Cedar Falls

The kids and I are in Cedar Falls visiting my parents this week. It is a regular trip for us; we try to visit once a month.

This morning we tried a new park. It’s at an elementary school in town, so the kids are a little small for it. Just don’t tell them that.

After the park the kids had filthy feet. Crocs and wood chips do not play nice together. Elliot was OK having his feet washed, but Audrey threw a HUGE fit. In the midst of her epic meltdown he was offering ways to wash her feet. He could throw her in the river. He could hose her off. She could wash her feet in the bird bath.

Well, she jumped all over the bird bath idea. Dad had to follow through.20180612_122054233778084.jpg

After the excitement this morning both kids are now sleeping soundly. I might take a nap too.

Kansas City Weekend

Happy Sunday! We made it back from our quick trip to Kansas City. It was a fun weekend.

On the three-hour drive down we stopped at the first rest area in Missouri to play and take a nature walk. It was hot – in the 90s. It was so hot Audrey decided she should walk down slides instead of sliding down them. That went about as well as you would think, and she ended up falling on her face. Luckily the playground was on the bouncy rubbery material that keeps kids from getting hurt. It was just enough of a shock to keep her from doing it again (hopefully).

On Saturday we went to my brother’s house to celebrate my niece’s graduation from High School. It was a great party. The highlight was discovering that Audrey is a natural at karaoke. She saw the machine and got to work singing nursery rhymes. Bailey, the graduate, was kind enough to sing a few songs with her.

None of us slept well last night, but we had been promising the kids a trip to the Kansas City Zoo for weeks. We decided to skip brunch and get some time in at the zoo before the kids crashed. I’m so glad we went. John hates to travel, so I like to squeeze family vacation moments in whenever I can.

We headed for home after a quick stop for lunch. Elliot, who woke up half asleep this morning, never napped. I have some very tired kids. Maybe they will even let us sleep in a little tomorrow.

I hope you had a great start to your long weekend!

 

Ambitious Packing

We are heading out-of-town tomorrow for a graduation party. My lovely niece is graduating from high school. I’m excited we will be able to help her celebrate. I’m also excited about the three hours I will spend in the car knitting on the way home on Sunday (John called dibs as the passenger tomorrow).

When I travel I tend to pack knitting projects like I’m going to a silent retreat alone for a week. I pack way too many projects.

For this trip I’m trying to stick to only bringing one pair of socks. Realistically I know I won’t have that much time to knit. That isn’t stopping me from thinking about throwing the yarn for the scrap yarn shawl knockoff and fingerless mitts. Or maybe some extra sock yarn, just in case.

I have a problem. An overly ambitious knitter packing problem. Please tell me I’m not the only one with this affliction.

Camping Recap

As I mentioned yesterday, camping wore me out. Part of that is the lack of sleep. The other part is we spent the entire time on the go. It was such an enjoyable weekend.

The drive down to North East Missouri (in the same area as Mark Twain State Park) took about 4 hours. It went remarkably well. I borrowed my sister’s portable DVD player, so the kids were able to watch Mickey Mouse and Olivia in the car. We stopped at a park about three hours into the drive. Getting them out of the car to play helped all of our moods.

When we got to the campground we unpacked the car and then walked up to the camp store to order pizza.  It was a great way to get the kids familiar with each other again, and a great way to get us out of cooking.

This is the first time the boys have spent much time together. They immediately hit it off and played well together all weekend. It was so much fun to watch.

After dinner we headed back to the camper. The girls and Bryan went for a ride on the golf cart (Kirsten’s husband was there dropping it off and drove them around) while Kirsten and I go the beds ready. Elliot was not up for a ride yet. He liked exploring the golf cart, but he was scared of riding on it.

After the golf cart ride we tried to get the kids to bed. It did not go well. That was the case all weekend. As they get older it will get better. That’s what I’m telling myself.

In the morning we had breakfast at the camper before we loaded up the golf cart and heading out to play.

The first stop is the modern playground. It is a big cube for climbing, with a slide and swing in it. The kids loved exploring it. Eventually it got busy and we headed to a different playground.

The second stop was an older playground, also at the campground. We were the only people there, which the kids (and their mothers) enjoyed. The kids played hard until it started to rain.20180512_0953321026274787.jpg

The campground has a place for kids 1-5 that is basically an indoor area to explore. Sadly most of the toys were broken and it hadn’t been cleaned for what looked like a decade. That being said, it was free and kept the kids busy.  20180512_1021082060642474.jpg

After all of that it was only 11. We decided to have lunch and try for naps. Lunch went well. Naps didn’t. The boys got out of their pack and plays after about 30 minutes and walked out to the living room. We decided to throw in the towel and explore some more.

We headed to the Mark Twain Lake visitors center. It was full of things to do. We checked out a few scenic overlooks. We took a hike. We looked around the visitors center. They had a table with crayons and coloring books for the kids. The employee on duty even handed me a bag with 4 packs of sidewalk chalk and two workbooks for the older girls. He mentioned they will be added a playground next year, so we will be back.

The nice guy at the visitors center then told us the best park to visit at the state park. It was a great park and it is very close to the campsite. There is also a beach close to the park, so hopefully we will try that out later this summer. The kids were so entertained at this park Kirsten and I were able to sit on a bench and actually talk! It was a miracle.

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That night getting the kids to sleep was horrible. At one point I went in to check on the boys because they were being very loud. They had crawled into bed together and were very proud of themselves.

20180512_190013579921131.jpgOn Sunday we got up, attempted to go get pancakes and found the restaurant closed, and drove home. All in all, it was a crazy way to spend Mother’s Day weekend, but it sure was fun.

 

 

Camp Snacks

Tomorrow I’m packing up the kids and driving four hours to camp with my friend Kirsten and her two kids. We will have four kids under four in a camper. We are clearly insane.

Because I imagine it is going to be a crazy weekend I wanted to get some of the work done before we left. I also wanted to make sure we had some healthyish items. I threw together a few things that I think the kids will like to eat. As an added bonus Kirsten and I will like them too. 20180510_195417436169163.jpg

I’m still on my hummus high, so I made some more sun-dried tomato and basil hummus. I sliced up some bell peppers to use for dipping sticks. I am also bringing crackers for the hummus.

For quick snacks and an on the go breakfast I made some peanut butter energy bites. These are basically no bake cookies, so I think the kids will love them.

I am on the e-mail list for volunteer recipe testers for Cooks Illustrated, and just this week they sent out a recipe to test for raw fruit and nut bars. I thought they looked good so we are trying them out this weekend. They have dates, dried cherries, almonds, and cinnamon. They are basically the homemade Lara bars I’ve been making for years, but with smaller bits of almond. I think the kids will like the texture of these better.

Do you have any make ahead snacks you like to take on trips?

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.