The kids and I celebrated the 4th of July a day early at what has become a tradition… the Round Rock Express Independence Day baseball game with post-game fireworks!
In the past we have gotten lawn seats so the kids could run around, but this year we hit a milestone: We are all too old for the lawn. The other little kids running around us drove us a bit insane. We were run into, kicked, knocked in the head, stepped on… our free stuff went missing, water bottles were thrown around, our blanket was taken over by little bodies….
Chloe turned 9 today. It’s our last year of single digits (yikes)! She celebrated yesterday with a “Puppies and Kitties” themed birthday party at Austin’s Park N Pizza. The kids had so much fun!
Today Chloe requested we go to Cafe Java for breakfast so she could have a cinnamon roll, and they were so sweet to put a candle in it for her birthday. We spent the day swimming at another birthday party, went to the movies (The Secret Life of Pets 2), ate more cake, and opened family gifts. My birthday “experience” to her this year is a day at Schlitterbahn, just the 2 of us. We are excited!
I am so proud of this girl. She is smart, hard working, creative, sporty and a total individual. I love her fierce spirit and I can’t wait to see where life takes her (or I should say… where she takes it)!
For our family vacation this year we went to Big Bend National Park. I was inspired to take this trip after our Moab vacation 2 years ago, where I discovered my kids love to hike and explore! The one thing they were particularly excited to do in Moab was stargaze, but the moon was so bright when we were there that it didn’t work out. I decided to look for good places to stargaze in Texas and Big Bend was highly recommended. Because our camping experience in Moab was so positive (in a little 1-room cabin), I decided to do the same again… only this time I happened upon something a little more creative than a cabin. We stayed in a bus named Franny:
The kids knew we were staying somewhere “different” and had been trying to figure it out for some time. When we pulled into the campground they were like, “What’s with all the crazy buses and stuff?” I said, “This is where we’re staying!” and they fell silent. Then I heard a bunch of, “Whatever. You’re not serious. You’re kidding, right?” When I parked and got out they were still very skeptical. After looking around a bit closer they were not entirely enthused about the idea…. I didn’t know what exactly their reaction would be but I didn’t expect that!
They really thought mom had lost it! But after some exploring, Franny definitely grew on them….
We had a lot of fun camping. We cooked out on the campfire every night. We experimented with campfire recipes, and some were better than others! I tasked the kids with building the fire on their own the last night and we used Chase’s socks as fire starters lol!
This camping experience made me “rough it” a bit more than I had done in awhile. We used an outhouse and I showered in an outdoor shower. It was a very strange experience being naked in the desert with nature but by god I did it! And I got to wake up to this every morning:
The other thing we did every night from the back of the bus was stargaze. And it was amazing….
We also made some friends! The owner of the place has cats to eat the critters that bring nasty things like snakes around. Well 3 of those cats had kittens! One litter in particular loved to hang out with us. And they were serious hunters. One even grabbed the hot dog off my stick! I mean, I love cats but that’s where I draw the line (lol)! It was hard to keep them out of our bus, especially when food was being prepared. The kids absolutely fell in love with them. They named every single cat/kitten we met.
Chloe also fell in love with the owner’s burro, Sampson.
And just look at this sweet picture:
We did do more than just hang out at the bus! We spent one day exploring Big Bend. I had no idea how huge it was, really! We all decided we have to go back because there is so much we didn’t see, and it was too hot to truly explore like we wanted to. Still, we did our best with the time we had!
We decided to start our day with a hike that took us to the Rio Grande so we could put our feet in the water and cool off. As we hiked we heard singing, and when we got to the river we realized the singing was coming from Mexico! The man on the other side of the river spoke to us, asked if we liked the singing, etc. There were items placed around for sale and he pointed them out to us but we said no thank you. Everything was going very well until Chase said, “Uhhhh… Mom? He’s walking toward the canoe.” I said, “Well surely he isn’t coming over here. That’s illegal!” The guy got into the canoe and mama bear decided it was time to go!
If you click on the top right photo below and zoom in you may be able to see him, just right of center (and you can see his canoe there on the right):
The next day we went to the Turlingua Ghost Town, which was cool. My favorite part to explore was the cemetery. Chase thinks I’m weird for that. He thought I was even weirder for taking so many pictures there.
Chloe got a souvenir Big Bend hat at the Trading Company there and I just love it on her!
After a few days of adventuring it was time to say goodbye to Franny, and leave some words of wisdom to those who follow:
For being so skeptical of her in the beginning, all of our talks of returning to Big Bend included Franny. It was definitely a fun experience and we are excited to go back one day!
For more information on Franny and the other creative camping options at Tin Valley Retro Rentals, check them out at tinvalleyretrorentals.com!
The kids and I went to Houston this weekend and had so much fun with my BFF Katie and her gang! They put us up at the Marriott Marquis and we got a lot of use out of the awesome rooftop pool and enjoyed a little bit of the city. We also saw Aladdin and did a lot of eating out! It was just what we needed before the last week of school!!!!
Chloe showed off both her musical and visual art skills at her Fine Arts Night tonight! It started with an abridged performance of “The Greatest Showman,” followed by an art show around the school. This girl’s got talent!
I had a fun, eventful Mother’s Day with my kiddos! I picked them up from their dad’s this afternoon to do lunch and a movie. On the way to lunch Chase was like, “Uhhhhh…. Mom??” I looked over and three of his braces’ brackets had come off and the wire was just hanging there (like, a good inch and a half long)! I called the orthodontist’s emergency line but they couldn’t do anything today and the earliest they could get him in was 5:30 tomorrow. Ummmmm…. There was no way he was going to be able to eat… or concentrate on his STAAR test tomorrow… or just LIVE without getting STABBED until then. So we headed to Home Depot for wire cutters, then to the drug store for orthodontic wax. Moms get things DONE, I tell you!
The kids got me very sweet gifts. Chase made me a “binge watching kit” and Chloe decorated a cake and made me a very fitting keychain (considering the events of the day). I love my babies so much!!
After my dad passed away, my brother and I sold his house “as is.” It was in really bad shape, which made my brother and I very sad because my grandma used to take a lot of pride in her home. Well, the people that bought it flipped it and did an incredible job. It was so nice to see the house with “life” in it again. Here are some before and after shots….