Saturday, May 29, 2010

All aboard!

Grace is a huge Thomas the Tank Engine fan. I really don't understand the attraction. The videos and music are old-fashioned with absolutely NO modern graphics or effects. It is essentially someone's model train with fake scenery and voice-overs that looks like it was filmed in a basement. But she loves it. We come home from school and she will often ask to watch a "Thomas" video.
Knowing this, Kyle bought tickets to "A Day Out With Thomas" which is an event that offers preschoolers and their families an opportunity to take a ride with a 15-ton replica of Thomas the Tank Engine. The tour, now in its 15th year, will make stops in more than 45 US cities and is expected to welcome about one million passengers in 2010. This year also marks the 65th anniversary of the Thomas series!
To say Grace was excited would be an understatement. She was bubbling over with excitement all day from the minute she woke up. She even changed her clothes without a fuss after school and wanted to get dressed up in a dress and ponytails!

The actual train ride was about 30 minutes long. The traditional Thomas music played for almost the entire ride and, 30 minutes was plenty of time to be on the train on a beautiful Friday evening. Grace danced in the aisles, got our tickets punched by the conductor, and proudly showed us her "Junior Engineer" certificate. Beyond riding the train, they had various booths for storytelling, watching videos, getting a pretend tattoo, meeting Sir Topham Hatt, and there was, of course, a Thomas the Train store on site with 100's of items to choose from. They also had a maze, inflatable obstacle courses, and a magician. Grace liked the model train and the play train tables, but we didn't stay at either one for long. She really was anticipating the arrival of Thomas. After all, that is the reason we went and it was worth it!

Waving to Thomas as he arrived at the station.
Proudly posing with Thomas

Friday, May 28, 2010

Bye NanaBa

When referring to my parents, Grace uses one word - Nanaba - almost as if they are one person! She was pretty sad when they left on Tuesday....oh, let's be honest - we BOTH were!By the way....At Grace's 3-year checkup on Wednesday she weighed in at 31 pounds (53rd percentile) and she was 37 1/4 inches tall (54th percentile) - so she is right where she should be for her age. I am a little surprised about the percentiles, because everyone says how tall she is. But now that I think about it, when she is at daycare she is the same height as most of her classmates. I think she just has long legs so it makes her seem taller.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Matching Miki

Nana went to American Girl and chose these cute outfits for Grace... ...and her doll, Miki.Perfect for my little girl who loves to match!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The very hungry....

We made these butterfly cupcakes for Grace's birthday celebration at school. The idea came from Martha Stewart's website and they were MUCH easier than the pandas, but (I think) just as cute!Grace happily shared her butterfly snack with her classmates at school before they all went outside to play.Before I left, she made sure to show me her name on the tabletop they colored and her caterpillar stuck in the spider web!It is funny that she is still able to wear the "Birthday Girl" shirt that Kellie bought her last year!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Life is a highway

On Sunday morning, when we gave Grace the Barbie Jammin' Jeep for her birthday, I got a glimpse of what it might be like when Grace starts to drive a REAL car as a teenager....looking at the scenery, reaching for her cell phone, waving to the neighbors, playing with the radio...and not watching the road!

Oh boy, are we in trouble!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Party "Panda"monium

Grace's 3rd birthday party seemed to be a success. We celebrated with 8 other 3-year old children (and their totally awesome moms!) at The Little Gym. We go there every week for gymnastics class, but I had never seen a party there. Two teachers led the festivities, made the kids all feel welcome and proud of their tumbling and jumping, and ensured that everyone had a great time!Grace seemed thrilled to be the center of attention. When we first arrived and decorated the room, she sat at the table alone and kept saying, "My party!" Then, just about 12:45 she ran out to the front desk to welcome her guests. When the teachers asked if she wanted everyone to say, "Happy Birthday, Grace" quietly or loudly she said "LOUD" without hesitation. During the gym part of the party we got to do some of our favorite activities from gymnastics class like the parachute, the AirTrack inflatable jumper, and bubbles!The panda cupcakes from this post, were really hard to make! The cookbook claims that you can make their cupcakes with just the tools you have around your kitchen, but I think some professional decorating gadgets would have been helpful on Friday night when four adults were struggling with panda faces! The kids loved them, though.....Grace even ate two!We used a delicious chocolate cake for her candle and she had no trouble taking a huge breath and blowing out that number 3!Our friends were wonderful and so generous to give Grace some really cool gifts. Combined with surprises from Nana and Ba, Aunt Nancy and Uncle Chris, Aunt Susan, Aunt Jill, Uncle John and Aunt Debbie, and MiMi and PopPop....she has many, many, many new toys and clothes to keep her engaged at least until Christmas!

The kids were so sweet and polite to each other. We are all in similar situations of trying to teach our preschoolers to give and receive graciously so it was wonderful when each child sat next to Grace as she opened the present they brought for her. In most cases our friends were just as excited as Grace was and they helped her with the cards and wrapping paper. She kept saying, "Mine?" as each new treasure was revealed. And, then one by one, Grace and her friends hugged each other.And our best friend, Dawson, even got a kiss!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Totally Terrific Three

Today my Grace turns three.

Is is amazing that she has grown from this (3 days old) this (first birthday).... this (second birthday) this!

We have a doctor's appointment in a few days, so I will have her "official" height and weight then, but from my estimates, she is about 37 inches tall and 31 pounds. Grace is a delightful child that makes me laugh every day with her silly expressions, funny faces, and crazy dancing. Grace is full of curiosity and wonder, often asking, "What that Mommy?" and "Why?" as she tries to make sense of the world around her. She amazes me with how quickly she will learn something she is interested in like Spanish words and the computer. But if she finds something too difficult or unpleasant she will just ignore me when I talk to her about it. We are trying to teach her that she shouldn't say, "I can't do it" and just keep trying until she succeeds. She likes to "practice her letters" and "do work" like Mommy, which really means taking a lined notebook and writing scribble that mimics writing on the pages. Grace is not too interested in drawing and coloring. She seems a little impatient when I try to get her to do these activities. Sometimes, though, she will tell me that she is drawing something and it is so interesting when I ask her about her artwork as she will tell me her scribbles are a lion, a rocket, a man, a bear, or some other thing that looks nothing like what is on the page. I eagerly anticipate the day that I see a recognizable image!

She loves to discover new things, will listen intently if you quietly talk to her and explain a new concept, and has varied interests that range from cars, trains, and bugs to dressing up like a ballerina or princess. She can kick a soccer ball and is starting to dribble it across the lawn. Music is still something that captures her attention. And, as someone who is not very musical, it is still a shock each time she hears an interesting musical piece and will stop whatever she is doing to turn her attention to the sound. Not many 3-year olds can recognize the music of Chris Botti and Miles Davis, but Grace does and will ask to listen to their CDs.

Grace can be a wonderfully, caring little girl. She carefully "babies" her dolls by changing their diapers, putting them to sleep, and kissing their "boo-boos". And, probably my favorite thing lately is when she stops everything and says, "I give Mommy a big hug". I always have time for a hug.

Happy Birthday, My Grace. You are the best part of my life and I love every minute I get to share with you!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Rain, rain go away

Friday night and Saturday included some spring rain showers but that didn't stop us from having a lot of fun for Grace's birthday weekend!

Monday, May 17, 2010

This happens a lot around here

Yes, I mean climbing and the Goodyear blimp... ...and hot air balloons.......flying over "our" lake!

(Both of these photos were taken yesterday - one in the morning and one around 7PM.)

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Two great pictures from Kellie....

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dancing Feet

We attended a Carole Peterson Macaroni Soup concert on Thursday night at a nearby high school. Carole Peterson has been the Pied Piper of children's music in Chicago for the past 15 years. Her concerts have everyone singing, jumping and wiggling...and smiling 'til it hurts! Her clean sound and slower tempos, easily understood by even the smallest child, encourage everyone to sing and dance along.

It was an evening of silly fun that we got to share with Dawson and Kellie on their Forever Family Day!

I love to watch Grace as she listens and participates with the performers. It is fun to sing and dance with her, but it is incredible to just sit back and watch how she listens and plays along. And, tonight she did a great job. Grace was so excited to be going to see a "show" and even agreed to go out on the deck so I could snap a quick photo.When we got there she wanted to run around the gym with the other kids but then was a little nervous when Carole made an announcement on the microphone. Grace told me later that it "was really loud" and I guess that's true. We were sitting right up front by the speakers!She also didn't want to give the puppet a "high five"!But before long Grace and Dawson were clapping, waving their arms, dancing, and singing along with all the other kids.We even got to have a "snowball fight" with those puffs you use in the shower. What a clever idea!