Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Swamp Adventure

We went on the Honey Island Swamp Tour ("swamp adventure") yesterday. It's one of the things that's been right here in our backyard for 2 1/2 years now, but we've never done...and now that we're moving we're thinking, "We should go ahead and do that!"

Conner and Micah have been so very excited -- excited about going on a boat (this was the first time for both of them), excited about going into the swamp (we drive over them on bridges all the time, but to go into one, well...), excited about seeing some "real live alligators" and maybe some snakes, turtles, or fish. We left Joey at a friend's house. (Sorry, Joey, but we're so glad we did...)

Like any good tourist attraction, we had to go into the gift shop to register. Rubber snakes for both!
Conner named his "Sam," and Micah (with the help of Daddy) named his "Kwair-nince" (Clarence).

On a boat for the first time ever!(Yes, there were life jackets under the seats. It was funny, at one point we hit an underwater stump and a few people freaked out a little. After assuring them that the boat was not going to sink, the tour guide (Charlie) reminded them that the water was only about a foot deep there and if they would just stand up, they wouldn't drown. Funny.)

As we were making our way into the depths of the swamp, we were told that we would encounter some "friendly alligators" -- ones that look for the boat daily, knowing that there are hot dogs and marshmallows to be had. We thought that sounded neat. Our swamp adventure was advertised as a "venture into the interior of one of the wildest swamps in America with a professional wetland ecologist on a personalized narrated nature tour." We were hoping to just see some gators...we didn't know we would be feeding them!

...and then we saw a 7 or 8 foot alligator waiting for us in our path. It was right outside the boat. If alligators were a petting-kind of animal we totally could have touched it. As it was though, we were warned that our fingers would look like hot dogs to the alligators. Yikes!(You can kind of get an idea how big it was in that second picture.)

Then Charlie stuck a hot dog on the end of a stick as though he were going to roast it, and held it out over the edge of the boat. The gator approached, got ready to jump,and oh my goodness, all we could see was a splash, huge jaws, and hundreds of teeth snapping at that hot dog, inches in front of our faces.It turns out that some of these gators are so "friendly" that they actually have names. We fed Black Jaw, Yellow Jaw, and Rope Neck. (Rope Neck was named that because she got tangled in a fishing line at some point and actually had some rope stuck around her neck.) Conner and Micah were the only kiddos on our tour, so they got to help throw some marshmallows at Rope Neck. What a thrill!

That was, by far, the most exciting part of the tour for the boys. But then, at a close second, was going fast in the boat. You should have seen their eyes light up. (It helped that the sudden breeze was a welcome relief to the heat!)We saw lots of pretty scenery,and a few birds, turtles, fish, and even a snake. (Sorry, those pics didn't turn out.) The gators were everywhere, though. We would see one sunning himself every few minutes.About and hour and a half into the two-hour tour, the brothers reached the end of their attention span, and started getting tired, hot, and a little bored. We broke out the oreos, and Micah even eventually ended up falling asleep for the last few minutes.As we were leaving, it was obvious that these kids had a blast, and we are so glad that we took the time to do this. (Thanks, Mom and Dad for making it happen!) Conner said, "Maybe when we get back to Louisiana after we move to Texas, we can come do this again." Bless his heart, I just don't think he quite gets it...

Monday, September 29, 2008

"Thanks for Being My Friend" Party

Today was Conner's last day at school. He wanted to have a party, so he brought cookies (Lofthouse, of course -- yum!!) and Spiderman napkins. Micah, Josiah, and I went up to his class during snack time. He was so excited to share these treasures with his friends (and they were equally excited to allow him to share), and it was a good chance for him to just tell them all, "Thanks for being my friend."


Mrs. Amy and Mrs. Kendra gave Conner the cutest little scrapbook of pictures that they had already taken of him this year. Some of them were just so cute, I had to share. They weren't digital, so I took a picture of them with my camera. The flash bounced off a little, but you get the idea.


When I see smiles like that, I know that this preschool thing is good for him, and I am sooo thankful that we've already been able to get him signed up in Burleson!

I was a teacher at this school last year, so we have a pretty good relationship with the staff. Saying goodbye is hard. Honestly, I'm a little jealous of my kids' innocent ignorance in it all...

Mandeville 1st Baptist CDC, thank you for everything. We will miss you!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Wells Family Goodbye Party

A goodbye party at The Bounce House?! Do they know us or what?!

How perfect this little party was! The kids had a blast, the grown-ups were actually able to visit some (if they weren't in the bounce houses, too!),...and we will still be here for another week and a half so I didn't actually have to say goodbye to anyone yet. (Conner and Micah are leaving for Gammie's and Poppy's on Wednesday, so they were saying goodbye, but they don't really get it.)

Conner was in love from the moment we walked in. "This is the best place ever!"He was fearless, and went down the slide head-first immediately.Micah, a little more cautious and quite a bit smaller, needed some help getting up the ladder. So I threw on some socks and climbed up with him. He was so excited. We went up and down and up and down and up and down...so many times that I actually have a little bit of rope burn on my hands (from holding on to the straps as I climbed up). I'm not surprised that someone has an injury after an evening at The Bounce House...but I didn't think it would be me!Josiah, however, found an empty and willing pair of arms (thanks, Noel!)...and promptly went to sleep. He spent the rest of the night hopping from friend to friend. Who needs Mom or Dad?(And I guess he did get to bounce a little bit!)There were cute, cute cakes, decorated with pictures of our favorite people -- us! Michelle, you're the bomb.There were fun games,more good food,
and lots of good friends.TOCC, we will miss you. What a special place you hold in our hearts!

And PS -- I got my camera back and it works again! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Bret!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Welcome Home!

Hooray! It's finally Saturday, and after eight days, we're going to go get Bret from the airport here in just a little while. I don't know what it was about this trip, but these boys has missed him more than ever before. All day today I've heard, "Is it time to get Daddy yet? When are we going to get Daddy?"

Well Bret, all I've got to say is:(balls in the microwave)

("I not want that, Mom!" ...it's exactly what he asked for.)

(huge mess, half-naked two-year-old in the middle of it)

(baby eating a cookbook)

(baby mad because Mommy took the cookbook away)

...welcome back to the craziness that we call home. We are still outnumbered, but the odds are not stacked nearly as high when you're here with me! Glad you're home.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Flowers for MeeMaw

Oh, my MeeMaw. She is just the sweetest little grandmother any little (or big!) girl could ever have.

MeeMaw has been pretty sick over the past few weeks. She is now out of the hospital and in a nursing home, working hard to get strong enough to go back home. (Yes, this is the MeeMaw who lost our PeePaw a couple of months ago...)

The Big Brothers and I were talking about making a card or something to send her in the mail, but were having a hard time deciding what we be fun and special enough for MeeMaw. Then we realized that we could send her flowers -- flowers that we made.

You see, this is better than real flowers. (In my mind, anyway...) These flowers will last longer, and are so appropriate for MeeMaw. I have many, many fond memories involving all of the wonderful paper, markers, glue, scissors, and other art supplies (and oh, all the glitter!) MeeMaw always had around. She was a school teacher, so there was the stuff that we could use, and then some other stuff in a separate cabinet that we were not supposed to use. But I remember that if I asked just right, and if the "little kids" weren't around, she would let me use them, "as long as you're careful and put them back where you found them." Oh, such fun!

So we got to work. Micah and I looked through some magazines for flowers. When we found some that he liked, I cut them out, and he glued them on. The blue ones are his "fa-brit" (favorite).(That's really the face he made when I told him to smile. I don't know why, but that's Micah for ya!)

Conner drew a flower. Call me crazy, but I think it is so beautiful in its simplicity. "Sure, I can draw a flower. I'm really good at drawing flowers."Joey's gift was to take a good nap so that we could do this!And MeeMaw, I do hope that I am not ruining the surprise by sharing your flowers with you here. My hope is to give you the gift of something fun to look forward to, and a way to share your flowers with some of your friends and family, too.

We love you MeeMaw, and we hope you feel better soon!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Today I am Thankful

The weather is definitely cooling off around here. We've been having lows in the 60's and, thanks to a cool front coming in, even in the 50's for the next couple of days. (It's still getting up into the high 80's, but that's another story...) As a result, for the past two days my head has been pounding, my glands are about the size of golfballs, and somehow even though I am so congested that I can hardly breathe through my nose, it has been dripping.

After staying up until after midnight last night doing laundry, picking up toys, doing the dishes, checking my email, writing a quick little blog post, etc...I set the alarm for 5am. Surely that would be early enough to get a shower, get my hair dried, maybe even get caught up on some other things. Ummm...yeah... I heard Conner and Micah waking up and coming into my room as I was getting out of the shower sometime before 5:30.

...and I was just sure that my head was going to explode...and secretly hoping that when it did the might knock a kid or two out for a few minutes...

Much later in the day, when I had decided that the thought of loading everyone up to go get some kind of medicine sounded worse than just toughing it out, I found it. I found some Zyrtec-D shoved in the corner of the medicine cabinet. I quickly popped one, and just knowing that a little relief was coming made me feel better immediately. My attitude suddenly changed from, "Poor me, my head hurts, my throat hurts, my nose is dripping, I just want to go to sleep, but the kids are always needing something" to being thankful.

I am happy to say that I am in the process of ending my day still congested but feeling much better...and with a little list of things I am thankful for:
  • macaroni & cheese and chicken dinosaurs
  • Ducky Joe's (an indoor playground that we went to today)
  • my friends that met us there, and the opportunity to talk to some other adults
  • that there was no one here to see me walking around with Kleenex stuffed up my nostrils (except the brothers, who thought it was hilarious)
  • the twelve days that I have left with a dishwasher
  • that I'm sitting here watching he season premiere of Grey's Anatomy
  • that the big bang on the house that I heard a few minutes ago was not an intruder, but apparently a baby raccoon that had fallen out of a tree and onto the roof
  • that when I shocked/electrocuted myself while trying to defrost the freezer earlier today, the only effects seemed to be fifteen minutes or so of tingling in my arms
  • three sleeping babies
  • only two days until Bret gets home
  • the Zyrtec-D!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Brothers

I'm feeling a little guilty. I've told too many stories of the negative-type over the past few days. Today I was reminded how many times over those same past few days these boys have played together. They have actually played well together a lot, and in some new ways.

We got out the "Diego Game." (Go, Diego, Go! 123 Game) Something has clicked in Micah's little head since we got it out last. Those boys actually sat there and played the game together, taking turns, giving one another cards, Micah making his own matches -- through completion. I totally could have gotten something significant done, but I was too busy watching in awe. (Gammie, Poppy, and crew -- you especially can appreciate this. You guys gave that game to Conner for Christmas a couple of years ago and witnessed first-hand his fascination...and determination to keep the cards away from Micah. Of course at that point Micah would have eaten them if he had gotten them...)We have also had several visits from Rascal the Raccoon. (It's amazing how brave she's gotten since Chicory has been at Gammie's.) We decided to put some waffles out for her. (I had burned them that morning. No one else wanted them!) They went out, lined them up in the grass, and then actually hid in the bushes, waiting to see their "Raccoon Booby Trap" work. Eventually they got bored and came in. We missed the first waffle's demise, but the second one was pretty cool. We actually watched Rascal walk up, sniff around, pick the waffle up, take a few bites, and then carry it over the fence. Conner and Micah were so excited. Sorry there's no pics...Joey was being a little high-maintenance, and I just never could get a good one between him and the big, slow, clumsy camera. I'm so sad.

Then yesterday they got out Whac-a-mole. Once again, Micah was able to follow along and play by the rules. He didn't get a very high score, but that didn't matter. They were playing the game together and having a blast.Joey, of course, wanted in on the fun too. He spied a mallet, rolled/squirmed/scooted his way over to it, and began whacking away.Some days, in the exhaustion and frustration of the moment, I find myself wondering what in the world we have done. Why in the world did we ever think three was a good idea -- and why, if three was a good idea, did we think it would be good to have the three within 4 1/2 years of each other?

Then I walked into the Big Brothers' room a little while ago to put away some laundry. I panicked for a moment when I saw that Micah wasn't in his bed. He was, of course, up with Conner.That is why we wanted to do it. Because they are brothers, they are playmates, they are friends -- and I pray they will always be so close.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

He's a Jumparoo!

We love our jumparoo. MeeMaw gave it to Conner for his first Christmas, and it has become a way of life for us. As soon as these boys have been able to hold themselves up pretty good, we've had them in it. It's been the dinnertime routine -- time to fix dinner, baby goes in it, I work in the kitchen, they jump, everyone's happy.

You know they're completely in love with it when you can't get them to stand anymore. You're holding them on your lap, try to stand them up, their feet hit your legs, and they start bouncing, even get mad if you're not helping them out. Joey hit that point yesterday. I couldn't get him to stand up for anything. Poor kid, though, at 20+ pounds, my arms can only bounce for so long! I think that's a pretty cute little stage.

He was having so much fun that I couldn't even get him to stop long enough to take the picture. They all looked about like this... ...until I enlisted Conner's help. Anything for Big Brother!
(And yes, the blanket wadded up in there is Coach. Joey had just woken up, and wouldn't let go...Coach is becoming a regular little member of the family...)

(And...the alter-egos seemed to be gone today. Today was about as normal as it gets around here. Thank you, Lord!)