Monday, November 5, 2012

Boos, Zoos and BBQ!

No trip around town is complete without a stop at the dino park so we stopped by the other afternoon.  Catherine stopped for a quick picture with Uncle Matt before crawling off again and Matthew was ecstatic to have someone to play chase with him.  
 The next day we tried out our new jackets from Aunt Sharon.  They are pretty cool, both horizontal:
 And vertical:
 They were perfect for our trip.  Because it was unseasonably warm, I gave Uncle Matt the choice between a day in Yellowstone and a day in Billings at their zoo and Chuck E. Cheese.  Uncle Matt chose Yellowstone but after I called and was informed there was a snow tire requirement we opted to take the high and dry route.  We saw peacocks:
 And this scary bear:
 This guy was the star of the show:
 But this guy might have been the cutest:
 And the wildest:
 Underwhelmed doesn't even begin to describe my experience at the zoo.  It was a great layout for the kiddos and the playground was fantastic, but the zoo itself was a sad reminder of the plight of many non-profits (governments?) eager to build  and expand but not support the ongoing operation of something.
 The "Billings Double Feature" for Bozeman tots is generally the zoo followed by Chuck E Cheese, a rite of passage I've been flirting with trying to get done for a while.  Not surprisingly, Chuck E Cheese is every bit the overpriced-mediocre-hell-hole I expected it to be.  I was really hoping for a ball pit as I think it would have been fun but it appears that even in the wild west things we routinely survived as kids are no longer.  It was pretty empty so the kiddos had the run of the place which was nice because Matthew was a bit overwhelmed by it all.  Catherine was freaked out by the rides when they moved but liked to sit in the cars and pretend to drive (when she wasn't trying to climb up the skee ball lanes and steal our balls of course!):
 While Uncle Matt taught Matthew some important lessons in shooting,
 air hockey and skee ball.
Matthew probably could have spent all day putting tokens in the machines and retrieving the complimentary tickets.  

Of course when we got back there was chill out time with Uncle Matt:
 And the next day it was Halloween time.  We made some special snacks:

 As always, licking the spoon was a highlight:
 And enjoying the final treat of course:

 After naps we got dressed and ready to head downtown for some trick or treating.  While I set Catherine on the counter she decided to help herself to some candy before we left:
 Here we are hanging out at the park while we waited for some friends:
 I had to wake both kids up from their naps so the whole event was an odd mixture of being overwhelmed and excited and exhausted at the same time:

 We got there when it started while the crowds were minimal and gave Catherine her first lesson about taking candy from strangers:
 She got really good at freeing up an empty hand whenever candy was offered!  Matthew stomped down the streets as well:
A family shot with two sugar coma kiddos thanks to Uncle Matt.  As you can see James and I's ghostbuster costumes never materialized.  Uncle Matt's super awesome costume made up for it.
 After Matthew's bucket and all of Uncle Matt's pockets were full of candy, coca-cola, chocolate milk and everything else they were handing out we headed home.   It was a gorgeous near 70 degrees so we decided on one last night of grilling before we headed out for more fun.  Catherine enjoyed wandering around:
 Meanwhile, Matthew helped me light the jack-o-lanterns:
 I stayed home to hand out candy while Uncle Matt and James headed out down the street:
Many of the people on our street tell stories about how crazy trick-or-treating was 15 years ago, but as those kiddos have aged, there aren't many little kids on the block but there are still lots of people who want trick-or-treaters.  Judging by the weight of Matthew's candy bucket, it meant that everyone was extremely generous with their handfuls.  Matthew was so excited it would appear he was reluctant to stop for a picture with James:
 Trick or treating at the final house:
We were handing out some pencils with our candy.  When I put my handful in Matthew's bucket he grabbed the pencil and put it back in my bucket telling me "no thank you mom, I don't need that".   The boy learned quickly.  For better or worse we ended up with far more candy than we would ever want, need or should eat.  On Thursday, unfortunately, we had to take Uncle Matt to the airport.  Matthew was in preschool when we took him and when we got back in the car he was very concerned about Uncle Matt, but mostly he kept asking if Uncle Matt ate all his candy :-)

The next day I asked Matthew to sell his daddy a bag of candy and he was very eager to then head out and pick out a toy.
One of his new jokes this week (and boy are there many) was to blame Uncle Matt for the missing candy.  We sure do miss him around here!

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