Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Visit to Grandma's

We drove down today to visit hubby's mom. We spent the afternoon with her and her husband, and had fun on their farm and the house where hubby grew up. We got to run around in the sun, visit with the chickens (much safer to Annika behind a large fence), play with the dogs, and see a brand new lamb. The lamb had just been born a few hours ago. Grandma was a bit surprised to have a lamb so early in the season.

We also got to see a grouse up close; the bird was sitting injured on the road near Grandma's, so she picked it up and brought it home to recover. She put it in with the chickens. It will be free to leave when it is healed, but have access to food, water, and shelter.

The main reason we went down was to pick up a new cat that needed a home. Emma will be joining our two other cats at our place. I don't have photos of her yet, but I'll try to take a few in the next day or so as she settles in more. Right now she is barricaded in the office with hubby so that she can get used to our place and our other cats can get used to her. Jaz is growling at her through the door, hissing and spitting. Hopefully they'll work it out and be able to coexist peacefully soon.

It was a good day, and a good family outing.

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Tale of Two Beds

Frequently after a nap, I will go in to Annika's room, and find her bed covered with books. Often her blankets and animals have fallen on the floor, too. Here is what her room looked like after a recent nap:

On the same day, Gabriel worked really hard on making his bed before he went to school. He straightened all the blankets and put his critters neatly on the end. I was so proud of him, and he was proud of himself, too. He got a visit from the House Fairy for that.

Cedar River Watershed Outing

Last week we had a day off from school, and we joined some friends for a little walk.  We had gone to the Cedar River Watershed Education Center last spring, and Gabriel has been talking about it ever since.  We had a beautiful, sunny day, though it was cold and breezy.  We met our friends at Rattlesnake Lake, and walked the gentle, 1/2 mile path up to the Education Center. 

 This is such a neat place to come - it's free, it is comfortable, and there are some really cool exhibits.
Our kids love the water cycle interactive exhibit.
They have big pipes with vacuum air flowing through them, which blow small balls to different areas of the room.  Kids can follow their ball through the water cycle, pretending it's a drop of water.  The Education Center also has Native American artifacts and natural findings kids can touch.

 When there is snow in the highlands and we want an easy outing, this is one of our favorite walks. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Nature Outings

We've been busy the past several days.  I get this way every year - after the rush of the holidays, I take a break, and then I start feeling like I need to get out into nature.  The weather can be challenging, so we pick outings close to home until the mountains thaw out.  

On Friday I took Annika to Kelsey Creek Park, where they have barns with animals you can look at and nice wooded trails to wander on.
 Unfortunately, my daughter was terrified of almost everything, from the diggers in the parking lot, to the pig, to the chickens (especially the chickens),
the pigeons, and the street sweeper cleaning up after the digger.  But the trails were nice, and she liked the heron statues and wanted to ride the horses.  There are more pictures and details here. 

On Saturday we went to the Education Center at Discovery Park.  It's a fun place to go, with some interesting info accessible to kids.  They have a play room for younger children with lots to touch, too.

 We walked a little on the trails after that, but it was cold and Annika was ready for her nap, so we didn't go far.

On Monday we went for a walk in the woods with some friends.
 We walked around Tradition Lake at Tiger Mountain.  We had a bluebird day, frosty and crisp.  Oh, how nice it was to see the sun, even if it wasn't very warm.  The kids did great on the hike.  It was about a mile and a half; I am so proud of Annika and how far she can walk.  It was good for the spirit to be out in real woods again, too.  Made me yearn for summer and a healed foot and hikes to alpine lakes.  I've posted a full report here.

It's such a gift to be able to share the outdoors with my kids.  They loved being in nature from babyhood, and both have their unique interests.  That's one of the things I yearned for before I was a parent.  I cherish it now while I've got it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Even in these short, grey, cold and damp days, I find hints that spring is coming.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Walk in the Park

Gabriel asked me the other day, "Why don't you ever take us hiking any more?"  Well, there is the small matter of my recent foot surgery; the inconvenience of him being in school; snow; holidays; general fatigue..... but instead of logically answering his question, I told him I'd plan a trip for us for the weekend.  Somewhere close, with gentle trails for my recovering ankle.  I chose Seward Park, since they have a new Audubon educational center, and I've never been there before.  We had a really nice few hours there.  I'll post a few photos here.  If you want to read the whole report and see more photos, you can go to and read my trip report.

We met Lumpy the Tortoise

The snowberries are hanging on

Tiny fungi

Annika reads the map

Boys and sticks...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Annika's First Bus Ride

On Wednesday my Mom was in town for a conference, so I took Annika down to meet her for lunch.  This was Annika's first bus ride, and she was excited to go, but a bit nervous the whole time.  She had just gotten a plush pigeon to go with the book Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and she thought it was pretty funny that she was bringing the pigeon along for the ride. 

We had a nice time with Mom - too short, as always, but Mom had to get home before the floodwaters forced the freeways to close.  She made it through the vulnerable area just in time.  Annika wanted to go again on the bus, so I guess we'll be planning some more trips in the future.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Snow thoughts

It's snowing here again.  It's been snowing since late this afternoon, and we have four inches.  The flakes are big and fluffy, moister than the snow we had before Christmas.  The trees and bushes are all decorated again, and look pillowy in the ambient light of the suburbs.  I stood outside for a few minutes as I was gathering firewood.  I stilled myself and listened.  It was quiet except for the roaring of the furnaces at the pool on the other side of the green belt.  The snow made soft whispering noises.  Occasionally a brief puff of wind would stir the trees, causing lumps of snow to plumpf off through the branches.  The large conglomerated flakes tickled my face.  I felt if I stayed still for even a short while, I would be covered, camouflaged.  I wondered briefly how long I would be able to stay still, but I could feel moisture seeping through the seams of my shoes.  I decided reluctantly to go back inside to the warm fire and the cozy blankets on the couch.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a meaningful Christmas and a safe New Year.  We rung in 2009 by letting Gabriel stay up till midnight.  We watched Wall-e and then shot off poppers on the front porch at midnight.
 Today we took down the Christmas Tree and many of the decorations, played Chinese Checkers, and went for a nature walk in the greenbelt behind our house.
 We ended the evening with Hoppin' John Soup, which I understand is traditional in the South, as it signifies prosperity.  

I feel more optimistic about the New Year than I have in several years.  Usually I am just glad to have survived the holidays, worn out and with little to look forward to.  This year I actually have goals I can feel invested in and lots of fun things planned.  Today I was reading in my Bible in the book of Romans, and came across this verse, which I saw in a different light:
Romans 15:13  "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  I have never described myself as overflowing with hope (Quite the opposite!) but this year I actually have a fair amount of hope.  I think it has to do with growing through the rough patches and discovering more of myself and who I really am.  It has to do with having the courage to act on my new knowledge of myself and craft a life that is authentic to me and my values and interests.  I am sure there is more wrapped up in this, but I am still contemplating the topic.  

I wrestled with the idea of sharing my goals with the world on this blog, but decided against it.  They are still in flux.  In normal years I make goals and then forget about them in the first month.  But I'll try to share here when I make steps toward accomplishing what I'm dreaming about this year.