Noah’s Ark Parade

Robert had a Noah’s Ark parade at school this morning. I’m pretty sure there were no mutant turtles on the ark, but there sure were a lot there today. Robert was none to happy with my costume choice for him. I had planned on getting a fox mask that I saw at Party City this weekend and then maybe making him a tail or something. Well, I went by yesterday and they had sold out of the fox mask, and there was almost nothing left at Target, so I ran to the children’s resale shop. The only animal costume in his size was a moose. Let me tell you, he did NOT want to be a moose. Chris spent some time last night trying to get him excited about the moose costume. He found videos so Robert could learn to make moose sounds and reminded him  that we don’t always get what we want. And then as soon as Robert went to bed, Chris is like, “Really? A moose costume? It looks like pajamas.” Come on now, cut me some slack! I put it off ’til the last minute and didn’t want to spend much money, so the moose is a perfectly acceptable last minute costume. I’m not a miracle worker.

I told Robert this morning that he could have a piece of candy before school if he promised to put his costume on and smile for me during the parade. He ran right to his room and threw that sucker on and was all smiles. Aaaaannnd, you can’t even tell he’s a moose from this angle. You’ll have to just trust me.

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Fall Festival

As soon as Clara got back from her birthday party, she donned her costume and we headed to our church’s Fall Festival. Here are my non-matching offspring (sigh).

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They both attempted the rock wall and both got pretty high up.

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They had bounce houses, trunk or treat and a small train outside and lots of games in the gym. Here they got to shoot hanging spiders with nerf guns. That looked like a favorite spot for the older boys. You can see Clara’s bullet whizzing through the air. The teenagers manning the games inside were having the kids take handfuls of candy near the end. I finally had to cut them both off when their pumpkins started overflowing.

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And then they got all fixed up at the Kooky Klinic.

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I was either talking or hauling around cast off costume pieces and candy filled jack o lanterns the majority of the time, so these were all the pictures I got.

We watched “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” while the kids ate some candy when we got home. I had the awesome idea of all of us going as Charlie Brown characters next year. And I wasn’t completely shot down. A girl can dream.

 

Dewberry Farm

We went to a new pumpkin patch not far from Houston today. I wasn’t sure if there would be large crowds or not since it was opening weekend and I had heard it gets super crowded. We decided to chance it and we got lucky. It was cloudy and sprinkling when we got there at opening and the radar looked as if we might get dumped on, but the rain held off all day, only sprinkling lightly a few times. It wasn’t even enough to keep the kids from playing. I think the rain threat kept most people away which was nice for us.

This pumpkin patch is pretty spendy, but there is a ton of stuff for kids to do. After paying an entry fee, we bought the kids wristbands for several other things, like mining for gems. Robert picked marbles and got a nice collection of colorful ones.

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The hay pile was a hit until Clara landed on her foot wrong and hurt her ankle. It took a while for her to calm down, but it seemed to be better after a few minutes. She says it’s bothering her now after not walking on it for a while.

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I’m going to have to get some videos up here. Chris got a great slow motion one of Robert swinging into the hay and I got one of Chris on this next little ride. He was flinging Robert around getting him to spin and go faster and wasn’t paying attention to another kid coming straight at him. The kid hit him hard from behind. Neither of them were hurt and the boy didn’t fall off, so I had a good laugh at Chris’ expense :)

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Robert’s favorite was the pedal cars of course. Clara only made it a couple of yards before coming off in tears, saying her ankle hurt. Robert meanwhile went around and around that track.

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I accidentally changed my camera setting at this point and couldn’t figure out how to get it back to normal, so I have no idea what I did here.

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Or here. They enjoyed the hamster wheel races but not so much when we “helped” them out.

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And then we attempted this beast. Our first corn maze. Wow. It was huge; eight acres I think in the shape of the Blue Bell ice cream logo. Chris thought he would be funny and immediately took off running trying to lose me. I was not amused. I really thought we were going to lose track of a kid and that would have been loads of fun. His phone rang, which slowed him down and he agreed to stick together after that.

Thankfully we had picture of an aerial view of the maze on our brochure, so after walking through for more than half an hour, we got busy trying to figure out where we were according to the picture. In all, it took close to an hour to get to the end. There were no exits along the way, but I think lots of people ended up walking through the corn when they could tell they were near the border.

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Not us though. We stuck with it and were all pleased as punch when we finally saw this view. We all had itchy red arms from being slapped around by corn stalks for an hour. Poor Robert, being so short meant he was getting them mostly in the face the whole time but surprisingly he didn’t complain. I noticed red lines all over the back of his neck once we exited.

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We walked over to the pumpkins after surviving the maze. It’s funny; the first few years of my children’s lives included cute clothes, preferably coordinated or at least seasonal in nature when going places like this and now it’s like, “Whatever man. Been there, done that.” If you can believe it, my children are not even going to be coordinated for Halloween this year. I know. It’s terrible. Robert saw a picture of a red Power Ranger costume and fell completely, madly in love. He didn’t even know what a Power Ranger was but knew he was destined to be one. It took some time for that one to sink in, but I think I’m finally ok with it :)

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Despite their complete lack of autumn coordinated outfits, they’re still pretty cute.

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The goat pen had awesome tall wooden structures for the goats to climb up on and conveyor belts so that kids could send food up to the top for them. They weren’t very interested in climbing today, so they just had to feed them the boring old way.

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It ended up being a fun, fun day. We’ve waited until they were older to take them to a big one like this and I’m glad we did. They were able to ride on everything  by themselves and it was a pleasant day for all of us. I don’t think it would be quite worth the money you end up shelling out if your kids can’t do all of the fun stuff. I sometimes miss the baby stage, but this is sooo much more relaxing. Not having to constantly hover and worry about them getting lost is a pretty darn nice feature of bigger kids if I must say so myself.

 

Thanksgiving at Lake Whitney State Park

We went camping at Lake Whitney State Park for Thanksgiving this year. It’s not too far from Waco and was close enough for Dan and Linda to easily join us for Thanksgiving day. (Linda has lots of good pictures from Thursday and Friday on her blog, including and especially good close up of Clara that I love.)

We were initially going to leave on Tuesday after Clara got out of school. It was rainy and cold all day Monday and Tuesday though which made it hard to do all the prep we needed to do and then we saw that it was going to be 20+ mph winds on the way there. We decided driving with a camper and then setting up in the dark in 30 degree temps sounded not so pleasant, so we left on Wednesday morning instead. I’m so glad we changed plans.

We arrived a little after noon and the kids wasted no time getting down to business. There were leaf piles to be jumped in and a huge climbing tree right in our campsite just begging to be climbed. Jason showed up a few hours after us and got busy feeding us. That’s all he did all week was feed us food in his new dutch oven and tend the fire. We had biscuits and gravy two mornings, chili and cornbread and peach cobbler.

 

This is a picture of one of my greatest ideas ever. Earlier this year, I decided we needed some place to stash all of our little things and came up with this idea and Chris and Jason drilled the holes for the rod. It works perfect and holds phones, gloves, hats, cameras, books, etc.

I just love Clara’s shelf that she set up all nice and neat. Gotta have plenty of reading materials. She needed two shelves since she needed a whole shelf just for books and friends.

Dan and Linda got to the campsite around 10:30 or so on Thursday. Linda brought ham, pumpkin pie, cookies and veggies and dip.

Jason heated up the ham, made the mashed potatoes and warmed up the rolls in his dutch oven. We also made green bean casserole in our Coleman oven. It all turned out great, but we were shivering while eating. It was nice in the sun by the fire, but pretty darn cold at the covered picnic table.

Linda also brought the “turkey” that the kids helped put together.

We went down to the water a couple of times a day to explore and walk the shoreline. We found fish skeletons, a fossil, a rock in a rock and shells, among other treasures. Robert threw lots of rocks into the water and Clara tried skipping a rock with all her might.

Thanksgiving night we gathered back around the fire and had beans, cornbread and leftover ham. I made the mistake of asking Jason if he would like some Jiffy cornbread mix to use for his cornbread. Oh no, Jason’s too good for Jiffy. So we had a friendly little contest to see who’s cornbread was best. I did mine on the Coleman stove. Yeah, the bottom burnt. We scraped the bottom off and let the kids eat it.

Team JDog was feeling pretty good right about this time and was maybe reveling in Team Jiffy’s defeat a little too much. We lifted the lid on Team JDog’s cornbread and it was looking really tasty and perfectly browned on top. Then we lifted it out of the dutch oven. The bottom was completely black. Yay, a tie! So we scraped the bottom of of it and scarfed it down too.

 

Robert kept bringing everyone rocks as gifts.

We took the dogs down to the water one time. Robert threw some rocks into the water and Max took off after them. I think he got a little chilly as he got all the way in. Right as he couldn’t touch he decided to come back to shore.

 

Clara helped Jason make peach cobbler on Friday before he left to go home. It was yummy and we cleaned the pans. Clara and Robert were supposed to share one and when Robert didn’t want any, Clara went to town. She had to be stopped before she finished it so she wouldn’t be sick.

Here’s Robert right before sunset on Friday. The boy was pooped and I thought he’d be up for an early bedtime.

Saying bye to JDog. Robert didn’t want his picture taken.

After Jason left, we went over to the neighbor’s across the road. The kids had been playing with their kids all week and we sat and talked with them for awhile while the kids ran around playing night tag.

We decided to leave a day early, so we leisurely packed up on Saturday while the kids played. I always have cereal on the last day so I don’t have dishes to do as I’m trying to get everything cleaned up. The husband came over to sit at the campfire and talk to Chris while his wife cooked breakfast. When breakfast was ready, she invited all of us over to eat with them. Clara put down a lot of bacon and eggs.

They all went down for one more trip to the water while I finished cleaning up and packing and I took a couple pics of the kids when it was time to go. Again Robert didn’t want his picture taken. Jordan here was such a good sport and was very patient with Robert.

They all helped bring Robert over to the car. He wasn’t too happy about leaving his new friends. He was referring to Julia as his girlfriend.

We liked this park. The section we were in had about 12 sites on one road that dead ended into the lake. There was very little traffic since there were only about 6-7 sites in use, so we gave Robert free reign to run around with the other kids without us hovering very closely for the first time. That and the mom and dad across the street were keeping an eye on all of them too.

I think this is a park we’ll be back to in the summer when the kids can get in the water. The tables were covered and there was plenty of shade where we were. There aren’t many trails, but there is lots of shoreline to explore. All in all this one is a winner and had lots of available space, which can’t be said of most of the state parks in the hill country. We know, we tried. You have to make reservations way in advance if you want to get anywhere in the hill country pretty much year round.

The Rest of the Trip

After Robert’s nap on Friday, we went to look for a couple of letterboxes. It was our last day there and we hadn’t had the chance to do anymore hiking between all of the Thanksgiving and birthday celebrating going on all week.  We found one near the track site we visited earlier in the week. We looked for one other but there was too much overgrowth and debris to find it. Robert was about done after his long, eventful day and Clara had to use the restroom, so we called it quits and headed back a little early.

 

 

Here he’s trying to put up three fingers.

 

 

And here, he’s refusing to walk back with us.

 

We started cleaning and loading up what we could that night and finished up the next morning, putting us on the road headed home about 10:00. Robert had hit the end of his rope that morning while we were loading up. He may have spent some time strapped in his carseat screaming while we finished up. Good thing the trip was over. After being out in the woods without even cell phone reception at the campsite for a week, it was a bit surreal driving back to reality. It felt like we’d been gone a month. It was so good to just get away for a while and make some great memories. Already looking forward to our next trip!

Thanksgiving Day

Dan and Linda arrived that morning to spend Thanksgiving with us. They brought with them ham, green bean casserole and a pumpkin pie, along with snickerdoodles for the kids. Grandma brought little pilgrim hats for the kids to make. Robert’s didn’t work very well, so no pictures of pilgrim Robert.

The dogs were just plum tuckered out by this point. And filthy. Their white fur was gray from all of the fine dust.

 


Grandma brought a couple of Thanksgiving books to read to the good little pilgrim children. Notice who’s not sitting quietly for story time?

We had a nice lunch, complete with an autumn colored tablecloth and decorations. The wind had picked up at this point, so our decorations were getting tossed around a bit. We wrote a few things we were thankful for on the leaves. Robert’s leaf said racecars and reindeer. Clara was thankful for senses and seasons. Along with the stuff Dan and Linda brought, I had made a pasta salad, deviled eggs, pinto beans, sweet potatoes in the campfire and some rolls. Not too shabby for camping.

Dinosaur Valley

We left the Monday before Thanksgiving to go camping at Dinosaur Valley State Park, southwest of Ft. Worth. It was about a 5 hour drive for us, but we chose this particular park because we would be staying 5 nights and because it was Robert’s birthday on Friday and I thought it would be neat to do the whole dinosaur thing to make his birthday a little more special. The weather was beautiful all week. It was chilly in the mornings but warmed up nicely by the afternoon. Clara enjoyed the freedom to do a little roaming on her scooter by herself, which she loved of course. We made sure Robert got a good nap in everyday (which was a feat), so that cut into our fun a bit since the sun sets so early. He would go down for a nap after lunch and then we really only had about an hour or so after he woke to do anything. There was so much more to explore at this park than what we did.

Jason joined us there for the first couple of days. Clara met our neighbors first thing and hit it off with their 4 year old daughter Lilly. They played all kinds of games all afternoon and then Clara hung out at their campfire eating smores and marshmallows until time for bed. They picked right back up where they left off on Tuesday morning. Unfortunately, they were leaving that day, though mom tried to convince dad to stay a while longer. They were very complimentary of Clara’s behavior and manners while visiting their campsite.

Clara and Robert were checking out a caterpillar they found.

 

After Lilly and her family left, we went to see the dinosaur models near the the park entrance. They were constructed for the New York World’s Fair in 1965 and were donated to the park. They’re looking a little run down and poor T-Rex needs a little boost to keep himself upright. Robert wasn’t real fond of them when we first got there. See him hiding between my knees in the second picture?

 

 

 

He eventually warmed up and even got into the spirit and pretended to be a dinosaur with me.

 

 

Later that day, we decided to go down the trail right behind our campsite to the river to look at one of the dinosaur track sites. We didn’t realize how steep the riverbank was and took all the dogs with us. Oh man, our two went nuts pulling me down the embankment toward the river. The trail was narrow and overgrown with thorns in places and I was really having to work to keep them back and me on my feet. When we got to the shallow water, they were in heaven. It was like the fountain of youth for them and they seemed 5 years younger. It was refreshing to see them so happy. We didn’t bring the right shoes for playing in the water and it was nearing sunset, so we headed back up some stairs we found that led to the campsites a little further upstream.

 

 

 

Wednesday morning we spent some time making decorations for our Thanksgiving table. We made turkey name card holders and napkin rings and painted leaves for a centerpiece. That smile is so stinkin’ cute! Unless you’re a robot, it’s simply not possible to look at that smile and not smile yourself.

 

After it warmed up a bit, we went down to the main track site. I let Robert try jumping from rock to rock by himself and he ended up a little damp. And freezing. That water was ice cold. After the initial shock wore off, he didn’t seem to mind and was slipping and sliding into the water over and over. When I scooped him out to leave, his poor arms and legs were freezing cold. This first picture of Clara is awesome. Love her enthusiasm.

He was so proud of himself for making it all the way over to JDog by himself.

 

Here they are posing with one of the three-toed footprints between them.

Jason left right after our little excursion to see the tracks. The rest of the day was spent napping and getting ready for Thanksgiving and Robert’s birthday party the next day.

Halloween

 

Grandma and Grandpa came to visit on Halloween so they could see experience it with the grandkids for the first time. They brought with them homemade caramel corn and a few Halloween treats. Grandma, Clara and I carved the pumpkin after Clara got home from school. Robert was not interested in the least.

We went trick or treating with Glenn and Becky’s crew again this year. Clara tripped over a big root in the yard of the second or third house we went to and she hit hard. She was traumatized for a few minutes and ended up with a decent scrape on her hip. Not to worry though because she shook it off and was having fun in no time. Until we got to a scary house. It was the same house that she marched right up to the door with Jason last year. She didn’t have her jedi this year though. The girls had oodles of fun in case you couldn’t tell by looking at the pictures.

Robert loved trick or treating. We kept having to remind the kids to say thank you and after they had gone to one door, I asked Robert, “Did you say thank you?” He said no and then started to run back up the driveway. I told him it was ok and to just say it next time. He got really upset and insisted he go back. He wasn’t about to ruin the good thing he had going. So he ran back by himself, slammed his hand in the middle of the door and shouted, “THANK YOU!” We were cracking up. The lady answered the door and he was able to tell her again. I think she mentioned something about how cute he was and put out the bowl of candy for him to take more. If someone answered the door and called him Kermit, he would say, “No, I Robert”. And if they called him a frog, he made sure to tell them that he wasn’t just any old frog, he was Kermit.

At the end of one of the cul de sacs, there were two couples that had set out a table in the street with lots of goodies. The ladies were in their late 40s maybe. There was a witch head decoration thing on the table and I think it was moving, so the kids were a little apprehensive until one of the ladies said, “It’s ok, it’s just pretend.” The kids slowly started walking up when the other lady said, “The rest of the body is buried in my backyard.” Oh my goodness, I was cracking up. It was so awful and so hilarious at the same time. The other lady was like, “Don’t say that! They’re little.”

We had a spooktakular time with the grandparents and are so glad they took the time to come see us.

Pumpkin Patch

The church pumpkin patch was last night. The weather again was just perfect. It was a little chilly, but not bad at all with the sun shining bright.
Here’s Miss Piggy and Kermie. His costume came in the mail on Thursday and it was too small. I have no idea what they were thinking, but it was labeled size 2-4, but then on the packaging it said for ages 1-2. Oh well. We managed to squeeze him in it and he didn’t complain, even though his hat barely velcroed shut. He did want to know where his red Kermit mouth was though. How cute are they!
And how lucky am I that I got one more year of coordinating costumes out of them? I don’t know why, but it gives me great pleasure to have them matching for Halloween and I will be sad when they won’t humor me.

This was during the trunk or treat portion of the night. Robert had just stuffed half a cookie in his mouth and ended up spitting it into Chris’ hand. What a sport!

And then I handed the camera over to Chris. Every time I ask him to take a picture, he just starts snapping before I’m ready. Half the time he just lowers the camera, not looking through the view finder mind you, and starts snapping away. He’ll take 20 pictures, and usually the one that has us centered and looking is blurry. This time he caught a perfect picture of me with my “I am not amused” face.

That’s better. Clara eventually started shedding pieces of her costume. Her nose was the first to come off and I didn’t even know she lost a glove until I found it on a table at church this morning with several other lost and found items from the night before.

Stuffing his face with a cupcake on the way out.

Camping With Friends

Camping is always more fun with friends. And we hadn’t been camping with these particular friends since Clara was two I believe. Last weekend we went to Village Creek State Park and Glenn and Becky pulled her parents’ pop up camper with our Jeep. Since they were bringing their dog Reggie and there’s not a lot of space in the Jeep, Leah rode with us. I felt so bad leaving Kate all by herself, but we just didn’t have room for one more. We decided to take a break from our dogs this time and had a friend watch them.
Here’s a view from the front seat as we made our first unscheduled stop. Their trailer lights weren’t working, so we headed straight for an auto parts store for a quick fix. Then Robert needed to pee but wouldn’t go standing up, so I put him in a pull up in case we couldn’t get stopped in time. I guess we only had one other bathroom break on the drive there, so not too bad. We pulled in right at dark, so we had a fun time getting two campers all set up in the dark. Oh, and it had dropped into the 50s too, so we had chilly kiddos who needed some pants and sweatshirts and who hadn’t had dinner yet.

It got pretty chilly that night, so we got to try out our heater for the first time. Worked like a charm, so we were nice and toasty in no time. Someone else forgot to figure out how to work their heater beforehand, so they were googling it at 1 a.m. trying to get some relief. Not mentioning any names though.

The weather the next day was absolutely beautiful. We went on a hike to a sandy beach that’s designated for swimming. It was about a 1.5 mile hike from the trail head so we got some good exercise in that day. We hadn’t planned on letting the kids swim since it was such a long way to haul towels and clothes and such. They had a different idea though and they eventually ended up soaked after being told they could wade in the shallow water.

They did great on the long hike, but Robert had had enough about a half mile away from the car. I got to carry him a good distance, myself completely spent from the excursion. We made it back to camp, had some lunch and then I went to get Robert down for a nap.

That booger wasn’t tired in the least! He was bouncing off the camper walls for a good 20 minutes. All the while, I kept dozing off. At one point, I woke just in time to see him creeping off the bed. I had to position myself so that I would feel him if he tried to crawl over me to get out. He eventually conked out and got a good nap in.

We just hung out and enjoyed each other’s company for the rest of the day. The adults played a board game, the kids played and fought and ate and fought some more. We enjoyed hamburgers for dinner and then smore’s on the campfire.

One thing I loved about this park was the two benches perfectly positioned by each campfire.

That night wasn’t cold like the night before. It was very pleasant, as was the next morning. Robert sported Buddy Walk shirt number two on Sunday. After packing up, we had planned to ride our bikes to the playground before loading up to leave. There was a fair amount of drama at this point, so the group ride didn’t happen and we decided to cut our losses and get on the road.

We’re so thankful for fun times with wonderful friends.