Monday, June 25, 2012

Family Boat Day

 David and I hadn't been on the boat since our trip to South Padre Island, and the kids hadn't stepped foot on the boat even once this year, so we decided it was high time we did!  On Saturday we enjoyed a family day on the boat, just the four of us.  We enjoyed the little ride into Packery Channel, and the kids had a lot of fun playing at the ski basin.  Usually we share boat days with friends, which we love to do, but we really savored  how this trip was all about our little family doing something fun together.  
Penny watches the world go by.
Coop and Penny charge the water!
Penny plays in (with) the sand.
Cooper studies the big hermit crab we found.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Big Girl Project

Almost exactly two years ago, we were in the middle of two projects.  We were transitioning not-yet-two-year-old Cooper into a "big boy" bed AND trying to prepare a nursery for soon-to-arrive Penny.  He was a little young, compared to his peers, to be moving out of the crib so soon.  But we needed his crib for Penny on the way and he had never been what we would call a "good" sleeper anyway, so into the big-boy bed he went.  We went through about a week of him waking up frequently in the night, but after the transition period, he slept like a champ. Whew! 

Now, two years later, we are undergoing a similar change!  Penny is ready for a big girl bed!  Her room is also going to transition fully from a nursery to a little girl's room!  I had been itching for a good DIY project, and now I have the perfect one!  We want to keep many elements of the room the same, such as the overall garden theme, the tree that Nonnie painted on the wall and the beautiful curtains Nonnie sewed.  We just want to make the room a little bit (but not too much) more grown up.  This is very much a work in progress, as growing up tends to be, but this is where we are now:

Penny's room, still with crib, changing table, and glider....a nursery turned toddler room with the addition of TOYS.
Setting up her new, big-girl bed.
I think she likes it!
I think they BOTH like it!  (This could be somewhat of a problem...)
The result?  She had no trouble falling asleep initially, which was spectacular considering our bed time routine changed slightly, as in, no more rocking in the glider before bed (it didn't fit in the room with the new bed). She only woke up once in the night very briefly and slept until her normal wake up time the next morning.  Now she is peacefully taking her first official nap in the big-girl bed.  Success! Phase one of the Big-Girl Project is complete! Soon, but not until she is ready, will we move into Phase Two:  ditching the changing table for a dresser and mirror. This will signify two things...One, she won't be in diapers anymore and won't need a changing table, and two, we have gotten around to re-doing that old dresser in the guest room...

As I said...A work in progress.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cousin Invasion!

Over the weekend we got a great surprise...our cousins were in town and they wanted to come visit us! We are thrilled for any chance to get the kids together so we told them to come on over!  Cooper, Penny, Brayden, Brianna, and Brycen had so much fun swimming, playing, and eating ice cream cones.  We were sorry when they had to go home that evening, but it was a great prelude to Father's Day.

All five cousins play trains!
Each kid, from oldest to youngest:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Where We'll Be This Summer...Revisited

Over a month ago I blogged about taking a tour of good places to take kids in South Texas.  While this week's adventure is hardly a new one to us, it still qualifies for us as a good place to take kids.  My criteria was that it be easy, cheap, and fun, and our local library meets all of these requirements.   This is an easy activity because the library is only minutes from our house.  The library is free to all (unless you are late returning your books), and the kids enjoy it.  Our library also has a playground next door, which the kids love because it is not the same playground near our house.  So, number two on our South Texas kid activity  tour is the library! Check it out!  (Pun intended.)
The library playground has gravel...just about  EVERY kid I know loves to play with gravel!
Penny peruses the shelves.
Cooper plays with the activity block in the Children's area.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How to Travel with Little Kids

Over the past weekend, we traveled to San Antonio.  I rode up with Ma-Mas on Saturday for a quick girls shopping trip, and David and the kids came up on Sunday to join me.  Subjecting a three-and-a-half-year-old and a 21-month-old to lots of sitting still in the car, a disrupted routine, later bedtimes, and over-stimulation can result in GRUMPY kids and therefore GRUMPY parents. (Which has happened PLENTY of times on previous trips.) Our trip this time was, for the most part, pleasant, fun, and relaxing.  We hit a few snags, but the general good experience left me pondering what exactly we did to accomplish a successful road trip with little kids.

1.  Snacks. I repeat. Snacks.
David, who traveled on Saturday outnumbered, brought lots of snacks.  He said he filled a bag full of cheese crackers, cereal bars, and fig newtons for the ride up.  When I reached into the snack bag later that day, I found it more than half way empty! Not only did the food occupy the kids, it kept them from getting too hungry i.e. GRUMPY.

2.  Stick to what they are used to.

Cooper and Penny both are used to a 2 to 3 hour nap everyday.  With all the running around, sticking to the exact nap routine wasn't possible, but we did what we could.  Penny thankfully took an hour (ish) nap in the car while we drove around, so one nap down.  When we checked into the hotel late in the afternoon, we divided and conquered.  Penny and I toured the hotel grounds while David and Cooper took a power nap. We were going to be visiting with family later and knew it could be a long night ahead.  Making the naps a priority kept the kids from getting too tired i.e. GRUMPY. 

3.  Ask the natives.
Instead of trying to plan the entire trip to a T, we relied on those we knew.  We visited Uncle Clint, who had great restaurant suggestions.  We ate at a casual, slightly noisy restaurant.  That fact proved valuable when Penny, whose current mode of expressing negative feelings is screaming, did just that.  She was hungry and angry about it, but her little screams didn't really play out to much over the din of the restaurant.  Also, this particular restaurant had quick and attentive service, which is vital to dining out with kids.  If we had relied on our own devices to find such a restaurant, we could have ended up at a stuffier place with bad service.  Forcing kids to sit still and quiet for a long time in a restaurant would have most definitely made them GRUMPY.

4.  Run around in their shoes.
Kids don't like to sit still for long and it is just plain inconsiderate to expect them to do it too much.   After lots of time in the car, we tried to find ways to incorporate running around time for the kids.  While Cooper took a nap in the hotel room, Penny ran all over the hotel court yard.  Before going to dinner, we visited some cousins and that gave the kids a chance to play for a while.  Afterward, we hung out at Uncle Clint's house, again, letting the kids go a little wild.  If the kids hadn't had a chance to blow off a little steam, they would have been GRUMPY.

5.  Chill.

I think the biggest step we took towards a smooth trip was the fact that we didn't get in a hurry.  I couldn't tell you what time it was when we went back to the hotel to sleep, what time we had breakfast, or what time it was when we arrived at the zoo.  It really didn't matter!  We just followed the flow of the day, which was a vacation in itself for the parents.  We weren't stressed, so the kids weren't stressed.  In other words, no one was GRUMPY.

So it wasn't an entirely harmonious trip...Penny felt like screaming for 30 minutes while driving to AND from San Antonio...We decided that only one hour of teeth clenching out of two solid days wasn't that bad, considering all we got to do:  Shop, see the sights, visit family, hang out with Uncle Clint, eat well, ride the train at Brackenridge Park, and visit the zoo.
(By the way, I didn't have a lot of pictures to choose from for this post, because I was enjoying the weekend so much, I sort of forgot about the camera.)