Friday, November 26, 2010

Sneaky Weasel

There must be some sort of developmental milestone that makes all four year-olds go crazy and start stalking their mothers and fathers and siblings and even their poor, unsuspecting dogs!  For the past four days there has been a sneaky little girl hiding behind doors or under the bed or behind the couch.  Every time I am pre-occupied with work or laundry or dishes, I catch a glimpse of the little weasel slinking out from under the dining room table, trying as hard as she might not to giggle and draw attention to herself.  Once she feels sure that she's reached an optimal range, she shoots up, grabs me by the leg, and hollers like a banshee, "RRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHRRRRRRRR!"

 Then she sulks off dejected because I didn't jump out of my skin, only to come back 6 minutes later to try again!  You would think she'd just get tired and give it up, but she persists.  I am beginning to wonder if all this cloak and dagger stuff would just fade away if I gave her what she wanted, that one good, blood-curdling scream to make her think she's succeeded.  But something tells me it would only fuel the fire!  So for now, she keeps shrieking and I continue to assure her that she was CLOSE to scaring me.  We'll see how long it lasts, but I seem to remember the Monkey Man stalking me for months!  It's a good thing I'm not terribly jumpy or my life would be really sucky right about now!  ;)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

10 Things

These are the 10 things I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving.

1.  I know it's probably a given, but I am so thankful for my little turkeys!  My kids amaze me, they make me laugh every single day and they absolutely make me want to be the strongest, healthiest, most awesome "me" that I can be!

2.  I am thankful for my Big Daddy.  He is my soul mate and my best friend, truly the rhyme to my reason!  My kids couldn't ask for a better Daddy and I couldn't ask for a better partner in this crazy journey through parenthood!

3.  I am thankful for my home.  It may not be the dream home on 5 acres with a studio over the garage, but it's warm, it's safe and it's ours.  And in a world where so many people don't have a home, I am eternally grateful for mine!

4.  I can't believe I'm saying this, but yes... I am thankful for two little crapweasel dogs!  They are small, obnoxious, barky and occasionally they pee on the carpet, but they are awesome companions and loyal, little lap-warmers and I'm so happy we were able to give these two little sad-sack dogs a second chance at the good life!

5.  I am thankful that my husband has a good job with benefits!  Do I really need to say anymore?

6.  I am unbelievably thankful that I have found something I love to do and I'm getting the opportunity to go for it!

7.  I am thankful for my family, both near and far.

8.  I am thankful for amazing friends!  Each and everyone of you bring something special to my life!

9.  Again, I know it's cliche', but I'm thankful for my health.  All I want to do is spend a long, healthy, happy life in the presence of my beautiful family and friends!

10.  And last but not least...  I am thankful for sweat pants and flip-flops!  Life would be so uncomfortable without them!  ;)

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!  I hope you are spending a wonderful day, eating yummy food and spending time with those you love!  Gobble, gobble!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

How to make a platypus

Or at least a fairly decent version of one!  So here's the story... we have a little friend who is about to celebrate his 6th birthday.  He LOVES Australia and REALLY loves platypuses (or is it platypi?)  He is having a big Australian Adventure party and we wanted to stick with the theme.  We shopped around for a nice platypus but had no luck.  Ty makes a platypus Beanie Baby, but it's pink and doesn't really look like a platypus.  So the kids and I put our heads together and brainstormed.  The Monkey Man suggested that since I make costumes and I, not too long ago, made them monsters, why couldn't I make a platypus?  So I dug through my Halloween stash of polar fleece and lo and behold tan and brown for the perfect platypus!  Now I will warn you ahead of time, this was not intended to be a serious replica of a platypus, I was wanting him to have to whimsy and silliness.  So without further ado,  here is how you make a platypus!

Step 1.  Make a pattern.  I used leftover posterboard from Halloween and made a ridiculous sketch of said platypus, minus the beak and flippers that would be fashioned later.  I sewed around the body, leaving the head open to add stuffing.
 Step 2.  Stuff him!  I used regular Poly-Fil for stuffing.  I had an old pair of chopsticks that I used to poke the stuffing into the necessary spaces.  There was a great deal of poking and patting and whacking.  The kids thought I was a little weird!
Step 3.  Once you're done stuffing him, stitch the hole in the head and cut out flippers and a beak.  I sewed two pieces of fleece for each flipper and the beak.  I doubled the fleece on the flippers just for thickness, I left the edges raw.  I did put a small amount of stuffing in the beak.

Step 4.  Attach beak and flippers.  I hand-sewed all of these.  I wanted to make sure they were super strong and secure.  Look!  He's beginning to look like a platypus!
Step 5.  Pick out and attach eyes.  The kids wanted button eyes.  They thought he would be much sillier if they were different colors.  So there you have it!  The finished product made us giggle!  Step 6.  Have children give the platypus a good squeeze so he'll be full of love for his little boy!

We wrapped him in a raffia bow and I penned a little poem for the occasion... (names changed to protect the innocent!)

There once was a boy named Bobby
Who loved animals and critters and such
He especially loved Australia
And its majestic PLATYPUS

We searched high and low for a creature
That was soft and fuzzy and plush
But much to our sadness and sorrow
There was no majestic PLATYPUS

So we came up with a plan and a pattern
And with fleece and thread and fuss
We worked very hard to make you
This majestic PLATYPUS

We hope that you'll love him and keep him
And he'll be a special friend to trust
Because after all there's no creature as loyal
As the great and majestic PLATYPUS!

I would like to wish a fine Happy Birthday to our wonderful, little friend and we hope that he enjoys this platypus and he has as much fun playing with him as we had making him!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Westcave Preserve

On Monday, the kids and I met up with our Campfire group for a guided tour of Westcave Preserve.  I have been in Austin almost 8 years and have heard of this place, but we have never made it out there, so I was excited to finally see it.  I can tell you, I was NOT disappointed!  What a beautiful place!  The Monkey Man had asked on the way out if the preserve actually had a cave, but I told him that I was pretty sure it was just a name since the preserve is west of Bee Cave.  I was wrong!  There is actually a cave!  We were so excited!

The hike itself was lovely.  The trail was thin and rough and steep at times, we had to go single file much of the way.  This would NOT be a hike for someone with mobility issues as it is not paved and definitely not wheelchair or stroller accessible.  However, the trail was completely under the canopy and on a warm November day you just couldn't have asked for a more pleasant hike!

We started our tour with a talk about the watershed and conservation followed by a game about local wildlife.  The kids had loads of fun with this one!  I was a bobcat!

Then we had a quick picnic and gathered to start our hike.  While we were gearing up some of the kids noticed this little Texas Spiny Lizard!  Isn't it cute?
Then we were off down the trail.  First stop was a lookout point where we could see the Pedernales River.
And of course, I came across a cool, dead tree!  :)
As we got a little further into the canyon the scenery began to change from live oaks and scrub brush to delicate ferns and moss.
Then we came to the waterfall.  Granted, since there has been very little rain over the past few months the waterfall itself was nothing more than a trickle, but it was really pretty!
We were able to walk up behind the falls to look out and the kids were able to see evidence that this part of the world had once been under the sea as there were seashells in rock above our heads along with layers of limestone and shale.
Then we got to enter the cave!  OK, so we're not talking Carlsbad Caverns here, it was just a small, primitive cave that was VERY damp and drippy!  The tour guide called the water droplets that landed on our heads "cave kisses".  :)  Here is a shot of a small group of stalagmites.
Honestly, this picture makes me think of the Bog of Eternal stench in the Jim Henson movie "Labyrinth"!  Hee-hee!  There were quite a few baby stalactites, they were pretty much still "soda straws".  The tour guide mentioned that this particular cave had a lot of green algae present and if you looked close you could see algae at the end of the stalactites, which we could (sorry though, it did not translate into decent pics).  She asked if we could see what was different about the stalactites with algae and I noted that they were curved and she said, "Yes, they are curved because of the algae fighting to face toward the light at the entrance of the cave."  OK, so that was one of those mind-blowing, super-awesome discoveries!  I geeked out about that all afternoon!  There was a group of nice columns
and here is a view looking out of the cave entrance.  Notice all of the algae on the formation.
I managed one last shot of the waterfall area on the way back out.  Stunning isn't it?
It was a great hike, I highly recommend it!  This place is a preserve, so you are not allowed to just hike around willy-nilly.  They offer weekday guided tours for youth groups and few guided tours on the weekend with a maximum of 30 people per tour.  The tour guides are very motivated, friendly and knowledgeable.  They say this time of the year is pretty slow and the groups stay small.  But because of them only offering guided tours a certain number of times every week, humans have not impacted this area as much as most of the state parks.  There was no litter, just a beautiful, clean preserve with clear water and big cypress trees!  So if you haven't been, take the trip and go explore!  It is well worth the hour and fifteen minute drive out there!