Archive for July, 2007


WW Kids in lockers?

July 31, 2007


Erin’s Eighth Birthday

July 31, 2007

On Saturday, Erin turned eight! I got up that morning and she and I went to Starbucks for a treat. Erin really likes Starbucks, but doesn’t often get anything from there so it was quite a treat. She chose a cream cheese danish (my personal favorite) and an Izze juice drink. When we got back from Starbucks, Erin opened her presents from us.

After she had opened all of her presents, this was her favorite.

Erin told Jeff that she wanted a Starbucks bear. She insisted that they had them in the stores, but we did not find any. Jeff checked online and found that a lot of people have bought them as collector’s items and are selling them for exorbitant sums. He happened upon one lady who had a set of bears from Valentine’s Day and was selling them for about what they would cost at the store. Obviously, Jeff got them and Erin was thrilled!

Here is a shot of all of Erin’s pink loot.

Erin is most definitely our “girly-girl.” Whenever I ask Sarah if something pink belongs to her or Erin, she reminds me, “Mom, Erin is your girly-girl, I am your tomboy.” So when Jeff asked Erin what she wanted for her birthday, she announced “pink stuff.” Well, pink she got! Here is the birthday girl wearing her new, favorite necklace.

After she opened all her gifts and we played a couple hands of go fish with her new pink playing cards, we went to the Build-a-Bear Workshop. I checked my email Saturday morning and found that Erin’s bear, Purple, also had a birthday, and her gift was a $5 accessory coupon. So Purple went to the store and got 2 new pairs of socks.
Next, it was off to Grandma and Grandpa’s for gift opening, round 2. Notice all the pink again?

See the cute pinata? Not for long…

We were going to hang the thing in our backyard in the newly cleared area, but the kids had other ideas…

Kyle demonstrates pinata hat fashion…

…and Sarah demonstrates her boxing skills with pinata donkey legs.

After opening her gifts at Grandma’s, we went out for birthday dinner at Castaways.

Here’s the back of the restaurant. We were on the deck, right near the water.

Looking out over the water. It was one of those sort of hazy days, but it was really bright. There was a lot of activity on the lake, so the scene was constantly changing, and the breeze was wonderful.

Nice face Erin!

When we got back from Castaways, it was time for cake. Erin’s pretty pink cake with a bear, like she asked for.

Here is Erin stuffing her face with cake.

By the time we had finished the cake, we were exhausted. Both girls spent the night at Grandma and Grandpa’s, per Erin’s request. Erin seems to have had a good time. One birthday down, 4 more to go…


Darien Lake

July 31, 2007

On Friday the kids and I went to Darien Lake Theme Park with my Mom, Mark, Michelle, and Ben. The kids rode a couple of rides…

…then the sky opened up. If you click to enlarge this photo, you can see the rain.

During a pause in the downpour, all the kids, except for Erin, decided to go ride a couple of rides. I went with them, while Mom, Mark, and Erin waited for the rain to stop completely. As the kids got onto the Scrambler for a second time, the sky opened up again. I hightailed it to an overhang to watch while they stayed on the ride. Just as the ride was about to begin, the ride operators had a shift change, or something. While the kids are sitting in pouring rain, waiting for the ride to start, the girl who had been running the ride, gathered her belongings, and ran to an overhang. The guy coming to take her place got under the awning protecting him from the rain, told a guy who was under the awning inside the ride fence that he had to leave the fenced area and he could stand under the awning outside the fence. Then he put on his rain slicker…under the awning…before announcing the safety rules for the ride. He finally started the ride. Here’s the guy running to the ride.

Ben, Michelle, and Sarah posed for a picture after getting drenched on the Scrambler.

Okay, always a sucker for a pretty flower, I couldn’t pass this up with the water droplets on the flowers! As I was taking this picture, the woman running the store that this flower was outside of, appeared and said “Oh, you are taking pictures of my flowers.” When she said “oh,” I had the camera to my eye and didn’t see her, so I jumped about a mile. I am amazed the picture came out!

Since it was raining and they were already soaked, the kids decided it was a good time to go to Hook’s Lagoon, a water park within the park. When we got there, the area was closed due to a storm cell passing overhead. As we were waiting for it to reopen, my mom happened to look inside a metal cylinder acting as a support for the fence. It was full of garbage, and of course, wasps! I took this picture blindly, as the post was nearly 5 feet tall and I am only 5’3″. I thought it turned out rather decent for a blind shot.

Once Hook’s reopened, the kids had a good time playing and splashing in the water, until the power went out for the entire park. Here they are coming out of the water. They look like they belong at the beginning of a television show or something.

We spent a few hours at the park, then went out to get some grub. We went to a local pizza shop and got a sheet pizza and drinks. While we waited for the pizza, the kids played on this really cool pirate ship.

The kids took my camera and got some great shots as they played.

Mom and I had a nice visit while we awaited our food.

Here is Ben, who had enough energy for all of us, enjoying a Red Bull.

While waiting for food, Sarah commandeered the camera and took a shot of Erin, sporting her crown from Michelle, and…

a self portrait. There is another one that shows her whole face, but I really like the concentration on her face in this one.

Once we ate, we went back to the park for a couple more hours. Mark was tired of wheeling around the park so he sat in the truck. Mom and I were tired of carrying around “stuff,” so we left everything with Mark, cameras included. We didn’t leave the park until about 9:30. I did ride one ride with Erin. We went on the Lasso, which is a swing ride. I enjoyed the ride until it stopped and my equilibrium got temporarily lost. UGH! I don’t recover like I used to! Another fun day! That makes 3 in a row. I am getting tired!


Ellison Park

July 29, 2007

On Thursday I took the kids, and their friend Kelly, to Ellison Park. There we took a mile-and-a-half hike. We stopped a couple times for the kids to play, but it was so hot that we took the whole thing at a very leisurely pace.
The obligatory flower photos. I am too tired to look these up, so suffice it to say that they were pretty.

This picture doesn’t do the contrast in colors justice. In reality the red was really red and the green very green. It’s still a decent picture though.

As we crossed a bridge over Irondequoit Creek, we thought we say a snake in the water, so Sarah got a big stick to throw in to see if it would move…her mean old mother however, would not allow her to throw it. Instead, she decided to strike a pose for me while Erin and Kelly looked on.

Meanwhile, a monkey, er, Kyle, was climbing the tree. I pointed out to him that the tree was over the water and he doesn’t like being in water, and that perhaps this was a bad idea, but I’m just the mother…what do I know? Oh, well…he didn’t fall in (I would have laughed if he had…and taken picutres!).

The roots on this tree were primarily in the water, which I thought was quite neat.

More dragonflies. This one was very cooperative, and I love its coloring.

If you look closely, there are 2 dragonflies flying around just above the surface of the water almost in the center of the picture.

The branch sticking straight up on this tree struck me as quite odd. I’m not sure on the type of tree, but it has this great camouflage looking bark. This type of tree is all throughout the park. We really enjoyed looking at them, and the kids even enjoyed climbing in one.

I like these pretty pink flowers, but this bee looks like it must be the mother of all bumble bees! It is HUGE! The picture is a bit fuzzy, but you can get a good idea of the size of it anyway.

Here is a picture of the path that we took through the park. This park is much more “developed” than Black Creek Park. The trails and the shelters are all mixed in together, whereas at Black Creek, the shelters were in a central, more developed area of the park, while the trails were on the perimeter and the land around them was largely left alone.

One cool thing about Ellison Park is that there is a riding stable nearby and they have a trail specifically for horse back riding. This picture shows where the riding trail and one of the walking trails intersect. I like the stone wall.

One of the places we stopped had some inviting “climbing” trees. Kyle went up the tree, then Sarah joined him with a little help from me. Here’s Sarah contemplating how to get back down…

Finally, Erin got a boost into the tree. She is my original monkey! Kelly opted not to climb this particular tree. The first step was a tough one so she decided watching from the ground was just as good.

Kyle climbed a bit higher in the tree and actually posed for me. I was so proud of him! For anyone who doesn’t know, Kyle does not like to pose for pictures. If you happen to catch him in a photo that’s okay, but he likes to make a game of avoiding the camera.

As we continued on our journey, we came to this great “trail” that led up a hill…er, mountain.

There was a wonderful bench at the bottom of the hill under a nice shade tree. I sent the kids exploring while I plopped down on the bench to enjoy the beautiful blue sky and puffy, white clouds. In the picture below, the kids are about 1/2 way up the hill.

Kyle took the camera and got a picture of me, way down at the bottom.

The sandy soil at the top was very soft, so the kids could draw in it, which they thought was pretty cool.

Kelly and Sarah sat in a bit of shade to rest after the long, tedious climb. The soil was so sandy that it made climbing difficult. Their feet kept sliding and of course Sarah decided to wear her Crocs instead of sneakers that I had requested she wear.

As the kids finished their exploration and descended upon my calm reverie, Kyle said it was a good thing I had waited, because the climb was difficult and I would have had a hard time. WRONG thing to say!!! I responded with something along the lines of “Oh, really?” and proceeded to run up the hill. Upon running back down (more challenging in my opinion, and perhaps a bit foolhardy) I reminded him that I am old (in his estimation), not dead, thank you very much!!! Somehow I don’t think mid-thirties is all that old, but I guess when you are not quite 15, everyone over 25 is old.

Here is the picture I took from the top of the hill. You can see the bench I had been enjoying.

This one Kyle took from up above the “drawing” spot. Apparently there is a bench up there to enjoy the view. I opted not to climb up there as the soil turned almost totally to sand, and I am a baby about sand in my sneakers.

Sarah coming down the hill after I had run up and then down. She was far more cautious about her descent than I was.

This is the view I was enjoying while lying on the bench at the bottom of the hill, before I was so rudely interrupted with an “old” comment.

This was the end of the photos on this journey. We spent the remaining 20 minutes or so thinking about ice cream and cold drinks. We had brought cold drinks along, but it was really hot and they were long gone by this point.

The kids sat outside and stuck their feet in a wading pool and ate ice cream bars once we got back to our house. Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun, but next time we need a cooler day or somewhere with water to play in.


Black Creek Park, Part II

July 29, 2007

My last post was primarily about the flora we encountered at the park, this one will be more about the fauna.
While on our walk, we discovered that slugs and snails really like mushrooms…
here’s a slug on one…

…and here is a snail on one. This little snail was a very pale yellow and we could see his tiny antennae. I really don’t like snails, but this guy was kind of cute.

Sarah and I really like dragonflies and we got quite a treat on our walk!
Here is a beautiful blue one (the dragonfly pictures need to be blown up to see well).

This is a pretty red one…

…in flight.

This was my favorite. It’s hard to see, but it is emerald green with skinny black stripes.

Here is a pretty butterfly that was apparently enjoying a drink on a stone in the middle of the path.

Although not an animal, here is an animal track that Sarah spotted in the mud. Apparently a deer made its way through the woods.

There were so many cool photo opportunities, that I snapped pictures of all kinds of things. I thought this dead stump with all the moss on it was really cool.

I am not sure what the story is on this fence, but it sure is neat! It ran for quite a distance along a portion of the path.

This vine was climbing up this tree. The kids said it looked like a bear rubbed up against it and left its hair on the vine.

These pretty, little blue flowers were everywhere where there was water.

At the end of our 3 mile walk, this grassy meadow on a hill came into view. It was on the map as a point of interest…I can see why! It was beautiful with the golden color of the grass mixed with the green further off and the blue of the sky. We ran down a path on the side of the slope…

…and looked back up. Hmmm, great place to cross country ski this winter!

About 1/2 way into our journey, I decided I really had to go to the bathroom, but the only one was right near where we had parked. Uh-oh! The girls suggested I go in the weeds, but I had read somewhere that there may be poison ivy, so that was not a very appealing thought!!! When we finally reached the bathrooms, I was soooo happy! Before we left I took this picture from next to the bathrooms, looking out over a pond. That is the top of Erin’s head at the bottom of the picture.


Black Creek Park

July 25, 2007

Kyle spent the night at Grandma and Grandpa’s house last night, so the girlies and I decided to go to a park this morning. I found a website listing all the parks in the county along with maps and descriptions of any trails at each park. Since we’ve been on this hiking kick lately, I thought a trail through a local park might be fun. We chose a park fairly close to our house and set out. We were quite pleased to find that the trails at this particular park are actually grassy paths, about 5 or 6 feet wide, mowed, and relatively well marked. We chose a wetland trail because I really like wetlands. As we walked along the path started out in a meadow/forest type area with fairly young trees and lots of flowering weeds.

For a perspective of the width of the path, here are Sarah and Erin strolling along.

I am going to attempt to identify the flora I photographed today…please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong! I believe this is a thistle, or at least related to the Aster family. I searched an online wildflower ID site for the better part of 2 hours trying to figure it out, and finally gave up. If anyone knows what this is, please let me know, for now I am curious. The closest thing I could come up with was either spotted knapweed, which I don’t think is correct, or showy aster, which is much more likely. Unfortunately, this is not a better picture. The tiny viewing screen on my camera makes it very difficult to tell how clear the picture is!

Queen Anne’s Lace Daucus carota

One of my favorite wildflowers, Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta

Milkweed Asclepias syriaca, which I remember liking to play with when I was a kid.

I have no clue what this is but it is more of a grass than a flowering thing. I just thought the little seed pods, or whatever they are, were pretty. It was absolutely gorgeous blowing around in the gentle breeze with the sun shining on it.

There were tons of bird berries in the trees! Red, orange, and green.

Here is another flower that has me stumped. I thought it looked like something that would be easy to identify, however, nothing seems to have that kind of flower and those toothed leaves…hmmm! Help, anyone… Now, mind you, I am a rock and mineral identification kind of person, not a flower kind of person. Even in the realm of rocks and minerals I wasn’t that adept at identifying them. I tend not to pay close attention to the finer details. I guess I am a “big picture” kind of gal. These were very pretty anyway, and they really stood out against all that green.

As we walked along on our 3 mile jaunt, the landscape changed many times.
It went from young deciduous forest…

…to coniferous stand.

This picture shows the transition from deciduous to coniferous. It was such a sharp contrast that we stopped for a minute and just took in the view.

Almost immediately upon leaving the conifers, we found ourselves in a relatively dry boggy area. There was a raised platform to walk on, as the ground was mushy, but there was not standing water. It has been pretty hot this summer, so maybe it is usually more wet than it was today.

After walking through this boggy area, we did some more transitions through young forested areas, meadows, and finally we came to a true swamp. I can’t say that I have ever been in such a surreal place. As we were walking along the path adjacent to the swamp, we looked over and noticed what we thought was a road. Then we thought perhaps it was a stream, then the girls thought it looked like snow (in July when the temp is 80+? yeah, right!). Turns out, what we were seeing was all the green algae on top of the water. This picture is from another floating bridge/path thingy like the one above.

This is the view of the road, stream, snow?, swamp before we realized what it was.

I have a gazillion more pictures and lots of other stuff to share, but I am very tired and it is getting late, and this post is getting long. I will try to post the rest tomorrow…or maybe the next day as we are planning another adventure for tomorrow.


Backyard Cleanup

July 25, 2007

After we gardened and beautified everything along the side of the backyard, the kids decided it would be cool to clean up the area behind the garage to make it a nice place to sit and play. We began the process a couple days ago and didn’t think we would ever finish. If you have never seen the area behind my garage, imagine this…

and this (plus 2 more cans full)…


and here.

It looks far better, don’t you think? We had tons of weeds, lots of small trees, and wood. Some of the wood had been there since we bought the house, and some of it a friend gave to us. Jeff and his buddies used to get together at our house on Friday nights to grill. One of them would get meat and they would grill it, eat it, and then sit around and burn wood on a small outdoor fireplace until the wee small hours of the morning (very manly, lol). That hasn’t gone on for a couple of summers, so we had all this wood sitting out there rotting. I kept some of the nicer long pieces, figuring we would cut them up and we could sit outside and burn them on some nice evenings this summer.

Kyle and I removed all of the small trees, stumps and all. That was a chore! Most of our soil is not really soil…it’s clay. Digging in clay is almost as difficult as digging in bedrock, LOL! Fortunately, the one place we have some nice soil is behind the garage. I think we counted 7 stumps that came out over a 2 day period, and my back was relieved when that was over! We obviously have some more work to do, but this is such an improvement over what it was that I keep asking myself, “Whose yard is this?”
The girls really like the new area, especially since Grandma brought over the sand turtle. Here they are hanging out in the tree (no pun intended).

On another backyard improvement note, Kyle’s garden gnome can finally see the light of day. He is “stuck” under my lilac bush which until a few days ago was just surrounded by lawn. As I was mulching the garden I thought it would look really mice to mulch around the lilac as well. Mr. Gnome thinks it was a good idea too. This will also make mowing around the lilac easier. YEAH!


WW Joe

July 25, 2007


Erie Canal

July 23, 2007

This is going to be a short post, since I have been up since 4 AM after going to bed at 11 PM. It is now 8 PM and I have to be up at 4 AM again tomorrow. I just had to tell about our little adventure today.

We have quite a treasure almost literally in our backyard. The Erie Canal runs from Lake Erie, near Lockport in Western NY to the Hudson River in Albany, NY. We live very near the canal, and love to watch boats as they travel along it, however we rarely go for walks along the “canal trail,” originally the towpath because large portions of it are quite secluded and probably not entirely safe for the kids and I alone. Today Jeff suggested that we take the kids and go for a walk along the canal. We decided to go to a nearby town that we rarely go to and start there. Joe got all excited, so we took him along.
This boat was docked along the edge of the canal. Curious about the name, I looked it up on Google and found that it is named for the man who played an integral role in establishing the canal system in New York State. Dewitt Clinton was the Governor of NY from 1817 – 1823 and again from 1825 – 1828. He also ran for President in 1812, but was defeated by Madison. Clinton, “Father of the Erie Canal” had opposition who referred to the proposed canal as Clinton’s ditch.

As we walked along the canal path, a boat came along that could not fit under the very low bridge in the village. Traffic stopped, a bell rang, crossing gates were lowered, and the bridge was lifted. It is not the type of bridge you typically think of when you think of a lift bridge. The entire deck raises straight up so the deck is parallel with the water. Once the bridge was lifted, the boat was able to pass underneath. Here is the bridge lifted to its full height.

After walking for about 1 mile in the 80 degree weather, Joe was tired out and very warm. We had brought water for him, but he was content, after a long draw of water, to lay on the cool cement for a while.

We had parked on the opposite side of the bridge from where the path is, so we had to cross the lift bridge. It has one of those open grate steel decks, of which Joe was NOT particularly fond. He stuck to me like glue on the way to start our walk. On the way back he sat and refused to go any further. Wouldn’t fortune have it that as he planted his butt, the bell rang alerting us to the need for the bridge to be lifted again. I scooped Joe up and we ran across so they could lift it. They can’t lift it while people are on it, although they do have sidewalk access for the bridge when it is in it’s fully up position. There are stair towers at each end of the bridge, so when it is fully up, you could walk up the stairs, across the bridge, and back down the stairs on the other side.

We didn’t walk very far, but we had a good time today. After coming back home, I learned some new things about the Erie Canal.

On a kind of funny note…We stopped at a fast food restaurant on the way to the canal, to get food for lunch. Joe knows this particular restaurant and knows that at the window, food comes into the car and oftentimes he gets a burger out of the deal. Well, I gave Joe his burger, sans bun, wrapping up the bun for later, thinking we might see some ducks. Sure enough, we saw a mama duck and 4 ducklings swimming in the canal. I divided up the bun and gave it to the kids to feed the ducks. The ducks refused to come take the bread. They wouldn’t even swim over to look at it. They just ignored us and kept swimming. At this point, Jeff put on his best mama duck impersonation, and said “Now kids, we don’t take bread from strangers! Just keep swimming, don’t even look at them!” It was rather funny and we all had a good laugh.

I think perhaps I sense an Erie Canal unit study in my children’s future. Hmmm…


Tree Houses! (Post number 50!!!)

July 20, 2007

Woo Hoo! I have made 50 posts now! I am so amazed! When I started this journey in blogging, I kind of figured I would post a few times and then get bored, or busy, and forget about it. I never imagined I’d make it to 50 posts. I am still loving it and hopefully will make it to 100 and beyond!

A couple of months ago my mother-in-law sent me an email about a guy who builds tree houses in his back yard. I thought it sounded neat, and I even checked out his website. Well, last week my MIL asked if I wanted to go with her and take the kids to check it out. Reluctantly, I agreed. I didn’t really have much interest in going to someone’s house and watch the kids climb around in trees. I am sooo glad I decided to go! This is one of those places that is cool in pictures, but is unreal in person. Just look at the kids faces in the pictures that follow!

I got as far as the platform where the rope bridge begins before I turned around and climbed back down to terra firma. I’m not afraid of heights, but I don’t particularly like things that are up high and sway. Needless to say, a rope bridge tends to sway a bit!

Erin was completely comfortable with the bridges and platforms. She went ahead of Kyle and Sarah and checked everything out.

I think this might have been Sarah’s first rope bridge crossing. She looks a little nervous if you ask me.

While the kids checked out the tree houses, my MIL and I sat and talked with the creator of this wonderland. Apparently he not only makes magic for kids, but the animals think he’s pretty cool as well. As we sat talking to the owner and his wife, two squirrels came to get a snack. One would come over and take peanuts right out of his hand. I am not usually that fond of squirrels, but this was just too cool! They have named the two squirrels. This one happens to be Throckmorton. His friend, who is not as brave as to take from your hand, is Leila.

This is also Throckmorton. He is cleaning the peanut before running off to bury it for later eating.

We had an absolutely wonderful time visiting with the couple while the kids went through the trees. The kids also thoroughly enjoyed flying through the air on a zip line. At the end they told us we were welcome to come back. I imagine we will probably take them up on it again before the summer is over.