The last half of summer proved refreshing for all.
Our local library ended their summer reading program with a special visit from some oceanic creatures. Nora is really into sea critters, so we made sure to go.
Nora found some sea horse skeletons on the touch and feel table.
Corbin imagined what it would be like to come face to face with a shark.
But the highlight was getting to touch the live animals. There was a horseshoe crab, a starfish, and a shark!
The weather this summer has been wonderful... not too hot or humid; and no big storms. We spent many happy hours playing outside. Our wagon lost a wheel, so we made a "tragon" by connecting it to a tricycle. The kids thought it was neat.
The girls really got along well this summer. Anna is no longer a baby, and loves playing alongside her sisters.
A summer highlight was our District Convention. Caleb was to have a part! He practiced over and over for weeks. Here he is on stage, the day of his part.
He was so happy to have a part! Here's the whole gang outside.
The girls loved all the baby ducklings swimming about.
The kids threw out some bread for all the ducks and geese, too.
This was also the summer of loose and lost teeth. Nora lost 5, Caleb lost a molar, and Rosa lost one. Rosa's front top teeth were capped when she was just a baby because they came in without enamel. They hung on as long as they could, but we lost one in July. Currently her other front one is very, very loose. We are hoping her big teeth will come in soon, and with enamel on them! Here's Rosa, showing off her new look:
Our summer quickly fleeting, we once again hit the road with Grandpa and aimed to spend a weekend in Omaha. We had journeyed there in the spring of '07, and had all loved the zoo so much we thought we'd do it again.
We arrived on a very hot late August day. Having never explored the Iowa side of things last visit, we decided to see what Council Bluffs had to offer. We found a neat little train museum to start off with. The kids took a break to watch the trains in the air conditioned building.
Then we braved the heat to explore the real trains outside. Nora raced from train to train, determined to drive them all.
A big old black steam train was a family favorite.
The kids loved that they could ring the (very loud!) bell of the old 915 train, which Nora and Corbin seemed to find especially hard to resist.
Needing a break from the heat, we next explored the town's square, which had a huge fountain.
Off to one side were some squirrel statues and a little kids interactive water playground. Nora was the first to try out both, of course.
Rosa finally got up enough courage to visit a squirrel as well.
After Anna kept running wildly (and falling often) in the kids' water area, we heading back to the hotel for the night. Our mission for the next day: the zoo!
If one could sum up the Omaha Zoo in a word, it would have to be huge! Having learned this from our last visit, we started off in earnest, walking the outer path before it got too hot.
We said good morning to the zebras and giraffes...
I was especially impressed with the rhinoceroses. They are truly a majestic creature.
We next walked through the Children's Sensory Garden. I enjoyed all the flowers, and the kids enjoyed posing by the various statues. Anna found a cat:
Alex, a bug:
and Nora, a parrot:
Caleb spotted some movement in one of the flowering pots, and noticed a mallard duck on a nest! She didn't mind us, and seemed proud to pose for a picture.
As the sky started to grow darker, and the air more humid, we decided we better keep moving after a quick break on a butterfly bench.
We entered the world of birds, a giant outdoor area with all kinds of tropical birds, as the first angry crack of thunder announced a storm's arrival. We darted from one covered pavilion to the next along the walkway, enjoying the birds playing in the downpour.
We then discovered something unique about our daughter, Rosa. Thunder really, really scares her. To the point of peeing in her pants. So Lee and Rosa had to take their leave, dodging from building to building, then to the van, to change her. To this day, if you ask Rosa what she remembers about the Omaha Zoo, she will proudly proclaim, "I peed!"
As the clouds let up, animals and people mingled on the flooded sidewalks.
We ventured into the Cat Building. Tigers of all kinds were there.
Nora, having found a peacock feather, absently waved it in front of a panther's cage. What happened next was quite remarkable. The big cat stopped it's forever pacing back and forth and playfully swatted at it. Nora giggled in delight. For about 10 minutes, as a large crowd grew around us, Nora and the Panther played.
After a brief stop to pose with the "gorillas," we decided to get some lunch as the next storm started up.
The Treetop restaurant overlooks the rainforest area. We picked seats right by the view, and enjoyed watching a black and white toucan type bird watching us eat.
Fully fueled up, we were ready to conquer the jungle. We bravely crossed the rope bridge:
and looked under the waterfalls:
Animals peeked at people from the foliage, missed by many who rushed by, but a neat reward for those who took the time to find them.
The kids enjoyed finding off trails that lead to little caves.
A little monkey scolded us from the branches of a tree.
Nora was excited to see some real Macaw Parrots.
Even the water was teeming with life. The kids loved watching the tiny blue fishes dart about.
From there we went to the Butterfly and Bug building. I was amazed at the beauty of all the different butterflies! They darted and fluttered all around us.
Here is a small slideshow of some of our favorites.
Number of Pictures: of
As we were leaving the butterfly and bug building, we stopped to marvel at a huge bee hive. It was encased in glass, so we could all watch the bees hard at work.
Nora was getting quite good at spotting (and giving chase) to the many peacocks roaming the grounds. She was finally rewarded by a lovely male wooing two peahens.
The day was getting quite hot and humid, so after a brief rest, we decided to head to the one place Caleb was so excited to get to: Budgie Land!
Budgie Land was a large outdoor enclosure, with Cockatiels, Doves, and mostly Budgies freely flying about.
Alex thought the cockatiels were more his style.
The highlight was when the kids were given millet seeds on a sticks to offer the birds, and after several attempts to feed the skittish birds, they all succeeded.
After dragging Caleb away, we watched some prairie dogs for a bit. (Another of Caleb's favorite critters!)
The girls got a quick ride on the merry-go-round as another thunderstorm approached.
We went to the aquarium building next. It was very crowded, and very hot and stuffy. The kids did enjoy seeing the many ocean creatures, especially the seahorses.
Alex, who can eat about 10 pounds of crab legs in one sitting, came face to face with his food.
From there we quickly ran to the big dessert dome, our last stop at the zoo. It was quite the experience being inside the big dome during the thunderstorm! We sized up an owl and a cockatoo:
Corbin and Rosa posed by some dessert greenery:
Everyone was getting worn out, so after another little rest,
we headed downstairs to the Kingdom of the Night exhibit. Corbin was excited to see the crocodiles and alligators!
We were happy to see the rain had stopped. I took a shot of the kids in front of the dome, to get an idea of just how big it really is.
Here they are running back to the rest of us:
They gave the big earth one last spin.
Nora even took home her feather as a souvenir.
We were all worn out! With many happy memories, we bid the zoo farewell.
After a much needed rest and a bite to eat, we decided to go check out the new pedestrian bridge that goes over the Missouri River. On cue, it started to drizzle as soon as we got there. Undeterred, we headed for the bridge.
The towers that supported the cables of the bridge had lights on top that slowly changed colors.
It was cool the way the rain seemed to glow with the lights on the way down.
Soon we came to the official border between Nebraska and Iowa. The kids liked being in two states at once!
As we looked back towards Nebraska, we saw a low, very dark cloud rolling towards us. It was growing rapidly, and soon looked almost like mountains behind the town of Omaha.
It was beautiful, yet worrisome at the same time.
We quickly went to the Iowa side, hoping to find a shelter of some sort. Finding nothing, we went under the bridge, just to be safe, while the cloud passed right over us. For the second time that day, Rosa got so scared, she wet herself!
After the cloud was mostly passed us, and the rain had let up a bit, we ventured back up on the bridge, and headed back to Nebraska.
Looking back towards Iowa, we were treated to a huge rainbow!
The kids spirits quickly lifted, and even Rosa had a smile on her face again.
We crossed back into Nebraska.
And stopped to pose for one last shot on the bridge.
On the way back to the hotel, we drove by a huge poster mural of a tiger on the side of a building.
The next morning, after packing up and checking out, we wanted to walk around a bit before the long drive back home. Downtown Omaha has a sculpture garden area, so we started out there.
The girls liked the sculptures they could play around in.
Water ran throughout the park, often dropping down a fanciful waterfall.
It was nice to sit and watch the water.
After one last romp around some artwork,
we walked down closer to the river. The walkway was lined with pretty flowers.
Soon the heat started to get the better of us, and we found ourselves sitting more than walking.
After Nora chased after some geese for a while, we were ready to go. Even Nora was worn out!
As we were passing the convention center, we saw some more neat looking sculptures. One last stop! The statues had an entertainer theme, with life size jazz players,
and fancily dressed ladies roaming about.
Giant mirror-like balls were scattered here and there.
A large clock reminded us it was time to get going.
The trip home was pretty uneventful. The kids counted windmills to pass the time.
We arrived home late, but refreshed.
Shortly after our trip, the kids' school supplies arrived. Nora was excited to be starting first grade.
But the boys seemed less enthusiastic.
As we unpacked the schoolbooks, we discussed the events of the summer, and wondered what the fall and school had in store.