Lewis and Clark explore the park

Hey, I rhymed.  I’ll pretend that was on purpose.

We read about Lewis and Clark ages ago and we’ve had a field trip planned to explore and map out a new playground since that time, but we kept having things get in the way of our ability to do it, illness, inclement weather, you name it.
Map your park
Finally we made it there.  I turned them loose in the park with the instructions of younger kids had to draw 10 things in the park to make their map and label them.  Older kids (which was the other family) had to draw 20 items, label them and create a map key.
Of course the boys had to bring their guns, because they remembered that Lewis and Clark both had guns to protect themselves and to hunt thanks to a video recommendation from Phyllis over at All Things Beautiful (Lewis and Clark part 4 post).

Map your park

I loved the variety of maps they came up with.  The younger girls had smiley faces and pictures of people playing at the different parts of the park.

While the boys……..


They did the assignment.  Exactly, they did draw some parts of it.  But as they got to thinking more and more about playing in the park it became more and more of ……

well, squares with letters in it.


Oh those cries of outrage as I made them draw more.  You’d think I announced the end of desert with my requirements.

In the end they got quite a lot of playtime, so I don’t know what they were complaining about.

Oh, and if you’re in the Austin area and you haven’t been to the “Play for All Abilities Park,” then you NEED to get there!

Science Sunday: The Nature Center

Science Sunday

We have an absolutely amazing nature center here in the Austin area.  If you are ever vising here I highly recommend it.

It’s calming, it’s a rescue zoo for local animals that can’t be adapted back to the wild, and the thing my kids were obsessed about recently, you can trade in your nature finds to get different ones, mainly skeletons.

Or that’s all my boys wanted.

028A few weeks ago we saw a dead lizard being eaten up by a swarm of ants.  This made for a quick fascinating nature observation.  Especially when a few days later we saw that now the lizard was just a skeleton.

So, Superman quite happily scooped it up into a plastic bag and spent the next two weeks begging to go down and trade it in.

He and his brother and sister also scooped up a couple of pocketfuls full of rocks and proudly took them to the nature counter.

She took the skull out and let them observe it and talk about what they knew about the lizard.  The kids remembered it was greenish brown with some blue.  So she got out her reptile and amphibian book and found a green anole for us.  Then we found out what it was and we got to talk about it for a while.

Then came the cool part.  Or to me.


Then we started talking about the rocks and she explained about how most rocks in our area are limestone and a lot of these rocks looked like limestone.

And to make sure she pulled out an acid (HCl) and put a drop on each one.

It bubbled up just like baking soda and vinegar does.  So, over half of our rocks were limestone.

Now, according to her if I put some vinegar on limestone it will react the same way, just not as impressive.  I’m eager to find some limestone to try.

Then we headed off to take lots of pictures for our hero story, which is the subject of another post someday…….

DON’T FORGET TO ENTER MY GIVEAWAY!  Great way to encourage writing with their own personal paper.

Fun in the Summer Fun: Summer Activities

Welcome to our Fun in the Summer Fun event! Each Monday until September 7th Mama to 4 Blessings along with Adventures of Mommydom, Sweet Diva, Harvest Moon By Hand, and Sweet Phenomena will be hosting Fun in the Summer Fun link up events.
Here’s the line up:
The 1st Monday of each month: link up your “Kid friendly summer activities”
The 2nd Monday of each month: link up your “Kid friendly summer crafts”
The 3rd Monday of each month: link up your “Kid friendly summer receipes”
The 4th Monday of each month: link up your “How to stay cool in the summer heat”

Go see a play in the park, or a concert.  Several cities we’ve visited have events like this, so I’m betting if you explore a little you’ll find something like this.


This has been a family tradition for many years and each year we get better and better at planning.  So, from my 15 years of going to the musical, three of them with young kids, here’s my suggestions:

1.  Bring lots of snacks and your dinner if it’s the right time of day.  We figured out to bring only finger foods: cheese cubes, sausages, grapes, apple slices.  Nothing that generates large amounts of trash.

0162.  As a corollary to that bring lots of drinks.  I planned about 4 or 5 drinks per person.  Next time I’ll make sure to have water bottles as well, because it was really hot.

3.  Make sure you have a large enough blanket for everyone and bring pillows to lean on.

4.  We had each kid bring their backpack full of 2 toys, their leapster, and a book.  That, combined with the nearby park kept them entertained from when we got there to reserve our spot at 6:30 to when the show started at 8:30.

0135.Scout out where the bathrooms are (it’s also helpful to stick your head under the faucet in the sink and get thoroughly soaked, also make sure you are not wearing a white shirt if you’re planning on soaking yourself, just saying).

Flash Mob in the park!

There’s a very cool blog called “Free Fun in Austin” that has insanely large number of posts a day because it also tells about coupons that are relevant to the area, but I found out last week our local parks and rec department was organizing a flash mob as part of a competition.



So, after trying rather unsuccessfully to round up someone else to go with us we practiced in our family room to the video on Youtube.


Got ourselves all ready and headed off to be part of it.



Princess was not as convinced of the fun of it as the boys and I were.  And then once it was actually starting to happen Superman wimped out on me as well, so just Batman and I participated, but Superman quite happily filmed it.



I’ve been having the hardest time finding good videos of it, but here are a few:

Summer Bucket List: new park, check!



Just a week ago a BRAND NEW park opened up a couple of miles from our house.  We headed there last week along with a large portion of the town.  Okay, only about 200 other kids.


Now, my kids wanted to eat first, so we sat and ate our lunch at oh……. 10:45.  Which would explain why I was so hungry later that day.



Finally they were willing to play, and instead of heading straight over to the water like I thought they played in the sand.  For what seemed like an eternity to me.  But, the sand was nicely shaded, so I was happy to sit and watch.


Finally we headed to the water……….  And they found their perfect spot, the slide.


Where they got slowly more adventurous.


I must say, this is better than some of the other splash parks because  the water elements are more spread out, but the park does have an entry fee ($1 a person, not much, but not free).  I found this great review of the park if you want to see more pictures.


Now head on over to Little Wonder Days to see some other fun summer bucket activities people have done!

Round Rock Fall Festival


019One of the cool things about our town is it’s still small enough that it has cool festivals and events from time to time.


Like this chalk art festival designed to raise money for a local foster home.



Of course the down side of that one was it led to hands like this……  And very dirty clothes.



But, back to the Fall Festival.  We headed down there a little early to help set up the diaper changing station for our MOPS group.  Actually we got there later than intended and it was mostly set up.  But, the kids had fun helping me put up the signs.




It’s run by the local parks and recreation department, so you get a lot of “tough” looking guys who are in charge of the games.


I think it’s kind of fun to see these guys interacting with the kids, and you can tell they love doing this.




I have a lot of fun looking at the different games and thinking about how I might make it at home.


I know, that’s shocking, shocking I say.




The kids have fun collecting an inordinately large amount of candy and random little toys.  They spend the next few days on a sugar high as they slowly eat their way through the candy.


It was super duper fun, and we had a blast as you can imagine!


I’m linking this up to Geography/History linky over at Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn because in a way this is about geography, it’s about finding cool things going on at the place you live.


It’s starting to “cool off” here, by that I mean the high is only in the 90s, not 100+.


So, I thought I’d celebrate the unofficial end of summer with what has  become my new favorite pool, which sadly is closing today for the season.


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The water is surprisingly cool.  Most pools at this point in the summer are actually rather warm from having been warmed all summer long in the Texas sun, but this pool is kinda cold.  I know it’s just cold to us sissy Texans, but still.


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“I’m a crocodile Mommy!  I’m going to get you.”


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What’s the point in a waterproof camera if you don’t take a few underwater shots?


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We went there this weekend with Jeff, and since I had an extra adult I was able to get them to try the big slide.  (Obviously, this is not the big slide, but I didn’t bring my camera Saturday, and it’d be a little hard to take a picture of me sliding down anyways).  The boys LOVED it, and I went down that slide with them at least 20 times each.  I think they were in a competition to see who could go down it most.



Shhhh, don’t tell them I won, because they weren’t tall enough to go down by themselves yet.



If anyone’s interested in going there next summer, here’s their website.

Find new park: check

Remember my summer bucket list?

IMG_3068I know it was ages ago that I wrote about it, a whole week ago.  According to my kids that’s ages ago.

Oh, and I can also check off reading Proven Guilty and White Knight, finished those two.

Back, to the topic of this post, my new park.  A friend of ours introduced us to Central Market’s concerts on the weekend.  They play some sort of fun music, this time it was swing (SCORE!), only shame of it was Jeff’s ankle was hurting so we couldn’t dance.  But, the great part for the kids was the playground and IMG_3069the tree.  Oh the tree.  Well, I went back there with a friend of mine who knows a lot more about photography with plans of using her pictures for Jeff’s Father’s Day Present (that plan got messed up by my computer hating every photo website I usually use for editing and ordering stuff, so that’s still being worked on).

But, part of the appeal (for me, the kid who still wants to climb trees), is this awesome tree.  So, we went over to the tree and took lots and lots of pictures.  I mean lots.

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Didn’t she take awesome pictures for me?  I had so much fun hanging out with her.
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One of my favorites however was this one:

I just love the look on Batman’s face.  It’s such a great grin.  Superman is of course there in his Blue Arrow costume, and Princess is there as a princess.

041“But wait,” you ask, “wasn’t there a playground?”  “Why yes, thank you for reminding me.  I’ll stop being distracted by the insane cuteness level of my kids.”

Did I mention there’s also a pond there?  That’s where we discovered ducks eat bamboo.

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The playground isn’t anything you haven’t seen at a dozen other playgrounds.  There’s just a lot of playground there.


But part of the fun of this one is there are a lot of different ones.  When we went there for the concert there was easily 50 or so kids playing on it, and there weren’t any major fights.

Except when Batman, here, got all mad at someone because his name was also “Superman,” and he was very upset because only HIS Superman could have that name.  So, we had to have a long talk about how he couldn’t solve that problem by hitting the other kid.

Ahhhh, the crazy emotions of five-year-olds.

Okay, so when I write these posts in Livewriter they’re not looking the same as when they’re actually published, and I don’t know what’s happening there.

Geography: Williamson County Museum


So……..  A friend called me up and asked if I wanted to go with her and the kids she was nannying to a local paint your own pottery studio.  I said “Sure!”  What a chance to let my kids get creative, and I don’t have to clean it, SCORE!

So, we loaded all up.  You know, I’ve just noticed I say “so” too much, I really should work on that.  Continuing on.  We drove up to Georgetown, and went to the address the girl insisted it was at, and saw a Spa……  That was not it.  So, we circled around and found this:

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In case you can’t tell the sign says: “Coming soon 8th Street Art Studio.”
We particularly liked the fresh coffee sign in front of the barbed wire.  So, we thought there is no way we were going to take the kids there even if it was open.  NOT HAPPENING.

So, we wandered around downtown Georgetown and discovered this little museum, The Williamson County Museum, a small little free museum telling the history of the county with a few nice interactive exhibits.


They got to try and figure out how to use a drill from the natives in the area (I didn’t get much chance to read what the signs said, so a lot of this is conjecture).


Try to grind corn.  This was especially hard because it was a true original corn grinder, and made of real rock.  Very heavy for a three year old.


And, we got to talk about the less proud moments in American History.  My kids all agree they didn’t like the ghost man.

And, let me brag for a moment on my college.  Way back in the 20s, when Abilene Christian University, was Abilene Christian College, and still fairly small, a collection of KKK burst into chapel in full costume and walked proudly up to the front, and said “We like what you stand for as a college, and want to give you a donation.”  The president of the college at that time turned to him and said, “We don’t like what you stand for, and we will not accept your donation.”  I’ve always liked that story ever since I heard it back in college, and think it’s a neat story about standing up for what’s right.

After we finished up in the museum we continued around the square and saw a lot of cool historic building and ended up in a local bookshop which had this sign:
Duly noted, not leaving my kids alone.  No matter how much Princess might wish for a dog.

I love little museums like this, they’re fun to find, and I look forward to seeing if we can find any on our trip this summer.

Now, head on over to Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn to see more great geography ideas.

Fun Field Trip: Shakespeare in the Park

Or, how to have way too tired kids at the end of the day….  Really, I could have planned this better, but didn’t do as well as I could have.


Here’s what I did that set the kids up for failure at the play:



Can you tell what I did?  We had a playdate with a friend, and so by the time we got to Zilker for the play they were already tired and over-stimulated.  I know better than this, so why did I do it?  Because I wanted to see Midsummer Night’s Dream, it’s my favorite Shakespeare play, what’s not to love?  Fairies, trickery, and PUCK!  Who doesn’t love Puck?




Okay, back to our trip to the park.  What did I do right for this trip?  I planned simply, no getting chicken or anything, just sandwiches and lots of fruit.  I bought a big bag of apple slices, which we learned “How That Got on My Plate” recently, big bag of oranges, and carton of strawberries, and lots and lots of “dragon drink” (also known as Capri Sun, but in their brilliant bit of branding they got the rights to put “How To Train Your Dragon” pictures on it, so my kids now HAVE to drink it with everything, or so they think).

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I wanted to pack their Leapsters, but one of the boys couldn’t find his, so he grudgingly played his sister’s.  She took my camera to play with.  I wasn’t too big a fan of this trade.


So, I got a lot of pictures like this:

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Well, that last one is somewhat normal.


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We met another family there, and the kids were happy as clams to get to play with the “Armadillos” (not their real last name, but it is another animal).  They love to get together with them, and this was a great excuse for us to have a “double date”.



How was the play itself?

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I judge Midsummer Night’s Dream off of two things: 1 How are the Rude Mechanicals?  They can make or break the play and 2  How is Puck?  I mean if his role is off, than why watch it?  And both of those were excellent!  And they didn’t cut any of Puck’s lines.  Jeff and Aunt Tara can tell you all about the recent Calvin Kline movie, and my opinions on how they cut a few of Puck’s lines from the final monologue.  I MEAN REALLY FOLKS, IT WAS TWO LINES!  TWO LINES, AND YOU COULDN’T LEAVE THEM IN?!?  Take out the stupid bit about Bottom’s wife being a nag, that isn’t in the play anyways, and you have more than enough room to put back in the lines, and put back in the Titania in love with a monster monologue.


Okay, I’m better now.  Mostly, TWO LINES!  I’m done.  Probably.


So, I loved Puck.  He was great, skipping and bouncing all over the place, and approriately “puckish,” yes I did use the word that came from his name to describe him, but it is rather appropriate.  Sigh, happy thoughts.


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How did the kids do through the whole thing?  Not as well as they did at Beauty and the Beast (I was wrong as I went back to get the link, last year was Music Man, the year before was B&B), but like I said I set myself up for failure in some ways.  They were already kinda tired, and we discovered this type of thing they do better if there’s not more kids because they’re more likely to calm down.


So, we got lots of “I need to go potty,” a few rather silly meltdowns about miniscule problems that wouldn’t normally bother them that much.  But after intermission they discovered they could dig in the dirt with sticks and they didn’t get in trouble for that, so they were happy.


And poor Jeff injured himself again.  He slipped on the dirt while carrying Princess back to the blanket, and skinned up his leg pretty bad.


Four days ER free.  We had almost gone six months, and then it was ruined.  Ruined I say.