Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Texas has its hazards ...

While we were in El Paso, Jes and Di reminded us that now and then they find a brown recluse spider IN their house. Diana even took a picture of a rather nasty looking one and had it on her camera to SHOW me. Yikes! I really HATE spiders. If we had seen one while there, I would NOT have taken its picture to post for you, because Nana is checking this blog daily and I wouldn't want to scare the daylights out of her!
This morning in Austin, there was a brief thunder storm, strong showers and HAIL. I went outside on the front porch to take a picture of the little hailstones there ... they were only pea-sized, but Sabrina says she has seen them much larger ~ and when driving through town, it isn't at all unusual to see a body shop that specializes in "hail repair" ...
This scorpion posed for a picture this morning ... WHERE?! In Sabrina's kitchen, near the refrigerator. Grandpa Jones snapped its picture before Jackson grabbed a utensil and chopped it in two! I remember Jes and Di saying they have seen these in El Paso as well. Kind of makes me glad to be a Michigander ...

Monday, March 30, 2009

More flowers ...

"Shout joyful praises to God all the earth! Sing about the glory of his name. Tell the world how glorious he is! Say to God, 'How awesome are your deeds.'" PSALM 66:1

"Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made and forgot to put a soul into." Henry Ward Beecher

"B" is for Bluebonnets, Brenham, and the Blue Bell Creamery

The State flower of Texas is the bluebonnet and this is the time of the year you can see them growing on hillsides all across Texas. Sabrina tells us there is an annual ritual where all along the highways and interstates, folk grab their kids, plop them in a flowerbed and snap their pictures!
We decided to take advantage of this beautiful day, and do what the Texans do! Months ago, we had talked to Aunt Peg (Houston) and told her about our upcoming spring trip to Texas and decided to meet somewhere inbetween Austin and Houston. Peg suggested Brenham, told us that the bluebonnets would be blooming everywhere, and there was also the Blue Bell Creamery we could tour while there! So that's exactly what we did today.

We met Aunt Peg at the Applebee's in Brenham, enjoyed lunch together, and then drove over to the ice cream factory. No cameras are allowed inside the factory on the tour, so we took all of our pictures while we ate our icecream and walked around the beautiful grounds outside.

Blue Bell ice cream is the third most popular in the United States, right beyond Breyers and Dreyers. We thought it tasted as yummy as Hudsonville for all you folk in Michigan who might be interested.
This is an old time clock ... with a roll of paper that records each employee punch for the day. This is the very one they used to use at the factory years ago.
Cute soda fountain hat on Jackson! Karis was given a hat too, but she didn't keep it on for very long.
After not seeing her for an entire year, it was really nice to see Aunt Peg! She told us all about staying at her condo in Houston during Hurricane Ike, how she lost power for 8.5 days, but sustained only minor damage to her home and property (her side fence collapsed).

This cow and girl are actually the trademark of Blue Bell ... we all had fun climbing up for pictures.

Not far from the ice cream factory was a nice city park with ... can you guess ... railroad tracks in plain sight! Grandpa Jones was pleased.

Jackson has always needed help going down a fireman's pole but really badly wanted to learn to do it himself. He met an almost-seven-year-old boy today at the park who showed him how it was done up close and person ... and here is Jackson happily doing it!
We even got to see a Burlington Northern Sante Fe train come rolling across the tracks so close to us! What a great day!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sweeties ...

I took a few pictures this morning while waiting for everyone to get ready for church. Jackson and Karis were playing cars and roads on the fireplace landing. Jackson did NOT want Karis on his roads and she did NOT want Jackson on hers! So there!
But just 2 seconds later, here they are embracing and posing for the nicest of pictures! Smiling pals these two cuties! They are 20 months apart. They play together all day ... sometimes they fight over toys, but mostly they seem to enjoy each other quite a bit.
Since Karis was dressed in a "swirly dress" she showed me how she spins and makes her dress flair out real wide. She even did a fancy pirouette! Jackson watched Karis spinning, carefully took her by the arms and began a very grown-up looking dance with her! And the look on his face was so cute.

Here is little Miss Karis showing me the pretty princess shoes I sent for her 3rd birthday. She likes to put them on and attempt walking around the house very dainty-like.

Here is a little story of something that happened this morning with Jackson and Karis in the van on our drive to church. Karis had been naughty about something and was being corrected by her parents, so she began to cry (no one likes to be disciplined!) ... Jackson looked at Karis with the saddest little face and said: "Mommy, my heart is sad when Karis cries." I think that is very sweet, Jackson!

Nice outfit!

Okay. I hope no one thinks this is mean of me, but I just thought this picture was hysterical of Nicolas and HAD to post it. We took this picture of him yesterday morning. We were dropping something off to him that he had left in our van, and we were heading out of San Antonio later that day. So WHAT is he wearing? Well, the blue robe belongs to Rachel. I think the black socks and shoes are his. He is wearing a pair of shorts underneath, so don't worry. And WHY on earth was he dressed in such a fashion? Well, the story he told us was that once every month there is a facility meeting at Chili's with a "theme" and this outfit had something to do with the idea of slumber. This was also the first day in his training program that he became an "acting" manager ... hmmm ... seems like a terrible outfit to manage in ~ but thankfully, he was dressed this way ONLY for his meeting and was set to change into something decent for opening.

Saturday's fun at Sea World

Would you like to see pictures of our very fun day at Sea World, San Antonio? We met Sabrina and family there at about 11:30 yesterday morning. Olivia invited one of her friends at school (Leah) so that she would have someone more her age to hang out with. The day started out on the very "cool" side, in the mid-50's ... and very windy ... so ... BRRR!
But there wasn't a cloud in the sky and before long it warmed up to about 70 degrees and stayed that way throughout the day. Sea World is a very fun place for kids of all ages to visit. Between Sabrina, grandpa and myself, we took about 600+ pictures. It's really hard to narrow down a great day to just 35 pictures, so you'll have to congratulate me for this great accomplishment. The children are napping, following worship at church and a wonderful lunch, so if they wake up I am going to have to delay publishing this post until later tonight ...
When you enter the park here in San Antonio, you first walk right past Clydesdale Hamlet. This is the first time I have seen the horses out of their barn area. I was so excited to see them in natural light instead of inside their enclosures. What beautiful animals!
Karis getting a piggy-back ride from Grandpa Jones ...
This ride is called Journey to Atlantis. Jackson rode it 2x about a week ago when he and his family were at the park. Yesterday he wasn't so sure he wanted to get back on ... but he finally decided to ride with his mommy and daddy.
Isn't this a great picture of them coming down?
It makes quite a splash on impact!

See Jackson's happy smile? He's quite proud to be tall enough to finally ride some cool rides. Last year he wanted to really badly, but he didn't meet the height requirement.
There is a fabulous playground called Shamu's Happy Harbor. Inbetween watching shows, we would let the little kids play there.
This is Karis and Sabrina sharing a drink. Beverages (and any food) are really expensive here at the park, so it's a good idea to purchase one of those refillable bottles and share ...
Since I took tons of pictures last year of all of the animals, I decided I would try to get more pictures of the children watching the shows this year ... to see their reactions, etc.
The VIVA show begins with a hilariously funny fellow interacting with the audience. There are all kinds of water fountains scattered about the stadium ... if you don't want to get drenched, DO NOT sit near one ... because this guy goes from spout to spout doing all kinds of acrobatics pretending he doesn't know that he is spraying folk all around him. I've seen the show at least once before, but it is almost funnier each time you see it. We kept saying how much we thought Nicolas could behave in this outrageous manner and be just as entertaining ...
The little kids were sharing a bucket of popcorn ~ again, very expensive unless you plan ahead and save your refillable container. They were gracious and passed the bucket around so that we all had our fill of popcorn. This VIVA show is very elaborate and so well done. There are tons of athletic folk doing water acrobats, interacting with pacific white-sided dolphins and beluga whales too.
I was able to get some nice photos of Olivia and Leah because they really didn't notice me taking their picture!
The comedian has just super splashed an entire row of people ... I think Jackson thought it was very funny.

I loved watching the kids' expressions ...
Yesterday was a special day at Sea World, a Praise Wave and Christian Concert day featuring Third Day. The concert was free with admission ... but we never got into the stadium where the performance was going on. The line was just too long and the children too young to wait that long. We just didn't bother with the concert at all.
This is underneath the Great White Shark ride, which is very similar to The Raptor (remember that ride, Jesse?) at Cedar Pointe. Olivia and Leah were determined to ride it ... and Sabrina and Andrew were actually crazy enough to get on it as well. We don't have any pictures of them on the ride because grandpa and I stayed with the little kids while everyone else was in line and this was really as close as we could get to the action.
Grandpa and Jackson tried to get to a place where they could snap a good shot, but the ride was delayed for awhile and then once they allowed folk back on, it was hard to determine which car everyone had boarded, etc.
Karis was a bit bothered by the noise of the screaming passengers, so she just blocked her little ears ... we were waiting by a structure that had the name of the ride in huge letters. Karis wanted to know: "Are there monsters in there, grandma?" I told her there was no such thing. But then she roared like a lion and told me there most certainly were!
The Shamu show is always beautiful to see. I did take a few pictures of these huge creatures, but I was in the same row as the little kids and couldn't get a good angle on their faces to snap any decent pictures.

There is a SPLASH ZONE and they warn folk that if you choose to sit there, you will definitely get wet. Actually, this zone extends all the way to Row 13. See how huge the splash is?
These close-up shots were from grandpa's camera, which does a better job handling distance and movement.

There is almost too much to do in one day at this park. Sabrina's family has a season pass, so they will go many times and pick special shows to see and ones they can do another time ... that way they can really enjoy everything to the max.
I've never been to Dolphin Cove when it wasn't completely packed and too crowded to get to the edge. Plus, I've never been there during feeding time ... so our pictures are what they are ... not the best!

These are Atlantic bottlenose dolphins ...
And here I am leaning over the crowd, trying my hardest to get the dolphin to lift its head out of the water and talk to me ...
Since the dolphin had already been fed earlier in the day, we were not allowed to go and puchase more fish for them ... I was happy to have gotten this close ... and he looked at me straight in the eye! I leaned over to touch his snout and got within 1/2" but ... then he swam away.

This is really only a tiny bit of what we saw and did yesterday, but enough is enough. The children have woken up from their naps and it is time to go play!