Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Rest of the Trip

First of all - we're home! Yay! I love home!

Second - thanks to all of y'all actually reading along about our vacation adventures. I almost have the feel of one of those stereo-typical people who break out the vacation slide show and bore their guests. But then I had the thought.... just because I put it here doesn't mean anyone HAS to read it, lol!

And to answer a couple of things from blog comments this week:
- I actually
did remember on our trip to hand the camera over from time to time. Apparently I wasn't very photogenic this week, because there are some funky things going on in the pics of me. And I am not usually one to be picky about how I look in a photo.

- YES - it was HOT in San Antonio! We went to the Alamo first thing one morning, so it wasn't too bad yet, but by the time we were done there it was warming up pretty quick. The worst was the morning I wandered too far with the boys on the Riverwalk and had to take the Loooooooong way back to the hotel. Miserable!

And finally, here's how we filled the rest of the day we went to the Alamo:

After an afternoon rest at the hotel we actually loaded up and drove somewhere. Usually in SA we stay within walking distance of the hotel / riverwalk / convention center. But this time we went to a science and history museum in a different part of town.

Dale absolutely loved it. There was so much for him to see he wouldn't stick with any one thing for very long at all! A few of the highlights...

A triceratops:
A pipe music thingy at the top of the "science treehouse" (the hands on science stuff was Dale's most favoritist part).
This pipe music thingy is played with flip-flop bottoms.

A "what lives in the river" exhibit:

After the museum we went to see my Uncle. He took us onto one of the local Air Force bases to show the boys an airplane display.

loved it. At least as much as (and in Alan's case probably more than) the museum!

I took soooo many pictures, but these will give you the idea:

The day after this jam-packed day was coming home day. We stopped a couple of hours into the drive to visit my cousin and her family. My boys and her girls played together like old friends, even though the time they spent together this week is more than the total of time they had previously spent together their whole lives!

After that fabulous visit, we loaded up the boys in their pj's and headed off into the sunset.
And let me say one more time (go ahead, say it with me if you want).... there's no place like home, there's no place like home!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Big day, part 1

Knowing for a few months now that we would be going to San Antonio, Dale and I prepared ahead and spent a few weeks this summer reading up on Texas history.

I knew it would be much more meaningful to visit the Alamo if he knew what happened there.

Sure enough, after reading the stories of Davy Crockett, Almeron & Susanna Dickenson, William Travis, and the many others, Dale was very much looking forward to visiting the Alamo.

What better way to start the day than with a Texas waffle? We added a pat of butter for San Antonio, and one for Amarillo, where Mimi & Gramps were visiting recently. (Locations are approximate, lol.)

If you have visited the Alamo you know it is virtually impossible to get a good close up picture of your family while including the signature arch / dome shape on the top of the Alamo. You can get one or the other. Not both. I went for the faces. Trust me... it's the Alamo, 'kay?

You aren't allowed to take pictures inside, but Dale looked at every single flag representing the homeplaces of the men who fought at the Alamo, reading each one to see how many were from each place. He also loved the scale model of the Alamo grounds of 1836, and studied them for quite a while.

Another thing Dale thoroughly enjoyed were all the cannons scattered around the grounds.

He tells me he pretended to fire each one.
Hopefully not while Alan was standing in front of them!

We also went through the long barrack museum; the highlights there were the short video presentation done by the History channel and seeing William Travis' ring he gave to 1 year old Angelina Dickenson just before the historic battle.

And finally.....

The most unique part of our visit to the Alamo took a little searching.

You see, we've been reading a book about The Alamo Cat, a little cat named Ruby that lived on the Alamo grounds from 1981-1986. We had read that Ruby was buried on Alamo grounds but weren't sure of the exact spot.

After searching the entire perimeter we still hadn't found a marker, so while Dale and I finished up in the gift shop, Daddy did the only sensible thing: ask!

Sure enough, he was pointed in the right direction, and pretty soon, we could see through the locked gate to the Ranger offices a little marker under a tree:
Ta-da! Mission accomplished! And in the process we learned there is another Alamo cat hanging around the grounds these days, named Cici. We didn't spy Ms. Cici on our visit, but if you visit soon, keep an eye out for the Alamo Cat!

And that was just our morning! More later on how we filled the afternoon and evening.........

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Still Traveling

After a night with family in Austin we drove on south to San Antonio.

The boys and I spent the next morning at a playground near the convention center. Dale especially loved all the paths, steps and mazes.

From the playground we braved the heat and explored the Riverwalk. Dale had been talking about it for days, and I'm sure it is difficult to imagine if you have never seen it, especially for a kid. Alan did most of his viewing from the stroller, but when Dale started climbing these steps Alan wanted to join in. I decided I could chance it... at least I'd have more time to catch him if he fell towards the water from up there! :)
The view across the water from the bottom of all those steps:

After supper (which came after a long nap in the dark air-conditioned hotel room) we did the proper touristy thing and took a Riverboat ride. Dale had been asking to allllll day and was extremely excited to get going.

Alan took it all in quietly but has been talking about it a lot today.

Up next:

The Alamo!

Monday, July 27, 2009

On the road!

Can you guess where we've been?
Here's another shot:
We went inside too. What is everyone looking at?


How about we go upstairs and look down?
Have you figured it out?

We toured the Texas state capitol building in Austin!

Check in soon and see where else we go!

Friday, July 24, 2009

at the old ball gaaaame!

This boy is a Nascar fan:
He can tell you all about who drives which car, who their sponsor is, and who their crew chief and teammates are. He can tell you what each colored flag means, what happens on a pit stop, and name a handful of tracks.

This boy is not so knowledgeable about baseball.

But with us watching games here and there throughout the spring and summer, he is catching on fast.

And even with his limited-but-expanding knowledge, he really gets into a game.

For example, during a game recently a player took a mighty swing at a pitch, hitting a homerun, and breaking his bat in the process. Dale saw the broken bat and expressed his worry:

"I hope they have another bat!"

And then there was the time the camera caught sight of the ball boy running to retrieve a foul ball. Dale couldn't believe the powers that be would let a non-player just run out onto the field like that:

"Look at that guy! He shouldn't be out there! They better stop him!"

We took advantage of the moment to explain the job of the ball boy.

But if you believe everything you see on commercials, then maybe Dale wasn't as far off as you might think!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Blah, blah, blahg

Apparently I haven't had the time or motivation or material or something for blogging lately.

Ya think?

We've been back from our trip for several days now, and I never posted the last few pics:
Both boys got to ride in Grandpa's boat. Dale and his cousin Aaron got a fishing trip with Daddy and Grandpa. Alan got a solo trip with 3 adults at his beck and call.
See that Astros hat? One of my last thoughts (I think I even said it out loud) was to not let anything happen to that hat. It's Dale's.

That hat came back to the campsite soaking wet after blowing off Alan's head and going for a little lake swim.

I was just happy it came back!

And yes, Alan loved his boat ride.

And Dale and Aaron caught lots of palm-sized fish. :)

Since coming home we've been enjoying our last week of at-home summer before Daddy goes back to work.

The garden is limping along, keeping us stocked in cherry tomatoes and big ol' zucchini. (We won't talk about the disappointments of the squash and eggplant.)

Last night we got out the slippin' slide:
The whole family suited up and got wet, but before you even ask (and I know some of you are wondering), only three of us performed belly-diving slides down the thing.
I'll let you guess which three that would have been. And who the dainty and proper fourth person was. :)

We've got some big adventures coming up next week, and I hope to blog all about them.
But based on my current track record, I'm not making any promises.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Horsin' Around

Still on vacation!

The folks here at the state park horse stables had a "Meet A Horse" morning one day this week. We brought the boys to have their first up-close experience with horses - especially so many!

Dale liked it. I think he enjoyed learning something new. Here he is feeding a horse a bit of food.
But Alan... Alan loved the horses! So interesting to see them experience the same thing in such different ways!
Here is Alan on one of his several up-close encounters with the white horse, 'Cloud'.

Pretty soon after that, Cloud leaned back over to Alan and bared every humongous horse tooth in a big ol' horsey grin right in Alan's face.

Alan thought it was hilarious. He said, "The horse said 'cheeeese'!"

After petting several more (and laughing at the antics of one scratching its neck against a post) he got to SIT on 'ShowBoy'!

After that he was hooked and asked to be put on the next horse in line, 'Scout'. By this time he had his diva self going strong, and started handing out parade waves:
Note to self: must get Alan around horses again soon!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Knight in Sweaty Shining Armor

We are away on a real-life just for fun vacation trip! Yaaaay!

We headed out Sunday for a camping trip with two sets of grandparents and a cousin. This is the first time we've been able to get away just for fun in a couple of years.

We were happily on our way, an hour into our 2 1/2 hour drive when this happened:

Oh my. We were traveling on the interstate through a bigger town when the car started feeling funny. I thought maybe we were on the rumble strips until Daddy Buffalo looked into his mirror and saw rubber flying out from under his.

His response? The calm, matter-of-fact statement, "A blowout."

I wish I could accurately describe his tone for you. It was like he could have preceded those words with, "well whaddya know...".

Very reassuring. He got us to the shoulder immediately and went to check things out. After that his first priority was to get us off the interstate.

The timing worked out perfectly because we were less than a mile from the next exit and the road way had an extra "Exit-Only" lane. Perfect!

We limped to the exit and turned into the first available parking lot, a u-haul rental / storage place. Closed, of course, because it was Sunday.

Greg parked and unhooked and found out he would need a tool. And guess what?

We were less than a mile (just around the corner, almost!) from the nearest Wal-Mart. And having lived in this particular town before, we had a pretty good idea of how to get there!

Long story somewhat shorter, we bought the tool and went back to change the tire.

It was only 100 degrees out. But having our house on our backs like a turtle, I was able to keep Greg stocked in ice-cold gatorade while he worked. And sweated.

We eventually got back on the road and made it safely, even if an hour and a half late, to our destination, where our family was all waiting on us.

So now we are all settled in and having a great time!

My time is even sweeter knowing I am spending it in the company of my Hero to the Rescue!

Even better than that?
My hero is faithfully under the command of the King of Kings. The One who placed us near an exit, with a turn lane, near a safe parking lot, close to the store, with ice and drinks and stuff for the boys to do. With light traffic, and a healthy spare tire. He is so good. I'm so glad I am His, and He is mine!

Monday, July 13, 2009

My new favoritest website ever. For now.

Blog hopping recently I came across a link for this website:

Have you heard of it?

You list the ingredients you have on hand in your kitchen, and supercook searches the web for recipes using those ingredients.

Also, once you start listing ingredients, the website asks if you have certain others, maybe things you would have overlooked, and you can add those to your list. I was surprised the other day to find there were over 400 recipes I could make with what I had! And most of them looked delicious!

I picked my favorites and saved them in my account to be able to find later.

We ended up making this and it was delicious!

So! My new favorite website!

What can YOU cook today?

Friday, July 10, 2009

More poetry, and other schoolish thoughts

Just about a year ago I blogged about the check-mark game that Dale plays during church sermons to keep him tuned in to what is going on and help the time pass for a fidgety little boy.

Judging by the fact that he makes far fewer check marks than he did when we started, I guess the game is getting old for him.

But it
has gotten him in the habit of listening to (and hearing) what is being said, which was a big part of the plan to begin with.

We love the times when he shows evidence that he was listening more than he appeared to be.

One of those times came this week. On Sunday afternoon Greg and Dale were visiting a new home with friends. The lady who lived there had several paintings displayed that she had done.

Among them were a set of two butterfly paintings, one of which included II Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

Dale eyed the paintings and then boldly told his hostess, "Those verses were in our sermon today!"

(I wasn't there, and he and Greg couldn't remember the verse on the second painting, but both knew it had been in the sermon too.)

When this story was relayed to me after they returned home it was
1 - encouraging reassurance that even if the 'check marks' may not show it, God's truths are being heard and soaking into his young heart and mind

2 - an excellent reminder that little boys DO fidget, but they CAN and DO listen and learn while they are doing so. A principle that I firmly believe in and fully intend to allow for in our schooling. But reminders are good. :)

3 - an all-too tempting teaching moment.

I asked Dale to tell me about the paintings, the colors and what they looked like. Then we talked about the Scripture verses used.

I asked him if he thought she chose a good picture (the butterfly) to illustrate the verses, and why.

This led to a comparison of caterpillars becoming new creatures, just like we become completely new when we give our lives to Jesus.

And, because I couldn't help myself, we ended up with this poem:

Christina Rossetti

Brown and furry
Caterpillar in a hurry
Take your walk
To the shady leaf, or stalk,
Or what not,
Which may be the chosen spot.
No toad spy you,
Hovering bird of prey pass by you;
Spin and die,
To live again a butterfly.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cool summer activity! (Pun intended)

Saw this activity HERE a few days ago and knew my boys and I would have to give this one a try. And sure enough, it was a big hit!

Simply freeze odd toys and trinkets in a dish of water (I followed a hint from the original site and did ours in layers so toys were all through the ice).

When the block is frozen solid, dump it out and arm your kiddos with toothbrushes, spray bottles, droppers for hot water, and anything else that may aid in treasure excavation. Then let them go at it!
Both boys were still going strong when the heat and naptime caught us and we all went in. We put the remaining ice block back in the freezer for later.
I can't imagine how long they would have lasted... but I wouldn't be surprised to see them go from start to finish sometime. Because we'll definitely be doing this again!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

While we all looked away and pretended not to laugh....

What happens when the boy who didn't each much supper and was then denied a second PBJ at bedtime snack time was looked away from for 2 seconds while in easy reach of the near empty peanut butter jar:

So much for that bedtime bath he just had.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Thoughts on preschoolers

We (and when I say "we" I mean "I don't know about you but this definitely applies to me so maybe I should just be saying I") often waaay underestimate our kids.

More than once lately I have found myself surprised at both boys, especially Alan most recently, and his understanding or enjoyment of certain things.

The biggest one has been my discovery of his love of poetry.

A couple of times in the past week or so Daddy and Dale have gone out. leaving us with some one-on-one time. Maybe
that is a key here, and something I'll be thinking on. Anyway, one day recently when it was just the two of us, Alan was at the table finishing lunch and I had out our poetry book looking for some poems for Dale this fall.

Alan kept asking me to read him a story, so I just read him the poem on the page I was on instead.

And he loved it.
Asked for me to "say it again" until I had read it 3 or 4 times in a row.
Has requested it on two different days since then.

So the lesson I have learned from this and other occasions recently is not to underestimate the brain power of a 2 1/2 year old.

Does this mean I'll be making extensive plans for schooling Alan this fall?


But it does mean I will be putting extra effort into one of the things I believe in most:


My on-going goal for both boys in their younger years is to introduce them to as many things as I can for their learning and enjoyment through books, toys, music, crafts, cooking, playing together, and books, books and more books.

Because obviously... they can handle it!

And just in case you were curious about the poem that sparked Alan's interest (and that we are both unintentionally well on the way to having memorized), here it is:

Feather or Fur
John Becker

When you watch for
Feather or fur
Feather or fur
Do not stir
Do not stir.

Feather or fur
Come crawling
Some come peeping
Some by night
And some by day.
Most come gently
All come softly
Do not scare a friend away.

When you watch for
Feather or fur
Feather or fur
Do not stir
Do not stir.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth!

We began our celebration on Thursday night with our town's fireworks display.

Just like last year, I loved playing with the 'fireworks' setting on my camera!

Then on Friday the boys and I made this craft together. It seems like it has been a while since we made an honest-to-goodness craft project, and I definitely intend to get back to doing these kinds of things more often. Sorry... no pics of the finished products, but they did turn out cute, and I have pics of the boys working on them instead:

We finished up Friday with a hamburger cookout (eat IN because of the heat), complete with watermelon, and our fancy fireworks centerpiece the boys and I made earlier.

Today started with fireworks pancakes, made with my mustard bottle trick. Absolutely no pics though, because they looked more like red & blue sprinkled spiders! But the boys liked them, so all was good.

Daddy filled the pool and the boys got two good swims in before supper time, which was grilled chicken and ribs and garden fresh corn on the cob.

So I feel like we've had a nice little Fourth of July weekend!

And then I read this evening about a company of Marines in Afghanistan.
These men spent their Fourth of July marching across the farmlands of Afghanistan in 100+ degree heat, carrying packs weighing 50-100 pounds each, on average, with hardly enough water to keep them alert and in good enough shape enough for the march. Some of them even wished they had needed to return fire by now, because at least that would have lightened the burdens they were carrying.

And it is largely because of bravery and sacrifices like that throughout the past 220 years that my family was able to celebrate this day in peace, and can get up tomorrow and go to the church of our choice to worship without fear of persecution.

So I say 'thank you' to those men, and the thousands of men and women like them, both those in current service and veterans, and their families. And I also say 'thank you' to the Lord for the blessings he has allowed this country to have.

Because we are
surely blessed.