Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Life moves along

School is now in full swing for the kids (and Carol). Joel is in 5th grade, Laura is in 4th, Grant is in 2nd, and John is starting kindergarten. They were all eager to start school, especially John. Carol has laughed at his daily eagerness to do his lessons with her. He has even admitted to trying to figure out ways to get Carol to start school with him earlier in the day.

School provides such structure for young, eager and ambitious minds. Their behavior usually improves during this time of the year.

Grant turned 7 on September the 10th. He enjoyed himself immensely.

Here are the final pictures and videos of our vacation. These are from the zoo in St. Louis.

(I notice that our children have their favorite clothes. They are wearing the same outfits in several of the pictures.)

If I remember correctly, this snake is some kind of a constrictor that goes in the water . . .

The lions are down one our left in the first picture, you can see them clearly in the second.

Who would think that giraffes and ostriches are friends? I guess there is a similarity in the neck.

Here are the bears, the cheetahs, and some kind of fish (I think they were piranhas). There was also a hippopotamus that literally floated by in this tank - it was fascinating.

This video is of some kind of a snake. It kept following the kid's fingers on the other side of the glass.

This video is of all of us watching the elephants.

That's all for now.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

In Missouri

We spent several days with my folks in Missouri.

The kids spent a lot of time playing. We rode "Uncle Stephen's" four-wheeler (responsibly), we shot clay targets with shotguns, we went fishing with Grandpa Deatrick (the same lake which I frequented as a teenager), and Dad and I poured concrete between the house and storage shed.

1. On the four wheeler. That big red thing on the back of the four wheeler is a salt spreader that Stephen uses in the winter for snow removal. Joel followed us at a run with the video camera as we were riding - hope you don't get sea sick watching :-). I have to admit, I love the terrain/geography of Missouri - notice the hills and the trees . . . I'm wearing bibs - I wore them often when working on the farm as a teenager.

2. These two videos show Joel shooting; the first is with his little youth 4/10 and the second is with my 12 guage . . . obviously the recoil (kick) is harder on the second.

Stephen's son Sidney did the honors of "pulling" when Joel was ready to shoot. I think I got more of a "kick" out of this than Joel did! :-)

3. We went fishing twice and enjoyed a fish fry on the second evening. I had to get an out of state pass, but the boys didn't since they were under 16. Dad and I used to fish at "Hobson's Lake" when I was a teenager. I hadn't been there in probably 12 years, but little has changed. Memories abound here: a hook in Dad's hand, shooting watersnakes, frog gigging, all night catfishing in aluminum boats in thunderstorms, bass lures, campfires, deer and turkey hunting, mushroom hunting, mosquitoes and chiggers . . . etc.

These two fishing days were a very special time of remembrance; Dad and I had more of an affinity for fishing than the others, so it was something that he and I often did alone - even though there were six of us children, when fishing, it was often just me and dad. Somehow I didn't get any pictures of him fishing this time . . .?

Dad also took me out to see "the old forty." I didn't know until this trip, but both my Grandpa and Grandma Deatrick had lived on the same farm (at different times) as children; I had never seen the place before. Now it is just a hillside cornfield, but it's amazing how your mind can imagine what it looked like 65 years ago.

4. Is it considered a vacation activity to pour concrete? I wouldn't have wanted to do it for 3 days, but I didn't mind doing it for an hour or two.

I don't have any pictures, but we also spent a day with my Grandma. Carol and Mom took a trip out to Rutledge, Missouri to a Mennonite bulk goods store called Zimmerman's.

Though we didn't get lot's of rest, we did enjoy the time. One benefit of travels for our family is that Carol and I get lot's of time to talk as I drive . . . blessedness.

I have one more episode yet to post from our vacation - the day at the St. Louis Zoo. I'll get it up soon.

The St. Louis Trip Day #1

Here is a part of our vacation a couple of weeks ago. I had been up in the St. Louis Arch when I was about 8. I didn't remember much about it except for the trip to the top in the little tram and the museum underneath.

We had decided that I would take the older four children to the top of the Arch and then we would all go through the Museum of Westward Expansion. John decided at the last minute that he would rather stay down with Carol than to go up to the top (I think he became a little disconcerted when we all had to go through security to get into the Arch - 5 year old boys from Paxton aren't used to having to take their belts off for men who are dressed like policemen and then have to walk through a metal detector - however, the security team was very accommodating for a family of 9).

Below are some pictures and videos of our time at the St. Louis Arch.

1. Going through security at the Arch; we even had to take Gardner out of the stroller.
2. Laura, Grant and Joel in the tram.
3. This clip is of the ride up. There was a little sign on the door that said not to tamper with the doors; it was an offense punishable by up to 6 months in jail (and I think a fine of up to $40,000).

The first part of the trip the tram kind of "tips and rocks" and then goes up more smoothly. It's not really that bad.

4. This is the stadium where the St. Louis Cardinals play baseball.

5. To the West (into Missouri).

6. To the East (back into Illinois).

7. Up top by the windows (we didn't feel it move as some people suggest, but it was rather calm when we were up there).
8. It's not often that one looks down on a helicopter. The video made it seem as if the blades were barely moving.

9. In the tram, getting ready to descend; the video is of the descent.

10. The following pictures are from inside of the museum.
11. These next photos are directed South towards the Arch as we were walking back to the van. There was a thunderstorm approaching which really accentuated the Arch. Again, it was Laura, whose eye for pictures, encouraged these shots.

12. As we were leaving the parking garage (just before it started pouring rain), we drove right by Eads Bridge. It was built just after the Civil War, preceding the Brooklyn Bridge, and built primarily using the same method of "caissons." I'm pretty sure it was the first bridge across the Mississippi. Before Eads built the bridge, he had built armor clad river boats for the Union during the War.

Well this was the first day in St. Louis; I'll get more up later.