Saturday, December 31, 2011

A little history and a new place to play

The majority of our long break has been relaxing, sitting around, wearing pajamas watching movies and playing video games all day. To be honest, it has been wonderful. But, one needs to get out of the house at some point, right?

After spending some time at the zoo, we decided to visit Mill City Museum. This museum is found along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. It is the old Wasburn Crosby A-Mill (later to become General Mills). It is known as “The most explosive museum in the world."

This nickname comes from several sources: the 1878 explosion that leveled the original Wasburn Crosby A-Mill (on the same site as the current building), and the “Flour Tower” ride, which allows guests to experience the explosion firsthand and live to tell about it. We exited the “Flour Tower” on the top story (8th story I think) of the building, and were treated to stunning views of the river from the rooftop observation deck, and a fun ride back down in a glass elevator. I am glad we took the time to revisit this museum and learn something new about our history.

We finished off our week by finding a new place to play. Our friends told us about SkyZone and we all decided to give it a try.

You have to buy tickets early (probably because of the break, regular weeks are probably not as busy), but it is well worth it. As I have said before, it is impossible to not have fun on a trampoline and this place is packed with them!

We had contests such as see who could butt, knee, butt, knee jump the longest, which Andrew always won. We jumped off walls.

A skill that I could not master. Andrew told me that the secret was to always think straight. It didn't help. Whenever I attempted the wall jump, I landed flat on my back.
Basically, we jumped our hearts out!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas and the Zoo

We had a wonderful Christmas day (which I will write more about later). Happy faces are still smiling around here. We have started a very relaxing week. On Tuesday to break up the day of video games for the boys and to give Em and her friend something to do, I decided to take the kids to the MN zoo. When they were younger, we went all the time. It was in our rotation of fun places to go, along with the Children's Museum. We haven't gone back to the zoo (or Children's Museum) in a long time. It was fun to return to our old stomping grounds (which are literally two minutes from our home). So much has changed.We made friends with the new (to us) Penguins. They are so cute and the helpful zoo volunteer explained (as two penguins sneaked off into the cave) that the penguins only recently have been allowed to "nest."
We also saw some old friends.The gibbons and the flamingos have always been our favorites. I even remember them from field trips as a child. In the Discovery Bay, we enjoyed the dolphins, sharks and other big water animals, but the small aquariums were just as cool. The sea dragons were magical looking and who doesn't love a sea horse?
Also, we made a discovery on the Minnesota Trail. Totoro has a twin at the zoo. Can you tell which is which?OK, isn't that hard to tell them apart, but if I brought a white wolf into my home and sat him on our couch (which even Totoro is not supposed to be doing!), you would never be able to tell them apart.

Friday, December 23, 2011

What tree did she fall from?

About the same time that Emily started middle school, these lists started popping up around the house. Of course, always checked off and complete.

To do list Dec. 21, 2011
1. Take shower
2. Get dressed
3. Dry hair w/hair dryer
4. Pack back pack
5. High pony tail
6. Make lunch
7. Put on tennis shoes
8. Coat (not checked off, but I assume she put it on and left)
9. Backpack
10. White day-don't forget anything
11. Contacts
12. Happy B-day Ry!
13. Is Ry going to school? No (she found the answer and wrote it down)
14. Tidy up room
15. Friend (named) and Friend (named) are coming over!
16. Breakfast
17. Brush teeth
18. Ear rings

At night she sets her alarm, and in the morning wakes up on her own. She has her week of outfits planned and hanging in her closet. She is usually ready to go by 7:00am. When she was walking to school, she left at 7:2o (we only live a few blocks from school). Now, because I drive (it's winter after all) we leave around 7:35.

What can I say...sometimes the apple does fall far from the tree.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Ry!

We have a teen-ager in the house.
We love you Ryan!Is there any way you could slow down this whole growing up thing?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Stolen Traditions

A few years ago, I was talking to my smart friend Lori. She was telling me about a fun activity that she does with her girls at Christmas time. She takes them to The Dollar Store to pick out presents for everyone on their lists.
I stole this idea before Lori could even finish her story. My kids have been doing this every year since. It is a fun way to involve the kids in the whole gift giving process. They get their own carts and sneak around the store. In the past, they have given great gifts such as ornaments, silly string and these gross teeth. So this year we made up the lists, thought about what each person (on the list) would like and the kids were unleashed.
They found some gems this year which are all wrapped and waiting under our Christmas tree.At least someone around here is ready for Christmas :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dance, concert, dance, wrestling

Things have been busy around here lately.
We started the week with Emily's Winter Dance Recital. It is so much fun to watch the different dance teams. Em is on the Elite team and they did a great job! It is amazing how much the extra classes and practices help the team's performances. They were completely together and spot on their steps and kicks.
Emily also had her first band concert. They did a great job. She is still motivated to practice her flute. But, she is not the only musical one around here. Whenever she practices her flute, Totoro sings along.

In the same week, her dance team also had a chance to dance at the women's gopher basketball game at the U down town.
It is wonderful to be on the Elite team. Emily is having a blast, learning a ton about dance and is having a real team experience.
Go Valley Girls!
This week, Andrew finished up his wrestling season. The person who runs the EVAA teams is also the Eastview boys wrestling coach. He is so great with theyoung boys (and probably the HS team). He stresses being brave and using good wrestling moves. I am glad that Andrew is learning these lessons early in his wrestling career. He ended by getting first place in his bracket of second graders.
It is really fun to watch Andrew. Between his matches, he would look over and give the thumbs up. When it was over, Andrew told me he was glad he was brave the whole time. Lesson learned :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Field Trip to the Bell

Can you tell what this is? Any ideas?
Would it help if you could touch it? Well, you can if you go to the Bell Museum on the U of M campus. The workers will not outright tell you what it is, but will give you clues and information to help you figure it out.My professor brought our science class on a field trip to the Bell two weeks ago. Then, independently of my class trip, my friend asked me if I wanted to go with the kids. I jumped at the chance to go with friends and my kids. We packed everyone up, and had a wonderful time.

We enjoyed the dioramas by Jacques. Some of the finest in the world. It is truly impressive how he blends the ground into the painting. Sometimes it was difficult to see where the painting actually began.

We also got to take a nap in a bog.
So nice and squishy and oh so restful!
We spent most of our time in the Touch and Feel room. Actually, we LOVED the Touch and Feel room. Small tidbit: this museum was one of the first in the nation to have a Touch and Feel room.

The kids got to play with different bones and animal pelts, horns and antlers. There was even a hawk talon to touch and feel. Our favorite things were all the living snakes, bugs, turtles and salamanders to observe and touch.The kids had the very patient museum worker take out every single animal.Andrew especially enjoyed the burrowing cockroaches (when they were in the cage). I guess there were hundreds of them in this cage. The guy was nice enough to open the cockroach cage and Emily got to hold one. After this picture, Emily promptly dropped it. Luckily it landed in the cage.

In case you are still wondering, the first picture is of an elephant skull.
Aren't we are all the smarter now that we have been to the Bell Museum.

By the way...I was told by a credible source that everything comes alive at night at this museum. Anyone up for an overnight adventure?