Monday, June 30, 2008

New Baby

We welcome to the world our new cousin/nephew,
Andrew Donald Limbaugh!

Andy was born on June 28th, 2008 at 1:05pm.
He was born in Alabama to Don & Myra, and big sister Jenny.
(Don is Ed's middle brother.)

Papa Charlie drove in from Tennessee to meet the new guy.
Andy came almost a month early due to some complications. Thankfully he is healthy and strong! He was 4 & 1/2 lbs at birth and 17.5 inches long.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Empty Nest

Within a two hour time span, the two remaining baby Western Kingbirds, flew the coop!

I noticed they both were sitting on the edge of the nest around 6:30pm tonight. Between that fact and the windiness of the evening, I suspected they would be gone soon. Imagine my surprise when I go out less than 2 hours later to find the nest empty! Even better, the two were still hanging around our yard! They were sitting on our back fence making a rhythmic chirping sound. With no sign of the parents, they were flying as you would except a new bird to an unsure & unsteady path. I was lucky enough to see one of them fly up to snatch a black bug out of the sky. After a 20 minute watch, they had made their way off. I managed to get one decent shot with the telephoto and flash before the darkness set in.
Bye, bye babies! I hope you stay around to eat the insects that plague us!

Now the watch over the other nest begins! (I'm not sure this new bird/eggs is a mocking bird. It has a white stripe that runs across it's wings and tail. You can see it well when it flies.)

Class to Fiesta Texas

Mason's class had an opportunity to earn tickets to Fiesta Texas through a reading program. Kids that earned a ticket and also hit their accelerated reader goal earned the chance to go use their free ticket with classmates and Mr. Lubman. Tuesday was that day!

I drove a van full of excited boys and Daniel, the great navigator! In all, we had 10 kids and 7 adults. Here are some pictures of the fun day.

We got back to Pflugerville around 11:45pm. The van that had all the girls had a quiet ride back. The girls all fell asleep! My boys were just excited and hyped up on the way back as on the way there. At one point, one of the boys started singing a song about his grandma's stinky feet. I got so tickled that I was laughing hysterically! I had tears in my eyes, I was laughing so hard. Daniel started laughing at me then! The boys were all laughing too! I don't know what it was but the song combined with the late hour just set me off!

We all had such a good time together, we talked about planning a group outing to a Round Rock Express game, using tickets the kids earned in a math and reading program. Can't wait!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bird Update #3

Today I decided to get a look at the babies. I couldn't see past this one so I got out the ladder. Ed came out and waved a racquetball racket around so I could get close with out getting attacked. The boys made noise to help out. It worked! Look how quickly the babies have grown! Earlier post
First baby pics

I am able to confirm that there are only three babies in the nest. How do I know? Well, I made my way around the tree with the ladder to be sure of the number. On the side of the nest, farthest from the porch, I was able to see the other two tucked in the nest. The bad news- The baby in the first photograph didn't like my invasion. It fluttered off, landing on the grass!!

We watched the baby for awhile to see if by some chance it could get itself back to the nest. It hopped around first. Then it tried hard but could only get about four feet high! The parents kept chirping and flying low to cheer it on. Finally Ed decided to help. He came in to get his work gloves. When he got back out, baby was gone. We searched all around, even using flash lights to help. We could not find him! I checked the nest again but he wasn't there.

During the search, I checked by the other Live Oak. Guess what I saw- another nest! This time I found three green/blue speckled eggs! They are definitely not the same Western Kingbird eggs. Ed thinks they are Mocking Bird eggs. He believes he saw a bird with white stripped wings coming out of the nest after I got a picture.

I feel really bad about spooking the baby. I hate that I caused it to leave before it might have on its own. Hopefully it will stay safe through the night. We will search again in the day light tomorrow.

Changing the subject.............This last picture is just plain adorable! Dane was swinging with a look of pure joy on his face. I think he looks like Spiderman. He says he was doing a "bat swing." Such an Austin thing to say!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

End of the Year Party

Saturday evening was our "End of the School Year Party." We invited people from Highland Park Elementary that had played a role in Mason's life during the school year. We wanted to thank them for being important in Mason's life by hosting an evening of food and fun.

We had appetizers and drinks followed by hamburgers and sides. During that time, four pitchers of margaritas magically disappeared! Some of us were forced to turn to DISARONNO Amaretto while others hit back the beer!

Some of the boys put on a little impromptu dance show. They were "sick" banging out the moves. (Mason says "sick" means awesome.) The evening took a turn then to Guitar Hero. That's when we thought to get the camera out. I was surprised at how many adults gave it a go. Kudos!

Christie rocking out!
Melissa and Christie play for the glory on
"FreeBird" by Lynard Skynard !
J. and Mason battle it out to the 80's classic,
"Sweet Child of Mine" by Guns & Roses!
Shannon and Simon tear it up to
"School's Out" by Alice Cooper!
Illiana turns up the heat on "Talk Dirty to Me!"
The audience watches the dualing rockers!
The party started at 6pm. The first to leave left at 10:35pm. The last to leave left at 1:30am. Successful night? Good times? I think so!

P.S. Roasted Garlic Hummus Recipe listed under comments.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bird update

From the back porch, I took a bunch of shots of both parents in the tree at the same time. Also, using my telephoto lens, I got a shot that shows a baby head and beak sticking up from the nest. This time, the eyes are open!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Inside the Nest

We have become virtual prisoners on our back porch, the jail keepers a pair of vocal Western Kingbirds, mentioned in an earlier post. This pair is so serious about keeping the nest protected that they send up warning chirps the second we open the back door. One parent sits on the tree stake, the other on the play scape. Should you dare to step off the porch, you will get a bird coming right at you! It is a bit frighting!

I read on a website about Western Kingbirds that the closer to hatching time it is, the smaller the area round the nest they guard. We have noticed they are staying
very close to the nest.

Tonight when Mason started mowing the backyard, I realized the pair was nowhere in sight, the first time since we have been home, may I add. I ran for the ladder and camera. Guess what? We have three baby birds!! You may remember there were four eggs. I wonder if there is another baby tucked in where I couldn't see it. Hope so! (click on the pic for an enlarged image.)
Here is a picture. Unfortunately, due to the time of night, it isn't a great shot but you can definitely make out three little yellow beaks, on the right side of the nest and little fluffy black heads.

The babies were very still with closed eyed. Not sure how old they might be but they are newbies!!!

We will use the secret weapon lawn mower again next week to get another look and maybe another picture.... hopefully a better picture!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Andy's background

Seems as though we have found out some more info on our Andy's background.

Mason walked Andy down to the mailbox yesterday. At the very last house, on the street around the corner, a man told Mason he recognized Andy. He went on to tell Mason that Andy, formerly known as "Champ," lived next door to him in the rental house. At some point, Andy got out and this man had him for about a week. He said Andy dug out of his yard.

Here is the thing.... that rental house has been vacant for a while now. It is not clear if the people left him when they moved out. That seems to explain why the man (neighbor to the rental house) had him for a week. That also would explain why there were no "lost dog" signs. Regardless, we don't have to worry about someone showing up to claim him anymore. They are apparently long gone.

Andy goes in for back -to- back treatments on Wednesday and Thursday. Poor guy will be out of it for a few days. Hopefully, this last cycle of meds. will take care of the last of the heart worms and Andy will get a clean bill of health.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cousin Steve comes to town

After 5 1/2 years, Cousin Steve and his family came to Texas. They drove in from Omaha, Nebraska while we were on our trip. Luckily, we got back to Texas in time for a visit with them before they took off for Nebraska.

Steve and Kyra's oldest child, Claire is 18 DAYS younger than Mason. She has a whole head on him in the height department! Look at this picture! Mason wants me to write that despite the height and grade difference, he will
always be older!
The kids all got along great! We adults all got along great! We played games- Kyra and I whooped up Steve and Ed in a game of Skipbo! Girl Power! The kids played Guesstures and eventually the adults joined in the game. Here Claire is acting out a word for Mason to guess while Spencer and Clark watch.
Of course, no family gathering is complete without a playful wrestling session. Here Cousin Steve roughs up the very giggly & wiggly Dane.
Andy loved the extra attention. Here is he enjoying Kyra's affections.
We went out to dinner at a local Pflugerville, Mexican Restaurant, Casa Garcia. Yum!
We wrapped up the night with a kid's movie pow-wow. They plunked down to watch Ghost Busters while we adults played a game of Chicken Foot. Kyra took that game right out from under us to rack up a sneaky win!
On Saturday morning, we had brunch together before they hit the road. (The breakfast casserole recipe is under the comments section for you, Kyra.) We really enjoyed the visit!! Wished we could have had some more time with them!

Friday, June 13, 2008

giggity gig!

We made it home on Thursday evening about 7:30 pm. We put 2,632 miles on the van from driveway to driveway. Whew!! Everyone is a little worn at the edges but that will be quickly repaired by a few nights of good sleep in our own beds!

My cousin Steven and his family are here from Nebraska. They are coming up today to visit us and spend one night before they head back home. Can't wait to see them!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


We are settling in to a hotel in Jackson Mississippi at midnight. We have had a long day on the road with a second day of the same looming before us. Ugh!!!

Good night

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Howdy ya'll!

Howdy, ya'll!! From Tennessee, I'm just lettin ya'll know how great Tennessee is! On Parkway Ave., they have about seven laser-tag/go-carts/arcade/buffet/mini-golf places! we need to come back here for a vacation!

O.K, that's all for now. I'll be back with more later.

-Clark L.


We are EXHAUSTED after opening and closing Dollywood today!!

Here are a few pics. I didn't take many since you can't get close to the big rides.

Cute photo opportunities in the park......

Dollywood has great rides for all age groups, good food and prices, and reasonable t-shirt prices. They had lots of bathrooms and cups of free ice water at every turn. I personally was disappointed in the musical entertainment. Must have had too high of expectations. Oh, well! It is a beautiful park set in the mountains. Glad we got a chance to go!

(BTW- no boobs for sale in the gift shops. I looked for a new pair! Ha!)

As a family, we think we would like to return to this area to spend a few days of fun. There is so much to do here!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Tweetsie & Apple Valley

First, let me say that we have hit the jackpot on hotel rooms these last two nights. In Blowing Rock, North Carolina we stayed at Hillwinds Inn. It was decorated in a lovely rustic, country charming way. We walked in and said, "WOW!" It was SO beautiful, and it had rocking chairs on the front porch. Then tonight, we walked into our room at the Apple Valley Inn in Sevierville, Tennessee (just outside of Pigeon Forge- with a free shuttle to Dollywood) and said, "Amazing!" We have a huge room with two queen beds and a pull out sofa! And, the apple country charm is all around in a subtle way.

So back to the day...........

We went back to Tweetsie and had the park practically to ourselves. It was "walk on" rides, panning the biggest pieces of gold, and front row seats to shows (of which we caught all 4 shows). The can-can girls and the cloggers were the best.

We left earlier than we planned due to a few rain showers. But it worked out in our favor as the second shower that came through hit us within running distance to the fudge shop! Check out our "waitin' out the rain" treats! Can't you just taste that cupcake size peanut butter cup? Yum, yum!

Since there are several pic of Tweetsie from yesterday, I am only going to post a few special ones from today.

Clark met some wholesome girls at Diamond Lil's Saloon-
the kind you can take home to Mama!

Picked up by the Sheriff, these bad dudes wait for a rescue!This family loves the GEM, called Tweetsie, tucked away in the mountains of North Carolina!

So long, Tweetsie! Choo-choo!
So tonight we are back in Tennessee. Directly behind our hotel is Apple Valley. They have 2 "famous" restaurants and several apple themed shops nestled in the apple orchard. We ate at the Applewood Farmhouse Grill. It was really down home food. Everyone starts with complimentary apple fritters and apple juleps. Super delicious! I was anglin' to have the chicken and dumplings but ended up sharing meatloaf with Ed. Really great food!

Apples on a tree in the orchard. The trees are everywhere!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Brunch & Tweetsie

Hi, everybody! Ed here, sharing events from our trip today. We got a slow start this morning, finally getting away from the hotel about 11:00. We headed to a family brunch with Denise and Rob a few miles out of town at a multi-family camping lodge where they were staying with (literally) a couple of dozen friends. The directions were interesting: "Go through the intersection with the sideways stop sign ... turn right past the propane tank ... go 1 mile past the pink trailer house ..." We made it, though, driving straight up the mountain in low gear.

After visiting for about an hour, we hit the road for Tweetsie! A good 30 minutes on the interstate plus another hour on winding mountain highways brought us to Blowing Rock, North Carolina. What a fantastic theme park! It looked like the perfect size for Dane, but in fact, we all had a blast. We're really looking forward to a fantastic day there again tomorrow.

Unbeknownst to us, this week Tweetsie had a special visitor: Thomas the Train! What a neat treat for all of us!
Here's Dane getting a tattoo of Harvey, one of Thomas the Train's friends. In fact, we all got tattoos. I got Percy, Mason got Harold, Clark got Thomas, and Mom got James. Choo-choo!
Our first ride was the sky lift up the hill. We saw the park layout and plotted our strategy to work the park. I was surprised by how fearless Dane was in the lift. We had only a small hand bar to keep us from falling out, and at times we were 30 feet or more in the air. He wasn't the least bit fazed and wanted to ride it again!
Next stop was the Turnpike Cruisers, where the boys tried a hand at driving. Dane did great, only scraping the paint off the sides a few times. I rode with him but kept my hands inside the vehicle at all times! Here's Mason flying past while Mom snapped his picture.

Pilot Dane then took to the air in a private helicopter.

Clark, Mason, and I rode the Ferris Wheel. It was much scarier than other ones I've ridden. It went backwards, with the passengers rising in the "back" and then descending to the front. Usually, as you come down from the peak of the Ferris Wheel, you see Wheel structure in front of you. On this ride, as you came down from the peak, there was nothing in front of you or below you -- just the valley fanning out far below. And it went much faster than any other Ferris Wheel I've been on before. The combination of speed, spin, and unique position made you feel as though you were much, much higher than you really were. What a great little ride!
Clark rode the Twister several times, trying hard to make himself sick. He made us feel sick watching him spin around and around and around and around ...

Mason rode everything!

We were finally chased out of the park at 6:00pm this evening by the Miner of Miner's Mountain, but we're rarin' to go tomorrow! It'll be a lot of fun!
Thanks, Sherri and Bob, for suggesting we stop at Twetsie. It's already been a highlight of this trip!