We were supposed to go to an exhibit on butterflies today with my sister and my mom that I know the kids would have loved but we got a slow, S-L-O-W start today so we ended up doing our own thing. We decided on a winter tree festival that we'd heard about and after running around like crazy people throwing kids into clothes and taking fast courtesy showers and going back four times for the diaper bag, the loveys, the shoes, we finally backed out of the driveway and realized it was after 11:00 and no one had eaten anything yet.
So our first stop was Whataburger.
I was tempted to use the drive through but let me tell you a little secret I've discovered. If you would rather talk to your spouse than remind a four year old to eat his sandwich before his fries eighty million times? Give the kids their own table.
Am I the last one to figure this out? Because, awesome. And when did Charlie's feet start touching the ground in a booth like that? My word.
To my amazement, they behaved themselves so well that an elderly man who had been sitting nearby complimented them. And everyone finished his whole sandwich before starting his fries. With no nagging. Twilight. Zone.
I had a lovely time talking to Ryan. It was like a date. A cheap date! The best kind.
Next stop was the tree festival. Ryan asked Charlie to get out and help him parallel park the minivan and I thought Charlie would explode with pride. He took it very seriously. This kid demonstrates a bumper to bumper gap like it's his job.
We walked down a long path to the kids' activities, which were advertised as "fort building, tree climbing, and marshmallow roasting". And we did not encounter any snakes, WIN!
The kids had a great time running along the path and I think that would have been enough fun for them but then we came upon a huge pack of kids using various kinds of materials to construct forts under a huge live oak in the middle of a field.
Charlie and Wes quickly joined a group of older boys who was using long bamboo poles to build a ten-foot tall teepee.
The fog, the remote location, the dozens and dozens of ragamuffin kids running around, it was kind of magical. Charlie talked a group of big kids into dragging a giant stump into the middle of teepee for a chair. Wes helped string pine cones along the interior for decoration.
They worked happily for about an hour and then the brothers of two of the big kids stole some bamboo out of the teepee to start their own teepee and things turned violent. At first it was just pretend sword fighting with sticks. Then some kids started trying to make bows and arrows. Then I stopped making jokes about Lord of the Flies, because it started to seem more real and less funny and I strongly redirected Charlie and Wes away from the teepee project. The other kids eventually settled down, but Charlie and Wes were more than happy to play with this log. Next Christmas I will be giving them logs, bamboo, and a ball of twine, because I don't think I've ever seen them so engaged in anything.
Next up was tree climbing. Those hippies don't mess around with tree climbing. When I read "tree climbing" on the brochure, I did not think my thirty-eight pound child would be hauling himself thirty feet in the air on a piece of rope.
Look at Charlie's happy face. He pulled himself all the way to the top and touched the tree branch above. Then he yelled "HEY WES!" Wes yelled "HEY CHARLIE!" Charlie yelled back down "I'M NINETY-EIGHT FEET IN THE AIR!!"
They started to lower him back down but he scrambled back up to the branch again. The belayers couldn't get him down. They were cracking up. Finally he came all the way down and yelled "I'VE NEVER BEEN SO HAPPY!"
When he got down he yelled at a group of friendly strangers "I'm gonna write a story called 'hang time' in my writing journal!'" I think he'd still be in that tree if he could. We coaxed him away (the line was LONG) by taking them to the campfire to roast marshmallows.
Yes, this was the best day of their lives.
And then we played frisbee for a while and then made our way back to the car where James nearly fell asleep during a diaper change (which was done al fresco because we are so klassy).
Everyone almost fell asleep so we had to stop at a grocery store and make everyone a peanut butter sandwich on the way home so we didn't have a disastrous 4:00 simulnap on our hands. Charlie's been chattering about his tree climb since we got home, but I didn't hear a PEEP after bedtime. Mission accomplished.