To kick of the start of summer vacation, we spent the day bumming with Grandpa and Derik. We started off with a family favorite, the A Maze'n Farmyard. The kids love petting and holding all the animals. (Caleb loved the parakeet aviary!) Here's Nora and Anna with some bunnies.
Caleb eyed up a turtle;
and snuggled with a duckling.
Corbin and the girls loved the kittens.
They all particularly enjoyed the chicken coop. After running around trying to catch a chicken, I had to show them how it's done.
Caleb was proud to finally nab one, too.
Outside the barn, Alex spotted a camel posing by a funny sign...
They sized each other up, but neither could tell which one was the horse...
Nora was thrilled to see they had her favorite bird, the emu:
and Caleb found a baby goat to love.
Our old favorite, the rubber ducks and the water pumps was fun. Anna insisted: "I do it!!!"
Rosa and Nora rode some ponies.
And little Miss I-do-it(!) had her first ever pony ride, too.
The kids (and Lee) shot down the big slide for a while.
They also enjoyed some "moon jumping."
We wrapped it up with a trip through the maze. The goal is to stamp a card at each of the 5 check-points. The younger ones had trouble finding tower 2, and were excited when Corbin found the way.
They all did it! Here they are, showing of the completed cards:
We all had an ice cream break,
then headed over to Sibley State Park. We started with a quick jaunt up Mount Tom. The views are always awe inspiring.
Rosa and Nora patiently waited down below while I figured out the panorama feature on the camera.
Lee stuck with the good ol' (very old!) video camera.
From there we decided to hit the beach. The walk started off pleasant enough, and I got some nice shots of some wildflowers (they are in the nature gallery) and the kids.
Soon, though, as we got deeper into the forest, a mysterious sound was all around it. It sounded like rain hitting the forest floor, but there wasn't a cloud in the sky! Finally Derik figured it out; caterpillars, thousands of them, were dropping down from the leaves on silk threads.
We were soon practically running through the forest, picking the critters off each others clothing and hair. Only Anna was unimpressed by the powerful army.
We all breathed a sign of relief when the beach came into view. The kids immediately started wading.
They gave chase (and caught!) some minnows.
Alex tinkered with the new camera a bit.
A bird kept flying above the swimming area, then suddenly diving straight down into the water. It was cool to see, and Alex's quick reflexes even caught a shot of him in the act.
Our next outing with Grandpa and Derik proved to be a bit more relaxing. We went to a local lake that also has a little arboretum next to it. I took lots of neat flower shots (you can view those in the garden gallery), and posed the kids in front of a flaming hot pink flowering bush.
The kids thought the flowers a bit boring; they were itching to go down to the lake. It was so relaxing, with a nice lake breeze cooling us off.
After relaxing for a bit,
we started shell seeking.
Corbin quickly found some tiny snail shells.
Rosa was thrilled to find some treasures.
Nora couldn't resist getting a bit wet.
Anna decided the sand was wonderful, and started rolling gleefully around in it.
The next day, Nora didn't feel well. By mid afternoon, she wouldn't walk ("because it hurts when I walk"), and stopped eating or drinking. She also developed a fever. That evening, we decided to take her to the hospital. It turned out to be the right thing to do. At midnight, she had emergency surgery to remove her appendix. All went well, and the next morning all her siblings went up to see her.
She bravely showed off where the doctor operated.
Nora had one mission: to go home. The doctor told her once she was up and moving around, could eat without getting sick, and use the bathroom, she was free to go. Nora took up the challenge. She ran up and down the hallways, with the nurse running after her holding her IV bag, she ate chocolate milk shakes for breakfast and didn't flinch. She ran in and used the bathroom several times. (barely giving us enough time to unplug her IV unit!) So that afternoon, she got the all-clear to go home! She was thrilled.
She has since fully recovered, and proudly shows off her scar to all who mention her ordeal.
The girls quickly got back into their play routine. They even beautified Lee.
Nora was also so happy to get back to her new cat, Luigi. He has proved to be quite the snuggler.
Caleb's big summer project was to build an aviary for his 5 Budgies (also called Parakeets). He thought up the design, and got to work.
Soon it started to take shape.
He even showed Edward (the bird) his progress.
Here is a view from where the door will be:
After a couple weeks of work, it was done!
The only bad side effect of all the drilling, hammering, and sawing was that Anna decided she would be scared of all the noise. Alex took it upon himself to "hide" her.
The aviary now is full of perches, bird toys, and 6 very content Budgies! (That's right, he gained another bird shortly after completing their new home!
We can't believe the summer is going by so quickly! We still have much planned for this summer, but that is another adventure.