Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Just rollin' along this winter

As I got in my car to leave work on Monday, I looked out over a hilly field at our school.  In front of me at ransom spots were what looked like snowballs. They were different sizes, scattered about, with no apparent pattern.  There were no footprints any where near them.  I thought to myself, "We have Stonehenge at Wilcox."  It was weird like crop circles and unexplained UFO sightings. Little did I know at that point that they really are a weather phenomenon and they have a name - snow rollers!

These mysterious formations may look like something out of a Stephen King novel about the Arctic Circle, but actually they are a rare meteorological occurrence in which large snowballs are formed naturally as chunks of snow are blown around on the ground by wind.  You need the right conditions of a layer of hard snow and ice, covered by new snow, and then wind.  Check. Check. And check.  We have had all of that this week.  I guess that explains why we are seeing these snow rollers everywhere.
We have spent a lot of time inside these last several days.  One good thing about that is that we had the time to work on the dollhouse (pics of that someday when we are done) and to make two school projects - Grace's 100 day collection and her mailbox for the Valentine's Day party.
The 100 day necklace (for the 100th day of school) is made of Fruit Loops.  The yellow tags have numbers on them - 10, 20, 30, etc.  And the Valentine's box is an iPod.  We even had headphones plugged in and the back is decorated with heart stickers like an iPod case.  Thanks, Pinterest for the ideas!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ice is just frozen water

Polar Vortex and Arctic Blast are two phrases that have become pretty common this winter.  The view outside our back windows this weekend looked like this:
Yes, those people are ice fishing.  Crazy, if you ask me.  Are they doing that for fun or are they planning to eat what they catch?  Grace got Kyle's grandfather's binoculars out to watch their progress and kept us updated when the man in the front of the photo moved to a new place.  He did this about 5 times.
At least it made for a good conversation with Grace about animals that hibernate (like the snapping turtles we see in the summer) and those that migrate.

If you ask me, I'd rather be an animal that migrates somewhere warm.  We did the next best thing by going to the Natatorium pool today.
It was warmer there and Grace had a great time going down the tube slide, playing in the splash ground and lazy river, and jumping off the diving board (for the first time) into 12.5 feet of water.  That kid is brave!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Aternoon of Interactive Art

Our visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art was a totally new experience since they have recently renovated the museum.  After coming in from the cold, we were pleasantly surprised by the bright atrium with interesting sculpture and living art.

There was such clear, bright light in this area from the white stone and glass ceiling.
Grace took this one of use with my big DSLR camera.
In Gallery One, the art is interactive.  Children are expected to touch everything.
There are giant touch screen computers where you can investigate what you are seeing.  It was great for kids!  They had "games" where you could pose like a statue, draw a line (or squiggle, or shape) and a piece of art would appear on the screen with that shape in it, and you could use your iPad to hear more about the art through a special free app.
Grace used a scavenger hunt to keep her engaged in the art as we walked through the other galleries upstairs.

We didn't find everything on the list, but we saw some amazing things - even a giant carved stone wall from Guatemala!  Grace was funny in the Hindu exhibits.  She just sat down like this to pray.
She was very interested in body parts!  And there were a lot of them on the statues and in the paintings.
There were a lot of pieces that I liked in the museum.
I think these "stained glass" windows were very memorable.  The interesting thing is that they are made of REAL butterflies!  The artist bred them just for his art.  Cool.  And very sad.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

My Girl's Dollhouse

Along with Grace's growing interest in American Girl dolls our collection of 18 inch doll furniture and accessories has started to grow.  Kyle understands that building a giant dollhouse in Grace's play area is as much for me as it is for her. The American Girls come with may tiny items like mini books, bottles, and (what we affectionally call) "do-dads" that I prefer not to have all over the house.  So, after a lot of searching we found a great house at It ended up being 6 feet tall by 5 feet wide when complete.  And even then, some of the rooms seem small when the furniture is put in.  But Grace is very happy.  She even said I was "super awesome" tonight when she went to bed.  I don't get that kind of recognition too often.

The dollhouse is the creation of a company called Wicked Cool Toys.  I am not sure what else they produce, but since there are no other dollhouses currently on the market for 18 inch dolls, they seem to have hit upon a good niche.  A lot of little girls love their American Girl dolls and have no where for them to live! You can get house plans off the internet or Etsy, build your own version, or have a carpenter create a custom design for you but this was the best option for us.  
The house comes in a pretty big, heavy box that was delivered by UPS.  When you open it, there are many little pieces of wood and MDF, but everything is clearly labeled so assembly was easy, but time-consuming.
We liked that Grace could "help" with the process.  She found the correct pieces by their letter/number label and held the wood in place while Kyle screwed it all together.

The company says that the only tool you need is the Allen wrench they supply but Kyle used his drill and some wood glue to make it all fit better.

As it started to come together, Grace was excited to see how big the house was going to be.  She went up to her room to gather her American Girl "do-dads" and brought them down to the basement where her house was going to be.
We love that there are four open windows and plan to make curtains for them to make the inside more like a real house.
The finished house looks like this.  I chose the Cape Cod style with all yellow rooms and "wooden" floors since we plan to do a little decorating with scrapbook paper as wallpaper for some of the walls.
I was happy to see that the manufacturer included a way to secure the house to the wall.  Grace is old enough to know not to climb on it, but this little extra bit of safety is appreciated.  Grace decided that we will have (from bottom left) a spa/salon, a garage, a classroom, a bedroom, and (at the top) a rec room with a couch, piano, and art studio.  We have a long way to go to get it all decorated but I am looking forward to doing this with my girl!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Taking flight

Skymax Trampoline Arena just opened in our area.  We wanted to "take flight" at this new place before winter break was over and we are all back to work and school.
The arena has 11,000 square feet of trampolines on the floors and walls - all connected to form one massive bouncing surface. They offer fitness classes, dodge ball, basketball, and open jump time.  Only one person at a time is permitted on each trampoline area and you have to go in bare feet or their special grip socks.
When it isn't crowded you are able to run and jump all over the four rooms of trampolines.  You can even bounce off the walls!

We tried everything they had to offer and spent an active 30 minutes playing together!  My favorite was the Dodge ball area where Kyle and I "bombed" Grace with the balls.  She seemed to love it and was one sweaty, tired kid when we were done!
Grace said she liked the "plunge" where you can run, jump, and then dive into a giant inflated pillow. She also did a great job on the long trampoline where she could get a running start to show off her cartwheels and forward rolls. 

Friday, January 3, 2014


I forgot to post this in December, but I loved the photo one of the other mom's sent me and wanted to include it in the blog for Grace to remember.

Each year, on the last day of school before the winter holiday, Grace's entire school dresses in pajamas and enjoys watching The Polar Express movie complete with hot chocolate and party treats.  She was very excited to wake up that morning to experience this fun day with her friends at school!  I know for sure that these five cuties believe in Santa.  I hope they hear Santa's sleigh bells for a long time to come!
Left to right: Olivia, Maria, Reese, Makenna, and Grace.  Why is she sticking her tongue out?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My bowling score would be great...

...if I were playing golf!

Yesterday, Grace was feeling sick with a stomach flu.  She was sad that she couldn't do much more than sit on the couch and watch TV all day.  So we made a list of some fun things we all wanted to do this winter:  go sledding, tubing at the ski hills, go to the Cleveland Art Museum, try out the new trampoline place, and, yes, go bowling!

She woke up this morning and declared, "Mom, I am not sick anymore. My tummy feels good and I don't have a headache." So we chose the activity that was close to home - just in case!
Grace tried several different methods to effectively hurl her ball down the lane. They all seemed to have an equal result, but to be fair, I wasn't much better!  I think I would have welcomed the benefit of the gutter guards too!

Of course, Kyle was the best of the three of us.  His competition was trying to better his score in the second game.  Grace and I were just the entertainment!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Welcome 2014!

Everyone told me when Grace was little to "enjoy every minute because the time goes fast".  As I get older I realize more and more how true that statement is.  I think we do a good job of enjoying each other and our time together.  Kyle and I try to find things to do that will help us all learn or experience something new.  Seeing the world through a 6-year old's eyes makes it all more exciting.  I am very content and happy with our life.  So, welcome 2014!  I know this year will be full of more adventures.

We love Saige's ice skating outfit Nana made!