Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mount Falcon Park

Mount Falcon Park is less than fifteen miles from our house.  The drive is breathtaking, although the sharp mountain turns sometimes upset my stomach!  The park is worth it.  There always seems to be other families hiking the trails, and there are lots of kids.  There are cyclists on the trails, too, but Oliver's good at standing off to the side when they pass to ensure he doesn't get "flattened like a pancake."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Oliver's Going to Work

For the first time, Oliver participated in "Bring Your Child to Work Day."  We dressed him up like Dad, and he even work a backpack, just like Dad!  Instead of it holding his work computer, it held snacks for the day.  

Oliver did a half day at work, and Andrew dropped him off to me for lunch and nap time.  It went so well!  Oliver even learned a new phrase to tell people: Reboot.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Soft Brown Sugar Cookies

I stumbled upon a unique cookie recipe online that looked mouthwatering.  I pinned it to my Pinterest boards to make sure I wouldn't lose it.  Here's my pin:

The only ingredient that required a trip to the store for me was the sour cream.  The next day, I picked some up from the store and jumped into cookie baking.  Andrew came home in the midst of it and remarked that our house smelled like pancakes.  He was right.  These cookies smell just like pancakes as they bake!

I glazed them with the butter glaze when they came out.  Andrew swore they tasted just like pancakes, too.  I thought, if I ever make these again, I should add maple to the glaze to add to the effect.  They're already dubbed "the pancake cookies" in my house.

I loved how soft these cookies are.  They tasted sweet, but in a good way.  Still, I think when I crave a soft, fluffy cookie, I'll go to my old standby and make these lemon ricotta cookies:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Teething Biscuit Failure

I had another Pinterest failure today. I think Jo is teething, so I decided to make a quick and easy teething biscuit from this pin:

At first, it seemed to work well:

But within a few minutes, it broke from her gumming it:

That could have been a pretty risky choking hazard! I'm glad I was watching when it broke off. I won't be making those again!

Toddler Play Areas

On Saturday, we decided to take Oliver to Little Monkey Bizness after leaving my parents' house. Little Monkey Bizness is a great bizness idea. It has a large area for kids to run, play, climb, and go down slides. The play area is gated in, so if you have an independent kid, you can sit in one of the tables outside the play area and just watch. There's a little cafe so you can order a cup of coffee.

We've been a few times now. Each time, I've loved the concept but have been a little put off by the staff. The first time we went, the girl behind the counter (you know, the one who makes the drinks) had lost her voice and was clearly quite sick. The next time we went, it was for a party at the Parker location. The staff wouldn't help me find the party we were there for, wouldn't show me where to put our things when I asked, and then later kicked my son out of one play area because another party had apparently paid for private use of it.

This time, we went, and we found the staff all eating pizza behind the counter. Yup, they were eating while making people their coffee. Seriously? I made a mental note not to order any food or drink. Anyway, we they sent us away because, apparently, Saturday afternoons are reserved for private parties. I was so proud of Oliver when we left. He didn't cry or throw a fit, even after he'd seen all the other kids running and playing.

We jumped back into the car and announced that we would go to Treehouse Discovery. Treehouse Discovery is a little more expensive than Monkey Business, but most of the play equipment and toys are "natural" and made out of wood. It has a much, much cleaner feel and isn't too "busy" like a lot of kid places are. I love the relaxed environment there. I told Andrew that it would be one of my favorite places to go except for one thing: the owner, who is always there, is a little bizarre. I mean, she's really nice. She's almost
too nice. To pay to get in takes about 20 minutes because she just enjoys talking so much. When we finally do get in, she walks around and talks with me. That would be great, except she doesn't let me get away to, say, help my son on the equipment or take him to the bathroom. She discusses a lot of her personal life, health history, and even business decisions. She's actually demonstrated to me before how she uses the children's equipment for exercise when there aren't any customers around. If she wasn't so nice, and if I was more assertive, I'd tell her, "Hey, you have a great place here, but you kind of ruin it by hovering over all your customers."

Anyway, we decided to set out for Treehouse Discovery. As Andrew drove, I looked up their number and called, only to find out they're closed on Saturdays. Gah! At this point, we had to take Oliver somewhere. He was being so good and patient! It was too cold to go to the park, so we decided to take him to the free play area at the mall. We hadn't been there in months. The last time, Oliver had embarrassed me by having a sudden coughing fit, followed by spitting a loogie on the floor. It repulsed some other parents who left.

We got to the mall, and Oliver was calling it the "treehouse," since that was where we'd told him we were going. Oh my goodness, the play area was filled with huge kids playing tag, climbing on the equipment, and leaping off of it. Mind you, it's only supposed to be for kids 42 inches or shorter. I decided to just not worry and let Oliver run around. Easier said than done. Every time one of the 10-12 year olds leapt off a slide or bridge, I cringed. It was very stressful for me, but I tried to laugh at myself for being over-protective. Oliver had another huge coughing fit. I wonder if the cleaning products they use bother him or something. I wanted to stand up and announce to all the other parents that I swear he's not sick. Then, I remembered that none of those parents seemed to care what their kids were doing anyway. After about 10 minutes, I bribed Oliver into leaving with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from Panera.

This morning was pretty chilly. I wanted to get out of the house. Jo's been teething (I think), and being cooped up with a fussy baby is no fun! I thought about heading back to the mall but just didn't want to deal with it again. I thought about taking the kids to Starbucks, but I wanted Oliver to run around. So, I decided to try the McDonald's at Kipling and Belleview. Yes, me! McDonald's. I'd taken Oliver there once before when we met up with Shawna and Owen. Oliver was too small at the time to climb on stuff. My mother-in-law has taken him a couple of times and has said he liked it. So, I gave it a go.

Wow! We had such a good time! We got there, and I ordered an egg and cheese breakfast sandwich and a cup for water for both Oliver and me. The woman behind the counter carried our tray to the table for us because I had Jo in my arms. I didn't ask; she just offered. There were only two kids playing, although a few more arrived while we were there. The moms of the kids were fairly involved, and they made sure their kids were always following the rules and not knocking over the smaller kids. I felt comfortable letting Oliver climb and play, watching from our table with Jo, getting up only to help him when he needed it. It was such a positive experience! I decided that, when the weather is bad, it's totally worth the $6, maybe as much as once a week, to come to let Oliver get a little play time and socialization with other kids.

So, there it is. I never thought that I would be someone to give a recommendation for McDonald's, but I most definitely am. I guess it's no wonder families tend to go so much!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Glow-in-the-Dark Egg Hunt

I found a pin for an unusual egg hunt on Pinterest:

It's a glow-in-the-dark egg hunt! Like all of my favorite children's activities, the idea for this one is simple. You purchase some glow-in-the-dark bracelets (they're just like glow sticks, only thinner and more pliable). Then, you crack them to get them glowing and stick them in those cheap, plastic Easter eggs.

I read through the pin, and the woman who originally came up with the idea recommended using the large, plastic eggs. I'd saved our eggs from last year, and all but one were the standard sized. With help from Colleen and her brother, Gene, we were able to get the glow bracelets into the eggs, but the eggs wouldn't stay shut without the help of some tape. Once we got them sealed, the activity was a lot of fun.As I mentioned, we were in Texas at the beach over Easter (a very generous gift from my in-laws), and the weather was phenomenal. At twilight, the temperature was in the high 70s. We went out to the gazebo in the condo complex, and Colleen and Gene tucked the glowing eggs in the bushes, on some steps, and on some patio furniture. Andrew and I led Oliver outside and told him to go put the eggs in his basket. He did a great job! He had a lot of fun running around and putting them in, although I think I had more fun shouting encouragement and letting him know when he needed to keep looking in a certain area. Halfway through, he decided rocks were even better than eggs, and he started putting rocks in his basket as well.
This glow-in-the-dark egg hunt was a hit, as far as I'm concerned. I look forward to doing it in future years. The only downside I see to this activity is that, in other parts of the country, the temperature can be quite cold in late March and early April, especially at night. I'm sure there will be many years when an outdoor, nighttime egg hunt just isn't practical.

Easter in Texas

My in-laws treated our family to a trip to visit my mother-in-law's family in Texas. When we visit, we normally stay in the Austin area. This time, we met them at their new vacation condo on Padre Island. A blog of our travels can be found here:

Oliver loved the beach! Uncle Gene showed him how to find all sorts of sea life. He also built sand castles and splashed around a bit. It was the perfect vacation for him. We also celebrated Easter while we were there, and here are some Easter photos from Texas.

The Easter Bunny came! The Easter Bunny brought bunny ears, pinwheels, bubbles, a toy rabbit for Jo, an egg full of candy for Oliver, and the buckle toy that I'd made for Oliver. The toy bunny was actually sent to Jo from my cousins Missy and Jana. However, I thought they'd understand why the Bunny put it in the basket. Jo is too little to care about much, so the Bunny probably didn't want to spend money on new stuff that wouldn't have made a difference. The Easter Bunny actually didn't come for Oliver's first Easter at all. He came for Jo's because that just makes more sense for Oliver.

The Easter Bunny almost always brings a pinwheel.

Seriously, I love these stinkers.

You might recognize Jo's Easter dress from a previous post. It was the first outfit I bought for her, back when I was pregnant and suffering pregnancy complications. I am so happy that she is here today, wearing the dress.

Our Son, the Genius

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Jo Turns Five Months Old

Joanna seems to have matured a lot this month. Well, as much as a baby can be said to mature. She is more involved with her environment, interested in grabbing things, and giggles at things that amuse her.

She's sleeping much better at night (knock on wood!), although she's now sleeping on her stomach. She typically will sleep from 8pm to 5am, getting up once for a diaper change and milk. At 5am, she'll go back to sleep in our arms for another hour after I nurse her, and then she'll take three naps during the day.

We introduced some solid foods this month. She's had homemade sweet potato baby food, mashed bananas, jarred peas, and jarred green beans. She really likes her peas and green beans, tolerates the bananas (although they make her constipated), but turns her nose at the sweet potatoes. Her brother never really liked sweet potatoes either, and, frankly, neither do I.

Jo is sitting up for minutes at a time by herself. She stands quite well with us supporting her with our hands under her armpits. But, although she has rolled over, she still doesn't do it regularly at all. I can probably count the number of times she's rolled over on my fingers. So, I guess this means more time playing on the floor for our Jo Bear.

Of all the people she likes, Joanna adores her daddy the best. When he comes home from work, her face lights up. She won't look away from him for about half an hour and just beams up at him and coos. Jo really loves her daddy!

Joanna's Likes:
*Her feet
*Green beans
*Smiling at people
*Chewing on anything
*Taking tiny sips of water from a cup with Mommy's help
*Naked time
*Watching Oliver play

Joanna's Dislikes:
*Long car rides
*The car seat
*Being alone
*Oliver cuddling her too tightly

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Joanna Practices Sitting

My little girl isn't even five months old yet, but she's already trying to sit by herself! I can't believe it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Quick Visit with Family!

My cousin was in town very briefly, so I drove with the kiddos downtown to visit her and meet her new baby! She and Joanna are less than three months apart! We met at the Starbucks at my dad's work. My mom drove in, too, and my dad got to pop by to say hi on his busy day.