Saturday, August 30, 2008

Chicks Have Grown

The chicks had grown a lot in our ten days away from home. Before we left we had gotten them set up in their Chicken Ark that Kurt built. Major feels it is his sole duty to "guard" them day and night. He is chewing up more grass pacing around them than they are! I know that he will get used to them, but as of now they are still dinner to him. Major is 10 years old and was getting kind of slow and old. The chickens have added years to his life, we think, because now he is very energetic and seems like a new dog....
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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Road Trip Back--Breaux Bridge, LA

This was definitely the highlight of our trip home. We decided to not go toward New Orleans, but instead hang around in Louisiana for the day and do a late afternoon swamp tour and then head all the way home the next day. We went on our swamp tour in Breaux Bridge, LA, the crawfish capital of the world. We were on a swamp and a bayou off of Lake Martin, this area's cypress swamp was created and remains as it is because of the levee maintained around lake martin by the state. At the visitors center in Breaux Bridge before the tour we learned how crawfish make thier homes and saw crawfish houses under the bridge and had a picnic along a section of river that had a miniature drawbridge. Our guide was very knowledgable both about the native plants and animals and birds as well as about the invasive species that are in the swamp. There were nine of us on the boat. We saw alligators, dragonflies (which eat all the mosquitos--there were NO, ZILCH mosquitos on the whole tour), Cormorants, Black crowned Night Herons, Great Blue Herons, many other nesting birds, frogs as tiny as your pinky fingernail, amazing spiders, an alligator nest, and lots of alligators! Thank you to our guide for this wonderful 2.5 hours! On the way home we went through Mississippi, we missed seeing you Terry and Aaron, but glad you had a fun trip....We stopped to visit the Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, AL before we arrived safely home. It was close to sunset, so the glass at the Grotto was pretty. The kids liked the castle with the dragon underneath. It is amazing what one man started and created. We bought one of the beeswax candles that the monks make to burn for our baby's birth. The kids also liked the "chipmunk crossing" and the mysterious cat that followed us around with gorgeous green eyes.....There are more photos of this portion of our trip on flickr:

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Road Trip Back-Houston & Beyond

We made it to Houston the night we left Libby's although it took us a while to get settled. On the fourth hotel room everything was alright, they kept having smoke alarms that didn't work and I wasn't comfortable with that! We spent the next day at the Houston Space and Rocket Center. Here the kids are touching a real piece of moon rock. The room that had all the moon rock displayed was interesting as well as the theater where a guide went through all that was happening right now with NASA as well as the International Space Station. They showed live footage of the space station during that talk, so that was interesting. Dad, you would have wanted to touch the podium in that area, it was the podium that John F. Kennedy gave his famous speech from.......They wouldn't let us take photos in there, though! We saw mock up of a real shuttle and also an exhibit of the Star Wars Clones stuff from the movie. The kids enjoyed the play area as well as a maze they had. Alex got up the courage to jump on the bungee jumpers and went up to see the trapeze, but decided not to swing down. When we left Houston, we drove south of town over the bay and towards Lake Charles, LA. We made it to a nice little hotel there and the kids swam in the outdoor pool pretty late into the night. We still haven't decided if we are headed straight home through Mississippi, or are going to go towards New Orleans. The hurricane news might make up my mind tomorrow. Couple more photos on Flickr:
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Monday, August 25, 2008

Our Days in Austin

We had four fun-filled packed days in Austin, not by planning, just what ended up happening! Thank you Libby for hosting us and going "so slow" with as as you said. Maybe after you read this you will see that we couldn't possibly have been that slow paced, if we did all of this in four days! I'll just kind of give the quick list to jog our memories in the future, explaining a little as I go. We had plenty of opportunity for dress up with the clothes and odds and ends in Libby's apartment, the moustaches were a favorite. We visited Toy Joy, "the finest toy store in all of Austin", twice I believe for browsing and shopping. The yummy bakery attached served gluten free muffins and handed you huge horse keys to use the bathroom! In fact we decided Austin is a place to live and eat gluten free, there are options everywhere....If you go to Austin, don't miss visiting the downtown Whole Foods, it is their headquarters and is exquisite and their largest store at 80,000 square feet! We dined there from their pay by the pound buffett outside by the rock stream and a couple of other times during our visit---you could go bankrupt if you lived nearby. The kids loved riding the moving sidewalks in and out of the store and seeing all the delights, most notably the chocolate fountain and the Live Plant wall. We spent many hours in what appeared to be Libby's private pool, can't believe no one else uses it. It saved us from the heat as it was quite a bit warmer in the Austin heat. Owen learned to do back flips in the water and dive for things on the bottom. The night we went to see the bats come out from the Congress Street bridge we picniced with burgers from P. Terry's--a drive thru burger spot with organic and grassfed burgers, yum! And as I said, everyone knows how to feed you gluten free:)The bats were different than seeing bats come out from a cave, there were so many! We even found bats another night at the bridge near Libby's, you could hear them squeaking. We enjoyed some ice cream late one evening at Amy's ice cream, complete with outdoor playground and shuffleboard. Alex taught us all to play shuffleboard, he learned on his trip with Grammie and Papa last summer. I was amazed at his recall of the details! We went to both sides of Barton Springs, the "dog" side and the "paying" side. This is a really unique swimming spot in a really cold creek! It is three acres in size and fed from an underground spring under the diving board.....It is huge and concreted in parts, and yet retains the creek in parts and feel. In lieu of a pool vacuum, they have an underwater pool mower to keep the plants mowed back, alex thought that was cool! We rode the really hot, really slow train in Zilker Park on the other side......This is a really unique spot. Alex bought a boomerang at Toy Joy and lost it in the creek behind Libby's........Libby saved the day and rescued it from the deep muck with the pool stick from her swimming pool, hooray! One afternoon we saw an Improv Childrens Theater at a theater downtown, they used the kids in the audience and their ideas improv style, Emma really enjoyed this and gave me lots of her deep belly laughs. We visited the Cathedral of Junk, which is quite impressive! The pictures don't do it justice. This man has been building the Cathedral in his backyard for years out of stuff people bring him, you can climb all up in it. THe kids loved it, wonderful recycled art! Vince, the builder was there in the backyard hanging out and giving the kids facts like how many skis are in the cathedral, how many bikes, etc. I liked his door greeting, "Shalom Ya'll" and the sign that stated only "nice people got to use the bathroom." We made it a point to ride the "dillo", which is Austin's green bus shaped like a trolley that is green and has an armadillo on it, again, riding a city trolley was a highlight for the kids. We went to the Farmer's Market on Saturday and saw all the yummy food vendors, had some good tea and gluten free cookies. I think I would love a whole trip planned around visiting cities farmer's markets, this is a highlight for me, to bad most of them are all on Saturdays, makes it hard to go from one to hte next.......Libby showed us the TXRD warehouse where they hold all their practices and have their practice track set up. As you may or may not know, Aunt Libby is a member of the Hellcats in the TXRD bank track league. We spent a couple of hours in a local huge bookstore called Book People. I wish I got to go there every week for storytime it beats any big box bookstore I have ever visited. Kind of like the bookstore in Seaside, FL on steroids.....Emma spent a lot of time reading books in the tunnels they have in the kid's section. We went to Lucy's in Disguise Costume shop. I love the use of the song title in the name. This is a fully stocked costume shop, I have never seen so many rows and rows of costumes. We outfitted ourselves with masks for the Masquerade Ball at the Live and Learn conference and also got some parts of Halloween costumes. We spent our last day at the Austin Children's Musuem, where they give you unlimited pennies to spin in the "vortex", big hit with Owen. This was a really different musuem. The sound exhibit they had going on right then was great. My favorite was the huge music box an artist had built that you could create your own music by placing washers where you wanted them to be, brilliant idea! Before we drove towards Houston for the night we barbequed by the pool and swam with Libby and shared a moment in "Old Brown" my Grandpa Bob's car that Libby has. It was worth the road trip to Austin for such a fun and relaxing time, thank you again Aunt Libby!

More photos on Flickr:

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Road Trip Day Three-Dallas & Austin!

We spent a little time in the morning on our way to Dallas in a little town called Mt. Pleasant, TX it was the home of the tallest horse, Radar, in the Guinness book of world records but we couldn't find out where he lived no matter who we asked or where we searched. He travels a lot...In Dallas, we headed to Fair Park for the day. Here there are nine or more musuems as well as this is the home of the Texas State Fair. You could see the enormous ferris wheel in the distance. I love ferris wheels, and I kept wishing it was working....We visited in the natural history and science portions of the musuems all day. There was much to see and do, it was like four or five musuems wrapped into two. We decided to try and make it to Austin, so we had some dinner on the porch of a mexican restaurant under the water blowing fans and headed Libby's way. Alex gave the server that made our "live guacamole" a lesson on how Alex makes guacamole at home....With only a couple of stops we made it to her house, hooray! I have to say that the section of interstate from Dallas to Austin was a horrible road to drive, not rough, but with high concrete walls on each side most of the way and very unenjoyable! We look forward to several fun days with Aunt Libby in Austin. More photos on flickr:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Road Trip Day Two--Memphis, Little Rock & Texarkana

We woke to a rainy morning, but it was perfect for our plans. We visited Mud Island in Memphis in swimsuits and played in the model of the Missisippi River, we had the place all to ourselves! The kids enjoyed the monorail and the model of the steamboat and exploring about the different boats that have traveled the Mississippi in the museum. They recognized the keel boat from the Earlyworks musuem at home. We had a yummy plate lunch at a downtown diner and rode the streetcar before heading towards Little Rock. We missed actually seeing the ducks walk at the Peabody in Little Rock as we had planned because we skipped them in Memphis---because of the rain storm on the drive there we were late, but we did get to see where they swim in the fountain, ride up the elevator via their red carpet and see where they are housed on the roof. The Peabody in Little Rock is right on the Arkansas river, and as we walked down the riverfront we found an amazing outdoor space. Owen had a tugboat blow the horn at him several times, he loved that. I believe it is officially called Riverfront Park and is on the river with a greenway and also right next to the Farmer's Market. There was an amazing play area complete with water area and built into the rocks on the riverbank with tunnels and all sorts of unique play spaces. We spent several hours here. On the walk back streetside to the car to head to Texarkana for the night we found a Memorial Garden-- the H.U. Lee Memorial Garden to Grandmaster Lee of the ATA organization of Tae Kwon Do that is headquartered in Little Rock. There were many sculptures, a gate, etc. Alex really enjoyed seeing this. We made it to Texarkana that evening and I would say more, but what is there to say about Texarkana? :) On the trip Owen always wants to know where we are, and he doesn't mean, "on the way to see aunt libby", he actually wants to know exactly where we are, the only response that satisfies is the gritty details, "on the arkansas river in little rock, arkansas" you get a hurray, anything else, gets, "but where are we?!?!" until you detail it took me a day to learn this! I kept answering his question, and he got more and more upset, i wasn't really answering, i was trying to answer for what i thought he would understand, and boy i should know he understands all.............:) more photos on flicker:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Road Trip Day One--Made it to Germantown, TN

We made it this far the first day. We had a stop in Corinth, MS to visit Borroum's Drug Store, Mississippi's oldest drug store complete with barstools and old fashioned root beer floats. We enjoyed playing on the square around the courthouse, visiting the dollar general for "journals" and rubber balls owen and alex bought--i forgot to bring the kids any notebooks or paper to draw in for our journey and they like to do that.....We made it to Germantown, TN west of Memphis. Here they are known for their Charity Horse Show, and a treat for Emma was to see all the horse statues around town. We got a map and visited all 21! In the link you can see all the horses we saw and read the history of the horse show there in the fall, this is the 60th year. Germantown also had some amazing playgrounds around town that we explored that evening. The driving was made easier by the shows daddy had burned to dvd for us and the cooler full of snacks we had in the car. We ended the day late into the next day with swimming and hot-tubbing at the hotel pool. I have posted photos on a "flicker" account to go along with what I write about our trip because there are just too many I wanted to share to put them here. If you have any trouble let me know. Here is the link to see the photos on the Flicker account:

Monday, August 18, 2008

On the Road

We are headed on a road trip to see my sister Libby in Austin, TX and then to the final:( Live and Learn Conference in Black Mountain, NC two days after we get back. Don't know that I will post while gone, but will try if I have time!