Thursday, August 30, 2012

The ELEVENTH Week of Summer

Eleventh Week of Summer!!!!
(Aug 5th - Aug 11th)

With our summer travels coming to a slow down, we had a pretty quiet 11th week of summer in the Darling House - a week we all needed.

We (I) decided to tackle the school supply list for the 2 olders - it took awhile and 3 stores, but we finally got it all.
 We did have one quick little media trip - Barton Creek Resort - I had always thought this place was too ritzy for kids but they invited me out to try it and it was beautiful. This is the view from my hotel room. How could you not love Austin and the Texas Hill Country with this gorgeous view???
 Part of our package included a "Bat Experience" in downtown Austin. They drove us to Congress Ave Bridge just in time to watch the bats emerge.  When we tried this several years ago, we had very few bats fly out.  Not the case this summer.
 I don't know if it was the humidity, the heat, the tons of mosquitos, but a ton of bats flew out right at dusk.  The kids were amazed!
And the hotel gave us some fun goodies as part of the "experience".
 The next morning, we played a quick game of chess (ok - not really - can you see that my kids are trying to "king" each other as they staged the photo?) before heading home.
The rest of the week was filled with nothing - well, not nothing - It did take me 45 minutes to build this marble track for Bubba.
 And he moved to a BIG BOY BED!! Yahoo!! Now we just need to get on this potty training......
And this sweet girl started soccer practice - it was a good quiet week.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The TENTH Week of Summer

Tenth Week of Summer!!!!
(July 29th - Aug 4th)
The 10th week of summer started with Hubby & My 17th Wedding Anniversary, took us to Houston for our last Media Trip of the summer, and ended with a fun weekend at the lake with friends.

Here we go!
Longtime readers of the blog know that my all time FAVORITE ice cream is Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla.  Why? Because it is made here in Texas and it is delicious!!  I have been to the Blue Bell Creameries and taken a tour back in 2008, but the kiddos haven't, so we made sure to stop on our way down to Houston.

Brody was especially interested in the tour - it is pretty cool to see how they make the ice cream, the other frozen treats, and how they package them too.
Bubba's favorite part?  The free sample at the end of the tour!!
Right down the road from Brenham is Washington on the Brazos, birthplace of Texas Independence - you know, that brief period where we were our own country??  It is a pretty neat historical place, but with it being the end of July - it was HOT!  So we briefly checked out where it was signed (in this little cabin) and got back on the road to Houston.
We were asked to stay at the Woodlands Resort up in The Woodlands - north of Houston.  It was a pretty area - and we spent the rest of the day at the pool.  The structure in front of you has 2 slides in it - the big kids played there while Bubba and I cooled off in the shade.
When we got back to the room, my kids were thrilled to have a turn down service.  "You mean they actually lay chocolates on your pillow EVERY night??"
Tuesday morning, we were up early and headed down to Space Center Houston - home of NASA.  This was the highlight of our trip.  It is so well done, we spent the whole day there.  The tours, movies, displays, and interactive areas were all so interesting - my kids all got something out if it.

Brody was fascinated by how BIG Saturn V was - the picture doesn't do it justice - it is longer than a football field. It really was so cool to be walking right next to an actual rocket that went into space.
Bubba was fascinated by every "Buzz Lightyear" that he kept seeing.
And all 3 spent hours playing in this multi-leveled playscape.
My favorite part?  Being able to sit in Mission Control where history happened - it was absolutely incredible to hear the stories the tour guide was telling us, knowing it all played out in front of you.  We sat int he chairs the families sat in while waiting on news of their astronauts. Gave me goosebumps.  SO special to be there.
On Wednesday, we headed to the Houston Zoo - Crazy?  YES! I mean who spends the day at the zoo at the end of July in Houston??? It's a great zoo, but we were so hot and tired, that all of us were really grumpy and not wanting to be there.

Luckily, we came across this great INDOOR exhibit where we watched the orangutans eat. It was fascinating really.
But despite the shade, it was still pretty hot.  We decided to skip a few exhibits and head to the train - can't go to the zoo and NOT ride the Train!!!!
And a train ride is just what these boys needed to smile!
That afternoon, we were invited to stay at the Omni Houston to try out their Kid's Suite.  It was amazing y'all - I can't believe that more hotels don't do this!
A hotel room decorated for kids, filled with toys, a Wii, movies, guitar and a basketball hoop??
The chalkboard wall was our FAV!!  The kids were so excited to be staying here, that they asked to stay in for the rest of the day. So we did - we ordered room service and didn't leave - I have to say, it was one of our favorite things we did in Houston.
Thursday was BUSY - we expected to spend an hour or two at the Houston's Children's Museum but ended up having so much fun, that we stayed much longer than expected.  We have been to just about all the Children's Museums in the state and it is nice that they are all vastly different.

This one had a ton of things for all the kids, hence the reason we spent so much time there.
And despite me telling the kids, "DON'T get WET!" one listened.....
Moving on to our next museum - the Houston Museum of Natural Science - they had a terrific Dinosaur exhibit that we all enjoyed.  We also saw some pretty incredible gems (one named Morgan) and learned about sea shells.  Houston has some awesome museums.
And then we traveled home - my little man is an excellent traveler - so easy going - considering all the time we spent on the road this summer, I am blessed!
The weekend was spent at the lake with some dear friends - 2 full days out on the water - we all had a fun time!!
Bubba had his pick of all these pretty girls.
And everyone played on the tubes.
Except this little man - his time will come!
One last slice of summer "watermelon pie" and everyone was digging in.
The NINTH Week of Summer

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The NINTH Week of Summer

Ninth Week of Summer!!!!
(July 22nd - July 28th)

The Ninth week of summer??  Already?  Summer is flying by!  Before we know it - we will be back in school (written tongue-in-cheek as the kids are back in school while I write this - where do you think I finally found time to blog?).

The Ninth week took us to one of my favorite cities in the whole world.....
 San Antonio ~ this familiar site just makes me SMILE!

We traveled down and stayed a few days courtesy of the SA CVB ~ They put us up at the Emily Morgan hotel next to the Alamo and gave us passes to all the local sites.  We crammed as much as we could into 3 days!
 We explored downtown - and checked out this cool new sculpture ~ The Torch of Friendship ~ A gift from Mexico to the city.
 Our first stop took us to visit all the "Ripley's Believe it or Not" Museums - wax museums, Oddities, Guinness Book of World Records ~ The Kids really enjoyed these museums.  I just enjoyed sharing the secrets to my success with Oprah.  She's a great listener.
We took this hilarious picture there too - this just might show up in a video or two as the kids get older....
 One of my favorite things we did on the trip was to take a ride down the Riverwalk.  I just love the Riverwalk - the relaxed atmosphere, the wonderful colors of the restaurants, the happy people.  The tour gives you a lot of history and background of San Antonio itself - here is my review of it.
 The next day, we enjoyed the San Antonio Zoo - they have a lot of "Animal Encounters" - like this one that taught us how to 'walk like a gibbon". Do you even know what a gibbon is??? We do now.
 I used to go to the SA Zoo as a child, so it is really neat that I can now take my kiddos - there are so many great memories I have of visiting.
 We also spent time at the Witte Museum - a Natural Science Museum that has an AMAZING children's area in the back - we played music on pots and pans, climbed rock walls, and rode this fun SkyCycle.
 My sweet grandparents live in San Antonio, so we spent one evening with them.  They had made us homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream and I love as I'm taking a pic of my kiddos, Bubba is reaching into his Sister's bowl.....
 We had heard about this place that made cinnamon rolls that were as big as your we had to try.  But they weren't as big as your head.  They were bigger!
 Wednesday took us to the top of the Tower of the Americas ~ built in 1968 for the World's Fair, it is one of the tallest free-standing building's with an observation deck in America.
And it gives you gorgeous views of San Antonio.....
 Lunch at "Shee-Lows" and homemade root beer - YUM!!
 Home from San Antonio on Wednesday night, the kids were able to play with their friends, including Bubba, who got together with some of his sweet friends from his Pre-School class.
 And we were able to continue on with our Zilker Summer Musical tradition.  Sis and I really enjoyed The Sound of Music.  This is our 3rd year of seeing a musical in downtown Austin!
 The temps are creeping up into the 100's (as it is the last week of July), so we decided to spend sometime indoors. The kids and i put together this HUGE masking tape racetrack - inspired by Pinterest, we created an entire city that expanded all the way into the front of the house.  The kids loved it and Bubba played on it for a week.
 Friday night was the Opening Ceremonies for the Olympics - we enjoyed it with a Nacho Bar and Margaritas!!
 It was the first Saturday of the summer where we were home and didn't have any plans - so we took off into the Hill Country for a road trip. No plans, just a map.
 We headed west - which took us through Bertram, home of the Auto Parts Dinosaur.  Built many moons ago by a local legend, he sits right off the highway greeting those who pass through town. I think I was a little bit more entranced by the story of him then my kids were..... They just wanted to know "where are we going???"
 To Cooper's!! One of our fav BBQ places in Texas!
 And then we sought out one of Texas's oldest suspension bridges in Texas in San Saba.  It was fun to find and explore with the kiddos......
 We headed back home, as we had plans! Date Night to celebrate our 17th Wedding Anniversary! Whee!!  We went to Jasper's and had a wonderfully gourmet meal and a cocktail.  It was wonderful!

Only a few more weeks left...what else will we be doing??? Come back tomorrow to see more!

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