Saturday, June 25, 2016

Kusama - At the End of the Universe

On Friday I took my boys to see Kusama - At the End of the Universe at MFAH.  We have been excited about this exhibit for months and for the last couple of weeks my boys have been sneaking a peek into the exhibit every time we walked past it.

The exhibit consists of 2 immersion rooms (one with tentacles and one with a series of lights in absolute darkness); a few paintings (I think 5); and a statue.  We had pre-booked timed tickets for the experience and the line up for the immersion rooms was very short.

I went with a friend and her 2 boys and the children were (collectively) very well behaved.  In the immersion rooms we had so much to look at! It's hard to describe the experience of being in the rooms - it is a bit confusing with changing colours and mirrors and lights. It was a great exhibit for the kids and I enjoyed it as well.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

McGovern Centennial Gardens, Houston

I think McGovern Centennial Gardens is one of the prettiest places in Houston.  On a very hot day about a week ago I went there for a picnic in the stifling humidity.  Despite the heat, the garden was beautiful.

Houston Zoo - Dinosaurs

Last weekend we went to the new Dinosaurs exhibit at the Houston Zoo.  Even though we are zoo members we had to pay an additional cost for the tickets to this exhibit - just under $4 per person.

The exhibit consists of dinosaur models that are very large.  Some of them make limited movements and sounds.  It wasn't particularly scary.

The kids had fun looking at the dinosaurs and various exhibits, even though it was very hot.

The dinosaur exhibit has some spectacular blossoms.

While we were at the zoo, the handlers fed the gorillas ice pops!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

New Bag! Noodlehead #529

I've just finished sewing a new bag....and I really love it!  The pattern I used was Noodlehead #529, "Runaround Bag".

This project was my first time doing a lot of different things: inserting a magnetic snap; making a reinforced pocket; adding bias tape; and lining a bag.  It took a long time to sew because of all the new concepts!  I had a lot of fun with it and I'd like to make another from the same pattern.

I tried to take a few photos.  As you can imagine it's difficult taking pictures of the inside of a bag - I used the flash and that seemed to help.

Interior pocket

Friday, June 3, 2016

MFAH (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston)

On Friday I took my boys to a class at MFAH and I decided that while we were there, instead of wandering from gallery to gallery, I would try to explore the educational services at the museum.  

The class was wonderful.  The teacher read a story and there was a short lesson relating to the story.  Then they completed two related art projects.  The story and the lesson were about clay.  The first project was a pinch pots and that project familiarized the kids with the feel of the clay.  The second project was an elaborate, pained clay horse in the style of the horses on the clay vases in the lesson.

Near the end of the class, the teacher took all of the children to see the pieces of art in the story and lesson.  Even Baby Boy easily put it all together and Little Boy really engaged with all of it.  Big Boy pretended he was "too cool" for the class but secretly enjoyed it.

After all of that intense learning, we retired to the Museum Cafe for $1 ice creams (for the boys) and a cappuccino (for me).  Lovely!

We crossed into a different part of the museum and went to the eduction centre where we did an art project and a very lovely staff member walked me through all of the family programmes for the summer.  Next time we go to the museum our first stop will be the education centre!

We looked around at a couple more exhibits and then left the museum - nearly 2 hours later than I had anticipated!

It was lots of fun and I'm hoping for more visits over the summer.

Road Trip! Big Bend National Park Trip, Big Bend Day 2 and the rest

We woke up early-ish and headed out to Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive because I wanted to hike the Chimneys trail.  The trail has no shade and it was a hot day, but we had a lot of fun.  We had plenty of water and appropriate snacks - also we hiked earlier in the day to avoid the worst part of the heat.  We actually finished the hike with water left in our packs.

We hiked through the dessert to see some rock formations with an arch.  The boys didn't love the flat hike through the dessert (but they also didn't hate it, they just thought it could be more exciting) but they did love the rocks at the end.  It was a lesson on delayed gratification....and they all agreed it was worth the flat and boring hike to get to see the rocks.

After the hike we drove out to Castolon and had ice creams at the general store.  Then we headed out to the Santa Elena Canyon to see the Rio Grande.  We could see the cliff faces on the Mexican side of the border - they are amazing!

After a quick lunch at our campsite, we drove out to Rio Grande village, which was much smaller than I'd expected.  We decided to drive on to Boquillas Canyon.

It was very hot!  We checked out the Canyon lookouts and the Trail and the Rio Grande as well as looking over to Boquillas Del Carmen in Mexico. 

We decided the obvious logical thing to do when it was very hot was to head to the Hot Spring.   Visiting the Hot Springs involves a very short hike after a drive down a narrow unpaved road.  We were up for it!  

I found the drive un-nerving but everyone else thought it was great fun.  The hike to the Hot Springs featured old abandoned buildings and petroglyphs.

The two older boys soaked their feet and legs in the Hot Springs with me and Little Boy would have stayed forever.  We had a lovely, shady spot to sit and soak our feet in the water as the sun started to fall.  Baby Boy touched the water and found it to be too hot.

After the Hot Springs we headed back to camp for supper.  Then we attended the ranger programme where we learned about the Night Skies in the park.  We also got to look at Jupiter and it's moons through a telescope.

On our way to bed we stopped to look at the fantastic display of stars.

The next morning we spent a bit of time in the Chisos area before heading out of the park.  We had wonderful weather the whole time and as we were leaving the park a storm made it's way into the park.  We were very lucky with the weather.

We spent a night in San Antonio on the way home and our hotel had a pool - we took the kids swimming twice!  After stopping for some outlet shopping on the way home we embraced a short drive that took a long time through unfriendly Texas traffic.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Road Trip! Big Bend National Park Trip, Big Bend Day 1

We arrived in Big Bend National Park on the second day of our trip, partway through the afternoon.  The park is HUGE and it took a while (nearly an hour) to drive out to our reserved campground - Chisos Basin.  

It is a different style of campground than we are used to - instead of each site having an individual driveway, the campground has a large area with designated tent areas and covered picnic tables.  We had to pull over by some rocks at the side of the road as close as we could to our tent.  The area is tight and there are no bushes or trees separating the sites so campers are basically all together in a large field area.  This didn't bother us as we planned to spend most of our time away from our site hiking, but it's not the kind of campsite that we wanted to hang around.  To be clear, there are other sites in that campground on the outer ring that are more traditionally split up and a bit nicer but some are so small I'd worry about being able to fit our tent onto the site.

There is a water shortage at Big Bend and no showers at the campground.   Posters around the campground indicate that campers are encouraged to limit the amount of water they use and campers are only to wash their dishes at the designated sink area.  Unfortunately our designated sink area was gross.  So gross in fact that Little Boy (who is fairly tolerant of disgusting things) asked immediately if he could leave after seeing the sink area and the flies in the sink area.

The dishes area at the campground. obviously I missed some of the comforts that we've had at other campgrounds around Texas and Louisiana.  Putting that aside, Big Bend is a wonderful park and we had an amazing time.

The day that we arrived we set up camp and then headed out to the Grapevine Hills Trail.  To reach this trail we had to drive 6.4 miles down Grapevine Hills road - an unpaved road with fairly big bumps.  The boys had a blast!

We hiked in the late afternoon sun to see the balanced rocks.  Once we reached the rocks at the end of the trail the boys had so much fun climbing the rocky part of the trail.

After our hike we drove back to our campsite for supper.  As the sun started to set we made our way to the Window View Trail near the Chisos Basin Store to watch the sunset.  The boys enjoyed the sunset and the easy walk but maybe didn't "understand" the romantic nature of the sunset and chattered a bit as the sun fell.  Other people were talking as well so I don't think it was really a problem.  I took so many photos of the sunset...