Friday, September 18, 2015

From Ohio to Texas: Fun with family

We had a wonderful visit last weekend with Drew's parents (Mimi and Papa) and Aunt and Uncle (Doug and Cindy)!  Uncle Doug and Aunt Cindy live in the town where Drew grew up:  Findlay, OH.  They traveled all the way from their home to Drew's parents', who live in the Houston area.  The four of them decided to take a little trip Northwest to visit us last weekend.  They arrived Thursday afternoon/early evening and we had an enchilada dinner together.  We continued to enjoy the evening together with a hike and then birthday smores in celebration of Papa's birthday at the fire pit.  It was a gorgeous night!  (We failed to take pictures though!)

On Friday, we had a fun-filled day planned.  We started out with a delicious breakfast at Kerbey Lane.
Papa with Luke and Abbey on his birthday at Kerbey Lane (I think Papa was giving them both a "Trot, Trot to Boston ride" in this photo.)
Then, we set off to Pioneer Farms for some old fashioned fun.  From Pioneer Farms' website:  Six themed historic areas are open for self-guided walking tours: an 1841 Tonkawa Encampment, an 1853 Walnut Creek Greenbelt, an 1868 German Emigrant Farm, an 1873 Texian Farm, an 1887 Cotton Planter's Farm and an 1899 Sprinkle Corner rural village. In each area you can step back in time and experience Texas history first-hand. You can explore more than 90 beautiful, wooded acres and discover exciting, memorable ways to live Texas' colorful past with your family. There's also the Scarborough Barn where you can get up close with your favorite farm animal friends.

We happened to visit on "homeschool day" where admission was discounted for all.  Score!

We started out indoors, checking out these old buggies and stagecoaches.
Abbey ran over to this little gazebo and said, "take my picture mommy!"

We had to say hello to some longhorn cattle.  This guy's horns were SO long!

Here's Abbey sitting on the porch of a very old home. 

Here is a photo of Abbey in that same chair when we visited in November 2014.  She looks so much older now.  :-(
The chickens are always a popular attraction for our kiddos.

Abbey with Papa (I love this photo, but need to fix the flare in Papa's eye).

Abbey with her great Aunt Cindy

Here's Abbey with her great uncle, Doug.

They both love holding Papa's hand!  Here, they were hiking to the Tonkawa  Encampment.

This man was full of knowledge of the Tonkawa Indian tribe. He could even speak their language.  I could have stayed here for hours listening to his stories and seeing all of the fun demonstrations with tools he made with flint, etc.  It was so interesting!

We had to see how large the circumference of this 550+ year old tree was.
Where there is something to climb, Luke will find a way to climb it!
Aunt Cindy and Uncle Doug
And Luke found a really cool tree to climb.

Look, no hands!

We got pretty hot doing all that hiking around and walking.  So, we went back to our house to swim in the pool.  After cooling off and relaxing for a bit, we headed to downtown Austin for some delicious food at one of our favorite places, Turf and Surf Po Boy.  They have the best fish tacos ever!!  God provided us a gorgeous evening to enjoy it outside with family!  After dinner, we headed over to Town Lake/Ladybird Lake (it is called many things), boarded a pontoon boat, and got a little sightseeing tour along with a view of the bats.  (From the Bat Conversation International website): Every summer night, hundreds of people gather to see the world's largest urban bat colony emerge from under the Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown Austin, Texas. These 1.5 million bats are fun to watch, but they're also making our world a better place to live.

When engineers reconstructed the Congress Avenue Bridge in 1980 they had no idea that new crevices beneath the bridge would make an ideal bat roost. Although bats had lived there for years, it was headline news when they suddenly began moving in by the thousands. Reacting in fear and ignorance, many people petitioned to have the bat colony eradicated.

The city eventually learned that bats are gentle and incredibly sophisticated animals; that bat-watchers have nothing to fear if they don't try to handle bats; and that on the nightly flights out from under the bridge, the Austin bats eat from 10,000 to 20,000 pounds of insects, including agricultural pests.

As the city came to appreciate its bats, the population under the Congress Avenue Bridge grew to be the largest urban bat colony in North America. With up to 1.5 million bats spiraling into the summer skies, Austin now has one of the most unusual and fascinating tourist attractions anywhere.

On the tour, we got some great views of the Austin downtown Skyline.

It was so cool to watch the sun set beyond the Congress Avenue bridge.  I got some photos of all stages of the sunset.

What a gorgeous sunset! 
I just couldn't get enough of the beauty that God painted for us in the sky that night!

Unfortunately though, the bats came out unusually late that night (likely due to rains earlier that day).  But thankfully, our tour guide had a red spotlight that he used to shine under the bridge so we could see the bats depart on their flight.
This photo is zoomed in a little closer, so you can see them.

 Fabulous fun was had last weekend with our dear family!  Of course, we're looking forward to our next visit with them!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

An Expressive Little Girl

Our little girl has always been so expressive. I have countless photos of her with many different Abbey "faces." Here are just a few of her early faces.

Then there was this series of photos I snapped within about one minute.   Tons of different faces.  So expressive!

And then, my favorite of all was Abbey's "look".  Here is a photo:

Precious little girl had no hair.  We looked pretty similar when I was going through chemotherapy treatment. 
Here's a little video of the "look" which she did on command.  She had just turned one year old when this was taken.

And here are some of her recent expressions:

And this seems to be a combo of her original "look", duck lips and some sort of directional instruction.   :-)

This is definitely Drew's favorite.  He first noticed her doing this one night while he was brushing her teeth before bed.  She was looking in the mirror at herself giving these "looks."  He called me in there and I knew I had to capture a photo of it the next day.  So, I did. 
I love our sweet, hilarious, Abbey!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Exploring Cousins

We got to spend a lot of good quality time with my family this past Labor Day Weekend. We all needed this special time together, in light of my mom's current condition.  We spent nearly the entire weekend at my parents' home. However, on Labor Day morning, we took the kids to Woodward park for a little exploration and adventure.  Here is the full flickr album with the better quality photos (and additional photos than what are posted here):

We started out with some swinging while we waited for the rest of the cousins to arrive.

Happy little one year old!  We celebrated his first birthday this weekend.

You know Abbey loves to swing!

Luke and Traber were digging for fossils. 

Other cousins began arriving.  Yet, the adults decided to make an American Ninja Warrior course out of the playground.  It was fun!

Time for more exploration

all together

I asked my pretty sis if I could take a picture of her--she obliged.

My sister's youngest, Linnea, looks so much like her when she was little--we found a photo of Holly from when she was little and Linnea thought it was a photo of herself!  Ha!

I love that photo bomber!

These two are pretty sweet!

and cute!

Brody is definitely the leader of the pack!

There is our sweetie pie!

Father and son.  Sawyer is getting a little tired I believe at this point.

There's Brody directing the pack.

A live totem pole.


I guess someone said something funny.

They wanted to see how big they could make it.  Everything is a competition with this bunch.

The kids were getting tired...

But before we left, one more totem pole of my sister and her two girls.

Daddy to the rescue--he gave Abbey a ride to the car.