Wednesday, July 27, 2011

flour power

Zachary has a lot of fun with flour today. First he was helping me bake, then he was trying to leaven the dough in Meemaw's atrium.
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Random shot

Here's a random picture of Timmy from park day today.

We enjoyed joining another family for daily Mass this morning. One of the two visiting priests is deaf, so the Mass was celebrated in both verbal and sign language. The congregation was a little fidgety, with only two moms and seven kids in attendance (the oldest child being 8). I was thinking what a blessing it was that the deaf priest wasn't bothered by the protests of a preschooler who didn't want to hold still!
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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Symphony Square

We finally made it out to Symphony Square this summer to see the Biscuit Brothers. The kids enjoyed playing with the instruments. Zachary wasn't always sure which end to play!

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day fifteen: Grandpa Helm's house

We had an enjoyable visit with Great Grandpa Helms. My brother Michael played Life with the boys. I enjoyed walking around his property picking rasberries and dewberries. Zachary found a cattail in the pond to play with. We also helped burn a brush pile and used it to make s'mores.

We left around lunchtime (leaving grandma behind... which Zachary didn't like!) to drive back to Chicago. The drive went well except the last 5 miles, which took an hour to drive because the lights were out due to a strong storm system that had passed through that morning, knocking down hundreds of trees. Thankfully Aunt Jacky and Uncle Kent had a generator so they had power.

Day sixteen we left around 6 am and drove and drove and drove until we reached Austin (about 1 am Wednesday morning). It was good to be home!

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Day fourteen: Niagara Falls

We drove to Niagara Falls and picked up Adventure Passes to explore the major attraction: Maid of the Mist, Cave of the Winds, Discovery Center, Legends of Adventure Theater, and the Niagara Aquarium. I should also mention the trolly, which the kids enjoyed riding. We spent most of the day exploring, took lots of pictures, had ice cream for lunch, and left about 3 pm to drive to Akron, OH (where my mom grew up) to spend the night at her dad's house.

Niagara Falls

Day thirteen: Zachary's birthday

Saturday was Zachary's birthday. We had to check out of the cottage by 10 am, so we had cake early... coffee cake. We packed up and left by 9 am, drove to Syracuse to drop Doug off at the airport, and made it to our hotel near Buffalo by noon (a bit earlier than we expected). We had a picnic lunch at a nearby park and went to the 4 pm vigil Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians. We had dinner at Denny's, intending to get some ice cream for Zachary, but he was not cooperative. He was definitely acting two!

Zachary's birthday

Day twelve: last day at Fair Wind

We took it easy on Friday: fishing, swimming, boat watching and starting to pack. We made have made one last trip to the ice cream parlor too.

Last day at Fair Wind

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Day eleven: Pontoon boat

On Thursday my dad wanted to do something special in honor of his parent's anniversary. We rented a pontoon boat for the day and explored the St. Lawrence Seaway. WE each adopted boat names: Uncle Dave was Captain Peg-Leg, Lucas was First-Mate Chocolate Mustache (still wearing the hot chocolate he'd had from breakfast), Doug was Second-Mate Wet Pants (Tsunami Timmy drove into a big wave and soaked his daddy with chilly water), and my aunts were the Sister of the Sea.

Our first stop was Rock Island. That is where my grandparents asked their ashed to be scattered (almost a year previously). We explored the island, which is actually a park, and took lots of pictures. The flowers were beautiful, I can see why that was a special place for them.

Next we went to Picnic Point Park and ate lunch in a little harbor. A pair of loons swam around the boat with their little one and we watched each other. My mom and the kids did a lot of fishing and caught a few perch big enough to cook for Friday's dinner. The boys drifted out in their little inflatable boat tethered to the pontoon boat and Doug took a brief dip in the chilly water. Zachary talked me into swimming too, but didn't stay in the water long himself. We drove into Canada, just because we could, then stopped briefly at a park on Wellesley Island where my dad lost his glasses in the water. Thankfully Captain Peg-Leg spotted them in the clear water and I only had to dive a few feet down to get them. It would have been a long drive home if our primary driver couldn't drive! We stayed out all day then came back and grilled Bratwurst for dinner. The sunset that night was spectacular (too bad my camera was still recovering from the soaking it got on the boat).

Boating on St. Lawrence

Day ten: Coyote Moon Winery

We took it easy on Wednesday, except for a breif trip down the road to Coyote Moon Winery. They explained to the kids how wine was made and Grandma and I took them out to explore the vinyard while the other adults had a wine-tasting. Doug was very impressed by several of the sweet wines, so we joined their club and agreed to buy a few bottles every quarter. I look forward to having some in another six months. Most of the plants in the vinyard were still very young, some of them newly planted with green protectors around them. It was a fun outing. We stopped for icecream on the way back (Lucas and Zachary were asleep) and tried some fun flavors like "Panda Paws" and "Muddy Sneakers." It was very good and not very expensive. Timmy ordered a large and shared half of it with Lucas when he woke up.

Judy, Jill, and Dave taught us how to play Farkle, a dice game, and even made a set for the kids to take home with them. It was fun just hanging out. We had barbecued steaks for dinner. When Doug cooked the pork chops on the grill, there was fire coming out of places it shouldn't have (like the adjustment knobs) so they brought us a different grill to use the rest of the week.

When if finally got dark Uncle Dave built a campfire and Aunt Judy lit it. The kids made s'mores but soone the mosquitoes chased most everyone back inside. Aunt Jill and I stayed up until 11pm watching for shooting stars and satellites and talking. Good memories.
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Day nine: Lake Ontario Beach

On Tuesday we drove to Southwick Beach State Park. When we arrived no one was swimming, but we waded out quite a ways on the sand bar. Zachary didn't like it when the waves were bigger than he was. It reminded me so much of beaches in Texas that I kept expecting the water to be salty. After awhile a lifeguard told us that we were only allowed to swim in the designated swimming area and only when the lifeguards were on duty (they had not yet arrived when we started). They had several other interesting rules too, like no inflatables and no throwing anything on the beach (including Frisbees). I guess they do things differently in New York. By that time we were chilled so we spent the late morning digging in the sand and playing on the playground.

When we got back to Fair Wind, the boys tried again to find the lost Frisbee, but instead they found lots of mud which made them happy too. Grandma threw them in the St. Lawrence to pre-rinse before I gave them a shower.

Day Nine: Lake Ontario beach

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day eight: 4th of July

We started the day with morning Mass and played on the amazing wooden playground behind the church. Then we drove to Sackets Harbor and toured this historic War of 1812 battle site.
Back at Fair Wind, Doug was playing Frisbee with the boys and accidentally threw it off the cliff. Although we spent quite a bit of time looking for it, the area was so overgrown and treacherous (with holes, landslides, and bees) that we never did find it (but the boys did find some mud, see tomorrow's pictures). Timmy was very sad, so Uncle Dave got him a new Frisbee.
Later we drove to my dad's cousin Sylvia's house. She lives across Black River Bay from Sackets Harbor. We ate dinner there and took the kayaks out in the harbor to watch the fireworks. The view from the water was awesome. There were several displays going on so we could see fireworks off in the distance all around us, and some fireworks (from the neighbors) were almost directly overhead. It was late when we drove back to the cottage.

4th of July in NY

Day seven: Fair Wind

After Holy Mass in Clayton at beautiful St. Mary's Church and a trip to the grocery store, we relaxed and enjoyed the amenities at Fair Wind. The kids enjoyed the pool and fishing with grandma, the adults enjoyed visiting and watching for barges on the river. Doug barbecued pork chops for dinner and we ate on picnic tables overlooking the St. Lawrence seaway and watched the sun set over the water. After dinner we drove a few miles down the road back to Clayton and watched the fireworks display over the harbor.

Day Seven: Fair Winds

Day six: MoST in Syracuse

Doug was flying into Syracuse, NY, but not until the evening, so we spent the morning at the Museum of Science and Technology (MoST). It had great exhibits on the human body, earth science, physics, and astronomy. Timmy loved building with K'Nex and Zachary loved the model train. There was also an awesome multi-level playhouse with a three-story slide that the boys loved (see the look on Zachary's face after coming off the slide- he must have done it two dozen times). We had no trouble spending six hours there. After we picked up Doug, we drove the last hour-and-a-half to Clayton, NY and met my Aunst Jill and Judy and Uncle Dave. We stayed in a cottage at the Fair Winds Lodge, the same place we went 17 years ago to celebrate my grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary.

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Day five: Driving to New York

On Friday we left early to drive to New York. We enjoyed playing with out Jelly Belly souveneirs at the rest stops. Lucas is surprisingly good with a frisbee.
Some of the time the boys slept. Our hotel for the night didn't have a pool so we played at a nearby park before bed.

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Day four: Jelly Belly

On Thursday we took a tour of a nearby Jelly Belly warehouse (in Wisconsin), but I forgot to take pictures. Aunt Jackie bought each of the boys a souvenir. Lucas chose an umbrella, Timmy and Zachary chose balls, and she threw in a Frisbee for fun.

My dad took us on a driving tour of the neighborhood where he grew up. Then we stopped to play at the nearby beach on Lake Michigan, but I still didn't have my camera. There were beautiful polished rocks along the shore mixed with the sand. Hard on the feet but easy on the eyes.

In the afternoon we played at Aunt Jackie's house. The boys enjoyed playing croquet on the front lawn and Timmy drew this story in chalk (it's about robots and a volcano). They also enjoyed the game room in the basement.
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day three: Chicago Botanical Gardens

On Wednesday Aunt Jacky took us to visit the Chicago Botanical Gardens. We started with a tram tour and then visited the model train area. Then we walked through the Bonsai trees to the rose garden and enjoyed some ice cream. While my dad and aunt sat by the waterfall, the rest of us explored the Oriental garden. Lucas and Timmy ran off to join them while Zachary, my mom, and I took a longer way back. While we were exploring the sensory garden Lucas fell off the rock into the waterfall. When we rejoined them a wet, shirtless Lucas was sitting on my aunt's lap getting her pants muddy (she didn't mind).

We had bratwurst for dinner and enjoyed another pleasant evening at their house.

Chicago Botanical Gardens

Day two: St. Louis

After a great complimentary breakfast, we spent the morning at the Magic House (the St. Louis Children's Museum). We arrive before they opened and enjoyed the outdoor garden sculptures. By noon it was starting to get crowded so we left.

We drove just north of Chicago, IL to the house of my Aunt Jackie and Uncle Kent. They treated us to a wonderful dinner. Afterwards the kids played in the basement. They had never been in a basement before. It has a pool table and small putting green with an automatic ball return. Lucas accidentally broke a golfing figurine while playing with the golfing set, but Uncle Kent didn't seem to mind.

The adults enjoyed visiting on the back porch. It overlooks their large bubbling water fountain and a small pond with fish. It was fun to watch the golden finches and red-winged black birds visit the bird feeders while the chipmunks and squirrels played on the wood pile. They had a little fire so the kids could make s'mores. It stays light until after 9 pm and the sun rises by 5 am, so it we often stayed up late. The weather was so beautiful (not like the 100 plus degrees we were escaping in Austin), and everything was so lush and green. I really enjoyed our time there, their house beats any resort, and they are the embodiment of gracious hospitality.

All of these pictures were taken in St. Louis.
Magic House in St. Louis

Day one: Driving to St. Louis

Day one we drove from Austin to St. Louis, stopping at several interesting rest stops in different states. My favorite was the Route 66 themed rest stop in Missouri. My dad did the driving while my mom and I entertained the kids. The only glitch was finding the hotel. Apparently the roads have moved a bit since the Garmin navigation system was last updated so it became confused and we missed the turn. The kids thought it was great fun wandering the neighborhoods while the Garmin kept saying "recalculating." It was late when we arrived, but we took a swim in the hotel pool to let the kids burn off some energy. Doug opted to skip the drive and flew up to meet us in Syracuse, New York a week into the trip.

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