Friday, July 29, 2022

High Five for Friends

For most of Tux's life, we left him at home - friends of ours checked on him daily so he wouldn't feel too lonely and would always have enough food and fresh water - while we traveled. Our plan is to do the same, at least eventually, with Plié and Popeye, but we were worried about leaving them home alone for this summer trip because they're both still so young. So when my friend, Jenn, volunteered to keep them, I took her up on her incredibly generous offer.

It's important to mention - because doing so gives you an idea of just how gracious the offer - that Jenn's house is already home to two adults, three kids, four dogs, and one cat. Some might ask, "what's two more kittens?"...but others might ask, "are you insane?!"

It's also important to mention that we didn't leave town for a weekend or even a week. We traveled for 17 days, so the kittens lived at Jenn's for 18 days. Adding two more kittens - especially two kittens who are still learning routines and are going through growth spurts and have/had some health challenges - to their already busy lives and large family for such a long time was no small favor. 

The kittens did exceptionally well, and Teaka, Jenn's cat who was once one of our fosters named Bob, didn't completely hate them by the end of the visit. By the time we travel again the kittens will likely be old enough to stay at home all by their big boy and girl selves, so we probably won't have to ask Jenn and her family to kitty-sit again. But we'll always remember this generous gift they gave us and our babies. 

Poor Teaka in her "safe place". (The fireplace mantle.
She's out of their reach and has a great vantage point.)

You can see Teaka in the background, still in
her safe place but clearly a little more relaxed.

Thinking about playing together...

Thinking harder about playing together...

I think this one looks like it belongs in a magazine.

Plié's new favorite game. I find this one particularly funny
because Teaka's favorite game is to open the blinds. I can
only imagine how she'd react if she opened one of them and
Plié was hiding there, quietly waiting for the surprise...

They're getting SO big!

Get yourself some friends who will love your kitten babies like their own.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Throwback Thursday...On Tuesday

Summer, especially when we are/have been traveling, can be a difficult time to create new content, so July is the perfect time for Throwback Thursday (on Tuesday, because I like to maintain my posting schedule) posts. Enjoy!

I recently found this series of photos of Hallie, my sister, Sara, and me. They were taken the summer after Hallie turned one, when Sara and her husband, Jeff, came to visit us in Ann Arbor, Michigan. As I looked through the series, I was struck by how "on brand" this was for Hallie at the time...and how "on brand" this is for Hallie (and MANY of the 13-year-olds I know) right now. 

I probably wouldn't share a current version of this photo series, but I will share the original version. 



Going boneless.

The best we could do.

To the moms of 13-year-olds...may the odds be ever in your favor.

Friday, July 22, 2022

High Five for Lincoln (7.22.22)


We left Madison, Wisconsin on Sunday morning (making a quick stop at our favorite Farmers' Market on the way out of town), and drove first to Iowa City, Iowa - home of our beloved alma mater, the University of Iowa. We walked around campus for about an hour, and then "treated" the kids to lunch at The Airliner and new Hawkeye gear from Iowa Book and Supply - where the employee asked Will if he was starting as a freshman this fall 😭 - before hopping back on the road to Lincoln, Nebraska. 

Our apologies to friends in Iowa City area. Since we didn't know exactly when we'd be in town and we did know our stop would be brief, we didn't reach out to plan any get-togethers. We'll be back next summer for a college tour though!

Our first couple of days in Nebraska were fairly low-key: playing disc golf, playing in the backyard, shopping, lunches out, dinner with friends, playing video games, and watching movies. I took only a handful of photos, and those I did take (or had taken of me) were all of me and my puppy nephew, Fabio. We're best friends. (Of note: I taught that puppers to shake. It took almost four years of bi-annual lessons, but e...v...e...n...t...u...a...l...l...y he figured it out. Also of note: Fabio is the only dog I've ever known that doesn't cause me any allergy issues. It's glorious.)

Tom, Will, and Forest out at the disc golf course.

As the weather heated up into the 90s (nowhere near as hot as it was in College Station during our absence, but still quite toasty), we decided an afternoon at the pool was in order. AJ and I took all three kids and spent the afternoon at the backyard pool belonging to friends of hers - they had a great pool with a diving board and a FANTASTIC backyard in which I schooled my boy at corn hole. 

Will, AJ, Hallie, and Forest

Proof I was there too.

15yo boys and diving
boards make me nervous...

...but 13yo girls and diving boards are a dream.

On Thursday, Tom and I took the kids to Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium. As one of the most well-respected and highly touted zoos in the country (and one that somehow Tom and I hadn't visited since before Will was born, despite its proximity to Tom's parents' house), Henry Doorly fully lived up to our expectations. We saw just about everything, but it took us six full hours and that was with the just four of us, all of whom are fast walkers and don't stall much in between exhibits. There were SO many animals, the animals' enclosures and exhibits were the nicest and largest I've seen in any zoo I've ever visited, there were plenty of zookeepers on hand to answer questions about the animals and staff members strategically positioned to control the crowds, and the grounds were incredibly well designed and maintained. At one point I compared Doorly Zoo to Disney World - as in, Doorly is the Disney of zoos - and everyone agreed. If you're ever visiting or even just passing through the Omaha area, the Henry Doorly Zoo is not to be missed.

Picture overload coming, and this is after I pared them down three times...

Giraffes and ostriches.

Can you see the two BABY elephants in the middle?!

Beautiful gardens.

One of the many primate islands.

Pride Rock

Posing by a few of the painted sculptures in
the Tanuki (a Japanese raccoon dog) "garden".

It was HOT - the tiger had had enough.

The baby (maybe more of an
adolescent by now?) rhinoceros. 

Up close and personal with a lemur.

Zoom in on her eyes...


All of the enclosures were impressive, but
the sea lions' space was one of my favorites.

Will, up inside the prairie dog enclosure.

The GIANT tree-esque play structure in the children's
area was surrounded by a netted tunnel in which little
spider monkeys ran and played. It was so cool.

A quick break for Dip'n'Dots.

Two camels...

...two rabbits (?)...

...and two polar bears.

Inside the desert dome.

Inside the desert dome.

This picture doesn't do this area - an underground swamp
for alligators, crocodiles, and beavers - justice. It was incredible. 


Will and I move a little faster than Tom and Hallie, so
we usually ended up outside of the enclosures a few minutes
before them. We took quite a few different pics to "prove" it.

Touching all sorts of underwater critters.

This fellow was showing off for me.

Underwater tunnel.

Inside the jungle enclosure.

On the bridge behind the jungle's waterfall.

Zoom in - you'll see what felt like a million bats.

Seriously - the Disney of zoos.

Such a great day...

On Friday, we celebrated Tom's birthday. We started with God's Donuts, of course - Tom's mom called their favorite donut shop and explained what we needed, and they gladly obliged. I feel like the donut shop should sell God's Donut on a trial basis, and then if it becomes as popular as I think it will, they can pay us royalties.

Later in the morning the boys visited Lincoln's disc golf shop and played the one local course left on their list. We picked up lunch from Runza - a Lincoln "specialty" - and then headed to Scheel's to ride their Ferris Wheel. Later we went down to campus for a happy hour beverage and appetizer, and then we spent the evening at home, relaxing but also preparing for our long road trip home. 

We celebrated Tom's birthday again on Sunday, which was his actual birthday. I'm so glad we were able to spend the day at home together, rather than sitting in the car together. 

Happy weekend, friends!