Friday, March 13, 2015

I took my kids to Prison...

Another winter's day out of school might drive some mamas crazy! 
 Not me, no sir.
Just another day with 3 kids at home, 
I loaded my kids up and took them down to the local prison.
You think I'm kidding don't you?

We actually went to the Texas Prison Museum about an hour North of The Woodlands.  Some people's mom takes them to the Children's Museum, some people to the park.  I take my deranged kids to the Prison museum and they LOVED it!  

I debated on whether they were old enough to comprehend all that it was about but they fell into place pretty easily.  Lincoln mostly rode the wooden horse made by the inmates there and Jackson and I really dove into the prisoner lives and consequences of their crimes.

This photo may have been perhaps the most compelling thing I saw while I was there.  I don't have strong feelings when it comes to prison sentences/ death penalty issues.  I usually feel that justice is served.  What I didn't realize is seeing the shoe on the other foot.  This exposition was photographs of the people either the executed inmate left behind or the family left behind from the inmates crime. It included the last statements of the inmates before their execution and a quote from the family of whom his crime was committed upon.  Surprisingly, the majority of the inmates had found peace and remorse in their actions.  More surprisingly, the families had found forgiveness and did NOT agree with the sentence being carried out against the inmate.  
The photo above was the mother of the executed man and the mother of the murdered man.
  Her quote was "A son is a son.  It doesn't matter whether you lose them as a victim or a criminal.  The pain is the same"

It was deep and thought provoking for both Jackson and I.

 You can see that Lincoln, however, was unaffected. 

There was lots of history of the prison system and how it has evolved.  

We enjoyed learning about the long spanning Prison Rodeo that ended in the 80's.  What a site that would have been for the boys!

And there he is.  Ol' Sparky.  This isn't a replica.  It's the ACTUAL electric chair used in Texas Prisons until the 70's!

Jackson and I read this together.  It was pretty deep.  It was a day in the life of an executed prisoner.
Jackson found the last meal idea  fascinating, that they would give you anything to eat before you died.  It is an odd concept.  

There is an actual jail cell replica inside too.  What could be more fun than locking your kids in a jail cell.  Scare tactic mothering.  Works for me!

Probably the cutest little cell mate ever!

Oops, I lost the keys....

Of course, they both had to take a turn on the jail cell potty.  We had a discussion about how they have no privacy because that is right we have.  I've had that one thrown back up in my face a few times.  I edited it to say kids don't have rights either, until they start paying bills!!

My Sunny Valentine!

One of my new years resolutions was to try to spend time with each child separately.  It's easy to lump the boys together since they are close in age and like all the same things but I see how much they thrive when we are able to sneak a few moments away and I can focus on just one of them.  I know it's important to them and their self esteem too.  So I planned a Valentines day date for just me and Jackson!  He had a birthday party at Top Golf and it was our first visit there.  We were both pretty excited and impressed with the place.  It's HUGE!  

It wasn't crowded yet and the little boys had such a good time swinging the clubs.  They didn't have any intention of keeping score, it was more fun to hit as many balls as possible in a short time.  

Top Golf is a 3 story golf course/driving range that has dart board and bowling similarities.  Each ball has a chip in it and it would keep your score if you wanted.  The idea is to hit certain targets or in the boys case, just hit the ball as far as possible and if you can, hit they guy in the guarded golf cart as he drives around picking up the balls.  

The "bays" where you sit and wait your turn are nice, plush and heated too!  So you don't worry about getting cold, hungry or thirsty as there are plenty of waiters at your service.  

Next, we went to Old Navy.  We both bought new sunnies.  The cool reflective ones.  Then we went and pursued the shoe store before heading over to our lunch reservation.

We had lunch reservations for Bucca di Beppo for their heart shaped lasagna dinner.  It's Jackson's favorite food and he loves Bucca  di Beppo.  

It was possibly a little bigger than either of us imagined.  It easily fed us 3-4 meals.  

I really enjoyed his company and getting to teach him how to properly go on a date.  All too soon, he'll be dating someone else and I want to know he's doing it with the utmost respect.  My dreams for him are far and wide but a Godly man and a good husband are at the top of my lists!  

Holy Cannoli!  He's one smart, good looking kid!  I can hardly believe he's almost as tall as me! 
He will forever be my baby boy!

Black and Blue is the new Cool?!

This cool guy is on his new scooter.  He got one for Christmas that didn't last longer than a week.  I returned it and decided to upgrade his since he thought Jackson's was quite a bit cooler than his.  That was my first mistake.  Lincoln is a known daredevil.  He thinks it's cool to take things apart.  He thinks danger signs are just a recommendation.  He's way too cool for safe and rules aren't made for him.

Well, I give you THIS.  
Scooter minus a helmet = REALLY black and blue eye.  
I had a friend over when Jackson ran in just ahead of him screaming Lincoln is hurt!
I only panicked a little when I saw him.  I called Jason to hurry home and brought out the ol' ice pack.  He was crying but not for reasons you might think.  When I could finally comprehend his words they were a little surprising.  
He asked, crying, "Mom,....will I be grounded from my scooter?"
Um, I'm contemplating the Emergency room or not and he's wondering if he's grounded from the REASON I'm having to make this decision?!?  
It was decided that he'd live to see another day and that yes, he would temporarily be grounded from the scooter.  
Not necessarily from the accident or injury but because he'd broken my rule.  
Absolutely NO riding without a helmet.

Not only did he not have a helmet on but he was also riding down the driveway where there is a large bump at the end.  He was thrown from the scooter which was already a little too big for him.  He was being a daredevil.  I know you are so surprised.  
Perhaps what i wasn't' prepared for was how we would have to respond to his injury.  Conveniently it was ONLY his eye and face that took the brunt of the blow.  It was so severe that I kept him home from school the following day and took him to the pediatrician.  He of course said there wasn't anything wrong and nothing we could do besides wait it out.  His eye was nearly swollen shut!  

It got more black and spread before it healed but he had to go back to school.  Rumor has it he was the coolest kid at the lunch table with is battle wounds.  EVERYONE wanted to know what happened to Lincoln and everyone had to see him.  He was famous for his scooter blooper. 
Gah,  Boys!

This meal was to prove that EVERYTHING is bigger in Texas.  Kids meals AND black eyes!!

Just last week, it's still so epic he wrote about it in his Journal for kindergarten.  
It says, "I got a black eye when I fell off my electric scooter and it goes 200 per hour"

It was super important that his had a 200 on it and he told me several times it would go 200 per hour.  Some things will never change.  I give up.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

My crew at the Zoo

 Weren't they JUST out of school for Christmas?  ;)  
Martin Luther King day comes far too quickly after Christmas break in my opinion!  What is there to do in January when it's normally 20 degrees outside.  Well, if you live in Houston, it's more like 55 degrees and you go to the Zoo!  It's one of the few months that the zoo IS at a tolerable temperature and all the animals seem pretty happy with their assigned location.  Trust me, we've been to the Houston Zoo in July and August.  And it's either sad or just non-existent!  So we packed up our lunch and went to the zoo, along with half of the daycares and ymcas in the area.  It was crowded but luckily it's a big zoo and my kids have been so frequently, they know what they want to see and what can be skipped!  This was the first trip that Lillian has cared about the zoo, and I say care loosely.  She rode in the stroller and mostly watched her brothers run around and act similar to the chimpanzees at every attraction.  She's lucky I agreed to bring them back home with us.  They would have been perfectly fine suited among the chimps and the baboons but she would probably miss them!

And here is your proof!

I let them dress themselves AND didn't fix their hair.  GASP!  Sometimes this mom of 3 gig can be really overwhelming!  Elsa said "Let it go!"  So I did.  Sometimes.

This little baby was getting friendly with the crowd.  There's just something cute about a giant baby!

When we left the zoo we took the long way around and took a stroll through Herman Park.  There were tons of kids rolling down the HUGE hill and mine couldn't be outdone so I said go for it!  

It WAS MLK day so visited the new area of Herman Park that had just opened and paid our tribute to the King.  Not the Elvis King, the other King.  

There was a cool mountain that we can walk around and around to get to the top of the hill.  It was cool to get up there and see all the people below.  It is somewhere we will love going again! (when it's less crowded)!

These boys LOVE their sister!

It was a fun day and Lincoln must have thought so also.  He wrote this in his Journal for Kinder this past week.  I love how he drew the hill!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Making our Mark and the Nash Bash New Year!

Jason called me one day from work and said, "What do you think about going to Nashville for New Years?"
I had one word.  YES.
Everyone knows Nashville is the place of my heart and I'd be hard pressed to turn down a trip to go there!  It meant seeing my family, dropping off the kids and 3 kid-free days in the place I LOVE.  
There was more to his motive.  He had his "golden ticket" to the Makers Mark Distillery.  He signed up to be an ambassador for his favorite bourbon brand while we still lived in NC.  Every year they send him swag of some form and updates and such.  They also put his name on a barrel of bourbon.  One that would take 5-7 years to become mature.  Well...that day had finally arrived.  He could go to the facility and get a bottle (or three) of HIS bourbon with his name engraved on a plate.  We also got a VIP factory tour while we were there.  We meant to do the bourbon trail the whole time we lived in Nashville and didn't get around to it.  This was our chance!

We drove the 14 hours with 3 kids and a dog to my parents house.  It was a LONG day!  After a day or two we headed to Kentucky for the deeds!  We were cutting it closer than I wanted on the last tour of the day.  We were set for the 2:30 and the last one was 3:30.  UNTIL, we crossed over into the EASTERN time zone and realized we would be on the 3:30 tour.  AH!  I called them frantically and told them we were 20 mins away but Not to leave us, we'd driven from Texas for this!  
We made it in plenty of time for the last tour but we really know how to cut it close!
The tour was awesome.  Both Jason and I love this kind of thing, how things work etc.  The process is cool, and timeless.  I kept telling Jason when we arrived that I smelled something bad, like vomit.  Yeah, that'd be your fragrant bourbon smell I kept getting a drift of.

The vats of corn mash were cool.  There were 8 in this room and all were HUGE wooden vats at different stages of fermentation.  You could actually stick your fingers in it and taste it.  So weird!  They said that was the secret ingredient, lots of fingers in the bourbon making process.

We got to do bourbon tasting next to the barrel storage rooms.  I'll be honest, this wasn't my favorite part.  I'm not a bourbon connoisseur but it was RIGHT up Jason's alley.   He got to taste some products only sold at the distillery even.  
The Makers WHITE is the higher proof PGA that is before it is aged into barrels.  The 46 is a newer product for them and the small bottle is a cask strength that is before any water is added to it.

This isn't Jason's name plate but one similar to the one his would have been on.  There are 33 other names on each plate that he would share the barrel with.

I love Chihuly art and I knew the instant I saw this that it was his work!  

One of the coolest things we got to do was dip our own bottles with the signature red wax.  All the bottles that we purchased and the ones with his name on them he got to dip in the red wax. There was really an art form to getting it just right.  They said the perfect dip had 6 tendrils of was running down it.  I think our best had only 5 but not bad for our first go!  

When we left KY we headed into Nashville to stay with some of Jason's grad school friends.  It was sure to be a good weekend with great friends and lots of laughs but the guys took on ALL the cooking and cleaning also.  That was the icing!  They were pretty awesome at it too!  All I had to do was shop and wear sparkles!  If you know me at all, you know I LIVE to wear sparkles!  

I mean that is one GOOD LOOKING...standing rib roast!  The guy holding it isn't half bad either!  

The Childers had a pretty fancy set up for just a bunch of grad school friends, who just so happened to all come from TEXAS to visit!  

I was even able to sneak away one morning for a fabulous brunch with my FAVORITE and much missed running partner Stephanie.  I miss her (almost) every Tuesday and Thursday mornings because we ran at 6am sharp!  It wasn't all about the running. It was the best hour of sounding board I've ever had.  Miss this girl!!

We ended the weekend with a not-so-great football game.  I tried to go to bed several times but kept getting up to see the score. I guess I cared more than I said I did about Alabama football.  As you can see from the look on his face...they LOST.

Its the place I love.  
Where I left half my heart.