Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter Sunday - A Visit from the Easter Bunny

I had every intention of getting up early Easter Sunday morning.  The Easter Bunny needed a little help hiding eggs.  He told me he didn't want Kassidy to eat them so it might be best if he just left the eggs with me instead of hiding them in the yard with her so long before the boys would be awake to discover them.  So I was hearby deputised or sworn in.  But given that I had driven a distance probably greater than the whole state of Massachusetts, or Connecticut, or one of those other tiny little New England states that I can't spell without spell check either on Saturday and we hadn't gotten in until late... well, the best laid plans...

So once the kids were up and dressed I snuck outside and helped to hide all the Easter Eggs that had been left in my custody while they watched a movie.  Or tried to.  The wind wreaked havoc on my attempts.

By the time I surreptiously snuck back inside the boys weren't paying much attention to the movie so I suggested that we go outside instead.  Ever cooperative kid that he is Ryan agreed, but insisted that we go out into the front yard.  And despite my best efforts to guide him to the back door he would not be swayed easily.  I finally suggested that maybe we could play in the sandbox - the one thing I hoped that he couldn't resist.  So he came running and we finally all made it out the back door.  And "What is this??"  The boys quickly discovered the treats the Easter Bunny had left for them and then saw some the eggs hiding in the grass.  They excitedly picked up a couple and realized they would need their baskets to get them all.

So we grabbed their baskets conviently emptied and ready by the back door and they were off to the races.

They zigged and zagged picking up eggs all throughout the yard.

Sometimes grabbing one and inadverntly overlooking its friends practically staring them in the face.

They found them hidden on the swingset.

And in, on, or around the bushes.  Or weeds as Ryan or Kevin one called them in the excitement of the moment.

Unfortunatley in trying to solve one problem with my camera I managed to create another far worse.  And the vast majority of my pictures of the frantic hunt managed to capture them looking like Superman, Dash (The Incredibles), or Stephanie Powell in No Ordinary Family.

I was surpirsed at just how quickly they managed to gather the eggs filling their baskets near the top in no time at all.

Even poor Connor who had spied several eggs first, but after exclaming out loud about his sighting was beat out by Ryan to the punch of actually grabbing them despite Connor being practically in spitting distance, and Ryan coming from much further away.  Poor Connor - he is going to have to get faster or learn to keep his discoveries to himself to have any hope.

Though by the time they were done their baskets were surprisingly pretty even.  And let the record state that I did NOT intentionally trip Ryan, I was just trying to slow him down a tiny little bit.  The record should also reflect that it did not work and he still swiped Connor's find out from under his nose.  Though the accidental trip did result in Ryan spilling some of his eggs and Connor may or may not have "found" a few of them on the ground as they rested at his feet.

Ryan was actually pretty sweet and even gave Connor a few eggs he found towards the end.

With all the eggs gathered the boys ventured back to the other treats the Easter Bunny had left behind and decided that they wanted them for breakfast.  Breakfast of champions I tell you.

They were marshmallow treats in the shape of critters.  Connor started by telling us he was going to eat an eye first and then proceeding to do just as he claimed.  Monkey See.  Monkey Do.  Ryan had to eat his eye, too.

They proceeded to viciously cannabilize their critters laughing as they went.

Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

And once they had eaten their fill, Ryan, with the memory of the elephant, promptly remembered I had lured them out with talk of playing the in sandbox and reminded me I had said they could play in it and they were ready now.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Detour to Martin Dies Jr. State Park

On our way up to Jasper we passed signs for several parks - Lake Livingston State Park, Martin Dies Jr. State Park, and a Corps of Engineers Park.  On the way home, while the boys napped, we took the scenic route home and stopped by the first park we came to, Martin Dies Jr. State Park.  Checking out first one side, and then the other.

Looking at the map we noticed a .8 mile nature trail on an island so after we had toured the whole park and the boys had woken up from their nap we headed back to the trail head and set off to explore.

We crossed the slightly wobbly bridge keeping an eye out for alligators, fish, and turtles.  We had seen a baby alligator near a bridge elsewhere in the park and wondered if we might be lucky enough to spot some more here. 

But at least at first glace all we saw were the beautiful cypress trees. 

And their reflections over the calm, still water.

So we ventured over to look at the taller bridge and see if the folks fishing were catching anything.  The first group reported catching some white bass, while another group said they had good luck with the perch.

As we watched in the clear shallow water at the far end of the bridge we saw some minnows, and a few perch.  As we started a trek back across the bridge headed for the trail I happened to catch some movement out of the corner of my eye and spotted another baby alligator.

We watched as he sat perfectly still the water for a few minutes.  Though excited about the alligators the boys were chomping to explore so we headed back to trail and set them loose.

They tore down the paths in spurts, stopping as they wiped out over roots or waited for us to catch back up.

About halfway around they came upon another group calmly and quietly watching a turtle near the path's edge.  The boys excited exclamations and active prancing around sent him scurrying for the safety of the water.

With effort he managed to climb to the other side of the log before bouncing down the steep bank before plopping into the water with as much grace as a cannon ball in his haste to escape.  :)

There were a number of large old trees down alongside the path.  They would have made for nice resting spots to listen to the bull frogs or perhaps see more of the wildlife had the boys been willing to sit for anything longer than a entertained photo op. 

But they were far too excited to explore to even consider stopping.  So we made quick work of the trail and headed back to the main bridge to see what was on the other side.  Unfortunately the sun was already headed down and the bugs were out in full force.  So after going about a 1/4 of a mile we tuned around and sprinted back to avoid the swarms of bugs coming out for the evening.  The bugs weren't the only nocturnal creatures starting to stir.  We would see half a dozen alligators from the bridge on our way back along with another turtle.  I even think we saw a rather large alligator eat a bird frantically trying to escape off in the distance.

Needless to say we enjoyed our short trip to the park and will definitely have to come back again when we have more time.  The park would be a great place to enjoy by boat though I am not sure I really want to be quite that close to the alligators, because I firmly believe where there are babies and teenagers their mothers can't be too far off.... :)

Celbrating Easter

Kevin's family always has a big get together the Saturday before Easter.  For the last few years it has been at Kevin's Uncle Charlie's in Jasper, Texas.  This year Charlie and his wife moved to a new place, though still in the Jasper area.  The new house has quite a bit of land for the kids to explore, as well as a large covered pavilion area that provided some much needed shade.

We headed to Jasper Saturday morning, and despite the 100+ mile drive the kids were great on the car ride.  They pointed out various sights along the way including cows, and various cars.  Ryan was particularly pleased to see several Volkswagen beetles just like his "yellow bug car" that he carries with him everywhere.

When we arrived we could hear music coming from the pavilion area.  Kevin's Uncle Charlie and his band had set up their instruments and were entertaining folks in the pavilion.

After a potluck lunch we set out to explore the area. 

We had been told there was a nice little creek that ran through the property just a short distance away so we headed that way to check it out.  We had gotten just past the gate when we glanced back and saw Trevor, Carol Jo's 3 year old as well as his grand mother, headed our way.  So we waited for them to catch up before heading off again. 

Before long the boys were racing down the trail.  Luckily the boys listened and stopped before plunging straight into the creek at the end of the trail.  Deciding not to press our luck while we still had 3 dry boys we turned around and headed back with the boys once again racing a head.

When we got back Ryan, Trevor and Cameron played with a ball while Connor spotted the "big" kids and decided to tag along with them.

After exploring the area around the pavilion they made their own trek down to the banks of the creek.

Meanwhile, I encouraged Ryan to rest a few minutes and have a drink in the shade of the pavilion as he was starting to turn a nice lobster red.  While we sat and enjoyed the nice breeze he got his Easter basket from Grandma and Grandpa.

We opened it so he could pull out the car and handful of candy.  The other kids had made their way back from the creek so while I went to get the baskets that I had brought for everyone I told Grandma and Aunt Diana that he could have TWO pieces.  I think their definition of two was a bit more liberal than mine...

Connor opened his basket first.  He was so funny.  He had to pull every single thing out and look at it - including the paper stuffing in the bottom.

We let the boys have a sucker from their baskets for dessert (or second, or third dessert... ).  In the meantime Aunt Debbie was passing out cups filled with various treats as well.  While the kids were entertained with their treats and bubbles the guys hid Easter eggs for the annual hunt.

After a short list of the rules they were off.

Ryan and Connor had a special "little kids" section at the top of the path all to themselves as Trevor had had to leave early. 

The boys did a great job finding and picking up the eggs this year.

They found eggs left and right. 

After they had cleaned out their section, they began searching the path down to the creek for any of the eggs the big kids may have missed.  They actually found a couple on their own.  And with a little help from the adults, they found a few more.

Ryan was particularly excited about a Lightening McQueen egg he had found and had to show it everyone.

By the time we made it back both of the boys had almost an entire basket full of eggs.

While the kids prowled through their baskets and took stock of what was inside their eggs Aunt Debbie setup a cookie decorating station with various gel icings and pens for the kids to decorate the cookies with.

The kids had fun spreading the icing on and enjoying their masterpieces.

Afterwards we took the kids (along with Cameron) on a golf cart ride down the creek and for a short trip around the rest of the property.  The kids really enjoyed the ride.  Especially Ryan who pretended to steer the whole way.

While the boys played with some of their goodies we spent a little time visiting and catching up with folks that we don't see very often.

With a long drive back, and the clock already past 5pm we decided we had better say our goodbyes and get the boys settled into the car for a long overdue nap.  After their adventures of the afternoon it didn't take either of one of them long to drift off as we headed down the road.


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