Monday, April 26, 2010

flowers and field trips and alligators, oh my!

It's been a beautiful spring so far, and our yard has been in full bloom! We have new purple tulips: Our redbud actually had more than 2 or 3 blossoms this year:
We also have pink tulips:
Some new periwinkle:
Several containers of pansies:
Orange and yellow tulips:
A new magnolia tree:
A newly planted lungwort (such an ugly name for such a pretty plant!):
Lots of grape hyacinth:
A few double tulips (I think something's been eating the bulbs because we've had a lot more of these in years past):
All kinds of daffodils:

A new columbine plant:
Bleeding hearts:
And some new anemones:
Also this month, Emm and Nick have been enjoying their bikes: On the 15th, I chaperoned the 5th grade class field trip to Springfield, IL. Nick and I had to get up early, and walked over to the school at 5:30am. By 6am we'd boarded the bus and we were on our way!
Once we got to Springfield, our first stop was Lincoln's home:
It was very interesting to see all of the furniture and other items that the Lincolns used:
Next, we spent some time at the IL State Capitol:
We got to see the House of Representatives:
and also the Senate (which was in session), the old Supreme Court room, and many other things. I loved all of the beautiful architecture, especially the dome:
After some lunch, we headed to Lincoln's Tomb, a beautiful memorial. We were there on the 145th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's death:

Nick's friends lifted him up so he could rub the statue's nose for good luck:
The group:
Our final stop (other than a restaurant for supper) was Lincoln's Presidential Library and Museum, which was very cool! The kids enjoyed trying out some old-fashioned toys:
Dressing up as Lincoln:
and seeing all of the neat exhibits (most of which we were not allowed to photograph):
It was a loooong bus ride home, and we did not get back until 9:30pm.
The following day, I drove over to Aledo, IL for a weekend in the Slammer! :) I had a blast with my friends there, and got a lot of scrapping done, too. The theme this time was Halloween, so one night we had a costume party. Not everyone dressed up, but some of us did:
Tammy was an angel (bwahahaha):
Jessica had the best costume, Octo-Mom:
And I used Nick's stag beetle costume to be a "Scrappin' Bug" (as in "I've caught the scrappin' bug"):
Unfortunately, my camera broke that weekend and I was unable to take any more photos. On the 24th, I bought myself a new camera, and then the kids and I headed to an Earth Day event so I could test it out. :) We were at James Philip State Park and Bartlett Nature Center:
There were several booths and exhibits about various aspects of the environment. We all liked this one, with a salamander and the box next to it, filled with teeny tadpoles:
There were all kinds of craft activities for the kids, as well:
Emm makes a necklace with a disc cut from a tree:
Ben shows off his coffee filter butterfly:
We also watched a show, Jim Nesci's Cold Blooded Creatures, and we got right up close and personal with some reptiles! Here Jim is holding Godzilla, a monitor lizard (his head perched on an audience member's head):
He walked around the room with Godzilla, and at one point, I was face-to-face with this very cool creature! Jim held Godzilla so that his head was about 5 inches from my face ~ I kept expecting the monitor to lick me with his big forked tongue!

We were also introduced to Lucky the alligator, rescued from a Chicago area water sewage treatment plant several years ago: And then there was this alligator, Bubba. He was huge. And unbelievably well-trained:
(That's Nick's leg in the picture, just inches from Bubba's mouth.)
Some small children got to take a ride on Bubba's back, and all the kids got to pet him. (Except Ben, who wanted nothing to do with the alligator, LOL! Can't say that I really blamed him.)

The kids and I also took a short hike on one of the park trails:

We spotted several red-winged blackbirds and a couple frogs:
I tested out my close-up setting on my camera, and really liked this photo of dandelions that I ended up with:
Can't believe it's almost May already!


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