Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Stephen F. Austin State Park

The week after spring break we tried camping again-- this time in our tent and with our dog.  We had so much fun that BOTH Jared and I ended up writing to our families about the trip.  So this post will have portions of Jared's emails because there were some things that I just couldn't say any better than he did.  You will recognize his words by the different font.

Griffin stayed tied up while we set up the tent and started the fire.

Micah (and Luke, but mostly Micah) loved the "camping fire" and was pretty impressed when I couldn't get the stupid thing lit and resorted to hosing it down with lighter fluid.  He thought that since I "turned on" the fire with my lighter, I could turn it off by pushing the lighter button again.  When that didn't work, we decided to dump water on it.  

Both boys enjoyed cooking hot dogs over the fire even though they both refused to eat theirs and dragged their food in the dirt instead.  Griffin appreciated the dirt coated hot dogs, though.

I tried to get a good view of the inside of the tent but it didn't work so well.  I like camping but just can't seem to tone it down.  Jared thinks a sleeping bag and pillow are all we need.  I am not so much of a minimalist.  I brought air mattresses for Jared and I and for Luke.  Micah slept in a portable crib.  Griffin had his crate and cushy bed.  We also had toothbrushes.

Jared describes our night pretty well:

The campground was beautiful and right next to a swamp that had a bunch of vociferous critters in it--chirping, croaking, chortling, singing, caterwauling, cawing, and generally yakking at each other in hopes, no doubt, of passing on their genes this year.  The critters were not annoying for some reason.  The humans at the campground, however, were.  Until 1:00 a.m. (my best estimate), they were yelling, singing, shouting, tripping on our tent's guy lines, trying to pet our dog, running while screaming, and generally acting like drunken rednecks in hopes, no doubt, of passing on their genes this year.

Griffin did great until we had him in the tent and were ready to sleep.  Then he started barking and kept barking, so we locked him in the car.  Micah woke up around 4:00 a.m. and starting singing Frere Jacques.  We told him to be quiet and go to sleep.  He did.  Until Luke woke us all up at 6:00 a.m. after a bad dream.  At that point, we courteously took our kids and dog on a "hike" (I don't think a walk through the woods can be called a hike if there is no incline or decline involved, but we were definitely on a "trail"--said the sign).  Then we played on the swings, packed up the wet tent and muddy tarp (it rained a little during the night), and went home around10:00 a.m.  

Swing Time!

Griffin crashed out for the rest of the day.

As for the rest of us: After we came home, we got to mow, edge, ride bikes in the cul-de-sac, clean the house, wash the stinky dog, wash the stinky kids, and draft a response to a request for an Attorney General opinion.  Then we woke up the next day, got me packed, went to church (Luke cried when I told him I had to leave early to go to Virginia to review documents in a warehouse for two days--now I know he loves me), and I went to the airport, leaving Stacy to wrastle the young'ins.  Ahhhhhh, relaxing weekends.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Houston Children's Museum and the Rest of Spring Break

Another day during Spring Break we met a friend at the Houston Children's Museum.  In Jan we went to the zoo downtown and, while standing at the sea lion tank, I felt a tap on my shoulder.  I turned around and there was my friend Sherry from Williamsburg, VA!  Her twins were in Luke's preschool class and we used to do play dates often.  She lives in Sugarland now, a suburb south west of Houston. Anyway, we met up with her and her family at the Children's museum.  Unfortunately it seemed like everyone with kids in Houston had the same idea.  It was pretty crazy in there, so while I brought my camera, I didn't actually take too many pictures.

This was the boys' favorite thing.  It works like the drive through at a bank (sort of.)  The balls come down on the right-- blue-- side and then the boys would put them into a hole on the left-- red-- side and the balls would shoot up the pipe, wind around, and then fall back down to the blue.  They did it over and over and over.

The museum was very big, so we didn't see everything, but we went to the mini grocery store that had working scanners.  Luke loved being a checker.  We went to a room with emergency vehicles.  Micah loved the police car.  Then there was a building room with legos, paper, and more.  It's really pretty hard to describe the room, and I obviously didn't take pictures of it.  There was a big ramp race track.  The legos were for making cars to race on the track.  There were also some wooden block cars with a stick standing up on the back.  The paper was to make sails for the car.  There was a flat track running parallel to a row of fans.  The point was to make a wind powered car, but Luke was only interested in the fans.  He turned them on over and over and would then start shrieking in excitement.  Micah spent a lot of time fighting with Luke for a turn with the fans.  I spent a lot of time yelling at Luke to LET Micah have a turn with the fans.  The boys liked that room a lot, but it was not my favorite.  Let's see.  There was a room with lots of climbing equipment.  I can't remember much more about the inside.

But there was a big outside section too-- divided into 3 parts: a water section, a playground area with  sand, and a big grassy area where children could climb into these giant blow up balls.  Sherry's kids wanted to do it, and I was surprised when Luke wanted to go too.  The line was pretty long, but it moved quickly because each child got about 30 seconds inside the ball.  Anyway, while Micah played in the sand, Luke stood in line for his turn.  I was glad I could get some shots with my camera from the sand box.

We ended our spring break with a short trip to the Houston/ Conroe KOA campground with Jared.  It was not real camping at all.  We stayed in a "cabin" that was really more like a cheap hotel suite.  There was a small living/ kitchen area and then a bedroom and bath off of the living room.  I like that kind of camping every once in a while.  We got to the cabin late because Jared got delayed at work.  But we went to the camp playground because it was lit and we could go even though it was dark.  They had a big BLOB-- which is like a big rounded bounce house with no sides.  Micah liked walking around with Jared looking for camping fires.  I remembered to bring my camera to the cabin, but I never remembered to bring it with us when we left the cabin to do the fun stuff.  So no pics.

The next morning we went swimming and then headed back to pack up.  Jared got to have a quick run in the woods, and he loved that.  He definitely misses open spaces.

It was a very short trip, but we had so much fun that we vowed to be regular campers.  In a tent, so we could afford to go often.

We actually went tent camping the very next weekend, and I will post about that soon.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Blessington Farms

We had a lot of fun a few weeks ago during the boys' spring break.  My friend Carrie invited us to go with her and her son to Blessington Farms one day to pick strawberries.  The boys were very excited because Daniel Tiger goes strawberry picking in their favorite episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, which is Micah's favorite show.  He kept singing songs from the episode as he hunted for ripe berries.

The berries were planted very differently from anything I had seen before.  They were planted in bucket tiers that could be turned.  Rows and rows of these tiers.  And still it was hard to find berries that were ripe.  We got there 30 min. after opening, but we passed several people leaving with bucket fulls on our way in.  Apparently to get the best you have to be there 30 min. BEFORE it opened.  But really, the strawberries are cheaper at Costco.  Picking was the true experience and we got to do that.

Here they are with Luke's friend from school,
hereby known as L

These boys are such hams together.
Too cute!

This farm had a whole entertainment section separate from the berry picking.  If you've ever been to a commercialized pumpkin patch with hayride and mazes and petting zoos, etc. you know what I'm talking about.  The cool thing about this place was that there wasn't any marketing other than the pass to get in, and there were so many neat things to do.  Luke loved the pedal cars.  They are like go karts that you pedal with your feet instead of being motorized.  He wanted to go back to the cars over and over.

Poor Micah!  None of the pedals were close enough for him to reach.  There were bigger pedal cars with child seats in back, but Micah refused to ride in one of those.  He is Mr. Independent.

Micah loved the giant slides!

So did Luke!

There was a GIANT sand mountain there with buckets, shovels, toy dump trucks, etc. to play in the sand.  Micah and L loved the sand and spent a long time digging.  I was glad Carrie could keep an eye on Micah while I watched Luke at the cars.  I can't believe I didn't get a picture of Micah in the sand!

The picture below is Micah and L on the barrel train.  Luke refused to go on it, but Micah loved it.  The tractor pulling it when fast and wove a lot to make the barrels whip around.  Micah had a huge grin on his face, but sitting in the first car was a bad idea.  He and L got all the exhaust.

Luke got pretty brave on the slides!

We will definitely be hitting this again next spring break!

Cowboy or Cowgirl?

So I guess there is a new trend in finding out the gender of a baby.  At the ultra sound the doctor or technician writes the sex of the baby and seals in in an envelope.  The envelope is then delivered to the party planner and that person plans the great reveal.  The fun part is that the couple gets to find out while surrounded by friends and family.

Cara and Michael decided to go with the trend.  Emily and I (mostly Emily!) were the party planners.  She did a cowboy or cowgirl theme.  There was a stack of brown hats and a stack of pink.  On entering guests chose a hat based on their gender guess:  brown for boy and pink for girl.

You can see the boys guesses.

And mine.

Michael and Cara and Libby's guesses

Emily made a vase "volcano" so when Michael and Cara poured in some vinegar, the vase bubbled up to reveal the sex of the baby.



We are excited to meet Miss Sadie in August!