Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rain, Rain–GO AWAY!

Sorry folks.  This isn’t a post about Mike and how much fun he had over Easter.  Once again, I’ve ran in to that age old issue of “the computer is in one state and the camera (along with it's memory card) is in another”.  And while I’m not sure that many of you often have this same problem – I’m sure that you can all relate…

Instead, this is a post about water.  Lots and lots of water.  Not quite record breaking (at least not yet – let’s hope it stays that way) – but its at least epic in proportion.

You see – a few weeks ago here in southern Indiana (once upon a time we used to call it “sunny southern Indiana” – but it lost that title some time ago) it started raining.  And it’s rained and rained and rained.  For days and days and days.  And I’m not talking about the “Seattle  style drizzle”.  No sir.  I’m talking about several inches per day (along with a tornado or two per week).

And the epic part?  The flooding.  I stopped by some of my childhood stomping grounds – the park by the Newburgh Lock and Dam.  Ahh – the days of playing Lazar Tag at that park.  But I digress…

I’m sure that not all of you are from a river town.  A quick course on the “lock and dam”…

Most folks know that a dam is a solid structure that holds back the water.  In this particular case, it’s concrete “weir” on the south side of the river with “Tainter gates”, located in the middle of the lock-n-dam structure.  The gates control the upstream and downstream water level while the weir is the overflow spillway.  Raising the gates lowers the upstream level and raises the downstream level.  Lowering the gates causes the opposite.  The “lock” part of the lock-n-dam (on the north side of the river in this case) allow all river traffic to pass from one side of the dam to the other.  For example – a barge enters the lock on the upstream side.  The lock doors are closed, and the water level is lowered to match the downstream side.  The exit doors are opened and the boat steams away.  It works remarkably well – and when a series of “lock-n-dams” are placed along the length of the river, water flow can be controlled very well – preventing droughts and floods.  Unless…….

Well – every lock and dam has a maximum capacity.  Once the water level is higher than the “dam” portion of the lock and dam then the water simply flows over the top and you can no longer control the depth.  This is currently the situation for most of the dams along the second half of the Ohio River.

Normally, this isn’t too big of a deal.  The walls that make up the lanes of the lock are significantly higher than the dam so river traffic isn’t affected.  Low lying areas around the banks of the river begin to flood, but that isn’t all that unusual.

But every once in a while, it continues to rain and the river continues to rise.  In Newburgh, the “flood stage” is 38 feet.  This is when minor flooding in the low lying areas begins to happen.  At 46 feet, some primary highways and secondary roads begin to flood.  The current reading is 48.2 feet – the seventh highest level since things like this have been recorded (somewhere back in the late 1800’s).  And if anybody is an Evansville history buff – you’ve heard of the “ ’37 flood” – the highest on record at 56.6 feet.  Or possibly the more recent “ ’97 flood” which crested at 50.5 feet. 

And right now, I can hear the thunder of the next approaching storm – predicting another 2 to 5 inches of rainfall with this one…  So – if anyone has plans for an arc, please let me know.  I’d like to begin construction right away…

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The Ohio River at US HWY 41 between Evansville Indiana and Henderson Kentucky.  The tree line is the southern bank of the river.

An “unflooded” picture of the Newburgh Lock and Dam.  You can see the nine large “Tainter gates”in the middle (notice they are lowered in the water to control the upstream and downstream levels) and the “weir” to the right of them.  The “locks” are in the foreground of the photo.  You can see the tall walls that make up the lanes with the control house sitting in the middle.

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A “flooded” picture of the Newburg Lock and Dam.  You can see that the gates are raised up completely out of the water and the weir is completely underwater.  You can also see that the walls that make up the lanes for the lock are nearly under water.

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You can’t hardly see it – but the sign on the control house reads “47.1”.  That’s 47.1 feet deep as of yesterday.  It’s up to 48.2 today.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Language Skills–Stage 2

Mike has been building an impressive vocabulary recently.  I would guess that the number of words that he can speak is now over 100.  He’s full of the single word sentences.  Some of his favorites are mommy, daddy, Izzy, Foxy, Harper, Avery, fish, bath, outside, pacey, hungry, eat, juice, milk, fish, and snack.

He has started learning body parts.  He’ll say eye and point to his eye, or teeth and point to his teeth, or nose and stick his finger up his nostril up to the second knuckle.  Or sometimes he’ll say nose and try and stick his finger up YOUR nostril!  We try and tell him that he can pick his friends – and he can pick his nose – but he can’t pick his friend’s nose (or his mommy’s or his daddy’s).

He has recently been picking up animal sounds – words like woof, meow, baaaa, grrrr, and roar.  You can ask “what do cats do” and he will say “Meeeeoooooowwww” or “what do sheep do” and he will say “baaaa  baaaaaa”.

His all time favorite (and his answer to nearly every question you ask) is “no”. 

Us:  “Mike.  Are Izzy and Foxy dogs”?

Mike gets a serious look on his face as if he is seriously pondering the question.  Then he looks up and answers “no”.

Us:  “Mike.  Do you love mommy?”

Again – the pondering expression for a moment or two followed by his answer “no”.

Us:  “Mike.  Do you like playing with your toys?”

Pondering look followed by “no”.

Us:  “Do you like the word no”?

Ponder for a moment.  “No”.

Us:  “Is ‘no’ your answer to everything?”

“No”.

Us:  “Do you want some yogurt?”

Quickly, with no hesitation – “Yo!  Yo!  Ungree!  Ungree!  Nack!” all in conjunction with the sign language for hungry, eat, please, and more.  This loosely translates into “Yogurt?  Why come to think of it, I am a little hungry and could use a small snack.  Thank you mom!”

But recently, he reached a new milestone in language development.  He has begun to put words together.

Which brings me to the biggest smile I’ve ever had.  I recently walked in to Mike’s playroom where he was happily playing with his toys.  He looked up at me with his bright blue eyes, smiled his big seven-toothed smile and said “hi daddy”!

Mike’s First Bike Ride

Last weekend, the weather was gorgeous!  Warm sunshine.  Not a cloud in the sky.  Leaves coming out on the trees.  Dogwoods in full bloom.  A wonderful site to see!

It was absolutely necessary that we take advantage of this beautiful weather.  Somehow.  Someway.

Mike was there to encourage us.  “Outside?”, we would repeatedly ask in his own little way (which comes out sounding more like “ow sigh”).  “Yes honey.  We are going outside today.  And we are going to do something NEW!”

We had decided to take Mike on his very first bike ride!

And by “bike ride” – I mean he did just that.  Ride.

A couple of weeks ago, our good friends, Matt and Karen, let us “borrow” the bike trailer that there son had recently outgrown.  It was a fabulous “try before you buy” offer.  Especially important since Mike seems to have become very opinionated about things.  If Mike liked riding in the trailer – then it was ours for the asking.  If not – then we would simply give it back.

So we loaded up the bikes and the trailer and headed to Third Creek Greenway.  A nice, wide, paved, mostly shaded trail that winds along Third Creek through west Knoxville  We hitched the trailer up to “the Dad’s” bike (“the mom” wasn’t quite ready to try towing mike…).  We strapped Mike in.  Made sure he had his sippy cup in one pocket and his goldfish crackers and pacey in the other.  And then we headed off!

We rode at a nice, leisurely pace from the trailhead to Tyson Park.  Along the way, the trail snakes along, climbs up and down some small hills, and is full of joggers, walkers, and other cyclists.  Every time we would go down a little hill, Mike would shout out “WEEEEE!!!”  or “WWWOOOOWWWW!!!”.  Perhaps the cutest thing of all was – he didn’t know the word “bicycle” so he called it the “daddy go”.  He would periodically pull out his sippy cup for a little drink or take a few nips on the pacey (he’s taking it less and less these days…).  All in all, he rode in the trailer like he was a king being served by his minions.  And perhaps that’s not too far from the truth…

Once we arrived at Tyson Park, we stopped and let Mike play for a little while.  Swing?  Check!  Slide?  Check!  Big thing that looked like a boat that he could climb around on?  Check!  What was his favorite thing?  The pea gravel.  And interestingly enough – he didn’t call them “rocks”.  He called them “bubbles”.  And he had a whale of a time grabbing handfuls and pouring them over his head!

Then we all mounted back up and headed back down the greenway.  Mike still had a few “WEEEEE’s” and “WWWOOOWWWW’s” in him.  It turned out to be a fantastic afternoon!  And it sure did feel good to be back on the bike after a long, cold winter.

So – Matt and Karen – it looks like we’ll be taking that trailer off of your hands!

What in the world?

“This isn’t my regular stroller!  What in the world is this thing?”

Hitching up

“Am I hooked up to the ‘daddy-go’?”

Pre-ride hydration

“Mommy and daddy say that pre-ride hydration is very important.”

Ready to roll!

“Let’s get this party started!”

Playing with "bubbles"

“Rocks are cool!”

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Springtime at the zoo

Ahhhh – spring has sprung.  Or at least it is springing.  And after our long winter hibernation, we decided to go out and see what was happening at the zoo!

It’s been several months since we took Mike to the zoo.  It just didn’t seem right to take him over the winter.  After all – it was one of the coldest winters on record with now than we’ve had in recent memory.  Needles to say – Mike is significantly more aware of (and interactive with) his environment.  So we were excited to see what his new reactions would be to all of the animals!

He wasn’t much on the black bears.  And he only had a passing interest in the elephants.  He started to get a little excited at the zebras.  And he was still interested in the meerkats.

Look at that meerkat!

"Look at that meerkat!”

Then we moved on to the Giraffes.  I’m not sure who was more interested!  Mike LOVED the Giraffes – but there was one Giraffe that was just as interested in Mike.  It cam right up to the edge of the fence – peeked over and said “hi”!  It hung out with us for a little while – but then it was time for dinner (you really should see a Giraffe trot at least once in your life…)

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“Howdy Mike!”

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“Whoa!  Look at that!”

After the Giraffe – it was “game on.”  Mike started paying attention to all of the animals.  Especially those that are in the books he “reads”.  Things like lions, tigers, birds, snakes, monkeys.  You could see that he was really making the connection between the animals in his books and the animals he was seeing at the zoo.  It really was a fantastic moment.

And speaking of the monkey’s – we’ve been keeping track of the “newborn” chimp at our zoo.  He’s about a year older than Mike and the first time we saw George.  The first time we saw him, he was nursing with his mommy “Daisy”.  It was pretty cool because it was during the time that Mike was still nursing.  During our most recent trip – there was apparently a “family disagreement”!  One of the “teen” chimps was jumping around and causing a ruckus.  Eventually he started running around and he chased George around.  Daisy came in a scooped George up and ran outside with him.  The other chimp ran outside too but there was a surprise waiting for him.  The other chimps did not like the fact that he was scaring baby George!  They chased him all around the entire compound until eventually he settled down.  In the end, everybody was happy (even if some of the older chimps were a little out of breath!).

Daisy and George

Daisy with baby George

George and his blanket

George with blanket!

Ack!  No No!

Mike telling the chimps “ACK!  No no!”

By the time we got the the red panda, Mike was getting a little tired of being in the stroller.  It’s the perfect place to let him out to wander around.  It’s a relatively small area and he can’t open the doors to get out of the area.  Apparently, door that are good for keeping red panda’s in are also good for keeping little boys in too!

Red Panda

The cute little red panda

Mike in the red panda cage!

Mike in the red panda cage!

 

 

Strike a pose!

Mike strikes a pose while he’s in the red panda cage!

On this trip, we decided that Mike was big enough to go to the petting zoo.  He got to pet goats and sheep.  One of the workers put some “Mardi Gras” beads on one of the goats.  She immediately fell in love with her new “bling”.  The worker had to chase her around the pen for about 20 minutes to get the beads back!  It was a riot and Mike loved watching them all run around.  They also had a nice play area.  He got to play in some “animal houses” – which were eggs, nests, and even a tree stump!  He had an absolute BLAST playing in them.  In fact, he had so much fun that “The Mom” decided to join in!

Goats love bling!

Goats love bling!

Mike meets the goat

“Mike – meet Goat.  Goat – meet Mike…”

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Mike LOVED petting the goats!

Mike in the stump

Stumps are FUN!”

 

Mike in a nest

“And so are nests!”

Mike and mom in nest

“Come on in mommy!  It’s a blast!”

Mike and mom in the egg

“Wow!  Eggs are fun too!!!!”

It was a wonderful day.  One of the many wonderful days that we get to share!  The only unfortunate part?  Mommy and Daddy had to wait until they got back home before they could do this…

 

Mike fell asleep

Mike fell asleep on the way back to the car.  It was a big day for a little boy!