Sunday, June 8, 2008

Duluth Surprises

We are now back home from our first of hopefully a few trips up to Duluth this summer. Despite the cold and rainy forecast, we were blessed to have pretty decent weather. Our first day, we took the dry opportunity to walk down to the park on the end of the point....probably a mile long walk. Which one of these kids pictured here ran the entire mile back to Grandpa's house with a smile, while talking, and without tiring even once? I could not even keep up with Melissa! Not too surprising, since I am not in such good shape, but out of all my kids, she's the one with endurance! It was amazing to watch her go! At the park, the kids played for quite a while on a simple wooden boat structure, but they thought this thing was just the BEST. Formerly deemed "The I'm a Wiener Park" (you'll have to ask the kids to explain that one), the kid's came up with a more suitable name this year, "Noah's Ark Park"...or even more simply, "The Ark Park". The kids took turns being captain of the ship, Daddy and Michael practiced chipping shots into a tractor tire, and Jonny found some buried treasure. After several minutes of negotiating, we convinced him to bury it again for the next person to find.

The rain was only constant on one of our four days, so we turned that into an indoor activity day. The older boys, Daddy, and Grandpa went to the new Indiana Jones movie, while the little ones and I visited the Aquarium. The kids really like to go there because there is an enormous water table depicting all of the Great Lakes, the rivers that connect them, and the passage through them with an eventual end in the Atlantic Ocean. The kids get to float their boats through locks and channels getting from one end of the lake maze to the other. By the end, the kids are always sufficiently soaked and quite happy. Thomas was in water table heaven, and he spent no time getting drenched from head to toe. Once he found the foot bridge, he was on his butt scooting in running mode over and back again and again with squeals of delight. After 45 minutes, I had one VERY wet but extremely happy baby. The kids also learned about fish, boats, and seahorses. Was is worth the $40 entrance fee? Certainly not. But the two hours of distraction that it provided my little ones on this rainy day was very nice.

On Saturday, Bob and Grandpa took the boys on an agate hunt up the beach, taking them all the way to the Superior, Wisconsin entrance. The kids love this because though it is hard work to walk for hours on the sandy beach, they are walking in areas not travelled by many feet, so the agates are plenty to be found. And with the rainy, windy storms of yesterday, the size of the agates washed up onto shore was pretty impressive for a bunch of kids. Some were between 2-3 inches in diameter!

While the boys were gone, the girls and I (and baby) headed up to the mall to buy shorts and swimsuits for everyone. We had only packed for temps below 60 degrees as the weather had forecasted, but today was a sunny and HOT 80 something! We definitely had to take the opportunity to play on the beach, but no one wanted to do that in long pants and sweatshirts. During our shopping escapade, I asked Laura the same question I always do as we pass Claire's earring store, "Laura, do you want to get your ears pierced and wear earrings like Melissa?" Her answer is always a quick and pouty "NO!" But today, she surprised me with a "Yes!" I asked her a few more times to be sure. She hopped onto the chair, and with all bravery, faced the earring punchers on each side. She jumped a few feet in the air as the "guns" surprised her with their heavy pinch, but she never cried, though it was clear she wanted to. After the shock wore off, she was obviously proud of her new big girl status, and ran into the house to show her Daddy.

I took all the kids over to the beach for a few hours while Grandpa and Daddy grilled dinner. The kids, as always, thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Did it matter that the lake water was at best about 48 degrees? Not to my kids. They all were running in and out of the water anyhow. Tubby's eyes got so big as we came over the hill and the ginormous lake came into view....he was obviously thinking, "Water table jackpot!". He "ran" across the sand (on his little butt), making it straight into the shallow water on shore. He was still going quickly forward as a tiny *freezing* wave caught up with him at his chest. The poor little guy was stunned by the cold, then turned quickly away and "ran" back up the sand hill a ways. Unlike most Zajac males, he learned his lesson the first time, and kept a reasonable distance from the water for the remainder of our time on the beach. He was totally content to play with his hockey stick in the sand, using it for digging and flinging. The others occupied their time by growing sand gardens, making castles, playing horseshoes, and burying themselves up to their necks. It is always so relaxing to sit on the beach, silent, sans the waves and my kids' happy screeches.

Our last day in Duluth was spent lazily skipping stones and climbing rocks at a small scenic park up the road. I think that the kids would have been content to stay all day long. I held my breath as Melissa climbed through rock pile after rock pile, with nary a falter. Tubby proved to be an avid rock climber himself, even with his unique forward foot frontal lead system. He would have ended up in the water several times had our reflexes not been quick that day. The boys had skipping and throwing contests. Ah yes,
a pleasant time for all, indeed. We look forward to many more times like this over the summer this time with Alex, too!

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