Thursday, July 12, 2018

Adieu to the Raft

 For each of the past six years, building a raft has been a project Elizabeth has accomplished with gusto. Collecting materials (water bottles, milk jugs, large juice bottles, duct tape), taping it all together, improving each year, begging for me to take her to water..... deep water, not puddles of water.

I think this is the year we say goodbye. She's 16. She's driving now. We've enjoyed the outings immensely, but we're ready to say goodbye to rafts. 

Today we went to Boerne City Park Lake. It makes for a fun summer day outing for those who like a picnic or bbq by the water. The park is super crowded over holidays, I've gathered, but pleasantly dotted with gatherings on regular summer days. 

I didn't get a picture of Liz on the raft, oddly enough. She traveled across an arm of the lake to the other side for her last voyage. She brought back a rock in commemoration. 

Harrison had a market going. The kids were into rocks, so he gathered a bunch together. Then rocks went out of style, so he gathered sticks to "sell."

A couple of Travis kids went with us. 

And when we were leaving, we asked some boys if they wanted a falling-apart raft and they were very down for it. 

Goodbye, raft. 
A season of life has passed.....

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Malaquite Beach 2018

Pelicans flying low.

We made another trip to Malaquite Beach with the Travis family this year. It was a week ago and we are still paying for the lack of application of sunscreen. I should say the mis-application of sunscreen, because we did apply it. Just not often or well enough. Despite our crispy burns, we had an awesome time and will plan for another year. 

Emily and Harrison.

The waves were high and powerful for Gulf Coast waves. They were so loud that if you stared off into the waves, you could imagine you were alone because you couldn't hear all the people behind you. The sky was large. The sand was smooth..... I believe a piece of secluded beach would make an ideal vacation spot for me. I would also like a walking-distance crab-shack that serves homemade clam chowder.

 There were quite a few people at the beach and a bathroom/shower/visitor center area. And a jeep of park rangers (?) or some kind of people who looked liked they'd be helpful in a crisis. It calmed the fears a bit when our older kids went further than I'd probably be able to go to save them from ocean depths. 

Moon Jelly and Man o' War

We found several man o' wars on the beach. Thankfully no one was stung. The visitor center has antidotes for the sting, but I just read one lady's account of being stung and it does not sound fun! Jellyfish on the beach are pretty to look at, regardless.

Sandcastles and digging holes and being buried.

It was too wet and sandy to get many pictures past the first half hour of arrival. Liz' friend Adelyn was able to come with us. Phoebe stayed home because she was still getting over being sick from camp. She actually relished a full day at home with no siblings or peers around. 

I had time last week to write a post about the beach, but I felt so bummed that I hadn't done a better job keeping the kids sunscreened up, that I didn't feel I could say anything about the beach until we had healed. And I'm very thankful we are on the way. I prayed for God's mercy! 

We will make better plans for next year. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Summer Camps

We just finished school a couple days before the middle kids went to camp. 

Charlize and Phoebe have gone to camp together for four years now. Charlize's mom usually drives with us to take the kids over and pick them. Makes the time pass quickly when you have someone to chat with. Eve is from the Bronx, so she certainly has some stories to tell. 

Elizabeth went to a camp with some friends in town. She skipped a week of school to do that, so she is still schooling into the summer. But she had a good week at Camp Eagle. They keep you hopping!

Tether ball, nine square ~ Phoebe enjoys these games at camp. Jonathan loves gaga ball. I'd not heard of gaga ball or nine square till we moved to Texas. 

Jonathan and Harrison (friend, not brother) met at camp and have become good friends since we found out he lives only half an hour away. 

Phillip was also away visiting his parents and Cody in Missouri while the middle kids were at camp. So it was just myself and Liz and Harrison at home for a bit. Harrison learned about caves this year in school, and he didn't remember going to the caves near us when he was two, so he and I had a little field trip to Natural Bridge Caverns.

He was excited at first. And then he got nervous and asked me if I was going to make him go. And when I assured him that we were going to go, but would he trust me to let him know that it was going to be okay, he reluctantly complied. He told me several times in the cave that he was glad he came because it wasn't as scary as he thought it would be. He thought they were going to turn the lights out to see how dark it gets. But they didn't. I think they did that at the caves in Hannibal, MO. Or maybe it was somewhere else I've been. I know I've experienced that somewhere......

My phone didn't get the colors very well, but this is called cave bacon. They are drapery formations that look like strips of bacon. Better pictures here

Liz and her friend Adelyn cooked for me one evening. They made fried rice and cauliflower with orange sauce. Kind of like orange chicken, only with cauliflower. It was DELICIOUS. The kids are supposed to do more cooking this summer, and this was a great kick-off. 

Back from camp. 
Phoebe often gets sick once she gets back. She's a person who needs lots of alone time and down time ,and you don't get that for a solid week at camp. So once she gets back, she can be out for a good week with one sickness or another. This year she spiked a very high fever for about 12 hours, had chills and sore throat, stuffy nose, earache and hives. The fever left, but the rest of the gunk is kind of clinging. 

Jonathan back from camp. 
He pretty much just misses his friends and wishes camp was still going on. He does not test out as an introvert. He's an extrovert in a house full of introverts. Funny, because I grew up an introvert in a house full of extroverts. 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Harrison Celebrates His 8th

Happy 8th Birthday, Harrison! 

We celebrated early because Elizabeth will be at camp on his birthday and she wanted to be here (and who will make the cake if she isn't here?). 

Stromboli was requested for his lunch; then we opened his gifts. 

A really cool Star Wars drone that is most definitely too old for him, but not too old for big brother and him. 

Phoebe's gift to him was a Star Wars ship of some kind. 

And a new bike! 
We finally took the training wheels off his old one a few months ago, and he was more than ready for a bigger bike. And we got it for a good price at the Toys R Us going-out-of-business sale.

He wanted Minecraft grass blocks made out of brownies as his 'cake.' 

And he wanted to go to some gardens with mom for his birthday, so he and I went to the Japanese Tea Gardens on this very hot Sunday afternoon. (so hot)

It was super fun to be with just him exploring the gardens. He's enjoyed the nature book we did for school called Plantlife in Field and Garden by Arabella Buckley. I think that made him interested in plants and flowers. 

Phoebe dressed him up the other day as a hunchback. 

Liz is baking Harrison's brownies and showing the kids old Vines. I think I figured out that Vines are to my kids what commercials were to me. They quote Vines all the time and I remember we would quote these short clips from commercials, or maybe from movies (Monty Python and the Holy Grail, anyone?). It was fun to see them enjoying something together. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

San Antonio Botanical Garden

It was beautiful!! 

The kids said it was just like a zoo but for flowers instead of animals. 

The Botanical Garden was a treat that I may not have decided to go to on my own. Alisa wanted to take the kids; it's a school field trip and a good excuse to get together; winners all around.

Now that I'm looking at the pictures I took, I didn't get many of the flowers and plants. 

We were there 3 hours and didn't make it to everything before they closed. We missed the rose garden. They were working on the Japanese garden, so there will be even more to see when that's finished. We did get to do the new Family Adventure area. It has a water feature and a growing hedge maze (too short to get lost in right now) and sand pits and lots of fun activities. 

Jonathan, Phoebe, Harrison, Wyatt, and William hula-hooping.

Jonathan and Wyatt playing chess while William watches. 
I believe Wyatt won.

They built a hill specifically for rolling down!  

These were cute little play cottages. 

Some of the crew were probably a little too short to enter. Others of the crew (ahem: Liz) were perfectly suited for entering. 
(She loves it when we make short jokes about her.)

There were beautiful greenhouses or conservatories, each with a different climate and plant-life family. 

The Piney Woods area was probably mine and my kids' favorite. It reminded them of Florida. 

There were also these tiny example houses, each with a different front yard landscaping. It would be a great way to figure out what style you would like and what plants would work here in Texas. 

A fun time ~ highly recommended! 

Monday, May 7, 2018

Our Cajun Friends Visit Us in Texas

Teressa and I grew up together in Louisiana the 6 years I lived there. She was my best friend. We didn't get to spend as much time together once my family moved to Washington, but we wrote many letters and talked on the phone when we'd save enough money for a long-distance call and saw each other about once a year when my family would go back to Louisiana for a visit. 

We grew up. She had a girl and a year or so later, I had a baby girl, therefore our girls are friends by best-friend-moms fiat -- a.k.a. they spend time together because Teressa and I spend time together. It's fun to watch their relationship develop over these years we've lived in the south and have been able to go to Louisiana so often.

Well this time they came to see us! 

We'd been trying to work out a way for the girls to go to a concert. Teressa found a group that the girls knew and would be close by (in Austin). Teressa and Jayda both have beautiful voices and love music and singing. Elizabeth is much more into music than I've ever been; I mostly listen to whatever other people put on or suggest to me and do not have a hankering for going to concerts. However, for the girls' sake (they couldn't go by themselves) and to spend time with my friend, I would attend a concert.

Since they've never been to San Antonio, we took them to the River Walk and to see the Alamo. We went to Oak Hills Church Sunday morning (Max Lucado preached ~ yay! I was hoping they'd get to hear him). 

After church and lunch, we went to the Pearl. Teressa was in love! She loves the antique industrial look, and Hotel Emma, which was renovated from the Pearl Brewery, is full of that love. 

We went to the Cow Lick ice cream parlor to try out new ice cream flavors. Teressa's pick was the favorite: Goat Cheese, Thyme and Honey. 

The top-off of the weekend was Echosmith in concert. 

So I've been to several free-will offering Christian concerts (Carmen, anyone?). I saw a band (cannot remember which!) play after the San Antonio Rodeo one year. But I can't say I've been to a concert such as the one we attended last night. Teressa and Jayda have never been to any kind of concert and Elizabeth has seen one band in concert after the SA Rodeo. This was new for all of us.

We arrived at Emo's in Austin to stand in line. We made three trips back to the van as they kept finding things in our possession that were not allowed in (finger nail file, water, camera, knife). It was very dark inside. Standing only. There were these sort of side box benches that the not-wanting-to-stand-for-4-hours could sit on. That's where T and I planted ourselves. 

When they say the concert starts at 7, they don't actually mean it starts at 7. They mean the doors open at 7. And someone will finally sing in 45 minutes. And that someone is not the person you came to see. That person is an opener. I did not know this opener. She shall rename nameless because the drummer was the best part of her act and I think a better band should snatch him up. These poor girls who think they need to be something that they aren't in order to "make it." She actually sang well accidentally at one point. She has a good voice. She was altering it to make a certain sound that was..... more entertaining? I'm not sure. I wasn't entertained.

Once the opener is done, you must wait for that band to take down their equipment and the next band to set up their equipment. In this case, it also was not Echosmith. It was another opener. This was a guy band and they were actually really good. Just about all the songs of the night were bubble gum songs. There wasn't a lot of substance to any of them, but they were catchy and fun. Speaking of bubble gum, a lot of the people on stage were chewing gum. Can you sing while chewing gum? Does it help you stay hyped up? Are you nervous? 

So this band was The Score. Very talented. The lead had some trouble with language when he spoke, but his singing was very good. I noticed a pattern in the sets of each band. There's the opening song: fun and upbeat. There's the song with a costume change (a jacket comes off as in each of the two openers, or an actual change of clothing for the lead band). There's the slow song that connects with the crowd ("If any of you have ever felt lonely.... This song is for you....." Actual spoken words from last night). And there's the song that involves the crowd ("We're going to have a little friendly competition! You all on the right are going to shout out the words ___......!"). Finally, there's the real exciting finisher song that gets everyone wound up and involves direction to put your arms in the air, etc. Since it was so loud I couldn't really understand the lyrics of anyone, I had a lot of time to observe and think about these things.

Echosmith was a lot of fun. The girls really enjoyed it. I knew one of their songs ("I wish that I could be like the cool kids...."). I looked up lyrics to several others while they sang. They are a family band from California: a sister and two brothers; their dad manages them. Someone said they were homeschooled. (Those weird homeschoolers.) It was pretty late by the time it was all over, but it was fun. Liz wants to go to more concerts.

Teressa and Jayda left earlier today. It was a joy to have them here. Teressa always keeps us when we go to Louisiana to see my family, so I was so happy to be able to have her over to our place. So thankful for her friendship!

Friday, April 27, 2018

My Birthday

So these might be weird pictures to describe a birthday, but it's what I got. 

Elizabeth bought an ice cream cake (my request), and Harrison picked out flowers for me.

My older brother says turning 39 is easier the second or third time you do it. I really don't mind. I'd rather be mature than a bumbling 20-year-old idiot. Not that you have to be an idiot at 20. Seems to me like the chances are just higher.

But would I rather be a mature, non-bumbling 20 year-old? Now there's a question to ponder. I've been reading a book about philosophy by Josef Pieper. Maybe he can help me in my pondering.

Phillip took me to visit a little antique/book store near Cibolo and then we went out for BBQ at Harmon's: Pulled pork, cream corn and coleslaw. I get a piece of bread, put onion and pickles and pork on it, slather it with bbq sauce and fold it over for a half sandwich.  Harmon's is good food in a neat little downtown area of an old town that's growing. They haven't modernized the downtown area ~ new stores are moving in, but they're keeping the old buildings. We love the ambience. 

And I had to get pictures of my boys reading on my birthday. Jonathan is reading for school. Harrison actually read through his Pathways First Reader that he just finished. He took a year to finish reading it for school (we did short sections at a time and started it last year in 1st grade). But once he was done, he wanted to read through the thing on his own. He did it in an evening and the next day. He was very proud of himself for reading it on my birthday.