4th of July

We hosted our first big shindig here at the house on the 4th. It was mostly Chris’ co-workers and their families and past Brazilian co-workers that are now living here in Houston. And our neighbors from across the street. I think we had around 25-30 people in all. Chris’ co-worker Kelly wanted to help out with the food, so she graciously offered to help plan the menu and then did the grocery shopping and helped prep it all.

When I went shopping for party decorations, I turned around to see Robert wearing these glasses and I just couldn’t resist :) They’re all sorts of awesome.

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Most people decided to forgo swimming except for those with young kids who wanted to get in. My two stayed in the water the entire afternoon and into the night. There were a couple of teenagers who didn’t know a single person and were bored out of their minds, so we sent them upstairs to play video games.

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Clara thoroughly enjoyed the Dr. Pepper she was allowed to split with Robert. She was so cute when she came to ask me if they could have one. In a very serious manner, she assured me that if she or Robert started bouncing off the walls, that they would go to their rooms to calm down, but she didn’t think that it would be a problem.

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One of Chris’ friends had brought fireworks, but we learned from our neighbors that they’re illegal inside Houston city limits and the fines are pretty stiff. Sure enough, we didn’t really hear any in our neighborhood. Our old neighborhood only a mile away was filled with them. I will say it was nice to not be woken up all night by them or have to clean up the inconsiderate neighbors’ mess from our front yard.

Anyway, he decided to take them back to his house to set off, so the few single people with no kids that were left went over to his house to enjoy the display. Worked out great for us :) Our neighbor Conner stuck around a while longer and then we called it a night a little before 10:00. Chris and I started cleaning up a bit outside. I had the kids jump in the shower and it was terrible. Robert was miserable, walking on tiptoes because his wrinkly feet hurt so bad. He was crying in the shower and kept telling me he was never ever going to swim again. While I was trying to get him dried and dressed, all while still crying, I heard Clara fall in the shower upstairs and start crying. I checked on her and then went back downstairs to finish up with Robert. Then more screaming upstairs as Clara got her towel hung on her earring as she was drying off. Oy! My pillow felt pretty nice that night.

 

Summer So Far

Summer is in full swing. Here’s just a snippet of what’s been going on. Chris went on a last minute trip to Calgary during Clara’s last week of school. She was sad that he wasn’t home to celebrate the end of school with her. Here she is on her last day.

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Actually, this next photo is pre-end of school. We’ve finally gotten the house in good enough shape to have friends over. Glenn and Becky came over for the first time on Sunday of Memorial weekend. The kids swam and played the Wii U Chris had just brought home earlier that day. We grilled and the adults played a board game while the kids watched a movie and we stayed up waaaay too late since no one had school or work the next day. And this is the only picture I took. The girls are playing Just Dance.

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Week one of summer started off with a visit with friends from church for more swimming and grilling. Noticing a trend here? I only got a picture of the girls. The boys couldn’t be bothered to stop long enough to take a picture.

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Clara started theater camp the next day. One night I challenged the kids to a drawing contest and this was Robert’s giraffe :)

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A few minutes after I took these pictures, this guy showed up and stayed with us for a few days. He helped Chris out with a few handyman things around the house and the only payment he requested was nightly use of the pool and hot tub. The kids didn’t mind this arrangement too much.

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In this next picture, you can see the new outdoor ceiling fans he installed to replace the nasty, rusted ones that were there.

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Week two consisted of more theater camp for Clara, VBS for Robert, a visit from Grandma and Grandpa and an early Father’s Day celebration. Week three in Pecos coming soon!

Turning 9- Part 1

Clara had a fun-filled birthday celebration this year that spanned several days. Since we weren’t doing big parties this year, I suggested a sleepover with Leah followed by lunch at the American Girl bistro. She was all for that plan. She hadn’t had Leah spend the night since the first sleepover three years ago and has been wanting another one ever since. Since Leah is homeschooled, I was able to pick her up around noon on Friday so she got to come up to school to pick Clara up. They were giddy with excitement and ready to get the party started.

Clara received a horse from Leah, and Leah brought her horse, so we decided to let Clara open her gift from us early, a Jeep for her dolls.

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They did a little horseback riding for a while and then they got started on scrapbooks. I got them matching books and printed out two sets of 50 pictures of the two of them together. The earliest picture was of an 18 month old Leah holding 2 month old Clara on the couch. So cute. I decided to give them space to do it how they wanted because I tend to take over when I “help”. A couple of hours in I realized I should have given a little more direction. Ahem. They painstakingly cropped their siblings out of some pictures, and cropped out everything but their heads in Halloween pictures. Clara even cropped out the kites in a picture of them running with kites behind them. Now there’s just arms raised in the air with strings to nowhere :) Oh well. They’re not exactly as I had envisioned, but they did have fun and it was cute to listen in on them reminiscing over the years and talking about how cute they were. And they’ll get to laugh about their crafting abilities here in a few years.

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They had pizza and made some little bitty, teeny-tiny Easy Bake oven treats before watching a Christmas movie in Clara’s bed on the portable dvd player.

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I saw this the next day and died laughing. I was telling Chris about later and it turns out, he put it there while she was sleeping so she would wake up with it on her pillow. Ha!

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We took the girls for some cinnamon rolls and hot cocoa at Panera Bread Saturday morning and then the girls and their dolls got all gussied up and we headed to American Girl for lunch. We invited Becky and Kate to join us.

 

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Buckle up for safety, Julie and Kit.

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There were a bunch of large parties and they were hosting a Nutcracker ice-skating thing that took away staff, so we didn’t have the best service, but it wasn’t too terrible. The girls were just getting really antsy waiting to look through the store. When we finally got done, each girl got to pick out one small thing. Well two for Clara, because Julie “needed” glasses so she would look just like Clara :)

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Sad faces as we got back to the cars and it was time to say goodbye.

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Clara had a wonderful day and it was a great start to her birthday extravaganza.

 

Thanksgiving at Mother Neff State Park

We had our annual Thanksgiving camping trip at Mother Neff State Park this year. Mother Neff is the oldest state park in Texas. It’s also only a few minutes away from Dan, Linda and now Margaret, so it was a perfect spot for us. Jason and his dad also joined us this year. This was Robert sitting by the campfire on the first night. We got there mid-afternoon on Wednesday and the kids got right down to business making friends with the neighbors and playing until they crashed.

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When we finally got settled into the camper and turned on the heat for the night, Clara decided that teeth brushing by the heater felt pretty nice.

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The next day, we headed into town for a lovely Thanksgiving meal prepared entirely by Linda. Who just got staples in her head four days earlier. And who insisted that we keep to the plan instead of cooking up something or other over the fire. Dan came and got me and Clara a little early so we could help with preparations, but we weren’t much help since Linda had it all under control. We went and picked up Nanny from her apartment and then got back to the house a little before the boys showed up. We chatted and ate and were all quite thankful for all of Linda’s hard work.

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The mornings were in the 30’s, so Zef got a nice warm spot to sit and wait for the sun to warm everything up.

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We hiked one of the trails on Friday. It led to this cave that was used as shelter by the Native Americans. These trails were probably some of my favorite so far. There were plenty of trees and lots of elevation changes and things to go see to make things interesting.

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We kept on the trail and went to the top of the rock tower.

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The hike was a bit much for Max, so Jason and I took turns carrying him most of the way back to the car. He was very appreciative.

After lunch, Dan and Linda came out to the campsite and we had a party for the birthday boys and girl. As I handed JDog a Birthday Boy hat, he tried to turn it away thinking it was just a party hat. I informed him that all the birthday boys and girls had one. He was quite surprised to learn that he was also a guest of honor at the celebration. Hehehe, we got him good. That’s the second surprise party we’ve pulled off for him. The other one was easy though; it was four months early :) The kids both knew and I can’t believe they were able to keep it a secret from him.

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I made a little scavenger hunt for the three of them and JDog got into the spirit and joined in the search for clues.

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Here he is getting stuck on the last clue. Get it. Ha!

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Then we played a little pin the tail on the donkey and opened presents. The kids got gifts from Grandma and Grandpa and JDog got a little something too. You like my centerpiece? The wind picked up so we took care of that with a little duct tape :)

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I brought cupcake mix and had JDog bake them in the dutch oven. I forgot candles though, so they had to blow out pretend candles when we sung “Happy Birthday” to them.

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Saturday was another pretty big day because we took off this mangled, rapidly disintegrating training wheel (and it’s partner).

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And now we have a (mostly) official bike rider. He was doing pretty well out at the campsite, but he won’t ride on our street since it’s slanted. We’re going to have to take him to practice in a parking lot so we can get back to riding with Clara to school. I don’t want him riding to school until he’s comfortable starting and stopping.

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I took the kids on another hike on Saturday, this time to the Wash Pond and then they played on the playground. Chris tripped over Max’s leash the first night and fell hard on his knee, so it was hurting him most of the weekend. The scar where his stitches were broke open and started bleeding :( It’s doing better now thank goodness.

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Chris and JDog got busy with their cornbread war. Chris loves sweet cornbread and likes to combine one box of Jiffy cornbread mix and one box of Jiffy white cake mix. Well, they were out of Jiffy cake mix, so he picked up a regular brand and just eyeballed it when deciding how much to use. Yeah, we basically had corn flavored cake with our dinner :)


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This park had a Junior Ranger program that the kids could participate in. They gave the kids a worksheet with all kinds of questions about the park, the nature within the park and it’s history. We had to go around and read all of the plaques and signs in the park to answer them. She had to sketch an animal, so she drew this caterpillar that Jason’s dad found and then picked up trash to help keep the park clean. As we checked out, we took the paper to park headquarters and they printed out a certificate for her (and Robert since he joined us everywhere but can’t write and really I just lost his paper) and had them raise their right hands and recite a pledge stating they would take care of nature and the park and would encourage their friends and family to do the same. Then they got a little Jr. Ranger pin. It was all very official. And very cute. And I didn’t have my camera on me. I figured they were just going to hand them a pin and say, “Good job.”

We got back home around 3:00 on Sunday. The kids wanted to put up the Christmas tree, so I’m a sucker and set it up and pulled out the boxes of decorations. Camping and Christmas collided in a perfect storm in my house that evening. It’s a week and a half later and I still don’t think the house has completely recovered.

Pedernales Falls State Park

 

We camped at Pedernales Falls State Park this past weekend. Clara had off on Monday, so we took the opportunity to make the long drive to the west side of Austin and do some Hill Country camping. If you’ve had a conversation with me in the last year, you’ve probably heard me lament the fact that we haven’t done any Hill Country camping yet. It’s a little too far to easily do a weekend and we’re usually so last minute for Spring Break that they’re all full. So this year we made reservations two months in advance. I was hoping that this time in October would still be pretty warm so the kids could play in the water. Of course it was in the 80’s before we got there and then a huge storm passed Friday night and it was cloudy with highs in the 60s all weekend. I hadn’t prepared for the cold, so I had to run into the Dollar Store and buy us all warm clothes.

We all really enjoyed this park. On Sunday, we all hiked down to the falls. There is no swimming or wading in this part of the park because of the undercurrents and the potential for flash flooding. It was beautiful. The kids ran around for a long time. You could easily spend the day here exploring and having lunch on the rocks. There were so many nooks, crevices, pools and waterfalls and several sandy beaches and we didn’t even go all the way across the river. (These pictures are all out of order.)

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The large rocks behind us are the falls and although I’m sure they’re a sight to behold when the water is high, it wouldn’t be nearly as fun because you couldn’t go climbing all over the rocks.

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Oh yeah, the Couringtons and JDog joined us.

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This park has lots of trails and this particular one goes across the river. We hiked it on Saturday and went and found a letterbox and then went back on Sunday afternoon and let the kids splash around in the cold water. Chris only joined us on the one high to the falls because of his knee. He did good, but there was one rock jump down at the falls where his knee spoke up and told him he’d better take it easy, so he did.

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Jason cooked in the dutch ovens all weekend. He made everyone taco soup the first night, pot roast stew the second night and ribs the third. He also made biscuits and gravy and cobbler for everyone on Sunday night. He’s good to have around when camping.

 

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JDog photobombed the kids here.

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I told Robert to stand by the girls for a picture. Little toot.

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Here we are on our first hike of the weekend coming back from finding our letterbox. You can see the river in the background.

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Robert was over taking pictures by this point.

 

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Oops, here we are back at the overlook at the falls.

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And now back to the campsite.

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There were rock steps leading down to the falls and also down to the swimming area that Becky took the kids to the first night.

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Here’s Robert and the “best mommy in the whole world.” He’s such a stinker and kept telling Becky that she was the best mommy. I was either second best or worst, occasionally best; it changed by the hour. He’s right though. She’s a pretty darn good mommy.

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This park has quite a few campsites and the camping loop feels really secluded. We could barely see our neighbors because the trees are so dense, which means plenty of shade. The hiking trails we went on were also very shady. The bathrooms were a bit of a walk for us and there was no soap, so minus one star for that. This was definitely one of my favorites and I hope we go back someday.

Pool Party

After a long nap, we headed over to a pool party at one of Chris’ old co-workers new home. His friend Hilton just moved here with his wife and 1 year old from Rio a few months ago. Chris hung out with them a lot years ago when he was traveling down there all the time. I had only had dinner with Hilton once and then attended their wedding a few years ago here in Houston, so this was only my second time to meet his wife Kelda.

Well, the kids LOVE Hilton and Kelda. Or more accurately, they love their swimming pool. They swam the entire time we were over there, almost five hours. I know I shouldn’t put Robert in a floatie after just having had swim lessons, but I for one didn’t want to be in the water that long. I got in with him for a little while and had him practice and he did pretty well. Clara practiced too and did a good job swimming the width of the pool and turning onto her back to get a breath. She’s been complaining that she can’t float on her back, but she practiced and finally seemed to figure it out. I could get such better pictures if I’d actually put my head under and look at the screen.

We had the oldest kids there. Chris and I both commented how nice it was to not be worried about them falling in all night. All five of other kids were around the age of two, so there was a lot of chasing after kids.

Clara’s getting heavy.

Robert, on the other hand, still gets plenty of air.

Come 10:00, they were pooped.

The bbq was fun. It was Brazilian style, which meant Hilton just grilled different meat all evening long. He’d pull something off the grill, cut it up and everyone would just pick up pieces with their fingers. You’d have a few bites and then a few minutes later, he’d pull something different off. It was all soooo good. Bacon wrapped cheese and sausage filled peppers, bacon wrapped pork loin, flank steak, chicken, lamb, sausage. He had a big bowl of veggies and mushrooms that were just grilled with a little olive oil and you just picked out what you wanted with your fingers too. Seriously, no forks and no plates. I could get used to that. I’m always the one that just wants to use my fingers to pick stuff up when I’m over at someone’s house and then feel rude because I figure someone’s probably worried about germs.

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.

Weekend Happenings

Chris surprised the kids with a trip to the zoo on Saturday. His friend from work was taking his family and invited us to join. My two took very good care of Gabriel, who’s not quite two. Yes, he’s a big boy.

I didn’t join them because I was volunteering at The Giving Gown Foundation’s Boutique Day. It’s a neat organization that collects formal dresses, shoes and accessories and gives them away to high school girls who would otherwise be unable to afford to attend their prom. It’s held at Bammel and is headed up by several of the ladies there, so I know lots of women who help out with it. Everyone I know who’s helped with it, has loved it. I mentioned it to the ladies at the new church we’re attending and they were interested in helping as well. Their women’s service day happened to be on Saturday, so they added Giving Gown to their roster of things you could sign up to help with and I think they all enjoyed it.

This year they served around 500 girls and they have several thousand dresses to choose from. I’ve helped set up beforehand and tear down in years past, but this is the first year I helped out when the girls were actually there. I took a girl around and helped her choose and try on dresses and then find shoes and accessories. The whole process was about an hour for just one girl and they bring in the girls by the busload, so you can imagine how many volunteers it takes to pull this off. The girls also get lunch and attend a short class on self-esteem and beauty and they all seem to really enjoy their special day of pampering. They all looked so beautiful in their dresses.

On my way home, I decided to stop in at the dollhouse shop for the last of the wallpaper I need to finish it up. For once, the shop owner was actually in her shop when I got there. I went around to the corner of the shop where the wallpaper is kept in drawers and got to work choosing. About five minutes later, I heard the owner talking to someone and then they walked out and she shut the door. I figured she’d be right back.

Yeah, well, about five minutes passed and no sign of her, so I stood up and went to the door and she had locked me in! I opened it and the owner at the shop across the hallway saw me, looked over and asked, “Did she lock you in?” Um, yep. He assured me she would be right back. Yeah right, her ‘right back’ the first time we went there was more than 30 minutes. Turns out she’s either the manager or owner of all three buildings that incorporate the antique mall her shop is in, so I think she goes missing a lot collecting rent and such. Anyway, he was very nice and offered to write me a receipt and let me pay him and we were about to when she walked back in to find us in her shop. She realized what she had done and was soooo embarrassed. She said it was a first. It was a first for me to.

Camping at Yegua Creek

We joined the Couringtons and Becky’s parents and a handful of siblings for camping on Saturday on Lake Somerville. Chris’ co-worker Vance and his family came out for the day on Saturday and Jason got there Saturday night. All of the nearby state parks were full, so we stayed at Yegua Creek which is an Army Corp of Engineers park. We stayed here when Clara was one and endured a horrible night of wind. It was one of my very first blog posts.

It was overcast and windy a good deal of the time and cold, but there were times when the weather would cooperate and allow for some good playtime. Because of Robert’s ear infection, we were told to have him rest for the first couple of days. It wasn’t too difficult to lure him inside the camper for a movie since it wasn’t too nice out. We’d let him out for a short time and then herd him back inside for a movie or nap.

Our campsite sat on a curve in the road with the perfect little hill to ride bikes or scooter down, so the kids spent a lot of time doing just that. Robert’s first attempt on his bike was a little nerve-wracking for Mama to watch, but he did well and didn’t have an ounce of fear. He just needs to work on looking at the road ahead and not down at his feet. The kids also spent a great deal of time making a “town” all down the street with sidewalk chalk. The adults would go around and pick which buildings our kids did. We decided Clara probably added Target and Kate’s contribution was the hospital :) Jason took Zef and watched a movie in the theater for a little while.

We gave Jason this little cast iron skillet for Christmas. When we saw it in Academy, we couldn’t not get it for him. He tested it out for the first time on this trip. Worked great to make his little half ounce steak and is the perfect size for a single egg. We all waited our turn for our own custom ordered egg. The boys sat around the fire cooking in our four dutch ovens all weekend.

And Zef laid in his chair by the fire like a good boy all weekend.

Max is still acting weird and didn’t really perk up while camping like I thought he might. He just sat and observed and didn’t want to go for walks. That could have been because of the stickers though. He didn’t want me to leave his side. If I went in the camper, he wanted in and if I walked out, he wanted out. Here he’s watching the girls add to their chalk city from afar.

Robert has had a huge pimple on his nose for a couple of weeks. The physician’s assistant wasn’t sure what it was, but went ahead and prescribed an antibiotic that would also help with skin infections. It had gotten huge and pus filled and then would peel off, scab and start over. I hadn’t messed with it because I was afraid of staph. It finally burst while camping, so Chris squeezed it some more and a lot came out. We put some neosporin on it and convinced him to wear a band-aid for the rest of the day.

We had everyone over to our fire on Sunday night for s’mores and cobbler. The kids participated in JDog’s Cobbler Camp and helped make their individual cobblers to go into the dutch ovens.

Clara’s s’more face.

Clara enjoying her Monday morning scrambled egg.

The weather had finally warmed up on Monday and Becky’s mom took a group of kids down to the water to fish. I came along with Robert since we decided he was finally rested up enough to get out more.

Karen is a saint. No really. She’s the saint of patience. I guess having 20+ kids will teach you not to sweat the small stuff. She helped get a hook out of one grandkids’ pants, untangled fishing line, helped cast, watched the youngest grandson and dog, kept everyone away while people were casting, cut a line and then restrung it, showed my child how to fish (since I’m clueless), etc, etc, etc. Seriously, my head was spinning just sitting there watching. Karen’s my hero.

She’s also human and a Nana, so when the grandkids asked if they could go play on the hill of sand and mom was back at camp getting stuff packed up to leave, she said, “Sure, why not?” My kids approved of the hill climbing and fishing was officially abandoned.

We got back to the campsite and Jason and Zef were ready to head back home. The Couringtons and Quinns left not long after and it was just us left.

We napped and when we woke, I noticed Clara didn’t look so great. Her eyes were puffy, her face was red and she had started getting a runny nose and cough. I think as the weather warmed up, the allergens came out in full force. By the evening, her face was itching and she looked miserable. I gave her Benadryl before bed.

This was her pile of kleenex from during the night Monday night. She still looked and sounded awful come Tuesday morning and the park ranger had warned us of a cold front coming in Tuesday night with lots of wind, so we made the decision to leave early. Clara, Linda and I have a girls’ weekend planned this weekend that includes The Wizard of Oz musical downtown, so I didn’t want her getting any worse. We got home around 5:00 last night. She slept with a humidifier and already she looks better. Hopefully we’ll keep it from turning into an infection.

So it’s kind of a bummer we had to leave early, but we got in lots of time with our friends and had fun, so that’s all that matters. Spring Break has just turned out to be a hard time for this allergic family to spend too much time in the great outdoors, so next year I think we’ll be limiting camping to the weekend for this time of year.