Saturday, July 12, 2014

17 Years

If you count the years we lived together before getting married, I can now officially say that Chuck and I have been together for over half of our lives. I may have forgotten our anniversary if my mom hadn't offered to watch the kids so we could go out and celebrate. Tonight we went to a fancy restaurant downtown then took a sunset bat watching cruise on Lady Bird Lake. It was warm and breezy and the full moon was lovely.

Yesterday was also my 8-year anniversary at work, so last night I went back to look for a picture from my first day at the Foundation. I realized that thanks to digital cameras and social media, the last 7 years have been very well documented and we have clearly lived a very stable and predictable life here in Austin. I mean, the past 7 years have also been the most interesting and eventful in terms of these sweet little kiddos. Seeing them grown and change is worthy of documentation!

I don't have as many photos and don't often think about or tell the story of the 10 years prior. We were working minimum wage jobs, living in a tiny apartment, eating hamburger helper for dinner most nights. Chuck joined the military, we got married really young, moved to California, then he went to art school while I worked at an art supply store. Once he graduated, I went to college and he was diagnosed with cancer my senior year. He finished treatment, we started our careers, I learned how to cook, we traveled all around the US, went to Mexico and Europe and China (you know, not all at once, but we did a bit of traveling there for a few years!) before moving to Austin completely out of nowhere, without jobs or friends or family. Even when we had no money and few prospects, we were happy and hopeful and knew it would all work out. I could dig up some old photos and make this a completely retrospective blog post, but instead let me just say that it keeps getting better and better. So, here's to 17 years of marriage! And yes, typing that makes me feel really old. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014


This weekend was pretty low key. Other than the parade, we didn't have much on the calendar. We went to a Home Depot kid's workshop and did a few home improvements, had a great time at a neighbor's birthday party, went on walks and baked cookies with Grandma and Grandpa, food shopped, washed the car, did laundry... the usual stuff.

When we weren't running errands, doing chores or playing outside, you could find Clarkie working puzzles. Over and over. It's his new hobby. No, it's his new addiction! I didn't think a picture would sufficiently convey the intensity and skill involved:

As you can see, we have a variety of puzzles and both kids enjoy them. Aurora will be going to CCOA full-time for the rest of the summer, and while her favorite parts are field trips and friends, they also spend a lot of time working puzzles together. Lucky her!

Friday, July 4, 2014


It was good to settle back into work during a nice short week. We watched the World Cup and had an ice cream social, I went to lunch with friends every day, caught up with most of our volunteers and interns, and we closed up early for the long weekend. Chuck and I considered taking a road trip this weekend but decided it would be better to stick with tradition, which meant heading out bright and early for the Lakeway Parade! It lasted over an hour and a half and both kiddos did great - they clapped, waved, cheered, and loved watching the fire trucks, horses, jeeps, golf carts, boats, and airplanes. And of course, they got a TON of candy and treats...

We got flowers, stickers, coupons, and even got to to see the Chick-fil-A cow. Clark was worn out afterwards and went right down for his nap. Success! Tonight we'll stay in and watch fireworks from our balcony. Aurora's old enough to wake up and watch for a bit, but Clark should sleep right through it. Happy 4th of July everybody!

Monday, June 30, 2014

22 Things

Today I went back to work and Aurora had a fun day with her grandparents. If you thought our days of three distinct activities seemed like a lot, wait until you hear everything that Aurora did with my mom and dad! Mom likes making lists, and every time they watch Aurora she makes a list of things they've done. Today was a long day, and there were 18 things on that list:

1) Tea Party
2) Jump Rope
3) Admire Aurora's clean room
4) Easter Egg hunt
5) Snack - peaches & pop tarts
6) Laura's Library
7) Lake Pointe Elementary playground
8) Lake Pointe neighborhood playground
9) Lunch
10) Legos
11) Grandma & Grandpa party
12) Eat More Chicken game
13) Doodle Dice
14) M&M's snack - chocolate dance!
15) Bandaloom
16) Laura's Library again
17) Galleria splash pad
18) Catch with Grandpa

Once my folks left, we added 4 more things to the list:

19) Watched Frozen
20) Dinner
21) Bath

Aurora was wiggling around while brushing her teeth and bonked her face on the wall, causing her (very loose) front tooth to fall right out. I can't believe this is her smile now...

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Better with Kids

This weekend we got the whole family together for a trip to Camp Mabry to check out the Texas Military Forces Museum. If you haven't been there, it's free and it's really cool! Clark is a big fan of airplanes and trucks and this place did not disappoint.

Afterwards we went to Rudy's, and that didn't disappoint either. I think Chuck and I had been to both the Military Museum and Rudy's at some point before we had kids, but I don't remember either of them being this good. Everything's better with Aurora & Clark!

Aurora and I also visited the State Capitol this week. I've been to the capitol building before, but I don't recall going in the Visitor's Center. If I have... well, it was probably before kids and the place is full of fun kid's activities! We had a blast playing, climbing tons of stairs, learning a bit of Texas history, and seeing the sites around downtown. It seems kind of silly that such serious places both have kid's dress up areas, but there it is. Fun, free, and definitely better with kids.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Final Days

We did end up swimming a couple more times this week. Aurora went to the lake with our neighbors and we spent a whole afternoon at the pool with Nicolette and her family. Aurora's still talking about how much fun she had at both outings!

The last photo was taken at Pease Park. Earlier this week we had a picnic and searched for fossils at Shoal Creek. Our month off is over and believe it or not, there were tons of things on our list that we never got to do. We didn't go to Pioneer Farms, Emma Long Park, or Volente Beach; never made it to the Nature & Science Center or the Zoo; we didn't paint at Graffiti Park or see any kid's concerts, and we skipped the road trip to Brenham so we weren't able to tour the Blue Bell Factory. Some were far away and I didn't feel like driving that much; others we just decided would be more fun with the whole family. My sabbatical may be over but we still have weekends! Spending our final days of June relaxing and swimming with friends just made more sense.

Other than wishing we had a couple more weeks, I have no complaints. Aurora has been the best little  companion imaginable. She's always up for anything and is such a sweet, loving girl. She is constantly hugging and holding hands, she comes up with a word, number, letter, and dance of the day almost every day, makes up cute games in the car, and rarely asks for more than she gets. In addition to all the adventures we went on, over the last month I overcame my addictions to Facebook and Words With Friends, I didn't step foot in the gym or go running, we never slept in past 7am (sigh), I read 7 whole books, and I'd say I ended up with a nice little tan. Taking part of the summer off was awesome. Maybe I should've been a teacher...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Today was our fanciest, girliest, splurgiest day yet. We got manis & pedis, headed down to Full English for high tea, and got haircuts. Aurora got the cutest flowers painted on her nails, had so many sweets it almost made her tummy hurt, and I sure needed that haircut!

Our day of beauty may have been a splurge, but most of our summer activities have been free (or cheap), including yesterday's outing to Laguna Gloria. The museum is free on Tuesdays and if you get there early enough you can check out an Action Pack, which is a backpack full of fun projects, information, art supplies, and even a lesson on tying knots (the installation in the first photo below is made entirely of ropes tied in figure 8 knots). It was a beautiful day to be outside enjoying art in the gardens with my little beauty.

Monday, June 23, 2014


Today we were hoping to go swimming with our neighbors at the lake, but it was pouring rain so Aurora headed over to their house for a play date instead. We have been having lots of fun swimming and playing with friends over the last few days. We went to a pool party this weekend and went swimming with my mom and dad at their condo.

The truth is, Aurora can't actually swim. She has taken lessons just about every summer, but we're never at the pool enough for her to actually learn or practice. She's totally fine with it and when people question her, she says very matter-of-factly "Yes, I am 6 years old and I can't swim." I may sign her up for lessons again in July and August if she's interested, or we may just try to hang out at pools more often and enjoy ourselves, floaty and all. Regardless, we've been having a great time and I have a feeling we'll get to go swimming one or two more times before my sabbatical ends.

While we couldn't spend the day at the pool today, we were able to enjoy the water last night as we headed out to the new Boardwalk for the first time! My mom and dad came along for a walk along Lady Bird Lake and it was beautiful.

We do have a few more fun outings planned this week, but it seems that just as we're settling into summer I'll be heading back to work. I can't believe it's my last week at home! I've definitely come to enjoy my life of leisure and would be quite happy to lounge by the pool all summer long...

Friday, June 20, 2014

Buzz Cut

This morning I shaved Clark's hair with clippers. His long hair was completely adorable, but it was in his eyes all the time and it was always dirty and he hated getting it washed, so this morning it was bothering me and randomly Chuck says "You should make an appointment to get his hair cut." I thought for a minute and replied "Why spend $17 having somebody cut his hair when I can do it myself?" and five minutes later Aurora was squealing "IT DOESN'T EVEN LOOK LIKE CLARKIE ANYMORE!" Here's a cute video of our sweet boy just yesterday...

...and here he is today. He liked getting it cut. He was clapping his hands saying "Yay Mama!" and afterwards he was rolling around on the couch laughing and patting his head. This evening I washed his hair (scalp) and he didn't mind! Still, it might take a few days to get used to it. It might take my mom a few months to get used to it (a few months of growing out!). His teachers thought he looked great and I say that is just the sweetest little face on the sweetest little boy I know. What do you think?


Yesterday was such a cool day! We headed down to Buda for a day in the country, which included breakfast at the Cracker Barrel, playing at Stagecoach Park, horseback riding lessons, and an afternoon adventure at Cabela's.

First, the horses. I found a Groupon for 1-hour lessons, two for the price of one. I couldn't get many pictures because well, I was riding too! This wasn't just a lovely day trotting down a path - it was a real lesson where we learned how to steer and command the horse and ride in the two-point position, which basically means... standing up. It was more like doing squats on a moving horse, over and over. Yes, my legs are feeling it today! Aurora rode a beautiful white horse named Spicy, and I had a sweet older male named Ike. We got to wear cowboy boots and spend time brushing and feeding our horses, too.

Stagecoach Park is a little historic area off Main Street in Buda which has some cool buildings from around 1885, walking trails, a nice play area, and yes... a stagecoach. 

Then there was Cabela's. Have you been in there!? They sell outdoor/ camping/ fishing/ hunting gear. It was our first time and it is massive - there's a restaurant, an aquarium, a little archery range, TONS of stuffed animals (as in, taxidermy), a stream runs through the store which is actually stocked with fish, and as you can see, Aurora even got to practice shooting a rifle. Not really, but wow. That was quite a day. We got home around 2pm and Aurora actually took a nap. It's hard work being a cowgirl!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Fun & Games

Halfway through the third week of my sabbatical and I am exhausted! After our camping trip I wanted to take it easy for a few days, but that doesn't mean we haven't been having fun. We've spent hours at the library doing crafts, reading (I've actually read quite a bit during my time off) and playing board games. We saw a $1 movie at the theater, had a great time at the Thinkery with a friend, and went bowling with Grandpa!

Aurora's becoming a master at UNO and Doodle Dice, and it turns out she's a pretty good (and cute) bowler, too. Well, she had bumpers on her turns but it was adorable. As the ball slowly made its way down the lane, she would do her "dance of the day," which was sort of a Michael Jackson side-to-side booty shake... I really should've taken a video. Needless to say, it's been a fun week so far.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Texas Outdoor Family

We just got back from two nights at Inks Lake State Park, which was absolutely beautiful. We went as part of a program called Texas Outdoor Family, where they provide the tent, cots, pans and pots - and you spend the weekend learning how to camp, cook, kayak, and more. There were probably 15 families in the group, which was awesome because the whole campsite was full of kids to play with. Chuck put our tent together, I cooked our meals on a camp stove, Aurora gave fishing a try, we did some official geocaching using GPS devices, and Clark loved climbing on rocks. He also got to kayak!

Aurora's favorite things were playing with the other little girls and making friendship bracelets all weekend with her brand new Bandaloom. The little girl pictured above (Emily) was the recipient of her first bracelet. They had a good time together.

Of course, the best thing was giving Chuck a fun, relaxing Father's Day weekend! He used to camp all the time when he was in the Marines, but I think family camping was a lot more fun. Temps stayed in the 70's and 80's even at night, and he's a fan of falling asleep to the sound of cicadas and crickets. The kids slept great, though Clark was not interested in napping. All in all, a nice trip. We even got a certificate for being an official Texas Outdoor Family! We'll definitely have to do this again...