Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Zilker Park

Not long ago I saw a segment on the nightly news about an archaeological dig going on at Zilker Park. It intrigued me only for the educational factor in it. As a homeschooling family we have seen and done many activities that revolve around archaeology. The dig was just one aspect that we have never actually witnessed.

On specific days at certain times they were allowing viewing of the dig and to be able to sift through the dirt they had dug up for artifacts.

When we arrived at Zilker there seemed to be some kind of issue with the site and they weren't letting anyone in. We still got to see the site and the very helpful girl at the gate showed us some of the artifacts they had already found and answered our many questions with patience.

Afterwards we headed over to the playground area. There were several school buses there so we were a little worried about the crowd factor. It wasn't too bad at first. Our "unsocialized" little girls were running around with the school crowd as though they were a part of their group, running, chasing and playing with them.

Our girls have enough interaction with public schooled kids to know how the "system" works.

After a little while we grabbed our picnic lunch and found a lone, vacant picnic table away from the quickly growing crowds of school kids. By the time we got through with our lunch and headed back to the playground it was like rats in cage out there. More buses had come in with more kids.

There were wall-to-wall kids. It was very nerve racking to me. At this stage in my life I am not mentally capable to be couped up with that many unleashed school kids at one time. School kids are always a little wilder than usual anyway. They are trapped in a classroom behind a desk for the most part of the day. When they are finally let out, they are like a dogs who have been chained up and gotten off their leash. My son was public school educated so I am very familiar with the behavior.

I can only hope that none of us contracted Swine Flu while in the masses of school kids. :-/

The girls did have an incident on the playground right before we left. There was such a large amount of kids on the playground that everyone was bumping into to each other. While Summer and Jordan were playing somehow they were pushed into a little boy. This obviously upset the little boy. He then proceeded to "manhandle" the girls. Angela and I were watching from a distance.

At first I thought it was all innocent play until I saw Summer take a punch at the boy. Then I noticed her expression and could see desperation in her eyes. The boy then let go of Summer and grabbed Jordan. Jordan had the same expression on her face. At this point I knew it was time to step in.

With all the playground commotion, by the time we got to them the boy had let go and went on about his way. So much for the idea that public schooled kids are any more socialized than homeschooled kids. It's obvious this little boy did not have any "social skills" by being public school educated.

I guess I am going to have to add self-defense as part of our curriculum.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What! Chiggers

A couple of weeks ago Summer was complaining of itching all around her torso area. I checked out the area and assumed that it was probably bug bites of some kind. They weren't inflamed and she didn't seem to be overly bothered by them.

A few days later, I awoke with whelps all over my thighs and backs of my legs. No other part of my body was afflicted. These bumps were itching like crazy! I am one of those people who doesn't usually feel the effects of bug bites of any kind, so it seemed a little out of the ordinary that I was so bumpy and itchy.

Initially, I blamed it on Brandi (the dog) who I have been letting sleep with us lately....fleas I assumed. After inspecting Brandi thoroughly there was not one flea on her...she only goes outside to pee and poop so the likelihood of her having a flea infestation is minimal. Besides, we used to always have flea infested dogs in the house in Alabama and never had any issues with the fleas biting us....or not me anyway.

Summer's itching subsided rather quickly and she never complained after the initial incident. My itching on the other hand progressively got worse. I scratch like a dog and have managed to claw holes into my whelps.

Toby suggested I might have Chiggers. Chiggers I say...I have heard of them but have never had any experiences with such a creature. I decided to hop on the Internet and do a little chigger research. Yes! I have been attacked by chiggers!

Seems my love of trampling around in the greenbelt has not gotten me snake bit, but has managed to get me bug infested. In all the years I have trampled around in the woods this is the first time I have ever had creatures attach themselves to me.

I "ain't skeerd" though. I'll be back in those woods armed with some very strong insect repellent the next time!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Purses, Pocketbooks, Handbags....Whatever You Call Them

My purse is my most important accessory. I don't choose a purse by name brand or it's style. My purse has to serve a purpose and be very practical. I carry everything from gum to restaurant leftovers in my purse.

I like having access to anything I need at any given moment....a hairbrush, wipes, reading glasses, lipstick, pen and paper, cell phone, etc. The list goes on and on. Carrying all of my necessities makes my purse weigh a ton.

I also like my hands free so I don't carry a purse with a small handle. My purse has a long strap so that I can wear it diagonally across my shoulder. After carrying it a while is starts to hurt my shoulder that it's hanging on. I then have to reverse it to wear it over the other shoulder. It's really cumbersome and heavy.

So the other day while Angela and I were downtown I was carrying my backpack to hold all my essentials so that I wouldn't have to walk around holding my purse. We were discussing the backpack and I can't remember if she said something about a purse backpack or if it just hit me that a purse backpack would be the perfect answer for my purse dilemma. It would certainly give my neck and shoulders a break.

Since that day I have been on a mission to find me a backpack purse. So far no luck, although I have not had a whole lot of time to really shop. I really don't frequent clothing or fashion stores. Most of my clothes come from the Goodwill. That being said, I have always tried to draw the line at buying purses, shoes, or undergarments at Goodwills.

So the other day we were in Walmart. I decided to check the purses to see if I could find my backpack purse. Do they even make those anymore?

Summer grabbed up a purse that was almost identical to the one I own. I was ashamed to say that my denim purse in comparison to the new purse (also denim) was about 5 shades darker. My purse is filthy! Toby then pointed out how old my purse is.....several years old. Wow! I didn't even realize that it has been that long since I have bought myself a new purse....or washed the one I own for that matter.

Not surprising at all though. I am very picky about purses, shoes and undergarments. Not in the way they look, but in the way they make me feel. For me, comfort is the key..not style.

I will be searching for my new purse this week....wish me luck!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Festival Here, A Festival There, Festivals Everywhere!

After another leisurely morning, we headed out to the Dragon Boat Festival around 11:30. We took the "ass end way" as I call it, to downtown. It's only a mile or two longer that way and saves us a lot of traffic trouble. We have had experiences on the weekend taking I-35 and didn't want a repeat of any of them.

We only stayed at the Dragon Boat Races for about an hour. They had plenty of entertainment and food there, but I was mostly interested in the boat races. Luckily when we first arrived they had just started a race. Here are a few pics:

Oh look! There's Mary Poppins again!

We finally were ready for lunch after walking around for a little while. All that Asian food looked and smelled really good. Unfortunately, everyone else thought so too. The line was very long...longer than what we wanted to wait in.

We left to grab a bite to eat, but before we went to eat we stopped into the Town Lake Animal Shelter in downtown. We have still been hunting for the right animal member to add to our family. I have always hated going into animal shelters of any kind. I am much to sensitive of a person to be looking into the eyes of a sad lonely animal that is probably doomed. I have to totally emotionally disconnect myself before I walk in or I would emotionally fall apart in front of everyone....I'm sure Toby and Summer would love that one.

Anyway, we walked away empty handed. All of the dogs there were were bigger dogs. We don't have a fenced in yard and I have an aversion to medium or larger dogs roaming around inside of my home....remember my motto, "Bigger dog, bigger mess."

As we were trying to make our way out of downtown we counted 4 other different festivals going on. Toby said he had recently read where Austin was listed as the #1 city in the U.S. with the most festivals...from a personal perspective, I believe that is true.

Our eating destination was the Central Market. It's one of those Austin places to eat, I'm sure because of the family friendly entertaining atmosphere. I was also impressed that the food was affordable and good. The wind was blowing at 200 mph hour today so we decided to eat our meal inside. After we ate we went outside to let Summer play on the playground while Toby and I let our food settle and enjoyed the band.

It was another great day....but it's always good to get home.

Friday, April 24, 2009

An Unexpected Fun, Ordinary Day

There was a toss up on our activities of choice for the weekend. We were contemplating camping this weekend, but I shot that one down. I really use to enjoy camping and have had many pleasant experiences camping in Alabama.

I have to be totally mentally prepared to camp. This entails knowing exactly where I am going to put my tent, a camping checklist, where the closest food joint is..just in case, and whether I can build a fire or not. Camping is not camping without a us anyway.

So, since there are so many other activities to keep us occupied in this wonderful area of Texas and there is always an on and off burn ban going on, I have not done a whole lot of research for camping areas. I almost feel like I could get the same effect of camping if I could pitch my tent out in the greenbelt behind my house.

We, or should I say me, finally made the decision to go to the Dragon Boat Festival at LB Lake tomorrow. That left us a free day for today.

All of us stayed up until midnight last night watching Meerkat Manor so we all slept in this morning...well everyone but me. Early this morning I heard the garbage man coming down the road in my sleep. I had to dart out of the bed at warp speed and drag the 300 lb garbage can to the road before they got to my house....whew, what an eye opener!

It was a very relaxing morning. No school to accomplish and no rushing to get somewhere. After a leisurely morning, we finally got out of the house by noon. We really didn't have a set destination at all, which was also very nice.

We decided to head to Walmart to do a little "window shopping". Since we didn't have any real destination, we stopped off to check out the Copperfield Nature Trail. This is the one I have been wanting to check out for a while. The trail was a lot longer and more interesting than anticipated it would be.

Here is a pic Summer took of me and Mary Poppins walking the path:

In the year and half that I have lived here I have never seen honeysuckle. There was whole field of them along the trail. I risked getting bit by the rattler that Summer and Toby heard just to get this pic:

After our very long unexpected walk we were ready for lunch. We ate at Carinos Italian. I have to say this is the best Italian eating that I have ever had. It was better than Olive Garden in my opinion...with the exception of the free wine samples that are served at Olive Garden. :-)

We finally made it to Walmart, Target, and Toys R Us. It was so nice to be able to just browse around these stores without being on a mission for any particular item. Matter of fact, our only two purchases were a Texas Monthly magazine and a compass for Summer.

Today just happened to be one of those unexpected fun ordinary days. I am very grateful for the break in our routine. I can only hope for more days like this in the future.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pfluger Park

We usually only do one play date a week, but who can resist the beautiful warm weather we have been having??

As I have said before, Austin metro is chock full of parks. It would be a sin not to visit them all. I think I will put that on my list of things to do before I die.

Today it was the Pfluger Park. Yeah, try and pronounce that one! Pflugerville is another city just on the outskirts of Austin. Everything in Pflugerville is pronounced with the Pf prefix. Here is an example...check out the sign in this pic. You may have to click on the pic to see it:

I have to say that this park is going to be on my list of favorite parks. Although we didn't really have enough time to check out the whole park, I know this park is a "keeper". There are plenty of shade trees, walking trails, and a cool creek that runs through the whole park.

It also has the same adult exercise equipment the park in Manor has. I guess it's the Park's Departments way of giving the adults incentive to exercise while the kids are playing. Since my gut is my biggest issue, I gave the ab exerciser a try. I guess there is a reason I have a gut..Angela informed me that I was using the ab equipment upside down. :-)

Here are a couple more peeks into our afternoon..

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Touring Austin, Texas

Today Angela and I shook up playdate a little bit by heading to downtown Austin. Angela was looking for her mom and dad some "Keep Austin Weird" t-shirts (Austin's trademark). The souvenior shops in downtown Austin are the only places that I had ever seen them. Angela's souvenior search gave us a good reason to be tourists in our own city...something I think everyone should do within their own city.

Luck was on our side and it was an absolutely beautiful day to be walking the streets of downtown. As many times as I have been downtown I still find myself getting turned bass-akwards in a city that is much larger than what I am accustomed to. Good thing Angela has a much better sense of direction than I do.

We started out our tour by walking 6th Street (the Entertainment District). 6th Street is certainly entertaining, although not in the sense that the term was coined, I'm sure.

We browsed all the shops on 6th and watched some of the oddities that can make even the most weirdness immune Austinites take a second look.

After our t-shirt shopping was accomplished we headed into the Lucky Lizard to check out the Museum of the Weird. Summer and I have been in there before. I knew it was a place that little Jaiden would probably not take a liking to. I didn't realize that my "fearful personalitied" daughter would also decide that it was too scary for her to go into also.

In the end, everyone but Jaiden took a tour through the weird museum. Because of 2 little girls in particular, Jaiden and Summer's, fear factor we had to take turns going in. Angela went in by herself...brave girl, and seemed to enjoy it. I guess when you have 3 kids being anywhere by yourself is welcoming. :-)

After the museum we toured the Driskill Hotel. Because of the stairs, balconies, and massive spaciousness of this hotel, it is always a fun place for the kids and adults alike.

After all our walking it was time to take a break with some Jamba Juice.

Here we are passing time while baby Kate Linh drinks her "Jamba Juice". :-)

Our last stop was the Arthouse at the Jones Center. It's typically one of those places that has weird art. Today the displays were more along the lines of the art that I would consider "art". Here's the gang checking out the bicylce made out of wood.

I am always really impressed with how well Angela's little ones endure long days. Angela is one of those moms that make child rearing look easy. She is a natural mom and friend and always one of those people you walk away from feeling a positive energy.

It was finally time to end our day of fun. No one in their right mind likes IH-35 at peak traffic hour.

Here are just a few random pics of the end of our tour.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday April 20, 2009

It was a beautiful day today, but also one of those days that remind me how scorching the Texas sun can be. We spent most of our day inside doing school work. We will be out and about for a few days this week so Summer had advance lessons today and yesterday.

We did go out later on in the afternoon. I turned on the backyard sprinkler and she managed to get soaked while I did a little yard work. I'm sure it felt good to run under the sprinkler after playing outside in the heat....I was a little tempted to run underneath it myself.

After we ate supper, Summer took off outside to play with the neighbor kids. I decided to take advantage of the time alone and work on my Spanish with the Rosetta Stone program my brother bought me a almost a year ago.

Since I have had the program I have worked with it on and off. I haven't managed to get past the first section. I just don't get it at all. This is one instance where English phonics does not do me any justice. I like things to be explained to me in a manner where I can understand its meaning. I need definitions.

With Rosetta Stone, it starts off teaching you the language without any explanation of what the difference between Ella, Ello, El, Los, Las, Uno, Un, etc. means. It drives me crazy! It will show you different pictures and you have to just figure out what they are talking about according to what the picture is showing.

Every time I sit down with the program I start from the beginning thinking that it will eventually makes sense to me and something will hasn't yet. I really wish Toby would load the program onto his computer and learn with me. He always gives me insight about things that I don't understand.

I can understand enough Spanish to communicate on a primitive level. My goal is to be able to fully communicate.

To my wonderful generous brother who probably paid a fortune for the program, don't worry it will not go to waste. I am determined to figure it out even if it takes me forever. :-)

It is now 8:22 p.m. Toby was suppose to get off work at 6:00 p.m......I wonder where he is???

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday April 19, 2009

As I checked off the date on my desk calendar this morning, I couldn't believe that April is almost over. Yes, time does fly when your having fun and as you get older.

The other day while out and about, Summer was talking about getting old enough to drive a car and all the ways she would take care of other drivers indiscretions...a little scary I tell ya for an 8 year old. I can only imagine what sort of things she will come up with by the time she is able to drive.

Anyway, as she was contemplating dangerous car maneuvers I was thinking about how when you are young you just can't wait for the age of 13. When your 13 you can't wait until you are 16. When you are 16 you can't wait until you are 18 and so on and so on. Time seemed to creep to get from one milestone to another when I was younger.

I'm just curious in the big scheme of things why as we get older time seems to go into overdrive. But yet, time seems to be of no importance as you get older. It just flies by and you don't even realize what you have missed out on or what you should have been doing with all those lost moments.

As Summer gets older I have been thinking a lot about time and how it flies. How before you know it she will be a teenager with her own mind and her thoughts that won't even involve me or Toby at all.

I'm sure she probably won't be interested in the least about snuggling with me, sharing her thoughts, ideas, or artwork with me, wanting me to come outside and watch her do something, etc.

These things I have thought about a lot lately. I don't want the time to fly past me and then I look up and there is my little girl grown and gone. I find sometimes that because I homeschool her and I am with her 24/7 that I don't spend enough time with her outside of school work and daily chores. Those things consume most of our daily lives.

So today, even though I had a ton of other stuff I needed to do after our "school day" I dropped it all. Summer and I headed to the park. We searched for cool rocks, played in the pond water, and walked the park paths while she asked me questions like who the first people on Earth were and how April Fool's day came about.

After we left the park we got one of those blue slush puppies that turn your lips and teeth blue. When we got home we ate a bowl of soup together while watching the movie Enchanted.

I'll be quite honest by telling you that going to the park for over an hour and coming home to watch an hour movie knowing I had mounds of chores that needed to be accomplished would typically send me over the edge. Today I did not care in the least. I was truly enjoying my daughters company just the two of in the moment. It was great!

One of the things that really bug me about being a homeschool mom is having so much on my plate to get accomplished that I don't have as much play time as I would like with my daughter.

Things are about to change around here.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Camp Mabry Celebration

Toby's days off are Tues., Fri., and Sat. On two out of these three days I plan family activities. Unfortunately sometimes those plans get squelched by the weather. For instance on Friday we had rain ALL DAY long.

I didn't complain at all because rain is something that we have been severely lacking in for over a year now. It just would be nice if the rain made it convenient for me and would come on the days that I am already stuck inside doing school work or chores instead of our family days off.

This morning the rain was slowly clearing out of the area. We decided to attend the Camp Mabry Celebration. Toby had been wanting to check Camp Mabry out for a while so I thought this celebration would be the perfect chance.

There were games, fingerprinting, food, activities, war reinactments, etc. I won't bore you with all the pics I took today but here are some of my favorites:

This guy was really good at card tricks. He had Toby and I amazed.

This guy was carving his own arrowheads. We found out that what we suspected was true...there are arrowheads all over Austin! I have been inspired to search the ground a little harder so we can add to Toby's Alabama arrowhead collection:

Toby's collection:

Summer throwing an arrow and taking a ride on a horse:

Even though we had a great day, there was one incident. Summer was playing the golf game and the little guy children's helper was trying to show her how to hold and swing the club correctly. His instruction backfired on him. See the guy in the blue in the picture below?? Well, he ended up with a bloody face and a gash in his forhead that probably will require a few stitches. He was standing a little too close to the kid with the golf kid.

Summer felt so bad about it. There was so much commotion around the guy because he was bleeding profusly. Head wounds always bleed more than others anyway. They finally whisked him away to the medic center. Poor guy.

Other than the incident, it was a wonderful day....for us anyway.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Let Me Set The Record Straight!

A few weeks ago my neighbor K.K. came into my home. She also homeschools her 3 kids. In her case I will use that word homeschool loosely.

We have had many conversations over the past few months concerning God, religion, beliefs, etc. by her choice of course.

I have learned from the past that for whatever reason most Christians want to know what your beliefs are, what church you attend, and what faith you are when you first meet them.

To be fair, I will say that the other end of the spectrum...the nonreligious I will call people like me, usually run the other way when they find out someone is a person of strong religious conviction. Confrontation about your beliefs is never a fun or productive thing.

I am amazed at the Christians that I have met that think just because I don't practice organized religion that I don't believe in God. I get the impression they don't even think I can love and cherish my family or have any moral standards because I am not a Christian. Small mindedness runs rampant in our world doesn't it?

True, I am not so sure of the role of Jesus. Personally, I believe Jesus was a very enlightened form of who we all can be. A teacher for us all and just a really cool kinda guy that we should all model ourselves after. We are ALL sons of God because we are ALL a fragment of God. Jesus, Buddha, and many other great teachers have been there for us to listen to, learn from, and pay attention to.

I will continue by saying that I have some very good friends that practice Christianity. They are the ones that know the difference between being a Christian and being Christ-like. There is a very big difference.

Fear not though, this is just my story .

This one will really blow you away! I really don't pray for anything but thanks and gratitude and the strength to endure what comes my way. I learned many years ago that prayer doesn't get you any further that what God has planned for you anyway. It doesn't matter how much you pray for something, if it is not meant to be or meant to happen..or in some cases not to happen, that's the way it is.

I am always amazed by the people who pray for someone to get better and think just because they got better for a little while God answered their prayers. What does this mean about the ones that spent hours praying for someone that ended up dying or having something bad happen to them anyway?? Did that mean that God was out of the office for the day or that he just plain didn't give a shit? I think not. It was just meant to happen at that time in that way no matter how much you wasted your breath.

God has a reason and a time for everything and no amount of begging (praying) changes it. Bad things that happen to people end up being blessings in disguise anyway. Again, just my story.

So onto my neighbor K.K. While she was in my home she saw this on my stair wall.

She looked at me and said.."I thought you weren't a Christian." I guess to some Christians God and Christianity go hand in hand.

In a nutshell for anyone who has not done their homeschool homework, there is a difference between spirituality and religion.

I AM NOT a follower of any organized religion BUT I do believe in a higher power of some sort. I'll be honest in saying that I don't know what sort of power, nor do I have an answer. Let it be. There will be an answer for us all of us one day won't it?