Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween!

I love Halloween, it's such a fun holiday when you have an excuse to be a kid again. It's like a trip back to kindergarten and the dress-up corner with a chestful of wonderful costumes and accessories. You decide who you want to be for a moment in time and get all decked out. And then when you're tired of being that person or thing, you just take off the costume and go back to being yourself. Or try on another costume. And another. And another. (We had a big costume chest in kindergarten, I still remember it.)

The candy part of Halloween is like being a kid again, too. I ate so much candy as a kid. I can't eat so much anymore (thank goodness!), but every year at Halloween time my sugar intake increases. It's probably a good thing I live far from stores so I'm not even tempted by half-off candy the day after Halloween.

Emma looks like she has plenty to say about Halloween, too. She's talking about a lot of things these days. And she even says Mama. At least it sure sounds like Mama to me.

Another thing I enjoy about Halloween is the chance to be creative, so I picked up a pumpkin from the store and brought it home for the kids to enjoy. While I put away groceries, Desert Boy decorated the pumpkin with marker.

Then it was time to carve it. Desert Boy didn't remember last year's pumpkin innards and was a little grossed out by the hanging seeds. I encouraged him to touch them so he could feel the sliminess of it all.

Like most little boys, he thought it was pretty neat.

He had seen his friend Ava's pumpkin and the candle in it and couldn't wait to put a candle in his pumpkin. He waited with great anticipation as we found a candle and something to light it with. Then we had to turn off all the lights in the house to appreciate the glowing face.

I told him I wanted photos so we had to turn the lights back on, and he grudgingly agreed.

The glow on his face made the pumpkin worth every penny!

Hope you have a fun Halloween!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Family Fun-Water Park

While we were visiting in Indiana, we decided to go to a water park for the day. Actually, we had decided this before we even all met up, as we have some real water lovers in the family. Plus, this was an indoor water park, so it didn't matter what the weather was like.

They had a couple smaller slides for younger kids, and Desert Boy didn't waste any time trying them out.

They also had a pool less than a foot deep for the really little kids. Emma loved it, and especially loved swinging with Grandma pushing her.

Yum, the swing tastes good.

I don't know how much water she consumed that day, but it was a lot.

Water is fun! She played at least a couple hours in the water.

Desert Boy played even longer. He was so excited to give everything a try, and he was happy to have so much attention from his grandparents and aunts and uncles.

This water park wasn't just for little kids, though. It had some attractions for those who liked a little danger and excitement. Or maybe a lot of danger and excitement.

Okay, it couldn't be that dangerous, but I'm kind of a wimp when it comes to high speeds, and I had gotten whiplash at a different water park several years ago, so I was feeling a little leery about the slides.

I let my brothers go down them first and tell me what they thought. My brother Andrew convinced me it wasn't too bad and took me down one of the slides that you use an inner tube for. It was so much fun, I went down again and again.

The slide was different than any other I had ever been on before.

First you went down a steep slide and then were shot into this circular part, where you went around and around. You slowed down, but you weren't done, there was a feeling of anticipation that something bad might happen. (Thanks, Ed, for this photo and the next one.)

In the middle of the round part was a tube leading down. You kept getting closer and closer to it, and then whoosh--you were flushed down the toilet into a steep tube.

And out into the drainage!

It was so fun we convinced my parents to go on it.

Besides, who can resist going on a ride down the toilet?

Okay, that wasn't the real name of the ride, but it was the name we used.

Here's waiting for my mom and brother to come out.

What would her reaction be? Would she like it?

They arrived with a splash...

...and smiles!

After all the excitement, it was time for floating the lazy river.

And two of my brothers had fun goofing off and trying to prove how manly they were.

Shae took Desert Boy for a float down the river.

Then Desert Boy hung out with Aunt Mary.

He knows how to have a good time.

Meanwhile, it was time for the new baby to try out the water. She liked it quite a bit.

And Maria delighted in splashing while swinging. She liked the pirate slide even more, going down it an estimated one hundred times.

Emma and I spent some time together in the baby pool.

I noticed my fingers were getting pruny. It's been awhile since I've been in water so long that that has happened.

All in all, it was a super day! I'm ready for the next day at a water park. And I have to say that having it indoors was nifty, no need to apply sunscreen or worry about wind.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Marengo Cave

For one of our family outings, we decided to go to Marengo Cave, a privately owned cave in southern Indiana that operates commercial tours. Some of us wanted to take one of their crawling tours, but they didn't have any available that day, so we settled for the one-mile walking tour along the Dripstone Trail.

I noticed a few cave crickets near the entrance. They were more colorful than the cave crickets I see in caves out here in the desert. They acted pretty much the same, though: hang on to the ceiling and wall and not move.

Little Maria was a little tired at the start, so it was her day to get the royal princess treatment (like Emma got the day before) and be carried along the trail. She had plenty of willing arms.

The tour was in old stream passages, and the stream had eroded out wide and tall spaces. This made for easy walking, although in a few spaces they had dug out the cave floor to make it easier for visitors to traverse.

A stream still runs along lower passages in the cave, and that's where some of the crawling tours go.

Here was most of our family group that went on the tour. We even managed to appear fairly respectable. Maybe that's because it was the beginning of the tour. By the end, Desert Boy had gotten his clothes coated with mud. Despite it being a walking tour. In mostly dry passageways.

His uncles thought it was pretty funny.

Maybe they'll come over and do the laundry.

Here's the rest of our group: Emma and me. Photography by Desert Boy. He may need a few lessons in photography.

Miss Maria in her new throne.

I think she liked the cave. All the kids seemed to like it.

There was no screaming. There were no noxious smells from diapers. And, a little to my surprise, there were no urgent requests to find a bathroom.

Although most of the part of the 3+ mile long cave we toured didn't have formations, here and there we did see some nice ones, like this wall of columns and flowstone.

Desert Boy was a source of constant amusement along the trail.

Maybe this indicates how he got a little dirty.

The tour came to an end all too soon, and it was time to head back up to the daylight.

The plan was to go back to the cabin and eat lunch and then hang out at the nearby lake. Somehow I never managed to get a photo of the lake. And I didn't see too much of it, as I spent a good part of the afternoon napping.

And watching kids. They were so fun to watch as they interacted in various ways.

We also had to save some energy for our next day's adventures...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Family Fun-Going to the Cabin

We had decided to have a family get-together with all my immediate family and their significant others. We wanted to do something a little different, so we decided to rent a cabin in southern Indiana.
We traveled by horse and buggy.

Just kidding.

This was a sight that caught my attention, some Amish on the highway. The shoulders aren't very big, so it must be a little scary for them dealing with the traffic.

Our car was one of the first to arrive in the area, and thanks to the invention of cell phones and people who manage not to lose them (I lost mine on the second day of the trip), we were able to meet up with one of my brothers and his wife at a hiking trail. We had time to take a short hike before check-in time at the cabin. My sister-in-law Mary quickly took the opportunity to get to know Emma.
The leaves were turning, but many had already fallen on the ground.

The baby carrier was in a different car, so Emma got the royal princess treatment and was carried on her makeshift throne.

The trail had some fun parts, like this scramble down a rocky area.

Emma looks a little worried.

Don't be worried, Emma, your uncle can manage all sorts of terrain, even at high speeds.

Some pretty fall colors.

Sometimes when I go back to the Midwest I feel claustrophobic with so many trees around me, but this time I didn't. I think it helped that the weather was wonderful.

The trail crossed an almost dry creek. We saw fish in some isolated pools. Hopefully it rains soon for them.

The trail led up to a huge alcove in some cliffs.

I had fun photographing profiles as people walked past me.

My brother Andrew was ready to ham it up.

And Mary is ready to dance her way down the trail.

The rest of the hike was enjoyable.

Then we got lost driving to the cabin. Some of those back roads can sure wind up and down and around and around. Fortunately we eventually got some instructions and made it to our desired destination.

The cabin was off the highway and had lots of open space around it. That was good, because Matt and Mary had brought the game corn hole (toss-the-beanbag type of game), and we played it a lot.

The cabin was a good spot for everyone to get more acquainted with the newest member of the family, two-month old Claire.

That evening we brought out the entertainment--costumes. We were planning to film a sequel to our last family movie.

Some of the costumes were a little too crazy for this blog. Needless to say, we were entertained!
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