Sunday, August 30, 2015

Welcome to Hillcrest

Right now our Florida home is in Hillcrest, a large condo complex of 24 buildings built around an 18-hole golf course. We have a one-bedroom condo on the third floor of Building 3, where the humans have to be 55 or over, pets have to be 25 pounds or under, every unit gets one parking space (and woe be unto anyone who parks in the wrong space!) and there’s a coin laundry on every floor. It’s a great place for snowbirds, but I don’t really like it and it’s no secret we’ve been looking for something else. (Plus, no one told us the golf course was closing down and developers are planning to build homes on the golf course. Oy vey!) But for now it’s our Florida home and it’s good to be home. 

Here I am in front of our building this afternoon. (Our condo is on the corner on the top floor.) Can you guess what camera Rob took this with? No, we didn’t buy a new camera yet, though we plan to. It’s the camera in my cell phone! I’d practically forgotten about it because it doesn’t take very good pictures and it costs 25 cents to get them out of the phone. But hey, it works! 

Friday, August 28, 2015

The last picture

As I mentioned in my last post, our digital camera is broken. For some reason, it went from taking perfect pictures to taking oddly light pictures to taking almost totally white pictures in a matter of days. We’re not really surprised. It was an old camera (we bought it in early 2008 to take pictures of Joey when he was a puppy) and it wasn’t expensive. And it served us well – all the pictures for Joey’s blog, the Chicken blog, and the first month of this blog were taken with it. But it’s definitely broken. Rob has tried everything he can think of to fix it, to no avail. We’ll go camera shopping later, but first, by request, I’ll show you the last picture before they all went white.  

Here’s Rob and Susanna in her driveway on Wednesday morning before we left. It’s a little odd, but it’s still cute!

We're back!

Okay, we’re back in Florida now. We had a long, long, long trip. The fun part was stopping at Susanna and Johnny’s house in New Orleans on the way. We always enjoy seeing them. Unfortunately, our camera broke so none of the pictures I took came out. But luckily, this post was saved from being pictureless by the Florida Welcome Center, which has an interactive photo op where you can take a picture and email it to yourself. Not only did we get a cute picture, we got free cups of orange juice and a large print map of Florida, too!

Here we are with Captain Citrus. We’ll be in Florida for the next two months, so if you want to send us anything, send it to us here. (We don't have our mail forwarded from Austin; a neighbor gets it and saves it for us.) Everything else - our phone numbers and email - is the same. So that's the news!  

Monday, August 24, 2015

Round Rock Express

The Round Rock Express is the name of a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Texas Rangers that plays in a stadium in the city of Round Rock, Texas, which is just north of Austin. The name of the stadium is the Dell Diamond, which is named after Michael Dell of the Dell computer empire, who lives in Austin. (Aren’t you amazed at how much I know about this stuff?)  Yesterday we went to our second Round Rock Express game with Amber, Chuck, Aurora and Clark. The Round Rock Express played the Salt Lake Bees. It was also Livestrong night at the Dell Diamond, and it was nice to see lots of Amber’s co-workers and their families and to know that some of the proceeds were going to help the foundation.

Here's Chuck, Amber, Clarkie, Aurora, and Rob enjoying the game. Go Express! It was fun to go to the game, and the home team even won! It was our last outing with the crew for this trip, as we’re leaving tomorrow morning to head back to Florida. We’ve had a great summer in Austin! 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Pink gorilla

So what do we do when we're not watching Aurora? We blog about pink gorillas! I was shocked the first time we drove down Anderson Lane near our condo and saw this pink gorilla. What was it doing there? Why was it pink? What does a gorilla have to do with a bingo parlor, which is the closest business to it?

I don't know, but isn't it great?

Friday, August 21, 2015

A fun Thursday

Yesterday was our last Aurora day. We managed to have lots of fun even though we had to wait for the air conditioner repairman all afternoon. (Yes, our air conditioner broke – tsk!) The day started off with Monster High and a snack. Then we put Aurora’s bike in the car and drove to the middle school track. (Rob had strict instructions not to say anything about taking the training wheels off.) After riding her bike, Aurora wanted to go to the Lake Pointe playground and the Galleria McDonald’s for lunch. After lunch, we went back to our condo. Rob and Aurora went swimming while I waited for the repairman. Then we all watched TV and had a snack while we waited for the repairman. Then Aurora drew pictures while we waited for the repairman. Finally the repairman arrived and fixed the air conditioner. After he left, it was time to take Aurora home. On the way back, we sang Beatles songs.

Guess what Aurora got at McDonald's?  Another Monster High toy!  Rob and I had a great time watching Aurora this summer, and we hope she did, too.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Monster High 2

Yesterday was another half day. At 1PM, we picked Aurora up at a neighbor’s house (can you believe she’s lucky enough to have a neighbor with 7-year-old twin girls and a new puppy?) where she’d spent the morning playing. After petting Dixie the puppy and hearing about the good time the girls had, we walked Aurora home and asked her what she'd like to do. She said she wanted to watch Monster High again because she doesn't get to watch it as much as she'd like to because it's too girly and scary for Clark. So we all got comfy on the couch - including Aurora's new Frankie doll - and watched a few episodes of Monster High and had snacks. Then at 5PM we took her to Hat Creek, a restaurant a few minutes away, where we met up with Amber and Clarkie and her friend Melody and her mom. They all had dinner together and then Aurora got to go to Melody's house for a sleepover and a full day of fun. So we've got the day off today. We may be needed Thursday or Friday - we're ready if we are!

Here's a picture of Aurora and Melody (with Clarkie behind them) at the Hat Creek playground.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Monster High

Yesterday we had a full Aurora day again. Instead of starting the day out with Minecraft, Aurora watched Monster High. It's an animated TV series that Aurora says is her new favorite show. For lunch, Aurora said she'd like to go the McDonald's at the Galleria because she likes the outdoor play area there. So that's where we went. And guess what was in her Happy Meal? A Monster High fashion doll with a nifty carrying case! Jackpot! For dessert, Aurora requested a chocolate dip cone - yum! After lunch, we decided to let our food digest by walking around the Galleria. But when we came to the splash pad, Aurora just had to play in it. After a good time at the splash pad, Aurora said she still wanted to go to our condo to swim, so that's what we did. After an afternoon of swimming with Grandpa (Grandma took a little rest), it was time for a snack, some Teen Titans on TV, and then home. On the way back, Aurora made outfits with her new fashion doll. Definitely a success!

Aurora with her chocolate dip cone and Monster High loot in the background.

Grandpa applying sunscreen. Yes, goggles are in at the splash pad.

Aurora at the splash pad. There are splash pads all over Austin and the kids love them.

Monday, August 17, 2015

A fun weekend

On Saturday afternoon, we went to the LBJ Presidential Library on the University of Texas campus with Amber, Chuck and the kids. Amber had a feeling we might like to see the new Beatles exhibit and she was right. On Sunday morning, Rob and I went to Triumphant Love Lutheran Church, which is our church in Austin, but instead of the regular service the church youth put on a musical of David and Goliath. They did a good job and it was nice to see a play again. In the afternoon, everyone came over to swim in the pool. Also this weekend, Rob and I watched Jason Day win the PGA Championship and watched the last episode of The Fugitive, the sixties TV show. We’ve watched all four seasons on DVD during this trip to Austin. I’m happy to say it ended well for Richard Kimble – phew! (Though not so good for the one-armed man.) Here are some pictures from the weekend.

This statue of President Johnson is outside the library.

Behind us is the drum set that Ringo played on the Ed Sullivan show. All the teenage girls screaming in the film clips are now my age.

Clarkie and I liked the phone booths, which are part of the permanent display. I miss phone booths!

Afterwards, we went to McDonald's for ice cream cones. Can you tell we're at the University of Texas?

Fun in the pool.

More fun in the pool.

What a fun weekend!  Stay tuned for our last week of Aurora days.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Mount Bonnell

Mount Bonnell is a popular scenic overlook in Austin. To get there, you park at the bottom of a cliff and walk up a long stone stairway to the little rustic park at the top. We’ve been to Mount Bonnell once before with Amber and Chuck and the kids, a visit which was memorable because Aurora really needed to go and Amber let her take a potty break in the bushes.

Here we are at the top of Mount Bonnell.

Look at that view! It was a fun little outing, but probably not the best thing at this stage of our lives. The stairs were hard on my bad hip. And there’s no bathroom.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Half day

Yesterday we had a half day with Aurora. We spent the morning with her and she spent the afternoon at her friend Presley’s house. It worked out fine. Aurora was ready to play with a friend her own age, we didn’t get so tired, and we had much better traffic on the way back to our condo at 12:30 than at 5:30. Here’s a picture of Aurora and Presley in the driveway. They’ve been friends for years and it’s always cute to see them together.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Another Aurora day

Yesterday we watched Aurora again. Our main activity was a trip to Barton Creek Square, which Aurora says is her favorite mall. When we got there, Aurora made a beeline for the Build-A-Bear store, where she had a good time looking around. Then we went to the Lego Store, where Aurora made all kinds of Lego things. After doing a little window shopping and riding up and down the escalators, it was time for lunch at the food court. Aurora got a Chick-fil-A kids meal that came with a book she already had, so I took it back and they were nice enough to give her Library Mouse instead. After lunch, we read Library Mouse in the car while we drove to McDonald's for ice cream cones. Aurora was disappointed that McDonald's didn’t have a play area, so she said she’d like to let her food digest at a playground instead of the library. So we went to Doss Park for a while. Then it was back to the condo for a swim, cookies at the pool, some TV, another snack, and then home. Another fun (but tiring) day!

Here I am with Aurora at the Build-A-Bear store.

Aurora and Rob at the Lego store.

Rob and Aurora at the food court.

Ice cream cones at McDonald's.

Playing at Doss Park.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

101 in the shade

People often ask me about the difference in climate between Florida and Texas, as if that's the reason we have homes in each place. But climate has nothing to do with it. Real Florida snowbirds go someplace cooler in the summer, like North Carolina or Canada. Real Texans with two homes also go someplace cooler, like Colorado Springs. But we're not real anything, except real silly. The only reason we split the year the way we do (two months here, two months there) is so we can be in Texas for Aurora's birthday, Clark's birthday, and the holidays, and still spend half the year in Florida. But people still want to know about the weather. Well, fine, I'll tell you about the weather.  

Here’s a picture Rob took of the dashboard thermometer in our Subaru, parked in our covered parking spot, at 5:40PM a few days ago. That's 101 in the shade!

I took this picture at 3:49PM while we were driving around Austin on Monday. Yes, it's 108 degrees! So how’s the weather? As Rob says, nice and warm.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Aurora and Grandma Nancy day

Yesterday, since Chuck and Amber had to work and Clarkie was in daycare, we thought it would be fun to have an Aurora and Grandma Nancy day. And it was!  First we went to The County Line restaurant for lunch. Aurora really likes the macaroni and cheese there - and the barbecue isn't so bad, either. Then, since Aurora really wanted to go swimming again, we went back and got their swimming gear and headed to our condo to swim. After a nice afternoon in the pool, we took them home. Here's Nancy, Aurora, and Rob enjoying the view from The County Line's outdoor deck after lunch.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Spicewood Point

If you ever want to come visit us in Texas, here’s where we live. It’s a condo complex called Spicewood Point, with 53 condos all built around a nice pool. We have a ground floor unit with two bedrooms, one bathroom, a wood-burning fireplace and a fenced back patio. The best thing about Spicewood Point (other than being 20 minutes away from Amber) is that it’s dog-friendly. Some of our canine neighbors are Sunshine the yellow Lab, Daisy the Schnoodle, Abigail the Rhodesian Ridgeback (whose poop we think Robert stepped in while taking the first picture), and Sam the Pit Bull. As soon as we get a different condo in Florida that allows bigger dogs, we’ll get a dog, too.  

Here I am under the Spicewood Point sign.

Speaking of the pool, guess who came over to swim for the first time yesterday?  Yes, it's Grandma Nancy! We had cookies at the pool, and everyone had a good time.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Clark is 3!

Clark's 3rd birthday was August 6th, and yesterday Amber and Chuck threw a big Spiderman themed pizza party to celebrate it.   It was a great party. The house was filled with happy people - Grandma Nancy flew in from Arizona, we drove over from our condo, and there were lots of friends and neighbors.  Here are a few pictures. You can see lots more on Amber's Adventures.

Happy birthday, Clark!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Aurora day 4

Today was our last day with Aurora this week. As usual, it started out with Minecraft and a snack. Then we went to the Lost Creek playground (which Aurora didn't like), to the Hill Elementary School playground (which was closed for remodeling), and finally to Doss Park, which was fine - phew! At the park, Aurora met an 8-year-old girl named Julia. It's amazing how quickly girls that age can make friends. In only a few minutes, they'd established that Julia was one year ahead in school but Aurora is one book ahead in the Harry Potter series - and both their moms like to work out.  After the park, we went to Wendy's, where Aurora got a satellite toy in her kid's meal.  Then it was off to the library and then back to the condo for a swim. After a snack and some TV, it was time to take Aurora home. It's been quite a week!

Aurora striking a pose at Doss Park.

Playing with her new friend Julia.

Pretending to be a vampire at Wendy's.

At the library - Aurora always sits on this dragon to read.

Aurora back home with her collection of Wendy's toys - now she has all four!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Aurora day 3

Today was our third day with Aurora. It started with Minecraft, followed by a snack. Then Rob put Aurora's bike in the car and we drove to West Ridge Middle School so Aurora could ride her bike at the track. We had a special mission: Aurora agreed to let Grandpa take her training wheels off.  And she did give it a try. But after one lap, Aurora asked to have her training wheels put back on. There's a nice playground near the school, so that was our next stop. At the playground, Aurora met a 7-year-old girl named Brooklyn who'd also brought her bike (with training wheels). Aurora had a great time playing with Brooklyn. Then we headed to Wendy's for lunch. On the way, we played counting red cars and rock paper scissors. At Wendy's, Aurora got a UFO in her kids' meal to go with her space rover and astronaut. After that, we went to the library. Aurora liked Barbie and the Secret Door so much that she asked us to check it out for her. After that, I'm sorry to say we had our first glitch of the week. We were on the way to our condo to go swimming when we suddenly realized WE FORGOT TO BRING AURORA'S SWIM BAG. We had her bike but not her swimsuit! We almost had to go back and get it, but it occurred to me there was a Ross and a Walmart nearby, so we decided to see if we could get her one. On the way, Aurora told us what kind of swimsuit she wanted. First we went to Ross, but they didn't have any little girl's swimsuits.  But Walmart did, and one of them was exactly what Aurora had described. She said it was the perfect swimsuit, and she loves it!  After another fun afternoon in the pool and another snack, it was time to go home. In the car on the way back, we played the "this or that" game.

Here's Rob putting air in Aurora's bike tires before we left.

On the West Ridge track before the training wheels came off.

There go the training wheels!

Rob doing his best to teach Aurora how to balance without the training wheels.

Brooklyn and Aurora at the playground.

Brooklyn and Aurora with Brooklyn's brother Jack.

And last but not least, Aurora in her new swimsuit!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Aurora day 2

Today we spent the day with Aurora again. First we watched her play Minecraft. Then we had a snack. Then we set out for Kiddie Acres, an amusement park for young children in north Austin.  On the way, we played a spelling game in the car - and a math game!  Aurora loved Kiddie Acres. First she went on the merry-go-round with Rob. Then she went on the airplane ride. Then she and I went on the train ride. Then Aurora went on the ferris wheel. Then the jeep ride. Then the boat ride. Then - the one I wish grandmas could go on - the pony ride! She got to ride a very nice pony named Tex who likes smelling people's shoes. Then she rode the ferris wheel and the merry-go-round one more time. After that adventure, it was time for lunch. Aurora requested Wendy's again, and this time she got a toy astronaut in her kids' meal. After lunch, we went to a different library than yesterday, and guess who we saw? Aurora's friend Kennedy!  The girls were hoping to be able to swim together again, and that's just what happened.  After a fun afternoon in the pool, it was back to the condo for a snack and TV.  Then it was time to take her home. This time, we played the opposite game in the car - and a rhyming game! What a day! Here are some pictures from Kiddie Acres.

Well, I don't think we can top Kiddie Acres, but stay tuned for tomorrow's adventures!