Thursday, June 28, 2007

fairly fun

We decided not to wait for our own county fair to open and opted to trespass onto the fair in the county east of us. Fairly daring, I know. The first event we attended was the fairly silly interspecies animal races. A goat and a pig and a duck and a sheep, or some other fairly random small farm animal arrangement were lined up in their starting gates, each with a different racing color. Then the audience was divided into four designated cheering sections, one for each racer, and a team captain was chosen for each cheering section to stand out in front and hold the team color. Kate and Allison were chosen at various times to be captains. Erin was not, which she found fairly disappointing. The duck fairly predictably came in last each time.

We wandered our way over to the stables and saw some fairly recently shorn sheep enjoying the summer breezes. But I guess too much wool was taken from a few of them and they were wearing jackets. Some were fairly ugly. One seemed fairly embarrassed to be seen in the thing.

Kate tried feeding a sheep some straw, which it ate, then all the kids gave the sheep some straw, then they all got carried away with the idea and we decided we better go on to something else fairly quickly before someone asks us to leave.

Erin and Quinton learned about spinning wool into yarn. Fairly interesting.

And we came upon a indoor lego building play area with huge trays of legos for the kids. Fairly unexpected.

So many things to see and do--animals, people in costume and riding tall bicycles or horses, clowns, we were even greeted by a robot. Seymour was his name, I'm fairly sure. He was friendly and a fairly good conversationalist and the kids were fairly fascinated with him. They talked with him for a good 10 minutes. I observed that he seemed to be working too consistently to be using MS Windows, and he found that comment fairly funny.

And I shouldn't forget the popular faire by the way. The kids gorged themselves on popcorn (that I brought in) corndogs, and ice cream. Quinton had cotton candy, but the girls didn't seem to have any interest in that. But I'm fairly certain that the highlight of the day, twice, for the girls was the pony riding. Erin is an old pro at this point, given that her last two birthday parties featured pony rides, but K&A hadn't been riding before. No matter, all three of them fairly obviously had a blast.

Our excursion completed with a few fairly exciting rides, including a fairly tiny ferris wheel where the twins rode together and Erin and Quinton rode together and everyone found the view from the top fairly fantastic.

I've had fun with this post but I'm sure some of you will find it fairly annoying, and if that's the case, I'm fairly sorry.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

monkeys at the zoo

We met up with some college friends of mine at the zoo today. Their daughter, Hannah, is in between the twins' and Erin's ages, so they all had fun together but she and Erin had an especially great time. My friends are members of this zoo and visit often so Hannah was our tour guide. "Hey, Erin! Come this way! The bug house is over here! There's bugs inside!"

This zoo really is geared toward smaller children. Lots for them to climb on and explore and plenty of exhibits at just the right viewing height. And unlike the last major zoo trip we made, to a different zoo over a year ago to fulfill Erin's specific request to see some elephants, only to get there and discover that there were no elephants, this zoo at least had all the major prerequisite animals: lions, tigers, bears (oh my!), giraffes, apes, and, yes, elephants.

In the petting zoo they had brushes available to groom the goats and sheep and Erin and Hannah thought that was loads of fun. Kate and Allison mainly followed the pigmy goats around and Kate sat with them, talked to them, and hugged them like they were her beloved pets. And it was interesting to see that even goats manage to eat their watermelon more neatly than my girls do.

In addition to the petting zoo, and exhibits, and animals to observe, they also had rides: car rides, a carousel, a train, and a few other things we were too worn out to try. With all of this and a picnic lunch it was pretty full day for everyone. We had beautiful weather and this was the first time our kids have met Hannah, so we had a great time and we should go back sometime soon. The employees didn't even question us as we were leaving the zoo with the girls, as I told Erin they might. "They might think daddy and I are trying to steal three of the monkeys." I warned her.

much ado about nothing

We've been busy this week but no one particular activity seemed like an interesting blog entry. I mean, not compared to the suspenseful and stunning cliff hanger/nail biters I usually write. So this is an entry about nothing particularly entry-worthy.

At a park this week the girls were having a fine time climbing on this and that. There was an obvious transportation theme at this place, with trains and firetrucks and even a huge airplane to explore.

So at the airplane a cute, friendly little boy (about 3) started talking and playing with the girls and when we left that area to move on he went with us. So I started looking for his parent but no one around seemed to be paying attention to him, no one was without another child they were obviously watching.

So...strange...hmmm...on we went. I asked the boy where his mom or dad is and he said, "They're at work."
"Did a grown-up bring you here today?"
"Is a grown-up here with you?"
"No. They're at work."
Looking, and looking as the kids played, and still no one I could identify as being with this boy. I wondered how long I should wait until I really become concerned. Not yet I figured. What were my options? Maybe John won't notice one more kid at home. After about 20 minutes, and with my cell phone in hand, a man walked up, chatting into a wireless headset. "Joseph!" And snapped his fingers. "Let's go!"

Later in the week we visited another park with some water fountains. Turns out Kate and Allison weren't very interested in running through the fountains that day, but they were engrossed by using them to fill buckets which they then carried over to the lawn to water. Over and over again.

A minor milestone this week: I got rid of Kate and Allison's high chairs and they joined the rest of the very semi-civilized at the kitchen table. Erin was out of a high chair long before this age but I guess I've just been lazy. Or maybe I was waiting for the twins to get past the stage where they make "puppets" with their food.

It was just easy to keep using them and we always had the bonus option of turning the chairs back to back when they wouldn't stop annoying each other. And having your sisters within kicking range at the table didn't sound like such a good move, really. So why rush it. But they have been using utensils pretty well for months and sometimes they even manage to use them to eat rather than for jousting or drumming. So it was time for the chairs to go, and since both of them were used when we got them, they were really, really, worn and not able to be sold. So I loaded them in my car and while out on an errand I stopped at John's office to dump them in his company's dumpster.

Kate: "Hey Allison, do you see your chair?"
Allison:" Yeah, it's back there!"
Kate: "Hey mama, what you doing with my chair?"
Me: "I'm gonna throw them away today."
Kate: "Hey, Mama! That's not nice for my chair!"

They're still using sippy cups, though. The twins with uncontained liquids is a move I'm really, really not looking forward to.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

bye-bye, blow kings

The Blow Kings are...ah, were a band comprised of several of my friends from college. They all have day jobs but for the past 8 or 9 years they've done gigs here and there on the weekends. Over that time I've seen them play many, many times, so have John and the kids and it's always fun. Unfortunately, they decided to call it quits and before they did they had a party in a park right near our house, with a BBQ and a magic show for the kids, and finally the last Blow Kings concert.

The kids got souvenir kazoos.

The girls had a great time, as usual, and the funniest event of the day is hard to pin down. First of all, the Blow Kings' music is pretty silly. They either take a popular song and change the words, as they do with the song "The Right Stuff" by New Kids on the Block, changing it to "The White Stuff" and they sing about the middle of an oreo cookie. Or they leave the original lyrics and act out the song while playing it, usually in costume. The result is sometimes pretty disturbing (sorry about the lighting, it was too mixed up for my camera to adjust to properly):

And then there was Erin, who wanted to sit with Jessica and a couple of other friends she knows who were closer to the band than we were. When I returned to John and the twins Erin had kicked off her sandals and stood up and started dancing and playing her kazoo. With that new-age-ish skirt she had on today and bare feet and unique grooving she looked like a flower child dancing at woodstock.

And after a little while Kate noticed Erin and decided to join in on her dance party.

We're going to miss seeing them, but it was fun while it lasted.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Here are the three stooges trying out the new super exciting slip n slide earlier this week:

And as magical an experience as that was, today we ventured back to the water park I mentioned last week. Hooray, open as scheduled, and worth the wait. Last week was overcast, today was sunny and HOT and so it worked out to be a much better day to spend there, in full SPF regalia of course. Here are a couple of pics of part of the place, there are also some big water slides off to one side for bigger kids and adults which are not in the photo:

This pool with the play structure varies in depth from 6 to 12 inches, with a small waterslide on the front and one the back, so it was perfect for the twins and they stayed in here almost all of the time. In the photo on the right you can see a seperate pool way in the back, and that's a regular 3ft to 6ft depth, so Erin went back and forth between the two pools. Her buddy Quinton is a pretty good swimmer. We put a life vest on Erin though, she still has a lot to learn.

Kate and Allison took a while to warm up the idea of this place. First of all, it was loud, partially from all the kids laughing and yelling, but just as much because of all of the water features coming off of the play structure. There were spigots and sprayers and stuff all around it and the kids on the structure could control the force and direction of these, or turn them off. No one ever turned them off. I'm glad I had my suit on too because I was thoroughly soaked pretty quickly.

They also took some time to explore the shallow pool while holding my hand, getting used to walking in water and checking the depth everywhere. But after a while they got more comfortable, went down the little waterslides a few times, as long as I was at the bottom to catch them, and ended up having a ton of fun, both in the pool and playing in the ground fountains in yet another area.

Erin really liked that she could go to the "big pool" to practice her swimming with one of us and Quinton, but she also liked coming back to the kiddie area to check in on her sisters and do the slides.

Kate occupied herself for a good half hour playing a game of fetch, by herself, with a water toy of Quinton's. She clearly would do great at duck hunting, and wouldn't even need a labrador retriever.

And just when we were home long enough for a little breather, and everyone's hair had dried and the scent of sunblock had nearly faded, it was time to leave for....Erin's weekly swim lesson.

happy anniversary! Grandma and Poppy (51 years this past sunday)!
We gathered at our house to celebrate. "So it's a party?" Erin asked. Yes, I told her. "So we'll have cake!" Erin loves to help prepare anything and everything in the kitchen, regardless of whether she plans on eating it, though I have tried the "look at these yummy vegetables you helped me make, now they're ready to eat!" angle. She's no dummy. She takes special interest in preparing dessert. She takes special interest in eating dessert. She takes extra special interest in eating chocolate desserts. Again, she's no dummy.

So Erin was my co-cake baker, demonstrating great skill in pouring ingredients into the mixing bowl, cracking eggs, and for the first time, using the electric mixer. She also verified about 8 different times that she'd get to help decorate the cake after it cooled, and she did a fine job. I thinned out and spread the icing a little more than she did originally and after I drew a large 51 she was totally in charge of adding all the candy sprinkle flowers.

Yesterday Erin received a thank you card from Grandma for the special cake, and Erin was thrilled to get that.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

social butterflies

Saturday we left early and drove up to my old college town because a good friend of mine from school had her second baby about a month ago, so it was time to meet him and say hi to everyone.

My friend's daughter is a year younger than Erin and the two of them have such a good time whenever they see each other. I wish we lived closer together. They haven't played together in months but as soon as we stepped in Sophia and Erin were inseparable, like they were lifelong pals reunited. Here they are on Sophia's bed, playing hairdresser.

After our visit we continued on our way to Jessica's (another college friend, and the maid of honor at our wedding) housewarming party for her first home. It was a beautiful day out, but HOT--much hotter than anything we've had at home so far this year, but all of my friends who still live around there were commenting on how mild the weather has been.

Jessica has a huge lot with a giant backyard. For the party they got a jump house for the kids and then Jessica brought out her backyard games equipment bag, with frisbees, croquet, badminton set, volleyball, etc. Kate gave croquet a try. It's been a long time since I played croquet, but I'm pretty sure that Kate's understanding of the rules and objective (to pick up all the balls after they are hit and run away with them, and intermittently hit one or more of your sisters with the mallets) was incorrect.

The bounce house was a good idea, but instead of the sort where you jump inside the house (which is what was ordered), the company delivered a pirate ship type where you jump around on the top surface, which is probably lots of fun if it isn't 95F, or if you have some shade to keep it under. Since we didn't, the colored plastic surface of that ship just got unbearably hot for the kids and they gave up on it pretty quickly, and then Erin suggested an alternative activity.

The girls thought it was lots of fun to take the various pieces of game equipment and soak them in the sprinklers too.

A while later was the party's grand finale activity, the pinata smashing. John was the official pinata holder, and only got clocked in the knee one time for his trouble. Everyone enjoyed the obvious sense of humor on the part of the pinata maker. The paper tiger was layered with plastic on the inside, so after several rounds of all the kids letting loose on the thing, without a blindfold and with John stepping and crushing it while the baton was being passed each time, it still held together. Another friend cut its side open with a box cutter. Still held together. Finally John just ripped it wide open and with the next smack of the baton the candy finally went flying.

A short while later Allison collected the poor broken kitty and was very upset about its condition, so she kept trying to put him back together. John got some duct tape and repaired him, and Allison carried him around like that for the rest of the afternoon.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

fine, we didn't feel like swimming anyway

The weekend wasn't blog worthy. That's what I choose to believe since I spent 3 days driving back and forth to a nearby conference. Let's just assume none of us missed anything good.

With my brain successfully topped off again, today I planned an outing to a small water park that Danielle discovered recently. Apparently there are some areas for smaller kids with some shallow water to wade and play in, so we persuaded Lisa and Quinton to try it with us. I checked the website and it doesn't say anything special about the schedule today but when we made the long drive there this morning we found out that they were closed for the day, just for today. Open as usual the rest of the week and the rest of the summer. Gee, thanks.

Maybe when I have an idea to venture with the kids this far away from home I should have a plan B. Or maybe I should be taking advantage of the fact that the girls are probably still young enough to convince that a "cool water park" consists of a garden hose and a tarp on the grass in our backyard and avoid such hassles.

"I wanna go in!"
"I wanna go swimming!"
"I see a BIG slide in the water! I wanna slide down that!"

Dammit. Since we were in that general direction we decided that a detour to the little kiddie amusement park, which the girls love and we have season passes to, would get them all to forget this failed water park idea. And yes, it was open but since schools are still in session there were very, very few people there and we had no wait for any of the rides.

All the cowgirls loved the carousel, as usual. Quinton took Erin for a wild, spinning ride.

Everyone loves driving, that's Allison two cars behind Kate. On those bigger cars I let Allison be my personal chauffeur.

As it turned out, we had a really great day at the park, and since it was mostly overcast today it probably made for a better activity than swimming anyway. The kids behaved well, played together, ate well, passed out in the car on the way home. We plan to try for the water park again next week, weather permitting. Unless I find a plastic tarp for the lawn first.