The Fort Worth Nature Center is a bit off the beaten path and is a jewel of a find! There are 3,621 acres of awesome wildernes with over 20 miles of hiking trails where buffalo and praire dogs run free! (Just checking to see if you are paying attention, the buffalo are actually inside a fence.)
The cost is $5 for adults, $2 for kids AND they offer a military discount ~ $1 off everyone in the car.
As our hiking adventure begins everyone is super stoaked and ready to go!
I had to take a picture of this because as the children read this sign and tried to figure out which way to go they decided to go in the direction of the "POOP". Seriously, check it out, the poop is the 2nd picture to the bottom. I mean what else could it be? (I'm serious, we NEVER figured it out - tell us if you know what it is!)
This is when the "B" family started questioning why I made Boy 3 the leader of this hiking adventure!
And then we came upon this bird lookout and all was forgiven. Granted we didn't see any birds, but we did hear them!
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Does anyone know what this is? It is the only one we found growing on the trees. I think the 2nd picture is after it opens. What do you think?
Yes, that's my girl looking for creatures....
As always, at the end of each hike we show what we found and then vote on the 'coolest' item. From left to right starting with the big rock.
1. Heart shaped rock
2. Cool shell
3. Groovy green thing from tree
4. Hairy thing that we think might be POOP from an animal
5. Pretty pink rock
6. Spotted black bark
Vote on your favorite now.
A few of the coolest kids I have ever met!
I got so close to him I could have touched him. The kids opted to stay in the car. :o)
If you ever find yourself looking for something inexpensive and fun to do, pack a lunch and head out to the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge. There is so much to do from bird watching, kayaking, classes at the Hardwicke Interpretive Center (however get there a little early, we arrived at start time and the class was full - boo.), to hiking the multitude of trails! Just make sure you pack a lunch and take plenty of water as there are no services of this type at the Nature Center!
Giddy up partner, throw on your boots and saddled up your horse, it's time to head out to the Fort Worth Stock Yards where cattle roam free and children respect their elders. Ha....or something like that.
The arrival of the railroad in 1876 helped to make the stockyards what they are today. The Fort Worth Union Stockyards opened in 1890 and by 1907 the stockyards were selling 1 million cattle per year! The stockyards remained an important part of the cattle industry until 1950. Now the stockyards are in National Register listed as a historical district and a tourist trap! (OK, maybe not listed as a tourist trap in the National Register, but definitely a historical district!)
As you know the Fort Worth Stock Yards have seen their fair share of cattle roaming through these parts so why stop now? Every day at 11:30AM and 4:30PM a herd of longhorns travel through the stock yards giving the tourist a glimpse of history! Just make sure you stay on the curb and don't squat down while taking pictures or one of the ranch hands will kindly tell you to get back in line.
A few of our young'uns waiting to see the Longhorns travel through town.
I was a little nervous this might turn into the "Running of the Bulls
" .... so glad it didn't! Can you imagine what those horns could do to a person?
I love the brick road!
There were so many cute stores along the way, but as luck would have it the kids only wanted to go into one store - The Candy Barrel! I mean who wouldn't? Barrels and barrels of candy! This is a kid's paradise!
The kids had a great time in the "Cowtown Cattlepin Maze" and it only took them about 15 minutes to find their way out!
Our Gang hanging out in the old stables (turned stores) where the track runs through! This train is an actual running train however instead of carrying cattle it now carries people from Fort Worth to Grapevine and back.
I didn't get to spend nearly as much time at the Fort Worth Stock Yards as I would have liked to and that is why I
was taking notes on this trip! I had a great time with the kiddos BUT I can totally see the potential for a FABULOUS date night here with Hubby when he returns from Afghanistan!
Happy Trails Y'all - till next time!
Six Flags Over Texas. When I was a kid these four words would send me into totally excitement for days on end! Back in the day I was lucky to get to go to Six Flags once a year (10 kids = poor family) and when that day came I took FULL advantage of it! We would get there at opening and stay till it closed! Every year it was the same, the night before Six Flags I could NOT sleep! (Six Flags was better than Christmas to me!) I was way too excited! I would map the trip out in my head and try to figure out which ride I wanted to ride first! The 1 hour drive to Arlington felt like an 8 hour drive - I'm sure I drove the driver of the car CRAZY asking "are we there yet". Upon arriving we would line up at the entrance and as soon as they opened the gates we would RUN in trying to be the first in line for that new roller coaster! Ahhhh to be young again!
Times have changed. I wanted my kids to have that same level excitement. It didn't happen. Boy 1 grumpily ask "Do I HAVE to go to Six Flags?" Boy 2, well just check out the picture below of him. Girl and Boy 3 were the most excited - at least two out of four were excited. That's pretty good right?
I think this is the only pictures I have with Boy 1 on Spring Break. After this picture I never saw him again. He and his friend, the tall one beside him disappeared and didn't return to us for days. They played endless hours of Xbox, saw some TV show being filmed live in Dallas, went to a Mav's game, stumbled across the "Cheater's" van and they tell us they collected more girls phone numbers than they could count. Nice. And this is just the beginning. OH, and they left Six Flags EARLY! Can you believe that? Early. What the…..?
Once we entered the park all (except one) was excited to see the first ride, the tea-cups!
Boy 2 was SO NOT excited about the tea-cups. About 5 years ago (when he was 4) we went to an amusement park in Wichita, Kansas where he went on a 'spinning' ride. Once he got off he was sick as a dog. I remember we sat on a bench for at least 45 minutes waiting for him to feel better. He never did, not that day anyway. From that moment on he vowed to NEVER ride a spinning ride again, and he hasn't. I mean look at the poor fellow, he looks miserable just thinking about riding the tea-cups! He couldn't even turn around and watch his siblings & friends!
Now he is happy! The Conquistador!
We got onto the first two rides in no time. However this did not hold true for the rest of the day. Next we hopped in line for a rollercoaster. Where we waited and waited until I finally went and bought lollipops for the kids....
And then we waited and waited and waited some more. This picture was taken after being in line for about an 45 minutes. Don't they look excited?!?
And this is about an hour and 15 minutes in the line. Lollipop more than 1/2 way gone....
2 hours and 10 minutes later we got on the ride. I don't even remember what it was called.
After waiting so long the kids were hungry and thirsty. This cost small fortune. Turkey Legs at Six Flags are $8.95 each (but OH SO GOOD!). Drinks are $4.99 each. I had to take out a small loan for this day!
One of the things I enjoyed most about Six Flags this time was people watching. Back in the day you could smoke ANYWHERE in the park. In line, walking around, in the food areas and so on. Now the smokers are limited to the "Blue Line" areas. Sorry to you smokers, but I think it is funny. They look like caged animals!
I know it is sad that there is a baby in the smokers area, I'm hoping her mom was just resting there and didn't know it was a 'smoker's cage".
While waiting for HOURS in line for that other roller coaster ( you know - the I don't know the name of) Kim and I started reminiscing about Six Flags and when we were kids. We talked about how excited we were when the Shockwave came out! It was so cool and we couldn't wait to ride it! An upside down roller coaster - who would have thought! We were so excited! I remember I was in 4th Grade when I rode the Shockwave for the first time. I went with a group of girls from school (and yes in 4th grade we were allowed to run all over Six Flags BY OURSELVES - I couldn't imagine letting Girl run off with friends at Six Flags today). We were SO NERVOUS to ride; waiting in the line was almost as thrilling as the ride itself! By the time we got to the front of the line one of our friends was freaking out. She couldn't do it. She was terrified. We totally peer pressured her into riding. To this day I'm not sure she has forgiven us for that. As we were telling stories Kim and I were trying to remember the year the Shockwave came out and then we saw this.......
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? THE SHOCKWAVE IS A HISTORICAL ROLLER COASTER?!?!?!
I thought maybe I shouldn't let them ride, it is HISTORICAL! It might derail or something crazy because it is so freaking old. :o)
Anyway, moving on..... A few things I learn today.
- Sugar doesn't cure the long line blues
- I will NEVER take the kids to Six Flags during Spring Break again
- Boy 2 really doesn't like amusement parks
- Boy 3 is more fearless than before
-Girl continues to be happy no matter what
- Smokers belong behind the blue line
- We LOVE hanging out with the B family (we already knew this though)
- Making memories is what it is all about
and the number one thing I learn today is that:
- I am freaking "historical"
Joe T. Garcia's
. Yeah, I've heard of it. I've always wanted to go. People RAVE about this place so when Kim ask if we would like to go I was totally game.
We were seated outside at the only table with a purple table cloth. We thought this must mean something special...you know like only royalty was seated here. Come to find out it is the forgotten table as our waiter was super slow... As we were seated I was surprised we were not given menus. I shrugged it off thinking they would bring them back. Little did I know the menu consist of two choices, fajitas or enchiladas. Well that makes things easy enough! Fajitas and enchiladas it is! I ordered beef fajitas and told the kids what I thought they would like (Chicken fajitas for 2 of them and enchiladas for one of them...you see this way I get to try everything! I'm such a mastermind!)
The best part about Joe's was the ambiance and the awesome company! We sat outside, there were water fountains and everything was so green and lush. I'm sorry I didn't get pictures of the grounds.
Two of the prettiest girls I know.
We all LOVED the nachos! Why haven't I ever thought to make nachos like this? So simple, yet so delicious.
All in all Joe's was a great way to kick off spring break! We had a great time catching up with friends, the weather was perfect for sitting outside and the food wasn't bad. Just remember if you are going to eat at Joe's arrive early, bring cash (they don't take credit cards), and a big appetite as their portions are HUGE!
This was the line at 6:45PM as we were leaving!
I have wanted to go to Canton for a couple of years now. I have friends that RAVE about Canton's First Monday weekend (it is the weekend BEFORE the first Monday of the month). In fact last year I had planned a trip to Canton with a few girlfriends, unfortunately that is when Texas had a big ice storm and we had to cancel our trip because Canton SHUT DOWN. For years I have heard friends say things like: "The shopping in Canton is amazing", "it is so much fun", "a great weekend away" and then I heard things like "big flea market", "you really have to look", "so big", "you can get anything in Canton". When I heard: flea market, really have to look, you can get anything in Canton, well that was the moment my expectations when WAY DOWN, and THANK GOODNESS they did. I'm glad I didn't go to Canton with expectations of grander....I went with fun in mind, an escape from the daily grind of deployment and to hang out with and reconnect with a few girlfriends I hadn't seen in a very long time.
On this trip we stayed on "The Mountain" (this makes me giggle!!) As I was driving in I thought my GPS must be taking me the wrong way as it was telling me "The Mountain" was 500 feet ahead to the left. I saw NO MOUNTAIN, no hill, just flat Texas. The GPS was not wrong and in fact there is a little hill I just couldn't see it from the road. The way I knew I had arrived at the mountain was because of the sign below! True Story!
We stayed at The Palms
; a super cute little hotel of sorts. Each room has a different theme. The first picture is of the room I stayed in - the "Western" room. The next two pictures are of the room Lara stayed in, "The Marilyn Monroe" room. Check out the ceiling and the floor! I'm not sure I could have slept in that room because t was so loud! I offered Lara my sleeping mask just in case she might have a hard time sleeping in this room too! The other room our group had was the "Tropical" room, but I neglected to get a picture of it, darn it!
We had a great time, and when people say Canton is BIG, you can't imagine how big until you get there. I don't think we hit even 1/4 of it and we shopped for about 7 hours!
I REALLY wanted this big chicken, but knowing I am moving overseas in the next few months I thought it would not be fair to the chicken to have to live in storage for the next couple of years.
This guitar is a lawn ornament! Really!
If I need to explain this sign to you then you need to review your 3rd grade spelling list. :o)
Danette dancing with a lawn ornament!
There was so much to see in Canton! I really wasn't in it for the shopping, but I was totally in it for the sightseeing! In fact I made a top ten list of my favorite things! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
10. Bird feeders. Really? Why on God’s green
earth would you put this in your lawn? Someone ruined perfectly good dishes to ‘create’ this horrible bird
feeder. The good news: at least it is green.
8. Boot wall art. 'Nough said.
6. Because Toddlers and Tiaras
gets too much attention.
4. I'm at a loss for words.
9. It took me a little while to figure this one out. In fact my friends had to help as I couldn't understand WHY one wouldn't just buy bottles instead of changing a can into a bottle. My friends explained to me that it was for floating down the river or to take into places that don't allow bottles. Humm...I'm still not sold.
7. Just in case you really like the Old San Francisco Steak House.
5. One can never have too many purses.....
3. When you just don't have room for a wine rack.
I had a really hard time picking the number 1 thing here in Canton. I got a GREAT laugh from both of these, but in the end I think I ranked them correctly.....drumroll please......
And #2 on my top 10 list is: That's right; it is a boat motor lamp! Who doesn't want one of these for their boat house? Bahahahaha! You REALLY CAN get ANYTHING in Canton!
The #1 thing in Canton that made me laughed until my stomach cramped, THE BATHROOM!!!!!!!!!
That's right, shower curtain for doors!
And look - as a bonus you can see each other! How awesome is that?!? (I have tears rolling down my face just looking at these pictures!!)
Oh, and in the 'bathroom stalls' they used the 5 gallon cardboard Bluebell ice cream containers for trash cans! Again, at least they are green!! :o)
All in all it was a great weekend. I laughed till I cried several times and I made some great memories with friends. Here is a recap (for the six of us anyway, most of you won't be able to follow): Lemon Drop Martinis. Muddy hills. Muddy friends. Muddy keys. Dogs. Fried Eggs. Excedrin. Grey Goose. Eye Patches. 6 pieces of BACON. Granny in the Red Golf Cart. Rain in the Red Golf Cart. Do You Really Need That Jana? Texting for water. Pink Flamingo. French Press. At the coffee shack - out of Coffee? No Problem, we have beans, you have a machine - let's get this done. Marilyn Monroe. Rain Boots. Hand sanitizer. Getting up to dust the crumbs off your pants after the table was cleaned. Brie, homemade jam & bread.
Canton was fun, but next time let's stay at the Hilton and go to the spa!
I can’t believe it has taken me this long to write about our FABULOUS 4th of July weekend!
Now let me start off by saying I was in desperate need of a break. I could feel the tension building – my shoulders were tight and I was becoming more and more snippy by the day. I had piled so much on my plate that is was overflowing into a big puddle of mush all over the floor. I just needed a few days away to regroup and have fun. The 4th of July weekend with friends came just at the right time.
The kids and I were SO ready when we hopped in the car on Saturday the 2nd of July and headed to Shreveport, LA to hang out with some dear friends. This was my friends 9th annual 4th of July party and it really is a sort of “family reunion”. Now mind you, we are not family in the sense of ‘blood’ relations so my oldest was a little reluctant to go. However Kim and I have been friends for (insert *gasp* here) over 20 year. We met while waiting tables back in college and then we moved to Wyoming together to work on a dude ranch (go figure) - in fact that dude ranch is where she met her Hubby (Yes, there is a little history there). Any-who, we lost touch for a few years in between and just reconnected a few years ago on Facebook - AND we picked up right where we left off so many years ago. This past year in April 2010 I had the pleasure of becoming reacquainted with her family as well. It was wonderful - so much so that they have invited us to spend 4th of July with them year after year. AND after this year I have become Momma S's favorite daughter. She even said so. ;o)
The reunion weekend is held at Teri's house each year. Teri, her husband and their children were more than welcoming and had us stay with them in their house, along with 28 other houseguest. I think there were 33 people staying in their house and in RV's on their lawn. I thought I might go a bit crazy, but I must admit it was some of the most fun chaos I have had in a long time!
After hugging a few necks I couldn't help but notice this beauty that was sitting on the mantel in T's living room. And of course there is a story behind it...
I posted this picture on FB a few hours after I arrived and several of my friends ask about it. This is what Teri wrote: "This is one of my most treasured pieces. It means so much to me and my family. When my little girl was in Kindergarten, her teacher painted this beautiful "Lady Liberty" when celebrating America. If you look closely, you can see that she ...then pasted the little classmates onto the "viewing deck" as though they were actual "tourist" on this national landmark. Long story short, I went crazy for it when I first saw it even taking pictures of it and sending her a note if admiration. Well at the end of the year, I was called into the office to "pick up a poster". Rolled up in the corner was this painting!! I immediately picked it up, hugged everyone in my path and headed straight to. Frame shop where they framed it for me! THEN, as a gesture of kindness (after my dad passed away) the frame shop wouldn't allow me to pay for the frame! It was their gift to me and my family. It still puts a lump in my throat when I think about it. :)
It normally doesn't reside atop my mantle, but for every 4th of July, it absolutely will! Thanks for wanting "the story". And Happy 4th everybody!"
It didn't take the little kids long to feel right at home, in fact all I heard about two weeks before our trip was Mrs. Teri this, Mrs. Teri that.....blah, blah, blah, Mrs. Teri. I was considering leaving them with Mrs. Teri, but I know her and she would have kept them. Now after they saw the pool and the garden, sweet Mrs. Teri was chopped liver. ;o)
It wasn't too long before the big boy started having fun as well. Even though he just knew he would be the outsider and he was worried about coming into this group of 'cousins' that grew up together - they were VERY welcoming and he is now considered one of them. I love how friendships work.
Check out their 'old men socks'!
Our weekend in pictures....(Just FYI - if you click on the pictures it turns into a slide show where you can click through and read the captions.)
OH, and one of my favorite picture that I took this weekend is this one:
I just love how peacful it is.
The room I was staying in had this sign on the wall, it is now one of my favorite sayings:
Thanks to all of the "S" family for making my family feel so welcome. I love you guys.
The only thing that could have made this weekend better is if my darling Hubby were here. JT - I missed you and thought about you constantly. You are always in my thoughts and prayers. I love you & can't wait for you to come home.
So in the last post it was just pictures of Boy 1 & me at the zoo. (Duhh...) I didn't mean to mislead some of you....we all went to the zoo; I just had to do something to make it fun for Boy 1. I mean he is a teenager and this is a zoo. What teenager in his right mind would want to go to the zoo? (Do you sense the sarcasm?) Anyway taking crazy pictures with Boy 1 did make it fun for him & he even cracked multiple smiles. The other kids wanted to join in on the crazy pictures, but I had to tell them this was 'special' for Boy 1 & they all got it.
My beautiful little butterfly!
This little guy is the reason Girl is going to ask Santa for a tarantula for Christmas. THANKS A LOT zoo lady!
If you ever find yourself in San Antonio with an extra day on your hands and you have already done all the other touristy things (Alamo, riverwalk, museums and so on) then the zoo is the place to go! We had a great time and even enjoyed the zoo more than we enjoyed (gasp) Sea World. The San Antonio Zoo
is open every day of the year from 9-5. The cost is $10 per adult and $8 for kids ages 3-11. They offer a military discount (I always love a military discount!) of $1 off per ticket. They also have a $1 off coupon on their website
for you non military folks.
So this was the best part of the zoo and we all had a ton of fun even though we were all freaked out a little. I know certain friends of mine are going to have a so much fun with this, go ahead, it is a free for all....call me "Bird lady" or call me OLD, I'm ready. We fed parrots nectar. There. I said it and I did it. Laugh all you want. I love you too. (And I'm posting LOTS of pictures of our bird experience.)
It started off all nice and innocent. One little bird taking the lid off Boy 3's nectar.
And then there were three.....
They just kept coming...notice the one on his head? Boy 3 is starting to freak out a little....
OK...better, he is off his head & moved to his hand.
This is the only picture of I got of Girl before she BOLTED!! Yes, that is a tear rolling down her cheek.
They loved Hubby...
and he was so nonchalant about it - just call him the 'bird whisperer'!
It was like Boy 2 had been feeding birds his whole life. (Check out the guy in the background with his head in the trash.)
This is nothin'!
I'm very thankful Boy 2 is NOT asking for birds for Christmas.
Boy 1 stuck around about as long as Girl did. He couldn't stand it!
And then there was me.....these little guys LOVED me. (This is for you Staci.)
God help me!!
Having a bird walk around on your head and pulling your hair is a bit freaky!!
He loved my sunglasses & my scalp!
Right before this picture I had FIVE birds on me.
Starting to breath a little easier....
but totally have the giggles.
Just call me bird lady.
No words are really needed.....
A few weeks ago Hubby scored 2 tickets to the Houston Texans Military Appreciation game. Although I cannot report to you what happened at that game (he took Boy 1), I can tell you that that Girl, Boy 2, Boy 3 & I had a GREAT time at the Downtown Aquarium
I would hate to see this guy loose out in the wild!
The kids LOVED the sting ray exhibit!
These are their 'scared' faces. ;o)
No one else wanted to ride the Merry-Go-Round, so Boy 3 happily did it by himself. He is SO independent!
Hanging with my boy!
Girl in awe on the train going through the 'Shark Voyage' tank!
The kids had SO MUCH FUN on this ride! They rode it no less than 10 times each!
Cooling off at the end of the day!
It's no Coral Island in Thailand, nor is it the white sandy beaches of Saipan. The black mud between my toes kind of freaks me out and the fact that you can't see any part of your body that is in the water makes me shiver, oh and those nasty lake weeds that touch my legs in the water always reminds that JAWS just might be lurking out there waiting to have his next meal....
Disclaimer: I know that JAWS would never be in a lake in the middle of Texas, I know this ~ really I do, but still when that crap touches my legs I want to jump out of the water faster than I jumped in! You see, I grew up in Texas and I lived here when that movie came out. When JAWS came out I was only SIX YEARS OLD (sure, now you are doing the math trying to figure out how old I am...I see you wheels churning). I had no idea how to swim, the only bodies of water I knew were LAKES (I had never been outside of North Texas). JAWS pretty much scarred me for life. I can't believe I even like water now. And yes, I know how ironic it is that I love the ocean as much as I do.
So when my niece invited me & the kids (the kid and I?) out on the boat and jet ski with her and her fiancé I thought about saying 'no thank you I don't have the time' or 'there are too many people I need to see', or maybe 'if you promise I don't have to get in lake water'.... Instead I pulled myself up by my boot straps (like that Texas saying?) and said we are all in!
(OH GOD, WHAT HAVE I DONE?)
Our daughter is a DARE DEVIL! We are in so much trouble when she gets her drivers license. She kept telling my niece 'go faster'!
Boy 2 was a little more cautious, he kept telling Niece to slow down.
Finally I take a turn on the jet ski....no, I didn't drive...I have only been on a jet ski one time before this....so my question is, why in the world did I let a 14 year old take me out this time?!?!
Especially when I KNEW it would end like this.....yes, that is me in the water after being tossed off the jet ski like a little rag doll.
The kids LOVING the lake!
Even after my future 'nephew-in-law' gave them a toss....
So, in summary ~ no, I still do not LOVE the lake even though I would LOVE to get a boat and or jet ski for the family. Yes, I still think there is a slight possibility JAWS might attack me in the lake, (yeah, yeah, I know I should go to therapy) however I show no fear in front of the kids. I learn to swim when I was eleven and practiced swimming FAST. I never watched any of the JAWS sequels. The only way the kids will know their mom is crazy when it comes to lakes is when they read this.
OH, and even though JAWS may not kill me...this Texas heat might.....