May 25, 2013

Fun in Nebraska: Part 4

The final wrap-up of our trip.  A few bits and pieces of the remaining adventures of our trip.

I mentioned that my dearest friend kept me company during the helicopter ride, but I forgot that we had a picture to document the event!  We usually forget to take the picture...  Pardon the hair.  I went to NE without any of my hair styling products and had crazy hair pretty much the entire trip.  But bad hair or not, a picture with a dear childhood friend is too precious not to share!
I was committed to taking all of my pictures in Manual this trip (to make myself practice more since I prefer to lazily rely on some sort of auto setting).  The problem with this was that anytime someone other than me picked up my camera, they could not just take a picture and have it turn out.  Although, they didn't always know that...  For this picture I was in the shower (for my first shower post-injury), and my mom didn't want to interrupt me to fix the camera but wanted to capture the adorable-ness that is the twins playing dress-up.  It's a bit blurry, but I think the cuteness is still visible!
Prince Ryan and Princess Allie (Papa and Gigi got the titles of King and Queen...Mommy gets nothin'...).  Allie looks inches taller because she is wearing princess shoes with heels.
 They squeezed in another (more successful) kite flying adventure.  This time they chose a day with more gentle wind, waited until the evening, and went farther into the empty lot next door.  No kites were lost, so it was deemed a success (and my kids now want to fly kites all the time...).
Following in Papa's footsteps.
 Holding on tightly.
Asking Papa the big questions of life.
 Looking to the heavens, bathed in light.
One of the highlights of the trip for the twins was taking baths in Papa and Gigi's Jacuzzi tub.  The final evening, I washed their hair - not realizing what the shampoo I was rinsing out would do when it came in contact with the jets.  The result was the most bubbles in a tub they have ever seen in their life!  It also did not take long for them to realize that if they turned the jets off, the bubbles settled down, but if they turned the jets on again, the bubbles would immediately begin to grow!  Getting clean kids and a science experiment in one is always a win in my book!

 Trying to show off their bubble beards.
The final pictures are from the trip home.  Yes, we finally made it home.  Mom made the trip back with me, which was wonderful because I am very slow-moving.  I am fairly confident the twins would have gone slowly and stayed with me had I needed, but it was nice to have backup.  There were so many things that my mom did that would have taken me (at least) twice as long.  Based on my math, she saved me at least 2 hours in an already 14 hour trip!  
At a rest-area playground letting the kids work out some energy.

The good news is that I am home.  The bad news is that my foot does not seem to be getting better.  I'm sure it is, but the amount of pain I still have, and my inability to be able to walk on it a week later is starting to make me a little nervous.  The doctor said that I should go in for x-rays if I was in pain 10 days after the accident.  Today is day 8.  I'm starting to anticipate x-rays in my near future, and (although I keep trying not to borrow the worry of tomorrow) I cannot help but think about how our summer might look different if I spend half of it in a cast.  I'm still hopeful, but, even without a cast, my activity in the near future is restricted in such a way that it is already infringing on my summer adventure plans.  And all of it is making me a bit (or a lot, depending on who you ask) edgy.  I could use your prayers in the next few days as I hang in the unknown between "only sprained, but badly" and "fractured," and as I attempt to be positive and upbeat rather than the grumpy and demanding I often feel.  That said, I have to share the link to this commercial.  Every time I see it (a lot since lying on the couch and watching tv is all I do now), I laugh and think, "Yup.  Been there.  Done that.  Ended up in the ER."  Click HERE to see the commercial, and laugh along with me!

May 21, 2013

Fun in Nebraska: Part 3

This post could also be titled:
Fun at the Hike or Bike
Kim's Dumb Day
But let's start at the beginning.  My Grandpa is part of the Rotary club in the town where I grew up (where my parents recently moved back).  He organizes a Hike or Bike event, where people can walk or bike, to help raise money for their scholarship fund (and, this year, the park renovation fund).  We were so excited to be there to participate.  The twins were looking forward to "Nebraska Grandpa's Bike Ride" all week.
Ready to go!
 A lot of extended family was there - my aunt and uncle and 3 cousins who also live in the same town, my aunt and uncle and 2 cousins who live a couple hours away, my dad's cousin and his wife and daughter, my grandparents (obviously), and many close friends of the family.  It was essentially a reunion that included some exercise first.  I was so excited.
My Grandpa giving instructions - the main instruction being NO INJURIES!
(note: that is my Grandma to the left, and my cousin peeking out from behind).
 We got there, registered, gave some hugs and said hellos, and then it was time to start!  The excitement was palpable...for my kids, at least.  They were trying to ride across the grass!
Here is everyone listening to the instructions...except  I'm taking pictures.
 There was a bike route and 2 hike routes.  We chose to take the twins to the track so that they could bike while we hiked and have plenty of room (in hopes they wouldn't hit any hikers).
We're off!  Look at all the smiles!
(Pictured left to right: Allie, Papa, Aunt Phyllis, Cousin B, Cousin A, Aunt Valerie, and Cousin D)
 They had never ridden on the street before and they were so excited!
(Pictured back to front: Grandma, Friend Josie and Friend Jane; Gigi and Papa; Allie and Ryan; Aunt Valerie)
 Most people went to the other hike route first, so we were the only ones on the track for a while.  The twins had never had so much room to ride before.  They were instantly intent on riding around and around and around as quickly as possible.  Not surprisingly, it wasn't long before they turned it into a race. Probably 1.5 miles in, the competition got fierce.  At one point, Allie screamed and cried at the top of her lungs all the way around the track because Ryan was ahead and she couldn't catch up.  Another time, it was Ryan lagging behind and wailing.  Once, Allie turned and rode the opposite way (against the flow of traffic after most of the hikers had moved to the track) because Ryan couldn't beat her that way.  Thankfully, my cousins (the other set of twins) took turns challenging the twins to race (they ran while my kiddos rode their bikes) to momentarily take their minds off of the fierce sibling rivalry.  Their competition was the talk of the event...with the exception of one minor event, but I'll get to that later.
 I was intent on getting as many pictures as I could.  I was hiking, of course, but I was also enjoying the opportunity to practice taking pictures in manual mode and catching some of my extended family on film.  Every now and then, I would jog to a different location to snap a few pictures.
My Uncle Jon (right) recently had knee replacement surgery.  He managed to log more distance than I did!  Uncle Paul and cousin D are too his left.
 And then I would jog back.
Poor Papa, trying to encourage them to stay together, and with him.
This was the last picture I took before...
My cousin, D, had jogged back to the track with me, and then started to take off and run.  It was such an amazing moment, and I wanted to catch it with my camera.  I started to step back as I looked through my viewfinder to get the perfect shot.  And then, all of the sudden, I was on the ground.  Confused about what happened (although, thankful that my camera was securely strapped around my neck and safe despite the apparent fall), I tried to stand.  The pain that shot through me was so intense the world started to go fuzzy and I thought I was going to pass out (to give you a reference, I have only ever almost passed out once in my life - after a severe accident where I received a strong blow to the head.  And, despite 2 concussions, I have never actually passed out.  The pain was bad).  I managed to avoid passing out, but then I thought I was going to be sick.  Once that passed, I laid on the ground and realized I was not going to be walking away from that track.  Apparently, I was closer to the edge of the track than I realized, and I somehow fell off (I thought I fell backwards, but the doctor pointed out my scraped knee with track residue in the scrape, so I obviously fell forward first?).  I resisted as long as I could.  My cousin got me some ice, I propped it up as best I could, I took Ibuprofen...lots of Ibuprofen.  Nothing worked.  I knew I was going to have to go to the hospital.  
Hanging out in the ER.  By this point, the Ibuprofen had started to kick in and I was doing much better, although I was still in a lot of pain.
 The doctor came in while we were waiting for x-rays.  It turns out the doctor on call was my childhood doctor and neighbor growing up!  After looking at it, he told me that the best we could hope for was a serious sprain...but he didn't look hopeful.  I stayed positive.  Surely I couldn't break my ankle trying to take a picture, right?  After the x-rays he came in with good news.  It wasn't broken!  But it was a severe sprain.  After looking up what he told me online, I essentially tore a ligament again.  He told me it would take 6-8 weeks to fully heal, I wouldn't be walking for a couple of days, and I shouldn't go home when I planned.  My parents were thrilled to have us with them longer, although they would have preferred different circumstances...
A few days later.  The swelling has considerably gone down (it was originally the size of a grapefruit), but the bruising is starting to look pretty awful.
 It was pretty frustrating to simply be trying to get a great picture (which I DID not get, by the way), and end up finishing our trip completely laid up.  It was pretty frustrating to miss out on time with my family because I had to go to the hospital (the twins got to stay, and they came home officially obsessed with my cousins.  It makes me happy to see how much they love them!).  It was pretty frustrating to end up needing someone to travel home with me (my mom) since I cannot walk well enough to keep up with the twins.  It was pretty frustrating to be completely laid up for the last few days.  But it is coming along, and we only added an extra 2 days to our stay.  Bonus, I got to see my cousin who wasn't going to be home from college until we were (originally) gone!  It's always nice to have a stupid injury produce a positive outcome!
And, not to leave you with an ugly foot picture, here is one final picture of the kiddos racing across the "finish" line!

May 18, 2013

Fun in Nebraska: Part 2

While we had many things planned, we wanted to repeat a favorite Nebraska adventures: the zoo.  A fun bonus was that my twin cousins were home from college and had enough free time to join us at the zoo!  While we did many fun things together as kids, we couldn't remember having ever gone to the zoo together.  We decided you are never too old to spend the day at the zoo with cousins.
We were trying to get a twin picture...
 We discovered that twins are much more photo compliant at 19 than they are at 4...
Talking to the tortoise.
 A rare sighting of a Gigi Butterfly!
 Petting a Bearded Dragon
You may have noticed that Ryan is wearing his uber-favorite iguana shirt - specially chosen for a trip to the zoo where he was hoping to see one of his favorite animals.  He did!  Every time he saw any lizard of any kind, he would push his shirt up against the window and say, "Look!  It's an iguana just like you!  Did you recognize me?"  I was never fast enough to get a video, but it was adorable.  Also adorable was Allie's reaction to her favorite animals. At some point, this past year, the kids learned and became obsessed about nocturnal animals.  Allie's favorites being bats and owls.  She has been desperate to see a bat in real life (google images have sufficed so far), and asks every zoo trip if there might be bats.  This time, in a building we missed last time, we found not one but 3 bat exhibits!  She was in heaven.  From small fruit bats eating out of bananas to giant bats the size of winged groundhogs, she was in love.  In fact, she kept yelling, "Hello, bats!  I love you!  I love you so much!"  She also saw a few owls - which made her zoo trip complete.
The only "spiders" I will ever love.
 Baby "eagles" in an eagle nest.
 The camels are always a favorite because they have a wooden walkway around and over their exhibit.  The kids (especially Ryan) love to walk (run) this as many times as we will allow.  After a few times around, we all decided to sit on the benches and have a little snack/water break.  While there, a zookeeper was changing the camel's water.  He dumped out the water and the, normally slow-moving (somewhat boring) camels suddenly came to life.  They plopped down and rolled in the mud puddle, they splashed and jumped, they skipped and chased each other around the exhibit.   It was a camel experience we have never had before!
One of the funniest (and most popular) things at the zoo is a big pile of dirt.  I think the kids spent the most time running up and down the messy mound.  We managed to get a (somewhat decent) twin picture on top of the "mountain."
The most important part of the zoo visit is the train ride.  About halfway through, Ryan (desperately afraid we might miss the train) decided he didn't care about seeing any more animals.  He just wanted to ride the train.  Nothing could distract him.
So happy to finally be on the train!
The whole gang.
One of our other amazing adventures was completely random.  On the way home from the zoo, mom and dad bought a car.  While buying the car, Dad picked up a newspaper and noticed an ad for helicopter rides this weekend in a nearby town.  Now, if you know anything about Allie you know she is obsessed with all forms of flying transportation - planes, blimps, and especially helicopters.  Dad contacted them to get a little more information, but thought it was just too coincidental to not look into considering Allie's intense love of helicopters.  We did not tell the kids anything about a helicopter ride though.  On the off chance that we got there and didn't feel it was safe or something we didn't want them to be disappointed.

We got there and waited.  We saw the helicopter fly in and land.  They were thrilled to be within viewing distance of a landing helicopter.  We walked up to talk to the guy about a ride.  The next thing we knew, they were being ushered to the plane.  It truly happened so fast.
Walking toward the helicopter.  At this point, I'm pretty sure the twins still don't realize they are going for a ride.
 When they were almost to the helicopter, I was Ryan turn around and notice I wasn't coming with them (2 adults and 2 small children was the limit).  I saw this look cross his face, like he couldn't believe he was experiencing something so epic and mommy wasn't even coming!  I flashed a thumbs up and started clicking away with the camera - hoping my confidence would reassure him.
Loading up.  Allie hopped right in first!
Final seatbelt check before closing the door.  I love seeing little Ryan's face peeking out.
 And, the next thing I knew, they were taking off.  It happened so fast.  I prayed they would have fun, and then spent the time chatting with my dearest friend who joined us to keep me company.
Final glimpses before they flew out of sight.

 Papa and Gigi reported that Ryan stayed pretty stoic, but said he was having fun (totally true to form for him).  They said Allie wouldn't even respond.  She was looking out the window and soaking everything in.
A picture from Papa.
The time went by quickly.  We talked and chatted and suddenly, they were back and coming in for their landing.
 Ryan was lifted out first, and the second he hit the ground he ran full speed to me.  I scooped him into my arms, and he said, "Mommy, I just rode in a helicopter and it was so much fun!"  I could tell that he was trying to process something that had been monumental, and he couldn't wait to share the experience with me.
Running to me.
We went out to eat afterwards, and they behaved worse than I have ever seen them behave in a restaurant before.  I think the adrenaline and excitement pushed them over the edge.  They could not stop moving and acting crazy.

They are so excited and keep saying, "I rode in a helicopter!" in tones of awe and amazement.  Ryan said it tickled a little going up and down, and that he was never afraid (but Gigi was a few times).  Allie said she would see the helicopter again at their next meeting (as if one is already scheduled), and that she loved everything about the ride.  Both said it was their favorite part of the day (week? trip? year?).

Lucas and I realized that neither of us have ever ridden in a helicopter - making this the first thing that the twins have done that one of us hasn't done.

And even THAT was not the end of our adventures.  In the words of Allie, "Oh, our days are full of SO MANY adventures!"

May 17, 2013

Fun in Nebraska: Part 1

Had it not been for our last spontaneous adventure, I would have referred to this trip to Nebraska as a spontaneous trip.  We had talked about the possibility, but I was either going to have to take the train (which was more expensive than I wanted) or drive both ways by myself (doable, but not desirable).  I was sort of wavering on whether or not I would go, and (if I did go) when I would go. Roughly a month ago, I suddenly had the thought that maybe I take a college student home to Nebraska and, at least, have company for half of the trip.  I contacted a student from Nebraska that I happened to know and she was looking for a ride home!  It was meant to be.  Up until a week before we left, I was still putting the trip together.

Somehow, through the combined effort of a Garmin doing everything to keep us away from the one road we wanted and our own penchant for missing turns, Katie (the college student) and I ended up going way out of our way...and added hours to the trip.  Where we should have arrived at a reasonable time and been able to enjoy a relaxing evening settling in, we, instead, arrived in the wee hours of the morning and started our trip exhausted.  I was so thankful for Katie.  She stayed upbeat and positive the whole way - the perfect travel companion in less-than-ideal circumstances.

Since we were so exhausted, we started out our time at Papa and Gigi's with relatively simple fun (at their new house!).
Having recently discovered how to spread dandelion seeds, the twins were obsessed with blowing as many dandelion seeds as possible...
 I'm sure Papa will be thrilled with the visible reminder of their visit once the dandelions start to grow...
Riding the tractor my brother's rode when we were kids 
(note: Ryan has never reminded me more of my youngest brother than he did on this trip!)
 Uncle Matt actually had to be on the West Coast for a wedding most of the time we were there, but we got in one afternoon of time with him before he left (he literally said goodbye and left on his trip from seeing us).  I didn't get many pictures (Uncle Matt prefers to hide behind of the camera rather than be in pictures himself).
Helping Allie with her handstands.
One of the big things Papa had been planning was flying kites.  Having never flown kites, but seen it in books and on tv, the twins were beyond excited.  The first day was too windy, but the second day seemed to be better suited to kite flying.  Papa took the kiddos out and helped them get started.
He preferred to fly one-handed - being too cool to use both hands.

 A dinosaur kite for Buddy!
Allie, who wanted to run with her kite, promptly got it stuck on the roof.  Papa carefully pulled it down and got her started again.
 Being a little more careful.

 A butterfly kite for Sis!
The wind was a bit stronger than we originally thought.  The twins were doing great, but Papa thought he should get a kite going for me.  The third kite was vicious - forcefully diving every time he tried to get it up. I was worried it would hit one of the kids, but something else happened (far worse in the minds of our kids).  It was almost up when it took a dive right over the strings of Ryan and Allie's kites.  It knocked the handle out of Ryan's hand and, in the extreme wind, the kite took off.  It was flying so quickly and so high that I don't think we ever stood a chance of catching it, but my dad and I took off after it anyway.  Roughly a block away, the kite stopped...or, rather, was stopped by some power lines.  It flew into them with such force that the handle whipped around the lines - stringing them together - while the kite was still flying high in the air.  Ryan was beside himself at the loss of his kite.
The top arrow is pointing to the kite, the bottom arrow is pointing to the power lines flying his kite.
Papa eventually retrieved the kite, and all was well.  Kite flying was their favorite part of the day!  After some quiet time, we broke out the sprinkler (the temperature was in the high 90's, and there is no pool in the area).  The kids had a blast running through, and (for the first time in years) played in such a way that they got thoroughly soaked.

 We followed these up with many more adventures.  To be continued...