Our Own Museum Adventure

Dear Erin,

You guys certainly are having adventures this summer. The first two sounded like a lot of fun, but this last one seems just uncomfortable more than anything else. Let me know if that towel thing works. Little Mister isn’t generally a sweaty child – he tends to get flushed instead – but the material on those car seats can defy nature. It might very well come in handy.

The most adventurous thing we’ve done lately is to go back to the Children’s Museum. LM had just as much fun as last time, I think. He’s graduated from the baby room, so it feels like he has a lot more options of things to check out around the whole museum. His three favorites were 1) the gravity well:

gravity well

Note: It uses BALLS!

2) the pneumatic tube maze:

pneumatic tubeNote: also uses BALLS!

and 3) the mock intersection with the real traffic lights, the fire engine, and the ambulance. No picture, unfortunately. I was running more interference there. Not all the big kids want to have a one-year-old in their face trying to make the lights change.

He was nearly ecstatic. “Cah!” (That’s any kind of vehicle.) “Yigh!” (Light.) “Ball!” (Needs no interpretation.) There were also big foam blocks to build with, a stuffed wolf to hug, sand to play in, stairs to climb, and best of all – lots of kids.

He did have two noticeable failures. The first was the noise room. It’s not just sheep that are freaking him out right now; most unexpected noises cause a nervous run to the safety of Mommy’s legs. (I’m not looking forward to the 4th of July.) So the small room with the loud and (from his perspective) inexplicable sounds of elephants and telephones and frogs was a little too much for comfort. (Not that he didn’t keep going back in, I guess to test himself.)

The second was the water room. There was a very cool room with water systems for the kids to play in. Fountains shoot balls into the air, onto water wheels, and down troughs, and it looks pretty fun – especially in the midst of a drought (no sprinkler play for us around here this year). LM really wanted to go play with all the colorful plastic balls, but he absolutely refused to put the waterproof smock on. I couldn’t convince him; the museum volunteer couldn’t convince him; the rainbow balls themselves couldn’t convince him. So no water play for us.

But other than that, it was a rousing success. So much so that he cheerfully ate his snack while waiting for the train and then sat quietly in his stroller all the way home. I don’t know if he was worn out or if he was reliving the glorious afternoon in his mind.

Summertime Adventures – Car Trips

Dear Kristen,

I’m sorry that your weeks have been tough – I can empathize.  You will get through it!  I know its true, because you know who is FOR you, and He’s always there.

A couple of weeks ago, Munchkin had friends over to go swimming/splashing in the kiddie pool and running around the yard. It was a hot day (100!), so it was a welcome relief from the heat. Their mother, my friend, said something I will start saying. “You having fun is not my number one priority; safety is.”

I’ve mentioned before my disdain for car seats. Or more accurately, my disdain for the inconvenience they bring to checking off my list. But my priority is safety, so car seats are here for the foreseeable future. But when its 100 outside in the summer, car seats are a whole other bear to contend with than they were on a cold rainy day.

IMG_2050

Here is our adventure.

Little Man sweats. A lot. He’s a baby, so regulating his body temperature is not the easiest on his own. He can’t ask for water (and won’t drink it when offered). He can’t say, “Hey, Mommy. Can you bring me a cool towel for my neck?” And it would be weird and freaky if he did.

But at 11:00 in the morning, he is covered in sweat from a 2 mile drive. We’ve been in the car with the AC on full blast for 7 minutes. He’s drenched and miserable – and has made the rest of us miserable in the process.

Get me out of here.

Get me out of here.

So to beat the heat, we purchased this:

A battery-powered fan attached to the mirror.

A battery-powered fan attached to the mirror.

Brought to you courtesy of every past Disney World adventure in the summer where northerners and Europeans don’t know what to do in the Sunshine State (sunscreen, water, and AC). The fan is fascinating to Little Man. Don’t know how cool it makes him with a motor that couldn’t power a toy car….

And it certainly doesn’t fix the issue of the car seat acting like a thermal blanket for his back side.

So we also purchased this:

Haven’t actually used it yet. But if Little Man sweats like a pro, maybe one day he’ll play like a pro. So he needs what Dwayne Wade needs to keep him cool (and also about 6 feet more in height).

You Have to Sit Still to Read, at Least

Dear Erin,

I’ve been trying to write a post all week and failing miserably at it. You know when you get into one of those cycles where you have a million things to do (or feel like you have a million things to do) and yet you are barely treading water? Like you can get just the minimum done – and sometimes not even that? Like just life is overwhelming? Yep, I’m in one of those right now.

It’s mostly my own fault, and I know how to fix at least part of it. (More rest and time with God.) But it’s also true that we live in an extroverted culture, and just constantly being exposed to it can be overwhelming and exhausting, too. Hmm, I could probably do something about that as well, come to think of it.

In the meantime, enjoy our reading adventures. LM and I have been going to the library a lot lately, too. It’s great in the heat – something fun to do with air conditioning. He doesn’t know how to whisper, but he’s been mostly okay about the screaming while we’re inside. Haven’t found anything cooler for him than our own books, yet, though. For example, our Emma has been in heavy rotation with us lately:

emma1

It makes me want to go read my own copy. Of course, the condensed version isn’t bad. Here’s Mr. Elton’s proposal to Emma in the carriage:

surprise

Lately, though, LM has been preferring this felted figure classic:

starwarsV

Which has its own issues:

spoiler

Spoilers!

Enjoy your Thursday!

Summertime Adventures – The Library

Dear Kristen,

I love the socks. When I saw the picture I immediately thought, Rainbow Brite! YES! But poor Little Mister! Sheep can be SO intimidating. Stick with soundless animals in the future like…the stuffed variety.

When we were children, I loved going to the library. The lower shelves to mark the kids section; the hidden away corner of paperbacks that you had to read or wanted to read (depending on your nerd quotient) in middle and high school; the smell – all of it was wonderful.

Here in Virginia, I still love the library – the books, the slightly out of trend movie selection, the classical music piped outside as you walk in, the ability to have anything in the system just waiting for you to pick it up. And it’s free. It’s the best!

Before kids, I used the hold shelf devotedly. Get in, get the ones with my name in it and get out.

Now that I am in the PK-era (post kids), the trip is not so smooth. Or short.

I rarely get myself a book – that’s the purpose of Kindles and e-books. I usually have no idea WHAT to get and the prospect of leaving the Munchkin in the kids’ area to peruse the fiction selection terrifies me…so unless I have it on hold, I don’t get one. (I also fall asleep as soon as I hit the pillow, so what’s the point of a book anyways?)

No, the focus of the library trip is to get new books for the Munchkin, books that hopefully bring us both enjoyment and peak her interest in my efforts to fend off boredom chaos anarchy whining. It’s a trial and error adventure.

Here’s how it goes:

Munchkin insists on pushing all the handicap entrance buttons and we walk in. We return the books we borrowed the week before – Munchkin insists on placing them in the bin that she can’t see into. Its like she’s engaging in shoulder press exercises, just to return the books.   If I have something on hold for either her or myself, we go get it and then head to the kids’ area. She heads to the toys using her “whisper voice” which is improving every week. Week one was the decibel level of a Pontiac Trans Am; we’re now hovering around a stage whisper.

I’ve come armed with a list of books that have popped up on my Pinterest account and look…well, pinteresting. Double points if they look pretty. I go searching for them, since the catalog says they are there.   But they’re not. Or SOMETIMES they’re there.  Sometimes the catalog indicates that the books are in the “Easy Reader” section. They’re not. They’re in the Picture Book section. No big deal – I’ll go searching there! But since it’s a kid’s section, and there are people of short stature running around using “whisper voices” pulling titles willy-nilly…and then putting them back with the same hap-hazard mentality…things are not quite in order.  It really is an adventure searching for the titles.  I feel for those librarians.

I track down 4-5 titles that I’m cool with, like these:

IMG_2455

I collect Munchkin from the toy area. (I’ve been able to see her the whole time. Short stacks, remember?) And I say she can pick out a couple of books to take home, too. She uses her “whisper voice” and pulls titles willy-nilly from the stacks and puts them in the bag. Almost always there is a Christmas title – and then a weird assortment of books, like these:

IMG_2452

I usually hate her choices.

And then she gets to pick a movie, which usually doesn’t play in our DVD player. Too scratched.

Oh, I should mention, I’m carrying Little Man the whole time in his carrier. Him + Munchkin’s books = heavy.

Then we go home and read them! Its awesome! Pinterest has provided some absolute gems – ones that I’d never have found otherwise. Our latest score has been my favorite combination, and Munchkin is eating it up.

  • Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor and Jean Jullien – HILARIOUS. And I read it in a funny, slightly Hispanic/Russian voice for dramatic effect. We’ve read it 8 times in 24 hours. (Little Mister – there is a sheep in the book. Beware!)
  • Monty’s Magnificent Mane by Gemma O’Neill – Beautiful illustrations, and a pretty story as well.
  • Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle – our first foray into wordless picture books. It does NOT disappoint. Its beautiful and different. This is Munchkin’s favorite. She also has a thing for penguins…
  • Bear has a Story to Tell by Philip and Erin Stead – Erin Stead is the illustrator and her drawings are always wonderful, but the story is sweet too.

Read them. It makes for a great summertime (or anytime, really) adventure.

Baa Baa

Dear Erin,

I’m sorry this is late again. It’s not because LM is building rocket ships in the backyard – he’s not interested in rockets right now; it’s just cars, cars, cars all the time with him. It’s just because I hit an exhaustion point this weekend, and unfortunately I hadn’t written anything ahead. That’s even with a break of a few hours Saturday morning. I enjoyed my time off, although I wouldn’t say I used it productively (just read and did a little knitting in a sunny neighborhood Starbucks), but it was kind of like taking a short nap after an all-nighter: sometimes you just feel more tired afterward.

But I am making progress on the rainbow socks:

rainbow socks in progress

Slowly, slowly.

So we haven’t gotten to any of the state parks yet – my plan for the summer series – but last week, LM and I went to a farm / city park that’s not too far away. It has a great green field and a playground, but what’s more interesting is that it also has farm animals. Chickens and ducks are roaming around everywhere, and a rooster came to meet us when we drove up. They also have goats, rabbits, cows, sheep, and a pig at least. I was excited to show him the animals, now that he’s old enough to really be interested in things outside himself.

It was not a great success.

He liked the birds and had a great time “feeding” them, by which I mean I gave him a few seeds and he dropped them on the ground while I threw a few more out to where the birds actually were. He gave the bunnies a few long looks and seemed fascinated by the goats. But when we went over to the barn for the big animals, he was less sanguine. The first sheep was fine; it looked at us, we looked at it, no problem. But in the next stall were two other young sheep, named Sven and Kristoff, who were having an in-depth conversation with one another. I was watching the sheep and holding LM, and I should have noticed something was off because he started holding me tighter and tighter. But it wasn’t until he actually started to cry that I realized he was scared of them. The bleating was perhaps too loud and uncanny for him. So we left.

yummy water

Scared of sheep

He is starting to get a little more anxious about loud, sudden sounds he doesn’t recognize, which means that I need to go make my coffee now, while he’s asleep. It’s hard to do it (and enjoy it!) when you have a little person clinging on to you, burying his head in your knees, wailing because the world is a strange and worrisome place. As I’m sure you know.