Sunday, October 11, 2015

Fall Festival at Barton Hill Farms!

It's that time of year again, y'all! While the temperatures are still forecasted in the mid-to-high 90's over the next couple of days, fall has actually arrived, believe it or not, and so off we went today to the Fall Festival at Barton Hill Farms!

If you remember from last year, this was our second visit out to the farms, but this time, Jack was walking steadily enough to explore the farms himself, and it was a huge hit!

Barton Hill Farms has been open for only a handful of years compared to some of the other local pumpkin patches, but the crowd that it draws is impressive nonetheless! Nestled on the banks of the Colorado River, the farm features a giant corn maze in the shape of a pumpkin, a smaller corn maze that follows the story of Spookly, pumpkins for both painting and purchase, farm animals, barrel rides, a "grain train", tricycle races, a giant slide, and kayaking!

This year, Ava was disappointed that there weren't pony rides, but she quickly came around when I told her that we could go kayaking together on the river! Bastrop River Canoes has a set up down on the banks to where you can rent a kayak for half an hour for a mere five dollars! $5.00! Once I heard that, I decided that, between the inexpensive cost and the beautiful weather outside, today was the day for her first kayak ride!

Notice the complete lack of paddle on Ava's part. Girl sure knows how to relax ;)

One big hit again this year were the sprinkling of kid-directed activities located around the farms. From the giant bounce pillow in the middle of it all, to the hop horses and the giant people wheels, there was lots to keep the kiddos entertained!

Another perennial favorite are the trains: this year there were two different types!

Barton Hill Farms is open weekends through November 1st, Saturdays from 10a-10p, and Sundays from 10a-5p. I will say that earlier tends to be better, as the crowds are lighter and the weather cooler, but even in the heat of the day when the place was packed, it was never uncomfortable or cramped - that's the beauty of those wonderful outdoor activities that fall brings! Get your tickets online in advance to save $1 per ticket, and go make your fall memories today!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Happy Marriage Equality Day, Three + Months Belated!

This summer, as you surely know, was monumental in the fight for marriage equality in the United States of America. This is something that has been near and dear to my heart - and not just my heart, but my children's as well. From her very beginnings, Ava has been raised to honor every individual person she meets for who they are inside, and not judge them by their differences or their preferences, including their sexuality. She has two godfathers, for crying out loud! 

One of the things that has always mattered to me as a parent has been to pass on a legacy of tolerance, and love, and kindness. More than anything, I want my children to take from me that the inherent value of a person has nothing to do with their appearance, or their financial situation, or who they love, and everything to do with who they are inside, and how they treat people. It is also important to me that she become someone who is socially and civilly responsible, and an active participant in their world. More than what she grows up to believe, I want her to know that her voice can, and should, be heard, and that she should fight for what is right, and what matters. For us, one of those things that matter has always been that the people we love can love, legally, whomever they want. So on June 26th, 2015, when the Supreme Court ruled that marriage was a civil right, and that regardless of sexual orientation, should be extended to every single citizen of age, well, what's a socially conscious mother to do but load her children up in the car, drive down to the Travis County Clerk, and celebrate lavishly with the first recipients of same-sex marriage licenses in our state?

So that's precisely what we did.

That joyful expression just about sums it up. 

The County Clerk was SWARMED with News crews. In fact, I spoke to KVUE out in the hallway during the press conference with the County Commissioner, after they asked me why we were there that day. In short, I told them, I wanted my children to really see and feel the momentous joy that families, who had been waiting and waiting for this moment, were feeling as they got their marriage licenses and married. I just didn't feel I could do the enormity of what was happening justice from our living room. 

In this room, the first ten couples in Travis County to apply for a same-sex marriage license waited for the official green light to be ushered into the County Clerk. Some had waited DECADES.

We felt your joy. Congratulations!

We also got to talk to the ACLU of Texas, and Ava and I walked out with shiny new ACLU Texas t-shirts. Ava insisted on putting hers on and flying her flag the entire drive home. I'm so damn proud, y'all. 


It's been a while since I've posted. I mean, technically I post here and there about some fun event happening around town, or some awesome experience my kids and I have had recently, but for the most part, I haven't been very introspective of late. It's not that I don't have opinions - anyone that's been around for a while knows all too well that's not the case. But I find myself lost in the hustle and bustle and the daily comings and goings of everyday motherhood, where I'm just trying to keep my head above water, and time to sit around and dwell on something in much detail?

That being said, I found myself with some time this past weekend, as I recovered from surgery. I'd by lying if I made it sound like I wasn't looking forward to this surgery the way that most people look forward to child-free weekend trips! Twenty-four hours where I was expected to lay around in bed, take painkillers, and generally not be in charge of a single person except myself? Sign me up! Why don't you take my spleen or gallbladder or any other optional organ while you're at it! Need a kidney? I've got two! Help yourself!

In all seriousness, though, I was so looking forward to the brief respite from daily life, that I didn't really give the surgery - an endometrial ablation to treat severe endometriosis and the resulting pain - that much thought. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found myself laying in bed, twenty-four hours post-op, and noticing that, though the pain was subsiding and becoming much more manageable without the aid of several prescription bottles, the awareness and subtle grief of the fact that one of the results of my surgery was that my baby makin' days are over was increasing.

We all know how much I HATED being pregnant. I see a pregnant woman, and I immediately feel like I have PTSD - it's like I'm back in the trenches of severe, all-day-long, all-nine-months morning sickness. I had no intention of having another baby, as much as some days my arms ache at the fact that Jack is growing further and further from the baby and toddler stage and becoming a little boy. I have known since I found out that I was pregnant with him that each new milestone and each new stage would be his first, but my last. And yet, as I lay in bed that day, the knowledge that I could no longer choose; that I'd no longer be able to change my mind and have just one more, closed in on me, and it made me sad.

My family, as it is, is absolutely enough. I have more than I could've ever dreamed. Just the same, though, it was harder than I thought it would be to know that there was no longer the opportunity to change my mind.

For those whose families are complete, did you grieve at all the end of your childbearing years? Were you surprised by the way that you felt once you were no longer able to have children?

Saturday, September 19, 2015

LEGO KidsFest 2015!

Over Labor Day weekend, we took the kids down to the Convention Center for some hands-on family fun at LEGO KidsFest 2015! The last time we went was back in 2012, when the tour came to town. Ava was just starting to get interested in LEGO blocks, and Jack wasn't even being thought of, so this time, it was like a whole new experience! 

Though we recognized some of the builds, like Gandolf, Lightning McQueen, Chewbacca, and others, there were some new additions as well, like the Lego movie crew, Jurassic World characters, and more!

It also seemed like there were many more building stations this time around, or maybe I just wasn't as attuned to them before since Ava was only just at an age where she was becoming able to build well enough to be interested? Either way, the kids had a blast going to each different themed area and adding their creations! 

Jack's particular favorite was the vehicle building bins, with wheels and ramps to race them! We must have spent a half hour or more at just that one area!

One of my favorite things about LEGO KidsFest is the United States build. Each time we've been, they've had an enormous map of the U.S., with attendees encouraged to build something symbolic of an area - either the city they're visiting or another of your choice - and add it to the map. It's always so interesting to see what people come up with, and the ways in which the different areas are represented! 

Hook 'em!

Another favorite worth mentioning is the Child ID program they always have, offered by New York Life. We did this for Ava when she was 2.5 and we went, and this time, we updated hers and did one for Jackson as well. Essentially, they offer the chance to record vital data on your child (height, weight, allergies, etc.), combined with a photo they take, and fingerprints they take, and then copy them to a virtual file in case your child ever is lost, etc. Though the scenario is every parent's worst nightmare, it does offer a bit of protection in the case that it is ever needed, and the data is completely safeguarded. I pray we never need to use it, but I'm glad to have it just in case!

Did you attend LEGO KidsFest 2015, either in Austin or another city? If so, what was your favorite character? What building station did you spend the most time at? What character would you like to see represented in the future that wasn't there?

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