Friday, June 28, 2013

Family Vacation {Day 3}

     Three days is about all this little family can take for a vacation.  Brazos and Sandy hate being cooped up in the car traveling and staying away from home just gets expensive fast.  Our initial plan was to head home with a stop at NASA Space Center on the way, but after seeing an advertisement for the Annual Sandcastle Competition on Galveston Beach, we decided that we weren't quite done with the island after all.

     We packed up our belongings and checked out of the hotel in the morning and drove to NASA Space Center in Clear Lake.  The kids really enjoyed the space center because it has a GIANT play structure inside that is completely safe for little ones to venture all the way up to the top without parents worrying about them falling.  For the little ones like Sandy there is an area on the bottom with balls flying everywhere to keep them occupied while big brothers like Brazos climb up to the top.  Parents can climb in to and I had so much fun climbing to the top and sliding down the two story slide!

     The kids were kind-of-sort-of interested in the space exhibits.  Anything that was hands on was great, but just walking around looking at space suits didn't exactly capture their attention.  We went on one of the two tour bus rides that are available to see a BIG space ship in another building.  The ride itself wasn't very pleasurable because Sandy was screaming at the top of her lungs, but seeing the BIG space ship was worth it.  We could have skipped the other parts of the tour, but you have to stay with the group, which is only reasonable.

     The space center had an exhibit called CHOMP! which all about reptiles.  Every few hours a young girl and her assistant would do a show with different reptiles such as turtles, snakes, alligators, and lizards.  At the end of the show kids can hold a baby alligator and Brazos was so brave and went up there all by himself to hold it!

This isn't the BIG space ship.  The other one is so big and you are standing right next to it that I couldn't even fit it in my camera, so I don't have a picture of it.

     Of course we didn't want to miss the sandcastle competition, so we drove back to Galveston to go check out the local artwork.  We didn't get to see them build the castles.  We only saw the finished products.  The crazy part is that we ran into a high school classmate, Kyle Priesmeyer, while browsing through the crowd and he was on one of the teams that built the castles!  He told us that he had been part of the competition for eight years.  He explained to us how the competition works and how they build the castles.  Here's what I remember:
  • It's some architecture association that puts on the competition, so a lot of the contestants are architects.
  • They don't practice building the castles beforehand.
  • They aren't allowed to use pumps to get water to the sand.  I think it had to all be carried by buckets, no powered machines.
  • They are given themed categories to compete in.
  • Each team has between 4-8 people to help build.
  • They make a drawing of their castle beforehand.
  • They bring U-Haul trailers full of cardboard and wooden forms to help shape their castles.
  • They have four hours to build their castles.
  • They use knives and chisels to carve out their designs.
  • The winners receive Golden Buckets and Silver Shovels.
Here are some of their castles, which are amazing!
A bag of lost marbles
A real sandcastle!
A dragon

A plate with pie and a fork
8th Rubble of the World: The Astrodome with a bat through it!

The Sandlot

Downtown Crabby: It's Sabastian!

Gunshow: Muscels with a Mom Tatoo

The Harlem Shake

Mount Duckmore

Thrift Shop: A fur coat, a keyboard, and sneakers
A cruise ship made out of toilets

The Wicked Sand"Witch"
The was the castle that our classmate built!

I know it has the shark from Finding Nemo,
but it also has the yellow brick road to Oz.

Carnival Shipoopi
     And there were so many more!

     As we headed back to the car, it took forever because we couldn't get the kids to stop playing in the sand.  I was letting them play leisurely, but Matt was getting very tired so he hurried us along.  We stopped at Starbucks to fuel up on caffeine and we were headed home from another great vacation.

I love how she had no shame to strut her stuff even though she was covered in sand.  That's my girl!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Family Vacation {Day Two}

     The second day of our Galveston vacation started with sleeping in late!  Matt works six days a week and has to be at work at 6:00 each morning, and on Sundays he's up early to go to church, so he rarely gets the chance to sleep in late.  So sleeping in late was definitely on his list of things to do while on vacation.

     We did get up early enough the catch the tail end of our continental breakfast and Brazos loved his homemade waffle from the waffle maker.

     Once everyone was fully awake and tummies full of waffles, we loaded the car and headed to the Galveston Train Museum.  We had past the building several times not knowing that it was the train museum.  From the front you couldn't see a train in sight.  We found a parking spot in the lot next to the museum and we had to pay $5.00 to park.  Matt started to put a dollar in the parking meter, but then I saw on the flier I had that people going to the train museum could park for free.  Matt stopped putting money in the wrong slot {yes, he put the dollar in someone else's parking meter!} and we walked into the museum.  We bought our tickets and asked about the parking.  The man said, "Oh yes, we have free parking in the back of the museum.  If you parked next door, I hope you put money in the meter.  I had a guy come in here once and ask about parking and before he could get back outside he already had a ticket on his windshield."  What do you know.....Matt went back outside to move the car and someone was already writing him a ticket.  Luckily they stopped and Matt was able to move the car without any trouble.

     The museum was amazing!  It's a beautiful building with a large waiting area with wooden benches and a gorgeous news stand.  A local artist created ghost passengers that sat in the benches and stood throughout the train station.  The passengers were solid white and were all wearing period clothing from the hay days of the train station.  They ghosts didn't phase Brazos one bit, but Sandy was a bit leery of the stiff people staring at her.

     The train station had small table with Thomas the train toys and of course, Brazos noticed it right away.  Matt and I noticed the big trains outside, but we could barely convince Brazos to stop playing to go see the big trains.  He was in a super bad mood when we made him walk outside to see the big trains.  We thought the sight of the huge engines would make him bounce back into a happy little man, but it took him a good 15 minutes to finally get out of his funk.  Once sweet Brazos came back to us, he was ecstatic to climb into all the engines and train cars.  The museum was the perfect place for our future train conductor!

This little girl reminded me of Peter Pan because she was trying to catch her shadow.  It fascinated her!

     Choo choo!  All aboard the Supak Express!  Next stop, the beach!  The rest of the day we spent playing in the sand and water at Crystal Beach on Boliver Peninsula.  It was so much fun!  Even though we've been to the beach twice in the past year, the was the most fun I have had at the beach.  Sandy followed Brazos everywhere he the water, to the sand, to the water, to the sand.  And she loved sitting right at the edge of the water letting the waves wash over her little legs.

     This last picture is one that I turned in for an online photography class I'm taking.  The assignment was to take pictures that tell a story.  Pictures should show the setting, characters, and close up details.  We had to make a collage to turn in showing all three.  My instructor said, "The color on this is phenomenal.  Perfect!"  That made my day.  It's nice to be the student every now and then. ;)

And although the beach was covered in seaweed, we still had a blast!  Day two of vacation = success!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Family Vacation {Day One}

     Matt and I have decided that the beach is the best vacation spot for little ones.  They are free to run and play and there's lots of sand and water!  All of which our two little one's love.  They love to run free and they love to dig in the sand and they love to play with the water hose.

     The trickiest part of the vacation is the long car ride.  Brazos is great in the car, but Sandy on the other hand, fusses...A LOT!  The solution to this was to pack a cooler full of drinks for her, along with a lot of diapers.  I packed her about five bottles for the two hour car ride.  A bottle is really the only thing that soothes her.  It's like a pacifier to her.  So during the car ride, anytime she started fussing we just passed her a bottle and we were good for at least 30 more minutes.  The bottles were life savers!

     We first went to the Houston Zoo.  Both kids stayed awake during our visit to the zoo.  I remember last year, Sandy slept through most of it, but then again she was only a few months old.  She really enjoyed looking at all the animals this year.  Brazos loved all the tunnels built throughout the exhibits that he could crawl through.  The carousel was probably his favorite part of the zoo, but Sandy wasn't too sure about the monkey she sat on.  We stayed at the zoo about three hours which was just the right amount of time for these two kiddos.

     There is a train that travels from the zoo to the Museum of Natural Science.  We took the train ride after lunch to go see the dinosaur exhibit at the museum.  We thought this would be right up Brazos's alley, because he loves the show Dinosaur Train.  So we had a train ride and dinosaurs! 

     I think mommy and daddy were more excited about he dinosaurs than the kids.  The dinosaur bones were BIG and Brazos told us, "I'm little and I like little dinosaurs."  We did happen to find some "little" dinosaurs, but for the most part they were BIG.  I was most amazed by the birds!  The pterodactyl was bigger than the t-rex!  I had never seen such a huge bird!

     The museum also had a meteorology exhibit that we stumbled upon by accident by getting off of the elevator on the wrong floor.  I don't think we had tickets to see the exhibit but no one shooed us away, so we explored the floor for a few minutes.  Brazos was on camera and was the meteorologist for Channel 11 news!  He wasn't actually being filmed, but he did show up on the big screen in the museum.  I think I have a crush on the weather man!

The highlight of my train ride was having this little lady's hand rest upon my knee. Such a sweet and gentle touch!

Apparently this is an early human from the country Chad.  I'm not to thrilled with the idea that humans looked like this at one time.  If we are made in the image of God, then did God once look like this, too?  Did his looks change over time? 


     After a fun filled day at the zoo and the museum we headed to Galveston Beach!  Sandy was given her bottle in the car and we were off to the sand.  We immediately boarded the ferry once we arrived in Galveston and drove to Crystal Beach on Boliver Peninsula.  This beach is usually less populated than the seawall and the kids are free to run without bothering anyone.  You just have to watch out for the occasional vehicle, because you're allowed to drive your car on Crystal Beach.  It's great!  You don't have to worry about finding a parking spot and lugging your stuff to the beach.  You just hop out of the car and go play!  We didn't change into swim suits because it was late, but that didn't keep the kids from enjoying the water and sand for about an hour before it was too dark.

     By nine o'clock it was dark so we rode the ferry back to Galveston and looked for a place to lay our heads.  We first tried Holiday Inn on the seawall, but they didn't have any rooms available.  The front desk was kind enough to call another hotel to ask if they had any rooms for us, and they sent us to Country Inn Suites.  The hotel room we ended up in was wonderful, with two televisions {one for cartoons and one for grown-ups}, a balcony with a view of the beach, and the hotel had an indoor pool.

     Before calling it a night, we all put our bathing suits on an went for a dip in the hot tub.  The pool was way too cold!  There was another couple sitting in the hot tub when we arrived, but they didn't mind having us join them for a few minutes.  After talking with them we found out that they were from College Station and they even knew people from Brenham that we knew.  Small world!  They were enjoying the beach for the weekend as well, and showing their two month old daughter, Layla, the beach for the first time.

     The pool closed at eleven, so we all took bathes, put on our pjs, said our prayers, and curled up in the covers.  Day one of our family vacation was a success!