Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cosley Zoo

Alexa took the picture above of me and my sister. I love it! Actually, she took the five pictures below as well. On the 29thof July we went with my sister and her son to Cosely Zoo in Wheaton It's nice because it's a free zoo and very small, so I felt less nervous letting the kids run a bit ahead of us because it was so enclosed.

I think Alexa liked taking pictures of the animals better than actually seeing the animals. I guess Jared enjoyed himself, he said he did, but wasn't overly enthusiastic like he is about other things.

She took dozens of pictures of her little cousin.

The snake was the one animal that really perked up the kids.

Jared became most excited when he saw this red caboose there. They had a few hands-on things inside. He especially liked the beads. Those are usually the toys he heads straight for at the library and the doctor's office.

After a while, we stopped at the little store and had some ice cream. I think the sugar really got to the kids because they started running away from us, and I had to keep getting up and bringing them back to the table. Finally, I realized they just really needed to run around for a while, so we moved over to this open field and they ran around for about twenty minutes. They LOVED running and wrestling with their aunt.

Before we left, we stopped by this beautiful duck pond. Alexa took so many pictures at this spot. I've included below some of my favorite that she took.

Vacation Bible School

This was the twins' second year attending Vacation Bible School, and they are technically not even old enough to attend yet! There is a group for two and three year olds who are the children of the workers, and I've been in this group for the past two years.

They really, really enjoyed going every day. The big thing I noticed about how this year was different than last year was this year they didn't take a nap afterwards. I sure wanted to, though!

The pictures are a bit out of order, but they started the day in the auditorium with songs and watching a skit. Then the different age groups would break apart and go to different areas. Our group went to a workbook section first and then to crafts. The picture above and below show the kids stringing beads. The kids have bigger beads at home which they've strung before, but I was impressed, especially with Jared, at how well they did with the tiny beads.

They also did a lot of pasting during the first few days. The man who was leading the crafts section remarked at how it was a bad idea to have the twos and threes work with glue since they squirt out such big glops or get it on the table, and then he told us to do it for them and not let them have the glue. That really irritated me, and I wound up letting my kids glue their own stuff anyways. Crafts for the little guys are about experimenting with the materials, making a mess and letting them figure out different ways to work with things like glue, scissors, glitter and paint.

It also irritated me at how much the adults wanted to take things away from the kids and do it themselves instead of just being patient and letting the kids figure out things themselves. And the coloring pages. I am a huge believer in NOT giving your kids coloring pages. What adult does coloring pages as art? Do you go to an art museum to look at colored pages? I want my kids to do real art, to not think that coloring outside lines is "wrong" and to love art.

After getting bored because they really didn't have art or craft things for the kids that let them be that creative, Jared decided to make his own spaceship sculpture (his words and idea).

After crafts we'd go to the gym to let the kids run around some, then to practice a song to be performed at the end of the week, and then to story time.
Story time was by far their most fun time because Steve's mom was the storyteller. She did a really great job of dressing up and acting out the stories, really involving the kids by making it interactive and giving them a chance to move around a lot. Too many times people expect such tiny kids to sit still for quite a while and at the same time making the time they are sitting so boring for the child.

After story time, we'd go back to the auditorium to sing more, they'd tell how many points each team accumulated during the day and then be dismissed. I became really popular with the group because I'd always pull out a box of Triscuits which would get passed around.

The pictures below were taken in the gym. Alexa clung to me a lot towards the beginning of the week (I forgot to say it was July 20-24th), but she eventually warmed up. She loved the balloons.

Jared loved following this older boy helper around the gym and would smack him over and over again with the balloon, then the boy would fall over and play "dead."

While the kids and I both had a great time that week, there was so much trying to control everything the kids did all the time, with strict times and schedules for doing things, that it felt very, very schooly, I was just so glad that my kids will not have to spend years in that type of environment when they are growing up.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Elmhurst Splashpad at The Hub

I guess it's funny that this post has the word splash pad in the title and yet all the pictures I'll be posting will all be at the playground area. That's because when we went in July with my friend M and her son J, Alexa and Jared refused to go through the spraying water!

When we first arrived, we had a picnic lunch right outside the splash pads. After eating a little bit (how they usually are) the kids, along with little J, went over the to batting cages and had a great time watching the boys hitting the balls. I know Jared is going to love going to the cages when he gets older.

Then after getting all sun-lotioned up and their suits on, they just watched the other kids run in and out of the sprays. I had thought that by bringing their beach pails with they would at least have liked to fill those up and dump them out, but no. They just wanted to watch. Little J loved the water, though, so for M's sake I'm glad he had a chance to play in the water.

Jared and Alexa started to come to life again at the playground. I guess it's just more of their thing, although like I said in a previous post, they really, really like being in a pool.

The pictures below are all taken by Alexa except the two of J. Alexa probably walked around for at least a half hour taking pictures. She took a series of funny pictures of me flexing and making funny faces, but I decided not to post those. I think I'd be to embarrassed to have others see those! I love the one directly below of Jared on the swings. He really, really enjoys being pushed in a swing. I usually push them on the bigger swings, but when he wants to go really high and faster, he feels more secure on the baby swings.

Don't you just love this picture of M and me. I thought Alexa really did a good job on this one.

Elmhurst Park District

The day after visiting Steve at his work, we met my friend M and her son at the Elmhurst Park District - Berens Park. I was pretty impressed with the little playground area. They had a number of different pieces of equipment that you don't normally see at playgrounds.

The picture below is of my friend's son J. What a cutie! He's almost 17 months old now and expecting a new brother or sister next March.

Daddy's Work

We try to visit Steve at work at least three or four times a year. We've been visiting him since they had just turned a year old, so quite a few of the people he works with have seen them as they've grown. Plus, Steve's boss had a BBQ at his home every summer which we always attend with the kids. This summer we went on July 14th. The picture above was taken in the back of his building. The grounds are beautifully landscaped and there's even a small corn field planted out back.

Every time we go the kids ask to see the coy pond in the building's lobby. They also have so much fun climbing up things and just exploring.

I was upset that I forgot to bring the camera up to Steve's office. They love sitting in his chair, playing with his phone and adding machine. I think it's so good to bring kids to a variety of adult work settings to get a more clear idea of what different occupations are like.
Another cute thing happened when we went out to eat for lunch. The place where we went to eat had the menu printed in larger letters right on the wall when you first walked in. Alexa was reading the menu off the wall and impressing quite a few people.