Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Making Excuses

Yesterday we were in the drive thru at McDonald's.  The clerk repeated the order back and it was mixed up.  After repeating it, we pulled around and were waiting to pay.  I remarked to my mother, who was driving, that this could be a case of a screwed up order.  From the back seat, N pipes up with many reasons why this could be the case.  The clerk is having a hard day, it was hard to hear over the speaker, etc.  He finishes by saying that even if it is messed up, it's not a big deal.  I remark to my mother that N always trys to find a reason for why someone messes up.  He always tries to find a kind hearted excuse for the actions of others.   N chimes in with, "Yeah I have to make excuses for you all the time mom."  Gee thanks!

Friday, September 4, 2009

She has a head like mine

This afternoon we were in the car on our way to J's school soccer game. A started talking about someone named Casey and how she was a friend of J's. She seemed to know a lot about this girl. Only problem is, J doesn't know anyone named Casey. When J pointed this out, A became very frustrated and insisted there is a girl named Casey on his soccer team. Figuring A was probably mispronouncing the name and Casey was in fact a friend of J's, I asked A if she could tell me what she looks like. I got the following answer, "Well, she's a girl and she has you know, a head, like mine!" We still don't know who Casey is, but at least there won't be any headless players at the soccer games.

I haven't dropped off the face of the earth

Guess it's been awhile since I posted anything. Oops! Our summer was very relaxed and carefree and blogging was the furthest thing from my mind. Now that we are back to our regular insane fall schedule I'll try to be better about posting.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Day At The Farm

Today I took A and N to Green Meadows Petting Farm. Green Meadows is a petting farm located in Kissimmee, Florida. We had been invited by a friend of N's who was going with a large group. As it turned out, a few of A's friends were there as well due to various school and preschool connections. But I digress. Since there were more than twenty people in our group, we qualified for the group rate of $10 per person for ages 3-adult. The regular admission price is $21 or $19 for Florida residents. Little red wagons were available to rent for $3. A was excited when she spotted the wagons and I rented one to pull her around in.

Once our entire group had gathered, a tour guide took us on a 2 1/2 hour tour of the farm. We learned about a variety of animals, including turkeys, chickens. ponies, cows, sheep, goats, llamas, and pigs. After a brief lesson on each animal, we were able to enter the pens and pet the various farm animals. In the case of the chickens, ducks, and geese, we were allowed to pick them up. The geese and the ducks were quite hilarious as the kids dashed around trying to catch them after the tour guide showed the proper method. We were not permitted to enter the pens of the larger animals such as the llamas, cows, and bison. However, we could pet them through the fence. At the pony enclosure, each child got to ride a pony. We got to feed the sheep and goats as well as pet them. One friendly goat put his front hooves on N's back and started nibbling at his t-shirt. Everyone also had the chance to milk a cow. N and A both enjoyed the animal tour immensely and both managed to pick up and hold chickens, duck, and geese. I was impressed that outside each animal pen there were hand sanitizer stations and the tour guide never missed reminding everyone to wash up.

In addition to the animals, the tour included a train ride around the farm, where we got to see some animals grazing in the fields. The tour concluded with a tractor drawn hayride. Each guest received a souvenir cup and a free child's admission ticket for a future visit. For fall visitors the cup is replaced with a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch.

The farm also has several small playgrounds and large covered picnic pavilions. The grounds and animal enclosures are shaded by numerous large oak trees, so even the Florida heat was not to overwhelming. When it is time for lunch, you can borrow a wheelbarrow to retrieve your cooler from your car. The tour guide gives a break in the middle of the tour for you to enjoy your lunch or just relax a bit. Birthday party packages are available as well. There is a small souvenir stand and the items ranged in price from $1.00 -$5.00.

Green Meadows is a great outing for families with kids of all ages. A and N have already asked if we can go back. I'm thinking a trip in the fall when the pumpkin patch is available is in order.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sky Diving

This week, A and N attended Vacation Bible school. This was A's first year and she was a bit apprehensive at the start of the week. What if she didn't like the kids? What if she got scared? And so on and so on. I did my best to soothe her fears, then dropped her off with a wave and a smile. Luckily, she loved VBS and we had no issues. In fact, by the second day she was instructing me on how to drop her off and "Just go mom!" One of the activities this week was tie dyeing t-shirts. A loved this particular activity and had the tie dyed legs to prove it. Her grandpa asked her what she had done at bible school and she told him she had sky dived. Huh? Surely the people at VBS weren't insane enough to have three year olds jumping out of airplanes. He repeated the question and got this response, "You know papa, I sky dived my shirt."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Future Olympian?

N has been taking boys gymnastics this year and has his first exhibition/competition this evening. He's stoked about it. He's a little worried about is floor routine, but pretty confident he can bring it on the rings and parallel bars. And this kid is a true optimist. He's decided the Olympics look like a good time and figues he'll make the team by the next go round. It's good to have dreams. And if the Olympics don't pan out, he plans to be a veterinarian. It's a win win.

Score one for my tortoise

J was selected for National Junior Honor Society last week. I'm so proud of him. He's worked hard and really improved in school this year. The induction ceremony is tomorrow afternoon. I have my hankies at the ready.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Year of the Tortoise

I have called J my tortoise for years. He is such a laid back kid that I used to wonder if anything would ever light a fire under him. He moved through life at a leisurely pace, never getting shook up or bothered by much. While this was good in some ways, there were many ways it wasn't such a good thing. In school he did well enough, but never worked up to his full potential. On the baseball field he was a good player but never gave that final burst of effort to make himself an exceptional player. Until this year. He's in 7th grade and I hate to use the term late bloomer for a boy, but I can't seem to think of a better one. This year J has really started showing a zest for a life that often times in the past seemed to be passing him by. He has worked hard in school and is being considered for admission into the National Junior Honor Society. he'll find out tomorrow. The kid who hated to run played soccer, basketball, and ran track at school. And on his beloved baseball field he has become a force to be reckoned with. While before he was content to stay on first base, he can now play eight out of nine positions and play them well. The ninth is pitching and he wants to give that try, too. He steals bases with the best of them and still rocks on first base. I have a feeling my tortoise is only just beginning to show what he is made of. Look out all you hares out there. The tortoise is closing the gap.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lion Country Safari Pictures

This is one of the giraffes we encountered at the giraffe feeding. He was very friendly and kept sticking his face right up to the camera.
Here is Jazi and her family. Isn't she just about the cutest thing you've ever seen? I always thought rhinos were very aggressive, but I was wrong. White rhinos are supposedly very docile animals.

Can't remember what species of antelope this was, but snapped his picture as he crossed the road in front of the car.

One of the many sassy lady lions we saw. Apparently, the lady lions are actually the leaders of the pride, not the males.

Isn't he beautiful?

Lion Country Safari

J and N are on Spring Break this week and I wanted to do something fun with all the kids. We decided to head south and visit Lion Country Safari. This was one of the best zoos we've ever visited. Located 10 miles west of the Florida turnpike in Loxahatchee, Florida, LCS is a free roaming zoo that is home to over 800 animals. Our visit began when we pulled up to the ticket booth and presented our discount coupon that I'd printed off the website. The price is amazingly low, just $25 for ages 10 -adult and $18 for ages 3-9. Our coupon was good for $5 off each person in the vehicle. The booth attendant handed us a pamphlet with photos and descriptions of the animals we'd be seeing, as well as a CD to listen to an audio tour as we drove through the animal preserve. The kids were very excited as we began slowly driving along the road that wound through the animal preserve. I did allow them out of car seats and seat belts since we were traveling on average about 5 miles per hour and there were only a few other early morning visitors. A bounced back and forth from window to window as we saw several different species of antelope, lamas, ostrich, and wildabeast. The animals were all truly free roaming, crossing the road in front of the car, and in some cases walking right up and looking in at us. The cd was very informative as we made our way through the preserve and would cue us when to pause if we hadn't finished viewing the animals in a particular area yet. Two sections in and we came to the main attraction at LCS, the lions. The lions were housed in a fenced area that we drove through an electric gate to access. There were two separate fenced areas. A large play yard complete with shade shelters and trees and a fenced barn area where the lions are housed at night. There were no lions in the play yard when we entered and came to yet another electric gate. We were the first car in line and up ahead we could see a LCS truck at the gate to the barn area. We got to see the lions being let out into the play yard after feeding time. First came eight gorgeous lady lions (A dubbed them lady lions). They were somewhat uncooperative and took their sweet time entering the play yard. The kids cracked up at their antics as the keeper used the truck to herd them across the road. Then came three majestic gentleman lions. They cooperated better than the ladies. Once the lions were in the play yard the gate opened and we were able to pull up and stop next to the yard. The rule was to pull to the right if you wanted to stop and observe the animals so other cars could go around on the left. We sat for about thirty minutes enjoying the lions. After the lions we encountered the zebras and rhinos. This was one of the best parts of the preserve. I should say that one of the most impressive parts about LCS was the amount of animals. There weren't just one or two of each species, but entire herds. The only animal that were only three of was the elephants. But back to the zebras and rhinos. There were about 75 zebras and a family of four rhinos sharing an area. Somehow we ended up without any pictures of the zebras, but you can check out Jazi, a four month old baby white rhino in the above picture. The chimpanzees and giraffes rounded out the preserve. After completing the safari, we parked the car and went to enjoy the walk through portion of LCS. This area contained a few kiddie rides, lorikeet, sting ray, and giraffe feeding, a petting zoo, and a splash park. Except for the animal feeding, everything was included in the admission price. We skipped the lorikeets and the sting rays since we can feed lorikeets at our local zoo and we've fed sting rays many times at Sea World. But A and N loved feeding the giraffes. After feeding giraffes, we headed over to the kiddie rides, which included a carousel, flying elephant ride, and a Ferris wheel. There was also an 18 hole mini golf course that J and N enjoyed while A rode the rides. The rides were really best suited for smaller kids. There was also a pontoon boat tour of a small lake area that took you for an up close look at some small monkeys. LCS also has a cafeteria style restaurant as well as a snack bar and ice cream stand. We ate in the cafeteria which had hot and cold sandwiches, hot dogs, pizza, and snacks. The prices were reasonable and the food was good quality. You also have the option to bring a picnic lunch and picnic in the picnic area. After lunch we hit the splash park, which all the kids enjoyed. At the end of our visit we elected to drive through the safari preserve one more time. Most of the animals were relaxing in the shade, but the zebras were really kicking up their heels. At one point the car was surrounded by bucking, running zebras much to the laughing enjoyment of the kids. Over all, LCS was a great value for the money, educational, and enjoyable for all ages. we'll definitely visit again sometime. In fact, if it weren't so far away, I'd consider investing in an annual pass. I will post some pictures of our visit in a separate post since I can't seem to get the pictures where I want them in this post. for more information on this fabulous free roaming zoo, check out the website at http://www.lioncountrysafari.com/.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Milestone Morning

Today A and I have reached a milestone. For the first time ever I am dropping her off for a Mom's Morning Out class. She will be starting a two morning a week preschool program in the fall and I thought this would be a good introduction to the concept of mommy dropping her off and leaving. We'll see how she does. As for me, well, I'm getting teary just thinking about it. I've been a stay at home mom for eight years since N was born. Prior to that I worked part time in the daycare field and J came to work with me. Reaching this milestone with A has made me realize that my last baby is growing up. In all too short a time she will be off to school and I won't have any little ones at home anymore. What will I do? I don't have a burning desire for a career. My kids are my career. I suspect I'll end up volunteering at school even more than I do now. I'll continue to manage the house, run errands, clean, do laundry, and all those other things that J, N, and A think just magically happen. Only difference is I'll be doing them on my own, without a tiny helper in tow.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Planning Ahead

Saturday morning, I told the kids we would be attending mass that evening. J was scheduled to altar serve and we were scheduled to take our turn selling raffle tickets for the school's spring fundraiser before and after. N greeted this news with lots of protesting and arguing. They go to mass every Friday during school and he didn't see why he should have to go two days in a row. He kept up the complaining until I warned him that one more word would earn him a grounding for the weekend. Since N never knows when to stop arguing, he ended up grounded for the weekend. This meant no tv, video games, or playng with friends. Yesterday morning he started in about how bored he was and there was nothing to do. He then proceeded to talk my ear off. With my head ready to explode, I told him to go entertain himself for a while. He countered that since he was grounded there was nothing for him to do besides talk to me. I countered that he got himself grounded and I really needed some peace and quiet. He grinned and said, " I guess you didn't plan ahead when you grounded me." Smart ass.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

She strikes again

A had a bit of a rough night. She woke up a few times during the night, witht eh last time being at 5am. She fell back asleep on the couch by 6am. I got J and N up at 6:30 and we all tiptoed around in the dark so as not to wake her. Miraculously she stayed asleep and after they left I laid back down myself. She ended up sleeping til almost 10:30. A wanted to watch a movie and eat popcorn. I figured what the hell. Why not? I fixed her a bowl of popcorn, complete with a tiny sprinkle of buttery popcorn oil and started a movie for her. I then went about catching up on my chores since I spent the morning catching up on sleep. All was well til A asked for more butter on her popcorn. I told her she had plenty and then made my fatal mistake. I turned my back for longer than thirty seconds. While I made beds, she silently slid a chair to the pantry, climbed up, and got not the half used bottle of buttery popcorn oil, but the brand new one. She slid the chair back, removed the lid and the seal from the bottle. And poured the whole thing over her bowl of popcorn. Then she nicely offered to share with me. At least this time, none got on the floor. It all went neatly in the bowl. I gritted my teeth, dumped the popcorn, and gave her a time out. You'd think I'd learn by now that I can't turn my back on this kid for a split second. Or to never, ever leave the latch on the pantry door undone. Maybe I'll learn about the time A learns it is not mandatory to get into something every time my back is turned.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Don't look Mom!

Today A and I went to the grocery store, where I picked up a bottle of children's sudafed for her stuffy nose. I left the bottle, still in the box, on the kitchen table while I put away the rest of the groceries. Then I made the mistake of stepping out of the kitchen to check messages. In the approximately three minutes I was out of sight, A managed to remove the bottle from the box, drop it and break it. As I headed back for the kitchen, she frantically shouted, "Don't look Mom! Don't look!" She was attempting to clean up the spill with a paper towel and a sopping wet dish rag. I wish I could say my reaction to this little mishap was a calm, "Don't worry sweetie. Accidents happen." But I would be lying. After frantically asking her if she had drunk any of the medicine,(she hadn't) I furiously sent her to her room and kept up a muttered string of curses while mopping up the mess. From A's bedroom down the hall came a muttered, "I told you not to look."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

At least it's a NY team

Last night was J's first practice of the new Little League season. He moved up to Junior division this year and was picked by a coach who is brand new to our league. The new coach just moved here from NY, so J was naturally hoping he was a Yankees fan. And that he would name the team the Yankees. No such luck. They will be the Mets. To J's credit, he didn't gag or vomit when the coach made this announcement. He simply gave a resigned sigh and said, "Well, at least it's a NY team."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Great Wolf Lodge, Williamsburg, Virginia

We just spent a fun filled weekend at the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Virginia. This was out first visit to this hotel, which boasts a large indoor water park as its main attraction. We checked in on Saturday afternoon around 2:00pm. Check in officially is 4:00, but if your room is ready you can go ahead and check in early.

The hotel has several options for rooms and suites to accommodate families of all sizes. We were a group of nine and had reserved a Grizzly Suite. The suite consisted of two separate bedrooms, one with two queen beds and the other with one queen bed. There was a living area with a sleeper sofa and two full bathrooms. One bathroom had a large walk in shower and the other a whirlpool tub with shower. There were three TVs, an electric fireplace, and a snack area with a microwave and a mini fridge. The suite was very clean and comfortable and our group of nine,(four adults and five children) fit nicely.

The indoor water park is the hotel's main attraction. Living in Florida, we are used to spectacular water parks and I was a little unsure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised, as were the kids. There were water slides to suit everyone, as well as a wave pool, swimming pool, toddler area, and a large water play structure. There were also two large hot tubs, one for families and one for guests over 21. There are private cabanas available for rent on a first come basis. We chose to just park our stuff at one of the many tables and chairs scattered throughout the water park area. Towels are provided by the hotel and there was a large, clean shower and dressing area. No outside food may be brought into the water park. There is a snack bar type restaurant located just inside the doors that boasts fare such as hot dogs, corn dogs, hamburgers, nachos, and french fries. The prices were a little high, but not out of line with theme parks or hotels anywhere else. Our group of nine managed to eat lunch for just under $70. This included make your own slushies for all the kids.

In addition to the water park, the hotel offers many activities for children. The Cub Club is an area where kids of all ages can go to enjoy crafts and games. There are daily free crafts as well as more involved crafts that range in price from $3 - $15. N and A were perfectly happy with the free crafts offered. The Cub Club also hosts daily coloring contests and bingo games for the kids. Three times daily there is an animated show about nature under the lodge's Great Clock Tower. Following the evening show there is story time in front of the huge lobby fireplace. Of course, no hotel geared toward kids would be complete without an arcade and the Great Wolf is no exception. The Northern Lights Arcade is a typical arcade, full of noise, lights, and cheesy prizes. The kids loved it, though we imposed a limit on how much money they could waste in there. For adults, the hotel also has a large fitness room and a day spa. We did not make use of either of those facilities.

The lodge has dining options, but they were on the pricey side. We opted instead to get dinner one night from a local grocery store deli and from a local BBQ place the second night.

All in all, the Great Wolf Lodge is a great place for a family getaway. The staff was friendly and helpful, the hotel was impeccably clean, and there were activities for everyone. We'd definitely consider visiting again, either in Williamsburg or at one of Great Wolf's other locations. You can read more about the Great Wolf Lodge and what they have to offer at their website: www.greatwolflodge.com.

Monday, January 12, 2009

RockBand Hell

My children are the proud owners of a Wii. I didn't buy the Wii. It was a gift from their very generous great aunt. We've had the Wii for a year now and along the way have acquired several games for it, including Guitar hero and Wii Fit. This year, J and N received gift cards to Gamestop. They also received a duplicate Star Wars game and took it to exchange it. To my not so everlasting delight, they exchanged it for RockBand. Just the game, because they did not have near enough to cover the cost of the set. And the box said it was compatible with their Guitar Hero guitar. Okay fine. Then J discovered he had enough to buy just the drums. Great! Terrific! We now have daily RockBand sessions with both drum and guitar in the living room. Why the living room instead of a playroom or family room? Because our house is small. Very small. The sound of the drumsticks tapping is now permanently seared into my brain. Along with their endless renditions of Eye of the Tiger. Seriously, I'm over RockBand. If they ever get the microphone I may run screaming into the night.