Monday, June 15, 2009

Summertime for Teachers

Having been a public school teacher (in my former life B.C.), the most dreaded words you always seemed to hear were, "At least you get your summers off!"

And it just made you sigh. I mean, how can you explain to people that working all day with kids is tiring, frustrating, exhilarating, important--and that you truly need a few months "off" to catch your breath? And teach them again in summer school? or enrichment courses? or to become a student and take classes to renew your teaching license? And that you only officially have about 18 days off if you really sit down and count them?

Anyway, Mark is still in the field of teaching (just completed his 15th year) and so we had our first "day off" last Thursday. (After he completed his morning weight room hours, that is.) We hadn't been to the zoo for 2 years, so it was high time. The last time we went, Wynne was a baby. This time, we knew she would really enjoy seeing the animals.

Since he was 3, Cy has had an affinity for the rhinoceros. At that time, he took a yellow highlighter in his stubby little fingers and drew a pretty lifelike rendition of a rhinoceros, complete with his maleness. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I was able to send his drawing of "Nockerus" to Dad and Crazy Darby. They loved it and started calling Cy "Nockerus". The name has stuck, and so has our boy's connection to this guy. I think this is the fourth picture we've taken of them together over the years...

The highlight of the animal visits was probably at seeing the tiger. He was really putting on a show when we were there. Mr. Tiger walked right past us several times, and the only thing that separated us was about 1/2 an inch of glass. He pranced by so quickly that my pictures don't do him justice.

The kids were excited to check out the new children's play area ("new" to us, anyway). I think we spent at least an hour there. I also think that the entire city of Madison left their unsupervised children in the mega-slide that day.
We managed to round up our entire posse for a picture there.

Somehow the kids got a hold of the camera and took some shots of the animals. This one of the river otter (and company) is my personal favorite!

About an hour south of Madison is Governor Dodge State Park. We hadn't been there since I was pregnant with Ally; B.C.! I had printed out a few letterboxing clues before our trip, so we had extra incentive to visit. Turns out we didn't need any extra incentive. I had forgotten how beautiful this park is!

As we entered the woods at Pine Trail, the kids kept saying, "This looks like 'Jurassic Park'!" The large-leaved foliage and moss-covered rocks & trees definitely made you consider it...

After about 2 miles of hiking uphill, our little Indy (yet again!) found the box on our first hunt!

Then we posed the kids for a possible Christmas card. When I wasn't terrified that somebody was going to fall several feet to their grave, I was admiring the sheer awesomeness of this cliff.

Hunt #2 took us on a long walk along Cox Hollow Lake and up another hill. Which seemed more like a mountain, but I'm told there aren't any mountains in Wisconsin. Coulda fooled me!

Both hunts were outstanding and exhausting. We hiked for almost three hours to get the job done! I preferred the second hunt because it was written from the perspective of an old miner, and the planter used a lot of terms that made you think like "circling a kettle" and "this-a-way". Mark used the compass to veer off of the trail a bit, and Hallelujah! He found the box!
The hikes were extra-challenging for me because I had to do the majority of the Wynne carrying. She walked a great portion of the way, but sometimes her little legs just couldn't take the steep ascents and descents. It was a bit of a haul for Mommy, but I was overpaid with hugs, kisses, whispers, and daisies.

To cap off our first "Teacher's Day Off", we ended our day with a delicious supper at Culver's. Eating out for a family of seven is something we just can't do very often, so it was a REAL. TREAT. We arrived home in the dark, tuckered out and tummies full with plenty of good memories of our day for sweet dreams.
All in all, it was a really great start to our summer vacation!

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! --Psalm 118:24


Blogger Astrid said...


Sounds like you had an awesome day! Funny...we were at the zoo on Saturday. It seems like all of Madison was there. We haven't been to Governor Dodge in a good long time. I think it's high time we went back! The photos are awesome. I especially love the potential Christmas photo!

June 15, 2009 at 6:36 PM  

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