Saturday, August 30, 2008
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....
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
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: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eastofthebox
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
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: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eastofthebox/