Friday, July 23, 2010
John and I have talked off and on all summer about going canoeing on the Buffalo. Neither of us has ever canoed much, but we've really enjoyed the few times we've been. So, a couple of weeks ago when there was an article in the newspaper about floating the middle section of the Buffalo, John decided to turn thoughts into action, and he booked a trip. We decided that it would be best to leave Samuel and Hannah behind with grandparents so that we would just need one canoe. (Canoes really only fit three people.) Also, we weren't sure what this section of the river would be like for smaller children.
We drove to the town of Harriet (which is next to Ralph) to Crockett's Canoe Rental, which John found online. It was pretty much a hole-in-the-wall place, but the people were really nice. We followed a canoe-carting Suburban back to the Hwy 14 Bridge (about 10-15 minutes back the way we had just come) to park our van. We then got into the Suburban and drove back through Harriet and then about 15 minutes past the store to Maumee, where we put in. It was a long and windy drive - - hot too because the air conditioner in the Suburban didn't work.
We spent the next five and half hours making our way down ten miles of river. The website information said to allow four hours for the trip, but that didn't include much time for stopping. I think it'd be difficult to make the trip in four hours unless you paddled the whole time, or the river was up and flowing a little faster, or you really don't stop at all. We stopped several different times, once to eat lunch and then several times to play in a neat part of the river or to cool off. Did I mention that it was hot today? I think the temperature was in the mid 90's by the time we got on the water (around noon). The sun was bright (and hot) all day long. In retrospect, I think the trip would have been nicer if we'd started several hours earlier in the morning, but to do that we probably would have needed to spend the night in a nearby campground the night before. Of course, an afternoon float would be just fine if the temperature was just a wee bit cooler!
Jacob had an absolute blast all day long. He loved being the only kid and having more attention just for himself. I think he also loved not being "bothered" by his little brother and sister. He was very responsible and didn't complain that he had to wear his life jacket the whole time he was in the canoe (state law until you're 13) even though it made him so much hotter. We did allow him to take off his life jacket whenever we got out to stop and swim or play in the water. He really did not need it. The average depth of the river was about two feet! Occasionally there were sections that were deeper - like four or five feet deep. There were also plenty of sections where the water was maybe 12-15 inches deep and we had to try really hard not to scrape bottom. After seeing how little water there was (still plenty for a good float), I think we'd feel very comfortable taking Samuel and Hannah as well. You can rent rafts which will hold five people, so we could all float together. Or, we could get two canoes and just split the kids between us.
We were careful to use LOTS of sunscreen, but I still ended up with a few missed spots. I spent most of the day with an extra t-shirt over my legs/knees, which I think saved them from being completely fried. Next time, I'll take extras just for that. I even wore a big hat the whole day. That's big for me; I hate wearing hats. I will admit that it kept the sun off of my face, neck, and shoulders for much of the day.
We'll definitely be floating the Buffalo again!!
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
We spent one afternoon hiking around Minnehaha Park, again in central Minneapolis. It's a beautiful park. It actually reminded me a little of Central Park in NYC. There was a little restaurant in the middle of the park, lots of bikes and buggies you could rent, hiking trails, playgrounds, etc. We hiked the trail down to see Minnehaha Falls (of Hiawatha fame). The trail then led us all along a creek (that flows into the Mississippi just a short distance away). There was a really neat place that had been designed for wading, and tons of people were enjoying the cool water on the warm day.
Fort Snelling was constructed to facilitate trade with the Indians. The fort has been mostly been reconstructed to resemble what it would have looked like when it was being used as a fort. There were soldiers who did a marching drill and cannon demonstration. We learned a lot about the history of the West from a different perspective than what we typically hear "down South."
Of course, a trip to Minneapolis wouldn't be complete without Mall of America. The boys were most excited about going back to the amusement park there. They discovered a love for roller coasters and all sorts of rides that spin you around, turn you upside down, and dangle you over the floor from three or four stories up. John took the boys on rides while I took Hannah to the American Girl store. Of course, we visited the Apple store as well.
After our hike, which lasted about an hour and a half, we drove back into town and headed to Uno's Pizzaria for some yummy pizza. One of the things I love about this place is that kids can choose to make their own pizza, which Samuel and Hannah thought was really cool! Jacob, on the other hand, insisted that as "pre-teen," he's really too old for such a thing. Ha!
One of the many other activities we did while in Wisconsin (other than water parks, that is) was going horseback riding. The boys each got their own horse, and Hannah rode on a horse with me. The ride rambled through the woods adjacent to our resort and lasted about an hour. Hannah seems to have the same affection for horses as her cousins Katie and Lisa do.
We spent one afternoon searching for a cheese factory that we thought was close to the Wisconsin River. After driving for about an hour (in the pouring rain), we discovered that the place was closed. Bummer. So, we drove back to the Dells and went to the "touristy" cheese store. No factory to watch cheese being made, but lots of cheese to sample and buy. We did find a real factory en route to Minneapolis. It was a really neat place. The kids could see cheese being made, and they got to sample some really squeaky curds. Yum!
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
This is our second time to visit Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. My parents gave us a week of timeshare to use at Glacier Canyon Lodge - Wilderness Resort. It is a fabulous place! There are six different water parks here at the resort (all included). Three are outside; three are inside. You can walk through a maze of skywalks and different wings of condo/hotel to get to each without ever going outside (which I'm sure would be great in the winter!). We have been to each of the parks once for a few hours at a time. The weather has been pretty lousy for doing anything outside - - rainy and cool. However, the outdoor water parks are heated, so as long as you stay in the water, it's not that bad. The kids don't seem to mind at all.
All three kids are having a great time swimming and going on the water slides. Jacob is completely fearless and will try anything. Samuel has met some other boys his age and has played water basketball with them on two different days. Hannah loves just swimming around but has also been willing to try most of the slides. Like me, she doesn't really like the ones that are completely dark. I don't like them because you can't tell which way you're spinning and turning - - makes me dizzy and nauseous!
We've eaten at some of the same places as last time, most notably "Moosejaw Pizza". It's a fun place that makes its own sodas - - the grape soda is so yummy! We also love Culver's, a burger/frozen custard chain that's common up here in the north. Today, we attempted to visit a cheese factory so that we could sample some fresh made cheese, actually watch some cheese being made, and of course, buy some cheese. However, the place we drove (in the pouring rain for an hour!) was closed. So, we ended up going to a cheese store across the highway from our resort. The cheese is still delicious, but it lacked that quaint idea of cheese making in Wisconsin.
We've noticed a number of extended families that seem to be staying here. It would be lots of fun to come here with the Seaman and/or Covington gang. I'm sure our family would make a big spash!
Saturday, May 22, 2010
25 Memories of My Mom
I remember your instructions each time I went out to play with friends - - “Stay within ear shot!” (That actually gave me a pretty big perimeter with which to play!)
I remember how hard it was during my first week as a teacher. After your own day at work, you cooked my dinner, helped me make lesson plans, and even offered to grade my papers!
I remember visiting Grandmother Mills with you at City Hospital each afternoon after school. I remember when you told me that I didn’t have to go every day so that I would have other memories besides Grandmother in a nursing home.
I remember playing in your classroom after school.
I remember many trips when we’d be driving cross-country, and Daddy would get lost because he turned a different direction than what you’d told him.
I remember how you always left a light on when I was out at night and how you always called out, “Carol, is that you?” (Like who else would it be??)
I remember how you helped me get from my house to your car and into the doctor’s office when I was pregnant with Samuel and so very sick.
I remember how you were always standing by with a wet washrag and a saltine cracker when I got sick.
I remember how you painted that awful orange stuff on my skinned knees.
I remember arriving in Ottenstein and being offered a glass of champagne. You just looked at me and said, “Drink it.”
I remember the hours you spent doing counted cross stitch in the evenings after all your work was done.
I remember how you went to bat for me when my band director gave me a hard time about quitting band.
I remember how patient you were when teaching me how to drive (and you were even in a neck brace!).
I remember how you ate the oatmeal I made even though it tasted like wallpaper paste (at least that’s what Daddy said it tasted like).
I remember celebrating your 25th anniversary in the camping trailer with Sara Lee cake and vanilla ice cream that Susan and I had bought at the camp store.
I remember the deal we made about me learning to drive. You’d teach me to drive the car if I’d teach you how to program the VCR.
I remember helping you into that fancy hotel in London and using those fancy cloth napkins to bandage your head.
I remember what you always said when I didn’t know if I should stay home from school: “Only you know how bad you feel.”
I remember the night we were sleeping in the bed at Grandmother’s house, and the bed broke!
I remember how excited you were for me to get a teaching job.
I remember the many times you’ve kept my kids so that I could go to class or do other work towards my master’s degree. I always felt encouragement from you to accomplish my goal.
I remember the many times you cooked Kraft macaroni and cheese instead of making homemade because I liked Kraft more.
I remember many trips to the condo in Branson and the days spent pushing my kids in strollers at Silver Dollar City.
I remember how you weren’t mad when I said I wanted to move home from Tulsa. You just came and helped me pack my stuff and brought me back home.
I remember watching Sound of Music with you every year when it came on TV. And then - - how excited we were to go to Salzburg!
Monday, May 3, 2010
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Then, the thing that makes my heart so very happy - - this afternoon, he played in his first piano recital. For those that have known Jacob a while, you know that he has long suffered from extreme shyness and anxiety about being in front of a group. He didn't even talk to other children at school until he was in the 2nd grade. (and then it was just one or two kids). Well, he did express being nervous (I assured him this was totally normal) and he proceeded to walk up on the stage, sit down at the piano, and play this:
We've come a long way!!
Saturday, May 1, 2010
1. The biggest reason - - Our family has found something we all like doing/following. That's a rare thing. We all have pretty different tastes, so we typically don't like the same movies, tv shows, outdoor activities, etc. Somebody is always complaining that they don't want to do whatever is the suggested activity. Even John, who's never really liked sports, likes going to the Razorback games. Today, John and I got to go to the game together. That's not too common - it's usually one of us with one of the boys OR one of the boys with John's mom (they're actually her tickets). We had so much fun going SANS kids and just being one of many couples at the game. He bought me a diet coke and some peanut m&ms. The usher even teasingly gave him a hard time for putting his arm around me.
2. The Razorbacks. It's fun getting to know the players (getting to know about them). You can see their personality more in baseball than in football. It's so much about individual talent and then combining that individuality into a team effort. The players are so encouraging to one another, never getting too upset when someone messes up. Baum Stadium is a fun place as well. Lots of school spirit. Lots of traditions.
3. Samuel loves playing baseball. He has been pretty good thus far (in his short career). This is his first year of machine pitch, and so far he's struck out in every game. He's still done well in the outfield, making a double play and catching a pop fly in the last game. But, he really feels discouraged about not getting any hits. It helps him so much to see the "big guys" strike out and still keep trying and still be considered good players. Going to the Razorback games inspires him to keep working hard to be a good baseball player.
4. Free entertainment. John's mom has two great tickets right behind home plate. We get to use them a LOT. At least once during a weekend series, sometimes twice. And one boy or the other goes when she goes. She also has given us her parking pass. It's so nice to park right outside the entrance. And, she will usually keep the kids if John and I go together. Free babysitting. After ten years of Montessori payments, we like free. So, even though we're going to lots of games - - we haven't ever had to buy any tickets.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Sunday, April 4, 2010
We had a great Easter celebration today. We started our day with a great worship service at church, then we headed to Ann's house for Easter lunch. We missed James & Allison and Jeremy & Katie, who usually are with us for this holiday, but Lisa brought several new friends from college, so we still had a full table. The weather was so nice, that the kids played outside most of the afternoon and evening.