Monday, September 30, 2013

Cleveland Zoo

Last week, we got to enjoy an awesome day at the Cleveland Zoo with friends of ours. Mother Nature has been so kind to us the past couple of weeks, and zoo day was no exception - perfect blue skies, cooler temps, absolutely lovely. We spent over 5 hours at the zoo, which is our longest excursion to date I'm pretty sure! Both of us slept great that night! It was really nice to spend some quality time with my friend and her two boys. The kids thoroughly enjoyed everything they saw, especially the Dinosaurs exhibit full of anamatronic dinosaurs. Here are some pics of the event:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bauman Orchards 2013

Fall is upon us! It's time for apples, pumpkins, leaves, bonfires, and most importantly, sweatshirts! Addy and I kicked off the season last week with a wonderful trip to Bauman Orchards in Rittman. It was a perfect day for it - blue skies, gentle cool breeze, high 60's. I'm so spoiled to be able to enjoy fun things like this with my daughter! Here's some pictures of the outing:

I had high hopes of making one or two recipes with the apples, but the bulk of them have been enjoyed by Addy as a daily snack. Maybe we will just have to make a second visit to the orchard this year!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Totally Cute Tuesday

She was over the moon excited when the lady handed her a map of the zoo...

...then later noticed this giant map for the very first time, exclaiming, "Mom! Look! It's a HUGE map just like my map!" 

A trip to the zoo is never the same experience twice. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Guest Blogger: Grandpa

Now, I’ve had the time of my life
No, I never felt this way before

The opening lyrics to Bill Medley’s song form the movie Dirty Dancing adequately and perfectly describe Grandpa’s emotions following his granddaughter’s first extended stay with him.

Grandpa and Grammy had the privilege of taking care of Addy while her parents, along with Aunt Steph and Uncle Jason, spent Labor Day weekend at a Mumford & Sons concert near Dayton. This is Grandpa’s take on the weekend. He did all the fun stuff. Grammy did a lot of the fun stuff too, plus she did diaper changes, getting Addy ready for bed, cleaning her up after dinner, etc.

Our 75 hours together began with a trip to Fort Island Elementary School, where Grammy teaches kindergarten. We arrived between class sessions, and Addy made good use of the magnetic letters, books, and stand-up dry-erase board. She identified many of the common logos for stores, restaurants, and products that Grammy has displayed on a bulletin board in the classroom.

Our time was limited because Grammy had to prepare for her afternoon class. Addy did get to see Mrs. Brown, who had invited Grammy and Addy during the summer to swim and play with her twin daughters.

Mommy had told Grandpa that Addy would want to use the potty and would take off her diaper to do so. Sure enough, Addy decided around 2 p.m. to use the potty. What Mommy didn’t tell Grandpa is this: Once the diaper is off, the kid doesn’t want it back on. So, for the next three hours, Addy played with the iPad, played with her stuffed animals, sang the first of about 100 renditions of the alphabet song (often changing up the tune or the cadence, but always getting in all 26 letters) and made 3-4 trips to the potty—all as naked as the day she was born. Grammy came home from work about 5 and convinced her it was time to get dressed for dinner. Addy enjoyed her dinner of steak, vegetables, sweet potato fries and regular, old, French Fries—although she preferred the “yellow” fries over their sweet-potato cousins. Menchie’s frozen yogurt is one of Addy’s favorite treats, so we decided to take her there for dessert—except we decided to check out the competition Sweet Frog. She was concerned when we passed Menchie’s and had some trepidation about going to Sweet Frog.

A cup filled with vanilla and blue frozen yogurt, an ample amount of M&Ms, some Reese’s Pieces, and a couple of other things eased her concern. She ended up pleased but asked when we were in the car again if we could now go to Menche’s (No).

Saturday was museum day. Addy had to get ready for the big event, including pretending to put on makeup with Grammy.

The McKinley Museum, adjacent to the William McKinley Monument in Canton, is one of her favorite museums, but she is afraid of the animatronic dinosaur and sought assurance that Grandpa would hold her. She skirted around the dinosaur when we arrived and headed directly to the hands-on exhibits area, where she put her hands on nearly everything on display. After 15 minutes or so she decided it was time to see the dinosaur. We detoured to the gift shop first, where she picked out a stuffed blue elephant and appropriately named it “Tacky.” The elephant she and Grammy chose must have given her courage, because she then stood alone in front of the roaring dinosaur.

Grandpa thought about making a stop at the Akron Art Museum on the way home, but he and Grammy decided it might be too much for her to just look and not touch, and that she might not get the idea of art. Dinnertime, perhaps, showed us that we might have made the wrong assumption. We had roast beef and mashed potatoes for dinner. The potatoes, in Addy’s mind, were clay with which she could sculpt various things. She formed the potatoes into Grandpa, Grammy, Grandma, Hunley the dog, and the cats Quincy, Dexter, and Heidi. Then she created the pièce de résistance that she named “City and Tornado.” It’s amazing how much “damage” a tornado can do, as is visible in the photo.

Cookies were a big part of the weekend. We stocked up on the “yellow” Oreo and the old-fashioned “dark” Oreo cookies (Addy’s favorite is the yellow ones). The Copley-Fairlawn School District recently adopted an “Everyday Math” program, which Grammy began teaching last year. It bears some similarities to the everyday math process I used with Addy’s mom and aunt when they were her age. She wanted both varieties. I asked her if I gave her three yellow Oreos and one dark Oreo, how many cookies would she have. Reply: 4. She received the four. Later, she wanted more cookies. I asked her if I gave her a dark one and a yellow one, and then took back the dark one, how many cookies would she have. Reply: 1. Followed by (with head bowed down): I don’t want you to take away my cookie. She received both.

Addy asked Grammy to give her 4 cookies on Sunday morning. Grammy told her that 4 cookies were too many. Reply: Maybe 2 cookies would be good. The kid’s quite a negotiator. She received 2 cookies. These were followed with a syrup and pancake breakfast—emphasis on syrup (regular and strawberry flavors).

Sunday also was cookie baking day, with Grammy making cookies for us, for the fantasy football gathering later that day at our next-door neighbor’s house, and for a few others. Addy and Grammy set about to make chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter cookies (with a Reese’s miniature PB cup in each one). Addy’s job was to unwrap the peanut butter cups and put them in a bowl, with the “pay” being she could have one (just one) when she finished. She got real close to done before one slipped in her mouth. Later, after the cookies were made, Addy sampled the results. These photos show the making and the leftover results.

Not everything went smoothly during Addy’s stay. But there was just one extended cry. Addy was on the recliner with Grandpa, playing with the iPad. She noticed Grammy was stretched out on the couch with her “blankie” covering Grammy. She went to retrieve the blankie, but she did not realize Hunley the dog was sleeping under the blanket. She grabbed the blanket, the dog reacted instinctively, and the result was a couple of minor bite marks on Addy’s wrist—and a lot of crocodile tears. It took a few minutes for Addy to regain her composure, but the dog and her made up. The dog had more to lose than did she over the deal. Between the dropped crumbs of food and the generous giving of dog biscuits from the jar, the dog knew he had a buddy, or at least someone he could tolerate if food was involved. The 12-pound, toy fox terrier probably gained a pound during the weekend.

We decided to do a little trial prior to Addy’s arrival. Grammy had purchased a pair of plastic boots for Addy, and we placed them by the back door, agreeing not to say anything to her—just to see if she would assume the boots were meant for her. She was here about 3 hours, the first hour of which we were not home, when she walked into the family room wearing—at least partly—the boots. She used them throughout the week, but they’re a bit too big for her feet. We wouldn’t allow her to go onto the stairway with them. She certainly adopted a “These boots are made for walkin’” personna.

You always can count on a young child to come up with some quips that aren’t exactly right but usually funny. She hit a corner of the table in her bare feet and, after letting out an “ouch” and grabbing her foot, exclaimed “I stunked my toe.” We cautioned her about not getting face to face with the dog, and she said “I’ll be gently with Hungry.” Even though she frequently called the dog’s name correctly, most of the weekend she pronounced it as “Hungry.” The best “out of little mouths” moment, however, came at dinner on Sunday when the gang returned from the concert. She says to her mother and father: “Grammy said you’d get mad because I ate too much sugar!” The whole table roared with laughter. Stacy was laughing so hard that she had tears running down her check, to which Addy asked: “Mommy, are you crying?”

Most who have attained the moniker of Grandpa, Grammy, Grandma, Papa, Nana, or similar nicknames have spent five or more decades on Earth. Many become reflective about their lives, sometimes asking themselves some tough questions. Why did that happen to me? What did I do wrong? What did I do right? Have I had more good times than bad? Were the struggles worth it? Will the balance of my life be with good health and happiness? We grow older. Then, at the last, our loving and gracious God gives us grandchildren. Through her discovering eye, her untainted and pure mind, her passion to learn, and her passion to play and focus on having fun in the “now,” the grandchild presents the world to you anew. She resurrects compassion and patience, she reminds you that life is more than toil, and that youth is the elixir that keeps the circle of life moving. Those questions suddenly seem silly—and the answers to them no longer matter.

It's a rainy day

A rainy day is a great day for "Totato" creations. A cute little tato family was made:

Notice that the body of the mom potato (right) is backwards, so she literally has eyes in the back of her head! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


I told Addy I was 33 years old, and asked her to count to 33. She was being stubborn by counting to five and stopping, so I counted to 33 myself. When I stopped, she promptly picked up where I left off...

I've heard her count in the thirties before, but I had no idea she knew that forty came next. I love moments like this! 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Still loving the swing

Nearly two years apart - same park, same playground, same swing. Same adorable cheesy smile. God I love hanging out with this kid.