Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cousin Camp, Day 1, Discovery Place Museum

The first day's activity for cousin camp was the Discovery Place Museum in downtown Charlotte. Nonna and Pop-Pop had a good sized group attending. My kids were amazed by this awesome light display in the lobby.

Here is part of our group: Friend Shauna, Cousin Stephanie, Cousin Emma, Uncle Rob and Daddy Chris.
In the "kiddie" area, Lia found the water play area. She stayed there for about half and hour and left soaking wet. Note to self... bring change of clothes next time. ;-)

These two are having a ball in the "kiddie zone" testing out fluid dynamics or something. There was a current of water and you could change up the gates to try and get a ball to flow through. My husband and Cousin Daniel were fascinated.... and kept telling the other one that they were doing it wrong.

I haven't been to a 3D movie in a while and was really impressed at how far the technology has come along. We got to see two shows!

David was reaching his hand out during the movie to get the sharks swimming by.

Cousin Ainsley and family arrived a little later and Emily was so happy to see her favorite cousin! They had not seen each other in a year but picked us as best buds immediately.

David spent quite a bit of time at this stack of balls. You simply pick them up, drop them and watch one go really high in the air. I think it was his favorite display at the museum.

Back at the home front, the kids broke out the plastic military guys for some good old fashioned fun. Memories.... and lots of sound effects. David is playing with cousins Olivia, Jed and Christopher.

And there isn't a much better end to a day than Nonna's famous pasta and meatballs. This is Emily's very most favorite meal. The rest of us like it a lot too.

Day 2 - Carrowinds to come!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Travel Day - North Carolina Trip

I have been away from this blog for a very long time! We left for our family trip to North Carolina on July 11th. David and Lia traveled with me on frequent flyer miles while Chris and Emily took a separate flight with purchased seats. This was a new experience for our family. David really took his role of "Big Boy Traveler" very seriously. He pulled his own suitcase and carried his own backpack full of stuff. Our first flight to Louisville went very smooth. You can see us having a very nice meal at the Starbucks in the airport. We got a high dollar sandwich and yogurt parfait... and split it 3 ways. :-)

So my mode of survival for travelling with a 4 and 2 year old was to pack all sorts of goodies to keep my kiddos busy and happy. David, who up till now has HATED to color and has never put any effort into staying in the lines, has really taken a liking to color by number pictures. He can read and follow the directions himself and took so much pride in his work. He has come a long way from the scribbles!

Gosh, I'm proud!

Lia's big surprise was a coloring kit with 6 markers and 80 miniature princess coloring sheets. She was in heaven and stayed busy for hours with this. And to think I flinched at the $5 price tag. So glad I splurged.

The next flight was from Louisville to Charlotte. My kiddos were tired and cranky and I was "that annoying family" unfortunately. We had 3 seats and only one window. Both kids wanted the window and would not negotiate. My solution was to give David the window and hold a screaming Lia in my lap. Unfortunately, they couldn't leave the gate with Lia not in her seat since she is over 2. I told the flight attendant that they both wanted windows so she promptly rearranged the passengers to indulge my children. Well... it worked and both kiddos were happy and quiet. Lia sat by the window with me and David sat across the aisle and happily looked out the window for the entire flight. There were no more incidents. Thank goodness.
So if travelling alone with small children... take a direct flight!

Monday, July 5, 2010

4th of July Fireworks and Family

We gathered with my brother-in-law and family this year for the grand downtown Houston fireworks display and extravaganza. A very nice man took this family picture as we were headed out at the end of the night. Look at all those smiling faces!

We met up around 4:00 and spent some time swimming at the pool. Emily remembered her cousins Lexi, Madison and Jed but David and Lia were a little shy at first. However, it didn't take long for them to realize just how much fun it is to play with your cousins! Emily and David declared "Jed is our favorite!" and stuck by his side the entire night. Jed just seems to have that effect on his family... It must be nice to be so popular. :-)

After the pool, we went to Star Pizza for a delicious dinner. Pizza is always a hit. It was a long wait for our deep dish Margherita Pizza but well worth it.

Here is a beautiful Daddy/daughter shot of John and Madison. Chris and I were very pleased to see our niece wearing burnt orange! And the salad in the picture reminded me how yummy the greek salad was... or maybe everything just tastes better after time spent in the pool and out in the sun.

All this picture taking prompted Lia to say, "Take one of me!" Lia is wearing the best $3 pink Walmart flag shirt ever! She has been wearing it 3 times a week since we got it. Money very well spent.

After dinner, we walked along Allen Parkway to claim a firework viewing spot. The little kids wanted to play so we found a nice grassy spot to park our "stuff" and Lexi and I were able to go for a walk to see the festivities. Pat Green was playing on stage. He sounded great but we couldn't get very close so we walked a little further and admired the army vehicles on display. Lexi (our God daughter) posed by the red cross truck which is so appropriate because during our walk she told me all about her mission trips to Mexico and Honduras where she was able to help the doctors provide medical care to those in need. We are so proud of her!

Here is Chris with our niece Madison. It is hard to believe Lexi and Madison were little flower girls in our wedding 10 years ago! I asked Madison what part of her "Houston tour" was the most fun and was expecting to hear about the Natural Science museum or the San Jacinto monument... but no, the most fun was getting stuck in traffic and stranded at a gas station for 3 hours during a flash flood on Friday. Apparently a good time can be had anywhere!

The ever popular Jed with Lexi and Emily.
Cousins are awesome!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

Last night we got to hear the symphony with friends. The kids were very excited to dress in their patriotic colors and as usual, had a great time!

The girls put on a marching parade during the tribute medley to our military forces.

And look, this year I've even got pics of the grownups! Here are the Dads enjoying a beer. An overpriced $12 beer... but worth it I guess?

Yes, by the smile, worth every penny.
Daddy-Daughter shot. Lia sure looks comfortable.

And after the popcorn was eaten....

Silly Boy!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Evolution of the "Happy Birthday"

If you remember the Happy Birthday picture from a few weeks ago... I can tell you that Lia still requests Happy Birthdays, still carries them around the house, and is still singing Happy Birthday to herself. Emily will now sit at the kitchen table and create new Happy Birthday pictures for her. Apparently the boring table, cake and balloons routine needed some re-working... so together, they came up with these:

Rainbow Happy Birthday

Here we have a 7-layer happy birthday cake in "proper ROYGBIV" rainbow order which is perfect since Emily will be 7 in August. A real rainbow is present in the background and the table is rainbow colored. We will also call your attention to the pink balloons with rainbow images as well as the coordinating pink rainbow vase holding the balloons in place. Such detail!

Flower Happy Birthday
"A creative twist on the Rainbow Happy Birthday"

Corn on the Cob

More Alphabet Critters (K,L) and "School Talk"

I saw my last alphabet critter post was June 2nd. I am not surprised by this at all. Emily's last day of school was June 4 and things have had to evolve around our household since she is with us all day now. It used to be that David and I shared an uninterrupted hour (Lia usually cooperated) every morning after breakfast. We had fallen into a beautiful routine where we practiced reading, handwriting, math, etc... and we were able to do more artsy projects like these adorable alphabet critters.

Since Emily has been out of school we have been on "vacation" but we seem to be unable to go on vacation completely so I'll just call summer a much lighter version of the "school" we'll start in the fall. We are back to making alphabet critters, but now I have to plan ahead and be a little more organized. I make little kits the night before so all 3 children can make an art project if they want to... and they usually do! I still use construction paper for the block letter shape and allow David to cut it out so he can get scissor practice, but I am also using sticky back paper and having the "accessories" all ready to go so the kids can peel them like stickers and stick them on. This way, Lia can participate better and David doesn't get as frustrated at the things he can't do. David has the tendency to do one or all of the following when he gets frustrated: yell, pound fist, or shred art project... Hmmm... I wonder who he gets this from?

Our lighter work schedule of the summer has Emily practicing cursive in her laminated book, doing math drills each day with her 'Math-It' kit, piano lessons on our keyboard, table discussion and short stories (from The Book of Virtues and The Moral Compass) about the virtues using PACE, and lots and lots of literature she can read on her own. Thank goodenss for the library. And so much for "not doing school" in the summer!

David "does math" with his dominoes by counting the dots and placing them in a "parking lot space" with the correct total. I try to get him to do some printing a few times a week but we have not been consistent and he has lost a lot of ground....we'll work on that. We always practice his reading each night before bed and he is doing awesome with his easy readers like Frog and Toad. His read-aloud speed has picked up tremendously but I suppose his "stamina" needs work. He will start off strong with his read aloud and then slow down to a crawl at which point we take turns reading... I read a sentence then he reads one till we finish. But what is really cool, is that he is reading on his own a little, figuring out new words and their meanings, and then using them in discussion with us. I know this is what is going on because he uses them in a sentence correctly, but mispronounces the word. The other day he said, "You know when you eat something "rooten" because it tastes bad." I am so proud of him!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fountain Play

We set out early to play at the fountains today. The weather was a bit cloudy and it looked like rain... but the kids got two full hours of playtime. Good thing too because it rained for the rest of the afternoon!

Thanks for the pictures Peg!