Wednesday, June 23, 2010

a case for small zoos

We took a road trip to nearby Bloomington (IL not the cool Breaking Away town in IN) to visit the zoo. While in Abq, we joined the local zoo so that we (more often, Jill) could visit the animals any time. The polar bears there are fantastically fun.

Given that Chicago has 2 zoos and that Bloomington is a large town not far from there, we didn't expect the zoo to be large. And it is not. But here's what's nice about a small zoo:
1. Not too much walking or time and you see everything
2. Small crowds
3. Interesting small exhibits (e.g., bugs, tiny white haired monkeys, goats that may be petted)
Of course to qualify as a zoo, there must be monkeys and big cats. Done and done in Btown.

There is a rain forest building with unshy birds. Several of us almost walked into this guy.
The leopard paces behind Jill and Clara.
Our favorite animal was the sun bear -- a large-dog-sized bear that enjoys digging and overturning objects in pursuit of food.

For lunch, Clara tried a pickle. Yum!
Check out the big tower near downtown. No elevator could be seen, so we're guessing that it's not an attraction a la Eiffel Tower.
Clara is now climbing objects to a standing position. So far, no major injuries have incurred other than some head knocks on the carpet. She also sometimes crawls on hands and knees, but when in a hurry, the army crawl works best.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I can't remember if a previous post discussed our musical ambitions (yes, I'm that lazy). The skinny: we're trying to learn to play the piano (Jill) and guitar (Chad) so that Clara (a) grows up somewhat exposed to music and (b) can be the skilled member of our trio.

You might ask yourself how Jill makes time to practice while raising our relentless baby. This might shock you, but here's your reason:
Here's me strumming away on a smooth C chord. I am getting the hang of strumming and switching chords, but the F chord is my current nemesis. Our friend Jessie (more on her below) told us that a certain worship leader she knows rearranged songs to get rid of all F chords. So maybe I don't need to get it after all?
Sometimes Clara needs to sit with mommy at the piano and bang a few notes.
Spectacular thunderstorms have been passing through in late afternoons. The best part is that the temperature and humidity drop after they pass. It's barely evident in the photo below, but that rainbow was the best I've seen in the midwest. We could see the whole bow from our porch.
Somehow we didn't get the camera out this weekend to prove that Jessie came to visit us. She's on furlough from teaching at an international school in Kenya. She loves living there despite the lack of good cheese.

My short list of reasons I'm glad to not live there: no pizza, nobody rides bikes (shocked by that!), armed guards required. Otherwise it sounds kind of fun.

Monday, June 7, 2010

9 months

Guess who turned 9 months old today. Give up?

Clara did! She visited Dr. Beck today and was declared a-okay. She's average height and 25 %ile in weight (just under 16 lbs). She speaks no words and has no teeth. Her latest trick is dragging toys with her on crawls around the house. She also grabs low hanging surfaces with hopes of climbing higher. So far she remains grounded, but we worry about future experiences with gravity.
Our church small group celebrated Christine's recent graduation. Congrats Dr.!
We also had the senior pastor join us to discuss our church's 'plans for growth'. I feel for church leaders that hope to implement big changes. Churches are hugely conservative (in the disliking change sense), and members tend to get upset if their opinions are rejected. We'll be praying.

Joel and Leyla along with their kids came over for dinner and wiffle ball in the backyard. We really need to play more wiffle this summer.
Excitement this weekend was tempered by setting up my latest reverse osmosis experiment and getting data. When our lab is rich, I'm going to buy automated sampling equipment

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

local hot spots

We hit the second of the 3 nicest, nearest vistas outside town this week -- Allerton Park. In the olden days, we rode our bikes there and back. We're still full of vigor, but we took the motorcar. There are some very nice gardens in the park, and 2 of them had weddings the day we visited. In fact, we walked right next to a bride and her father as they were about to march in. We shared no bits of wisdom from our nearly 10 years of marriage.
The high temps and swampy conditions couldn't dampen or melt this family's spirit.
We walked out to the sun singer and back through the swampland. I'm happy to report that papa has the sweetest blood for mosquitoes. Total bites at the end of the day: Chad (8), Jill (0), Clara (0).
Jill recently has been saying that she can read Clara's mind most of time. It usually goes thusly, 'what's that?' 'can I eat it?' I couldn't say what she was thinking when this photo was snapped.
For memorial day, we planned a bike ride to a restaurant in Tolono for lunch. This was a great plan -- we'd ride there in the dry, eat lunch during the storm, and then ride home dry.
The only problem is that Dead Horse and Lu and Denny's didn't sound or look so great, respectively (perhaps we are mistaken, but after looking us over a local suggested that Monical's (which appeared closed) was our only viable option). I recalled visiting a nicer restaurant many years ago, but now methinks it is actually in Philo. We'll investigate.

So we ate bunches of ho-hos from the IGA and watched the heaviest rain from their mulch department. We rode through some light rain to BWW in Savoy for a late, well-deserved lunch.

Clara had fun, and so did we.