Galveston Island - Part Two

Once we were on Galveston, we spent a lot of time at the beach, the hotel pool, and out on trails!

We tried a couple different nature trails, and we saw so many interesting birds that we don't have where we live.  When we were driving in the car in Houston, I spotted a bird with pink wings flying overhead, but I couldn't tell what it was.  "Oh," Wyatt said, "maybe it's a roseate spoonbill."  Well, lo and behold, when we went on a nature walk, what did we see?  A bunch of roseate spoonbills in a pond!  It was so cool to see those birds, because they really aren't anywhere else in the U.S. except right along the coast in Texas and Florida.  We also saw a blackbellied whistling duck, a yellow crowned night heron, neotropic cormorant, and a common gallinule.

We ate picnic lunches along a canal (it looked like a popular fishing spot), and the beach.  We also went out to eat a couple times.  Our favorite was The Rainforest Cafe!  We don't have those where we are, and the kids thought it was so much fun!  Well, except for when the "thunderstorm" started - then Georgie slapped her hands over her ears and made the cutest little face until it was over.

We went miniature golfing, and really, is there anything cuter than little kids trying to hit a golf ball?  I think not.

We went to the beach a couple times and built sand castles and waded in the water.  None of us went out very far though, because there were rip tides a few of the days that we were there, which is terrifying to me.  I'm a born mountain girl, and the ocean scares me in general, so we are very cautious with the kids by the water.  We make them wear their life jacket/floaties whenever they even put their feet in the water, and they aren't allowed to go our past their ankles without one of us holding their hand.  Like I said, the ocean scares me a bit.  But I loved getting to relax, and play in the sand with the kids, and read!  I got a little paper reading in, but I mostly do audiobooks on the beach so I can watch the kids at the same time.  Even with Derek there, it's good to keep two sets of eyes on five kids.

We also loved the hotel pool, and we went swimming almost daily.  The kids are getting more and more confident in the water!

This was a quieter vacation for us overall - we generally pack our days with all the local sights, but this trip we just took it easy.  It was a nice reset from months on stay-at-home orders, though I told Derek I felt like we needed another week!  One week to get back to a stressless baseline, and another week to really refresh.  But still, it was a timely and needed vacation.

(See the spoonbills?)

 (We walked along the seawall to get to a gift shop we wanted to visit called Murdocks - which is funny, because Murdocks at home is a country-western store, not a store filled with seashells!)

(The seawall had these tiled benches all along it, and they had information about ocean-related things.  We stopped and read each one.)

 (All kinds of neat coral and shells.  We let the kids each pick out a shell as a souvenir.)

(Rainforest Cafe!  We also got the kids little stuffed animals here, which they proceeded to play with the rest of the trip.)

(Inside the cafe.)

(Mini golf!)

(This would be a great picture of me, if it wasn't for the mini-golfing/overalled figure behind me, ha!)

(The ocean, just after a big rainstorm. Of course we proceeded to walk on the beach, because the light was so interesting and pretty.)

(These pelicans just kept flying past in a huge line.)

(Frozen yogurt in the evening.)

(Lots of evenings at the pool!)

(And more sandcastle building and reading on the beach!)

We saw a few pretty sights on the way home, so last part of our vacation photos coming next week!

Five Goals For Early Fall

At the beginning of this year, I was really trying to make monthly (or at least semi-monthly) goals.  I did pretty well until about March, and then...well, you know.  It's time to try to get back into goal-keeping mode, and I am looking forward to having something to work toward for the last few months this year!  These are my goals for August and September (I find I do better if I give myself goals every two months, instead of every month).

Finish Our Summer To-Do List

I wrote here about all the fun stuff I hoped to do with the kids this summer - we've done about half of the things on the list, and I think we could probably cross off at least ten more items before the end of August!  I'll post a final list update of everything we did in a couple weeks, but I'd like to squeeze as much as possible before we start school.

Finish All My Half-Read Books

These are the books I am currently halfway through:

-Lord Edgeware Dies by Agatha Christie
-The Underground History Of American Education by John Taylor Gatto
-The Last Of The Doughboys by Richard Rubin (Kindle only $3!)
-The Bright Side Of Going Dark by Kelly Harms
-Lovely War by Julie Berry
-This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
-Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb
-Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
-The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
-The Book Of Signs by David Jeremiah

It looks like alot, but since I'm halfway through all of those, it's really equal to about five books.  I'm tired of having so many books going at once, and I'd really like to close these books up before diving into some fall-ish mood reading.

Workout At Least Four Times A Week

As I mentioned in my post the other day, this is my first year in eight years to draw a deer tag.  I know if I don't try to get in better shape I'm going to be wheezing my way up the mountains during hunting season.  I want to put my best effort in since I haven't been hunting in so long - I want it to be as pleasant of an experience as possible, and I want to get something!  My goal is to workout at least four times a week, and especially my legs, so hopefully I won't slow Derek down too much.

Sort And Print This Year's Photos + Print One Year's Worth Of Past Photos

Something I've had on my goal list for the past several years is to finally print all the pictures from the kids' baby years, and put them in albums.  This is something I've been terrible about ever since Gwen was born.  I'd like to go through the next year in my backlog (I think it's 2014), narrow it down to the 200 (or so) best photos, and get them printed up before the end of September.  (We'll worry about getting them into albums later.)

I'd also like to get this current year's photos sorted and printed up until this point.  Last year for Christmas I printed up the best pictures of each kid, put them in a little brag book album from Walmart, and put them in their stockings for Christmas.  They loved it.  They loved having a book full of memories and photos of themselves and our family from the previous year.  I want to do it again this year, and I don't want to leave it to the last minute because it is quite alot of work.  So I'm going to start on that early.

Finish Christmas Shopping

Derek brought up a really good point  - we may want to accomplish our Christmas shopping early this year.  Who knows how things will go in the months leading up to election day, if there will be more shutdowns, or if the mail service will suffer more delays than it already has.  I don't want to order things in November (as I usually do), and run the risk of anything interfering with packages arriving on time.  So I'm attempting to finish ALL our Christmas shopping by October 1st.  This year has been stressful enough that I'm also liking the idea of having a very non-stressful Christmas because I got everything organized early!

Did your goals for the year get de-railed like mine did?

Galveston Island - Part One

I'm finally getting around to writing about the trip to Galveston that we took in May!

Needless to say, vacation this year was really weird.  Because of Derek's work, we can't take vacations in June or July, so we usually end up going on our summer vacation in May or August.  August vacations can be a little tough on me - it's really hard to get back into school mode when we just got home from summer vacation.  So our preference has been to try to vacation in May.

This year that was obviously a little tricky.  Flights were cheap but highly discouraged, and we wanted to be conscientious about going to a state with a similar case-load as our state, and about trying to keep social distance while still having some fun.  We settled on a road trip to Galveston!

The drive was fun, and we really enjoyed the terrain in Texas.  It's so much greener than I imagined it to be.  We also drove through a couple towns that I had been reading about in The Worst Hard Time, and that was really fascinating to me - we went right through the land that was once a part of the XIT Ranch.  We also stopped for candied pecans on the way as a treat.

We reached Galveston late at night, and the first couple days down there were a little rough, with a dirty AirBnB debacle (full story here).  We made a quick trip to the beach the day we left the AirBnB, but we had to drive back to the Houston area to stay the night since there wouldn't be a hotel room available until Monday.

That ended up being a good thing, because I ended up getting a full-blown ear infection, and I had to go to Urgent Care to get antibiotics!  Within 12 hours of taking them, I felt 95% better, which is crazy to me.  I haven't had to take antibiotics in years, and I was impressed - those things really work!

All that to say, our vacation didn't feel like it truly started until four days into it.  I was bummed that we missed a couple days that we could have been spending at the beach, but hey, it is what it is.  Has any vacation truly gone perfectly?  We haven't ever had a vacation that was without bumps.

We did get to see a movie while we were in Houston, something we still haven't been able to do at home, so it was a treat.  We had the theater nearly to ourselves, and we saw "Playing With Fire".  The kids thought it was completely hilarious and begged me to buy it - aside from a little "potty humor", it was cute.  I think the excitement of going to see a movie after so long is what made it memorable though!

Once we were back on Galveston we toured an old mansion to kick things off right, a place called Bishop's Palace.  It was a beautiful old place.  It was a self-guided tour, and we were literally the only people in the whole building except for two clerks in the basement.  It was really interesting to be in there all alone!  I do wish we had been able to take a guided tour, because the pamphlet they gave us was light on the history.  Obviously a Bishop must have once lived there, and I was under the impression that some services must have been held in there too because of all the gorgeous stained glass windows and other paraphernalia.  But that is all speculation, because the pamphlet told us things like "This was Mrs. Gresham's room," which I have to be honest, I found really amusing!  I wish I knew who Mrs. Gresham was.  That's what we get for trying to do a self-guided tour.  The exhibit on the hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900 was really interesting though!

After checking into our hotel we drove down the seawall and we were able to walk onto Pleasure Pier, which is basically an amusement park on a pier.  All the rides were still closed, but it was fun to walk along it as the sun was going down!  Everything was so pretty.

Then the next day we went right on back to the beach!

(Ready to go!)

(We stopped at a few historical sites along the way.  This was the site of a massacre, so we stopped to look at the memorial.)

(Driving through New Mexico - looks like there was a brush fire behind that hill.)

(The beach!)

(Our first day at the beach before we hung out for a couple days in Houston.)

(The Bishop's Palace.)

(Wyatt was really interested in the exhibit on the 1900 hurricane.)

(Walking on the pier.)

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(Back to the beach!)

Part Two coming next week!

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