Sunday, September 28, 2008

Austin's Park

We finally had the first weekend in a while that I can call fun. We went to Austin's Park today. It reminded me a lot of the amusement parks in Panama City but a lot less touristy and much more organized. It was worth every dollar that we paid to get in.

There is really not a whole lot to tell about the day other than it was fun for us all. We were there for almost 5 hours and still could have done much more. It was really great because there was a buffet that was included in your admission price, so we could go play for a while then grab a bite to eat....go play, eat, go play, eat.

Toby and Summer also played laser tag too. Neither one of them had played it before, but they both LOVED it. Unfortunately, I couldn't get any pics of that 'cause it was inside a dark room.

Here are some photos of the day:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

I've been getting cabin fever lately. It was Smithsonians free museum day, so I decided to take advantage. The Wildflower Center is in South Austin. Since my neck of the woods is more central/north Austin and I never venture south, I was a little worried about my direction capabilities.

My need to get out of the house on a Saturday was stronger than my fear of getting lost......after all, as long as I can find the interstate I can find my way home.

Thank God for Google maps and the sort. We made it there without a hitch....although it was a little further south than what I thought.....this is a much larger city than I realize sometimes. Just going to South Austin felt like I had driven from Mobile to Dauphin Island.

On with the day. Although the weather was warm, it was comfortable. The extreme heat seems to have disappeared. After Summer and I arrived we just took our time meandering around. We checked out the gift shop first. We grabbed a map and let Summer practice her map skills. She led us by the map to the different areas she was interested in seeing first.

I have to say that this is one of the places that I am glad to get into free. The first time we ever visited the Center was in Jan. 08. Of course in Jan. there were no wildflowers blooming so we got in for free then too. I guess we just might not ever visit this place at the right time of year 'cause I didn't see a whole lot of wildflowers this time either.......of course it's not peak wildflower season and wildflowers really can't grow well with no rain.

Don't get me wrong....the place has a really nice atmosphere and they have really cool educational classes for kids, but it's not one of my favs. :-)

In the end our day was very fulfilling and eventful. Here are some shots of the day. Make sure you read the captions....

Throwing a penny into the wishing pond.

At the top of the lookout tower.

Rapunzel....let down your hair!

There were some little friends just roaming around can tell these mice are use to people.

I guess the turtles were very used to people too...they stayed put no matter how close we got to them.

Do you see anything hiding in the pond greenery?????

Monday, September 22, 2008

Old Pecan Street Festival

Old Pecan Street is actually 6th Street downtown where Toby works. They have this festival twice a year. We missed the one in May because Toby had to work and I still wasn't familiar enough with the city to be driving around unassisted.

There was music, food, giveaways, arts and crafts, kids name it. We got up early Sunday morning grabbed a little breakfast and headed to the festival. We wanted to get there early before the heat and the crowds set in. Thank goodness we did 'cause when were leaving, the interstate was backed up with people trying to get downtown to the festival.

We got us some Alligator on a stick too.:-) While we were eating it a lady walked by and asked us where we got it. Toby pointed her in the direction of the tent we got it from. I felt it was my duty to tell her it was alligator on a stick. Obviously that was not was she was looking for 'cause she turned her nose WAY up. Of course it wasn't near as good as Original Oyster House's alligator bites. :-) Can't beat the seafood in the deep south.

There was so much to see and do. I wish I could have just walked around taking pics but we were too busy for me to keep stopping to take pics. It was fortunate that the tattoo shop was in the middle of all this hoopla. We could stop off and take a/c and bathroom breaks.

I have to say that we all had enough fun that we will return to the next festival in May if possible.

After we left we decided to grab a bite to eat. We ended up stopping in at a mexican food restaurant on the way home. Since we are relatively new to this much larger city, we have tried to make it a habit of trying a different restaurant every week. We don't want to fall into that bad habit we had in Mobile of eating at the same places every week without every trying anything new. After all, we are on a life adventure. :-)

Speaking of adventures, this place was an adventure. When we walked in there was an obvious different atmosphere. There was mexican "band" there which was kinda cool. After we were seated we began to look at our menus. Hmmmm..... I couln't seem to find the 'side" of the menu that was written in English.

Thank goodness some words like Burrito and Taco are universal. Looking back it was really funny. We were definitely on the outside looking in.

The food ended up being worth our money anyway. Toby was telling his co-workers at Siddons about our "experience". We learned that we were at a true mexican restaurant and not a tex mex restaurant. It does help to be a city native in cases like this....we are learning though.

Here are some pics of our day at the festival:

I don't think this guy's cat realizes he's a cat.

Summer and Toby checking out the instruments.

Downtown Restaurant

Taking a break watching the banjo players.....they were pretty good.

Summer and Toby trying to win a car......we didn't win. :-(

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Living right up against the greenbelt gives us plenty of chances to see wildlife in action. Sometimes that interaction is a little too close for comfort.

Luckily the coyotes are too shy to venture close, but the snakes are a little more adventurous.

My first encounter with a snake was when I went to the side of the house to turn on the water hose. I felt something "crawl" across my foot and when I looked down to see what it was, a snake was slithering across my foot. He was small, but still a snake.

My neighbor says the animals must like us because they are always in our yard. I think it's just because we are outside a lot so we notice them more.

Most the snakes that we have seen in the yard have been unvenomous, but we did manage to see a small rattler. He took up residence in the crack of where our sidewalk meets the front porch. Needless to say, I always shake the bushes before I weed the flower beds and look down before I step out the door. :-)

Then next snake incident happened last night. Summer likes to pull up the water meter covers and rescue the toads that are trapped in there. Well, last night her and the little boy next door were on "frog duty". Summer came running in telling me she thought she had seen a frog sticking it's head out of the water cover so she reached down, stuck her hand in the hole and pulled up the cover. There lay a snake in the water meter hole! The head sticking out of the hole was not that of a toad!

This morning we took Toby out to see if the snake was still in the water meter. I guess the snake figured out that toads get stuck in there too....makes them easy lunch for a snake. Luckily the snake was not a rattler. Here is a pic of him:

The next animal experience is not quite as stressful. This morning I took Brandi out for her usual morning pee break. I have a small chain that I tie her to sometimes when she wants to stay outside for awhile or if I just need to keep her "in place" for a small amount of time. I don't want her to run around the neighborhood and get lost and sometimes I don't feel like sitting out there with her.

Anyway, I chained her and went inside to make me a cup of coffee. After I made my coffee I went outside to bring her back in. When I got to her she seemed very preoccupied with something in the grass. I could only see that she was playing with something that was moving in the grass. My first thought was that it was a snake!

I shooed her away from it and upon further observation saw that it was a very small bunny. What I saw next was so sad. His whole back skin was slashed open. I don't know if Brandi did it trying to play with him or something else had already tried to get it before we came out. Brandi's fingernails aren't all that sharp and it looked like the rabbits skin had been slashed.

Anyway, as I was inspecting the bunny I noticed something moving out of the corner of my eye. I discoverd that one of our regular backyard rabbit visitors had decided that up against our garage was a perfect place to give birth. There were two more baby bunnies in the burrow.

I picked up the wounded bunny and brought him inside and made him a small bed. I felt so sorry for him. I got some info and found out there was a Wildlife Rescue on the way to Toby's work.

Toby dropped the wounded bunny off so he is on his way to wellness. :-)

Now I am just hoping the other two bunnies will make it. Luckily we found them before Toby cut the grass again. Hopefully, if there was something else trying to get to them it won't come back again for a second try.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Barthalomew Park

Since there are sooooo many parks in the Austin area, Angela and I try to visit a new one every time we have a park playdate. Well, today we decided to venture "out of our box" and go to a park that we have labeled "in the ghetto".

Angela is from Louisiana so she, like I, know what a southern ghetto is like. I really don't even know what made either one of us think it was the ghetto other than the fact that it is not in the "Austinite acceptable" part of town.

Anyway, I arrived there earlier than Angela. Of course the parking lot was empty at 9:30 a.m. in the morning, so I sat in my car and observed the park while I waited on Angela. As I watched I noticed a few moms out walking their babies and a few people walking their dogs. Hmmmm......this didn't seem very ghettoish at all. Not to mention the park had more play equipment than any park that I had been to yet! It was a really nice park. It was also minutes from the bank I use, a shopping center, and a library.

We ended up really enjoying the park on the "bad" side of town. Summer even asked when we were going back to that cool park.

Quote of the Day

"When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. And that is my religion."
– Abraham Lincoln

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hurricane Ike

We were really looking forward to getting some rain from Ike. Two days ago the forecast showed us getting 90% chance of rain from the storm. Of course everyone in Austin was ecstatic about the forecast. We have been dry here for months and everyone is sick of having to water our yards instead of letting nature take care of all that.

Believe it or not, in the end Ike managed to slick by us without dropping so much as a sprinkle. All it managed to do was bring in some icky humidity and a little wind that seemed like the normal amount of wind we get here anyway.

So, for anyone interested in the fate of Austin, Texas concerning Hurricane Ike, we are still alive, dry, and kicking. :-)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dino Land

I have been waiting on this one for 5 months. I saw it advertised a few months ago when we were visiting the gardens. If you remember, the gardens are one of my favorite free attractions in Austin.

The story is, billions of years ago this particular part in the Botanical Gardens was a sea shorline. There have been tracks/bones, sealife, etc. escavated from the area and are some actual real dinosaur tracks in the garden.

There is a dinosaur exhibit going on for the next couple of weeks. All of the dinosaurs on display I had never heard of. They were so realistic looking that at first Summer was a little reluctant to enter. The dinosaurs were displayed in different realistic settings.

Unfortunately, we had minor air conditioner issues so I had to be back at the house by 1:00 for the A/C repairman. You know how it goes......they'll be there somewhere between 1:00-5:00 p.m. so you sit at home between those hours not knowing exactly when they will show up. By the way, we are still under warranty so there is no skin off my paycheck. With the heat around here for the past few months I am surprised the a/c has not shriveled up and totally died.

Because of having to be back at the house by 1:00 we really didn't get to browse the dino exhibit as much as I would have liked, but here are some pics of our day:

Saturday, September 6, 2008

History of the Apron

I don’t think our kids know what an apron is.

The principal use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.

And when the weather was cold, grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that ‘old-time apron’ that served so many purposes.


Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool.
Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw.

They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs was on that apron.

I don’t think I ever caught anything from an apron.

- Unknown

Friday, September 5, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

- Albert Einstein

The first time I ever heard this quote was from my old boss at the accounting firm I worked at for several years.

I was going through one of the worst times in my life. I was recently separated from my first husband and was trying to "escape" the pain of divorce by drinking a little too much "Christmas cheer", attracting bad boyfriends, and unconsciously neglecting my son.

After my separation I lived in a haze for a couple of years on a downward spiral towards who knows what. My son suffered, I suffered, and after a few consequences of some of this type of living I was beginning to emotionally lose it. I could barely drag myself into work and could barely take care of myself or my son. I had managed to throw myself into a severe depression.

My old boss was always like a dad to me offering tidbits of advice and still writing me a paycheck even though I knew through these trying times I probably was doing a pretty slack job as an employee and bookkeeper.

Sitting with my boss outside taking a break from work one day, I was mehawing about all of my problems. He looked at me and quoted me this above quote. I don't know if it was the way he said it to me or if I was just sick of being miserable, but I took that quote and ran with it. I changed everything about my life that was possible at the time.

I changed my "friends", I started hanging out in different places doing different things. I started being the mom I used to be to my son and even rearranged my furniture.

Thankfully I am one of those type people that don't like to drown in my own misery for long periods of time. I had grieved and it was time to "Snap out of it". Thank goodness there was someone there to help me see the light.

Can ya'll tell I haven't had too much to write about lately. :-)

Homeschool Day at Pioneer Farm

Friday was our first outing since we have been back from Mobile. We spent the whole week letting Summer recouperate. Quite honestly, we were both enjoying sticking close to the house. I have a new appreciation for home now.

It was homeschool day at the Pioneer Farm. We had a pretty good time other than there is not much shade on the farm so we spent most of our time boiling in the Texas sun.:-)

The girls were rather intrigued with the outhouse:

In the tepee:

Summer and Jordan:

Playing a game of Farmer and the Dale:

Trying out the stilts:

Pioneer lady hand sewing doll clothes:

This is a pitiful looking cotton farm. I'm surprised they got anything to grow with the drought we are having:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Vacation From Hell

I will start off this blog first by saying that I am very grateful that we had the extra funds to rent a car.....otherwise this could have been a much worse scenario than what it was. It's amazing how a comfortable newer vehicle can make such a difference in a 11 hour trip.

Day One:

We made pretty good time and reached Mobile around 8 p.m. We didn't do much after we got there but make us a good stiff drink and socialize with Charlie.....just like old times.

Day Two:

I was looking forward to seeing my son so after his class at noon we met up with Lucas at one of our favorite mexican food restaurants in Mobile. We also had Toby's grandmother with us. I guess it's true that things do change, because I remember the food tasting alot better when I lived in Mobile. Things change and people change. It was nice to socialize anyway.

Toby had to go to work at 3 p.m. so we met up with some old homeschool friends at the park. We had a great time catching up. It felt like I had never been gone in some ways during my stay.

I was curious to the way I would feel about my hometown after being gone from it for almost a year. I wondered if I would harbor any "old feelings" for it or miss it in any sort of way. Honestly, the way I felt was the same exact way I felt when I first moved away......Ready to get the hell out of there A.S.A.P.! :-)

Day Three:

Summer had not gone to bed until late the night before and woke up pretty early Sat. morning. She sometimes has a "weird" stomach in the mornings if she doesn't eat a good breakfast so I really wasn't too concerned when she complained of a stomach ache. Toby had to go to work at the shop again so I had him take me to Lucas's so we could ride with Lucas to visit my dad out Kali Oka Road.

Summer was still not acting well so Lucas and I gave her an orange to eat and she seemed to feel a little better. We left out to my dad's in Luke's car. My son's car is more like a hot rod than a car. No air conditioning and a souped up engine and it's a standard so you get jerked alot. The ride to my dad's was the ride from hell. My daughter is a real trooper and a lot stronger than I am. She looked like she was going to hurl the whole ride.

When we finally got to my dad's I was so focused on what was wrong with Summer I couldn't even enjoy my dad, grandmother, and brother and his family. I felt so sorry for Summer because I knew she wanted to have fun too and she was trying to blow her sickness off. She kept trying to go play but always ended up laying on the couch. I also was focused on making sure that she made it to the bathroom if she were to get sick. What was suppose to be a nice family reunion ended up being no fun at all for Summer and I.

When we finally decided to leave in the "race car" again I brought a plastic bag just in case of any "accidents". I could tell the ride home was torture for her and once we got to Lucas's apartment and she got out of the car, she let it all out all over Lucas's breezeway. What FUN! Later on she told me she had to swallow it back down several times on the ride home because she didn't want her brother to be mad at her for throwing up in his car. Poor baby, she didn't know I had the bag as a backup.

I was hoping the worst was over. The hurricane evacuation had already started and I knew we needed to get out of there but on the flip side I knew Summer was sick and needed rest.

We ended up staying Sat. night. and I was hoping the rest Summer got was going to be enough to tide her over for the very long ride back to Mobile. Without going into any gross details I'll tell you that taking care of a vomiting kid on an 11 hour car ride with detours all across 2 states was probably the worst mom experience I have ever had. I kept thinking that I would wake up any minute and it all would be one big nightmare. Thank God for plastic bags.

I know the last 200 miles of our trip back home Toby drove 100 miles an hour. I didn't stop him because death of all three of us at the time did not seem all that bad compared to what we had endured for the past couple of days. :-)

I have never been so glad to see Manor Texas nor my home. It was like coming into heaven from out of hell. It's bad enough to be sick, but being sick away from home is the worst. I felt so sorry for Summer having to endure all of that. Thank God her diareah didn't come until we got home. That would have only added to the nightmare in the car.

I will say that a trip to Alabama is not on my list of things to do ever again. I will have to make arrangements for my son to come here and see me from this day forward.

I didn't get as many pics as I would have liked considering the circumstances, but here are a few:

Summer and her great grandmother on Toby's side:

Summer and my dad in his new "toy":

Summer with her great grandmother on my side: