All in all, the Omaha grass is about as green as it gets. For those who only know Nebraska from I-80, let me reassure you that Omaha is a fabulous place to be. As I write, Omaha is hosting both the College World Series and Olympic swim trials. Its zoo is arguably the best in the world, especially after its recent Wildlife Safari renovation that nearly doubled its size and brought in seven elephants. While I haven't been to the new splash pad yet, I hear it's great. Perhaps we will brave the crowds tomorrow.
As one who prefers solitude, my favorite time to visit the zoo is in the quiet winter months. We were one of the only visitors when these pictures were taken. The blue macaw was so funny. Hungry for attention, he squawked and squawked until I acknowledged him and began a conversation.
I've decided that this sloth may be my spirit animal.
I'm a bit jealous of the grace of the long-legged giraffes. Neither Callie nor I share their height, but at least she shares a long tongue. ;)
While the actual elephants are much more interesting, this mammoth is easier to photograph.
Another Omaha gem, Fontenelle has been a great place for our kids to get outside and explore the outdoors in any season. On our way in, Annie always insists on climbing the frog.
Speaking of frogs, Eli's definitely outgrown Fontenelle's froggy costume!
One Saturday we came to Fontenelle Forest to celebrate the raptors' birthdays. Not only did we meet this adorable owl, but the kids ended up in the World Herald as well.
She was a trooper trodding through the snow. Those little legs made it surprisingly far.
Before leaving, we decided to build a snowman.
Such a happy fella! (Or is it a gal?)
I could tell you a really funny story about how Annika added some anatomically correct features to our snowwoman and wanted to nurse. But I won't tell you. Because that would be just awkward...and embarrassing.
Kiddo, you make me smile.
On a warmer day, here's Annika hiking the trails again, this time dressed as Tigger. (Note: you get markedly more smiles from strangers when your child runs around in a costume all day. Just pretend like you wanted the attention instead of confessing the truth that you were too tired to fight yet another battle over clothes.)
Climbing in Acorn Acres.
...that's what Tiggers do best!
Finally arrived at the riverfront.
All that hiking must have tired Tigger out, because this is how she looked at the grocery store.
In moving to Salt Lake, I will also really miss our neighborhood YMCA where I work, work out, and play. Here's Eli on the climbing wall.
Brooklyn made it all the way to the top.
Besides the gym itself, we've enjoyed swimming at the Y, baseball at the Y, and even fishing through the Y. Here are Eli and Talia learning to cast.
Brooklyn seems to be mastering the skill. She launched hers pretty far!
This picture was supposed to capture the kids learning about lures, but really, it's all about the beard. Sometimes I feel like a stranger to the age in which I live.
Papa Kay kept everyone focused with a tic tac.
Yes indeed, Fishing is Fun.
Can't forget Do Space where the kids are learning how to program their favorite bots, Dash and Dot.
Violin Sprouts at the Kroc Center
Omaha is truly unique for its String Sprouts program, which provided free instruments and quality instruction to over 900 children aged 3-6 this year. Their performance with the Omaha Symphony had to be moved to Baxter Arena this year to accommodate all of the musicians. You should have seen all the teensy cellos!
Eli really progressed in both technical skill and musicianship this year, largely due to having a better attitude. Despite being the only boy in his class, he worked hard and practiced.
Fun at Home
Last but not least, a few photos of Omaha fun right at home. Here we have Annika, who obviously wore herself out dumping out flannel figures.
Four sweet siblings snuggled on the couch.
Play-Doh pizza fun.
Talia out for a run in nearby Hanscom Park.
And Annika with her "Kasey" on the trampoline. Even though we loved it, we ended up selling our trampoline to the new owners--a good choice because there wasn't room for it on our moving truck or in our new yard. Still kind of sad to bid farewell to so much fun.
Yes, Omaha. Your green grass grows all around.