Now that spring is officially here, we can safely reflect back on the long winter, comforted by the fact that it is finally over.

One good thing about those long cold winter days: the kids got lots of schoolwork done. Nit-wit was only too happy to help.

Nit-Wit on Rosa's desk

We also play many a round of Telestrations. Here's Caleb's drawing for moonshine. Not going to touch that one.

Caleb's drawing

Here's the artist himself, waiting for his ride.


March marched in with wondrous spring-like weather. Soon all the snow was gone (we never had much to begin with anyway), and we eagerly went to our usual haunt for some hiking and s'mores. The girls were thrilled to find some milkweed pod seeds from last autumn.

Nora and seeds blowing in the wind

We girls wandered the sun-soaked prairie while Caleb and Corbin roamed the woods. Here's the girls with the frozen lake behind them.

the girls

Nora enjoys hanging a reed of straw out of her mouth Farmer Ben style, so Ella assumed she should try out the look with everything she came across.

And who says kids don't get enough fiber?
It was eerily quiet. In town all sorts of birds had been singing for weeks, but here it was silent. We journeyed into the water-logged forest. All was still and quiet there, too.

water covered woods

Ironically enough, the girls were excited to actually find some snow.

a snow covered path

Guess what Ella did with the ski pole tip I found?

Ella with a ski pole tip in her mouth

Meanwhile... what were the boys up to? Corbin found another walking stick to add to his collection.

Corbin with a large branch

Caleb found a perch for his bird-self.

Caleb on a branch

Caleb took this cool shot of Corbin among a menagerie of tree limbs.

sticks going every which way

Don't worry. This is a posed picture. Corbin, as you might have guessed, doesn't actually ever stop to think.

Corbin posing as the Thinker

We rendezvoused with the boys at our usual fire pit. Um... I'll let Caleb's face do all the commenting on this one.

Corbin and Caleb at the fire

Every picnic should have all the food groups. What do you mean cheese puffs aren't a food group?

the kids eating junk food

We brought our remaining marshmallows from last fall. And, well, the bag must have not been sealed properly because they were rather rock-like. The boys decided to make torches out of them.

Caleb with his torch

What is it about fire that brings out the reckless cavemen in men?

I think we found a great new fuel source. Eat your corn out, you ethanol lovers, a new bio-fuel's in town. I suppose it would rather gum up an engine, though.

the ever-burning marshmallow

Before we left the kids roamed out on the icy lake.

the kids on the lake

One thing I've noticed as of late is the ridiculous amounts of contrails (those lines a jet leaves behind in the sky) overhead. This winter's many dreary days got me thinking. Could there be a link? Evidently I am not the first to wonder. Here is a quote from NOAA:

"Contrails are a concern in climate studies as increased jet traffic may result in an increase in cloud cover. Several scientific studies are being conducted with respect to contrail formation and their climatic effects. Cirrus clouds affect Earth's climate by reflecting incoming sunlight and inhibiting heat loss from the surface of the planet. It has been estimated that in certain heavy air-traffic corridors, cloud cover has increased by as much as 20%. Since contrails can spread out and essentially become cirrus clouds, it is felt that contrails may affect the planetary climate in similar ways. Other studies are underway to better understand the role that jet exhaust itself plays in modifying the chemistry of the upper levels of the atmosphere."

What is a lot, you ask? Check out the sky in this photo:

Corbin on the lake with a sky full of lines

Here's the crew (minus won't-hold-still Ella) on ice:

the kids posing

Anna's selfie-with-mom tradition endures:

Anna and mom

Corbin rides shotgun whenever I need to drive someone somewhere, which is a lot now that it is down to just me and our lone van. (Side note: My large white van is no more. I've upgraded from my 1992 rustmobile to a 2005 color-of-rust vehicle. We all joked that this one should actually start in the rain, which became quite ironic when the starter failed a couple weeks later. No worries, though. My wallet became lighter, but we had her up and running again in a day. Anyway, here's Corbin in our new mode of transportation:

Corbin riding shotgun

I am a good driver. I just utterly fail at navigation. The next week we wanted to go hiking and s'moring again, but I made a wrong turn on a winding dirt road. I figured if we just kept going we'd reach our destination eventually (no comments, please). A bevy of wild turkeys crossed right in front of us and slowly wandered into the woods. And as a bonus, the road spit us out right where I thought (all right, hoped) it would.


The ice on the lake was much thinner now. The crack the kids had stood over (4 pictures up on this page) was now an open chasm.


So of course Corbin had to try it out a bit.

Corbin on ice

On the way home we went through an automated car wash. I usually just hand wash the vehicles, but after discovering the previous owners must have hit something with this van (Corbin, ever the conspiracy theorist, thinks they hit a human. Personally, I vote racoon or possum.) I decided to let a machine try to get the chunks of hair and flesh off the inside grill.
Anyway, the girls talked about that traumatic experience for days afterwards. Here's their faces of horror while the van was being washed:

the girls in the car wash

Our monkey-armed cat, Luigi was thrilled when we opened the sunny porch room during the warmer days.


We'll end this page with some photos Caleb took out in service.
His service group was treated to an extra passenger when their driver kept his window down at a call.

a cat in our friend's vehicle

Pioneering is going well for the boys. Caleb even spotted some feathered friends while out and about.


Being deaf in one ear, Caleb was teased that maybe they should drop him off here.

hearing impaired sign

Thus ends our almost spring recollections. Next up: the real deal!

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