Operation Christmas Child

I always feel like this day is the start of holiday season, as crazy of a day as it typically is. For the past several years my Mom, sister, and I load up all five kids and head to Target on Saturday to go shopping for Operation Christmas Child. It is usually slightly chaotic and the kids may have been trying to load almost life-sized stuffed animals into the shopping cart at one point, but it is a great way to teach them about helping others.

Here is an idea of what we typically pick out (go here for a full list of what you can and cannot pack):

 

We typically get:

– A stuffed animal

– Socks

– A bar of soap and holder

– Colored pencils and pencil sharpener

– Toothbrush

– Fun bandaids

– Uno Card Game

– Fidget spinner

– Small plastic animals

– Notepad

National collection week is this week! You can go here to find a collection spot in your area.

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This and that

I would love to say everyone on our house is on the mend, but I’m really afraid of jinxing it at this point, so I’m just going to say nothing and continue on with some happenings around here.

First up, B and I are officially the same age again:

We didn’t celebrate like we had intended since A caught J’s croup by the end of the week, but the four of us had fun nonetheless:

I made Halloween candied popcorn, mainly so we could drown our Auburn loss sorrows in it…ha!

I can’t say enough how much I love my work. In part because my hybrid courses have given me the flexibility to join the boys on field trips that aren’t on Fridays. I went with J’s class to learn about animals and plants:

And we saw a goat that was the GOAT:

I went to pick up some items from Target and came upon this:

The only time a Target worker hasn’t asked if I need help with anything.

And the boys got to have donuts with Granna that they were very excited about:

The boys love that Granna teaches at their school and so do we!

Lastly, our final countdown to Disney is on now that our magic bands arrived:

I’m so ready for this trip!! We are praying for everyone to be healthy and for good weather!!

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Weekend hike

We took a weekend hike and it was filled with butterflies! This was our local nature preserve, about a half mile walk to it, about a mile until we hit an impass, and then a mile back out. It was a great easy hike and close to home, too!

Look at our friendly hitchhikers!

J brought his notepad and pen to take notes on what he saw…

There was quite an active stream…

 

And my favorite part of our hikes is listening to the boys’ conversations:

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If you have two days in San Antonio…part 1

We arrived in San Antonio right at dinner time. We stayed at the Marriott Riverwalk (with a river walk view room) and I would highly recommend it. Although there are lots of other quality hotels in the area, you get a great view of the riverwalk, there’s a Starbuck’s in the hotel, and it is walkable to lots of the main San Antonio attractions (like The Alamo). We checked in and then headed to Casa Rio for dinner…

I got the green chile chicken enchiladas (which I forgot to take a picture of), and they were excellent. The boys got nachos and tacos. The margaritas were also excellent!

One of my favorite things about our hotel besides the view:

Was the fold out couch. We usually have a room with two doubles or queens, but it saves us many an argument for the boys to be in separate beds…

 

The next morning we enjoyed our coffee on the balcony:

Then headed to the Alamo!

I have to say we lucked out with our weather. Texas is hot (boardering on insufferable) in July, and we managed to get overcast days with slightly cooler than average temperatures. The boys loved the Alamo, and we did pretty much everything you could do, from watching the movie on Alamo history to listening to a speech on Alamo artillery.

These two were the best listeners of the whole bunch:

And you’ve got to find the House cat:

We thought it was just a stray cat, but they have stuffed animals that match it in the gift shop, so apparently it is a house cat. After we left the Alamo we went to the river walk mall to escape an incoming rain shower, had lunch at the food court, then headed back to the hotel’s activity room:

We kept it pretty low key, which was great for the kids. Some sightseeing mixed with downtime is essential for avoiding meltdowns! We headed to County Line on the Riverwalk for dinner:

Their brisket and black eyed peas and bread were delish:

Afterward we headed out on the riverboat tour of the Riverwalk, which was fun:

A enjoyed it, despite contrary tween facial expressions. The boat tour is a great way to see and hear about the history of the city. And to see buildings like this:

It looks like there is no side! A cool optical illusion, with an interesting back story (I won’t spoil it). After the boat tour we headed off to bed with a cavern and zoo in our sights!

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If you have five hours in Austin…

On Sunday we were headed to San Antonio by way of Austin, so we spent a brief five hours in Austin. We headed straight to lunch at Shake Shack (because if there’s a Shake Shack near me, I’m going to it):

 

 

And then headed to the Capital building. This was a great choice because 1. It’s free and 2. There’s huge (not working obviously) cannons outside. Oh and 3. Lots of stairs to wear the kids out.

 

 

 

They also have several really cool libraries that weren’t open when we were there (Sunday) but I think they are open during the week:

After the Capital we headed to Barton Creek Square Mall because the boys requested to go to a Lego Store…

And I found nothing at Nordstrom despite my best efforts…

And we left at four and arrived in San Antonio in time for dinner!

Other fun spots that we had on our potential Austin list were…

Texas History Museum

Any of the many hiking trails

The bats at dusk

Cosmic Restaurant

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If you have a day in Waco…

On the Fourth of July, while everyone else (literally everyone…no one was on the road!) was celebrating the holiday, we headed out on a week long road trip to and through Texas. My youngest cousin was getting married, so my sister and I planned a family trip that sandwiched the trip to Austin for the wedding in between Waco and San Antonio. We definitely didn’t have time to do and see everything, but we had a blast, and we fit in quite a bit for eight days with driving time, five kids, and a wedding included. I’m starting in Waco as it was stop number one. We had one full day to spend in Waco before we had to head down to Austin, so here is what we did!

We arrived in Waco at lunch time and made a beeline for In and Out Burger, where J declared he no longer eats burgers (tip to note: they have a secret menu with grilled cheese that you can order). This is the kid who ate burgers up until Thursday, July 5th…

Then we headed over to the Dr. Pepper museum (a great reprieve from the July heat), and spent a good hour and a half (you can definitely tour it in less) letting the kids wander, and enjoying Dr. Pepper floats.

The sweet kiddo next to J is one of my cousin’s daughters. Blonde hair does actually run in our family!

A now has a thorough knowledge of how Dr. Pepper is made, ask him anything! After the Dr. Pepper museum we headed over to Magnolia Market and Silos (as you might expect).

However, as you might not know my maternal great grandparents are from Waco. And Silos Baking Company? My Great Grandfather helped build the original building.

We used to go to Waco almost every summer, but I haven’t been in almost twenty years. It has changed quite a bit since our last visit! At Magnolia Market and Silos we wandered the grounds, the kids got slushies, and we bought a few souvenirs.

 

 

Then we headed to see the Baylor Bear. We wandered just a bit of Baylor’s campus (one of my cousins played baseball there), and J declared he definitely wants to play baseball there when he grows up.

He picked out a Baylor Bear souvenir and we headed down the street for dinner. We ate at Coach’s Smoke and the food was great and the staff was super helpful and kind.

Our landing spot for the night was the Homewood Suites. It’s not as close to downtown as other hotels,  but it’s perfect if you’re headed out the next day to Austin, which we were!

Other notable spots to check out if you have more than a day are:

The Wooly Mammoth Park

The Texas Rangers Museum

Other fun food places to try would be:

Torchy’s Tacos

Twisted Root Beer Company

Magnolia Table

Next we headed to outside Austin for a wedding! Stay tuned…

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The two smallest of the small

It’s not often that the two youngest of all my sister and I’s kiddos get one on one time. With the older three boys all having camps this week, the youngest two have gotten to go swim, play in the sprinklers, eat lots of popsicles, and check out the latest Mickey and the Roadster Racers episodes. I think J has enjoyed bring the oldest for once, especially because my niece pretty much wants to do whatever he’s doing. Cousins are the best!

 

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Summer learning routine

I felt like a champion when I realized I scheduled my online discussions on my summer work days (also known as “things only teachers get excited about”):

And with my summer work schedule I’m also planning for the boys’ “avoid the summer slump” routine…outside of going to the pool:

Playing all the board games, puzzles, and domino mazes:

And summer road trips:

We’ll be doing…

Summer reading through the library

Kahn Academy courses in math and Pixar in a Box:

Xtramath for A (a program he can access through his school) & addition/subtraction flash cards for J

 

Mario Teaches Typing (super old, we found it and downloaded on our desktop for the kids)

Super Solvers (also super old, same deal as Mario Teaches Typing):

My plan is to have them switch off spending about a half-hour to hour a day on one of these four choices (reading will be everyday). They can pick one on one day, then pick a different one on another. By the end of the week we’ll have gotten to all five in some shape or form. I’m also planning to pick up a few new Smithsonian & Eyewitness books (either through Amazon or the library) like these:

 

J’s school also does an awesome summer learning packet:

And I’ve got a cursive writing learning packet for A:

We’re also going to take some craft days, pull out all the art supplies and just create and craft with abandon:

No artist, no story, just paint, create, and imagine. That’s the best of summer! Downtime, being bored, and learning on free flowing time. Oh and I’llalso be answering lots of this:

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Mother’s Day

This Mother’s Day the boys made me muffins and eggs, got me handmade cards, a new cookbook, iPhone case, and perfume. And an adorable new maple tree:

And we just hung out all day, the boys playing outside until it got too hot, J colored, I read my new cookbook, and B made literally the best brisket I’ve ever had. My sister, Mom, and I took a quick picture…

As my niece headed outside to join the big kids while finishing up her cake!

Love that girl!

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