Friday, August 30, 2013

Hi Ho Cherry-O and more

Brother climbers
More parks, ponds, unicycling, baking, kite-flying, drawing, eating, and swinging were in order. A few unicycling mishaps added some chaos, but the splendor of the cherry tree made up for it. Let's explain in pictures:

Exploring the pond

Trying to catch small fish in bottles. The boys in Kyrgyzstan made it look so easy.

The inevitable.

One of the elaborate tents the kids built for their games of House

Pizza! Hamburger and pineapple.
Pizza picnic with all the cousins.

Guess what's for dessert?

Now that's a s'more!

Kites on the river bank.

The fishing poles proved useful on multiple fronts - for fishing as well as kiting and even for retrieving a frisbee-aerobie that had disappeared over the neighbor's fence.

My unicycling shadow

Tanya and Misha
At this point, Tanya fell off her uni in such a way that she broke her 5th metacarpal. Most unfortunate! While she and I were at the doctor getting it x-rayed, Misha barreled head-first into one of the support-beams in their basement while practicing on his uni. Luckily, Aaron managed to bandage it up, saying there was no concussion and most likely no need for stitches. By the time we got home, Misha was asking me if he could unicycle again, but I told him we should wait until the blood stopped oozing out. These incidents were rather ironic, considering that we tell people all the time how safe unicycling is.
Chalk Fest!

The perfect flan.

Weeding and admiring

Ah, zinnias
Hot dog picnic!

Tanya doing well making s'mores despite turning into the Borg.

Expert roaster

Sebby at the fire pit!

Jackrabbit boys

Aaron tests out his Muni, in work clothes no less.

Misha making major progress in riding by himself!

Considering he just got this small new uni in mid July, Misha was thrilled that two weeks later he could do this:

When you get a push from Sebby, this is what happens.

And when you get a push from Aaron, this is what you get.
The cherry tree provided us with the perfect day. We had noticed that Tanya's elderly neighbor had a solitary, beautiful cherry tree in her front yard with vibrant fruit that no one had shown an interest in picking. So we asked her, might we pick them? When, to our delight, she agreed, we gave each kid a bucket, and Tanya and I joined in to pick the high-up cherries. They were perfectly ripe, so shiny and red it left one wondering if they were even real. Since it was just one tree, we had it picked clean fairly quickly. Onto the pitting, which left pools of dark juice on plates, hands, and tables. And then ... onto the baking!

These are our creations - a cherry pie, because that's just so homey. It turned out beautiful to the eyes, though the crust was much tougher than it should have been. (Homemade crust is so finnicky.) Also, a cherry-crisp, because it's so easy and actually the best-tasting, which we shared with the pleased neighbor. And, a wonderful cherry smoothie - tart and sweet at the same time. Mmmm. That settles it - someday I want a cherry tree.

Then all too soon it was off to Brookings for a final weekend before flying back to Houston!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

To Canada!


It seemed to be the perfect chance. Consider the possibility of all these factors lining up:

- Tanya and I were together, not only in the same country but in the same city.
- We were only three hours from Winnipeg.
- Aaron had to work, so an adult would not have to crouch in the far-back Volvo seat.
- It was the week of the Winnipeg Fringe Festival (the end of July).

Even so, we woke up that morning thinking that maybe we were crazy to spend six hours (three each way) in a car with four children, so we talked ourselves out of it. But then came an inspiring email from our mom: "Oh, you can do it!" Tanya and I looked at each other in astonishment. We were actually considering not going when our love-to-stay-home-and-keep-things-simple mother was advocating the trip? What was wrong with us!? We threw together some day-trip bags and buckled everyone into the car.

And off we went to Canada for the Fringe Fest. The trip there went unbelievably smoothly (which was made up for by the trip back). Nara and Sebby babbled away, having adorable conversations about bratwursts and other topics. Misha read Calvin and Hobbes and played on the iPod. Harry slept like the good little boy that he is. And Tanya and I car-danced to high-school-years CDs and got mocked only briefly by a car passing us. At the border, we were questioned if our husbands knew what we were doing. (Taking the kids and leaving the country?)

We eventually succeeded in finding parking and locating the fest. The Fringe is a performance fest, featuring street shows, juggling, acrobats, music, etc. There is an outdoor stage for the street acts, plus many indoor venues for theaters, comdey, and improv. We were there for the street performers, which we had enjoyed about 12 years ago when we came to see a friend of ours do his act. We bought ourselves some doughnuts, found a spot to sit, and enjoyed the shows. First, girls on the trapeze and silks:


A short clip:

The second act we saw was our favorite - two hilarious Australian brothers who balanced on ladders and juggled torches. 

The kids watched closely. Sebby on the left, Misha on the right, and Nara way up by the stage.

Between acts, there was live music, a 3D chalk artist working steadily for all to admire, and a kids' area where they could make masks and try a rola-bola. Misha and Sebby did quite well on the rola-bola, but I didn't get any pictures. And of course there was lots of food to sample.


I gotta dance ....

A Canadian classic: poutine. It's simply french fries and cheese curds smothered in gravy.

Rola-bola and jump ropes.

Meeting Spiderman


Harry, trying to eat and watch at the same time.

Hugs by the chalk wishing well.

When you stand at the right spot, the drawing pops to life with amazing perspective. It's great!

The last act had some impressive acrobatics and a Cyr Wheel, which is a huge and heavy metal hoop which one stands inside to do spins and cartwheels. It was very enjoyable to sit outside and enjoy the Finge again!


The Cyr Wheel

Another clip:

Then it was time to load everyone back into the car for the long, long trek home as the sun set.

Post-Fringe Antics:

Just kidding :)