The spring of 2011 proved to be long and cold. It was so cold that when we headed over to Sibley State Park for their maple syrup event in late March, the trees hadn't yet started to flow syrup due to the cold! But we had fun anyway. They had remodeled one of the learning rooms, which the kids enjoyed exploring. Here's firefighters Corbin and Caleb.

the boys in fire fighter garb

Nora and Anna explore an oak tree.

Nora and Anna by a tree

We still had fun trying out samples of maple syrup from years past.

All this cold weather makes one sleepy. Cookie (the cat) has taken to resting on Caleb and Corbin. Here she is after a nights rest.

Cookie sleeping on Caleb

Nora and Anna's beds are close together, so by morning they are often sharing a sleep space.

Anna and Nora sleeping close together

Corbin fought off the long winter blues by getting creative with his legos.

lego man with a kid built by Corbin

We also had a little fun with the routine hair cuts.

Corbin with a mohawk

Ella, meanwhile has one goal: growing! Here she is at 4 months old.

Ella at 4 months old


Ella sitting

Ella loves being around her brothers and sisters.She also enjoys practicing push-ups and playing with her toys. She loves people of all sorts and is quick to smile when she sees someone.

Around mid-May it finally warmed up enough to go to the Minnesota Zoo. The day started off perfectly. We wandered about the outdoor trail, eventually getting to the farm, where the girls stopped to pet a goat. Here Nora and a resident size each other up.

Nora with a goat

Anna snuggles with a goat.

Anna with a goat

Ella's big brothers enjoyed showing her all the animals.

Alex and Caleb with Ella

We watched the milking demonstration, which the girls found very interesting.

the girls with Clarabel the cow

After a picnic lunch we ran around one of the zoo's playgrounds for a bit. Ella still got in her nap, though.

sleeping Ella

Rosa found a giant birds nest.

Rosa in a big nest

Anna went for a spin on a fish.

Anna on a fish bouncer

Alex peaked under Ella's hat to see how she was doing, and she smiled in her sleep. He raised and lowered her hat, and with each raise a sleepy smile appeared. Babies are so cute, even when they are sleeping!

Ella smiling

Soon it got quite crowded. We joked that Caleb is just like a bird, seeking the highest point to escape the crowd.

Caleb on a play bridge

It was getting pretty warm out anyway, so we headed inside. We spent some time watching the fish and sharks in Discovery Bay. The cuddle fish were really neat.

a cuddle fish

From there we walked the Tropics Trail. Corbin loved seeing one of his favorite animals, the alligator.

an alligator

Corbin also loved the otters. Here he is leaning into their enclosure.

Corbin with the otters

Right after I took that picture, I looked over at Anna, who was right next to me and Corbin, leaning over the otters. She looked sad. Suddenly it hit me; her glasses were missing! We looked into the otter's pen and sure enough, there were her glasses! The otters spent 20 minutes destroying her brand new blue glasses she loved so much. It was a rather distressing (and expensive!) lesson. The zoo staff was very slow to respond and help us out, but we eventually got the glasses back. Here is Anna with her now broken glasses.

sad Anna

The story does have a happy ending, though. The awesome people at her eye doctor gave her a new pair, free of charge. Looking back, it was rather funny; we should have caught it on film!

We finished off our zoo day on the Minnesota trail. The kids were busy hamming it up, trying to cheer up the still sad Anna. Here's Corbin running with the wolves.

Corbin on a wolf statue

We purchased a jump-up for Ella. She enjoys being able to bounce around. Here she is at 5 months of age, hanging out in her jump-up.

Ella in her jump-up

another shot of Ella in her jumper

Nora just loves having two cats. She just needs to convince them to get along!

Nora with the cats

What a pair! Luigi with a broken ear; Cookie with her missing eye. And Nora loves them both dearly.

Cookie and Luigi the cats

Ella has spent much of the late spring growing. Here she thinks about growing while she sleeps! (She was in the 99th percentile for height and weight at the 4 month check-up!)

Ella sleeping

Finally school ended, and we kicked it off with a trip to Valleyfair. The girls had never been there before, so they were really excited. We started off with a ride on the old cars. Corbin drove Ella and I.

Corbin driving

We had such a pleasant view...

Nora making a face

Caleb had the honor of driving Grandpa and Rosa.

Caleb driving Grandpa and Rosa

From there the boys went on the Wave ride. It's like the flume, only bigger. Here they are at the end, quite wet.

the boys all wet

After that Nora wanted to try it. She loved it! The little girls wanted to do the Merry-go-round, so off they went. At the last minute Rosa decided it was too loud, but Nora and Anna enjoyed it.

Nora on the carousel

Anna on the carousel

Valleyfair has something new this year; a Snoopy area with lots of new rides. We all had a blast there. Here's Caleb with Snoopy himself.

Caleb with a Snoopy statue

Snoopy's Rocket Express was a hit with the younger ones, too. The boys and Rosa launched off in one rocket...

The kids on the ride

While Anna, Nora and I rode in another.

Nora on the ride

The ride afforded quite a view from that height. Here's looking down...

Lee, Grandpa and Ella from above

After trying some other rides, Anna spotted Snoopy, and just had to give him a big hug.

Anna hugging Snoopy

Alex and Caleb braved the swing ride.

Alex and Caleb on the swing ride

While the older boys, Nora and I waited in line for a roller coaster, the rest enjoyed some more kiddy rides. Here's the gang on some big-rigs.

Rosa on a truck ride

Anna and corbin on the ride

Rosa loved the race car ride. Her favorite candy is Reece's, so this is her dream car!

Rosa on the race car ride

So how was the roller coaster ride? It was Nora's first roller coaster ride ever. The whole time she was looking at me with this annoyed face. No screaming in terror. Nothing. She even looked bored. So she didn't much care for it. Why? She proclaimed it too bumpy!

After that we headed to the water park. Rosa and Anna loved the kiddie area. It even had a mini lazy river!

the girls on the lazy river

Nora and Grandpa tried out the bigger version.

Nora on the lazy river

Grandpa on the lazy river

The boys had a blast on all the different water slides while the girls and the adults hung out at the kiddie pool.

Grandpa with the girls

Ella woke up from her nap and joined right in.

Ella in the water

After a picnic lunch we headed back to the rides. I made the kids pose at the entrance for a photo.

the kids at a fountain

We all rode on the train. It was getting hot!

the crew on the train

From there the kids all wanted to go back to the Snoopy rides. The Linus' Blanket Ride was a hit.

Nora and caleb on the ride

Caleb on the ride

The girls all wanted to ride the race cars again. Anna and Dad rode together.

Anna and Lee in a car

Here they are rounding the corner. (Notice the goofs in the next car.)

Corbin and Nora showing how they act when Dad drives...

Corbin and Nora screaming

Here's Rosa whipping around the bend...

Rosa in a race car

Corbin posed at the Woodstock bird bath.

Corbin at a fountain

All too soon it was time to head home. The kids all had a blast, and were quite worn out.

Corbin and Anna sleeping

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