Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Adventures With the Kids

Admittedly, I think Mother's Day is a silly, made-up holiday. I like "kid" holidays and buying stuff for kids, but I'm just not a huge fan of giving and receiving gifts. I don't like shopping and I'm not good at choosing thoughtful gifts that are "perfect" for a person. If I do give a gift to an adult, it is usually something I find amusing that suits that person. My hope is that they get a laugh and a bit of enjoyment before properly disposing of the thing. Otherwise, I feel like my adult friends and family can pick out and buy things for themselves they actually want and will use and enjoy. I know I'm in the minority here, but sorry, I have no holiday spirit when it comes to the contrived, gift-oriented holidays.

I did, however, use Mother's Day as an excuse to shirk my housework responsibilities and use my "special holiday weekend" taking the kids on some awesome adventures. Yes, my house is cluttered, but I still live by the phrase "Experiences, not things." I can't help it that the rest of my family disagrees :) The kids had a short day of school on Friday so Kaylin and I picked up Logan at noon and we headed out to Banner Marsh. I had no idea what to expect. The place has four entrances. We skipped the first entrance and went to the main entrance first. It was mostly a boat launching area, but had probably a dozen pairs of Canada geese with their adorable goslings. We also saw a rose-breasted grosbeak almost immediately after turning in. We drove back on another road and saw dozens of turtles. Cool. We then went back on the highway and pulled into the next entrance. It was deserted except for us. We walked back on a grassy trail and found nesting swans, lots of frogs and turtles and more grosbeaks. We were having a great time until I discovered- TICKS! We were all covered with ticks! Ugh! No wonder we were the only ones! We ran back to the parking area and brushed off the ticks. I don't think any of us were bitten, but I did find a couple in my hair later on the drive home. Yuck. That almost ruined the experience for my hysterical daughter, but the next entrance made up for it. Huge lakes filled with dozens of nesting swans, geese with goslings and all kinds of ducks and coots. Terns were dipping and diving and (my first) soras darting in and out of the reeds. It was a cool place! We drove back to an area with a suspension bridge overlooking dozens of sunning turtles. That bridge completely made up for the horrors of the ticks. The kids bounced across that thing a hundred times while I looked for snakes along the shore. We inadvertently saved the best for last when we turned into the entrance we originally passed. We drove way back on flooded roads that just barely accommodated my car to a boat launch area. The drive back was filled with sandpipers and several more sora. The parking lot was flooded and the kids waded in knee-deep water while I watched swallows and woodpeckers and more geese with their goslings. We headed home filthy and happy and a little freaked out about the ticks. I went over the kids' bodies and through their hair about 10 times apiece. I just took a quick break to go through my hair again. Shudder!

The Banner Marsh experience made me want a fishing license. I haven't had one in at least 15 years. Friday night after we cleaned up and went to Burger Barge with my parents and Andy (yum!) we headed to Wal-Mart and got fishing licenses, fishing poles and some worms. Logan woke me bright and early Saturday morning to go fishing. Kaylin woke up as we were headed out and wanted to join. The three of us headed for the river. I hadn't realized how flooded the river actually was! The spot we planned to go (Galena Marina) was so flooded the woods and most of the parking lot were covered with water. At the worst flooding point, the water went all the way to the RC track. We would have been fishing in a few inches of water that is normally parking lot. We tried a couple other places along the river before deciding to just go to the lagoon at Glen Oak Park. The lagoon either hasn't been stocked yet or it was just a bad fishing morning because the kids have bragged of catching 30+ small fish apiece at day camp. In an hour of fishing, I caught one teensy baby catfish and the kids caught nothing. It was time to take Kaylin to her ceramics class, so we dropped her off and came home long enough for me to do some laundry and Logan to play some baseball with the neighbor kids. Gene opted out of our adventure because he really wanted to do some yardwork.

Logan and I grabbed some food, picked up Kaylin and headed out to Wildlife Prairie State Park for their Migratory Bird Day. The "festival" wasn't quite what I had expected- a couple of crafts and a table with a guy who was THRILLED to show and tell about his lifelong butterfly collection. (Seriously impressive. I think we talked to him for at least 15 minutes.) Otherwise, it was no different from any day at the park. We walked the animal trails and I was happy to see the badgers moving around and the otter out of her house. The cougars were being very vocal, so that was fun. Otherwise, it's sad to see so many huge, vacant exhibits. It's tough to be a zoo person and see an animal park you grew up with deteriorate so much. The grounds are beautiful and awesome! I hope somebody can step in and save the place. We had planned to fish at the park, but the map was confusing and it appeared we'd have to park and carry all of our stuff quite a distance to fish. We decided to go to Spring Lake instead.

It was a much longer drive than I thought, but I'm glad we went. There was a big flock of at least 80 swans on the lake, plus all the nesting swans. We also saw a bunch of water snakes, turtles and a muskrat. Logan was extremely bothered by the gnats, but we each caught one fish, so that was enough excitement to make up for the drive and the bugs. As we were driving home, we were talking about stopping somewhere to pick up some food, but we were too filthy and fishy and wormy to actually eat inside a restaurant... Gene called and wondered if the kids wanted to go to the Chiefs game? Both excitedly answered "Yes!" That ended the restaurant talk. We had to boogie home so they could get to the game. I was happy to skip it and spend some quiet time at home by myself before falling exhausted into bed at 8:30pm. I don't know how the kids managed that game on top of our day. I was whipped!

Today I'll spend real Mother's Day at work. I think I'm working the sea lion string. That should be interesting since I haven't done it in a looooong time. The kids are going to try to convince Gene to take them fishing again. Off topic, but I lost not only another full suet cake in one night, but something also made off with an entire sock feeder freshly filled with seed! I am so curious what kind of critter I'm dealing with! The sock weighed more than a squirrel, so I'm pretty sure that unless it was a group of squirrels working together... I searched the yard and couldn't find the empty sock, so ????

No comments: