Friday, July 30, 2010

Hanging Out with Paisley

This picture of the crepe myrtle in Annie's yard was supposed to be at the end, but turned up here at the beginning. Still beautiful.
Hanging out with Paisley has been loads of fun. We've done a variety of things together. Here's an interesting clay castle that was fun.

One day we took Paisley's scooter to her local park.

Another day we went to the local Farmer's Market and John was fascinated with this bean sheller one of the vendors had in the back of his pick-up. Customers were lined up for the black-eyed peas (purple hull beans) he was shelling.

Here's Paisley with John, holding the fresh blueberries we bought.

After the market we went to Kid's View, a super neat park with all kinds of towers, slides, bridges, etc.

I love this picture of Paisley peeking through this frame. Aren't her curls darling?
This little horse made from a tire is unique!

One day Paisley and I had a tea party. We planned to do it on the deck, but a downpour prevented that (since Paisley is terrified of even a tiny sprinkle). We planned to wear Paisley's pink hats, but she chickened out on me.

This is a better picture. Notice our flowers--we made them from magazine pages.
Check back for pictures of the Great Texas Balloon Race. It began this morning.
Have a great day!

Monday, July 26, 2010

From Minnesota to Texas in 2 days!

My last outing with Emily and Bri in Minnesota was to the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in St. Paul. Como is a nice-sized zoo complete with animals, butterflies, and beautiful flowers, as well as playground and picnic area. Although they ask for a $2 donation, anyone can visit for free. But, our special treat for the day was the carousel. It was also free that day. It was built in 1912 in Philadelphia and was a fixture of the Minnesota State Fair for many years.
Emily and Bri were thrilled with their ride. We even went back for a second ride after our picnic lunch.
There were many great animals at the zoo--polar bears, giraffe, lions, and others--but my favorites were the butterflies. They have a beautiful giant butterfly exhibit shaped like a caterpillar.
Another segment of the Como Zoo is the Conservatory, a beautiful garden with a goldfish pond. I loved this picture of Bri looking over the rim at the fish. All the flowers were beautiful, but I chose just this one to give you a taste.
After John arrived in Minnesota to pick me up and take me back to Nebraska, Jacob's baseball team won their district championship, so we decided to drive to Texas to watch the East Texas state championships. He played in Tyler, TX, which is close to Annie's in Longview, so it worked out well. Brian and Michelle and Rainey also stayed with us, so we had quite the cheering section.
Jacob was the starting pitcher for the first game of the series, so that was exciting for us. He did a great job, but later in the game (when he wasn't pitching) they came upon a rough part and ended up losing the game. Here he is pitching and batting. In the second game, Jacob played right field and caught an amazing fly ball. He had to jump, reach, and land stretched out on the ground. But when he got up, the ball was in his glove! Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of that perfect moment--boo hoo! Also unfortunately, they lost the game and Jacob's season came to an end, but his team (nicknamed the Dirt Bags for their scrappy comebacks) had a wonderful ride.

I thought this was a darling picture of John and Paisley at the game.
Here's Paisley and Rainey. They had a lot of fun running around at the ball park.
At the first game we tried to wear red, so Rainey and John cheered for Nebraska at the same time.
Jacob had promised me we could take a picture after the second game, so he kept his word and put on a happy face in spite of the loss. Thanks, Jacob--you played super.We were so honored to be able to watch you.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fort Snelling

Minnesota does a fantastic job of making history come alive for both young children and grown-up children. The most recent of my Summer Adventure series is Fort Snelling, established in 1819 to protect the fur trade and show an American presence in Dakota lands. It was later the site for military training from the Civil War to WW II.
Entering the gate, we were greeted by this commander of the fort. All the presenters in the fort are in period costume and maintain their character throughout the day. This gentlemen was later our leader for marching and charging.
This round house is the oldest standing structure in Minnesota. It served as a watchtower and was most probably designed for a "last stand," if needed. The thin windows for looking out and shooting are around the entire tower, so the soldiers could shoot outside the fort, as well as inside.
This view from the top of the tower gives a good over-all view of the fort.

This shows the view a soldier would have from inside the tower. You can just barely see the bridge over the Mississippi River.
We arrived at the fort in time for Children's Games (each half hour they have a different activity for the visitors). This kind lady was patient enough to give the girls a feel for walking on stilts. I can remember how Jessie and Megan loved these at the museum in Grand Island. John went home and made us several pairs for all the kids to enjoy.
This picture was taken in the upstairs of the home of Col. and Mrs. Snelling's house. I don't know if they had any children, but I can picture them looking out this window toward the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers.
Another activity was musket firing--quite impressive, but noisy!
Following that, was an opportunity for all visitors to line up, learn to march, then charge with their muskets (raised arms) toward the cowards who didn't join the charge. These are my little soldiers listening to their orders. There is not a picture of the charge because I decided I'd rather march than be fired upon.

We had a wonderful visit to the fort and our only regret was we ran out of time, but that left us wanting to come again. And this picture, as always, is a reminder of all the many brave men and women who have served to protect our country down through the years. Thank you.
And, lest you think all my time with my little girls is spent teaching them history lessons, here's a picture of them having fun at County Market, one of our close grocery stores. As we pulled up, Bri said, "Grandma, do you have any money left? They have a little merry-go-round here."
Have a good day!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Oliver Kelley Farm

Today the girls and I went to the Oliver Kelley Farm near Elk River, MN, about a half hour west of here. It is a working farm restored from the 1860's. This was our third year to visit, so we were remembering all the animals we'd seen before. This morning at home, Emily said, "I wonder if Daisy will be there?" She has a picture of her with Daisy from last year. Sure enough, Daisy was one of the first animals we saw!The farm does a great job of teaching children about work around the farm and Emily and Bri experienced several new things this year. The first was laundry. They were given a piece of clothing, a bar of soap, and a wash board. The lady in charge of laundry today was Emily so the two Emily's had their picture taken together. Bri, who loves to play in water, had a great time.

Here you can see some of the wash on the line and a man working in the hay field beyond the house.
I'm not really sure why, but pumping water is always one of Emily's favorite things to do. Although Bri couldn't do it on her own, she helped.
We've always visited their big garden, but today the girls had a very important job--picking potato bugs off the potato plants. Emily loved this and Bri joined in too. After they were done picking the bugs, they got to feed them to the chickens. (Sorry I forgot to rotate that picture.)

In the big barn the main attraction was lots of kittens. A few were sleeping on a stack of lumber. One of the mothers was bringing in a mouse for her family and she dropped it just inside the door of the barn. Of course, Bri asked, "Can I pet it?" She has a strange fascination for dead animals.
Another job the girls had fun with was using the big pitchforks moving the hay from one pile to another. Amazingly enough, no one was injured!
This last picture gives you a better view of the house and shows the oxen going out to the hayfield.
We had a wonderful time, as always. There was some rain and some mud, but the girls were good sports. The only part they objected to was the walk back to the car since it was our first year to not bring the stroller. And, next year, Bri will probably be able to pump water. They are growing up so fast.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Best of Both Worlds

I love my little house in the country--the fresh air, the open spaces, the solitude when I want it. I wouldn't trade it for anything. But . . . exploring a large city stirs something in me. I love the hustle and bustle, the mix of people and languages, the attractions and events. And, I especially love to navigate a city's public transportation. It is a great opportunity to really get to know a city and its people.

Last week Steph dropped me off at the nearby train station and I took Minneapolis's new Metro North into Target Field, then I took a bus over to St. Paul to the Science Museum exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The exhibit was very thorough, exploring all the details of finding and acquiring the scrolls in the 1940's and 50's, as well as the culture surrounding the time of the writing of the scrolls. Although the scripture they contain is Old Testament, they were written during the time of Christ. They are the earliest copy we have of the O.T., and they agree completely with the copies our Bible is translated from.
Also on display with the scroll fragments are pages from the St. John's Bible, the first hand-written, illuminated copy of the Bible commissioned in 500 years since the invention of the printing press. It will be completed next year after twelve years of work on it. It is a beautiful book.
Minnesota has many beautiful parks, and one of the most renowned in the Twin Cities is Rice Park. Besides being the location for the ice sculptures during the Winter Carnival, it is a memorial to Charles Schulz, one of St. Paul's favorite sons. Of course, my favorite is Lucy reading a book on a park bench.
On another day we visited the Minnesota Children's Museum, also in St. Paul. They currently have a special exhibit about the Wizard of Oz. Here's Emily on a bike like the one the witch rode in the movie.
For lunch we had a picnic at Harriet Island--not really an island--but a very nice playground for the girls.They always have fun--whatever they're doing.

There are so many parks, we could probably go to a different one each day for a month.
I love this last picture. Emily came out with this outfit on (all on her own) and Bri just happened to be wearing her froggy Peace shirt. Aren't they a couple of hippies from the 60's?
Have a great day!