Robert’s 7th Birthday

Robert had a race car birthday party here at the house this afternoon to ring in his seventh year. He invited a few of his classmates and one boy who rides his bus, so four of the six boys at his party I met for the first time today. Two of the moms I met a few weeks ago and they stayed for the party, so I was able to get to know them better. Elijah was in Robert’s class last year and is in a different school now and Ethan is in Kinder and rides the bus with the kids.

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Lauren and Emily are Ethan’s big sisters, so they brought him over and hung out with Clara and helped out a bit with the party.

 

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The party was very informal and my plan was to just let them race with all of Robert’s different tracks. We pulled the Mario Kart slot car track out of the closet earlier in the week and one of the controllers was broken. Chris worked all week cutting and soldering and was finally able to get it fixed.

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Um, yeah, lots of sugared up 6 and 7 year old boys running around my house in a blur.

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Looks like the kindergartners didn’t make it into many pictures. Ali was very shy and enjoyed playing upstairs away from these crazies. Thankfully he and Ethan are in the same class, so I think that probably helped. All of the boys were very polite and they all got along very well. Elijah found Chris’ Skipper hat and wore it around for a while.

 

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Ali had to leave a few minutes early, so I didn’t get him in the group shot. And Javier doesn’t like smiling for pictures, it seems :)

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I forgot to get a picture of the whole dining room decorated before the party so I snapped a quick one before clean up.

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As the party was ending and guests were starting to leave, we got a special delivery at the door. Chris snuck it to the garage and put it together. It’s a little big for him, but I think he likes it.

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Ralph S. Mouse Pumpkin

We recently finished reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle, so Robert decided to make Ralph for the school’s Storybook Pumpkin Patch. (He’s sporting a ping pong helmet with a rubberband strap in case you’re not familiar with the daredevil mouse named Ralph.)

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I took Robert to school the morning he was turning Ralph in so that he wouldn’t get torn up on the bus ride to school. Turns out cars aren’t too safe for a mouse either. Ralph was sitting on the seat next to Robert and took a spill when I rounded the corner, breaking off his nose. Robert seemed to take it in stride, especially after I told him I’d glue it back on when we got to school. He just laughed and said that Ralph must have leprosy :)
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Goose Island State Park

We went to Goose Island State Park a couple of weeks ago. The kids had an early release day at school so we took advantage of the few extra hours and chose somewhere a little further away. There are two sections to the park and we ended up staying on the island portion, which was the less desirable of the two. The spots were packed in and there weren’t any trees or privacy. It was mainly fishermen in that section. The other section had heavy vegetation and the sites felt very secluded.

The kids wanted to walk to the very end of the very long fishing pier on Saturday morning.

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Then we visited the butterfly garden and saw lots of butterflies and several caterpillars.

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Including this guy. This is an asp caterpillar and thankfully Clara spotted him right before she put her hand on him as she went to climb the tree in the picture above. That would’ve pretty much meant an end to our lovely weekend as asp caterpillars tend to pack quite a wallop if you touch ’em.

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We then drove to the trailhead of a short, very wooded trail in the park and got about 10 yards down the trail when we realized we forgot mosquito spray. We quickly ran back to the car, swatting the mosquitos away as we ran.

So we left the park and went to find the Big Tree a mile or so outside the park. It’s over 1,000 years old and is one of the biggest oak trees in the US. They’ve fenced off the tree and done a lot to try to brace it, but there are lots of other trees surrounding it that you are free to climb in. We had to wait for a group of boy scouts to leave the best climbing tree before we could take a turn in it.

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I have no idea what these little round balls are that Robert found stuck to leaves.

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The kids needed a boost to get onto the lowest branch and I really could’ve used a boost myself but I managed. Chris wasn’t much help, but he was sure to get a few pictures of my graceful ascent.

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There were a couple of different options for Saturday afternoon, including driving to Corpus to the Texas State Aquarium and exploring the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, but both were about an hour away. We decided to stick closer to the park and made the short drive to Rockport to visit their aquarium. The aquarium was right next to a little art gallery and maritime museum. The aquarium was tiny, but there were lots of hands on kid-friendly activities, so the kids enjoyed themselves. Robert thought it was awesome.

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Then we let the kids play in the sand for a few minutes before getting some ice cream and heading back to camp.

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The kids and I got up before the crack of dawn on Sunday to watch the sun rise. It was really cloudy, so it wasn’t as impressive as it might have been on a clear day, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

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Robert’s First Tooth

Linda came to stay with us the last weekend in September while Chris and Dan were working a race. Robert had been working on his first loose tooth for several weeks and it was starting to hurt whenever he ate. During breakfast Sunday morning it had started bleeding, so it needed to come out. But I don’t do teeth and Chris was gone! I folded up a paper towel for him and told him to grab hold of his tooth but I couldn’t watch. And I had to cover my ears. I don’t think he even had to pull it; it just popped right out like it wasn’t even attached. Yay!

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He went upstairs to finish getting ready for church as I started cleaning up after breakfast. He came back down a few minutes later and asked where his tooth was. Uh-oh. It dawned on me that it was probably laying on the paper towel that had just been deposited into the mostly full trashcan. Underneath a layer of uneaten oatmeal. What kind of mother am I?!

Turns out I’m the kind of mother that digs through the trash to retrieve her child’s first tooth. Steel cut oatmeal looks a lot like baby teeth. So Linda started smashing a plateful of oatmeal. I was going through yucky trash from the day before and when I was about ready to give up, I spied it stuck in some oatmeal to the side of the trash bag!

So I cleaned it up and got it all ready for the tooth fairy. Robert is the second child, therefore he does not own a tooth fairy pillow. We placed his tiny tooth in a Ziploc bag and put it next to his bed. When I went to wake Robert the next morning, I told him to check and see if the tooth fairy had come. He groggily turned over in bed and told me that he had already checked and she had left $25 for him. Ummm, say what? I asked him if he was sure about that and he said, “Yes. She left 2 tens, 2 twos and a 1.” I told him he must have dreamt it because the tooth fairy doesn’t leave such large sums of money. He was becoming irritated with me so he grabbed his Ziploc to prove it to me.

The poor guy was so confused when he saw 8 measly quarters in his baggy. He was angry and started crying, sure that someone had broken in and stolen his money. There was no convincing him otherwise. He eventually cheered up when I told him that the tooth fairy doesn’t visit ungrateful children. When he finally looked at all his quarters, he was pleasantly surprised to find that they were from all different states. He decided they weren’t so bad after all and excitedly told anyone who would listen about his quarters that came from all over the United States.

Summer

I’m just going to go back and take a look at my calendar to do this summer re-cap to get caught up once and for all.

— The kids got out of school on June 2nd. My friend Becky’s brain surgery was the day before and we kept Emily overnight if I’m remembering correctly. I really thought we’d have her overnight for a week or more while Becky was in the hospital and recovering at home those first few days, but her dad took a bus from out of state to be here with her for those first few weeks after surgery. I’m so glad he was here otherwise I would’ve been completely overwhelmed.

Becky was released from the hospital a mere 2.5 days after an all-day brain surgery and her recovery at home was awful. I took Emily most days for at least a portion of the day for those three weeks post-surgery and dinner most nights. It was a pretty stressful few weeks.

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— Adding to the stress was Max. He was nearing the end of his time here with us and it was weighing pretty heavily on me. I just couldn’t decide if it was time to put him to sleep or not. He started having lots more bad days where he couldn’t get up on his hind legs, even with help and was having multiple accidents every day and just didn’t seem to be happy any longer. We made the tough decision and put him down on June 7th. I started a blog post about Max but never finished it; maybe I’ll get it up eventually.

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— During that week, Robert had been coughing at night. He coughed so much that he threw up multiple times one night. He sounded fine during the day and wasn’t acting sick, but he was going to be staying with Grandma and Grandpa later that week, so I made a doctor’s appointment for him the day after Max died just in case. Of course the next two nights before his appointment he didn’t cough a bit, but I kept the appointment. The doctor ordered a chest x-ray after he listened to his lungs and he saw a spot that was concerning to him and he thought it was walking pneumonia and prescribed an antibiotic. (The radiology report would later show that it wasn’t pneumonia so I’m not sure what it was.)

— We finished reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe around that time and then the kids got to watch the movie. Chris ordered some turkish delight off of Amazon and we put it in a fancy candy dish and served it up as we started the movie. They loved it! They wanted so badly to finish it off, but forced themselves to save a couple of pieces. They wanted to eat it during the scene when Edmund requests it and eats it with The White Witch :)

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— That next weekend Clara went to church camp for K-4th graders. Robert wanted to go at first but then had second thoughts when he found out I wouldn’t be there. And because I know my son, I knew he would regret his decision at the last minute and be devastated, so I arranged for him to Temple while Clara was at camp.

So Robert loaded up all the red things he owns and had a whole week with Grandma and Grandpa all to himself.

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— It ended up being a whole week because the following weekend we decided to go visit Dan and Linda for Father’s Day weekend. They were getting a new cabinet bed for their guest bedroom and offered their old set to us. Since we didn’t have a footboard or headboard and our mattress was super old, we took them up on the offer. So we took two cars and rented a U-Haul and Chris brought the furniture home while I headed west with the kids to Pecos.

— I actually don’t remember much about our Pecos trip and I don’t have any pictures. This was supposed to be a restful week after being so stressed for the previous weeks. Well, wouldn’t you know it, Clara started feeling sick on the drive to Pecos. By the next day, she felt awful and spent 3 days in bed. I was trying to quarantine her so she wouldn’t spread her cooties to all the cousins. Poor girl didn’t even feel like watching movies most of the time.

I ended up trying to get her into the doctor the morning of the parade. I called and called and called the clinic and no one was answering. I eventually loaded her up and went up there. Lo and behold it was closed until after lunch because of the rodeo parade. Argghhh! It’s the only clinic in town! I forget sometimes that things run a bit differently in a small town. I was able to get her in that afternoon. She had zero energy and had eaten almost nothing for the past couple of days and cried when the dr. mentioned a strep test. Her rapid strep test came back negative but the PA was just certain that’s what it was so I went ahead and got the antibiotic. I had to personally walk the order in to the hospital lab across the street, dragging Clara with me while she sat and waited for the 10 minutes it took to enter her into the system. This was a Wednesday and we didn’t get the test results back until Monday. It was negative. She was feeling mostly better by Friday morning though.

So Friday morning we went with Myrt and took all the kids to the little car museum. I started feeling a little woozy and then ran to the bathroom and dry heaved. Then I told some kid (don’t remember which one) to tell my mom I had gone to lay down in the car. The dizzy nauseous spell passed after a few minutes, but I was not feeling well at all, so I went on back to the house. I would feel sorta okay and then horrible and then so-so and then horrible again for the next day or two. By Monday I was down for the count. I went to the doc and she thought it was just viral since Clara’s strep test came back negative. I went back two days later when I wasn’t feeling any better and she agreed I should have been feeling better by then and so she prescribed me an antibiotic. I was supposed to leave to go back home on Wednesday, but it ended up being Saturday before I felt I was up for the long drive home. So much for my restful week.

— My main reason for wanting to get back home was because we were supposed to have a 4th of July party at the house. Chris went ahead and canceled it, but then asked if I would be ok with having only a couple of families over. I told him that was fine as long as I didn’t have to lift a finger :) Because of a little change in plans, we ended up having one family over on Sunday and the other on Monday, so two days of entertaining guests.

— The week after that: more Emily, VBS, removal of a bee hive from inside our second story eave, and then we left for my family reunion.

— Clara went to another weekend church camp with area churches the following weekend. She rode with the kids from Bammel and got to see some of her old friends. While she was gone, Chris’ co-worker offered us tickets to the circus because his whole family got sick and couldn’t go. They were supposed to go with a group of friends and had box seats.

We went down and looked at the animals and then watched some of the performers during the pre-show.

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Robert had no interest in any of the clowns milling around. He could not be persuaded to take a picture with any of them. I guess ’cause clowns are creepy.

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So turns out, private box seats are kinda the pits for a circus. A more accurate description might be “the nosebleeds”.

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See? I told you. Proof that clowns are creepy. Yikes. I’m like the clown from your nightmare.

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Here’s Robert and “Giggles” the clown :)

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— The kids got back from camp after church on Sunday, so we drove up to Bammel for church and then joined the DeCarlos for lunch when we got Clara and Travis back.

That brings us to the beginning of August. Some things happened in August I’m sure, but this is the end of this post because that’s all I have pictures of :)

Happy Halloween

Clara wanted to go as Athena for Halloween this year. She’s been very interested in Greek mythology lately after reading the Percy Jackson series, but I was still a little surprised by her choice of costume. When she informed me that Athena, who is the goddess of war and wisdom, has an owl as one of her symbols, it all made sense. So if you’re like me and know next to nothing about Greek mythology, that’s a gorgon on Athena’s shield. Medusa to be exact. I had planned on making a helmet for her as well, but that proved to be difficult when I waited ’til the last minute. She also thought it would be cool to figure out a way for her costume to depict Athena’s birth, which would mean her bursting out of a Zeus head using an axe. Ummmm…..yeah……

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Who is this teenager and where did my little girl go? It is so weird to see her without her glasses on.

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Ok, she’s back. Whew!

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And how cute is my little Gilligan?

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They both loved their costumes. Anyone over 40 knew who Robert was. I think the life preserver helped. We went to Smash Burger before trick-or-treating and he didn’t have it with him. The guy behind the counter asked if he was a fisherman.

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A few minutes after their photo session, Robert dropped his foam life preserver and it broke before he got his picture with The Skipper. We glued it and left it to dry while we went to dinner.

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It wasn’t dry when we got back but I found some packing tape and it was good to go.

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Our neighbors were getting ready to go out with their almost 2 year old and some friends the same time we were. They’re Chinese and they were so funny. Our neighbors and their friends were directing the kids and snapping pictures like crazy. Clara and Robert were a little taken aback by all the attention. The grandmother doesn’t speak English but she loves Clara and Robert and was trying to get their picture, a picture of them with Laura and she wanted a picture of herself with Clara and Robert. She seemed to be enjoying herself immensely :) It was kinda chaotic as I was trying to translate to the kids what she wanted, so I didn’t get any pics. We walked with them most of the time. I asked Deanna, Laura’s mom, if she knew who Robert and Chris were. I then had to explain what Gilligan’s Island was :) Then we ran into Clara’s friend Lauren and her family and ended up going around the neighborhood with them too. The kids had a blast; it’s so much more fun trick-or-treating with friends.

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Griffis Reunion in Wimberley

We had lots of fun at my family reunion back in July. As I mentioned in our Labor Day weekend post, we were treated to an awesome weekend in Wimberley at John and Kelsey’s place at U Camp. We stayed in the large bunkhouse that came equipped with a big kitchen and living/eating area and bathrooms. The house was surrounded by shade trees and we were just a short walk from an awesome swimming hole on the Blanco River.

John took us on a “short” hike up to a scenic overlook where we were able to see up river several miles. This first picture is where the little creek trickled down the rocks and underground that we hiked to on our Labor Day trip, but it was bone dry in July. We had reservations to see Jacob’s Well which is nearby but got the call a couple of days before that it was too low for swimming, so we were kinda bummed about that.

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The swimming hole was perfect. This little spot is dubbed “John’s bathtub” and the little ones spent hours doing cannonballs into it. This is my favorite picture from the trip. Maybe one one of my favorites ever of Robert.

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The land on the other side of the river here had steps going down to the water. The multi-million dollar home that stood there overlooking the river was swept away last spring during the terrible flood along with several other homes right there. John said thousands upon thousands of tons of debris were removed from the camp alone during the nine months it was closed.

The water was flowing swiftly in some areas. This next picture is Clara and my cousin Laura’s daughter, Lilly who is about the same age. Several in the group enjoyed going down the little rapids. If you look closely, you can see some of the rocks look black in the area with the rapids. They were covered in tiny leeches. John said they’re nothing to get worked up about. He’ll get a few on him and then go sit in his bathtub and the little fish eat them off. Um, no thank you. Avoidance worked better for me as a way to keep leeches off of my body.

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Robert hadn’t been too keen on the leeches, so I was surprised when he said he wanted to go on the tube. When he got to the bottom and realized he had to walk over the rocks with the leeches to get back to the swimming hole, he LOST HIS EVER LOVING MIND!! I mean, he went insane screaming like someone was torturing him, frantically jumping up and down trying to keep from stepping on the rocks. I tried really hard not to and I tried not to let him see, but I could not stop laughing. Poor baby; I have never seen him that unhinged. Ahhh, good times.

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There was a drop off into this large area that was about 5 feet deep maybe. The kids took turns rowing around in the kayaks and snorkeling here. This spot was just a perfect mix for lounging and playing for all ages.

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Griff and Taren found a little hideout under the rocks to share a snack together.

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We attempted to take a few pictures after dinner Saturday night. Key word, attempted. Here’s all the 2nd cousins.

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And here’s Bia and PawPaw and their crew. Mason stepped in to try and get a smile out of Bryce but it didn’t work.

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We invited Dan and Linda to join us on Saturday afternoon since they live just a short drive away. A lot of the kids had done the rockwall and zipline the night before but we had to shut it down when it got too dark. Clara went the first night, but I don’t have pictures. She did great. Those long legs made scaling the rockwall a piece of cake. Robert was sooooo upset that he couldn’t go. He had been waiting so patiently. There were several kids that really wanted to go, so John and Kelsey set it up again on Saturday night and we let Robert go first so that Dan and Linda could watch him do his first zipline. They needed to get on the road before it got too late. Here he is getting all ready to go.

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And off he goes! He got up that wall no problem and there was zero hesitation when it came time to step off on the zipline.

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Chris was assisting at the end of the zipline with helping people off and down the ladder so he didn’t see me get all harnessed up. He was really surprised when he saw me zip past his head :) It was a lot of fun but I was surprised at how hard it is to step off that platform. My mom and Myrt Myrt wanted to go soooooo bad. My mom was in lots of pain and waiting for knee surgery and Myrt had just had knee surgery but even then we really had to work hard to convince them it wasn’t such a good idea.

We all had loads of fun and hope to go back another time.

Meet the Teacher

The kids’ school grew so much in enrollment last year that every grade except 3rd added an extra teacher this year. It’s so nice to have their class size go down a bit. Between those 5 new teachers, about 5 who switched jobs to non-classroom positions still at the school and about 7 who left the school, there are lots of new faces in the hallways. Both kids got “new to us” teachers. This is Ms. C.

Robert has had a rough start to his school year. He seemed to settle in a bit in week three. He has a hard time with change and misses his kindergarten teacher and friends. They’ve added a second recess to the day for K and 1st students, which has me so excited! I really hope it helps the kids stay more focused.

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Clara’s getting a little too old for pictures with her teachers, so I spared her the embarrassment :) She has three this year and loves them all. Her homeroom/science/social studies teacher is a male and is very enthusiastic and energetic and was at our principal’s old school several years ago. I think it’s going to be a great year for Clara. She’s decided not to continue doing orff ensemble and pep squad but I’m sure she’ll want to replace them with something. She really wants to do dance class, but I’m not sure I want to pay for dance class. And I’m fairly certain she’s going to want to be on student council. She was made for student leadership :)

I really liked what I heard at Clara’s orientation last week. Science is about 50% hands on experiments along with keeping a science journal and they still have their trip to the science lab every other week. Math is still doing timed multiplication/division quizzes to keep those times tables fresh in their minds. Reading and writing will be going back to doing some spelling practice, cursive instruction, in class book clubs in small groups with aides reading three different books on varying reading levels, and they will be writing and performing puppet shows. It sounds very engaging. There seems to be a lot of new things they are trying and I love it!

Labor Day in Wimberley

We took the camper to Wimberley last weekend to visit my cousin John and his wife Kelsey. John is the outdoor coordinator at Texas State and they live in the caretaker’s house on the University’s campground. You should already know this because we had our Griffis family reunion there this summer and I should have already blogged about that. Ahem. John has told us for several years now that we need to come camping out in the hill country with them, so we finally got around to setting up a date.

Since it was Labor Day and the campground was full, John had a couple of fires (figurative fires, not literal) to put out. We just parked ourselves in their driveway and hung out while the kids played together all weekend. John made us blueberry waffles two mornings and he and Chris did some dutch oven cooking. The Kelsey’s ended up not having to do much food prep all weekend. It was alright :)

The four of us ventured off down the trail for a little hike. We came to this spot this summer, but the creek wasn’t flowing then. They’ve gotten lots of rain since then, so it was flowing nicely and coming over these rocks and then underground. It was a little hard to get to this spot and I was helping Robert walk over a fallen tree to get to it. It had rained, so one leg kinda fell through a spot of packed dirt and he was a little messy. He fell through all the way to his bottom. He wasn’t hurt, just a little shocked. I wish I had a picture :)

He wanted to clean off a little in the cold, clear water of the creek.

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Clara didn’t want to miss out on the fun of course :)

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These pictures are at the creek bed right above the little grotto.

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It’s kinda hard to tell, but this is them sitting right on the edge of the rock where the water is falling over. It looked a bit more impressive in person 😉

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We also went down to their preferred swimming spot and I didn’t take any pictures. We avoided the most popular spot for campers (where we were this summer) because John said it was packed. We walked downstream a ways and the kids enjoyed using their snorkels and masks. John found an endangered fish under a rock that he was able to point out to Clara. It took some time and effort to walk back as the current was really strong.

Here are a few pics of the shenanigans going on back at the house.

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Most of our time was spent just sitting around sweating, some of us cooking, eating and watching the rain and kids play in the yard. We had lots of fun and are so thankful for John and Kelsey’s hospitality. The kids are already looking forward to our next visit!