Wednesday, September 30, 2009

...and Alex came tumbling after

Alex wasn't feeling the best today, so we started off the day by lounging around in our pj's. She actually took a HUGE tumble down the stairs (she was wearing her cowboy hat and carrying her blankie which got wrapped around her feet) from the top of the studio to the first landing. It was horrifying to watch her trip in (what seemed like) slow motion. Thankfully, she rolled sideways instead of head over heels, and was more scared than hurt. (Well, as she said, "a little scared, Mama") We also seem to have picked up a cold (yuck), so a day of rest and pampering is always good for that.
This afternoon, she was feeling a bit more peppy, so we decided to try out the new watercolors that she got for her birthday (thanks Grandma Mary!) After a quick tutorial, she was ready to go! What an enjoyable afternoon-- I got to sew and even sketch a little while Alex painted and colored in the studio next to me. I find it developmentally interesting that she has just started consistently identifying 'subjects' of her drawings. How fun!

She was very proud to be drawing 'just like Mama'! Her latest work is entitled "Mommy and Daddy". I was impressed by the many variants of blue she ended up with-- no help or suggestions from Mama, either!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Almost 2 (2 days left!)

Alex went to school this morning with her new Birthday outfit on! Her teacher, Ms. Marjorie, had a special sticker for her and led the class in singing Happy Birthday! Mamas finally separated to another room for a short while this morning, and while some kids had a rough time, Alex was excited to keep playing with her friends. Her favorite activity today was to work at the play workbench, "building houses for dog".
After class, we headed to the Mall of America. Every Tuesday ("Toddler Tuesday"), Underwater Adventures offers half price memberships. I was reluctant to believe the rumors, but they are true! We got a year long double membership (for Dave and me, since Under 3's are free) for $35!!!
We had a gift card to Rainforest Cafe, and Alex and I enjoyed a nice lunch. We made sure to sit far enough away from the gorillas so they weren't threatening, but Alex needed to still keep them in sight, just so they didn't creep up on her. She was a bit disconcerted by their occasional 'performance' until we made up a silly story about the conversation they were having with each other.
My Birthday Girl had a great morning. We did stop by Janie & Jack for a few more pieces from their sale rack (.....of course), and also had a surprise! Alex and I have tickets to go see "I Like Me" (based on the children's book by MN author Nancy Carlson) Thursday in Hopkins. The kids from the ensemble just happened to be giving a sneak peek performance this morning at the MOA! I'm really glad I bought tickets, because Alex was enthralled with the dancing and singing. She even got to meet some of the cast after the performance, and they volunteered to sing her "Happy Birthday" after Thursday's show!

Monday, September 28, 2009

To top it all off....a trip to the ZOO!

Cathleen accompanied us to music class this morning (where she was a trooper-- marching around the room with a bunch of toddlers banging sticks together...). After class we decided that in order to end a weekend of Zoo-related festivities properly, we'd better head to the actual Zoo.

Did I mention that fall is my FAVORITE time of year? The weather was windy, but perfect-- brisk and cool enough to get by with just a sweater and jeans. How refreshing!
Alex was very excited to share the zoo with her Godmother. We headed to the Bald Eagle on the MN Trail first, followed by the Tropics, then a 'micnik' lunch in the cafe, a stroll down the Grizzly Coast, and then it was time for something NEW-- a treat to commemorate the occasion!
Alex and Uncle Willy (who finally hitched a ride back to Des Moines on Sunday) started watching a new PBS show called "Dinosaur Train". They both LOVE it (not kidding....Will is kind of addicted), and Alex was so excited to get to ride the "Dinosaur Train" (monorail) at the MN Zoo today. It was the first time she'd done so since she was an infant, and enjoyed every minute of it.

After we dropped Cathleen off at the airport to catch her return flight, we met Daddy at home. There was a wind advisory out today, so we decided to take advantage and try to fly our kites in the backyard. This attracted the attention of about six neighbor kids, who came over and took turns (very nicely) with Alex's kites. She enjoyed watching them try to fly the kites as much as she did when it was her turn to hold one!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The day after...

Sunday was "lounge around in our sweatshirts" day! We started out with a waffle bar for all of our houseguests (we had 11 people sleeping in our house last night!), and after our family all left, Alex and her Godmother Cathleen played outside on the grass for a while.

Then I walked into a full out DANCE PARTY in my kitchen! :-)

We were overjoyed to see Auntie Carrie this afternoon/evening. She was unable to be at the ZooBilee, so she raced over here today to spend some time with her "favorite niece".

Alex, Auntie Carrie and Cathleen made dinner for us all. We made a homemade Margherita pizza with 'from scratch' crust, fresh pesto (complements of basil from Great-Auntie Robyn's garden), fresh tomatoes (also from Superior, WI), and a beautiful log of fresh mozzerella cheese (made from my new Holstein-Angus mix, Gertrude).

Ok- so we didn't have homemade cheese from a fictious cow, but everything else was fresh from the land! What a treat (if only I'd taken a photo of the finished product...)

Saturday, September 26, 2009


First off, thank you to everyone who was able to attend Alex's 2nd Birthday ZooBilee! It was a great success and worth every moment of prep time (which was, needless to say, vast :-) We enjoyed a great party with about 18 guests who were able to join us! Here are some photos of the party (with SHORT captions)

The centerpiece was, of course, the Costco cake.......and a great many Schleich animals from Alex's personal collection were parading as well.Each dish had a 'zoo' name. This one was "Penguin Poppers".Alex and Graham working on a craft while waiting for more guests to arrive. (They really liked the glue dots....big hit)We 'fenced' off the yard with home-made flag banners and a sign to give the backyard a festive aire.Alex and Mama having a chat.First activity: Alligator Egg hunt! Cousin 'Jay-Jay' placed the eggs brilliantly so that the four toddlers could find them with ease. They had a fantastic time searching.But a better time comparing the 'prizes' inside (stickers and mini snakes/lizards)."Feed the Tiger" beanbag game was also a hit. Amelia loved giving the Mama tiger lots and lots of food.But, for all the pre-planned games I had lined up, the impromptu game of 'transfer ice from the beer cooler to the water table' seemed to be the most fun for ALL.We sang "Happy Birthday" outside, and Alex was elated to blow out her candles...and eat her cake!Thank you all for the wonderful presents. Among other things, Alex received a handmade apron, felted puppets, art/craft supplies, large manipulatives, a Norwegian dress and mittens, wonderful antique wooden nesting blocks, a 1907 penny, and tons of beautifully written (and illustrated) books!It's hard to tell, but Cousin Lauren is holding the webcam. Grandma Mary and Grandpa Bob were able to 'join' us via Skype for present opening. Alex was so happy to see them on the computer!
Alex and her doll wearing their new Norwegian outfits from GrandMama and GrandPapa Jones.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Family Arrives...

Well, it's down to 24 hours before Zoobilee, and the guests have started arriving! :-) GrandMama & GrandPapa Jones got here just in time for me to make my final trip to Costco to pick up Al's cake. Auntie Rorie arrived after classes, and Dave and Cathleen are due in from Chicago any moment.
Alex is very excited about her party tomorrow, but she didn't have too hard of a time falling asleep (I chalk it up to being exhausted after all the playing she did today).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Busy, busy monkey!

Well, I apologize for the spotty updates, but unfortunately it will continue for the next few days, as preparations for Alex's 2nd Birthday Zoo-Bilee! are underway (even her lilypie ticker at the top of the blog has been changed in anticipation of her celebration theme). Alex received a package from Grandma Mary yesterday, and per her instructions, was able to open part of her birthday present early. She has been running around the house with various animal masks on all day long! (She thinks it's really funny to 'scare' Will and me when she's wearing the tiger mask).
The cookies are done-- baked, frosted and individually wrapped-- and all the decorations are ready to go, too (I was inspired to create reusable banners to string up around the yard). Now it's down to food prep and cleaning the house. It's been invaluable having Uncle Willy around to help watch Alex while I vacuum and organize!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Adventures in Music

At Woodbury Days not too long ago, we stumbled across a local teacher who offered music classes in Woodbury, and ended signing up for her "Adventures in Music" class. Alex was very excited to go to class this morning and meet a 'new teacher' and 'new friends'. I was a bit skeptical (because of my strong Kindermusik loyalty), but decided to give her a try. It was a wonderful class. If I were to design a music class curriculum, it would have mirrored the one used today! She integrates fingerplay, classic children's songs, nursery rhymes, poetry, illustrations, and classical music (today was Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens) into a half hour parent-child experience.
While Alex was a bit cautious about throwing herself completely into class, and needed reassurance from Mama that it was ok to participate, I'm sure she will soon warm up. She did have a blast drumming and marching to "Fossils".

Sunday, September 20, 2009

On the 'train'

Funny how mothers day and mothers birthday it's a day for dad to
takethe kid:

Friday, September 18, 2009

Animal Tracks

For fun today we continued our Animal unit, and talked about animal tracks. Our Schleich collection has come in very handy, as they meticulously design even the feet of their miniature animals. We used Playdough to make animal tracks over and over and over! Then we matched them to their owners and talked about the differences between hooves, flippers, talons and paws!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Party Prep!

Since Alex's 2nd birthday party is next weekend, I've started preparing. Uncle Willy and I designed a "Feed the Tiger" beanbag toss, and today I finished crafting the beanbags. I'm quite happy with them and didn't want to wait to unveil them at the party. :-) All in all, it was a pretty fast and easy project (although I do have to replenish our bag of dried beans from the 'emergency food shelf'.....oops :-)

A Popular Place

Well-- it wasn't actually, which is what makes the following coincidence even better! Alex, Uncle Willy and I headed off to the MN Children's Museum this morning, thanks to Brad (who gave Al & me a year membership as our joint birthday presents!). We entered just as storytime started!

Then it was off to the water room, definitely one of Alex's favorite spots....and look who we ran into there! Our friends Amelia, Graham and Maddie with their mommies! How funny! The kids had fun playing with the boats and bubbles-- then Amelia, Graham and Maddie headed off to explore another room, and Alex and Uncle Willy started to figure out the inner workings of a factory.
Writing a Memo "From the Desk of Alex" to her employees.
Showing off her butterfly
What a fantastic gift! Alex and I will spend many, many hours here, I can tell (especially in the winter). Thanks so much Brad :-)