Sunday, July 31, 2011

Birthday Breakfast

As it was finally GranMama's real birthday, she had something very special planned for Alex and Justin. We awoke to a lovely scene. Spread beneath the large oak tree in her front yard was a vintage handmade quilt, Auntie Rorie's old table and a breakfast tea fit for a prince and princess. Enjoy the photos.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Party Time!

Uncle Willy, Auntie Rorie and I threw GranMama a great birthday party. Alex was in charge of picking out the balloons (yep- that's a Wizard of Oz one in the center) and decorations. Uncle Willy baked a pineapple upside-down cake from scratch. Rorie and I took care of getting dinner from GranMama's favorite restaurant- Wok in Motion. A successful evening for one and all!

Zoo Visit

To celebrate GranMama's birthday, we all went to the Blank Park Zoo. This place keeps growing and growing-- I am very impressed by their recent additions, including a Budgie House where you can go and feed the birds. Despite my skittishness around winged creatures, I encouraged her to go inside. She had a blast! It was hot and humid (once again). Justin succumbed to the siesta weather early on. Of course, we had to feed the animals at the petting zoo. (A sidenote: when I was a kid, the goats were allowed to roam freely around visitors. Now they have their own fenced off areas. Not as much fun.)
They also had a traveling dinosaur exhibit. I thought Alex might be a little nervous about it, but she did just fine. Justin wasn't sure about the attention he was receiving from the Apatasauros, however. Perhaps not the opportune moment to wake up from a nap. :-)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Gems in the garden

Alexandra loves exploring in GranMama's garden. This morning she came racing in to tell me she found gems in a birdbath! They were a little muddy, but she could tell they were treasures. We brought out some soapy water and she worked away until the gems were shiny and new. What a rewarding job!

Justin and GranPapa watched intently as Alex excavated and cleaned her treasures.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Waiting and knitting

As a surprise to GranMama, Alex, Rorie, Justin and I headed down to Des Moines to sneak into her house and form a 'welcome home' committee. Alex and Auntie Rorie whiled away the 'wait' time learning how to finger knit. While her attention span isn't long enough to complete a full project (she's working on a headband), she can definitely weave with the best of them. GranMama and GranPapa were excited to see the kids, and this was the start of a fantastic (if humid) Iowa weekend.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"Penguins" by Alex

Alex is prepping her portfolio for the upcoming Washington County Fair... here are some "penguin shots" that she snapped at the zoo today.

"Goats" by Amy

The children and I had a lovely visit to the zoo today-- despite threatening skies, it was quite nice out! We began by visiting the new penguin exhibit, where we happened upon feeding time. This was followed by a stroll past the sea otters (also feeding time), the eleven o'clock bird show and a stop at the playground. THEN we hit the jackpot. It was time to visit the goats at the farm. This is by far Alex's favorite part of our zoo visits-- we figured out last summer that kids can request brushes and help groom their goaty pals. We spent a glorious half hour petting, talking to, and brushing the goats (and gently reprimanding them for gently nibbling on baby toes....but they're so delectable, who could blame them?).

Heidi and Little Swan.

Mmm.... baby feet.....

These ARE good!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day Trip- Part 3: Alpine Slide

After lunch in the town of Taylors Falls (very quaint), we decided to add one more leg to our adventure. There is an alpine slide at the Wild Mountain ski hill that looked like a fun end to our trip. Alex was excited. She was really looking forward to riding a chair lift, which we decided was really strange to do when there is no snow on the ground. She was excited to sit with Daddy and tell him whether to go faster or slower. She was excited to pick out her sled. She was pumped...until, that is, it was time to sit on the slide and go down the mountain. No amount of begging, pleading, bribing or brute force was going to get her to go down. Gramps even went first so she could watch him. After about fifteen minutes of Alex putting her foot down, we called it a wash. I headed down the hill on my slide and Dave and Alex came back down on the chair lift :-)

Going up:At the top: At the bottom:

Day Trip- Part 2: Paddleboat Tour

After our exploration, it was time to relax on an authentic paddleboat tour of the St. Croix River. While the rock formations weren't as plentiful as they are in the Wisconsin Dells area, there were a few gorgeous bluffs. Alex and Justin enjoyed the 80 minute boat ride, and we all appreciated the cool breeze! What a gorgeous day!

Day Trip- Part 1: Scrambling around Potholes--

Gramps and Grams were up for a visit this weekend-- perhaps the highlight of the visit was our trip to Taylors Falls, where we wandered around the glacial potholes of Interstate State Park. I am always amazed when we discover something REALLY cool this close to home. It was in our favorite hiking book (60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Twin Cities), and we just hadn't gotten around to doing it yet.

It was really a fun excursion. Alex enjoyed scrambling around the rocks (local climbing clubs use this as a training site), and being "a mountain goat". It took a bit of coaxing to get her to really start being adventurous, but once she got the hang of maintaing three points of contact with the rock, she was off! Justin enjoyed the adventure from the (relative) security of his backpack.

The 'potholes' are these massive, perfectly circular chutes that were formed by swirling water and 'grinder' stones as the glacial ice began to melt. ...and this was only Part 1 of our day trip!

A local chipmunk totally SCORED When I spilled some powdered formula on the trail....

Thursday, July 21, 2011

WIP: The Finished Tent!

So....I'm a bit obsessive/compulsive when it comes to starting and finishing projects. That tent I told you about... yep, it's done. :-) I just received two new Beloved Buddy Memory Quilt orders, so I figured that I'd better man up and finish the tent tonight so I could do 'real' work in the upcoming weeks.I'm very pleased with the results-- better yet, Alex and Justin played in it for about an hour today (Justin was the "baby badger" and Alex oscillated between being the "big sister Otter" and the dragon-slaying "Mama Panda".....?? don't ask me...) The landscapes on the sides are perfect for imaginative play-- Alex went on many trips "to pick berries in the forest" and "to fetch water from the lake". (The sign....(PS- for those who don't know, Alex and Justin's "baby" nicknames are Panda Bear Baby and Baby it makes sense).

Doorway and 'window' (Alex request) .... my first time sewing a zipper- it opens and shuts, so I'm counting it a success!

The forest where Alex gathers berries.

Flowers in field.

The garden. It's either springtime or those are root vegetables! :-)

What's a playhouse without a Fairy Ring?

Cattails by the lake.