Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Parade

We went to our first Christmas parade of the year today. It was in downtown Austin. I figured it would be like getting down to a Mardi Gras parade in Mobile but we got down there and parked with ease. Toby pointed out that Austin's downtown is much larger than Mobile's and more equipped to take a larger crowd. Either way I was glad not to have traffic trauma.

I really wanted Summer to see a large Christmas parade but I felt a little guilty about dragging my poor tired husband out of the bed to head back down to a place he had just got home from only a couple of hours ago.

He was a really good sport though and held Summer on his shoulders the whole hour long parade.

I did want to post this pic first. I was stopped taking a pic of the frost building and a woman standing nearby told me the story behind it's design. In the many times I have looked at this building I never noticed that it resembles an owl. The architect designed the building that way purposely. If you look you can see the eyes, the beak, and the ears. Pretty cool huh?

Here are some highlights of the parade:

After the very long parade we were all starving. Since Toby was such a good boy about the whole thing we let him choose the restuarant. He did a very good job. We ate at the Texas Roadhouse and it was delicious!

After our filling meal we headed to the house to rest a while. After our lunch wore off we headed to the park up the road. We took Brandi with us.

She thought she was tougher than the cows:

And she has never seen ducks before....I wondered what was going through her mind having never seen a duck before. All this outdoor stuff is new for her but she seems to be enjoying certain aspects of it.

It has been a good weekend.

Walnut Creek

Our motive for the day was to avoid the Christmas crowds of Black Friday weekend. The weather was a little cooler today, but still warm enough for the outdoors so we headed to one of our favorite spots, Walnut Creek.

We dragged Brandi along with us again. I'm not sure if she has decided if she likes getting out or not....she may very well prefer staying in her kennel after having to keep up with us. :-)

There are 17 miles worth of hiking around the creek so I printed out a map before we went so we could venture a different trail on the creek.

When we first arrived it started to sprinkle a little but we didn't let it stop us. The sprinkle eventually died out on our walk. It was a real adventure trying to follow the map. I guess Toby's trail map reading skills need some tweaking. I saw him pondering over the map and then mouthing the word "lost" to me so that our over dramatic daughter did not hear the word. I knew we couldn't get too lost...there are signs throughout the trail pointing you in the right direction.

Eventually we by chance ended up in the old trail area that we are familiar with anyway. It was nice to see the creek had filled back up with water.

After our walk we got hungry and headed for a bite to eat. Toby had to go to work that evening so Summer and I spent the evening watching T.V.

Here are some pics of our walk:

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day 2008

This is our first Thanksgiving in Austin. It was not our traditional Thanksgiving but it was a good one. Even though I miss the family thing, it was nice to not have to worry about plans like whose house to visit or what to cook. I have never been very domestic anyway so this year has let me off the hook as far as having to cook.

Ever since my mom died holidays have been strange anyway. My mom was always the one that took care of everything from holiday plans to the cooking. For some reason after she died I always felt like I should be able to take over her "position" but there is no way I could ever walk in my mom's shoes and do the job she did. She was definitely the social networker in our family.

On with our day. It was a warm day in the 70's and overcast. We decided to make use of the warm weather and do something outdoorsy. We usually leave Brandi (our dog) in her kennel when we go off but I decided since it was Thanksgiving we would take her with us and let her see the "outside world". The weather was comfortable enough for her to stay in the car while we ate our "Thanksgiving" meal.

After our leisurely morning of sleeping in a little, we headed to the Waffle House for breakfast. Mobile has got Austin beat on Waffle House. There are only a couple of them here and one happens to be not far from our house. Every time we have ever been to this Waffle House it is as slow as Christmas. They do need some good management in the Waffle House in Austin.

After our breakfast we headed into downtown Austin....our favorite part of Austin. You can find any activity you want in central Austin. Our first choice was Town Lake. There is a huge dog park and miles of hiking/biking trails.

Any Stevie Ray Vaughn fans out there??

Shortly after we started down the trail we heard a band in a parade. We headed quickly about 1/2 mile or more towards the sound of the parade. Of course, right when we made it to the bridge we were seeing the butt end of the parade. I am assuming it was a UT parade because there was a UT game going on downtown.

Summer getting a drink of water from off the hiking trail.

Summer taking a break after huffing it to the bridge.

This is as close as we got to the the butt end of it. You may can see them on the bridge in the distance.

We hung around the lake a little while taking in some conversation with a man from New York and enjoying the activity and scenery of downtown Austin.

Here's one for ya.....I told you Austin really likes it's homeless people. This is a memorial for all the homeless people that have lost their lives on the streets.

After we left there we headed to an area a few blocks away where I thought we may find my parrot colony nest. We did see a huge nest but all I could see surrounding the nest were grackles. While we were there I did see some really cool graffiti.

Here are some shots:

After leaving downtown we set out to find some turkey and dressing. It wasn't really all that easy....well it was easy to find but the wait was extremely long in the places we stopped. We finally decided on Luby's. The line was long but not too long. I think next year I may cook after all......

On our full stomachs we headed to the house and watched a family movie...Journey to the Center of the Earth. It was a very good movie.

So that was our first Thanksgiving in Austin, Texas. :-)

How Much Do You Really Know About Thanksgiving?

Just some interesting facts I learned about Thanksgiving this year during "school" with Summer. Some of them I already knew....some I didn't.

Has the celebration of Thanksgiving always been on the fourth Thursdayin November? The answer is No. The date was changed to make a longer shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In 1863 PresidentLincoln set the date as the last Thursday in November. In 1939 it wasmoved to the second-to-last Thursday. Then in 1941 it was moved to thefourth Thursday.

There are many myths and historical oddities connected with Thanksgiving.Did you know the Mayflower was headed for Virginia but, oops, it ended up in Massachusetts? And Indians were not invited to the celebration. A large group of menjust showed up--the 17th-century version of party crashers. There were probably twice as many Indians as Pilgrims, so it seems unlikely the Pilgrims would have asked them to leave.

Unfortunately, no one is sure why they came. Perhaps they heard the musket shots and were curious. But they did bring deer to eat. No popcorn, though. It wasn't even grown in New England then. But Indian corn was, and it was probably dried, pounded and cooked into a porridge. They probably ate waterfowland turkeys, too, all living in the wild. Also available were fish,squash, cabbage, carrots, turnips, spinach and onions. No potatoes--theywere still grown only in South America. Although cranberries were growingnearby, no records show they were cooked and eaten until the 1670s.

Forget the black clothes, too. Pilgrim women wore green, blue and purple.Men liked red linings in their cloaks. And they didn't have buckles ontheir shoes and hats. Buckles were not in style till years later. Next time you see a painting of the first Thanksgiving, look carefully. An iron cooking pot was really used; it may even be the one that survivesin a museum. But there were no log cabins. They were built by Swedes who came 18 years later.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thought for the Day

"The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude."


Monday, November 24, 2008

My Ho-hum Past Couple of Weeks

There is really nothing at all interesting to post about but I did feel the need to journal so here goes...

The past few weekends have been spent running errands and trying to get some Christmas shopping done. I really HATE to Christmas shop on the weekends but with Toby working during the week I can't very well get Summer's done with her with me.

I always remember what it is I dislike about the holiday season when I have to go into a store of any kind....that includes the grocery store.

We actually have been wanting to go camping for a while but with the drought there has been a burn ban for the past few months. Camping is just no fun without a I would freeze to death without it, so there goes that idea.

Hiking would also be a great idea but with Toby working so many hours I feel kind of guilty for asking him to trek around in the woods before he has to be home and go to work all night long....and after he didn't get home until the wee hours that morning.

I guess you can say we have been in a kind of slump lately. We stayed so busy when we first arrived in Austin because we had plenty of time then. Being the adventureous family we are I think we ALL miss going and doing things. I guess the honeymoon is over.....for a little while anyway. It's really kind of ironic the way life is....When you have money, you have no time. When you got time you have no money.

The highlight of our week was watching the Star Flight emergency helicopter take flight. We were coming home from the grocery store the other day and we passed by the Star Flight Command Center that's on the way home. We noticed the helicopter was about to take flight so we pulled in there and let Summer watch the helicopter take off. We were pretty close to it so we all got a good look at the take off.

This past Sunday we did have a fun day planned but our plans were squelched. We were planning on going to Austin's annual Empty Bowl Project.

Since we have moved to Austin we have started new holiday traditions. With it being Thanksgiving and us not doing our traditional Thanksgiving we were looking for something new to do. The Empty Bowl Project was the perfect idea.

Empty Bowl Project is a fundraiser that benefits the Capital Area Food Bank. It's a really big event in Austin......after all, Austin is a very giving city, as you can tell by all the overly aggressive homeless people (eyeroll).

Anyway, the process is you go in and pick a pottery bowl for $15 that has been handcrafted by area artists. Some of them are even signed by celebrities....which you have to bid on. After you pick and pay for your bowl there are several different restaurants that donate their time to filling the bowl with different soups. You get to keep your bowl. There is also live music to enjoy while you are eating your soup.

We were all very excited about it....especially Summer. Unfortunately, early Sunday morning Summer woke up throwing up. That's always fun to wake up to.

Fortunately, she threw up only a couple of hours. I felt so sorry for her though. All the while she was throwing up, in between heaves she was talking about going to the Empty Bowl Project. I didn't have the heart to tell her at the time that we would probably not be going.

We all slept extra late that morning. Summer woke up seeming to feel much better and even ate some breakfast. After she ate though she said her stomach hurt a little. Even though she never ran any fever and really didn't seem all that "sick" I didn't want to risk going to a public event and (a) spreading a potential illness or (b) risking her vomiting in a public place....been there, did that.

At all of our disappointments, we ended up not going. And of course, Summer seemed fine the whole day, jumping around and acting like her old self.....*sigh*, kids.

Since we were all dissappointed that our daily plan fell through, we were all cranky. To make use of the day Toby decided to re-format my computer which has had a virus for a couple of months now making it run very slow with pop ups out the wazoo. It's a day long process anyway so at least the day was somewhat productive.

The flip side of this was that all of my "favorites" were lost in the re-formatting. I just assumed that Toby would "grab" my favorites from off my computer. But no, he had the old disc of my old favorites from off of his computer from a year ago and used those. I had worked really hard this past year to gather up Summer's school websites that were very pertinant to our curriculum that we are using now.

I lost EVERYTHING that was important. I guess since the whole day was already going so bad this was just an added inconveniece at the time. This morning when I went to do school with Summer I felt like an arm was missing.

Oh, and when Summer and I went to Walmart today we saw something pretty strange. In front on Walmart there is a large park area (I know, weird huh)with a lot of trees. The grackles are always flocked in the trees making their odd grackle noise. When Summer and I walked through the park to the entrance of Walmart we looked up at all the grackles....then I spotted something green. There were flocks of parrots/mccaws all in the trees. They were acting like wild birds coming down and feeding and playing in the trees with the grackles.

I thought I had seen parrots flying around Austin before and landing on the power lines but Toby doesn't believe me. This week he wants to go with me to Walmart to see the "parrots". Hopefully they are still there. I don't know of any other green bird that it could be....

I am looking forward to things to get a little more lively soon. Maybe my next post will be a little more interesting. :-)


Monday, November 10, 2008

The Past Week at a Glance

He, he, he.....I know how to get comments coming into my blog now.
I see a few of you felt inclined to take the bait. :-)

After all of the festive activities in the weeks before Halloween we had a much needed slow down in the past week.

We spent most of our week doing our usual activities of play date at the park, grocery shopping, and hanging out with the neighbors. The weather has been beautiful so I have tried to spend a lot time outdoors before it gets too cold to enjoy it.

On Sunday, Toby had another meeting at the tattoo shop so Summer and I tagged along with him. One of the other tattooist brought his wife along so Summer got to make a new friend while the meeting was going on. She had her dog with her (a wippet sp?) so it kept Summer very occupied. After a while we got bored sitting in the shop waiting on the guys to get trough with the meeting so we all walked out and hung out on 6th street.

Every time I go and hang out in downtown Austin I love it more. Even if you are doing nothing at all there is SO much to see. There is some kind of oddity everywhere you look. Strange cars, strange people, and a positive vibrancy I have never experienced in a city before...not that I have been in all that many. Aside from the overly aggressive homeless people the people downtown are very friendly and outgoing.

Me, Summer, chick and her dog (I don't remember the wife's name) just sat out there and "city watched" and chit chatted until the meeting was over.

After the meeting Toby and I got together with our friend Ginny. She is our realtor turned friend....the first friend we ever made in Austin. It's been a while since we have seen her so it was nice to get together and hang out.

We always meet her at the Southpark Meadows in South Austin. It's a great place for a meet up. We sit around and have a couple of brews and some chit chat while Summer gets to play in the park. I really love that place. It's attractive because there is something for both kids and adults AND it's outdoors in the shade.

Anyone who doesn't think home schooled children are socialized have never seen my child in action when we are out and about. She had a slew of kids AND adults she was playing with this past Sunday.

When we got home Sunday night it was pretty late. I found it odd the cat was not running up to the car and mewing to get in to his food. I had the feeling that something was not quite right. I only told Summer that the cat was probably out running in the greenbelt and would be home soon.

Toby ended up not going to work on Monday. I'm not sure if his headache was due to a sinus headache or a "too much Christmas cheer" headache with Ms. Ginny the night before. Either way, he needed a break from working two jobs anyway. No need to work him to his death.

After Summer and I finished our schoolwork we all decided to hunt for the lost cat. Toby and Summer took the bike around the block first. When they got back we decided to head into the greenbelt thinking she may have ventured in there and got caught up in a tree.

Looking into the greenbelt it looks really bushy but when you walk in there it's very walkable and mostly grassy. I love walking around in there. It's like being in an enchanted forest to me. Every time I go in there I think about my brother Buddy and I. We used to love tromping around in the woods and being outdoors exploring around. Every time I am somewhere like that I wish he were there with me. He is the only person that I have ever known that truly enjoys the passion of exploring as I do.

We didn't find the cat but we did find a watermelon patch growing. Seems the watermelon rinds I had thrown over the fence into the greenbelt this past summer had taken root. It was pretty cool to see actual watermelons growing out there. With the lack of rain we have had here I don't see how anything has been growing, but there they were a whole patch! There were plenty of prickly pear out there too.

Summer and I discussed how if we were starving we could come out to the greenbelt and eat watermelon and prickly pear. I never realized you could eat prickly pear and that is was a fruit until I moved here.

We took the opportunity to discuss pioneers and the first Thanksgiving discussing how they had to capture and pick everything they ate.

Anyway, on with the cat. After a day and a half we found out where the cat was. Our neighbor next door told us that her dog had eaten the cat. Unfortunatly she told this to Summer. I really wished she had told me or Toby instead of Summer.....or maybe just not told at all.

Here is in memory of Percy the cat:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Just My Opinion....

I know, who cares. Like my dad always said...."Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one." For me, my opinions have always been more "alien" than "robotic".

Since most of my circle are in fact more "robotic" I have had more than my share of anti-Obama e-mails claiming he's a socialist, muslim, he will take GOD out of our country, etc, etc..

Is Socialism necessarily a bad system? In my opinion, no. Too often we say a system is bad when really it is not the system, it is those behind it. I believe that Socialism, as long as it is controlled, is better than Capitalism.

The rich may end up paying quite a bit more in taxes, but really, how much money does one person really need. Any more than necessary and you go to that different level of greed and materialism.....which of course our country was founded on if you think realistically about it. The "pilgrims" came to America and ended up stealing everything they could get their hands on...hence, capitalism. Oh, and by the way, they were "Christians".

Einstein once said, "We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive."

Now that Obama has won the Presidency the rich will pay out a little more in taxes, there will be universal healthcare, the poor will be better off, and the middle class will the way, I consider myself and a great majority of the people I know middle class so why all the whining????

I believe it is time to move past selfish desires and start caring a little more about the human race as a whole.

I hear more Christians than anyone complaining about Obama turning the country into a socialistic country. Funny to me. Maybe we should all learn to be more "Christ-like" instead of hiding under the label of "Christian".

From what I remember of Bible stories, I don't ever recall Jesus being worried about what he may or may not gain financially. Jesus was a giver. He gave love. That is the whole purpose of life isn't it? Not what kind of car you drive or how much your home cost.

Remember, to those of us who give, we receive. The religion of Christianity was made by man not GOD.

On another note, if a Democratic president were backing a $700B bail-out, I have to think that Republicans would be crying "Socialism!" Bailing out is the same as giving as far as I am concerned. Free and clear money. Nobody has to repay a dime, of course, except the taxpayers....even the struggling middle class!

And last but not least, if anyone can take GOD out of your life, then you might to rethink your relationship with God. God is not in our churches, schools, or in our government...GOD LIES WITHIN.

Remember it's all about opinion....everyone's got one. Or just maybe, I have been living in a blue dot in the middle of a very big red state for too long. :-)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Dinosaur Park

I know, I know, it seems there are a lot of Dinosaur activities around here....and there are. I'm assuming one of the reasons is there have been alot of dinosaur fossils excavated in this area.

So, we drove to Cedar Creek, not too far from us, to check out The Dinosaur Park. I was looking for something fun and somewhere we could get a little excercise too. The park advertised to have walking trails plus dino exhibits and activities so that's what I chose for our Sunday activity.

I wasn't sure what to expect. Even though it's not what I expected it was a fun little park.

When we first arrived there we paid our entrance fees and were given a scavenger hunt sheet. We headed to the trail first. The trail was not what I was looking for as far as a workout. It was more of an activity trail. It didn't matter anyway because Summer spotted the wagons at the beginning of the trail and decided she would rather be pulled by the "horse" which was Toby of course. :-)

The scavenger hunt turned out to be pretty fun. We had to find different things like claws, different small prehistoric animals, dinosaur poop, dino bones, etc. so aside from looking at the replicas of dinosaurs we also having to hunt for the hidden objects.

I have to say that I enjoyed this dino display as much as I did the very much advertised Dino Land display that was in Austin for a couple of months. At the Dino Land in Austin they had dino displays there of dinos that I had never even heard of. This place had all your typical dinosaurs like Triceritops, brachiasauras, T-Rex, etc.

Aside from being the "horse" Toby also played the narrator by reading the info from the plaques and testing Summer's dino knowledge.

We took a few pics along the trail.

After we came out of the trail, Summer dug for dino fossils and played on the playground.

Here are couple of shots we got on our way out.

On the way home we saw a dead pig/javelina on the side of the road. I wanted to get a pic of it cause I thought it was funny to see a dead pig on the side of the road but Toby didn't seem to be as amused about it as I was.

Another great day to be thankful for.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween 2008

The day before Halloween I knew with my motherly instinct something was wrong with Summer. You know your children so well that any little change in their behavior puts you on alert.

My instinct was right. By noon she had a low grade fever and spent most of the afternoon napping. I have to say that I was a little lonely without her and our daily routine. I know I could never be one of those mothers that send their kids off to school and stay home and be the dutiful little housewife. If I did not have Summer around during the day I would be out helping put food on the table.

Here she is taking a warm bath....something both her and I love to do when we don't feel well:

I told her I hoped she wouldn't be sick for Halloween. She informed me that she WOULD NOT be sick for Halloween. I guess mind over matter does really work because by that evening her fever was gone and she was feeling much better. I know she really didn't feel 100% but she felt well enough to enjoy our first Halloween in our own neighborhood.

The weather was perfect. The temps were around 70 degress so it was very comfortable.

We walked around with 3 different nieghbor groups so we had more of a crowd than we ever had. Most of the neighborhood participated in Halloween and the streets were very busy with trick or treaters. With Summer not feeling up to par we didn't walk around as much as we probably would otherwise, but that was o.k.

When we got back to the house Summer was loving participating in handing out candy to all the trick or treaters. We had such a big turn out that we ran out of candy pretty quick. Summer was enjoying handing out so much that when we ran out she started giving her loot away. I have made a note to stock up on candy for next year.

Here are some pics of some of our night...

Freddie Kruger has my daughter!

Some neighborhood strangers.....they wanted to take a pic of themselves with Fredde Kruger.

Checking some candy.

Toby and Summer carving a mini pumpkin.

It was a wonderful, festive and busy Halloween season this year!