Let's start off with a little tour highlighting just how amazing creation is. (Because we pretty much live in the woods now.)
What makes a perfect May? No mosquitoes. This little guy has our heartfelt gratitude.
Everything from our favorite picnic table to the forest floor was covered in tiny white flower petals, thanks to these fragrant beauties.
Anna and Ella are turning into quite the explorers.
Why are mushrooms so cool looking?
We came across a female painted turtle.
How could we tell it was a female? Oh, just a educated guess.
Turtles: The original full-body tattoo artists.
If there's one thing Minnesota is lacking, it's mountains (well, and an ocean), but these clouds are a pretty creative stand in.
Being Lego nerds, we all jumped at the chance to venture over to the Minnesota Arboretum to see their temporary Lego display. Here is a slideshow of the awesomeness:
Of course we took in all the natural sights as well. The peonies were intoxicating, as always.
Anna posed by one...
until her sisters noticed the flowers' many visitors.
Here's Corbin sporting another yum-a-luscious flower: the lilac.
The gardens were sprinkled with statues. Ella and Anna took to the wolf.
There were lots of fountains, too. We like water, yes we do. (Around this time Alex counseled me on staying on the paths and keeping out of the water. Sigh.) Here was my answer to that suggestion.
Proof that water was meant to be played with:
The flowers' fragrance, the gurgle of water rushing over rocks, and the sun on my back... I was in a state of bliss.
Until Alex chastised me for venturing off the path again. Something about signs and no entry and being a bad example. Ugh. The voice of reality can be so harsh. Soon he had the other kiddos chiming in as well. Nora took a picture of me in my defiant act.
Quiet Caleb suddenly decided to climb a tree. Of course best bud Alex didn't seem to object to that little stunt, and happily joined him.
The girls were thrilled to see some sunbathing turtles.
Ella really has a thing for turtles. Maybe it's because she knows she can catch them.
She really wanted these geese in the worst way, but they stayed just out of reach. (It was humorous, hearing me telling her to go get them while Alex was telling her to leave them alone.)
Cute little buggers, aren't they?
Look! It's the kids and I as geese:
My favorite Lego build was the dragonfly, mostly because I thought the way it reflected in the nearby pond was so cool.
How do you get the pond's fish to come close? Give them something to nibble on.
I'm sure you can guess just what Alex thought of that little stunt.
Soon the others bravely dipped fingers and feet in the refreshing pool.
Ella enjoyed it so much she didn't want to leave.
I let you imagine Alex's comments as Anna and I climbed onto some off-limits rocks to take our obligatory Anna and mom selfie by a waterfall.
Around this point Alex commandeered the map from me and took charge. No matter, I still found ways to amuse myself. Here's Rosa entering her garden:
Much to Alex's dismay, we were just getting started. Here's Rosa as the sun:
And my favorite: Rosa making a funny face:
Lunchtime! We picnicked on an outdoor patio, complete with serenading waiters.
From there we ventured to Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America. That seemed to cheer Alex up a bit, so I had to thoroughly embarrass him again by taking a picture of a vehicle sporting the boys' old favorite saying: XD.
Why yes, I do think Alex is actually enjoying himself here.
This year Nora and Rosa decided to forgo shopping and spent the day at NU with their brothers. Here is a slideshow of their for-the-cameras antics: (Sorry for the poor quality... the picture people decided no more free downloads, so I had to... um... de-watermark the pictures that somehow found their way onto my computer anyway...(Got to love GIMP))
Not surprisingly, Corbin is the extreme thrill seeker of the bunch. He mostly toggled between the SpongeBob coaster and the Airbender ride. No matter what, those hands are in the air.
Dropping straight down doesn't even phase him.
Only Caleb was willing to go on the air-bender ride with Corbin. (Who is singing along with the song "best day of my life" in this photo while Caleb is contemplating just what he got himself into.)
70 feet sure looks a long way up. Caleb kicked his feet and made desperate comments while Corbin just did his usual hands in the air pose.
Meanwhile... Nora, Rosa, and Alex fly like turtles (?) on the Teenage Ninja Turtle ride.
The girls were thrilled to be able to be just one of the "boys" this time out.
While they continued to have a screaming good time, Anna and Ella raided the Build-a-Bear store. Ella made a blue dragon and Anna got Kevin the Minion.
From there we raided the bookstore, stopping to play at the train table, of course.
Before we headed back home, I had to get Rosa in front of the Sponge Bob statue again.
The funniest thing about her shirt is it actually was Wednesday.
We all agreed that was a nice diversion from our forest romps, but had way too many humans. Not to say that the wood isn't a lively place, though...
We just enjoy the musical interludes of these natives over the hustle and bustle of throngs of people.
Finding "treasures" in a mall is expensive and the joy short lived. Finding treasures like this little creation is awesome.
Walking the mall's hard flooring gave us all blistering sore feet. We found the best foot soak ever. Ahhh...
Won't it be nice when the whole world's like this?
Proof that Rosa really is a princess:
Corbin found a friend on his shoulder.
Funny, I found a friend on my shoulder, too.
Nora found some real eye candy. Tiny tea cups:
and a radiant gent:
It's always interesting seeing the photos the gang took on each romp. Caleb, our resident bird, often trees himself. Here's his view of his sisters:
The trees in New York won't know what hit 'em.
I'm a bit jealous he'll get the sunset before us.
Another day another... wait, what?!? It's June already? The kids managed to limp their way to school's finish line. How to celebrate? Did you have to ask?
Where we always have a swinging good time, naturally.
There's been a lot of humans in our favorite forest lately. You'd think some goofy blogger's been writing about it's awesomeness or something. (*Slapping myself in the forehead*) You can just imagine how the kiddos and I felt upon entering our forest full of loud and obnoxious humans.
Our solution to that little issue? Stay away from the trails and explore the deeper innards. (And, sadly, bring along bags to put all the dropped litter in. Note to new frolickers: Come on, you brought that can/ candy wrapper/ water bottle into the woods, surely you can manage to bring it back out again. Sheesh. And for crying out loud, if you must bring your dog, leash it! That cute little friend of yours can kill a whole lot of the younger natives here. Alright, not-human-by-choice getting off her soapbox now.)
Alex received quite the scare of his life when a large branch crashed to the ground right in front of him. Why? For a long moment he thought it was someone's leg. Let's just say we were all glad it wasn't.
The continued frequent downpours lead to wondrous mushroom bouquets.
Everything is so alive this time of year. New life abounded...
and old life fought to remain...
Hmm... I wonder what alpha-wolf-wannabe plans to do here?
Probably something he'll regret. Run lad, run!
Caleb with the true alpha-wolf:
Some friends came up with a fitting illustration for the three boys: they are like an Oreo cookie: Alex and Corbin on either (and opposite) ends, and Caleb is the filling that holds them all together.
It will be interesting to see how Alex and Corbin get along without their sidekick.
Good thing they calm down with the sinking sun. We all conglomerated on the beach as usual, to watch the setting sun.
So what are we doing? Well, Alex found a poor fella half buried in the sand.
and I marveled at this tiny beast:
Rosa on her goodbye-sun perch:
Well, until Ella commandeered it.
The finale: my view:
Alex's has quite the eye for getting good shots with his tablet. He caught Nora showcasing the rising moon:
Caleb wasn't impressed. He thinks he has Alex and I in the palm of his hand sometimes.
We took Caleb for one last walk in a nearby arboretum. Rosa as a superhero:
Nora getting in touch with her inner Moses:
Nature's eye-candy: bees and flowers everywhere.
Best friends Nora and Rosa:
All too soon we were down to our last couple days with Caleb. We took one last romp in our woods. Because tables are meant to be stood on?
Rosa's marshmallows are always roasted to perfection, never burnt. (She doesn't actually eat them, of course. She just like showing us how a true princess roasts them.)
Ella and Anna's favorite part? Pumping water from the well to put out the fire.
Most of the springtime flowers were gone, but if you look past the but-those-are-weeds factor, there's still plenty of eye candy. Clovers of all colors dotted the prairie. Purple is nice:
But I'm partial to this multicolored variety: variety.
This little beauty even made a face.
Tiny mushrooms (or, as I used to call them, ant skyscrapers) dotted the path.
Don't tell boarder patrol, but this little illegal is a Canada Anemone.
While I was busy ogling over all the prairie flowers...
Ella and Anna spotted a fellow wanderer on the path ahead.
The ol' chap surrendered to the paparazzi, not even trying to struggle as the girls thoroughly inspected every inch of him.
Ella was beside herself. She loves turtles in an almost unhealthy way.
Anna's sympathy was finally stirred when Ella repeatedly flipped him upside down. Maybe we should let him go now, she suggested. After one last staredown, Ella reluctantly agreed.
So we continued on, resuming our hunt for all things awesome.
From the prairie we ventured into the woods, where the rest were already exploring.
What exactly were they up to?
Sometimes it's better to just not ask.
We ended up pretty much running through the woods. Why? Well, Caleb sums it up nicely here.
Yep, it's officially summer in Minnesota!
One perk of Caleb heading off to Bethel: he got a phone so we can keep in touch. (And he actually keeps it on him, unlike mine that is buried under piles of papers somewhere.)
We'll end with an ending: Caleb's last days with us. Who will miss him the most? Many a human have proclaimed that title (including me, of course), but the true winner of that honor may just be his beloved and loyal Birdzie.
The next outings page will be all about Caleb's new home! Stay tuned.