Friday, June 21, 2013

First Summer Visit to Como

Since my sister and Drew were in town visiting this week, we decided it was about time for Drew to experience Como Zoo for the first time.  We got up bright and early on Wednesday morning in an effort to make it there before all the parking spots were taken...which was a good thing because I think everyone in the entire Twin Cities decided to go to Como Zoo on Wednesday morning. 

Here we are all ready to go:

We arrived earlier than my mom, sister, and nephew, so we decided to explore the grounds a bit before they met us at the zoo entrance.





Highlights of our day included seeing the sloth climb a tree (seriously, we have never EVER in the countless times we've visited Como ever seen the sloth blink, let alone move), experiencing the new gorilla exhibit, eating a picnic lunch, watching Sparky the seal perform his classic show, indulging in Icees and ice cream, riding the carousel (it was a first for Drew!), and checking to ensure the baby pineapple was still growing (Olivia had spotted it a month ago on our visit and was insistent upon viewing it again). 


Here we are waiting for the Sparky Show to begin

Still waiting....

And waiting some more....

Looking at the zebras






There's the pineapple!!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Swimming

One of my kids' favorite things to do in the summer is swim.  Thankfully, we've already had a few  opportunities to hop in the pool!  We even start swim lessons this Friday. 


This week we even got to hang out at the pool in my parents' neighborhood along with Drew and Stephanie. 

I'm sure this is just the beginning of many more summer pool days for these four little fish! 

Father's Day 2013

The kids were prepared with their Father's Day cards....



And they were also prepared with their smiles.  They were pretty excited about a whole day at home with daddy to grill burgers, hot dogs, and play outside!





I was pretty excited too....


My parents, sister, nephew, and brother joined us for lunch and I forced them to take a picture....  mostly because I don't remember the last time we took a picture with the five of us all together.  Next time, we'll have to get one with all 11 of us (well...maybe I should say 12 since Fred the dog will be joining my parents' household in just two short weeks).



I had a great day celebrating with two of my favorite dads!

Drew is 1!

Since my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew were in town for my brother's graduation, we decided to take some time out on Saturday to celebrate my nephew's first birthday.  His actual birthday is on June 13 and he had already partied it up at home the week before with family that lives close by, but I don't think he minded a second celebration with his MN peeps! 

We started out the day just hanging out at my parents' house....




Then after lunch and before afternoon nap, Drew opened his presents.....



Zach was excited to give Drew the book he wrote for him.

Allie couldn't wait to read Drew the Birthday story she wrote for him.

The rest of the afternoon, the kids had fun "helping" Drew play with his new toys.  I think more than a few times we had to remind them that Drew would actually enjoy playing with his new toys too!



After dinner, it was finally time for cake! 



I think it is safe to say that Drew is a fan of the birthday cake...kind of like his aunt. 

Happy Birthday, Drew!  It has been so fun to see you grow throughout this past year and we can't wait to celebrate many more birthdays with you! 

Our Robins

Last month we (well, at least the kids and I) were excited to discover a robin's nest being built between two lights on our garage.  The nest was visible from our kitchen window and we enjoyed watching momma and daddy robin busily building while we ate our breakfast. 

We've had nests built in the exact same place almost every single year, but because it is a high traffic area (we are always walking past to get to the garage...the garage door opening and closing...the kids playing in the backyard), the nests are almost always abandoned as quickly as they are built.

However, this time around, we noticed the momma and daddy bird sticking around...in fact, they were taking turns sitting on the nest.  I decided to climb up on a chair and take a peak inside where I discovered three blue eggs!  I then had to take turns lifting the kids up to see the eggs too. 

I was certain the birds would eventually abandon the eggs, but to our amazement, they always came back after being scared away by our day-to-day comings and goings.

It took about two weeks, but one day while the kids and I were eating lunch we noticed the momma bird making some funny pecking motions inside the nest.  I hurried outside to discover two little hatchlings and an egg that was just beginning to hatch!  How fun!  Of course, I had to lift the kids up again to peer inside the nest.  Later that day, I also held my phone up there to get a picture (mostly because Allie is getting far too heavy for me to hoist above my head!)

Day 1

Olivia's response upon seeing the baby robins:  "Those are NOT cute birds!"

I had grand ambitions of photographing the birds daily so we could see how quickly they changed, but rainy weather and life busy-ness got in the way.  Also, I felt kind of guilty every time I pulled the chair near the nest to stand on so I could take a peak.  The mama robin would always fly away, but then she would just stand there in the driveway or on top of our neighbor's house where I swear she was giving me the evil eye and was ready at any sign of danger to swoop in and peck at my head! 

Thankfully, we could still see the nest from our kitchen window and every meal time we enjoyed watching the momma and daddy bring meals for their babies too.  I thought newborn human babies needed to eat frequently, but seriously, all that momma and daddy robin did was find worms to give to those baby robins.  They literally ate all. day. long. 

It was especially fun once the baby robins got big enough for the kids to see their heads peaking out of the nest from our kitchen window.  Meal times were more fun too because there was definitely some fighting going on between those three as mom or dad brought food.

Anyway, here are some pictures I captured of the nest over the past two weeks before the first baby left the nest this past Sunday.  We saw the other two baby birds for the final time on Monday morning and by the time we arrived home later in the day, the nest was empty. 


Day 3

Day 5

Day 7

Day 11

Day 13 - Morning

Day 13 - Evening
On Sunday evening, I noticed only two beaks peaking out of the nest and I heard some fluttering and funny bird sounds coming from the back part of the yard.  This baby bird was definitely trying to fly, but he could only make it as high as our fence (and not over it).  He ended up hopping away from me and hiding in our hostas. 



 
It is a little sad to see the nest empty now.  Allie swears she saw the momma and her three babies hopping around our neighbor's yard this morning, but when she tried to get a closer look, she claims they flew away.  I sure hope so.  I'd hate to think that Fluffy (the endearing name we've chosen to give our neighborhood stray cat) nabbed one of them for dinner.  

The Beginning of Summer Recap

School has been out for almost two weeks now and we've managed to keep ourselves pretty busy!  The weather has finally taken a turn for the better, enabling us to spend lots of time outside soaking up the sun. 

We kicked off our summer break with Ben and my 10-year wedding anniversary celebration.  While the kids stayed with my parents for a couple nights, Ben and I stayed at an amazing bed and breakfast in Stillwater, MN. 
Ann Bean Mansion courtesy of  www.annbeanmansion.com
We have never done a bed and breakfast before, but after our experience at the Ann Bean Mansion, we would gladly return!  Jacuzzi whirlpools, comfy king sized beds, a secret passageway to the tower at the top of the mansion where we watched a movie together.  The peace and quiet of the two rooms we stayed in was so refreshing and the gourmet four-course breakfasts were superb.  The owners were the definition of hospitality and we enjoyed talking with them about the history of the mansion in addition to their upcoming plans to remodel another guest room (see...now we have to go back!).

When we weren't enjoying the tranquility of our room, we could be found bumming around downtown Stillwater, exploring the shops, and indulging in some amazing truffles and chocolate peanut butter milkshakes.


We also found time to see the new Star Trek movie at a local theater and it was fabulous!  I have this geeky love of Star Trek, a trait that Ben seems to find endearing, so I definitely thought it was the best movie I'd seen in a long time. 

Although we were sad to see our mini vacation come to an end, we were happy to see the kids again.  Plus, after a while, all the peace and quiet just seems so wrong!  So...we brought the brood home and kicked off summer with a park play date with some friends. 

Then, it was on to a birthday celebration for me, including a lunch date with my mom and the kids.  Ben also brought home cupcakes and pizza for dinner.  Oh yes, and I made a stop by Starbucks for a latte and some cake pops to celebrate. 

At some point, Zach dressed Olivia up in all of his Packer Football glory.

In addition to the built-in, all day playmates she has now that Allie and Zach are home full time, she's also loved the additional audience to laugh at her as she performs her "funny face."


We've also gone swimming at the closest outdoor YMCA pool...which was a complete hit!  We've cleaned the house and caught up on laundry.  We even visited the splash pad at the Coon Rapids YMCA.








To add to the summer craziness, we also spent last Friday celebrating my brother's graduation from college!  I was a little concerned how the kids would do at a college graduation ceremony, especially after I snapped these pictures as we were waiting outside for the ceremony to begin....





Even though they were tired, hot, thirsty, and hungry (despite the fruit snacks and suckers that were consumed), they were awesome!  I somehow managed to not get a single picture of the graduate, but we did enjoy celebrating his accomplishment at the ceremony and afterwards at dinner in downtown Minneapolis.  Congrats, Chris!! 

I have more updates to go, but I promised the kids a bike ride this afternoon.  So, for now, I'm off to enjoy more sun!