Friday, April 3, 2015

4 Year Old Birthday!

This was the first year that ZB has been very aware of her birthday, we had so much fun!  We decorated after she went to bed.  The 4 year old woke up with balloons, ribbons and streamers hanging in the doorway and balloons all over the living room.

We made delicious coconut flour blueberry pancakes for a special birthday breakfast.  ZB sat in her birthday throne (her chair decorated with construcition paper shapes), ate her pancakes, and then opened her presents.
I bought her a first Disney Princess doll.  Those of you that know me, know I'm fairly mortified about this.  But dang, the girl really wanted it!  So, I tried to be the good mama and got it for her.
B made her something extra special, but only gave her a part of it.  ZB exclaimed, "I've always wanted this!!  ... What is it?"  We convinced her to bring it outside and we'd try to figure out what it was for.  She guessed for snowboarding.
Didn't work.
Then, she guessed maybe it was something for making her jump higher on the trampoline.
 Didn't work.

With a couple hints, she finally spied the new swingset that B had built in the yard.  "Ah!" she said, it's a bottom swing!"  She loves having her own big girl swing, and uses it every day.

We spend the rest of the morning decorating for the party  Grandma and Uncle David came in from Omaha to help.
The party was so fun!  Lots of friends came.  Reed had a face-painting booth set up.  Here is one of ZB's friends sporting a new kitty face:

I enjoyed seeing the sandbox get put to good use.  It was quite rewarding to see lots of kids using it at the same time and all have space to play!
There was lots of play time in the school bus, around the yard and on the trampoline.
The pinata was a pretty comical affair, since most kids there had not done one before.  There were several kids who insisted on just poking it with a stick on their turn.  After pinata, we did a cake.  ZB wanted a rainbow cake and the Frozen characters.  Since I was not planning to draw Frozen characters on a cake, I broke down and bought more Disney Princess junk toys and stuck them on the cake.  She was a happy camper.
2 or 3 pieces of cake later, ZB got up again to play with friends until it started getting cold and friends went home.  We finished the night with a big family dinner at a local pizza place.  Such a fun day, I felt really blessed have such beautiful weather for her birthday, and get to be with so many lovely friends while we celebrated this awesome girl!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Gray Fossil Dig

Just over the Tennessee border, in the town of Gray, is an active fossil dig.  The younger kids and I had a really fun day today accompanying Clay's high school Earth Science group on a field trip to the dig site.

The DOT was actually bulldozing for a new road and starting seeing bones.  They explained this is quite common, and they have paleontologists that routinely come check it out, usually finding bones as old as the Ice Age.  At this site, researchers found bones that were even older, back when this part of the country was very warm (they found an alligator)... so cool!  They have also discovered two new (extinct) species at this dig site - new kinds of red panda and badger.  Also prehistoric bears, tapirs, a mastadon, etc.

We had a great tour guide show us the active dig areas and patiently answer questions from all the kids, including Blossom asking things like, "When will it be Saturday?" and "What will happen if it's night and a girl comes out of a volcano that comes out of a mountain, that comes out of a rock?"  Hahaha!
The guide said she was very impressed with our group.  She said most teens come through and are very disinterested (or at least trying to act like it), and don't pay attention, just goofing off the entire tour.  Our group was asking lots of questions and actually listening (yay homeschoolers!)

The labs are inside the adjoining museum.  Researchers were busy cleaning and examing bones.  It was pretty neat to be able to see this work in person.  To preface this photo, I'll say that whenever Clay saw me snapping a photo, he decided to be totally goofy, so half of the photos I came home with look like this:

The museum was small, but pretty neat.  Some of the kids brought home applications to volunteer as site workers this Summer!

No one in the group had to be home yet, so we decided to spend more time in Tennessee.  We headed to Bays Mountain.  It's only a $4 entry per car, and it was really beautiful!  There was a lot to do there, and we picked the ropes course for this group, and a quick walk to see some of the nature center animals.  We had hoped to visit the planetarium at the end, but the teens found a really great hike, so we followed their lead on that one.

The low ropes course was intended for team building.  The kids had a blast on it!

On the hike, the boys had discovered what looks to be an old dam or bridge maybe.  It is all surrounded by forest now, but apparently used to have a road, as they also found a car at the bottom of it.  The whole structure was semi-dilapidated, which I guess makes it all the more desirable to a teenage boy!
ZB was not allowed to go on top of the structure (lots of holes over a pretty big drop), so she settled with just striking some poses next to it ;)

The group of boys (7 of them, I believe) went off to explore the woods on their own for a while, and ZB found her inner mountain goat and was rock climbing all over the place!  It was really the perfect place for it.
If you ever find yourself near the Tri-Cities area of Tennessee, and have a couple hours to spare, I highly recommend checking out the dig site or Bays Mountain.  I'm sure we'll be back!

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