Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New York, New York

I thought it would be a great idea to take a red eye flight and sleep away the 6 hour flight. Except the tall one had no interest in sleeping his first flight away. I talked him into trying to rest, but once the flight attendant gave him free headphones to watch the seat-back TV, my chances of resting vanished.

After a very smooth flight we took a car to the hotel, but there was no room for us at the inn, at least not until the afternoon. So, we dropped off our bags and set off to explore. We found the Hershey store and a crew setting up for the Transformer’s premier that night – Bayley enjoyed seeing Bumblebee, but not the smoke effects!


We breakfasted at Junior’s CafĂ©, famous for its cheesecake. They had strawberry blintz…but their blintz are deep fried. I kept thinking I was eating a cheese filled doughnut.

We decided to trek down to the Empire State Building. We took the SkyRide which gave the basics o f the history of the building and the layout of New York. The motion ride is good, but for the price you think they could make it look more finished. I kept thinking they keep the lights dim because everything was half done.

On the observatory deck we realized the weather was too hazy to see very far. We made it half way around before Bayley got tired of it. Grrreat!

Uncle Gabe arrived and we went to lunch at Joe Allen, a bistro that seemed to cater to the theater set. I turned my Cajun sandwich into a salad, Bayley ate a baked potato and claimed he was too full to eat his mac & cheese!

We made it back to the room and Bayley promptly fell asleep! He was out the entire time I got ready and registered for conference! It was ridiculously hard to get him to wake up so he could take the train to DC!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Report Card Dinner

 
When the boys bring home good grades, we take them out to dinner and they get to pick the restaurant. So...even after a Chuck E Cheese birthday party at lunch time, Bayley wanted pizza for dinner. At Out of This World.

I really think our local pizza & play space is a great idea. Especially during our long rainy winters and on days when it's too hot to play outside (plus, on days over 90 the kids get free ice cream). But, I do not like taking Grace there. She's at the chase me stage, and it's exhausting.

So, we made a deal with the boys. We'd take them if they took turns with Grace. And for the most part, they did. They tried to get her to do the things they like, but she's still too scared to go through the blow-up maze to get to the giant slide, or even climb through the blacklight play structure. So they took twenty minute shifts, and when they decided to complain about it, we left!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Loss by Bayley

LOSS

Loss is the death of an uncle that is very close to you.

Loss is your teddy bear getting shredded to pieces in a wood chipper with no mercy.

Loss is Hades coming up from the Underworld to claim your parents' souls.

Loss is your luckiest lucky coin getting dropped into the Mariana Trench.

Loss is your favorite tree getting sawed into by a woodsman's chainsaw.

Loss is your house getting burnt to the ground by a fearsome fire.

Loss is your favorite dog dying right before your eyes.

And loss is your newborn baby brother falling off the tallest cliff in the world.

Friday, June 24, 2011

How Zoo You Do?

The Hyppster's, Mahoney's, Burke's and Freeman's gathered at the zoo today for a day of "When do we get to ride the train?" Ahem. I asked them if they wanted to ride it first (and thereby avoid the hill of death at the end of the journey) but they all decided to visit the sea lions and otter. It's like they're in elementary school or something...wait...

I'd thought about taking the kids through the animatronic dinosaurs...but good thing I didn't! When the kids climbed on one for a photo op, Grace and Ava both decided it was time to go home! These are some tough little cookies, but they did not like the dinosaur, or the dino roar!

I think the monkeys were the biggest hit of this trip, that or when the elephant decided to scratch its butt.

Then it was off to McDonald's for a drive-thru Happy Meal (complete with Pokemon toy). Thank goodness for apples in Happy Meals. I think that was the only thing that kept Grace awake on the way home!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Camping :: Rained Out!

Everyone under 5 feet tall was VERY excited fo rthe Cub Scouts annual Family Camping Trip. Grace told everyone who would listen - I go camping and sweep in da tent in da sweeping bag. Jeff took Friday off so we could get going as soon as the van was loaded up.

We made it to Cannon Beach by noon and had a tasty lunch at Corner Grille at the Cannon Beach Hotel. They let us sit on the patio with Rogue, and even brought him a bowl of fresh water. Bayley said it was the best burger he'd ever had - 1/2 pound Angus patty, applewood bacon, Tillamook cheddar. The kid was in heaven. After eating, we walked the short path to the beach and soaked in enough sunshine to sport sunkissed pink for the rest of the weekend.

We trekked down to Nehalem and secured out favorite campsite. In no time we had the chairs around the campfire and the tent under the trees. The boys went off to explore and quickly found a shortcut up the dunes to the beach. One of Hayden's friends was there and led us to a very tame deer. She let everyone look at her...until Grace ran towards her.

Grace wore herself out hiking the boys' beach path. By the time it started to get dark, she was ready to crash. She and I got cozy in the tent while the boys went off to Bayley's den leader's campsite for glowsticks. I think Grace would have fallen asleep straight away, but they left Rogue in the tent with us, and he did not want to lie down.

Once the boys were back, we all nestled in for the night. It was a little bumpy at first, which is to be expected considering there were 5 of us on the equivalent of two double beds! But most everyone drifted off, including the dog. And then it started to rain. At first I thought it would be a passing shower, but it didn't let up.

Somewhere around 4, Grace started screaming. I figured, hey, she made it this far! Way better than Seattle. Once she was consoled, she went right back to sleep...vertically on the air mattress. Which kicked Jeff into the space between the mattresses! He soon found out what made Grace throw a fit when the wind jostled the rain guard on the tent and a drop of water splattered him.

Just after 6, Jeff was over the entire thing. We thought up a couple of plans...and then decided to go with the fastest retreat. We tossed some muffins at the kids (including the still sleeping Grace!) and packed up everything as fast as we could. Bayley helped out by rolling all the sleeping bags up for us. We strapped the kids in the van, tore down the tent, tossed it in a garbage bag and headed for home!

The kids were disappointed they'd get to miss their favorite activities...but they knew they wouldn't enjoy climbing dunes in the rain! By the time we got home, we saw on Facebook the days events were cancelled. I'm so glad we left when we did! 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Watch Out For That Tree!

Instead of indulging our Cheesecake Factory habit to celebrate brithdays, my girlfriends and I have been having bucketlist adventures. Not swimming with sharks or bungee jumping kind of things. Tamer, mommy-friendly stuff. Paula got a walking tour. Molly got a makeover. I decided to stretch our boundaries a bit with a zipline/ropes course!


I purposely didn't read much about Tree to Tree Adventure Park so I wouldn't talk myself out of going. I had Tina make all the reservations, even getting Helen & prego-Paula to come along as our personal papparazzi. Jennifer & Tonya joined the 'fun'. 

The weather was gorgeous, sunny with just enough clouds to keep it cool. We arrived and watched a quick video where Helen spotted someone she knew. BIG surprise, the woman knows everyone in town! Then we wrestled on our harnesses and hit the starter course.

I'd thought the ziplines and leave the rope business to the adrenaline junkies. Not so, you have to do the rope sections to get to the ziplining parts. We started a few feet off the ground to get our bearings. Even so, it was hard to trust the zipline!

Once we'd 'passed' the course, we were let out on our own. There are 4 different courses - green, blue, red and black diamond. On the first course we had to climb across the section on rock walls suspended from the trees. Jen went first on everything, and she fell off! She didn't fall far, and since there is no other way to get down, she had to keep going. I think after this first slip, she was completely fearless. Going first meant she didn't have one of us to pull her up or give her advice. Scary!

We crossed 'broken' bridges, rope bridges, a tight rope...and then this crazy caddywampus ladder thing that we all decided was the hardest part. Then, we were rewarded by getting to zipline to the ground.


The blue course had similar elements. Who knew there were so many ways to build a broken bridge? It also had a swing you step on that brought you to the next platform which was fun, and a tube you had to crawl through that was not. At times, we felt like a highwire circus act without the net!  

We waffled over whether or not to try the red course. There are two ways to start, oneby climbing a ladder, or by doing the 'junkyard' which qualifies you to do the black diamond run. Even after a year of bootcamp, spin, and Zumba, Tina and I stood back and let the other girls try the junkyard. It consisted of a ladder, logs, tires, and a rockwall. Vertical. Like...4 stories up. I simply didn't think my arms could haul the junk in my trunk that high. Especially after Jen decided to come back down once she hit the tires.

Tonya made it though! I'm sure it helps that she is about a hundred pounds and a former marathon runner. Hey, we can't all be perfectly plump.

The rest of us climbed the ladder to start the course. We were suprised that some of the elements seemed easy now, but by this point it was our 4th rodeo. There were these ridiculous bouey things hanging down from the segments, and we never figured out what to do with them. They seemed to be castaways from an episode of Wipeout, always smacking us in the face!

All of this was just a set-up. You see, at the end of the red course comes the most terrifying element - the spiderweb! After boosting your confidence, you're supposed to hold onto a rope and swing to the next platform. Except there is a web of rope in your way...and you need to LET GO of the rope you are on and climb the web. I don't know about you, but I wasn't so keen on letting go when I'm three stories in the air! When told to let go, I may have said "I can't! I don't want to die!" Maybe. There is no videorecording of this shining example of my bravery.

After a resounding chorus of "That sucked" and "I'm never doing that again." we got to zipline to the end of the course. the ground never felt so good beneath my feet!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Best Summer Ever!

The boys and I decided that after all the mucky weather we've suffered through, we're going to have the best summer ever. It sounds like a great plan to me!

To start summer vacation off right, I let them pick breakfast. Bayley wanted cinnamon rolls and coffee cake. Not exactly something you can whip up on the spot (darned bake times!) Hayden was much easier on me, requesting scrambled eggs and toast. He said thanks three times!

The boys think that for every errand they have to go on, they should get to do something fun. So, we went to the library - and then fed the ducks!

Feeding the ducks never seems to get old. Even Bayley likes it. Grace terrorized the poor ducks. They wanted to be as close as possible to the food, but she wanted to chase them away and say "Shoo!" and then she'd feed them, and then she'd chase them. I wonder if ducks need therapy?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hanging Out At Home



When Mom says no water in the water table... bark dust is a perfect substitute!

Hayden showed Gram-Mo the school yearbook.

Bayley has renewed his interest in the play structure now that he's figured out what to do on the on the trapeze bar.

Friday, June 10, 2011

S'mores!

The weather is finally cooperating, so we lit up the fire pit for the first s'more session of the year.


While we were waiting for Daddy to turn his mini-bonfire into embers, the kids enjoyed the backyard. Grace is all about blowing bubbles right now, and Bayley has become re-interested in the play structure now that he knows he can do tricks on the trapeze bar.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Baby Girl Brunch

Miss Tina hosted our last playdate breakfast of the school year. Her house is perfect for it -- they have a kitchen table for the girls, and the dining room table for the mommies! AND she had doughnuts. The baby girlfriends were quite happy with the new locale!

The next day the mom's made it to the rec center by six in the morning to ensure our girls a spot at Busy Bees. Pop Pop showed up even earlier, snagging the coveted first spot in line. It's comforting to know Grace will be at the same school that Bayley and Hayden loved so much.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The Real Story of the Three Little Pigs

The big bad wolf isn't bad, he was framed! At least, that's his spin on things in The Real Story of the Three Little Pigs. Hayden's reading group put on the play today. We have some budding set designers and costumers in that group. They didn't want to practice, but they were sure into the props!


And ad-libbing. They decided that the 2nd little pig (Hayden) who dies after only two lines and is then eaten...should come back as a police officer and take away the wolf in handcuffs! Actors! 

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Incredible John's

When Molly described the new John's Incredible Pizza as Las vegas for kids...I knew I had to go. I have kids, I have an unnatural love for Las Vegas. This had to be my kind of place. And to make it even better...I had a Groupon.


To get access to the play space, you have to buy the buffet. Fine, we needed dinner. I'd say the buffet is....hmmm, on par with Izzy's. The boys loaded up on cheese pizza and fresh doughnuts, Jeff and I waited too long in line for the salad bar. Some of the pizza choices were certainly original - macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and pepperoni - and the chicken seemed to be missing from the buffalo chicken pizza, but hey, that's not why we came.

The boys were in the market for a birthday party locale. My national conference falls right before the holiday/birthday weekend, so I'm not up for a home party this year. As soon as we walked into John's they were sold.

The play area is huge. There is a toddler area with climbing toys that doesn't cost a thing, plus a Twister ride, worthy of any fair and much cleaner! Same with the bumper cars. The games are varied, which makes it great for kids of all sizes. Grace loved the dinosaur grab one, and Jeff loved 'winning' her dinosaurs. I was a fan of Wheel of Fortune, Bayley & Hayden liked riding the motorbikes game.

The boys had a $15 card that lasted about 45 minutes. Chuck E Cheese is cheaper, definitely, but this is much cleaner. Plus, the eating area is separate from the play area. There are themed dining rooms so families can select their level of quiet. The Cabin is distraction free. The Toon Room has cartoons playing on a loop. There is a sports themed room, one with music videos playing, and one kind of like a night club for tweens. 

Friday, June 03, 2011

Happy Birthday, Natalie!

It is hard to believe it, but Natalie is already a year old! Too soon, she won't be able to hold on to her Baby Natalie nickname. But, for a couple more years, I am sure Grace will make sure it sticks.

Family and friends gathered at Munchkin Playland, an indoor play area for kids, for pizza, playing, pink cupcakes, and presents! The wee ones all had a great time...when they weren't dodging the large kids! Once the pizza arrived, the boys hunkered down for a few slices of pepperoni. Afterwards, it became a tired game of telling the boys to watch out and making them get out of the play area all together. After a while, Bayley gave up and opted to DS. Hayden and Eddie...could have played tag in there for hours.


Every moment of the party was documented, and not just by my camera happy self! There were so many flashbulbs going off as she opened her presents, that I decided to take a picture of the papparazzi!
Oh...and for the record, Bayley's pants did not have a hole in them when we left the house!