Saturday, January 30, 2010

From The Beginning...

I had a little time on my hands this evening so I began to look for things that I enjoy to pass my time. Reading is always first on the list when I have extra time.

Initially, I began to read through some of my favorite blogs, which I must admit is not that many. I am hard to please in every form and fashion. In my spare time I read the blogs of the comments of my favorite blogs trying to find intriguing blogs to add to my "favorites" list.

Until this day I have not figured out what makes a blog interesting to a reader. I guess blogs are like personalities...some of 'em you like, some ya' don't. I have read through several of the blogs of note, most of the comments of my selected few favorite bloggers, and some random blogs I have found on my own before I started to bore and decided to ready my own blog from the very first entry.

This is something that I never do...probably never have done. I found it to be akin to flipping through a photo album of memories.

That got me to thinking. When choosing a blog to read, most people don't start reading the first blog entry of the blogger. As for myself, I usually choose random blog archives that sound intriguing to me. If those posts are particularly interesting I will then choose to start from the beginning of the blog and move on.

I came to the conclusion if you read the first entry of a particular blogger and follow it through to the present you will be able to get to know that blogger in a more personal way therefore feeling more of a connection to the blogger...if in fact that blogger is a personal blog writer.

So that's what I did tonight. I started at my very first blog entry ever and started reading. Reading my posts brought back memories of all the good times, changes, sorrows, and a some tears.

Tonight I am giving myself a personal BLOGGER AWARD. After I read back on our life of the past 2 1/2 years I did a pretty good job of keeping an accurate account of what goes on in our life on a regular basis. Nothing is more interesting to me than reminiscing about my family, our adventures and our sorrows. Now that's vain isn't it!!!!

As my brother would say.."this is just a rambling post"...and it is. :-)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Our Day Today

After running a couple of necessary errands today we were left with a little time on our hands. We were out and about and didn't really want to go back home yet...well, I didn't anyway.

We were close to downtown so I suggested we go check out one of the art centers that we have not been in yet.

Dougherty's Art Center is situated right next to Disch Field which I just learned today is an old baseball field. It was a beautiful warm day so we played around the field for awhile.

Here are a couple of pics of our day.

Guess who got the wettest???

Aren't they cute???

Oh, and last but not least, I bought me a Pecan tree today. :-)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sky Ride

Living in Austin makes you become accustomed to seeing strange much that they are not strange anymore.

This morning I saw something that I didn't realize until that moment that I had never seen in real life before.

Around 9:15 this morning I walked into my kitchen to get a bite of breakfast. I love the outdoors so much that I never pass by a window without looking out of it. Good thing, or I would have never saw what I did.

There floating across the sky was a hot air balloon! I'm sure that that may not be a big deal to most folks, but I was excited. Aside from a book or t.v. it was the first time I had ever seen one actually floating in the sky...practically in my backyard I might add.

I immediately grabbed my camera and took a pic...

The balloon slowly descended down behind the trees until I could not see it anywhere. My curiosity got the best of me so I hopped in my car to find out where it went. I knew where I saw it go down there is nothing but wide open farmland and the main road.

As I pulled out of my neighborhood I caught sight of it again. It was still slowly descending. I lost track of it one more time before I caught sight of it touching down in the park.

I couldn't believe that it had landed in the area that it did without getting tangled up in the grove of pecan trees in the park..

I was curious enough about the balloon that I came home and did a little research. I found out that Austin has a couple of hot air balloon rentals. I can't believe in the two years that I have lived here this is the first time I ever saw a hot air balloon floating around in the sky.

I guess I can add balloon ride to my long list of things to do while living in Central Texas.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Life Learning

A couple of months ago when I made the final heartfelt decision to unschool Summer I also decided that since we would not be following a structured curriculum anymore that we would be more involved in community and outdoor activities.

Volunteering in worthy causes was just one of the extracurriculars that I decided to incorporate into our new living style. I had a few causes in of them being park cleanups. After mulling it over in my mind, I decided park restoration and clean up would be something I would benefit more from.

I regrouped my thoughts and began to focus on what Summer would get more satisfaction from. I know that she has an affection for animals so I decided to focus on that. I remembered ads I had seen a few months ago in the Manor Messenger advertising a strong need for volunteer help with the
Elgin Animal Shelter

Since the first time I ever visited Elgin, I cringe when I go there. Anybody that keeps up with my blog knows that I have no affection for Elgin, Alabama.

After careful thought, I finally decided that Austin probably had much more financial and volunteer support than little ole' podunk Elgin would ever have.

So, a couple of weeks ago Summer and I went on our first "interview" with the Elgin Animal Rescue. The first thing I noticed when we drove up was the HORRIBLE smell. The shelter is located right next to a water treatment plant so not only did you have the smell of animals and poop, along with it came the smell of raw sewage.

Luckily, Summer and I are not squeamish or we would have turned on our heels and immediately left the premises. Now I know why the coordinator of the shelter said they had a hard time keeping volunteers.

Well, today was our first volunteer day with the shelter. On our interview last week we were asked if we had a fear of rats. Of course our answer was NO, as long as they are not in our house we are o.k with them. :-)

Today I found out why she asked us about the rats. As Summer and I were learning the ropes and helping out with the "dog blanket laundry" Summer pointed out that she saw a rat. When I looked up I saw not only one rat but HUNDREDS of rats....not mice, but RATS.

The place is like a zoo more than a shelter. The rats are running around everywhere and the dogs are going crazy barking at them.

After we took the dogs one by one out of their cages to their outside fences the rats surrounded their inside cages to eat the dog food that had spilled out of their bowls onto the floor. There were literally hundreds of rats running around. All around the baseboards the rafters....EVERYWHERE!!! I was amazed and unbelievably not scared. I guess my experience with rats in our house in Alabama had made both Summer and I immune to the rat invasion. I do have to say if it had been hundreds of cockroaches I would have had to flee!

Anyway, just in the couple of hours we were there we got a feel for the animals. There were several cats that we held and loved on. Precious kitties. The dogs were well....being dogs. Most of them were big and strong and a couple were scared and unfriendly.

The experience was bittersweet. It was nice to be able to give an animal some temporary love, but it was also sad to think that these animals have been thrown away like an old tattered rug.

This should not surprise me. Some humans give no regard to animals just as they give no regard to the human species. Our society is filled with unloved and uncared for humans also.

I once had someone tell me that you can tell the character of a person in the way that he treats animals. I can see that statement to be true in some folks...not so much in others. I know a couple of people that treat their animals better than they do their own kids...that's not very good character either.

I was impressed with Summer's work ethic. She worked the whole time we were there with no whining or complaining. She was in her comfort zone in that stinky shelter.

In the one day we were at the shelter I have chosen one particular dog and one particular cat that I would bring home to love....that is, if I ever wanted anything else to take care of....

On the way home Summer and I treated ourselves to DQ. Later on in the evening I let Summer make her a personal pizza. My friend Angela had inspired me to make our own pizza so I got the dough recipe from her. Here is the finished pizza made personally for and by Summer....

A beautiful sunset to end a beautiful day..

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wild Basin

This week we took advantage of the warmer temps and took a hike through Wild Basin Wilderness Refuge.

Wild Basin is in situated in the Hill Country so there is beautiful scenery to and from the refuge. It still amazes me that there can be such a drastic difference in topography in just 20 miles N,S,E and W of Central Austin. You can go from flat plains to rolling hills or from rocky terrain to blackland mud in 20 minutes depending on which direction you go.

This may not seem odd to locals, but this is one of the first things we noticed when we first moved here.

This is the position Summer always assumes on all of our hiking trips. She is a rock lover for sure. Before long we will have to rent out storage for all the rocks she collects on our explorations...

Here are Summer and I in front of the waterfall.

Here we are taking the path up the hill....

Here we are once we made it to the top of the hill...

I have no idea who Summer was waving to...

Toby decided to play Three Billy Goats Gruff at the bridge...

Exploring and hiking is one activity we all enjoy. We always come home feeling refreshed and of course tired after our hike...well, all of us but Summer. :-)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Tattoo For You

If anyone wants to check out Toby at work at the convention here is a pic of him featured in the Austin-360 working on a customer. If you really want some visual entertainment for the day you can slideshow through and check out all of the pics from the Star of Texas Tattoo Convention.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Wild Hairs

All it takes is for the temps to warm up 10 degrees and Istart getting visions of explorations dancing in my head. To make it worse my favorite friend gave me some Texas hiking and backpacking books that only fueled the fire already in my head.

In the past couple of weeks I have envisioned everything from hiking/backpacking across the U.S. to Zip lining in Spicewood. I have decided to tone my fantasies down a bit and keep it simple...for the time being.

Anyway, the last day of Youth Show went great. After six months of being involved in 4-H and experiencing the Youth Show, I have decided that we very much like 4-H.

What I love most about 4-H is that it is very young person driven. They make the kids do everything. It is their group and very little adult interaction is encouraged.

I also love that it takes up very little time and money.

Here are some highlights of our last day of Youth Show. Summer was showing her rabbits. Two of her rabbits passed the test but one of them in the group was not "up to par" causing the whole group to be exiled. :-) We didn't care because it was all in fun for us but it seemed as though some of these kids take it very personally when their animals fail to make the cut.

I was so proud of her. She is getting so mature. She didn't seem insecure or out of sorts at all about the whole thing even though it was all very new to all of us.

Here is Summer waiting for her rabbits to be judged in the judging area....Oops, I think we all must have left our wrangler jeans, cowboy boots, and plaid shirts at home. :-)

Okay, I have to post this pic because I could have sat out all day long and looked out in the distance. Although I really HATE the fact there are no tall trees here to shade the blaring sun off of us, on the flip side I LOVE that I can see so much more without distractions like trees in the way of the view.

I took this pic of the downtown skyline. The Expo Center where the Youth Show is held is only minutes from our house. All I could think about when I saw this view was how we could easily see the New Years and 4th of July fireworks shows that are held downtown from this vantage point yet miss the crowds.

Fast forward to today. We had a playdate today. I was really looking forward to hangin' out with my favorite friend and her kids. The forecast was scheduled to be warm and sunny. Hmmphh....somehow the temps were not all that warm or sunny. We still had fun anyway...

After we got home the temps finally felt the 70 degrees they claimed to be. Here is Summer and "Peter" taking a siesta on the trampoline. Now how cute is that? :-)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Travis County 4-H

Last year was the first year we have ever done a group activity...besides our homeschool group.

Even though we keep pretty busy doing our own thing and Summer gets plenty of "socialization" with her homeschool friend and neighborhood friends I decided last year that I wanted her to be involved with a structured group activity.

I wanted something that didn't involve alot of time or money. We decided on 4-H. We had tried to participate in a
4-H group once before when we lived in Alabama, but not at all shocking someone's religious beliefs got in the way and caused a little strife and ended the group before it even began....boy I don't miss all that religious competition that goes on in the Bible Belt.

So, although we have monthly meetings and help with fundraisers periodically, this weekend was the actual Travis County Youth Show. Everything that you do in 4-H leads up to the Youth Show.

Summer had three projects that she worked on for the show. An art project, a food project, and a plant project. She got blue ribbons on her food and plant project and a red ribbon on her art project.

Of course as Murphy's Law always goes it has been raining constant for the past couple of days. The rain is usually welcoming to me as little of it as we usually get, but we have four rabbits that their fur has to stay absolutely dry and fluffed until the rabbit judging on Sunday.

Well guess what Summer and I came home to today??? The tarp that we keep over the rabbits cage was totally strewn off. The wind must have blown it loose. Summer and I were out in the pouring rain trying to rescue the soaked rabbits out of the big outdoor cage and get them into their smaller carry cage inside the garage. It was the first time since we have had the rabbits that I felt love for them. Poor babies were soaked....

It was freezing rain and the ground in front of their cage had turned into sticky, slippery clay mud so we were slipping and sliding all over the place on top of freezing and wet. Never more animal projects.

We are not keep the animal neat and perfect kind of folks. We like to play with them amd love them. Animals are not for show to us, they are for play.

We are looking forward to the livestock show mostly for the fact that we will be socializing with the group....oh, and I will be glad that we will be getting rid of a couple of rabbits...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It's Only A Car

Everybody is different. Everyone has things that are important to them. For instance, my youngest brother is obsessed with history, historical homes, antiques, geneology and that sort of thing. My dad, me and my son have always found an obsession in what kind of car we drive.

Anyone that knows me might find that strange considering the fact that I am female and the other fact that I have never drove a really nice bad as I have always wanted to.

Although I lusted after the muscle cars of my day and always wanted to "soup up" the cars I drove, I never had the opportunity. I am sure me being a female didn't help my case as far as dad helping me out in the car "souping" area nor did I possess the muscle mass or mechanical knowledge that it would take to embark on such an endeavor.

So the story goes on. My son's car was stolen last night. Stolen from right out in front of his apartment. How in the hell they stole the thing amazes me. It wasn't the most quite vehicle on the block. It was "souped up" and a bit "jerry rigged".

Lucas got the original car in a less than desirable condition. He rebuilt the whole engine with the mother of all car engine parts. He and his father painted and repainted. I watched them spend months sinking money and time into building this special car.

I have pictures of the whole process but I will spare you the boring details and post the pic of the finished product...

I'll never forget the first year we went back to Mobile from Austin. Since we had only a rental and Toby had the rental off somewhere else, Summer and I piled in Lucas's car with him to take a 30 minute trip to visit my dad.

Summer had obviously picked up a bug while we were visiting. On the way home she was doing her best to keep her upchuck down. It was hot as hell and my son's "souped up" car did not have air conditioning nor was it a comfort ride.

I think this is the most sorry I have ever felt for any person in my whole life. Summer knew how important her brother's car was to him and that he would be none to happy if there were vomit on the floorboard of it.

The minute we pulled up into his driveway she opened the car door and let it flow. To this day she will tell me about how she had to hold it in so she wouldn't mess her brothers car up. Now that's sisterly love for ya.

Back to the present. The mom in me keeps calling to check on my son. He keeps telling me he's o.k. and that there is nothing he can do but accept it, but I know my son. I hear stress, sadness and anger in his voice. I hate this sort of thing happened to him...

Unfortunately "shit happens" in life. It is up to us how we deal with it. Everyone deals with stress anger and pain in different ways....

Monday, January 11, 2010

Fair-weather Friends

Definition of fair-weather friends - A friend who is only nice to you when it's convenient. Someone who's wishy-washy. Someone who is a "backstabber." Someone who abandons you when another more favored friend comes around. A friend that is there only when they are bored or lonely, or when they need something....

.....I don't even remember at what point in my life I became familiar with the term "fair-weathered friend" but I have used the term often since Summer has been old enough to make actual "friends".

If we are honest, we know that all of us women have been fair-weathered friends at one point or another in our lives.

Fair-weathered friends come in all shapes and sizes. Even the homeschooling community is not free from those fair-weathered friends. Matter of fact, Summer's first encounter with a fair-weathered friend came from our first homeschool group. Yes, even 5 year old girls are capable of being fair-weathered friends.

Recently, in the past couple of months I have observed a few of Summer's fair-weathered neighborhood friends. She probably is not as aware of fair-weathered friend behavior as I am. After all, after 40 years of experience I can spot fake friends a mile off.

Take note again that I am not claiming innocence of always being a loyal friend. I know there have been a few times when I have abandoned my friends for whatever reason. Shame on me. As I get older I respect what little friendships that I do have a little more. I have learned the importance of having good friends.

Anyway, in my younger days most of my friends consisted of partying buddies. After I met Toby and began to settle down all of my friends consisted of women that had a motive of snaring my eligible young brother-in-law who lived with us at the time. I must admit I had let my friendship guard down and I did not become aware of these vulture type friends until it was obvious to them my picky brother-in-law had no interest. It was at that point they decided to move on the better "meat territory".

Anyway, Summer doesn't seem to be bothered by her fair-weather friends. Because her brother is so much older than her, it sort of makes her an only child. She usually will just go with the flow and put up with most anything. As long as she has someone to play with she is satisfied..even at the convenience of other kids.

Anyway, I guess as the saying goes...."To have a friend, you have to be a friend."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My Chance To Be Beautiful

Summer got a Wii for Christmas. I think one of the things she liked best about it was setting up the different characters (avatars). She made herself first, then her brother and then a couple of friends.

She wanted to make me but I told her that I wanted to create myself. She sat next to me as I began to make my avatar. I selected my face, then my hair, my nose, etc.

I wanted my avatar to be as close to the way I really look as possible so I selected the larger nose and the squinty eyes. Summer kept encouraging me to select prettier eyes and a smaller nose.

I argued with her and told her that if I selected the features she was wanting me to then the character would not look like me.

She then said..."Aw come on mom, let yourself be beautiful for once!"


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Shoes and Things Like Shoes

I am a comfort kinda woman. I like my clothes, shoes, and accessories comfortable. Hell, I like my whole life comfortable from what I drive to the house I live in. I'm not a "Keep up with the Jones". I am not into impressing men or women with what I wear, drive, live in, or who I am married to.

I have not always been that way. Once upon a time I may have worn really uncomfortable clothing or shoes to impress......impress who is now what I wonder. Never had enough income to impress folks with the latter. :-)

I have been thinking about the shoe thing for a few days now. My dear husband prompted me to think about the shoe thing in depth when we were at the mall a few days ago.

Summer and I being the flip flop kinda girls we are had to improvise and keep our toes warm by wearing suffocating shoes. Luckily, I had found some comfortable slip on shoes a few months ago.

Summer on the other hand was perfectly satisfied with her flip flops until the temps plummeted under 40 of the very few reasons that we would ever be at the mall. We don't venture the mall unless the weather is rainy, or extremely cold or hot.

So here we were in the mall in 30 degree weather and Summer had her flip flops on. Her feet are very long and narrow like mine so it is hard to find shoes that fit properly - hence, one of the reason we love our flip flops.

We decided since we were at the mall we would try and do a little shoe shopping for Summer. If I didn't know any better I would think that my husband was gay. Everytime we have ever been in a shoe store together he has managed to get me to try on the women's high heeled shoes. In the past, he has gone as far as telling me how to walk in them. We won't even ask how he would know how to walk in women's high heel shoes....

When we were first together I had a couple of miscarriages. After my second miscarriage, in order to cheer me up he put on one of my "sexy" dresses and modeled it for me. To this day I am hoping that he really wasn't enjoying his modeling as much as he appeared to be at the time.

Anyway, I hate high heeled shoes. I can't walk in them and I find them to be extremely uncomfortable.

I watch women walk in them and all I can think about is how much their feet must be hurting them. I wonder why they are in those terribly uncomfortable shoes...then I remember who the ones are that really like those uncomfortable shoes...MEN.

I'm sure this is probably one of those reasons I will probably never be viewed as "sexy" to the opposite sex. At least I will die comfortable.

Tomorrow is mine and hubby's 10 year marriage anniversary....maybe I will get some high heels just for him and him alone. ;-)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Goodbye My Son....Hello New Year

Most of our day yesterday was spent doing nothing at all. The kids seemed quite satisfied with hanging around the house so that's what we did.

Lucas left to go back home this morning. Summer and I are always sad to see him go, but I know this time when he gets back home he will be on a new journey in his life. In December 2009 he received his Airframe and Power Plant license.

I am excited for him. He will most likely be working at Ft. Rucker military base in Alabama. The life experienced part of myself always encourages him to travel and explore the world around him while he is still young and unattached with reponsiblities like a wife and kids.

Of course, like most of us we never take our parents advice.....

Most of our week was spent hiking about, watching T.V., playing video games, and eating....alot of eating. When we were at home I was mostly in the kitchen. My family tends to like to snack and eat when we are at home.

Being the doting mother that I am that leaves me in the kitchen cooking, preparing, and cleaning when we are most hated chore.

It was a nice visit. Toby has been super busy at work once again which is always good for the whole family in more ways than one.

Now that everything has settled down it's time for me to plan my year. I have a few ideas in mind and I am looking forward to implementing them....

Friday, January 1, 2010

Our Week Goes On....

This visit will make the 4th time Lucas has made a trip to Austin. This is also the first time he said he was interested in visiting the State Capitol. In his words..."I feel ready for the Capitol now." I don't know what kind of mental preparation he needed for the Capitol but that's my son for ya.

Since we were downtown we decided to let him tour the Texas Natural Science Center. It's one of my favorite places to visit and I knew Lucas would find it interesting. He enjoyed it as much as I thought he would.

After we left the Science Center we ventured on to the Capitol. Unless you are a real history/political buff the Capitol is nothing more than an awesome massive building with perfectly manicured grounds. Summer and I still love to visit the Capitol every so often. The Visitors Center on the Capitol's grounds is better than the actual Capitol...IMHO.

After we toured the Museum and the Capitol we grabbed a bite to eat at the Quizno's down from the Capitol. We sat at a table near the window and ate our sandwiches...after all, people watching in downtown is almost as interesting as the attractions.

Yesterday we all voted to go back to Barton Creek Greenbelt. Last time Lucas was here it was summertime and the drought was in full force. The creek beds were bone dry and it was hot as hell.

This time our 5 mile trek was alot more pleasant. The creek was replenished with flowing water and the temps were in the 60's.

Yes, Lucas did actually swing across the creek....after he handed us his cell phone and keys. :-)

New Years Eve Night - we all had a good time playing bowling on the Wii and welcoming the New Year in. I think this is the first year that ALL of us managed to stay up until midnight.

We all slept in late this morning. By the time we got up and ate brunch the day was already half gone. Since Toby had to go to work Lucas, Summer and I decided to explore in the woods a few blocks down from the house.

It was a perfect day for a hike in the woods. The air was chilly but not cold and Mr. Sun was doing it's usual of brightly beaming. The kids and I were truly in our element being out there enjoying nature.

We wanted to get across the creek to explore the other side. The water was too deep for us to walk across so Lucas was trying to make us a didn't work.

After a couple mile hike we were starved. After we got home we took off to Sonic for a nice greasy unhealthy meal to counteract all the exercise we have been getting this past week. :-)

The evening was spent relaxing. Our goal tomorrow is to find the historical grave site that is hidden somewhere in the greenbelt behind the house. That should be an interesting hike...