Holidays

Merry Christmas!

The secret to getting hand-drawn Christmas cards designed, assembled and mailed out on time when you work in retail is to start them around June and have them finished and ready to mail by Thanksgiving. I think I need to start doing my gift shopping/making that way too.

Merry Christmas!

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Categories: Animals, Artwork, Celebrations, Christmas, Holidays, Life, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Winter | Leave a comment

Spring Break, Part II

Luke, Elizabeth and I had planned out Tuesday’s itinerary long before Emma stepped off the plane. The rest of the week was left to the whims of fortune until Wednesday morning rolled around and we still had nothing planned for my Thursday off. I instructed the three of them to come up with a detailed flight plan by the time I got home from work that night. They did not disappoint.

So our first destination on Thursday morning was the Ripley’s Believe or Not Odditorium.

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The shiny silver dinosaurs outside the building are constructed entirely of chrome car bumpers. The blue dino and the adorable gorilla are made from random machine parts.

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Once inside, our first stop was Louis Tussaud’s Palace of Wax.

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Bear with me, I’m still getting the hang of my camera’s indoor settings. My last camera really struggled in low-light areas, so now I habitually overcompensate. Working on that.

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After the Palace of Wax, we braved the Enchanted Mirror Maze.

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I wouldn’t describe it as “enchanting” so much as “disorienting as fuck.”

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It was fun, but kind of short. We probably would have spent more time in there if we hadn’t used the classic “right turns only” method to prevent aimless wandering.

Next up was the Odditorium itself.

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The shadow wall is really cool. You stand against the wall, a bright light flashes and your silhouette is “saved” as a slowly-fading shadow. Unfortunately, I only got one good photo of this effect.

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After the first one I remembered to turn on my camera’s flash, and it turns out that the flash completely washes out the shadow effect, thusly:

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Bummer. But the Odditorium was full of awesome, bizarre stuff. For example, horses and cows get made into handbags all the time. But some enterprising artist decided to turn a bunch of handbags back into a horse-cow.

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Actually, “things made out of other things” describes like 80% of the Odditorium.

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Plus some cool movie props.

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We goofed around in the activity room for a while.

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The video wall was fun. We’re the four silhouettes on the left.

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Exit through the gift shop.

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By then we were pretty hungry, so we headed over to the Mellow Mushroom in Arlington. Their pizza is amazing, unlike my potato-quality iPad selfie:

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Took a better pic outside.

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On the way home we drove past River Legacy and impulsively decided to pull in.

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This is one of our favorite local parks. Entry sign photo to make it an official addition to the collection:

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River Legacy has some magnificent trails along the Trinity River, but after all of our adventuring none of us were really up for a hike. A frolic on the playground was totally doable, though.

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From there it was an easy walk next door to the Science Center.

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The warm sunshine felt like heaven to a heat-lover like me.

On Saturday morning, we begrudgingly fed Emma to the sky gods at Love Field Airport.

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It was so much fun having her out for Spring Break! Hopefully we’ll be able to do that again.

And now I need to sit down and read my camera’s user manual cover to cover, because the number of wasted shots I ended up deleting last week made me die a little inside. It’s time to learn how to use this thing.

Happy spring!

Categories: A Plethora of Parks, Animals, Artwork, environment, Family, food, Friends, Holidays, kids, Life, Love | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Grapevine and the Stockyards

The kids have been wanting to see the Fort Worth Stockyards, and this week I finally got the magical combination of a Saturday off and nice, non-rainy weather. In the spirit of “little experiences tucked in wherever we can fit them,” we decided to drive to Grapevine and travel by rail to the Stockyards. Grapevine has held a special place in our hearts ever since our first December in DFW, when we were searching for local holiday cheer and found it on Grapevine’s Main Street in sparkly abundance. This is one town that loves Christmas.

So we booked tickets for the Grapevine Vintage Railroad’s round trip to the Stockyards, and got there early enough on Saturday to do a little wandering.

Grapevine has just begun to deck its halls.

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We stopped at the Blacksmith Shop, and Luke had fun pumping the bellows while the smithy did his thing at the forge.

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Saw this guy crafting something out behind the glassworker’s shop.

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At 12:30 it was time to board the train. We pulled out of the station at 1pm, powered by a 1953 diesel locomotive named Vinny.

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The cars were looking festive.

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The scenery was nice, just turning to Fall. I saw a few parks and trails that I’m looking forward to exploring on foot.

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We arrived at the Stockyards Station at about 2:30.

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The kids wanted to try out the Cattlepen Maze, so that was our first stop.

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There was more going on in the Stockyards this time than the last time I was here (on a Tuesday). More people, more carriages, more attractions and performers.

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There was a mechanical bull this time, and of course the kids had to ride that.

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Took a detour though Saunders Park. What a pretty little place.

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We checked out the Station shops, bought some yummy fudge and explored the old livestock chutes, and then it was time for the cattle drive. Elizabeth staked out a spot up front on the curb…

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…while Luke and I found a comfy perch on a wall behind the crowd.

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My one complaint is that we didn’t have time to see everything at the Stockyards before the train came back and it was time to leave. An hour and a half isn’t long enough!

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Goodbye, Stockyards.

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It was getting dark when we pulled into Grapevine Station around 6pm.

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It was a fun trip. One of these days we’ll drive out to the Stockyards and explore the whole area at our leisure. And, of course, we’ll be heading back to Grapevine at least once more this year, after all the lights are up and the Singing Christmas Tree has begun its nightly performance. They say December is the darkest and brightest month, and that’s especially true in the Christmas Capitol of Texas.

Categories: Animals, Artwork, Christmas, Family, Holidays, Horses, kids, Life, Travel | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Cake, Corn and Pumpkins

My very favorite time of year begins with the start of fall and ends on New Year’s Day. Yesterday after I got off work, the kids and I celebrated the arrival of the Holiday season with cake and cider at Buon Giorno…

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…and then headed up the road to Hall’s Pumpkin Farm.

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We played in the corn maze…

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…saw lots and lots of pumpkins…

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…and generally had a nice time welcoming in the Season of Light.

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I’m determined to find a way to enjoy the Holidays even though I’m back in retail, and I think this is the secret: little experiences tucked in wherever we can fit them, and celebrating on our own schedule rather than tying ourselves to traditional timelines. Let the magic commence!

Categories: Family, Holidays, kids, Life, Weather | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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