We drove down to Tucson and stayed at Bonk and Kebbo's house with their two cheeky sons. By this point both Little and Littler were getting a bit bewildered by all of the cousins on the trip, but they had a lot of fun learning how to play Wii with Icklefattikins and Noer.
Our first day in Tucson we drove to one of our favorite birding/exploring areas: Sonoita creek, near Patagonia [AZ]. It was pretty dang hot, the birds were all hunkered down, and we were all quite tired by this point, so we--you guessed it--just played around in the water for a bit. Sonoita creek is pretty much the archetype desert-oasis thing except with the largest cottowoods in North America instead of palm trees [plus a thick-billed kingbird and some gray hawks, of course].
Little does this whenever she's in water:
We spend our nights hanging out with Bonkers, Kyky, Nicoplasm and Narpete, playing Wii and listening to music. When Daddy was out playing basketball with Nicwise, Gobot, and Kyky, Mommy and Bonky found a Sonoran desert toad in the yard, and captured it for Daddy to get a look at:
Daddy also found a great plains toad in the yard--gotta love monsoon season!
Daddy's main goal in Tucson was to play ball with Nicopotamus and Gobot and Kyky as much as possible. Like-mindedly, Nicasa took a whole day off from work to hang and play ball. And they played quite a bit, though the games always ended somewhat shy of epically do to lighting and timing issues. Daddy wants to include these pictures because he thinks they make him look cool [he searched hard for pictures showing Nicodemus with a funky expression or showing, you know, his butt]. Gobot was there too, but mostly he showed up on film as a lanky blur.
And, finally, Daddy felt strongly that a great deal of his nerdy rep would vanish if people could see how awesome he really was, so he had Mommy get a picture of him touching the rim and tried to think of ways to subtly remind people that he is only 5'7", which he imagined would cause them to say things like "wow, he's got ups," "look at that, white chocolate," and "oh my blazes he's sooooo awesome." Basically he failed; he touched the hoop but he's still pretty sure the whole setup is pretty transparent [and, you know, it would have actually meant something if he had dunked over Nicked like he's been promising for the last... 15 years, instead of being blocked over and over again by Gobot]. Nikolaus grabbed the rim solidly but Daddy vetoed the picture because it would make his accomplishment so much cheaper by its inclusion.
We hung out at Mommy's parents' place a bunch and went swimming with them; Little still loves Gobot to death. Bonksters and Kybbles were super generous and pretty much ran a B&B while we were there. Eventually, though, we had to face reality and head home--a 15-hour straight shot from Tucson to the Bay in one long, noisy day.
Today Little told me that she wasn't silly. I asked her to prove it. So she invited me to squeeze her knee and she'd prove that she wouldn't laugh.
So I squeezed her knee and she stayed heroically, deliberately stoic. Then I squeezed harder and she made a little gurgling noise like she was about to ralph. She looked like she was going to ralph too. But, determined not to be silly, she didn't laugh or even giggle, not even smile [which, for her, is a part of breathing]! By this point normally she'd be convulsing on the floor hysterically.
So I decided to pull out all the stops and I really gave her something to laugh about... I squeezed just in the right spot with just the right pressure. With completely overlydeliberate calmness she said:
After Daddy and the dudes got back from their hike, we packed up and drove to Aunt Kathy and Uncle Tydye's house in X, Arizona. It's "X" here because we don't want to be responsible for another human being being aware of how awesome this place is. Then people would go there and it wouldn't be so awesome.
Little was superexcited to see another whole bunch of cousins. First, there was Madrigazella, an intriguingly feminine older girl. Little has always worshiped big girls and Mads played her part perfectly; she pranced around and did girly things and waited for Little to follow, and showed her novel things like dolls and stuff like that. Little was just nuts for her big cousin. Little following Maddicakes:
Next, there was Samwise, who is a couple years older than Little but was mostly interested in being impossibly sweet to Littler. Little was too distracted by the all-girl oldest cousin to spend much time with the all-boy Samwish, especially considering that all her friends are boys and this girl thing was quite a new experience. But Littler sure loved all the loving attention he gave her, and their no-holds-barred attitude in life seemed fit for each other even though they're several years apart in age.
Next there's BinJamin. His mom said he was uncharacteristically cranky when we were there, but we couldn't really tell. He's a really, really sweet little guy. Little and Littler both liked to play with him, especially on the monstrously rocking tire swing they've got in their front yard:
[Samwhich and Benegal on the tire swing]
Benyammin and Littler shared a stuffed pony for most of the trip, occasionally even altruistically. Here Benz rides the tire swing with the pony:
The tire swing was worth the drive in itself. Well, you know, the company was good too, but that thing was AWESOME:
Little never took her eye of the big girl cousin.
Littler found a doll. It was very exciting. She used it as a blunt force instrument:
Did we mention how cool the swing was? And Little liked it even more than us...
One thing that Little has always liked is the thrill of going "super duper HIGH!" [Littler calls it "dipper dipper HIGH!" So:
Madimoiselle showed her how it's done:
We drove to a sweet little stream in the mountains nearby, just to hang out for most of the day and do some fishing. Here, Little and Bendito do what they both do best: get very serious and contemplative about nothing at all.
If there's anything Chesters like, it's romping around in water.
Uncle Tyler pretty much rocked the whole day; Daddy was afraid his kids would defect. Here he teaches Little how to fish:
Then he helped her find some worms:
Then he let her catch her very own trout!
Little was way too excited; how can a Daddy compete?
So Uncle Tyler caught a garter snake and let her play with it. At this point Daddy decided he might reclaim some Dad points by appearing in pictures with both the snake and the daughter:
Little spent about 3 seconds pretending to be scared, but her face kind of gave away her real sentiment:
Little was beside herself with joy at having this little living thing in her hands. Unfortunately she had absolutely no sense of... shall we say animal welfare? She tried to tie knots with the snake, she squeezed its head to see how squishy it was, and she waved it around like a jump-rope.
Daddy had a photo session with the snake:
Then Mandolin let Little help her release the snake back into the water.
Littler, not quite as interested in the snake, cuddled with Mommy [to the degree that either of our kids cuddle with anything] and basked in the sun. Mommy was suffering what we think was altitude sickness, so was a little more laid-back than normal:
Little and Littler both find water completely and absolutely irresistible. Benyamine and Little somehow found a way to go swimming in 4-inch-deep water:
We love this picture because it illustrates exactly what we love so much about the KTnTYs and also X, Arizona. Benifactorial painted himself like a tiger and went out looking for fish and snakes along the river while his Dad fished nearby:
Madikins gathered flowers to give to Little, which flattered her a great deal:
So we went home and got ready for dinner. The kids didn't want to settle down so they put on some Weezer and went absolutely nutty:
On our last day the Daddies took a few of the kids out to go exploring in the mountains. Ty drove them in his pickup out over roads the very mention of which would cause our car to spill some serious oil. They found a little stream with tiger salamander water dogs in it, which was awesome.
There were a couple more garter snakes in this stream.
Little likes snakes in more than one way:
Madesian is outrageously cool.
They drove some more and found a beautiful meadow with a muddy stream, so they hopped out and waded and caught crawdads. Little was pretty much in heaven there, with awesome cousins in a new wide-open space to explore, and with little snappy things underfoot that were nearly catchable.
Cousin Mads was super, she helped Little through the deep parts and made sure that no crawdads nibbled on her toes. Little eventually got tired of the day but her big cousin was always there to cheer her up.
Before leaving town the next morning, we played for a bit with the cousins at a city park. Daddy took this opportunity to show up his brother Christobal, who is well-known for jumping over the hoods of cars [mostly Miatas, we expect]. So Daddy jumped over a whole car and Mommy got photographic documentation of it.
We took the "scenic route" to Tucson, which involved what felt like 34,839 miles, more or less, of winding mountain roads. Daddy got sick. Littler barfed. Next stop: The Bonks and the biggest cousins yet!