Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Buda, Texas

Not long ago I had the wild idea of purchasing a boat. We have Decker Lake and the Colorado River just a few miles down the road from us. My thought was that it would be crazy not to utilize our water access with it being in such close proximity of our home. A small floating vessell would be perfect for getting from one side of the water source to the other....part of my adventurous nature I guess.

So our destination for the day was Cabelas. Cabelas is in Buda (the U in Buda is pronounced with a long U sound) which is just a little south of Austin. They have several locations so if you live near any of them you have GOT to visit. Buda was one of our other suburb choices when we first moved to Austin but we never found any housing that appealed to us there.

I am not big on sports paradises but this place was more like an attraction than a store. Summer said it was better than a zoo. Thank goodness I brought along my camera just in case I saw any cool things to photograph on our day trip.

As usual there is no way my pics can capture the atmosphere of this place but here is my attempt:

There was a shooting gallery in there with different bulls eyes where you could pretend you were on a hunt.

There was also the aquarium...

They had some cool tent selections that we had a good time testing out....

They also had a restaurant and a toy section, but the best part was that it was all free...unless of course you were there to purchase a boat:

Monday, March 30, 2009

Just a Regular Monday...

Monday's are specifically carved out to be my official chore day. Not that every day isn't chore day, but this day is the BIG chore day...ya know, the day that you have to do everything that you sort of slacked on throughout the week.

On top of chores it is a school day. We got alot of school in today. Summer has excellent reading skills and reads above grade level but recently I was a little worried that she may not be up to par on her math. My mistake probably comes from using A beka math. A beka, in my opinion, seems to be a little advanced.

I had found a TAKS (Texas year end assessment test for public schools) math test booklet in the Goodwill a few months ago. My intention was to give it to Summer at the end of the year to make sure she was up to the public school standards.

My reasoning for this does not stem from wanting to "compete" with public schooled children. Realistically, you never know what the future holds and I want to make sure that if anything ever happens to me (or Toby) that she would be on grade level for public school. I would love to be the kind of homeschooler that could "unschool" their child, but for her sake I think it is safest to prepare for the "real world" of public school if she ever had to be thrown to the wolves.

Back to TAKS. I discovered that my child is very well prepared to enter a public school if it was ever a necessity. She insisted that I give the test to her just as they would be given in public school...no help, no talking, etc.

My little girl seems to know much more than I gave her credit for. She claims the questions are easy and stupid. I was very impressed as I graded them.....she did excellent! I can now breathe a sigh of relief. I now feel I am doing my "public" duty to my child as a homeschool mom.

After "class" Summer and I walked down to the mailbox to check the mail. K.K. was outside with her kids. I stopped and chatted a minute with her and listened to all her problems (which are self-made)....still gotta do the K.K and family blog.

Summer enjoyed the beautiful weather and played outside the rest of the day. I stayed outside with her and did a little yard work. Afterwards, I went inside to make up my weekly grocery list and do some other small chores.

Oh, and Summer lost a tooth tonight! She came to me and laid it on my computer desk and asked me how much money it was worth. Tooth fairy days are gone I guess.

Toby will be off tomorrow so hopefully I will have something more interesting to post. :-)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday March 29, 2009

After all the activity yesterday we all could have used a little extra sleep this morning. Unfortunately, Summer was the only one that got to lounge around in the bed past "rise and shine" time. Toby had to get up and go to work and I like my peace and quite in the morning before Summer gets up.

It was a school day for us anyway. It's always a school day when Toby is at work even if that means it's a weekend day.

Later in the day we attended a birthday party for the two little boys a few houses down. It's hard to describe this birthday party unless I gave you a backround of the family....that would be a whole different blog within itself. I'm not really sure if I could blog about them gracefully. I will tell you this much...they homeschool their kids and they are the perfect example of homeschoolers that make the rest of us dedicated homeschoolers look like a joke.

Being neighborly, Summer and I trotted on down there with our gifts in tow a little after party time was to begin. K.K I will call her, was still struggling to get everything together for the party. The party was being held outside because there is no way she could have a party inside of her home...use your imagination.

So she was still trying to set everything up outside with 50 mph winds blowing and all the while hollering at her kids to stay out of the grass because there was rabbit poo out there. She would die if she knew Summer has done fake science experiments with the rabbit poo. :-)

The rabbit poo really bothered her, but it didn't seem to bother her that her grass had not been mowed in a very long time (I guess hubby's been too busy taking naps)and there were mountains of 10ft tall weeds. I was more worried about snakes than rabbit poo.

I don't know where she expected her kids to stand but on the 10ft by 10ft patio that she had the party table set up on. She had invited 30 people to the party. Thank goodness no one but us and two other neighbor families showed up. 30 people could not have fit on the 10 by 10 patio...since we were not allowed to step on the grass area because of the rabbit poo. (eye roll)

By the way, since her hubby was inside trying to take a nap during his kids birthday party he was not able to help her decorate or help with party preps. He did make sure that he came out periodically to "pipe down" the kids.

This family is a story within itself...I have been wanting to blog about them for months but can't seem to justify it in any non-judgemental way. I really like K.K. and she has a good heart but this poor woman needs some serious help. I have tried to be her friend and help her but K.K.'s idea of help and my idea of help are two different ideas. She is waiting on GOD to swoop down and save the day. I don't think she has ever heard the saying.."GOD helps those who help themselves."

Anyway, I think the kids ended up having as much fun as they could. K.K. finally gave up and let them walk out in the grass. After seeing her dilemma's today, I wish GOD would swoop down and help her out....I don't know what else to do for her other than being her friend, which is not going to solve her real problems.

After the party Summer played till dark while I tried to catch up on some wifely duties.

It was a beautiful day. A few times I thought I should be out with my camera taking pics. I just had too many things to catch up on inside. Unlike K.K. I can't function in chaos. :-)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Summer!

Today we celebrated Summer's 8th birthday at Austin's Park. Ever since our first visit there last year, she has been hooked. In detail we actually were celebrating two birthdays today....Summer's and her friend Jordans.

Their birthdays are only a week apart so Angela and I decided to double deuce it. Angela and I both are more family oriented than we are social butterfly's so the birthday invitation list was very small and personal.

Initially I was a little disappointed the day was going to be a cooler than what I am accustomed to. The temperature has been perfect for the past few weeks but decided to turn cool and windy on the day of our semi-outside birthday celebration.

In the end it didn't matter. It warmed up considerably throughout our long day at the park. We were also blessed in the fact that Angela found some party discount tickets online and there were no other parties booked behind us in our party room so we got the 2 hour room for a whole day.

With the coupons we got off $50 cheaper than what we anticipated...I love surprise discounts. The day turned out to be a perfect birthday party. We were there for 6 hours and all the kids were on their best behavior. By the time we left, everyone was wore out from a day of play.

Here are some party pics:

As a gift from us, Toby and I got her a rock tumbler....she loves rocks and there is plenty of them here for her to shine with her new tumbler.

Austin's Park.


Memories From The Past.....Where Does Time Go?

Tonight while I was reading a fellow bloggers post about the trials and tribulations of an emerging teenager, it brought back some memories of my own son sprouting wings and leaving the nest. Her post reminded me of a journal entry I wrote a few months before we moved to Austin. He was way past the puberty stage but maybe this will help shed some light on "boys to men."

Here's for you my friend and fellow blogger....

Tonight I entered my son's room for something specific. It's been a very long time since I have entered his room and actually looked around. For whatever reason this time I took time to observe the car posters, hot wheels cars on his dresser, and various other things that denote a teenage boys bedroom......only he is emerging from a teenager into a full-fledged adult.

He will be twenty years old in July. As I stood there and glanced around at all of his cherished childhood memories, I wondered at what point your baby becomes an adult and you don't even notice it...or if he even notices it.

We will be moving 10 hours away soon and leaving him behind, by his choice of course. I can't help but feel such a sense of loss for the child that I have loved, cherished and cared for so dearly for so long. After all, he is my first so he will always hold a special place in my heart.

As I stood there in his room and took in all I could of his surroundings, I couldn't help but wonder if he would feel the same loss in the same way as I will. I know it is a natural thing for the "bird " to leave the nest but I guess as a mother, I will always look back and hope that I helped make a few happy memories for him and that he will take those memories and carry them with him into his own family one day.

Here's another entry from the past with a different perspective...

Sitting on my back deck tonight, my almost 19 yr old son and I were having a conversation about old times. In talking to him I realized that his perception and my perception of our past experiences together were totally different.

I have a good respectable son that everyone likes (including my parents whom never really liked me all that much) He has never given me any trouble and is sensitive and compassionate towards his father and I.

I was in my early twenty's when I had him. Although I was young, I spent a lot of quality time with him. I was never one of those mothers that was always looking for someone else to care for her kids. I WANTED to be with my child and cherished our time together.

Growing up, I always felt that I was smidge emotionally neglected as a child so I vowed to compensate by always "being there" for my son. Granted in the few years leading up to my divorce I know there were some unpleasant times for him........as there was for all of us, but I still did what I could to maintain his life as normal as possible even if it meant making mine more difficult.

Obviously I didn't do as good of a job as what I thought I had. In our conversation on the back decks that night, he seemed to only remember the "bad times". While I seem to remember all the sacrifices I made and the things I did to try and make his life as easy as possible, he seemed to remember mostly the bad times.

After thinking this through I thought, do I not do the same thing??? I can only seem to focus on the neglectful things my parents did and not the many sacrifices they made to make our lives as good as they knew how to at the time. When I look back on my young life, I know my parents did the best with what they had...just as I did.

Why is it human nature to only remember the negative times in every part of our lives? With these thoughts it makes me want to not try so hard to be a "perfect mom" to my second child.....after all, won't she just remember the negative things anyway. Just a thought....

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday March 27, 2008

It's the day before my little girls 8th birthday. My kids birthdays have always been one of my favorite holidays. To me, there's nothing more exciting than to celebrate another year of memories and time with my favorite people...my kids.

With Summer's b-day being so close behind Christmas, we usually have a hard time trying to figure out what to give her. Most everything she wanted she got for Christmas. Our solution to this problem usually involves fun activities instead of gifts.

Summer has been wanting to see the movie "Monsters Versus Aliens". I have to be honest, I am not much of a movie watcher at all. Movie watching has always been a dad and daughter activity in our household. So "Monsters Versus Aliens" was on the agenda for the day.

Lucky for me 'cause I got to drop them off at the theatre and hit the thrift store nearby. I have spoke of my confusion with this particular area of town before. Although the thrift store was probably only a mile or so from the theatre, I ended up making it a few miles. At one point I thought I was going crazy and had a total loss of even where I was even though everything looked familiar to me. Sigh.....If I ever figure out the spaghetti road system in this particular area of Austin it will be a miracle.

Another things that was agitating me was that I had forgotten my sunglasses at home. It was overcast when we left the house so I didn't think about it until the blaring sun started to show its shining face. Somehow I also discovered I had left my reading glasses at home too. Without these two very important items, I felt like I was missing a limb.

My first goal when I finally arrived to the thrift store area was to hit the dollar tree and grab me some dollar sunglasses and reading glasses. My favorite thing to check out at the thrift store is the book section. The trip is totally wasted if I don't have reading glasses to scour the books.

Toby finds it amusing that this particular thrift store is my favorite one in Austin. Here is Austin, Goodwills and Thrift Stores are very clean..almost like department stores instead of second hand stores. In Mobile most of them are pretty dirty and the funky smell would knock you over when you walked in.

I was really disappointed when I first moved here and couldn't find a familiar dirty smelling Goodwill or thrift store.....that is until I found the Texas Thrift Store. In my thrift store expertise I have found the dirty lower class stores have the best deals.

It's dirty, stinky, and most the cashiers and customers are Mexican so everything is written and spoken in Spanish. I'm getting pretty good at deciphering the signs. :-)

The plus side to this is there is a very large selection of books. They are very cheap too. I'm talking .25 cents per books for children's books and $1 for adult books. Another reason I love this store is I ALWAYS come out of there with school and reading books for Summer. Fortunately in this particular store, nobody is interested in what I find to be the "pot of gold".

It seems someone must have just dumped off all their unused school books. There were tons of curriculum books from K-High School. I just grabbed what I could use in the near future and left the rest for some other lucky homeschooler.

Here is what I got today...

I enjoyed my little shopping getaway. Surprisingly when it was time to go pick up Toby and Summer, I discovered how close I actually was to them. I can't believe I was that close and went so far out of my way to get to the thrift store...tsk, tsk, tsk.

After I picked them up we hit Office Depot, the Dollar Tree AGAIN, grabbed a bite to eat at Quiznos using a buy one get one free coupon, and last but not least the store that makes grocery shopping fun, HEB.

I think it was more of a birthday gift for me than Summer today. :-)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Deal

I don't even remember who or what gave me the idea to start blogging. It just now occurred to me that it may have been my loving brother who lives overseas. He sporadically keeps a blog to keep us family/friends back home updated on his daily life. I have always and enjoyed and looked forward to reading his blogs and keeping a small peek on his life from afar.

With the exception of my school years, I have always enjoyed writing down my thoughts and feelings about things. I never did much of it though. I loved to write but hated the process of writing it down with a pen on paper. My pen never moved fast enough to keep up with the thoughts that were pouring out of my mind and if it did it was in such a scrawl that it was illegible.

Alas, computer technology! This would enable me to type my thoughts....a much faster process than physical writing. My first attempt at writing was poems and rhymes about family members. I have to admit, I would be rather embarrassed to post some of my rhymes I wrote from several years ago. Maybe one day when I am feeling brave....or running out of things to write about MAYBE I will post some of them..for entertainment purposes only. :-)

Anyway, I was thinking about my blog lately. When I first started to blog it was meant to be sort of an online diary for myself. A way to keep up with what went on in my life on a day to day basis...no matter how uneventful it may be.

When we moved to Texas my blog took on a different form. It became more of a way to keep family members and friends back home informed of my going ons in Texas.

I enjoy writing and I like to use writing as an outlet on a day to day basis. There is not usually much to write about daily, but from here on out you will see posts of my daily life...no matter how mundane it may be.

Take what you want and leave the rest.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Garden Fair

Toby had to go into work early today so Summer and I were on our own. My plan for the day was to attend the Garden Fair. I had never been to that part of Austin by myself so I knew it would be somewhat of a challenge.

I was interested enough in the fair that it was worth the risk of getting lost. After all, I have the $30 city map book with me in my car at all times.

We finally arrived safe and sound at the Govalle Park where the fair was being held. They had hands-on demonstrations of how to dig a garden bed, make compost, grow fruits and vegetables organically, create wildlife food and shelter, start plants from cuttings and seeds, and many more gardening tips.

They even gave us instructions and showed us how to make our very own rain barrel which we have been wanting to do for a while.

I came home with a lot of ideas and some goodies. Summer had fun looking around at everything and playing the little games and activities they had for the kids.

It was well worth our while to go. I'm glad I did.

Here are some pics of the day:

Afterwards we hit Walmart so Summer could spend some of her gift card her cool uncle sent her for her birthday.

It was a beautiful day. I wish the weather could stay like it has been for the past couple of weeks forever. Wishful thinking, I know.


Summer immediately headed next door to play. A few minutes later she comes in telling me they are headed out into the greenbelt because they saw something big and hairy with green glowing eyes out there....hmphhh...you and I both know that's a big fat exaggeration. :-)

Just getting home, all I wanted to do was sit down and chill out for a while. Typically, I am not an overprotective paranoid type mother but the thoughts of 4 elementary aged children out in the grassy greenbelt alone on a very warm day made me very uncomfortable. I saw plenty of rattlers in the yard last year so I know they are out there.

So what did I do? I went with them..flip flops, shorts and all. Honestly, I really wanted to go anyway. :-) I can never resist woods adventures of any kind. The tomboy in me proudly comes out during these times.

So here we are....or the kids right outside the fence headed out on our journey:

Deep in the greenbelt. We crossed a broken down old barbed wire fence. Not sure if it was from an old farm or a current farm.

We spotted a fairly large hole. We were contemplating on what might live in it. Whatever it was it had to be pretty big. The hole was obviously very deep from the amount of dug out dirt that was dug out from the hole. A coyote maybe?? A javelina??

I directed the kids to the area that I believed the unmarked historical cemetery was located. That is something that I have been wanting to see since I have moved into the house.

We got sidetracked on the way by an old pile of fence and wood. I was showing the kids the prickly pear surrounding the pile and how it had been eaten by some animal. I then noticed skin...snake skin. As I was waving them closer to look at the snake skin we heard it! The quick rustle in the pile of stuff immediately followed by the loud rattling of a snakes rattle!

Sorry no pics....I was too busy running fast as lightening right behind the kids at warped speed...flip flops and all.

I'm all for going out there again, but I'm not sure if the kids will be willing anytime soon. :-)

Homeschool Days at Pioneer Farms..and Then Some

Pioneer Farms holds their homeschool days twice a year...in the spring and in the fall. Although we have been to the farm a few times and know everything that is there, I still like to show my support and help keep the farm going when they have events going on.

It was Toby's day off so he got to tag along with us. The event started a little earlier than what we are used to getting out so we left without eating breakfast. I had the understanding that there would be a hotdog stand there so I figured when we got there we would just grab some hot dogs for brunch and have a little picnic on the grounds.

Unfortunately, the hot dog guy never showed up. It's a good thing we had been to the farm before. We didn't have to hang around a long time looking at stuff while our stomachs were caving in.

Here are some pics of our morning:

Since Summer already had her heart set on a hotdog we headed to Dairy Queen for lunch. I don't get to eat greasy fast food too much anymore so Dairy Queen sounded great to me.

On the way as we were stopped at a light I spotted a vagabond taking a nap....heck, for all I know he may have been dead, underneath the highway. I couldn't resist snapping a pic of him.

The homeless and panhandlers are very common to Austin. They are camped out on most corners with their signs up and their hands out.

When I first moved here it made me very uncomfortable. I was not use to seeing so much begging from where I came from....well, not the kind of begging that didn't come in the form of a government check anyway.

I guess I have been desensitized to it now. It's commonplace and goes along with Austin intersections all over the city. Sad, but here you can't distinguish between who really needs help and who just comes in from surrounding cities to camp out on the corner and beg for their weekly paycheck.

After we got our bellies full on DQ we headed home. A mixture of spring break and beautiful spring weather had all the kids outside playing when we rolled into the driveway.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Today I Am Grateful For....

Cupcakes Toby surprisingly brings home from work from Hey Cupcake...

And my birds I set up a "restaurant" for right outside of my kitchen window...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Smart Stuff

Not too long ago I started noticing strange "designs" located around Manor. I would find them on city trucks, buildings, parks, houses, and even on a bottle of Dramamine I bought for Summer when she was having a strange bout with car sickness.

Every time I would see them I would point them out to Toby and say "What are those things?" Of course, he would always say "I don't know." without showing the least bit of interest in finding out what they were or even caring what they were for that matter.

Being the inquisitive person I am of my surroundings I set out to find out. My discovery was that our little city of Manor deserved a bit of recognition and these smartcodes were the reason.

I am not in the least up on technical jargon so I will let the clickable articles speak for themselves. It does seem that Manor seems to be the first city in the U.S. to implement the smartcode idea. Little ole' Manor.

I'm sure that most people reading this will find little or no interest in this post. I just thought Manor needed a little recognition for being a small city with a big idea forever lost in the shadow of Austin.

Good going Manor, Texas....we loved you even before you weren't recognized for anything but Gilbert Grape!

I have included some of my own pics of smartcodes around the city and some other random pics of Manor:

Smartcode outside the Manor Post Office.

Historic home of James B. Manor.

City Jail....where the bad boys and girls spend the night. :-)

Jennie Lane Park where the Farmers Market and city celebrations are held.

This is considered downtown Manor....notice the "famous" water tower in the backround and Manor Grocery where a lot of the filming of Gilbert Grape took place.

Manor's little podunk library. It's really kinda cool. They have a lot of vintage books. I have found books that I read as a kid in there. Brought back memories.

This is the Ben E. Fischer Park located on the same grounds as the library. How convenient. Looking at it, I don't know why I don't utilize the small town treasures more often. With Austin just a hop, skip, and a jump away, Manor always gets overshadowed by the big guy.

Here is the railroad track that runs through the Austin area. Notice the pink podunk library nestled against it.

Hope you enjoyed your little walk through Manor, Texas.