Monday, August 31, 2015

Pool Time with Daddy

After swimming lessons the best part is showing off for Daddy.

She loves floating now that she is calm about trying it.

They love doing a rocket with Daddy also. It's when Daddy throws them and then they swim to the side.

As you can see from this video while they do take turns, Wonderful Husband doesn't get a break!

Friday, August 28, 2015

August Randomness

These are the pictures that just don't fit anywhere else. Just random things that have happened this month.

Building their marble works - working together. That's what I remember most about this photo.

The easel went from empty to looking like this one morning. That's a lot of numbers. Yes, it's divided in half to help them remember to share. One draws the line the other gets to pick which side.

We went to visit my mother and grandmothers. From left to right around the table we have: Sweet Daughter, Great-Grandma C (gentle grandma), Sweet Son, Me, Grandma (my mom), and Great-Grandma W (dancing grandma). It's so cool that my kids are getting to know and spend time with their great-grandmothers. As a kid I remember spending time with my 3 great-grandmothers and 1 great-great-grandmother. It's not that we are having babies young, the women in my family tend to live a long time. There is an almost 90 year difference in ages in this photo alone. (Dancing grandma is the oldest, but don't tell her I told you that!)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Rock Climbing

In our never ending quest to get the kids to sleep, we decided to take them rock climbing. It's indoors so it should be perfect when it's over 100 F outside, right? Did I mention it's not air-conditioned so really it's just not in the sun, but still HOT.

Both kids climbing with ease.

It's difficult to tell perspective here, but she is really high. She made it to the top and rang the bell. Then she happily jumped back and let the auto belay bring her down. The only issue was sometimes we had to add weight to get the belay to recognize her since she is so light.

He also enjoyed climbing, but in his usual safety first way didn't want to go too high.

She never did get tired and just kept picking different paths to climb up. Turns out that bell is really motivating for her.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Swim Lessons

We thought we were done with swim lessons for the year. Then Sweet Daughter started doing flips underwater and pushing herself past her ability. We decided to add another week to help keep her safe.

Sweet Daughter's turn

Sweet Son's turn

Yes, there were 2 kids to 1 teacher. That is a typical ratio for this swimming school, though sometimes it is 3 kids to 2 teachers. They make so much progress because they are constantly working and not just waiting for their turn. Remember the videos of Sweet Daughter jumping off the diving board with glee while Sweet Son had to be either thrown off or bargained with for a long time before being willing? Here is the progress:

Sweet Daughter is still fearless.

Sweet Son showing some confidence!


The music school our kids attend has an annual open house that includes a faculty recital and an instrument petting zoo. The kids get to try different instruments, meet teachers, and become inspired by those around them.

Sweet Son trying out a cello.

Sweet Daughter had a lot of enthusiasm for the drum set.

Our rule is you always have to do some type of music. I also required they spend 3 years on piano and learn the basics before switching instruments. They both needed to be able to learn to read music and play at a basic level before trying another instrument. This is the beginning of their 3rd year. Sweet Son has no interest in switching off of piano. Sweet Daughter changes her mind, at least daily, if she will switch and if she does what instrument she would try.

Monday, August 24, 2015

First Day of School

The kids are starting Kindergarten! It's our last year at this school and I'm already sad thinking about it.

Sweet Daughter's ready to go.

Sweet Son can't wait to get back to his amazing teachers.

They are growing up too fast. Someone make it stop!

Friday, August 21, 2015

School Supply Donation

Last month I wrote about how Sweet Daughter used her own money to buy books for kids that don't have any. This month Sweet Son found something he wanted to donate.

He spent his own money buying these school supplies. We dropped them off at a local drive that was giving filled backpacks to kids in our school district. He picked out what they would need and did his best comparison shopping. I love that my kids love helping and are willingly spending their own money to help others who are less fortunate.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Car Seats

I wrote a post years ago about how we will leave our kids in rear facing car seats until they are too tall or weigh too much. It is so much safer that I couldn't justify turning them around until needed. The law varies state to state and even more country by country. The best way to research is to look for the countries with the lowest car crash fatalities and find out their standards. Did you know a few countries don't allow for forward facing until kids are 6? Unfortunately, our seats weren't built to those standards so we didn't make it that long. However in a time when most kids in the US are turned forward facing at 1, we just continued rear facing. So when the kids turned 1, we changed nothing. Same at 2, 3, and 4. Here are pictures of the kids at 4 (a month before turning 5).

Sweet Daughter comfortable and happy.

All of these photos were taken in Wonderful Husband's car, but I assure you they were rear facing in both cars. These are Britax seats while in my car they have Radians. Even once we turn them forward facing they will be in a 5 point harness for as long as possible.

Sweet Son is sleepy.

So what did their friends say? What does everyone else think? First, who cares? My kids are safe and we are making the decisions for them not anyone else. Second, no one cared. Few people even noticed and those that did would often mention they have heard it is safer, but choose not to do that for their kids.

A side picture

The question we got most often, "Where do they put their legs?" Here they show you two different options, criss cross or over the side. Sometimes they stretched them out on the back of the seat. They never complained. When we traveled we would often travel without the bases so they would have to sit facing forward. They did know what it was like to face forward and didn't care either way. They were comfortable.

If you don't know about "extended rear facing" (what it's called in North America) please do your research. There are seats that go to 50 pounds rear facing. Yes, you will pay more, but if it saves your child from injury once (or possibly something worse), it's worth every penny. Also please find out the expiration date of any seat you buy. Many expire after 5 years while some last 12 years. That's a huge different when you are considering the price of buying a new seat every few years.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Around Madrid

As we walked around Madrid we didn't have a lot planned. Sweet Son had requested we go to a museum. Sweet Daughter wanted to see "cool stuff" so off we went.

This playground had many unique features. This was like a skateboard you could ride side to side while holding on to the handles. 

I think this was a government building. (I write this blog a year in the past so I'm not completely sure.)

When we got to Spain we made sure to use one of our days to get into a museum on their free admission day. After standing in a long line we were inside. After about 30 minutes of looking at the amazing art, Sweet Son said, "Where are the Kandinsky's?" This was the first time we found out he wanted to see a specific artist. We asked a museum worker and they looked at us like we were crazy. We were in the wrong museum. Sweet Son was so sad. Luckily we found this painting they recognized from their art cards.

I think this was a royal palace. The rest of us wanted to sit in the shade and rest. Wonderful Husband was the only one willing to stand in the sun for a photo.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Row your Boat

Madrid has some beautiful buildings and monuments. We wandered past this one and then decided we needed a closer look.

We originally stopped to take a photo with that monument. Then we noticed the people in boats all around.

We had plenty of time so we rented a row boat. Only this isn't as relaxing as you might expect.

That's better.

Here we are getting close to the monument. This is much more relaxing when they do all the work. I highly suggest bringing a couple of your own when you visit.

Friday, August 14, 2015

People in Glass Houses

You know what they say about people in glass houses? But have you ever actually seen a glass house or did you think it was just a metaphor? Turns out there is a very nice glass house in Madrid.

The kids rocking and reading in the glass house. Each chair had a book chained to it. It was very quiet and relaxing. This photo shows less than half of this one room. This is the large main room, but hopefully that gives you an idea of the scale of this house. It is not used as a home, but is often rented out for private parties or large gatherings.

This photo shows the house in the background. The ducks refused to cooperate for our photo.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Hotel in Madrid

This was a huge hotel room for Spain. There are 4 twin beds, two windows, a desk, small fridge, and a bathroom.

Here you can see the layout when we arrived. We ended up moving the kids beds farther apart so they wouldn't pester each other as much at night.

Here is the view out of one of the windows. Yes, we were right across the street from the train station. We like staying by public transportation. It also helps if we get lost walking around. People may not know every hotel, but they always know things like a train station. This was a huge help the year before in Italy when we ended up with a map that was wrong and we couldn't figure out how to get back.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Train in Spain

We traveled from Barcelona to Madrid by high speed train. We were all excited. The kids love trains.

The boys spent the entire ride looking out the windows and tracking us on the map. They were fascinated by how fast we were going.

The girls get motion sick. We spent the entire ride much like this.

Upon arrival we walked out and found this giant baby head. She was feeling better on steady ground and was more than willing to pose for a photo. He just wanted to stick his hand up the baby's nose. Yeah, he's 4.

There are turtles in the station. We watched them for quite awhile.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Casa Batllo

When we travel some stops are for the kids - see last Friday's post about the dragon playground. This was one of my suggestions. If you like unique architecture or hate straight lines/walls, this is the place to be.

The outside of the house really stands out.

From the inside looking out. We have so many photos that just didn't turn out right. In a picture, our brains assume thing are straight lines and when you can't see the depth this house loses much of it's charm.

Even the back patio when confined by straight walls due to neighbors has rounded edges and things coming out.

Walking down the hallway listening to the audio tour.

From the roof you can see how every element possible is made round, curved, or mosaic-ed, often all three.

This is still a house people live in so there are parts close to the public. There are just so many amazing details from the elevator, the door knobs, even the laundry room, that I can't include here. It was well worth the price of admission and the wait to get in. It also offered a change in perspective for our kids. They started drawing houses with round walls, mentioning architectural features they had never noticed before, etc. I love when we travel and it expands their minds to things they had never even known they might be interested in.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Lunchbox Giveaway

Just in time for school I'm giving away a set of 2 colorful lunchboxes. These are divided into three sections and you can choose if you want to use all 3, less than 3, or just the outside part of the box. I simplify lunches by packing a fruit, a vegetable, and an entree. Many people create cute foods (just search bento and you will be amazed), but I don't have time for that.

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Friday, August 7, 2015

Dragon Playground

Urban playgrounds often become predictable. This wasn't true in Barcelona. This awesome sculpture/play structure was surrounded by concrete and one of the coolest things ever.

Sweet Daughter is posing on the bench/dragon's tongue. Sweet Son is running into it's mouth/up the stairs.

What's at the top of the stairs? The slide down the tail. This is a huge slide - easily more than 2 stories. Luckily it was morning and not too hot because I imagine this could burn fairly quickly. 

This sculpture looks cool no matter what angle you are going for, but none of them are easily captured by camera. This is what the kids did when we told them to act like a dragon for the photo.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Barcelona Science Museum

For those who read this blog regularly, you know how much we love Science and museums. So it will be no surprise that when we travel we like to check out other Science museums. The one in Barcelona is supported by a bank and the cost of attending is very low especially for how much there is to do once you are inside.

Dinosaurs are always popular.

They had a large area for an aquarium and to learn about the fish and water issues they are having around Spain, especially in Barcelona. We learned about water conservation, threats to ecosystems and tons more.

Evolution! Something many of the Science museums around us avoid due to possibly offending the religious. Our kids loved this exhibit and seeing things that support what we have been teaching them.

There were tons of hands on experiments and experiences. Most we don't have photos of because we were all having too much fun. This one was a GIANT block of ice. You could see where others had placed their hand or finger and melted just a bit of it away.

Behind us you can see another ecosystem area. This museum was one of the best I have ever been to for keeping the kids interested (just not in taking photos). Lots of hands on, a little reading required, many different areas and topics, it excels in all of these categories. They also offer classes that I have heard great things about. While we saw the area the classes are held in and our kids begged to go, they weren't having any during the time we were there.