Once again Mommy has fallen behind in her record keeping and storytelling. But, I have been derelict in these duties for all of the right reasons. I have been having so so soooo much fun with my kiddos and our family that I haven’t had a moment to stop and write because I’ve been too busy living the moments that make the best memories. So, in true Mommy style, I’ll do my best to recount all of the fantastic places we’ve visited, the wonderful people we’ve shared our time with, and all of the best kiddo stories that perfectly illustrate the irrepressible and heartwarming nature of Jack and Bee. However, to kick things off, I feel it is only appropriate to discuss the general vibe of our summer vacation.
It’s no secret that last summer was crazy. We spent most of our “vacation” living in boxes and with the general sense of uncertainty while we worked at purchasing our family home. While that summer had its ups and downs, the general feeling we were left with when all was said and done was relief it was over, but regret that we weren’t able to have more fun. Mommy was determined that this summer would be completely different. And it was.
While few great memories surface when I recall last summer, my heart is an overflowing fountain of magnificent memories made this summer. The kiddos were generally in a fabulous mood, ready for adventure and Mommy was confident and poised enough to deliver it in various shapes and sizes. Daddy had school for most of the summer, but he did a great job of being able to balance school, work, the associated stress from both, and having plenty of family fun. The last four weeks of our summer, Daddy even had a break from school with a week off from work. From trips to the zoo to just playing outside in our own backyard, our summer vacation was the embodiment of making the most of every opportunity and seizing the potential of every moment, even if that just meant relaxing in each other’s company. This will forever be the first real summer spent in our family home and a summer of new experiences, but most of all, it will be the summer of love and laughter and just the first of many more to come.
The Summer Bucket List
Before the summer began, Mommy had a mental bucket list of experiences I wanted the kiddos to have and in turn, experiences I wanted us to have as a family. Some of these were simple, while others were going to require Mommy to dive head first out of my comfort zone. The biggest item on the list was simply to get out of the house as much as possible. In years passed, partially due to vehicle limitations and partially due to my own insecurities, we didn’t get out much. This has been something I’ve been actively working on changing.
Going to the Zoo A LOT
On Father’s Day, Daddy bought us a family pass to the zoo. As a result, the first specific item on our summer’s bucket list was to go to the zoo as frequently as possible. My goal was for our zoo pass to be more than paid for in visits, just in our summer trips, resulting in the rest of the year feeling like a bonus. The intention behind this was two-fold: 1. The kiddos love the zoo, so going as much as possible is just a no brainer. 2. Having a specific number of visits to shoot for would put a little bit of pressure on Mommy to ensure I followed through with this goal. I am happy to report that this item was successfully completed and then some. Between visits to the zoo with Daddy, friends, Grandma Eileen, and just the three of us, many fantastic memories were made, lots of fabulous pictures taken, and Mommy feels completely capable of taking the kiddos pretty much anywhere, within our limitations.
Our first solo trip was only a few days after Father’s Day. I didn’t want the momentum to wear off and I promised the kiddos that a trip to zoo was in our future for that week. Mommy does her best not to break promises. So, while I was a little nervous, I packed up the diaper bag full of every possible remedy for every possible problematic scenario, loaded up the kiddos, and we were off. Before we arrived at our destination, I went over the rules with Jack.
- Stay near Mommy.
- Use your listening ears.
- When it’s time to go, it’s time to go.
I try to keep it simple and easy to remember. If I went off on a huge list of things he wasn’t allowed to do, he wouldn’t remember the most important rules and neither of us would have fun. Furthermore, I had my own rules or at least things to remember.
- This about making fun memories. So, have fun with the kiddos.
- You’re an awesome Mommy; just breathe and everything will be great.
- Pay attention to their limits. When they’re done, listen and move on.
Mommy can’t handle too many rules either, but it worked. Jack knew exactly what was ok and what wasn’t, while I knew there were very few things that could go so terribly wrong as to induce a panic and the likelihood of those things happening was incredibly small. After all, the dangerous animals are all in enclosures or strollers.
On this first solo trip, we had a great time. Mommy learned that the earliest I can get the kiddos to the zoo is 10:30, they can only handle two hours, and they need a quick snack stop in the middle. Going down the giraffe slide doesn’t have to be a fight as long as Little Man knows it’s the last thing we do before we go home. Asking Jack to tell me what animals he and Beezy want to see is the best way to navigate through the zoo. And most importantly, there is no challenge we will face that must come in the way of us having a super fun time.
Our next few trips to the zoo were with friends. First with Amy and her kiddos Olivia and Hugh, then with Grandma Eileen a few weeks later. Our zoo excursion with Olivia and Hugh was a blast for the kiddos. Jack was completely in his element paling around one of his favorite places with his buds. Fortunately the place was empty enough on an overcast Friday morning that we could give the guys a little more leeway in their running around room. While Little Man usually stays close by my side at the zoo, on this trip, the kids were anxious to explore on their own and assert their independence. From checking out giant dinosaurs, exploring butterflies, and hitching a ride on a safari jeep, we did it all and had a blast.
Things did get a little dicey at the goat exhibit. Apparently one of the goats was a little greedy when it came to treats. So, when Bee’s stroller was within tongue range, he ate all of her goldfish off of her stroller tray. This was a memorable experience for Lil Miss given that each subsequent visit to goat exhibit in the following months resulted in her regaling us all with her tale of cracker woe with various hand gestures and intonations.
A few weeks after exploring the zoo with our pals, we met Grandma Eileen at the zoo. Jack was so enthusiastic to show her all of the incredible dinosaurs all over the place. It was a warm Friday morning and we trekked all over the zoo. Jack told Grandma Eileen all about the dinosaurs and she told him all about the birds. They even spent some special time being loved on by the butterflies in the butterfly enclosure. Before the afternoon was over, we had some seriously silly times in the zoo’s photo booth and the kiddos even tasted the childhood wonder that is cotton candy for the first time. Each moment was truly memorable, but Mommy’s favorite was how Jack, in true Jack fashion, hammed it up during his first photo booth experience.
The month of August brought with it unseasonably cool weather, which meant this family spent even more time at the zoo! Yes, while Mommy and the kiddos can handle a little more heat than Daddy when it comes to outdoor activities, it’s nice when we can all enjoy a beautiful day at the zoo without wishing we could swimming with the penguins. With highs in the 80′s for a few weekends in August, we took full advantage. Our first trip in August involved Little Man showing Daddy how fun a photo booth can be and Daddy showing Little Man how to communicate with a Leopard. . .
Our second trip to the zoo in August was a super duper special zoo excursion. We had breakfast with the lions! We took Jack when he was just a little guy to eat breakfast with the lions and this year, with zoo pass in hand, it seemed like the perfect time to take Bee for the first time. The food is never fantastic, but with an up close encounter with a penguin as part of the deal, you can’t really complain. After all, the kiddos aren’t picky eaters when we’re out and about and their love of animals and exciting experiences tends to supersede everything else.
It was the last breakfast of the season and it allowed us to be in the zoo an hour before it officially opened. While the food may have been underwhelming, being able to explore a zoo with only 20 other patrons was awesome. This was particularly neat because the local Snow Leopard had just given birth to two cubs, a boy and girl. So, we were able to watch them romp around and play without fighting for a view. The Jack and Bee both loved watching the brother and sister pounce from place to place, off of rocks and then back onto one another. I’m sure the sight of big kitties engaging in the same caliber of play as them was a point of pride and delight. Watching the big mama kitty jump right in the middle of the ruckus they way Mommy and Daddy like to do was also a bit of thrill. For Mommy, the sight of this just reinforced in my mind that we’re running our own little zoo at home.
After our breakfast with the lions, we spent the rest of the morning at the zoo checking out the usual suspects, giraffes, play equipment, and monkeys. Jack, as with every visit, took his position on the safari jeep for a picture, Bee noshed on her breakfast leftovers, and we watched as a baby monkey and his mommy spent some time playing together. You really can’t beat the old standards, especially when you’re out and about with the family.
The final weekend before the official end of summer, Labor Day weekend, was spent enjoying everything the summer had offered us over the previous months. This of course meant a final summer visit to the zoo. This was the last weekend that the Butterflies in Bloom exhibit was open and also the final weekend to see the dinosaurs at the zoo. Knowing Little Man that way that I do, I knew it would be important for him to bid a fond farewell to all of the dinosaurs and visit the butterflies one last time. We were also able to visit the new Patas Monkey exhibit, which was opening for the first time that weekend. . .
This visit won’t be our last of the year, but it was our last summertime visit and that, in and of itself, was special. Jack was able to see how the butterflies were all gone save for a few slow ones that were still lingering and this gave us the opportunity to talk about how things change and discuss how that isn’t always a bad thing. We talked about how awesome the summer had been and how much we enjoyed seeing the dinosaurs at the zoo, but now it was time for them all to go “bye-bye” and to make other kiddos happy at another zoo. Having his little piece of closure and understanding seemed to really make a difference.
Perhaps to some, our frequent zoo visits may seem a little bit like overkill. After all, how exciting can it be to see the same animals over and over again? But, at the end of the day, our trips to the zoo with friends and with family or just with Mommy, mean more than just seeing exotic animals. They give us the chance to connect with one another and make memories. Perhaps we’ve seen the monkeys a million times, but each time, the baby is growing and the family dynamic changes. This gives us a chance to talk about families, babies, and change. Just exposing the kiddos to a world of possible new interests and giving them the chance to engage with and learn about animals is exciting for Daddy because he grew up loving animals. Not to mention he has a wealth of knowledge about animals that would take Mommy a lifetime to acquire.
Being a parent isn’t just about keeping your kiddos alive or celebrating the big moments in life. While both of those things are important, for Mommy and Daddy, being a parent is about weaving a beautiful tapestry of memories and experiences. While not every moment will be remembered in the conscious minds of our kiddos, those moments will work to reinforce how beautiful the world can be and how much we love them. Each moment we share as a family works as a building block, constructing a firm foundation in the people our kiddos will grow up to be and before anything else, we want that foundation to be full of love and memories they can grown from. So, while some may see our frequent trips to the zoo as a little redundant, we see each one as an opportunity to lay a new stone, plant a new seed, and add a new stitch to this glorious life we’re living together.
Backyard Play Time
Trips out and about are awesome and Mommy planned a lot of outings for the family and we took a lot of outings over the summer, but we also have a big and beautiful backyard. In fact, our backyard isn’t just incredibly spacious, but it’s also chocked full of all the sorts of things that kiddos love. Daddy built a beautiful swing set, complete with a little swing for Bee. Nana and Grandad gave us a snazzy sandbox along with a tricycle for Bee and a bicycle with training wheels for Jack. We have all manners of sport balls ranging from footballs and soccer balls to basketballs and rubber balls. Hula hoops, side walk chalk, and bubbles along with gliding airplanes and a toy gardening set rounds out the toys, but between all of that and the disc swing on one side of the yard, the chickens, the vegetable gardens, and a kiddie pool, we have a dream back yard for the young and the young at heart. If we didn’t maximize our outdoor time, there is no doubt we would have been doing a disservice to our beautiful family home and ourselves. So, outside play time was a huge priority on our summer bucket list.
The swing set, since it was erected has been a favorite. Jack and Bee both love swinging with wild abandon as they pretend their feet are just barely missing the tops of the trees that adorn our backyard. While Mommy facilitates the great heights their toes reach we sing songs, talk about what shapes we see in the clouds, discuss our favorite things, say our ABC’s, and most importantly, we laugh. The look of pure joy on their faces can’t even be put into words. . .
If swinging on the swing set is their first love, then the kiddo’s second favorite is certainly getting insanely dirty while playing in the sand box. All summer long the kiddos jumped feet first into their giant plastic turtle. It was never quite enough to build little sand structures or feel the grains of clean play sand slip through their fingers. Nope! Our kiddos were all about feeling the sand between their toes, sprinkling it in each other’s hair, pouring it down each other’s clothes (Bee got quite a bit in her diaper), and spreading it around the yard and patio like magical fairy dust. Of course, when all of those shenanigans weren’t going on, Bee did her best to eat sand.
Of course, no summer of fun would be complete with a swimming pool. Mommy has yet to sign the kiddos up for swim lessons, which will certainly be in their future, but considering how much they each love bath time, neither Mommy nor Daddy could let the summer go by without buying a kiddie pool for our kiddos. So, once the temperatures began creeping into the high 80′s and 90′s, it was time to throw the kiddos in the water. With inflatable toys and pool noodles at their disposal, Jack and Bee took part in true summer fun: swimming in a pool until your skin is all wrinkly and you’re so laughed out you’re ready for a warm bath. They had so much fun just romping around in the water, the pool toys seemed unnecessary. They sloshed around, they splashed, they jumped in and out, and they poured sand in the pool, thus integrating two of their favorite activities. Indeed, the pool was a huge success. Plus, it gave Bee an excuse to wear her great many swim suits, including an itsy bitsy teenie weenie, yellow polka dot bikini.
When my little water babies weren’t swimming and sloshing around or coating themselves in copious amounts of sand, they were riding. Bee rode a little red fire engine or her tricycle while Jack did his best to perfect his bicycling. Before this summer, Jack’s previous attempts at peddling didn’t go very well. He had a hard time coordinating his feet. However, with the gift of a brand new Buzz Lightyear bicycle and helmet from Nana and Grandad coupled with his favorite Daniel Tiger jingle, “Just keep trying, you’ll get better!”, Jack was determined to conquer those pedals.
So, afternoon after afternoon, Little Man snapped his helmet on (safety first) and worked on riding his bicycle in circles around our covered patio as he sang his jingle. At first he fell off of his bike, despite its training wheels, many, many times. He had a hard time getting the bike to go where he wanted it to and that was after the failed attempts at getting the pedals moving. But, despite all of the hardships and falls he faced, Little Man just kept picking himself up and trying again. And boy oh boy was he proud once he mastered his “bi-sa-cicle”. That’s just the type of guy Jack is though, he never gives up. When things get tough, he may need a bit of pep talk, but he stays the course and perseveres. Mommy and Daddy are always so proud of him and his tenacious ways.
Bee, following in her big brother’s lead did her best to figure out her tricycle. While the summer wasn’t quite long enough for her to master her riding skills, we were able to put a win in her column when she figured out how to get on the tricycle all by herself. For most of the summer she attempted to ride her little red vehicle backwards as the handle bars appeared to get in her way. However, when she wasn’t working on her riding, Lil Miss still took her cues from Jack. Whenever he had his helmet on, she wanted her helmet on as well. It didn’t matter if she was running around the back yard or playing in the sand box, if Jack had his helmet on, Bee followed suit. It was quite an appropriate helmet as well: Bumblebee the transformer. Lil Bee never ceases to make us smile from ear to ear with her mischievous and creative ways.
Oh the awesome times we spent outside this summer. The games, the fun, and the general silliness of it all really underscored our great summer. In fact, I don’t think Mommy has spent so much time outside during the summer since I was a kiddo myself. Yes, the kiddos were constantly filthy and I’m sure I’ll be cleaning sand out our home well into December, but that’s what being a kiddo in the summer is all about. You run around, get dirty, and explore. When you’re a kiddo, the success of your day isn’t measured by how much you accomplished, but how much fun you had and the mirkiness of your bathwater at the end of the day. Mommy and Daddy were just happy to be a part of it. Playing outside with our kiddos reminded us of how much fun it is to be a kid and it’s reminders like that, which make being a parent so incredible and such a privledge. So, we don’t sweat all the dirt, filth, and grungy clothes. As long as there is laughter and plenty of sunscreen, let the good times roll.
The Fourth of July
The Fourth of July is a super fun holiday. Or course it’s not Halloween or Christmas, but it has its own intrinsic value, apart from the historical meaning. Unfortunately, it’s not really a holiday for kiddos who need routine and their routine is going to bed while the sun is still up in the summer. It’s because of this that Jack has only stayed up to celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks one time. Considering how much Little Man has grown in the past year and the fact that our street has some pretty amazing, professional grade firework displays for the Fourth, Mommy and Daddy decided to let Jack stay up and celebrate.
So, with his rocket ship pjs on, Little Man sat with Mommy as we watched Daddy set off some of the little fireworks he purchases earlier in the week. We had spent the week playing with the little poppers and building up the night for Jack, in conversation. Needless to say, he was sufficiently excited about the night’s activities. As Daddy lit each firework, Jack would exclaim, while sitting next to me, “See! See! See! Mommy! Mommy! See!” He was so excited, but despite how fun the little displays were, they paled in comparison to the fun of Daddy dunking the spent fountains in a bucket full of water. For some reason that is strictly Jack related, he loved that part. That was, of course, until the big fireworks started.
Just prior to sundown, the streets in our neighborhood began to fill up with people arriving to see our massive fireworks display. Each one jockeyed for the best position with their folding chairs on the sidewalks and in some cases, the street. All that was required of us, to have the best seats in the neighborhood, was to pull our patio chairs out to the middle of our backyard and look up. The huge fireworks were awe inspiring. They were the size and quality of anything you would see at a theme park and certainly anything that was being done by the city a few miles away. The only thing missing was a musical accompaniment.
Jack was enthralled and couldn’t contain his screams of excitement. He pointed and yelled and wanted to make sure that neither Daddy nor I missed a single sky illuminating moment. He had so much fun that night and he felt so special, hanging out with Mommy and Daddy past his bed time to participate in a huge celebration that he did his best to stay awake as long as he could. But, by 11:30, even though the fireworks were still booming above us, Little Man could hardly keep his eyes open. So, to bed he went. The fireworks continued well past midnight, allowing Mommy and Daddy some lovely time to enjoy the show, just the two of us. It was a great and memorable Fourth of July.
Daddy’s birthday isn’t a national holiday like the Fourth of July, but because he is so incredibly awesome and we love him so very much for everything that he does for us as a family and for everything he is, Mommy does her best to make sure he appropriately celebrated. Unfortunately, some years Mommy isn’t very successful in this ambition. In fact, Daddy’s birthday the year prior was on record as being one of his worst birthdays of all time due to several mitigating factors, not the least of which was a basement flooding. This year, Mommy was a woman on a mission to throw Daddy the best birthday party ever.
Given that Daddy’s birthday is in July, Mommy knew the party would be an outdoor party and taking into account that Daddy is happiest when his favorite munchkins are happy, I knew that a water slide bounce house was a must have as well. With those pieces in place, all that was left was for Mommy to figure out was a theme, a menu, a playlist, and a guest list. After a lot of thought and knowing Daddy the way that I do and keeping my party budget in mind, Mommy came up with the idea to have a Mad Men themed Luau entitled, It’s a Mad Mad Luau.
We love the show Mad Men and Daddy has said more than once that he would love to try an Old Fashioned, which is Don Draper’s signature drink. Mix those two things with the fact that our home is a Midcentury Ranch style and the theme was born. So, the drink menu centered around vintage cocktails, the food menu centered around kitschy 1960′s BBQ/luau themed items, and the decorations were very midcentury cheesy Hawaiian. There were peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the kiddos, potato chips and cheese puffs, Teriyaki marinated salmon and veggie kabobs, fruit kabobs, fruit dips, a crudités platter, pineapple/coconut ambrosia, coconut cupcakes, and even a stuffed watermelon pig. Everything was vegetarian or vegan and turned out yummy.
The key to making Daddy’s birthday super awesome lay with the kiddos. If the kiddos weren’t having a blast, the event would have been nice, but Mommy and Daddy would have taken turns finding ways to entertain and distract the kiddos. So, we did what any good parents would do, we rented an enormous bounce house with a water slide. Mommy even scheduled the arrival of the bounce house an hour before the party was scheduled kick off so Little Man could have some time to get comfortable with the giant contraption of fun without anyone else watching. Furthermore, Jack being distracted during the final hours of party prep was essential. Conquering the water slide took some practice and guidance from Mommy and Daddy, but conquer it he did and by the time all of his friends arrived, Jack was poised to show them the best way to climb the steep and wet ladder and slide down to the bottom.
The kiddos stayed up far later than they should have. Both spent so much time in the water that by the end of the day they were both little prunes. Bee had her own little Daytona Beach in her swim suit from her jaunts between the swimming pool, the sandbox, and the playground while Jack pretty much ate a million cupcakes because they’re his favorite. But, everyone had so much fun that the memories are worth the minor broken rules.
We had friends and family in attendance and the kiddos couldn’t have had more fun if they tried. To add to the festivities, Daddy’s birthday fell on the first weekend following the conclusion of his finals. These weren’t just any finals, but the last of his finals for his first full year of law school. Daddy was celebrating his birthday, officially as a 2L. This made a huge difference. The stars all seemed to align for this party. With good music, good food, and fantastic company, Mommy managed to pull off the seemingly impossible: Daddy had the best birthday ever and Mommy had some fun too. . .
Socializing with the kiddos is a huge deal for Mommy. I want to make sure that Jack nor Bee are hesitant to jump out there and make friends whenever the opportunity presents itself, at least within the parameters of their personalities. In previous years, Little Man has been reticent to be around too many people, regardless of who they are. He’s also had a little bit of difficulty engaging with kiddos. A lot of this, it would appear now, had to do with his insecurities around his speech. Over the summer, Jack has blossomed into quite the chatter box. He’s not only interested in carrying on conversations, but he craves them. He asks a million questions and even astonishes us with his diverse, and at times, complex, vocabulary. So, when Jack told Mommy that he missed school and he missed all of his friends, I didn’t miss a beat in setting up a play date with one of his best pals from class, Mariah.
It was a great play date that spanned the course of the afternoon, taking place both inside and outside. Mariah’s little brother Brody was also invited. He’s just a few months older than Bee, so it was perfect. The kiddos all played together and Jack had a great time sharing his toys and telling Mariah all sorts of stories about his summer. It really is such a blessing to have such a great home that our kiddos and their friends can bounce around all they want and still have areas to explore.
Mariah and Brody weren’t the only playdates Little Man had over the summer. From time to time we would have the impromptu playdate with neighborhood children. Visiting grandchildren from next door or little kiddos out for walks with their parents would stop by to say hello and Jack would invite them to come play at his “park”. Jack can’t imagine a world where there is a single kiddo who doesn’t want to be his friend and vice a versa. Little Man has come a long way.
Mommy and Daddy have always said that we want the kiddos to enjoy the simple pleasures of being a kid. Part of that is going out for ice cream. So, over the course of the summer, we took the kiddos to partake in some yummy frozen yogurt, complete with candy toppings. It’s no surprise that the kiddos loved every last morsel.
The Historical Museum
Mommy and Daddy both love history, from antiques to history in general, we love it all. We also really love museums. Unfortunately, our local history museum isn’t as engaging for little tikes as others around the country. So, we’ve both been looking forward to the day that Jack would be old enough to enjoy our historical museum. This summer seemed like perfect time and so, it was added to our summer bucket list.
On a hot August day this summer, during Daddy’s vacation from work and school, we headed out, after nap time to the museum. Jack was excited to see all of the neat exhibits, but unfortunately Bee was less than thrilled, and honestly, a little cranky during the course of our outing. But, we made the most of it. Mommy and Daddy took turns keeping Bee moving while the other spent quality time with Jack exploring various exhibits.
From exhibits that detailed life on the frontier to 100 individual exhibits that celebrated our city’s 100th birthday, there was so much to see. Jack built his own capitol rotunda in true Angry Birds form and he tried out a couple of saddles. Mommy told Jack how his great grandpa was cowboy and rode horses. He thought that was truly amazing.
Then we headed off to the side buildings, which are historical homes that were moved to the museum’s land and turned into their own exhibits. Inside one of them was the old trolley bell from when we had a trolley that ran all over our downtown. Jack was so excited to ring the bell because it was “just like Daniel Tiger!!”.
Eventually we made our way to the animal tracks garden, which is a recent installation. The path has animal tracks imprinted in the cement and along with metal cut outs of the animals, the path is adorned with local plant life and water features. Jack and Daddy had a great time tracking down all of the animals, but Jack’s favorite track was the one left by a snake.
Before we left, Jack said it was very important that he take a picture with this particular tree. Mommy and Daddy were very happy to oblige. Any picture with that smiling face is worth stopping for.
Yes, Bee was still cranky during most of this trip, but all in all it was fun. Jack knows that Bee is still a baby and as a result, she’s not always going to have fun, but we’ll all do our best and eventually she’ll catch up to the good times. A cranky little sister is no excuse for staying stuck and missing out on opportunities. Plus, it’s an awesome chance to learn patience. Needless to say patience is a lesson all of us are still working on, but the excursion ended on a sweet note as we opted to beat the 90+ degree heat with some frozen yogurt. We will definitely have to keep trips to the museum on our “Things to Do More and More of” list.
This summer our local botanical garden hosted a kid centric “bug day” and while it wasn’t initially on our bucket list, it swiftly was added the moment Mommy learned of this event. The beautiful garden, which is situated right next to our old penitentiary turn museum, had several stations set up to give kiddos the opportunity to learn about different types of bugs. There were bees, moths, giant spiders, meal worms, and everything else in between. There was a bug train, bug games, bug crafts, and even bug tattoos. It was a fantastic event to let the kiddos explore. Jack ran around participating while Bee and Mommy kept the stroller moving. We were literally on a mission to out run Bee’s crankies.
Jack made a super neat bug and Bee acquired a lady bug tattoo on her arm, that she chose all herself. It was a neat way to explore a great garden that Mommy hasn’t been to since grade school and that we’re planning on exploring this holiday season when its transformed into the Winter Garden Aglow. The giant Chinese gongs were a huge hit with Jack also. Of course, anything Little Man can wallop with a giant piece of wood seems to be a win. This trip was a great lesson in staying flexible and just going where the fun is and the fruits that are born from such adventures.
Build a Bear
Following our fun morning at Bug Day we immediately headed to the mall to cross off one more item on our bucket list. When Little Man was just an itty bitty guy, we made a few trips to Build a Bear so he could build his very own buddies and before the summer was over, Mommy wanted Lil Miss to have a similar experience. So, we went to Build a Bear and let Bee pick out a little buddy all of her very own. Given her love of kitties, Mommy thought she would opt for kitty friend, but much to my surprise, she chose a pink bear with little pink hearts on her feet. Since this was a new experience for Bee, Jack was more than happy to help with all of the heavy lifting, like pressing the stuffing pedal and fluffing the bear’s fur, but the heart ceremony was all Bee. When it was all said and done, Lil Miss has a sweet little pink bear named Josie, a little bear that I’m sure over the years will provide plenty of conversations for plenty of tea parties.
Nature Center with Nana and Grandad
The final item on our bucket list for the summer was taking a walk at the Nature Center. After all the fun we had last year, this activity definitely made it to our family’s list of traditional warm weather activities. This year, Nana and Grandad joined us for our walk around the nature path. It was the last weekend before school started and it seemed like the best way to finish out our summer with a bang.
With his camera in hand and his doting grandparents’ complete attention, Jack was off to explore and capture the beauty of the nature around us. From little fish and sturgeon to flowing water and artwork on rocks, the lovely scenery provided the perfect backdrop for a great morning’s stroll.
Jack is Growing Up
Jack has grown leaps and bounds physically, but he’s also made remarkable strides socially, emotionally, and verbally. All of this reaffirmed when Little Man’s teacher, Miss Debbie, and his speech therapist, Miss Maggie, came to our home to visit Jack before school started. They wanted to have the opportunity to see where Jack lives, play with some of his toys, and evaluate where he is before school started. They were so impressed! When Jack first started school, right after Bee was born, his first speech therapist thought he might never speak because he was virtually nonverbal. He is a completely different kiddo now. He’s so talkative and so excited to be around people and get to know them. He still struggles with how to appropriately handle emotions at times, but that is completely normal for his age. Jack, over the summer, has truly blossomed into the little guy that Mommy and Daddy always knew was in there and it’s been a true blessing to watch. This is certainly the summer that Jack has come into his own.
Over the course of the summer, Little Man learned how to play his very first board game! Mommy bought Candy Land for Jack back in May while Daddy was on a business trip, but Jack wasn’t quite ready to play. However, one afternoon in August, when Grandma Eileen came over to play and make Yonanna’s for us, we pulled out the game and it just clicked for Jack. He understood the concept of taking turns and moving the pieces around on the board. Granted, Jack wanted to move all of our pieces for us, but he definitely knew whose piece belonged to who. At the end of it all, he even won! Not a bad first experience with a board game and completely wonderful afternoon spent with someone we love.
This summer also marked a big milestone for Jack. On August 20th, Little Man went to his very first movie in a theater with Daddy. He chose Despicable Me 2 because the first one had been on constant rotation in our home (it was the only movie that could keep Bee entertained and happy during her grumpiest of moments) and it had also been out long enough that if things went south at the theater, there wouldn’t be too many people there. While the movie was a little lackluster and Jack had a little more fun picking new seats to sit in given that the theater was pretty much empty, it was a huge success. Mommy and Daddy were both super proud of our guy!
Bee is Growing Up
Bee has done so much growing this summer! From physical growth to growing into a little person with her own opinions, thoughts, and ideas it’s been a marvel to watch. To begin with, Lil Miss had her 18 month check up on July 11th. Keeping up with her growth trend, she was in the 96th percentile for weight at 27 lbs, 15 ounces, the 98th percentile for height at 34 inches, and her head circumference measured 47.75 centimeters, placing her squarely (or roundly as the case may be) in the 85th percentile. Little girl is growing up big and strong! Although she wasn’t too pleased about going to the doctor’s office. However, Bee is now completely up to date with all of her immunizations until she turns 5! Let’s hear it for no more shots for three whole years!
Physical growth is always incredibly visible with little kiddos, but it’s the developmental growth that seems to really sneak up on you. One minute Bee is sitting in a high chair or a booster seat to eat and the next minute, she’s sitting at her own little table, without any help, eating all of her meals. This is a feat that her brother still has trouble with sometimes. She never stops surprising us and reminding Mommy and Daddy that she is her own little person.
Bee’s little idiosyncrasies are also a kick to watch. For example, over the course of the summer she has decided that she is a super hero. Like any good super hero, she’s not always in superhero garb, but when she decides to let her superness show, you darn well better have her superhero headband ready and waiting. Which superhero does Lil Miss identify with, you ask? Wonder Woman, naturally.
While Bee is decidedly Wonder Woman, she could just as easily be Cat Woman. Lil Miss loves kitties. In fact, one of her most frequent words is, “meow”. When given half a chance, Bee will tackle Swishy, our most docile of kitties, and do her best not to let her out of her kitty loving clutches. . .
Mommy and Daddy
This hasn’t just been a great summer for us as a family, but also a great summer for Mommy and Daddy. With a little help from some friends and family, we’ve been able to get out of the house and go on a few dates! From an amazing and geeky experience at Antiques Roadshow to a few dinner dates and even a movie, Mommy and Daddy rediscovered how much we really love experiencing adult life with one another. Of course we love spending time with our kiddos, but it’s always nice to be reminded that the amazing person you’ve chosen to build this beautiful life with is the most fun, witty, and attractive person in the wide world. Mommy and Daddy love each other very much and this summer we were reminded of how in love we are with one another.
Oh, there are so many more stories and so many more pictures Mommy could include, but at nearly 8,000 words and close to 100 pages, Mommy must rest with the conclusion that I’ve written and recounted more memories than most. Our awesome summer was truly a blessing and a great reminder of how fortunate we are to have the friends and family that we do. So many goals were reached and surpassed this summer. We had more fun than should even be legal or possible. So much love was shared. So much growth was measured. We live a beautiful life. We create amazing memories. We experienced a truly awesome summer together and we’re looking forward to so many more to come.