Thursday, July 30, 2009

There's nothing in the world like a cousin...especially this cousin

That's right, Allie and Andrew came to town and fun was had by all! They were here for about a week and we wasted no time. Whenever any of our friends or relatives come to Austin we like to take them to see the sights because there are still a lot of things that we haven't seen ourselves----it's a great opportunity to get out and find some fun.
We have known for quite some time that there is a bridge in downtown Austin that is home to millions of bats---that's right, bats. Every night at sunset the bats fly out from under the bridge to go eat a zillion times their weight in insects and it is quite a spectacle to behold (or so we had heard). We decided that while Andrew and Allie were here would be the perfect time to check out this attraction, especially because we knew that Bracken and Andrew would be fascinated by the creepy little creatures. So, one night we got all of the kids into their pajamas and headed for downtown. Justin had called "the bat phone" to see what time the bats would be making their appearance and we learned that it wasn't until 9pm which ordinarily would be way too late for an outing but for this we made a special exception. We picked up dinner on the way downtown and headed to the park to eat our food and watch for bats. Unfortunately we found out around 9:05 when the bats never surfaced that we were under the wrong bridge, the kids were a little disappointed but they had already had so much fun being totally weird (as is evidenced in pictures below) that they were fine with having missed it. I'm pretty sure that I was the most disappointed of us all.
In all of the pictures I have posted you will be able to witness what baffles Allie and me, where on earth did these boys come from?
both as weird as they come, doing some sort of Fiddler on the Roof dance
a random homeless child
Tate knows something silly
just a cute boy with a harmless stick
On Guard!!
I give up on those boys!
I just think they are being so weird and embarrassing!
We consider ourselves so fortunate that our first summer here is literally the hottest on record in Austin history---clearly a great time to be 8 months pregnant. We go to the pool nearly every day at least once but due to naps for the younger ones we have been forced to become creative with our water play. At some point I had bribed Bracken with water balloons and they have become a very fun way for the kids to beat the heat.
water balloons...they took 20 minutes to fill and 20 seconds to go through
fun in a tub
my favorite picture from the trip, love the freckles and the big blue eyes
not as cute as Andrew's silly face
wrong game boys, there are no apples in there
Bracken after dunking himself
right before Bracken pushed Andrew's head under the water
and pretended he was merely after a balloon
three kids, three water balloons, danger for me
why does she always strike a pose?
very lady-like
so cheesy
Abbie trying to make the monkey face mommy makes
Andrew and the HUGE cricket thing, the boys spent some quality time trying to capture and kill
thumbs up! I guess they killed it
Bracken learned how to make his own water balloon
The water balloons were a blast but they were only a precursor to the real fun. Andrew turned six back in December but because his birthday is the week before Christmas he didn't have a party, Allie had promised him that he could have his party when they came to Texas over the summer, so we did. On one of their last days here we ordered pizza, bought cupcakes, and headed for a great park near the gym. Andrew was a little perplexed as to where his presents were but seemed to forget about them (temporarily) once we arrived at the park. It was quite the experience, as you can see.
yes, I know his shirt is backwards but he was so proud of getting himself dressed, he wore it like this all day
just having a little dinner
running a few laps on a track he created with a rake
(he seriously ran like a mile worth of laps)
pizza, the best birthday dinner choice!
Tatey loves trucks
the joys of digging
sand angel
another sand angel
Andrew's shovel prism (aka prison)
this was her problem
this was her solution
oops, I was the one who carried the cupcakes...
Tate, would you care to share a drink?
totally excited for the first bite
whose idea was the electric-colored frosting?
in case you can't tell what's happening, check the picture below
Andrew is indeed blowing his party horn with his nose
come on, you can do better than that...
There you go, really show us those tonsils!
How do children eat in such a way as to get frosting in the corners of their eyes?
Boy George?
Oh how we miss being entertained by our cousins down the street. We were so sad to see you guys go but we were so glad that you were able to come and visit!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Grandpa comes to town

We were so lucky to have Grandpa Lee come into town for a visit for a week over the Memorial Day weekend. My kids love it when grandpa comes to town because they know that that means fun, fun, fun! Grandpa likes to take the kids on a lot of special dates. While he was in town he took the kids to get Happy Meals (on more than one occasion), to Target to buy new toys, and to see the movie UP in 3D. These are all things that my kids would definitely NOT have been doing with me. My Dad is always all about making the grandkids happy and my kids are getting old enough to know how to manipulate that system, Bracken tells me on at least a weekly basis (when I tell him we can't afford certain putting in a swimming pool) that grandpa could do that for him. In Bracken's eyes his grandpa is the richest man on earth. Anyone who can send you Pokemon balls in the mail, or life-sized diners for your birthday, and can buy Happy Meals at every McDonalds stop has the Midas touch.

There have been times when my Dad and I have not seen eye-to-eye about how to handle a sobbing child---I head for time-outs and he pulls out his wallet---but overall I am grateful that he spoils my kids, that's what grandparents are for. While I was growing up I lived across the country from my grandparents but they only lived a few miles from one another so when we would travel to Salt Lake from Washington I was always very excited to see them. Both my dad's and mom's parents were all about spoiling the grandkids. My Grandpa Lee would happily slip us a ten or twenty dollar bill so that we could walk to the nearby McDonalds to get ice cream or Happy Meals. He usually gave us way more money than we would need for our summer treats but we would pocket the rest and use it later at the 7-11 by my Aunt Lizzie's house.

While grandpa was here we had some great adventures. Justin had business in Houston so we all decided to tag along. We didn't see much of Justin but we had fun exploring the city, though we mainly stuck to the hotel pool and the nearby shopping mall. My Dad took a great picture of the kids each on their own pool lounger with their arms folded behind their heads relaxing poolside, but as is the case when other people take the pictures, I have been unable to get that picture off of my Dads flashcard. Unfortunately, the only pictures I took while grandpa was in town were of the car ride to Houston because once we got to the hotel I accidentally left the camera in the car. So, if I ever get the cute pictures off of my Dad's camera I will post those as well but for now it is just a sneak peek into what it's like to travel with the Allen kids.

Ruby is her grandfather's grandaughter...she discovered her LOVE for diet coke

funny times

Tate trying to be cute enough to get his own diet coke

the third row of the car...weirdness

road trip singing

The funniest thing that happened while my Dad was in town---well it's funny now---was that he lost his car keys for several days. He has had really bad luck with Austin rental cars. When he and Josh came into town at Christmas they got a flat tire on their rental on the way to church, then had major issues with the rental car company and his insurance company trying to get the problem fixed. This time the keys were a major mystery because when you live in a house with this many little kids you are forced to look EVERYWHERE not just in logical places. Ruby is no respecter of hiding spots, she does not discriminate. We eventually found the keys in a box to a recently purchased hairdryer that was going to be thrown away. We were just grateful to have found them but for a while I thought we may all have nervous breakdowns over the whole situation. Thankfully the keys were found the afternoon before my Dad was to return to Virginia, we were really sad to see grandpa leave but were glad to know we would see him again soon.

On a completely different subject, there are a lot of fun places to eat in Austin, several in fact that we found right away after our move and have already made family favorites. As anyone who has come to visit us knows we are major fans of Rudy's BBQ, Chuy's (mexican food), and Round Rock Donuts (they are totally worth the 30 minute drive), but there are several other places that we keep meaning to visit but haven't made it to yet. One such place was Phil's Ice House, a burger place we've heard about from nearly everyone because it has great food and fun play equipment for the kids. Well, the day after grandpa left we were running some errands and passed famous Phil's and decided to give it a try. As you can see it was a big hit!!

It was extremely hot outside but that didn't really seem to matter to the kids. Abbie had come in full regalia but did eventually shed the princess dress and was much more comfortable in play clothes. The kids had a great time experimenting with the never-seen-before spinning flower cups (great for helping you lose your lunch immediately after finishing your burger) and spinning swizzel stick. Ruby wanted to spend the entire afternoon with people spinning her around and around that swizzel stick pole, Bracken was willing to do it for quite some time but finally we decided to make her stop because her head and eyes were spinning. A favorite of Abbie's was the "Greetings from Austin Texas" cow sign that the kids could stick their heads through. Phil's is attached to an Amy's ice cream, which is a local chain ice cream place here. The only drawback to this fun place to eat is that it is located right on a busy road, for the most part my kids are not runners and always steer clear of roads but Ruby is quite the explorer these days and it made me nervous to be so close to danger.

three little cows

Abbie loved this cow thing that she could put her face in, she kept running back over to do it again and again


Bracken was my only child willing to ride the "sock monkey cow" because the plastic was burning hot

Bracken and Ruby in the spinning cup/flower thing

Daddy and his other wife/iphone

Bracken is always willing to help his siblings have a good time, so he was willing to spin Ruby over and over

Bracken decided to join in the fun

mulch pies for sale

Ruby's happy place

It was easily way over 100 degrees but Abbie still insisted on wearing her huge costume dress over her clothes...

...until she was not---back to her regular play clothes.