Saturday, May 25, 2013

Taking Two to the Zoo

The long Memorial Day weekend is here! My parents went up to the cabin for the weekend and this is Jason's first weekend off after working three weeks/weekends straight. My co-worker Michelle has her two grandkids for the whole weekend and they are the same ages as Austin and Ava. We decided to take the kiddos ourselves to the zoo to get out of the house. Jason had plenty to do on the house but the kids are getting a tad easier as they age to take them on my own. Thankfully I always pack enough snacks to feed a family of six.

Austin may have some fears but animals is not one of them. He doesn't hesitate when to pet anything and everything. I have to say that I can never understand how he is so gentle and kind to every animal on the planet except for his own loving pug Lily.
I had the camera around my neck but pushing a double stroller with one kiddo that can't stop eating and one toddler than wants in and out of the stroller every time I turn my head....made it quite difficult to capture every photographic moment.
Last year, we went to the zoo with my parents. Being that Gackum (he is now starting to say Grandpa and I make a pouty face every time cause that means he is growing up) is Austin's favorite person, we figured that as long as Grandpa was going to ride the camel, so was Austin. But he surprised us all last year as he chickened out and couldn't do it.

This year, I told Austin a whole 5 days in advance that we were going to the zoo and could ride the camels. The next morning Austin woke up and the first thing he said was "We going to ride a camel today?". All week long he talked about the camels. Then finally Saturday came and he assured me he was going to ride a camel. We went by the camel exhibit and he didn't show tons of interest. But then as we went by it the second time, he really wanted to do it. So I asked the lady if we could have a refund should he make a repeat of last year. Of course, she said. So I reminded Austin that I had to stay with Ava and he would have to ride it alone. He climbed up the steps, handed the lady his ticket, and got right up on the camel like it was no big deal.
I even saw him smile as he started to ride around the circle. I thought he might start crying as he got farther away from me, but nope, he just sat back and enjoyed the ride.
It was difficult to get photos of Ava enjoying the zoo. All I have is photos of Ava enjoying the millions of snacks that I packed. She stayed in the stroller the majority of the time. Only getting out to stand by an exhibit with glass or a fence. Today was a day that I was wishing she was walking already, just so she could have enjoyed the animals a bit more. But I know that many moms at the zoo were probably wishing their kids couldn't walk so they would stay in their stroller making life easier.
Love the color.
The four kiddos at the aquarium. It only took us about 5 minutes to get them to all stand there right in a row. We lucked out today because I don't remember a tantrum from any of them.
Standing by her big brother
Of course the petting zoo was a big hit. I love how Austin knew we were going to the zoo and that it would only be appropriate to wear his tiger t-shirt.

Next time we go to the zoo, Ava will likely be walking and only then will I curse myself as one kid runs in one direction while one kid runs in the other. At one time I had both of my kiddos in the double stroller and was holding on to Addy's hand (one of Michelle's grandchildren) and I yelled to Michelle " Who says I can't have one more!?". Only joking of course as I made it look like I could easily handle three children.... Jason and I are pretty content with the two little monsters we have, so that's a big fat NO! in case any one ever wonders.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Skull Shoes

Austin is very particular about some things, as most toddlers are. Some things he throws fits about at school are not the same things he throws fits about at home. Back in his biting days, I felt helpless. The little monster wasn't biting at home, so it was hard to feel as if we could make a difference in that bad habit that thankfully went away just as any other stage.

This particular event needs to be recorded.

Austin has been causing a ruckus at school lately about wearing his shoes. He puts them on in the morning fine for me without fuss. Since I know the ins and outs of Austin and everyday learn more about toddlers.....I usually have a few pairs of shoes out so that Austin can choose. He is much better at making choices than he is being told 'wear this pair' or 'put these shoes on now'.

Austin's school teachers have been telling me for probably a week or more that Austin has been giving them more and more trouble. Sometimes he was having a fit for half an hour, no exaggeration, about not putting them on. He even fell asleep one time during the fit because he put himself into exhaustion fighting the rules of wearing shoes.

I started bringing two pairs of shoes to school at the beginning of this week, thinking that I was going to solve the problem. Giving the kid an option at home and at school....perfect. But that lasted maybe half a day they said. So back to the drawing board. I asked Jason and we both thought that maybe if we let Austin pick out his own pair of shoes, that he'd wear them without problem. I was hesitant since Austin has many pair of good shoes. Not just good shoes, but not so cheap shoes either since Grandma wants nothing but the best for her grandkids.

But, the show must go on and off to Target Austin and I went. We hit the shoe aisle and I had nothing but plenty of time to let Austin try on whatever shoes he wanted. One walk up and down the aisle and Austin found Mickey Mouse shoes. He immediately wanted to wear them. He put them on and I made him walk around for a while in them. Eventually he spotted Spider Man shoes and took off the Mickey Mouse shoes telling me "I no want Mickey Mouse Clubhouse". So we moved on. Before Spider Man shoes even went on, he went for those light-up shoes. Although in love with the lights, "these are too big" he says, as he takes them off.

A few pair of random shoes later, Austin finds boat shoes. Adorable boat shoes. They had red and grey and all sorts of adorable and easy to slip on boat shoes. Austin picked out the one pair in which the color choices and pattern were a bit odd to me. He picks out the black pair with bright blue skulls on them.....

So of course I made him wear those around the store and up and down the shoe aisle about 6 more times hoping he might find the red or grey pair more attractive like I did. Austin looked down at his new shoes and said "These match. They fit great". Did he really just tell me that? I mean, I know he talks a lot but to tell me that was comical. All the other moms with little ones, were "awwwing" at Austin as he adored his new shoes. Even an old lady stopped her shopping to tell Austin what great shoes he had on....(did she have to encourage him!?). You can tell I wasn't thrilled with his choice. But whatever makes your toddler happy makes you happy. I am not ready to fight the battle of what pattern of shoes he wears. Heck, if he wants to wear dress shoes with pajamas to school, fine by me! Go right ahead and be independent. We have bigger battles to fight!

I wanted to leave the tags on thinking that Austin may change his mind the next morning and never wear them again. Sure enough on our way out the door Austin exclaims "my new shoes!!" Even on our way in to school Austin looked at me and said "I no want to take my new shoes off". This couldn't play out any more hysterical in my mind than it already had.

So of course at the end of the day, I go to pick Austin up, and his teacher says to me "Austin had an AWESOME day." The next teacher pulls me aside "Boy, Austin had a great day!" His report card from the day had 'awesome' and 'great day' written all over it, like three times! Really!? All he needed was to pick out his own shoes!? This had to be a fluke. Next day, same thing. Today, same thing. He doesn't fight to put them on and he is having the best days ever!

To kick this all off with one final note, I find two pairs of skull shoes when I go to pick up Austin today. Turns out a good friend has the exact same pair. Same size, same black shoes with bright blue skulls. I never remember his friend having these. Austin is very aware of all of his friends shoes since he brings them to me sometimes and says "these shoes are Hunter's" or "these boots are Oliver's". I don't know which one got them first. Did one copy the other? Who knows.....all I know is that Austin is very happy with his new skull shoes. Which in turn, makes me and his teachers VERY happy.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Spring has Finally Sprung!

After what felt like the longest winter ever......and then forty days and forty nights of rain.......we finally got lucky!! Spring is here! We've been cooped up in our new house for way too long and it's time to get outside.
Everything is blossoming! Well.........not at our house. We still don't have landscaping at the build yet. We still have to put in a retaining wall near the lower level garage and then we can finally get some hydroseed in!
 Just had to take a few pictures of the tree that was planted at my parents house after my grandfather passed away. It's just beautiful this time of year!
Ava is enjoying outside just as much as Austin. Everyday she comes home from daycare with the dirtiest knees on the planet. This poor girl wants to walk but at the same time just won't do it yet. Stubborn like her mother I guess. Once she gets to walking....I am sure she will be on the go and I will be wondering why I ever wished this phase away.
 At 14 months, she is the biggest eater. Loves pretty much everything and anything. And she never stops eating. A lot of times I have to hide food just so she can't see it.......because once she sees it, it's all over. I also have to stop feeding her at one point during meal times because she gives us no sense of 'fullness' EVER.
She was recently deemed a bully at daycare. Hard to believe, but she was pushing kids and stealing toys and having quite the temper. I can already tell that Austin and her have the same temperament. At least I know how to handle it now after having Austin, but just not looking forward to those "teen" months that I despise so much. I know more teeth are bound to come.....biting is probably in our future again......and I can't imagine that my 'carrying a child out of daycare like a football' days are over. Good thing she is so darn cute!

Austin on the other hand couldn't be more picky. Frustrating when you have one that can't stop eating and one that never eats. Although you can't really tell in the pictures below.....look at that belly! Austin is 2 1/2 years old now and talks, talks, talks! I love to hear the new things that come out of his mouth. One morning while getting ready for school, I was helping him brush his teeth while I was brushing mine. He asked for me to turn on the water and I must have taking too long because he said...'I'm waiiiiiiiiiting." I'm also always surprised by the larger words he says like, frustrated or dangerous. Many sentences lately end with, "I guess so." And a lot of times that little phrase just tacks itself on to the end with no pause, for example..."We are going to go home now I guess so."

So far, living on the water has been nothing short of amazing. Tons of wildlife for Austin to see and learn about. Geese, ducks, herons,  snowy egrets, killdeer, swans, the list goes on. Gackum even brought his binoculars over for Austin so he could check out all the different kinds of animals.

We have yet to buy patio furniture but finally got some of those infamous adirondack chairs for the beach. I say it that way, because that was the very detail that reeled me in to the neighborhood. I remember the day perfectly. We were out looking in Byron Center at places to buy a home or build, and when we stumbled upon Providence Lake, I thought that we would never get an opportunity to live there. It looked and felt like something we couldn't accomplish until we were much older. Or at least that's how it played out in my head. While Jason was taking photos of a  new build inside, I was out in the backyard on the beach, just staring at all the beautiful adirondack chairs on everyone's beach. It looked surreal. I kept thinking, "if I could build anywhere, it would be right here". Little did I know that it was to become reality. One crazy, dramatic, hair-pulling, stressful but rememberable year later, we are finally living here. And it couldn't feel better.
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