Violet these days

22 Jul 2014

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This post is all about the sweet little lady pictured above. She got to choose the classes at this summer camp and is donning Harry Potter swag from her favorite class. She also chose to learn about food science and underground caves.

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Violet started piano lessons a year ago. At that point I wanted her just to try it for the summer and get exposure to the basic concepts. At the end of the summer I gave her the option to quit lessons but she wanted to continue. Here we are a year later and she is still taking piano.

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I’ve noticed a pattern. Violet’s lessons are on Tuesday. Most Wednesdays she wants to quit piano. It is her first day with her new assignments and the most difficult day for practicing. I always tell her to let me know on Tuesday when we are at the music school but by then she feels much better about piano and is very proud of her achievements for the week and not thinking of all about quitting.

Here a video from her second recital.

Violet has an entrepreneurial side to her and she likes to dream big. Earlier this summer she talked for days about setting up a lemonade stand. Then she had an idea of selling some of her things in a garage sale. We wanted to support her and thought it would be a good experience. We chatted with some neighbors and found a few who were also interested in the idea so we set a date for a quasi “neighborhood garage sale” with lemonade concession. A couple of weeks before the sale Violet decided completely on her own with no suggestions from us to donate the money she made to cats who needed help. She also wanted to make origami, bracelets, scarfs, etc to raise money for the cause. We took her to Austin Pets Alive to find out how she could help our local homeless kitty population. Of course she wanted to take kitties home but it isn’t in the cards for our family right now. Instead she learned APA is in constant need of clumping cat litter and monetary donations. Here are pictures from our garage sale day. We are so proud of our girl!

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One Response to “Violet these days”

  1. Aunt Becca says:

    Happy 8th Birthday, Violet! We love you! Great job at your piano recital. Keep it up! You’re awesome. I’m so proud of you and your tender, caring heart for animals. It was so sweet to donate your money to the animal shelter.
    Love, Aunt Becca

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It has been way too long since this blog has seen any attention. Since my last post Archer has started real deal brick and mortar preschool two days a week. I toured several facilities and was over the moon to find one I trusted to handle his food allergies. Not only is the school nut-free, every staff member there receives annual training on how to recognize and treat anaphylaxis. Archer started in January. It just so happens his teacher is nut allergic. The school’s curriculum is so impressive and well thought out and their resources are abundant. I am in love with this school and am considering keeping Archer there through kindergarten. Co-op preschool hasn’t stopped. We’ve just transitioned to meeting once a week.

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One of Archer’s teachers made this crown for him. He had class on his actual birthday.

Today was Archer’s last day for the year. As much as I love the school he really resists going in the morning. He’s been counting down the days until today for the past month. He was so happy to finally arrive at the last day, which featured a pizza party with popsicles. His teacher recently met with me to talk with me about how he is doing in school. She says he loves to share what he knows about subjects, is extra “spongy” (meaning I guess he’s curious about the world and likes to learn), and is a “good leader” (not sure how). He can count to 39 without error, knows all of his capital letters, and most of the lower case. His social skills are “age-appropriate”. Once, at the sensory bin, his best friend Kaidy had an item he wanted. When she wouldn’t hand it over he threw coffee grounds at her and she retaliated. Food fight! The teacher also shared that for Mother’s Day she encouraged the kids to help around the house more, saying they could take their plate to the sink after a meal. Archer said he wouldn’t just do that, he would come back to the table and take my plate too. She was touched.

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Right before the coffee throwing incident

Today was already a big day for Archer. While he built Lego with Violet I stepped outside to start a walk and a neighbor flagged me down. His son had recently outgrown a little bike and he offered it to our family for Archer. I immediately got Archer outside so he could try it. The neighbor advised Archer to 1. keep his eyes straight ahead, 2. keep pedaling 3. keep his arms straight. He told Archer even the best bikers have to start out just like Archer, not knowing much of anything about bike riding. Actually Archer has had a little practice. For the past year and a half he has been zipping around on a balance bike very confidently. This new little hand me down is the exact same size as Archer’s balance bike, only with pedals. The video was taken after about ten minutes of practice. He still has to work on starts. He says this about the experience, “I feel good because I’m proud of myself because I did real good all by myself.”

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We’re proud of him too and so marveling at just how fast he is growing up!

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4 Responses to “Archer the Bike Riding Preschooler”

  1. Poppy says:

    Great job Archer! Like I told, I was 8 before I did that! (Of course, I didn’t have a bike until I was 8.) Haha Ride safe!

  2. Grammy Vickie says:

    Wow, Archer! And you’re barely four!

  3. Aunt Becca says:

    Yippeee! So exciting! Can’t wait to squeeze you Archer and your big sister next month. We’re very proud!!

  4. Grandma Nobles says:

    Grandma and Grandaddy are proud of you too!

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Last day in the Keys

05 Feb 2014

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Bad quality picture but captures a beautiful memory. The place we rented included several bikes and was near a bike path. Ben watched the kids while my parents and I cycled out to the closest beach.

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My parents flight was delayed and we were lucky to get a couple more hours with them on the island. We ate cuban sandwiches this the beach then fed our stale popcorn to the seagulls.

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We queued up with dozens of other tourists for our turn with this landmark.

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We got an awesome last minute deal through Priceline on a Westin hotel in Hollywood. Our stay there was very short but memorable. We arrived at the hotel way after bedtime but we let the kids stay up late and enjoy the incredible pools. The hotel had one pool over another with a transparent window on the bottom of the top pool. We were all transfixed watching the swimmers above us. In our room, the wall by the bathtub slid away so Violet could watch TV while she soaked. That morning, Violet and I slipped down to the shore to hunt for shells before we had to load back up for the airport. All in all we had a most marvelous vacation.

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One Response to “Last day in the Keys”

  1. Colette says:

    Hey Bethany! I hope you are doing well! The kids are getting so big! I am moving to Houston this month. If you are still in Austin, once I get settled, maybe we can get together. Please email your phone number. Colette

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Our second full day in the Keys were largely spent outdoors. We spent the morning at Higgs Beach, which is man made, like all of the other beaches in Key West. The kids made sand angels, snacked, and chased after birds. We searched the shore for shells and sharks teeth but instead found a lot of chunks of clear and blue gelatinous material. When my parents came back from a walk we learned from them it was pieces of Portuguese man-of-war. Fortunately we managed not to get stung. During a walk along the pier, a kind local fisherman pointed out some live Man-of-War that were floating nearby.


Mom and Dad leaving for a stroll along the beach. Dad came back with a handkerchief full of Portugese man-of-war bits to show us.


Searching for treasures


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Violet plucked this styrofoam floaty ball from the sea


Checking out the Man-of-Wars


Can you see the two that are in this photo?


Violet “snuck up” behind this pelican and all three of us managed to get startled.

After enjoying two playgrounds within walking distance, we trekked over to West Martillo Tower, a civil war era fort converted into a tropical garden paradise.

From there we walked to the Key West Wildlife Rescue Center and met another very nice local. The lady who was working there welcomed us enthusiastically and gave the kids pellets to feed the turtles. Violet especially enjoyed the aviaries and we all were excited to see our first wild iguana.

That night the kids hung out with their grandparents at the pool while Ben and I went into town to attend a wedding. Ben was a groomsman for his friends and coworkers, John and Brooke.

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By far the most unique part of the celebration was when this tribe of rabble-rousers arrived. The ringleader (center of picture in red) was at least 80 years old and wearing boots that were higher heeled than I’d ever dared. The raucous group lead us all, sparklers in hand, from the resort where the service and reception were held, down Duval street to another venue, where the party continued. It was a beautiful and very memorable night.

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First Day in Key West

28 Dec 2013

The drive in from Miami down through the keys was long and beautiful. Besides the gorgeous views, the highlights of the drive were a couple of fantastic and cheap cuban cafe con leches and our little drive through the key deer refuge area. Ben has called me “key deer” for most of our marriage. This came about after I told him about the little creatures and he doubted their existence thinking they were just another jackalope-type folkloric creature. We can both now fully attest that they are indeed real! Most we saw just looked like baby deer we see in our Austin neighborhood. However we were lucky to catch a glimpse of a tiny little buck with a large (for him) rack of antlers. Sadly, the kids were both napping during this sighting.

We eventually made it to Key West!


One of the first things we spotted was a coconut palm. A man on a bucket truck was working in the area and caught us admiring the palm. He cut a couple of down for the kids and even sliced the top of of one and provided a straw. We were all touched by his thoughtfulness. He was actually one of several interactions we had like this with the locals.


Violet enjoying fresh coconut milk.


From there we jumped aboard a trolly and took a tour of the island. Archer snoozed.

We got off the trolly and all (but Archer) enjoyed a slice of key lime pie.

Then we visited the lighthouse. Look really closely and you might be able to spot the kids at the top. Grandma and Ben escorted them to the top while Dad stayed with me, my nerves preventing me from climbing. The lighthouse didn’t exactly appear to be “built to code”. I was glad when everyone was safe and sound back on the ground.


Leaving the lighthouse Violet found what may or may not have been a six toed cat. The lighthouse is across from the Hemingway house, famous for the six toed cats that roam the premises.

When I think of Key West I think of this aquarium. It was probably my favorite experience of the whole trip. We got there right in time for almost a private tour of the facility. Violet and Archer got to feed sharks and fish Violet and Archer played for at least an hour in the touch tank, Archer finally braving picking up the sea urchins and Violet going back and forth from urchin to conch.


After the aquarium, Dad and I snuck around the back of a hotel to see the “pink” statues that our trolley tour guide had mentioned earlier in the day. Here are some non-pink statues that were also behind the hotel, and are safe to post.

Then we were all off to Mallory Square to watch the sunset. My favorite sighting here was the chickens roosting for the night. Violet loved watching for the wild chickens of the island. We learned they are the progeny of chickens freed years in the 70s from cock fighting circles. Violet would squawk at every chicken she saw.

On the way back to our condo that night we had front row seats to a car accident. A motorcycle driver leapt off his bike just in time to avoid the car that eventually ran over the bike, slamming into a taxi, which was carrying two old ladies. Dad jumped out of our car and served as a witness to the accident. The motorcycle guy was all smiles realizing how blessed he was to be well and whole. The poor old ladies seem to have gotten the worst of it but no ambulances were needed.

“Home” at last after a long day, both kids enjoyed the jaccuzi tub and then slept long and hard until morning. What a great first day in Key West!

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One Response to “First Day in Key West”

  1. jill says:

    what fun! I’ve never been to key west, but now I may have to go one day. oh, and jackalopes are totally real ;)

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