Zoo Morning

We are still enjoying beautiful weather here, so the kids and I headed out to the zoo this morning. We should have gone to the grocery store, but I decided it would be better to play at the zoo this morning and have a pizza picnic instead of cooking dinner. It was the right choice.

We have a membership to Blank Park Zoo. It’s a small zoo only 20 minutes from our house. We visit often; it is not unusual for us to go every week. I love that we can visit until the kids are starting to get hungry and tired. It is a great place to spend a morning.

This was the first day this year that we have been at the zoo when it has been warm enough for the giraffes to be outside. It was nice to see them enjoying the sunshine instead of looking depressed in their enclosure.

Both kids wanted to bring their animals into the zoo. Now that I’ve discovered the mitten clip trick having the animals with us is less terrifying.  I ended up being happy that giraffe came with us when Audrey had giraffe look through the fence at the other giraffes.

Other than the giraffes we looked at the rhinos, fed the goats, peeked at the monkeys, and spent a shocking amount of time looking at the people cleaning the sea-lion and seal pool. We spent a little over an hour there, which is a long time for us. It was a great visit, and Audrey is already talking about the things she wants to do the next time we visit.

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Spring Day

It was a beautiful day in Des Moines today. It was in the low sixties by 10. That meant a walk to the park was in order.

We have three parks that we like to play at within a twenty-minute walk from our house. There is also a fourth park (the closest to our house, actually), but it doesn’t have much for little kids to play on. Today I let Audrey pick the park. She chose Beaverdale Park. I was pleased with that choice – it is a nice 20 minute walk for us and there are lots of hills on the walk to make me feel like I’m actually getting a workout in.

Today I was struck by how big the kids are getting. Audrey is now climbing on the equipment she was scared of last year. She now prefers big kid swings to toddler swings, even though I barely push her when she is on a big kid swing. She didn’t swing in a toddler swing at the park at all (nor did she in our yard this afternoon).

Her new obsession with big girl swings appeared to be wearing off on Elliot, as he asked to go in a big kid swing too. I am happy to report that he only lasted about 30 seconds before wanting to go in the toddler swing. Occasionally realizes he that he is not three.

It feels like spring might actually be here. The forecast for the next week looks beautiful, so we will hopefully be outside a lot. I need to dig out the sunscreen and summer clothes. I could probably put the winter stuff away, but after the spring we’ve had I’m not quite ready to do that. I’m worried I would jinx the weather and we would have snow again.

Am I the only one that is going to cry if it snows again this spring?

Minnesota Children’s Museum

While visiting with my cousin and her kids in the Twin Cities this week we headed to the Minnesota Children’s Museum. The main reason we wanted to visit is because they currently have a travelling Daniel Tiger exhibit. The kids and I love Daniel Tiger.

If you aren’t familiar with Daniel Tiger, you are probably familiar with the inspiration for the show – Mr. Rogers. Daniel Tiger is based on the Land of Make Believe from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. It has a lot of the same good life lessons that Mr. Rogers’ had, often with a helpful little song. I get some of my best parenting advice from that show.

The exhibit was packed full of things from the show, from instruments at Music Man Stan’s shop to the clothes the kids use for dress up at Daniel’s school. They even had a post office with letters for the characters. The kids could be Mr. McFeely and deliver the letters to each of the buildings.

It was like a dream come true for the kids. We spent about an hour in the room, letting them run and explore. They have Daniel Tiger books in O The Owl’s room, so you can curl up with a book in O’s reading nest or one of the chairs they have around the exhibit. Audrey loved being able to explore and play and read a book. It isn’t often you get a story while exploring.

We finally decided to leave the Daniel area and headed to a room with a fire station, hardware store, farmer’s market, taco truck, and post office to play in. Elliot found a wall of switches to play with, so he was pretty happy. There was also a fire truck to ride in. It was overrun with school groups, and it was hard to explore it all. The big kids were not excited to share with the little ones.

The museum is four stories, but we only made it to half of one story before Audrey was ready for bed. She got a little overwhelmed by all of the kids and asked to go home. I was also ready to go, as it was getting too crowded to watch over four kids under four with only two grown ups.

I can’t say enough wonderful things about the Daniel Tiger exhibit. It was well worth the price of admission (around $45 [including parking] for the kids and me). I wish it was a permanent exhibit, as I can see going to visit it again and again. I hope we continue to visit the museum as the kids grow. I’m sure we’ll be able to explore more of it each time we get there.

Road Trip Update

We got back from our trip earlier tonight. We had a wonderful time in the Twin Cities, and I plan on telling you more about it soon (when I’ve had some sleep).

I did a good job preparing for the trip there, but did not do a great job thinking about the drive home.

When it came to snacks we were good for the drive up to Minnesota, but I totally forgot about snacks for the way home. The kids and I ended up eating cookies from a gas station for a treat. Gas station cookies aren’t very good. Elliot decided to “take it apart” instead of eat it, and now I hope that soaking his shirt in OxiClean will get all of the chocolate out of his shirt.20180419_1454272054893516.jpg

I let Elliot put diggers in his back pack, which is a great toy for him. I didn’t think about how playing with trucks would keep him from sleeping on the drive. He didn’t sleep on the drive there, yet I didn’t think to take them away until after he slept on the drive home. So he didn’t sleep in the car either way.

On a positive note, at the Children’s Museum yesterday I thought to clip Giraffe to Audrey with her mitten clip. It made the visit much less stressful for me.

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I love travelling, and I’m glad I went even if the kids didn’t sleep in the car. I am hoping to go on several trips this summer, and I will eventually remember things like snacks on the way home and not giving the 2-year-old his favorite toys to play with at nap time.

Do you have any travel tips for car trips with kids?

Elliot Turns Two

Today is Elliot’s birthday. I don’t know where the past two years have gone. It seems like just yesterday he was a screaming baby who barely slept. Now he’s a big guy that loves trucks, whisks, and going to the grocery store. He loves being on the go. He has a large vocabulary and talks all the time (no seriously, all of the time. I would really like him to give it a rest for an hour or two). He wants to be a grandpa when he grows up. He is such a joy, and we are so happy that he is ours.

To celebrate his birthday we had a party for family at my sister’s house. Her house has the space for entertaining, ours does not.  We do brunch birthday parties for the kids. They nap in the afternoons, so planning a lunch or early dinner can be hard.

Brunch doesn’t just work with timing, it also helps with food. Brunch food is delicious and can be made ahead. We had 2 egg bakes (strata with sausage and potatoes with bacon), cinnamon rolls (I go with the freezer kind for birthday parties), fruit, and cake.

I made two cakes. A layer cake for everyone and a smaller cake just for Elliot. He loves construction equipment, so I topped the cakes with Oreo dirt and put a few new toys on top. It was a very easy way to decorate and I didn’t have to worry about how the top of the cake looked. 20180414_0937251381250925.jpg

Audrey helped me put the trucks on. I’m pretty sure she only wanted to help because she thought she could sneak frosting. In addition to stealing cake, she also made sure the excavator was dumping dirt into the dump truck.

When it was time for Elliot to eat his cake he had no interest. He only wanted to play with the backhoe.

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This is his cake after he was done with it. He wasn’t interested. Trucks are more exciting than cake.

I would like for time to slow down, but I know it won’t. I hope he continues to be a sweet boy, continues to grow, continues to learn, and continues to enjoy toys more than cake. I also hope he continues to want snuggles from his mommy.

 

Picnic Weather

It was beautiful here yesterday. It was in the low 70s, which we haven’t seen since December. After swim lessons I decided to be fun mom and pick up McDonald’s on the way home.

We pulled out the picnic table and enjoyed lunch in the sun. They both ate a lot of their meals, which they did not do the last time we had a picnic. Because they actually ate, I plan on trying another picnic again soon. If the weather cooperates.