Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Our Week So Far......

My how time flies when you're having fun! It's hard to believe my little girl turned 9 years old this past Sunday. It's sort of a bittersweet thing....like watching the prize Camelia that you planted grow from a seedling into a beautiful budding rose. You love nurturing that growing flower, but you are glad to see it blossom and bloom into the beautiful flower you know it's meant to be.

Anyway, since my son Lucas was suppose to be arriving from Alabama Sunday evening we decided to postpone Summer's birthday party until Tues. so that he could be here for the festivities. More on the party later.....

Anyway, if you keep up with my blog you know that Lucas's car was stolen a couple of months ago. My very generous dad gave him an older car that he had hanging around (my dad is a car lover so luckily he had a spare) so that's what Lucas made his 11 hour journey in.

The car is an 81 El Camino....an oldie but goody. Lucas raved about how much more comfortable it was to make the trip in than was his beloved stolen Honda. I think he has sorta taken a likin' to the old thing. All it needs is a little TLC.

Obviously Summer and her little friends were fond of it also. They played in it the whole time Lucas was doing a little maintenance on the ole' gal...



More to come....

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mary Moore Searight Park

Okay, granted the last thing I needed to be doing was playing today. After all, I have been playing all week. Chores are beginning to pile up and I have my son driving in on Sunday and Summer's b-day on Sunday.

Nevertheless, I don't pass up a good time on a beautiful day so off we went to check out a new park in South Austin....Mary Moore Searight Park.

Here is Summer and Toby playing on the equipment before we took off for the trails...




Summer and I chillin' on the climbing rock....



I don't know what's so appealing about this nasty algae stuff but Summer loves to play with it....



Cute geese right??? Well, these "cute" geese weren't very friendly. They chased us out of their territory when we tried to feed them some cracker crumbs. :-)



Summer spotted more territorial geese on the way....



Summer passing the hike time chatting with her BFF.....



We had a great day at a cool park, but after the ride home I now know why I stay closer to my "neck of the woods" when we do daily activities. A trip to South Austin takes us around 30 min typically...on the way home at rush hour takes over an hour. I still have not found the shortcuts in that area of town...I don't think there are any shortcuts...

When we got home I decided to finish the yard chores. Springtime is beautiful but it also brings an array of overgrown grasses and bushes.

It was a great day....oh, and I also won $42 on scratch offs....well I guess it would really be $38 after I account for the $4 I spent on the scratch offs. :-)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Art in the Making

In 2005 Toby had the opportunity to be a part of an art collaboration. The idea was to raise money for a tattoo website that was in need of financial support.

The collaboration was months in the making between a few different tattoo artist.

Toby was one of the first artists to work on the project. I can remember him painting on it when it was nothing but a partially blank canvass...

After he did his contribution to the piece he shipped it on its way to the next artist, and then the next, and the next, etc. Although Toby saw pics on the net of the finished piece, I never saw the masterpiece until the other day....5 years later.

Toby kept in contact with the head of this project to ensure that he would get a print of the finished project to no avail.

Finally, after 5 years he finally received the piece of art via UPS....the original piece of art!! We were so excited. The original is so much better than a print.

Our plan is to have it framed and display it proudly in the living area of our home.

Here is a pic of the piece....



Cool huh????

St. Edwards "Park"

This morning Toby decided at the last minute that we might want to do an outdoor activity today. The weather was suppose to be at it's best today and we like to save our errands for icky days.

Since I am the choreographer of all our activities it left me feeling a bit spontanious...which I'm not too good at.

While I got ready I handed Toby my handy dandy Austin Parks Maps and Guide and asked him to pick a park with trails out. This may sound like an easy task but with hundreds of parks to choose from it can be a little overwhelming.

By the time we were headed out the door he had made a choice. The area we were to be exploring was unchartered territory for us, but we did know the vicinity of where we were going.

The area was beautiful and hilly dotted with homes that only a person with a six figure income or lottery winnings could live. Unfortunately, someone (me) had walked out of the house without the handy dandy park guide that gave us the exact location of our destination.

Luckily, we didn't have too much trouble finding one of the spots we needed to be. We parked our car and got out to explore.

The spot we found was called St. Edward's Park but we never did see an actual "park".

We got a late start and I really would have loved to spend more time exploring the area.

There was one real oddity about the place we noticed...the rocks were "bleeding" water. There was water dripping from all the rocks on the cliffs and we couldn't figure out where it was coming from. We finally discovered the water was seeping out of the rocks. It was a definite cool factor in our exploration....and a good science lesson. :-)

Here are just a few pics of the "park"...




Toby was the only one to brave the icey spring water...brrrrrr...it was cold!!





Cool place, cool day, cool people....gotta love life!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Onion Creek

On Monday Summer and I checked out a new hiking area per the recommendation of Robin. Robin helps get me out of my box and opens my eyes to new areas in Southeast Austin.

I am a creature of habit and sometimes I get so caught up in my "neck of the woods" that I forget there is a whole other world south of Austin. Or maybe it's there is sooooo much to do in the Austin area that I still after 2½ years have not even brushed the surface of my "neck of the woods".

Anyway, it was a another beautiful day for a walk along Onion Creek. I sometimes get in such awe of the beauty that surrounds me that I forget to take pictures....then again sometimes I get so caught up in taking pictures that I forget to enjoy the awe of what I am taking the pic of...if that makes sense.

Here are a few pics of our morning on the creek....

Very old, large trees are not the norm 'round these parts, so we were pretty impressed with the size of this Cypress tree. I put Summer next to it so you could get the idea of how big it was...



See these rocks at the bottom of this creek??? These rocks are the reason someone invented Aqua socks..



Robin and Jake, Robin's sidekick....



Here is Summer enjoying Robin's farm critters....



I also made a very poor attempt at getting some Texas wildflower pics. The wildflowers are too beautiful here for me to butcher them with my amateur pics. I will try to get some postable ones in the near future.

After I got back home I spent the rest of the afternoon pulling pesky weeds out of the front yard. Summer decided to let her rabbits get some exercise and let them roam free while we were out in the front yard.

I was surprised the little critters stayed right in the yard the whole 2 hours we were out there. I had secretly wondered if they would hop on off....

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Simplicity


I look around me daily and see people with chaotic lives. Their homes, their daily lives, and their relationship with their family members and kids are laced with unorganization, drama, upset, stress, depression, and etc.

I can spot a chaotic life a mile off because I used to own one of those lives also. Thankfully, in my older age, through alot of good literature and alot of soul searching I have managed to accomplish a full, joyful, and free life...for the most part.

Slowly I began to gently row my boat down the stream. If you listen to the words of this childhood song you should get an "ah hah" moment.

I also made a few adjustments. In my opinion, simplicity is the key to a joyful spirit.

Here I am making a list of the things that I have come to discover make a simple life:

Get rid of everything that you don't use on a regular basis. There is no need to keep stuff around just because you may need it one day...that's attachment. Also if you have kids, keep toys to a minimum. Kids can make "toys" out of anything and the less toys they have the less they can pull out and make a mess with.

This includes all forms on sentimental objects e.g. stuff kids have made for you, vacation souvenirs, kids artwork. If you are not displaying it dispose of it. These days with computer technology you can scan artwork and keep it on disc or frame it and hang it on the wall.

♥ Don't hang out with people that make you feel bad about yourself or your life after you have been with them. If someone makes you feel tired or cranky after you have been with them, ditch them. I don't care if they are your mother. You want to be with people that lift you up, not pull you down.

♥ Don't have a ton of kids unless you REALLY like kids. Having kids because you want to feel loved or you think that's just what you are suppose to do because everyone else is doing it can only backfire and cause isolation, grief, and a slew of other side effects. If you just have to have kids, one child can fulfill you just as well as two or more can. As cute as babies are they sometimes don't end up being the bowl of cherries they were when they were infants...not to mention unless you have a really involved father (rare) you run the risk of spreading yourself thin and carrying the brunt of responsibility.

♥ Don't feel obligated or manipulated into doing a favor for someone unless you have time and really don't mind doing the favor. Folks won't like you any less or more if you are their doormat...they'll just take advantage of you if they can. Steer clear of user's if you are spineless.

♥ Always go with your heart. Never let fear dominate your decisions and NEVER let yourself become to comfortable for change. Change is good and allows you to explore your spirituality.

♥ Do you really need those financial extras?? How about cable?? Do you really watch T.V. all that much?? If you watch T.V. enough to warrant the cost of cable or satellite then you might want to think about spending more time outdoors in nature or doing family activities. How about that over-rated prestigious car?? What kind of car would you drive if you were the only one on the face of the earth and there were no other people to view what kind of car you were driving?? Would you still pay a fortune for that car that impresses???

♥ If you really hate your job that bad, get rid of it. Most the comments I see on FB are of people looking forward to the weekend or dreading going back to work on Monday morning. If your job is not enjoyable then it's a good chance it's not your calling. After all, you spend a large percentage of your time at work. Who wants to be miserable most of the time?????

♥ Every morning you wake up attempt to make your loved ones happy...not at the expense of yourself though. If EVERY person on the face of this Earth would wake every morning with the intention of making someone elses day EVERYONE would be happy for that one day.

♥ Thought....you would be amazed at how much thought has to do with the outcome of your life. Negative thoughts tend to dominate and run rampant if not kept in check. Become aware of what you are thinking. Are you focused on your aches and pains or your ungrateful kids, or your suck job?? The more you focus on these negative thoughts the more you draw them to you. Remember thoughts become things..choose the good ones.


These are just a few of the many things that have helped me simplify my life. The less you have the more you have. The more you give the more you get. And the more you live the longer you exist....

Friday, March 19, 2010

Rodeo Austin 2010

Rodeo Austin is another one of those Austin things I have been wanting to do but never had the chance until this year. Every year the rodeo is in March near Summer's birthday.

Because of it being the same month as her birthday we usually don't find it financially feasible to go. After all, fairs, rodeos, carnivals and such are not cheap entertainment.

Luckily this year we were blessed enough to have a friend give us some entry passes.

We met up with Angela and her kids at the grounds around 11:00. It was a perfect day to go because the weather was perfect and the crowds were at a minimum.

Naturally, the first thing the girls wanted to do was ride the rides.





We were having such a good time we didn't even realize hours had passed...that is until tummy's started to rumble. Mainly mine and Toby's...mostly Toby's. There were regular yummy smells you typically smell at the fairs but Austin's had something nobody can resist...YUMMY Texas BBQ!!

There were so many things to do and see that it takes more than a day. We were being dragged around one direction to the other by the girls. Everyone wanted to see different things.

We never did get anything filling to eat at the fair but we did manage to curb our hunger with a few samples here and there.

By the time we left it was almost 5:00p.m. We were starving so we ended our day with one of our local favorites the Good Luck Grill.

Here are a few more pics of our day...

Yes, I have acquired an obsession with longhorns while living in Texas..



The girls watching a band play..





YE HA!!!!



I have to say that even though we didn't get to see alot of the shows or the rodeo, I had such a good time that I plan on starting me a rodeo savings stash for next year. :-)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Kite Festival 2010

The Austin Kite Festival is one of those activities that I have been wanting to do since we have moved here but never had the chance. Last week while we were lunching with Ginny I asked her if she might be interested in going to the kite festival this year.

Toby was going to be at work and I knew it was Ginny's weekend with her step daughter. Ginny would also be willing to maneuver us through Austin traffic and find parking during a festival (which was my biggest dilemma on going without another adult).

By the day of the festival I had managed to talk myself out of going with the mental excuses of crowds and parking. Ginny managed to talk me back into going with promises of taking charge of the driving and parking. Ginny's sister-in-law and her kids also joined us.

Luckily, it pays to know people. We managed to snare a parking spot at a business near the festival of someone Ginny knew.

It was a perfect day for the festival. The skies were blue, the weather was warm, and there was just enough wind to keep the kites in the air. The sky was dotted with kites of all sizes, shapes, and themes.




They were all so close together flying in perfect unison. Summer asked me if they ever got tangled together. I don't know if they do or not, but on this particular day I saw no incidences of kite entanglement.






Another perfect day with friends.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Recently...

Long time no see. I have been scarce for a good reason. Lately, I have been having to share my computer with an almost 9 year old. Summer has taken up a pass time of hanging out in the the online virtual worlds. Since her discovery of virtual worlds and an e-mail address her written communication skills have improved significantly...much more than it ever would have if "mommy" were sitting down playing "teacher" and force feeding her junk knowledge.

Since I don't run a homeschool blog, I'll spare you the details of her progressive learning experiences through unschooling and move on with what's been going on in our life since my last post.

Hmmm....it's hard to remember what goes on from day to day looking behind you.

Lets see, a couple of weeks ago Summer and I planted potatoes and went on a hike in new territory with a new friend, Robin. Robin is a part of our 4-H group. Although we have just recently started to develop a friendship I have known her "face" since the first year we moved here. Robin is also one of those many people I have met in Austin that I feel like I have known before. If there is a such thing as reincarnation I'm sure that I must have lived a life in Texas before...

Last week, Toby and I met up with Ginny. Anybody that keeps up with my blog knows who Ginny is. The words I would use to describe Ginny are fun and caregiving. She is the one person in Austin I can say for sure would be there for us in an emergency no matter what was going on in her life.

We met up with Ginny at our usual meeting place catching up on gossip and basking in the sun over lunch. After we had our lunch and our signature alcoholic beverages we tagged along with her to Cosco. Toby and I are not warehouse type folks but we figured it wouldn't hurt to check the place out.

It's a good thing we did because we picked up a really cool "toy" It's called a Relaxation Station. So you can get the general idea here it is. We weren't ready for a big boat, but we wanted something we could launch into the lake that felt "boatish". It was exactly what we were looking for so we snagged it up. Keep your eye out for our first adventure on the floating device.

The weather has been absolutely beautiful this week so we have tried to take advantage of every outdoor activity. On Wednesday we ventured to Granger Lake. We have still been searching for camping spots. We like to have a few favorites.

We had actually planned on camping this week, but luckily rain had been fore casted (it never did rain)so we postponed it until next week. We had forgotten that spring break was in session for this week and next week. The campgrounds were booked solid. We would have been SOL if we had packed up everything and headed to the campgrounds like we had planned. Thank goodness for bad forecasts. :-)

Here are a couple of pics of us on the "beach" at Granger. Summer has an obsession with rocks..here she couldn't stop herself from rolling and laying in them...



I guess they must be inspecting a rock....



Taking advantage again of the weather, we had our weekly playdate on Friday. We decided to meet at Walnut Creek Park because we wanted to hike the trail along the creek. Mind you, when you have 4 kids tagging along it's more like creeping than hiking but we still had a good time stopping to look for fossils and inspect flowers and trees.

I haven't been using my camera as much as I would like to lately, but I did manage to get some pretty good pics of the kids while we were on the trails....




Speaking of pics, I have been uploading some of my favorite pics in deviantART. If your interested in checking them out click here. I am slowly adding new ones so check back periodically for additions.

Well, I guess that's about all the latest gossip...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day Trip

With the anticipation of the season beginning to change, I have gotten the urge to do some camping. Because of the severe drought the first couple of years we were here we were not able to do any camping. After all, what's camping without a campfire or creek water nearby???

Our plan was to go searching for suitable camping areas. Last night at our 4-H meeting someone recommended we check out Inks Lake.

Today, we programmed Miss GPS and we were on our way. I was excited. It was a beautiful, warm day and I always look forward to seeing a part of the Austin area that I have never seen before.

On the way to the lake we passed by Longhorn Cavern State Park. Although it was not on our intenerary for the day we decided to stop and atleast get some info. for future purposes.



There are many benefits of homeschooling and one of them is being off during the week to enjoy attractions crowd-free. There was not a tourist there but us. We got there right at the time they were going to give a cave tour. Unfortunately their restrooms were being "maintained" and there was no way I could hold that 16 oz. coke I just drank from lunch for an hour and a half cave tour.

We decided that we would go on down to the lake, use the restroom, get some camping info., and pass time until the next cave tour. Since I knew that we were going back to the caverns I didn't want to pay to go into the State park so the ranger allowed us a pass to drive around and check out the camping area.

I was very impressed with what I saw and look forward to planning a camping trip soon. We made our way back to the caverns just in time for the next cave tour. Luckily we were the only ones going on the tour. I hate to tour with a bunch of other people that have tons of questions that prolong the tour.

In just a few words the cave was AMAZING!! We have been on cave tours before but this cave was massive with beautiful crystals throughout parts of the cave. There were so many different rock formations and openings within the cave. My pictures will never capture the real beauty of the inside of that cave. We walked a mile and a half inside the cave but it was much larger than that.

Entering the cavern...



Recently in the past few months I have seen Summer mature quickly. Today only reinforced that she is not the same kid she was just a year ago. The cave was very daunting and dark. The guide turned around and locked us inside of the cave with a huge metal door. From past experiences, I was sure she would freak out but she managed to be calm.

When we first entered the the cave I "felt" something behind me. When I turned around to peer into the darkness behind me I vaguely glimpsed what looked to be a male figure "walk" by. It prompted me to ask the guide if anyone had ever seen any ghosts in the cave before. The guide replied that "yes" he and others have caught glimpses of figures in the cave before.

The Caverns are listed as one of the most ghostly places in Austin. I figured at this point in the conversation Summer would totally lose it and demand to get out of the cave. Instead she just clung to Toby the whole tour.

I was having a hard time trying to get pictures. I didn't want to be left in the darkness as they walked ahead of me while I took pics so I was snapping pretty quickly. It was a very creepy feeling.

The guide pointed out a hibernating bat to us. He was a definite cool factor in the cave. We had never been that close to a live bat in the wild before. We had our faces right up on him trying to get a glimpse. I had a fear we would "wake" him and he would fly in our faces.



My pics of the inside of the cave do it no justice at all. If you want to see some good pics of the inside of the cave click on my link Longhorn Cavern State Park above.



Summer clung to Toby the whole time so the ghost wouldn't get her.



Believe it or not, this is a natural rock formation that was found inside the cave...



This the view from the observation tower at the caverns...



I was trying to get a pic of us at the top of the tower capturing the view behind us, but for some reason the back view is pure white. Dumb camera...



I added a short video of the view which is probably better than any pic I got of it...

video