We concluded the driving portion of our 30 day midwest tour by staying with Aunt Mary. The whole vacation went by quickly and especially the last few days spent in OKC with her. After so many days and weeks of extraordinary adventures and being around so many different people it was nice to just rest and relax. I revamped her entire technology setup with a new iMac, printer, router, and internet connection. The twins were happy about the new printer because they inherited a new hideout.
Getting a PC user to switch to Mac is not an easy process, but she transitioned well and likes the simplicity. Shopping with someone else's money is always fun. unboxing a new iMac is an experience all by itself.
I took the twins for a walk on the trail behind Mary's house. Within the first few steps Layla spotted a lizard. It was either sick or dying. I know this because Layla bent down to pick it up and it didn't skitter away like most of them do. instead he just let her pick him up.
Easton saw the little guy was safe and wanted a turn to hold the lizard. Mr. Scientist gave him a slight squeeze to see what would happen. The lizard's eyes almost popped out, but luckily Easton is learning some restraint when it comes to his strength.
One of the outings we took with Mary was to Moore where the tornado ripped through town a few weeks prior. As we drove through the devastated areas I explained to Easton and Layla what it means for people to lose their homes and jobs and whole neighborhoods. We stopped in a residential area where 90% of the houses in this subdivision were completely gone except for the foundation.
The trees were sucked clean of their leaves and branches and houses were reduced to a big pile of rubble. Not exactly a happy moment, but we are happy in spite of the circumstances or situations surrounding us... even total destruction.
A few houses were still standing. barely. We walked in the garage of this one and saw stuffed animals and trash littering the open hallway into the house. Brick and mortar was scattered around like legos. Very sad to see, but I was glad the twins saw with their own eyes the destructive force of nature, which some people face.
On the way home Easton asked, "Does Jesus create tornados?" Hmmm... Such a deep question for a five year old, but he deserved an answer so i gave it my best shot. I won't bother trying to recreate my theologically debatable answer, but just know he was satisfied and understood.
After the tornado-created death tour we continued by visiting the graves of our relatives. Here is Easton Troy at the graveside of his great grandpa, Troy. The man and legacy he was named after. My dad's middle name was named after him too so it really started with great grandpa Troy. Anyway, he had a hard time grasping how the body of his great grandpa rested just 6 feet below where he sat. I think he got it, but the lack of emotion associated with his normal, happy jumping around leads me to believe it didn't really sink in.
We also saw his great Uncle Roy Dale and great Uncle Dave. When Mary explained how this was her gravestone where she would be buried when she dies they just accepted her statement and went on about their merry, smiley way. childhood is so innocent.
I checked online to see what events were going on in town. I found two possibilities and took the twins out for one of our few outings during the OKC visit. the first place we went was the Museum of Osteology. I had an idea of what to expect, but it was a risk taking two 5-year-olds to a museum without knowing the content or atmosphere. Turned out to be one of the highlights of the week. Here they are at the beginning when we walked in the door. the big thing above Easton is a whale skeleton. Tough to get an idea of the size, but it was enormous. They were taking in so much interesting stuff that I had to order them to turn around so i could get a good picture of them.
Not much was interactive in the museum, but there was an elephant head and tusks to touch. All of these animals they've seen in zoos and movies came to life in a new way when they were able to see how their bones define their shape.
Easton only requested one picture. This next one of the owl. He was impressed with this little display more than anything in the museum.
I hate how pop culture and cartoons shapes their view of the world. Many times when I would say what animal a skeleton belongs to they would chime in with the character they relate to it. For example, I say "platypus" and they say "Perry!" from Phineas and Ferb.
The museum took about 90 minutes to walk through both floors. After the success from that adventure we still had time to try out one more. I read about the Non-Pro Cutting Horse Event at the fairgrounds. I had no idea what to expect, but read that it was free. can't get better than that! We drove up to a virtually empty parking lot and fairground. However, once we stepped inside we saw cows, horses, cowboys, cowgirls, and a competition of some kind where I had no idea what they were doing.
Then we met Leah. She came over and sat by us after noticing Layla's enchanting personality and Easton's inquisitive nature. She had on cowgirl attire complete with spurs. Her cowgirl hat was in her truck waiting for the next event. Leah explained the competition and which horses were related to her company.
She left and then came back a few minutes later with a gift for Easton and Layla. She gave Easton a cowboy hat pendant on wrist-band and Layla a horse with wings. They were about the size of a Monopoly playing piece. The twins were very grateful. I was blown away by her generocity of buying these for us total strangers. One of the core values I teach and show is that we must be kind to every individual who crosses our path. They approach each stranger with this expectation. Seeing their smiles put smiles on other people's faces is one of my favorite things about taking them out in public.
One lazy afternoon I heard a disturbance in the force. It sounded like this... (silence). that can mean something is wrong, but when i went back to check on the twins I found them stuffed in the box with a soft blanket reading a book together and eating bananas. Nothing really special about this other than it was just one of those moments I'm glad I was around to witness. they have a huge house to play in, but they are so close and enjoy each other so much that cramming into a box together was the most desirable thing for them to do.
Kendra and I went out for a date night. Throughout our 30 day midwest tour we didn't have a single evening of alone time. We chose to spend our time with family and I'm glad we did. However, Mary was willing to take care of Uno and Dos for an evening so we jumped on the chance. Dinner at Deep Fork and then desert at The Metro Bistro. Kendra asked several times for me to go see Superman with her so afterwards we watched a midnight showing of Superman together. The movie was just OK, but my favorite part of the night was spending time with Kendra. I can be happy doing just about anything as long as we can do it together.
Mary's exercise trampoline was worked over by Layla. Her interest in gymnastics appears to be increasing as the days and weeks go by. Our plan is to get her into and introductory ice skating class, but we'll see if she really like ice skating or just the idea of ice skating based on watching Disney on Ice one too many times.
Every day at Mary's included pool time. The twins are great swimmers and one of their daily requests was for Kendra and I to join them for family swim time. They only had one day with their cousins, but we made the most of it. Layla is closest in age to Abby so that's who they hung out with the most.
Aunt Mary doesn't grant my request for pictures of her very often, but I knew she wouldn't pass up the chance to have all of the cousins and Easton and Layla in the same shot with her.
We took time for lots of meaningful conversations and I'm glad we were able to spend this week with Mary. Now she is set up on Skype and Facebook (my hidden motive for getting her technology revamped) so I expect we'll hear and see more of her.
The midwest tour turned out even better than I hoped and planned. I'm sad it's over, but the memories we made will be with us forever. I'm glad we waited two years after my sabbatical eligibility date so that Easton and Layla will remember as well.
More vacation awates us. See you soon!