Judd Family Christmas Vacation- Part 3

Moving right along…..

Chris was feeling better during the day. We had lunch at my parent’s house and then he left me and Robert to do laundry and lounge while he and Clara headed out to the farm to get the camper set up. That evening, everyone met out at the farm to roast hot dogs and s’mores while kids played and adults chatted.

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The next day was Christmas Eve. Tim and Linsey and the kids got to town and we all went to Myrt Myrt and Joe’s house around lunchtime. We played a couple of games, like this one called Googly Eyes.

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And the kids played Pie Face. I think it would be funnier to watch adults that don’t want to actually get hit in the face with whip cream play. As it was, all the kids just kept turning the dial until they got hit in the face.

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It was really nice outside, so the kids were in and out all day long jumping on the trampoline and the dads took them down the street to ride their bikes at the skate park. I knew I’d be a nervous wreck watching them, so I opted not to go. Clara had a pretty bad wreck only minutes after arriving.

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We had dinner then donned our festive hats and got down to business after it got dark.

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After the kids got done with it, the birthday girl got to take a whack at the snowman.

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Here Cody is stuffing his jacket with candy alongside the kids.

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Wyatt and Clara posed with their kill.

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We headed out front to sing Christmas carols and Santa must’ve heard us, because he and Mrs. Claus  came around the corner with their bag of presents. The Grinch showed up though and took off with the bag. Thankfully Clara managed to get it back and we could get on with the festivities.

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The Grinch was still lurking as Santa was emptying his sack.

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I looked down and this lovely sight greeted me. Ewww! Don’t think he wore shoes at all that day.

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James, a friend from church, joined us for dinner and fun and Santa even had a gift or two especially for him. I’ve only met James a time or two, but I can honestly say I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone who is so filled with joy and love as this guy. He loooooves everybody and lets them know it. Just can’t keep it in :) I think he enjoyed himself.

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I was sitting by Clara and Linsey and Tenley were in front of me, so I pretty much only took pictures of them.

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I had to capture Robert’s excitement upon receiving this monstrosity of a toy that he really really wanted. It’s a Power Ranger Super Charged Dinosaur Mega Something or other and he LOVES it.

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Tenley is really into horses, so she went nuts when she opened this gift. She was clawing at it trying to get it out of the package and then started kissing it. It was so sweet.

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It was after 10:00 when we got back to the farm but I forced the kids to take a quick shower anyway. They were not happy with me. Everyone else had decided to open everything on Christmas Eve, but my kids were pretty disappointed to not have anything to open on Christmas morning, so we saved the gifts they made for each other and also their gift from us and then got up early and drove into town to see what Santa had brought.

Santa brought Robert three more Modarri cars and a car hauler and Clara got a Kindle, not to mention an overflowing amount of stocking stuffers.

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We got both kids rc cars. Chris really did a lot of the gift buying this year. He researched cars and went with real hobby shop ones that we can replace pieces on. He also helped choose both of their bikes for their birthdays.

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On top of that, on his own, he decided to help them make gifts for each other. He came up with the ideas, purchased what he needed and helped them make it. Clara got a string art owl to hang on her wall and Robert received a clock painted with all of the racing flags, with a picture of his favorite race car driver’s car at the bottom. He’s a good daddy.

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I had packed a bag to bring in to town with the kids and my shoes and some of our clothes so we could just jump in the car in our jammies and get ready for church at Bia and Pawpaws. Wouldn’t you know it, I left the bag in the camper. So after breakfast, Chris made the drive back out to the farm to get my bag. We had church, lunch at Myrt’s and then back out to the farm for rest and to figure out how on earth we would get all this stuff packed into the camper. We went back into town for dinner and to say our goodbyes because we were leaving early the next morning for the final stop on our Christmas tour.

Judd Family Christmas Vacation- Part 2

The office was closed when we got to the park but they had our reservation and a site assigned for us to pull into. A gray foxed crossed the road as we were pulling in to our spot. We woke the next morning to a family of javelinas rooting around right outside our door. There was so much wildlife at this park. Poop everywhere.

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Here they are with our tree complete with the ornaments we made at Garner. They kept calling it our Charlie Brown christmas tree.

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That first morning we spent some time at the interpretive center watching birds feeding at a station they had set up and tried identifying them. The cacti outside the center were all decked out for the holidays.

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Later on we drove up Skyline Drive in the park to this observation point which also happens to be one of the only places you can get a cell signal in the park. We decided to drive it because it was a loooong several mile hike up to the top and I’m not sure we would’ve made it.

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Afterwards, we had some lunch and then left the park in search of letterboxes. We found two on the highway out to the park and another in a cemetery. One of the boxes was just placed last month and we were the first to find it, so that was fun. We looked for another that was placed by the same person that same day and unfortunately, something had gotten ahold of it before us :(  It was in a duct-taped ziploc with magnets attaching it to the back of a fence post. We were letting Robert retrieve it all by himself and keep the little prize for the first finder, so he was upset that it was all torn up. I searched around in the tall grass, but couldn’t locate the stamp.

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We walked around downtown for a bit and then had ice cream in the drugstore since it had warmed up by then.

 

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And then cocoa and popcorn that night. Robert was about done with my incessant picture taking by this point.

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The next day we visited the Fort Davis National Historic Site. I was kind of expecting the kids to be bored, but as it turned out, they loved it! We spent two hours walking around and they didn’t even notice that it was past lunch time :)

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I couldn’t get the kids to pose with this buffalo soldier in the museum, so I took a selfie with him.

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The visitor center is attached to the museum and the kids received an activity page to complete as they walk around the fort. They could turn it in at the end of our visit and become a Junior Ranger and receive a badge. They each had to find things around the fort and note where they found it. Clara’s was a little more in depth and she had to answer questions based on things she read. Chris and the kids had gone on into the museum portion of the building as I was talking to a park employee up front. I looked over to see that Robert had come back into the room, sat himself at the computer, and had proceeded to click on different pages that explained some of the things you would see at the fort. That booger was checking off all of his scavenger hunt items in one fell swoop! I convinced him that while that may not technically be cheating, it wasn’t exactly in the spirit of the activity :)

There were a lot of interactive things all around the fort to keep things interesting. It not only insured that the kids remained engaged, but I too found it very helpful to have those visuals. There was a sign not far from the hospital that gave short snippets and drawings of 5 actual patients and what was wrong with them. The kids were like, “eh”. But then it said, go to the post hospital to find out who survived. All of a sudden, their faces lit up and they were racing to get there first to solve the mystery. You had to explore the entire hospital to find all of the answers.

 

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Some of the buildings have been restored and decorated while others are crumbling and there were many buildings that only had foundations left. As for the restored buildings, we looked into the officer’s barracks as well as a married offiicer’s barracks which had a room for his boys and was all decorated for Christmas. And we saw inside a kitchen and servant’s quarters as well as the enlisted soldier’s barracks. The commissary had this game for the kids to play. You take turns spinning the wheel and try to be the first to get your covered wagon safely from San Antonio to Ft. Davis. All of their supplies came from San Antonio and if I’m not mistaken, it was a 6 week trip by wagon.

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I really wanted to go visit the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center as well. I had read it has a great hike down into a canyon with a spring or creek at the bottom. Chris had started to feel bad as we were walking around the fort though and wasn’t up for a hike. We had thought about going up Skyline Drive for a star gazing thing the park was hosting, but that too fell through as Chris was feeling worse and worse. He slept terrible that night but with the help of Day Quil, he was able to make the hour long drive to Pecos the next morning.

 

Judd Family Christmas Vacation- Part 1.5

The drive to Ft. Davis gets it’s own post. We debated about whether or not we should stop off at the Caverns of Sonora on our way to our next destination. It was already going to be a long drive, we planned our grocery shopping on our travel days and we had just done a pretty big hike the day before. On the other hand, we had already skipped one of our planned excursions by not going to Lost Maples, so I really didn’t want to miss another.

So we did it. We hit the donut shop for a late breakfast in Junction and also the grocery store and that put us at the caverns at close to noon. We had to wait until 12:30 for a tour. The caverns were 72 degrees with 98% humidity. They kept warning us about how warm it would feel, but I was quite cool and comfy :) I had been to these caverns once growing up (no doubt on the drive to Garner one summer) but I don’t remember too much from that visit. I really enjoyed these caverns. The tour lasted close to two hours and we went to a depth of 150 ft. The kids really enjoyed it, but by the end, they were ready to be back at the surface.

Of course, pictures can’t capture the awesomeness of this underground wonderland. Everywhere you turned was a new type of formation. You had to duck in places, turn sideways to get through some passages and watch your step else you would brush against stalagmites growing right next to the path. You could see an occasional formation that looked as if it had been accidentally broken by tour goers. Chris has some pics on his phone that I’ll add later.

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We decided the original cave explorers who gave some of the formations their names must’ve been hungry. We saw popcorn, cave bacon, applesauce, fish tails and soda straws. The formation that these caverns are best known for is their “butterfly”. Unfortunately, about ten years ago, a person at the back of a group broke off a portion of one of the wings. I can’t even wrap my head around what would compel someone to do something so awful. I asked the guide about it. It is located at a turn in the path and the guide is supposed to stop by it and direct the group around the corner until everyone has passed and then rejoin them at the front. On this particular day, the guide didn’t do this. I saw somewhere that he was purposefully distracted by someone else in the group. It wasn’t discovered until the next tour came through. Our guide said they eventually found who it was and the guy was sued for millions, but I looked and wasn’t able to find anything about it online. I do believe that is when they made their tours smaller. They do not allow more than 12 in a tour now.

It was after 2:00 when we finally exited and we still had a 3.5 hour drive, needed to get lunch and gas. It was almost 7:00 when we pulled into Davis Mountains State Park but I’m glad we made our stop at the caverns.

Here are some of Chris’ pics. Proof that I was actually there.

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Judd Family Christmas Vacation- Part 1

We just got back from our Christmas vacation out west. The kids got out of school on the 16th and we left the next day on a 12 day camping trip. Our first stop was  three nights at Garner State Park. It was gorgeous out when we got there mid-afternoon. Our campsite was near the old pavilion, so we went exploring around it. Although I grew up going to Garner every summer with my dad’s side of the family, I don’t ever remember checking out that area.

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Then we walked down to check out the Frio. We didn’t really think it through and it wasn’t until we were looking through the kids’ Junior Ranger booklet, but we shouldn’t have been skipping all the rocks we did. Oopsie. I know you aren’t supposed to remove things from a state park, but you aren’t even supposed to move things that you find in nature. Makes sense. If everyone that visited threw as many rocks as we did that evening, the Frio would be dammed :) Robert talked about our illegal rock skipping for several days thereafter.

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That night, the temperature dropped into the mid-20s, so we had no water until it got above freezing later in the day. We hung out in the camper and made ornaments for our little camping Christmas tree, played games and colored.

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Yes, I brought my glue gun camping. Along with sequins, pompoms, pinecones, pipe cleaners and sticks.

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That afternoon we decided to try to find some letterboxes at a nearby cemetery in Leakey. Oh my goodness, we froze! It was so cold and it was crazy windy. We did find two of the three letterboxes we were looking for though. We then drove in to Uvalde to look for something to keep our hose from freezing but didn’t have much luck. We grabbed a few more cold weather accessories for those of us who still a bit chilly.

The next day warmed up quite a bit by the afternoon and the wind had died down so we decided to go on a hike to see Crystal Cave. It may have been a bit more of a challenge that I was expecting. By the time we got to the trailhead, we were starting to warm up and discard our layers. I was carrying all of Robert’s layers less that 15 minutes in to our hike.

 

 

Another letterbox! Woohoo! Someone had placed a series of four boxes along this trail. We looked for the other two, along with another one without luck. But two out of four ain’t bad.

The trail was very rocky in parts. Robert was scared of falling off the edge in a few places so Clara was being quite helpful when he got nervous.

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Crystal Cave was pretty neat. We always camped here in the summer and I’m not so sure I’d want to make this hike when it’s 100 degrees out. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I figured it was probably more like “Crystal Hole in a Rock” When we got to the cave, Clara took one look and turned around :) Not Robert though. He grabbed the head torch and went in all by himself. It was quite a way down and then it opened up into a big room.

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Once she saw the coast was clear, Clara bravely joined him in the darkness.

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Once we got to the top, we were all a bit surprised at how high we had gone. I was pretty proud of everyone. We don’t have elevation changes in Houston, so this was quite a workout.

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We found one last letterbox and had a rest on a boulder as we neared the end of our two hour hike.

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I really wanted to go for a hike at Lost Maples State Natural Area, but unfortunately that first freezing day put a damper on our plans. Oh well, we got in one great hike, found four letterboxes, did some illegal rock skipping and spent lots of time reading, watching Christmas movies and making crafts, so it wasn’t a total bust.

P.O.D. Drama

Robert’s teacher explained to the class about the POD awards earlier in the school year in preparation for their first POD awards assembly.  POD stands for Practicing Outstanding Determination and is awarded to one student in each class at the end of each grading period. A pod is a group of young alligators in case you’re wondering why on Earth it’s called that :) All of the kids in grades 1-5 come to the gym for the assembly in two different groups of either 2 or 3 grades.

It’s kind of a big deal. The kids are surprised and they get to hear their teacher say really nice things about them in front of their peers and parents. Robert was so excited for his first POD awards. His teacher talked to the class about disappointment, being happy for our friends and to remember that only one person would be receiving it but there would be lots more chances to earn it in the years to come. I reiterated all of those things, especially when I got the call from Clara’s teacher that she would be getting it but I hadn’t heard from Robert’s.

The morning came and when I went to wake Robert, who is not normally very chipper in the morning, he shot out of bed with a huge smile and said, “Today’s the day!” Uh-oh. I asked what was special about the day and he said it was the POD awards. I reminded him about our conversations and he said, “I know, I’ll be happy if one of my friends gets it.” I asked him if he thought he might get it and he smiled shyly and said “maybe”. I could tell he thought he had it in the bag and I know how badly he handles disappointment. He’s so hard on himself. If he’s not perfect or the best at everything he does, in his mind he’s stupid and a bad person. (We’re working on it.)

So I debated in my mind for about three seconds before I told him that he wouldn’t be getting it. He was heartbroken and it broke my heart to see him like that. There were lots of tears. I know he needs to learn to deal with disappointment, so I appreciate these kinds of situations that allow him to work through those feelings. I didn’t want him to be going through it at school without me there to help him process it though. I told him that I wouldn’t tell him any other time and that if he asked in the future, I would just say “I don’t know.” I also decided not to inform him that his sister would be getting it that day :)

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Grandma was in attendance because that was the morning she was coming to pick Clara up for their roadtrip to San Antonio. She just got to town a little early to surprise Clara. And that meant we could prolong telling Robert because Clara and her award would be long gone when he got home from school. Win-win!

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The second POD awards came around right before the holiday break and look who is the now a proud POD member :)

 

 

 

Clara was so funny. Robert hadn’t even mentioned the awards and I set out a bit nicer shirt for him to wear hoping it wouldn’t raise suspicions. I had also been combing his hair all week which is unusual. I’m an awesome mom. Couldn’t let him receive an award and have his picture taken for the wall with bed head :) He was eating breakfast as I saw Clara come downstairs in her school spirit shirt. I shooed her back upstairs and told her to change so I could get Robert to school in his nice shirt and told her why. She was so excited. A minute later, she waltzed downstairs with a new shirt and her award dangling from her neck. (Each assembly thereafter, the kids get to wear their award if they want.) I caught her and told her to put it in her backpack until she got to school. As she sat eating her breakfast, I looked over and she was smiling down sweetly at her unsuspecting brother. It was really cute, but I was just like, “Dude! Play it cool!” Ha! Normally they’re fighting like cats and dogs in the morning. Then I ran into her teacher before the awards and Clara had told her he was getting it. During the assembly, I could see her talking to her friends and pointing him out and clapping a little extra when he got it. She was so proud of him :)

He was obviously proud of himself and we got some pretty cute smiles when he spied us sitting among all the parents. But then he got home and told us he didn’t want it anymore :( He said that a boy in his class, who has been causing him a bit of trouble lately I might add, cried and cried because he didn’t win it. This boy has acted pretty terribly toward Robert and others and Robert has made me so proud by forgiving him and remaining his friend. I’m pretty sure there is some jealousy involved since Robert does well in school and being “good” just comes naturally for him. I just don’t think things are as easy for the other boy and he is continually in trouble. This boy has hit and tripped Robert, among other things, and yet my child still felt bad that his good fortune caused sadness for someone else. I’m tearing up as I type this. I am so lucky to have such compassionate kids. Both of them have dealt with meanness directed toward them this school year and both have taken the high road. They really seem to grasp the concept that these classmates are struggling. They can see them struggling both academically and behaviorally and I’ve reminded them that that’s just what they can see. We have no idea what their homes and families are like and so we need to have compassion for them. I try to help them understand some of the issues of poverty, divorce and abuse that many of their friends may be dealing with and how that might affect how a person behaves, but it’s hard for a kid who is safe, fed and loved to grasp that not everyone feels the same way. It has certainly opened up plenty of conversations about what we believe and how as Christians we are to do all things in love.

Chris had a long conversation with him, and I think he’s decided to proudly accept his distinguished award.

Thanksgiving

We spent Thanksgiving at Martin Dies Jr. State Park. We left on Wednesday, which also happened to be a certain someone’s birthday. It was kind of a bummer traveling on his birthday, but he got to open his present from Bia and Pawpaw before we left home, which gave him plenty of reading material for the trip, and then he got his gift from Grandpa and Grandma when we got to the park. They gave him a car that has pieces you can switch out with other cars and he loves it and is asking Santa for more of them.

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We had our normal Thanksgiving fare– ham, green bean casserole, pasta salad and pumpkin pie. The weather was gorgeous all weekend, so we were able to sit outside and not freeze our behinds off like we did a few years ago.

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Two British families that are living in Houston now were camped across from us and had put their canoe in by our campsite. They were very generous and offered to let us take their canoe out. That was my first canoe experience and it was just a little nerve-wracking for both me and the kids. It felt like we were going to tip the whole time and apparently I can’t steer a canoe. So we didn’t last real long out on the water. You can tell the kids were having a blast.

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We went on a short hike on a small island trail afterwards. We tried to find a letterbox but the directions weren’t real clear so we left empty-handed.

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We tried one more and weren’t able to find some of the landmarks at first but kept on and eventually I spotted a tree that looked like it might be it and sure enough it was! It was very exciting to finally find one. It had been four years since the last stamp in our book.

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We needed to run into town for gas and a couple of groceries. Not thinking, we ended up at Wal-Mart. An hour before black friday deals started. There were several police outside already and it took us a minute to figure out what was going on. They had aisles roped off only allowing one entrance to the registers and there were lines of people all the way down the main aisles towards the back. Groups of people were just standing in the grocery aisles waiting. Oh my goodness, I could not get out of there fast enough. I don’t get it. It felt rude and wrong to be there just to get a few groceries. I felt so bad for what was about to be unleashed on the Wal-Mart employees :(

It was nice to get back out to camp and to this quiet, peaceful view.

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Dan and Linda stayed at a nearby hotel and left to head back home on Friday. We stayed until Saturday. On Friday we took the kids on another trail that was supposed to have three letterboxes. I thought for sure we’d find at least one. Nope. No luck. And two of them we know we were looking in the right spot. They just were not there anymore :( Robert’s pretty much done with letterboxing. He can’t take the disappointment. Ha!

Anytime we weren’t hunting for letterboxes or eating, our two were playing with their new British friends, Louie, Ava, Florence and Martha. When they first started playing, Robert said, “She sounds like Lucy” (from the Narnia movies ). The girls loved Clara. One of the girls wanted to play with Clara one morning but we hadn’t come out yet. She had been told she had to wait until we came out and she couldn’t knock. I guess she paced back and forth and eventually sat on our camper steps waiting for Clara to emerge and we didn’t even know she was out there. After a couple of days playing, Robert came into the camper and said, “Mummy, here’s a flower for you. Isn’t it lovely?” in a pretty darn good British accent. It was pretty cute but I made sure he knew not to talk like that around the kids because they might think he was making fun of them. My favorite was hearing the four year old talk about her “head torch”, or headlamp.

We snapped a pic right before we left and before the girls were out of their pjs. Ava was not at all interested in joining the group picture.

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We were ready to roll by 9:05. The Brits were highly impressed. That’s the earliest we’ve ever been packed up and ready to leave. Robert had a classmate’s birthday party to attend at 12:30 at Chuck E Cheese. He’s only had one birthday invite from a friend in the past year and had to miss it when he threw up at school the morning of in October, so by golly, I was bound and determined to get him to this party no matter how inconvenient! And if we hadn’t had to wait 30 minutes in line at the dump station, we would have even made it to the party right on time. I would have loved to ease back into reality, but alas, a 7 foot mouse, arcade games and screaming children beckoned us. And they beckon us still; he’s invited back to Chuck’s place Sunday for his friend Javier’s birthday. Sigh.

 

 

Eleven!

Well, almost. Officially on Thursday, but Clara had some friends over for her birthday this past weekend. She had an owl party, of course :) I found a cute little pinecone snowy owl craft online for the girls to make, but  I sorely underestimated the amount of time it would take a group of giggly tweens to complete their owls.  Everyone chatted and snacked while they made their owls. Some chatted a bit much. Clara’s looked a lot like a penguin by the time she was through with it.

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A couple of friends got there really late, so I had to rush them and the other slow pokes a bit. As they were starting to finish up, they played Beanboozled, the game where you spin and take a Jelly Belly jellybean and you don’t know if you got the good one or the nasty tasting one until you bite into it. Most of the girls had played it before. Robert went first. He thought he had lime at first but then ate it up and said, “nope, it was lawn clippings.” Later that night I noticed all the lime green ones were gone. Turns out Robert likes lawn clipping flavored jelly beans :)

They moved on to the photo booth and STILL there were a couple of girls who weren’t done with their owls. I had Clara take individual pictures with each of her friends and she insisted on switching out props each time.

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By this time there was less than 30 minutes left and we hadn’t done cake or presents. Chris had taken Robert to get a late lunch so I was scrambling to clean the glue, pinecone droppings and feathers off the table before I could bring out the cake. I cut myself some slack and decided not to make her cake this year. I love making their cakes and there are some really cute owl ones out there, but I had such a busy week last week that I just couldn’t add it to my to-do list. Instead, I took her to HEB and let her choose her cake. She chose chocolate with cookies and cream icing. And the girls got to build their own sundaes too.

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Clara had three church friends and three school friends plus Abby who is a year older at her party. All of the girls are so sweet and polite and are lovely friends. Junior high will be here before we know it, and I pray she continues to surround herself with kind, positive girls that can help each other stand strong rather than tear each other down.

I decided we needed to take a few pictures of us and our owl creations before I took all the decorations down.

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Two parties down, which means no party planning for me for another 2-3 years. Woohoo!

Robert’s 7th Birthday

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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Ralph S. Mouse Pumpkin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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