Saturday, October 28, 2017

2017 World Series, Game Three

So it's been a little while since we've posted to this blog. (Ron Howard narrator voice: It had been a LONG while.)

But I wanted to share our complete World Series experience, and this seemed the best place. So here goes.

When the Astros clinched a return to the World Series, Bethany strongly encouraged me in my dream of taking Ben to a WS game in Houston. Ticket prices were really pretty insane, but in the end, I took the plunge and bought two tickets to Game Three Friday night -- setting up a once-in-a-lifetime, bucket-list, Ben-can-talk-about-it-at-my-funeral experience.

And... it really was pretty amazing. We arrived at the stadium about 4:30 -- almost 3 hours before first pitch -- with Ben wearing the Halloween costume Bethany made, a replica 1965 Astros jersey.

The kids at Family Treat Night at Baylor in their costumes
Arriving early gave us plenty of time to wander around the stadium. We had talked ahead of time about possibly finding Ben a souvenir, but when we arrived and were handed rally towels at the entrance, Ben was excited. "Dad -- we got our souvenir!" Such a sweet boy! We headed inside in time to watch some of the Astros' batting practice from the Crawford Boxes. Ben was really excited to get to see BP, and we sat there taking it in for 20-30 minutes.

Once the Astros were done hitting, we headed out around center field and eventually ended up just above the Astros' bullpen, where we stopped to watch some of the Dodgers' BP another 15-20 minutes. While there, we got a good view of the FOX studio show setup in dead center (see the video below).

By now, we were starting to get hungry, so we grabbed dinner (Ben, Chick-fil-A; me, pizza) and headed up to our seats to eat.

When I say up, I mean UP. Our seats were at the very top of the stadium, in far left field; I really don't think there was any part of the stadium where people were sitting higher than us. A long way from home plate -- but, still in the stadium, right?

(See that red circle? Those are our seats.)

Us in those seats

Here's the view from our seats:

We had a nice group of Astros fans around us -- a guy by himself from out of town who just wanted to see a WS game, an adult brother-sister pair, an adult father-son pair, a father-son about my/Ben's age, and a young married couple. There were a handful of Dodgers fans nearby, but they were mostly shouted down/drowned out by Astros fans whenever they tried to start some kind of "Go Dodgers" cry.

The crowd was amped from the start, but when the Astros knocked out the Dodgers starter in the second inning with a four-run rally, it got even more fun. High fives were flying among our new friends (even including Ben), and chants of "Let's go, Astros! (clap, clap, clap clap clap)" and "Houston! Astros!" rang out over and over again.

We all got a little more nervous as the game went on, the Astros kept leaving men on base, and the Dodgers chipped away to make it close again. But in the end, the Astros came away victorious, and the celebration began.

Here's the last pitch/last out:

I think Ben really enjoyed it, and seemed to appreciate the unique opportunity we had as best as an 8-year-old can. I'll certainly always remember it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Personal Safety Week

This was a post I started earlier this summer but never finished writing...oops.  Things got super busy...

After some headlines earlier this summer, I decided to take a week and go over personal safety with the kids.  We talked a bit about fire safety and things like that, but mostly we talked about what to do with strangers and personal body safety.

Honestly?  I was not looking forward to addressing this topic with my kids, but I'm really glad I did and many of these books made it a lot easier.  I decided to post a list here for anyone else who might be looking for good books on the subject.

Hope this helps!


Books About Strangers:
Not Everyone Is Nice: Helping Children Learn Caution With Strangers by Frederick Alimonti and Ann Tedesco, Ph.D.
This book was one that both kids requested a couple of times.  It was about a little girl who is approached at school by a stranger wanting to drive her home and tells how her parents talked to her about it.  It also made the point very well that most strangers are nice people, but it's the few bad ones that cause us to be cautious, and you can't really tell who is who.

Who Is A Stranger and What Should I Do?  by Linda Walvoord Girard
This was a great book that I have considered adding to our permanent library.  It gives all different scenarios of where kids might be confronted by strangers and tells them how to handle them.  It's clearly written and easily understood.

The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers by Stan Berenstain
Normally, I'm not a HUGE fan of the Berenstain Bears books, but this one was good in introducing the concept of "stranger danger" to both of my kids.  Both of them actually asked to read it a few different times.  In it, friendly Little Sister was learning all about strangers and how to deal with them.  It was very good for my kids and they both enjoyed reading it!

Bobby and Mandee's Too Safe for Strangers by Robert Kahn
This book was really clear about what to do with strangers and jumped right into it without much beating around the bush.  I would recommend it as a go-along with the others here.

Once Upon A Dragon: Stranger Safety for Kids (and Dragons) by Jean E. Pendziwol and Martine Gourbault
My kids love these dragon safety books, so I knew this would be a winner when I found it at the library.  This one was particularly enjoyable and followed the child and their friend the dragon as they imagined they were in a nursery tale story book and the dragon tried to follow various strangers (the big bad wolf, the fox from the Gingerbread Man story, the old woman from Hansel & Gretel, etc.).  The child had to convince the dragon each time not to go because they were strangers and finally at the end they escape the story book and end up back on the playground.

Books About Good Touch/Bad Touch:

Some Parts Are Not For Sharing by Julie K. Frederico
This book is great, though very basic and probably better for the younger crowd.  Both my kids liked it and in fact my 2 yr old requested to read it several times.  It illustrates very well that some parts of our bodies are used for good touch and others should be kept to ourselves.

Your Body Belongs To You by Cornelia Spelman
This is another good book for the younger crowd.  Again, my 2 yr old seemed to get more out of this one than some of the others, but my six yr old still found it interesting too.

My Body Belongs To Me by Jill Starishevsky
This one was about a small child who had a family friend touch them inappropriately and how they dealt with it.  It was simply written and not my favorite of the books we checked out, but was easily understood by my 2 yr old.  If you choose to get this one, be sure to read it first to see how you feel about it.

Bobby and Mandee's Good Touch Bad Touch by Robert S. Kahn
This was a really good book for describing good touches and bad touches and was very clear in what one should do if they are ever confronted with a bad touch type situation.  After reading this one, both my kids were able to tell me clearly what they should do.

I Said No: A kid-to-kid guide to keeping private parts private by Zack and Kimberly King
This one was very comprehensive and definitely seemed geared toward the old crowd.  It was too much for my 2 yr old and my 6 yr old didn't understand some of it and he's a really good reader.  We will probably revisit this one in a year or two.  I really liked how it described "red flag" and "green flag" situations and gave examples along with how to process those, but it seemed like at this point, it was a little too much for my kids.

God Made Me: The Safe Touch Coloring Book by Dr. Beth Robinson
I liked this one because it not only talked about how God made us and we should take care of our bodies (including brushing teeth, washing hands, etc.), but it was also easily understood and you could copy the pages to use as coloring pages.

No trespassing-- this is my body! by Pattie Fitzgerald
This was another good one that handled this topic well.  I particularly liked that it told the child how to handle touching that an adult might view as harmless (pinching cheeks, tickles, etc.), but the child doesn't like in addition to the inappropriate touching that is normally covered in books like this.

Samuel Learns to Yell and Tell by Debi Pearl
I am still not sure exactly how I feel about this one.  There are parts I like about it (it addresses dirty magazines and the devil and the boy becoming head of a family some day and some other things like that), but the way it was written confused my 5 yr old who is an advanced reader for his age.  I have the girl version too (Sara Sue Learns to Yell and Tell), but that was way over my 2 yr olds head.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Fun Things From Our Backyard: Some "Other" Fun Garden Helpers...

You all know about my two completely adorable and wonderful garden helpers, but I wanted to show you some of my other helpers that don't get as much recognition around the garden, but I still value :)

At the top of my list?  Ladybugs!  I love ladybugs!  Not only are they super cute, but they also will quickly take care of any aphid problems one might have and make sure they don't return.  Thankfully, they LOVE living in my corn and I found lots and lots of them the other day.

I even found a red one with no spots and a black one with a red spot!  So much variety in one cute little bug...

Next up, lizards.  I know, most ladies don't love lizards, but these have been working hard around the clock to make sure the other bugs in my garden don't go crazy.  I was worried they would take out the ladybugs too, but that hasn't been much of a problem, it seems.  I think a Texas Spiny mama must have had some babies close by because they started out little and have gotten progressively bigger and there are always a few each time I go out there...

This Green Anole is a new addition to our backyard and I'm not sure where it came from, but he is certainly welcome also.  It particularly enjoys living in our peas.  I also saw him trying to impress a lady friend the other day, so I'm guessing we'll have more at some point.

I suppose this last one doesn't quite qualify as a garden helper, but I do love to check on him/her periodically throughout the day and see how big it has gotten.  This is the same Black Swallowtail caterpillar I wrote about in my last update, he's getting huge!  I really hope he makes his chrysallis somewhere close by and I can find it, but these caterpillars are apparently known for going far away to do that, so I'm not holding out a lot of hope.

What's missing?  The honeybees...I have had them in past years and we even had some this winter hanging around our rosemary, but it's been a long time since I've seen any and they are very dearly missed.  I sure hope some find us soon!!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Spring 2015 Garden Update

Happy Spring Garden as it was two minutes ago...

I don't know about you, but we here in Central Texas have had unseasonably rainy and somewhat cool weather, which has made for a super happy Spring garden.  I have only gone out to water it once or twice because of all the rain we have had...I am so thankful!!  I have found myself regretting that I didn't plant more!  Anyway, I figured it was probably time for an update since everything looks quite a bit different than it did the last time I posted.

 LittleBear checking out the height of the corn only two weeks ago.  Today, the tallest stalks are taller than I am!

Looking up to the tallest stalk of corn... 

I had to build a fence with my extra tomato cages because on a really windy day, they would all blow over.  Good thing I didn't plant any tomatoes this year!

  Corn blossoms!!!

So, far I have harvested two HUGE zucchini and there seem to be lots more on the way, which gets LadyBear excited as it was her request to plant zucchini in the first place (though I'll admit it's a favorite of mine).

Happy LadyBear with her second huge zucchini! 

I haven't seen many pollinators around, so I've been trying to pollinate them myself with a dry paintbrush, which seems to be working ok, but I sure do miss the honeybees :(

 Green beans I harvested this morning alone!

The asparagus patch seems to be really happy, which in turn makes me really happy as asparagus is one of my absolute favorite veggies.  Each of the crowns have now sent out three or four shoots, which I am again letting go to fern this year, so hopefully I will have a bigger harvest next year.

 It's an asparagus!!!

Here's the whole patch along with some other shots of what we have growing:

 Asparagus patch

 My unintentionally planted melon, happily growing up around a tomato cage (my attempt to keep things tidy)...

 Baby melon!

 LadyBear's carrots with LittleBear's peas in the background and the melon plant to the left...

Another zucchini on the way!! 

 Green beans!

 Corn vs. Zucchini

 LittleBear's peas...

And lest you think I'm this great gardener with a prosperous green thumb, here's a picture of my sweet bell peppers and basil patch...

 Just keepin' it real...

Um, yeah, majorly disappointing.  Some of the lemon basil came up, but none of the sweet bell peppers or the sweet basil came, which means I need to go buy some transplants in order to get my homemade pesto sauce quota for the year done.  I have no clue what happened there... oh well!

 I had no idea that fennel flowers could be different colors from the same plant!  How neat!

Our butterfly garden has it's first resident of the Spring!  This is a black swallowtail caterpillar that showed up yesterday and has already doubled in size.  We hope he stays around for a while!!

 Welcome to our garden!!!