Thursday, April 12, 2018

Boogs' Birthday(s)

My baby boy Boogs is now 12-years-old. I can't even believe it. This does not seem that long ago:
This year and last year, Boogs has decided on birthday celebrations that are not big parties at home. I loved planning the home parties and have kind of missed them. Boogs invited 7 friends to join him for an Escape Room adventure. You have to use codes, locks, puzzles, and brain teasers to solve the clues. This escape room was one you had to break into instead of break out of. You only have one hour to solve everything. To start, the boys had to get through three separate locks on the door to enter the room.
They managed to to get through the door in a decent amount of time.
Once in the room, they had lots of clues to solve to open these lockers. The lockers contained their prizes. When the hour was up, the boys had opened the bronze and the silver locks. They ran out of time to open the gold one. Boogs said it was fun, he was glad he did it, but he would not want a party here again.
We took everyone back to our house. Unfortunately, we had one freaky cold day that week and it was that day. The temperature dropped almost 40 degrees F from the day before and it went back up 20 degrees F by the next day. I set up our small soccer nets, had soccer balls, cones, and balloons outside for the boys to play with.
I was surprised by how much they liked hitting each other with the balloons.
I tried to give everyone jackets, but some kids declined.
 They lasted outside for about 30 minutes before they were too cold to stay out any longer.
We came inside for pizza, cake, gift opening, and a little cuddle with Boogs' hedgehog.
Happy 12th Birthday Boogs!

Last year, I never got around to posting about his 11th birthday. Sorry Grandmaman! Boogs asked for a party at Dart Em Up, a Nerf gun battle place.
Dart Em Up opened shortly before Boogs birthday last year. It is a very clean and well organized place. They have a "caller" who stands on a platform and gives instructions for each 5 (or so) minute game. The group had a blast running around dodging each other, capturing the flag, protecting the VIP, and other games. They were sweaty messes by the time they left the battle arena.

We have liked Dart Em Up so much that we've been back probably seven times in the past year. The owner is very nice. I had a student studying the Nerf company for a research project, the owner graciously let me send that student to interview him about the types of Nerf products he uses in his business.
The party room had a host. She kept things running, organized a couple of games, served the food, and was very patient with the kids.
After the food, the party moved to the arcade area. Everyone had a cup of tokens to use while they waited for their parents to pick them up.
Boogs said he really enjoyed this day about equal to his home parties. He is growing up so fast.

Click each party word to see past birthday parties. I miss the madness of organizing them. Bug Party (3 yrs), Lego Party (6 yrs), Minecraft Party (7 yrs), Skylander Party (8yrs), and Kirby Party (9 yrs), Secret Agent Party (10 yrs).

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Spring Is Finally Here To Stay

Central Texas is a pretty warm place. We usually have to wear coats about 10 - 12 days a year, and light jackets for a bit more. This year has been unseasonably cold. It snowed three times and we had a lot of overnight temperatures in the 30s and 40s. Our highs are now finally above 70 and we even hit 86 degrees one day. Boogs and I have been taking advantage of the gorgeous weather to spend time outside.

The basketball court is the perfect place to hang out on a sunny afternoon before dinner.
We have also added a couple of hammocks to the backyard. They are the perfect spots for reading, relaxing, snoozing and hanging out. At first, we only had the green hammock. I was using it on a Saturday morning. I went inside to get some tea and when I came back out my hammock had been hijacked. Boogs was all settled in with a blanket and a book.
When he got up to go inside for a minute, Daddy came out and stole the hammock from him.
I decided enough was enough. I logged on to Amazon and searched for a two person hammock with a hammock stand. A few days later this beauty came in. Boogs and I have enjoyed hanging out together reading books in the new hammock. There is definitely room for two and it gives us a way for each of us to have our own hammock.
Boogs even takes his hedgehog in the hammock with him while he reads books.
We found a shady spot for the hammock stand. Boogs sometimes takes a snack outside while he hangs out in the hammock.
We took a leisurely 3.5 mile walk on the Brushy Creek Hike and Bike trail on Saturday morning.
It has been quite a while since we have walked on this trail. I reminded Boogs of the time he did a picture scavenger hunt on this trail. He did not remember it. We also used this area to take nature photos that looked like letters for our Alphabet in Nature book we tried to make. Sadly, I think we are still missing 6 letters even though we started about 9 years ago.
This is such a fun area to explore. Surprisingly, Boogs stayed dry the entire time. He didn't even get his feet wet.
I told him to sit in the field of bluebonnets for this year's bluebonnet picture. He was not impressed with the sad little field of bluebonnets.
We challenged each other to a flip contest on the bars.
Boogs won!
Later, we found a better field of bluebonnets for one more picture.
Boogs had fun playing on the playscape for awhile.
He has gotten so tall. He used to have tons of room over his head when he walked through here.
He told me he wanted to jump off of the big rock. It is about 8ft off the ground. I talked him into sitting down on the little ledge on the right side of the rock to jump off. I really did not feel like dealing with any broken bones.
We wandered over to the sandbox at Champion Park. Boogs played around in the sand remembering how much fun he used to have here. We spent HOURS in that sandbox when he was little. Boogs has decided that he has outgrown the desire to play in sandboxes.
 With our recent rains, there was actually water flowing in the creek.
 Everything was so pretty and green.
 It was a long walk back to the car.
I thought it was interesting that the park has added "see say point read" stations near the sandbox. It was kind of neat to see the suggestions.



Hopefully we will have Spring weather for a couple of weeks before our temperature soars into the hot zone.

Happy Easter!


This post is linked to

Country Kids

Spring Break 2018 - Enchanted Rock State Park

We set our alarms for 5:45 the morning we were going to Enchanted Rock State Park for a second day of adventure with my friend C and her family. That early wake-up alarm gave us time to fix breakfast, eat, pack-up, and clean before we left the little house we rented for one night in Llano. We stayed the night in Llano because it was only 26 minutes from Enchanted Rock State Park. We wanted to get in line for the park by 7:30 because we had heard that there would be a long line to enter the park. The park opens at 8:30 and usually by 9:30 all of the park passes for the day have been given out. There were probably 100 cars in line in front of us. We were really worried that we would not get in. We sat in that line for quite a while. By the time we reached the entrance, it was 9:05 and we made it! There was at least a mile of cars behind us. I don't think many of them were able to get it. I had several friends tell me that had tried to visit the park and were turned away because it had reached maximum capacity.
I grew up going to Enchanted Rock State Park several times a year. It was never this busy. Sometimes we camped, sometimes we brought a picnic, and sometimes we just climbed. Boogs was probably four-years-old  the last time I took him to Enchanted Rock. He does not really remember it.

We chose to start with the Summit Trail. This trail leads you to the top of Enchanted Rock, elevation 1,825 ft. Enchanted Rock is a dome of granite that is one of many visible domes of a 62 mile, mostly underground, granite batholith. The domes are constantly (slowly) changing due to erosion.
Boogs was giving me a special (stop taking pictures and let's start climbing) smile.
We were ready to get to the top and enjoy the view. We lucked into a beautiful day of breezy sunshine, perfect hiking weather. I forgot to pack hats so Boogs and I each got a souvenir hat. Hat choices in his size were either red or pink. He chose red.
Parts of the climb were very steep. When we started out, there were people everywhere.
Boogs loved finding interesting rocks to climb.
In some places we struggled climbing up and over the rocks, in other places we simply walked around them.
The view from the top was amazing. You could see for miles in all directions.
I told the kids about a tree growing out of a little space in between big rocks that my sister and I used to play in when we were little.
We had to walk down from the top to find it.
The kids were excited to try and find it and ran ahead. They ran the wrong way and it took a while to get them going the right direction.
We found the right spot, went through these rocks, down the slope, then climbed over a couple of boulders to reach the hidden tree.

Inside the area there were many caves and tunnels to explore. The kids went through the rocks over and over again. At first, one of the adults would go with them. Later we started letting them go through the same routes on their own with a warning to watch out for snakes.

On one of their many passes through the caves, the kids took an iPad to video their adventure. The video is seven minutes long so I am not going to post it. Parts of their journey were in some pretty dark and cramped spaces.

This is the tree I led the kids to find.
I went part of the way through the rocks with the kids, but some places were too small for me to travel through. O is slowly pulling herself out of the opening the kids went through at the end of each trip through the rocks. Wow, that is a tight space!
We all loved climbing over, under, and through the rocks.
Here's Boogs coming out of the same opening O went through earlier.
We spent almost two hours in that one area before moving on to explore other parts of Enchanted Rock.
It was perfect weather. The temperature never got above 75 degree F.

I asked Boogs to run over to this boulder and pretend he was holding up. It did not look very convincing...
... so I had to show him how it was done. We took a break in the shade on the other side of this rock and had a picnic lunch.
We stayed in this spot for quite a while. There were loads of tunnels to explore and even a steep spot that the kids used as a slide. It was much easier to slide down than climb back up.
There were times when I had no idea where Boogs was. I just hoped he wouldn't fall into some deep hole where I could not reach him.
He crept into spaces that were too small for me to follow.
Another try at pretending to hold up a boulder.
It was a steep hike down Enchanted Rock. I did yell out a little scream at one point. I was in the lead down the side of the dome and just about to take a step when I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye. I yelled, jumped back, and did a little dance. A snake slithered right under where I was about to place my foot. It was a harmless Texas Garter Snake.  I looked at the rest of our group and saw that O, the 12-year-old, had literally climbed up her dad's body with her legs wrapped just above his knees. Luckily, that was the only snake we saw all day. Poisonous snakes do live in the area, they include copperheads, diamondback rattlesnakes, and cottonmouths. I'm glad we only encountered a garter snake.
When we reached the bottom of the dome, we decided to walk the loop trail. The loop trail is 4 miles long and takes you all the way around the base of the dome.
Along the loop trail, the kids got really tired. We found a shady spot to rest for about half an hour. The only sound we heard was the buzzing of the bees in the trees over our heads. It was so peaceful and quiet. C's husband fell asleep for a bit.
C wanted to go back up Enchanted Rock to take a few more pictures. The kids vetoed that idea. Boogs said, "I am D-O-N-E! Not tired, done!" We walked back to the start of the summit trail to leave. Their is now a food truck in the park. I treated the kids to snow cones and that seemed to get some of their energy back. Boogs was ready to go. C's family decided to stay a bit longer. Boogs and I said our goodbyes and walked the long way back to our car. As I was pulling out of my parking space, we saw C and her family heading towards her car. She and her youngest daughter wanted to stay longer but her husband and older daughter were ready to leave. C later told me that her younger daughter cried until she fell asleep on the way home. We left Enchanted Rock about 4:30 in the afternoon. It was a wonderful day of outdoor fun.

This post is linked to

Country Kids