Monday, July 28, 2008

Totally Useless Fact of the Day

The most common birthdate here in the U.S. is October the fifth. The reason being is that October 5th is the due date for babies conceived on New Year's Eve.

Daily Health Wisdom

There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable and smokable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health. And health is all they get for it. How strange it is. It is like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry.
-Mark Twain

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lake Pflugerville

When I hear the names of some of these smaller towns outside of Austin they amuse me. There are some wierd pronunciations of different areas of town and street names.. For instance the city we live in is Manor but it's pronounced MAYnor.

When I mentioned this observation to Toby he reminded me that Mobile is often pronounced MoBILE with a long I, and that Gautier Mississippi is in no way pronounced the way it is spelled. I guess when you live in a city all your life you don't really notice pronunciations because that's what you have always known them to be.

Anyway, on with the day. There's literally not much to write about but for the sake of blogging here goes.

We visited Lake Pflugerville today. Of course it extremely hot and dry here so there is not much to do but stay indoors or go swimming. I have always prided myself on loving the heat....and I do, as long as the temps don't go over 95 degrees.

The lake was pretty cool. There is a jogging/biking trail that runs around the whole perimeter of the lake. I left Toby and Summer to swimming while I started to explore the area by walking the trail. The heat was just too much for me to enjoy my walk so I headed back and hung out in the water with the family.

We were going to walk around the lake in the water but just as we were starting our walk Summer stepped on a needle. A needle of all things at the lake. Anyway, it wasn't all that bad of a stick but being the dramatic child Summer is this kind of ruined it for her and she was ready to leave. So, as usual I only get to see part of an area I go to explore.

The worst part of this day is that I somehow deleted the pics I took before they were downloaded onto my computer. So no personal pics. Here are some pics from off the web if you want to take an impersonal look at the lake.

After the lake we had to go do Toby chores. That's never fun to me so I was really glad when we got back to the house. We swam in our yard pool for a little while and that was that for the day.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Birthday!

I just turned a ripe 44 years old! Although I feel somewhat physically older, my mind feels to be that of a young woman. I wish that I had only had the insight I do now when I was younger. My mind goes one hundred miles an hour. I don't remember ever feeling so alive as I have the past several months.

We actually celebrated my birthday while Toby was playing hookie on Monday. Summer made me a card, styled my hair and gave me a massage. Toby was extra sweet and bought me an ipod. That was my incentive to start walking again once this oppressive heat subsides. Unfortunately, I don't like swimming enough to use that as a form of excercise. My main goal in a swimming pool is to relax and enjoy the sun.

Today was also playdate day. Angela and I took the girls to Radijazz playnasium. It was really cool. There was a fake volcano with a foam lava play pit and some other kid oriented structures. There were plenty of comfy seats for the parents to sit back and relax too. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera so no pics.

After the playnasium we took the girls to the bakery a few doors down and ate some bakery items. I was surprised they were very reasonably priced. I was expecting to pay more than I wanted to.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Playing Hookie

Working two jobs takes a toll on a man so Toby decided to play hookie today. We took advantage of the day by doing some sightseeing. Our first destination was to the Loop 360 Pennybacker Bridge. The drive to the bridge has beautiful scenery so we stopped off to the side of the road and took some snapshots. That in itself is a feat. The roads are really winding and hilly but that doesn't seem to stop these Austinites from driving 100 miles an hour around the curves.

Here are some shots at the lookout over Pennybacker:

Our next stop was Emma Long Park which is nearby. We put it on our list of favorite parks. There was actually some "sand", which was mostly dirt, at the beach area.

There seemed to be some kind of vulture fest going on here. Click on the pic and look in the top of the tree:

Summer found some "sand" playmates:

After we left the park we headed home to our own park/pool and took advantage of some swim time.

One of the things I love most about this city is there is so much to do that no one place is ever overcrowded. There are enough different activities to entertain the masses of people.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Family Day

My mind works in overdrive here. There are SO many things to see and do in not only Austin but in the whole central Texas area. My hobby these days is researching interesting sites and logging them on a list of "my 1000 places to see before I die".

Unfortunately with Toby's one off day a week comes certain getting him a haircut and some other tid bit stuff he had to do that could not be done during the week.

After we got our "chores" done in Austin we grabbed a bite to eat and headed back home. What better thing to do on a hot Texas day but swim in the neighborhood pool. Evertime I go to that pool I love it more. It is never crowded and it's 3 minutes from our house.

On the way to the pool I wanted to get a little sightseeing in so we took the "long way" to the pool.

Here is a pic of a "Ghost Town" here in Manor. Toby and I haven't quite figured out what this really is yet. They advertise food, music, and special events but we can't seem to find any info on it. And of course, everytime we stop in to ask questions, there is no one there......just like a ghost town.

Here is a pic of some Texas longhorns. The longhorn is a very popular symbol here. It's all over T-shirts and cars. I think it has something to do with the UT sports team.

This pic is of a place that is very intrigueing to me. Unless you were raised in a family that was very car oriented it would probably not strike your attention. It's a junkyard on Hog Eye Road. What makes it unusual to me is that most of the cars here are very old vehicles. I couldn't really get a good pic without tresspassing so hopefully you can see a glimpse of the yard.

A little while after we got to the pool our neighbors on the other side of us arrived.......not to be mistaken as the neighbors of the two kids that Summer usually plays with. It was nice to have some company at the pool.

After a couple of hours I felt myself scorching so it was time to go home and enjoy the evening.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


I took Toby to work today for the sole intention of making it to the Umlauf Gardens. The gardens don't open until 1:00 so we had about 30 min to kill before heading there.

After getting to the shop we just hung out with Toby for a little while. Since we don't see him much anymore, we were enjoying his company. Once the other artist got to the shop we convinced Toby to walk a couple of blocks down to the museum and convention center that we never made it to a couple of weeks ago. It's easy for him to walk around close by the shop with us because they can call us on the cell if the shop gets busy.

Of course it's 100 plus degress so it's not really all that pleasant to walk around but I really wanted to get some sights in. The museum itself is just an old house of some historical person that used to live there.....O'Henry or something like that. It was a really small house and not all that interesting (I'm glad it was free) so we moved on to the convention center.

On the way to the convention center we spotted a little blue jay that obviously had just flew the coup. He was in the little small park behind the museum flapping around. I didn't have much faith that before long he wouldn't end up in the busy streets of downtown not to mention being lunch for the huge German Shepard that was being walked in this park spotting him.

The convention center was nothing to be noted other than it was HUGE like everything else here......and of course air conditioned,so we hung out there till the sweat dried off of us.

As we were walking back to the shop I took a shot of the Frost Bank building. Don't you think that it's a very close resemblence to the RSA building in downtown Mobile?

In the end I decided that it was much to hot to be visiting an outside garden. I think I will wait until our temps go down for the garden venture.

Summer's allowance has been burning a whole in her pocket so we decided to go to Target. My full intention was to also buy me something new for my wardrobe. I have a birthday coming up and I always take pleasure in buying something that I outherwise would not. Unfortunately, I did not see anything that struck my fancy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Symphony Square

It was Children's Day at the Square today. It's kind of like Kid's Day in Bienville but a little more elaborate and without the undesireables. :-) The focus was on musical instruments and there were samples and explanations for all the musical instruments in an orchestra. It's also held in Symphony Square which is a pretty cool area of downtown Austin that I have not checked out yet. I put the area on my list of places to venture because I noticed there are some trails that lead off from the square.

After the "show" we took the kids to the Art Park where they had crafts, face painting and other activities.

Since it was an overcast day and the weather was comfortable, Angela and I decided to take the kids and walk down towards the Capitol. There is a Bakers Emporium that I have tried to check out a few times but they are closed on the weekends.

The Emporium was nothing like I thought it was. The place was filled with 2 stories of homemade craft items. Senior citizens ran the place. It's very rare to see old people in this city... especially downtown, so it was a little nice to see the old folks. There was also a dining area in the back where they served food like your grandmother would cook. If it had been just Summer and I we probably would have stayed and ate lunch, but Angela's baby was starting to "voice" her disapproval of being out and about past her naptime.

After the Emporium the girls wanted some Jamba Juice. It was just a few blocks down from the can't go downtown without getting Jamba Juice.

Summer wanted Jordan to come home with us so Jordan just rode back to the house with us. After we got back to the house the girls played in the pool the rest of the afternoon.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Granger Lake

Our weekly destination this week was to Granger Lake. Someone Toby works with had told him about it so I did a little research and we headed out. The drive there was new scenery to me and since I have taken up driving again I didn't really get to "sightsee" as much as I would have liked.

The lake was only about an hour away. We drove through a new town called Taylor. They had a really nice park/pool there. I have noticed that even the smaller towns outside of Austin have pools/waterparks in their towns. There is an endless amount of water play here.

When we got to the lake we were quite pleased. The lake was huge and there is camping, hiking trails, canoeing, swimming, etc. Again, we didn't get to see but a portion of the park. It's one of those places that we will be back to......probably to camp.

I found it funny that there were signs pointing to the "beach" within the park. I was a little excited that I may see some sand, but to no avail. The "beach" was rocks. Even though, it was still nice clean, swimable water.

We had a really good day at the "beach".

Quote of the Day

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."
– Marcel Proust

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Free Day for Mom and Daughter

Usually when Summer and I have the car we are running errands. Today we took Toby to work and dropped him off. I really didn't want to stick around downtown Austin walking around on the city streets. After we dropped him off we set out to a new destination.

My plan was to visit the Umlauf Sculpture Garden which I still have not seen yet. When we got there they weren't open yet. Summer and I had about 15 minutes to kill until they opened so we drove a little ways down to the Nature and Science Center. I have been wanting to check out the trails there so I figured this was the best time. I didn't have anyone with me that would deter my "hike". Summer is my hiking sidekick. She never complains about tromping around in the woods.

I can't stress enough how nice it was to be able to visit the center without being rushed or adhering to anyone elses schedule. It was the first time Summer and I ever got to really "see" the place.

When we first got there we checked out the usual things like the rocks, animal bones and skin, fossils, etc. We actually got to make it educational with just the two of us.

Of course, after that Summer wanted to head out to the dino pit.....that's her favorite part. The temps were back in the 100's today but it was comfortable in the shade with the breeze blowing.

After dino pit we took off to the trails I was anxious to check out. I was a little nervous about traveling the trails alone being that there were no paper maps of the trail. The only map was posted on the board at the beginning of the trail. After studying the map at the trailhead I saw that the trail was very very long, as are most of the trails here. Fortunately there was a trail loop that looked simple enough to travel without getting lost or eaten alive by coyotes or other wilderness creatures.

Once we started walking I saw that there were alot of side trails off of the main trail that weren't shown on the trailhead map. You couldn't even really tell which trail was the main trail. Being the directionally challenged person that I am, this began to disorient me a little. I really had to pay attention to which way I was going and watch for landmarks. I threw another teachable moment in for Summer and taught her how to be observant of her surroundings when she is hiking.

While walking we came upon a creek, only the creek had no water. It's a reality check when you see something like a creek being dried up. At this point you can see the results of the drought. Record high temps and no rain do not make for nice flowing creeks. The upside to this is that it's pretty cool to see the things that were at the bottom of the creek. Without the water in it it's easier to find the "cool stuff" at the bottom.

Austin is so covered in beauty and originality there is no way I could ever capture it's beauty with a camera. Every time I take a picture I think "they won't see what I see with this picture". Nevertheless, I still try.

This is a creek. There is usually water in it.

If you click on this pic you can see the capitol and downtown from this view.

Trekking back down the path from the lookout.....much easier walk!

After sitting down and having a drink and snack in the empty creek we trekked on in a different direction. We saw a sign that read "Meadow Lake Trail Lookout". I never saw a lake, I'm sure it was dried up, but I spotted the steps that led WAY up to the lookout. The steps were pretty steep and a good ways up the hill. It was 100 degrees but the steps were in the shady woods so I figured I would test my strength. I knew Summer wouldn't have any problem with it. We had plenty of water with us.

We finally made it to the top and this is what we saw. I don't know what the weird looking columns were and there was no sign at the top that gave any info. It reminded me of some kind of fortress. Again, my picture won't capture well what I could see....the view of downtown Austin.

I could see that there were three more seperate trails that led away from the lookout. The adventurer in me wanted to trek furthur but my common sense told me it was probably not a good idea. Water was beginning to run low, it was extremely hot, and we took so many twists and turns to the top that I wasn't even sure I could remember how to get back to the Nature Center. I am having to save most of my hiking adventures for the cooler temps.

Well we did make it out of the trails. When we got back we went inside and cooled off. After I got nice and cool Summer decided that she wanted to go back out into the dino pit to play. Don't kids recognize when it's hot outside?????

She played in the pit and afterward we played in the stream and the pond a little while to get cooled off. I'm not sure if this pond was supposed to be used for swimming or not, but the kids were turning it into their own private pool. It was so hot outside that parents nor the employees stopped them. I sat in the shade and enjoyed watching Summer have a good time.

It turned out to be a perfect mom and daughter day.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Play Date Day

Today we met our Homeschool friends at the Nature and Science Center. I am proud to say that after 7 months of living here I can now maneuver myself around the city without too much stress. I can also say that I am now a proud aggressive driving Texan. :-)

Getting to the Nature and Science Center requires driving through downtown Austin. It helps that I have walked downtown many times while Toby was working at the tattoo shop. I am confident now that if I get lost I am familiar enough with the city that I can always find my way home.

We have been to the Nature Center a few times since we have been here. Unfortunatley it is another one of those places that has miles of hiking that I have not been able to explore.......maybe one day.

Unfortunately my friend has a little one that does not seem to like hiking around as much as we do and that needs a nap at a certain time each day. There was news today that she has another one on the way. I guess it will be awhile before she can do much exploring in the woods.

Here are some pics of our day:

Monday, July 7, 2008

On a Day to Day Basis......

Aside from planning my weekly Austin activities I have been planning a trip back to my hometown of Mobile, Alabama. It's a really strange emotional sensation to cut your ties from your family and friends and life as you have known it to be for 40 plus years. But like Daddy has always said "Change is good". I have tested that and have seen that it's true.

I have felt happier and more content here than I have in years but there is always that "life" that you leave behind that is always in the back of your mind. It's akin to you getting married and moving away but still wanting to keep contact with "mom and dad".

I guess there is also the curiosity about how I will view things in Mobile from a different perspective. I do know that the only things that I truly miss about Mobile are my family/friends, Books A Million, Moorer Branch Library and Mexican food. Odd that I should be in a state that borders Mexico and still prefer the mexican food in Mobile.

Hope to see everyone in a few months!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunday at Blunn Creek

One of my favorite outdoor activities is hiking and lately I have been getting a good itch to tramp around in the woods. We had a bout of triple digit temps here in June but the temps have toned down to the lower 90's. Still no rain though.

So with the slightly cooler temps I thought it would be a good idea to do a little exploring. We went to a place called Blunn Creek Preserve. It runs along the mouth of a 80 million year old volcano. At one time all of this area was covered by ocean and it's so cool to still see evidence of that all over the ground.

We only took a little tour of the area because Toby doesn't like hiking around in the heat. I guess I expected to see an actual volcano hole but this is what we got when we got to the top.

There was some pretty cool rock there and I collected a few samples for Summer's rock collection. I didn't get to see as much as what I wanted to see so this is one of those places I will be back to explore.......when the weather cools off.

Toby wanted to get back and jump in the park pool so that's how we spent the rest of of our day. I would love to have several more hours in the day to do all the things that I would love to do here.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Our First July 4th in Texas

Holidays are always nice but most of the time I like to stay away from the crowds and spend time with my family. I decided to think out of my box this year and test out some of the celebrations that were going on in my "neck of the woods".

My plan was to hit Round Rock's Frontiers Day Celebration. We walked around for a little while, watched a jalapeno eating contest, and checked out some of the vendors. After walking around the park for a little while I saw that Toby seemed a little hot and miserable....and I was beginning to get that way myself.

I was wanting to check out another celebration that was going on nearby but decided since it was such a hot, sunny day that we would head home and take in some swim time at the pool up the road before the fireworks show began. Even though at this point I still did not know which of the fireworks shows that we were going to attend. As with everything else here, there are too many choices.

I have visited many parks since I have been in Austin and I would have to say that the park up the road from us is just as nice and has all the amenities that the other more popular parks do, that is, except for Zilker Park in downtown Austin. Nobody can beat Barton Springs. :-)

Anyway, even though I moved to a bigger city to have a bigger selection of activities, I find myself gravitating towards the smaller surrounding city atmospheres. It's really nice to live on the outskirts of a big city, and yet have the peace and quite of a smaller town with easy access to the perks of Austin. Every day I spend here I find more things that I love about it. I love just getting in my car and driving around just to see what you can find. I will be posting some pics of some of these "finds" soon so stay tuned.

On with our day. We didn't get to the pool until around 5:00p.m. By this time the sun was behind the clouds and the breeze here makes it a little too chilly for me to swim. That didn't stop Toby and Summer from swimming though. The good news is Summer took her swimming test for the pool and passed it. YAY! This means she can swim in the big adult pool unattended. Not that Toby and I aren't always in there with her but it's a pool rule that kids pass the swimming test to swim in the big pool.

We really love our pool too. It's never crowded and the swimmers don't act like animals or hoodlums. It's very family oriented.

So, we decided to attend a fireworks show in Webberville. Webberville is about 10 minutes from Manor right on the Colorado River. I found out a little too late that they were having a 4th of July Riverfest so we only managed to make it to the fireworks show.

We were a little reluctant to attend this fireworks display. Our experiences of small country town celebrations include drunk rednecks. I have to say that I was VERY impressed with their celebration. It was held at a small park on the Colorado. We got out our blanket to sit on and Summer played on the playground right beside us. There was a southern blues band playing somewhere on the park grounds. The music was great because it was not too loud and very enjoyable. It was very family oriented with the kids all playing and the parents hanging out. If there were drunks we didn't see or hear any.

The fireworks diplay lasted a really long time. We had seen our share of it so we decided to beat the crowd and sneak out before everyone else did.

The evening was my idea of what you might see portrayed on T.V. A small town celebration like something off of Little House on the Prairie in a modern day version. Good ole family fun.

When we got home it seemed that everyone in Manor was having their own fireworks displays. We discovered that we could sit in our backyard and watch many diplays from great distances. There is an advantage to living on a slight hill in an area with few large trees.

It was a great first 4th of July in Texas.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Play Day at Kiddie Acres

We missed play date last week with our homeschool friends because her baby was sick. It was nice to be able to get together today and have some 'homeschool" social hour.

No one but another homeschooler can relate totally to your life and it's issues regarding having your child with you 24 hours a day AND having to educate them.

I really like my neighbor next door and we get along fine but when you are a homeschooler it's kind of like being gay or black or some other "society decided abnormality". Even though my neighbor is mexican she is very "Americanized" as far as her thoughts on educating and raising children.

Anyway, so today we met Angela and her two kids at a place called "kiddie Acres". It's a small amusement park for kids under 10 yrs. It was pretty shady and Wednesdays are discount day so I got out of there spending less than $20....that included snacks too. The girls had a great time and didn't want to leave but staying would mean spending more money.

Here are some pics:

On another note Austin has had the strangest combination of weather lately. We went on record as having the hottest June ever recorded and only just two mornings ago recorded the coolest temps on record at 62 degrees. Even though it is extremely hot during the day, it cools way down in the evening and the mornings hours. As long as the sun is not out the weather is very tolerable. My neighbor and I took the kids walking around the neighborhood this evening and we didn't even break a sweat.