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?

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.

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

Sandal Disaster

Just last week I was telling you how much I love my Chacos. They are so comfortable and supportive I wear them every day.

Because I wear them every day they were in the line of spatter when Elliot was puking this weekend. I wiped them off and they looked OK. And then they started to smell. Like puke. All day long I could smell it.

I needed to clean them, but I had no idea how to do it.

National Margarita Day

I did what I always do when I have something I don’t know how to clean. I checked with Jillee. Would you believe she doesn’t have a section for removing puke scent from sandals?

When my Jillee search came up short I decided to try my go to technique when an item of clothing is in need of serious help – OxiClean. I soaked them in a bucket of OxiClean for a few hours and then rinsed them. They came out looking new. I would have taken before pictures so you could see their shocking transformation, but I didn’t know I would be cleaning them until they were covered with vomit, so I opted to skip that step.

I’m sure I’ll be washing my sandals again, but I hope it is never again for the same reason. Now that I know how dirty they were, even before the Elliot incident, I’m pretty grossed out that I was wearing them. I often fail to see the filth on the items I use every day. Please tell me that happens to you too.