Saturday, July 31, 2010

Land of the Dinosaurs

My mom and dad (BooBoo and Yogi) live in Glen Rose, home of the Texas Amphitheater. This summer a new theatrical production, The Land of the Dinosaurs, has been playing there so mom and dad invited us to come see it with them.

We had plans to go several weeks ago, but Conner ended up getting sick and it was rained out. So we made plans for another day, which happened to be today!

The Wellsbrothers were very excited. They even asked for dinosaur- and musical note-shaped sandwiches for lunch,

and put on their dinosaur tshirts when it was time to go.

We didn't know much about this show, except that it was a musical, and involved animatronic dinosaurs. We weren't real sure about that mixture of media but the reviews that we read were good, so we figured it was worth a shot. Well, as it tuirns out...not to be a downer, but...well...let's just say that it was not so much what we expected after reading the reviews, but more like what we expected when we heard "dinosaur musical." :) It was really a little cheesy and forced, but that's coming from a hometown girl. I may have been (and probably was) a totally different experience for a tourist coming to Glen Rose to get the "Dinosaur Capital of the World" experience.

We got there well before the show began, so we had plenty of time to check out the outdoor stage,the animatronic dinosaurs, and the gift shop (where the boys got tattoos).
As the show began, there was a little audience participation chat, where everyone had to roar like a dinosaur a couple of times. Would you be surprised if I told you that the oldest two Wellsbrothers roared so loudly that most of the people in the row ahead of us had to turn around and look?! Then the show really began. Here you can kind of see how big the dinosaurs were compared to the humans.At one point in the show, there was a volcanic eruption. We had heard that this was going to happen, and when the volcano started smoking we were very excited to see it explode. But the actual eruption ended up just being a loud rumble and flashing lights at the end of an act...and we didn't know until the next act began, when they were acting as though the eruption had already happened, that that was it. Thankfully though, the boys took it pretty well.

All in all, I don't think we'll probably do it again - but I'm glad that we did it the once, I really had fun. Thanks BooBoo and Yogi for making it happen! post signature

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rocket Launcher

We have a really cool RocketBlaster sprinkler. We played with it a lot the last summer that we were in Louisiana. But we never did dig it out of storage last summer. But just the other day, Bret was looking for something and found it! The boys didn't really seem to remember it, but they still couldn't wait to play with it.

It was still really cool, blasting a little plastic "rocket" way up into the air. I'm not sure who had more fun - the boys or me watching them. :)


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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Safety Calendar Contest

My dad works for Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant in Glen Rose. His company's safety committee has an art contest for kids each year, where they submit original artwork depicting a safety rule. The winners get a page in the calendar.

Pretty much any relative of the employee is eligible to enter, so Conner and Micah entered this year. Their artwork and rules were not your norm. (Of course! Would you expect "normal" from a Wellsbrother?!) But I thought they were pretty cute. Conner submitted this:

("Make sure to bring a backpack when you climb Mt. Everest." And the labels say, "ledge," "fruit bar," and "bad hair day."

and Micah submitted this:

I was so proud of their creativity! :) Neither of them got a page in the calendar, but they both received honorable mention - which was a prize of a $10 WalMart gift card! (And Joey's generous BooBoo and Yogi gave him a special gift card to use, too - since he actually stayed out of his brothers' way long enough for them to make something.) So we went shopping last night and came home with a basketball goal, a bubble wand, two mini video games, and two playdoh sets. Hopefully they'll stay busy today and there won't be too much fighting.

Thanks, Yogi and BooBoo! We can't wait to try again next year!

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Oklahoma City

When we made the decision that Bret would be spending most if the summer in Oklahoma selling roofs, we also decided that we would do our best to get me and the boys up there for the weekend at some point. Plans changed and schedules were rearranged countless times, and I was beginning to get concerned that our perfect chance would never come.

Then Bret came home Thursday afternoon to speak at a youth event in Granbury, planning to spend the long weekend with us. And then as he drove home, several phonecalls came in and it became apparent that a long weekend at home was not going to be possible. He was going to have to head back north early the next morning. We had all been looking forward to the long weekend at home and were really bummed - until we realized that THIS was our perfect chance.
So we went to the youth event, got home late, stayed up even later getting everyone packed and ready to go, got up early the next morning, and began heading north on 35. The boys were really, really excited to get to see Oklahoma City, where Daddy had been spending so much time. Especially Conner and Micah, since they had just driven through OK on the way to Illinois with Yogi and BooBoo. (Where they had proposed to "just drive all around the whole state until we find Daddy.")

Driving into OKC was very exciting - there were lots of skyscrapers. I don't know what was so different about these from the FW and Dallas ones, but apparently they were quite a bit more impressive. (Micah was very concerned - "Does the sky need a band-aid?")Bret took us into his apartment, introduced us to his roommates, and showed us around. Hands down, the boys' favorite part of the apartment was (Bret's roommates') inflatable chairs.Then we got to see some of the roofs he had been working on...and then sadly, we were reminded that this was not a just-for-fun vacation and Bret had to get started on his work.

...So the boys and I went to the Oklahoma City Zoo! We were very pleased to find out that the OKC Zoo is the proud home of a brand-new, really cool children's zoo. There was, of course, a great petting zoo. One of my few complaints about the Fort Worth Zoo is the lack of a good petting zoo. So even as much as we go to the zoo, this was a rare treat! There was also a little water garden that the kids got to play in - and yes, even though I wasn't prepared with extra clothes and such I let them get just as wet as they wanted to. :)
Love that pic.

There was also a walk-in parakeet feeding/petting place and a special section to view underground animals - underground. The boys got to go down a big slide to get down there, and then climb rope ladders to get out. (The stroller and I used the ramp.)After that, we decided that we would make our way to Aquaticus, the aqauarium. We were on a bit of a time crunch, so we figured that we could stop and look at the things we passed, go through the aquarium, and then it would probably be time to go.

If you were to enlarge that picture of us at the front entrance of the zoo, you would see that it proudly states that they've been there since 1904. So when we got to the herpetarium (reptile house), one of the boys' favorite parts of the FW Zoo - especially since they recently opened their impresseive Museum of Living Art - I tried to warn them.

Yes, it's the reptile house. Yes, you love reptile houses. Yes, it's got snakes and lizards. But I promise you, it won't be as cool as the MOLA. Are you sure you want to spend our time going in here? Wouldn't you rather go see some things that we don't always get to see?

Mom, we want to go in here!

I gave in...and the boys weren't disappointed at all. Apparently a snake is a snake and a lizard is a lizard no matter how you package it. Even Joey, who often has a hard time finding whatever it is we're looking for had a great time. In fact, his favorite reptile was a stick that he was convinced was actually a snake that he had found all by himself. :)
I, however, did not think it was very cool. Quite the opposite, in fact. Apparently this buiding had been there since around the time of the birth of the zoo itself...and there was no a/c. It was soooooo hot! The boys didn't seem bothered, but it felt like every bit of the water I kept chugging just immediately came right back out of my pores.

The butterfly gardens were very nice. To be back out in the 100+ degrees was a treat, and any little hint of a breeze was divine. The boys treated me to walking through it very nicely so that I could actually enjoy the butterflies and flowers, too.And then we found a surprise - a mother peacock with a couple of babies roaming freely through the foliage. Very cool.Finally we found Aquaticus. And once again...the building was ancient. Probably even older than the herpetarium...and definitely hotter. Seriously, I didn't even go to the windows to look at the fish with the boys. I stayed in the middle of the walkways under the ceiling fans, trying to stay cool enough that I didn't pass out. The boys though...the boys didn't seem to be bothered much. They liked the fish, and they loved the sea lions.When we emerged, it was time to make our way back out. We chose a different route, hoping to see some other animals. But we ended up being on the restaurant/meeting rooms/back of the children's zoo path. Not many more animals. Except for the caterpillar we happened to see on the sidewalk.

This wasn't the plain ol' green or brown caterpillar that we normally see. This one was beautifully striped in green, yellow and black.Of course, we stopped to take a closer look. Conner wanted to touch it, but I told him we probably shouldn't. (I actually did a little bit of caterpillar research back in the spring when we were finding woolly bears everywhere. I had once thought that it was the fuzzy caterpillars that would sting you. But I learned that it's actually the brightly colored ones - especially the brightly colored ones with fuzzy spots - that you had to watch out for.) But he kept asking...so I shared with him what I had learned. I also told him though, that I had learned that most caterpillar stings will sting a little but won't really hurt you. Then I let him choose if he still wanted to touch it or not...and of course, he touched it on the head.

We were all shocked when the tail of the caterpillar suddenly sprouted two bright yellow prongs and shot up toward Conner's finger, much like a scorpion trying to sting! It was the craziest caterpillar we'd ever seen! So we collected ourselves, made sure it hadn't gotten Conner...and did it again. Sure enough, the yellow things poked out again and it was obviously trying to sting these giants that were invading its personal space.

It only took twice, and we were convinced that if we kept our fingers on its head, the tail couldn't reach us. So we sat there and took turns terrifying that poor caterpillar. This random caterpillar that we had happened to come across on the sidewalk turned out to be one of the coolest and most memorable parts of our OKC Zoo trip!

And then it was time to go.

So we went and got Bret. He had finished his work, and now he could play with us. So we went and got some pizza,then topped it off with some frozen custard, and then went back to Daddy's cool apartment to watch some Backyardigans and go to bed. How's that for livin' it up? :)

I never thought my summer vacation would be taking my kids to another state to see the apartment my husband had been living in and meeting his roommates that I'd been hearing about. But we just never know what life's gonna bring, do we? I'm so glad to have gone now though, to be able to visualize Bret in his room when I'm talking to him on the phone, to have some faces to put with names, to see some of the projects he's been working on, to be counting down the weeks until he'll be at home with us again...and to have gone to the OKC Zoo to boot!

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Splashpads

The Splashpads in Crowley are one of our favorite places to go during the summer. We've been several times already, and I just thought I'd share some pictures from today so you guys could see the fun!

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Panda-monium

Finally...more cupcakes!

After awhile of thumbing through our books, everyone's agreed on our next project pandas. We've been planning to make them for awhile now, but my boys have been little traveling maniacs lately. For the past several weeks, there have not been many days that I've had them all home at the same time.

But finally, today was the day! We excitedly got to work.

This is what we were going for: Some crushed oreos for fur, oreo halves for arms (we skipped the legs), a hidden marshmallow for the snout, mini chocolate chips for the eyes, some white and black frosting, and a few Froot Loops later (we couldn't find the black Oreo-O's that we needed), this is what we ended up with:
Conner's:
Micah's:
Joey's:
I love it - what personality shines through!

Yummmmmo, can't wait to do it again!

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Roadtrip to Illinois

9A couple of months ago, TuTu passed away. TuTu was my cousins' grandmother on the other side of the family - my Aunt Stephy's (mom's brother's wife's) mother. Confusing enough? :) Aunt Stephy grew up in Hawaii - "TuTu" is Hawaiian for "grandmother."

TuTu and Grandpa (or as my dad affectionately refers to him, "OneOne") lived in Hawaii half of the year, and on TuTu's family farm in Illinois for the other half of the year. Our cousins Caleb and Josh would get to go to these wonderful far-off places to visit every now and then, and we were always a little jealous. But one year, when I was in probably the 2nd or 3rd grade, the Spies cousins got to accompany the Conner cousins to Illinois!

It was terribly exciting, the first time any of us Spies kids had been out of Texas. My mom and Aunt Stephy were very brave - the two of them, six kids, a suburban, a cooler full of sandwiches and drinks, and many hours on the road. It was a great trip though, I have nothing but happy memories.

When TuTu died, Aunt Stephy and her family decided to have her body cremated so that they could take her to Illinois to be "buried" on the farm. My mom and dad decided to go with them, and taking advantage of a chance to both relive some old memories and make new ones, they invited Conner and Micah to come along. (Joey and I considered joining them, but we decided that two days on the road, two days at the farm, and two more days on the road again for the most part really wouldn't be much fun for him...and thus anyone else.)

Conner and Micah were of course, just as excited as we were years ago. Obviously, since I didn't get to go along on the trip, the details and pictures I'm sharing are all second-hand...but I'm recording it as best I can for the boys. :)

Wednesday, July 14th:

We drove down to BooBoo and Yogi's house. We set the backseat all up for the boys - backpacks with toys and coloring books and stuff, snack and drinks, movies, etc. Then they were ready - they hopped right in and buckled up. They didn't really have any idea what was ahead of them, but they were excited!

A few hours later they came to Oklahoma.
At the border rest stop, Conner worked on his bow and arrow shooting form,
and everyone took a little rest on the Stage Coach. Micah is surfing on the backseat. :)
Then a few hours later they came to Missouri.
Missouri got the prize for the coolest rest stop - it even had a playground!
And while they were there, as often happens on roadtrips, the oldest Wellsbrothers saw some very interesting things - like two semis stuffed full of turkeys!
(Not-so-very-pretty turkeys, if I do say so myself!) I have to wonder if they were already beginning their unfortunate journeys to someone's Thanksgiving table in a few months.
They spent the night in Missouri - at a hotel! That was one of the things they were most excited about. A night in a hotel is a very special treat. After all - stairs, breakfast buffets, swimming pools, towels folded in fun shapes, treadmills - what's not to love?!

Thursday, July 15th:

They hit the road early Thursday morning and were in Illinois before they knew it.A little more driving...and they arrived in Greenville and checked into another hotel. They swam for a little while......and then made a very exciting and unexpected discovery when they looked out of their hotel window - to see buffalo! Friday July 16:

Today was spent at the farm. They got to do a lot of things that I remember doing, including playing in the playhouse, and having a bonfire/cookout with our cousins.Conner remembered having s'mores before, and excitedly dove right in.Micah however, liked the marshmallows. The marshmallows were so good, he didn't want anything to do with the s'mores...until BooBoo finally convinced him to try one. Then he ate the whole thing and asked for more, but would not admit that he liked them. :) And what vacation to a family farm wouldn't be complete with a good ol' game of "good guy and bad guys?" I thought this succession of pictures that Mom took was pretty funny:

And though I don't have pictures, playing in the cellar - yes, a real-live cellar!! - was also a definite highlight of the farm.

Saturday, July 17:

This morning they held TuTu's memorial service. This is where she was laid to rest. Isn't it beautiful? Shortly after the service, our travelers began their trek back home. Like good little tourists, they made sure to drive through St Louis and see the Gateway Arch.
And then they got to stop and tour the Meramec Caverns in Stanton, Missouri. Conner has been very interested in caves lately, and both boys have been interested in bats for awhile. Touring a cave was something that had been on our summer to-do list at one point in time, but that we had already given up on...until now!
At the end of the tour, they got to eat some ice cream. And what flavor did they both choose? Scooperhero, of course!
Not only do these caverns contain many wonderful stalactites and stalagmites to behold...they were also once the hideouts of the "bad guys, Jesse and James." :)

Then there was more driving, another night in a hotel, and my little roadtrippers were delivered back to me safe and sound Sunday night.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Yogi and BooBoo for giving Conner and Micah such a wonderful opportunity and making so many memories. It's made me want to find all the pictures from our trip to Illinois from 25 years ago (good grief, did I just say that?!) and do something fun with them. But alas, I haven't found them yet. Maybe someday... (Mom and Dad, I'm sure I've gotten something wrong or missed something - please correct me!)

Thank you too, Aunt Stephy for allowing the tag-alongs to come and for making your family ours. TuTu and Grandpa were some very special people - not many kids get to know their cousins' grandparents from the other side of the family, especially when they live so far away.

Aren't we blessed? :)

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