Sunday, June 29, 2008

Zoo Campout

Saturday night was the date for our long anticipated campout at the Henson Robinson Zoo. Kellan had been marking off the days on the calendar all week. The weather could not have been better. We packed up our tent, sleeping bags, and a few other necessities and headed for the zoo.

First step was setting up the tent. I'm an old pro if I may say so myself. We picked out a spot near the lemurs (my favourite!) and set up camp for the night. We were the only "single parent" family there, but were snapping photos and lounging around our tent while everybody else was still trying to figure out their poles! I even had to go and help another family who came to ask for assistance. Here are a few photos of our "home" for the night.

Notice our tent back there while everybody else is still attempting to sort their gear. We went for a wander after we'd finished goofing around the tent.

Kel found some new friends. I went to the restroom and returned to find this little set up outside of our tent. Ominous.

After requesting that the door be unzipped, I caught this photo of Kel's new friends. Lots of boys. And nobody in this picture belongs to me!

Kel, drink in hand, explaining the tent full of boys situation.

At last, camp is set up! We all headed off for dinner, followed by a twilight hike and behind the scenes tour of the zoo.

Later still, there was a movie and popcorn.

We slept! Kel even slept in. It had been a busy evening and a late night. The animals weren't too rowdy, just a squeak or a squeal every so often. And the owls. I enjoyed listening to the owls and watching the stars out of the tent's screened roof. I asked Kel if he could see a lot of stars and he simply rolled over, saying, "I'm really tired, Mommy". Zonk. I was up well before him in the morning and took a couple of cute photos. The new head injury is from a fall the previous evening. Its always something.

Breakfast was delicious! Pancakes coming off the griddle faster than we could eat them. Biscuits and gravy, fruit salad. It was fabulous.

After breakfast, we hiked around and enjoyed the morning with some new friends. It was a wonderful zoo and camping experience, start to finish.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Chasing fireflies

These videos are a bit dark and meandering, but I wanted to keep the memory of chasing fireflies well past bedtime on a summer evening (wearing his post shower bedtime clothes -- underpants and a t-shirt, we're fancy around here). One of the special treats in being a parent is sharing moments like this with your four year old. It doesn't get much better.

And, hey, this is one thing that we didn't have growing up in California. Not that it makes up for the fact that Kellan now plays "Tornadoes" with his friends in school (they build a city in the sandbox which is then flattened by tornadoes, followed by the building crew's arrival to start all over again). When Kellan sees black clouds these days, he hopefully announces, "I think the tornadoes are coming, we better listen for the sirens to tell us...". Great.

Apologies, this one is really dark, but you get the idea...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day at the Ball Game

We took Nic to see the Peoria Chiefs this afternoon and enjoyed a great Father's Day out together. Until the weather went funny, but then, we are in the Midwest and have learned to accept funny weather as the order of any day that is not bitterly cold. We had fantastic seats right behind home plate and were right in the thick of the action (and quite a few hair raising foul balls as well!).

There is also a wonderful playground at the far end of the ball park where Kel spent a good deal of time wearing himself out and giving game commentary to the other children.

This was a giant wooden beach chair.

Once the storm rolled in, during the sixth inning, we had to leave the playground and run for cover in the concourse (and the souvenir shop for Kel's obligatory game day bat) -- after one quick photo of course! The scoreboard had a temperature reading and it was amazing to watch it drop from 90 to 68 degrees in a matter of ten minutes!!! It was downright cold with the wind and the rain. They covered up the field, but it was an all consuming torrential downpour and thunderstorm for nearly an hour. It did eventually clear out, but they deemed the grounds too soggy to finish the game, and since it remained tied at the bottom of the sixth, we all get to come back for a free game at another date.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pennsylvania -- by way of the Indianapolis Children's Museum

We spent the first week of June on a fantastic family vacation (combined with a work conference) in Pennsylvania. I have divided the photos up into separate posts to keep it a bit more manageable, so browse on down for the rest.

We started the trip in Indianapolis where we spent a most amazing day at the Children's Museum. This is not just any old children's museum, but a massive building packed with fun and exhibits for all ages. I'm not sure which of Nic or Kellan enjoyed themselves more!

There was a whole exhibit dedicated to Curious George.

We all live in a Yellow Submarine...

We were in Indianapolis after all. Kellan didn't really understand the significance, but he enjoyed driving the "race car".

Seriously, these boys had a great day. Here they are driving a hand crank digger.

Spiderman. Very cool.

There is even a carousel in the museum!

I honestly have no idea.

Digging for fossils.

Trains, trains, trains!

In a vacation packed with wonderful memories and fun-filled days, I think that our trip to the Strasburg Railroad takes the prize for Best Day of them all. If there was such a prize.

On a side note, I was beyond sick with a raging fever, aching body, and a general inability to remain upright for more than a few minutes at a time, but still had the best day ever. It was just that good.

The engine and coaches were gorgeous. They were in pristine condition. This was a gem of a preserved railway.

The family sitting behind us are not in costume, they're just a regular Amish family out for a day trip. They had a gorgeous little boy who played with Kel through most of the ride.

Daddy love.

I will say it again. I was sick. Really sick.

Geez guys, its not that bad! You ask for a photo and this is what you get.

Kel enjoying the scenery and the Amish farms out the window.

An Amish farm with steam from the train in the foreground.

Another Amish farm...

Coal! And Kellan wearing his "Mommy just shouted 'DON'T TOUCH!'" expression.

Thomas! They were having a Day out With Thomas weekend in the near future.

Few shots of the engine and the station.

Across the road, as if the Strasburg Railroad weren't enough, you will find the absolutely incredible Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. We spent the day going back and forth between the two locations. I didn't take many photos here (spent most of the time shivering and looking for the next bench upon which to rest!), and certainly didn't take any good ones, but here are a few to show you a bit of the scale of things -- trains, trains, and more trains. It was amazing.