Archives for posts with tag: field trips
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Listening to the folk band at the Maymont whilst he melts under the 79 degree sun. Seriously.

Penn State has been a bit ridiculous this semester; maybe slightly more so. The problem being that one of my courses is a bit work intensive, and the other has a good mix of too much reading and too much discussion posting (which I inherently abhor). But that is neither here nor there since my semester ends in two weeks. Consequently, so does Little B’s, which is fantastic because I don’t think either one of us has looked forward to summer break as much as we are this one.

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Strolling past the barn towards the japanese garden.

For one, it’s been really cold here. I love the snow but goodness, it just felt like the cold was going to drag on forever! And for another, balancing homework with homeschooling The Boy and being a mom and wife has been tiring in the sense that I put off my homework when it just doesn’t fit in and then I scramble to get it done, which is not my M.O. I’d much rather be just mom and wife without worrying about fitting in papers or reading or the much hated discussion posts.

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Because here’s the thing, as much as I love the As (and thankfully, both grades reflect that) I love my boys so much more. And I’d much rather spend time playing with B, teaching him, coming up with fun stuff to share and do with him than pore over books, taking countless notes, etc etc. And I’d much rather be wife to Brooks, taking care of him, doting on him, loving him, laughing with him and sharing a life with him than typing furiously on the computer, or poring over research journals analytically. Seriously, I think I’m suffering from senioritis, 13 years in the making!

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He was loving this shortcut which led to the waterfall.

So Saturday we opted to stay close to Fort Lee so that I could work on my homework (ahem…. the homework bit never happened – true story). We ended up going to the  movies, one of the The Boys favorite things to do, and then ended up visiting a part of The Petersburg National Battlefield we had not visited before.

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The waterfall

The sad thing is that this particular portion is assessable from inside Fort Lee. It’s right across from Brooks’s work, and thus a very quick car ride from the house. So we hiked and explored and all agreed that we DB and I both need bikes so that we can ride back in the woods.

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Koi and rock skipping

Sunday was supposed to be buckle-down-wake-up-early-get-the-school-done day. But I woke up later than I intended. I saw a post on Facebook about the Maymont having live music (a folk band, nonetheless), and I began eking out a plan speed through my schoolwork so that we could make it to this event, just in time. I even planned for snacks, picnic blanket, and camera to accompany us. I put more thought into leaving the house than my poor neglected school work. AND, horror of horrors! …. I skimmed my reading! I answered questions without TONS of detail. I didn’t double and triple check answers! I hit SUBMIT without nary a second glance!

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Loving the brave little turtle.

Oh boy, oh boy!

Loving these roots.

Loving these roots.

Am I ever grateful for those high A’s because I did all that without stressing over my grade. My gosh. What has become of me?! 🙂

The nature center's theme is the James River Basin. Pretty cool.

The nature center’s theme is the James River Basin. Pretty cool.

So off we headed to the Maymont, little B asking repeatedly. “Isn’t it just so hot? When are the pools opening! Might there be some water for me to run in?”

It was 79 degrees. Just saying.

The Maymont was super duper busy when we arrived. I’ve been hearing about The Maymont since we arrived in Richmond. But with all B’s activities and sports, field trips, etc etc it just hasn’t happened.

http://www.maymont.org/

Now we can see what all the hubbub was about. The Maymont, in a nutshell, is an old estate situated on 100 acres, which was left to the city for the enjoyment of it’s citizens. It’s old and grand. It has so many gardens and beautiful scenery we could see why there were so many couples arm in arm. The coolest thing is that you’re allowed to stroll the grounds, not merely following paths. So it’s the perfect setting for things like live music, or frisbee, or sunbathing even. There are several gardens to enjoy, a pretty neat waterfall, animals, a nature center, an area for children, an old mansion, etc etc. There really is just too much to do in one day, especially if you’re footing it across the aforementioned 100 acres. They do have a tram but I refused because the day was so gorgeous and perfect.

So the Maymont will definitely be one of our favorite places to visit in Richmond. But I did learn a few things. Bring a backpack to pack in snacks and drinks. They are allowed, though they do have a snack shop by the nature center. Sunscreen and bug repellent will be a must, I’m sure as the days warm up. And don’t wear sandals 🙂 The ground can be uneven and there is lots of hills and stairs on the property. I may or may not have had a hard time in mine 🙂

Afterwards, we capped the night off by enjoying a new eatery near Carytown: Sticky Rice. http://www.ilovestickyrice.com/restaurants/ We haven’t has a whole lot of luck finding eateries we LOVE but Sticky Rice was fantastic. The boys enjoyed sushi while I had a chicken sandwich with edamame. Seriously yummy. Afterwards, we headed to Carytown to peruse the shops, eat some ice cream at Bev’s, and to watch a movie at The Byrd.

And this time, we triple checked our headlights 🙂

PS I’ve included photos The Boy took while at The Maymont… He’s loving the new Rebel.

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I won’t sit here and say that that I’m by any means a field trip expert (as if there were such a thing), but really and truly, let’s just agree that I’m an old hand at this thing called Field Tripping. It’s not very often that I find myself completely blown away by a particular field trip. This is not to say that all museums are the same or that I don’t enjoy them or that each outing is same-old same-old, because quite often the opposite is true. But if I’m honest, having visited so many places I can tell right off the bat which museum, event, etc etc is stellar and which was kind of a waste of time. For example, as much as I love the Science Museum in Richmond it doesn’t even begin to compare to the Science Museum in Portland, Oregon. Same with the Kid’s museums we’ve visited, none have been to the caliber or amazingness that the the Portland Kid’s Museum even begins to be (they have a SCHOOL at the Kid’s Museum in Portland… a school! How cool is that! and they bring in children’s musicians – once a week!, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg – it’s no wonder B and I would spend an easy 6 to 8 hours there and return the next day for more of the same).

Back to Pamplin Park… I really and truly only signed up for this particular field trip because it was 18 minutes away from my front door. We typically drive 40 to 45 minutes one way for most of our activities. 18 minutes was a breeze! Plus, it had all kinds of good reviews and accolades from different organizations, so it got my attention.

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Pamplin Park lived up to the hype. It was crazy good. The interpreters that were there were engaging, funny, quick on their feet, and incredibly knowledgeable. Our guide was just as amazing. Our group was small enough that the exhibits inside weren’t crowded, and the grounds had so much to offer, to see and do, that we just knew right away we had to visit a few more times (probably in the spring, when the weather is a tab bit warmer).

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I think what I LOVED the most (other than the content of the field trip – I’m a bit of a history nut so I’m enjoying all this Civil War stuff) is that the exhibits inside were not reading intensive *B and I will read every little thing posted and can easily get lost in just one exhibit doing so). They provided everyone with headsets that allowed you to follow a soldier’s story during the Civil War. They automatically “talked” when you entered a new area, at which point you were then free to explore the exhibit, picking on your headset what topics and which exhibits you wanted to hear more about. There were also interactive stations throughout that were quite fun to complete. After our official tour was over The Boy and I stayed and redid the inside exhibits (and still only completed half of what was there to see and do).

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One of my favorite parts of the inside exhibits was an interactive, “real” feel infantry moment when you kind of (obviously) get to experience what the soldiers may have when marching into a battle. You enter a forest that is somewhat dark, there are flashes of light, lots of noise and as you get closer to the battle the ground shakes and you “bullets” passing by. Some of those walking through even get “shot” at (they’re harmless blasts of air) but you get the picture. Obviously this isn’t for the smallest kiddos to experience but My Boy was quite taken by the whole experience and we went back through again (which was kind of eerie on our our own).

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The outside grounds include a plantation, with a Big House, slave quarters, out buildings, and fields. We were able to see for ourselves what some slaves may have experienced in terms of their living situation, and the stark difference between those that were forced to work the fields and those who were forced to work within the home or to provide skilled labor.

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There were also outdoor drills demonstrations that showed how the soldiers trained, as well as a small camp that allowed us to see first hand how the soldiers may have lived while traveling from battle to battle. It included discussions of what the soldiers ate, how illnesses affected them, camp discipline, morale, etc etc. We were able to see and participate for the 2nd time in a civil war cannon demonstration. I’m beginning to think by the time we leave this area B will be able to recall all the necessary steps on his own.

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All in all this was by far one of my most favorite field trips, ever. Really and truly.

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ImageLittle B has been rock climbing with Peak Experiences for a bit now (i’ll have to cover that in a later blog post) and the super nice homeschooling Momma that coordinates that activity also plans history field trips with another homeschool group in Richmond. She was kind enough to invite the Peak Experiences families to join in on some of her outings, including this one to The Museum of the Confederacy.

Little B and I covered the Civil War extensively last year as part of his history curriculum. We’ve visiting Gettysburg several times, have seen movies and documentaries, read countless books, and have checked out various websites online. Living in Texas for six years gave us a good education on that part of our nation’s history. Living in Virginia, however, is proving to be a history gold mine. Between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War there is so much to see and explore.

Mind you, when I was growing up I was taught in various public schools (we moved around quite a bit) that the Civil War was not caused by the issue of slavery. I love that the The Museum of the Confederacy takes the correct historical approach and does not sugar coat the paramount cause of the Civil War.

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From the get go our tour guide was full of information. She was quite surprised by how much our group (comprise of elementary aged kiddos) already knew. I love tours – The Boy not so much. He’d rather peruse at his own pace. But I love that the guides tend to be incredibly well versed in whatever the subject matter at hand is, and that they can delve into various subtopics when questioned or probed for further information. The kids asked some pretty cool questions, we saw up close some articles belonging to various people involved in the conflict, and the kiddos were treated to a special session on slavery and the Underground Railroad.

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For me this is all about bringing history alive for my little guy. It’s about making these events not just relevant for him but more concrete than something you can read in a book or see in a documentary (though those things are great as well).

One of my favorite moments in the tour was laying eyes on one of Sherman’s famous neck ties:

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I had read about these on my own when I was younger and had always imagined them to look quite different (much larger in fact). Our guide even mentioned how the soldiers, bored, would host contests to see who could twist their rail the most times around a central object, like a piece of wood.

Our visit to The Museum of the Confederacy ended with a tour of the South’s White House (which shows how clueless I was about that since I had no idea one existed). It’s directly adjacent to the museum. Now for those of you who love Richmond’s White House I truly hope to not offend you when I state how gaudy I found some of the rooms in the house. I would have taken photos to defend my opinion but alas, we were not allowed to take any.

Apparently, faux pas everything was in high fashion; perhaps lack of money had something to do with this too. There were so many fake things trying to pass off as real things that it looked really tasteless. For example, in the entryway there was wallpaper that was supposed to resemble marble blocks. But it failed miserably and just looked awful.

My favorite tid bit about the house was that there were a few slaves who worked there and apparently one is believed to have started a fire in the basement before running away. Apparently in the confusion and mess of the fire no one noticed he was missing until it was too late. Smart man, if you ask me!

Because Little B had two basketball games immediately after our scheduled tours we were unable to visit the whole museum properly. For sure we’ll have to return at a later date to check out all the exhibits the right way.

 

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Little B and I are slowly adjusting to our changes in homeschool due to our move in the fall to Virginia. We are loving the “real” winter, though I fear the short winters in Texas grew on me and the cold is finally getting to me. We have begun using new curriculum choices as I have researched different approaches, since we have always been pretty eclectic. We miss our old co-ops and group of friends. Because there were only a set number of activities or learning opportunities available it was easy to plan for the following year. There is a dizzying amount of classes, organizations, learning opportunities, field trips, outdoor adventures, etc here and it can be overwhelming. I find myself more often than not saying, “Nope, we can’t fit that in, though I wish we could,” more often than not. I suppose that is the beauty of homeschooling, though, especially in an area like we currently find ourselves. Being able to pick and choose just the right activities for B’s interests and passions, as well as exposing him to new activities and adventures to broaden his knowledge base and interests is incredibly exciting. And boy oh boy! The amount of history stuff available in this area has this history buff all kinds of excited!

So on Monday (and mind you, I really don’t like scheduling things for Mondays since it’s the start of the week and I like to start it without anything on the schedule) we headed out for a nature class at the Rockwood Nature Center in Chesterfield County.

Here is their link: http://www.rockwoodnaturecenter.com/

ImageThey have classes geared just for the homeschooled crowd, and one class in particular sounded like loads of fun. I signed B up a few weeks ago and off we went, excited at the promise of a new favorite outdoorsy spot.

ImageFirst, the bad news (and the aforementioned change in plans): they had canceled the class (but had failed to call me). Apparently they had not had enough interest to hold the class or had not met their minimum number of students. I was BUMMED! (Secretly, I was hoping to get an hour and a half of homework in while The Boy took his super duper class). B was instantly energized, “Let’s go for a hike, Mom! It’s okay, we’ll have our own nature study.” And off he bounded to peruse the trail map by the center.

ImageNow, I have to say the Rockwood Nature Center is crazy fun. There are so many trails. some paved (great for strollers, me thinks) and others the type I love (all nitty gritty in their natural splendor). We tried our hand at a few and marveled at how different the area must look in the spring. We found some cool spots, collected some neat rocks, and almost got lost (though all the trails are clearly marked).

Besides all the hiking (and the nature center, which was sadly closed – though I believe they are on “winter” hours and will be open more regularly in the spring), there is a dog park, several sports fields, a huge playground, tennis courts, basketball courts, etc etc. This place is, in my book, a day trip during the spring or summer. And best of all, they also have camping, if I read their website correctly. They also hold different classes or events throughout the year, so it’s sure to be a favorite of ours in the coming weeks and months.

ImageWe had a blast and instead of studying (who needs to do that anyway, when one has an energetic and very happy and excited nine year old in tow) I was able to watch My Boy excited at new discoveries, we discussed Spore creatures, and made up habitats, and lamented that we’d left the puppies behind.

Sometimes, the best plans are the ones interrupted.

What an amazing day today was!

I am so incredibly blessed and don’t take for granted for a second all the things in my life that make each day amazingly sweet. Deployments are tough. They test and stretch us to our limits. They bring with them incredible highs and lows. And yet, when I focus on the day to day, the moments that are priceless, my boy that makes my heart sing, my better half… all those things shine compared to the murkiness that is a deployment. It’s my life saver, that round shaped buoy out in the water, keeping my head above water. Smiling comes easy to me, so does laughter… and I think it’s because it comes from a lifetime at looking at the positive and ignoring the negative. Seeing everything through rosy tinted glasses, at least, when it’s possible.

And today was such a sweet, perfect day.

Our homeschool group had coordinated a field trip to Inks Lake Park about an hour away from Fort Hood. The drive is scenic and completely worth it. I was expecting a day on the lake, a hike perhaps, a picnic and then a ride back home. Instead we were treated to a whole day of learning, fun, and pure glee.

The park ranger and our co-op Amazing Person (I’m not quite sure what her title is, but Ms. Melissa ROCKS!) had planned for a full day of activities. They had so many knowledgeable, patient, and kind volunteers on hand to assist with the different stations. Honestly, I was pretty blown away.

The stations included a bird watching/binoculars area where the kiddos learned about the birds that make Inks Lake State Park home, the adaptations that make them the unique predators that they are, their habits, etc. What a treat to learn so much about a few species of bird. I don’t think I’ll ever look at another bird without dissecting every little thing that directly identifies the bird, it’s habits, etc.  The kiddos faces, their rapt attention… was priceless!

The kiddos were also able to take a boat ride, and even that was educational… and fun. Brooks said that the gentlemen guiding the boat pointed out different animal homes along the way. Marilyn was so excited, though rather nervous, and was all grins before and after the fact.

The station we hit next was the Trees and Seeds area. The gentleman running that station was really excited about what he was sharing, which made all the info he shared all the more interesting and memorable. He pointed out different plants and trees native to Inks Lake Park, as well as the habits of some of the birds. One of our favorites was learning about the Tree Sapper Bird, which bores holes into the trunk of the Sycamore tree to attract bugs (which love the sap). They then swoop in and eat the bugs. How cool is that?!

Brooks and I have been covering the Revolutionary War in History. We just had a lesson on the Redcoats, well, red coats. How cool that the gentleman manning the Seeds and Trees area showed us the Cochineal bug sac on the underside of the prickly cactus, and then informed us that for a time in history it was actually worth more than gold in it’s weight AND was used to dye the redcoats of the British soldiers. AMAZING! And this was just a fraction of what we learned, in just that one station.

After we rotated the kiddos were able to make birdfeeders to take home. They used watercolors to paint their recycled milk cartons for backyard bird feeding/watching. My kiddos were so excited to make their own and I was excited to scratch make-a-craft-or-art-project off my to-do list for the day.

The last thing we partook in was fishing off the docks that are found behind the store. It was Marilyn’s favorite thing of all for the whole entire day. Although the kiddos were not able to catch a fish they had a blast casting their lines and waiting to see if they’d snag something.

Inks Lake Park was unbelievable. The staff and volunteers made the experience both enjoyable and memorable. I had felt bad about doing a field trip when we were still playing catch up after my surgery but after all the learning and fun today I was glad I’d signed us up for it.

These are the types of days I’ll miss when Brooks is no longer homeschooled. Thankfully, we can visit the park at our lesisure and enjoy their other programs. It’s on my list of repeat activities for sure.

After our field trip we came home and made pizzas for dinner.

And then we hit the Blora Flashlight Easter Egg hunt, which was loads of fun, as usual. I loved that they had a magician this year.

It was the perfect ending to a perfect day!

The Texas Memorial Museum is located at the University of Texas campus in Austin. My Campfire kids have been working on their Environmental Emblem and I thought the museum would make a perfect outing for a weekend field trip. Our group has steadily grown over the past three years, with a total of eleven members this year. Thankfully all 11 kids plus 2 adults fit in two cars, thanks to my co-leader’s huge vehicle.

This museum was one which The Boy and I hadn’t visited yet, so I was pretty excited to check it out. After a picnic lunch with the kiddos on campus we headed to the museum. The museum consists of different rooms, and contains a working paleontologist lab, tons of fossils, and opportunities in abundance for learning and exploring. Although this museum was more of a “Shush” museum the kiddos were really excited about the different displays and opportunities for hands on exploration.  The trip ended with a visit to the museum’s store (a favorite, of course) and a peek at some of the best dinosaur tracks ever found (found near Glenrose, Texas).

At the museum store we picked up a tiny little dinosaur to include in next month’s time capsule for D.Brooks. It’s impossible to go anywhere and not miss him. I always wonder how differently we’d experience our days with him in the midst of it all. He has a unique way of coloring everything we do. We’ll definitely have to visit again with him in tow.

We all had such a pleasant day. I love my Campfire kids and was so pleased the museum was as fun as I had hoped. Next weekend we go camping! The fun never ends ’round these parts!

Today, The Boy and I headed to Fire Station number 3 in Killeen for a quick field trip with our local homeschool co-op. We were able to chat with D.Brooks for a bit in the morning, did a half day of homeschooling and headed out to fire station. Honestly, when I signed us up to attend the field trip I wasn’t expecting much. We’ve toured several fire stations before, and done the whole: sit in the cab, take the picture, get a flimsy, red, plastic fireman’s hat, don’t forget your coloring book routine. And we enjoy it, don’t get me wrong… it’s just always the same. So when we left this morning I was expecting more of the same and was pleasantly surprised by a whole different fire station tour.

The firefighters at Station Three were absolutely wonderful. They took their time showing the kiddos all the implements necessary to do their jobs, answered questions in their entirety, were funny, engaging, and brimming with information. We learned so much today, from the fact that most of their calls are not fire related, to exactly how the jaw’s of life work, to the in’s and out’s of their schedules. After showing us their vehicles and the clothing they must wear to keep safe while fighting fires, they took us inside the firehouse to tour their home. We were able to check out their kitchen, living room, bedroom, and even their bathroom. They told the kiddos about a typical work day schedule, spoke about their training, and gave us some insight to the things that make their jobs tough.


One of the firefighters made a great point in that they said that they are paid for what they can do, not what they do, because each shift is different and sometimes you don’t get called out much. It was an insightful trip and we were so glad we made it out today. It’s wonderful spending time with real heroes, and people who are extremely dedicated to what they do. Their passion for their profession is evident in all they do. Little Brooks even said after leaving that he may want to fight fires when he gets bigger, funny little man that he is.

We returned home to work on baking some goodies up for D.Brooks’ care packages. I know Brooks prefers to eat healthy, but most baked goods just aren’t. I did try to appease his preference for healthy foods by making him homemade granola and carob wheat walnut brownies. The brownies are ridiculous. The recipe only produced nine brownies so I split one with the boy, to taste test… of course. I was half tempted to taste test another, just to make sure, but then I felt bad, so I didn’t. We also whipped him up some peanut butter chocolate chip cookies that are moist, chewy, and super duper tasty. Yay for care packages!

Brooks was able to settle into his room today, which included hooking up his internet. I have to say after four deployments that I wasn’t expecting much from his in-room internet connection. I think it was his last deployment that he had a satellite or some contraption on top of his room to help with the connection and it wasn’t a huge improvement. I am super pleased that his internet was hooked up quickly and that the connection is wonderful. How wonderful for both him, and us, that he’s able to call several times a day, from chatting online to video phone calls. Seeing him is an unbelievable gift, and makes it feel likes he’s here with us, partaking in our day to day, a simple phone call away. Yay for great internet connections!

Today, being Friday and all, is our Campfire USA club meeting. We were doing a lesson on Pets for our Environmental Emblem and I had told the kiddos they could bring their pets to show and tell. I was tickled pink that we ended up with five dogs, a tarantula, four hermit crabs, and some gold fish. The kiddos had a great time telling their club mates all about their pets and did a wonderful job taking and answering questions. Campfire time always flies by! I always feel like an hour just isn’t enough to get all our activities in, and sure enough while playing a game we realized we’d gone over our scheduled time. Thankfully our parents are super understanding and we were able to squeeze in a snack. I think the kiddos had as much fun as I did. And the best part? Brooks called right at the end to say good night!

It’s the perfect ending to a perfect day!

 

Friends truly make life sweet.

When I heard about the Bob Bullock State Museum’s Free Homeschool Day I instantly thought that one of my friends might be up to going. With both our busy schedules I love that we are always able to chisel out some time to spend together. Because we’ve both done multiple deployments we experience a lot of the same emotions, etc. I love that I can tell her stuff and that she gets it, no explanations or reasons needed. It just is what it is. So I was naturally thrilled when she agreed to go with Little Brooks and I down to Austin to check out a Texas history museum.

We had too much fun checking out the exhibits and learning about the history of Texas, and all the intricacies that make it uniquely what it is. I have to say, the volunteers at the museum are wonderful people, who are truly passionate about their state. It’s a wonderful thing to see. We even got to meet a real cowboy, which Little Brooks is still tickled pink about, whose family has been ranching in Texas since the 1800’s. We plan to go to the museum again. There is just so much to see, and I think an IMAX film thrown in with the next visit will excite the smallest Brooks in the Julius household.

After our trip to the museum we headed out to check out some of Austin’s trailer food scene. Brooks and I were lucky enough to find a cluster of food trailers during my Dirty Thirty celebration in Austin. I wanted my friend to check them out too, since it’s such a quirky, fun Austin thing.

Little Brooks was ubber dissapointed that the food trailer he was gunning for, Dirty Banjo’s, was closed. He settled on eating at Pig Vicious, a place aptly named for it’s use of the main ingredient bacon. I honestly felt like we’d stumbled upon the word of the day… everything had bacon in it. Brooks settled on a bowl of bacon mac and cheese, and my friend, Tanja, treated us to bacon covered pickles (yummy)!

I, sticking to my I’m-on-a-diet-even-though-I-hate-it guns, chose a super yummy dish from a Vegan food trailer, and gladly was not disappointed.  What I wanted to eat was what Tanja chose, the fish and Chips from Bits and Druther’s. I dislike fish with a passion, but this fish is so not fishy, super moist, and fried to delicious perfection.

The address of those particular food trailers is 1001 E 6th St, Austin. The nice thing about these food trailers is that it’s a cluster of them, with free parking in a lot right next door, it’s super close to downtown attractions, with porta potties to boot. The nice thing is that everyone can choose what they eat, which Little Brooks loves.

After our Austin field trip The Boy and I headed to Cove for my Spanish tutoring and afterwards we met up with Tanja again. She’d been too sweet to invite us to a PTO event at her daughter’s school since she thought LB would enjoy it. The ventriloquist show was funny, and thought provoking. You have to love that!

Today was too much fun! So although we played hooky, Little Brooks learned some new things about the state we currently call home, I was still able to wear

my “teacher hat” while tutoring, and we both brushed up on building a strong character (it’s amazing what puppets can teach you). And all while spending the day with a wonderful friend!

I know I say this often, but I am truly blessed. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Because it was a federal holiday I decided to be nice to to The Boy and only made him do a half day of homeschool. Before you feel bad for him, keep in mind we’re playing hooky tomorrow since we’re planning on taking a trip to Austin. Before you think I’m a terrible homeschooling mama, keep in mind the trip to Austin entails a trip to the Bob Bullock State Museum… and a trip to some Austin food trailers. If we’re already there, we might as well.  That’s my philosophy anyway.

So I was feeling pretty good, it being a federal holiday and all, and us taking the day nice and slow, when I got a call from only my most favorite person in the world (okay, both Brooks’ are tied in that category, but you get the picture). Federal Holiday, nice weather, and Facetime with the man who still causes me to stumble into heart palpitations: it was a good start to a good day.

I have say this, though: when Brooks called, I was in the middle of weeding outside. It was such a gorgeous morning – perfect weather for that type of thing. So when Brooks called I continued weeding while we Facetimed (I know that’s not a word, but it should be) and it was so nice because in so many respects, especially with seeing each other and the amazing connection, it was almost like he’d come in from work and was keeping me company while I worked outside. It may sound weird, but for a little bit of time it felt truly like he was home. Like I said, a good start to a good day!

The rest of the day was just as wonderful. The Boy and I played outside for a few hours. It was just so nice out. Brooks friend came over to play for a little bit and then we tried our hand at the bike riding, again. Bike riding, take two was not nearly as awful as day one. It gave me a lot of hope that he’d get the hang out of it clear of his 18th birthday.

If Little Brooks wasn’t so cautious, I’d venture to say he’d be riding circles around me already. But it’s so ingrained in who he is, he can’t move past it. Every single time he knows I’m not “holding” him, he wobbles and that’s the end of that. That Child rode that bike the whole length of the front of my house. The front yard is pretty big.  And he did it several times. But he still thinks he can’t do it. Oh boy, oh boy! So for sure there will be a bike riding, take three. Not tomorrow but for sure the day after that. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he gains enough confidence he just takes off.

After playing our little hearts outside, and practicing his shots for a tournament this weekend, we came in and LB helped me make dinner. When Brooks is gone I don’t cook nearly as much as I do when he’s home. I can make a big pot of Something and live off of that for a few days. So we settled on a Minestrone Soup since we had all the ingredients on hand and because BB has been working on his knife skills in the homeschool co-op and vies for any chance at home to practice.

 

 

It’s kind of amazing that a child who is so conscious of avoiding injury would enjoy cutting things with a knife. He loves it. He even insisted on tackling the onions, even though it took him thirty minutes to finish since he had to keep leaving the room. He even tried tying one of my kitchen towels over his face, but quickly found out that covering his nose and mouth isn’t the problem.

Our soup turned out delicious. Brooks loves adding spices to food we make together so I never know what we’ll end up with. He used some smoked paprika and it turned out delicioso! Yay for leftovers!

After dinner Little Brooks tried his hand at making blow paint googly eye monsters. I copied the idea from a new blog I ran across yesterday: http://mayamade.blogspot.com/2008/09/making-monsters.html

It’s a super cute craft and since my boy loves anything and everything to do with monsters it was a perfect fit for our art project today. The concept is simple. You take paint that has been slightly watered down and you add it by spoonful to your paper. We used heavy paper so that the water wouldn’t ruin the whole thing. You then take a straw and blow the paint around any way you want. Brooks’ favorite part of the whole thing was adding spoonfuls of paint to the paper so the colors would mix when he blew. Tomorrow if it’s not too late when we return home from our fun day, we’ll add googly eyes and cut the monsters out so that we can display them. This might end up being a repeat project, since Brooks had so much fun making these today.

It was truly a perfect Monday!