Life is Good: and full of memories!
I've just downloaded photo after photo of summer fun. I have absolutely no idea when I will have the time to review them and put them into folders and then move them over to our external hard drive. It is really delightful, though, to steal five or ten minutes to gaze at all of the fun we've had together. One great memory from the summer is our 10-hour drive back to Minnesota from my parents' in Kansas.
The drive back was full of giggles. We listened to part of a baseball game (MN Twins vs. KC Royals--the Royals won.) and counted road signs. I pulled out some new things to occupy the kiddos' time--namely catalogs (Oriental Trading is a fave), brochures, maps, and Playmobil set inserts. They pour over those things!
We also stopped in Kansas City to see one of my besties. She and I have been friends since we met at Vacation Bible School when we were in elementary school. I wish we could have stayed longer, but we had seven more hours to drive...
So many people have asked me WHY we drive instead of flying. It's a valid question. We always flew until four years ago at Christmastime when our flights were canceled. That wasn't going to keep us from being with family for the holiday. NOTHING could keep me from that. We discovered that the drive was super easy (you can practically put your car on auto pilot!) and it took roughly the same amount of time when you figure how much time it takes to taxi to the airport, go through security, wait for the plane to take off plus layovers, etc. And hey, it's cheaper!
It was hard to say goodbye to my parents. Boy, did I hit the jackpot when I got them for parents. To say that seems unfair. Luck had nothing to do with that. They are a blessing. My great blessing. God knew exactly who I needed to parent me. Dramatic, emphatic, curious, talkative, sensitive me. To call my parents hospitable and accommodating seems like an understatement. The ten days we spent together were easy and smile-filled.
There was never a dull moment, either. We went to the park a lot. And visited a zoo in Goddard, KS. Or rather, a super cool zoo called Tanganyika Wildlife Park. I can't believe it is in Kansas! Don't tell anyone in Minneapolis, but I think it is better than our zoo! They had a lot of animals there that my kids have never seen up close before such as white tigers (adults and babies), cheetahs, and zebras. It had a lot of experiential opportunities like a kangaroo bin where you could pet the kangaroos and walk around them.
We also saw tortoises and fed goats and giraffes.
Back to the kangaroos...I've never seen a kangaroo in real life before! They have really interesting faces. However, I was most surprised by how the Joeys ride in their pouches...kind of a U-shape, with head and legs sticking out!
The little ones looked so soft and furry, but man, they look uncomfortable! Not exactly like Kanga and Roo from Winnie the Pooh!
Wichita, Kansas is not exactly a vacation spot, but if you ever happen to be there, Tanganyika is a "can't miss" sort of place. They also have a ring-tailed lemur area where you can sit next to and feed the animals. The ones in the photo were about four feet away from us at the time.
The weather was sunny and typical for Kansas, HOT. I mean, h.o.t. As in 100+ degree days. So we had lots of pool time.
Of course, it was just a 6-ft round kiddie pool. I grew up with a pool in the backyard. It was divine! But about five years ago, my parents decided to fill it in. And I withdrew their application for grandparents of the year. Okay, not really. I understand. It was a lot of work and they weren't using it that much. Soon after, my mom created a creek where the pool had been and enlarged her koi pond. So now, they have one less swimming pool and instead, a creek, four waterfalls, two koi ponds and a bog. All landscaped. Of course, I didn't even mention all of the little sitting areas including a walkway of Carrera marble stepping stones and a recovered and re-purposed tree-turned-bench. And yes, my mom designed them all on her own. All the way down to the shape of the rocks.
My mom is very creative. She decorates cakes, sews and paints. She cooks and gardens and builds. There is nothing (so far!) that she cannot teach herself how to make or construct or invent if she wants to!
The little boys loved watching Grandma's koi and feeding them each evening.
Many of the koi are the size of my forearm! She has them trained to come up to the pond's edge when she claps her hands. They all have such neat patterns and colors--oranges of all shades and white, too. One of them even looks like it has eyelashes hanging off of its scales. Or at least eyeshadow. (Look on the left side of the pic below.)
I have so many more photos from that trip to sift through. Photos are such treasures to me. When all is said and done, we only have our photos and our memories.