Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Penguinarium

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A few weeks ago Ted was studying penguins at school. He would come out of school waddle over to the car and tell us all about the new trivia facts he learned about penguins. I remembered there being this “huge” penguinarium at the Detroit zoo so on a day off the boys and I loaded ourselves into Nana’s truck and went with her to the Detroit zoo to see the penguins.
It was probably 15 years since I last visited the Detroit zoo. The penguinarium was not as big as I remembered, but it was still pretty cool. There are 3 types of penguins there: King penguins (which look like emperor penguins but not as big), Rockhopper penguins, and Macaroni penguins. We were lucky enough to be there at feeding time. Did you know, penguins will only swallow fish head first? It they swallow them tail first the scales will scratch their throats.

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The boys all thought the penguins where very cool and funny to watch. But our trip didn’t stop there. We went to just about every open building there. Jensen’s favorite was the reptile house. I think that was because it was warm enough in there to take off his coat and walk around. Also the animals were all at eye level in there. This long necked turtle was just as interested in Jensen as Jensen was interested in the turtle.

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A really neat exhibit is the Arctic Ring of Life. Oddly enough it started snowing as we stepped into the Arctic Ring and stopped as we exited. I thought the arctic foxes were just too cute!

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The exciting part of the exhibit is the underwater tunnel. There is space for both seals and polar bears to swim around and right over head in here. We spent a long time watching the seals, which were so kind as to delight my boys long enough for this great picture with Nana.

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The polar bear was all curled up off in the depths of his exhibit so we didn’t get to see much of him. He did stick his nose up in the air and sniff around when we walked by eating granola bars. The boys thought he might be hungry. He was not the only animal interested in our granola bars though:

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This peacock was very interested in us, especially Jensen. I would guess that he steals food from babies on a regular basis. He followed us from the Arctic Ring in the middle of the zoo almost all the way to the back where we visited the giraffes.

I don’t have any pictures of the giraffes, but I wish I had been able to get a good picture. The female giraffe was due any day now (I was unable to find any information on if she has delivered yet this morning). The poor thing looked so uncomfortable. She was hanging out in a more private area of the exhibit but we could see how large she was. As we were getting ready to go we also got to see the baby kick. I thought that was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Life is amazing, and this was pure life ready to come into the world.

 At one time there were a few wallabies at the Toledo Zoo, but there moved out when Nature’s Neighborhood opened, but it was nothing like the Detroit Zoo’s kangaroo exhibit. This is an open exhibit. The animals can hop right up to you if they want. One hopped right past Kaelen, within arm’s reach, while he read a sign. I was surprised how active the kangaroos were on such a cold day.

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 Even thought it was really cold we had a good time. I think we might go up again when it is a little warmer out. I would like to get a better view of the wolverine, which was one of Ted’s favorites even though we just saw a little tuft of fur, and see a baby giraffe. It’s (back) on the list of things to do.

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Busy Winter Weeks

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Busy Winter Weeks

Wow, It was already been over a week since I posted–so much for trying for one a day. It has been a busy week. We had Tiger Cubs on Tuesday. I’ve starting party planning for my mom’s party. We went to the Detroit Zoo on Friday. We also celebrated with my grandma Land, Aunt Sue, and Uncle Kent & Aunt Barb Friday evening. Yesterday I drove up to Great Lakes Crossing to hit the children’s outlets. All this while everyone seems to be (mostly successfully) fighting off a cold/flu bug. We have been lucky that no one is curled-up-in-bed, I-can’t-move miserable, but everyone is a little run down and cranky.
I have not been completely remiss in my picture-taking though so here is a little catch up on our week:

Jan 13: Circle

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Sunday we went to Spaghetti Warehouse with Grandma & Grandpa, Ted made HUGE circles of spaghetti noodles on his fork. Watching him, we were reminded why we use bow tie noodles. Jensen had his first spaghetti noodles.  The first one he had he grabbed the two ends and took a bite out of the middle, but he quickly figured out how to slurp them up!

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Jan 14

I don’t have something yellow for Monday–but I do have another circle.  Kaelen and I played Wii Sports.  This is his golf swing:

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Yes, that is my four-year-old doing an airborne 360 for golf.  I may not know much about sports–but I’m pretty sure this is not usually seen on golf courses around the world.  But hey, he is off the couch and being active and that is all that really matters!

Jan 15: An Ordinary Moment

Just chillin’  waiting for Ted to get out of school.  Here is one of Kae’s many self portraits.

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Jan 16: Two Things

Take two peanut butter hearts add one baby and what do you get?

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A chocolate goatee

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Jan 17: Ready

Someone is ready for a nap! Ok, it’s Mommy.

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Jan 18: Shadow

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A shadow of a seal swimming overhead in the Arctic Ring of Life at the Detroit Zoo.  More on our adventures there to come–but the real camera is in the diaper bag, in the car, and it is -15 wind chill out.  I’m not making any extra trips outside today.

Jan 19: Delicious

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Ok, not my picture, but we did try out this new recipe for Chicken, Ranch, and Rice soup and it was very delicious. It was also pretty easy to make, which is a requirement in our home!  Check out the Picky Plate recipe here: http://picky-palate.com/2010/06/07/homemade-chicken-ranch-and-rice-soup/

Jan 20: Something you Saw

Sunday is Downton Abbey day here in the states.  Even though I finished watching the season 3 DVD set (contributor gift to PBS) Sunday during the day I still loyally tuned in at 9:00 to watch it on PBS.  It is hard to believe there are only a few weeks left and then we have to wait a whole year for season 4.

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Jan 21: What You Do

I am Mommy, I do many things.  Something I really enjoy doing, which I worked on this week, is party planning.  I love picking a theme and coordinating everything.  I think I use to drive my husband crazy with the collection of scraps of paper with supply notes on them all over the computer desk and internet images saved all over the desktop.  Then I found Pinterest…

I working on planning a birthday party for my mom.  I’m thinking a sort of peacock/game foul theme to coordinate with the regency era tavern which will be set up in our space.

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What does everyone think?  This is a collection of some of my pins for the party to check them out with the original sources visit my board: http://pinterest.com/cross321/mom-s-birthday-party/

Family Game Night

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Back when my husband & I were married Target was carrying a line of vintage style classic board games in wooden boxes. “Hey,” we thought, “We love games…we should register for some of these!” We ended up receiving Monopoly, Scrabble, and much to my delight, Clue. Growing up we did not own Clue but I loved playing it at my Mormor & Pa’s house. I loved the miniature murder weapons and the handmade envelope (the original had been lost) with a magnifying glass drawn by my mom on it. It had been a long time since we had played and so I was very excited to take it home and play with my new husband. I was so excited that I did not realize that to play Clue you need at least 3 players. So we quickly set to work on getting another player…
My oldest is now seven and very in to “Family Night.” It doesn’t matter much to him if what we do on family night is the same thing we do several nights/day a week, if we call it family night it must be extra special. He is coming of age to be playing board games. He especially likes Star Wars Monopoly even though he never gets very far into the game. We were looking together for a game to play and my eyes fell upon the forgotten Clue. At long last we had 3 players! Ted played Col. Mustard, Kae and I were Mr. Green, and Josh was Prof. Plum. The game started out well, I thought I was really on to something, until Ted revealed he had a card that I asked about several turns earlier. More than once he screwed up my strategy by (unintentionally) withholding evidence. The boys had a great time. I have no idea how many things Ted figured out, but he sure loved suspecting people. Kae really enjoyed moving the suspects and weapons into the different rooms when they were called. Josh won, of course it is easy to win when you are the murder.
Josh and I use to play games frequently before Ted got old enough that he wanted to steal all the pieces. Jensen is in that phase right now. Kaelen is a little too young for most of our games. Regardless, I hope this is something that we can do more often.

Ted with Clue

P.S. An update on Kaelen’s dislike of eating goulash. We made it up tonight, but combined all the veggies into a sauce (like spaghetti sauce) and he loved it.

Kaelen

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Four can be a very difficult age, but it is one of my favorites! The reason for both is the same: it is around four that you no longer have a baby or toddler, but a real person. Babies and toddlers are wonderful, and while they certainly have personalities, they have a limited   capability to really communicate or connect with other people. I think around four is when this little person starts to really tune into how others are feeling. They also become so much more independent. There is so much they can do for themselves. Kaelen makes his own sandwiches many days (it seems it is easier to make it himself then to ask Mommy nicely to make it for him). He is potty trained. He is able to pick up his clothes and make his bed, and will even do it without very much prompting sometimes!
Four is when interests start to emerge that are really personal. Babies and toddlers can to persuaded to be interested in whatever their parents or siblings are interested in (such as coordinating Halloween costumes), but once a four-year old makes up his mind, his mind is made, and there is not much to do to get him to change it. This is what can be very frustrating, but the personality is what makes it so much fun!
Kaelen turned four last year on Easter. I have learned so much about him since then. He really likes the Muppets, his favorite is Fozzie because he is funny. Kae has this amazing laugh when he watches or listens to the Muppets.
He asked for a kitchen last year for his birthday and again for Christmas. We got him a small stove top and he received food or dishes from just about everyone else. He has spent probably 80 hours cooking ice cream and goulash for everyone since then. He won’t eat goulash when I make it–but he loves to cook it.
He is going to be a photographer. He has liked taking pictures with our camera for a long time, but since we got our iPhones in the fall I am constantly finding series of photos of the ceiling and floor, blurry shots of the back of his hand or his eyes and forehead, and lots of pictures of Jensen. The pictures I am sharing today we took together while we were waiting for Ted to get out of school. I so treasure just getting to cuddle up with him to goof off and capture those smiles.

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One O’Clock

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It has been a busy few days so I am catching up. Thursday’s prompt was 1:00. I like 1:00. 1:00 is nap time for Jensen. Kaelen has eating lunch by now and is entertaining himself so Mommy has a little time to herself. Time to do some laundry. Time to take a shower (Yes–I shower in the middle of the afternoon, moms shower when there is time). Then, if Jensen is still napping, I could do more laundry (there is ALWAYS more laundry), I could do dishes, I could do any number of other household chores, but usually I will sit down at the computer for a little bit. Sometimes I’ll work on my digital scrapbooks or imerse myself in Pinterest. Sometimes I’ll play my latest purchase from Big Fish Games. right now I am playing through an RPG from Eridani Games called “Leah’s Quest.” I have really enjoyed it and it’s companion “Ella’s Hope.” For anyone reading this who likes the Aveyond games by Amaranth I would recommend checking these out. The story is charming and engaging, with appropriately challenging levels, and a variety of side quests. In fact–I think I will go see what is in store for Leah right now!

The Magician’s Sons

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Tonight's instalment: chapter 2, Digory and His Uncle

We are a family of readers. Josh and I both grew up reading a lot, and now the boys all enjoy books immensely. Even Jensen who doesn’t yet understand what is going on will sit and flip through the pages of whatever book is within reach, be it a colorful ABC board book or Daddy’s latest Preston & Child suspense.
Although we have always read to our children frequently and pretty much on demand we do not have a nightly reading ritual. Some nights may have Ted and Kae each picking out a story while others may not include a story at all. Until now, that is. Josh has decided that the boys are old enough to read “The Chronicles of Narnia” with him. He purchased the collection a few years ago and was very disappointed when they did not have the focus to listen to an entire chapter, especially when there were no pictures! Last night we started again. The whole family sat down on the couch while Josh read the opening chapter of “The Magician’s Nephew.” Ted was enchanted and eager to continue, Kae was less interested but happy to be sitting cuddled up with Mommy & Daddy, Jensen got down after a few words and played quietly on the floor. Tonight we continued.
I think this may become something that the older boys will never forget.  There is something quite magical about reading as a family. I remember gathering in bed with my brothers—a different room each night—while my Dad read to us the Hobbit when I was young. I don’t remember how old I was when we did that (older than Ted is now for certain) and I don’t even remember the details of the story (there are a lot of details in Tolkien) but I will always remember the special feeling of togetherness as we explored Middle Earth as a family. I hope Ted and Kae will enjoy exploring Narnia with their father just as much.

Ted & Kae listen to Daddy read from "The Magician's Nephew"
Ted & Kae listen to Daddy read from “The Magician’s Nephew”

Theodore

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Today’s subject was really easy to decide on. The Photo-A-Day prompt was “Something that begins with T” and I could think of nothing I would like a photo of better than my “baby” Theodore.
Seven years old, my little Teddy-bear is growing up so fast. For starters he doesn’t like to be called Teddy any more, he especially doesn’t like to be called Teddy-bear. He is too old for that already. Over the summer he started introducing himself as Theodore, although when he went back to school he has been using Ted a lot. Theodore is a lot to write out. Frequently, when he does write it out he spells it “Theodoer.” I think that is pretty adorable and have filed it away under “embarrassing stories to tell potential girlfriends.” It is hard to believe that he is already in first grade, playing t-ball, running cross country, in scouts, and hanging out with the cute blonde from next door.
Theodore is a carbon-copy of this father. Their appearance, their expressions, especially their interests and how they think. Theodore is my little engineer. He will spend hours building Legos® or creating robots, racecars, and rocket ships from scraps of cardboard and empty pop bottles.
But, sometimes I see a lot of me in him too. He is the best big brother. He loves babies. Theodore was in the room when his brother Jensen was born. All throughout my labor he was very attentive and a great comfort. While I was pushing, he was standing my by side holding my hand then he disappeared. I thought maybe it was a little intense for him so he backed away, but I realized I was wrong when this little blonde head popped up between my legs. I’m told that he practically delivered the baby himself. He help Daddy cut the cord and blood splattered all over the two of them (which was really cool in his 6-year-old mind). I remember being present when my youngest brother was born (I was 5), and although I don’t remember many details about it, I know that it was something very special that I shared with my mom and my brother. Having all boys I never thought I would get to share a birth with them. Theodore’s presence at Jensen’s birth will always be a treasured memory for me.
Although I hate to admit it I see a lot of my less-than-desirable qualities in him also. Being the oldest he can get a little bossy sometimes and he is really stubborn. I’d love to blame Daddy for this but deep down I know it is all me. His sleep habits are like mine, which makes for some tough mornings. We both hate to get out of bed.
Overall he is my favorite first-born son, my favorite Theodore. I treasure the special times we spend together, and look forward to all the adventures yet to come. I love you Ted!
Because asking me to post just one photo is pretty much impossible (I have well over 3000 to choose from) here are some of my favorite photos of Theodore:

Our baby, Theodore Martin, 3 days old

Our baby, Theodore Martin, 3 days old

One year old

One year old

Riding a pony at the tree farm. December, 2006

Riding a pony at the tree farm. December, 2006

Hanging out at Fort Meigs. May, 2008

Hanging out at Fort Meigs. May, 2008

Teddy & Mommy on the break wall at Presque Isle, Marquette, MI. July, 2009

Teddy & Mommy on the break wall at Presque Isle, Marquette, MI. July, 2009

His future is so bright...waering sunglasses while waiting for the electric light parade in the Magic Kingdom.  December, 2010

His future is so bright…wearing sunglasses while waiting for the electric light parade in the Magic Kingdom. December, 2010

Sharing a lollypop with Mommy. December, 2010

Sharing a lollypop with Mommy. December, 2010

Ready to take Jensen home! December 14, 2011

Ready to take Jensen home! December 14, 2011

"Best day EVER!" The first day of first grade. August 2012

“Best day EVER!” The first day of first grade. August 2012

My handsome guy. Christmas 2012

My handsome guy. Christmas 2012