On Being Thankful

Thanksgiving and the holidays really are a delightful time of year.  My kids (ages six and eight) really are at a sweet age – old enough to start understanding more about the meaning of holidays we celebrate at church and with our families.

For Thanksgiving, they brought home numerous projects that shared what they were thankful for. It appeared that both kids made a similar project, so I just had to share them here:

 

on thankfulness Go Mama O.

Pictured on the top: my 8-year-old daughter’s picture, Bottom: my 6-year-old son

A few things that I love about these pictures: both include a cat.  I am surprised she made it into the picture because she and the kids don’t have the best relationship.  She’s a fat, old, grumpy, but cute kitty, who prefers us adults much more than the kids. Still, I’m glad they appreciate her.

Instead of family, my son is thankful for his tv.  We only have one, and he doesn’t watch it that often, but I guess that tv time is precious to him. It’s good to know where his priorities are.

I think there’s an age difference reflected in these pictures.  My daughter is very sweet, and while my son can be sweet too, he definitely has a more independent, stubborn side, sometimes acting as if he is an only child.

In all fairness, he did create other pictures that did say he was thankful for family, so all hope is not lost for him.

I’m grateful for teachers helping reinforce the importance of being thankful at school because it’s something we certainly talk about at home.

 

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Seeing the Light: China Lights Season Two

I had to share these gorgeous pictures of China Lights, something my family has really enjoyed the past two years.  Here is my post from last year (if you want more pictures)!

Similar to last year, we arrived before sunset with our tickets in hand.  We managed to catch the lights display on the very last day. My first pictures are at twilight, when the sky is a lighter blue.

China Lights Dino, Flower collage Go Mama O.

Dinosaurs, flowers, and hummingbird in the tree

The displays had changed from 2016, and it was still a great variety, though the dinosaurs replacing the beautiful pagoda was a little under-whelming. This was my shote of the pagoda from last year:

china-lights-header

2016 Pagoda – one of the highlights of the exhibit

One of our favorites this year was the panda scene.

China Lights Panda Scene

Huge bamboo forest – so adorable

We also liked walking through the tunnels of the Chinese Zodiac signs.

Chinese zodiac tunnel Go Mama O.

View from the path – walking under Chinese zodiac signs

More beautiful lights: flowers, the regal entry gate, dragon and tunnels.

China Lights Gate collage Go Mama O.

The lights really come alive when it’s really dark! Love the variety.

We liked these little owls too. The colors and detail are so pretty!

Moon, Mama O, Daddy O, Little Bro

Is it a moon or a banana? Big sister took this picture of Daddy & Mama O. and Little Brother.

Though it’s difficult to choose, my favorite animal was the dragon.  It’s one of the largest displays in the entire exhibit, and I love the moon in the picture.

China Lights collage dragon, elephant

Massive dragon, and patterned pachyderm

China Lights is becoming a wonderful family tradition! We hope to enjoy more light displays together through the years. Cheers!

 

 

Mini Fly on the Wall

Hey there! My Fly on the Wall friends just posted yesterday, but I wasn’t organized to sign-up in advance to participate.  After reading the group’s posts, I thought I would join in with my own post.  Better late than never, right?

For more Fly on the Wall, hop on over to this writing challenge founder’s blog: Baking in a Tornado.

South Dakota Vacation

We ventured to South Dakota during summer, and had an awesome time! It was a great family destination for our 5 and 7 year old kids. Before we went, my 5 year old son asked, “Do they speak English in South Dakota?”

On our drive from Sioux Falls to Desmet, our kids decided to make a honking sound whenever they saw an animal. This continued throughout the entire week. Sigh. Fortunately, there are open fields for long stretches where you don’t see much at all, like this:

Desmet Ingalls Homestead

View of the prairie from the Ingalls Homestead in Desmet, SD.

The drive up to Desmet from Sioux Falls though beautiful, went through a quite rural part of the state.  The population density is quite low in much of South Dakota, so I told Daddy O., “If we ever want to live off the grid, we can move out here!”

When driving past the many farms and lush green fields, my son observed, “I bet that farmer has 5 green thumbs.”

We could almost picture what it must have been like for the first settlers in the 1800’s who arrived here.  The Ingalls Visitor Center consists of the Ingalls homestead, a sod house, shanty, church, barn and one-room classroom. We even rode on a covered wagon and learned about what life was like for the Ingalls family. We were struck by the extreme quiet of the land: no sounds of planes or cars zooming by on nearby roads, simply the sounds of the wind rushing through the prairie grasses. Beautiful.

Wildlife Watching

We were excited to see bison, but just saw a lot of cattle, especially on the eastern part of the state. My daughter explained, “The cows are all black, and the bison are chocolate colored.” Can you tell we like desserts?

bison Custer State Park.jpg

See, they are chocolate colored! Bison at Custer State Park

We drove the wildlife loop road at Custer State Park, and having been in the car for at least an hour, our kids asked, “Can we watch a show (on our portable DVD player)?”

“No!” I said, “Nature is your show. Look out your window!” So many amazing views:

Custer State Park collage.jpg

Top left: a baby burro paid us a visit on the Wildlife Loop, top right: view of the Cathedral Spires, Bottom left: Stockade Lake, bottom right: bison along the road out of Custer State Park

The Black Hills

When we arrived in Rapid City, I said, “Look, kids, the Black Hills. Aren’t they pretty?”

My son’s response, “They look gray.”

black hills view from Mt. Rushmore

View of the Black (gray) Hills from Mt. Rushmore

In Rapid City, we enjoyed an awesome meal and beverages at Firehouse Brewery. We sat in a covered outdoor area (fortunately) and watched a major rain and hail storm come down. The food and beer were delicious – a welcome change from the fast food we had on the trip out to Rapid City.  The company was nice too with everyone getting along, and I remarked to Daddy O., “This feels like a date night, except we have our kids along.”  He replied, “It’s like our marriage is one long date-night.” Awh….

Hitting the Road

I have memories of my own family vacations as a kid, and we would wake up EARLY, maybe around 5am to get a jump on a day of long driving. I have not been able to replicate this timing for my family much to my dismay.

One morning after sleeping in, my daughter said, “Waking up early for me was unsuccessful.”

This happened on most days, and I just had to go with it. Oh well…

Best for Last

I was talking about the errands I ran during the week, talking about the things I picked up at a grocery store in a quick stop.

My son chimed in and said, “Wow, Mom, you work hard.”

“Yes, dear, why yes I do! Thank you!” He got a big hug for saying that!

Hope you all are hearing sweet things like that in your home too!

Have a great day all! Thanks for stopping by.

Now check out more Fly on the Wall posts, starting with Baking in a Tornado.

 

Checking out the Como Zoo

A cancelled camping trip led to a trip to visit friends in Minneapolis – St. Paul earlier this summer. Though we’ve been to the Twin Cities several times during summer, we have covered Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet, but we hadn’t been to the Como Zoo.

We started out pretty early and found parking in nearby lots.  We decided to check out the animals in the morning, enjoy a picnic lunch in the park by a playground, and then try some rides after that.

Como Zoo really is a lovely free zoo! There is a suggested donation at the entrance followed by many gift shops, rides, food and other opportunities to spend money. We made it out with two stuffed animals for our kids!

The zoo has a nice variety of animals and it’s small enough to walk through with kids quite easily.

We spent the most time at the Primate House, watching the mom and baby gorilla munch lettuce. They were positioned so close the the glass and just looked so comfortable, hanging out in the shade. I love how the mom is cradling the head of romaine like a baby too – it’s hers! It looked like such a sweet, domestic glimpse into their gorilla family life.  Meanwhile the silverback gorilla was out pacing the yard. The gorilla forest was a really cool exhibit, housing seven gorillas in total.

apes and monkey at Como Zoo

Emperor Tamarin and Mom & Baby Gorillas

After checking out the gorillas, we kept walking through the primate house. I really liked watching Como Zoo’s Tamarin climb and leap from branch to branch in their exhibit. The mustaches gave them a distinguished sort of look.

As a member of our zoo since our kids were babies, I’ve been going to zoos a lot over the last six to eight years, though it seems to be less and less frequent as my kids get older. Still, it is a treat to see endangered animals up close, showing off their normal behaviors, such as eating a head of lettuce with her baby or effortlessly jumping from branch to branch.  I / we may never have the opportunity to see these animals in the wild. While that would be preferred, we will enjoy zoo visits and learn the conservation stories the animals and their habitats around the world.

Thanks for a great visit, Como Zoo!