Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Waffles in a Can

Well, I can cross one more thing off my 2011 things I want to do list.  I made waffles.  With a "new recipe."  Though this was definitely NOT what I had in mind when I wrote the list - I have actually been meaning to try a recipe I found online that used cornmeal and promised to make the waffles uber crunchy which was the one thing I thought my waffles were missing last time.

But I made waffles from a can.  That's right.  A can.  I stumbled across the waffle batter in a can one late night at Walmart while I was leisurely pursing near the whipped cream in a can section.  And I made a mental note that someday I would have to try it.  So when I was in the store last week - again around midnight - and leisurely looking around I saw the can again and couldn't resist.

It took me a try or two to get the right brownness, and figure out just how much batter to put in the waffle maker.  My first couple of waffles were a little light when the beeper went off, and didn't fill the entire waffle maker.  I made mini waffles!  Yeah!  That's it!  I MEANT to do that.  Not.  :)

I was curious as to how they would taste and it turns out they were actually pretty good.  Once I worked out my doneness issues they came out nice and crispy and had a good flavor. 

Kevin had already inhaled something or other so it was just the boys and I eating and between the 3 of us we polished off all 6 waffles* the can made and a pint of raspberries.  There was literally nothing left on our plates.  :)

* It was more like 3 whole waffles and 3 mini's.  The first 2 were minis because I had no idea how much batter it would take, the next three were full size, and then the last one was another mini as I got to the end of the can and it spit and and spluttered as it ran out with about half of what I had intended to put in it.  So I would think a can would make roughly 4 full size waffles.  So when I make them again I will probably pick up 2 cans to make sure there are enough waffles for all 4 of us and give us a couple of leftovers to freeze for a weekday breakfast, too.

My only complaint was that batter didn't come out very fast and it seemed like parts of the waffle were already bubbling before I was even done filling, but in terms of no mess clean up it would be pretty hard to beat!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cypresswood Hike and Bike Trail

Speaking of early morning adventures – we finally made it out of the house early enough to explore another branch of the Cypress Creek/Faulkey Gully Hike and Bike Trails before it got too ridiculously hot.

This time we explored a little over a mile section that ran from Jones road to Louetta.

We headed out super early in an attempt to beat the heat and weren't alone - we ran in to at least two dozen people out walking, running or biking the trails.

We left so early in fact that we packed up breakfast to enjoy along the way.

The boys really liked the Orange creamcicle muffins I picked up the night before.

Ryan kept telling Connor it was okay if he dropped some crumbs on the trail because the squirrels would eat it.  But only little ones.  Connor had no intention what so ever of sharing any of his muffin with anyone and practically shoved the whole thing in his mouth at once.  :)

The kids were excited to get to carry their milk (and chocolate milk! in Connor's case).

Despite the lack of shade for the most part on this section of the trail the kids had a good time running along the trail and occasionally even remembering that they were supposed to wait for us, too.  :)

At one point when we couldn't find the playground that was rumored to be along the trail in this direction and decided to head on further Kevin turned around to go back and get the car to meet us at the other end.  The kids and I continued on at our leisurely pace walking alongside an older man.  He was 78, and his back yard backs up to the trail so he walks a section of it every day, twice a day.  We had a nice chat about a little bit of everything before finally parting ways at the footbridge which led across the creek to a small neighborhood park on the other side where we caught back up with Kevin again.

The boys of course enjoyed getting to play at the park.  One of the first things they noticed was the see-saw.  It has become one of their favorite things to play on.  It's a good thing there are two of them and they are pretty equally balanced.

Though it gets a bit dangerous at times when one just decides to get off with no warning what so ever.  Sometimes in mid flight.  And Ryan is always a little exuberant in his pushing off.  Connor doesn't even have to push unless he wants to as Ryan's enthusiastic pushing is enough to bounce Connor right back off the ground back into the air again.  :)

After a while they spied the swings in their favorite colors, and found someone gullible enough to push them forever.  :)  Someday they will actually learn how to swing themselves right??

As Connor explored the rest of the playground Ryan conned Kevin into spinning him around in circles on the tire swing.

The spinner was particularly well oiled and spun in circles easily.  Ryan thought it was awesome.  That kids loves to make himself so dizzy he can barely stand.

Connor of course decided to troop right up with the rings the second I was on the other side of the slide.  And on his first trip he didn't make it.  Luckily he slipped harmlessly in between two rings not managing to hit anything on the way down and then popped right back up to try it again as if it had all been orchestrated.

Luckily he had more success on subsequent attempts.

The two silly gooses spent quite a bit of time running and bouncing on the metal bridge, too.  Despite some close calls they managed not to plow into one another and no one got knocked off.  Not wanting to press our luck any further and with Connor shouting that he NEEDED to POOP! we packed everyone back into the car and headed for a second breakfast.

We stopped nearby at the Egg&I.

The kids had fun coloring and playing games while we waited for our food to arrive.

They were really hamming it up. 

Ryan managed to hijack all the yellow map colors and insisted that it was the only color he wanted to color with .... on the yellow paper.  Silly Goose.

Once our food arrived we all dug in.  I had barely had more than half of my breakfast when I looked over and Kevin who had a MUCH larger breakfast was sopping up everything except the copious amounts of butter on his plate.  I swear he doesn't even taste the food on the way down.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's HOT out there

I was watching the weather a few minutes ago.  According to the weatherman it's 108 degrees out there.  I don't believe we have had a single day in August thus far that's been below the 100 degree mark.  It's been insanely hot.  The ridiculous temperates and continued drought are wreaking havoc on everything.  Kevin commented yesterday in our crazy detour looking for a pizza place that he has never seen so many dead trees around here.  This morning as I took a short trek around our yard I noticed a big patch of dead grass that we apparently haven't been watering enough.  Sigh...

The only place that has been even remotely bearable outside other than at the crack of dawn or on occasion in the late, late evening has been the pool.  It's been a while since we have been to our local pool so we promised the boys we could visit the pool if they would PLEASE quit playing and just take a nap already.  :)

More Galveston Adventures - Schlitterbahn Galveston

Two weeks ago on our trip to Galveston we visited Schlitterbahn Galveston for the first time.  We weren't sure how much the boys would be able to do at 3 years old and just shy of 40", but we all love the water and thought we would give it a try.  And we are really glad we did.

We actually got to the park about 10:30 on Sunday morning along with droves of other people.  Though we were lucky enough to find a great parking spot and then a table at the front of the park near the wave pool entrance to the lazy river, just steps away from food and just around the corner from the restrooms.  And it stayed in the shade all day long.  We couldn't have been luckier.

We dropped our stuff off, slathered on the sunscreen, strapped on the kids' life jackets, then waded out in the river to topple half a dozen baby tubes off the opposite wall.  We grabbed two, and then headed out into the river.  We passed by various slides, and kids playgrounds before getting in line like lemmings for what turned out to be the single working ramp up to the white water area - a series of 5 or 6 rapid shoots that circled the back part of the park.  The boys LOVED it!  Connor was so excited when we started getting tossed around, splashed and our float filled completely up.  :)   We enjoyed it so much that we had to do it again before continuing on in our trek around the river.

When we exited the second time we went ahead and followed the main river around into the Torrent river wave tunnel.  Every 20 seconds or so GIANT waves would come flooding out of a shoot and send everyone and their floats super high up into the air.  The second we crashed back down we anxiously anticipated the next wave and watched eagerly for it to come.

After making a whole circuit of the park we made our way back to our table, grabbed some drinks out of our cooler, slathered on more sunscreen and headed back out to see what else we could find.  We stopped in the Wasserfest area and let the kids play on the little slides before making our way over to one of the larger slides only to discover that the kids weren't quite tall enough for the big body slides.  So we headed instead to the Pirate ship kid pool and let the kids play for a while thankful of the covering overhead giving us a break from the sun. 

We then made a second trip through the wave tunnel this time without tubes and made our way back to our table and grabbed some lunch.  After polishing off our weight in turkey legs, sausages on a stick, and pork sandwiches we applied more sunscreen, ignored that whole wait an hour after you eat malarkey, and headed straight over to one of the big fast water slides in the Surfenburg area - Dragonblaster and Tempest.  Seriously.  BEST.PARENTS.EVER.  It's a wonder no one got sick.  :)  Kevin and Ryan took one of the slides, while Connor and I took the other.  With the kids seated in front of us, and us with a death grip on the loops on the back of their life jackets the treadmills shot us off down the slides.  It was a super fast, curvy ride in the PITCH BLACK so we had no idea what was coming next.  I was so thankful I was holding on to Connor with with one hand and with my feet or I wouldn't have known if he was there or not once we got into the tunnel with the exception of the shrieks and laughs that started coming out of him about half way down each time we would made an unexpected turn.  I was relieved to see daylight when we finally skidded out the bottom of the slide.  Connor's first words were "DO IT AGAIN!!"   Kevin and Ryan came out a few seconds after us.  Ryan was as eager as Connor to do it again.  Though by then the lines were getting pretty long so we headed for the Surfenburg kids play area instead.

Ryan was throwing a fit to get back into the river so we didn't stay too long before heading back to the white water river and making our way over to the Blastenhoff kids play area.  The boys were having a good time playing on the pirate ship, unfortunately Kevin and I were baking out in the shadeless heat of the afternoon and vultures were swarming eyeing our floats which we made the mistake of letting go of in the Wasserfest area only to discover that everyone else was holding onto theirs so there were none left so Kevin and the kids headed over to check out the white water beach while I rested in the shade for a little while watching them trying to drown one another.

By that time even in the water it was getting miserably hot, the kids were getting a little cranky having not had a nap, and we were thirsty and looking forward to resting for a few minutes so we followed the river around back to our table and got out to have some snacks before heading home.  As we sat there resting however, clouds rolled in making the temperature more bearable and refreshed with a short rest and restored with snacks the kids were having no part of any ideas to head home so we headed back out again.  We decided to head back to the Surfenburg kids area and let the kids play on the slides there.  After 30 minutes or so we noticed the smaller slides nearby and went to check them out.  We walked right to the top waited on one or two people and then zipped down together.  It was an instant hit with the kids who shouted out which slides they wanted to try next the second their little heads popped back up out of the water and their little feet were already furiously kicking to get out and do it again.  The second time Connor in particular wanted to try the blue enclosed slide.  Unfortunately it's a one rider at a time thing so I went down first and Kevin stayed at the top to help the kids go one at a time while I caught them at the bottom.  I could hear Connor calling for me all the way down and then when it was his turn there was silence for a few seconds followed by laughter as he plunged down the slide and zipped off the end.  I caught him and then stood to the side to wait for Ryan, too.  He came out with a smile on his face and was already negotiating again how many more times he could go and with whom before Kevin even made it down the slide.

Needless to say we spent quite a while going up the stairs, down the various slides, and then getting in line to do it all over again.  After the 15th or so trip Ryan spied the big pink Wolfpack slide and insisted that he wanted to do that one next.  So we climbed the million and a half steps to the top of the thankfully short line and before we knew it Connor and I were in a raft by ourselves with me holding on to him and the tube with a death grip as we started down the big tunnel shooting up the sides and zooming around the corners while he practically cackled with glee.  Kevin and Ryan followed equally excited to do it again.  This time when we got to the top we got in the other line to check out the other slide the Thunder Tub that turned out to be one giant straight shot down with little ripples that sent us completely airborne before we smacked down again only to take flight again seconds later.  It was a much bumpier ride and one we decided that having done it once could check it off our list of things we needed to do again.

We did however head back over to do the first big slide again the Dragon Blaster and Tempest.  The lines were much shorter and it was no time at all before we made our way to the top and swapped slides this time.  No sooner had we gotten to the bottom before the kids were shouting out their opinions of which slides we should do next.  We did the kids slides again a few more times and as closing time approached made our way back to the giant pink Wolfpack for one last trip.  We were in fact the absolute last people on the slide at closing time.  It was hard to believe how fast the last couple of hours had gone as we were having so much fun riding all the slides. 

After changing clothes we gathered up all our stuff and made our way to the thankfully uncrowded parking lot.  The kids passed out in the few minutes it took us to make our way out of the parking lot.  Needless to say they had had one long, fun filled day. 

Happy Grams

The boys finished up their first week of the new school year on Friday.  At the end of every week they bring home their work folder filled with artwork and various other projects that they have worked on throughout the week.  This week both of the boys also brought home "Happy Grams!"

I couldn't help but laugh when I read Ryan's.  Energy and Enthusiuam - that's sure one way to put it.  :)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Our First Visit to ITz's

It was another 3 hour tour... Reminiscent of the Lake Houston Kayaking Trip, and the Great Grannie Napping of '10.

We didn't get home tonight until after 10:30pm.  We left a little after 5pm.  To go to dinner.  That's it.  Just dinner.  I didn't even take my camera.  Specifically we had been headed to Double Dave's pizza.  But when we got there they had no pizza buffet.  What kind of self-respecting pizza place doesn't have a pizza buffet on Saturday night?

Determined to have a pizza buffet I suggested Gattiland.  About half way there however we found out that Gattiland was actually Gattitown and had long since closed.  So we turned around and headed for ITz's.  It was our first trip, and we were pleasantly surprised. 

The prices weren't too bad - especially when you consider that the kids were still free and we picked up a package deal including our buffets, drinks, and 120 game tokens for less than $10 more than we would spend on a typical dinner out.  Not to mention the fact that we spent more than 4 hours there playing and having a blast!

Since we actually did come because we were hungry we started off with the pizza buffet and found seats in the Drive-In Theater room where Monster's Inc. was just starting.  We enjoyed our pizza and watched the better part of the movie before finally convincing the kids to see what else there was to do.

One of the first things the kids did was an attraction called the Monkey Jump.  It took the kids up about 20 feet in the air and dropped them only to bounce them back up and drop them again randomly.

Afterwards we headed to the kids playground area.  The kids climbed, slid, ran and crawled until they had explored every last nook and cranny.

At the back of the kids area were a couple of rides, including a train that the kids could take rides on for free.

After Ryan and Connor had both ridden the train, the spaceship, the plane, the horse and something with a bear (?) we hit up the arcade games.

The kids really liked this game - one where you step on the lights as they light up.

From there we ventured over to play a game where you push a button and a boxing glove shoots out to knock passing ducks over.  Only the glove never reached the ducks and it was a total dud. 

So we moved on to play whack-a-mole and then the Popcorn catching game where the kids moved the bowl around trying to catch the little balls shooting out of the popcorn pot.

Afterwards we took the kids over to ride the indoor roller coaster.  They LOVED it!  So much so that after we took a break to get something to drink and sit down for a few minutes that we came back to ride it again before heading off to the mini bowling alley to try our hand at bowling.

Needless to say our bowling game could use some work.  We didn't even manage to break the century mark.  But we sure had fun trying.

Before heading out we let the kids ride the Monkey Jump one more time, and then redeem their tickets for prizes.  Connor picked out a bracelet, a bouncing ball, and a jumping frog.  Ryan got a bouncing ball, a jumping frog, and an Army man. 

Needless to say we all had a blast and will definitely be going back again someday.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bouncin Bears Video

Check out these clips that Kevin captured at Bouncin Bears -

The Spastic Klutz:

Toddler Bowling:

And the Bouncing Blue Bunny:

Bouncin Bears

After a crazy morning spent trying unsuccessfully to buy an HP touchpad for the kids for $99, we headed to Mel's for lunch where we polished off an impressive array of fried food (mushrooms, catfish, okra, and chicken fried steak).  There was also salad (or spinach as the boys call it, because they don't like salad!), mashed potatoes, cornbread, and of course banana pudding.  :)

Afterwards we decided we should probably do something to work it all off so we headed to Bouncin Bears.  It's one of our favorite bounce places, and not just because they have open play on weekends...   It's a HUGE bounce place and even when the parking lot is packed there are still usually no more than 2 or 3 other kids on each bouncer with the exception of the giant pillow.  And the best part is that there isn't anything that the kids can't do 100% by themselves.  It's AWESOME.

The boys of course started with the giant pillow.   Ryan loves to bounce on it. 

Poor Connor has a rough time getting up and steady with all the other people jumping and bouncing him around.

But once he's up, even he gets some air!  :)

After a while they decided to see what else there was to play on and bee-lined for the big slide.  They zipped up...

And down...

and then popped right up and raced to get in line again.


and over....

And over again....

Until finally hot and sweaty they had to take a break and chug some juice. 

Down to the very last drop.

While Ryan went potty Connor headed over and checked out the toddler zone.

And then went looking for Ryan on every single bouncer.

He would climb to the top, look around for Ryan, them zoom down the slide to tell me that he wasn't up there...

So off to the next one we went until we had made the entire circuit of bouncers.  We finally found Ryan again, and the mommy monster chased them through and all around the bouncers a dozen times and then conked out in the middle of the big jumper while they jumped around me taunting and teasing me.

While I sat in the floor and recuperated the boys hit the jumping pillow with Kevin.

Ryan was really getting some air!

And Connor, with a little help from daddy, was hopping like a little bunny.

Needless to say we all had a great time.


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