Friday, May 25, 2012

Biking & Camping

We've bought a second tag-a-long for Danielle to ride, just as Michaela has done the last summer.  We've started with short rides, but early results are quite promising.  Both girls have done well on rides between 5 and 7 miles in length. We used these to explore Marshland Road, Kiep's Island Dike, and Dike Road at Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge.  Along the way a friendly Ruffed Grouse posed for a picture.

We also brought the bikes with us as we camped at Wyalusing State Park the third weekend in May. Weather was warm but wonderful, with the forecasted showers missing us. Michaela and Danielle enjoyed sleeping in the pop-up, and we stayed busy between park activities and time spent in Prairie du Chien. The view from the campground was excellent.

The park was full of hills so we did not bike much, but the girls successfully walked a mile and half trail to sand cave.  Tent caterpillars were found throughout, and the girls made sure we didn't step on any of them.

Throughout the park we saw birds, butterflies, and flowers. Full disclosure, I chose the park becasue of the birds and was lucky enough to see Yellow-throated warblers and Kentucky Warblers in addition to more common species such as Gray Catbirds and Red-eyed Vireos.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

2011-2012 Academic Year

Another school year as a professor has come and gone. The students were a daily joy and only very occasionally a source of frustration.  Having department colleagues has been a wonderful change, as they are wonderful support and resources.  I'm slowly integrating into the larger SMU community and becoming more involved with non-class activities, and am looking forward to next year.  Over the past year a few things have changed around here. Below are some of the highlights.

Stockton House

Christine continued to paint the house. She made color changes to livng room walls, bedroom walls, the kitchen, the stairway, and downstairs wall. Michaela and Danielle even helped with some of the walls.

Christine tried her hand at a mural in the bedroom.  At first I was skeptical but it has grown on me quite a bit. 
Thanks to generous donations by both families, the flower gardens are larger and more colorful than before.  We just finished edging the flower gardens on one side of the house with pavers.  It looks very different from before. 

Michaela and Danielle

Both girls attended preschool this past year.  Danielle averaged 2-3 half day sessions each week whereas Michaela averaged 4-5 half day sessions a week.  Christine and Danielle had Tuesday and Thursday afternoons together while Michaela was in school.  The two of them enjoyed their alone time, often shopping, going to the library or grabbing a special treat to eat.

Michaela and Danielle both enjoy taking pictures. Our point and shoot camera has turned into their camera, which they bring with most places and share duties of taking pictures.  Christine and I never know what they are going to take a picture of and sometimes they even turn out
After the move we bought a  membership to the La Crosse Children's Museum, which was a frequent destination.  Christine and the girls would venture the half hour for shopping and a visit, we'd stop there on our search for a bird, or it was the entire purpose of the trip when friends were along.  While not as nice as the Brooking's Children's Museum, the Lacrosse Children's Museum still offered many hours of enjoyment. 

Halloween was a ton of fun this year.  Michaela and Danielle each sported three different costumes. Different events around town allowed them to dress up a handful of times, with the pirates and fairies being repeated.


While Winona is about 5 hours from most of our family, the move brings us closer to them.  We enjoyed visits from many of them and we also made a handful of treks north.  We've continue to explore the surrounding area in search of things that we can do as a nuclear family. I suspect posts from the summer will showcase some of these locations and activities.