The spring of 2011 proved to be long and cold. It was so cold that when we headed over to Sibley State Park for their maple syrup event in late March, the trees hadn't yet started to flow syrup due to the cold! But we had fun anyway. They had remodeled one of the learning rooms, which the kids enjoyed exploring. Here's firefighters Corbin and Caleb.
Nora and Anna explore an oak tree.
We still had fun trying out samples of maple syrup from years past.
All this cold weather makes one sleepy. Cookie (the cat) has taken to resting on Caleb and Corbin. Here she is after a nights rest.
Nora and Anna's beds are close together, so by morning they are often sharing a sleep space.
Corbin fought off the long winter blues by getting creative with his legos.
We also had a little fun with the routine hair cuts.
Ella, meanwhile has one goal: growing! Here she is at 4 months old.
Ella loves being around her brothers and sisters.She also enjoys practicing push-ups and playing with her toys. She loves people of all sorts and is quick to smile when she sees someone.
Around mid-May it finally warmed up enough to go to the Minnesota Zoo. The day started off perfectly. We wandered about the outdoor trail, eventually getting to the farm, where the girls stopped to pet a goat. Here Nora and a resident size each other up.
Anna snuggles with a goat.
Ella's big brothers enjoyed showing her all the animals.
We watched the milking demonstration, which the girls found very interesting.
After a picnic lunch we ran around one of the zoo's playgrounds for a bit. Ella still got in her nap, though.
Rosa found a giant birds nest.
Anna went for a spin on a fish.
Alex peaked under Ella's hat to see how she was doing, and she smiled in her sleep. He raised and lowered her hat, and with each raise a sleepy smile appeared. Babies are so cute, even when they are sleeping!
Soon it got quite crowded. We joked that Caleb is just like a bird, seeking the highest point to escape the crowd.
It was getting pretty warm out anyway, so we headed inside. We spent some time watching the fish and sharks in Discovery Bay. The cuddle fish were really neat.
From there we walked the Tropics Trail. Corbin loved seeing one of his favorite animals, the alligator.
Corbin also loved the otters. Here he is leaning into their enclosure.
Right after I took that picture, I looked over at Anna, who was right next to me and Corbin, leaning over the otters. She looked sad. Suddenly it hit me; her glasses were missing! We looked into the otter's pen and sure enough, there were her glasses! The otters spent 20 minutes destroying her brand new blue glasses she loved so much. It was a rather distressing (and expensive!) lesson. The zoo staff was very slow to respond and help us out, but we eventually got the glasses back. Here is Anna with her now broken glasses.
The story does have a happy ending, though. The awesome people at her eye doctor gave her a new pair, free of charge. Looking back, it was rather funny; we should have caught it on film!
We finished off our zoo day on the Minnesota trail. The kids were busy hamming it up, trying to cheer up the still sad Anna. Here's Corbin running with the wolves.
We purchased a jump-up for Ella. She enjoys being able to bounce around. Here she is at 5 months of age, hanging out in her jump-up.
Nora just loves having two cats. She just needs to convince them to get along!
What a pair! Luigi with a broken ear; Cookie with her missing eye. And Nora loves them both dearly.
Ella has spent much of the late spring growing. Here she thinks about growing while she sleeps! (She was in the 99th percentile for height and weight at the 4 month check-up!)
Finally school ended, and we kicked it off with a trip to Valleyfair. The girls had never been there before, so they were really excited. We started off with a ride on the old cars. Corbin drove Ella and I.
We had such a pleasant view...
Caleb had the honor of driving Grandpa and Rosa.
From there the boys went on the Wave ride. It's like the flume, only bigger. Here they are at the end, quite wet.
After that Nora wanted to try it. She loved it! The little girls wanted to do the Merry-go-round, so off they went. At the last minute Rosa decided it was too loud, but Nora and Anna enjoyed it.
Valleyfair has something new this year; a Snoopy area with lots of new rides. We all had a blast there. Here's Caleb with Snoopy himself.
Snoopy's Rocket Express was a hit with the younger ones, too. The boys and Rosa launched off in one rocket...
While Anna, Nora and I rode in another.
The ride afforded quite a view from that height. Here's looking down...
After trying some other rides, Anna spotted Snoopy, and just had to give him a big hug.
Alex and Caleb braved the swing ride.
While the older boys, Nora and I waited in line for a roller coaster, the rest enjoyed some more kiddy rides. Here's the gang on some big-rigs.
Rosa loved the race car ride. Her favorite candy is Reece's, so this is her dream car!
So how was the roller coaster ride? It was Nora's first roller coaster ride ever. The whole time she was looking at me with this annoyed face. No screaming in terror. Nothing. She even looked bored. So she didn't much care for it. Why? She proclaimed it too bumpy!
After that we headed to the water park. Rosa and Anna loved the kiddie area. It even had a mini lazy river!
Nora and Grandpa tried out the bigger version.
The boys had a blast on all the different water slides while the girls and the adults hung out at the kiddie pool.
Ella woke up from her nap and joined right in.
After a picnic lunch we headed back to the rides. I made the kids pose at the entrance for a photo.
We all rode on the train. It was getting hot!
From there the kids all wanted to go back to the Snoopy rides. The Linus' Blanket Ride was a hit.
The girls all wanted to ride the race cars again. Anna and Dad rode together.
Here they are rounding the corner. (Notice the goofs in the next car.)
Corbin and Nora showing how they act when Dad drives...
Here's Rosa whipping around the bend...
Corbin posed at the Woodstock bird bath.
All too soon it was time to head home. The kids all had a blast, and were quite worn out.