For all you aquarium lovers out there…….

This will be a picture heavy post.  Maybe I’ll do some of them as slide shows……


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Here’s one of Princess’ favorite finds that day: Unicorn fish.

unicorn fish

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I look at things like this and marvel at the complexity of God’s creation.  Look at the fish on the top right there.  It’s amazing.  If you were to see that on the ocean floor you wouldn’t be able to find it for all of the other life there.  It’s so wonderfully made for it’s location.


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And now for the shark and manta ray slide show……..

But, my personal favorite, not counting the wildlife, is…….


Princess attempting to convince us that we needed to buy her all of the toys she could hold.


Computers, so picky wanting you to hit publish………

Science Sunday: What we learned at Moody Gardens

Science Sunday


142When we were down in Galveston we went by Moody Gardens, which I LOVE with a passion.  I think I could happily sit there and watch the fish swim by for hours.


I mean look at that picture, isn’t it peaceful?  Makes me wish there was one in Austin, and not somewhere four hours away……..



We all got to see our favorites.  Batman got to see manta rays.  I got my turtles.  Princes got to see penguins, and Superman got his sharks (do you know how hard it was to get a decent picture of a shark?).



There is so much to learn there.  Especially since we’re starting on our study of swimming creatures.  We’d already read large portions of the chapter about rays and sharks.  So, it was fun to apply some of what we knew, and then afterwards as we’re finishing up our chapter on sharks it’s been a great help to be able to go back and look at the pictures to help us remember things.




This was one of the most helpful pictures.  See most sharks don’t attack people because they want to eat people.  Mostly it’s because we look like their prey.  Look at the images there.  After observing it for awhile the kids decided that we looked like a sea lion, and that’s why sharks attack.





Oh, and because I’m crazy like that I decided to make some fun seek and finds, which I’m going to share with ya’ll.  Hopefully you guys enjoy it (click on picture to go to the download), I know my kids like hidden picture puzzles and the like, so we’ll see if it’s as big a hit as I’m hoping……..

ocean find it



And as a bit of amusement notice how much the kids have grown since we were there almost two years ago.


Science Sunday: Beach science

Science Sunday

Well, I was going to give you a link to the two Reading Rainbow DVDs we watched this week all about the sea life, but Amazon has no clue what I’m talking about, and youtube just gave me a bunch of strange links.

After his sun burn is much betterBut, if your library happens to have these:  Seashore Surprises, and Dive to the Coral Reef; get them.


We watched these one day while Jeff was laying there in misery with his horrible sun burn, and then the kids, Mom, and I headed off to the beach giving Jeff some much needed “no kids trying to touch my sun burn time.”  If the kids had their way that’s how they’d watch TV……..





We wandered up and down the sea shore to find some of the things we saw in the video and of course to find SHELLS!


One thing we learned after watching the videos and reading our shell guide that the kelp that comes ashore is a good way to find sea shells.




And as you can see there was a lot of kelp to look through.  A LOT.  As we were leaving we saw construction vehicles moving it out of the way.  Previously there had been no real kelp to speak of.  After a quick google search on my part I discovered we were in PRIME kelp season.  Which also seemed to coincide with when they’re at their busiest (May to August).


So, there was a lot of picking through kelp to find shells (which will become a whole series of Science Sunday posts as we do some experiments with them), and watching the surf to find the coquinas we had just learned about thanks to Reading Rainbow.


I wanted to capture a video of them, but figured someone already had at some point, and I was right, so this is a cool video to show your kids about life as a coquina shell.


History: Exploring a World War 2 Sub



First we explored a World War 2 Destroyer, one of two still in existence.  For the most part it’s not that intriguing except the galley, can you imagine cooking for 220 people in here?  I bet they were always cooking.  Nonstop.  And imagine the dishes…..


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The other intriguing thing was the bathrooms, and the sign about the bathrooms.  The kids were rather intrigued by the complete lack of privacy.  We pointed it out to the boys and then had to very quickly back pedal because Batman joked about going potty there…….



But, the submarine was the fascinating part.  Because space is such a premium almost every space doubled as something else.  So, 10 people slept in the same room as the torpedo room.  I kept trying to figure out how you slept with all of the excitement going on.  They also frequently “hot bunked,” which meant when you were on duty someone else was sleeping in your bunk.



And here again is the galley.  I was just intrigued by the places they had to cook in.  Probably because I spend so much time cooking.  There were two different cooks, a day shift and a night shift.  The night shift was responsible for baking all of the bread, deserts, a midnight snack, and an early breakfast.





And after all of that hard work of walking around seeing these old ships.  Actually I found out the destroyer was a ship, and the sub is a boat.  I don’t really understand the difference.  But, you need to go to sleep with your brand new “Explorer pack” knife firmly clutched in your hands to keep your brother and sister safe from any danger they might encounter…….

Beach party!

IMG_1298 Let’s go surfing now

Everyone is learning how

Come on a safari with me!


Does anyone else think that last line makes no sense?  Or is that just me?


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Aw man, I thought I had a photo of Sean’s completed castle, but apparently I don’t.  Maybe some kind Aunt Jenn will be nice and send me a picture………  I could trade her funny pictures of Sean playing with the boys.  I know silly pictures are not unusual……..


We’re planning another trip by the beach today (these are from earlier in the week), and hopefully we’ll successfully collect some fun shells.  I found the perfect shell identification booklet for the kids to find out what we’ve caught!  I can’t wait to sue it.

Uh oh, the door is locked

IMG_1311That would  be what I said after checking the door to look in on Princess who was sent to time out for being way too worked up.  She’d gotten quiet and we thought she’d fallen asleep.

After spending ten to fifteen minutes using various implements (bobby pins did not work, nor did tooth picks), Jeff went over to try and he pushed on the door and it came open.  While it was closed the door was not latched.




And we went in and Princess was quite asleep.  She tried her best to sleep through being picked up and put in the car, and the first few holes of mini golf.  Which I apparently suck at.

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There was much fun frivolity and goofy poses to be had.



And Uncle Sean had a blast climbing up the dragon……  He was quite proud of himself.  Very proud.  Luckily the boys weren’t big enough to try and climb it themselves.  Otherwise we might of had a repeat of our trip two years ago with another ER trip…….  But, at least Galveston does have one of the best ERs we’ve seen.


So, Summer bucket list mini golf, check.  And I”m sure we’ll do this at least one more time because the kids said they want to go to the other side of the golf course with the fish and the turtle……

Preschool Week in Review: Galveston!

Truthfully this was more a week of catching what was thrown than deliberate learning.



We worked on fine motor skills in preparation for writing with lots of coloring. Superman loves to color, I think that’s why like worksheets so much, because at this age, so much of it is coloring. Of course now that I look at the picture more clearly I see this is actually Batman. This particular activity was drawing a picture of something we’d done….. Ummmm…. apparently we ran into a lot of knights and bad guys. After they illustrated the picture they gave me a caption and helped spell the words as I sounded it out. This leads to interesting spelling, but it’s a good begining reading activity.


We practiced writing letters in the sand. I really liked this activity because they thought it was fun and started it all by themselves. And Superman decided he had a new name spelled “BPELT. That spells Bone Guy.”

Oh, and they read TAG books like crazy. Apparently Superman read his “Star Wars” book for 43 minutes.



We finished off our calendars for September, and then counted all the way up to 30. I still need to work on their writing the numbers. They start to get frustrated and just scribble in the squares. They had lots of fun sharing with Daddy how to count to 30.

We also collected lots of shells, that I’m going to use this week for graphing and such stuff. I just need to get a big bottle of bleach to clean them.



We went and looked at Old Houses. There we learned that it is extremely hard to keep 3 preschoolers patient to walk through. The kids also got to look at the different ways people lived 100 years ago.


Batman learned a very important life skills lesson: Don’t run in the store. He tripped on something, and got a big huge gash in his head. One ER visit later, he can’t go in the water for 3 days……..


This is where we really learned a lot.


We went to the Rain Forest Cafe and learned about rain forest animals. We talked about the fish there, and how the animals are scared by the thunder storm, and why they’re scared. Yes, almost anything you do can be a learning experience.


I include this picture pretty much only because I like it. It looks cool. I really enjoyed Rain Forest Cafe, but did think the prices were a little high, but it was fun.


We collected shells to sort. We’ll be doing lots more stuff with these this week. I have so many ideas!

We visited Moody Gardens and learned lots.


We learned about our bones and how to protect them.


We learned all about fish, and will learn more next week.


We learned about plants and their different uses. I actually got to see a rubber plant for the first time.



We took a walk on the beach at night and collected sea shells. When you’re 2, it is a lot of work to balance on the shifting sands.


We climbed rocks and really got to work on our balance, and occasionally my heart rate.


We swam, a lot for the first two days…… And then on our last day, oh the sun burn.


We got to dodge as they played mini golf…..

Moody Gardens Aquarium

I thought they had a very cool idea to engage the kids as we went through. They were each handed a “passport,” and told to find all of the shark stamps. So the kids were eagerly looking for the next place to get their stamps.


I also loved that it had lots of “fish eye view,” windows. They designed it well with lots of levels so you could see the seals (who were strangely not housed with the fish, it’s a mystery) from above, and then turn the corner and see them underwater. They are wicked fast.


Princess loved looking for all of the different shark stamps, and she kept trying to convince me she needed to stamp her hand. I don’t think she realizes that would have hurt.


Superman primarily put himself in charge of the kid camera…. This of course meant that I got lots of pictures of ceilings, and floors, and legs. And several rather inappropriate pictures of my chest.


This is one of my favorite areas of any aquarium. The touch pool. You can stick your hand in and touch the sea urchins or the starfish. But don’t touch the hermit carb because “he pinches, and it gives you an owie.” Exact quote.


Of course after we’d randomly wandered through most of it, we actually found the shark exhibit you were supposed to start with…… Oops.


It’s of course very cool to figure out which shark tooth is the same size as your hand.


And to touch the different shark skins. My personal favorite was the one at the end on the right.


When I saw the penguins lined up by size, I just knew I had to get a picture of each kids standing next to the penguin that was closest to them in size. The only problem was Superman didn’t realize he needed to stand at the same one as Batman…… So Princess is about 6 inches taller than the one she’s the same size as. It came so close to working.


This was the coolest room of all. You’re in the middle of the aquarium, and so the fish are on all sides of you. And there’s sharks and SEA TURTLES and they swim all around you. I took dozens of pictures of these fish. I’m going to try and make a game of matching the number of fish and the number. We’ll see if among the 50 or so pictures I took if I got the right numbers.

Overall, I’d say the aquarium was the coolest part of all, and most worth all the money we paid. I could have happily wandered around in there for hours. But, I like looking at wild animals and sea life.

Moody Gardens or 5 museums in one place

So, after much debate we got a 1 day pass to Moody Gardens. We thought about getting a 2 day pass, but finally decided that if we thought there was enough to do for a second day we’d convert it. I’m glad we stuck with the 1 day pass. There might be enough to do for a 2 day pass if the kids were a little older, or if it was tourist season and thye weren’t on shortened hours and some of the other exhibits weren’t closed.

Do you know how hard it is to take a picture of a child who is excitedly jumping up and down?

Superman mugging for the camera.

We started off the morning watching a 3D IMAX movie about whales and dolphins. I learned from this that the kids are not quite old enough to really enjoy it. For one, their heads are too small for the glasses to stay on.


For another, they were really freaking out about the big whales. This was the tamest of the movies to choose from (though the Wild Ocean one, might have been about the same level). Halfway through Batman was desperate to go to the bathroom, but decided he could wait when he was sitting on Daddy’s lap. Superman spent much of it hiding behind the chairs in front of him.


However they did enjoy the 3D effects and would occasionally try to reach out and touch the whales. They did like the dolphin parts. And they did have fun playing with the glasses…….. As you can tell from the pictures Superman was having lots of fun with that.

And just to throw it in, because I think Superman actually took a pretty good picture. So, I have ridiculously huge numbers of pictures for 1 hour of stuff, most spent staring at a screen, but still.


We went to the Rain Forest Pyramid first. I thought it was pretty cool, and if we weren’t trying to see it all in 1 day I would have meandered a little more. Well, that and it’s a little hard to meander too much with 3 kids going, “Hey Mom, come here, I want to show you this!” I hear that a lot from Superman. That, and “I have a plan.”


So, the cool part about this area was the lily pond in the middle. In the middle of it was a tree with Macaws on top of it. In the pond were all sorts of different fish. It was a rather interesting story posted with it. Apparently they were all in different ponds, and then Hurricane Ike hit. The rainforest pyramid got flooded and they slowly caught the different fish that had survived. Eventually they decided not to have many separate ponds, but have all of these different fish together. It was really fun to look in the water and see all of these different fish.


This is an excellent example of why my boys have so many different bruises. If they’re left to themselves for longer than 30 seconds, they start wrestling. Oh, and I learned something very important on Monday. Much like you don’t make jokes about bombs in airports, you also don’t make jokes about beating your child at a hospital. I really need to work on thinking before I insert my foot into my mouth. But come on, the question she asked: “Was it an accident?” So I answered, “Yes, of course it was, it’s not like I beat my child.” In my defense, I did realize a second later they were referring to CAR accidents…… Sigh.


We ended the rain forest area with crayon rubbings. I tried this once a few months ago, and they definitely were not ready for it. They’re almost there, but not quite. I think maybe as Christmas presents. There’s some really cool stuff you can find as kits.

So final verdict on Rain Forest Pyramid: pretty cool. I think they’d enjoy it even more in a few years when they can read the cool stuff about the different trees and plants.


Colonel Moody Paddleboat

Not super impressive. It was a fun time to sit for 45 minutes, but I wish they’d narrated something or given some history or something. They were playing a cool jazz soundtrack in the background and had this random stint of information about Colonel Moody, but you didn’t know to listen for it because the rest of the time was taken up with music. By the time we realized what they were doing it was almost over.

Oh, and they took a picture of us getting on the ship, and then went around trying to sell them, $20 for a 5×7 and 4 wallets, seriously? It was a good photo and I would have bought it if the price had been at all reasonable.

Discovery Pyramid

I thought this was cool but it wouldn’t have been worth the price paid to just get in there. You go up to the top floor and there’s a big room full of all sorts of skeletons. The kids had lots of fun examining them.


There was a potentially super cool human skeleton puzzle. I say potentially because there were pieces missing and we had duplicates of some of the pieces. So, they kept trying to figure out how to put the hip bones in when we’d already done that. Oh, and they had made the hip bones into 2 pieces. Now, I admit, I don’t have a doctor’s degree or nursing license or anything, I just have an Elementary Education degree, but I’m fairly sure that the hip bones are 1 piece. Right? So, how does this help the kids learn if you have the hip bones as 2 pieces? Grrrr, I hate when things are wrong and I can easily figure out how it’s wrong. Oh, and feel free to point out if I”m wrong on this.


I thought it was hilarous as we were over at the “How We Protect Our Bones” exhibit the kids were happily and noisily trying on the different helmets and padding. There was an older couple that was tsking them as they were so noisy. All I was thinking is this is the CHILDREN’s EXHIBIT! If they were screaming or being inappropriate I would shush them, but come on!


Hee hee hee hee…… So the boys shirts say, “I’m the good one, my brother is the brat.” Hee hee hee…… They ran around all day saying, “My shirt says, ‘I’m the good one, and Superman (or Batman) is the brat.'” They have no clue what a brat is, but it’s still cracked me up. Princess’ says “Don’t let the cute thing fool you.”

Story about getting those shirts. So, as we were picking out these shirts Batman was happily running around in the store, despite being told not to… Well, he fell and split his head open. So Jeff is trying to find paper towels or anything to stop the head wound. Well, I finally look at Superman and ask him to give my his shirt. He did, and I used that to slow the bleeding. We buy the new shirts and Jeff heads off to get the car, so we can go to the ER, and I’m trying to get Superman to put on the new shirt and he doesn’t want to wear it, and I’m trying to get it on, and he tries really hard to fall down the concrete stairs. I give up and let him wear his sister’s new shirt……. I REALLY didn’t want to be taking 3 kids to the ER.

So, while the bone part was pretty interesting and the kids had a blast wandering through it, I probably wouldn’t get this ticket as an individual ticket, doesn’t seem worth the $10 ticket to me.

This has turned into a ridiculously long post, so I’m going to show the best part of Moody Gardens tomorrow. That, and it’s getting kind of late, and I want to get to bed. Or maybe a nice hot bath……

Mini Golf with preschoolers

So, we went to the Bishop’s Palace in the morning. The kids did great trailing through the 100 plus year old mansion they’re not allowed to touch anything in. REALLY great job. What a better way to reward a great job than to take them mini-golfing!

Okay, I really want to tell the Bishop Palace bits I can.

Batman and Princess looking off the balcony.

We waited outside for 20 minutes or so, and the kids had lots of fun checking out the stairs and how much they can go up and down.


So Superman, pictured above, has started sharing his wisdom with us, we’ve started calling it “The Tao of Superman.” As he was carefully walking up and down the stairs he told us “You go down stairs slowly, so you don’t fall down and get an owie.” We also got, “You got to be little careful, so you don’t fall down and get an owie like Batman.” He also has now started telling us, “Hey guys! I got a plan!” Then he’ll tell me his plan, and it usually is a pretty good plan and well thought out.

So, the tour was interesting, especially because we’d gone on it 2 years ago while Jeff’s parents were watching the much younger kiddos. So, the thing I struggle with is why they don’t let us take any photos. This seems to be the new trend nowadays, and it’s a really annoying trend. I like to take pictures, come on people let me take pictures. And like I said the kids were amazing, they were fairly quiet and mostly didn’t touch anything they weren’t supposed to touch.


And we stopped to get lunch, because it was 1:00 something, and that means Ticia needs food. And, the foyer of the restaurant had these cool carousel statues. Does anyone else find carousels as fascinating as I do? I took about 7 pictures of these horses, they’re just cool.

OKay, now to mini-golf for real. I love to go put-putting but sadly there are no real good courses in Austin. I was lamenting this point about the lack of good courses when Jeff named off 3 courses in the Austin area proving me wrong. Sigh….

Here’s how you play mini-golf if you’re a preschooler.


1. Keep hitting the ball over and over again, never let it come to a complete stop.



2. If all else fails pick up the ball and drop it in the hole of the animal/building, you name it.


3. Oh, and of course swing your club like it’s a croquet mallet or a polo club.


4. If you fit inside of the hole, then you of course need to stand there. Regardless of this causes problems for whoever is trying to put.


5. If the windmill is in your way, than just stop the windmill and run in the house.


Meanwhile Daddy is actually trying to golf correctly, and that’s not working super well with the extra help.


And how cool is this, the place has a cave. That and one of the holes was a pirate ship. This is the coolest golf course ever! Really.

So, I can’t tell if the pictures are blurry because I don’t have my glasses on or because it’s blurry. Hmmm, maybe that’s why I”m supposed to be wearing glasses.

Tomorrow, we’re going to visit Moody Gardens.

2 MORE days until Batman can go back in the water. Read to the end of the post to find out why, for those who missed my first post yesterday.