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Fabulous 4th Part 2

Fabulous 4th Part 2

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The center portion of our Idaho trip involved a new adventure.  We traveled across the state and ended up at my Aunt Lynda and Uncle Charlie’s house outside of Boise.  They have 15 acres on the Snake River, and we were graciously welcomed to celebrate the 4th with their family.

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Katya was in heaven!!  There were 6 dogs running around the whole weekend, along with cows, chickens, and horses.  She wanted to move in!  She got to help with feeding, finding eggs, and even rode a horse for the first time.

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Our time was full but somehow still relaxed–bountiful meals to eat on the back deck, a day spent playing in the river, fresh cherries picked from a nearby orchard, games, and plenty of conversation.

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To celebrate the 4th itself, we started by enjoying a fireworks show the evening before.  It was impressive, especially for such a small area!  On the morning of the 4th, Katya and Than went into town early with my aunt to get ready for the parade.  The rest of the gang came along later and we watched fire trucks, antique cars, old tractors, and a few horses and floats make their way past our corner.

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Later on in the day we got to watch a tractor pull–a contest where farmers test their machines and see which one can pull a heavy load the farthest.

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After dinner we hopped into Jeeps and a truck and headed up a nearby hill/mountain.  Idaho still has amazing sections of untouched land available for recreational use and we were grateful for the chance to enjoy some of it.  My cousin is a fearless 4-wheeler, so Than and Nathan got to enjoy some particularly crazy driving while the rest of us watched, cheered, and climbed on the rocks.

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As the sun began to set, we drove up to the top and settled down with snacks and blankets to wait for the fireworks.  Looking out over the valley, we were able to see the shows of 4 or 5 nearby towns and cities along with tons of little displays from houses and farms.  It was a whole different experience from the up-close fireworks of the night before.  It was neat to do it both ways.

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The next day meant a return to the ordinary–my cousins and uncle headed back to work, Katya bid farewell to all her animal friends, and we headed back across Idaho.   Our time on the farm was a memorable way to celebrate many of the things that make our country great.

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Pets

Pets

As promised in the previous wildlife post, I saved the “pets” pictures for a different day.  Well, today is the day!  Although their neighbors think it is unusual, our friends have both a cat and a dog.  Not many people who live in Senegal keep pets like that, but Nathan and Katya were sure glad to be living in a house that did!  The cat was Nathan’s particular favorite.

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Less usual for American families, but more typical for Senegalese ones, our friends also have a mother sheep and her growing-up daughter.  They were happy to welcome the morning with cheerful “maaaa”s right outside our window.

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The most exciting pet adventure, however, was the Christmas gift of a pair of rabbits.  Katya got to help her friend clean out the rabbit cage.  Then we went to the market to find a suitable pair (sold, I might add, in the same section as chickens, geese, doves, and ducks).  They rode back to the house on the girls’ laps and were joyfully installed in their new home.  Katya’s friend kindly invited her to be a part owner in the venture, so now Katya has her own pet just an ocean away!

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WILDLIFE!!

WILDLIFE!!

Most of the animals we saw were at a very cool safari park we visited near the end of the trip.  We also visited a huge UNESCO bird sanctuary.  Everyday animal sightings included lots of sheep and goats, the occasional roaming pig, and plenty of alley cats.  I’ll save the pictures of our friends’ pets for another post.

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Field Trip

Field Trip

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Than was able to join Katya on her very first field trip.  She’s been to the zoo before, but never on a bus with all of her friends!  She’s no longer in the baby “first step–first word–first bath–first solid food” phase but there are still plenty of “first times” left for her.

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(And no, I didn’t blur the photos to make her look like the star of the day, I just was trying to keep other kids from showing up without their parents’ permission!)

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Victory!

Victory!

The sight of a half-eaten tomato, left in the middle of the patio, means only one thing–SQUIRRELS!!  After fuming for days about the rascals who ate my first, second, and third big ripe tomatoes, I think the humans have finally gotten the upper hand.  We borrowed a dog for a week, which helped, and perhaps the combination of readily available sunflower heads in the garden and wet weather keeping the critters away is the reason that the rest of the tomato harvest seems to be mine.  Phew!  BLTs, here we come…

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(In case you are wondering, the super cute measuring spoon set that I used for size comparison is a birthday gift from my mom.  Aren’t they fun?)

Butterflies

Butterflies

Nathan received a butterfly habitat as a birthday gift.  When we returned from all our vacationing, he excitedly filled out the order form, paid the postage and handling, and received a cup full of caterpillars in the mail!  Although they looked kind of gross, we did enjoy watching them for a few days until each one formed a chrysalis and hung from the lid of the cup.  We transferred them into the butterfly habitat, waited for about a week, and then they began to hatch!!

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Oh, the surprise when that first one appeared!  We didn’t actually get to see any of them push their way out, since most of it happened at night, but Nathan did enjoy getting a closer look with his official spy magnifying glass and having an excuse to use the new iPad to do a little research about how to tell which ones are boys and which are girls.

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We made our own “nectar” to put on some flowers in the habitat and gave them some orange slices.  After 5 or 6 days, it was time to say goodbye.  

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Nathan waited until he had a friend over to play and then we let them go.  Each one fluttered out in its own time.  Some went straight up into the sky, others just headed for the closest leaf and rested a while before moving on.  

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We’ve seen one or two orange butterflies in our garden since then, so maybe a few of them stuck around!  In any case, it was a well chosen gift that our whole family enjoyed.

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Denver Attractions

Denver Attractions

Following our busy VBS week, we enjoyed a few “play days” as a family.  We were able to check out the new zoo expansion one more time before school starts, and even got to watch the elephant demonstration.

It was amazing to see that huge bull elephant swim in the water, pose for the crowd, and play in the fire hose.

We also spent a while checking out the monkeys playing in the cottonwood trees on Monkey Island, one of my favorite spots.  Buddy Bear was happy to play a visit to his wild relatives.

A few days later was a free day at the new History Colorado Center downtown, so we headed over late in the afternoon to check it out.  The museum isn’t enormous, but the displays it does have are very interactive and well done.

They struck a good balance between modern technology-driven presentations and old-school real object displays.

The information seemed more balanced than many museums, and was attractively and usefully presented.  Highlights were a “Colorado Then and Now” built out of LEGO bricks, and the 1918 frontier town where you could milk a cow, drive a Model T, pose for the yearbook, and collect eggs to trade for goods at the general store.

Following our History Colorado visit, we stopped in at the big downtown library instead of fighting traffic to get home.  It is very beautiful inside and out and it was neat to be able to show the kids around–4 impressive floors of books, maps, and materials including a beautiful wood paneled reading room upstairs and the great children’s section downstairs.  I’m always happy in a library!

We live in a great city and are thankful for all the opportunities available to us for fun, education, and family time together.

Dog Sitting

Dog Sitting

Headed out of town?  Looking for a place for your pooch?  Search no further!!  Nathan and Katya happily volunteer their services.  They offer special expertise in tossing balls, petting heads, running around the yard, and fighting over who gets to hold the leash.  They are also quite good at filling water dishes and measuring out food (although still learning how to clean up the yard…!!)  Nathan’s mom and dad are happy to offer a fenced yard and responsible supervision in exchange for being able to borrow your dog and then return it after a specified amount of time.  No cost to you, and no need for us to buy our own pet!!  Everyone benefits, so keep us in mind the next time your puppy needs a place to play.

Student of the Week

Student of the Week

Over 20 days of school already gone?  Wow!  Nathan doesn’t make it into as many blog posts these days, since he’s not around to photograph, so I thought I’d try to photograph some of his work or projects from time to time.  Last week he was the Student of the Week, a very important honor apparently!  The Friday before his week began, he brought home his teacher’s special teddy bear, Max, who came complete with a backpack full of clothes and toys.  One of his jobs over the weekend was to take a picture of Max having an adventure and then write a sentence about that adventure in Max’s story book.  Apparently the best part of Max’s weekend was hanging out with Buddy Bear.

Nathan also brought home a poster that he could fill out about himself.  He brought it back to school and had a special time to share it with his classmates.  I was going to help him, but he took it into his room and did it all himself without any assistance–wow!  His pencil words are a little hard to read, but hopefully my notes make sense and you can enjoy his drawings.

Watch out–next week is Teddy Bear week, so Buddy Bear is headed off to school!

Dogsitting

Dogsitting

We recently had the privilege (?!!) of taking care of a friend’s dogs for a week.  The kids were, of course, delighted!  Dogsitting is a great way to have a pet–enjoy them, love them, and then say good bye before the novelty wears off!  Nathan in particular spent many hours outside with the dogs, throwing the ball for one and laying the in grass talking to the other.

Our pet week wasn’t perfect, though!  As I was preparing dinner one night, I remembered that the trash cans needed to come in from the curb.  I went out to get them and called Nathan to help me.  He went out the back door, forgot to close it, and by the time we got back into the house a few minutes later the dogs were in the living room!  We chased them outdoors and I went back to the kitchen, only to discover that the noodles I had left in the colander had disappeared!!!  Completely gone!!!  Oh well, it sounds funny now at least.  Such are the joys of having pets, and those are joys we will continue to do without for a while longer.