Did you guess what the kids were looking at?
It was a...
Summer 2010 will also be known as the "Summer of the Toads."
I do not have vast knowledge about toads and their habitats. Maybe we always have lots of toads around here but it wasn't until this year the kids took an interest in them. Or maybe, for some scientific reason, there were more toads around here than normal. (You know, like we've had more rain than a typical year, or the earth is turning on its axis slightly faster than normal, or something else I obviously have no idea about.)
Whatever the case, it was all about toads.
We bought a 4-wheeler in the spring, which has provided hours of fun with Daddy at the river. With the Big Sioux River just a
hop, skip, and a jump short 4-wheeler ride from here, Jeremy took the kids down there a lot... to throw sticks in the water, play in the sand, get muddy, and look for...
Each time, the kids would return from their adventure and report to me with such excitement what they had seen.... some deer, a huge stick stuck in the ground, a beaver. But quite often, they brought back proof of their findings.
Both kids liked the toads... but each had their own idea when it came to actually touching them.
Rylee was definitely content just looking.
Carter, on the other hand, began the summer with some hesitation....
got a bit brave from time to time, with some encouragement from Dad....
and by the end of the summer, was handling* them like Jack Hanna's little assistant.
* No toads were harmed during the "Toad-catching Adventures of 2010."
After a trip to the river, I would hear the garage door open, and this is quite typically what I would find.
Two cute kiddos, with mud on their shoes, sand in their pants, and toads in their bucket.
Sometimes, the toads wound up in our large aquarium for awhile...
so the kids could watch them hop around.
For Rylee, it was a good way to see them up close, (you know... without having to actually touch them.)
For Carter, it was just something he had to be patient about until he could help Daddy scoop the toads back up out of the aquarium and back into the bucket.
(You know, after Sid, our box turtle, had had enough of his uninvited guests.)
Then, Jeremy and the kids would let them all go in our backyard.
I would listen to their stories about their trip to the river that day, praise them for being so careful with the toads, (and then quickly scoot them inside to wash their hands!)
Sometimes toads were brought back, simply to make a cozy little (temporary) home for them in the bucket. (This time, just one toad made its way back to our house.)
Both Rylee and Carter liked dropping in little sticks and handfuls of grass.
And Carter, of course, knew exactly what the little toad wanted in his home.
"Mom, he really likes it when the stick is right there. Don't Wy-Wee! (Rylee) He doesn't like the grass there! It goes here!"
But, they always worked it out. The toad would live in his bucket for, say... 20 minutes or so, and then it was time to let him go.
And, before I could scoot them inside to wash their hands, they were already asking, "Daddy, when can we go to the river again? I want to catch TOADS!"