Wednesday, February 15, 2017

James is 6!

It is hard having a birthday right after all of our crazy move/house activities because there was no way that I was up for planning a party. So we decided to just have a fun time with the family this year! The night before James couldn't sleep, he was so excited. He came out to ask me to snuggle with him at around 10:30pm so I got into bed with him and told him the story of the day he was born. The next morning he was up bright and early ready for the surprise I had warned him about.
 

Rett woke up too, but he wasn't ready for the bright lights.

I had gotten up at 5am to drive to the donut store to get him donuts for his birthday treat and for his classroom. I thought when I snuck out that I didn't wake anyone up, but it turns out James woke up when I did and was waiting for me when I got back! (I realized the night before that I didn't have regular candles or the number 6 candle, so he got 2+4 instead). 

Singing him Happy Birthday:

Next to his donut were some clues that sent him on a treasure hunt around the house!

The clues finally brought him to a present and some birthday balloons:

Inside the present was a full set of Rescue Bot transformers. He was so excited! The hardest part was not being able to take them to school to play with them.

After school we waited for Anthony to come home so that we could go to ChuckeCheese for dinner and games. The boys had a blast running around, playing everything they wanted to.

After we got home, James got to open up the rest of his presents from everyone. Rett got him some matchbox helicopters, Grandma got him a hand-controlled remote helicopter, and Mimi and Papa got him a customized mug with his own artwork on it. He was one happy boy!

Of course, we had to do our yearly interview. The answers didn't really surprise me this time, except that he has a hard time deciding a "favorite" of something so I will usually give him suggestions and then he goes along with what I said. Happy Birthday James!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Wildlife!

We have had quite a few wildlife encounters recently, which everyone is loving! James' school has a few resident sand hill cranes who are so used to people and cars, they will just walk around the parking lot during school pick up. We walked right by one and it barely noticed we were there. One teacher has a sign outside their classroom with a picture of Darth Vader saying "Don't chase the cranes", so whenever I remind Rett to leave the cranes alone, James will do a deep Darth Vader voice and say, "Don't chase the sandhill cranes". It is so funny!

My mom came to visit for James' birthday and she brought him a fairy door. He was so excited! He kept talking about how he wanted to catch a fairy coming in or out of it, so he put it right by where he sleeps on the floor in our room.

Then he decided to put some water on the door so that he could check in the morning to see if the water had moved and he would know for sure if a fairy had gone in or out.

We finally moved the kayaks from the garage at the old house to our new house and we decided to try them out on our pond! It is definitely going to be a new favorite activity. We tested the depth of the pond with a pole and it measured a little more than 7 feet deep in the middle. Definitely deep enough to put some fish in for the boys to catch!

While we were at the pond we started noticing some big splashes in the water as if it was an animal but it moved so fast we couldn't catch a glimpse of what it was. Finally Anthony spotted it and said it looked like a tiny brown duck. It would have part of its body out of the water hiding under a branch or in the reeds and when we would get close enough to see it, it would dive under the water and pop up on the other side of the pond somewhere. It was maddening! We just wanted to get a good look at it. I got a glimpse of it the next morning and when I started researching it online I found a description of a very shy diving duck with the same colors that is known for hiding in the brush and disappearing under the water when startled. So we are pretty sure it is a Pied-billed Grebe. It is a migratory bird, so it isn't a permanent resident but it was so cool to see! This is a picture of what it looks like from online since we weren't able to get close enough for a real picture.

Unfortunately the quail are no more...we had a bad encounter with a predator. Since we moved we have had to make some adjustments since we had a large owl that was scaring them, but we thought it was secure enough that nothing could actually get in. I put an old shower curtain liner over a part of the cage to give them a place to hide and they had their nesting box to hide in as well. It was no match for, what we think was, a very determined raccoon. I came out one morning to discover the bottom pieces of the cage ripped off the pen and chewed up and the shower curtain ripped to shreds. One quail was completely missing, two were just remnants, and two were hiding in the nesting box badly injured. There were no holes in the 1/2 inch square wire so I still have no idea how exactly it was able to get at them. It was a sad day! We are probably going to get a more secure cage built and start again with new chicks soon.

There is a tree right outside our front porch and one morning as we were getting into the car to run some errands, Anthony noticed something strange walk up it. A mouse with 5 babies hanging off of it. It was the weirdest thing! We had to look up what type of mouse it was and it turns out it is a deer mouse.

One of the errands we ran that day was going to the store to finally replace Rett's Christmas power wheels we had to return right after Christmas. The boys loooooooove it. Seriously, it is the only thing they want to do: to be outside riding their power wheels. Sometimes together, sometimes each on their own one. 

While the boys were taking a break from their power wheels, Anthony and I started working on cleaning out the tortoise and snake cages and putting them in their new stand that Anthony built. While Anthony was tossing some rocks out of a cage, he tossed one right on a yellow rat snake! Anthony was so excited!! He called the boys out to see it and I got him his snake hook he uses for our snakes and a pillowcase. He went up to it and caught it like it was nothing! It took a few tries to get it in the pillowcase, but Anthony was laughing and talking in a crocodile hunter voice the entire time :)

Anthony with his catch and the boys giving him a thumbs up (or in Rett's case a forefinger up).

The snakes and tortoise in the new stand Anthony build for them:

The two snakes have been separated since we got them, but since we moved we decided to try having them be in the cage together. So far so good!

Our visitor snake in his hotel cage. It is going to be hard to convince Anthony and James to let him go, they really like him!

We heard the ice cream truck go down our street and since our road dead ends and you have to come back the way you came to get out, we rushed to the street to catch it on its way back. Rett chose a minion popsicle. He loves minions!

I spent some time at the pond trying to see if I could catch a glimpse of the duck. No luck.

Our property line ends at a small cemetery that is directly next to the train tracks. Over the train tracks our neighbors to the left of us have cows and goats and a veeeeery large pond, almost a lake. The goats are very friendly and will come right up to you at the gate as you are walking down the street. We pet them for a little bit and fed them bits of grass from the other side of the fence. It felt like being at a petting zoo!

The cows are a bit shy and hide in the trees when we come by.

Anthony bought an air rifle for shooting at raccoons and other nuisance animals and he let the boys try it out and do some target practice. They loved it of course. Anthony said he remembers having one when he was young and how much he loved it.

Another installation of "What's in James' pockets". When we are walking anywhere, if he sees something on the ground he almost always wants to pick it up. Sometimes he will just examine it to see what it is. If it is trash he doesn't want to leave it because it is litter and if it isn't he usually wants to keep it because he thinks it is cool. It is fascinating to me to see what catches his imagination.

Sunday morning we looked out our bedroom window and saw the turkeys walking around in the front yard. Anthony watched them for a little while and said they got spooked by a squirrel and flew away. A squirrel!

More power wheel time:

This is on the the side of the train tracks by our house. The first time I saw it I had laugh a little. I actually won a classroom spelling bee in elementary school on the word "cemetery" so I've always remembered that it doesn't have an "a" in it, but if I hadn't I would probably make the same mistake. Still, a little spellcheck doesn't hurt when you are putting up a permanent sign :)

One night Rett grabbed a taco kit box out of the pantry and was walking around saying, "Tacos! Tacos! We eat tacos?" like he wanted it right then. I didn't know he even knew what tacos were! He definitely has never eaten one. The next day he was still talking about it, grabbing the box out of the pantry and saying he wanted some, so I made tacos for dinner. Guess who refused to even take one bite of it??? Little stinker!!