Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Sappy Story

We took a nature hike today at Oregon Ridge and learned how to spot a Maple tree, tap it for sap, and then boil it down into syrup.  We also learned how the Indians boiled it down (by placing the sap in a hollowed out log and then adding in hot stones), how the colonials did it (by boiling it in a kettle over a fire), and how the next generation that came along did it....I forget who they were and how they did it, but their way was close to how it's done today.  After learning all about maple syrup, we headed up to the nature center to play with the turtles and frogs and birds.  Joel manned the camera so all the below are courtesy of him.

Hiking off to look for a maple tree.

We bought Hannah a 75 cents bird whistle at the nature center.
 ALSO....I forgot about these pics Eric took earlier in the week.  Atticus came over to play for a bit one afternoon and, much to her delight, Hannah got to feed him his green bean snack.

Aren't they cute snuggling!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Up Close and Personal with the Giraffes

The cool thing about going to the zoo in the winter time is that it's so un-crowded that you feel kinda special, like you've got special back stage passes or something.  Since last week was so warm, we thought a trip to the zoo would be perfect. Turns out Sunday was not that warm, but it was close to 40 which was warm enough.

First we saw the rhinos and zebras.

Then the penguins...Hannah loves birds.
Seeing the giraffes in the giraffe house was pretty amazing; those animals seem so much larger up close than they do when viewing them walking around their yard...

We went to the chimpanzee house next and although the smell was pretty bad initially, the heat was fantastic and the chimps were hysterical so we stayed a while and watched them wrestle with each other and swing from all their ceiling-hanging toys.  I took a bunch of pics but since the chimps are behind glass, there's a glare on all of them....

We heart the zoo.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tot Trails at Port Discovery

Whatever 24-hour bug I had attacked Eric on Saturday so we left him at home in bed and went to Port Discovery to check out the new Tot Trails exhibit with Adrienne and Kylie instead.  I normally avoid public places on the weekend since that's when the rest of the world is out and about which makes everything take forever and seriously tries my patience, and Port Discovery is no different, but fortunately it's big enough to accommodate the masses without feeling crowded.  We got to the parking garage a few minutes after 10:00 and watched car after family car full of kids pull in after us as we made our way to the elevator.  The ticket line was out the door, but we had our tickets on hold so we skipped right through to the members desk with a huge sigh of relief.

The reason I say all this is because the first thing we noticed (and liked) about the Tot Trails exhibit is how quiet it was.  It must be super insulated or something because the second the door closed behind us there was this quiet calm in spite of there being a number of people there.  Ahhhh! So nice.

Hannah beelined for this giant stuffed sea turtle and immediately carried it over to the fish tank (empty of fish for some reason) to try to put the turtle in the tank.

These sand dune things were pretty cool. There were lots of textured balls to roll up and down the hills and over the bumps.

HoppinTots has this bilibo shell thingys so Hannah knew what to do with it.  I helped her sit down and spin around and relax in the ocean area for a bit.

I think they did a really nice job decorating.  Isn't it pretty?

I always thought these object-filled tube thingys were kinda cool.  The library has them too and leaves them out before story time.  I'm always wondering where I can get some clear plastic tubes like that so I can make my own and have fun filling them with all kinds of cool stuff.  I like how Hannah picked up the one with all the multi-colored balls that kinda match her shirt.

Kylie liked the one full of feathers.

Kylie's favorite part of the exhibit was the sandbox. Once she found it, we couldn't pull her away from it.

Okay, this next part was pretty cool and scored high with me on creativity.  Within the "forest" is a butterfly catching station.  You fill that tube thing in the pic below with a bunch of fabric butterflies (all shown in Hannah's net) and then when you hit the blue button, air blows the butterflies up into the air and all around.  There are four nets on the wall that the kids can use to catch the butterflies.
Tot Trails also had a reading nook, one of those screens that projects on the floor and senses movement (so you can "kick" the leaves and they actually move, like the one at Arundel Mills), puppets, and a great climbing/crawling area in the forest.

After about an hour in Tot Trails, Hannah headed for the door.  Kylie was bummed to leave the sandbox, but she forgot about it pretty quickly when she saw all the other cool exhibits.  Much to my delight, Hannah immediately started climbing up this netted tunnel with zero coaxing from me (the nets in the center are my favorite part).  When she first got on there were some bigger kids ahead of her on the net, and every time the net moved as a result of their moving, Hannah started laughing. It was awesome! I love her fearlessness and sense of adventure!

Once at the top, we walked around and found this tunnel, the same one we went down last time, and went down it again, laughing all the way.

Kylie and Adrienne were right behind us the whole time! I snapped a variety of pics of them, but all are blurry except this one where the color is very orange-y...

The diner was up next and was a big hit with the girls.  They collected food, cooked at the stove, stacked plates, washed their hands in the sink....They've really started to play together kind of cutely.  I mean, not always together, obviously, due to their age, but they're aware of each other now.  If Hannah didn't see Kylie for a few minutes, she'd stop what she was doing, look around, and yell "Ky! Kyyyyy...."

It's easy to lose track of time in that place because there is SO MUCH fun stuff to do! We ended up leaving later than we should have and missed Hannah's sleep window which made it hard for her to wind down, but she eventually passed out.  I'm bummed that we still haven't gotten to take Eric, but having Kylie there totally made up for it!  Anyway, we recently joined the Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance and one of the joining perks is a free 3-month membership to Port Discovery so I imagine we'll have plenty of other opportunities to take Eric.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Playground...On Thursday, Not Friday

As soon as I turned off my computer last night I realized the giant error in my last post, which was that although we had a great weekend, we did not go to the playground on Friday. The "great" part of the weekend was on pause from Thursday night at 9:00 until 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning.  Friday was the day that I was dead to the world and confined to my room/the bathroom with a crazy stomach bug.  (And Saturday was Eric's day with the bug...)  We did, however, go to the playground on Thursday afternoon when Eric got home from work.  The weather was amazingly spring-like, so we really had no choice but to get out, and since we have no yard, hello playground! I took the camera because I wanted to compare our first trip to the playground this year with her very first trip ever in April of last year.  She was so little then!!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hannah Plays Dress Up...With a Changing Table Cover

We just had an awesome weekend--the playground on Friday, Port Discovery on Saturday, and the Zoo this morning--and I've actually got all the photos uploaded and edited, but now late and I'm too tired for a big post.  Instead, here are two photos we took tonight of Hannah playing dress up for the first time.  Please note that the cape-like thing she's wearing is actually a cover for her changing table.  She pulled it out of the drawer this evening and got really frustrated when we couldn't figure out what she wanted us to help her do with it.  On a whim, I wrapped it around her like a cape and wha la! That's what she wanted.  Then she grabbed the SPF 50 sun hat we picked up at Target today, put it on her head, and started making her way down the stairs to the front door.  She likes to pretend to go to work like her daddy. Oh, and yes she is wearing Christmas PJs underneath the "cape;" we're not in the habit of dressing her after her nap if we have no intention of leaving the house.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fever Time

Fingers are crossed that my fever disappears by morning or there will be no play date at Port Discovery for me...Fingers are also crossed that Hannah doesn't end up with whatever gut-emptying, chills inducing, body aching bug that waged war on my body at about 9:00 last night and has rendered me miserable and useless ever since.

Many thanks to my mommy for taking an unpaid day off work to take care of me and Hannah.  There's no way I could have done it alone....Off to take some medicine and go to bed now...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Giant Play Date, This Saturday, Port Discovery, You Should Come!!!

Let's have a giant play date at Port Discovery on Saturday morning, k??  I just got word that the new Tot Trails permanent exhibit had their grand opening earlier this month, and I wanna check it out.  There are a bunch of you locally who have children in the 0-36 months age range who I haven't seen in eons for one reason or another, so I think we should all get together and let Port Discovery be the host and that way nobody's house gets destroyed.

Here's a blurb from their website describing Tot Trails:

While exploring some very unique landmarks and landscapes of Maryland, children and their caregivers will engage in hands-on exploration in a space that sparks imagination and inspires curiosity...Infants will develop their gross motor skills and balance coordination as they can crawl, roll, and wiggle through cushioned, mirrored "tidal pools" and "dune walk." Young toddlers will test their problem-solving skills as they maneuver their way through the Mountain Trail and Paw Paw Tunnel, while exercising their imaginations by digging for fossils and playing with puppets.

How fun does that sound??? I'm so psyched that I'm even skipping yoga....That's big. I wish they'd get some Sunday morning hours so I didn't have to do that, but they don't open until noon on Sundays, so Saturday it is! We're planning on arriving when the doors open at 10:00 a.m. and will probably be there until around noon depending on when Hannah wakes up that morning.

More specifics:
Cost: Ages 2 and up is $12.95.  Your babies are free even though this exhibit is tailored to them!
TIP: if anybody else bought that Zoo Groupon back in December and is now a member, bring your membership card on Saturday because Zoo members get 1/2 off their ticket cost for the month of February (for up to 4 people).
Directions and parking, click here.
TIP: You might remember my previous post about our trip to Port Discovery in which I complained about having to pay $10 for parking at the Harbor Park Garage, wellllll, they offer discount parking on weekends so bring your ticket in with you and get it validated.

And now, as Jon Stewart would say, your moment of Zen:

See you on Saturday!!! (Hopefully!)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bubbly Banana

I love this photo that Laura took and edited with her iPhone during bath time on Monday night.  It's at the top of my list of "photos I really want to print and frame."  Unfortunately, there are a kabillion photos on that list since I've only ever printed and framed ONE Hannah pic in the last 18 months....

Photo by Laura Socks

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dog Days

Unfortunately, we won't be dog sitting for Domino after all.  His health has been on a steady decline for the last year or so (he's 13 which is like 90 in people years) and got drastically worse in the last week. Laura has spent the last 13 years utterly in love with Domino and dreading the day when he wouldn't be around any longer, but in spite of selfishly wanting to hang on to him forever, she made what was probably the hardest decision of her life and allowed him to die last night, peacefully, rather than continue deteriorating and living in pain.

My dad has also been faced with that same difficult decision in the last few weeks after discovering that his beautiful golden retriever, Roc T. Rex, had a tumor on his spleen.  Since this is the same thing that killed him and Sondra's other dog, Bonnie, just 3 months ago, they were ready for the signs this time around and had Roc put down on Friday morning when his suffering seemed unbearable. It'll be sad going to my dad's now and not having Roc greet me outside when I pull up and Bonnie greet me when I come inside...Life without dogs once a dog has been there is so empty and sad.

To cheer up, Dad and Sondra came down on Sunday to soak up the rays of Hannah sunshine. Nothing like A Banana to brighten up a somber mood!

Coloring with Pappy and Grandma Kearns.
Reading a story to Pappy and Grandma.
Laughing at Pappy's goatee.
Showing Grandma the pretty birds.
While Hannah was reading to my dad and Sondra, Laura was snuggling Domino, knowing that his time was running out and trying to enjoy as much of it as possible until then.  

On her way up the stairs for a nap, Hannah was distracted by Domino's bed and considered taking a nap there.

Amy was also visiting on Sunday and she brought some fancy pants products with her so we decided to get girly and have spa day.  First we used an exfoliating peel, then we put on this charcoal pore cleansing mask. It just occurred to me that we should have taken an AFTER picture because we were all pretty gorgeous after with these fresh, glowing faces....But during is funnier and funny is better than gorgeous, right? I tend to think so.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Meet Domino

We are dog sitting Domino for the next month or so while Laura tours the west coast singing with the J.P. Harris and the Tough Choices (she's also their band manager). They arrived this morning, and Laura will be here helping Domino acclimate until Wednesday.  I took a few pics of Hannah groggily snuggling with Domino after she woke up from her nap today.  So far Hannah is loving having a dog, and Domino seems to think that she's some kind of treat machine since she's always trying to feed him, which means that everyone is happy!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Banana Grows Like a Beanpole

Hannah had her 18-month checkup this morning.  She's still long and lean (15th percentile for weight and 90th for length), and has all her teeth except her 2-year molars.  The best part about this particular visit is that she didn't have to get any shots!!! Woohoooo!!!  Here's the stats:

Height: 33-1/2 inches
Weight: 21-1/2 inches
Head circumference: 49 cm

I never got the camera fixed, but it magically started working again so I took this shot of Hannah coloring at the coffee table on Tuesday.  I love the little foot kick she's got going on with the boots we got her at the Bass outlet a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Oatmeal Carrot Cookies for The Banana

I don't understand the obsession with pumping children fully of sugar, but people seem to love to do it. Fortunately most of my friends and family know that I'm uptight with what I let Hannah eat and they'll either ask before giving her something or just not even bother giving it to her.  Most people pick on me about it though, joking that they're gonna give Hannah cookie.  I laugh in an attempt to take the joke, but it's an uncomfortable laugh because I KNOW how people are and I know that even though they're kidding, they're still dying to be the one who turns Hannah on to the world of sugar.  Is it just our culture that uses sugar to buy our way into the hearts of children or does the whole world have this obsession?

Lest you think I'm just another crazily over-protective mama, you should know that I was crazy way before I was an over-protective mama. Back when I was a full-time babysitter, I was stricter than the parents with when (not before lunch and only then if all vegetables were eaten) and how much (no more than 1-2 cookies PER DAY) sugar the boys could have. I cringed when the dad would stop in mid-morning for an early lunch and pass out oatmeal cookies to the boys.  I was so strict with them about eating healthy that the mom once told me that during difficult dinners she would threaten to "get Terri over here" and that would be enough to make them shape up and eat.  I think I should take this moment to clarify that although I am a member of the clean plate club, I recognize that it's not a healthy club to be a part of, and I do not require the children in my care to be members of this club in order to get dessert.  Still, I can't help thinking that if you're too full to eat your peas, then you're too full to eat ice cream.  When peas are constantly pushed aside for ice cream, the end result is picky eaters, and there is little that annoys me more than a picky eater, so I vowed a long time ago that I would do everything in my power to make sure my future kid was not a picky eater.  (There's an article in the current issue of Psychology Today that says that there are some picky eaters who can't control and who are picky in spite of parents who were strict with food. Suffice it to say that I mean no disrespect to anyone in that category.)

My guiding principle has been that if the food has little to no nutritional value, there is no reason for Hannah to eat it.  Empty calories take up valuable space in tiny tummies and prevent the good stuff from getting in there.  But more than that, sugar is incredibly addictive. I know because I've been addicted pretty much since I got pregnant.  For a long time prior to that I wasn't in to sugar at all because I had sensitive teeth and it just made them hurt and after a while, I stopped craving sugar all together. Your taste buds adjust (The article mentioned above explained this concept so I know it's not just me who has experienced adjusting taste buds).  The main reason I've avoided giving Hannah sugar is because I know how easy it is to get addicted, and I want Hannah to have a chance to develop a taste for vegetables first

Hmmm....I've gone on a bigger rant than I expected. The reason I logged on tonight was to tell you that lately I've found myself inching up to the outer edge of the mass of people eager to give Hannah a taste of something sweet.  Since I'm not willing to compromise my principles just yet, I went hunting for a healthy cookie recipe, and found an awesome one! These yummy Carrot Oatmeal Cookies are probably the healthiest I've ever seen (if you've seen healthier or equally as healthy, please share!), and I wanted to share them with you in case you're looking for a yummy healthy cookie recipe for your own munchkins. The only sweetener in these cookies is 1/2 cup of maple syrup which is considerably less than most recipes.  The rest of the cookie is whole wheat flour, carrots, and oats.  I made them tonight and added 1/2 cup of raisins and 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut, and they turned out awesome. I can't wait to give one to Hannah tomorrow (afternoon)!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Shoes and Family Time

In our quest for cute, cheap shoes, we headed west to Hagerstown on Sunday to visit family and peruse the shoe selection at the outlet.  We stopped at my Aunt Pam's first and left Hannah there with my cousin Kim cousin-in-law Jason, my Aunt Pam and Uncle Donny, and my mom.  Chip, Erica, and Clay showed up later.  Eric and I ran off for a morning date of sorts...Shopping!  Not my favorite thing to do, but it was definitely an easier task without a toddler, and we were victorious so yay!! We found Hannah pair of Ugg-like boots at the Bass outlet for $10 to get her through the rest of winter and a pair of Converse at RackRoom Shoes for $10.50.  The Converse are white with neon green and pink velcro straps. They're pretty cute and very retro.  I forgot to take a pic of them earlier and can't find one online, but I'll show 'em to you sooner or later! We also got Hannah's winter coat for next year from the Columbia outlet. It's really nice with a zip in fleece liner and hood that folds up to get out of the way. The original ticket price was $120. We paid $23.  Nice, huh?

Our camera needs to see a doctor so the only pic I got was this one of Hannah coloring with her Aunt Erica.

Fortunately, Kim went mamarazzi for me and posted all her pics to FB where I promptly stole them, took the liberty of editing them a teeny bit, and and reposted them here. Thanks Kim!

The babies playing with my Uncle Donny.
Hannah reading with my cousin-in-law, Jason.
Clay and Hannah playing hide-and-seek.
I'm just realizing that Erica is the only female who made it into any of the shots...Weird.