Saturday, April 9, 2016

Omaha in the Fall

After several days in Minneapolis, we drove down to Omaha. Here's Caleb eating dinner at a rest stop in Iowa.

One day while there we visited Uncle Evan at work at Union Pacific.

Then we went to the Children's Museum. They had a superhero themed exhibit, so the girls got to make masks and capes, which they were very proud of, and wore for the whole rest of the day.

Later that day we went to see the trains at the entrance of the city. When you're driving into Omaha on the interstate from Iowa, these two trains from different time periods are on the bluff overlooking the highway. They look impressive from the highway, but you really get a sense of scale standing beside the engines.

After that we went to cousin Emery's birthday party. It was a minion theme.

Although she looks like a zombie minion here, Sabrina actually is looking "at an apple on top of my head."

Another day we went out to a farm and orchard for some fresh apple cider slushies, apple and pumpkin doughnuts, to walk around the pumpkin patch and corn maze, and to take a tractor ride through the apple trees.

There was also a little playground there. Celia, as usual, showed off her prodigious skill on the monkey bars.

Caleb had a little trouble with the slide, though. I think it was a little too steep for him.

He was a little more at home in the tire tunnel.

That night we had a birthday party for Sabrina.

She had very specific requests for her birthday cake. She wanted a purple cake with purple frosting and an orange Jack Skellington face that said "Happy Birthday Sabrina" in the mouth. I think we pulled it off pretty well.

In keeping with the Halloween theme for the party, the kids made some Lego Halloween decorations. The main one the kids worked on for a while was this graveyard.

We also had an epic glowstick dance party in the basement.

Just a few days after we got back to Alaska it was Halloween, so we carved pumpkins. (Next year we'll probably need to carve one for Caleb, too.)

Sabrina wore two costumes this year. She went as Ariel to preschool.

Then both girls dressed as "vampire princesses" on Halloween night. They were very excited about the black hair dye and makeup...sort of. Sabrina hated the way the fake blood felt on her chin so she wiped it right off. They both only kept the fake teeth in for a few minutes. Then it took 4 or 5 washes to get all the dye out of their hair, and it turned our bathtub black for weeks. So we decided against the spray hair dye for the future. Caleb was an adorable little pumpkin.

Then a few days after Halloween we had some snow, so the girls thought it would be fun to run around in their swimsuits before then went to swimming lessons.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Minneapolis Traditions

This was our 5th year taking a trip to Minneapolis in the fall. Each year when Marel goes out to spend a few days in the office, the rest of us come along, and our family from Omaha drives up to spend a weekend with us. We all have fun staying staying the hotel together, especially because of the free full breakfast buffet (once when asked about his favorite part of the trip, our nephew answered "the breakfast that never ends!") and the pool. Part of the yearly tradition has been to go to the sculpture garden and take pictures, especially portraits by the brick wall. (Marel's sister doesn't get school pictures of her kids, instead she uses the ones we take at the sculpture park.)

Here Caleb is showing off his Baker Bulldogs letterman cardigan, which was made in the 50's for Marel's dad by his mother, Marel's grandmother.

Not sure where he learned this pose, but it's hilarious.

Another picture we always take is jumping by the bunny statue. Unfortunately the sculpture garden was preparing for some major construction work, so the majority of the sculptures weren't even there anymore, but we still stood by the shrubs surrounding where the bunny used to jump to take the traditional pictures. The idea is always to get a picture of all of them in the air at the same time, but they've never been very good at timing their jumps.

This year we also let the younger kids take a turn. They're a little young to understand how it works.

Caleb saw his cousins jumping on either side of him and thought he might try it out...

...still thinking about it....

"Wait, why am I holding your hand?"

Here are pictures from the past years, starting with 2014:



There's also a swing sculpture they like to play on.

As well as some trees and shrubs to hide in and play on.

After church on Sunday the Omaha crowd drove back home.

On Sunday evening we got to have dinner with Marel's old college roommate and her family, who recently moved to Minneapolis, then Marel spent the week at work learning how to program this robot called Nao. The girls got to go into the office when she was done and play a little game with Nao and watch him dance.

One day while Marel was at work I took the kids to the science museum in St. Paul. They have a giant astronaut there, and a bunch of other cool stuff.

After 3 days in the office, we drove down to Omaha to meet up again with the family for another few days. And that was what may be our last annual family trip to Minneapolis. Marel's sister's family has just moved from Omaha to Dallas, so they're well out of convenient driving distance from Minneapolis. Also, things have changed at Marel's office. They've started holding these "science fair" events for the company that they only announce 2 weeks in advance, and Marel has found it much more useful to attend the science fairs than to go to the office any other time. In the past we've always planned months in advance to get cheap airfare for the family, and chosen when we go based on school breaks, but we can't plan in advance for the science fairs and can't expect them to coincide with school breaks. My brother and his family still live in Omaha, so we'd still like to keep taking this trip to see them, but it probably won't be practical to take it every year anymore, so maybe it will become a biannual trip.

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