Thursday, February 23, 2017

Houston Zoo

We are lucky enough to live only about 25 minutes from the Houston Zoo. (That feels like nothing compared to how far everything in North Carolina was - in North Carolina, Target was 25 minutes away!) And my dad was super nice and got us a zoo pass for us this year, so the girls and I can go whenever we want. I am so excited, guys. I love zoos. (Did you know that being a zookeeper is one of my top dream jobs? The degree I got in college is one that would work for becoming a zookeeper. One day!)

We've already been a couple times. The first time we went with Alyse, Tanner, Tanner's sister Brittney, and all the babies, toddlers, and preschoolers we have. It was fun to hear from Tanner and Brittney how the zoo has changed since they first moved to Houston back when they were kids. And our kids had so much fun looking at all the animals!

Monkeys watching the monkeys:

I can't remember what these are called, but they're HUGE!

Walking back to our car, the girls and I walked by a man sitting on a bench making roses and grasshoppers out of palm leaves. They were so cool, so I bought one for the girls. It's gone now (palm leaves were never going to last long with a couple of little kids), but I'm glad we got it.

The second time we went was like two (or three?) Mondays ago. We were there for about three hours (that's around the right amount of time for us - the girls are still happy, but they've used up just about all of their energy.), and saw an entirely different part of the zoo than we did before.  First we went to the aquarium, then saw a lot of the birds (which we so cool!), then played on the playground in the kids area, pet goats in the petting zoo, and saw most of the animals in the children's area.

I feel like Houston Zoo's the perfect size - it's got lots of animals so you can see different things every time, but you don't have to walk miles to get to each exhibit (like LA or San Diego Zoo)

We can wait to go lots more times!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Brazos Bend State Park

When my sister Alyse and her family were still here in Texas last month, we drove down with them one Saturday afternoon to Brazos Bend State Park. It's the closest state park to us - only about 40 miles south of downtown Houston. It was such a cool place!

We started by going to the nature center. I loved it - the staff was super friendly and it was full of cool nature things. (Have I ever mentioned on here that I'd love to work at a nature center? Jason knows its one of my dreams.) This old man was telling us all about different snakes from the area, and he pulled out a  real baby alligator for the kids to touch. One of Ellie, Zelda, and Ezra's favorite things at the nature center was this glass case with an alligator skull and a crocodile skull inside. When the kids pushed buttons on the front of the display, the jaws would open up. They thought that was really cool.

From there we went to biggest lake at the park and took a long walk around the whole thing. It was dusk, which was a beautiful time to be out and also a good time to look for alligators.

Watching for alligators...

And we found one! Swimming around, back and forth.

As we walked around the lake, we actually saw lots of alligators, sitting on the banks of the little islands in the middle.

In case you need help seeing it...

Brazos Bend was a beautiful place and it was really cool to explore a new type of environment!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Captain's Log, Week 352 - Settling in

This has been a good week of getting even more comfortable in Texas. Jason started his orientation at the hospital, and the girls and I have been exploring the local libraries, going to the gym, and playing with cousins.

Last Friday Alyse brought Jane and Ezra over to our house, and they all stayed for a couple days. (Tanner had interviews in Dallas, so he wasn't home.) It was super fun! The kids all loved playing together and getting to have sleepovers.

Friday at the grocery store:

Saturday at the park:

Eating out later that afternoon:

Playing in the backyard:

They went home on Sunday morning before church, but came back again on Tuesday and then again yesterday (with Tanner this time, for a game night!) for another sleepover. It's been so fun seeing them so much and we're going to be really sad when they go home to Utah this week.

Other things we did this week: went to the gym a couple times. I'll be honest, I liked our gym in North Carolina better, but this one'll do while we're here.

We also went to library storytime at two different libraries. The first library is closer to us, and we went to their storytime on Tuesday. It was packed. I did a headcount, and there were about eighty people there (adults and children) for storytime. It was a bit overwhelming for the girls; it was hard for them to hear the stories and see the pictures, and they were hesitant to dance to the songs. Craft time after the story was nice; we all went into a different room where they had several tables set up and the girls made rainbows out of construction paper and paper plates. But, overall, the storytime was kind of just too crowded.

So, the next day, we drove about fifteen minutes south to go to a different, much smaller branch of the library for their storytime. It was so much better. Including the girls, there was a total of less than ten kids, and like five adults. We were able to easily hear the books and see the pictures, the girls were much more enthusiastic about dancing to the songs and participating, and the craft was fun. I'm so glad that we found a calmer, more intimate storytime for them to go to. We'll still use the close library for getting books and using the kids computers and stuff, but we'll head to the farther one for storytime.

Playing at home:

(Ellie was singing her own alphabet song she was making up:)

Zelda's mustache:

Ellie wanting to get in on the "coloring our faces with markers" action:

And showing me that there was some marker on her thumb, too:

We're still doing the finishing touches around our house, so I don't quite feel like we're officially moved in all the way yet. We're super super close; we just have a couple frames to put up on the walls in various rooms. I got our photo wall up in our kitchen/dining area; I'll have to take a picture of that next week to show you.


In these next couple pictures, Zelda (like a monkey) is grooming the back of Susie's head and picking off some little sticky bits she'd gotten on her hair.

I hope you had a good week too!