Friday, July 30, 2010

Lavender Farm

Aunt Gretchen and I brought the kiddos out to Streetsboro (on the far east side) today – to a Lavender farm. The Daybreak Lavender Farm - to be specific (it was designated by the 125 General Assembly of the Ohio State Senate as the First Lavender Farm in the State's History (according to their website)).

Set on 14 acres, the DayBreak Lavender Farm has lavender (are you asking yourself why I felt the need to list lavender?), daisies, misc other flowers, chickens (which was enough entertainment for Carter), berries, asparagus, trails, a small lake – and even a canoe-building workshop (according to their website).

Gretchen and I visited the boutique as well as the farm – and spent money in both places (happily). I bought some soap and teas ( presents for nana and papa for next week) at the boutique and at the farm we (of course) bought some fresh lavender (that Carter helped us pick out).I know that in previous years there was a big lavender festival, and this year there was not a festival – but in my opinion – I think it’s just as fun to go pick your own lavender (and Carter and Avery enjoyed hanging out with Gretchen). And Carter was just happy to see chickens, a pile of dirt and bees (although this scared the crap out of me…I don’t like bugs…that sting) but what can ya do - he’s a boy. And Avery was just happy to be in her stroller outside (that Carter kept an eye on) – being pushed through some fields of lavender (my arms may not be so happy about that tonight). Don’t be fooled though – Avery isn’t always happy-go-lucky on our adventures… in fact, she wasn’t so happy on our way to the farm (she gave Gretchen a taste of her screaming sessions) – when she realized that mommy hadn’t fed her prior to leaving. So Aunt Gretchie had to lean into the backseat to try to get half a bottle into her. We love you Aunt Gretchen!

Avery also had some quality Aunt Gretchen time this weekend. It was love at first sight (for both of them).

For more information on the Daybreak Farm, go to: http://www.daybreaklavenderfarm.com

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Jumpy Jump Jump Jump (as Yo Gabba Gabba would say)

We visited the JumpYard in North Royalton yesterday (Wednesday - I'm having internet connection issues).

It’s an indoor playground for kids. There were inflatable toys galore, slides, games, video games, a cafeteria (with very kid-friendly food), a toddler area (complete with a train set (a Carter favorite)), wi-fi, etc.

And we had a very special treat: daddy joined us! Chad was able to go with us - as this activity was an evening one. So - he took a few picture of Carter and I playing too (so don't mind the rear view... what can I say...he's a guy).

I would highly highly recommend the Jump Yard. It's a wonderful time for kids (toddler and up). It's very clean, very stimulating (they had tv's with cartoons (and sports for adults), kids music playing) etc.

Avery even seemed stimulated - don't mind the fact that Avery puked right when I snapped this picture (I honestly didn't even notice it until I was downloading my pictures).

I can't say that it's 100% stroller-friendly (there was a second play area that was up a few stairs (with no ramp to bring a stroller up) ... so Avery and I hung out in the cafeteria while Chad and Carter played up there). But - outside of that - it's a very family-friendly adventure and it's a great great deal (very affordable).


Today's activity was a trip to a park and playground with aunt Gretchen. AND I completely forgot my camera. So...you'll just have to trust me...it was fun. Parks and playgrounds are always fun for kids (and adults). Not the most exciting blog post (yay...another park)...but really...did you expect me to have a lengthy post about each day (if you said yes to that...you don't have an infant...and you're evil).

Monday, July 26, 2010

Missing the Point:

Today’s activity was not lost on me. Frustrating as the whole experience was at the time – the reason why we were able to go to such an incredible location was definitely not lost on me.

Today, we visited a playground on the east side of Cleveland (in Beachwood) called Preston’s Hope Playground.

This playground was created by the friends and family of a little boy that was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. They wanted to create a playground where all kids could feel movement, play on all toys, and feel boundary -free. And we should all feel lucky that we have this playground - as it is one of the most extraordinary playgrounds that I have ever seen ... and, it's FREE (although donations are helpful).

Located in Beachwood (near the Jewish Community Center) the playground consist of a huge (kid sized) village - complete with roads, a fire station, a school, a jail, etc., swings, a huge sandbox (with dinosaur bones and toys), bridges, boats, trains, jungle gyms, more toys,

slides, picnic areas, etc. It's quite an experience. Not your normal playground... it has a little bit (ok, a lot) of everything. Great fun for all aged kids (AND you don't have to worry (as much) if you have toddlers - the ground is all psuedo padded).

The reason the experience was slightly frustrating was because there was a playgroup of moms there that I didn’t exactly see eye to eye with (to put it mildly).

In the back of my head, I always have this mommy-guilt that I am never doing enough. Enough educational activities, enough cultural activities, if I nap (when Chad’s home) – I feel like I have lost quality time with my children, if I feed my child McDonalds…well…don’t get me started on the mommy guilt with that. And it bugs me to hear people talk about stay-at-home moms like they’re lazy or whatever other negative stereotype.

But…there are those moms too. The ones that give stay-at-home mom’s a bad reputation.. And their children sort of raise themselves while the moms fester about brand name clothes, this season’s fashions, what so-and-so’s wife wore to the salon the other day, etc. And I want to personally punch all of those women.

I guess I had my opportunity to today (although I didn't take it... I'm such a wimp). I saw them walking in – the playdate group of overly made-up, overly dressed up moms. Two of the three moms wearing heels…to a park. Everything on them was in place…perfect place. But whatever – “to each their own”…I thought. In fact, more power to them for not wearing a shirt with spit-up all over it (like me).

About 45 minutes later – as I was chasing Carter (pushing Avery in the stroller) through the little village of buildings, I noticed that the moms were still on the same picnic bench still gossiping – not watching their children what-so-ever. Oh well ... “not my problem” … I thought.
About 10 minutes later – when Carter went to play with a shovel in the sandbox – one of the mom’s daughters screamed at my son and pushed him (mind you – the girl was about 5 or 6…so she knew better …she wasn’t a toddler struggling with ‘right-from-wrong’).

And the mom watched … and went back to gossiping. This was about 'it' for me. I walked over and calmly explained to the little girl that Carter just wanted to take a turn with the shovel and that he could wait for his turn…but pushing is mean and hurts people’s feelings.

To which she ROLLED HER EYES AT ME…and yelled “MOM – this little boy is trying to take the shovel” and then she proceeded to shove him again. Now…I know kids push each other, have problems sharing, etc…my issue wasn’t with the girl (although…I can be a little territorial…and if that eye-rolling-she-devil shoved my little angel one more time I was about to show her where else that shovel could go)…it was with the mom’s lack of reaction.

So I gave the mom the “look.” The mom look. The why-the-F-aren’t-you-doing-anything-about-this look. And she rolled her eyes and looked away. Like bitchy mother…like bitchy daughter. So I explained to the little girl that it was Carter’s turn – and if she had a problem with that – she could have her mom come talk to me…knowing full well that the mom wouldn’t leave her gossip…or be caught dead looking bad in front of her friends (and I would make sure she would look bad). So the little girl (of course) went to tell on me…and of course her mom ignored her.

And as I sat by the sandbox happily watching Carter play (with Avery in my lap) …I could overhear the playdate gossip. And it made me want to go ask them if they had any concept as to why the playground was built, and did they even appreciate it at all? But I have confrontation issues.

My point of all of this is not that this little girl pissed me off ... although she did.
It’s not that the mom pissed me off ... although she did.
It’s not even about unsensible shoes for playdates, or ignorant comments by stupid moms.
And it certainly isn't that I am perfect (hell, read my weekend posts).

It’s- take a step back - and look at what's around you. Had those moms stepped back, they would have noticed that they have beautiful children and were able to bring them to an amazing park. Instead - they ignored their kids...while in an amazing park...while making nasty comments about people, what people wear, who makes what amount of money, etc.

When I was stripping Carter in the back of my jeep (after he dumped a bucket of sand onto himself) I just wanted to hug him over and over again.

And as Avery napped in her stroller – while she calmly waited for her turn to be cleaned up and put into the car…I wanted to kiss her little pink cheeks all afternoon.

Mommy loves you kids!

Love your children. Appreciate your children and your surroundings.


For more information on Preston’s Hope Playground or to find out how to make a donation – go to: http://www.prestonshope.com/

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Crocker Park

Chad and Uncle Trad brought the kids to Crocker Park for today's activity. Crocker Park is a 75 acre mini-city of shops, restaurants, apartments, theatres, etc in Westlake.

Mommy did not go. I was too busy being hung over. Don’t judge me.

I have been wanting to bring Carter to Crocker Park to play in the water fountains (and I may still do this - another day).

I noticed on http://www.clevelandwest.macaronikid.com that Crocker Park had a kids fair today. So off Chad, Uncle Trad, Carter and Avery went (while I stood in the shower cursing beer). Carter played in Step 2 toys,
golfed with daddy, and signed up to win a playhouse (for Avery... I think it was pink).

Overall I think they had fun. I was another story.
For more information about Crocker Park, go to: http://www.crockerpark.com/

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 10: The Beck Center

Today - the 30-day challenge brought the kids and I to the Beck Center.

The Beck Center is a non-profit performing arts and arts education organization located about 10-15 minutes from Cleveland – in Lakewood. It is considered (by many) to be the areas largest cultural arts center (and there’s a pretty rockin’ cafĂ© with outdoor seating (great for people watching) too).

For those of you that have read the blog for awhile – you may recall that Carter and I used to attend a weekly music class at the Beck Center.

In fact – we were even in the recent Beck Center promotional video online.

Well, today’s activity brought us back to the Beck Center – for a music/movement, storytelling, visual arts and theatre class (called “Early Childhood ABC’s” (the a.b.c. part stood for something … I just forget what).

“What does this entail?” – you ask. I’ll tell you. Our time was split into three classes.

In the first class, the instructor read books about art (really interesting and toddler-friendly books…in fact – I am currently looking for one of them online) and we made an art project and talked about shapes and colors. Below is Carter's art project (it was cooler than it looks...we made the black shape and then talked about what it looked like to us ... Carter of course said his looked like a "big truck").

In the second class we played imagination games, used props to play make-believe, and had an introduction to theatre (which Carter LOVED…uncle Trad will be so proud), oh…and Avery needed a bottle – and then threw up all over me. I don't have a picture of this class - since I was busy cleaning puke off my entire left side. But - if I did have a picture, you would see Carter wearing sheep ears, pretending to drive a submarine, jumping like a frog, roaring like a bear, etc.

And then in the third class we sang songs, played instruments, had more imagination play (through music) and learned some sign language. Below is Carter learning about the guitar (he was suppose to be using one finger to play it ... you can see how well that concept went over).

Overall, we had a wonderful time. Carter was so wound-up from the theatre/imagination time that he yelled and laughed the whole way home.

If you live in the Northeast Ohio area – I would highly recommend checking into classes (for all ages), productions, etc at the Beck Center. There are so many classes offered – in so many different genres – there is literally something for everyone. The only complaint that I have (and trust me…it’s hugely frustrating) is the center’s lack of organization when it comes to admissions. But I don’t want this to deter anyone from utilizing the Beck Center. If you have to beat down their door to get into a class (which you may have to do) ... do it. It’s worth it (but mention it to them too … and maybe they will eventually fix this issue).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Parade

For our activity today – we went to a parade. Well, we marched in a parade (at least for half of it…and then we stopped and watched the rest). During the summer – it would be hard to sneeze and not snot on someone going-to or coming-back from a parade – so this is a great activity for kids.
Carter and Avery (in the stroller) getting lined up before the parade started

The parade that we marched in/watched happened to be in our hometown (Strongsville) and it was extra special because we marched with Carter’s school (he attends school two half days a week).
I’m not gonna lie – today’s activity was the most difficult for me thus far. Chad was originally planning on attending – but then had to work late. So I had two kids…under two…with one single-seat stroller (which is really my own fault…I have been dragging my feet trying to find the perfect double stroller).


But I think we made it work the best that we could. Both kids seem to love the parade – Avery was smiling and cooing at the noises and sights and Carter was screaming “big truck ... big truck” at every passing float.

Carter loved a few specific floats/vehicles. Of course he loved the fire trucks (what boy doesn't). But he also loved this elephant (I think it was for some young republicans brain-washing club). Carter called it the "Big Dog-Go Big Butt."

And now... I am officially exhausted. This mommy blogger is going to bed...and hopefully everyone here will sleep tonight.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cookies … with a touch of mac and cheese

Ok ok … so I said I wouldn’t make today’s activity a cooking or food related one. But, I made it a cooking one.
I honestly had big plans for today’s activity … but the weather ruined them. So I changed my plans and then my general piss poor attitude today ruined those plans. Not to mention … the whole day started with major poo-splosions … followed by more poo-splosions (lookin’ at you here kitty … and Avery … and Carter … and again at kitty).

So today’s activity was an at-home activity. A cooking-at-home-activity. So, for those of you that are already all “wow…an at home activity…that you’re passing off as a real activity…you can shut it…because cooking is a real activity…just ask chef ramsey…you donkey” (and for those of you that don’t watch that show (hell’s kitchen) he calls people ‘donkeys’…and it’s very very funny…in a super demeaning-glad-that-isn’t-happening-to-me sorta way). Obviously…we did other things today too. But cleaning the house and running errands in town aren’t activities…right?
Anyways, Carter and I cooked today – to continue our “where food comes from” theme. Now, I would like to say that we cooked stuffed peppers…because that would make a lot of sense (given that we bought peppers at the farm and sausage at the market). But we didn’t. We made cookies. Because mommy had a bad day…and cookies have chocolate in them… ‘nuff said.

Carter mixed the cookies, ate some chocolate chips, threw cookie mix all over the kitchen, said “ookie ... ookie” a few times and more than likely smeared his left-over mac and cheese (in between finger goo) into the cookie mix. Who’s hungry?

Avery's activity, on the other hand, was being photographed by mommy. See how happy she looks about that?



Note: Before anyone asks...yes - yes the one glass container says, "poop treats"...we're trying to get back to potty training...what can I say?

Monday, July 19, 2010

30-Day Challenge ... Day 7: The Westside Market


Dating back to the 1840’s, the Westside Market (on West 25th street in downtown Cleveland) is Cleveland’s oldest (publicly-owned) market. It’s one of those institutions that every city needs, some city’s have, and not enough residents utilize/appreciate.

The enclosed farmers market offers over 100 vendors with pretty much anything you can dream up (seriously, I bought sausage chorizo to stuff tonight’s peppers with…and the lady next to me at the pork stand was buying a pigs butt…an entire pigs butt…who knew people ate pig ass).
Below is an entire booth of huge loaves of bread.
And don't forget about the candy, desserts, popcorn and chocolates.
The Westside market used to be a Saturday morning ritual for Chad and I (when we lived in Lakewood), but has sadly become more of a once-a-month trip now. Why, I can’t say…because the produce, fruit, meat, cheese, fish, etc is all fresher and typically cheaper than what you could find at a grocery store.
Uncle Trad came with the kids and I today (I sort of dragged him after he got locked out of his house).

So why not bring the kids to the Westside market – to continue our “where food comes from” learning experience (that started yesterday – at the Red Wagon Farm)? Yesterday Carter learned where food is grown, today he learned about where we buy food/where food is sold ... if I were smart (and wanted to continue this learning train-o-fun) I would show him how food is cooked tomorrow (maybe at a restaurant). But, I think tomorrow’s activity will take a totally different direction ... just because I have that kinda power ... over my own scheduling.


For more information on the Westside Market, go to: http://www.westsidemarket.org/

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Red Wagon Farm:

Chad and I are back. In fact, we were back in time to bring the kids on today’s adventure.

We decided to make today’s adventure a learning opportunity – the lesson: where food comes from (hey – if Yo Gabba Gabba can have lessons and still be cool … why can’t we?). So we brought Carter and Avery to a local farm.

Not far from our house is a farm called the Red Wagon Farm.
Chad and Carter picked out some corn (which we ate tonight … and it was potentially the best corn ever) and some peppers (I plan to make stuffed peppers tomorrow night).

Then we walked out onto the farm to show Carter the crops and have a little talk about where food comes from – and were lucky enough to meet the owner/farmer. He explained to us how they grow certain crops, how they avoid freeze, which crops grow in which season, how tractors move (Carter kept yelling “wheel wheel” while pointing at the tractor’s wheels), about upcoming festivals, etc. We absolutely loved the owner of the farm – and will be going back for produce and festivals (specifically, the fall hayrides).
After our farm visit – we planned to go on a quick grocery run (to continue to talk about food). And after a quick pit stop to clean up Avery (there are just no outings anymore without an accident in someone’s pants), a bottle for Avery and stroller walk for Carter and Chad, we were on our way to the store. Now, I’d like to say that we continued our food lesson…but really – the whole theme of the day was completely lost when Carter saw the grocery store’s truck shopping cart (our truck-obsessed son can’t go near a grocery store anymore without throwing a fit about riding in the truck carts ... so, a special thanks to whomever invented those ... jerk).

How more information on the Red Wagon Farms – go to: http://www.redwagonfarm.com/