Monday, July 30, 2012

Alligator Farm

Week 61:  As I told you last week, we were trying to wrap up the summer with a few more fun activities...this week was the Alligator Farm (but I will tell you more about that later)!
The week started off as any other normal week - trip to the grocery store, playing with friends and playing outside!  I finally got the pool back in working order and the kids have been loving it and swimming as much as possible!
Friday, we headed out to the barn for horseback lessons. Ed was able to come out to the barn to watch lessons, and Mary Virginia put on a great show! Bailey wasn't feeling well, so MV rode Indy this week - and she rode most of the lesson with her eyes closed! Her trainer was trying to work on balance and this was her technique to teach MV. I will admit that I was scared to death...watching her ride such a large horse with no reigns and her eyes closed and in her 2-point, but she blew me away! She is so focused and she loves these horses!
 Saturday, we embraced Louisiana!  I bought a Groupon a few months back for an Alligator Farm Tour in Hammond and we have been putting it off for a few weeks because of the heat and the weather...the kids were so excited to get to finally see some alligators.  I was not too sure about this place when we pulled up, but once we walked into the farm, WOW!  There were only a few moments when I felt a little nervous while in the farm:  one, when the guide told us that there were a few alligators (5) unaccounted for, but that if we came in contact with them, he would take care of them (mainly by throwing the one Alabama fan on the tour to the gator) and the second was when he told us that the fence surrounding the large pond was there for protection, but if the gators really wanted out, the females could easily climb the fence and the males could push right through it in a matter of seconds!  I am sure that I don't have to tell you, but we kept the kids VERY close (not that we could do anything if an alligator came through the fence)!

 MV was posing in front of the gator that she named "No Claw".  This was one of the female alligators in the pond with the "big" alligators.  This pond housed the alligators that have been at the farm since it opened 50 something years ago!  MV loved this alligator, she had lost a part of her tail, a claw and a finger in a "turf war".
 This is one of the males watching us, watch "No Claw".  It was not very far from the fence and he kept an eye on everything that was going on.  I am not sure if you can see it in the picture, but there is another very large male alligator right behind him (about the middle of the picture along the top edge).  According to the guide, he only would have about 1500 lbs of pressure when he chomped!
 This is our guide, putting on a little show for us feeding the alligators.  What you cannot see is "No Claw" is sitting up on the concrete pad to his right and the male gator from above is also to the right.  Now, in the picture you can clearly see two alligators reaching for food, but there are at least 5 alligators in this picture.  There are also more to the right and then more in the lilies behind the front row of gators!  It was unbelievable! You could watch the lilies move and know the alligators were moving around out there.
 John Bay looking incredibly bored, but he loved it too!
Further around the pond, we met "Crush".  He is 16 feet long and King of the Pond.  He guards his area and according to the guide, he will "allow" some of the males and females to come hang out, but "when he says the party is over....it is over!"  He also has "his" females living around the area (if you look really close, you can see a wooded area in the top right and there is a female alligator up there guarding her nest).  Now, to show you how large Crush is, you can see his head on the left and on the center right you see a portion of the tail (this is the middle of the tail).  He was HUGE! 
John Bay needed a bathroom break and when we started to head back, this is what we found!
By far, this was MV's favorite part of the trip (and no, mom, she did not hurt the gator by sitting on it or by holding his mouth).  Edwas even able to hold the alligator! (This is our guide sitting with MV and Ed.)
 
After an amazing day at the Alligator Farm, we met the B&G group out for dinner at Zippy's.  I feel sorry for any other customers in the restaurant - we took over the patio and with all of the kids it was a little crazy!  We had a wonderful time with friends and we will be sad to see some of our friends leave, but we wish them the best back in Birmingham!
We had such an amazing weekend, I can't wait to see what we can do to top it next weekend!

All that baggage

Week 60 -  Wow, can we pack...and now it is time to unpack.  You never realize how much stuff you take on vacation until you have to unpack ALL of it!  It just didn't seem like we took that much when we were heading off two weeks ago.  I guess with two weeks, two kids, two dogs, a trip to the lake, a portrait sitting and art camp, you have to bring so much baggage!
So, as you might have guessed, we tried to have a relaxing week - we spent most of it trying to find everything we packed, wash clothes, and unpack!  Oh, and cleaning the pool - what a mess!  (Apparently the filter shut off and there was tons of rain, which in pool terms is a recipe for disaster!)
We still had a little fun, even with trying to get settled!  The kids had fun playing with the girls across the street and playing outside (in between rain storms).  MV had horseback lessons on Friday morning and she is doing amazing!  Just 2 weeks ago she was so excited that she was moving up to a Level 2 jump and this week, her lessons were going so well that she moved up to a Level 3!  She rode Bailey again and she just loves her!

 After a quiet weekend, Ed had to head back to Birmingham for a meeting, so we played even more!  We made jolly rancher suckers...
 and pizza (and watched movies)!

As the summer is starting to wrap up, we are trying to get in a few more fun activities...watch out for next week!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Home for a Visit!

The end of Week 58 & Week 59.  We finished up the week of the 4th in Birmingham.  We took a much needed trip to the mall! Mary Virginia picked out her own accessories at Children's Place, and she really worked the hat!  (You should see it with the sunglasses!)
 
As soon as she was done posing, she pulled out her tooth, so it was a HUGE day at the mall and a big night for the tooth fairy!
After primping and lunch, we went to Build-A-Bear to create some special friends!  John Bay had never been there, so this was exciting for him!  Once he picked out his bear, it was time to give him a heart and stuff him!
And give them a bath.
After much debate, we decided on outfits for everyone and then it was time to head to the carousel and to get cookies!  It was a fun day at the mall and a great way to beat the heat!
We had a low key weekend. We tried to help Gigi and Jaja get ready for their trip and spent time with the horses! The kids always love visiting them even if it was a quick visit to feed them treats! 
On Monday, Mary Virginia started camp at Arts on the Mountain.  She was so excited that she was going to see lots of friends that she has missed so much!  While MV was at camp, John Bay and I had lots of time to play!  JB wasn't his usual self and he didn't want to eat, so we took a much needed break at Yogurt Lab (before we met friends for lunch at Moe's) and that seemed to do the trick!
Now that he was feeling 100%, we hit the playground while we waited for Mary Virginia! 
We log rolled down the hill (it was sad that I had to teach him how to do the log roll) and then we climbed the rocks!
After a lunch at Moe's with friends, MV headed over to their house to play while John Bay took a nap.  When I went back to pick up Mary Virginia, they were having a popsicle  stand.  They sold all of their treats and then showed me the money!
The rest of the week was spent trying to get John Bay over his sinus infection...but on Thursday, he was feeling better so we did a little yard work.  We stopped by our old house and tried to clean up some of the flower beds so that the yard guys can get in and do their magic!  (This was after about 30 minutes of work - we worked for almost 3 hours!)
When we picked MV up, these were a few of the beautiful projects that MV made during her week at camp.  This was from her Flower Arranging class at camp - she was so lucky to have such wonderful instructors all week!  I can't wait to see the pottery that she made - it wasn't ready, so mom is going to pick it up!

Friday we kind of took the day to rest and play with some of our favorite friends! (MV got a haircut and the stylist straightened her hair...we will NOT straighten her hair again - she looks like she is 16!)
 We already miss these guys and we have barely been gone! 
Friday night we had a good friend come into town.  We just wish his wife and kids could have come too!  On Saturday, the boys took his Father's Day gift out for a spin!  They stopped by and saw some friends on their outing! 
It was a crazy week, but we had so much fun!  We miss Birmingham and all of our friends already!

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Lake for the 4th

Week 58:  On Saturday after Vacation Bible School, we headed back to Alabama to celebrate the 4th!  There is nothing like the lake on a holiday week!  We were able to visit with lots of family and spend lots of time on the water!  As soon as we arrived on Saturday, the kids grabbed their bathing suits out of the back of the car and headed straight for the tube!  It was fun to watch the cousins playing together...
The kids switched up to tube with Ed so that I had time to play with Maggie on the boat!
Then it was time for a little swimming and Cash wanted to join in the fun...
 Mim and Ed even spent some time on the tube while Wade tried his best to flip them off!
 
The Youngbloods came down for a visit on Sunday.  Of course, it was the hottest day of the summer.  At 106 degrees it was too hot to be on the boat and the pool water felt like a bathtub!  The kids had so much fun playing together, as always - we can't wait to spend more time with them over the next week!
As the week went on, it was a must that we head to Chuck's for some pizza and to play with all of the dogs.  On the way there, Jaja needed help driving the boat...
We had fun relaxing and sitting in the shade (trying to cool off) while waiting for our lunch! 

With full bellies, it was back to the boat so that we could spend a little more time on the boat and in the tube!

It was finally the 4th and we headed out to the boat parade.  The kids loved driving by Chimney Rock and watching a man jump off..while his friend was too scared to go.  Then we headed to the bridge for the parade - it was way too crowded for me, but the kids loved seeing the boats decorated with flags, balloons, streamers and more!  I think my favorite part was the impromptu air show! 
The plane made two or three passes over the bridge before flying away! And then the kids and Ed had one more tube ride!
 
Ed had to head back to Louisiana, but we kept on celebrating. Mom bought poppers for the kids, which they loved.
And then we had some other poppers!  The kids had a blast throwing them on the ground and then loved throwing them at each other's feet.  After some fun with both types of poppers, we watched the fireworks from a neighbor's porch!
This has been an amazing and relaxing trip to the lake!  I couldn't believe that it was already time to leave, but we will be back soon!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Vacation Bible School

Week 57:  This was Vacation Bible School week!  We had so much fun.  It took a little getting used to...our church does things just a little bit differently than we are used to, we have bible school at night.  It was great to see so many volunteers!  Of course, the kids loved seeing their friends and traveling around the world with "Amazing Wonders Aviation" and learning about the bible!  There was even a class for John Bay, he loved being able to see his school friends.  This is him with one of his best buds from school!
 On the final night, the kids all did a performance to show the parents what they had learned in VBS.  JB and I were having fun playing with the camera.  (Mary Virginia was having too much fun with her friends to stop and let me take her picture.)  I am still trying to find some pictures of her, maybe I can add them later!
A friend of John Bay's dad was able to catch one of the songs from the performance on video and thank goodness you can see MV on the top row too!
video

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Just another week!

Week 56: Just another week...We worked on more of our letters this week - we are slowly making our way through the alphabet! 
 This is Mary Virginia painting with Ice Cubes!  The art turned out so neat once the paint/watercolors dried!
 We had lots of fun with friends from church between my Bible Study and getting ready for Vacation Bible School, we have spent a lot of time up at the church this week - I can't imagine how much we will be there next week! And if course, we played in the pool!
We topped the week off with horseback. Mary Virginia was so excited during her lessons this week...to begin with, she was able to have a private lesson and then she moved up a level on her jumps! I was so excited for her - she is now on Level 2 and she can't wait to be on Level 3! According to her instructor, this was her best lesson yet! (She keeps reminding me that in Birmingham, her trainers said that she couldn't jump until she was 7, so she is WAY ahead!)

(Sorry the pictures are not great - this was the one week I did not bring the good camera and had to settle for the cell phone!)
Bailey was in desperate need of a bath after the lesson, so MV had to get to work!
The weekend was pretty uneventful - we set up my classroom for VBS and the Skippers came over for dinner - a little early 4th of July cookout (I guess). I wish I had captured the scene from the swimming pool on camera - you never have a camera close when you need it! The dads and the kids all went for a swim and I think that the dads may have enjoyed it a little more than the kids!  Overall, I very fun week and a great weekend with friends!