I have always been pretty anti-HOA (home owner's association), but it is pretty much impossible to live in the Austin area without being a part of one. I have to admit, at least in our limited experience, the pros have definitely outweighed the cons in our particular neighborhood. Our HOA maintains two big and beautiful neighborhood pools, hiking/biking/walking trails, and two parks with play-scapes. They also host and organize various neighborhood activities usually associated with holidays. A few weeks ago was some national neighborhood safety night and so our HOA organized an event that coincided with that as well (promoting personal safety and the importance of looking out for your neighbor, but thankfully no emphasis on vigilante justice....) Anyway they had food trucks and bouncy houses and a vendor selling personal tasers for only $30. The biggest hit for our family (other than the live music) was this barrel train that was pulled by a tractor. Two of Lou's favorite things. He was really excited waiting in line and then freaked out when he realized I wasn't getting in with him. Luckily, Norah took over and he ended up having a good time. So good in fact that whenever we drive by the park area he screams that he wants to ride the tractor train RIGHT NOW.
Getting this guy to eat anything but crackers is still a daily struggle. So when he asked for strawberries as soon as they came home from the store, I couldn't say no. The 30 seconds it would take to wash them pretty much would guarantee his lost interest. At least they were organic.
He loves baths to the point where we might have to stop taking them. That would be because he refuses to get out. Like, kicking and screaming refuses to get out. About 10 times a day he will beg, "I NEED to take a bath."
I dream of the day that the kids will wake up on their own on a Saturday morning, get their own breakfast and watch cartoons. All while I am still asleep. We are getting close.
Half of the time this is where I find Louie in the morning.
A few weeks ago Norah went to a birthday party at a Michael's craft store. It was to be a 'drop-off' party, i.e. parents not welcome to stay. I wasn't quite ready for that to happen because it as a school friend and we did not know the parents at all, and it was a public place and I had no idea how secure the location would be. It was far more secure than I was expecting, so Louie and I went next door and walked around the grocery store for an hour. Killing time meant he got a new fire truck and a 90 minute DVD of a garbage truck driving around. He loves them both.
I started an Austin chapter of my cooking club last year and it is going really well. We've got a great group going and everyone is really stepping up their game. I have taken a picture of every single dish we've had and not done a thing with them. Someday. This was a watermelon gazpacho.
Norah's drawings are getting more elaborate every day. Louie's preschool has a theme every week and their crafts and activities follow the theme. Last week was outer space and so Norah drew an alien for him one morning at breakfast. The blue thing is the moon.
Speaking of Norah, she has always liked stuffed animals but lately she has really been into them. She has an elaborate bedtime ritual that involves changing them into pajamas and arranging them in various sleeping configurations. Minnie is wearing goggles here because she contracted Meddlesome Myrtle (a made up version of poison ivy from one of Norah's shows) and she can't itch her eyes.
I was hesitant to get Norah a scooter for her birthday because I feared it would go the way of her tricycle and bicycle. In other words, I figured she would fall and get scared and then refuse to try again. I am pleased to report that she has in fact crashed and fallen several times, but gets right back up. She is a scooter maniac. She goes incredibly fast and can take corners like nobody's business. Unfortunately it is still so hot that most of the riding gets done inside the house.
It is very possible that Louie is a sociopath. What gives me hope is watching him with Baby Camilla. He is sweet, loving, protective, and gentle. Pretty much the opposite of how he is at all other times. I hope she continues to bring out the best in him.
There is a local restaurant that has a huge outside space for live music. It also has two playscapes. I cannot wait for the day that I can sit on a patio and drink wine while my kids play by themselves. That day is coming, I just know it.