Friday, July 31, 2009

Ty Warner Park

Ty Warner Park has a really nice splash pad for little kids. It was the first time we had visited a splash pad, and the kids seemed excited about it. However, when we got there, they mostly clung to me and didn't want to go in the water. The pictures I was able to take was after being there for about an hour. Jared finally ran across and over this little spout for a while, but other than that they were unimpressed with it. Their cousin really liked it, though.

I don't know if the water was too cold for them or what. They are spoiled with really warm baths, and they haven't had much experience with being in water besides a week in the ocean when they were fifteen months old, the little kiddie pool in the backyard, and the hotel pool when we went to Shara's graduation (which oddly enough they really enjoyed). I know this is something I have to get over, but I've really wanted them to like the water. When I was five, my mom took me for swimming lessons. After putting one foot in the cold water, I refused to go in. I never learned how to swim that well. I guess I could tread water for a while if I needed to, but I didn't want my kids to take after me. Maybe it was just the day and things will be different when they are a bit older.

This was the one week during the summer that we had temperatures in the 90's so Popsicles sounded like a great idea.

Unfortunately, they also made a sticky mess all over our skin!

Park Day with Friends

We met some old friends during the first week of July at a nearby playground. They are now a military family and live in a new state, so it was nice to see them after two years. Their one son is about two and a half months older than the twins, so it was cute to see them playing together.

I love the above picture of Jared and L. We've put Jared in trees a few times before, but lately he seems more interested in climbing trees. E's son L was so good at climbing trees. Of course his older brother's, who are 8 & 9, are like little monkeys. They can climb trees so high and fast! It was nice being with a mother who understands to importance of allowing kids to take physical risks. It's amazing at how restricted we are in today's society. E was telling me that people would ring her doorbell at home to tell her that her boys were up in the trees on her own property!

Another rule I don't get is why playgrounds post rules about kids not climbing up slides. Why is there a "correct" way to use the equipment? Now there have to be "correct" ways to play?

Hiking in the Woods with Daddy

We try to get outside as much as we can every night after dinner. Whether it's catching fireflies outside, riding trikes around the block or walking through the woods, taking advantage of the warm weather and longer days is a priority for us. Plus, it also helps tire the kids out more so they will go to sleep earlier (they usually go to sleep between 9:00-9:30 and get up around 6:30-7:30).

A favorite spot is the Cermak Woods near our home. We've only been here once this summer. It's really nice to come in the spring and fall when it's easier to walk in between the trees and see the deer. I'd like to come more by myself with the kids, but last time we were here they ran away from me in opposite directions, so until they understand how important it is to stay closer where I can see them, I have to go with Steve.

A funny little story about our evening here. As we were heading off towards the trees, there was a little boy there with his mom (I presume) who started following us and talking to me. His mom was a little ways off, talking on the phone.

He pointed to Jared and asked, "What is his name?"

When I told him, the boy said, "He looks like someone who goes to my school. Does Jared go to school? he asked.

"No," I said. "Jared doesn't go to school. He's only three years old."

"When does he have to go to school?" the boy asked.

"He never has to go to school, " I said.

The boy looked so dumbfounded. "Never?" he asked. "He never has to go to school?"

"Nope, I said.

By the this time the boy's mom had yelled at him to get back over to her. I felt bad for him as he watched us walk away as clearly he was having a good time talking with me (an enlightening conversation for him, I'm sure!)and his mom was still talking on the phone and not paying attention to him.

As we walked, we'd stop and look at the deer prints we'd find.

They loved it when Steve climbed a blackberry tree to pick some fruit for them.

Stamp and Bathtub Art

My mom had given my kids a stamp kit awhile ago. Alexa has always liked using the stamps, especially all over her body as usual, and Jared would sometimes use the stamps on paper, but never on himself. Well, lately he has been marking himself up with everything! Stamps, markers, paint and even lipstick (more about that in a later post).

In the winter, they really like to do bathtub art and get wet. They've been doing most of their art outside in the summer (much less work to clean up!), but this day they asked for the crayons in the tub when I was hosing them down after some muddy outdoor play.

Father's Day

I know this a pretty unusual way to start a post on Father's Day, but this is how the day began. Steve played this morning, so it was just the kids and I getting ready for church. I went to throw out some trash and saw a massive amount of ants climbing up the wall and into a little hole. At least now we know how they've been getting in the kitchen.

Jared has a big fascination with ants. When I can slow down a bit, I want to order and ant farm for them. Whenever Jared sees and ant in the house, he'll stop to pick it up and put it outside to it can "join its family." Last summer, he loved picking up ants outside, however, he had a tendency to roll them in his fingers so they wouldn't stay alive that long. This year he's become much more gentle when picking them up. This year he'll be riding his tricycle, pretty fast too, and then suddenly stop when he notices an ant crossing in front of him. He'll get off his tricycle, pick it up, and for some reason, likes to put them on the nearest tree.

In the afternoon we went to Steve's parents house and had a barbecue. My dad and brother were there, too. The kids had a great time in the back yard playing catch. Then Steve took out an old scooter and gave them rides around the block.

Naper Days

It was a hot day on June 20thwhen we went to the Naper Days Fest. The only place we could find to eat was a table under the hot sun next to the children's stage. Still, while we ate our pulled pork sandwiches and brats, we enjoyed watching a karate demonstration by a local school. They had just come back from a tour in Japan. This has been the second karate demonstration we've seen this summer, and in the following weeks, Jared has picked up sticks and enjoyed doing his own demonstrations for us.

Of course they enjoyed the petting zoo. This one was a little different because they had newborn piglets there. Adorable!

They had an area where someone made balloon animals for the kids.

I think they liked the kiddie paddle boats the most. We were really surprised at how fast Jared picked up on using both hands to work the paddles. In less then a minute he had figured out how to make the boat go both forwards and backwards. Alexa wasn't too bad at it either.

We all went on the little train that took riders around the entire festival area.

Museum of Science and Industry

We love going to the Museum of Science and Industry. If you are visiting Chicago, it should be a must-do item on your list. We've been with the kids five or six times already. My mom and I took the kids on June 19th, and we had a really good time despite how crowded it was. The museums here seem to have free weeks about two to three times a year, usually around January or February, June, and September. When we hit the free days in September of last year, it was relatively uncrowded. Since I'm not in a school mind-set, I didn't realize that now most kids wouldn't be in school and it would be MUCH more crowded. We didn't even make it into the Idea Factory, an area the kids LOVED last time, because the wait would have been too long.

As the kids get older and I can bring them down here by myself without help (now they would still run in opposite directions and want to be carried a bit), I want to get memberships to most of the fun places we would like to visit more often. I figured it would only cost a little over $500 a year to get almost every single membership to all the major museums, zoos, aquariums and arboretums we would want to go to. That would be just under a quarter of the cost it would be to send to kids to a medium-priced preschool.

Our first stop is always to see the baby chicks in the incubator. I'm always really sad, however, to see the chicks without their mother. I've always had a huge weakness for animals. When I was in my early twenties, I remember going into a mall pet store, watching the puppies locked inside the cage, and embarrassing myself by crying the ugly cry. You know, the cry when snot runs down your nose and you're bawling out loud. Luckily, it didn't happen this time.

Another huge hit with Jared and Alexa is the combine and tractor. The bad thing was because it was so crowded we had to wait in line about fifteen minutes for each piece of equipment, and then they were only able to play inside it for a few minutes.

It was really cool to watch an artist outlining a new mural on the wall.

The trolley in the train room is always fun.

These pictures are out of order a bit, but one thing I had been wanting to check out was the free lab demonstrations they give at the museum. You can do anything from dissect a cow eyeball to look at your own DNA. Today we watched a chemistry demo where they mixed different chemicals to make huge fireballs. Jared wound up sleeping in my arms before it started, but he woke up at the end to see this huge fireball go off. It really startled him! Alexa found it interesting, but I think in a few year, this type of thing will be really exciting for the kids. It was for me!

I didn't think it would interest them, but Jared really liked looking at a model of an electric generator invented my Thomas Edison. The next week we read some books on Thomas Edison, watched an episode about Thomas Edison in the Animated Heroes Classics series and watched another film about his life as well.

It was so crowded that we had to have a picnic on the ground in the hallway!

More combine/tractor pictures.

Here's a really cool unschool coincidence. We went upstairs to look at the planes, and Alexa runs up to this model of the Wright place and says "There's Wilbur!" We had just finished reading a book about Wilbur and Orville Wright and watched and Animated Hero Classics episode about the brothers. It was so fun to see her recognize that, and it made the display so much more real to her. And the best part about it all was that is wasn't even planned!

They have a real plane at the museum that has actually been used as a commercial aircraft. The kids have been inside it when they were much smaller, but I wanted them to sit in it again to get them excited about our upcoming vacation to Grand Cayman Island. However, it was so crowded that we weren't able to get a seat. Still, I think they liked the quick peek we were able to get.

One last explosion.