Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Zoo Day

Recently, our family took a day trip to the Houston Zoo. Jaden and Cody are at a fun age for zoo visits. I love their ability to identify most animals and their high level of enthusiasm about pretty much every animal we see. The boys had a surprising amount of energy that day and hardly rode in the stroller at all during our 4-hour visit. We let them be our guides, and they took this role very seriously ("Follow us, Mommy and Daddy, so you don't get lost!"). Their first request was to see the monkeys.

After seeing the primates, we visited the elephant barn and arrived just in time to see the elephants getting a bath. Cody and Jaden loved seeing how the elephants were bribed with apples. The boys thought it was just great when the elephant swallowed a full apple!

We didn't realize it before planning our zoo trip, but the day we visited was one of the Zoo Boo days. Many kids came to the zoo dressed in costume. Even though Jaden and Cody weren't dressed up, they were still allowed to trick or treat at various stations throughout the zoo. Not surprisingly, they loved the candy treats! Also, we stopped by the "pumpkin patch" station where the boys could select a small pumpkin to paint. 

We had never used these paint markers before. It was a very handy way to decorate the pumpkins since the paint dried so quickly.

We're not in a great stage for posing for pictures, so here's our best shot of the boys with their completed pumpkins.

Then, we were off to see a variety of other animals.

Our boys loved getting to push the buttons outside some of the exhibits. This particular group of buttons taught us about the various ways rhinos communicate. The boys often got very giggly listening to the sounds and wanted to push the buttons over and over and over again.

We found a wonderful shaded spot near the Children's Zoo for our picnic lunch.

After lunch, we attended part of a show where the zoo keeper chose kids from the audience to complete certain zoo challenges. Neither of our boys wanted to volunteer for anything, so they quickly lost interest in this show.

But they perked right back up when we went to the petting zoo. Cody and Jaden loved using the brushes to pet these small goats.

The prairie dog exhibit was a big hit too. What fun to feel like we were (kind of) part of the habitat!

Daddy and the boys even went for a short carousel ride.

We ended our visit by playing in the zoo's splash pad. It felt very unusual for these former Montana kids to be playing in water in mid-October! The cool water felt great, though. 

On our way out, we noticed that the sea lions were displaying their talents, so we stopped for this little show.

Jaden and Cody thoroughly enjoyed their zoo visit, so it made for a fun family day!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Misc. Events

Our family attended a variety of community events and activities over the past month:

New Life 5K
 In mid-September, my sister Kim and I ran in a 5K that supported a local Christian pregnancy center. (Our sister-in-law Chelsea was planning to join us too, but she ended up having volleyball commitments. We look forward to having her join us on future runs!) Here we are pre-race, posing in our official 5K t-shirts. :)

The race day was beautiful and sunny (although still a tad bit too muggy for my liking). Kim and I actually ended up taking 2nd and 3rd place for our age division! Our boys came out to cheer us on towards the end of the race. Cody and Jaden were excellent supporters for their mommy. :)

After the 5K, Ian (along with his daddy) ran in the 1-mile fun run. We loved watching Ian cross the finish line and get a medal. Then, we explored the various vendor booths, ate some free snow cones, and played on this caboose. It was a great morning!

Children's Museum Tea Party
Because Grammy and Papa bought us an annual membership pass to this museum, we've been visiting at least once a month. So far, each time that we've gone, Cody and Jaden have spent the longest amount of time in the grocery store exhibit and in this rubber mulch pit.

On our most recent visit, we went on Daddy's day off so that he could join us. We happened to pick the day that the museum was hosting a Mad Hatter's Tea Party. It ended up being a fun little event! The kids were given a number and then were called back to this back room when the tea party was ready. The boys each got to pour their own tea (apple juice) and drink from these cute mini-mugs.

Then, they got to use frosting and sprinkles to decorate their own sugar cookies.

This can of sprinkles wasn't too kid-friendly. Or, maybe I should say it was actually overly kid-friendly with the amount of sugar it let out for Cody! Oops!

Cody and Jaden thought the cookies were very scrumptious!

All of the museum employees were dressed in Alice in Wonderland costumes. It felt very festive!

Cheers to the wonderful tea party! :)

In early October, Matt and Kim invited us to attend Creekfest, an annual one-day community festival, with them. The free festival is sponsored by the chamber of commerce to "celebrate the arts and the outdoors." We stayed a good portion of the morning and didn't even partake in all of their activities. Soon after arriving, the boys got to jump in the back of an ambulance and take a look around. (Notice the dummy on the gurney in the background.)

Jaden and Cody's favorite activity was jumping in this bounce house, especially earlier in the morning when there were fewer kids.

Cody surprisingly agreed to some face painting. The wise volunteer gave Cody some art on his arm instead.  

Cody was proud to show off his snake to everyone nearby!

This friendly dog gave all of the boys some free candy (and in doing so, instantly won their hearts!).

Then, we created some fall foam-piece crafts-- a teddy bear farmer wishing a "beary happy fall to y'all." The Texas influence is everywhere! :)

Ian and Cody tried out this "ring the bell" carnival game. Ian successfully rung the bell twice!

Cody received some candy for his efforts. :)

Next we stopped by the Home Depot booth and built some helicopters.

Ian, Cody, and Ryan display their finished products.

When we walked by this stage, one of the music performers invited all the kids up to help him with a song by playing the drums. Of course, our guys happily joined in!

We didn't quite get the hang of playing along with the leader's beat, but the experience was great fun! :)

If you're interested in hearing part of the boys' drum debut, the following video captures a taste of the song.

Cousin Time
Recently, we watched Baby Isaiah so that his mommy and daddy could enjoy a romantic birthday dinner. :) Jaden and Cody always ask to hold their baby cousin and on this day, happily read him a story. We love watching Jaden and Cody interact with their cousins and are so happy to have them growing up together!

Zomball in Tomball
Each 2nd Saturday, our community offers a family event at the Depot (same place where the 5K was held). This month's event was Halloween themed. Unfortunately, there were WAY too many people there, so the lines for the games and the trunk or treat were just crazy! We mainly just walked around a bit, picked up a small handful of candy for the boys and left early, so the whole activity was a bit of a dud. Still, it got the boys in the Halloween spirit! The evening was a little too warm for their actual costumes (welcome to a Texas Halloween!), so we put Jaden and Cody in their dress-up doctor outfits instead.

The park was decorated with all kinds of inflatable Halloween creatures. This spider actually moved its legs at random and startled many of the kids (including Cody here!).

We walked through this maze/path-of-inflatables to get a grand total of 3 candy pieces. Thankfully, our boys were too young to expect anything more, so they were thrilled! Halloween is sure to be a grand ole time! :)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Build and Grow

We signed Cody and Jaden up for Lowe's September Build & Grow workshop because we figured it would be right up their alley-- building firetrucks! When we got to Lowe's, the boys were very excited to see a REAL fire engine parked outside. This kind firefighter helped the boys climb in the truck.

Then, the fireman explained some of the truck's equipment to the boys. As you can see in the picture below, Ryan, Kim and Nathan joined us, too. (Ian and Matt were unfortunately both feeling crummy that morning.)

There's no better way to start a Saturday morning than to be near a fire engine!

After looking at the real engine, the three boys got the materials to build a small engine of their own. Ryan, Jaden, and Cody were all very focused and actually seemed to have decent control with their hammers (our fingers were thankful).


Be sure to notice Cody's look of concentration-- the tongue in his cheek-- in the picture below. I love this! :)

Jaden was quite proud of his almost-completed truck. Our last step was to decorate it with stickers.

Once we were done, the fireman handed out plastic fireman hats.

"You're looking pretty good, cousin!"

Here's the best picture we could get of the boys' completed fire trucks.

We were proud of our little builders! :)