Friday, April 29, 2011

Big Spring @ the Current River

For our spring break trip in March we went to Van Buren, MO where we stayed at Big Spring Lodge and Cabins. We were interested in seeing and exploring the area around Big Spring, which feeds into the Current River and is part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways system. I guess most people visit during the summer when they can canoe or float or play around in the Current River but we're not into sharing the outdoors with big, big crowds so we wanted to check it out now in the off-season. Another reason that we choose this location was because the cabins were built by the CCC in the 1930's. Ever since we stayed at the Old Faithful Inn a few vacations ago, I've had this obsession with historical lodges and cabins in state & national parks and/or wilderness areas. This one was cool too. No heat, no air, just a small three room cabin with a fireplace and a few kitchen and bath amenities. Oh, and a screened in back porch. I'd recommend bringing your own sleeping bags and/or blankets though if you go in early-mid March. I did stay warm with the fireplace but not nearly as much as I would have liked once I went to sleep.

On the way there, we also stopped off for a quick hike up the tower at Taum Sauk Mountain, the highest point in Missouri. Bill and I had been there previously but never with Willa. She had a great time climbing to the top. And, on the way home (despite the cold and wet weather) we stopped off at Johnson's Shut-ins and Elephant Rocks State Parks. A few years back, Johnson's Shut-ins was devastated by a major flood and we wanted to see how it looked after it had been restored; we couldn't tell much: #1 the Black River was in spring high water mode, and #2 no real vivid memory of what it looked like before - Bill hadn't been in many, many years and I'd never been.

Near Big Spring

Big Spring

Looking away from Big Spring

CCC Cabin at Big Spring Lodge and Cabins

Grover having fun on the Current River

Taum Sauk Mountain Tower

Johnson's Shut-ins State Park

Elephant Rocks State Park

Monday, April 25, 2011

Blooming Azaleas

Willa posing with the azaleas

We have 3 larger sized azaleas in our front yard -- all very vibrant pinks and reds. I love the way that they look when they are in full bloom. They create this awesome sea of color that pops out amid the green hues of the other revived plant life.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Kindergarten Parents Lunch at SMOS

Bill and I got lucky this year when the annual St. Margaret of Scotland School parents' lunch day fell during our Spring Break. Yay! No need to take a personal day! And, as if it couldn't get any better than that, it was actually on my birthday. On the menu? Papa John's cheese pizza, salad, orange wedges, and your choice of milk or orange juice.

Friday, April 22, 2011

My First Kickball

(photographs mostly align with the story. but you get the idea.)

A few weeks ago, Willa went to a friend's birthday party in Tower Grove Park. One of the planned post-lunch activities was a game of kickball. So, when the time came, the players, all ranging in age from about 5 to 15, divided into teams; a few dads acted as fielders and coaches. I watched from the sideline, my eyes and fingers focused on taking photographs. When it was her turn, Willa walked up to home plate and looked to Eric, the dad of the birthday girls, for some guidance. Willa had never played kickball before (I'm not sure that she had even heard of the game!) so she needed a little help. So, Eric leans in and explains what she is supposed to do. Bill and I watch, anxiously (at least me), to see if Willa's foot would actually connect with the ball. And, luckily, it did! But, instead of running full steam ahead toward first base, she paused, like she didn't know what to do next. So, Bill stepped in and starts coaching and encouraging her. It was then that I realized, a little too late I might add, what was actually happening. One of the teen girls had fielded the ball and was standing between Willa and first base. Willa slowly ran toward her, I think, completely unaware of what the girl's internal choices were - 1. to throw Willa out, or 2. to give the little kid a break and get by her. The girl chose #1 and Willa got slammed with the ball on her arm. You should have seen the look on Willa's face! Hurt and surprise all wrapped up in one. I'm not sure how hard the girl actually threw the ball at Willa but I am certain about three things: 1. Willa was totally shocked by this (friendly?) act of violence, and 2. while Willa probably did get hurt but she reacted the way that she did because we didn't bother to tell her all the rules of the game, and 3. Willa won't ask to play that game for awhile.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Tree Climb on the Big Oak

2 Above: Bill and Scott, the big Red Oak tree

Bill and Scott, the other middle school science teacher, started an after school club, called The Adventure Club, this year. As the name suggests, they try to learn about things and do activities that are adventurous. Their most recent adventure was to learn how to tree climb. You might be thinking that tree climbing doesn't sounds too adventurous, right? Well, take a look at the photographic evidence -- obviously, not the kind of tree climb that you might have imagined! At the back of our school, on this empty lot, lives this huge big 70 foot tall Red Oak tree. And, yep, as you can see, they climbed it! Bill, Scott, and their students, along with instructors Deanna and Guy from the LREC, all got harnessed up and up they went! Up and down. Over and over. Even Willa joined in. Although, at 6 years old, she stayed a little closer to the ground. The best part, to her, was being swung in the harness about 6 feet or so off the ground.

4 Above: Going up the tree, Still going, Up in the tree, and Bill doing a "Bat Hang"

2 Above: Willa climbing the tree, Willa staying warm