Monday, June 25, 2012

Watermelon stars

Nothing says summer like fresh fruit! Watermelon and cantaloupe are two of our family favorites. This weekend, we had some family come down and my parents hosted a little BBQ. Since we were just coming back from vacation, I really didn't have time to make several different dishes, so I was in charge of hamburger buns and fruit salad.

Instead of just cubing up the fruit, I grabbed my small star cookie cutter and made cute little stars of watermelon. I forgot to take a picture before I left the house, so this is what you get. For 4th of July, I am going to do the same thing with the watermelon and add blueberries, raspberries, bananas, and strawberries. I may even do skewers. We will see....

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Family Vacation to Jellystone Hill Country

We have just returned from our first trip in the camper to Jellystone Hill Country, and might I was an experience.

Although we thought we were very prepared, nothing prepares you for the actual trip. We learned so much about setting up a camper, what we will need for future trips, how to pack it and make things functional. Scissors...we need scissors. And a broom and dust pan...not just a Swiffer.

The trip started off rough, with Josh trying to figure out how to set up the camper, hook up all the hoses, get parked just the right way, figuring out how to run the air conditioner and the hot water heater at the same took all evening. But once it was set up, it worked perfectly. 

Tuesday we stayed around Jellystone, just enjoying the activities and cooking over the fire. 

Wednesday we traveled into San Antonio to tour the Alamo. I am all about making each trip something educational, so we really gave the kids tons of info on the history associated with the Alamo and took a lot of time examining all the artifacts. The boys were very interested and enjoyed it. Then we went to the famous Lulu's Cafe to try out the 3 pound cinnamon roll!!! That's right, 3 POUNDS!!!!! As seen on Man vs. Food!!! Jansen was in heaven :) After that, we talked to the Riverwalk and took a boat tour soaking in some more history. 

On Thursday we spent the entire day splashing at Schlitterbahn.

 The boys had a total blast! We even got them to tube with us on The Falls, even though Jansen and Caleb were both scared to death. Caleb was very proud of himself that he overcame his fears and enjoyed the ride in the end. The best part was that Schlitterbahn allows you to bring in ice chests. We loaded up with ice, juice, water, deli meats, cheese, bread, granola bars, and chips and were able to enjoy a quiet picnic lunch under a cabana in the middle of the day.

Friday, the hubs surprised me with a helicopter tour over Canyon Lake...and item on my bucket list. Jansen even got to be the copilot. He was so super cute. I LOVED it! 

Then we took the boys into historic Gruene to eat at the Gristmill. 

DIVINE! It was another opportunity to teach the kiddos some history. Caleb was most impressed that instead of GREEN, it is spelled GRUENE because it was settled by the Germans back in the 1800's. 
After leaving there, we took a pretty long and very rural drive to The Salt Lick in Driftwood, which is said to have the best BBQ in the described by the Food Network. I concur. They baste their BBQ in a homemade sauce using a MOP! It was incredibly delicious. 

Now that we have our first camping experience, we have to admit that going to the grocery store alone is a vacation. Camping is not a vacation. It is a lot of work. I was the holder of all the life jackets and towels. I was the maker of most of all the food. I was the cleaner of all the dishes. Josh was the provider of the electricity and running water. It was a TON of work. But, we had a great time. We agreed to take weekend camping trips from now on though :)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ode to personal responsibility

Personal responsibility. I have it. Everyone should have it. Obviously, some people's mamas did not teach them personal responsibility. It's ok if you don't know all the answers. It's ok if you did something wrong. Admit it and apologize. Admit it and learn from it. Admit it and find someone who does know the answers.

This is one of my biggest pet peeves in adults. It drives me insane when someone blames someone else for their problems, misfortunes, or mistakes. Take for example.....on a famous cooking show the other day, a chef "wasn't able" to complete his Caesar salad because the person that prepped his station forgot the anchovies. That person admitted it and apologized, but then when questioned, the Caesar Salad Chef told everyone it was the prepper's fault and he was unable to complete his dish. Now what is so wrong with him just going and getting the dang anchovies himself and completing the dish? It is ultimately his responsibility.

This is something that I desperately want to teach my children. Things will not always go the way you plan it, and when that happens, look into yourself and figure out what you need to do to fix it. Admit your shortcomings and figure out how to make yourself better.

While personal responsibility is a pretty abstract concept for children of my boys' age, they can understand more about their responsibilities around the house. They are 7 and 9 and I don't really need to be as hands-on with them. I am not the keeper of their toys, shoes, clothing etc. I don't know where everything is. Every single day, we have the same discussion:

Jansen: "Mom, where are my shoes, I can't find them!"
Mom: "I don't know. Where are they supposed to be?"
Jansen: "In my closet. But they are not. You have to help me find them."
Mom: "First of all, whose shoes are they?"
Jansen: "Mine"(sulking)
Mom: "And where do I tell you to put them every day so that you will always know where they are?"
Jansen: "In the closet"
Mom: "If they are not in the closet, I don't know what to tell you. They are your responsibility to find."
Jansen: "AGH!!!!"

We could insert almost anything into that conversation. Mom is constantly asked to find their DS, their shoes, socks, their black marker, a certain DS game, the tape, a certain snack out of the pantry, that so-and-so book...and on and on and on....

This summer, we are working hard on chores, responsibilities, and independence. They are not at such a hands-on level anymore. You can pick out your own clothes. If you are not interested in eating what I have fixed, you are capable of making your own meal. You can put away your own laundry, toys, and dirty dishes. You can keep track of your shoes. You can clean your mess out of the car...every time. If you continue to pee on the toilet seat or not flush the toilet when you are done, you will clean the toilet each time.

No, I will not listen to you whine. No, I will not listen to you cry. No, I will not take responsibility for your items. Yes, I am the meanest mom in the world. I will accept the award for that!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Family Vacation Planning

In a week and a half, we will be taking a week long trip (the first one in our camper) to Jellystone Park in Canyon Lake in the Texas Hill Country. Might I just say that I am very excited to be getting away, seeing the sites, and spending some quality time as our family of 4.

My husband has been working a shut-down at his plant since the end of March and I know he is just itching to get some R&R. I also know that he is a little bit nervous to take the camper out, being that it is our first trip with it, and he is the one responsible for setting everything up and making sure it all works. I am just in charge of packing everything we need and cooking for the week.

Originally we planned on leaving on a Monday and returning Friday, but Jellystone offered us an extra free night with the purchase of 4 nights, so we are going to take advantage of their generosity! Most of the supplies have been placed in the camper. The beds are made with sheets, blankets, and pillows. The bathroom is stocked with towels and washcloths. (although I will be making a few trips to the laundromat on site to keep fresh, clean towels). Kitchen plates, bowls, cups, silverware and utensils, and cookware has been stocked. Now, all that is left is to pack our bags of clothes, menu plan, and stock up all our food stuffs.

To help me out, I have made a list of meals and a supply list to take with us.

Now, onto planning our daily activities :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Summer activities...

Summer is in full swing and we have been busy, busy.

There are so many things we can do in these hot summer months for next to nothing, and a few things that cost a bit more. I thought I would share a list of the activities we have planned for the summer:

  • pizza and bounce houses at All Star Pizza
  • splashing at the Splash pad
  • picnics at the park
  • making homemade popsicles
  • camping out in the living room
  • going to the Kid's Club while mom works out at the gym
  • playdates at the rec center
  • swimming at the pool
  • summer concerts
  • summer enrichment programs
  • car/bike wash
  • hopefully getting our pool cleaned and set up
  • yogurt dates at Cherry Berry
  • library reading program
  • movies and $1 hot dogs
  • working through the Fun with Mixing and Chemistry for Little Scientists book
  • making homemade ice cream
  • crafting
  • family vacation
  • water gun wars
  • teaching the little one how to ride a bike without training wheels
  • teaching the little one how to tie his shoes
  • horse therapy
  • lego playdates
  • beach adventures
  • home scavenger hunts
  • water trampolines
  • creating a real life video game
  • math tutoring
just to name a few.

The boys will be attending a not-so-inexpensive kids program at our local community college from 8am-12pm Monday through Friday in July. That is something we plan on them doing every year, regardless of the cost, just because they have some really awesome classes. Jansen has chosen to take Archery, Tasty Science, Sportsmania, and Drums and Guitars. Caleb is taking Archery, Drums and Guitars, Build it Yourself, and Rockin' Rockets. Super fun!!!

And for our family vacation, we will be leaving in two weeks, in our camper, to spend 5 nights at Jellystone Hill Country campgrounds. It is so inexpensive to camp, PLUS, when we booked 4 nights, we got the 5th night FREE!!!! We plan on spending a full day there, a day in San Antonio seeing the sights, a day in Gruene, a day at Canyon Lake and on the River. Vacation planning is almost as fun as the actual vacation. 

Happy Summer everyone!!!!!