remember the last time we had rain here. Other than a quick 2 minute shower there has not been any rain for a couple of months. There is none in the forecast for the next week either. Everything is so dry and my grass is dying. I try to water it frequently but it's been so hot it soaks up the water too fast. I'm really ready for a good hard rain shower and I'm sure the trees, grass, flowers, and animals are in much need also.

Since the forecast was for rain Sunday I decided to plan indoor activites. Of course the rain never came as forecasted. Our adventure of the day was the Whole Foods Market and the Blanton Museum of Art.

The Whole Foods Market was HUGE. There was every kind of food in any variety that you wanted. There were several eating sections set up in different parts of the store for your eating pleasure. A grocery store/restaurants mixture. There was so much to choose from. It was like food heaven. Of course, Toby and I being from a smaller city got really confused with all the food choices and felt lost in the food maze. This is the same store that has an ice skating rink and playground on the roof. Unfortunately there was so much to look at in the store part that we never made it too the top. Ugggghhh...I just can't take the vastness of this place sometimes.

Next, we took off for the Blanton Museum on the UT Campus. Of course Toby and I were having a good time looking at all the art but Summer seemed a little bored. She said she didn't want to walk around looking at "pictures" all day. She ended up being satisfied with the modern/comtempary art section. This museum was not for naked squemish people. Thanks to some of the sculptures Summer now knows the difference between a circumcised and uncircumcised penis.

It was a good day because we were together as a family. I look forward to our next Sunday.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Quote of the Day

"The point is not to pay back kindness but to pass it on."
– Julia Alvarez

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Surprise Play Day

Today was not a car day for Summer and I so we spent most of our day playing games, drawing, and watching educational T.V....that is up until about 2:30 p.m.

Earlier in the day Summer and I had spotted some teenagers walking around door to door. I didn't really think much about it and thought they were probably out advertising Vacation Bible School. A little later they were ringing our doorbell.

Even though I never really enjoyed church I always enjoyed Vacation Bible School and have been thinking about finding one nearby for Summer to enjoy. Churches are not as abundant here as they are in the "Bible Belt" so I haven't really been solicited here for VBS.

Anyway, come to find out they were from a church and weren't advertising VBS but a Water Play Day at the Elementary School up the road offering a water slide, water games and refreshments. It was a little short notice because it was going to be starting at 3:00 p.m It was a good thing it was in walking distance since we did not have the car.

Thank goodness my neighbor came home with her kids about the time Summer and I were about to walk to the school. We all jumped in her car and took the kids up there to enjoy the activity.

These "church people" were from Arkansas. I asked a few questions about their "mission" because they seemed so tame compared to some of the "church people" I had encountered in Alabama. Seems they were there to help a church that was trying to build in Manor and just wanted to offer some reprieve from the heat to the area children.

I was very impressed. They seemed to be here to offer and not to recruit. They didn't even ask me if I had a church home or if I new Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior blah, blah, blah, etc. I usually tell people that ask me these sort of questions that I am a buddhist and that usually keeps them at bay for some reason or another.....

The only question they asked me was if there was anything they needed to pray for me for. I told them that I hoped not. :-)

For any of my good friends or family that read this, remember that it is not "God" that I have anything against, only pushy, close-minded, cultish, self-righteous people. But I guess if you really know me that well you will know that. :-)

Anyway, A good time was had by the kids. They came home and swam in our pool for a little while longer. There is nothing else to do in this heat but swim or get wet in some way or another.

By the way, if anyone wants to read my post on my brother's visit just click on the "Family Affair" in the archives. I don't know why it posted out of order.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Downtown Sunday

Toby had a meeting that he had to attend at the tattoo shop today. Summer and I tagged along because we figured the meeting wouldn't take long and we could just hang out on 6th Street. There were a couple of places near the shop that I still have not managed to check out.

When the meeting began Summer and I walked down 6th Street and passed some time in some shops along the route. I decided that I wanted to check out the Convention/Welcome Center so we walked back up the street the opposite way. This heat is not exactly downtown walking weather so we decided that we were going to grab us some jamba juice (like Smoothie King) for the walk.

About the time we reached to Convention Center Toby called and told us his meeting was over....figures. So we headed back to the shop to grab him so he wouldn't miss out on walking around in the heat downtown. On the way back to the shop I spotted 2 parks that I had never seen before and a museum. I really wanted to go into the museum but I guess I will have to save that for another day.

Anyway, after we picked up Toby we took off on our walking tour. We grabbed some Jamba Juice and continued down Congress Ave. We spotted the Art Museum and noticed that it just happened to be FREE Family Day. We went inside and they were doing activities with the kids. Summer got to do a scavenger hunt and make a paper balloon.

After the art museum we got hungry. We decided to try out a new Mexican Restaurant that was recommended to us by a co-worker at the tattoo shop. It turned out to be pretty good food. It was close to the taste of Mobile's Mexican but not quite as good. We will put it on our list of favorites here though.

It was a nice relaxing day. :-)

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Okay, I know I haven't posted on my brother's visit yet, but it is coming soon. My brother took a good bit of pics with his camera and he loaded them up on my desktop. For some reason I can't seem to upload them into my blog. The blog just would not seem the same without any pics soon as I can get Toby to help me figure out the problem I will post on my brother Buddy's visit.

In the meantime we took a visit to the famous "Schlitterbaun Waterpark" in New Braunfels. It has been voted the best waterpark in the world. New Braunfels is about 45 minutes from us and a very easy drive, mostly interstate.

The only waterpark I have ever been to is "Waterville" in Gulf Shores. I have taken Lucas to Waterville almost every year since he was about 3 yo. I am not a big fan of waterparks, but Waterville was always a manageable and enjoyable waterpark and we always had a good time every year we went.

Schlitterbaun's waterpark is comparible to a Disney World in waterpark version. For the same price you pay at Waterville you get Disney World! We only saw a small portion of the whole waterpark. It was overwhelmingly too big. Don't get me wrong we had a really good time but you would need a good 2 or 3 days to do everything they had to do there.

It did manage to rain after about 2 hours of our being there. We haven't seen any rain around here in 2 months. It was nice to see the rain but unfortunately it cooled things off too much. There was not enough humidity to keep it steamy after the rain. Summer and I had to spend most of our time in the "hot tub" pools after the rain.

Schlitterbaun was really wierd too. It seemed to be in the middle of an old neighborhood. There was even a hospital a block from the waterpark. Unfortunatley I did not feel comfortable carrying my digital camera around with me and I did not think about bringing a waterproof with me until I was there so I don't have any pics.

Anyway, the place was too crowded. Being the non-people person I am this was a little daunting. By the time you found a parking place and stood in literally a half mile long line you had taken up much of your "playtime". Not to mention again that the place was so big that we only covered 1/4 of the park.

Sometimes bigger is not always better in my opinion.

This whole end of the world is overwhelming. On the way to the waterpark I saw several attractions advertised on billboard. I haven't even seen everything there is to see in Austin yet! I feel like a kid in a candy store here. :-)

On Triple Digit Temps in Texas........

Best thing about the heat is you never have to shovel it.
- a Texas native

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Family Affair

My brother and his family arrived in Austin last Sunday. It was good to see them again and I am glad they took a detour on their way to Mobile to visit us.

The weather here has been unseasonably hot....or so that's what the Austin natives tell us. 95% of things to do in Austin are outdoor related so that left us doing outdoor hot things most of the time.

On MONDAY, we went to Hamilton Pool Preserve. I have never been there and had been wanting to check it out. The "pool" area was really nice but a little too crowded for us. We ended up walking down towards the river. Diep, Megan, Summer and I didn't make it that far. We stopped off at a little pond area and fed a HUGE catfish. Diep also caught a live crawfish. Buddy trudged on to the river without us. I'm sure gladly in the fact that he could make the 1/2 mile trip to the river alot easier and quicker on his own than with a bunch of slow moving girls.

Here is the pic of the river I never got to see in person.

The actual Hamilton "Pool".

Megan holding the crawfish.

Buddy finally made it back from checking out the river. He said it was really nice but a good walk down there. At least he got some pics of the river.

On the way back we spotted some deer drinking water from the creek. The girls had walked way ahead of us and by the time we called them back the deer were almost gone.

On TUESDAY we visited the Science Nature Center at Zilker Park. We checked out Barton Springs and visited the Botanical Gardens. At the Botanical Gardens we saw a couple of snakes that entertained us for a while.

For all those who say I am never in any of the pics, here are a couple:

One of the snakes at the botanical garden.

Megan and Summer digging for fossils at the Nature Center.

Megan and Summer playing tic tac toe at Zilker Park.

Megan and Summer in the butterfly chair at the Botanical Gardens.

On Wednesday Toby took the day off from work to spend some time with us. They came over and Diep made us some of her very tasty spring rolls. I didn't realize how much work is involved in preparing them and felt a little guilty for her having to do so much work on her vacation. She was a trooper though and we had a great lunch of spring rolls and vegetables. Scrumptious!

After our lunch we Toby and I decided to take them to one of our favorite places, Walnut Creek. Unfortunately it hasn't rained in a couple of months so the creek wasn't exactly a creek anymore. There was very little water and the water that was there stunk and was stagnant. Buddy didn't let that stop him though. We walked a good ways down the creek and was even able to see the bottom of the creek freely because there was no water in it. Buddy even found me a very good shell fossil.

It was so, so hot at the creek. Since there was no water I couldn't manage to cool myself off. The water I brought had also been depleted by my very thirsty daughter. I now know a little bit of what it may feel like to be in the desert. It was really almost ironic that I was the one that was on the verge of a heat stroke when I am the one that usually doesn't mind the heat. The heat this particular day was very oppresive to me.

Megan stayed with us a little while after our "creek adventure". Buddy and Diep came to pick her up later on in the evening. This would be the last time I would see them before their departure on THURSDAY morning.

It will be noted in this blog that I did very well when they left. It makes my brother very uncomfortable to see emotional family members so I saved it all for Toby after I got inside my house.

It's really odd that I don't remember when my brother left to go into the Air Force many many moons ago. I don't remember it ever having an affect on me. I guess as you age you realize what your favorite family members mean to you.

Hopefully they had a good enough time that they will hold fond memories of visiting sis in Austin Texas.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Summer and I took our weekly trip to the library and grocery store. I have finally found a library that I like. Unfortunatly everybody else likes it too. I used to think that they just didn't have a good video selection but after talking to the very nice librarian helper in there I found out otherwise. It seems you have to get really lucky to grab the good stuff. Her advice to me was to put a hold on it online and "wait in line".

While at Walmart today I bought me an Austin Street Guide. I got sick of pulling out a full size map to try and find my way around. It was a little more than I like to spend but I figured I would be using it for a long time to come.

Anyway, while doing my map studying the other day I discovered there is a park very close to the library we go to. I have fond memories of taking Summer to the West Regional then on too the Cottage Hill Park for a day's activity.

Things do change though. Now she finds the library boring and the park is no fun without a friend with her. Oh well, we did check out a new park. All the parks here have hiking trails which I LOVE, so we hiked along a VERY rocky trail to a large clearing with picnic tables.

I don't think I have ever walked along such a naturally rocky trail in my whole life. No wonder our water here taste like limestone and always has a milky coloring....YUCK!

Even though the temps have been pushing the 100's here it still has not been unbearable because of the lower humidity. Today, while walking that trail I felt humidity just like in Mobile. Hopefully, this doesn't happen very often here.....we'll see.

While at the park something happened that made me glad that I am able to stay home with Summer.

When we first drove up to the park we noticed there was a small group of 5 kids with one adult. They were the only ones at the park. When Summer and I got out the lady came up and asked me if I was going to be at the park for a little while. I told her that I really didn't really know how long we would be at the playground because of our intention to hike the trail.

She then told me that she was attending the kids for some sort of summer program and asked me if I would watch them while she went to the bathroom. Of course I told her I would. She was gone a pretty good while.....long enough for the kids to be making jokes about her having to "go real bad". I was also beginning to wonder if she had reached her kid toleration point and had flew the coup. I was trying to imagine what I was going to do with these kids if she did not come back.

Anyway, about 15 minutes later she returns. I guess she just had to poop or had a stomach ache or something, or who knows what else. Whew, I was releived to see her.

All during her absence all I kept thinking about was this caregiver handing these children over to a complete stranger to watch over. I'm sure that I don't look like a pervert or that I black market kids but you never know......she didn't know that for sure and she left somebody elses kids that she was responsible for in the care of someone she did not know. God, when I think about how many times Lucas was in the care of people I didn't know it makes me shudder. Thank goodness he always came home safely to me.........

On a different note Summer is really into crafts, art, sewing, etc. This is not a new thing, she has always been that way. She gets it honest. Toby and his grandmother are both artists and Toby's mother is very crafty and creative.

In Mobile I was always able to give Summer her "fix" by taking her to Michael's craft day. By the way, I am not crafty or artistic and have very little patience with it hence the reason we went to Michaels.

Unfortunately, Michaels craft day is on Saturday which is Toby's tattoo shop day which means it's my "no car day". Today she wanted to make a stuffed animal out of material and hand sew it together. Hand sewing is her latest thing. She does a really good job of it but of course it's one of those things that I have to help her with. I HATE sewing AND crafts!
I try to be patient because she enjoys it but I still hate it.

We have been in Texas for almost 6 months. It has been a major life change for all of us but a positive one. We have all had to learn to adapt to a different way of life. My dad always preached to us that change was good. The things that keep people from making life changes is fear of the unknown. I think I would rather have tried and failed than to wonder what might have been.

I know it all works out in the end no matter what decisions we make..we adapt.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Quote of the Day

The greatest support we can have is mindfulness, which means being totally present in each moment. If the mind remains centered, it cannot make up stories about the injustice of the world or one's friends, or about one's desires or sorrows. All these stories could fill many volumes, but when we are mindful such verbalizations stop. Being mindful means being fully absorbed in the moment, leaving no room for anything else. We are filled with the momentary happening, whatever it is--standing or sitting or lying down, feeling pleasure or pain--and we maintain a nonjudgmental awareness, a "just knowing."

-Buddhist Wisdom

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Play Day

We had our weekly playdate with our homeschool friends today. The humidity is not bad here so we are still able to do park days during the Summer. The constant breeze also helps out with the heat.

Today Angela and I did discuss several different things we could do during our weekly get togethers so as the kids and us don't get bored of parks.

Angela has a little one also so we have to work around the baby's nap schedule. We have to work really hard for our get togethers between her 15 month old and my car issues.

Since Angela had to get the baby home for a nap after park time I decided to surprise Summer with a trip to Chuckee Cheese. I hate the place but she loves it and I really didn't want to go straight home after the park.

Unfortunately I left the map that I intended on bringing for security at the house in my scurry to make it to playdate on time. Maps are my life force here and I was definitely going into a VERY unfamiliar area. I told Summmer I was having to rely only on my memory as to how to get to the rat's place so no promises were being made that we would arrive there.

I must say that the thoughts of trying to find my way around blind was giving me a little bit of an upset stomach but I am proud to say that we made it to Chuckee Cheese WITHOUT a map.

I was very impressed with the Chuckee Cheese. It was nothing like the ghetto one in Mobile. It was alot larger and cleaner and even though school was out it was not overrun with hoodlums. Matter of fact I haven't even noticed that school is out. Where are all the children in the Summer here???

The whole time we were there I was a little preoccupied with how we would make it back home. You never go back the same way you came in this "neck of the woods". While Summer was playing games I asked a couple of different people how I would get to I-35 South. It seems everyone I asked had a different answer which made me really nervous.

In the end I followed the directions of the first respondent because she seemed the most confident in her answer. Fortunately, hers was the correct answer and we were homebound.

Here are some pictures of Summer and Jordan at the park:

Here they are on the baby swings.....for some reason or another.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Being raised in the Bible belt sort of gave me a bad taste in my mouth as far as religion goes. I was also raised by a mother who was very religion/church centered. Don't get me wrong, I do believe there may be some sort of higher being that controls this whole universe.......what it or he/she is I can't really say I know, nor do I believe anyone else actually really knows. We all have a tendency to believe what we were taught to believe, no questions asked for fear of the "hell place". In my opinion a BELIEF is not a KNOWING. God is the biggest mystery in life.

So, in raising my kids I never wanted to indoctrinate them with someone else's idea of what God is or even what it/he/she wanted. They were never forced to go to church. They could go if they chose and I would even go with them if they wanted. Any discussion about "God" was/is always analytical if anything. I wanted to make sure that my children formed their OWN idea about what God was...if they wish to believe in a God at all.

My idea was to let my children form their own opinions in ALL aspects of life. Well, last night out of the blue Summer came bearing a picture she drew of "GOD". I was pleased to see her perception of God was a female. :-)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

This Week's Summary

We are starting to get in the groove of our new routine. I take Toby to work 3 times a week. With only one car I have to carefully mark out what will be done on the days that I have the car. I don't want any precious car time wasted!

We make our weekly grocery store, bank, library,errands, etc. trip for one day. We usually have our playdate with our homeschool friend on Wednesdays and afterwards we will have a some girl time by grabbing a bite to eat and hitting a thrift store or some other interesting looking store. Fridays are reserved for any wild hair activity that we get and any last minute errands.

We are fortunate to live conveniently on the outskirts of Austin where it is easy access to any part of Austin we wish to go. UNFORTUNATELY, I am not very direction literate. On Friday Summer and I decided to take a trip to a different area of area that would be considered central Austin and one that we have traveled with Toby many many times. This would be the first trip to that particular area that Summer and I traveled alone.

I was a little nervous about driving around the area. I would consider it to be a road maze and also a very conjested area with insane impatient drivers. Toby went over the directions with me and I thought that I understood. I guess I didn't remember as much as I should have because I drove around and around and around 183 in circles. I could almost see the places that I intended on stopping and I knew they were in my direct area but figuring how to get to them was a lost cause........that is without stopping in the middle of traffic to get my bearings which the Austinites would have not tolerated one bit.

I finally decided to give up and save my gas. A wasted car day. As soon as Toby got home I had him go over directions with me and I found out where I went wrong. Hopefully next trip will be a little more relaxed. :-)

Toby works on Saturday's at the tattoo shop so I never have the car on Saturdays. It's not worth the drive to take him to work and drop him off. In addition, I REALLY don't know how to drive around downtown Austin yet. I am really a wimp when it comes to driving around in unfamiliar places.

Toby had decided he would buy a small motorcycle to get him to work and back. Unfortunately the motorcycle shop had no more motorcycles the size he wanted. With gas prices soaring everyone is trying to jump on the motorcycle bandwagon it seems.

So, Summer and I sat around all day Saturday doing practically nothing. We did swim a little while but it was a little cloudy. With the wind we get around here it makes it a little to cold to swim without the sun. The neighbors weren't home either so that made it even more lonely. Whew, I was glad when the day was over. I ALWAYS dread Saturdays.

Summer said she wanted a french manicure so I covered her toenails in white playdoh.

Summer eating a piece of watermelon after our dip in the pool on Saturday.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Quote of the Day

We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace."

—William E. Gladstone

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Past Couple of Days................

With Toby working two jobs, we will not be having as many "adventures" to post about. Even so, I still want to keep up with our every day activities through my blog. I fear if I go to long without blogging I will get out of the habit of writing.

After Toby got his new job, I actually was a little upset about not being able to explore our new city until reality set in and I realized during the summer months I won't want to be doing too much hiking and exploring anyway. We will be spending most of our time at the neighborhood pool or in our own pool keeping cool. There is also plenty of school work to be done in the morning hours.

Sunday, our only off day, will be carefully planned with adventures like Lake Travis and surrounding areas, waterparks and swimming holes, and any other water related activites......or maybe just a relaxing day of grilling out and enjoying the blessings we have.

I am also looking forward to our next visitor. My brother Buddy and his family will be arriving in Austin in a couple of weeks. I am looking forward to spending some time with them.