Friday, October 28, 2011

An Even MORE Tragic Ending (than Rotary-Norlin)

I had Monday evening planned so perfectly. Bill was working, so after picking Leah and Bo up from school, we went home and I fed them a really early supper. Then we headed over to the west side of town to visit Platinum Valley Park, which isn't far from where I was supposed to attend a meeting at 6:30. The rest of the plan was that after an hour or so, we were going to run to Hy-Vee for some Honey Crisp apples that they could enjoy during my meeting.

Things were going so well. Well, I guess when we pulled up, there was an after-school program playing on the playground, so that was a bummer at first. This park is connected to Harrisburg Explorer Elementary School's playground. But that didn't stop these guys from having fun. We just used the wide open field for races.

Gettin' too fast for the camera!

Then, at 5pm, when the kids went back into the school, we walked over to the playground.

We've been seeing lots of grasshoppers at just about every park we've been to lately.

We even got to enjoy the playground for 20 minutes or so before tragedy struck.

Moments before tragedy struck (I didn't even realize I had it on camera until later), you can see Grier's right leg starting to get caught under the girls. By the time they got to the bottom, both legs had been dragged under and Grier was screaming.

Once I got Baby G calmed down, I tried to put her back on the ground to keep playing. She would have none of it. She immediately started crying again and would not put weight on her legs. Poor Leah felt terrible too. Everyone was very cooperative about heading to the car and staying with Grandpa Ronnie for a couple of hours while Grier and I went to Acute Care.

Just waiting for the x-rays that showed NO BROKEN BONES! Hooray! But it still took until last night, Thursday, before she was putting weight on her legs or trying to walk.

Needless to say, we did not get any Honey Crisp apples for a snack and we did not make it to my meeting. I made sure to buy the Honey Crisps for a special treat when I went to the grocery store the next morning, though. : )

Fishin' at Family Park

On Sunday afternoon, we got to meet up with friends at Family Park for some fishin'. Unfortunately, th
+-*]]e fish weren't really bitin', but we had fun anyway. 0.3
+++-*];llm qx .

So, I just ran upstairs to put Grier in her crib for a little nap. I came back and Fletcher had apparently decided to do some guest blogging. I could delete it, but it's cuter the way it is. : )

Looking for the perfect spot (and one that would accommodate 10 of us).

This looks good. Notice the person on the left side of the picture. He left shortly after we arrived. Sorry dude.

Anyway...The sun was shining and the wind was blowing and it was a beautiful fall afternoon to spend with friends. Apparently there are several kinds of fish stocked in this pond/lake/whatever it is, but none of them were interested in the bait we had.

It's been a long time since we've taken our kids fishing. Bo actually got pretty good at casting his line. He stuck with it the longest.

Leah at least gave it a shot.

These two didn't even try the fishing poles. They only had eyes for that popcorn!

And, as usual, these two wouldn't look at the camera at the same time.

Oops. I guess I was mistaken. Fletch did attempt to fish.

And if you go on a day when the fish aren't bitin', you can always explore the shoreline like we did. Don't worry, as soon as I saw her start throwing rocks, I told her to stop dumping the shoreline into the lake. We went and found a different spot, where there were smaller gravel-y rocks instead : )

For those people who might want to head out for a day of fishing, there are several docks (with rulers for measuring your big catch) to fish off of and other little spots along the shoreline. There's a path all the way around and there are a couple of different places to park. Kids don't need a license to fish and the posted "rules" for the park simply ask that people release the majority of the fish they catch so that there are plenty of fish for everyone. I think Bill and Bo will definitely go back next summer and spend a Father/Son day together.

Another Quick Stop

Oxbow Park was another quick stop. There are some trails for walking/riding bikes and there is a picnic shelter at one end of the park, but since it's right across 49th Street from Sertoma Park, there isn't a playground or anything like that. And I didn't find a regular SFPR sign for this one, so we took a picture next to the Soo Skyways Airport sign instead.

I know I've already put pictures up from when Bill took the kids to Sertoma Park a couple of months ago, but the whole reason we were over near Oxbow Park was that we met up with my cousin and his family to play at Sertoma. If I thought it was a trick to get 4 kids to look at the camera at once, 8 was darn near impossible. This is the only picture I had where you could at least see parts of every face. : )

Smaller than Van Eps

What park could possibly be smaller than Van Eps? you ask.

Winona Park takes the prize!

Winona Park? Never heard of it
, you say.

Well, there's a reason for that. Turns out, it is just a triangular patch of grass where North Highland and East 4th intersect. I would guess that the people who live in the neighborhood don't even know it's a park, other than I suppose city employees mow the grass in the summer. There's no sign, not even a picnic table like at Van Eps Park.

And I've heard that Van Eps Park sits on land that was given to the City of Sioux Falls, by the Van Eps family, with the stipulation that it be a city park. That seems like a logical explanation for that park. But what's the story with Winona? That's what I want to know.

Leaders Park

So, I scoped out the scene at this park by driving by one day and I totally thought that it was basically just a Community Garden site. Not so. Once I had the kids out of the car and we were taking the sign picture, we could see that there were trails that led into the trees to the east of the garden. Well, a trail into the woods, when you've got a sunny Saturday stretching out before you, is pretty much just an invitation to go exploring.

After we hiked a couple trails with our not so off-road-equipped stroller, I figured out that the trails had to be for mountain bikes. There were tire tracks in the dirt and it wasn't really a spot that people would go to for hiking. My parents confirmed this analysis when I told them about the park later. They also said that it used to be a tubing/sledding hill. It would be a great hill for that! I'm sure the neighborhood kids still use it for winter fun even though it isn't advertised as one of the city's sledding hills.

Our exploring and hill-rolling was cut short when the kids were pretty sure they smelled a skunk. So, we walked back up by the garden and shared a couple of pieces of candy Leah had apparently stashed in her jacket for just such an occasion.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Tragic Ending (Rotary-Norlin)

Ugh. I've been dreading writing this post for a week now. Did you notice that I got caught up through September and then quit? It's because I knew that if I wanted to write them in order, this one was next and it's exhausting just thinking about it.

There was a craft lesson I used to teach my students in writing called, "Explode a Moment." I'm not really interested in properly citing the source on here, just read Barry Lane's book, After the End, if you're curious. The basic idea of the lesson is that a writer can choose to focus on a really short period of time when something really significant happened. Sometimes an entire book can take place in a matter of hours. I'll let the pictures do the talking for the first hour or so of our park visit. Because the final 15 minutes would be one of those moments that needs to be exploded with a little more detail for the readers.

So proud to be walking around the park with the big kids!

In the picture above this, you can see the train that was blowing its horn and making Fletch cover his ears and make this face:

As usual, hauling the biggest sticks we can find and throwing things in the river beats any other activity a park has to offer!

Don't worry, I promise I had everyone thoroughly sanitize after I let them play in the Big Sioux-er. While exploring down here along the river, Leah came across an interesting piece of glass that was smooth and round and streaked with color. I told her she could hang on to her treasure because it wasn't jagged or dangerous-looking.

After exploring down by the river for quite some time, Leah broke her piece of glass on the bike trail. Now that it was in several sharp pieces, I told her she could no longer bring it in the car. I asked her in an even tone to please put it in a trash can we were walking past. This upset her greatly and uncharacteristically, she flat-out refused to do as she was asked. Well, unfortunately for her, it was no longer a request and I explained to her that I understood how pretty she thought that glass was, but it absolutely was not coming in the car and it would be dangerous to leave it on the ground in a park where children play, so she would be putting it in the trash can. "How would you feel if I said you had to throw your stuff away?" she asked me. I calmly replied that if something of mine was broken into dangerous pieces, I wouldn't need to be told to throw it away and that I didn't need to worry about her telling me what to do because that's not how things work in this mother/daughter relationship.

She tried pleading, refusing, and pouting- all to no avail. The glass went in the trash can, but Miss Leah made it quite clear that she was not happy about it. I'm fine with that. I understood that she was quite attached to her treasure and it wasn't easy to part with. The part I was not so fine with was the, "I don't like you anymore, Mom," that I heard. However, a crowded public park with a still seriously emotional 7 year old did not seem like the place to address that outburst, so I gathered the other three children and headed for the sign to take a picture. Can you believe it? Leah wasn't interested in being in the picture.

She parked herself on a bench and refused to budge when I told her we were leaving. The park was crowded, the driveway to the park is near a very busy intersection that makes it difficult to get in and out of, and it was 5pm on a Friday, otherwise, I might have tried leaving her and driving around the block or something. I explained to her that she was going to come with us. "No I'm not," she retorted and crossed her arms for emphasis. Who was this devil child? What was she 3 now? Geez louise! Trying to stay calm, I glanced to my right to make sure the others were still with my mom, then to the left where I saw a nice looking older couple returning from a pleasant autumn walk along the path.

"Uh...You are coming with me. You can either choose to walk to the car or we can look completely foolish as I carry you to the car," I told her. Nothing. "I guess that means you want to be carried," I shrugged and I picked her up. Have you seen my daughter lately? She's no lightweight. She's the size of your average third or fourth grader- which is what I'm sure that nice looking older couple thought when they saw me pick her up. Can you see why I was completely dreading this post? Even my mother was embarrassed and told Leah so when I got her to the van.

And here's the best part, amidst Leah's little tantrum, because believe me, she did not go willingly, Bo and my mom had decided that he would go in her car and eat supper at Grandpa and Grandma's house. When Leah heard this, I'm still shaking my head as I write this, get this! That child had the gall to tell me- TELL ME- she was going with my mom too! I'm not joking when I tell you that I maintained my composure throughout this entire episode, my mom will vouch for me. A miracle, to be sure. But my patience was running out. "You, Dear Daughter, are most certainly not going to Grandma's house. If this is how you behave when I am around, I shudder to think what you would do if I let you go. Get. In. The. Car."

"Humph. I really don't like you, Mom. You're a mean mom!" This is when the real miracle happened and I'm not being sarcastic. I truly believe that nothing but the Holy Spirit could have been feeding me my next line. Because if it had been up to me, I'm pretty sure she would have been popped in the face. Instead, she heard these words (again my mother will vouch for me), "I'm sad to hear that, Daughter, because I love you very much. God gave you as a gift to me and He's expecting me to teach you how to obey your parents and be a kind person. Buckle up."

I'd like to say that this was the end of the blathering about that stupid piece of glass, but it continued into the evening. When we got home, she was instructed to head to her room. She was welcome to get her pajamas on, if she wanted, because she wouldn't be joining us for supper. I explained that I was too exhausted after her little episode at the park to think about preparing a meal, so I was just going to feed the little ones odds and ends. Good night.

It was not even 6pm, but I didn't care. We could start over fresh in the morning, I told her.

Wouldn't that be a marvelous ending? She stayed in her room and came out a new girl in the morning? Wrong! She came out several times to argue for her release. I was in no mood for negotiations and told her so. "Need I remind you, you were sent to your room for arguing and not listening? If this is your way of showing me that you learned your lesson, you're terrible at it. Good night." Finally, mercifully, darkness fell and it was time for her to sleep. Her attitude did improve greatly with a good night's sleep and I'm happy to say that our next day's park-hopping was much more pleasant. There. Finished. The End.

P.S. Here's the Norlin Greenway. After all of that construction they did this summer, it's really more of a dirtway right now. Although since this picture was taken, I noticed that they did put seed down. The park is called Rotary-Norlin, but technically, it's two parks on the list. There's no sign on the greenway for now.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Harmodon Park: Touch-a-Truck

Great pic, huh?

On Friday, September 30th, SFPR hosted an event called "Touch-a-Truck" at Harmodon Park. I was actually really excited when I saw this advertised because since we don't really follow any baseball teams, I didn't know what else we were going to visit Harmodon Park for. The playground there doesn't look like the kind you can play on for very long.

The kids loved it! There were construction vehicles...

an ambulance...

We always love bumping into Noah and his family!

a firetruck, an Army truck, the Book Mobile, motorcycles and snowmobiles...

police cars...

Hopefully, this will be their only opportunity to see the back of a cop car.

and probably a bunch of others that I'm forgetting.

My only complaint about the event was that I don't think 2 hours was long enough. I understand that they couldn't really start it before 6 because all of those construction and company trucks were probably in use during the work day. But it seemed to me that it could have easily gone past 8pm. With the baseball fields, that park has the best lighting of any park and there were still tons of people waiting in tons of lines at 8pm when SFPR employees started letting people know that the event was over. And it was a Friday night. I think most parents were willing to stay out a little later. And I don't think my kids were the only disappointed children moping back to their cars.

I'm sure SFPR had a reason for shutting down so early and I'm certainly not disappointed that we have the kind of Parks and Rec department that plans these kinds of events in the first place. I just hope they keep it open until 9pm next time. : )

Lewis Park

The kids had been bugging me to visit this park for close to a year. There's nothing particularly amazing about it, but it's across the street from a friend's house. They first saw this park the weekend before Grier was born when my friend and I had a garage sale at her house. Then, any other time we had to stop there for anything, I'd hear, "Mom, when can we ever go to Lewis Park?" Seriously. It has tennis courts, a ball field, and a sand volleyball court, but otherwise, it has pretty much the exact same playground as all the other parks. They were sure this one was special, though.

So, on a sunny afternoon, before loading Grier and Fletch up to go get Leah and Bo from school, I popped a couple of bags of popcorn and we grabbed some drinks. Leah and Bo assured me they did not have to use the bathroom before we left the school and we headed to the park.

We enjoyed our popcorn and juice there and the kids even saw a friend they remembered from Camp Judson.

Grandma Loulou came to say, "Hi," since we weren't far from her house and we had a generally nice time. Except, of course, when 20 minutes into our visit, Bo had to pee so bad it was emergency. Ugh! Luckily there are some tall trees in the park, so I sent him away to take care of it. So annoying. Why do boys not get it? Even if you don't feel so much pressure that you're about to explode at this very moment, doesn't mean you can't go to the bathroom if you have the opportunity. This prevents the "emergencies" that happen 10 minutes later. Maybe someday...

Spellerberg Park

Well, we missed our opportunity to visit the pool at this park, but the playground was still fun! And actually, I didn't go to this one. This was on a weekend morning and I'd worked the overnight the night before for the Independent Living Program, so I was sleeping in. Bill decided to get the kids out of the house and he knew I'd been to the Spellerberg playground a million times, so it was no biggie for me to miss it.

So, I don't have a lot to say about this. I guess the pictures will have to do the talking.