Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summer Adventures: Great Country Farms

We finally made it out to Great Country Farms. Though the night before Fred arrived home from a week long trip to California and Mason, so desperate to see and spend time with daddy, did not want to go. I expected as much and had to talk up all the cool things, including picking blackberries and peaches, just to get him to put on his clothes. However once in the car, and at the Farm he got real excited.

Once everyone arrived, we headed in the direction of the kids playground and barnyard. First up was the thankfully, perfectly shaded play area. Fully equipped with spider web rope climbs
and wooden tractors to climb and slide down.
The kids were having a great time and we all got to take a break from the heat. I met a new fellow momma and hopeful friend whose daughter is about the same age as Mason. The first thing I heard her ask her mom was for a snack. And continued for a while. It made me chuckle to know that my son is not the only one who wants to snack ALL DAY LONG. Fellow snackies unite!

Next we headed in the direction of the barnyard but found the corn box and detoured that way. What a good choice that was because it was hours of entertainment. Well at least it felt like it. Such a relief to us to be able to sit and relax while watching the enjoyment of the kids getting along and playing nice.

It was also covered so there was shade and a nice breeze and the right amount of adirondack chairs for us to sit in. This is the life. Sophie, though, not so much.

She got tired of sitting in the stroller so I brought her in to sit on my lap. She tried so hard to get into that corn pit, it must have looked like so much fun to her. But one attempt to put them in her mouth and right back up she went. And not all too happy about it either. She flailed, and squirmed, and whined and fussed. Just about throwing one of her tantrums. I kept telling her, "wait another year. Or even a few months. When you're not putting anything and everything into your mouth and you too can play." Though I'm not sure that reassurance helped much. It also could have been crankiness due to it being right in the middle of her nap time and awfully close to lunch.

Once lunchtime arrived, we had to drag the kids out of the corn pit and made our way to one of the many pavilions around the farm to set up. The kids were fascinated with the random chicken running around. Trying to feed him pieces of corn they found stuck in various parts of their shoes and clothes. Except Nathan. He was scared.

I figured since we were out and with friends and doing things, Mason would actually sit and eat his lunch. I was mistaken. I had to repeatedly tell him to sit and eat his peanut butter and jelly which he had asked me to make for lunch. Even threaten to take a stone away. Yes, we have started back up with the stone jar and earning bag of matchbox cars. At least I wasn't the only one having trouble getting my child to listen and cooperate.

While the rest of us finished up our lunch, Mason and James were playing, and at times ran off to where we couldn't see them, or James would fall, or Mason tackle him and he would whine or James and Sophie would just cry or whine for no particular reason; and it was hard for us to keep it together and not want to scream at them to just SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP!

Clearly the kids were anxious to get back to the activities of the farm, so we packed up as fast as we could, sanitized our hands and were on our way.
We hit the barnyard first, where the kids got to stick their heads in the cardboard cutouts and be dogs, pigs, sheep and cows. We met a donkey named Sophia, some baby lambs which lead to the retelling of the Mommy getting attacked my goats at the animal park story, and once again ran into the anatomy of a certain animal and scratched our heads wondering WHAT IS IT WITH US AND ANIMAL GENITALIA BEING PRESENT?

Next to the barnyard was a small concrete circle with these roller things on them. I had no idea what they were. Some sort of twist cart or something. Emily knew though and was trying to explain how they work. Instead she said, "I'll show you" and hopped on one. It was the funniest damn thing to see her scooting around on that contraption, all the kids following her, wanting a turn. Finally they got one.
I think Mason's was broken because he didn't go very far compared to the others.

As you can see in the first picture of Emily and the kids, there are stairs in the background. Those stairs lead to a tube slide. One of many on the grounds of the farm. However that particular one seemed awfully big for the kids. Looking around we found another, slightly smaller slide and subsequently ushered the kids in that direction.
Mason followed the group up the stairs, insisting I follow. I was skeptical about him actually going down the slide. Two years ago he LOVED, L-O-V-E-D, slides and it seemed the bigger the better. Once he was two, and the closer he got to three he developed a fear of slides and swings and that fear grew and grew. Once at top, we watched one by one as the others went down and just as I suspected, he freaked. I finally convinced him to ride down in my lap and to ensure he would be scarred anymore than he already was, I purposely slowed us down. It must have worked because he raced back up the stairs yelling back at me that he wanted to go down alone. But once again, at the top his fear set in and I had to sit at the bottom coaxing him to come down, ensuring him that he would not get hurt, that I would catch him. Eventually he came down and the smile on his face said it all.
Up again he went. Over and over and each time he laughed and smiled more. Eventually everyone took a turn. Even Sophie. She laughed and smiled. So down again we went. So happy she didn't cry and thinking once again that maybe Mason has been able to get past his fear of slides. I suppose we'll have to wait till the fall and Pumkinville to find out for sure.

While Mason went down the slide, one more time, the others found their way back to the corn bin and we joined them. The day was winding down, we were getting tired and enjoyed the rest, the cool breeze, and simple conversation.

Time to say good-bye to good friends and a long eventful day. But not before I snapped a few pictures of butterflies.

Pack the kids up in the car, put on Curious George, because it is a long trip, and head out of the parking lot.


I had totally forgot that we hadn't gone berry picking until we were heading back to the car. But since everyone was too tired to stay and heading home he would forget. I should have known, my little elephant, the one who never forgets a single thing promised to him. I couldn't resist the wails and pleads to do the berry picking I so very much talked up to convince him to come today. So I quickly turned around and headed back into the parking lot.

Situating Sophie into the Ergo, I took Mason by the hand and headed back into the Country Store in search of the berry fields. After getting direction and halfway to the vines, I realized I didn't have anything to put the berries in. *sigh* As I got closer I saw that not many ripe berries were left anyway. Plus, I'm not a big fan of black berries and wasn't sure Mason would be either. But in we headed anyway.
Look Mom, I found one.
I'm not sure if it was the fact that we were hot and tired, I could barely keep my eyes open for the drive home. Or the nostalgia of picking berries having worn off since we do this in our backyard every night with raspberries, tomatoes, peppers, etc. But after two or three, we made our way back to the car, sweaty and Mason not wanting to walk anymore. Lets just say both kiddos took exceptionally good naps after passing out in the car.

I think we will try this berry picking thing again. However, next year we will come during strawberry or blueberry season when it is more exciting and something we would actually enjoy eating.
Pin It

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summer Adventures: Mill Recreation Center

Shortly after Sophie was born we were invited to go to the Mills Recreation Center pool by our good friends, the Poonawalas.
I remember it being a whole lot of fun. Mason especially, loving the fountains at the entrance to the big pool. He kept running in and out of them, laughing, splashing and genuinely happy. I remember leaving that day wishing that our neighborhood pool was as cool as this one. I remember coming home, downloading and editing the photos and writing a post about our day. Though it seems to have disappeared from my blog. Disappointed and bummed that I lost those memories and wallowing in my confusion as to how it happened.
A year later, we found ourselves here again. The original plan for our outing this week was to head to Great Country Farms and do some berry picking. Now wouldn't that be fun for the kids? However, the insane heat stuck around and our plans changed. It was voted to go to one of our neighborhood pools. Late Monday night Ginger came to our rescue with 5 passes to her pool. Since she lives in Ashburn Village she gets access to all the pools in that neighborhood. Mills Recreation Center being one of them.

Tuesday morning we packed up the thousands of pounds of gear (baby floats, sun hat, towels, swim diapers, sunscreen, water, snacks, etc.) and drove the short distance to the pool in order to meet our friends by 11am.

Sophie of course fell asleep in the car so I let her rest a bit while unpacking and waiting for the rest of the group.
The day ended up being not so hot and perfect weather for berry picking, but still it was a good time had by all at the pool.

While the kids played in the kiddie pool, we ordered pizza for lunch. You know I don't know why I never thought of it before, but when Amy put her daughter in the baby float in the kiddie pool, it seemed the coolest idea ever. One that I think I'll be doing again and again, on my solo trips to our pool. Sophie LOVED it. Being able to walk around and explore by herself around the pool. Mason even joined in and pushed her around for a bit.

The pizzas arrived and we took a break for lunch. While feeding Sophie her Lunchables Jr. I noticed her nodding off while trying to put the mini crackers in her mouth and missing. It was so cute, everyone started taking pictures. She was then passed out for the next hour if not at least 45 minutes.

After lunch we headed into the big pool where the boys ran and splashed through the fountains and chased and kicked and threw the ball they found nearby. Unfortunately, the rough surface of the walk areas made perfect little circle cuts on Mason's big toes causing him to bleed and shed a few tears. Especially when I tried to put on band-aids. Though a few little scrapes, bruises and cuts won't slow down my tough little guy. He didn't want to leave, neither did James, so while the rest of the group left around 2:30pm we stayed a little longer. Borrowing a squirt gun from the lost and found, thinking we should get some for our beach trip, and subsequently changing our minds once squirted in the face.

Again I left the pool wishing ours was a little more kid friendly, meaning toddler/preschool age like The Mills, and a little less like your average, traditional neighborhood pool. I guess you can't have everything, and that's why we have good friends who are willing to bring us to their kick ass pool for a fun playdate.

I love my friends.
Pin It

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Summer Adventures: Rocknocerous

Last week our group decided to come up with an indoor activity after the horrendous, sickening heat we endured at the animal park. Yeah, we weren't going to make that mistake again. So after much going back and forth on Facebook (we plan all our get togethers over Facebook. Ah, social networking. How we'd be lost without it) we chose the children's musical group, Rocknocerous who plays at Dulles Town Center, outside Macy's, every Thursday morning at 11am.

Our plan was to meet at the play area at 10:30am figuring that would give us enough time. My friend Dani and I met at Jared's at 10am to drop off some jewelry that needed to be fixed and headed off to the mall. We ran into Emily in the parking lot and headed to Macy's, meeting Ginger once over there. I was unaware as to how popular this event would be because as we strolled up, it was packed.
Seriously there are people who come to this EVERY WEEK. I wasn't sure what to expect but we ended up having a blast.

Mason, wanting to be able to see while he jammed out, was standing on the stroller and bouncing up and down. Of course this meant Sophie couldn't see so I eventually let her out to walk/crawl around. The mom's all grabbed a coffee at the shop behind us and I shared my marshmallow campfire concoction with Mason. I think he just wanted the whip cream and marshmallows.
We all sat or stood where there was room and watched the show.
While the boys, Mason and James, danced and played and jammed to the sounds of the trio, echoing throughout the open area of the mall.
Even Sophie rocked it out. In between moments of stealing James' pretzels, as I discovered she can actually eat them without choking. Check, for another snack food available on the ever growing list of things she is eating these days.

This video always makes me laugh. Seeing her dance, stop to eat, and then dance again. All the while sporting that over-exaggerated smile which makes my heart sing.

Halfway through the show I had this thought of me in Elementary School, sitting in the cafeteria listening to the hysterically funny music of Barry Louis Polisar. If you haven't heard his music, I highly suggest it. All too funny. I grew up listening to this so much that I still remember the words to his songs. And about spit my coke out my nose when I heard All I Want is You during the opening credits of Juno, and to my husbands embarrassment tried to sing along before he made me shut up.

Ah, the memories of our childhood. They are priceless, aren't they?

I could only hope that these moments, these outings, and my documenting of them are creating little pockets of memories inside my children's heads, that they too can look back upon someday when hanging out with their kids.
Pin It

Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer Adventures: Free Movie & Fountain

We attempted to go to the Free Family Film Festival happening at Regal Cinemas all over the area last week but on the way got a phone call to have a play date with Mason's best friend. Since soccer class is no longer is session they haven't seen each other in a few weeks, so we did a u-turn and had the best marathon, 8 hour, play date that ended in tears because neither wanted Mason to go home. Don't you just love it when your kids have so much they are devastated when it has to end?

Anyway, Mason had been asking me about going to the movies since then and seeing that they only play the free movies on Tuesday and Wednesday, I needed to do it this week or I'd never hear the end of it.

Now, anyone with more than one child knows that it is extremely difficult if not near impossible to get them ready and out the door on time for anything. Tuesday morning was no different. I struggled to get us all fed, dressed, lunches made and packed, swim gear packed, out the door, in the car and on the road in time to make it to the 10am show. I had planned to leave around 9ish to make it the half hour trip to the theatre. Like always we got on the road late and didn't pull into the parking lot until a little after 10am. Grab the Ergo, put Sophie in it, take Mason's hand and head into the theatre. I realize now that for something like this, is it very important to get there early. The place was packed and dark and the only seats we found were close to the front. Not ideal but we got there. Movie had already started and I didn't think about it much but when I read Charlotte's Web, I immediately thought of the cartoon that I grew up watching. Not remembering that a while back they remade the movie and it was no longer a cartoon. So boy did that cause trouble when Charlotte was introduced. I curbed my fear for Mason, in case he was watching my reaction, but I still heard his little voice say, "Mommy I want to go. I don't like the spider." I tried to see if he would get passed it but he really had no interest in watching and kept asking to go, so up we left. Me sighing in relief that I didn't shell out sixteen some odd dollars just to walk out after two minutes. I asked why he didn't like and he said it was dark and then asked about the fountain. A-ha I think that was the real reason he couldn't sit still he wanted to immediately head to the fountain. Hey, if I was a kid I would too.

So back in the car, change into our swim wear and off we go to Fairfax Corner. It had rained the previous day and was supposed to rain at some point that day so it was a bit overcast and thankfully not as hot as it had been. We were not the only ones with the idea, it seemed a Mom's play group had met there for some water fun as well. So it was their kids and mine.

Mason was apprehensive at first, like anything new, then quickly engaged and totally reminded me of our trip to Mills Recreation Center last year with his best friend. In and out of the fountain, getting soaked, sticking his face over them, laughing, asking me to join him and when I did, got soaked because I didn't realize I was standing over top one of the holes. Screaming with shock and then laughing. Mason took a few spills but like the tough guy he is, got right back up and kept running and smiling.

The Big Sploosh, which Mason called it when all the streams of water came out at once and full force, shooting high into the air. The giggles and oh, the smiles. The simple, pure joy on his face. Sophie was the opposite. Not a big fan, crying when I held her in the water, but I think that was due to it being her nap time. Though after a quick picnic lunch Mason was back out running around with the other boys and I sat with Sophie on the edge and she started to feel more secure. Bouncing up and down, standing, smiling, clapping and overall enjoying herself. I can see that she might have been intimidated by the big steams of water shooting out of the ground. Even if the baby half her size was crawling around amidst the whole chaos and loving it. In due time. She is more picky and lets face it, high-maintenance compared to her brother.

Anyway you look at it, it was an awesome day full of fun and laughter. And I'm pretty sure we'll be heading back that way before the summer ends.
Pin It

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Summer Adventures: Neighborhood Pool

No summer can be complete with out a few trips to the neighborhood pool. When we first moved to this community two years ago, Mason was a year and a half and having had no pool in our previous neighborhood, we went almost every day. Something I have missed. The logistics of taking two kids to the pool by myself, more or less intimidating. However, I decided not to let my fear get in the way of a good time this summer. So I packed up all the swim stuff; towels, sunscreen, floaties, hats, toys, water, snacks, etc. and off we went.
Honestly is wasn't that bad. It was pretty manageable. Mason in his arm floaties and Sophie in the jet ski baby float, we navigated the big pool just fine. I think it helped that we were like the only ones there. At 11am. Still it was fun for us. Mason enjoys the baby pool more and I don't have to hold onto him or keep such a close eye and it makes things easier. I will definitely do it again. Though maybe at a later time, not so close to Sophie's nap time since she totally got cranky pants attitude and then fell asleep on my shoulder.

This summer we also decided to try out swim lessons for Mason. He had his first last Thursday.
Other than the fact that we, the coach and I, had to bribe him with a popsicle and car he did pretty good. Though agreeing to a swim lesson at 8am, what was I thinking?
He was scared at first, especially with a stranger and mommy night right there with him but after a while he warmed up and the fear lessened. Enough to even lay flat on his back and float with out reaching for me and my heart breaking from the fear in his eyes. I don't think it helped that he was still pretty tired, being that he just woke up and I shoved a tiny amount of food down his throat before shuffling us off to the pool. He eventually started to get the kicking and making splashes big enough to get me wet standing on the sidelines. Though the part he kept talking about was the blowing bubbles like candles on a birthday cake. So silly.

I am hoping we can continue. Help build his confidence and security especially when mommy is absent and really enjoy and learn something. He said he wanted to do it again and that's a good sign. I'm pretty sure he'll like it, once he gets used to it.
Pin It

Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer Adventures: Leesburg Petting Zoo

Last week our pick for a play date was the local animal petting zoo over by our old house in Leesburg. Our family goes every year for Pumpkinville but none of the other girls had been.

We arrived, meeting the girls and other kiddos in the parking lot. It was HOT! And when I say hot I mean frying in a pan like bacon hot. Sizzling. Almost unbearable. But we braved it anyway.
This particular day they had a coupon for a few dollars off if your child drew a picture of their favorite animal. Mason colored some squiggles on the sheet of paper and said it was a whale. I thought it was quite creative and am kicking myself for not having snapped a photo of it. Shame on me, Mrs. Photographer. Oh well.

Anyway the kids ticket came with a cone of food. We've never attempted to feed the animals before. At the time I thought maybe it was because of the cost or that we weren't sure if Mason would enjoy it. However he loved it.
Kept telling me that it tickled and come back for more.
Thought it was hysterical that the donkey and other animals were trying to eat the cone. Laughing that hysterical laugh of his and me snapping away. We eventually ran out of food and Mason wanted more. Knowing how much fun it looked I went and bought a cup of the food (it was a better deal than plunking in quarters for refills).

At some point, I think it was my brilliant idea, we decided to head to the contact area. The open space where animals are roaming free and you can pet and feed them. We've experienced this before and I must state that all previous encounters were incident free because of the story I am about to tell you.

Trying to get in was a bit of a pickle. Seeing as we were like the ONLY people there due to the horrendous heat, the animals flocked to us. This made it extremely difficult to get into the open space without letting free a few animals. I braved the swarm, with Sophie on my hip and snuck in, then took the food from Mason. My plan was to lure the animals to us so that everyone else could get in. The first part worked like a charm. The second, not so well. The animals did follow and invited all their friends till Sophie and I were surrounded by goats and a llama. Well they were impatient for me to feed them and started to jump on me. Yes I said JUMP ON ME. That's when I yelled, "HELP!" to anyone who could hear. The others seeing this, laughed and I'm sure said to themselves, girl is crazy if she thinks we are going in their now. So in my attempt to free Sophie and I of the madness I started flinging the food in hopes they would chase after it. In my flinging I noticed a little baby goat off to the side. Aw, I bet he's hungry. I thought to myself and headed in his direction. Bent down to give him some food from the cup and SLAM! Out of nowhere this other, bigger goat, came charging and rammed the poor baby goat causing him to hurl out of the way and the remaining food to go flying. It was this point that I said out loud to myself, "time to go." And with that I fled the area as best as possible as to not let free any more animals. Phew! Um, yeah, never doing that again. Now I think I know why we never attempted to feed the animals before. My poor son, screaming in fear at the sight of his mother being attacked by goats. I'm sure that will haunt him for life now. Gee, way to go Rachel. Perfect mothering skills right there. Let me tell you.

We tried to wait around for the pony rides I bought the kids but it was too darn hot and we all were wasting away. So back into the car and off to my house for some much needed A/C, yummy BBQ sandwhiches and mac-n-cheese.

It was an adventurous day. Maybe next time our visit won't be so traumatic or so blazing hot. One can always hope.
Pin It

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Independence Day: July 4th

July 4th. America's Birthday. The day of our independence from the tyranny of England. I think it is easy to forget the true meaning of the day and get caught up in the commercialized party. My kids are too young to understand, so yes, I am one of those who sees the day as an excuse to hang out with friends, get drunk and blow stuff up.

Every year our friends hold a bash at their house on a cul-de-sac. We each bring a dish, this year I made the cupcake pops patriotic style. Of course they were a hit. We chat, catch up, drink, laugh and wait for it to get dark. This year we brought our moon bounce and they had three kiddie pools set up. The kids had a blast. Especially since it felt like 100 degrees in the shade. Oh my this heat is going to kill us, if the humidity didn't already do it.

Someone must have put a little too much goodness in the Margarita mix because we all found ourselves a little tipsy to say the least. Good think we had the fireworks to get sober. The kids did great. I put Sophie in the Ergo carrier and Mason had daddy holding his ears, till our friends let us borrow his ear phones. No crying or begging to go home so this year is considered a success.
I tried out the fireworks setting on my canon powershot and was pleased with the out come. Though maybe next year I'll bring my SLR and tripod, and I still need to work on those pool photos. *sigh* Next year.
Pin It

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Moon Dough

June 3oth(ish). I remember seeing the commercial. Promising that this would be a revolutionary new way for my kid to play. Mess Free. The parts that sold me? Hypo allergenic and Never dries out. Boy do I have sucker written all over my face because I went straight out to Target and bought the doggie house and two sets of extra colors (giving us 6 colors in total). Figured we were all set.
Then we got home took it out and played with it. And it was not what I expected at all.

I've never used or played with Moon Sand but I imagine Moon dough is a bit like that. IT GETS EVERYWHERE. The stuff is soft, actually it feels kinda weird, but it is not able to be free molded. You have to use molds which do come out very nice with awesome detail. But the stuff crumbles so easily and makes an incredible mess. Not to mention the infinite hazardous warnings in the directions. It must have stated like 6 times to avoid water/liquid. I'm not sure what happens if you get it wet but it terrified me enough to not even question. Not to mention they warn against getting it in or near your eye, and mouth. Oh and yes, you must wash your hands with soap after playing with the stuff. WTF? This is meant for 3 year olds?! Whatever.
As much fun as my son had playing with the stuff, which I made him to outside, I was paranoid the whole time of him getting it on his clothes, or in his mouth, eyes, and making him sick and god knows what else. Cause really it was the fear of God that they put into me after reading those directions.

I think it is needless to say that the remaining unopened dough went back to Target and the others straight into the trash. Play-doh is just fine. It may dry out, but I find that Non-toxic and inexpensive, far out weigh any risk to my children's health. Plus you can be way more creative with it and it comes it a whole lot more colors.
Pin It

Thursday, July 8, 2010

There she goes...

Taking her first solo steps and starting to walk. Can you tell how proud and excited I am?
All I can say about this is, FINALLY.
Pin It

Monday, July 5, 2010

31 Candles

This is what 31 candles on a cake looks like. Only a minor fire hazard, as Fred was screaming at me to blow them out right now. No seriously blow them out!

Despite the close encounter with the fire alarm. We enjoyed the beautifully delicious m&m chocolate cake picked out by my son. The kid has great taste.

It was a great way to end a birthday spent with my sister and two nieces.

Oh yeah that and the wonderful flowers my son carried in for me, that he personally picked out from their trip to the store. Do I have the best kid or what?
Pin It

Friday, July 2, 2010

Summer Adventures: Discovery Museum

Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum

This week we went to the closest children's discovery museum in the area. I had been told by my niece and sister that it was a great place, but it was actually amazing. The kids had so much fun.

Mason headed straight for the marbles of course. This has been a favorite ever since he got an apparatus like this for Christmas.
I wasn't even sure I'd be able to get him away from all these but I managed to get him to follow the other kids into the Native American Iroquois village room. Where the drums were an instant hit with ALL the kids in our group.
Even Sophie got in on the action. It got pretty crazy in there for a while but it looked like so much fun.
Next was probably the most mesmerizing room for the kids as a whole. You get to create your own "roller coaster" and then test it out.

and the visit was ended with Mason showing his strength and skill in the apple packing production line.
Wheeling the apples to the pulling system.
Pulling the apples to the top. And I know I shouldn't have been surprised that he could do it, he is a strong little boy and has been from the young age of only a year old. But I couldn't help myself, being so proud of him for doing it.
My little apple packer. So proud.

After, we all drove to Jim Barnett park to have a picnic lunch. It was such a fun time. Mostly because the weather was so nice. Mason was freaking out that the tablecloth and every thing else was going to blow away with the wind. Sophie and James fought over the blueberries. The boys played in the rocks and with sticks along the path.
We laughed, shared stories and enjoyed a brief change in these blazing dog days of summer.
Pin It