Friday, September 21, 2007

Too Much Fun? part 2

After a long day of riding trains and going to the aquarium, you'd think that most people would just want to stay home. Instead, we headed to Addison's Oktoberfest.

What do you do at Oktoberfest when your teetotalers and you take your kids? You go to the carnival of course! (We had free tickets.)

It was a great time. We had unlimited ride tickets and spent at least 3 hours riding all sorts of carnival rides. A few of them made DH & I sick, but L & H loved it. Thursday was a great day to go, there were very few people there.

We had a lot of fun on the ferris wheel! The views from it were pretty cool too.

After hours of rides, the kids decided they were hungry and we got some good carnival food as well as some German grub. I absolutely love funnel cake and kettle corn.

While we were eating near the German dancing, L & H ran off to watch the dancing and when they asked for audience participation, L jumped at the chance.

We rode more rides before heading home very late for a long sleep.

The last "photo" is a video of L dancing.

Too Much Fun? part 1

Too much fun whats that mean
It's like too much money, theres no such thing
It's like a girl too pretty, with too much class
Being too lucky, a car too fast
No matter what they say I've done, well I ain't never had too much fun --Trace Adkins song

If you aren't a country fan, I'm sorry. The song was in my head by yesterday evening as we wrapped up a long day of fun.

We started off riding the train to the Dallas World Aquarium to visit it with friends. I made a map of the cross streets to make sure I didn't get lost - and then left it at home. But we didn't get lost and had a great time.

L&H really enjoyed the aquarium and had lot of fun showing things to their friends. We were there most of the day, and saw the sea otters and penguins get fed. We also had a nice lunch and were very tired by the time we headed home.

The photos are H sitting on a rock looking at some worm things and L looking at the penguins with a friend. I took lots of photos, it was hard to choose just a few to share.

Whenever the kids had run off in the aquarium, they were easy to locate. They kept running in to the aquarium book store to read!

H fell asleep on the train ride home, complicating the ride home. Pardon the expression, taking a self photo is always strange.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Odds & Ends around home

Thursday we went to get the newspaper and found the most amazing spiderweb in our front yard. It was huge and beautiful. We spent a while looking at it and taking pictures. H really liked it and didn't want to go inside. I really encourage you to click on the picture and enlarge it so you can see it better. It was almost perfectly symmetrical, and stretched from the tree down to the shrubs that line our front walk. Sadly, it was gone by Sunday. (Probably the lawn mowing on Saturday or something disturbed it.)

Saturday we worked in the yard moving the garden box (box o' weeds really) off the patio into the yard area. Digging up the dirt in the box was heaps of fun for the boys, they said we were making "dirt castles." They dug for quite a while, moving the dirt mostly to the wheelbarrow... only a little ended up on each other! I had no idea digging in the dirt would satisfy them so much, I would have let them do it all summer. Kids have such awesome imaginations. Digging up the grass was much more fun to DH & I, but not to them. That wasn't nearly as cool as making dirt castles. They went and watched "The Brave Little Toaster" while we did that. Haven't watched that in ages? You should. It's fun. :)

But we did find TONS of these interesting little larvae in the yard. Totally funky looking. Turns out they are stag beetle larvae that feed on decaying wood, so apparently we have that in our yard? Anyway, they aren't considered a pest, which is good, because we have an army growing in our yard!

There were some other interesting bugs too, but this one won my interest because it had the little legs and was so long. Total ick factor!

Our little garden box is now full of good quality dirt, 6 pepper plants, 15 bean seeds and some onion seeds too. I plan to add some cool weather crops soon too. One of the bonuses of the Texas heat (yes it was 95 today) is that there are 2 full gardening seasons almost, and we will basically be able to garden year round without any special equipment. Woo! Now I just have to develop my gardening skills more!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Camp Tonkawa

Our first adventure at Camp Tonkawa was a great success. We had a blast. The kids were very excited about seeing "horse poop" and it won the honor of being the first thing L drew in his nature journal. They also enjoyed climbing and playing in the forest paths, on the woodpile, on the trees, and more.

Camp Tonkawa does a great day "camp" program for homeschoolers once a month on different themes. There were about 20 kids of various ages all learning together. The theme for the day was ponds, though the preschool set spent alot of time exploring. The camp director was relaxed and cool about it, which was great.

Here L is fishing for pond critters to study. They found fish, spiders, grasshoppers, and lots of other interesting creatures. H was pretty tired at this point and sat down and tried to fall asleep on the grass. He did end up waking all the way up after petting a horse and joining and having a blast "fishing" with a net as he called it.

The last pic is of L holding a baby chick. We saw rabbits and chickens up close and personal, as well as horses, spiders and more. So many fun pictures! Well worth the drive and time.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Which John Holt book is it where he talks about letting kids play with a typewriter and observing their stages of learning? Is it How Children Learn?

L loves to type up lists and tell me about them. I open up a blank word document and he types for pages and pages. Currently he is just randomly pushing buttons on the computer, but he did pick out the letters to his name once.

This is kind of a follow up to the post a few months ago about writing lists for moving. He loves to make lists. I guess I make alot of lists, and recipes involve lists, but after he types, he tells me all about what is on his list. It looks like a bunch of letters pushed randomly and repetitively, but to him it is a list about what to take to Africa for a hunting trip, or what to take with you when you move, or what we need to do to clean the kitchen, etc. It's fun to let him type up his lists.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Train Cake


My DH is home from India - FINALLY. :) In anticipation & to celebrate, the boys and I made train cake. I saw the pan on someone else's blog and decided I needed an excuse to buy it.

My kids like to bake with me. It is something we have fun together doing. With this new recipe that I wanted to be "perfect", I wasn't as patient with them in mixing up the batter as I could have been - I did let them measure the ingredients, but when it was time to put the batter in the pan, I waved them away so I could do it "right".

Not that I did. I put too much in the first set of 9 and they rose too high and so I had lots of cake to cut off and not enough batter to make a full second set of 9 like the recipe said I would.

While the cakes were cooling, we went to the store to buy candies to decorate the train cakes with. I had several ideas in mind and we bought lots of fun candies. When we got home, I prepared all the candies in bowls and made a marshmallow frosting recipe for the "glue" from my friend's blog about cakes: Create Cakes Trifle

Then the kids joined me and we began decorating the cakes. Luckily I had also read an essay on a friend's blog about control and happiness and other lovely ideas. Happy and Free essay With these wonderful thoughts swirling in my head, I managed to release control and have fun with my kids. I gave ideas, and helped decorate to some extent - I think for a group activity, I should be involved too, not just an observer always. But I didn't get upset when L covered his hands in marshmallow frosting and played with that for a while. Or when H put extra candy wheels on some cars and none on others. I didn't say anything when they put candies in random spots on the train cars or when the decided to cover most of the creation in sprinkles. I decided to enjoy the moments and appreciate the joy of my kids discovering cake decoration and candy play and the joys of the train cake.

It sparked so much imaginative and discovery play for my kids. They had fun playing with the train cake as much as making it. It was a joyful experience, and I think I like the finished product a lot more than my "perfectly" decorated train cake I had in my mind, especially since my kids enjoyed showing it to their dad that much more and telling him all about their favorite parts of making it.

I hope you like some of the pictures from the process. I did not take any pictures of the kids covered in frosting and candy, I wish I had. They were so happy. :)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

DARTing around town

Wednesday was free day at the museum of art here, so I decided we should check it out. I also decided it would be a good idea to take the train downtown. So we had ourselves an adventure, riding "Toby" according to H and "James" according to L. Then we transferred to a bus and got dropped off at the back entrance of the museum and spent an hour wandering around in it.

My kids aren't amazing artists, I know that. They don't have any special interests in it so far, but I think its good to make it an option. They just weren't interested in looking at art really. We spent a lot of time in the India sculptures since DH is in India for a few more days, so that held their interest. But the paintings weren't worth their time and so we mostly ran around in the courtyard and down the big long hall. (What is it with art museums and big long halls that kids aren't supposed to run in?) At least running in the courtyard was okay, though I had to tell them that some things were pieces of art, not toys - like the pile of white rocks in a circle shape.

It was a fun adventure. But when we went to catch the bus back to the train station, well, I got us lost. There wasn't a bus stop opposite where the bus had dropped us off! So we started walking and found a bus stop for the right bus, but got there right after watching it drive by. I decided I didn't want to wait for it to come and we'd start walking toward the train station and catch the bus further up. Well, after we came to the highway and were crossing over it, I should have headed back. But no, I kept going. We got to the next bus stop and the bus we needed was no longer listed. Oops.

I decided to wait there and ask the next bus that came if it would take us, sure that we must be close. But he said we were headed the wrong direction and to take a train on the opposite side of the street. So we went across the street and waited. And waited and waited and waited. No bus for about 20 minutes. H fell asleep sitting up and almost fell over. L told me we were never going to make it home. I noted that it had been an hour now since we left the museum, and we should be home by now. Ooops.

The bus finally came and took us to the train station...1 block past where we had missed the bus originally. (Apparently it wasn't the bus we needed and we had one more block to the train station.) D'oh! Well, we rode the train back and had a nice trip overall, despite our family circus like traversings of downtown.

The map shows our path, one blue square being where we exited the museum, and one being where we finally caught the train. The red squares are on either end of the bus trip we took and the blue/purple dots show our walking path.

H actually did sleep on my shoulder for a while waiting for the bus, but woke up and was wide awake for the bus/train trip. Those were the highlight of the day for him. But when we got back in the car to drive the rest of the way home, he was gone pretty fast.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Dinosaur valley

Saturday we went on an adventure to find dinosaur footprint fossils. But first we went to a children's show at a theatre in Cleburne that my relatives are involved with. It was pretty cute.

Then we headed down to Dinosaur Valley and checked out the large dinosaur statues first. Next we had some fun in the gift shop and then finally went to start looking at the footprint fossils.

Ummm, did someone forget to find out that swimsuits were basically required? Yeah, that would be me. First fossil location required crossing a river on slippery rocks to get to the site. We made it across but on the way back, L slipped into the river and got soaked. Yeesh.

This photo is the best I have of the fossils, most of which were underwater. They were neat, though not as exciting as a dinosaur bone dig site would be apparently. Unfortunately, I had not made that distinction clear before we got to the park and L was a bit disappointed. Something to aim for I guess!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Large Fish!

We went to the Dallas World Aquarium last week. I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun it was and how different it was from what I expected in an aquarium and decided to get a membership because I can easily see us going at least once a month if not more.

While it wasn't as hands on as the Thanksgiving Point Museum of Ancient Life we went to a lot in Utah, it is very amenable to two boys running around pointing at all their favorite things and finding new favorites.

All the display info is on touch screen computers which is a bonus for two boys who love to play with technology. The first picture is of the boys checking out a giant fish in one of the large window displays. The second picture is while we were in the shark & stingray tunnel o'fun, which was one of their favorite places. Third comes the flamingos and fourth is watching the penguins get their dinner.

As may be evident by the last two pictures, the aquarium has lots of bugs & other interesting critters in addition to fish of all types, so it is a fun place to visit. I was really happy that noise levels weren't a problem, and that it was such a child friendly environment.

You may notice that the boys faces aren't in any of these shots - it was nearly impossible to distract them from the creatures to take a photo. What can I say? We had a great time!

Lunar Eclipse

Gee, what are those amazing pictures? You mean you got up at 4 am a few days ago to see the moon get covered by the earth's shadow? Wow!

How did you know there was an eclipse? Your mom sent you an email about it from a notification service she has? What fun. :)

(Unfortunately, my photos of the moon when red and totally eclipsed didn't turn out. Bummer! Guess I'll have to buy a nice telescope before the next eclipse I stay up to watch! ;)

Visit this link to see what the eclipse was like. My photos are from the beginning stages.


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