Every day the boys have to take a water bottle to school. For the first few weeks we took our insulated Thermos water bottles. However, one morning when I was dropping the kids off I noticed that there were 5 Cars 2 thermos bottles just like the boys' and despite the fact that they all had their names written on them they are bound to get mixed up from time to time - as evidenced by the fact that that was also the day that Connor's water bottle went missing. And two weeks later is STILL missing.
So in the hopes of not losing any more water bottles I thought it would be a good idea to for the boys to have unique water bottles. :) So the next morning we grabbed our old Design your Own Sippy Cups, changed out the sippy cup top for straw tops and sent the kids off to school with the dinosaur designs that I had made for the sippy cups when we first got them probably 3 years ago. Luckily the boys like dinosaurs as much now if not moreso. But I still made a mental note to work on some new designs when I had the chance. Unfortunately before I got around to it, Ryan managed to get water inside the part with the design and while the cardstock held up fine I was a little worried that with all our humidity it might mold so I swapped out Ryan's dinosaur for the only other one I could still find - a barnyard design I made as part of the favors for the boys' 2nd birthday party. So of course Connor wanted his swapped out, too.
After dinner tonight while the boys played outside I spent a few minutes and knocked out a few new designs that the kids can rotate through of some of their favorite characters - Scooby Doo for Connor, and of course Cars for Ryan.
They were both thrilled with their new designs and can't wait to take them to school tomorrow. :)
Me: Connor you need to poop.
C: But I don't know how.
Me: Yes, you do. Just let it out.
C: But how?
M: You just have to tell it that's it's okay to come out.
C: [leans down towards the potty] "It's okay to come out."
C: [looking at me accusatorily] "It didn't work."
In the car on the way home last night Ryan told me that "8 and 8 was eighty-eight." And "9&9 was ninety-nine." So of course I asked him about 77, 66, 56, etc. His newfound knowledge even applied to 45, 41, 43, 47, etc. I was super proud of him. The only time he was stumped was with 4&0. And of course 1&1 which he prounounced "one ty one." :)
Of course Connor didn't want to be left out of the high praise either. After a while he picked up on the concept and was doing just as well as Ryan at naming the various number combinations.
Despite being just 15 minutes away we managed to be late to the Easter party. :) But that's okay. There was still plenty of food left. And the band was still playing. :)
So we visited.
And took a ride down to the creek (thanks to Uncle Bobby!)
And before too long it was time for the Easter Egg Hunt.
They set up a separate area for the little kids which turned out to just be Ryan & Connor this year. So they went to town picking up eggs.
They made quite a haul.
Then they helped the big kids scour the area just in case they missed anything, too. :)
Then of course they had to open all the eggs to check out all the loot.
Once that was done they volunteered to drive people around in the golf cart.
Thank goodness the battery was dead by that point from all the joyriding. :)
So instead they decorated their own cookies.
And attacked people with the balloon alligators Aunt Debbie made them. :) Until finally hyped up on enough sugar to send a diabetic into a coma we packed them back up in the car. And fed them some more juice for good measure. To keep them hydrated and all. :) Luckily they crashed in the car on the drive back to the park. And when they woke up, or we woke them up as the case might be, we loaded them into the canoe and set off to explore the alligator infested swamp. :)
Connor and I made a quick pit stop by the restroom and then headed over to check out the Wildlife Trail. We took the foot bridge we remembered from our last visit over to the island.
We took our time admiring the view by the light of the early morning sun.
We made our way over to the big wooden bridge and said hello to some early morning fishermen.
We continued on to the head of the trail, stopping for one last look at the reflections on the perfectly still water.
As we started down the trail I warned Connor to stay in the middle and to stay out of the poison ivy that dominated the sides of the trail.
Despite a generous coating of bug spray we were all already spotting a smattering of lovely red dots that I might have otherwise worried looked like we had the chicken pox.
Connor was an awesome hiking companion. We had a lovely peaceful stroll through the woods. He stayed right with me and chatted like a little magpie. No need to worry about the bright red markers indicating the hunting boundary. If there were any animals in sight our chattering would have long warned them we were coming. :)
When we got back Kevin had just started the bacon, and whipped us up some eggs and buttered toast on the grill. We thoroughly enjoyed it.
Afterwards Randy, Diana, Luke, the boys and I took the boat up one of the little channels into the Neches river.
We followed the river for a ways and stopped to check out a little off shoot cove area before heading back. The path we took followed along one side of the paddling trails that I had considered taking before we headed out. I was glad to have seen both areas and my arms were glad to have seen both without all the paddling - particularly against any possible current. :)
After we had explored the river for several miles we headed back to lake and Randy took the boat around the island that Kevin and I had paddled as well so Diana and Luke could see the swamp. And thankfully no alligators this go around. :) We got back to camp just as Mike, Lisa, and the boys were paddling back up to the site. They had just gotten back from the same trip around the island in a pair of canoes.
We spent the better part of the rest of the morning packing up the campsite, having lunch, and returning the canoes. Afterwards Randy & Diana, and Lisa & Mike headed out. We spent a few minutes enjoying the peace and quiet from my practically neglected hammock. When I got up to get a drink Connor made himself right at home.
I eventually kicked him out and he joined Kevin and Ryan on the picnic table.
After a few minutes rest I untied the hammock, and rolled it up to be packed away in the car. The boys were tired, but weren't ready to go by any stretch of the imagination.
We had promised them that we would do the short .8 mile Island trail before heading out.
They perked right up and were off to the races.
The snacks and juice might have had something to do with that. :)
When we finished the loop we wandered out to the big wooden bridge for one last look around.
Like last time it was the perfect view point to see the alligators. Or at least this little one anyways. The boys passed out in the car practically the second they were strapped in and we started moving. It was a shame because on the way out of the park they missed a sighting of the Easter Bunny.
We saw him for just a split second before he hopped back off into the woods. :)
As usual Ryan woke up before the crack of dawn on Saturday morning (about 6:45am). He and Kevin got up and went down to the boat and did a little fishing. Connor got up and crawled into bed with me and we snuggled and went back to sleep until almost 9am. :) Remind me why Connor couldn't be an only child again?? :)
While they were fishing Ryan caught a small bass.
Not long after we got up Randy, Diana, and Luke ventured out, too. After a quick breakfast they took the boat out to do a little fishing taking Connor along this time while Ryan and I went up to take a shower.
Connor caught a crappie.
When they got back we got the boys dressed in their "Easter outfits." I had hoped to get a good picture of them "dressed up." And before they rolled around in the dirt or otherwise got filthy. :) Unfortunately they had other ideas...
I am afraid this was as good as it got. :)
At least they were both looking at the camera and smiling! And just in the nick of time - as Kevin got back from his shower and it was time to head over to Uncle Charlie's.
Lisa, Mike, Jeremy, Cameron and one of Cameron's friends followed us back to spend Saturday night at the park with us. We totally lucked out as the people in the site right next to us packed up and headed out while we were at Charlie's. So while they unloaded their truck and set up their tents we took the boys out in the canoe.
We took them on the same trek around the island as Kevin and I had made the day before. Though we turned around past the first bridge and headed back the way we had come instead of taking the longer trek around having to paddle against the wind especially as the sun was heading quickly towards to the horizon.
Ryan took our admonishments to sit down and do not move VERY seriously. He never budged so much as an inch without us telling him to do so. He did NOT want to tip the boat. :) And he was terrified that the alligators were going to eat him. In hindsight maybe he wasn't so far off... :)
In fact it made him VERY nervous when Connor turned around and crawled under the next bar to sit next to me.
In the swampy area we saw and heard several fish jumping. We even saw a fairly large alligator gar jump near the canoe. We listened to the sounds coming from the bullfrogs and tried to repeat it ourselves without much luck. Then as I watched some bubbles near the front end of the boat I asked Kevin if he knew what made them. We had seen similar bubbles surface near our canoe several times the night before. I laughed and said it was probably alligators.
The bubbles continued and even more bubbles came up as we got closer to them. Then just as we coasted over the top of the bubbles we heard a GIANT splash just off to our left. I looked up just in time to see the end of an alligators tail splash violently into the water about 6 feet off to our left. When Kevin heard the splash behind him he turned turned to our right just in time to see part of the alligators head. The alligator was UNDER our canoe. And by our best guess it was AT LEAST 10 feet long if not bigger... Needless to say we probably startled him and he DEFINITELY startled us. We sat perfectly still and quiet for a few seconds afterwards just coasting in the water. When the alligator didn't pop back up or attack our boat in some made for a horror story scene I nervously laughed and put on my best fake "WOW voice!" and gushed about how "cool" it was that we got to see that "GIANT Alligator GAR!!" "He must have been chasing one of those baby catfish!" Uh, huh... Sure... We continued on nervously keeping an eye on the water and looking for any more bubbles.
Luckily the rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. We found the bridge, made scary sounds and heard them echo back, and then turned around to head back. As we neared the area with the giant gator we tread carefully nervously keeping an eye out for any movement at all.
When we got back to camp we told everyone about the GIANT ALLIGATOR GAR without the G-A-R that we had seen on our trip. The boys happily retold the story just as I told them. :)
While the guys started a fire to cook the hotdogs Connor ran around with this pine branch on his head claiming to be a unicorn. Yeah, I don't know either. Just smile and nod. :)
After the hotdogs and smores as the boys were running back and forth between campsites I broke out the glow sticks and gave them to the boys. The bracelets are just a tad too big for the boys' wrists and they kept sliding off so I took some and put them around Connor's ankles instead. Then we put a necklace around his waist. He looked so cool when he was running in the dark. All you could see were the glow sticks. I tried to get Ryan to let me put the same thing on him, but he wanted no part of it. But after everyone told Connor how cool he was Ryan changed his tune and wanted to be decked out just like Connor.
It turned out to be a good thing we did, too as it was the only way we could keep track of them as they chased the older kids on their bicycles. The bigger kids put them on their ankles and wrapped them in the spokes of their bicycles. It made them much easier to see at night. I will have to keep that in mind if we ever make it to the midnight bike ride. :) The boys liked the glow sticks so much they insisted that they wear them to bed. So we changed them into their jammies and put the glow sticks back on. Luckily the blankets masked the glow so it was relatively dark in our tent and didn't keep anyone awake. :)
Not that there would have been anyone to keep awake except me as Kevin and Randy went out for more night fishing and I was so exhausted that I practically passed out the second my head hit the pillow.