Monday, May 30, 2011

Real camping

Since we'd had our trial run at home, we opted for our first real camping trip with the kids to be one night, close to home- you know, JUST in case. We made the reservations a while back, and boy, it came fast. I made lists of things to make sure to pack, groceries to pick up, camping extras to make sure came along too. It took me a few hours to get all the stuff together and make sure nothing important was left behind. Man, getting ready is a lot of work!

Jacob woke up ready to go that morning. The minute he saw me, he told me he was ready to get dressed to go. I had some chores and errands, Kevin had a few work things, but we were finally out the door. Thank goodness we didn't have far to go- you would have thought the drive was sheer torture for the kids. Little did they know the work required once we got there....

The kiddos were good helpers, for a few minutes anyway. We got the tent set up, the chairs out, and exlored a little around our site. They were looking so forward to all the adventures we would have! Up first- swimming in the lake. Thanks to the heat and bit of humidty, we were all kinds of sweaty after setting up camp. Swimming would be a great way to cool off and get our adventure started.

The water was nice and cool. But, the bottom was mostly rocks and not fun to stand on. Closer to the shore, it was "ooey gooey"(J said), so they were happy to play at the edge while Kevin and I watched from the rocky-sandy beach. The kids quickly made friends with some other kids cooling off in the lake. They all played with the sand and water together until it was dinner time.

Back at camp, we enjoyed simple moments of camping- tossing the football, reading, listening to ipod, playing games, drawing and coloring, blowing bubbles... I made simple hot dogs (no chili or cheese) on the propane stove. You know, there's something about hot dogs when you're camping, they just taste better.

We often refer to Jacob as being like the dog on the Pixar movie "Up". He is easily distracted from something he's doing or even saying, like when the dog says "squirrel" in the movie. Lo and behold, Jacob got distracted by a real squirrel and proceeded to chase that poor squirrel around and around the tree. It was too funny! Eventually we discovered that it was a brave squrirrel, and Jacob was able to feed it some bread.

After dinner, to help the waiting for dark (for the fire and s'mores), we headed to the park. With the sun going down, we were hoping the slides wouldn't burn their legs. We knew Beth was competitive, but we could really see it coming out in Jacob too. If he was climbing up a ladder/rock wall by himself, he paid attention and was careful, but if Beth were there at the same time, he would rush up to beat her. A few gasping moments for me, but he figured it out after he fell from one of the rocking horse kind of toys. Silly boy!

Finally, it was time for a fire. Man, those old fence boards Kevin took down at home really came in handy! I got all the s'more stuff ready. What's a camping trip without s'mores?! Jacob didn't bother with cooking his- he just ate the ingredients. Kevin just like his marshmellows roasted- as in caught on fire and blown out quickly. Beth like her marshmellows just a little squishy, but she did want the full-blown s'more. I like my marshmellows just to the point of showing any roasting on the "skin", warm enough to melt the chocolate on the s'more. Yummy!

What a long and adventurous day! The kids were actually asking to go to bed. So, one last trip to the bathroom, brush teeth and into bed. It was hot still, at 10pm. I had only made the beds with sheets. At some point I woke up freezing cold, wishing I'd put the blankets on the beds too. But, I didn't dare move in case I woke up the kids. They were out cold. A bird was chirping at 6am, the sun was coming up, but I managed to get back to sleep. About 7, I woke up again, snapped a sweet pic of the kids, still sound asleep.

After breakfast of yummy bacon and eggs, we got ready for fishing. The kids brought their Disney poles, Kevin brought his tackle box and a tub of worms. Exciting stuff!

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Oops! This has been sitting in the to-be-posted list for a while. Sorry.

We thought it was finally time to consider a camping trip for the kids. We were going to start with a backyard campout to see how it went. Well, Texas spring weather being what it is, it was going to be a bit chilly for sleeping outdoors (at least for us). No big deal- we'll "camp" inside. I made a huge tent in the living room, and we set up our air mattresses. We were ready!

We played games together, read stories and tried to settle in for the night. Only, Jacob couldn't settle down. We tried girls on one mattress, boys on the other, but then we discovered one mattress had a whole in it. So, Jacob and Kevin slept upstairs, and Beth and I slept on the inflated air mattress. Not a bad experience but really glad to be at home for this one!

Of course, the next morning, the kids wanted to play in the tent as much as they could. I love the simple moments, like Beth giving Jacob lessons on how to snap his fingers. I think we may be ready to try this camping this for real.

Life is good and full of great adventures, every day!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Beth's year in review

During first grade, Beth grew 2.5 inches (from 48.5 to 51) and gained 9 pounds (from 54 to 63). Wow! It must be all that ranch dressing and bread and butter!

Beth and her teacher Mrs. Robles on the last day

The thing I like best about school...

math time

Who are your best friends? What do you like about them most?

Emma, Tatum and Faith

They like to play with me every time we had recess

Why do you like your teacher?
'Cuz what she does for us.

Like what?

She gives us recess, she helps us when we need help

After school, I like to...
play outside at home

My favorite book is...
from school- Kind and Brave

not school- Boxcar Children

My favorite tv show and movie is...
tv show- Jake and the Neverland Pirates

movie- Space Chimps

My favorite cartoon character is...
Big Baby (on Toy Story 3)

Some of my favorite songs are...
Lord's Army

Amazing Grace. We worked on that at school. I can sing the whole thing.

Glorious Day

What makes me laugh is...
at school- When Asher does funny thing and makes us laugh.

not at school- Daddy

My favorite hobby is...
reading, watch tv, drawing

I amaze everyone when I...

show them my writing (cursive)
Oh, and I also amaze everyone when I show them I can balance on one foot for 100 seconds.

On weekends, I like to...

go to church and play in the (little) pool

What was your favorite thing that our family did together this year?
going to Disney World

What are you looking forward to about second grade?

helping grade papers, writing on notebook paper

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Disney on my mind

So, I've been working hard to scrapbook our last trip to Disney. I'm still totally in love with digital scrapbooking. I'm learning so much and stepping way beyond my typical comfort zone with decorating pages. It's so much fun! Here are a few of my recent faves.

This has been getting me anxious for another Disney trip. Then, almost nightly, Kevin and I watch some Dinsey Park documentaries on Netflix instant. I'm itchin to go! So, tonight, while I was blog reading, a blog friend (whose hubby I went to elementary school with), is planning their first trip to Disney and asked for tips. I knew my response would take up too much of the comment box. If nothing else, it will help me plan some things before our next trip (that I honestly wish we were going on next week)

I'm sure I'll think of a thousand things, but this is a good start:

  • Rubber bracelets for the kids (I put them on their ankles) with my cel number written inside, just in case.

  • It will probably rain. I've been 3 times, and it rained at least one day every trip. We got a toddler poncho at Target for Jacob since the Disney ponchos are big (and pricey).

  • Don't try to do it all. It's impossible.

  • If your child has a fear of auto-flush potties, post it notes are fabulous to cover up the sensor!

  • at Epcot- We really like to get the Passports from the gift shop for the kids. At each country, we stop to add the stickers to the passport for that country and have it signed at the Kidcot Spot. We also find something from that country to have a picture with (last time was hats, next time Beth wants to do flags). I'd love to have them learn a word (the same word all day) in each native language. I love that Disney hires people from the actual country to work at the Epcot version.

  • also at Epcot- the Kim Possible adventures are another fun way to keep entertained while learning at the same time. Disney totally rocks this thing! We plan to do more than one next trip!

  • Epcot is easily becoming my favorite park because of all the interactive things available. The KidCot stations in the countries and in the Land area are pretty cool. The Innoventions areas have some fun things to do- make paper, fire safety, storm safety, etc.

  • at Animal Kingdom, talk to the cast members (employees) around the animal exhibits. They're a great wealth of information about the animals!

  • A lot of questions about "how'd they do that?" or fear about the ride/character/show could be calmed and explained away by saying "It's just part of Disney magic"

  • Having a small present (wrapped in Dinsey paper, of course) to open everyday added to the magic. I picked up things in the $1 section at Target or $Tree for a while- things like water bottle, something to do on the plane, small Dinsey figure toy, etc. Dinsey Florist can also set up a neat gift package that the resort can deliver to your room (hopefully while you slip away to do something).

  • at Hollywood Studios- get the fast pass for Toy Story Mania the very first thing when you get in the park, then get in line. It's worth riding more than once!

  • at Magic Kingdom- we always get an icecream on Main Street. A bowl is best for the kids. Poor Beth learned that the hard way and still talks about it.

  • Don't discount having down time. The hotel pool or arcade provide less stimulation for some relaxing fun. Great play areas (like Tom Sawyer Island at Magic Kingdom) or quiet sitting areas (like the lake at Hollywood Studios) are awesome!

  • Eating breakfast while we got ready in the hotel room was a great time saver. I'd packed easy things like pop tarts, granola bars. I also packed snacky things to take daily to the parks. We like stopping for a drink (usually shared) and a quick snack.

  • You never know unless you try it. There were plenty of things I didn't think Jacob would go for, but he loved it in the end. Beth is getting braver too. Some new things they tried last trip are what they're really looking forward to next time.

  • Eating half a meal means you get to eat dessert. It's balanced out with all the walking. Pizza was tastier to me than the burgers for a quick meal. The sit down meals were fabulous.

  • Oh, Pizza Planet at Hollywood isn't worth it. Not what we'd hoped for based on the movie, not as clean as we'd like (birds flying inside), and most of the expensive arcade games didn't work.

  • Soak in the details. Disney puts in so much effort to making EVERYTHING flow and go together. It's incredible!

  • The Disney resorts have bedrails available. All you have to do is ask, and they come install them.

  • To me, the dining plan is worth it. No thinking about whipping out the card to pay for a meal. We make reservations at our major top choices for sit down meals, especially one character meal geared toward each kiddo. Cinderella Castle for Beth (though Jacob was pretty impressed too, especially with his sword), one of the Epcot-Mexico choices for Kevin, a character meal with Mickey for Jacob (not that he talks to Mickey...), and pizza night in the hotel is my favorite.

  • Medicine of every possible need- allergy stuff, tylenol, immodium, tums, emitrol, miralax, benedryl, etc. You never know what you'll need, and it's super expensive to buy at the gift shop. Oh, the trip I got food poisoning was rough, but the gift shop had what I needed to leave the hotel room for the day.

  • Most days, my basic camera lens was just fine. The only day I wished I'd had my big lens was Animal Kingdom on the super cool Kilamanjaro Safaris. Oh, and make sure that battery is charged. Mine died our first day, and I could have kicked myself for missing out on Jacob's first Rain Forest Cafe experience.

  • My favorite Dinsey treasure is each of us picking a Christmas ornament at Downtown Disney's Christmas store to represent the trip.

  • Try to find shade for the parades. It gets hot on the concrete. And, get your spot early. For the Magic Kingdom SpectraMagic parade, which is so worth staying late for, find the spot before the fireworks, and then don't move until after the parade is over.

  • The shows are awesome- Nemo and Lion King at Animal Kingdom, Beauty and the Beast and Disney Jr at Hollywood.

  • Suck it up and wear the ugly athletic tennis shoes. No matter how hot it is, your feet will appreciate it.

That's all I can think of tonight. I found most of this (and so much more) through research, though some was learned the hard way. is a great website. The Unofficial Guide is a great book (take the reviews with a grain of salt). Beyond the basics, The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World has been my favorite book. For our next trip, I've bought a book to find Hidden Mickeys (Mickey Mouse heads hidden in the basic decoration around Disney).

I know of the few people who read my blog, at least 2 have been to Disney. Any tips you can offer?

PoeFam- I hope you have a magical trip!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dallas Aquarium

Sorry, I hadn't realized it's been so long since my last post. Oops!

Last month, Jacob and I got to join Beth for a field trip to the Dallas Children's Aquarium. Fair Park in Dallas is where there hold the Texas State Fair, but also an essential museum district. Man, I want to go back to check out some of the other museums over there.

The museum was just right to look at all the animals fairly quickly. However, there were a few other schools at the same time. Our group was 1st-6th grades, about 40 kids. The favorite part of the museum was the Stingray Touch Tank. Oh, every single kid could have stayed there all afternoon! Beth kept her hand in the water until a stingray came close. Eventually, I convinced her to touch one, and it wasn't so bad.

One of the things I love about Beth's school is that little siblings can be included in field trips and school activities! I wouldn't normally get to enjoy those moments with Beth if Jacob didn't come along.

There was a spot around the tank that had higher standing places and lower "ocean floor", increasing the chance of touching one. While Jacob and his little buddy Levi were busy playing in the water, a stingray swam by, brushing his hand. He was thrilled that he touched one!

We ended the trip with a picnic on the lawn and then home for a nap. What a fun day!