Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cousin Camp 2011

Every year my sister and I take our kids to Nana and Papa's in Wimberley for cousin camp. We are blessed beyond belief to live about 5 minutes away from each other in Dallas, but there is something magical about cousin camp. There was lots of swimming, a trip to the San Marcos outlets for new school shoes, and a trip to see 3 million bats emerge from Old Tunnel near Fredericksburg and one of the best hamburgers in Texas! We had a great time! And Everett (who was terrified of putting his face under the water just a few months ago) is now swimming like a pro!

trying to get a photo of Nana and the kids ...

Madeleine, me and Everett

me and my sister

a pirate and a bat face painting to get ready to see the bats!

but first dinner... a delicious burger! I got mine with grilled onions and avocado.

there are 3 million bats in that old railroad tunnel!

getting ready to see the bats...

there were a lot of bats!

bats on their way to get water and eat moths and mosquitoes.

and a movie as the bats emerge...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Horse camp

Our neighborhood friend, Mrs. Joy, had recommended Merriwood Ranch to us for a summer camp for Madeleine, so with Madeleine's cousin Sydney and 2 friends from school we had carpools arranged and we were ready for horse camp!

Each day the girls were at Merriwood from 9 am - 4 pm and spent an hour each morning and each afternoon playing tennis, swimming, and riding horses.

Here is the horse riding, the highlight of each day.

Madeleine on her horse.

Huge smile!

The cousins on horses.

Madeleine carrying all of her horse's gear back to the barn.

The girls had a wonderful time and were eager to go next week, but the parents decided that once a year was a better plan. The girls can not wait for next year's horse camp!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

#18 Thing to Do in Dallas with Kids

Go to Fort Worth. I know it is not in Dallas, but it is close (ish). Since I am all about the free activities, I took the kids to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing Western Currency Facility. There are only two places in the U.S. that print our money, in Fort Worth and in Washington D.C. Usually the tours are twice a day but in June and July there are every 30 minutes. Unfortunately, the tours are only Monday-Friday. The tour is about 45 minutes, excellent, and free. You get to see the designs of the money, the machines printing the money, and the machines cutting the money. The tour guides are wonderful and I learned so much!

For example, I have some $2 bills that my mom had given me when I was younger. Did you know that they do still print the $2 bill, but only at the Fort Worth facility and only every 3-5 years? I did not either!

No cell phones or cameras are allowed, so I only got this one photo as we were leaving...

Next stop in Fort Worth was Curly's Frozen Custard! Delicious!

Then onto the Fort Worth Museum that enthralled my children for hours! My friend from seminary Mary Spradlin (who has a museum membership and was able to get us in for free!) and her kids joined us and afterwards we all loved the tour of Arlington Heights United Methodist Church where Mary is the new Senior Pastor!

We had a great day in Fort Worth!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

#17 Thing to Do in Dallas with Kids

Visit a spraypark! I know that I already mentioned that you could swim with your kids in Dallas in this previous post, but it is Dallas, it is summer, and it is hot.

After the 4th of July parade and carnival mentioned in the previous post, the kids (who had come prepared in swimming gear) cooled down and had a great time in the spraypark. Find a spraypark in Dallas near you here.

#16 Thing to Do in Dallas with Kids

Attend a Fourth of July Parade. We live in Lake Highlands, and we have ridden on the Lake Highlands Area Early Childhood PTA float before but this year I thought it would be fun to see the entire parade. So, we parked by Lake Highlands High School, grabbed our chairs and sat down in the shade to watch our cool neighborhood parade.

It was exciting to see the new mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings, in the parade.

And then after the very enjoyable parade, we went across the street to the Lake Highlands North Recreation Center playground and spraypark and visited all of the booths, got free t-shirts from Ebby Realtors and made bracelets, got popcorn from a neighborhood church, petted some animals, bounced in the YMCA bounce house, saw people climbing a rock climbing wall, and drank some free iced tea from the Lake Highlands UMC booth. Love those Methodists!

There is just nothing else like a 4th of July parade.

#15 Thing to Do in Dallas with Kids

Visit the Lego store at Northpark mall on the first Tuesday of the month for the free monthly mini-build. Info can be found here. We got to the mall at 4:30 to wait in the line for our number guaranteeing that we would be able to participate. We were numbers 76 and 77. The mini-build did not start until 5 pm but we were in the car leaving the mall by 5:20 pm. Once you get into the Lego store, 6 kids are led through the build by a very kind and patient Lego store employee. We have always had a great experience and it is free!

Unfortunately, once we got in the Lego store I did not take any pictures, but here is one of the kids playing inside the mall. I love Everett's new light up flame shoes (thanks Nana!) and his matching flaming basketball shirt.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Writing about going to my mom and stepdad's last week made me think about all of the years that we have visited their home in Wimberley. Through the years in pictures...

summer 2004 with a newborn Madeleine asleep on her daddy's shoulder.

summer 2005, a 1 year old Madeleine playing with Papa.

summer 2006, 2 year old cousins, Sydney and Madeleine with Nana.

summer 2007, 3 year old Madeleine happy in the pool with her Nana.

summer 2008, from left to right, Austin, Kristin, Sydney, Nana, Madeleine, Kerry, Everett.

another one from summer 2008, Everett loves the pool!

summer 2009.

an awesome trip in summer 2009 to Hamilton Pool in Dripping Springs.

summer 2009, Hamilton Pool in Dripping Springs.

summer 2010, family photo.

summer 2010, with 6 out of 8 of the grandchildren. From left to right Papa, Nana, Austin, Everett, Xander, Madeleine, Cassie, Sydney.

summer 2011, family photo.

summer 2011, that girl loves to swim!

Friday, July 1, 2011

The best of summer

The best of summer is visiting my mom and stepdad's home in Wimberley. This annual family trip is the best of summer because
1. there is a guesthouse so we actually get to sleep-in while the kids wake my mom and stepdad up at 5:45 am
2. the salt water pool
3. floating in the river nearby. My mom dropped us off (the river is a mile away from their house) and picked us up in one hour. It was such fun!
4. the morning walks where you can see deer, roadrunners, and dung beetles
5. the view, trees everywhere you look
6. going to the San Marcos outlets
7. built in babysitters so we can go to the movies or have dinner with wonderful friends who live in Austin
8. the relaxation, I finished 2 books!

This year was also wonderful because Everett became more and more comfortable in the water. He has only taken swimming class for 6 months. When Madeleine was his age she had taken swimming class already every Saturday for 2 years! Here is video proof of Everett swimming in the water and though he keeps saying he is sinking, he seems to be enjoying it!

Nana's famous face painting skills

an exhausted pirate

Papa attacking Madeleine with the jet plane

Everett not terrified in the pool!

happy boy

Madeleine and mommy

Smith family photo June 2011