Saturday, June 20, 2015

Catching up on June

Oh goodness, I feel like there's a lot of catching up to do! I can't believe we are already three weeks into summer vacation--I feel like we have spent so much time just being sick! (And now three of the kids have sore throats--me too--darn it!) My poor kids have inherited weak respiratory systems from both parents, but fortunately they have learned to be good sports about it. 

But while we have spent a lot of days playing Legos, reading, jumping on the trampoline, and eating popsicles in our self-imposed quarantine, we have ventured out a few times! And I must say that I feel like I am much less energetic than I've been in past summers, but I don't know if that's because I have been so sick too, or if I've been just running a lot even while being sick (98 miles so far in June with ten days left to go, and I start official marathon training on July 6th, so I am trying to make sure I run at least 33 miles a week, since that is what I will run the first week of training). I've been trying to be creative about fitting it in without infringing too much on family time--so today, for instance, I got up when everyone else was still sleeping and ran 12 miles so I could meet Neil & the kids at the cherry orchard--I was so happy to be done with my run that I didn't take any orchard photos! Oops. Basically it was like this plus three more kids (and a lot more bugs!).

Anyway, here's some of what we've been doing on the occasions when everyone has simultaneously felt well enough to venture out for a few hours. 

One of the most exciting things happened the day after school got out--we had some baby raccoons show up at our house! (Photo credits go to Jules...hence the camera strap in the picture. I was busy trying to shoo them away from the door so we could get back inside the house and admittedly screaming like a baby every time they hissed at me.) So then we had this very long huge dramatic episode trying to find a place for these abandoned raccoons that was NOT our porch (there were three and they just kept running around the house from the front to the back, and hissing at us like crazy). We finally found a rehabilitator who could take them the next day, so Neil gloved up and put them all into a plastic tote and Isaac made them some scrambled eggs. They were sort of cute but they smelled SO bad and I was thrilled to drop them off the next day with the rehabilitator. 

A few hours after the raccoons departed, we had some much more welcome visitors--one of my BYU roommates and her family spent the night with us on their way to Utah! It was the first time I've seen her since we lived together in 2002, so it was really fun to catch up and let the kids play together. We even got to go running on my favorite trail! And darn it, I completely forgot to take any pictures--Luke was already sick and I was starting to come down with it, so I wasn't at 100% mentally.

I can't remember when I took these photos--I know it was a Saturday that Neil was at the lab, because I remember that I was alone in the woods with all the kids and the tornado sirens went off for the monthly test. Fun stuff! At least our kids are so used to living in tornado country that they looked at the sky, asked me the date, and then kept on walking.

The big kids did vacation Bible school again this summer and LOVED it! It came at the perfect time when Luke and I were both really not feeling well, so it was wonderful for Abs, Jules, and Isaac to have something fun to do in the mornings while Luke and I were lying on the floor in our pajamas trying to summon up the strength to read another book. :-) Sadly, Juliet and Isaac got sick the last day (and I had Abigail stay home too), so they didn't get to perform in their final program nor did we get any pictures. But here's one from last year (wow, we did a lot of fun things that week!)

One day last week we went to the snake show at the library--Abigail had been counting down the days to this since she reeeaaallly wants a pet snake and I reeeaaally told her that she can't have one until she has her own place to live. But we will visit other snakes.

I think Isaac took this photo. Nathan and I were at the snake show! I think this was right after the guy asked me to help hold the 15-foot python, and I stood up to go help, and Nathan went absolutely crazy at the idea that I might be four feet away. So I held a teary-eyed Nathan instead of a python. Much more cuddly.

Part of the snake I didn't hold (but I held it last year at the same show when I was also asked to help, and Nathan was small enough not to mind, so I didn't miss much this year).
We also had a delightful interlude at our local children's museum yesterday, but I forgot my camera, so we'll have to go back sometime soon (seriously, this place is my favorite--$60 for an annual family pass and it gets us into all the Chicago museums too!). 

One night last week the girls were super bummed to miss their riding lesson (those darn fevers!) and I literally could not take one more evening home with sick kids, so we took advantage of the heat and went to the campus fountains. Super fun!

Although those feverish little kids did get pretty cold pretty fast (but then they warmed back up and ran out again).

After we were done with the fountains, we used our summer reading coupons for free Coldstone ice cream. Yum yum! Much more pleasant way to spend an evening than lying around the house being sick (that weird stage of recovery where you feel well enough to actually do a few things but you're not well enough to be in close contact with anyone, so the fountains were perfect!).

And speaking of water, we have had SO MUCH RAIN. This is our street one day last week. We had probably ten days where it rained every day, and then one day it was like the drainage system suddenly couldn't handle one more drop and this happened. I have very low hopes for my poor garden this year--it's just spent too many days in a state of perpetual flood. :-(
And speaking of floods, one of the things on our summer bucket list this year was to attend Kids' Day at our local(ish) branch of the Erie Canal, since kids ride the canal boat free on one day a year. So after the 12-mile run and the cherry orchard, we headed over with a picnic lunch and got there to find that Kids' Day was cancelled due to flooding--argh! (NOT posted on their website...nice job, guys). Apparently the canal was three feet higher than usual, which meant it was so high that the boat could neither exit the boathouse, nor could it get under the bridge. It was kind of a bummer to miss the boat ride and all of the associated events, but we still spent a fun couple of hours wandering around.

And the full-size canal boat replica which had been turned into a playground was a HUGE hit!

While we were walking around the replica town (everything was locked up since the festival had been postponed) a very nice man who was gardening offered to take us on a trolley ride and tell us about the history of the canal and point out different features. So we had a private tour and the kids absolutely loved it!

This is the boathouse--can you see a dock? Nope? Yeah, that's why there is no boat ride right now.

I was there!

Some blurry photos of my darling Nater-tot.

Some more of the floodwaters...typically the canal is 4 feet deep, 40 feet wide at the top, and 26 wide at the bottom. We learned that it was illegal (and strictly enforced!) for boats carrying passengers to travel at more than 4 mph, while boats carrying freight were restricted to 2 mph. If they went faster, the wake deteriorated the canal banks. I didn't get a photo of the terminus, since we never had a good angle, but this is actually the location where they stopped digging this particular branch of the canal system, since they ran out of funding and then the railroad took over (the canal site in our own town is currently occupied by Amtrak).

The city still maintains 10 miles of towpaths, which are now used for biking, walking, running, etc. (Sidenote: I was REALLY bummed that the guy renting surreys quit doing so this year, since I was more excited about renting the 8-person surrey than I was about riding the boat!)

If you are really into canals you can read about our trip to Lockport, NY (right by Niagara Falls) here. I grew up in Ohio and we did lots of field trips to the canals & locks so I quite enjoy replicating the experience with my kids. :-) (Minus the secret passages in all the Underground Railroad homes that are all over the place in Ohio, which were WAY cool to check out on school field trips!)

A few of the replica structures...

And our wonderful tour guide who made sure that each of our kids had a chance to ring the trolley bell.

Nathan was so in love with this windmill and couldn't stop talking about it. Cute kid.

The girls found a seesaw near the one-room schoolhouse and had a blast playing on it before we ate lunch.

And then we went to their museum, which was surprisingly fun, interactive, and detailed.

Isaac loved guessing which types of fur belonged to which animal...

The girls were fascinated by the replica shanty that would have housed the families of the men who worked on actually creating the canals.

EVERYONE was in love with the water area that allowed you to guide a canal boat through the locks.

And boy howdy did they have fun with the 1830s dressups!

Isaac only wears dressups if it's Halloween, so he was over checking out the tools section.  

And on our way out we pretended to be oxen & mules dragging the canal boat behind us. All seven of us could not budge that darn thing one centimeter, thanks to a winter's worth of silt buildup all around it! Guess we'll just have to go back another time.

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