Category: Blog

Tex Ren Fest

One of the top shows on television right now is Game of Thrones. It has all the appeal of a magical land of knights, princesses, and dragons. Unfortunately, there is no such real-life environment. At least for most of the year. But this last year I got to attend The Texas Renaissance Festival in Todd Mission, Texas, just a 15-20-minute drive outside of Houston. There, you step into that magical land. They have knights, beggars, kings, and queens. They have jousting, archery, and axe throwing. They have unique shops, exotic drinks, and delicious food. From the Greek Amphitheatre, to the medieval coliseum, to the pirate ship, with its different areas throughout you can stop, you can put dress up and bee anyone.  It’s a place everyone should take time to visit.

So as my first experience, we are driving out and it kind of feels like the boon dock country. But every few minutes as we’re driving down this road, there’s signs “Tex Ren Fes This Way” so we just kept going. And when you get there, you’re immediately immersed in the world. You park in a field, the rows set by these tall trees. The main road that takes you into the festival has chariot runners that for a fee will run/walk you up to entrance. Depending on how far down you are this might not be a bad idea. And the driver’s, true to character, act like 10th century road-rager yelling at passersby “Get out of the way!”, “My dead mother moves faster!”, “Speed up or I’ll turn you into a chariot bump!” It’s all hilarious and in good fun and these people never break character. As you pass by you’ll be passing, knights, archers, princesses, pirate wenches, captains, monks, and a variety of fantasy dressed characters. But these aren’t employees of the festival. These are the attendees, dressed to immerse themselves in the world. We didn’t dress up this last year but next year it’s definitely on. As you enter the gates (and yes, I mean like caste gates) you see this layout of shops lining the streets on either side. It’s exactly as a bazaar or medieval marketplace would look, just with more modern clothes and souvenirs. Everything is decorated on point, from the aged wood, or the stone built walls, it looks and feels like you’ve entered a new world.

One of my favorite spots in the festival is the enchanted garden. A path that winds through next to a stream, with beautiful flowers and vegetation everywhere. Every so often you reach a spot that will have a new statue or landmark from a different part of the world. At these spots they have unique sitting places. From Greek statues to Chinese elephants, every one of these stops has a photo opportunity. In the enchanted garden, they also have a place where you can learn dancing. The classes are at different times but it looked like a fun experience.

That is one of the coolest parts of the entire festival, the different interactive shows. Each area has a show that they put on at a designated time, with the center most show being the jousting show which instead of being a one of show, it actually carries a story throughout. And when I say interactive, I mean interactive. In the coliseum, depending on where you sit, you are asked to cheer for your knight as they take on the other “nations” knights. Or at the barbarian belly dance show, they ask for volunteers to come up on stage with them. Much of the same is found throughout at all the shows and it just adds to the experience. And if you’re not an out-going person, no worries, with the crowds at each place, there’s no worries of feeling like you’re the only one. And who knows, after a few rounds of mead you might even be the one raising your hand for an event.

Speaking of edibles, each section has their own specialty drinks and food. I highly suggest trying a little bit from each one throughout the day. They all have your normal food and drink, coke, hamburgers, margaritas, but each also has something unique. My personal favorite was the honey mead in the medieval section. Absolutely worth the price if you’re of legal drinking age and want something different. And the food is some of the best you’ll ever have. Even the simple foods like chicken tenders is top quality.

Besides immersing yourself in costume, and stepping into a new world, the Renaissance Festival also has things you might not get to try elsewhere. They have an archery and axe throwing station where you can try your best and compete against your friends. Or you can dunk the village idiot or village wench. Now I know this sounds the same as something you’d do at the local town fair, but trust me it’s far from it. These people know how to throw some real insults that can get under your skin. It’s so funny to watch a random person pass by and get bombarded with these side-splitting insults that they can’t help but pay for a chance to throw something at them. Where else also, especially in Texas, are you going to get a chance to ride an elephant. Yeah, a real elephant. That’s a story will make your kids the king of the playground. There’s tons of activities there that for a small fee you can partake in that you might not get a chance anywhere else.

Finally, after a long day of photos, eating, drinking, and having one of the best days of your life, you get to come back to the coliseum and see the grand finale: the pyrotechnic show. You crowd into the stadium to get a seat and watch as professional fire dancers play with fire like we do jump ropes. The show is very mesmerizing. And when you start think it’s through, BANG! The fireworks show, that puts almost any other to shame, starts. For 15 minutes or so you get to watch this amazing fireworks show continue with a finale that leaves stars in your eyes.

At the end of it all, those same cart runners will be there to take you back to your car for a fee, which after a long day on your feet is worth every penny. The neat thing about the Renaissance Festival is it’s always different every year. We plan to make it an annual event and we are going all out this next year. If you’ve been before and are looking for new things to do, there’s a camping ground, where you can meet other’s and enjoy a different experience around a giant bonfire. And not to worry, the grounds keepers are also in character. The Renaissance festival is a great place for families to have fun and create lasting magical memories.

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Story Time!

I always worry that my son will not have enough Social Skills, or have learned enough before he attends school so when opportunities come up like Story Time I jump on them! Storytime is an event at one of our libraries once a week that is FREE. Every Wednesday morning from 10:45-11:15ish we sing songs, interact with other kids around my son’s age, and do a little activity.

Today we sang nursery rhymes about colors, thumbs, bears, bees, and many more. After the songs, we read two books about dinosaurs! My son LOVES dinosaurs which made him very involved.

After the two stories about dinosaurs, all the kids were given an ice egg. Inside the ice egg was a dinosaur we had to “hatch”. My son was given a cup of hot water and a paintbrush. He would then use the paintbrush to “paint” hot water on the ice egg until it melted, and the baby dinosaur came out! My son hatched a green stegosaur, which happened to be one of his favorite dinosaurs!

We love to attend story time when we can, it’s always fun to find a kid-friendly activity to do around your home. Check your closest library to see if they have one!

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Sensory Bottle

Being a work at home mom has always been a dream of mine! I am able to spend all day with my three-year-old son and make my own schedule. Every Monday morning my son and I pick out activities he is to do every day that week. Our activity today is making a Sensory Bottle for the first time!! Since we had never made it before, so we were both thrilled to figure out how to make one. A Sensory Bottle is good for helping a child calm down and encourage self-regulation.

If your child feels overwhelmed, anxiety, and wound up this would be a great activity for them to do. We made a mess FAST with all the glitter and small beads, so do not be alarmed. It was fast and easy to clean which makes it a great activity anyone can do.


We started with an empty bottle of water and filled it half full of cooking oil. I did it over the sink, but if you need you can use a funnel to make sure the cooking oil does not spill.Then we added some blue, green, and yellow marbles, along with decorative beads.

After that, we added a red and silver glitter to give it an extra sparkle.
After the glitter, we added blue dye and the filled the rest with water.

Once it was full I put the lid on and then tapped it making sure it would not spill. Then my son took the bottle and shock it for a good five minutes to make sure everything was good a mixed together.

My son loves his Sensory Bottle! I highly recommend everyone should make one!

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Update your Resume in 2018!

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It can get to a point in life where you have been in the same job for a while and have gotten everything you can out of it. And so you become stuck in a rut where the only thing that is making you walk through the door every day is the fact that bills need to get paid. But what is really stopping you from trying something new? Maybe there’s a new area, connected to the job you already do that you can move into, or perhaps it’s just the company you work for. Maybe you need a whole new career path and begin again. However you go about shaking things up, you need to make sure your resume is up to scratch.

 

Up To Date

 

It’s a good idea to keep your resume up to date regardless of whether you’re looking for a new job or not. Even if it’s just a note stating the day you started your role, dates if any promotions, and the extra responsibilities or training you have received. That way there’s no guesswork, and you won’t miss anything out. But it’s not just your employment history you need to modify; look at your cell number, home, and email address – are they correct? Have your objectives and hobbies changed since you last edited your resume? And, if you do include an image, is it a recent one? Your resume is an outward statement of who you are now and not who you were five years ago.

 

Volunteering

 

To give your resume a boost, and to provide you with an excellent hobby that has nothing to do with work, consider volunteering. There is a whole range of things that you can do that might or might not link in with your chosen career path. Volunteering on its own shows a willingness to go beyond the basics, to spend your time helping others. It can show leadership, initiative, teamwork, and care. Which all goes a long way to an employer. If you are looking for a promotion, perhaps your volunteering invokes getting involved in new projects and spending some of your time working on them. If you’re looking to move into zoo keeping, for example, volunteering with animals at a shelter, vets or farm will work in your favor.

 

Education

 

If you have plenty of experience in the area you’re moving into, then you shouldn’t really need any more qualifications. If you do, it will quite often be something the company offers to provide. If you’re looking elsewhere, then you might need to look at adding to your education. If you want to move into public service, then doing an online criminology BA would work wonders. As would a degree in social care if you’re going to move into social services. Quite often you can find that future employers are happy to allow you to study alongside your new job, so never think that you can’t apply for something just because you haven’t finished studying. You might get lucky and have them offer to pay for your course – who knows?

 

Skills

 

Everyone has different skills to their name. However, there is a list that pertains to pretty much anyone who has held down a job, and done well in it, for more than a couple of years:

  • Team Player
  • Time Management
  • Organization
  • Time Keeping
  • Meeting Deadlines
  • Multitasking

If you have worked with money, you can add ‘money management’ to the list, if you have led a team then add ‘team leader’. They might sound simple, but a list of viable skills such as these gives any potential employer a good insight into how you work. You should also rank your skills according to what you feel is more important to the role you’re applying for. A job as a manager would need leadership and organizing right at the top, for example. If you have any critical skills with computer programs, add them to your list. And not all of your skills need to be work-related; adding that you play the violin to the list shows perseverance, hard work and that you have a hobby.

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Unplugging to Camp!

Camping is a great activity that anyone can partake in. But for those new to camping, trying to figure out what to do while camping can be the hardest thing. How do you take a “plugged-in” generation, and unplug them and still have fun? It’s a difficult challenge that can actually deter potential campers because you never want anyone to not have a good time. Here are some camping tips that can ease the pain from moving a twitter-holic to the outdoors.

First, one of the biggest deterrents is leaving the comfort of one’s own bed. People hear camping and think Jim Bowie and Davy Crocket, sleeping under the stars on the ground, a stump as a pillow and a cow or deer hide as a bed. Worry not, although that sounds absolutely miserable, neither I or anyone I know have ever camped using a log as a pillow. Although there are various degrees of “extreme” that you can tell stories about, I prefer to sleep with a goose down sleeping bag, and my pillow from home. If that’s still too far removed from a bed for you, you can use an air mattress. That’s the best part about camping: you can choose the degree to which you’re wanting to go “outdoors.”

Secondly, not everyone is a hunter or fisherman. Bringing in the kill and hollering across the camp “Honey, dinner’s here!” and flopping down the kill or catch of the day is very cool, it’s not exactly the 21st century. Making sure how you and your fellow campers are going to eat can help ease people into a good time camping. Some people can enjoy the experience of cooking a steak over an open fire on a firepit grill where others would prefer that their food comes packaged and between two pieces of bread. Let your level of comfort dictate what food you bring. Start easy if it’s your first time. Bring sandwiches and pre-packed food in ice chests and just enjoy the away from the norm. If you like it and decide you want to be more adventurous the next time, bring a couple steaks, chicken, or hamburgers and cook them over the fire. Its easy and you feel more in tune with the outdoors. For those looking for true grit camping, find a place that allows you to catch or hunt your own food and go full Crocket.

The third point in getting your homebody to the outdoors in making sure there are activities that are going to hold their or your attention. During the day, the kids can play tag, hide-and-seek, or just enjoy the natural nature trails. If you’re at a camp park, you can more than likely find a jungle gym for the young kids to play on. If you have a kid who’s an animal or bug lover you can make a game out of how many

different types of animals or bugs you see. My personal favorites are always the Frisbee or football.  For your more rugged campers, you can pass the time fishing, hiking, canoeing, or take part in one of the many different campsite events that can be located on the camping website. Bring simple games to play at night. My favorites are a deck of cards which are as versatile as a swiss army knife. Playing some battle, go fish, spades, or hearts is a great way to spend quality family time together. Dominos are another easy, enjoyable way to pass the time away as food is cooking. This doesn’t include the all mighty smores’ cooking that has to take place around every fire. Scary stories, or maybe just some “back in my day” wisdom can be passed on around the seamless time around a warm campfire.

Camping is a truly refreshing experience that can help untangle the mess of one’s plugged in life. It can be scary at first, not being in the comfort behind one’s own 4 walls and sleeping in one’s own bed. But all of these steps can ease those “I don’t want to” campers into a fun-filled, bonding experience.

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