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.

20180512_143905909693742.jpg

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.

 

 

Advertisements

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.

20180418_0937552092500808.jpg

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?

Missing Minnie

The kids and I went to visit my parents in Cedar Falls this week. It is a trip we try to make once a month. We do it so often it doesn’t take long to get ready. While the kids are eating breakfast I pack my bag, their bag, and get Audrey’s backpack ready for her. I put in the things I know she’ll want (Giraffe, Minnie, and a blanket), then she fills it with the books and toys she will want in the car. It is a system that works well. She fills the backpack, with help from Elliot, while I put our bags in the car.

We usually drive over nap time, but we left early this week. A winter storm was expected, and I wanted to get ahead of the weather. The roads were clear for the first forty-five minutes. After that we hit snow. I stopped to get a cup of coffee and to give Audrey a chance to use the potty before we headed into an hour-long stretch bereft of public restrooms.

It was snowing pretty heavily when we got back in the car. I quickly loaded up the kids while trying not to scald them with my big cup of coffee.  I buckled them in, sent a quick text to John to let him know where we were on our drive, and headed back into the snow.

When we got to Cedar Falls the kids ran into the house to play. It wasn’t until I was getting them ready for a nap when I discovered that Minnie was missing. I searched the car. I looked all around the living room. I had my mom search the car. I had my dad search the living room. No Minnie.

I told Audrey that I couldn’t find Minnie. She was shockingly fine with it and didn’t ask about Minnie for the rest of the trip. I was more upset than her. I called the gas station we stopped at. They did not have Minnie in their lost and found. I held out hope that she would turn up before we stopped there on our trip home.

Today on our drive home we stopped at the same gas station. They still didn’t have Minnie.

That is when Audrey started to realize Minnie was gone. She screamed and cried for her Minnie for the next 45 minutes of our drive. The remaining 15 minutes of our drive were quieter, with occasional cries for Minnie. I tried to bribe her; I told her we could go get her a new Minnie tomorrow. That didn’t help much. It was a loud and sad drive.

When we got home I went in to their room to unpack. There, in the middle of the floor, was Minnie. Audrey pulled her out when filling up the backpack with toys. I spent the past 72 hours freaking out about a stuffed toy that was safe at home.

20180405_1806391220369005.jpg

So now I’m going to make some tea and try to forget about the incredibly loud drive home. Have a lovely evening.

Toddlers in Kansas City

A few weeks ago my friend Kirsten and I did something incredibly terrifying. We went on a girls weekend with 2 1/2 year olds. It ended up being a really fun vacation. We will be planning another trip soon.

Why did we travel with toddlers? We discussed doing it without any kids, but I’m the one who said we should bring the girls. It was selfish. I knew that John would be fine with both kids, but I also figured I would hear about how hard it was for the next week.

Other than not wanting to hear John complain, I was also genuinely excited to have Audrey and Sophia on our weekend.  They are close in age – only a few months apart, and I want them to grow up as friends. Kirsten is one of my oldest and dearest friends, and I love that we became moms at the same time. Our boys are even closer in age, Elliot is 3 weeks older than Bryan.

So how did we enjoy ourselves with tiny people? We kept them busy, visited kid friendly places, and threw in some fun for us that they would be tolerant of.

The first place we went was Fritz’s Kansas City. After a long drive for both families we thought the girls would be hungry and tired. Fritz’s was a great place to eat, because it is for kids. Model trains run along the ceiling and deliver your food to your table. There is a lot to look at, and it is a noisy place so fussy toddlers fit right in. The food is worse than most fast food, but the kids didn’t mind.

20170401_121813
This is where I learned that Audrey is scared of train rides.

After lunch we headed over to Wonderscope Children’s Museum. This museum is wonderful! We could have spent all day there. The museum is an old school, and each of the rooms  has different activities. Audrey loved the farm room, and would have spent hours in that room and been perfectly happy. Sophia felt the same way about the grocery store room. The gym is still a gym, with lots of toys to run and play on. The girls burnt off a lot of energy playing. We didn’t get to all of the rooms in the time we had slotted for the museum. We will be back, and next time we will plan on spending more time playing.

After running and playing at Wonderscope we headed to Overland Park to do something for the grown ups – we went to A Yarn Shop and More. Kirsten and I are both knitters, and we both wanted to pick up some vacation yarn. The yarn shop had a good selection, but the woman working was far from friendly. I don’t understand yarn shops where the staff isn’t friendly.

The girls were well behaved and excited about the yarn. I let Audrey pick out yarn for socks and I picked up some dishcloth cotton (I’m always running out now that I’m knitting for the YMCA Supportive Housing Campus). Audrey convinced me to buy her a Zebra hat kit, which wasn’t very hard to do. If you are a 2 year old excited about yarn I’ll make you whatever you ask for.

20170401_152008
Can I please have this yarn?

The fourth thing we did was head back to the hotel to swim. The girls were pretty exhausted by this point, but they enjoyed their 15 minutes in the cold pool.

20170401_173144
Sometimes you post an unflattering photo of your child because it is a better picture of your friend.

We stayed at an Embassy Suites, and it worked out great. They have a cocktail reception, so we had a light dinner of snacks (and margaritas for Kirsten and me). In the morning we took advantage of their breakfast buffet. Our suite had a door between the bedroom and living area. That made it easy for Kirsten and I to drink wine and knit into the wee hours of the morning (OK, it was 11, but that is really late for me). It also made it possible for Kirsten and Sophia to get up and going in the morning like they are used to (at 5:30, a full 2 1/2 hours before Audrey and I got up).

Our last stop on girls weekend was the Zoo. Kansas City has a wonderful zoo, we were there for hours and didn’t see it all. Kirsten and I got in a 4 mile walk and the girls loved seeing the animals. I think we will plan on staying longer the next time we go.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I can’t wait to convince Kirsten to do another girls weekend. Where should we go next?