Saturday, March 28, 2009

Texas Tradition

Today we completed an annual Texas tradition. We took EK's picture while he was sitting in a field of bluebonnets. For the mil10s it has become something we do every year. Once the first signs of spring begin to appear, we keep a eye open for a good photo location. Which area will be best? Beside a roadside park? Just off the shoulder of a busy road? On a farm road that may be a little out of the way? Depending on weather and growing conditions the location can change year to year. This year we spotted a new location that fit the bill as a perfect location - large clump of flowers and a safe area for parking the car. We spied the picture spot this morning on the way to meet friends at their house. You see, we were going to Rebecca's gymnastic meet. Over eighty young gymnasts rotated through the floor exercise, vault, bars, and the beam. Following the competition we had a nice meal at On the Border. What fun. Before going home we stopped at the bluebonnet patch we found earlier in the day. Sure it was only fifty degrees. Yes, we are under a wind advisory. Sure the ground would probably be muddy due to all of the recent rain. But there was one factor that made it a great day for taking a picture. Clouds. This was the first year we were really able to take the pictures on a cloudy day. Usually we have to fight the sun's bright light. Mix this with EK's sensitivity to the sun and his inability to take the picture while keeping his eyes open, and you have photographers that loose their patience resulting in photos of a crying child. Today was different.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Five Years and Two Days Later

Dallas Zoo - 2004

Dallas Zoo - 2009

Dallas Zoo - 2004

Dallas Zoo - 2009

"Officials at the Dallas Zoo are trying to determine how a 300-pound gorilla escaped from its cage Thursday, sending zoo visitors scurrying for safety.The animal injured four people, including a toddler, before being shot and killed by police."

March 18, 2004 [source]

Thankfully we were not there that day! However, we were there the day preceding the gorilla escape and attack. We have always been thankful we avoided the incident. Five years and two days later we returned to the Dallas Zoo. As you can see in the photos above, little has changed in the time since our original visit. However, EK's level of involvement and interest were definitely higher.

The Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo is a major attraction with the exhibits that allow for interaction and learning. At the Discovery House EK had the opportunity to pet a snake. Although I cannot remember the specific variety, it was definitely not something I would want to have sitting in my lap like the animal handler.

Also in the children's zoo is Travis & Zach’s Birds Landing, an aviary, with more than 20 species of friendly birds to feed. The zoo says that birds are chosen from all around the world for their people-friendly personalities. EK would beg to differ. After paying $1 for a cup of four live worms, he walked about the aviary unsure about the whole birds-getting-too-far-into-my-personal-space situation. After accidentally spilling his worms once, I picked them up and put them back into the plastic cup. Still unsure of the whole thing, I showed him how to hold a worm in my hand and let the bird get it out my palm. Not really sure about it, EK decided to hold the cup within the bird's reach and let the bird help himself to the worm while still in the cup. Now we know why birds don't eat out of cups. It is a little difficult. EK decided at that point to throw the worm onto the ground in front of the bird. The bird quickly ate the worm but I suppose it was not content with just four worms. It approached EK and pecked him on the leg as if he was asking for more. This bird was certainly not displaying its people-friendly personality. This was surely not a situation out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, but it was was a little traumatic for EK.
He recovered after a bit. Who knew you would be pecked by birds expressing dissatisfaction with the zoo approved four worm diet? Is that an assumption you should make upon entering an aviary? Indeed we will consider this in the future.

The remainder of the day remained uneventful, from dining on site (free refills all day during your visit!) to the monorail ride through the Wilds of Africa.

From the largest outdoor floral display in the Southwest, to the largest biological experience in Texas, it has been a big Spring Break!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Stop to Smell the Roses, Tulips, Daffodils, Pansies, Honeysuckle, Snowballs...

If you have never visited the Dallas Arboretum, I would encourage you to do so. When we were originally considering walking around sixty-six acres of blooming flowers and trees adjacent to White Rock Lake, I can't say I was completely excited. At the end of the day, however, I can say I am glad we made the trip.

According to Texas Monthly, "This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the Dallas Arboretum’s largest festival Dallas Blooms.... This year’s theme, ‘Dallas Blooms – It’s A Classic’ emphasizes that the festival is now a signature event that millions of people have enjoyed. MSN has even stated it was one of the top ten things to do in the country in spring." Now the display is the largest outdoor floral display in the Southwest!

As today is Wednesday, we benefited from "Buy One, Get One Wednesday." Visit the arboretum website and print a coupon. Entry discounts are always a plus!

Besides the 25th Anniversary Cake Topiary (which was thirteen feet tall), another featured event this year is the Playhouse Storybook exhibit. Playhouses inspired by settings or buildings from children's literature were scattered among the gardens. Featured books include:

  • Peter Pan
  • James and the Giant Peach
  • Eragon
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
  • The Little Prince
  • Treasure Island
  • The Lorax
  • Hope for the Flowers
  • City Green
  • Thumbelina
  • The Owl and the Pussycat
  • Teremok
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • The Bamboo Cutter’s Daughter
  • Hansel and Gretel
Did you count two pirate related texts? That's right, two! That meant we had two pirate playhouses to enjoy. The structure pictured at right was amazing. Inside there were climbing areas (off limits due to safety reasons), a captains, wheel, and a few shipping props. If this was in our backyard, there would defiantly be much less grass to maintain. I think EK would want to live out there.

After a day at the arboretum we left with the following observations:
1. Unlike Walt Disney World, it is ok to walk on the grass at the Dallas Arboretum.
2. Pecan shells make good mulch in flowerbeds. Amazon sells a forty pound bag for $4.99. Who knew!
3. Unsupervised children will throw rocks at the fish in the koi pond. No children, you are not feeding them.

When we return to the arboretum we plan to take a picnic lunch with us. There were plenty of people enjoying lunches on one of the many lawns. It reminded me of in New York's Central Park. However, we left and headed to Highland Park Cafeteria. I don't think we were the youngest couple at HPC this time!

Dallas Blooms continues through April 12, but the playhouses will be on display through the end of December.

EK's breathing wasn't going well. Could it be all of the blooms? All of the pollen? We had to call it a day and come home for a night of rest at the mil10 homestead.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lego Donald

EK built Donald Duck out of Legos this evening. The ribbon on his hat did not show up very well in the picture.

View From the Back Porch

Today was day two of Spring Break, or day four if you decide to count the preceding weekend. However, spring does not officially arrive until Friday. Today is also St. Patrick's Day. It seemed strange seeing everyone wearing green at Pizza Hut today. But even more strange were the two shamrock stickers our waitress was wearing beneath the outer corner of each eye. Not for me. We celebrate St. Patrick's Day by wearing green and trying to not to get pinched by another family member.
This afternoon was time for work in the mil10 home. After mowing and weed eating (I think the weed eating was needed more than the mowing), Mrs. mil10 asked if we should go ahead and plant flowers in the pots that are scattered around the front sidewalk and back patio. Why not? It seemed like as good as time as any. She and EK went to town and purchased a variety of sun loving plants.
Now we are not green-thumbed, nor do we have an elaborate garden in our backyard. We have a simple lawn and a few potted flowers for color.

We finished the evening by cooking out on the grill. We had Casey's BBQ Chicken and the mil10 version of mini burgers (bite-sized hamburgers served on dinner rolls).

Enjoy the view! Happy Spring Break everyone!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Awana Grand Prix

"You win some, lose some, and wreck some."
~Dale Earnhardt

Tonight was the annual racing event at church. Although our car never came in higher than second place in any heat, EK says he had a great time.
It is fun seeing all of the different designs that people come up with. Everything from a school bus to lipstick. Last year we created a car that looked like a pirte ship. Go figure! This year EK wanted a basic car with fire. Hobby Lobby's fire decals did the trick.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Artist's Corner

At art lessons this week, EK drew his favorite caped crusdaer, complete with the Gotham City skyline. Below is a photo from 2008 where EK enjoyed pretending to be Batman in his new cape purchased at Six Flags Over Texas.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Flat Stanley Sees the World

Flat Stanley was written in 1964 by Jeff Brown. The book tells the story of a young boy that has to adjust to a flattened state of being after a bulletin board falls on him. The book has been enjoyed by countless children ever since. The author even went on to write several other titles in the series: Stanley In Space, Stanley and the Magic Lamp, Invisible Stanley, Stanley's Christmas Adventure, and Stanley Flat Again. One of the projects associated with this title is to have students mail Flat Stanley to someone and ask them to show Flat Stanley around. Usually pictures or journal entries are mailed back to the student to show what Stanley experienced on his journey. EK's class recently participated in this very project.

When it comes to knowing people outside of Small Town, Texas, there are only a very few that we would feel comfortable asking to tackle this project and take a paper cut out around town while taking pictures of him visiting various tourist destinations or landmarks. When you consider those that live somewhere interesting, the list gets even shorter.

Fortunately we were able to send EK's Flat Stanley to two people. The Flat Stanley that EK originally made at school journeyed to San in New York, New York (1,324 miles one way). A scanned copy of Flat Stanley made a long voyage to Sharon in Singapore (approximately 9,727 miles by flight). Since the projects were mailed directly to school, we did not count on getting to see the artifacts from Stanley's trips until Open House. However, Singapore Stanley sent photos burned onto a CD. Modie picked up the CD today so that we could print a few pictures. There were 166 on the disc. Wow. Stanley, Sharon, and her students traveled a lot of places!

I asked Edie if she thought the other Stanleys from EK's classroom experienced such exotic locations. Now if only I could have found a way to make the trip with Stanley. I understand how Denyse feels. The paper doll gets to travel the globe and I am sitting here looking at photos from its vacation.

Wouldn't you know it! Stanley found a pirate. How appropriate. Thank you, Sharon and San. We look forward to seeing Stanley's adventures in NYC.