The cold just never came. Snow? Not much at all. Time? Flew by! End result: A delightfully uneventful winter.
While the lack of snow made for dismal sledding opportunities, the girls found plenty of other activities to busy themselves with, especially out on the farm. Anna's beloved main squeeze, Calico, no doubt appreciated the mild weather.
What a couple. (A couple of what? Laid-back rabbits, natch.)
Some of the girls' other favorites: Kate and B-B: (Short for Blind Bunny. She was attacked by another rabbit as a babe, luckily she eventually regained use of one eye.)
A mustached little rabbit named Tiny:
Look-a-likes Skylar and Belle:
And some favorites from the home-front: Cookie and Luigi (doing their best Jawa impressions):
Having one vehicle for the four working members of our family requires some strategic planning. Ella still has not gotten use to the fact Mom now works, and freaks out (putting it mildly here, folks) whenever she sees me heading out the door. The end result: When I have to head out well after bedtime to pick up Alex, she insists on coming along. Some nights she doesn't quite make it.
There are times I hardly make it, for that matter. This particular night had a bonus awesome halo-around-the-full-moon effect going for it that kept my overtired eyes wide open.
Random moments that made us chuckle: Proof not only that cats can read; they also have good taste:
A still enduring family tradition: watching America's Funniest Home Videos together. One particularly cold evening had Luigi taking lap-sitting to a whole new level.
One goofy way I show the kiddos I still love them and miss them when at work is to bake lots of dentist-cringing treats for them to devour in my absence. (I really keep meaning to post some of their favorite creations in our blog... someday!) Our friends often get to hear of my better creations (a triple layer brownie cake) as well as my rather strange concoctions (Rainbow Barf cake, anyone?). One dear friend gave me a magazine full of cute cake ideas. Anna and I decided to try out the teddy bear pool party one. End result? Very cute, but the kids didn't care too much for the jello/ cake combo.
We celebrated completing the first semester of school with a trip to Nickelodeon Universe. After a tense snafu over our second-hand wristbands, the older kids hit the coasters...
while the younger two hit the kiddie rides.
We all did some shopping in the Mall of America as well. We just had to get our bunny-loving Anna a Zootopia's Judy Hopps sweater to go with the stuffed animal she bought herself.
Ella can have her photobombing fetish. Anna and I have our own random selfie tradition to uphold.
We soon found ourselves all shopped out and famished. We decided to try Bubba Gump Restaurant. (Okay, so it was more like "I can't walk another step! I need nourishment!" and it was the closest place around.)
The waitress quizzed us on Forrest Gump, which was amusing, since none of us had ever seen the movie, and had no idea the restaurant was based on it. I was most amused by the sign over Nora and her reaction to my amusement, though.
I splurged and got Ella a light-up cup for her root beer. Her ultra-surprised reaction was totally worth the three bucks.
How was the grub? Pretty good. The boys were impressed with the size of the burgers.
Alex was in crab-leg nirvana.
All in all, we had a fun day.
Another random moment... Anna's teacher requests her students submit a photo of them with their pets. Cue hilarious antics and mayhem while trying to get 3 dogs and 3 cats to all stay close enough to Anna to snap a photo.
By the end of February the weather was so spring-like we (at least the "we" of us that wasn't working or had other prior obligations) returned to our usual romping grounds. Nora and Rosa wandered off with bird-watcher Caleb while Anna and I soaked up the warm sunshine out on the prairie. The frozen Chelgren Lake stood out like a diamond on the golden grassland.
It was eerily quiet. The silence burned my ears as my mind tried to fill in the gaps with memories of choruses of frogs and the chattering of birds. It was comforting to know that soon they would be back in the flesh, breaking winter's icy hush with sweet springtime melodies.
As we entered the woods, we spotted other non-natives...
We briefly discussed spottings of deer carcasses and building of many a hidden snowman before departing ways once again. Anna and I found ourselves out on the frozen Lake Collinwood. I had Anna pose on a fallen tree. Ice and snow all around, and here she was in a tee-shirt. Only in Minnesota, right?
The real reason we had ventured towards the shore was to see if our (assumed) fox friends had left us any new treasures. Once we found their den...
We were treated to many a skull (rabbit and squirrel, mostly) and other bone bits. The rapid melting had also left an abundance of tracks, like this one, right outside the den.
By scrutinizing these tracks, my hunch tells me we have a red fox resident here.
While we were discovering bones, the other wanderers were not too far off, testing the physics of thin ice.
Thankfully the ice held up, and they focused their energy on creating.
I wonder what the natives think when they come across these little fellas...
I know what Anna and I thought when we spotted this little goon out on the ice... I wonder what will melt first: the snowman or the thin ice he's resting on?
The kids just sadly shake their heads when I excitedly show them a face finding, but my hunch that they secretly don't mind was confirmed when I saw what they did to the remainder of the parking lot's snowbank.
March brought more awesomeness in the mild-temperatures department. (I'm not just making this up, folks... weather guru Mark Seeley summed up March this way:
On a statewide basis March of 2016 will rank 4th warmest in Minnesota history back to 1895.
Spring fever merged with my spring cleaning instincts, resulting in the boys stumbling upon this scene:
For years we've complained about the entryway set up: narrow and dark, with everyone tripping over each other trying to get into the tiny hall closet to hang up their winter gear. I had had it. No more. The solution seemed simple to me: the closet had to go, wall and all. Now you see it...
Now you don't:
Alex found the whole thing very amusing, and proceeded to send the above pictures to his friend, who showed it to a friend... and well, let's just say for weeks afterwards I got snarky comments about tearing down walls for fun.
But the end result? Enough hangers, benches, cubbies, and lockers for everyone's gear in a nice light-filled room.
Why we hadn't done this years ago is beyond me.
Another springtime bonus: more daylight hours. Nora inherited the former hallway bench, using it as a reading nook under her sun-filled window. Well, that is if she can get the cats off of it.
Can you spot the Nit-Wit?
Poor Cookie just can't get a break. Here's Luigi hogging the sun's rays:
A bonus for the three cats: there has been a ton of Robins fluttering around this spring. The Window: the ultimate outdoor cat channel.
All that sunshine made quick work of melting the lakes' ice. Here is the same shot of Lake Chelgren, two weeks later:
Our wood was silent no more. The birds chortled away...
while the plunking call of the green frog twanged out of the swampy low lands. Anna and I celebrated the return of our noisy friends with a traditional selfie:
To top it off, I found a smiling face on the trail.
Anna wasn't very impressed. She thought her Sandhill Crane footprint find was much more interesting.
The muddy trail sported all kinds of footprints, for that mater. Here's just a small sampling:
Meanwhile... Alex was making his own Interesting. He captured the melting ice dripping into the lake:
He dreamed of being an ice-being...
but where would that leave him when it all melted?
Now there's a thorny problem!
All kidding aside, Alex definitely has an eye for getting good shots of nature at her best.
We'll end our quaint winter with the girls showing off their home made acorns: