Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Making the same old living room a little more interesting..

Nothing some blankets, pillows, and chairs can't handle! :)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lovely Day for a Hike

Amidst those hot, sweaty days we had our first taste of what a cooler California can be like. Grey clouds blew in, it got cold enough to wear a light jacket, it even rained a bit. It was a reason to get out of the house and celebrate! I had a list of places that were good for a hike with a buggy, so I pulled it out and off we went.

Love that Asher's enthusiasm!

We found a little guided trail for kids and had a great time finding and learning about many different types of vegetation in this area.

A weaf, Mama! It's VEWY big!

And, we found great big leaves on the ground! He carried that thing around for a long time. :) It almost felt like it really was Autumn!

The view was gorgeous and we all managed to keep ourselves from touching any cactus plants. Also, there were no bears. Signs warned us that there could be bears moving through and I began to question the wisdom of hiking alone with my children. But, there were no prickles and no bears. Or snakes. Always pluses in my book!

hiking buddies #1 and #2

I hear tell of a few other areas that have buggy-friendly hiking. Can’t wait!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Little Country Bumpkin

I love fairs!!! I super-duper love them. There were all kinds of country fairs in the area I grew up, and I loved going to the State Fair in the summer. I also always loved the Lammas Market that came to St Andrews every summer.

So, imagine my glee when I found out that there was a fair HERE! A fair to go to that would be huge and exciting and fun! The LA County Fair was in town, the biggest county fair ever, for little old me.

Then, things happened. Then the kids got sick. We were down to the wire with tickets to go and a feverish child and it was the last stinking day of the fair! Well, we threw them in the buggy and handled that fair like a boss with flushed cheeks. Priorities!

We saw the gobzillion people that attend such things.. We visited the barn full of animals.. (which included haystacks to jump on!)

We marveled at the insane number of meats you can skewer with a stick, and the size of them.. my goodness gracious, I could not believe the size of the servings! Insanity, I tell you! Hot dogs longer than my forearm. So wrong. And the legendary deep-fried options.. Not just twinkies and oreos, no. There was deep-fried watermelon and deep-fried cookie dough. Not to mention the deep-fried Kool Aid (I don’t even know..). I burst out laughing on a number of occasions when we walked passed yet another meat-on-a-stick stand.

As you can imagine, Aed wasn’t entirely enthusiastic. His fever had been on and off the day prior, and though he didn’t actually have a fever when we left for the fair, he definitely wasn’t 100%. Had he been 100%, he would have loved it, but as it stood, there wasn’t much he was impressed with from where he sat (though he did like anything that involved getting out and running away.. fevers be damned! There's no stopping him!). Then, suddenly I heard giggling. I kept trying to figure out what he was laughing at, but for the life of me, I had no idea. Then, I saw it.

He thought the log ride was hilarious to watch. He even insisted that he wanted to ride it! We stood there for quite a while indulging him in this hilarious pleasure. I really wanted to try the ferris wheel with him, but I just kept having visions of horrible endings and decided it wasn't worth it. Maybe next time :).

We heard that Cirque De Soleil was performing at the fair, so naturally I was intrigued. There was only one performance while we were there, which happened to be a show with lights.

It was pretty good, but it took us a while to find it, so we didn’t get seats. We also had restless boys who weren’t all that interested, so after a brief peek, we moved on. It was very cool to watch what we were able to see, though. :)

One of the last things we did was take Aed on the carousel. This in and of itself was kind of a nightmare. There was a line, and he wanted to go, then he didn’t want to go, then he threw a fit, then he wanted to go, you get the idea. Normally after that much trouble we’d just have said we’re done, but I knew he’d enjoy it and I knew he was tired, so we waited it out and he rode with Daddy.

The two grumpy gills..

Asher and I ate some snacks while we waited.. Turned out he did enjoy himself, and was glad he rode it! 

The very last thing we did was use up our game tokens! We had a bunch to use, so Daddy played lots of games to win Aed (and Asher, but he didn’t care as much) a plethora of animals to bring home.

I think we were glad we did it, trying to have some unique fun while we’re here, but we were all glad to head home. There were a lot of other high points that aren’t pictured, like a big room with fish tanks and a pirate and safari area.. there was seriously a lot to do. There was also, somewhere in the abyss, an area that was supposed to be Mr. Macgregor’s garden. We mentioned that to Aed, thinking he’d be excited, but soon learned that he harbored great fear of Mr. Macgregor and had absolutely no interest in having anything to do with it! Even when he found out he’d get to meet Peter Rabbit! I couldn’t believe it, but I was well convinced after hearing how much he didn’t want to go.. over and over and over. Such a funny boy.

Asher is in the buggy.. poor thing didn't get a single cameo!

So we took our sleepy selves home and knew we had made some memories. This was really our first fair experience together as a family. I definitely think it will be more fun as the kids get older (and more expensive!), but it was a great trial run. :)


Something that has been so great for us to be involved in here is Playschool. Playschool is every Tuesday morning for our little Preschoolers. My understanding is that it is a co-op, but I can’t say I know anything about how a co-op works. :) It is organized through Fuller, and we are so thankful for it!

Basically it is structured so that there are three groups of kids that rotate to different stations during the morning. There is outside play, which has been anything from water toys to games with flour to playing with beans and pasta. There is also a painting option, but my boys tend to be too interested in the other option (i.e. running around or making a mess :).

Water play

Flour play (that was seasoned with lovely smelling baby oil!)

Playing with glass beads..
and letters!

Another station is indoor play. This is things like parachute games, tunnels, a trampoline, and bean bags. Not to mention balls galore. Asher tends to be a risk-taker, throwing himself over the balls (these are bigger, exercise-type balls) and standing on the rolling scooters. You know, anything to make Mama nervous.

But his personal favorite all year has been these little roped buckets.

There is a string of about 6 of them and he loooves walking across them over and over. Today they even turned into a train carrying all sorts of ‘goods’ around the room.

There are all kinds of things to experience with indoor play, and my favorite thing is that we have almost none of it at home. It is always a new experience for them, which means they are always excited!

The last station is Circle Time/Craft. Circle time involves singing and reading stories about the monthly themes. The craft tends to be related to the theme or a nearby holiday. Both boys do pretty well, but nothing much would be crafted without some help and encouragement from Mama. :) Though I do try to keep my hands out of it, and they are both getting better at using glue sticks.

These pumpkins were made around Thanksgiving, and they even have real pumpkin seeds on the other side! Just today the boys made Valentine wreaths that are hanging on our door.

Another favorite time during Playschool is snack time! There’s a variety of fruit and snacks available, and snack time at Playschool was Asher’s first experience sitting by himself in a 'big' chair! So cute!

This is from the very first day. Both boys were pretty confused, but they knew what to do during snack time!

Playschool also begins and ends with group singing and a prayer. It’s been so great to watch both of them as they’ve grown through this experience. Asher’s early experiences were difficult because he was still taking a morning nap. Going that long without a sleep was stretching, but now the nap is gone and he is full-throttle at Playschool! Aed’s early experiences were punctuated with fits as he learned how to be a part of a structured activity, having to leave things he really wanted to do for the sake of things he didn’t know he wanted to do :). He has changed so much from the beginning! He is such a good listener and easily changes from one station to another. It’s been great for sharing to be emphasized in another setting, as well as for him to see that sometimes it’s ok if things aren’t fair. General lessons learned when you’re spending lots of time with lots of other children, from several different cultures. :) It’s not always smooth-sailing, but I am so thankful for this opportunity for us during the week!

We do lots of different play at home too, and I thought this one was fitting to go along with playschool.. I often let Aed play with his trucks and beans. He loves it! I thought it would be a good distraction while I tried to take a shower when both boys were up.. especially since we don’t have a shower door which means they are always trying to get in. It worked for a few minutes, but made a huge mess! The shower was successful and the boys had fun, but admittedly, I haven’t gone this route since – ha!

So long.. so long ago.

I am now so far behind I don’t know where to begin! Some unexpected opportunities cropped up toward the end of October that ate up a lot of time, we traveled to Indiana for the winter holidays, and now after being settled back in for a few weeks, here we are.. Beginning February with activities going back as far as September that still haven’t been accounted for! The good news is, our Fall and Winter were full of really fun things that I am so happy to relive for the sake of memorializing them on the blog. My hope of all hopes is to be caught up to the very day I am writing on, and there’s only one way to get there..

If you can remember what September felt like.. go there now..

Another sweltering day.. a Saturday. The best day of the week because it is OPEN! Daddy is home and the troops are ready for anything.

On this particular Saturday we headed out to the zoo! We decided to get a zoo membership during our time here and are so glad we did! We get information on what’s happening at the zoo and will more than make up for the cost of it with all the fun visits during the year.

Our first visit began with a personal tour of the zoo, thanks to the kind folks who didn’t show up to join us! The guides were so nice and really patient with the kids.

Aed was scarred (and scared, for that matter) by an unexpected elephant trumpet, and now refuses to go to see the elephants! Kind of funny, kind of sad, my guess is a little time will heal that wound.

We sat down for some relief from the heat to eat lunch and I snapped some pictures of our sweaty little men.

This is Aed’s ‘cheese’ face. Ha!

And Asher’s..

So cute.

Our day was rounded out by a visit to the awesome playground in the zoo. The boys LOVED it and it was about as intricate as spinal surgery to get them off of it when it was time to go.

We headed back to the zoo a few weeks later when we found out that.. drumroll please…

BUDDY THE DINOSAUR was going to be there!!!! Dinosaur Train became a favorite show while we were at Nena and Papaw’s house, and has continued to be a reason for much excitement. I was excited when I saw who was coming to the zoo, and I’m not even a committed fan! :)

Aed was beside himself with glee. We did a scavenger hunt through the zoo and got to see a few areas we had missed before, including the petting zoo.

It was a hit.

Aed earned a special poster with Buddy on it (which is hanging right above his bed!) as well as membership into the nature trackers club (or something like that..).

After the scavenger hunt it was time to wait our turn to see beloved Buddy. Aed was so very patient. I was really impressed. We couldn’t even see Buddy for how long the line was, but he just kept hanging in there making up games and feeding imaginary Buddy some goldfish while we waited.

He was given stickers at the stops for the scavenger hunt and kept asking for me to put them on his back. I couldn’t figure out why, and then it occurred to me that we call his nametag at church a sticker, and put it on his back! Naturally! Ha! I still laugh when I see this picture.

As a side note, we learned recently that Asher thinks that stickers belong on the bathroom door. We gave him one and he immediately went over and proudly stuck it to the door! I realized that he thinks that's where stickers belong because that's where we used to have Aed's potty chart. So funny! We are doing a stellar job teaching our kids about stickers. :)

Once he could see Buddy he got ants in his pants. He couldn’t believe it was him! This was the position he assumed once we were very close, so as not to miss anything..

And we made it!

I love this picture because they are holding hands, but Ian’s head is cut off. Aed ran right up to him and gave him a hug. It was so precious! We were a little nervous he’d be afraid, but I think he was too excited to think about it. :)

Here’s one where Ian’s head is not cut off..

And, the grand finale.. As we were walking out of the zoo, Aed got to ride the Dinosaur Train!

It took us forever to convince him it was time to go, and it was a great ending to a great morning of fun. It’s amazing how special something can be because it matters to someone you love!