Thursday, May 21, 2015

Springtime Mash-up

Good weather equals a happy mom. And a happy mom loves to be outside, so outside we have been. There has been A LOT of baseball. From pro-ball to tee ball, our house has baseball fever. My mom says she'll be posting about tee ball separately, so more on that later. But needless to say, Bodie has shown me the love of the game and I've been infected - I throw everything I can in whatever direction I can, it's awesome.

We've already visited more than two dozen parks, inventing several games in the process. A personal favorite is tennis-basketball. Because there's always a ball in my mom's bag, and often a basketball court at the park, me and Bodie chuck the ball as high as we can in an attempt to hit the backboard. While it rarely goes in the basket and we strain our necks looking straight up in the air, we love this game and can play it for nearly an hour as total strangers watch in awe (or confusion) at our dedication.

We've also visited the nature centers, exploring tons of reptiles, owls, and even a flying squirrel. We did a spring visit to Ticonderoga Farms (LOVE that place), the zoo, Clemijontri park, and Frying Pan Farm. We also had a Mexican fiesta at the church, always good for a family photo...
Our spring adventures are probably best described in pictures - so here are a bunch of photos - enjoy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Best Preschool Ever

We absolutely LOVE Bodie's preschool. He's been going there for two years and before he departs and heads off to kindergarten, I felt the need to celebrate what an incredible place Trinity Preschool is. First, it's just a preschool; which, around here, is hard to find. No early care or after care, just preschool. Kids range from 3-5 years old and depending on age, each child  attends two, three, or five days a week from 9:30am - 1pm. There are ten classes in session each day, but because of the varying attendance (tues/thurs and mon/wed/fri classes), there are nearly 130 kids who attend the school - how fun is that for preschool!?!!
They have a full time music teacher, daily gym class and outdoor play. It's a kid's paradise. Aside from the Halloween sing-a-long, the Christmas pageant, and spring concert, each May, the school hosts its annual art show. The teachers save artwork from the kids all school year and then for two weeks, display it on every square inch of the hallway and ceiling - an explosion of preschool art. Fluffy cotton snowman, tissue paper cherry blossoms, egg carton spiders, lego creations, tinfoil elephants, and anything else you can think of.
A highlight is the self portrait wall. Each student in the school draws a picture of him or herself. They-Are-Awesome. Bodie's self portrait last year resembled Sloth from the movie Goonies.

I think this year's self portrait is a DRASTIC improvement - whew.
And today, there was this...a lemonade stand. After learning about money and profit during the past two weeks, Bodie's class hosted a lemonade stand for the entire school and parents during pick up time. Last week the kids prepared by doing a blind taste test of three lemonades, determining which lemonade they would sell. They then had to make posters and flyers to do the advertising. And they learned all about money so they could give change as they sold the goods. They sold over 200 cups of lemonade,  made a ton of money, and had a blast - such a fun way to learn.
THANKS Trinity for a fun, fun, fun environment for learning!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Thailand - Part II

I'll pick up where my brother left off...we headed south. THIS was my kind of vacation - sun, beach, giant pools, and monkeys....yes, monkeys. We flew to Krabi for some rest and relaxation. And thanks to a reservation mix-up, we scored the Honeymoon Suite at the resort - a palatial pad with a tub the size of our home bathroom and a view for miles. My parents laughed and said we were probably the only kids who had ever stayed there. Here's a picture my mom took of us in one of the pools. And here's me - my mom says my swimsuit physique is impressive.
We adventured every day and found some really cool shells on the beach. We also discovered the tiny, opaque moving shells weren't actually shells - they were crabs! So we filled their homes/holes up with sand and chased after them. We never caught any but we did accidentally catch a hermit crab (in one of the shells). My mom discovered him in our room after he'd headed back to the big crab heaven in the sky. By the way, dead crabs stink.

We followed a locals' path onto a rock mountain to see if we could check out a different beach on the other side - we'd heard it was only reachable by boat. While I'm only one, I believe a "path" implies a safe route for passage. If so, this was definitely not a path. The steepest parts had make-shift stairs that were put in place before the invention of the television. (My mom tried to capture the intensity of the climb/drop, but this picture doesn't do it justice.)
The best part of the hike were definitely the HUNDREDS of wild monkeys. They were above us in the trees and everywhere on the path. You could touch them if you were crazy enough to do so. One even ran directly at me thinking I was his afternoon snack. My mom chased it away by waving her arms wildly in the air - come to think of it, she kind of looked like a wild monkey too! We did reach the other beach, which was nice, but the adventure getting there is a lasting memory.
My parents indulged while we were at the resort - each choosing their form of relaxation. My dad had more Thai massages than there were days on the trip and my mom...she choose to kick this guy. I guess kicking locals is allowed as long as you are in a class called muy Thai boxing. We watched some of her class and wow, she sure likes to kick stuff. Here are some photos of my dad relaxing...

Once we were thoroughly relaxed, we headed back north to Bangkok to celebrate Easter with our awesome friends the Nelsons. We dyed eggs - I did more watching than dying because everyone was worried I would do a slam dunk on an egg.
And, by some miracle, when we woke Easter morning, that big fluffy (kinda creepy) Easter bunny had found us in Thailand and left us our baskets - score! We even did an egg hunt in the Nelson's house and found TONS of treats hidden in some pretty crazy places.

While we were eating endless treats and playing with the Nelson girls, my parents and their parents headed out for a bike ride before we caught our flight home. Apparently the ride was a real highlight for them. They rented bikes for just over a dollar and rode around a super cool island community. I don't understand money yet, but I know that Bodie has more than a dollar in his piggy bank, so the bike rental sounds like a real deal. The path they rode on was about four feet wide and elevated throughout the community because of the surrounding water. Apparently dollar rental bikes don't have the best (or any) brakes, making the downslopes on the path pretty exciting - if you didn't stop in time your reward was to fly off the path and into the watery marsh below!

The trip was a blast. We got to visit our friends, see new stuff, try new stuff, and eat new stuff. What more could anyone want.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Thailand - Part I

Yes, my parents voluntarily chose to take two small children on two twenty hour plane rides - crazy, I know. Lucky for them, Gates and I were pro travelers and both flights went smoothly.

I've seen Thailand on my world globe; I have to spin it to the other side to find it because it's pretty far from America. It's much closer to China and India. It's on my list of places I wanted to go, and so we went. (Mom note: He really has a list and it includes - and no, I'm not making this up - North Dakota, South Dakota, Hawaii, Thailand, New Guinea, Senegal, South Korea, Brazil, Sierra Leone, Mali, Chad, India, Algeria, and Greenland.)
We started in Bangkok. While it's a big city, it has so many unique things to the Thai culture. There are tons of huge temples with gigantic Buddha inside. They have canals running throughout the city with homes on the canal. People were doing dishes, washing clothes, swimming, bathing, and selling goods. And the Thais have endless types of transportation.
Speaking of transportation, here's a list of ways we traveled during this trip - by car, plane, elephant, taxi, long tail boat, airport people mover, bus, tuk tuk, foot, shuttle, and by the side car of a motorcycle (just don't tell my Nana we did any of these because none of them had seatbelts!).

We visited the city of Ayutthaya. It has a lot of history and was founded in 1350. They had several battles with the Burmese and eventually the city was destroyed in 1767. While the fighting left many things damaged, the ruins that remain are pretty cool including a Buddha head inside of a bunch of tree roots. You can tell this city was very important, even 800 years later. Of course my parents were respectful of these ancient ruins and only did jumpers when no one was looking - good grief!

While in Bangkok, we also got to visit The Red Cross Snake Farm - seems a bit ironic, huh? The people saving lives own some of the most deadly snakes on the planet. I guess a doctor wanted them for the venom so he could help people who had been bit. I sat in the front row, about three feet from the snakes, (again, don't tell my Nana). Gates sat a few rows back and didn't find the demonstration as interesting (notice the snake in the background).
We went to the coolest kid place on the planet, Kidzania ( My mom says someone could make a zillion dollars if they opened these across the U.S. It's a giant indoor city for kids. Kids can try out 50+ occupations (really, anything you can think of). We got uniforms for that job, they trained us in the skills, and then we did the job - SO COOL! Parents aren't even allowed into the shops, they just sit on park benches in the pretend town and wait for the kids. Some of the jobs I did included working at a radio station, McDonalds, a gas station, a construction site, 7-eleven, a bank, a photography studio, a barber shop, and a disco tech. Kids could be firefighters, dentists, Coca-Cola bottlers, designers, dancers, juice makers, car mechanics - it was awesome. 

 We then headed south to the city of Krabi and the Ao Nang beaches. LOTS of fun there too. We'll post more about that shortly so stay tuned...

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Knots of Fun!

Bodie accomplished a big milestone last week - he learned to tie his shoes. He got two pairs of lace-up shoes and I immediately made the rule, "If you can tie them, you can wear them. I do not tie other people's shoes." Amazingly, this was the exact motivation he needed, he wanted to wear those shoes. So he sat down and began to learn. I was prepared for it to take daily practice for about a week. Thirty minutes later, he had it and has been tying them up ever since. Way to go buddy!

The weather from the Antarctic has finally left and we have been outdoors nonstop. In three sunny days we hit five parks and are loving the sunshine. Bodie jumped on his bike and hasn't looked back, except to pick his brother up.Who, also, has decided he should be riding a bike and a scooter. Gates gets his own helmet, drags out an item to ride from the shed and then begins to grunt like a caveman until someone hooks his helmet on and sets him up.

He has no concern that he doesn't know how to pedal yet, he will sit on that tricycle for 20 minutes grunting in hopes that it will move, occasionally getting motion that ends in a wipeout. He definitely has the will to ride a scooter and a bike, which may be all he needs. Skill will come...

Bodie is leading the way in fearless park behavior. He can be found climbing the outside of any park equipment until he reaches the top and some petrified parent anxiously cautions him to come down before he breaks his leg. Gates is learning from the best. I turned my back the other day to get something out of my bag and found Gates on top of this 15 foot play structure with three of the four sides as open drop-offs. Even I was nervous. Then I saw and heard this noise - he climbed up and down probably 15 times, laughing every time.
No doubt with these two little dare devils the emergency room is in our future. At least laughter will have preceded the pain.

It was hero day at preschool on Friday. I gave Bodie a long list of people he could dress as, his dad, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, I went on and on. He looked up, so focused on what I was saying then smiled and said, "Or Batman!" And Batman it was. Oh well, I tried. We were also responsible for the special snack that day, so we made a super kid cake.

Lastly, we've been teaching our kids "music appreciation," inspired by my brother, Rick. He decided that each Christmas his kids would receive a classic (Led Zeplin, Aerosmith, Rolling Stones, etc). We're attempting to give this same gift of music to our boys through my love of rap music. You can see, they are definitely taking to it. It's so fun, what's not to love!