First of all... someone got an iPhone today! I am so excited to have this! In the past two years I have bought two small cameras so that I could take everyday pictures without needing to pull out our big camera, both of which broke (ok, one I may have put through the washing machine...). I finally gave up on them, and I am so happy to have a quick, easy way to take pictures of my kiddos. Not to mention all of the other great things that you can do with a smart phone- like GPS... thank goodness for the navigation system.
Here is the first picture taken on my new iPhone! Our little celebutot promptly squelched all of my mamarazzi dreams with her "No mom, stop. I don't want to take pictures!" Sigh.
Anyway, today I want to share one of my favorite places in the entire world, my parents home, also known as "The Thistle Patch." This is where I live when I'm not in Russia, and where I have been for most of the past 2+ months.
First of all, I love the name! Its a pun on my maiden name and also named after my dad. My dad is a former marine and also a fightin' Texas Aggie and member of the Corp of Cadets at Texas aTm. As a fish in the Corp, he was dubbed "Thistle" by his buddies, and the name has stuck ever since (and so have his buddies, who subsequently became my "uncles" - dubbed with their own nicknames, Buzz, Duck and Steelie).
I love that its a nod to the "Oil Patch" the industry where my dad has worked his entire career. Also, The Thistle Patch is on 36 acres in Magnolia, TX; just north of Houston. I think 36 acres is a lot, Nick who grew up in south Texas disagrees, but that's ok... it might not be ranch material, but that just makes the "Patch" part all the more perfect and appropriate.
So come on in...!
This is the first "house" that my parents built out here, we call it the Barn. Originally they planned to use it as a home base while they went on another expat assignment as my dad worked overseas a lot so they kept it small. However, they became grandparents soon thereafter and decided that they were done traveling and living away from the US! At this point they are full time grandparents first, and everything else second.
The Barn is a big garage with a very cute two bedroom, one bath apartment above. If it were just my mom and dad it would be perfect, but its NEVER my mom and dad. They are very social and always have many, many guests, including squatters like me who come and stay for a long time! At this point my sister, Shawna, is living here with her two boys, my nephews, Aiden and Fin.
After nine years in the Barn, my mom and dad finally built a new house, and just in time too! The timing was perfect for Gemma's arrival and my sister needing to move.
Here it is! Its only about six months old and shortly thereafter my mom shattered her heel, so finishing it off has been slow. They are just now working on the landscaping around the house.
Its a great house and my favorite part is the BIG front porch :). Here is my mom sitting with Gemma and doing her bible study. I love Texas weather, yes August sucks, but we have had the most beautiful Fall, Winter and Spring. I always say I'll take a Texas summer over a Yankee winter any day! I HATE cold weather. Its so nice to be able to sit on the porch in this gorgeous weather!
Here's our little treasure :).
My dad is always busy out here; he has a hard time sitting still. He loves it because he loves to work, and there is always a lot of work to do. He can often be seen roaming around on his small tractor. Sometimes, when he needs a BIG tractor, like this one, he rents. He has a lot of fun with his toys.
Isla loves to go for tractor rides with her Pawpaw!
I always say that my parents are trying to build a Venus Grandchild Trap! There is so much for small kids to do.
There's Gator rides.
Isla loves the animals. Here she is hunting for lizards.
This is the only resident pet, Penelope the pot bellied pig. Isla loves to feed her. They have had other animals through the years, mainly many birds and dogs, but they have not have much luck keeping them. Penelope seems to be here to stay though! :)
A bird made a nest on the porch and the eggs hatched a few weeks ago. Today was the first day they ventured out of the nest so we had all of these little baby birds flying all over the porch... OMG... talk about precious!
This spring the butterflies have been out in full force. I have seen so many different species, and it has been so much fun to go and look at them with Isla.
Oh but there's more! My parents put in an awesome playground about seven years ago or so.
And here's the latest toy... the "Tramp Queen" as Isla calls it! My brother Steelie (yep, named after my dad's Corp buddy) bought this at Christmas for his daughter and nieces and nephews to use at my mom's house. We love it and have spent many hours playing and having fun in it.
Nick loves to come out here because there are always so many projects for him to do, and my parents love to put him to work! He loves wood working, and clearing brush and just being outside.
He's been able to build a bridge over the creek that runs through the property for the Gator path... a very exciting project for a structural engineer.
This is the tank. We do catch and release fishing which the kiddos love, and the picnic area is on the other side in that grove of trees. Nick built the sturdy picnic tables we use.
And perhaps my favorite of Nick's building projects (some of you knew this was coming)... the gazebo! Nick designed it on AutoCAD and built it for our wedding 100% by himself. The fact that I was married here on the Thistle Patch is one of the many reasons why its so special to me!
Here is the tent area (still called that 8 years after my wedding), the gazebo and the tank just beyond.
And just for fun :).
And I won't take pictures of the entire inside, but this is where the Wanns have been sleeping. We get the entire top floor of the new house. This is Nick, Gemma, and my room, my parents bought me a glider (not pictured) which was so thoughtful. Gemma sleeps in the nap nanny on the floor.
Isla gets her own room. This is her new bedding for her new room in Midland. My mom refinishes furniture and refinished that adorable night stand for Isla. She bought it for only $25! She does great work. We bought a set of dressers and a desk for cheap on Craiglist and she is going to refinish those too.
And the best part of being on the second floor... the playroom! I told you they were grandparents first. They even made sure to put a playroom in their new house just for the grandkids to go and play. A lot of the toys are my nephews' since there isn't a playroom in the barn.
I hope you enjoyed the tour. This is one of my favorite places on earth and just about perfect... now if only my parents would install a pool (hint, hint)! We always enjoy our time at the Thistle Patch!