Monday, April 29, 2013

Big Birthday Weekend - Friday

First thing first. Friday was The Commanders birthday, many comments were made about him getting old, to which I pointed out to the girls that The Commander's Grandmother is old, The Captain's Grandmothers are old, Daddy is not really OLD. He got a superhero card and some shirts from the girls and I, and then we did most of our celebrating throughout the weekend.

But now onto my little Artist.

When I picked Sassy up from school on Thursday, she was crying. It took me a few minutes of trying to talk to her to figure out that it was a good crying, not a bad crying. She had this note in her backpack.

 Panoply? I had no idea what this was, so we headed back into school to ask her teacher. Panoply is a big arts festival in Huntsville and Sassy's art was chosen to be on display. She was on the only one in her classroom to be selected and apparently only about 25 students from each school in Huntsville get selected.

So we loaded up the family on Friday and headed down to see her art. Sassy's is the one at the bottom left. And yes this is the best picture I have of it.

As you can see there were balloon animals to be found, dancers to watch, and crafts to do.

And below is Sassy getting a henna flower painted on her hand. I had to laugh as I watched parents with very young toddlers get henna designs on their children. They had authentic henna patterns meticulously painted on that the small child quickly wiped off 5 seconds after the poor artist finished.

Have you ever had henna put on? It takes about 30 minutes to dry and it smears easily. I at least knew what to expect so when the girls got their turn I looked at the girl painting the design and I said "Make it small and make it simple!"

Then I told the girls they had to hold their balloon animals in their hand with henna on it and keep it their until the henna dried. The girls may forget that they had paste on their hand, but they would never forget to be mindful of their beloved balloon animal! Then we went to the face painting booth, Sassy got whiskers and Little Bear got ballet shoes.

And that was just on Friday! Saturday we loaded up and headed to Chattanooga, Tennessee. And I'm going to make a second post for tomorrow on that!

Thursday, April 25, 2013


I've never been great at labeling local wildlife, so I've been trying to figure out what some or the local birds, critters and insects are around here. Unfortunately, the one that I've become the most familiar with are the red wasps that are EVERYWHERE!

One of our recent finds was made by Little Bear. We were trying to rush out the door to Story Time at the library when we ran into this little guy.

Can you see him? A little Turtle!

Little Bear was so excited! A real turtle outside of the Botanical Gardens. She wasn't impressed that I wouldn't let her pet it . . .but since I know nothing about turtles, I wasn't sure about germs or animal behavior regarding touching their young.

Of course that didn't stop her from petting it anyway.
I think that we had a much better find that The Commander, because the week before his critter he saw was of a more sinister variety.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Whimsical Woods

If you are from central Nebraska, chances are you are familiar with Stuhr Museum. Well, the corresponding place here in Huntsville is called Burritt on the Mountain. Burritt is one of the 3 locations that we purchased an annual membership to when we got to Alabama. Out of the three, it looked like we would might hold onto the Botanical Gardens for sure, maybe the Space Center, and probably not Burritt.

Without listing all the details and history of the place, I'll just say it is a living history location. They have farm set ups from the late 1700s to the early 1900s. And for my girls, just looking and talking about history isn't enough to excite them right now.

Enter the Whimsical Woods. According to the staff at Burritt this has been in the planning for YEARS. There are more that a dozen displays and play areas around the park for children to climb on and interact with. There are three large wooden play structures inspired by Cinderella, Swiss Family Robinson and Treasure Island.

They have a mining cart for Snow White's Dwarves, A cabin set up for Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and the Three Little Pigs' houses.

But I think that the Three Little Pigs was the most fun for me. The girls and I take turns pretending to be the pigs and the wolf going through all the motions of knocking and snarling "Little pig, little pig, LET ME IN!" and squeaking back "not by the hair of my Chinny, Chin CHIN!"
With all the noise we make, we attract quite a crowd and pretty soon there are 4 or five little pigs as other children join in to run from Captain Big Bad Wolf. And the Commander just sits on the porch of the farm house beside us and laughs at our funny voices.

We lucked out on our first visit to the Whimsical Woods and it was the weekend of Spring Farm days. So in addition to playing in all the new areas, we got treated to demonstrations of old fashion Black Smith work, wood cook stove and open fire cooking, wool spinning, wool washing, and the best of all, a sheep shearing! The commander was so interested that he took a video of the whole thing! (Which I won't post because it probably isn't as cool if you haven't seen it done live.)

And in the middle of our visit, we sat down for a picnic lunch to enjoy the cool weather and excellent view! Burritt on the Mountain is on the tallest mountain in Huntsville so we get an excellent view of the city when we visit. You can see all the way across town to the Space and Rocket Center on a clear day.

The staff is great there too. On our last visit, one young gentleman saw us trying to pet the baby goats through the fence so he brought one out for the girls to pet.

Of course there are some visitors that say that all these fantasy/fairytale displays ruin the original intent of the farm to show a historical view of farm life, but I can only imagine how much their ticket sales have increase this summer. If they bring this back next summer, you can bet we will renew our membership, otherwise I think we will stick to the botanical gardens.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

And our last SUPER stop was. . .

Did you see the pictures I put on Facebook of Little Bear in her new Superman shirt complete with cape?
Have you ever heard of Metropolis, Illinois? I hadn't until our first trip out to Alabama. But when it started to get pretty foggy on our trip back from Nebraska, I decided we had better stop instead of try to make the trip in one day. So we stopped in Superman's home town.

And in Metropolis, on the corner of 'Truth' and 'Justice' Stands SUPERMAN! : ) Actually, he is on Superman Square, but they have some cool street signs that say Truth and Justice on the corners.

This small city of around six thousand knows how to capitalize on what they have, there are photo ops all over the square. Sassy fit just right . . .But Little Bear was a little shy of the height requirement.

And there are more phone booths that you could imagine in this city. I saw a decorative one in the bank lobby as we drove by.

The museum wasn't open while we were there, but we will definitely come back with the Commander sometime.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Update 4 - Spring Break in Nebraska!

Let me start by saying that typing the phrase Spring Break still makes me think of Bikinis, drinks and bad decisions. Needless to say I never really did the college spring break thing which is a decision that I will never regret.

But spring break for us now means 18 hour drives back to Nebraska to visit Grandparents and friends.

That is 18 hours ONE WAY in case you were wondering.

18 hours with just me and the girls since the Commander decided he had better save vacation for our summer and winter visits.

I ended up driving to Lincoln 3 times in one week, but I was craving some fun time with my old co-workers and friends, so it was worth it for me.

We got some fun time in at Mimi and Papas house, of which I have no other pics than of the girls getting flying lessons from Uncle Sock (as Little Bear calls him).

And since our membership to the Henry Doorley Zoo didn't expire until April 1st, the girls and I loaded up the van with friends and headed up to check out the critters. I thought is was really interesting to see how each of the 4 girls walked through the exhibits and what they focused on. I don't have any profound knowledge to share from that, I just thought it was interesting.

The Lied Jungle is always the best place for pictures. Especially with all the vines to hang on.

And the girls all sprinted to the end to sit on the stumps which turned into a photo op. .
And of course I got to see my favorite animals again.  . .BATS!

And here are the girls 'petting' some sea critters in the aquarium. L snuck out as I took the picture . . .

This is one of my favorite shots of the trip. L, Sassy, and Lttle Bear are looking at upside-down Jellyfish.

Then, we all decided to go on the Skyfari ride, which is a ski lift ride over the zoo. All the little girls wanted to ride together, so I got the bright idea that I'd let my girls ride with the other moms and I could take pictures from the front.

In Hindsight, probably not the best idea I had all day.

Poor Spiff had to try to get two toddlers onto the ride and then worry about them keeping their hands, feet and bottoms in the correct place at all times. And while Neecie had two older girls, she didn't worry any less.

And apparently I have a problem with heights when you put me on a small swinging, wooden seat to which I am not strapped.

But we are MOMS and we survived!

Then the girls had to gather acorns, leaves and other fun things.

And finally Neecie and M headed to the cat house to see the new baby cats, while Spiff and I got some fun photos of L, Sassy, and Little Bear on the statues.

The end of the trip involved a lot of decision making since Mimi and Papa gave the girls each $20 dollars to spend at the store.They each came home with a snake. The commander isn't fond of snakes at all, so he wasn't pleased when I sent him these pictures.

And I think I'll get one more update post out of final stop on the way home. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Update 3 - Cathedral Caverns and St. Pattys Day Parade

In late Feb we headed to Cathedral Caverns. The Commander had went with his parents and Little Bear in the fall, but Sassy and I hadn't been to the cave yet.

The entrance is HUGE! The entrance isn't man made and to give you and idea of how large, they actually used to hold concerts in the entrance years ago. And can you see the trees growing on TOP?!? Even if you don't want to go on a tour, you should go out to the park to stand outside and check out this crazy formation made by mother nature.

And the think that always makes tours great for me are when you have a knowledgeable guide who knows how to speak to a crowd. He kept pointing at things and saying, "Can you see that thing right there? Do you have any idea what that is? ......Neither do I." and then he would explain what it was after we all chuckled.

And he kept pointing out shapes made by the shadows and rock formations . . . .Can you see "sleeping Abe" in the shadow below? The girls were able to see most of them which was a real treat for them.

 But my favorite part was the BATS! I really love bats. They are fascinating creatures, and this one is an Eastern Pip. There were a few bats hibernating in the cave, but pips aren't colony bats so there aren't massive clusters of them like in some caves, a fact that probably only I was bummed out about.

And now ST. Pattys Day!

I wouldn't have imagined that Huntsville would be big on Irish with their big German roots. . .but there are a few Irish dance groups plus some Irish heritage groups which I guess equals PARADE.
So on march 16th, I baked a loaf of Irish Soda Bread, tossed Corned Beef in the crockpot, downloaded an album of Irish songs, and got the girls dressed for the parade.

I knew I was collecting clearance St. Pattys Day stuff for a reason! And I got a clearance St Patty's Day shirt for the Commander for next year too . . .

We headed down to the "Straight to Ale" brewery to visit the cupcake truck and the Commander got to enjoy a local brew while the girls and I had green cupcakes. I wish we would have gotten a picture of the rugby team wearing kilts and sporrans with their rugby shirts because they looked SOOOOO cool! The commander and I decided we have to see a rugby game next season.

And now I've got us caught up to the last week in March!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Update 2 - Valentine's Day

I used to have nothing but anticipation for Valentine's Day. . .until I had to start addressing 20 little valentines from my daughter.

But this year with Little Bear not being in daycare and Sassy being able to write her own name, it wasn't too stressful for me. Sassy picked out her own Valentines- Barbie and Mustaches. I told her she should get mustaches for the girls too, but she really wanted to hand out Barbie.

We had a lot of fun getting the valentines ready, including a little Mustache fun.
 There was only a picture on the main box illustrating that you should put the mustache on your finger not your face, so I put one on Sassy for school to show the boys that they didn't need to put them on their faces. As you can see from the pic, Little Bear and I joined the fun too.

I went to school to drop of fresh fruit for the class party, and ended up hanging around to help Sassy's frazzled teacher. I feel bad for Sassy's teacher. She is supposed to have a class of around 18 students max capacity and she has 27! On top of that, she just got transferred from a fourth grade classroom to first grade and had some trouble adjusting to the age change in her students.

Unfortunately for her, I think that the tone for her year was set in those first few stressful weeks and she is stuck with a class prone to disruption and inattentiveness. She is a very nice teacher and Sassy has nothing but good things to say about her so hopefully if she stays in a first grade class room she can find her rhythm early next year. Someday someone is going to have to explain to me why teachers have to teach all ages in elementary to get tenure. Wouldn't it be best for everyone if they were placed with the students they work with the best so that they could excel?

But moving on, I want to mention the girls new nap buddy, Snickers. Snickers has put on probably 3 pounds, which has made her quite a robust ball of fur. Snickers LOVES Sassy, she allows Sassy, and sometimes even Little Bear, to drag her around the apartment in all kinds of terrible ways without complaint.

However, the Commander and I are barely allowed to touch her. She is a perfect cat for children and now she even sleeps with them during afternoon nap. After the girls get in bed for nap, I carry Snickers into their room because as soon as she sees them ready for nap, she jumps out of my arms to go in and climb in with them.

This all sound really nice until Snickers decides she needs attention in the middle of the night and starts climbing around their pillows meowing until one of them wakes up to pet her. Or if the door to their room is shut and she sits outside and meow LOUDLY until they come and let her in.

Unfortunately since I can't hear the cat in the hall without my hearing aides in, I sleep through the whole thing so I can't stop her nighttime begging. Oh well, the girls will just have to get used to being loved by their cat.