Yesterday was exhausting. I got up at 6, went to pick up my son at 745 from his dad, and then back home to finish cleaning. I was scrubbing, cooking, wrapping, decorating, you name it, all day long until the party at 330. The party was a hit! The buffalo dip was gone within minutes, the rhubarb slush drank up, and the guacamole scraped to the bottom of the bowl. Did I mention flag brownies? We had a G-force theme....which is basically ninja guinea pigs.
We got a pinata this year. A pinata is a fairly expensive enterprise. After you spend anywhere from 10 to 25 dollars for the pinata...you have to buy a bunch of candy to fill it. Luckily, I had a good kid-beating...I mean walking stick and a scarf for a blindfold. All the kids got a few swings.
Here is my son getting a really good smack in....
My stepniece-to-be lands the killing blow.
The mad rush for the goodies.
After the annual garden tour (where all the family gets to see my gardening exploits and adventures), we headed in for presents. My stepdaughter and my son are both celebrating birthdays this month...6 and 11, so there were gifts everywhere! Here, she shows off a new outfit.
The maggie bird enjoys nibbling on my stepdaughter's new earrings. Tasty!
After all the guests left, we had a really cool bonfire in the pit out back, and the kids ran around the yard waving sparklers. REAL fireworks are illegal in Iowa...(which is a STUPID law) so the best we can do is sparklers. I grew up in Missouri, where we know how to play with explosives and have a good time. We listened to the sirious radio and sat close to the fire because it was quite chilly for a July evening.
Today, after waiting out the large rain storm that parked north of Ames and stayed there for 3 hours, we headed over to Reiman gardens. My son and I went last week, but we have a membership, and my stepkids haven't seen it yet. We got some more awesome butterfly shots, even though I didn't take the fandango camera.
They were VERY active today, and landed on us constantly. Here my stepson shows one that landed right on his hand. They loved checking out the dinosaur exhibits again, and the older kids were tickled when the littlest one named almost every plant in the veggie garden. He even correctly identified the basil, after smelling it. We hunted for frogs and tadpoles, chased after monster dragonflies, and stalked bunnies and squinnies. I am not sure if I spelled squinnies right...it is an Iowa word I guess. I had never heard it until about 4 years ago. I would call the same creature a 'ground squirrel' or 'chipmunk'. I have never seen squinny in print, so I have no idea how you spell it. I have also heard squeany. Who knows?
All the kids get along so well together. They act like they have been siblings forever. To my son, it probably seems like forever...he met them when he was really little. It is quite the spread, 6 to 14. We also discovered a cool thing in the garden today we had never seen. Check out the video below.
After spending 3 hours in the sun and walking in all the gardens, we were wiped out. We left and headed to the Ark....my favorite pet store in Ames.
It is a little messy in there, but it is a privately owned pet store, and some animals, like mice and rats, just smell in large groups, no matter how often you change their cages. My gut reaction was to think it was a bad place too, cause of the age of the building and the haphazard placement of things, but you soon learn that all the animals are VERY well cared for. The owner knows a lot about all the animals and genuinely cares for them. I have seen several animals giving birth while we were in there, and he comes in immediately and moves them to their own private area and cleans everything up. It is very natural. I have purchased two hermit crabs there and both seemed extremely vigorous and healthy. I plan on purchasing a rabbit there after my guinea pigs go to heaven. All of his employees are pleasant and knowledgeable. It is a Christian business. We got a new crab there today, tomorrow's post will be more on the hermit crabs. Here is a short video of an entertaining cockatoo.
The whole day was so fun. I don't usually get to take all the kids places by myself anymore...they hang out with their dad during the day...so I really enjoyed having the day out together to bond. Sometimes being an 'instastepmom' is awkward, so I think experiences like this are important so that they know that I care about them and that I am interested in them as people. The whole blended family thing is challenging. So far, we seem to being doing okay. They are all great kids.