Monday, April 21, 2014

Four-day weekend

This is the first weekend in I-can't-remember-how-long that I didn't have to work. We were busy with fun activities and ended the weekend with a playdate for Grace.  Her friend, Brooklynn, from school came to visit for a few hours today.  There was a lot of whispering and giggling.  I think they had fun!

Tree of Life

One of the projects that the 1st graders worked on in art this year was their interpretation of Gustav Klimt's famous Tree of Life mural.  
Mrs. Heverly, the art teacher, said the children learned about and experimented with warm and cool colors to fill their entire paper.  Then they used black paint for the tree.  Grace was very proud to show us her work at the art show last week.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Grace and I went to Easter mass at St. Mary's this morning.  It was very crowded (of course).  The priest started the service with a joke.  He said, "When people ask me why I decided to become a priest I tell them it was so I would be sure to have a seat at Christmas and Easter".
I think the crowd was a little too much for Grace.  She preferred the quiet outdoor chapel where she could look at the Mary and Jesus statue and enjoy the sunshine.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter egg dash

We have enjoyed meeting Kellie and Dawson at Stan Hywet Hall the last several years for their Easter events. The grounds and gardens are beautiful, any time of year.  We like to arrive early so we can walk around before the egg hunt. This year, the girls were interested in peeking inside the manor house windows.
They had fun exploring some of the gardens together.
Grace let me take a few photos of her.  (I think having Dawson around helped since Dawson didn't seem to mind posing!) 

At lunch, I asked Grace what she liked about our morning and she said "playing with Dawson."  One of my favorite parts of the day was watching them laugh and whisper to each other.  It has been a pleasure watching them grow from little babies to two bright, happy little girls.

The Easter egg "hunt" at Stan Hywet is more of a controlled dash instead of a hunt.  Everyone lines up along the edge of grassy fields to wait for their age group to be called.
Waiting for the 4-6 year olds.
They do a nice job of dividing the children by age and everyone is very polite as they gather their eggs from the field. But the whole thing takes about 3 minutes! I asked Grace if she had a strategy for choosing her eggs.  She said she did but wouldn't share any of the secret details with me.  I find it funny that she doesn't just pick up every egg in her path.

The girls had fun opening their eggs and discovering the "treasures" inside.
Then they did a little shopping for garden treasures - for people and fairies!

We weren't sure how muddy it would be so Grace chose to wear boots.  
She looks ready to work in the garden! 
At least they match the boots on her shirt. 
And they played in the new children's area that had a giant spider web, bird's nest, and bee hive.

It was a fun, sunny pre-Easter tradition that I hope we can continue for a few more years!

Monday, April 14, 2014

You color my world

It must be almost Easter.  We boiled and colored our eggs on Sunday.  Grace loves to eat hard boiled eggs.  She was very possessive of the dye supplies and claimed all the eggs for herself when it comes time to eat them.
One of the kits we tried was supposed to make the eggs look like tie-dye.  You use a tiny pipette to squirt intense color on the egg and let it drip around the sides.  I told Grace she looked like a mad scientist trying to come up with just the right concoction.
The eggs turned out okay.  They never look as good as they do on the box and I always try to make the colors as dark and vibrant as possible.  

All that matters is the Grace had fun.  Wonder when she will be too big for all these little things. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Muddy fun at the farm

For the second year, we visited the Spicy Lamb Farm in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park for their lambing days.
Every spring for two weekends, the farm welcomes visitors to meet their baby animals. This year, it was especially important since their barn burned to the ground on March 4th. All of the animals escaped unharmed and now the owners are trying to raise money to build a new barn. 

Grace and I knew it was going to be muddy so we both wore our rain boots. 
We started by saying "hello" to the horses. 

Inside the farm, Grace got to hold  a bunny, chicks, ducklings, and (of course) lambs!

Notice how muddy her boots got by the end.  There was one point when Grace was up to her ankles in mud and struggled to get her feet out.  I thought she was going to lift her foot and leave the boots behind!

The llama liked eating from Grace's hand because she climbed on the fence to reach him. 
It was a fun morning on the farm.  I hope they can rebuild the barn so these little guys have a safe place to live. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Star Student

Every week in Grace's first grade class, the teacher chooses a student to be "Star Student". They have something to do each day to make them feel special and to share some things about themselves with their classmates.  Well, this past week, Grace was finally the star student and she was over-the-moon thrilled about it!

Grace got dressed up on Monday when she shared the poster she made with all her favorites.  She told me that when she walked into the room, her teacher said, "Grace, you look so different!"  Grace doesn't usually choose tights and a skirt.  This was BIG!  And she wanted her hair in two pony tails.
Other things she did during the week were to bring an award (a piano trophy for composing "After the Rain"), her favorite stuffed animal (a minion she got in Florida over spring break), her favorite book (Even Monsters Need Haircuts), and tell a joke (What do you call a bear with no teeth?  A gummy bear!).  She said the joke was hilarious and everyone laughed!

Sounds like it was a successful week!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Have a whale of a day!

A day-long visit to Sea World concluded our vacation to Orlando.  2014 marks the 50th anniversary of Sea World.  I didn't notice any "special" events or exhibits to mark this occasion, but it was interesting to see what was still the same from the last time I visited a Sea World park (which was a LONG time ago!).

Always interested in squeezing in a little education, we arranged for a behind the scenes rescue tour figuring it would give us an opportunity to see animals up close without the crowds.  We started near the sting rays while we made our way to the tour meeting location.

We all tried to touch them as they swam by.  Then it was on to the tour which took us back behind a fence into what looked like a parking lot for a series of warehouses.  The tour guide explained that Sea World is like a mini city and it employees many different kind of workers such as chemists who maintain the filtration system and check the tank water 6 times a day and mechanics who keep the machinery and vehicles running smoothly.  We saw specially designed boats, a marine animal ambulance, and this sling which was custom built to transport, Kayla, one of the killer whales. 
A short walk brought us to some of the rescue animals.  The guide explained that Florida Fish and Wildlife will often call Sea World to rescue animals in distress.  There were sea turtles (two of them were blind), manatees, and dolphins in tanks behind the scenes.  Some of the animals were injured and others (like the female manatee) were brought to Sea World due to malnutrition. They try to rehabilitate and return as many as possible back to their natural habitat. 
The manatees are fed romaine lettuce. It is similar to what they would eat in the wild and it is readily available to purchase. 

We touched a shark and a penguin on this tour, too!  All of the animals "on stage" have a place behind the scenes where they are cared for.  Their enclosures look a lot like this one for the penguins - plain and functional.  These penguins are tagged on their wings to indicate their gender and name.  
Rico was patient and let everyone pet him.  I don't think he has too thrilled about it, though! They were very specific about staying away from his beak and only using two fingers to touch him.  And, everyone was asked to remove their hats before we went in since he didn't like hats!

Although they have rides, Sea World isn't really a park you visit for the rides. I always thought it was more about the animals and shows.  We managed to get a little of all of this into our day.
 Nana and Grace waited a long time for the jellyfish ride.


And Kyle rode the Shamu roller coaster with Grace a couple of times.
Finally, we visited the Shamu Up Close "show", which really wasn't a show. They were working on the big Shamu stadium when we were there.  Instead of the traditional Shamu show, the trainers let people watch their sessions with the whales.  At times they had a few in the pool at the same time...
...and other times they worked with just one whale.  We watched a play session with Kayla.  They gave her a blue ball and let her explore it for a little while.

The trainer also gave her some signals of things to do and she was rewarded when she did them.

It certainly was a whale of a day!