Saturday, April 16, 2011

Heading West

Sometimes I am meticulous about our trip planning. I like to know exactly when and where we will be and have a plan for every contingency. Sometimes there isn't time to plan. Let me share an example:

It is Friday afternoon and Dad is home. He has been gone a lot and currently there are no problem jobs looming over the weekend. But sometimes, being only a phone call away is just too close, so Dad proposes a quick weekend trip. I am out of my favorite brand of sugar (yes, I am a sugar snob… but that’s another story) and he half-jokingly proposes a trip to Abilene to buy sugar. I say half jokingly because he truly wanted to take a trip far enough out of town to be unavailable for a job call, and Abilene really does have my sugar, but seriously, a 600 mile round trip drive to buy sugar?

By evening we were on the road. We stopped near near Arlington and were headed west again early Saturday morning, really early actually, as we arrived in Abilene by 9:30 am. We started with a tour of the Buffalo Gap Historic Village. This little gathering of historical buildings chronicles the settlement of the Abilene area from 1875 to 1925. We explored barns, gardens, the train depot, and a blacksmith. The old playground outside the schoolhouse was enticing and the cannon ball damage on the front of the courthouse intriguing. We were ushered through the entire experience by recorded narrations, some especially prepared for children. MT and FRitW loved finding the correct number and typing it in their ‘phones’.

Maggie snapped this photo of the rest of us on the porch of the post office.

No one can resist a playground!

The school is in the background

MT loved listening to the recordings!

A little lesson from Dad about Sundials which by the way was not on Daylight Savings Time, hmmm...

Walking on the train tracks

Visiting the Blacksmith - notice that MT still has his 'phone' to his ear.

MT pointing to the numbers to type in the 'phone'
After lunch, we headed to Frontier Texas! an incredible interactive museum/experience. The lady at the desk asked if we were a homeschool family (it was a Saturday, so I’m not sure how she knew) and gave us some great discounts: teacher and student in addition to our coupon – yay! Then we entered this absolutely amazing gem of a museum. Wow!! I wish the photos could tell you what it was like to actually be there. Again, this museum focused on Texas history – specifically settlements in the Abilene area, cattle trails, and relationships with Native Texans.
This painted screen would suddenly dim and the 3D image below would appear...

...complete with war whoops and thundering pony hooves!

While walking through this darkened area...

lightning would flash and you would realize you were in the middle of a longhorn cattle stampede!

Exploring modes of travel

This was actually the beginning. In this room you were introduced to important characters in Texas history and the panels behind lit up with the character discussed

Here the panel for Pedro Vial is lit.

Later in the museum you encountered each character in holographic form telling his or her story. Comanche leader Eshihabitu is pictured here. 

 Next we headed to the ruins at Fort Phantom Hill. This is a self-guided kind of site, out in the middle of nowhere, with simply an open gate to suggest it is available to tour. But it was fascinating! It amazes me to see these stone chimneys, basements, and storage buildings still intact. We brought with us a brochure explaining the history of Fort Phantom Hill. It included letters from soldiers stationed there, and descriptions of the buildings and their functions. It was especially neat to be able to explore it on our own and being able to touch and enter the ruins.
The storehouse was very low to the ground, so Dad & MT just looked right over the top of the wall.

FRitW & MT inside the storage building

Exploring the cannon. Chimneys in the background were from officers quarters. The buildings were made of wood, so the only remaining parts are the stone chimneys and foundations.

The only standing building on the grounds

We went out on a limb and stayed in a local hotel instead of a national chain and were pleasantly surprised. The kids made friends with other children and a puppy and had a grassy courtyard to play in.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Fit Mommy Friday - The Prodigal Daughter Returns

I am joining up with Fit Mommy Friday again. I have not participated at all for several weeks and just to be truthful, that is because I haven't had anything to report. I took a week completely off from exercise (in February I think?) and focused on resting and recovery from Dad's job changes and the changes they cause for me. And then, well, I just didn't return to the regular exercise.

I haven't been totally lazy, I've worked hard in my garden, worked out weekly with my trainer, and walked occasionally with my friend. We've also traveled (which always involves lots of exercise!) and done some Spring Cleaning. But for the last couple of weeks I have been reviewing Growing Healthy Homes (more on that Wednesday) and have seen some changes I really need to make in my families diet and my exercise. So I decided to just get up and do it. So here's my week:

Friday: Walked 2 miles
Saturday: Worked hours in the garden
Sunday: More garden work - just an hour though.
Monday: Wii Active & Fit Plus for 35 minutes
Tuesday: Hour with trainer, 30 min Wii Fit Plus
Wednesday: Garden work 1 hour plus, Wii Active - 25 min
Thursday: 20 min Wii Active

I am drinking more water and increasing my vegetable intake although yesterday was a pretty heavy coffee day -ugh! I'll just have to keep trying!

Thank you to Denise at Got Chai? for sponsoring Fit Mommy Friday (and for being honest about her struggles!) and a special thank you to Sister Tipster for keeping on and encouraging the rest of us to do the same - I appreciate it Sister T!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

On The Road Again...

I mentioned in December that we would be traveling more, seeing museums and historic sites as a part of our learning adventure (aka homeschooling). What I did not know at that time, was that God had already set some plans in motion for us to make that more possible. Let me explain…

The kids and I at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, PA

Until FRitW was about one, Dad had a job that required almost constant travel, and until MT was one his position required intermittent travel. For the next three years he worked in a more ‘desk-like’ capacity (or as desk-like as he could tolerate) and was home most of the time. The best thing about his traveling jobs was that we could tag along when we wanted to and only had to pay for extra expenses we incurred. That meant we only had to pay for our own food, gas, and fun – so we tagged along pretty frequently.

Dad and the kids at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado

We saw the Liberty Bell, Mesa Verde, and tons of historical and scientific places throughout Texas and Louisiana. Then came the desk job. We loved having Dad home each night and settled into some more traditional extracurricular activities: Dance, Football, Tennis, etc. None of us even realized how much we missed the traveling until the little guys were walking, verbal, and out of diapers. But how could we leave Dad at home to fend for himself while we were out gallivanting around the country?

Off and on during his ‘desk-job’ years, Dad was sent out to help during troublesome jobs or job failures. He has the knowledge to correct many problems and his laid-back, calm demeanor helps diffuse difficult, tense situations. He was being sent out more frequently, but still had to maintain his job duties in the office. This was getting increasingly difficult for him and our family. He was actually gone the entire month of December, arriving home two days before Christmas, tired , but with an interesting job proposal.
At Four Corners

Here is where I realized that God had been handling the details. While I had been planning to begin traveling again, Dad’s employer had been planning a new job assignment. The day he arrived home from his December across the state job, his bosses asked him to consider giving up his desk job and being full-time available to handle the problems. No details were given, just a request to think on it. Ummm…Christmas holiday, lots of questions and concerns, absolutely no answers to be had, a husband who had been absent for most of the busiest month of the year… I was stressed! As we discussed and discussed, and after Christmas, got answers, I realized that this solved my biggest concern over traveling. Once again, we could travel when he did. We were ready for this change, and I’d already begun preparing for it, even though I didn’t know it was coming. He was ready for this change as well and has been much happier since – being out in the field is so much more fitting for his personality!

We’ve already been across Texas and down Texas and back again, as you will see if I ever get time to post about our February and March trips. I hope you will join us as we play and learn, and learn to travel again!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Garden in April

3 rows of potatoes
Our garden is growing! The potatoes are large enough that we mulched them this week. I purchase most of my potatoes from The Potato Garden and their catalog has helpful tips about growing potatoes. Last year we tried growing potatoes their way and had wonderful results, so I am very excited about our upcoming crop. The Potato Garden recommends piling mulch around the stem of your potato plants, gradually building up the soil as the plant grows. The potatoes will grow in that loose rich mulch and your plants will produce more potatoes. When we were in Atwoods this morning we found a few last seed potatoes on sale for 31 cents per pound, so we bought what was left and planted those today. It is probably too late to be planting potatoes, but I am willing to spend 31 cents to try!


We have a few strawberry blooms and have actually picked 6 strawberries off one plant. Sugar snap pea plants are beginning to climb the fence, but the heat is already here, so I'm not sure we will get many peas. Carrots have sprouted finally and I am hoping for at least one successful carrot! That will be one more than I have ever had…

The lettuces are happy and the onions ecstatic - I can't believe how well they are doing. Soon I will get our main crops in the ground. April is the month to plant in our area. But there is always one last little frost or freeze right before Easter, so Dad wants to wait just a little longer. He hates having to replant!

In preparation for the real planting, Maggie and I refilled the greenhouse today. We planted tomatoes and peppers, a little squash and some sunflowers. Hopefully this planting will be more successful than February's. The greenhouse was left open at night several times (accidentally!) and all of our baby plants froze.

Dad says I need to wait two more weeks… if I can... It's been in the upper 80's to lower 90's during the days and 70's to 80's at night. It is very hard to not plant tomatoes when the weather is this nice!