Matilda

I had been planning to take Clara to see Matilda the Musical since I found out it was coming to town months ago. We invited her friend Cianna to join us as a gift for her birthday. She had never been to a live performance, so it was a real treat for her. We had dinner at Chili’s with Chris and Robert before we headed downtown.

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I gave myself ample time to get to the theater. By my calculations, we should have been arriving 45 minutes prior to the start of the show. As it turns out, we sat down with about 1.5 minutes to spare! I’m not real familiar with downtown, but I can get to the theater which is right off of the interstate. As luck would have it, my exit ramp was closed so it added several minutes to get turned around. No biggie, still doing ok on time. At this point I was slightly turned around, but was pretty sure the direction I needed to go. I got going the right way and saw streets blocked off near the theater. ALL THE STREETS are blocked off! They were breaking down a festival of some sorts that was very near the theater and had so many streets blocked off. So I’d go a block and see an entrance to a parking garage, but it would be on a one way street and I couldn’t get to it. So I figured I’d go up a block and come back around. Only to find the next street blocked off! I was soooo mad! I circled around those few blocks for 30 minutes. I couldn’t tell where I could park on the street and was afraid of getting towed. I eventually found a parking garage and got parked up on the 8th floor and started walking. I eventually called Chris to give me directions to the theater. We were like 6 blocks away! We had to walk through the closed off streets where they were packing up the festival. The sidewalk all around the theater is also torn up due to construction so we had figure out how to get to the door. When we got up to our seats I asked if we had time to use the restroom. She said if we hurried. Thank goodness because I couldn’t have made it until intermission. We got sat down and the lights went down. Oh man, I was a mess. I couldn’t even enjoy the show because of how stressed out I was. I’m guessing we weren’t the only ones completely blindsided by the downtown mess. They were allowing people to be seated for the first few minutes after the show started.

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Part of the reason I couldn’t shake my distraction was because I was worried about getting back to the parking garage. The way we had walked it was just getting dark and we didn’t pass anyone except one security guard until we got to the festival area. The parking garage was vacant and was reserved below the 8th floor, so I knew I would be uneasy going back by ourselves after 10:00 p.m. I talked to Chris during intermission and he gave me directions to get back to the garage quicker (it was actually only a couple of blocks away; we had just taken the scenic route), so that eased my fears a little and allowed me to enjoy the second half more. I kept telling him, “That’s it; I’m getting a smart phone!” He knows me though and knew I didn’t mean it. He just needed to talk me down :) And buy me a map to downtown Houston.

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So our walk back was much quicker. There were still several police officers at street corners because there was a little festival cleanup still going on, so their presence was a big relief for me. The garage wasn’t too bad either and we just quickly made our way to the car. There was a sigh of relief when the car came into view. Then I had to call Chris again to get me back on the interstate because there were so many detours due to construction and I was so turned around. Oy. Let me tell you, I was so glad when I finally got on that ramp. For the first time all evening, I could finally relax.

As for the show, it was okay. I guess I may have enjoyed it more if I had been in a different state of mind. The kids spoke with such heavy English accents that it was tough to understand them. There were a couple of fun parts, but there just wasn’t anything too memorable about the show. The songs were just so-so and I could’ve done without Matilda’s mom’s competitive dance partner Rudolpho and all the innuendo surrounding that. I’m pretty sure that character wasn’t even in the book or movie. The only saving grace was Miss Trunchbull. She was played by a man and he was outstanding. All in all though, I don’t think I would recommend it. I had high hopes for it given the fact that it’s been touted as the best musical since The Lion King. Oh well, they can’t all be amazing.

But, the girls enjoyed it, we made it to the theater in time and I successfully managed to get us all home safely, so I’m gonna call it a win.

Bia and Myrt Myrt’s Visit

The summer is quickly coming to an end. Sorry I’ve been such a slacker. As always, I love the free for all that is summer vacation, but man we need to get back on a schedule!

My mom and Myrt Myrt came for their annual visit mid-July. We always try to come up with new, fun things to do with them that they can’t do in West Texas. This year we settled on The Melting Pot and a show at Miller Outdoor Theater. As I suspected, The Melting Pot was a big hit, with them and the kids :) It was the kids’ first visit as well and they were perfectly behaved despite the amount of time it takes to plow through four courses. I suspect they didn’t want to jeopardize not getting their fourth course of chocolate fondue. And bonus, because there were six of us, we had to have a table with two pots. So we got two different cheeses, broths and chocolates. Chris and Clara got to have their nut, peanut, cocoa free white chocolate which meant the rest of us got to dine on the flaming turtle. Mmmmm, delicious.

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The next day we stopped in at the kid’s resale shop and then had lunch and some cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory. We split up afterwards so they could do a little shopping and we could go pick up Leah for a sleepover.

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That night we headed back into Houston to see Smokey Joe’s Cafe at Miller Outdoor Theater. I had done a quick check beforehand to make sure it was family friendly and didn’t see anything to suggest that it wasn’t. It had lots of familiar old songs like Hound Dog, Jailhouse Rock, Yakety Yak and a few others I recognized. There was no dialogue, only singing. Well, the first act had a few cringeworthy moments with kids there. It wasn’t terrible, just a bit much for kids. One of the songs had a castmember stumbling around with a brown paper bag doing the exaggerated drunk thing. It was pretty funny, but Clara didn’t get what was going on. She leaned over to Myrt Myrt and whispered, “This isn’t like any musical I’ve ever been to.” Ha! Robert was done before the first song was over, so we decided to leave after the first act. All the songs I recognized were in the second act of course. It was fun, even if we didn’t see it in it’s entirety.

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On their last full day in town, we just hung around with no agenda and spent some time in the pool. My mom and Myrt picked up groceries and cooked dinner for us that night.

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I’ll be nice and refrain from posting the second and third pictures in this series when the dog bucked Bia off :)

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We’ll have to come up with something new for next year. I think we need to take them to their first pro baseball game at some point or maybe the Museum of Modern Art. Oh yeah, that would get some awesome reactions from the two of them. Ha!

First Astros Game

We took the kids to their first Astros game last Friday night. Chris’ co-worker Kelly is a huge fan and we treated her to a game for her birthday. She suggested we get seats above the bull pen because she thought the kids might like to watch the players practicing. We wanted to make sure we got there in time and didn’t get stuck in traffic, so we were about an hour early. We walked around the stadium and let the kids play in the playground area while we waited.

Robert had been having coughing fits due to all of the drainage from his allergies that week. I had to pick him up early from school on Wednesday because he just couldn’t stop coughing and then he coughed all night that night until throwing up. I got him into the clinic just in case it was something more but they confirmed it was just allergies and put him on a prescription allergy med that he can take every 4 hours.

Thursday and Friday were much better and he hardly coughed at all. I didn’t think to bring his medicine with us to the game to take in case his cough started back up. So, halfway through the game his coughing fit started. I had him in my lap and could tell he was gonna blow. Sure enough, I had him lean forward and he puked all over the ground onto a pile of peanut shells between my feet. To add to the fun, it was bright blue due to the half a bag of cotton candy he had just consumed. He couldn’t catch his breath and it just kept coming and coming for several minutes straight. Thankfully I was able to clean it up easily with a bottle of water and napkins and he only got a small bit on his arm that we went and washed off. I felt so bad for the people sitting next to us. The guy kept looking over at the gruesome scene and at one point I looked over at him and apologized profusely and said that it was just allergies and he wasn’t contagious. The guy looked at me like, “Yeah right” and didn’t even say anything before turning back around. Not even a sympathetic smile. After the coughing fit was done, he was back to normal and felt just fine. I just made sure and kept him away from our neighbor out of courtesy :)

 

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The kids enjoyed all the excitement of the game, especially all the fanfare when we got three homeruns. They were up and dancing a lot and enjoyed cheering for their team. They did eventually get bored but successfully held it together the entire time without any meltdowns.

 

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We had been standing and watching the guys practicing right underneath us at one point. The cameras were panning around the stadium so Robert was waving his arms dancing to the music trying to get on camera. I looked down and the catcher was looking up at him smiling so we waved down to him. A few minutes later a ball just popped over the wall and fell at our feet. We looked over the wall to see where it had come from and I’m pretty sure it was the same guy looking up at us as he smiled and waved. It was sweet and Robert was so excited to have that ball.

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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.

 

Bugs!

We went to the zoo with one of Chris’ co-workers and his two kids on Saturday morning. They moved here about a year ago and hadn’t been to the zoo yet. Because it was the first Saturday of the month, we got in an hour early with our zoo membership. That was the first time we’d taken advantage of that perk, and it was soooo nice, especially being summertime. We got there and were able to park in the front row with virtually no crowds that first hour, when it was nice and cool. We made our way through most of the animals we wanted to see before the zoo even opened and then rode the carousel and explored the children’s area.

This goat cracked me up. He never moved, even when he wasn’t being brushed.

We were hot and sweaty so we stopped for a cold treat. Several of us got dippin dots. Wyatt, who’s three, put a spoonful in his mouth. Never having had them before, he flipped out. They were stuck to his tongue, so he started flicking his tongue in and out trying to get them off. When that wasn’t working, he was pulling them out with his fingers. Oh man, it was hilarious. I’m terrible, I know.

Then we went to the Extreme Bugs exhibit that’s running at the zoo all summer. I wasn’t sure how my kids would do since they get freaked out by stuff like this and the other two seemed a little iffy about the idea of giant bugs, but they all did great and ended up loving it!

The exhibit was a bit like being in Honey I Shrunk the Kids. The entrance to the exhibit was a tall, white picket fence, where we then walked into a backyard filled with huge bugs. This can of bug spray misted us with water when we first walk in.

The first bug we came across was a grasshopper and as I asked Clara to go stand by it for a picture, I saw her take a deep breath and blow it out quickly and she said, “Ok” under her breath, trying to psyche herself up. That’s my girl. She’s trying really hard to overcome some of her fears, like watching Scooby Doo :) (We’ve told her for years now that it’s always a mask. It’s never, ever, ever a real monster.) Most of the bugs moved and some were interactive. She loosened up quickly and had no problems standing by this huge emperor scorpion.

This firefly was fun. The kids each took a turn cranking on the battery to get him to light up.

There were toy soldiers and other toys littering the backyard.

This beetle had several different buttons you could push to move various parts.

And this moth moved his wings up and down.

The praying mantis was my favorite and he moved up and down.

The spider moved up and down on his web, working on his web.

And this hairy tarantula was the biggest of all the bugs.

Someone had set up a picnic with freakishly tall apples. Look at them, they’re bigger than the cups. As is the rest of the food. Either that, or someone was drinking out of teeny tiny thimbles.

I loved the exhibit and am glad we went. It was a lot of fun and runs all summer. Tickets were $3.95, so it would be a little spendy if you were also buying tickets to the zoo.

We made a quick stop at the lemurs on the way out because I had heard there was a couple of baby lemurs that had just ventured off their mama’s back for the first time a day or so before. Lo and behold, they were front and center as we walked up.

Then Chris, who’s a sucker for the gift shop, let the kids pick out a t-shirt. I’ll have to take a picture of Robert’s. It’s pretty funny. And inappropriate. And awesome.

The Magician’s Nephew

We started the morning off yesterday with first day of summer cinnamon rolls, which were a hit.

Then we picked up Clara’s friend Abby and headed to the Miller Outdoor Theater for a children’s performance of The Magician’s Nephew. It’s the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia. It was written after The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, but is the story of how Narnia was created. (By the way, there is conflicting opinions on which order the books should be read, chronologically or in publication order. Lewis himself said either way is fine. I’m in the LWW first camp. I think discovering Narnia through the eyes of the Pevensie children is much more magical.) I loved the book; I think it’s one of my favorites of the seven.

Anyway, back to yesterday. When we parked, Robert jumped out and said, “Nice cap.” I couldn’t figure out what he was talking about and didn’t see anyone wearing a cap, so when I finally asked him what he meant, he pointed to this beat up old car’s tire and said, “Nice cap.” Ha! We had to take a picture to show Daddy.

The Miller Outdoor Theater, located in Hermann Park by the zoo and Houston Museum of Natural Science, is a free venue. There is covered seating and a hill above that you can sit on for the performances. Chris and I attended a concert here years ago. You can bring in chairs, blankets and food. We got there early because I wasn’t sure how quickly the summer children’s performances fill up and I wanted to make sure we weren’t in the sun on the hill. The show lasted about 45-50 minutes and the kids enjoyed it. Even Robert sat still the entire time.

Afterwards, Clara and Abby wanted to get all of their autographs. Clara also wanted pictures with all of the actors. This actress played two roles, Aunt Letty and Jadis (the White Witch).

This is Digory, the young boy who, along with Polly, witness Aslan creating Narnia.

This is Uncle Andrew, the crazy magician who’s discovered how to enter another world. He was my favorite character. He also played Aslan and was sweating profusely in his robe while signing autographs. Clara asked, “Where’s Aslan?” and her mind was blown when I said he played both parts and wanted to see the names in the program. She couldn’t figure out how he had time to change. She was disappointed that she didn’t get a picture with Aslan. She’s loved Aslan since the time we read The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe several years ago.

And this is Polly. Both of the girls really wanted a picture with her.

After getting our autographs, we ate a quick lunch in the park and then explored a little. I’ve never walked around this part of Hermann Park. We came across this art exhibit/play structure that was really cool. The kids loved running in and out of all the little rooms.

We were all plenty hot, sweaty and tired by this point, so we headed home. The girls didn’t want the fun to stop, but I wanted to nap, so I was a mean mom and took Abby home. Robert ended up taking a 3 hour nap when we got home. I don’t remember the last time that happened.

Renaissance Festival

I hadn’t planned on doing RenFest this year. But since we ended up not going to a pumpkin patch and I learned JDog would be camping with Chris and his co-worker out at the festival this year, I decided to go for it. Chris’ friend Corey went off with some of his friends and the kids and I joined Chris and JDog for a few hours to walk the grounds. The kids knew we were going to the festival, but they didn’t know JDog was there. They were happy indeed. We weren’t 20 feet inside the gates before they both had JDog by a hand. The hat was a big hit and was passed around quite a bit between the three of them during the day.

We let them each choose one thing to do. Clara wanted to do the jumping thing again but on her first jump, she looked absolutely terrified. She kept going and tried really hard to smile and enjoy herself, but she looked like she was going to cry every time she got up high. We cheered her on (while enjoying a good laugh amongst ourselves). I don’t know if it’s because she weighs more or they made her go higher or what, but she was not a fan.

Robert wanted to ride these swings. Clara ended up getting a bonus ride because we needed another person to help make it go and neither Chris nor JDog wanted to do it. Each side pulls on their rope as they are coming down. It was quite a workout and I think the worker forgot about us and left us on an extra couple of minutes. I was stopping myself by that point telling them my ride was over. I couldn’t see Robert’s face to tell if he was enjoying it, but by the looks of these pictures, I’d say he was a fan. I was too; it was a fun ride.

 

We grabbed some kettle corn and settled into our seats to watch the jousting match. We were supposed to be cheering for the French knight, who was green. Robert enjoyed the show, but was routing for Spain because he was red, Robert’s favorite color.

As the show ended and the Spanish knight was knocked off of his horse, I looked over to see this. Huge tears rolling down his cheeks. He was absolutely devastated and cried for several minutes because red lost. It took him a long time to compose himself after this defeat.

Later, we were walking around and I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and it was Uncle Roger and Aunt Sherrie! This was their first visit to RenFest so we talked a bit about some of the “colorful characters” one encounters out there. Ha! I think the last time I saw them was a couple of years ago at my cousin’s wedding. So we talked for a few minutes while the kids ate a late lunch of bacon on a stick. Yuck. They were huge and thick and looked gross to me. They wolfed them down though.

Robert was starting to tire, so he got a boost for awhile.

I don’t know if it was because the crowds were smaller in the garden area or what, but Chris seemed to be getting a lot more attention in his costume. He walked around all afternoon with his hood down; you couldn’t see his eyes but he could see through the fabric. I saw lots of people watching him and he freaked out a few kids. If he stood still for too long, people would come up to him and try to look under his hood to see if he had a face or something. Kids would get up close and then he would move his head or reach out for them and send them running.

 

We found this guy again and Clara wanted her picture with him. Then we made the long trek out of the park. Chris and JDog walked back to the car with us and JDog was the kids’ nanny for the long walk back. I think I owe him some money for that one. They were slightly tired, not looking forward to leaving JDog and wound up simultaneously. A crazy combination.

It was a fun afternoon. I could have done without the 2+ hour drive to get there, which included sitting in festival traffic for one hour in which we moved a measly 5 miles (all while the kids were singing “What does the fox say?” and the minion “banana” song and rattling maracas that they smuggled into the car, and fighting over Robert’s gold dubloons and hitting each other with his sword and asking “how many more minutes?” and……) But it was worth it getting to surprise them with their JDog. I think :) Oh, and by the way, to any of my local friends, don’t EVER take 249 to get to the Renaissance Festival!

Brazos Bend State Park

I felt we were a bit insane going camping this past weekend. At one point, the forecast was rain all day Friday and Saturday. We decided to make the best of it and that hanging out in the camper playing games and eating would be relaxing as well. It was pouring as we left town on Friday afternoon, but it cleared just about the time we got there and the rain stayed away all evening.

The picnic tables were wet, and we didn’t know when the rain was going to hit, so we cooked dinner inside and then took our food over to Glenn and Becky’s camper to join them to eat. Chris was able to get a fire going that night and we had s’mores after dinner. Just about the time we were finishing up and getting everything put away for the night, it started raining. It stormed off and on the whole night, but the kids slept pretty well. Apparently Robert woke up around two and Chris had to go lay with him for awhile, but other than that, they were fine. Our leak was back so Chris had to fashion a bucket to catch the drips. I don’t think I ever blogged about our last camping trip during Spring Break. We had a leak and we thought it was fixed. Chris even took the camper to his race weekend in College Station a couple of weeks ago and they had a huge storm with no leaks. So now we have some repair work to do.

Anyway, it rained until about noon on Saturday and then the weather was absolutely perfect the rest of the weekend. It was actually cool with a nice breeze and the humidity was low. Saturday morning the kids watched a movie on the laptop while we waited for the rain to stop.

It slowed to a sprinkle for about the last two hours so I pulled out the ponchos and let them splash around.

This boy ended up removing the poncho and sitting in a puddle at one point, requiring a clothing change.

 

After the rain stopped we went on a short hike around a small lake. There is an observatory on the back side of the lake and we went up to it to see if they would be selling tickets for that night. They said to come back around dark and they would know if it would be too cloudy. (We went back that night and unfortunately it was too cloudy, so we just looked around and some volunteers showed us one of the big telescopes and gave us all a little astronomy lesson.)

 

The boy is such a goober. Would not cooperate for a picture. We told the kids to look scared and this is what we got from him.

 

This awesome tree was in front of the nature center and had a deck built all around it. We went inside for a bit and the kids got to pet a 3 week old alligator.

The raccoons at this park are relentless. I wish I had taken a picture the first night. It was just after dark and they were out in full force. As we were making s’mores, they were trying to get into our cooler that was sitting by the camper. We had been warned about them ahead of time, so we had put a large container on top of the cooler, but by golly, there were not giving up without a fight. There was four of them trying to get into the cooler. With a bunch of people right there yelling at them. So don’t leave your cooler out if you camp there because they will get into it. They were coming right up to the campfire just wanting a little taste of s’mores. The kids were flipping out.

I caught this little baby wandering around the second night. This park is filled with wildlife. I saw at least a dozen raccoons and probably 5 or 6 armadillos. We saw some deer including a buck the second night too. We were all pretty bummed that we hadn’t seen any alligators though.

We decided to take a hike around a different lake on Sunday and to go down a trail that would connect with another lake where there was an observation tower. Robert ended up breaking down and wanting to be carried fairly early on, so I thought we were going to have to abandon the hike. He was thirsty, so we went back to the car and got him a drink. I thought he would be ok without water on the trail because it wasn’t that long of a hike but he showed me. We decided to drive to the other lake and walk to the tower from a shorter route. We figured if all else fails, one of us could sit with him at the playground while everyone else hiked.

I’m so glad we did, because after a drink, he was pleasant and ready to go and the new trail was shorter and shaded for the majority of the hike. We had our eyes pealed for gators, but were bummed because we weren’t spotting any.

 

The kids ran up and down the tower a few times while we took a short rest.

And then, a short distance from the tower, Glenn was the hero of the day when he spotted this guy on the water’s edge. It was so cool being that close. He had something in his mouth and was completely motionless. We thought it was dead at first because it didn’t move a muscle. It didn’t blink and you couldn’t see it breathing for a solid 2-3 minutes. He finally had enough of the paparazzi and slid back into the water. We about wet ourselves of course. We couldn’t figure out what he was eating, but we’re thinking it might have been a catfish.

And then Glenn the Gator Hunter spotted another. This one is between the kids on the edge of the water. Can you see it? Clara was a little nervous when I asked her to take a picture with the alligator. Can you tell? I really have no idea what Robert is doing. An alligator face perhaps?

We took another break and climbed this stump and fallen tree that was along the trail.

 

And then we were back at the parking lot. The kids played on the playground for a few minutes and I wanted to get a picture of the four of us by the lake so we all walked over to the dock.

 

As Chris was taking a picture of the Couringtons, I looked down and spotted this guy in the water, so we had to stop and say hi for a few minutes. He was swimming back and forth between us and I’m guessing was waiting on a tasty morsel to fall down. Or maybe because Becky was “molesting” him by pouring some of her water down into the lake below :) Hard to tell.

So in the end, I’m thankful for Robert’s little meltdown that led to our fun change in plans. It would’ve been a little disappointing to leave the park with baby gators in an aquarium being our only encounter with an alligator. We went back to camp and finished packing up and had a quick bite to eat before heading home.

The last time I went to Brazos Bend SP was when I was little. We went with my grandparents and some aunts and uncles for the day. This was my first time to camp there. This is an awesome State Park and I think it will become our new Huntsville. If you camp and live around here, go to Brazos Bend. Just remember to put your cooler in your car at night. Across from the park is George Ranch Historical Park.  There’s the observatory inside the park ($5 a person if you want to look through the big ones or there are lots of hobbyists that let you look though theirs for free.) Also, there are a ton of trails around four or five small lakes. The campsites (that I saw at least) were very shaded. One unique thing about this park was the sidewalks between the sites. It was so nice to not have to go traipsing through the mud to get to our friends next door or to the bathroom  across the way. An added bonus, they have soap in the bathroom! I always get excited as I walk to the bathroom for the first time and wonder, “will they or won’t they?” It really is the little things.

Bia and Myrt Myrt Visit

My mom and Myrt Myrt came for their yearly visit this past week. They got here around 4:00 on Monday. Each year we try to take them somewhere to eat that they haven’t been before but it’s getting harder to do that because they’re getting most everything we have in Midland/Odessa now. They hadn’t been to Freebirds before though, so Freebirds it was.

My mom wanted to get each of the kids something and I told her Clara has been wanting Kit’s dog Grace to go with her dog Pepper she got for Christmas. She loves that dog. We’re not too far from the American Girl store, so that’s what we did on Tuesday. I don’t have to tell you, Clara loved the store. Of course once she saw everything on display, suddenly she wasn’t so sure she wanted Grace. She eventually decided to get Julie’s pet rabbit, Nutmeg. Since we won’t buy her any more dolls, she’s decided she wants to save her money to buy Julie. Nutmeg and Pepper are getting along very well. He’s been very gentle with his new friend and even lets Nutmeg ride in his pet carrier with him.

Bia wanted to get Clara a few new school clothes, so we did that while we were at the mall. Bia and Myrt Myrt have a bit of an obsession with Cheesecake Factory and since they don’t have one of those in Midland yet, they go every chance they can get. What do you know, it was right next to the American Girl store. So we got a piece of cheesecake in lieu of lunch since we had a late breakfast. Then Bia took the kids on a train ride around the mall and then Robert played on the indoor playground for a while. This one was a huge castle.

 

We got the kids home for naps while Bia and Myrt did a little more shopping. We had a quick sandwich for dinner and then the girls got all dressed up and headed downtown to see Wicked at the Hobby Center. After I introduced my mom and Myrt to the joy of musical theater last year when we saw The Lion King, I was so excited when I saw Wicked would be here during their trip this year. Since Chris and I saw it in London, I knew it would be ok for Clara. There is one small part that I wish wasn’t in there, but other than that, it’s completely family friendly. I think there was more inappropriateness in Beauty and the Beast with the french maid character and Lumiere and that’s a Disney show.

I digress. It’s been very rainy here this week so I wanted to make sure and be at the theater in plenty of time in case of bad weather and evening traffic. So we made sure to leave the house a little earlier than I had planned. We got there in plenty of time and found our seats. I thought they had opened the doors a little earlier than usual because the theater was almost full and it was still half an hour until curtain. Then the lights went down and the announcer said to turn off cell phones and the music started. I couldn’t believe it. It started at 7:30, not 8:00 like I thought!! (weekday shows start at 7:30, weekends at 8:00) Why do I keep doing this? At least this time we made it in the nick of time. Most of the time, I miss whatever it is I had scheduled, like trains and airplanes.

Clara took Nutmeg to the show because she thought a rabbit would be quieter than a husky dog. Everyone loved it. I have the soundtrack so we’d been listening to it leading up to the show. Clara loved that she knew the songs. I had discussed some of the story with her beforehand so she would understand what was going on. She had lots of questions and the show is filled with great things to discuss with kids. (Just the show; don’t read the book to kids. I understand it’s highly inappropriate for kids.)

The next morning, Robert woke up with a gunky eye. Yay for indoor play places! Bia and Myrt left that morning for the next stop on their Texas tour and the kids and I headed back up to the old house after they left. We had our house painted last Saturday. The painters finished in one day and Chris walked through the house and paid the guy. Chris pointed out the trim in a couple of rooms that didn’t look finished. The guy assured him it just wasn’t dry yet. Well, when we went to the house after church on Sunday, lo and behold, the trim still looked just as bad. So Chris let the guy know he was going to need to come back and finish the job and he got really defensive. It was pretty clear it wasn’t going to be easy to get him back out. We were hoping to put the house on the market as soon as it was painted. Soooo, all that to say, I spent about 3-4 hours finishing up the painting on Wednesday. All three bedrooms needed a coat on the ceiling trim and two bedrooms also needed a coat around door frames and outlets. I had to get the ladder out for our bedroom because the ceilings are so tall. I also went ahead and painted our downstairs closet since it was covered in marks and screw holes.

 

When we first got to the house, Robert had a big goop of green in his eye. I just wanted to get the house finished, so I put off making an appointment for him. He would come find me every little while because his eye was dripping. One time he came to me and there was a green blob the size of a lima bean hanging out of his eye. Gag. I’m sparing you the picture. So I called and made him an appointment for the next morning. Which meant I had to drive back up to The Woodlands.

We didn’t get home until 8:00, but I completely finished everything that needed to be done at the old house and it’s ready to list! So we went back up Thursday morning for Robert’s appointment. Turns out he has a severe case of pink eye and the infection had moved into his eyelid. So he’s on an oral antibiotic and an eye drop. The doctor said if he woke on Friday and it was worse that he might need to be on IV antibiotics. Yikes! Thankfully after a couple doses of antibiotics, he was looking much better. This picture was Thursday night after a couple of doses.

Houston Museum of Natural Science

Chris got up early this morning and went to the old house to meet painters. We finally found someone who was reasonably priced and they got there at 6:30 this morning and have just finished. Chris went back up this evening to walk through and finish paying them. We should be able to put the house on the market next week. Finally!

After he got back from Spring, we headed off to the museum. This was Robert’s first time there and Clara hasn’t been in ages. They recently expanded their paleontology and Egyptian exhibits so it was fun seeing all of the new stuff. There are so many dinosaur models! The kids really enjoyed the dinosaurs.

Clara wasn’t too fond of the Egyptian exhibit though. They now have a large number of mummies and sarcophagi, at least compared to the previous exhibit. Clara was seriously creeped out by the mummies. One was really well preserved and the face was uncovered. She no likey that guy. I hope she doesn’t have nightmares.

I wanted to walk over to the statue across the street from the museum because I had never been over there before. Turns out it’s a statue of ‘ol Sam Houston.

Then they chased a poor unsuspecting group of pigeons for a few minutes. I love this picture. Huge smile, hair flying, bird in flight.

And this is across the street at Hermann Park. It was 1:00 by this time and really really hot, so we called it a day.