Thursday, June 28, 2012

Night at the museum

I know Europeans and other non-Americans believe in taking long vacations.  That is great, if you can do it, but I am also a fan of the mini-vacay...just getting away for a couple of days is often great to experience something new, get a change of scenery, and re-energize.  Without much planning or forethought, we took a short family vacation and spent one night in Louisville, Kentucky.

We were lucky to get a room at the 21c Museum Hotel, since it was a last-minute decision to go.  This hotel was rated by Conde Nast Traveler as the best hotel in the US and 6th best in the world in 2009! Five historic 19th century tobacco and bourbon warehouse buildings were renovated in 2006 to house a contemporary art museum, the hotel, and a restaurant.  There is art everywhere you look in this unique, 90-room boutique hotel - much of it a little strange.  But some of it was humorous, like the red penguins that line the outside of the building and can be found migrating inside to different locations throughout the day.  Originally, they were in Venice as part of an outdoor exhibit before they became a defining element at the 21c.
We were pleasantly surprised by Louisville.  It is a great city with trendy neighborhoods, restaurants, and stores.  One of the things I wanted to do was visit Churchill Downs.  We arrived just in time for the last tour of the day.
It was a quick, but really great experience that makes me think I should add the Kentucky Derby to my Bucket List!  After all, it is the longest continuously running sporting event in the country.  The 2012 Derby was the 138th one.
Grace found the perfect hat for the occasion!
The names of all 138 winners line the walls.
Those in gold were Triple Crown winners. 
Notice this year's winner - I'll Have Another -
on the sign behind them!

 Inside the museum they had displays of some hats from celebrities over the years and jockeys' jackets.  Grace liked a video game where you can ride a horse and race on the track.  There were two bigger boys playing and she got right on the horse in the middle, chose the jockey with the pink jacket, and beat the pants off those boys!  You go, girl!

We are still working on our Summer Fun Jar.  In addition to the four that have already been posted, we have:  made "worms and dirt" dessert (#5), played ballon baseball (#6), visited another new park (#7), and took Daisy to the dog park (#8).  While in Louisville, we also visited the Louisville Slugger factory (which is now #9 on our list - take a factory tour).

You can't miss the factory on Main Street since there is a 120-foot, 68,000 pound baseball bat outside!  Inside we learned how the bats are made and how the professional players choose the perfect bat.  It is pretty amazing that the company makes 1.8 million bats per year (including all the bats sold in retail stores) and is still a private, family-owned company.  Inside, they have a bat vault with a priceless collection of every bat they ever made for a professional player who used a Louisville Slugger.
They also let you hold the actual bats some famous pros used in games - like the Mickey Mantle's bat Kyle is holding here. 
The next day we visited the BEST water park any of us have ever been to.  It is called Splashin' Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana.  They had the most amazing water slides and everything was accessible for a child that is at least 42 inches tall.   My brave girl tried everything! We don't have any photos of this adventure because we were all just having fun getting soaking wet (but we can count it as #10 on the Summer Fun Jar list)!

Sunday, June 24, 2012


The new Disney Pixar movie Brave came out this weekend.
Grace is already showing interest in how Merida uses
a bow and arrow.  We haven't seen the movie yet, but she
has seen the commercialson Disney Junior!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Safety Town Graduation

I forgot I had these photos in my camera!  The week of June 11-15th, Grace participated in a pre-kindergarten tradition in our area - Safety Town.  All the communities offer a week-long camp for children who will be entering kindergarten in the fall.  In our town they go to City Hall which is also the same campus as the police and fire departments.  The children learn about police, fire, 911, personal safety, water safety, stranger-danger, etc.  On Monday when Kyle dropped her off she said, "I don't want to go, but I know I have to be brave."  But by the end of the first day she was telling us how awesome it was and that she got to go into a police car and the jail!  The other days seemed to be just as fun and informative.  She even came home with a new bike helmet on the day they learned about crossing the street and bike safety.  But the end of the week when they "graduated" Grace was sad that it ended!
Singing a safety song. 
Getting her Safety Town diploma
Grace really liked Firefighter Sandy and asked her to take a picture. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Princess on Ice

We had a great time today at Dawson's 5th birthday party.  It was a "Princess on Ice" theme.  All the little girls came in their favorite princess dresses and got to skate on a small, private rink attached to the party room.  What a great party!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Searching for minnows

I need to begin this post by saying that I am not completely in favor of what transpired tonight.  But, I want Grace to have friends on our street and she can't always be the one kid who is not allowed to do things.  I try not to be a "helicopter parent" who is always hovering over her, but there is no way I am going to let her near the lake if I am not around.  So, I'll admit it....I let this happen.  She didn't sneak off and disobey our rules.  In fact, for a long time she stayed on the shore and watched the other kids. When they called her to come play, I heard her say, "My mom says I am not allowed."  I felt bad so that I told her it was okay if she went into the lake just up to her ankles.  And then I watched from the deck and the back lawn, taking pictures to avoid the other kids thinking Grace is a baby who needs her mom around.  (And the light was beautiful so I couldn't resist!)
Truth be told - I do not want her in the lake.  Ever.  It is shallow by our house, but it gets deep quickly and the bottom is mucky so you can get stuck and lose your balance.  I can justify tonight by saying that it is better if she gets her "footing" and tries it out with me around than if she gets brave one day when I am not there to supervise.   But, overall, it makes me nervous.
For some reason these photos remind me of the movie Stand By Me.
So, I watched.  And I let it happen.  Does that make me a good parent or a bad one?  I am not sure.
My dad used to say he was going to keep me inside the gate in our front yard until I was thirty.  Of course, that didn't happen.  But now that I am a parent, I can see what he meant.  I wish I could shield her from every danger out there.
But I can't.  So I'd better teach her how to be safe and to make safe choices for herself.  I have a feeling this is all going to happen very fast this summer.  The other kids on our street are a little older and don't seem to have as much adult supervision.  I am not sure I am ready for what is coming in the next couple of months.
To be completely honest, I am not thrilled with my decision to loosen up on the lake rule.  We had a long talk as she was taking a bath and Grace knows that she is not to put even one toe in the water unless Kyle or I am outside.  And, I think she would prefer to wear water shoes next time since it is so "yucky".  I think the look on her face, though, makes my lapse in judgement worth it....Right?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

SFJ #4 - Stories under the stars

We are rolling along with our Summer Fun Jar activities.  On Saturday night we got blankets, pillows, and Grace's sleeping bag all set up on the deck.  And then we waited for the sun to set and the stars to come out.  And waited.
As soon as she could see the first star, Grace came to tell me that it was time!  So we got our flashlight and some bug spray and cuddled under the star to read stories.
She must have enjoyed it because it was the first thing she mentioned as soon as she woke up this morning.  "Mom, do you remember that we read stories outside last night?"  I love that we are making memories.

Friday, June 8, 2012

SFJ # 1, 2, and 3

The Summer Fun Jar.  It is now known as "SFJ" and today we tackled three items in the jar, although we only set out to accomplish this one.
Technically, we didn't have a picnic.  Unless you count eating the biggest, reddest, sweetest, juiciest strawberries on a blanket as a picnic. And I do.
What?  Don't look at me like that....we will go on another picnic.  I promise.
Our "picnic" took place at a farm where they had a "new-to-us" playground (#2) that included an enormous jumpy pillow and an outdoor concert (#3) that we enjoyed as the sun set.
Grace did not like it when she fell!
Let the summer fun begin!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Class of 2012...and 2025!

Today we celebrated Grace's pre-kindergarten graduation. Her teacher told all the kids to take a bath or a shower and to dress up. Funny!  I guess that's important when you hang around with messy 5-year olds all day!
This school year went so fast!  It seems like just yesterday we took these photos  (click to see them) on August 26, 2011 - her FIRST DAY in pre-kindergarten!
Grace and her friends have been so excited the last couple of weeks as they learned and practiced the Pledge of Allegiance and several poems and songs.
They made their own caps, marched in to Pomp and Circumstance, and received a diploma!
Receiving her diploma from her teacher, Ms. Elyse.
The children even baked cookies and cupcakes for a little family reception after the graduation ceremony. They have a lot to be proud of!