Friday, July 29, 2011

A Visit to the Children's Museum

This week, in the absence of daily Monday-Thursday swim lessons, I had to find something to keep the kids (namely, Allie) occupied.  Going from daily activities one week to absolutely no plans the next week just doesn't jive with Allie's personality. 

Monday we visited a new park.  The plan was to skip the swimming pond and visit the nature center after we hit up the newly constructed play toys.  The new play toys were definitely worth the visit (except for the 3 minutes that I could not locate Allie amongst the hundreds of other kids there...yes, it really was that busy...I think I counted 4-5 school buses along with a parking lot full of family cars/mini vans), but it was a hot day, and after we discovered the nature center was closed for remodeling until next summer, I was regretting not bringing the swimsuits along.  So, to cool us down, I stopped by McD's for berry smoothies. 

Tuesday morning I made the last minute decision to hit up the Children's Museum.  I heard that Tuesday was the best day to go because of the "No Group" policy they enforce.  After Monday's mass chaos due to every YMCA group in the Twin Cities visiting the particular park we chose to visit, I was all about no more groups!  Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that kids have day cares and YMCA's and whatnot, but still, a group of around 20-50 excited kids with only about 4 adults to supervise is just craziness. 

Anyway, after my own kids' excitement calmed down (mainly after we had ourselves a little chat in the family bathroom at the museum) and their ears were functioning properly again, we had a fun time.  Although it was busy, there were TONS of parents.  So even though there were lots of kids, there was also LOTS of supervision.  The only bummer, according to Allie and Zach, was that they had officially outgrown the toddler play area.  Apparently even though we haven't been to the Children's Museum in over a year, they still remembered playing in that toddler area! 

The special exhibit was LEGO castles and my kids were way impressed:




They also LOVED the ant hill that they could crawl through.  I remember the last time we visited, Zach was so afraid of the ginormous ant that he wouldn't even enter the ant hill!


And here's Allie...the turtle!
Zach said his absolute favorite part of the museum was being able to drive the city bus.

And, Allie spent the majority of her time in the grocery store.

What's all that stuff on their faces?  I'm sure you noticed...I mean, how can you not?!  Well, they painted their own faces.




Apparently, I was unaware of the fact that providing kids with their own face paint is the equivalent of injecting them with a combination of liquid sugar and caffeine. 
And then, because I wanted to see just how hyped up I could get them, I took them to McD's where they consumed a week's worth of sugar and salt all in one delicious, nutritious Happy Meal. 

I'm not exactly sure who decides what the toys will be, but a light saber?  Sure, let's provide three-year old boys with hyper-inducing nourishment and then simultaneously give them a play weapon (complete with sound effects) because that will surely make their parents happy, right?   After one too many jabs with the light saber, it had to be confiscated...mostly for this little gal's safety.

It was a fun day....tiring, but fun.  Now, I should probably come up with today's plan because Allie is soon to be asking and I'm fairly certain laundry and cleaning the bathroom won't elicit a positive response from her.   

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dancing Allie

After an entire year of asking, begging, and pleading (which, seriously, is a LONG time for any 4-5 year old to request something...no matter how persistent they are) we finally enrolled Allie in a ballet/tap class. 
She was so excited that she could barely sleep before her first day of class a few weeks ago.

Her least favorite day of the week now is Friday because that means she has to wait an ENTIRE week to go to dance class again which, in her opinion, is absolutely perfect except for the fact that the class is way too short (it is 45 minutes long, by the way). 
After the first class, I filled out the registration for her to continue dance classes for the school year because when she found out there would not be a summer recital, complete with fancy costumes, she was absolutely crushed. 

This is only the beginning, though, because Allie is going to be a ballerina when she grows up...she's just sure of it.  Either that, or she definitely has a future in modeling.  Check out this pose...completely all her idea, with absolutely no coaching on my part:

And now I must go prepare breakfast for the troops.  Because at least a good breakfast provides some consolation for the disappointment of having to wait a WHOLE week for dance class to come around again. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Heat Wave!

We are in the midst of a heat wave this week the likes that have not been seen around here for almost 40 years.  Lest you don't agree with my MN definition of heat wave...

  • Yesterday the heat index was some crazy number like 120-degrees and when I looked at the humidity percentage on my phone at one point it said 94%. 
  • Every evening and morning there is condensation on the outside of our windows...so much so that you can't even see outside. 
  • I can't even take pictures outside because my camera lens fogs up.
  • The kids and I are dripping in sweat after the 30 seconds it takes to walk from the back door to the van in our detached garage.
  • No one on our street has mowed in over a week...even the retirees who typically mow 2-3 times per week.
  • The kids don't even want to go to swim lessons because the water is too warm.
Ok...so for the record, I'm not necessarily complaining.  But, just a mere 6 months ago my body was trying to deal with windchills in the negative forties and now I'm supposed to acclimate myself to an over 100-degree temperature swing?!  Craziness.

So, to beat the heat, we've been consuming lots of Popsicles.  And by lots, I mean one after every meal and even some for snacks.  After lots of whining, hand waving, and foot kicking from the high chair, I finally gave in.





She pretty much devoured it.  Hopefully we will be getting some relief from the heat soon.  Otherwise, I'm going to need to go to Rainbow for more Popsicles. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Bad Monday for Zach

Yesterday while Allie and Zach were playing quietly (and nicely) together downstairs while Olivia was napping, I seized the opportunity to take a shower.  A few minutes into my shower, Allie came up to notify me that Zach was using markers and NOT coloring on paper. 

After taking a few deep breaths, I grabbed my towel and headed downstairs to assess the damages.  Fortunately, the walls, carpet, and table were fine.  Instead, Zach had decided to use his own skin as his personal canvas.  Apparently, Allie squealed on him before he was able to finish his mustache. 
When I told him I was going to take a picture so that Daddy could see, Zach's only concern was whether or not he was in trouble.  Frankly, he had already had a rough morning with a HUGE melt down at swim lessons (jury's still out as to why the melt down occurred in the first place) and I was so thankful that I didn't have to clean marker off of the floor or walls that I just declared it nap time. 

And, then, later that evening he spit a snot-wad on Olivia's head...for absolutely no reason other than he claimed he thought it would be funny.  (Seriously?!  Funny?!  I guess we don't have the same sense of humor).  He cleaned up her head, said he was sorry, and then went to bed. 

I've been told that when he's older, I'll be longing for the days gone by when markers and snot wads were our biggest issues.  Either that or I'll be banging my head against the wall because markers and snot wads will still be among our biggest issues!  

Let the record show that he partially redeemed himself by eating the "hair" of a piece of broccoli last night.  Granted, he only ate it because I told him that broccoli hair would give him super-toots, but still, it was consumed without objection....and he even asked for more tonight.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Today...

Olivia woke up at 5:30 am this morning.

Zach was up by 6:30 am, cranky and irritated by the fact that he had to "GO TO SWIM LESSONS AGAIN?!" 

Allie, the resident morning person who is always up at the crack of dawn, slept in. 

We all ate cereal while we watched the rain.  Then, at approximately 8:00 am, we went to swim lessons. 

The kids participated in their first ever swim lessons in the rain.

Zach was not happy about it and made sure to let his teachers know. 

Olivia and I, both in pants and sweatshirts, stayed dry under one of the huge poolside umbrellas where she was content to flirt with a grandpa who had brought his four grandkids to swim lessons. 

It was 65-degrees and windy.  Allie emerged from the pool with blue lips.

I forgot to pack after-swim-lesson-snacks. 

We went to McDonald's for hot chocolate (and a non-fat, skim vanilla latte for mom) and cookies while Olivia snoozed away in her carseat as the rain continued to pour. 


The McDonald's had a Redbox.  We rented a movie.  We are now watching the movie.  Olivia is rolling all around the living room floor.  It is still raining.

Next week it is supposed to be in the 90's with a heat index of over 100.  Yikes. 

I guess you know you are a true Minnesotan when hot chocolate after swim lessons in the middle of July seems normal compared to an impending week-long heat wave.
 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Swim Lessons Begin

This week Allie and Zach began summer swim lessons!
So, for the next two weeks we are up and out of the house by 8:15 every morning to make it to the pool in time to learn how to do something other than the doggy paddle. 

Although Allie is a seasoned swim lesson veteran...
...this is Zach's first year of swim lessons.

We had to remind both of them not to act too crazy and make sure to listen to the teachers.

Thankfully, when we got to the pool, they were both a little more mellow, but still excited to begin. 
I was most nervous about Zach.  He hasn't had a lot of "classroom" experience other than Sunday School and ECFE, so I was curious as to whether or not he would listen and follow the teacher's instructions.  Plus, one of the requirements for enrollment in his swim level is the ability to jump into the pool...a skill that he only decided to try on his own during our last day of summer vacation.

To help him out, we have definitely been talking up swim lessons like crazy.  So, I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised that he was the first one to jump into the pool before the lifeguards even finished giving instructions.  I think he heard the words "jump in," his excitement took over, and before he and even his teachers knew it, he was in the pool.  After day three of swim lessons today, Zach LOVES it.  He has been working on his floating, kicking, and arm movements.  He also really likes to talk to his teachers...LOTS. 
I knew Allie would do great and wasn't worried about her at all until I noticed that she was the littlest kid in her class!  I thought this may bother her, but when I asked her about it, she told me she hadn't even noticed and already had herself a friend.  She is pretty excited that she has graduated to the deep end where she can't touch.  Her teachers have been working with her to combine arm and leg movements for the front and back crawl. 
We are supposed to get rain and possible storms tomorrow morning and I already know the kids will be bummed if that means no pool time.  We have one more week after tomorrow for this session, a two-week break, and then I signed them up for an additional two-week session in August.  They just might turn into fish by the end of the summer!

What does Olivia do during swim lessons?  Well, she mostly naps away in her stroller where everyone who walks by comments on how cute she is...and how big her thighs are. 

Our New Pet...The Conclusion

After much debate over what to do with our "pet" caterpillar while on vacation (because leaving it in the kitchen for a week unsupervised was absolutely not an option), we decided to simply move his home to the comforts of our garage. 

The day before we left, the caterpillar headed to the absolute top of the container and began constructing this web-thing out of some sort of silky-white thread which I assumed would eventually turn into his cocoon.  Upon our return from vacation, sure enough, we observed a white (almost translucent) cocoon held up by all those silky white threads in the top part of the container, but no moth or caterpillar. 


We checked the container daily until last Thursday I noticed a moth had magically appeared!  Initially I was sort of grossed out by this whole experiment, but it turned out to be pretty neat.  Plus, the moth ended up being a lot smaller than what I was anticipating...so that helped. 

Allie was completely enamored by the moth and said that she thought it was even cuter than the caterpillar was.  Cool...yes.  Cute?  I'm not so sure about that.


We released him the next day and watched as he fluttered right to the top of our back yard Elm tree (where I'm sure he is going to lay a zillion eggs which will in turn hatch into zillions of baby tent caterpillars that will proceed to completely devour our tree next spring whereupon Allie will find another cute caterpillar hanging out on a fallen branch and the whole month-long-metamorphosis observance will again ensue). 

Anyway, I was going to document the actual release, but once the moth began fluttering, the kids started screaming in panic because they thought it was going to land on them.  Sheesh.  I wonder where they get that from.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

This Past Sunday Morning...

I'm pretty sure the days that I'm allowed to dress all three kiddoes in matching outfits to church are numbered. 

Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa Dzioba for the matching Hawaiian outfits! 

Happy 8 Months, Olivia!

Don't look so shocked, baby girl...you really are EIGHT MONTHS OLD! 
It is getting harder and harder to take these monthly pictures before you destroy the number sign...or try to eat it...or try to wiggle your way out of the rocking chair. 

But, as always, there is no shortage of smiles for the camera!

It is also getting more difficult to keep track of everything you are up to these days...you are one very busy little gal.  At 21 pounds, you have officially become my chunkiest baby.  No worries, though, because we all love your adorable pudgy thighs and cheeks. 

It should therefore come as no surprise to anyone that you LOVE to eat.  Just a few days before your 8-month birthday you perfected your "pincer grasp" and now you happily feed yourself cheerios, graham crackers, puffs, sweet potato chunks, banana chunks, zucchini pieces, and avocado hunks.  Since you almost prefer feeding yourself to us feeding you with a spoon, I've been pulling out all the stops to come up with new and soft finger food ideas.  You also still nurse about 4-6 times a day and haven't shown any interest in giving it up.  We re-introduced bananas this month and, thankfully, they did not make you sick--yay!

The other big news of the month is that you are no-longer a toothless wonder!!

If you look very closely, you can just see those two bottom teeth poking out!  I actually found them on our first day of vacation (just a few days before your officially 8-month birthday) while I was feeding you breakfast.  All of a sudden, your increased crabbiness (which, honestly, wasn't anything more than a little bit of fussing and waking randomly at night...seriously, you are the BEST, HAPPIEST BABY EVER!) over the past week while I was desperately trying to pack for vacation made sense.  They continue to come in more each day and you love to use them to "bite" your toys, crackers, and even mommy...ouch!  Apparently, your sister was jealous of your teeth growing in and she has also decided to cut her first bottom two adult teeth.

You have still been sleeping like a champ, from 8 at night until 6 in the morning.  Unfortunately, over vacation you decided to move your wake up time to 5 am...yikes!  You prefer two naps, but will pretty much take them anywhere, which has been good because we've been busy having lots of fun this summer.

You think it is pretty funny to mimic our voices and our actions.  One of your favorite things to do is shake your head "no," but I don't think you actually understand what it means...you just love getting our attention!  You also love to "talk" and are still loud enough to be heard by all.  And, if we aren't paying attention to you, you make sure to squeal as loud as possible so that we all turn to look and see you grin. 

You are starting to like board books and continue to favor any toys that make lots of noise.  You are not crawling yet, but love to roll and scoot around.  You are never still and always kick your legs about a hundred miles an hour. 

Your favorite people are definitely Allie and Zach.  You always want to be right where they are!  Lately, when I have to wake Zach up from nap time, I take you with me because he is never crabby when he wakes up and sees your excited smile.  You are also tarting to recognize Grandma and Grandpa and are always excited to be around them.
This summer you've had lots of fun going on bike rides, going on walks in your stroller or wagon, swimming, eating grass, riding on the boat, swinging....you really like to be outside and I've noticed you seem to prefer being out and about where there is lots of action rather than having a quiet day at home. 

We love you, Olivia and are so happy to see you growing and changing every day! 

Vacation Wrap Up

At the end of the week, we are always sad vacation is over.  As a matter of fact, even the kids ask why we can't just always live on vacation.  That would be nice, huh? 

And, although we enjoy the lakes, the trails, the ski shows, the shops, the swimming, the boating, and all that Minocqua has to offer, the best part of vacation is just spending time together!