Thursday, March 26, 2015

Nathaniel Eating

I wondered if Nathaniel would be able to use a spoon on his own, so I gave him a baby spoon and a cup of apple yogurt and waited to see what would happen.

He tried to use the spoon a couple of times, but always wanted to dip the wrong end into the yogurt and then lick it off.  So he mostly ate the yogurt with his hands.  We'll have to keep practicing.  :)

We were at Costco this afternoon and one of the sample ladies looked at my kids reaching for samples of mango orange juice and commented that she had seen a lot of redheads at Costco that day.  Are my kids redheads?  I wouldn't have thought so, but that's the second redheaded comment I've heard in a week.

The girls and I started a list of all the words Nathaniel can say, it was a fun project to work on together.  During the past few weeks, his favorite book was a first words book, with pictures of all kinds of different common objects.  He'd point to a picture, I'd say the word.  Very easy reading.  But it helped him pick up lots and lots of new words; I love the vocabulary building stage that he's starting to get into.  He doesn't use all these words very often, and sadly his most frequently used word is "mm hmmm" for yes.  I was really good at using the word "yes" for Amelia and Megan, but I guess I've slipped a lot with my poor third child.  Anyway, I am documenting his 16 month vocabulary here solely for me, so that I can look back in a year (or given my terrible memory, a week) and remember what he was doing and saying.

Boo (book)
Boo (peek-a-boo)
Boon (balloon)
Caca (cracker)
Choo (shoe)
Choo-Choo (train)
Chook (sock)
Mm hmm (yes)
Bapa (Grandpa)
Paba (puzzle)
Mada (Megan)
Cu you (excuse you)
Ma (more)
Tuck (truck)
Animal sounds: Quack Quack, Moo, Neigh, Urr (elephant)

He also says something for cereal, but I can't figure out how to spell it, and he sometimes says "woo ooo" for a fire truck noise.  I think he'd trying to say strawberry, based on the word book we have and a sticker at Megan's preschool, but he hasn't quite figured that out yet.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Kennedy Space Center

We went to the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday; it's a huge, fascinating place that could easily take a day to see.  Amelia read us some nonfiction space books in the car to help us get excited about learning more about space.  She has decided that she doesn't want to become an astronaut because she doesn't want to ever have to ride the Vomit Comet.  I am glad to hear this.  Anyway, we walked around the Rocket Garden first, and the girls jokingly asked if we could grow rockets in our garden this spring.


They were not overly impressed by these rockets, but they did love to climb in the tiny little space capsules to see if they could fit.  They fit a lot easier than Ben did!

The Space Center has a fantastic play structure for kids, so we let them play for a bit while Ben and Jeff looked at one of the exhibits.  I love that the entire play area was shaded, and that they had a separate slide for babies.  Nathaniel had a hard time sliding down while wearing shoes, but he still had fun.  The girls could have played here for hours.

After lunch we took the bus tour out to the Saturn V rocket building, past the launch pads and observation areas.  Here's Nathaniel looking happy to be riding the bus:

Five minutes after this, he threw up all over Jeff.  I am so sorry, Jeff!  We cleaned Nathaniel and Jeff up as best we could with napkins, baby wipes and hand sanitizer, but it wasn't pretty.  I held Nathaniel for the rest of the bus ride, and he ended up falling asleep on my lap until we got to the Saturn V rocket building.  Then Jeff went to the gift store to buy a new shirt and I stripped Nathaniel down and gave him a baby wipe bath and let him roam around the outside path wearing no clothes for a while.  He perked up quickly and seemed to be fine after that (and nobody else got sick), so I wonder if he was just motion sick from riding the bus not in a carseat?  I don't have any other pictures from the bus ride.

Anyway, Jeff and Jane took the girls around the Saturn V rocket, but I did get to spend a bit of time with them at the end.  Amelia told me a bunch of stuff that she had learned, and Megan and I looked at the moon buggy and the astronaut suits, and then we all got to touch a moon rock.  Amelia wanted to have her picture taken in front of the service module.

When we got back to the main site, we went to see the Atlantis space shuttle.  Outside the building was a man dressed in a space suit; Megan was especially uninterested in talking to him, but Amelia thought it was interesting.  I think he must have been burning up in there.  It is really amazing how big the space shuttle is.

Before we got to see the space shuttle, we watched a short show about going into space.  Then the screen lifted up, dramatic music played, and the orbiter was revealed.  It was actually really cool.  They have it angled so that you can see in the cargo bay doors and if you keep walking around, you can see the bottom of the orbiter, which looked like it had been well used.  Megan learned that the white airplane part of the space shuttle is called the orbiter, and the entire contraption, containing the orbiter, the solid rocket boosters and the external fuel tank, is called the space shuttle.  I had always thought just the airplane part was the space shuttle, but I was mistaken.  She had to correct me a few times before I learned to say the right thing.

Amelia wanted me to take her picture in front of the Atlantis so that she could add it to her journal and take it to school with her, but we haven't printed out pictures yet.  Megan refused to have her photo taken, but then changed her mind a few minutes later.  They had very definite ideas of how they wanted their picture taken; Amelia wanted to be by the cargo bay doors, and Megan wanted to be at the front so that it would look like the orbiter was flying over her head.

They had all kinds of activities for kids inside, like video games where you could try to land the space shuttle, none of which worked very well.  Megan enjoyed sitting in the pretend cockpit and pushing the buttons, though.

But her favorite thing was exploring the 3/8 scale model of the international space station.  She ran through it quite a few times, and especially loved the "space walk" part, which was a clear plastic tube suspended a few stories about the bottom level of the building.  I went in with her at first, and pretended to be freaked out by the space walk (not a huge stretch, really) and so she came back to help me and show me that it was fun.  She's really a sweetie.

We all tried out the space slide, which is supposed to mimic the angle at which the space shuttle comes in for a landing.  It was very steep!  And hard to slide down without pants and socks on, but Amelia figured it out.  She went down quite a few times.  Megan tried it once and then said "I'm never going down this again."

The girls thought the space helmets in the gift shop were fun:

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The First Day of Spring

I took the kids on an exploring walk on Friday evening because it was in the 50s and the light was beautiful.  I carried Nathaniel in the Baby Bjorn, and I swear he's gained 10lbs since I last carried him.  Plus, he was wearing his shoes and he kicked my thighs so much that I have bruises.  But anyway, it was nice to be able to carry him on the walk because he could not have kept up walking on the fields and through the prairies.  The girls picked which way they wanted to walk, and they asked me to turn on my map app so that they could see the crazy path we walked - our walks are not as interestingly shaped as Christy's are.  When we got to the corner of one field, I could see a herd of deer at the far edge of the field.  This must be the herd of deer that we have seen signs of during our past walks, and we were curious how many there were.  They were pretty far away, but we counted at least seven.

The girls wanted to sneak up on the deer, so here they are tiptoeing across the field.  Whispering loudly while they are tiptoeing, of course.  They got about 15 feet closer to the deer, and then the deer turned and ran about 20 feet further away.  When the deer ran, they scared off what looked like three sandhill cranes, which flew across the field and landed in another marshy area.

The ground wasn't too muddy and the girls had fun climbing over logs.

As we walked back across the prairie, the girls found three pussy willow trees, and a whole bunch of milkweed pods with milkweed fluff still in them.  They enjoyed pulling the milkweed fluff out and throwing it in the air like snow.

Nathaniel took his very first selfie:

And here's Nathaniel looking slightly happier.  He held onto that little pussy willow twig the whole rest of our walk.

I guess we can't take the shortcut right across the pond anymore...

And we finished up by walking backwards through our sneaky back way path.  The girls brought home pine cones, cattails, pussy willow twigs, pine needles, bark, and milk weed pods.  I don't know what we're going to do with them all, but it was a fantastic nature exploring walk.  And now it's cold again.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Grandpa and Grandma Visit

The kids all had a great time playing with Grandma and Grandpa this week.  Megan says she wants to be a paleontologist when she grows up, and she had a chance to practice on Monday because Grandma brought up a plastic dinosaur skeleton, and Grandpa buried it in our sandbox for Megan to uncover.  Megan used a shovel to find the different bones and a paint brush to make sure all the sand was carefully brushed away.

 Then she took all the bones inside and had to figure out how to get them together.  She needed Grandma's help, because they had to be put together in a certain order.

She was so excited to get the dinosaur all put together.  She identified it as an apatosaurus, but the box says it is actually a brachiosaurus (they are very similarly shaped long-necked dinosaurs).

The jaw can open and shut, and so Megan said that the dinosaur needed to eat some leaves because the brachiosaurus was an herbivore.  It liked the leaves of my plant.

Grandma thought it was funny that Amelia likes to read in all kinds of interesting positions.  I used to do the same thing when I was a kid.

On Wednesday, Mom and I took Megan to see the spring flower show at Olbrich Botanic Garden.  Dad stayed home with Nathaniel so that he (Nathaniel) could take a good nap.  We had a really nice time looking at all the flowers and the Peter Rabbit scenes that had been hidden amongst the plants.

Megan really liked finding all the flowers on her identification guide, she would find the picture of the flower, and then Grandma would tell her the name.  Megan found every flower that was on the identification guide, and even a few extras like a sunflower.

Mom especially liked how a lot of the little animal scenes were set up in hollow logs or on top of stumps or roots.

Megan chose her favorite spot in the show so that I could take a picture of her and Grandma together, and I was not surprised when she picked this are that had a lot of different kinds of purple flowers.

It was nice enough outside so that we could walk around for a while, even though we hadn't brought coats.  Megan was dismayed to find that the water had been drained out of the black ripple pond by the curly weeping willow, which is the girls' favorite place in the entire garden.  We've never been there in the winter, so we've never seen it completely barren.

We did see two signs of spring though, these early blooming snowdrop flowers and a chickadee.

It was interesting to see what the waterfalls look like with no water in them (thankfully Megan did NOT fall in), and this is maybe the first time that we've been able to see the water in the big pond, since it is usually covered in green growing stuff.  Then we started to get cold and had to head back home to pick Amelia up from school.

Nathaniel slept most of the time that we were gone, and Dad even managed to successfully change his diaper when he woke up.  Nathaniel loved to play peekaboo with Grandpa, and even learned how to say Bapa (Grandpa) this past week.