Friday, June 27, 2008

Heading Home

All too soon it was time to head home. We loaded up the truck and started our 2 day journey home.

I love awesome rest areas with playgrounds, nature preserves and educational materials! We always stop at this one in Illinois. It's just south of Bloomington on I-55.

Here's the St Louis Arch through the truck window. Traffic always slows down on the bridge over the Mississippi river, so I had plenty of time to snap a picture of this great landmark. Dinoguy thought the name "big muddy" for the river was hilarious.

On day 2 of our trip we stopped at a cemetery where a great great grandma's grave is supposed to be, but while she is in the cemetery files, there is no indication of where in the cemetery of 12,000 graves hers is located. We looked for a while, but were not successful.

When we were about 15 minutes from home, the truck turned off. Oops! I had not been watching the gas gauge and we were out! I rolled off the highway, hoping we were near a gas station. No such luck. We parked in a cemetery parking lot and luckily there were still some people inside the nearby funeral home and one called her husband who came quickly with a gas can and followed me to the nearest gas station. Thank goodness for good Samaritans! The nearest gas station was 3 miles more down or up the road so we would have been sitting there waiting for a while for someone to come rescue me otherwise.

After a long adventure on the road, its nice to be back home. It was great to see Fixitman and Sarge again after 2 weeks. The boys have been playing with their toys with renewed enthusiasm it seems, as they haven't been seen in a while. Life is good.

Family Golf

Family golf is a special time set aside on Saturdays for families to play on one of the courses. Because of the recent flooding, only 5 of the 9 holes were available, which was perfect for us. Just enough golfing to have a great time. Plus, we were the only family on the course, so there was no pressure at all. We had a blast.

Canoeing with Grandma

Toward the end of the visit, Fishing Grandma declared the current slow enough and the water low enough that canoeing was again possible. Dinoguy was ready to go. I had to stop him from trying to carry the canoe down the hill to the river himself.

Slime science and light refraction

Fishing Grandma had some neat looking science kits that Dinoguy discovered and asked if we could try out. We first made "wiggly wonder slime" which was like silly putty.

Trainboy isn't sure about the slime at first, but had fun with it after a bit.

Next we made a periscope which was very useful in the spy expedition later on.

Later came the telescope, very useful for a pirate captain. A bit later came a kaleidoscope, which was used as a pretend telescope in the days adventures.

Fishing with Fishing Grandma

When you have a fishing grandma you know you are going to get to go fishing when you visit! :)

Fishing grandma took us to a nearby stocked pond so Dinoguy could try to catch a fish. This is one of the few pictures I snapped of her the entire time we visited, she is obviously trained in the stealth art of picture avoidance.

Uncle M tries a different technique with the fishing pole.

Dinoguy really enjoys fishing. He had a blast. Trainboy declared it the "best fishing ever!"

Trainboy later decided that part of a good fishing expedition included playing on the nearby playground.

The Graduating Banana part 3

Last part of the graduation festivities for Aunt Banana was the celebratory party. There was much preparation to do, I stuck with food preparation, something I enjoy more than yardwork.

Dinoguy helped Grandpa Actuary with the mowing for a while, though he was disappointed he couldn't try it himself. (It is a bit more complicated/ sensitive than our lawnmower at home!)

When the guests arrived, we were ready. There was food, fun & friends everywhere. The teenagers tended to congregate outside around the firepit, volleyball net & various swings, while the older folk tended to find comfortable seats in the house where there weren't evil mosquitos.

Dinoguy also demonstrated his bike riding skills at the party, watch him go. Can you see the improvement over the past day?

The dogs retreated to the safety of their bed, not wishing to be trampled by the crowds. See how much they enjoy the party?

About 8:45 pm, Trainboy announced to me that it was time for him to go to bed, guess all the party prep and fun tired him out early! After he was asleep, I joined Dinoguy at the firepit for some s'mores.

Puzzle mania

For several days, we were all obsessed with this puzzle. Dinoguy even woke up one morning and told me we needed to get back to work on the puzzle and finish it! It was a family affair, started by Grandma V & I, worked on by Uncle M, Dinoguy, Trainboy, Grandpa Actuary & Fishing Grandma.

While 1000 piece puzzles are definitely beyond the boys capacity to do themselves, they did like helping. I think we'll stick to slightly bigger piece puzzles at home right now, 100 piece puzzles are within our ability easily.

Dinoguy on 2 wheels

This is what happens when Uncle M suggests Dinoguy try a "bigger" bike. Dinoguy asks me to move the training wheels from the smaller bike to it, I tell him we'll have to wait for Grandpa Actuary to come back and help, but I'll help him keep from falling.

We make a few circles around the driveway, Grandpa Actuary comes home and gets a better bike out of storage and after approximately 15 seconds of me helping him on that bike he doesn't need help anymore and is riding without training wheels.

It was an awesome moment, realizing that he's big enough to balance and ride a bike by himself. I felt a little sad, realizing I was watching another of the growing up "milestones" that there are few in number. Mostly I was in awe, watching my baby master a 2 wheel bike in the course of an afternoon. He rode the bike for hours that day, and every day of the rest of the visit, prompting Grandma & Grandpa to give him the bike.

Trainboy sings for you

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Playing outside up North

Silly mom thought that June was summer weather and only packed shorts & t-shirts. Dinoguy informed me that it was too cold for that and got a pair of pants from Fishing Grandma. Then Uncle M taught him to use a hoe and he had some fun weeding the garden for a while.

Trainboy plays in the hammock while Dinoguy works. (Notice he doesn't mind the "cold"!)

Penny & Hobbes are stalking a squirrel here I think. They are amusing hunters to watch, Penny being a pointer and Hobbes thinking he can jump up and bite the squirrel out of the tree.

A view of the flooded river. This is a few days after the latest rain, so it is actually down a bit. I just was lazy about taking a picture. The river should end at the first bit of grass you see, and seeing any grass from the marsh beyond it is how I know its down. It rained again the day after we got there and it looked like we were next to a lake instead of a river.

Uncle M tries to play with Trainboy in the hammock. He tells him "You're messing up my groove man!" and sends him off.

A compromise of sorts is reached by the two - it looks to me like Trainboy worked the cute boy mojo though. Now he's got Uncle M gently swinging him in the hammock. Awesome.

(And Dinoguy is weeding the entire time.)

The Graduating Banana part 2

And now the exciting ceremony where we get to sit still and quiet. Oh and listen to people talk for way too long. Actually, a few of the things that were said rubbed me the wrong way. But that's another post I may never get to. Eventually we got to the big moment though:

Auntie Banana is the second one from the right. She was one of the distinguished scholars for her near perfect GPA.

Here she is with her diploma. Yay Banana!

And with her Dad, whom we refer to as Grandpa Actuary.

And with her Grandma.

And with ET.

Congratulations Banana. You survived High school!

Cold Swimming up north

When you are used to 90-100 degree weather, 80 degree weather feels nice, and swimming seems unnecessary (at least to me!) But the kids love to swim, so swimming we went. Here is ET helping Trainboy jump in.

Awww, don't they look like they are having fun?

Umm mom? It's too cold. Where's my towel?

Dinoguy had a blast and swam for a while with Auntie ET. Trainboy discovered the shallower (and warmer) baby pool was much more his speed so I willingly hung out with him there and waited to be hot enough to want to go swimming. It never happened. Oh well, the boys had fun. :)

The Graduating Banana part 1

First we had a celebratory dinner. Only the best of table manners were used.

Thanks for looking at me during the photo Uncle M.

Maybe he's just staring across the table at Banana & ET.

Grandpa Actuary and his mom demonstrate polite photo behavior.

Uncle M demonstrated his amazing tongue for Dinoguys' turn with the camera.

I managed to not be in any of my photos and Trainboy was next to me and escaped the photos too. Fishing Grandma was too sick to join us sadly, so we ate extra for her.


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