Thursday, August 28, 2008

A family staycation, part two

Finally the part two. It's taken a bit for me to get here ...

We wrapped up our week of staycationing with a trip to the Allen County Fair, or Buzz's Fair as we call it in our house. The girls wait all year for this to roll around and will ask at various intervals "When is Buzz's fair?" Yes, thoughts of a fair are nice in January.

Tuesday

All six of us descended onto the fairgrounds on Tuesday to take in the animals, rides and other fair sights (a clown on a Segway was Tracy's favorite). I commend the fair organizers for the petting zoo they attract. While the kids love the fair animals, this petting zoo really is a hit.

Featuring everything from two small kangaroos to four very large turtles and a skunk, it's almost more input that a small child's senses can take. What's best is that they have feed pellets and carrot pieces the kids can feed freely to the animals. Alena, Alivia, Trace and Alysse all loved it. No one was still one minute, moving from one animal to the next, not able to decide which animal was their favorite.

Our trip also involved the obligatory fair rides. These four are fearless when it comes to riding and would do so all day long if given the chance. There's even the occasional fit when the ride stops, everyone gets off and we want it to keep going.

Animals + rides = when you are 18 months old and so excited to take it all in that you just can't stand it.

Thursday

The older girls returned to the fair on Thursday with dad to watch a Buffo performance, eat ice cream and ride the big kid rides. They love this time with him and gives them a chance to do "big kid" things without having to stop for baby snacktime and diaper changing.

Trace and Alysse also seemed to like a day by themselves too. They had free roam of the house, were able to play with anything and everything they chose and life with two kids is a real vacation for mom when she's used to four.

Saturday

Our final new adventure of the week was Saturday's trip to church. Rewind four years and four children ago and Jason and I were fairly regular in our church attendance. Fast forward through crying, whining and screaming and not so much.

I've missed it. He's missed it. The kids need it. So we went.

Sitting at a stoplight on our way, as a battle was breaking out in the backseat and Alysse was doing her usual car squawking/talking, I had to ask out loud, "And we're taking this to church?"

We were and we did. We managed to last the entire service, were not told not to come back and left the church standing when we left. Neither Jason or I could tell you what the sermon was about, but we did it. And dare I say it's bound to get easier. The girls actually seemed to like the experience and Alena has talked about going to church this weekend.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Take two (Tums) and call me in the morning

Unless I'm pregnant, I don't have heartburn. Last night, after dinner, or more exactly, after our post dinner monkeying around, I had heartburn like I've never had before except once when pregnant with Alivia and convinced I was dying.

No ... I am definitely NOT pregnant. One hundred percent sure, everyone breathe ... breathe. The source of the heartburn, I believe, was the after effects of previous pregnancies.

There was Sprite sipping by Trace who we had never offered pop to before. While he liked the sweet, syrupy taste, the carbonation provided a new sensation he wasn't convinced he liked. After each sip, he'd try to pick the fizz off his tongue.

video

Then there was the flatus being created by Alivia with her mouth and empty cup. The more we laughed, the more fictitious gas she produced. The kid's just not right. Note to self: Must explain this isn't proper dinner table entertainment.

video

And finally, Alysse too was treated to drinks of Sprite from my glass, which she slurped up like a large mouth bass and then allowed to roll down her chin and chest.

video

In viewing the videos, which really aren't too far from the ordinary at our table, I'm not surprised by the heartburn which plagued me long after the laughter ended. I'm more surprised it's not a condition I encounter more often.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

18 things about Alysse at 18 months

Alysse, can it be that I've known you 18 months already? You're beauty continues to touch me every day.

There's something so very real about you. Something indescribable that I hope I can hold onto for a lifetime. I'll lose the days of "little you" much more quickly than I'd like, so here's a list of the things I appreciate most about you at 18 months to help me reminisce someday when you're wearing make-up, dating boys and leaving for college.

1. You love shoes ... yours, someone else's, doesn't matter.

2. You give wonderful hugs and dole out kisses freely.

3. You so want to do everything your older sisters do.

4. You love to sing and dance.

5. You've pooped on the potty once.

6. You're silly and know it.

7. Your vocabulary is growing every day.

8. You're messy when you eat. Really messy.

9. Your ability to comprehend is impressive.

10. You love to play caterpillar games in bed with Alena before calling it a night.

11. You'd rather be naked than clothed.

12. You are able to play independently, and are creative when doing so.

13. You love to brush your teeth.

14. You dislike having your face wiped clean.

15. You are rowdy and loud when you choose to be.

16. You love desserts of any sort.

17. Your little heart is easily broken.

18. You love your daddy lots.

18 things about Trace at 18 months

Trace, you're 18 months ... a year and a half. Running, climbing and finding all sorts of trouble.

To etch in my mind all the wonderful things about you at 18 months, I've compiled a list so when you're 18 years old and your days of being small seem like a lifetime ago in my memory, I've got a list to help me recall the "you" of now.

1. You love to dig in the dirt with me (in fact, you're a bit obsessed with my garden trowel).

2. Your laugh is infectious and something I hope you never outgrow.

3. You insist on climbing on anything and everything.

4. You love applesauce.

5. You're sleeping in a big boy bed.

6. You'd rather have your shoes off than on.

7. You can be a hot-head when not given your way.

8. You love dogs.

9. You like to read two books with me ... a Little People farm book and Big Rigs. Our readings must include animal and motor noises.

10. Your little wookiee noises make mom and dad laugh until we cry.

11. You love dad's backyard shed where the lawnmower, weedeater and other manly things are kept.

12. You love your Tonka dump truck.

13. You can make Alivia scream and run for help when the urge hits you (her torment is your amusement).

14. Actually, while the shortest in the house, you can make all three of your sisters scream simultaneously.

15. You get grumpy quick when it's time for a nap.

16. You'd rather wander free than hold hands and stay close.

17. Anything with wheels fascinates you.

18. You love to be snuggled and loved on.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A family staycation, part one

It seems the trendy thing to do this summer, with gas prices higher than they've ever been, is to skip the vacation and settle instead for a staycation. Stay close to home, spend less on getting to your destination, so you have more to spend at your destination.

This week we're staycationing. Not so much in an effort to conserve gasoline or money spent on this premium juice, but because who in their right minds would actually vacation with our group?

A short two-hour trip requires packing and planning. Enough diapers. A change (or two) of clothes for everyone in case of an accident. Booster seats. Snacks. Stroller(s) and/or wagon. Activities. Snacks. There's simply no way an official vacation is doable, and anyway, we'd need an entire plane to ourselves just for our gear.

So with Jason free from work this week, we're making the most of it with our own August staycation. Venturing just far enough to find and do new things, but not so far that we've got to pull out the suitcases.

Sunday

Hoping to Ride the Ducks, we headed to Newport, Kentucky, only to find that the attraction was closed. A bit discouraged, we decided we'd take in the Newport Aquarium's Frog Bog exhibit.

Approaching the aquarium's entrance, however, we eyed a sign stating strollers are welcome only during family hours. Apparently family hours are after 4:30 p.m. That would be the time of day when most family members in need of strollers are winding down and looking toward dinner and bedtime. Our four without strollers in a busy aquarium. Yeah, just not happening.

Deciding against a scary aquarium visit, we opted to walk around Newport on the Levee, take in the sights (a balloon animal maker on stilts was entertaining). We also watched boats on the river and walked a bit on the purple people bridge.


After leaving downtown, we headed to the Cincinnati Zoo to check out the new Giraffe Ridge exhibit that Alivia had been promised a visit to since before it opened in June. She was amazed at the five giraffes housed in the new exhibit and we stayed a couple hours longer to ride the carousel and check out a few of our other favorites.


Monday

With tickets we had purchased on Sunday in hand, we again visited Newport for our Ride the Ducks adventure. The kids loved it. Loved it. Loved it. After getting off the bus/boat, we hadn't walked twenty feet and Alena was asking if we could ride again.

During the tour via land and water, all riders are given duck whistles which was the biggest draw for Alivia. Free to "quack" at will with her little yellow, duck-billed looking whistle, she took advantage of the opportunity to make noise. She also spotted many real life ducks while on the river.

Captain Jeff also allowed any children who wished to, to come up and drive during our ride on the river. Alena and Alivia jumped at the chance to sit behind the wheel and managed not to sink us!

Before entering the water, our captain encouraged everyone to blow their whistles, yell and cheer during our splash in. "It's the only chance you'll have to blow duck whistles, get wet and cheer all at the same time, unless you take the whistle into the shower with you tonight, which you're welcome to do," he said in preparing everyone aboard.

While I'm not sure how much else of the tour information the girls retained, they did manage to hear and remember this part, so duck whistles went into the shower with them tonight. Lots of soap and quacking.

We all enjoyed the unique Ride the Ducks experience ... a must-do for kids in Cincy.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The turtle and the girl

Owls are out. Turtles are in.

Ever since Alivia received a turtle puppet Memorial Day weekend, owls have been passe and turtles are hot with our little zoologist. The turtle puppet travels with us, and treks up the stairs twice a day to nap and get tucked in for bed with Alivia.

As if the turtle needed any boost for her affections, a replica was spotted in a mail-order catalog about six weeks ago, making her turtle famous. She loves it even more since its stardom was discovered. And it's now referred to as "my famous turtle."

Earlier this summer we discovered a local nursery which has an impressive garden pond with large goldfish and swimming turtles. A visit here is a treat for Alivia. It's only luck that, first, she has yet to fall into the pond while kneeling down to get a closer look, and second, that the nursery's staff hasn't asked us to please discontinue our visits until we're prepared to make further purchases. Turtle-watching customers don't pay the bills.

Tonight, while visiting a local family fun day which featured a small petting zoo, she actually got to touch a turtle. Making its way through the grass, eating its dinner, roaming free, the turtle was fair game for her. She was thrilled. It was a moment when you see your child not even be able to believe her own eyes.

She touched, admired and longed to be near it. I'm convinced had we told her she could pick it up and bring it home with her, she'd be sleeping with her head on its shell right now.

I'm sure tomorrow she'll tell me she's a turtle and I'll have to pretend as though she is (again). She may swim like a turtle in the wading pool or crawl around the living room expecting me to comment on the turtle we have in the house. I'll probably be asked to call her by her turtle name "Tullabelle Turtle." Turtles are, after all, at the top of Alivia's "it" list.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Hello, are you still there?

Little blogging. Lots of playing. Here's what we've been up to lately ...

Tinkle, tinkle little star

We've laid the initial steps in potty training Alysse. Experience has taught achieving this milestones takes several attempts at training before success is finally attained. So, in this first attempt we tried for three or four days wearing the big girl panties. Some hits, some misses. To be continued.

Alena the chic

Our neighbor works at Mitchell's Salon and Day Spa in West Chester and was kind enough to brave it across the street to give the girls haircuts. I had asked Alena to decide if she wanted just a trim or a shorter cut. She choose a shorter cut and it is soooo cute.

She spent the rest of the day asking if it would still be short in the morning; if her hair would still be the same after she took a shower; and how long her hair would stay this way. Needless to say, she was a satisfied customer. Thanks Ashley!

Giddy up

The girls were treated to rides on Aunt Jeanne's horse Cody, during a visit to Lima. Alivia was the most exuberant; Alena was willing, but a bit timid; Alysse just wanted to be one of the big girls; and Trace was happier touching the horse than sitting on it (besides, there were truck noises to make).


Night, night baby

With a crib that converts to a toddler bed (and eventually a full-sized bed), Trace tried out the big boy version last night. Again tonight, he went down without trouble and we snuck in for a look (and to make sure he wasn't sleeping on the floor). My baby boy, getting so big!


Halloween costumes in August

Choosing a Halloween costume is hard. Really hard. So hard, in fact, that you must begin the selection process in August. There has been much talk and consideration, and so far Alena has decided on Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Alivia has selected a turtle costume she found in a mail-order catalog. Alysse is oblivious to the whole debate and a pirate costume has been discussed for Trace.

Beijing 2008

Alena has shown quite an interest in the Summer Olympics and China. While I'm still trying to convey just how far away China is, all the Olympics talk has been a good chance for her to learn. Alena and Alivia celebrated the start of the summer games by staying up until 9:30 p.m. to watch the opening ceremonies. Although there were about 1.2 million questions in the hour and a half viewing, they enjoyed the show.

Don't stop believing

Remember the Journey song "Don't Stop Believing"? It should be my theme song in regards to getting a photo of the four crazies together. Okay, not just together, but all looking forward, sans hands in mouths, arms waving and other oddities. I'm a sucker, though, and keep trying. Someday.

Take one:
Take two:
Take three:
Perhaps more realistically, I should just put to use my PhotoShop skills and start collaging four photos together to make ONE good one.