A Visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

11 Jun

A few weekends ago, my parents and I took the kids to the Lady Bird Wildflower Center, located just 6 miles from my house and about 12 miles from Downtown Austin.


My favorite structure on the grounds was definitely the Observation Tower which is also a 10,000 gallon cistern.  It is absolutely beautiful and you can get a glimpse all around the gardens and surrounding fields from the top.

The tunnel leading to the Library, Administration building and a few smaller native plant areas was really beautiful – and cool!  IT was HOT out there and I could have hidden out in that tunnel all day!

  I wish I had room in my backyard for a turtle pond like the Wetland Pond at the front of the wildflower center.  WOWZA!!  It was so pretty and peaceful!  AND, we even got to make a turtle friend that came all the way over to see LillyBug!

Inside the Visitor’s Gallery, we were able to see examples of all the flowers that are currently in bloom, information about the park and it’s founders, and learn about native plants animals to the area.  It was a beautiful building and it was nice that for the most part, the exhibits were kid-friendly. (Apart from the little glass vases of flowers – Mommy got a little nervous!)

 

 

 

The Spanish Architecture was one of my favorite things about the main buildings and areas of the park.  It is just beautiful and welcoming and really is amazing to see in person.  I think I must have taken about 50 different photos of just the arches and buildings around the property!

The Little House was another very cool part of the park.  It’s a special area just for kids!  It even has a little kid-size door for them to enter through – man I wish I’d taken a picture of that!  Anywho, inside the kids got to read books about plants and garden animals, color pictures, look at old pictures from the area, and just explore!  It was so cool – if I ever have free-reign over a classroom – I’d want it to be just like the Little House!

When the weather is cooler, BamaBoy and I will have to bring the kids back out to visit the hiking trails around the park.  There are about 2 miles of trails that lead all around the outskirts of the center.  They are separated into a Savanna Meadow Trail, Woodland Trail, John Barr Trail which has native shrubs, trees and cacti and the Restoration Research Trail which is where they research the Texas Hill Country ecology.  This photo was taken at one of the Savanna Meadow/Woodland Trail entrances.

Family photo time!  In the center of the main courtyard lies the Courtyard Spring , a simulated spring modeled after the Blue Hole in Wimberley, Texas.

 

 

 

The next portion of the Wildflower Center is where the Display Gardens are.  Each of the 23 garden beds exhibits some of the many native plants that grow in the Texas Hill Country.  It was really neat to see the different types of plants.  My parents’ favorite part were the covered arbor walkways along each side that are covered in a roof of Texas Wisteria, Coral Honeysuckle, and Mustang Grape vines.  It provided much-welcome shade and a beautiful walkway through this part of the park.

Honestly, there is SO much more to the Wildflower Center than I have represented here.  I just can’t do it justice!  There was the butterfly garden which was peaceful and winding and I’m sure a month or so ago it was full of butterflies!  There are the smaller gardens packed FULL of wildflowers.  There are so many ideas for home gardening – ground cover, border plants, flowers, too many ideas for my little backyard, but I know I’m going to be putting BamaBoy to work!  We didn’t even get into the trails!  It was a great afternoon, though and we will definitely be going back!  If you make it to Austin, you really should go – there was something for everyone – including a cafe where NanaBread and I may (or may not) have made a side trip inside for a cold coffee.😉 Take your family, take the kids, just don’t take your dogs – they’re not allowed!

Watch out World, LillyBug is 2!!

15 Sep

Such a silly girl!

Two years ago, today, our little LillyBug entered the world at 7:45 am.  She was content and happy where she was, but thanks to a scheduled C-Section she came on our time.  She has tried every day since age 2 months to remind us that we are now on HER time!🙂

Such a proud big brother!!

She is spunky, funny, energetic and, through-and-through, a firecracker!  She loves cheese, chicken, ice cream and pizza and well, to be honest, has never met a food she didn’t like.  Except for vegetables….that girl HATES veggies.  Which I find odd because JonahBear and I could eat our weights in veggies if we had to!


She loves her brother and our cat, Mouse!  She loves animals of all kinds, actually!  LillyBug adores being outside – in fact, one of her first words was “side” and she’d point and yell at the back door!  She loves swimwear but don’t you dare get her wet!!

All in all, she’s our fiesty little LillyBug.  When she’s fed and well-rested and there’s music playing she’s tons of fun to be around.  She definitely knows how to “put her party on”!  Right now she all attitude, so 2’s should be an adventure, but we love her!  Jonah could never have asked for a more devoted little sister and the love and bond they share is always amazing to witness.  I so look forward to her growing, discovering and changing.  This is going to be an exciting year!

Just us girls!

I love you LillyBug!  You’re my favorite little girl!

-T

 

Rocks and Books and Birds….Oh,My!

28 Aug

Not only has Pinterest inspired my crafting, but it has infiltrated my house!!  Over the summer, I got the decorating bug and with a little creativity, our house got a facelift!  Here are a few of my new favorite places in our house.
So this is actually pre-Pinterest…yes, I did all by myself!  This picture is not great, everything looks dusty! Eww!  The books and the silver T I had already.  The apothecary jar came from HomeGoods for about $10 (I know! Right?).  The corks came both from us and from my mom, a few of my favorites are champagne corks with a T on them and one that says “Drink Naked” hahahaha!  The bird came from a super cute boutique in Fredricksburg, Tx….wish I remembered the name now… sorry! And the glass penguin was a gift to BamaBoy a long time ago.  I didn’t mean to leave him there, but now he’s sort of a permanent resident!🙂
This may be my favorite place in the house…coffee addict much? The best part of this corner, for me, is the picture!  It was a gift from a close family friend after her trip to Poland.  It’s one of BamaBoy’s family palaces in Warsaw – SO COOL!!  I love that it is so personal and beautiful!  Great scenery for that morning cup of coffee.  The cup is one of my favorites from the Original Starbucks in Pike Place Market in Seattle.  I would love to go back someday with BamaBoy, it was so beautiful and the market is AMAZING!
So this is my newest addition to the house – we spruced up the entry buffet cabinet!  I love this cabinet!  It has storage drawers and cabinets as well as the wine storage in the center!  The cabinet has a traditional, but clean feel.  It has, however, been somewhat of a nuisance to decorate because I don’t want it to feel cluttered, but I don’t want it to be empty either.  The frame above the cabinet was a gift from my mother-in-law last year from Kirklands.  The pictures are actually easy to change out and it seems to fill the space pretty well so far! Now on to the details!

BamaBoy is not one for frilly or girly, so I had to be a little imaginative in finding something that would balance us both. Turns out rocks do the trick!  In Central Texas, limestone is everywhere and it’s pretty!  So I found about 12 to 15 limestone rocks of varying shapes and sizes and washed them up!  I also got this vase from HomeGoods for about $10.  It took a little bit to work with the rocks until they fit in the vase just how I wanted and looked right.  The effect is exactly what I wanted though!  It is slightly manly, different and adds some lighter color to the dark cabinet!  The candles came from Marshalls and I have no idea where I got the stands from, but I’ve had then for probably 6 years or so. I love the way this side turned out!

On the other side of the cabinet, I started with a leather poker case.  It is old and worn, and definitely has some character…and (win, win) it balances the levels of the 2 sides!  On top, another HomeGoods vase ($8) and a silver frame brighten up the dark cabinet!  In the vase, I took a few hints from Pinterest!  On born-again-crafter‘s blog, she made book page puff balls.  Using her idea, I made puff balls out of pages from one of my favorite books – The Great Gatsby.  Now, being a book lover, it was not easy for me to take a part a book and rip the pages into fourths.  BUT, the copy I have is a vintage copy from the 60’s and the pages were quite literally falling out if it.  I finally decided that no matter my good intentions, the pages were never going to be right again and I might as well make something meaningful and pretty out of them!  So here we are!  I love the result and now when people see them, there’s a story behind it too!  I think I’m going to use more of the book to make a wreath like the one livingwithlindsay made!

So there you have it, a few of my new favorite places in our house!  So far, I am loving what a little time and creativity have done for our home!  I am looking forward to a few more projects coming soon!  Here are a few ideas:

  

I’ll get right on this…hopefully!  After school settles down, the 30-day shred is done and I get through Labor Day weekend! Ha!
Stay tuned, though, BamaBoy’s bustin’ out the new food processor (drool!) and making jambalaya for Labor Day!  WooHoo! Lots of pictures planned for our first BamaBoy Cooks post!

-T

Welcome to 1st Grade!!

20 Aug

I promised updated pictures now that my classroom no longer looks like “a furniture truck threw up” in it.  I would say it’s about 95% done.  There are still labels, bulletin board titles and a few things to organize, and I still need to hang my icicle lights, but it’s good enough for the 1st day and I’m proud of the progress it’s made in the last week.
So here goes…

This is the view of my classroom from near the door.  The tables all have numbered supply tubs on them – we share most supplies in our room like markers, crayons, glue, pencils and erasers.  The white folders have a  packet in them for the kids to work on as students arrive in the morning and during the first week.  The table at the back left will be my guided reading table, but for now has all the forms and information that goes home on the first day.  You can also see my math wall, but there’s more on that later.😉

This is our Word Work Wall and it’s not quite put together yet, but it’s getting there.  Let’s start from the bottom up, shall we?  The table on the left is the Word Work Center – part of the Daily 5 Program.  Materials can be changed out as needed in the tubs.  The purple word wall above it is our class word wall and it’s magnetic!!  Yes, magnetic!  When I add words to the wall I put magnets on the back.  Then the kids can take a word with them to where they’re working, use it, and replace it!  A few of the Kindergarten teachers used this system last year, so the kids will be familiar with it and already know how to use it!!  I’m so excited about making the words so accessible for them.  Once I add words and the kids start to use them, I’ll post about it again!
The green board is for Words of the Week for vocabulary and phonics.  These are the words they’ll also be using in the Word Work center….got it? Ahhhhh…:)
The orange board is for the vocabulary words we’ve already worked on to live so we can use them and refer to them when we want to use our “Million Dollar Words”!
This giant blue wall is our Literacy Wall!  On the left is our Classroom Library which for now is small and it’s bothering me.  I have a ton of books in the cabinets, but I thought it would be easier  to only have 2 bookshelves.  Now, I’m not so sure.  I always love having so many books out for the kids and it just seems so limited now.  We’ll see I guess.
The wall is used for posting big graphic organizers and charts we create together on the carpet during read alouds and shared reading.  Then, the reading tree!  I love this tree and it has moved with me and been a big part of my classroom every year!  I think I may add branches and more leaves later to really make it come further out of the wall.
The computers are new this year and they’re touch-screen!!  We have never had technology like this in our classrooms but our school got 140 new touch-screen computers this year for our classes!  It’s awesome and I can’t wait for the kids to be able to use them.  The Listen to Reading Center is another part of the Daily 5 and the kids will use the computers to listen to books being read aloud!  Fun stuff!
 

Well, let me Welcome you to First Grade!!  It’s going to be a great year!

-T

Under Construction…

18 Aug

This is what my classroom looked like at the beginning of the week…Here is my thinking at this point:
“School starts next Monday. This is not a good sign!  I moved rooms (again) and there is a LOT of work to do!  This will not work- it looks like a furniture truck threw up in here!”

Well, I’m proud to say I’ve been a busy lady and the room is finally coming along!  I will post some updated pictures tomorrow, it doesn’t even look like the same room!! Thanks to my team, my student teacher and some creativity, we are definitely getting there!
I still have a LONG way to go though to be ready – copies, supplies, finishing touches…oh, did I mention Meet the Teacher is tomorrow at 12? Or that I have a meeting at 11?  No…well, perhaps I blocked that out.😉 Fingers crossed!!

On another note, my Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred DVD came in today!  After reading some other people’s reviews and results from the program, I thought I’d give it a try!  Why not, right?!  So Monday will be Day 1!  I’m excited to see the results.  Bootcamp starts back up at school on the 29th – can you tell I’m getting back into my workout kick again?  After almost 6 weeks off, I’m ready to get back “on the wagon”!!

Well, that’s all for now, classroom updates soon!  Good luck to all those teachers out there!

-T

Do I have “mad skills”? No, but my skills are happy!

11 Aug

Well, this is Day One and here I am.  I am not a writer, not overly creative, but I like to create and I guess I need an outlet.  So, here we are.
Why are my skills happy?

I was trying to come up with a name for this, and everything I could think of was…well, honestly, lame.  Then it occurred to me that my kids most often encourage a new project or craft, so why not my blog name.

I thought of my JonahBear…  One night he was making burgers with Daddy in the kitchen.  JonahBear LOVES to cook, bake, anything in the kitchen!  So they were forming burgers and having boy time.  Daddy told JonahBear, “Wow, you have some MAD burger-making skills!” JonahBear, thoughtfully as always, replied, “No, Dad, my skills are happy!”

So now we’re here.  I’m a teacher, so I’ve had all summer with my kids. 2 kids under 5 can be exciting and sometimes a handful!  About a month ago, a friend showed me Pinterest.  Well, I LOVE to crochet, sew, bake, craft and DIY so of course, I was immediately hooked.  Since then, our house has been a crocheting, sewing, DIY-ing madhouse!  I just can’t stop! There are SO MANY good ideas and so little time!

Here are a few of my summer projects:
Jonah’s Monster Hat: Got the idea from etsy here.

Made this hat for a friend’s daughter: Got the pattern from aestheticnest.com.

Cool Hex Nut Bracelet (super easy, by the way) from here.

Bird Applique Tote Bag: Great tutorial from craftsnob.com.

The piece de resistance – my new skirt!!  I’ve NEVER made a skirt in my life and REALLY didn’t think it would go well, but it was surprisingly easy and now, I am the proud owner of a new skirt made by me!  If I can do it, so can you!!  Here is the tutorial!

Okay, so I’m calling it a night, but stick with me, there will be more about me and my family soon!  I may not have “mad skills”, but my skills are definitely happy and I’m here to prove that anyone with a little patience and determination can DIY with the best of them!!

-T