Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Last Straw

We just concluded a 24-hour period which included a basketball practice/party, set-up for a school event, a playdate, a dinner out (including ice cream to celebrate the end of basketball), a trip to Dunkin' Donuts, a basketball game, the school event (including lunch, games, new jackets, lots of candy), and a softball practice.

On the way home from the final event, Sprout said the following:

"While we were practicing, I slid on the field and got goose poop on my pants and shoes - so you are going to have to scrape off my shoes and get it off so I don't have to wear poopy shoes."

Um, no - I am not. Last straw. No more. I draw the line somewhere before scraping the goose poop off of their shoes...

Although eventually I probably will wind up being the one who does it. Because as much as I want nothing to do with scraping poopy shoes. I also don't want to be the one who puts the poopy shoes back on the kid.

This seems like some kind of maternal catch-22. To scrape or not to scrape?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Tale of Two Field Trips

Two weeks ago (sorry, I am getting behind here!) we went with my Mom to check out the Hopewell Furnace Historical Site.

Last week we went with some friends to see Playhouse Disney Live in Reading.

Guess which one the kids liked better?

Hopewell Furnace! Wow!

And get this - we didn't even get anything in the gift shop (!)

Playhouse Disney Live was OK - but I think basically my kids are just too big for it. There was no plot to speak of. One hour total running time. And the "actors" were lip-synching along to a soundtrack of cartoon character voices.

Very pre-packaged. Very Disney-ish. Kind of blah.

The littler kids in the audience were very excited to see Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger. And Mickey of course. Gotta say I have never been a huge fan of the mouse (please don't throw things at me - just being honest!) cost a truckload of money to go, we were in mediocre seats, and I think my kids were most excited that they got to eat cotton candy ($10 each with a "free" hat (!))

In contrast, Hopewell Furnace was a far different experience. It is just up the road from home here. We have been driving past signs for it for years, but had no idea what it was.

It turns out it is an a historic iron producing site. The Furnace itself is a huge stone structure and "back in the day" they put iron ore (rocks) and charcoal into the furnace to melt the iron out and make things out of it.

I know that doesn't sound all that fun. But it is actually like a mini-Williamsburg. The Furnace was like a small town. There are houses where the workers lived, the "big house" where the owners lived, a barn, and the actual production facilities.

It is all completely beautiful (look at that picture!) and I bet in the Spring and Summer even better. It seems that they have live demonstrations in the summer, so we'll have to check that out.

The tour starts with a quick movie that talks about the history of the site and the iron industry. I know that sounds horrifically boring, but it really wasn't.

The kids got a scavenger hunt page of things to find during the tour. If they found everything they would get a "Ranger Badge". My kids are pretty competitive so they were totally into that.

They have a nice map and information so you can do a self-guided tour. There are audio recordings at many of the landmarks - the kids were very excited to find the buttons. Not so interested in hearing what they had to say - but finding the buttons was like a bonus part of the scavenger hunt.

There is a lot of outside space, so the kids enjoyed running around. We were basically the only people there, so I was OK with them doing that. No lost-in-the-crowd fears here!

We were there for probably about 2 hours. And the kids were into the scavenger hunt right till the end and completely thrilled with their badges. A hint for anyone who does go - look in the little museum in the gift shop - it is part of the scavenger hunt.

There was no admission charge for kids under 16 and adults were only $4. AND the kids were happy enough with the badges that I was able to drag them out of the tiny gift shop with no money spent. Whew!

So, somehow the lower cost, more convenient, interesting even for grown-ups, educational expedition was the big winner here. I can't tell you how much I LOVE that!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Being a Mom Builds Self-Esteem

A few years ago this little exchange took place...I think of it frequently...

Me: Tater, when I look at your face, it makes me smile.

T: Mommy, when I look at your face, it makes me laugh.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Kiddie Quotes

We were driving today in the car and the kids were getting silly (shocking, I know...) We saw a Dunkin Donuts and the kids started riffing a bit on the name...

Bunkin Bonuts
Frunking Fronuts (gotta watch pronunciation there)

And favorite...

Drunken Honuts

Of course, the kids have NO CLUE why that is so funny. And is.

Friday, March 20, 2009

But I'm Not Even Irish...

I am not a prankster. Not a big fan of the practical joke.

Oh, I am funny. One of my friends tells me all the time that I should be a stand-up comedian (comedienne?) but I think she just might like the idea of seeing people laughing at me. Possibly throwing things.

I do have a sense of humor. I enjoy a touch of sarcasm here and there...

But, I am not much for the April Fools' joke - the freezing of underwear, the Saran-wrapping of toilets, the swapping of sugar and salt - not my thing.

And I forget every year about the whole Leprechaun myth that has somehow been introduced to my children.

This must be a new thing. I don't remember this from my childhood. April Fools? Yes. Green beer? Sure. (Not as a with me here...) Pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, green clovers? Check. Shamrock Shakes? Haven't had the pleasure, but surely I am aware of their existence.

But, mysterious mischievous little critters running around secretly messing things up? Um...nope, doesn't ring a bell.

In pre-school, my kids were introduced to the Leprechaun and his shenanigans. Green footprints all around the classroom. Frequent spottings of glitter left behind here and there. Hidden toys. All kinds of fun stuff.

I was under the impression that the Leprechauns only pulled their pranks in school. And really possibly only at the Kindercare. Never heard of it anywhere else.

And then Tater came home from school on Tuesday and asked if anything "weird" had happened while he was at school. And when I said no, he seemed unconvinced. Was I SURE that there wasn't anything wrecked? Or missing? Or, perhaps, GREEN???

Nope. None of that.

As we walked home from the bus stop he told me that, while his class was at recess, the Leprechaun had come into the classroom and left glitter and stickers on the desks. So apparently, the "wee folk" have made their way into the elementary school! Who knew?

And he was sure that if we looked around the house enough there was sure to be some sign of elfin (fairyish?) foul play.

I quickly debated slipping some green food coloring into the milk. But, not completely on board with the idea of drinking green milk for the rest of the week, I decided against it.

I told him that the "little green men" probably hung around the schools since that's where all of the kids are during the day. And of course they know it is more fun to play tricks when there are kids around to enjoy it.

I think he was disappointed that there were no signs of prankitude around the house. I guess I could consider altering my "no pranks" policy if there is continuing interest next year. Although keeping all of the magical characters hanging out around here straight is getting a little exhausting.

But maybe if I had a big pot of gold for inspiration, I would change my tune!
Maybe just a little one?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Hippity Hoppity

So, I typed "Easter Bunny" into Google, to see if I could find a picture to put in this post. And this guy came up.

I think if I showed this to Tater, he would no longer be interested in the Easter Bunny coming to our house. I think he's already on the fence about it. But since there is candy, he is willing to overlook the scariness. But this would certainly shift the balance.

This morning, as we were driving to school, Tater asked me if we have any Easter decorations. I mulled it over for a moment, and said that we did not. But did he think we needed some?

He thought we did. So I asked what sort of decorations he had in mind - assuming we were talking about a basket of colored eggs, or some bunny stickers in the window.

He said, "A big blow-up bunny with an egg for the yard".

Like the one we had just driven past on a neighbors lawn...about 5 feet tall...

Me: I don't like those blow-up creatures.

T: But you have a blow-up bed. (Actually, an Aero-bed for guests.)

M: Not in the yard.

T: No.

M: Should we put it in the yard to decorate for Easter?

T: Yes, with eggs on top. (giggling)

Sprout: (Who has been oblivious) - What did he say?

M: Do you think we should put the Aero-bed on the yard with eggs on it for Easter?

S: Why would we???

I think I might need to make a run to the store for legitimate decorations before Tater turns us into a tourist attraction.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Tipping Point - 4th Grade Version

My daughter (AKA Sprout) spent $15 of her allowance money on a Snuggie.

Had to have it.

Because it was recommended by her teacher, who apparently wears hers every night to watch TV.

Nothing cooler than a 9-year-old wrapped head to toe in electric blue fleece - with sleeves.

And yet - now I sort of want one. Because the only thing cooler than the aforementioned fleece-wrapped child is a matching fleece-wrapped mother. comes with a free book light!
And...and...we got it at Target!

Everything good in the world (almost) can be purchased at Target. The corollary being, everything that can be purchased at Target is good. Right?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Great Wolf Lodge

On Friday night we drove about 2 hours up to the Poconos to spend the night at Great Wolf Lodge, and then on Saturday spent the day playing in their indoor water park. Lots of our friends have gone and we thought that a day of swimming would be an excellent way to celebrate Mike's birthday (which is actually today, but we have been celebrating in various guises for days...and will continue through at least this weekend!)

The room we stayed in was called a "Wolf Den" suite. The kids had bunk beds in a little "log cabin" and were set up with their own TV and game system (which unfortunately didn't work...but that was OK...)

We arrived right around 6PM and after unloading our stuff, we checked out the arcade for a bit. The kids love arcades. I am more of a return-on-investment person - I want to have a lot of fun for my money and feeding tokens into games that last 10 seconds doesn't do it for me. Sort of like slot machines - which to me are like broken vending machines - money goes in, nothing comes out.

But we enjoyed several rounds of Skee Ball, and the kids had a lot of fun. They each accrued about 200 prize tickets, which wasn't enough for any substantial prize, but respectable.

After the playing, we went in search of dinner. After the sticker shock of the buffet, which was the only on-site dinner choice, we loaded back into the car and drove about 2 miles down the road to Friendly's.

We returned to the hotel in time for Sprout and Mike to attend "The Great Clocktower Show" in the lobby. Tater opted out, since he isn't a big fan of animatronic creatures, so we went back to the room and read books. Sprout's first response when we asked how the show was was "Awesome" - but later, she said it was really creepy and weird, so apparently we made the right call in boycotting.

Then it was bedtime. Tater, as the most mobile sleeper in all the land, was put on the lower bunk for his own safety. Sprout quite triumphantly claimed the top. They had a hard time getting to sleep due to the combination of a) excitement b) away from home-ness and c) children running screaming through the halls until 11PM. Rude.

In the morning we passed on the in-house cuisine again in favor of a Dunkin' Donuts run. And around 10 we packed up our stuff and put it out in the car and went to the water park.

We had watched the action through the window the night before, and it was impressive from afar. But is quite the set-up!

There are 6 huge water slides (some of which snake their way outside the building), a wave pool, a hot tub, and a bunch of other stuff!

The kids liked the wave pool the best, but eventually warmed up to the slides and really enjoyed them. Over the course of the day, things got more crowded and there were some fairly significant lines for the slides. But they moved pretty quickly so there wasn't too much wait time.

All of the big slides ended in shallow pools - the deepest was 3 1/2 feet. And since riders go in big rafts and inner-tubes, strong swimming skills were not required to ride. Lots of inner tubes were available in the wave pool as well, so the kids always felt safe. There are also lots of lifeguards on duty and safety does seem to be a big priority (as it should be!)

The picture up there is of the area called Fort Mackenzie, which is a huge complex of sprinklers and buckets and hoses spraying water all over. The highlight is a HUGE bucket that holds 1000 gallons of water (!) and dumps over everything every few minutes. We were standing right under it when it dumped and oh my...that's a lot of water!

We played from 10 until about 3, going back and forth between the different pools and activities. Mike took a break to have an adult beverage and watch some basketball at the bar, and the kids and I had a snack break with little corn dogs and fries (such the healthy weekend!) We passed (again) on the "real" food. (I swear I am not completely cheap, but $9 for a sandwich that a kid will probably not eat seems wrong...)

When we were good and shriveled, we changed in the locker rooms (well, actually in the bathroom, since the locker rooms were monopolized by people doing a full-on makeover or something) and got ready to hit the road for home.

The kids went back to the arcade to cash in their prize tickets - mostly on candy. Then we made a stop in the gift shop, which was not as horrific as those stops usually are. I think all of the waterplay exhausted the kids to the point where they were incapable of begging for every single item in the shop. They each chose a huge lollipop with an itty bitty stuffed wolf. I got a fridge magnet. Big splurge.

The kids had hoped we would be able to partake of the MagiQuest game while we were there. This is a scavenger-hunt-like game where participants have electronic wands and a list of clues. The clues lead to items in the hotel and waving the wand in front of those items registers that they have been found. Apparently this is very fun. But we were out of time, so we'll have to save it for next time!

We made a stop at a Perkins on the way back and had our lunch (of breakfast food) around we were quite starving. Yum...pancakes!

I am sure we'll go back again. Sprout kept saying "This is the best day of my entire life" and Tater declared it to be "Awesome". I think next time we would go earlier on the first day, so that there would be time for the MagiQuest game. Guests are allowed to participate in activities on-site for the entire day of check-in and check-out - so a one-night stay could get you two solid days of playing.

Great Wolf Lodge, to me, had the aura of a kid-appropriate casino. Everything is big and dramatic, you have no idea what time it is, and you rarely run out of things to do. Not cheap, but definitely worth the drive and the investment!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Playing House with Pikachu

Tater was all fired up for a project this weekend. Saturday morning, right after his crazy-early basketball game, he got out our big books-o-crafts and flipped through them looking for a good idea.

After a number of false starts that required materials we do not have (note to self, get some wooden beads, and be on the lookout for berries in those retro plastic baskets)...he came up with a dollhouse made of tissue boxes.

Of course, no tissue boxes. But we did a quick scavenge, found some empty shoe boxes, and were ready to roll!

Sprout and Tater consulted on the appropriate layout (including a raised deck, which required some more advanced "engineering" than I was counting on). Then we broke out the big roll of packing tape and some scissors.

After lining up the "rooms" according to their plan, we figured out where to put doors and cut though both boxes to make gaps. Then we (I) liberally applied packing tape to hold everything together.

For the "deck" we used the lid of one of the boxes and made some cardboard supports under the suspended edge. And lots more tape.

After the shell of the house was together, it was time to decorate. Rugs were subcontracted to me. I made them with construction paper cut to different shapes (advanced ones like ovals and rectangles) and then colored them with rug-like designs using markers. I even did a fringe on one!

Tater mulled over some ideas for furniture (some of which required empty spools of thread - does anyone actually have those??) and finally settled on Lego.

I think this is one of the few times that the kids have built anything out of Lego (besides a tall tower one block wide) without explicit instructions. I feared they were totally ruined for free-form Lego-ing by their collection of Star Wars sets, but they really rose to the occasion.

They spent quite some time building things - bunk beds, a big screen TV, a big box for all the money (!), sofas, chairs, an airplane and boat. They even did some steps over the walls to the deck, which I thought were quite brilliant.
A helipad was added later to house all of the vehicles.

And then Pikachu and a small red bear moved in. It's hard to make them out, but they are down there hanging out in the bed together (right next to the big box-o-money).

I was pretty impressed that the kids basically came up with this on their own and worked on/played with it for hours on Saturday.

Maybe they are not completely TV/Wii addicted after all!