Monday, April 20, 2015

Lemonade

Our camping weekend did end up hosed by weather - it was nice Friday night and Saturday, but then forecast to rain and / or storm Saturday night into Sunday morning. Since breaking camp in the rain blows and everyone we had planned to camp with had already bailed days before, we pulled the plug on camping plans on Thursday night. After the kids were in bed, we briefly debated some options and then booked one night in the hotel at Mammoth Cave National Park and a pair of cave tour tickets for Friday afternoon. After this trip, I'm feeling a bit sheepish that we've lived less than three hours away from a national park our whole lives and only visited once. I had only been there previously for one cave tour and was happily surprised to learn that they have miles and miles of really nice trails as well as several campgrounds and ranger-led activities. The park itself is free and kids under five don't need tickets for any of the cave tours, so other than the hotel and the slightly overpriced on-site restaurant, the trip was pretty cheap. We did shell out for a National Parks passport book for each of the boys, plus the set of regional stamps that included Mammoth Cave. I would love to send them into adulthood with a healthy number of passport stamps in their books.

We drove down Friday right after lunch, visited the museum / exhibit area of the visitor center, went for a short walk, and then went on our cave tour. It was about an hour long and Elliott happily walked the whole thing, though I wore his carrier on my back just in case. We had dinner at the hotel restaurant and then took the boys on a stroll along the Heritage Trail, a boardwalk that ran right behind our room. On Saturday morning we hiked for about an hour and a half. The terrain was rugged enough to feel exciting but not so bad as to be exhausting, and it was very pretty. The trails were very nicely maintained and not at all crowded, despite the park offering a bunch of free activities as part of National Parks Week. We were really impressed with the park and really happy with our decision to visit. Nico completed three activities in a Junior Ranger activity book and got a certificate and a little badge to bring home. As part of the free weekend, they were offering self-guided discovery tours of the historic part of the cave, so we did that after our hike.

We debated staying another night, but the rain the next day meant we wouldn't want to do any hiking, and Nico had been invited to a school friend's birthday party on Sunday afternoon, so we opted not to stay. We left the park after the cave tour and drove to Cave City, which is pretty much a tourist trap that sprung up to occupy park visitors, I'm pretty sure. Our purpose there was to take the boys to Dinosaur World since Nico is finally going through a dinosaur phase. (As a lifelong dinosaur lover, I am quite gleeful about this and feel that my time has finally come as a parent.) We spent a fortune on this venture, but it was worth it. I don't think Nico walked one step inside the park - everywhere he went, he was bounding or galloping or running, pointing and exclaiming and shouting about the dinosaurs he saw. MB splurged on mineral panning tickets and the boys got to sift fossils out of a big bin of sand (the sand was easily Elliott's favorite part). We left as the park closed for the day, slightly sunbaked, very sweaty, covered in sunscreen and a little bit of dirt, feeling great about our little weekend adventure.






Waiting to board our bus to the cave. "Cave! Go inna cave!"



















Working on his Junior Ranger nature scavenger hunt. We found an impressive number of items, including a toad and a snake.





























Reading:  Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Playing:   the radio, surprisingly often lately

Monday, April 13, 2015

weekend warriors

We were SO BUSY this weekend. SO BUSY. It was great, even though I'm really tired now. On Saturday, we took Nico to a Build & Grow clinic at Lowe's, bought some camping gear, met friends for bowling (Elliott's first time), and then had different friends over for dinner / games. On Sunday we met a friend's dad at the park for the kids' spring photos in the morning, had lunch on the patio at McAlister's, then dropped MB off at home and went to meet our playdate posse for a muddy woods adventure. (I heard one of the kids declare it to be the best day ever.) We were outside all day and Nico kept asking if we could do it again the next day. Today we were barely outside, alas. N had preschool and E had music class, then we picked up a free changing table, had lunch out, went to E's well child visit (90th percentile for weight at 32 lbs, 95th percentile for height at 36.75"), and went to the mall for a carousel ride and to pick out a buddy for Crabby the hermit crab. Sometimes I feel like work is where I go to rest up between weekends.

These few days did reinforce my suspicion that we wouldn't actually be able to stay home if I stayed home with the kids instead of working. I enjoy them so much more when we are out being busy and doing stuff. If we're at home, I am either trying to get stuff done or trying to relax while they run around burning energy, and I find myself telling them to stop running, stop screaming, stop flattening your brother until I'm sick of the sound of my own voice. When we're out and they're busy it's better because we're supposed to be busy, I guess. Then again, maybe if I stayed home and we stayed home more, we'd all be more used to it and they wouldn't run around like lunatics. Or perhaps this is precisely why my aunt and mom turned me and my cousins out into the backyard every day when we were kids. Anyway, I'm hoping against all odds that we have another amazing mild summer like last year so I can run them like dogs and keep everyone happy.

PS Nico asks me every day how many days are left until our camping trip, and it's pleasing me to no end. Probably I should start doing some kind of fair-weather chicken sacrifices or something.









































Reading:  Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Playing:  that Sesame Street CD, of course

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Festivus Lite

I have some minor general gripes that I'm hoping I can let go after writing them out.

1. We keep a just-in-case epi pen around for Nico even though he hasn't ever had a breathing reaction associated with his peanut allergy. Inevitably they expire and I throw them away and get more. The other day I was cleaning out the medicine bin in our cabinet looking for an extra inhaler for him and found a double pack of expired epi pens that I never even took out of the box. I get that it's a good thing to not have to use them and that it's better to have them in case we do ever need them, but it seems so colossally wasteful. I'd be even crankier if we didn't pay for them with vouchers from his allergist.

2. With Elliott starting preschool in the fall (WHUT? I know.) I figured it was time to find out what we're supposed to do about checking whether he also has a peanut sensitivity. I called the allergist's office a few weeks in advance of Nico's yearly checkup and they said for siblings they now recommend a skin test. I was able to book E for one on the same day as N's appointment, and we did that on Monday. Elliott was awesome for his test, even though I was an idiot and let them put the test drops on his soothing-fingers arm. There was something wrong with their solutions, though, and even the forced-positive histamine drop didn't cause a reaction. After waiting about 20 minutes for that test and having it fail to show anything, we ended up being sent to the lab for a finger-stick blood test instead. I'm not really upset about this because it wasn't anyone's fault that the first test failed, but I'm wondering why they didn't just do the finger-stick in the first place. With Nico they offered us a choice between doing the skin test first with a follow-up blood draw or just going straight for the blood draw. We picked option B because it just made more sense. Seems like that would've worked just as well this time, but I suppose I am not the expert.

3. There's a kid in Nico's class who is, unfortunately, kind of the regular problem child. I try really hard not to be a judgy asshole about him because he clearly has a speech delay and possibly some behavioral issues beyond just not being raised right. Because my own child makes terrible choices in school / camp friends, he hangs out with this kid all the time. Lately I'd been feeling a little soft toward Problem Classmate because he allegedly helped Nico learn to zip his jacket and has been less problem-y the last few times I volunteered in the classroom. But today the children had a really nice field trip to the local Philharmonic, and the Problem Classmate was spitting on kids from another school. I was sitting with two other moms from the class and we were all mortified. I'm shocked that our teacher didn't do anything since she's usually really stern with him, but maybe she didn't want to disrupt the group since all the adults were in the back and he was in the very front? I don't know. I nearly came out of my seat to yank him out of there myself, I was so outraged. Spitting on people! He did it again to a classmate in the bus line afterward and I grabbed him by his sleeve and yanked him out of line and told him his behavior was absolutely unacceptable. I'm sure in this day and age that would be considered overstepping but whatever. Neither of his parents were there and the teacher didn't see it and hell no, kid. Check yourself. I texted MB after the kids left on the bus and said that I felt mean thinking it, but I kind of hope this child isn't in Nico's class next year. I also realize I'm probably That Mom, but dude. No.

I'll bright-side for a moment - it was a really, really nice field trip. The children got to sit on the stage right in front of the musicians, and kids from one of the local ballet schools danced during the pieces. I'm pretty sure half the little girls lost their minds at this particular moment. I heard several breathlessly whisper, "She's a ballerina!" Bonus points if you can spot Nico in the front.



4. It's been rainy most of this week and now it's looking like it'll be rainy most of next week. I'm already tired of trying to re-book field trips at work and I'm going to be really irate if our camping weekend gets ruined. Weather, you're on notice!

5. I watched the video for Hozier's "Take Me to Church" even though I knew it would upset me. Why did I do this? Ugh. I still have a little bit of a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I love the song, but I wish I'd used common sense and just avoided the video. Here's a safe version for those who are smarter than I am:



Okay, let's see if I feel better tomorrow. I'm sick of walking around with this low-level crankiness. Please feel free to use the comment section for your own airing of grievances.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Happy Easter!

The baskets were a hit. Elliott's first egg hunt (he slept through last year's) was a great success. It was a really nice holiday. I hope yours was as well!