Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Day 5: St. Louis Zoo

After Turtle Park, we had just a short drive to the wonderful St. Louis Zoo. It's a FREE zoo, but you do have to pay for "extras" like the train ride and the carousel.

Our first stop was the train. We waited about 45 minutes! They were having a problem with one of their trains and we think they just weren't prepared for a lot of school groups or something. But, it was a beautiful day and we enjoyed talking to our "neighbors." And, the train ride was great. We did the whole "loop" and then had lunch.

One of my favorite areas was the Insectarium. There were so many neat insects to see here. And, my favorite tank included 2 neat insects - the one pictured above is a male ferocious water bug. The sign said "The largest of the true bugs is large enough to eat tadpoles and salamanders! This bug crawls on stream bottoms and also rises to the surface, where it sticks out breathing tubes for air. Females cement their eggs to the male (see photo - this male has LOTS of eggs "cemented" to him), who carries them until they hatch."

My other favorite insect was also in this tank, but the photos didn't turn out as he/she as under water. It was a Sunburst Diving Beetle. It swim around with a little bubble they've collected from the surface. And, just the way they swim is so cute!

This area also has the a butterfly wing in a geodesic dome. We have a butterfly dome here, too, but this one had butterflies EVERYWHERE! And, we even saw this Atlas Moth on a tree where it had just emerged. I love his big, fuzzy antenae.
This turkey was running around loose in the Children's area. He was so tame - you could just walk up and pet him.
My other favorite place in the zoo was the penguin and puffin house. The above penguin is a humbolt penguin which live off the coast of Peru and Chile where it gets pretty warm. These penguins were housed outside.
This cutie is a Tufted Puffin.

I loved the giraffes long, blue tongue.
And, Alexandra really enjoyed the prairie dogs. In fact, they have a Build-a-Bear at the zoo which is the only zoo Build-a-Bear in the world. They sell animals there that they don't sell anywhere else. Alexandra got a prairie dog, which she named Madison, as a souvenir.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Day 5: Turtle Park

On Day 5 of our vacation, we started at Turtle Park. This is a park alongside the highway that has giant turtle sculptures that just "beg" to be climbed on.

Looks like Alexandra is riding this giant turtle that might eat her Nana.

Yep, that's me with Alexandra!

Alexandra enjoyed sliding/scooting down this large turtle.

Nana & Alexandra are hatching from the turtle eggs! I thought it was funny that there is a large snake sculpture wrapped around these turtle eggs. (You can see part of it in the foreground of the photo.)

Day 4: 7 1/2 hours at City Museum

Most of day 4 in St. Louis was spent at City Museum. We were there for 7.25 hours, including lunch! Alexandra LOVED this place. It was her favorite stop during our vacation.

City Museum is a climbing place and the floors are covered with mosaics

Different areas, both inside and out, had different themes. This was the underwater room.

There were crazy tubes to climb through - most adults would not be able to get through these
The photo doesn't do this scary tunnel justice. You dropped down in this dark hole which led to a tunnel under the floor. A lot of kids were too scared to do this. It took Alexandra a few tries, but then she LOVED it and went lots of times. I was shocked that some adults went through this - maybe it is bigger than I thought, but "no, thanks!"
Outside was incredible. 5 STORIES of things to climb on.
Alexandra climbed all over this place. I was scared to...
...but I finally joined her for the last hour. That's us up on the "bridge." This was kind of scary for me, but I had a lot of fun and went almost everywhere - there were a few places I had to say "no." My mother-in-law took more photos of the 2 of us with her camera. I'll try to get some of those later.

There are also "artsy" places at the museum. Here, we spent time with the snowflake lady. She's written 5 or 6 books about snowflakes. Here, Alexandra is showing her dolphin snowflake. I bought one of the books, so I'm sure you'll be seeing more snowflakes soon!
Yikes! Once again, I'm filming sideways. Sorry! Anyway, I can't believe anyone would want to go through tunnels like these. And, some of these were 3 stories up in the air. Yikes!!!
Alexandra LOVED this ball pit. As you can see, you use the monkey bars to get over these beach sized balls, and then drop about 5 feet. I got in the pit, but never tried the bars.
Another room was set up like a skateboarding area, but it was to run in.
She loved playing in here.
And, we both enjoyed this 3 story slide. What a ride! And, I went SO fast going down this. Then, of course, you had to climb back up 3 stories - and these are TALL stories.
So, that was our wonderful day at City Museum. I'd love to take her back there soon! Too bad it is so far away...

Day 3: Botanical Gardens

I have quite a bit still to post about from our wonderful trip to St. Louis with the suprise ending trip to the hospital. And, I can't believe it, but after 2 days back at home... Alexandra woke up sick in the middle of the night! So, I guess we'll wait a little longer to get "back to normal."

So, this is a continuation of Day 3. We spent the morning at The Science Center and headed about a mile down the road to the Missouri Botanical Gardens in the late afternoon. We spent our time in the kid's play area where there are lots of things to climb on and then went to the Rainforest area. We didn't have much time left, so we just walked around looking at the beautiful flowers and sculptures. They also have the largest Japanese gardens in the US and I really wanted to see that, but we just didn't have time.

"vidalia onions" in a pool

reflections of beauty
more of the beautiful pool... and little girl
posing with a sculpture
the 2 of us in a sculpture

this lion was my favorite sculpture
I love this photo - notice the pollen?
getting ready to climb

cool walkway
sitting on a flower
first wood ducks I've ever seen in the wild
smile! :-)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Green Hour Challenge #9: One Small Square

We started back to school today. It went pretty well after our 2 week break. And, we had a gorgeous day so we were happy to go outside and do one of Barb's challenges. Challenge #9 was to mark off one square foot of yard and see what you could find.

Roping off a square foot
A tiny feather I found in my square foot
We didn't find much in our squares except grass, but we had a great discussion about how grass grows by putting out feeders. In fact, I need to look it up in HONS, but can't get to it right now.

Our biggest "find" :-)

Cuddling with our chihuahua. She has a LONG tongue - can you see it???
Alexandra watched an incredibly tiny spider that crawled onto our blanket.

Before watering our flowers, I thought I'd check where we often find snails, and found this TINY toad! Sorry it's a little blurry.

And, we changed the water in the bird bath and found this love bug - all alone! If you aren't familiar with love bugs, they usually fly in pairs. I'm wondering what the orange bump is for and will probably have to do some research.

Free, Online Summer Science Club

Yesterday, I signed Alexandra up for Quick Study Lab's FREE homeschool science summer club for kids. It will start in May and we'll have 5 projects (there is also a club for older kids): plant growth, light & sound, force & pressure, magnetism, and electricity. If we like this, we might try The Edison Project during the school year. Hope some of you can join us for some summer science fun!!! I think that all you need to purchase is a multimeter which costs $18.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Long Trip Home

Yeah! I'm home. It's been a long trip getting here...

Last Friday, we left St. Louis and headed for Oklahoma where we were going to stay the weekend with some family. We stopped at Meramac Caverns and then went a little futher down the road. We stopped and got gas and a snack and then were driving down the highway, when I started feeling a pain in my chest.

Within about 15 seconds, it was a horrible pain. I felt like I was getting stabbed over and over on the left side of my chest. And, when I didn't feel the stab, it felt like there was a knife sticking in my chest that I was having to breathe around.

I pulled off the highway and had trouble getting the car in park. I was crying and screaming out in pain every few seconds. My mother-in-law was trying to get me to climb over to the passenger's seat, but I drive a SUV and there is a big console to get over. I finally made it and we set off again.

I saw that in 3 miles there was a hotel. I really just wanted to go and lie down, even though we were only 2 hours from our destination. It was about 9 pm at night.

My mother-in-law (mil) kept asking if I need to go to the emergency room and I just didn't know. I thought I'd probably pulled a muscle earlier at a museum where I was doing pullups - something I haven't done in years. My mil went to McDonald's and asked where the nearest hospital was and we headed that way.

When we were a few minutes away from the hospital, the pain got worse and I felt like my chest was on fire.

My mil got a wheelchair and wheeled me into ER where I could barely answer the few questions they asked and it took me several minutes (at least it seemed it did) to sign my name. Then, they wheeled me back and got me hooked up to various monitors and got to work.

They did a chest X-ray, CT scan, some kind of heart monitor, measured my oxygen, and just ran a lot of tests. A few minutes after I was lying down, I felt pretty much OK and then I just knew there was nothing wrong with me but a pulled muscle, especially when the doctor told me they'd found no heart problems but they'd run a few more tests and would like to keep me overnight so they could do a treadmill test in the morning.

I had my mil and Alexandra come back to sit with me then. What a shock when the doctor came back in a little while and said he'd found blood clots in both lungs. I just couldn't believe it and hated the my mil had to call my husband, who'd just gotten home from Canada, and the rest of my family.

I finally talked my mil and Alexandra into heading out to find a hotel at 1:30 am. They got me in a room at about 2 am. That first night, I slept a total of 20 minutes. Thankfully, the nurse "fought" for me and got me in a private room the next morning. What a blessing that private room was - without it I would have only been able to have 1 or 2 visitors at a time and my husband couldn't have stayed with me. Also, it was MUCH quieter. My family arrived that next day.

I was at the hospital for 7 days/6 nights. Alexandra went home with my mil and stayed the week with her grandparents & great grandparents. Besides the blood clots, the doctors also found that I was pretty anemic.

I slept a lot after that first night. And, I kept getting sick from pain meds until I didn't need them any more. I really didn't do much except watch some TV, when it didn't make me dizzy, and sleep a lot and just talk with my husband.

I'm praising God that we were in a pretty good hospital. We had a lung specialist who was great, very caring wonderful nurses & nurse techs, but we didn't care for the regular doctor. God was good to let me get off the road OK and to be so near a hospital.

I do want to let you all know that my doctors said my highest two risk factors were the fact that I took oral contraceptives and that I was on a long trip. If you drive a long way, make sure you get out and walk often and drink plenty of water. I always drink a lot, but this time we'd actually started the trip without any water.

I will be on blood thinners for 3-6 months during which time I'll have to be careful not to get hurt. And, from now on, this will have to be on my mind as I travel. I'll just have to be extra careful.

If you ever have chest pains while driving, please go to the ER! I've read on 2 different sites - one says that 30% of people with this condition die within hours if not treated immediately and Mayo Clinic says 1 in 10 people die within the first hour. I thank God that He was in control and He had this situation in His hands.

Thank you for your prayers. I'm giving God the glory for taking care of me during this time. And, I really appreciated all my family did for me and all of the people who prayed for me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Shaking bed

I'm still in limbo and can't wait until life is back to normal, but thought I'd make a quick post tonight. Thanks for the comments and prayers from my last post! I really appreciate them.

So, last Thursday night we were in St. Louis and I woke up in the middle of the night with my bed shaking quickly. I woke my mother-in-law saying, "My bed is shaking. I'm wide awake and my bed is shaking!" I asked if hers was and she said, "no." Then it stopped.

In the morning as we went downstairs to breakfast I told her how strange that was - that I knew I was awake and it felt like an earthquake. (Of course, I've never been in an earthquake.) Imagine my shock when
I happened to glance at the TV during breakfast and saw the headlines: "Earthquake Shakes Central US" - or something like that. I can't believe I felt an earthquake!

I want to study earthquakes when life gets back to normal. I think I'll use some ideas at 317 Zephaniah Way who felt the earthquake, too! Anyone else feel it?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

still here

Hi, everyone. Well, we finished up our vacation, but something unexpected came up. I don't feel free to discuss it at this point, but I would appreciate your prayers for me and my family. I'll let you know more as soon as I can. - Dana

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Day 3: Science Center

On day 3 we spent most of the day at the Saint Louis Science Center.

We went to a show about gravity. It was great! She was teaching about gravity, drag, and weight. And, another lady was 3 stories up (63 feet, I think they said) dropping things like an apple, different kinds of balls, etc. I actually understood why a golf ball would bounce higher than a basketball - a basketball "gives" and that takes up some of the energy while a golf ball is hard and can't "give" and so all of the energy goes into the bounce. She had great explanations for drag and weight, too.

This was a great science museum - this is in the body part of the museum - bottles that you squeeze and try to identify different smells. These worked much better than others I've seen.

We cracked up playing with this mirror. It's too funny!

My mother-in-law and I cracked up listening to this version of Little Red Riding Hood which I also found online. Here's what the website says: "This story, believe it or not, is the very familiar fable of Little Red Riding Hood. This curious version was written in 1940 by a professor of French named H. L. Chace, who wanted to show his students that intonation - that is, the melody of a language - is an integral part of its meaning. The words here are all common English words, but not the ones you'd expect to tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood. "

Alexandra practicing suturing - it was harder than it looked!

This was a station where a lady helped Alexandra do some - oh, I'm forgetting the word! It's late & I'm tired - anyway, I really liked how she had a sheet showing how each of the different markers looked when finished. She talked about the different colors in each of the markers - but first she had Alexandra guess which circle showed which color marker. It was a great use of logic and deductive reasoning.

Alexandra and another boy doing a "hamster wheel" - wouldn't that be cool to have one in your house???

We actually learned about binary numbers!!! I could actually give Alexandra a number and she could tell me what it was in binary numbers! I think we'll play some more with this when we get home. Detective Digit looks like a good site, though I've just looked at it briefly.

This was quite a challenge! We did have someone take a photo of all 3 of us under this arch, but it was very blurry. Anyway, the 3 of us worked hard to build this 7 foot arch! Then, we finally had another mom help us lift up pieces as Alexandra couldn't put them in place anymore. Then, at the very end, we yelled "help!" to a 4th mom who passed by and helped us put in the key stone. We were so proud of our accomplishment. :-) After a few photos, Alexandra had fun knocking it down.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Day 2: The Arch & The Old Courthouse

For Day 2 we went to the Arch. Alexandra had no idea it would be so big, so she was really excited. I went when I was a young teenager, but I barely remembered it.

The Arch

The view from the top - including the stadium - the ride wasn't too bad even
though I sometimes get a little claustrophobic

One of the legs looking STRAIGHT down... 630 feet

Alexandra at the VERY top - 630 feet up

While at the arch, we also watched a National Geographic movie about Lewis & Clark called Great Journey West. It was incredible and we all learned so much and have so much respect for what all the men went through - AND Sacagewa and her baby! (This photo shows the court house in front of the arch)

After lunch, we walked around a bit. I was getting tired, but Alexandra had so much energy. She was running all over the place, up and down the stairs, etc.

Next, we went to The Old Courthouse. This is the courthouse where the famous Dred Scott Decision was made. This sign say: "On April 6, 1846, a slave named Dred Scott and his wife Harriet sued for their freedom in this courthouse. The Scotts had been taken by their owner to free jurisdictions and then returned to Missouri, a slave state. In 1857, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney of the U.S. Supreme Court announced the decision in the case Dred Scott v. Sanford. He stated that Americans of African ancestry were not eligible to be citizens, based on the historical claim that they 'had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.' Taney's opinion also declared that Congress could not prevent the spread of slavery into the Western territories. This decision fueled sectional conflict which led to the Civil War."

This old court house had some beautiful architecture and artwork. There was also a video about the Dred Scott decision, but I thought it was getting to heavy for Alexandra, so we didn't finish it.

The courthouse is also part of a national park (so is the arch) and Alexandra earned her second Junior Ranger badge - for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. Most of the questions dealt with the Greek architecture of the building and the layout of a courtroom. Alexandra's aunt is a judge (among other things) so it was neat to learn about the court room. This court room was above the one where the Dred Scott case was heard - that court room doesn't exist as it did for that case, but this one would have been pretty much the same as far as layout, size, etc.

Photo taken on court house steps - across from the arch

photo from base of arch

another from the base looking straight up - I like how the arch seems to twist in this photo

We went out to eat at a restaurant in Union Station. Afterwards, we were walking around and came across The Fudgery. This lady made fudge and her and 2 other workers (guys) made jokes and sang songs. They were great! Then, we got a free sample... and had to buy some for the hotel. Yum!!!

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