Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New Jersey Or Bust: Part II

If you read yesterday's post, you know that I'm journaling about our recent road trip to New Jersey. I've covered the fun events of Day One and here we are at Day Two, where even more fun awaits.

Saturday morning was family picture time. While this didn't count as "fun" per say, it was important to Nana and since another kid had been added to the mix it was time for an updated picture.

By emailing pics back and forth before our visit, my SIL, MIL, and I were able to coordinate clothes for the pictures. For the most part, I think we did okay.

In between background changes, I caught Alaina and Grady Lee holding hands. I don't know why. I don't care why. I just think this darling moment is too precious!
The dads took all the kids next door for smoothies while the girls stayed and reviewed pics. Annalyse was way overdue for her morning nap and found a perfect place to sleep on Aunt Sarah. (Maybe, just maybe, holding a sleeping newborn helped put a tiny itch in her for another little one of her own. Maybe. Just maybe.)
Getting five kids under the age of five to look at the camera, smile, and keep hands away from their faces isn't always easy. But, thanks to Mr. Dan who showed up and waved an incredibly large and ugly daisy above the photographer's head, he got everyone to look in the right place. For the most part, I think we did okay.
After sitting still and smiling for pictures, it was time to run and explore outside! Aunt Beki suggested a trip to a local nature center and my boys could not have been happier. Animals: check. Trails: check. Playgrounds: check. Dirt and mud and sticks: check.
There were several indoor, hands-on exhibits that the kids explored while the adults snapped a hundred pictures from nearby benches and relaxed.
After an hour of playing and yelling and laughing, it was time for lunch. For the NJ folks, I think this was the inaugural picnic of the year. The temps were by no means warm, but it wasn't snowing and cold like the day before so it was a treat to enjoy lunch outside.

Notice the belt with the canteen and the periscope on Micah? He rummaged that out of some toy drawer at Nana's house and insisted on wearing it "for exploring at the nature center and for looking for monsters hiding in the trees." Like my post yesterday - toys made waaay back then sure do last a lot longer than toys today. Grady played with this set some 30 years ago!
Me: "If I put Annalyse in her stroller, would someone mind feeding her so I can get lunch ready for my boys?"

Aunt Beki: "No! Don't put her in the stroller. I would love to hold her and feed her."

Nana/MIL: "Yes, let's feed her together. It will be much easier that way."

I have no idea if it was actually easy, but how could I possibly say no to two loving, doting, wanting-to-spoil family members? Little does Annalyse know how lucky she is.
After lunch it was time to get up close and personal with some farm animals. My boys love animals, especially farm animals.

"Their lips tickle me!"

"He smells stinky and needs a bath. Can we give him one?"

"How come he's licking his legs? I don't lick my legs because that's yucky!"
Unrelated side note: I married into an incredibly photogenic family. Seriously. Eyes always open. Smiles always beautiful. Poses always perfect. Sheesh - no pressure.
Ma Alaina and Pa Grady Lee welcomed us to their farm!
Ride 'em cowboys! Oh wait - does Uncle Matt know he's going the wrong way?
The kids gatheedr fruit and vegetables from the farm and explored various animal habitats. The adults? Once again, perched on nearby benches taking a bazillion pictures and relaxing.
The favorite part of the nature center, hands down, was the mini grocery store. The kids shopped till they dropped - or actually until the adults dropped and were ready to move on to the next exhibit.
Because her 20 minute morning nap on Aunt Sarah's shoulder was so wonderful, Annalyse chose to enjoy an afternoon snooze on Aunt Beki's shoulder. I offered the stroller so that Beki could free up her arms and she looked at me like I was crazy. "What?! Give up a peacefully sleeping baby? Never!"
After shopping, it was time to "help fix the sick and broken animals at the animal doctor." The kids donned veterinarian gear and went to town giving shots, administering meds, and listening to heart beats.
The adults were, you guessed it, relaxing on benches. And Annalyse was, you guessed it, being passed around to whomever had open arms.
My boys marveled at the turtles eating bananas and lettuce.

Grady Lee: "They are eating their vegetables to be big and strong, just like us!"

Micah: "Yeah, but even if they eat all their vegetables I'll still run faster than they do."
After a few hours of outside fun at the nature center, we packed up and drove to Aunt Beki's home to enjoy a taco buffet and to celebrate CJ's birthday. Although we guaranteed more fun once we left, my boys were not excited about leaving "the berry, berry fun nature center that has all my favorite animals and toys."
Not long after arriving at Aunt Beki's, we heard a faint siren in the distance. Aunt Beki calmly suggested to the kids that we head outside and see what it was.


Uncle Marc pulled up in a firetruck from the station he volunteers at. With siren blaring and lights flashing, my boys thought this was the culmination of all that is worth living for. They couldn't get to Uncle Marc and on that firetruck fast enough.
Grady Lee, CJ, and Micah are three of the cutest future firemen I've ever seen!
Uncle Marc opened a tool compartment on the side and brought out several tools for the kids to see. No sooner did her lift something out and Grady Lee emphatically said, "Those are jaws of life to use for doors and cars that are stuck." Um, woah. You're four. I thought they were just a jumbo pair of pliers. It's always nice to be shown up by a preschooler.
Uncle Marc asked if the boys wanted to shoot some water from the truck. It goes without saying that they gave a loud, unanimous yes to that.
Micah got to turn the wheel and make the water come out...
... and lift the wheel up and down to direct the water when it shot out.
After soaking the yard, it was time for a quick ride around the block. Although these two sweethearts weren't bursting at the seams with the same level of firetruck enthusiasm, they were just as darling and just as excited to take a ride.
Micah was convinced we were going to a real fire for a real emergency. When we pulled back into the driveway a short five minutes later, he burst into tears that we weren't "at a fire making an important rescue!"
The three little firemen worked up quite an appetite and enjoyed Aunt Beki's taco buffet. (Yes, Grady Lee has reached the age where it's more fun to make silly faces than it is to simply smile.)
Annalyse modeled a birthday hat and wore it unicorn-style, protruding from her forehead. We all enjoyed some melt-in-your-mouth, I-need-a-third-piece, I'm-sure-there-are-no-calories Boston Creme Pie.
After a very full and very fun day, Saturday came to a close. The kids enjoyed some special time with family and were more than ready for bed that evening.
They played hard all day. They laughed hard all day. And they slept hard all night.
Day One and Day Two are covered... Day Three remains! Come back tomorrow for stories and pics.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like so much fun!! I want to take my kids to a museum like that - so great. Haven't been reading blogs too much lately, but finally found 5 minutes to catch up on yours!! Miss you and wish you back soon.