Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bye-Bye Bunny

Through an online group called Swap Mamas, I traded some baking ware to a total stranger through the mail in exchange for this costume when Rachel was just an infant. I've been holding on to it for about 2 years. She's tried it on just a few times but it gets hot and scratchy so she never really plays in it much.



With summer here, it is way too hot to be hopping around in a bunny costume and she is close to out growing it at this point. I'm afraid it is time to say "bye-bye" to the bunny costume and pass it along to another little girl. But before we did, I wanted to capture a few pictures of her in it because she makes a cute little bunny.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

End of School Party

Tonight we went to an end of the school year party with one of our homeschool groups. It was an incredible party at the group organizer's house. She went all out. There was food and drinks and a giant inflatable water slide that was a huge hit with the kids. The slide was tall and really, really fast.



Rachel went down the slide once but that was all for her.



She preferred to hang out in the hot tub or dance to the live music!



Then she rested for a while on the hammock and just listened.



What a fun party! Thank you Renee for organizing such great outings each week for our group all year long and for hosting such as awesome end of the year party. We can't wait for next year!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Karate Yellow Belt Test

Last night, Nicholas had a belt test at Karate for Life. He started with them in January 2010 in their Little Dragons program. Now he's in the regular karate class and testing for his Yellow Belt.



He really enjoys karate and he practices at home all the time.



I can tell that it has built some strentgth and balance in him which is one of the reasons I wanted him to try it. I'm glad that he really enjoys what he is doing as well.



He's even starting to learn some defensive moves in case he needed to get away from a 'bad guy'.



Here's a video of him performing the Form 1 routine.



Nicholas passed his belt test to get his Yellow Belt. They perform this ceremony where the student bows down to touch his forehead to his belt so that the first sweat on the belt is the sweat is the sweat it took to earn it.



Mr. Hunt puts on his belt.



Master Haddock passes out certificates.



And, of course, high fives!



Congratulations to everyone who passed their belt tests today!



I know Nicholas couldn't be prouder. He has been working hard to reach this day.



We are proud of you too, Nicholas!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sandy Lake Amusement Park

We went to Homeschool Day at Sandy Lake Amusement Park. I've heard of this park for years but we had just never been. There was a great discount on admission and rides for today only. It was a great way to visit and get unlimited use of all 19 amusement park rides, miniature golf, shetland ponies, and even paddle boats.



Rachel loved watching the peacocks. We had just recently read a wildlife magazine where I had shown her pictures of peacocks. She pointed this one out to me and said, "Look Mommy! It's the bird with the dots!"



There were some special exhibits and vendors out at the park today including Robots 4 U who had some remote control robots for the kids to play with.



Nicholas, the human tunnel.



The first real ride we went on was called The Pretzel. Nicholas thought it was a haunted house and really wanted to go. We got there and realized it was a ride. I figured it was kind of like a fun house with silly stuff inside. The cars weren't in a train so that we could all go in together. They were separate and individual. I rode in a car with Rachel while the boys shared a car behind us. They sure look excited.



As soon as our car rode into the building I knew there would be some scared kids. The building was completely dark as in pitch black. The cars were riding on a bumpy old track and every now and then there was a puff of air blown on us or a scary sound. I wrapped my arm around Rachel and she was completely quiet for a while but then I could hear her whimpering some and then she said, "I don't like it. It's scary". I felt terrible that I hadn't checked into the ride at all before we got on it. Bad Mommy!

We were both so glad to get off the ride. The boys came out in about the same condition. Unfortunately this picture is very blurry but all three of them had their eyes closed and Nicholas had his fingers in his ears with his head tucked down.



Whoo! The boys decided to ride something a little easier like the Rock O Plane. At first we watched what it did. Some of the cars seemed to spin completely around and turn upside down while others didn't spin much at all. Nicholas was a little worried because he specifically said that he didn't want to spin upside down. But we explained that you probably won't spin around if you don't rock the car. The boys felt better and hopped on.



But as soon as the ride started, the boys car rocked and flipped upside down. It killed me to look up and see a look of panic on Nicholas' face. I couldn't figure out why the kept going upside down when we saw other cars that weren't. Eventually they stopped rolling over and I could see them smiling in the car. When Nicholas got off the ride, he said it was great once they stopped flipping over. He said that another boy had told them as they were getting on that if they pulled the bar a certain way that they wouldn't flip upside down. Turns out that pulling the bar that way was exactly what makes the car flip upside down. I hate that it happened that way but the boys ended up having a good time.

Rachel played it safe and chose the Merry Go Round. It was great having unlimited rides because we rode this one over and over and over.



They boys tried out this boat ride but after what they had already been through this morning, there just wasn't enough action in it for them.



Rachel loved it though. This was the first ride that she rode on completely by herself. I was a little worried that she was do something crazy like lean over the edge of the boat or try to stand up and I wouldn't be able to stop her because I had to wait outside the fence. But she did fine. What a big girl!



Next we all decided to try the Tilt-A-Whirl. It just spins around so it seemed like it wouldn't be rough. And Rachel was tall enough to ride it with an adult so surely it is a kid-friendly ride. Right?



She was so excited to get on the ride.



At first it was fine but then the force of the spins got really strong and even made my stomach turn a little. Needless to say, Rachel hunkered down in her seat and clung to my side as she squealed. Man, my judgment was really off today and my baby girl had to pay for it. The boys seemed to be straining a little too as they spun around. But we all survived and no one got sick!



We took a break from the amusement rides for a while and checked out the paddle boats. Nicholas rode with our friends.



While I rode with Rachel. The boats were fun but it was a bit of work since I really didn't have any help with paddling.



The miniature golf course was fun. Rachel got a little frustrated because she couldn't hit the ball the way she wanted to. I was a little worried because there were some older kids waiting for a turn on our putting green and I didn't want them to start complaining that we were taking too long. But I was reminded that we were with a homeschool crowd when Rachel whined, "I can't do it" and one of the older boys that had been waiting for a turn stepped up and told her, "Yes, you can do it. Just keep trying. You'll get it." It warmed my heart to see such character and compassion in a pre-teen boy.



Our happy boys!



I'm so glad that Nicholas has such great friends that he enjoys spending time with. He has known these boys since he was about 2 years old and it's neat that all three of them are now homeschooling.



Rachel had a blast riding on the shetland ponies. She loves horses and ponies of any kind. She talked sweetly to hers and patted it several times as it rode her along.



The boys rode on this space ride. It was really a "little kid" ride and they were a bit too big for it but that didn't stop them. They rode in separate cars and pretended to shoot at each other. These boys can have fun together no matter what they are doing.



Sandy Lake Amusement Park is located at 1800 Sandy Lake Road in Carrollton. For more information, please call them at 972-242-7449 or visit the Sandy Lake Amusement Park website.

A Perfectly Romantic 15th Anniversary

We don't usually do much for our anniversaries. Maybe a fancy dinner. But today was our 15th wedding anniversary and my hubby shot it out of the park!

First he said we were going to do something but he wouldn't tell me what it was. It might take about 30-40 minutes, and for some reason he was interested in what I was going to wear. I was wanting to dress up since it's our anniversary but he suggested I wear jeans and tennis shoes but I could bring something else to change into afterwards. I asked about a cute shirt that I wanted to wear and he said it wouldn't be a good idea. So I picked out a regular t-shirt and he looked at the tag and said ok. Hmmm, was he looking at the fabric content?

I like to know what to expect with things so I can mentally plan things out and be prepared so this whole surprise thing was kind of driving me crazy. However, I loved that he went to such effort and was doing something a little more exciting for this anniversary. But I just kept imagining that he was going to make me jump out of a plane or go hang gliding or something crazy like that!

We dropped the kids off at Adventure Kids Playcare and Stuart made me put on a blindfold before we ever left their parking lot. What?! I tried to pay attention to the turns that we made so I could try to figure out where we were going but he got me talking about politics or something and I ended up missing a few turns and couldn't imagine where we were anymore.

Finally we pulled in to the spot. I couldn't wait to find out where we were!



Ahhhh! I can't tell you how relieved I was to find that we were not going parachuting but actually at Vetro Art Glass Studio in Grapevine. I was jumping because I was so excited. I've always wanted to make something here. Stuart told me that he had made arrangements for us to make a glass heart together! Awww, isn't he the best?



Kevin talked to us a little about what we wanted to make. We chose a heart. Then we had to pick out colors. He showed us these shelves full of colored glass in so many different shades. Oh, decisions, decisions.



We kept it simple and went with a red heart with some white swirls in it. Kevin set up bowls with the each of the two colors of glass in them. He went to the furnace and loaded the rod with some clear molten glass that was already hot at around 2300 degrees. Then he handed me the rod. Oh my! Just a little intimidating to be holding something so incredibly hot. I dipped the end of the rod in the red glass several times to try to smoosh the red pieces into the molten glass.



I love how the molten glass is glowing there in the bowl. Hot stuff!



Next we held the wand in a second furnace, called the glory hole, to melt the red glass into the regular glass. We took turns doing these steps a few times.



Holding the rod in the oven was fine but there were a few times that I felt my forearms getting really hot from the heat coming off the oven. Stuart said he felt it too and you can see from this picture that we were standing back several feet from it. It's just THAT hot.



Once the layer of red glass was thick enough, we dipped the rod in the white glass just enough to get a sprinkling of white and the put the rod in the furnace to reheat.

Next Stuart sat down and worked at swirling the white glass into the red to give it a little character.



Then Kevin took over to work his magic in turning our red and white glob into an actual heart shape.



He fired it with a torch to smooth the edges.



And here is our red and white glass heart that we made together. The colors are really dark here because it is still really, really hot. They will look brighter once it has cooled off. We had to leave it there overnight to cool and we'll come back to pick it up tomorrow.



Wow! That was so much fun and such a wonderfully romantic idea!

There is some beautiful artwork in the store for sale. Look at this!



There are always pretty ornaments in the window which are especially pretty when the sun shines through them.



15 years! I don't know how he has put up with me for that long but I do love him for it.



The glass blowers out front are the perfect gateway to Vetro.



If you've never been by to see the beautiful pieces on display, you really must stop by. You might even get to watch them working on a new creation while you are there. Vetro Art Glass Studio is located at 701 South Main Street, Ste 103 in Grapevine, next to the train depot. For more information, please call them at 817-251-1668 or visit the Vetro Art Glass Studio website. You can also follow them on Facebook.

We left Vetro but weren't quite ready for dinner so we took a stroll down Main Street in Grapevine. It is such a fun place to shop. There are cute little boutiques lining both sides of the street. We checked out some shops and sat on a bench to talk...just the two of us! How nice.



When we decided it was time for dinner we headed back up the street to Dino's Steak and Claw House. What a fabulous restaurant!



There is a nice patio outside where you can be served but we chose to eat inside. The restaurant is beautifully decorated and elegantly inviting with a rich dark decor.

We started with the appetizer of Crab Cubes with Maryland lump crab meat, honey Dijon sauce & chili apple compote. They were fresh and so unique. There are lots of flavors that really come together beautifully. I would definitely recommend this.



Our server recommended a great wine that was the special of the day - 2008 Emeritus Pinot Noir.

For my entree, I had the Seared NY Strip crusted with Asiago cheese. The cheese wasn't quite what I was expecting but it added a wonderfully unique flavor to the steak. The steak was juicy and perfectly cooked. The garlic mashed potatoes were beautifully presented and the vegetable of the day was fresh and delicious.



Stuart's steak wasn't quite cooked the way he requested but it was quickly re-fired perfectly. He was very impressed with the flavor and tenderness and decided that it was the best steak he has ever had. Wow!



The food, the decor, the service were all exceptional. We highly recommend Dino's and hope to go back soon.

Dino's Steak and Claw house is located at 342 S. Main Street in Grapevine. Their hours are Monday - Thursday 5:00pm - 9:30pm, Friday and Saturday 5:00pm - 10:30pm. For more information, please call them at 817-488-3100 or visit the Dino's website. You can also follow them on Facebook.