The winter of 2008/ 2009 was overall a fun one. We endured the cold, had fun in the snow, and went on a family vacation for a day.

The kids got busy in earnest making new snow creations. Alex was determined to top his big snowman from last winter!

Here he is with last year's snowman:

last years snowman and Alex

And (drum roll, please...) here he is with this year's:

Alex with a bigger snowman

I'm not sure who grew more: the snowman or Alex!
Caleb made some snow budgies, of course.

3 snow budgies and Caleb

Corbin made a twin:

Corbin and a snowman his size

Nora made a snow cat that was big enough to ride. She also made a tree face (in the background.)

Nora riding her snow cat

Alex also made a tree face.

A tree with snow facial features and Alex

Alas, one warm day, Alex's snowman started leaning precariously. I suggested that he pretend it was falling on him, and I would take a picture.

Alex and the snowman leaning over him

Right after I took this shot, the snowman actually did fall right on him!

Undeterred, Alex made another giant.

The kids pose in front of another big snowman

Unfortunately, that one also was to suffer a topple, at Dad's hands, much to Alex's dismay. Alex was jokingly pretending to push the giant on top of Dad, and Dad did it for real!

Caleb was busy making creative snowmen throughout the yard. Here's Cannonball:

The snowman named Cannonball

And here's Pedestrian. He's standing right in front of our parked vans.

Pedestrian the snowman and Caleb

They also had fun making snow caves in the front yard:

Nora and the snow caves

After all that melting, we had a cold snap.

Outdoor thermometer showing negative 20 degrees

Yes, that's below zero!!
The effect on my garden was quite dramatic. The whole garden and about half of the backyard were under a thick sheet of ice! The kids knew just what to do with that set up!

The kids skating

They were all thrilled it was solid enough to hold them.

Nora, Corbin,and Caleb on the ice

With boots for skates, they whisked around the ice, as graceful as penguins.

Corbin and Nora skating

Caleb skating

I managed to take this photo right as Corbin took a tumble.

Soon just skating was old news, and sled-kayaking became all the rage.

Alex and Caleb on sleds on the ice

Where are Rosa and Anna, you ask?
Rosa has a distaste for snow. To quote her: "It's cold and wet and sticky and I sink and get stuck and I don't like it!" She does, however, enjoy watching out the window.
Anna does love being outside, but her mean mother thinks she is a bit too young to be out there without a parent, so she is often stuck in the house with the laundry and dishes lovin' Mom.

Here are some highlights from a typical day in the life of Anna:

Morning: sleep in a bit late so Mom can do some homeschooling without me.

Anna sleeping with her butt in the air

An hour later: Wake up and eat breakfast. Get to work coloring while my brothers and sisters do school.

Anna holding a drawing she colored

Lunchtime: Watch Alex and Mom make lunch. Make sure one of my babies gets to eat, too. This one is my current favorite baby:

Anna with her favorite baby

Afternoon: Nap time!!

Anna and the cat, Ash, sleeping

After supper: Have fun playing with my siblings. Today we are playing with home-made goop!

The kids with goop on their hands

It's hard work being one!!

While hanging around the house is fun, sometimes we get a little stir crazy. We decided to head to the Twin Cities with Grandpa and see the sights!

Half the adventure is the drive over. Rosa gets very excited seeing bridges (something sorely lacking where we live), and the whole gang loves the tunnels! Here's a cool drivers' view:

A drivers' view of entering a tunnel

And looking back:

The kids making goofy faces

The Minneapolis skyline was a cool sight, too.

View of the Metrodome and skyscrapers

We started our day at the Como Zoo and Conservatory. The monkeys were a big hit.

Cute monkey Orangutan and baby

The big cats were all out and about despite the cold weather.

a snow leopard

Rosa was especially thrilled to see a zebra.

The girls and a zebra

The thing that got the kids talking, though, was the giraffes. We all experienced an "EEEEWWWW" moment when one peed and the other drank it like a drinking fountain. Here is a shot before the aforementioned incident.

Lee, Anna, and Rosa with some giraffes

We ended the Zoo half of our venture on their newer tropics trail. Caleb loved all the freely flying birds. I thought the sloth had the right idea, though.


Between the Zoo and the Conservatory is a small kids playroom. Alex said we had to take another picture of Anna on the zebra statue there, so we could compare it to last years. (Nevermind that there was now a big DO NOT CLIMB sign right next to it.) So here they are, last years trip and this trip's shots:

2008 Anna on zebra 2009 Anna on zebra

The conservatory is one of my favorite places. It's warm, relaxing, and full of beautiful plants! The kids love the fish ponds the best. Here is the outside view of the main building.

A glass building

Ahhhh... take a deep breath in... smell all the spring flowers...


Wonder at all the exotic trees and foliage.

A view of a fig tree

The ponds offer reflection points and FISH! Just don't fall in.

Corbin, Nora, and  Anna at a pond

Nora has a way with animals. She seems to be conducting a fish choir here.

Nora and some fish

It is also a great place to get perfect shots of the kids, assuming they will hold still long enough!


For lunch we went to a place the kids have been begging to go for a while now, Chuck E. Cheese's.

The younger girls loved riding the vehicle rides.

Anna on a Bob the Builder ride

Rosa and Anna on a car

Nora and Dad played some air hockey.

Nora and Dad playing air hockey

The boys enjoyed the race car games.

Caleb and Corbin racing

Corbin even hammed it up, dancing on screen for all to see!

TV screens with Corbin on them waving

The place was a zoo, the pizza quickly eaten, and we were on to our last venture of the day, the Minnesota Children's Museum.

They had a special Clifford the Big Red Dog room, which the girls really enjoyed. Here's Rosa feeding Clifford.

Rosa feeding Clifford a bone

We had a blast in the Around the Town room. Anna found some babies to love.

Anna holding two babies

Rosa cooked up some food.

Rosa pretending to cook

Nora went to a place she can relate to: the doghouse.

Nora and a dog in a doghouse

The next room had Nora's favorite sensory things: lots and lots of water tables!

Nora at a water fountain table

Anna was also engrossed in manipulating the water.

Anna playing at a water table

Finally we got to the "ant room", as the boys call it. Alex was thrilled he wasn't too big! Here's some "ants" ready to crawl in their maze of a home:

Caleb and Corbin in ant costumes

Here's king ant Caleb:

Caleb the ant

And ant princess Anna:

Anna the ant

There is also a waterfall area that the girls enjoyed splashing in.

Daddy and Anna at the water

We had supper at the Red Robin. A giant robin gave the kids balloons. We had fun with Rosa's hair and her balloon.

A balloon stuck on Rosa's head

On the way home the kids finished the suckers they got a Chuck E. Cheese's.

Nora with a big sucker

And Anna gave way to exhaustion.

sleeping Anna

Days out are fun, but it's good to be home again! Nora is glad she's back home with Ash, our cat.

Nora hugging Ash

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