Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Finally, the Zoo

We hoped. We prayed. We crossed our fingers. And toes. Our prayers were answered with a gorgeous day on Saturday! Hooray!! I'm not sure what we would have done if we couldn't go to the zoo! Oliver was really looking forward to it. I can't say enough how much I love the Ft. Wayne Children's Zoo. As the name suggests, it is made for kids, but fun for adults too. We figured, as we did last year, that we'd spend a few hours there. We ended up staying from about 10:30-3:30! Yes, we were exhausted when it was done, but worth it to see the joy on Oliver's face, he loved it so much.

 Watching the sea lions get fed.

 Oliver had a very serious drum session in the African section.

 He didn't even turn around to see the zebra right behind him!

 Riding the train with aunt Bonnie and Nee-nee.

 There's that look of joy I was talking about!

 I promise not to bore you with lots of animal pics, but they have so many peacocks walking around the grounds, and they are just beautiful! 

 Oh, and then there's this couple, who we saw last year attempting the same feat. Though we didn't get to see the, er, uhm, whole performance that time. Hey, it's nature!

 An absolutely gorgeous albino peacock.

 Oliver brushing a goat. He wasn't scared at all! I was really worried he would be afraid again, given his recent behavior, but he wasn't scared at all. Glad that was short lived!

 Getting his face painted. He completely surprised me. We passed a face painting station, and he stopped to look at the sign, and pointed to the lion and said, "I want this one." I didn't think he even knew what face painting was! I guess he saw the other kids with theirs painted. I wasn't sure he'd sit still, but he did the whole time. He was perfectly calm, and turned his head every way the girl told him too.

 Roaring like a lion! Roar!
 Admiring his appearance.

 Making friends.

 Riding on the tiger. The lion was out for repair.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Change of Plans

As we watched the weather forecast each day, it looked like Thursday was the only day, in the 10 we would be at my mom's, without rain. So we planned a trip to the Ft. Wayne Children's Zoo, one of our favorites. Sure enough, the day came, and the sun was shining. We were so excited! We didn't even tell Oliver we were going, just in case the weather had turned out bad. We were meeting my aunt Bonnie and uncle Terry for lunch before the zoo, so we told him then. He screeched and stomped his feet in happiness. We all drove over together, and as we approached the parking lot, we saw a sign saying Opening Day, April 23. Uh-oh. It was the 21st. Noooooo! We had just told Oliver! We pulled into a parking lot, to try to figure out what to do, and told him the zoo was closed. "Why?" he asked (it's his favorite question these days). I held my breath for the tantrum to follow, but saw that there was a playground, open, just down the street. So I said, "We're going to a playground instead. We'll come back to the zoo another day when they're open." He completely surprised me by not crying at all, but by saying, "Oh, a playground!" Phew!!

So to make it up to him, we spent a long time at the playground. It was a gorgeous day, so why not. There were lots of kids there, and he just made friend all over the place. It was so funny! I guess school has really socialized him, because he just attached himself to a group of mostly older kids who were running around chasing each other and running from a "monster." He had a blast. At one point, he even tried to talk up this cute little blonde, but she wasn't having anything to do with him. I love that he's so friendly, because he can be shy at times, but not nearly as shy as I was as a kid.

 On the jungle gym, my serious little man.

 Head in the clouds.

 Going down the slide.

 Taking a break for a Scooby Doo ice cream bar, bought from the ice cream truck. I don't recommend it. That brown circle around his mouth did not come off even with wipes. There was so much dye in it that it stained his skin!

 But he didn't care. Yum!


 Going down the tunnel slide with aunt Bonnie. Yes, she went down it too!


 Inside the pink tunnel.

 Peeking out of the pink tunnel.

 Emerging from the pink tunnel!
Serious face. I think he saw some kids having fun without him.

Walking the balance beam all by himself.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spring Break

Oliver had last week off of "school" for Spring break, so he and I spent the last ten days at my mom's house in Indiana for our last big trip before moving home. It was probably his last plane ride for a while, but it was my first alone with him and without our car seat. He's a seasoned pro, and did great on both travel days. He even stopped and took off his shoes at security without my asking! I brought along some surprises to keep him happy during the flights, but we've flown so many times, he now expects it. While we were waiting to board the first plane, he said, "Get new sticker book on the plane!" So much for surprises!

We had a very nice trip, even though it seemed plagued by unexpected events. My mom had a reaction to her antibiotics, and then a root canal, so I played nurse for a day. It was easy though, she was so drugged up (they had sedated her) she slept all day and the rest of the time was hilarious until the drugs wore off. It rained or stormed almost every day. We had one night where we had to carry Oliver into a closet because the tornado sirens went off, then we lost power, lasting through the whole next day because a tornado had hit another part of town. Then we lost power again on another non-stormy day, for no reason at all, and cable another day! So much for vegging by the tv. We finally got a gorgeous, sunny day, so we took Oliver to the Ft. Wayne Zoo, only to drive an hour to find that it was closed, and re-opening two days later. Then my uncle fell ill and was hospitalized. Uncle Dale, you are in our thoughts and prayers! We were glad to be able to be there to give Aunt Pat our support, but wish we could have visited them under happier circumstances.

Of course, I took lots of pics, so I'll post them over a few days. Today's theme: hanging out at Nee-nee's house.

 Marty's parents drove down to visit Saturday and Sunday. Grandma and Oliver are reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas together. It is now Oliver's favorite book, and he knows it by heart and recites it. All of it. It is amazing and hilarious. He is currently up in his room not napping and reciting it.

 Pop-pop and Oliver looking at his new dinosaur magnets, and naming them. This is his other new obsession. Ever since we went to the Peabody, he has been crazy for dinosaurs, and knows more of their names than I do.

 Doing a big firetruck jigsaw puzzle with Grandma, yet another favorite.

 Hanging out in his "room" with Pop-pop. His room is my mom's walk in closet, with a twin mattress at the end. He loves it.

Riding his new Big Wheel in the garage. 

Walking with Nee-nee to get the mail on a cold and wet day. Compare it with this photo taken last summer, such a difference! Where is Spring anyway?!

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Continuing with the birthday weekend recap, if it's Sunday we must be in Newport . . . on my birthday!

We left Mystic late Saturday afternoon and drove the hour to Newport to get checked in to our hotel before dinner. We stayed at the lovely and historic Hotel Viking. It was a very nice hotel, though the rooms we had were pretty small, especially the bathrooms. But they were nicely decorated, and the customer service was great. We freshened up, and walked around town in search of a place to eat dinner. The city was beautiful, lots of historic homes and buildings, overlooking the harbor. In the mood for Italian (surprise), we found the Ristorante Lucia. Turns out they were BYOB, which I actually thought was a good thing, since wine is so marked up at restaurants. Marty ran across the street as recommended by the waitress, only to return with a $25 bottle of warm Kendall Jackson. Yikes! We were also seated right by the kitchen door, the price you pay when dining with a toddler apparently. It didn't help that when we arrived Oliver was screaming outside the door because he didn't want to go in. It had been a long day. But overall, he did pretty well, and the food was pretty good. Not the best I've ever had, but definitely not bad.

Beautiful photo of the harbor. Can't take credit for this one. It turns out we didn't get any good shots of town, so I borrowed this one and the next from Google images. I wanted to show how pretty the town was!

Thames Street, not far from where we ate dinner.

The next morning after a yummy breakfast, we went to see The Breakers, one of the Vanderbilt mansions, to tour. Oliver wasn't up for it, so he and Marty walked around the grounds and took pictures. Here's one that Marty took, doesn't it look like a postcard?!

Bonnie, Terry, and I toured the inside. They give you a head set so you have a sort of guided tour and can hear a little history of the house and the family, but go at your own pace. It was an amazing place. Unlike some of the other mansions that you can tour, this one has all the original detailing and much of the furniture and accessories, so you really get an impression of how they lived during the Gilded Age. Unfortunately, they don't allow you to take photos inside, but you can see some on the website.

Oliver playing hide and seek in the trees while Marty took photos.

Or maybe he found a hiding place for other purposes?

The yard overlooking the ocean, so essentially, their view. Those aren't real dogs, just wooden ones to keep the geese away. If you look just past the line of bushes, you'll see some people walking. That is the Cliff Walk, which is where we headed next.
Bonnie, Terry, and Oliver, on the Cliff Walk.

Bonnie and Oliver

A view of the Cliff Walk and some more mansions. The Cliff Walk is a public path 3.5 miles long and goes all along the shoreline between the mansions and the ocean. My favorite part of the day, it was so beautiful. We were lucky to get a nice sunny day, though it was a bit windy.

Oliver at the Cliff Walk

The Cliff Walk changes as you go, some parts have sidewalks and fences, and some are on rocks, like here. It was a bit trecherous, and scary for the Mommy. Especially when I looked up and Oliver was jumping from rock to rock. Believe me, it was scarier in person than it looks here!

The Atlantic Ocean

From there, we walked to Rosecliff, another mansion. Oliver was really tired, so he and Marty walked back to get the van to pick us up, in the hopes he might take a snooze. It was also beautiful, but did not have as many original details, and just didn't compare to The Breakers. I'm sure if we had seen it first, we would have liked it more. From there, we drove around to look at other houses in that area and on Ocean Drive, winding back towards town. Amazing. I've never seen so many beautiful homes, and so many historic, in one place. We decided to stop back in town for a little late lunch before heading home. We ate a quick lunch at the family friendly, if a bit overpriced, Barking Crab.

More Google image shots of Newport, since we got none of our own.

I've never seen Oliver so tired as he was by that point. It had been a long several days of late nights and no naps. He was out cold within about 10 minutes of leaving, and slept the whole 2.25 hour ride home. Thank goodness! We all needed the peace and quiet of that drive. Newport was absolutely beautiful, and I wish we had more time to see more of it. I had a wonderful birthday!

Saturday, April 9, 2011


I had wanted to plan something fun for Oliver's birthday this year, maybe something like the My Gym birthday party we went to, but hadn't figured it out yet. Then Bonnie and Terry said they were coming, and suddenly, Oliver's birthday became a full weekend of adventure instead of one silly party! I think he was thoroughly satisfied. He's upstairs "napping" as I write this, singing "Happy Birthday to You . . ." I think maybe he thinks his birthday is still being celebrated?

I guess you could say the adventure started with the Sesame Street Live show on Friday with Daddy. Then on Saturday, we got up and packed up the van and headed East.

Let me pause for a minute here to extoll the virtues of the van. We rented a van for the weekend, because our Sonata cannot fit 4 adults plus a car seat comfortably. See, you'd think you don't need a van until you have more than one kid, but one kid comes with a lot of stuff. You should see our car when we drive somewhere for Christmas, with suitcases plus gifts! And if anyone comes to visit, you have to drive two cars. It's really a pain. So, despite Marty's protests to the contrary, I think a van is an awesome thing. It's roomy, comfy, and you can haul a lot of crap! So Marty had Hertz points, and we got a Toyota Sienna. Now, I do not have any point of comparison, but it rocked. It had cupholders galore, individual climate controls, that little tv thing that shows you if anyone is behind you when you are backing up, comfy seats, automatic doors (fun!), and built in sun shades. No DVD player, bummer. But in my dream where we buy a van, they are built in. It was even a pretty olive green color. I'm sort of sad that I have no pictures of it to share with you!

But I digress.

We were off to Mystic on a gorgeous sunny day. We decided to go to the aquarium first, and let the sun warm up the day a bit. Oliver loves aquariums, but we hadn't been to one in a while, so this was a special treat. He was so excited, running around from tank to tank, oohing and ahhing over everything.

Ooooh, barracuda!

Beautiful fishies

Not the cheesy grin, but the "hurry up and take the picture" pose.

Then we headed over to the Mystic Seaport, a sort of living museum with a recreated 19th century village and lots of historic ships and boats, and sea-related things. Bonnie and Terry are sailors, so they really enjoyed it.

Bonnie and Oliver, rowing a boat on the gravel.

The gravel was actually crushed seashells, like in Florida. Oliver was fascinated.

Showing Daddy a seashell fragment. The tongue sticking out is a constant thing lately. Maybe he's a future Michael Jordan? Hah!

We thought this was such a cute backdrop for a little photo session. 

Oliver disagreed.

We finally got a little grin out of him!

The quaint little village. See how the blue sky is slowly being overtaken by heavy clouds. Yup, that's what happened to our nice sunny day. By the end it was cold, windy, and spitting rain.

Picking up more shells.

On a boat. Notice, shell fragment still in hand!

Inside a very old boat. They had a walkway built around and in it so you could walk through, but it was otherwise falling apart. Oliver loved it and "walked the circle" 4 times.

Riding a whale in the play area.

On a little boat turned play structure.

The photo session with Mommy soon turned silly.

Building a toy boat with Daddy.

Watch out, that glue is hot!

Mommy and Oliver in the snack shop taking a break.

Despite the weather turning, we had a very nice time, but by about 2:30 or so we were cold and done. While we were promised better weather, I think Mystic would have been better a bit later in the season. Yes, we beat the crowds, which was great, but at both the Aquarium and the Seaport, there were parts that weren't open yet. Not enough to ruin our visit, but maybe we missed a few things. Still, I wouldn't want to go in the height of the summer, because I bet it's a madhouse. 

Done with Mystic, we hopped in the wonderful van and drove on to Newport (about an hour away) so we could get checked in to our hotel, have a nice dinner, and see a little of the town. Gorgeous place. Wow. More about that soon!