Tuesday, May 28, 2013

{Around Town: George W. Bush Presidential Library}

Our second excursion during my parents' visit was to the recently dedicated Bush Presidential Library at SMU. 

Note: It is extremely difficult to take a photo of a child near a fountain. Nearly every other image I had to choose from featured Anders attempting to climb into the water. Moving on...

The first thing you should know is that the Bush Center is not a library in the traditional sense, but rather an archive of the 'textual, audiovisual, and electronic Presidential records highlighting critical events and issues' from the Bush Administration.

In addition to galleries portraying former President George W. Bush's political career, the Museum also houses memorabilia about the family's personal lives and their ongoing humanitarian efforts.

I have to admit, I was unable to give most of the exhibits the attention they deserve. Although the Museum includes a small children's area, it isn't a toddler-friendly attraction in my opinion (which I knew was a strong possibility), and I spent the majority of my time tending to the boys. However, given time to peruse the displays, I think the Museum would be extremely interesting to most audiences.

My favorite exhibit was undoubtedly the replica of the Oval Office.

He looks like a natural leader to me.

Note: A professional photographer was present to take photos, available for purchase in the Museum gift shop, of visitors sitting at the Presidential desk. I'm not sure what the official policy is on taking your own photos in this room, but the pro didn't give me any trouble (having an adorably charming 2-year-old with me didn't hurt my cause).

I tried to come up with something witty to say about generations here, but I've got nothing. I will say, however, it's a very sweet picture of my parents and their oldest grandson. The statue of Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush stands in a courtyard area within the Library, complete with beautiful landscaping, a cozy cafe, and ample tables and chairs for patrons to spend time reflecting and relaxing during their visit.

I didn't know exactly what to expect when we set out on this trip. My final conclusion is that admission to the Museum is rather expensive for its size (in other words, you may pay $16 to spend only an hour or two wandering around), but the building is beautiful and the galleries are impressive. It certainly isn't something I would recommend for younger children, but I definitely think we will return when our kids are older and can glean a greater understanding of American politics from the information available.

Monday, May 27, 2013

{Around Town: Perot Museum of Nature and Science}

A couple of weeks ago my parents came to town. I had planned to write about their visit in one post, but we did so many activities while they were here! I'm afraid if I attempted to put together a single blog entry it would be so unbearably long that no one could actually get through the whole thing. Instead, I've decided to let myself wax nostalgic and blog about their trip in multiple posts. 

Our first outing was to the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science, which boasts five floors of hands-on learning experiences. Judging by the sheer number of school field trips present, the Museum is a welcome addition to all K-12 curricula in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Despite the crowds, we managed to have an excellent time, and Anders was perpetually entertained.

On the main floors, his favorite exhibits were the T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall and the Texas Instruments Engineering and Innovation Hall. The former included all things dinosaur related while the latter supplied ample opportunities to send ping pong balls through ready-made chain reactions and steer remote controlled cars.

The real magic for Anders was discovered on the lower level, however, which houses the Moody Family Children's Museum. Anders had so much fun that we are considering a family membership to the Museum simply to return to this area over and over again.

The delivery truck was part of the Dallas Farmers Market exhibit where kids could pretend to be vendors or customers, making sales or grabbing groceries. 

When I finally managed to pry his fingers from the delivery truck's steering wheel, Anders filled a shopping basket with apples (I think a bell pepper snuck in there, too).  I have to admit, I would buy anything that sweet face tried to sell me at a Farmers Market.

The Children's Museum has construction ramps and a giant water table.

Working on site. Future architect or engineer? You decide!

Anders absolutely loved the water table, and I loved watching him in that adorable apron. It was so fun to watch the concentration on his face as he carefully poured water from container to container.

There were sand boxes for digging fossils and rock walls for climbing.

There are actually a number of attractions in the Children's Museum that we didn't even get to see during our visit.  We can't wait to return and explore the rest!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

{Real Life: Captain Fantastic}

Today during naptime (which is a term we use fast and loose around here in reference to the mandatory bedroom time when Anders may choose to actually rest or may simply unload every toy he owns from its respective bucket, basket, or shelf into the middle of his floor), Anders beckoned me to his room, "Poo poo, Mommy. Poo poo." He had already retrieved a diaper from the closet, along with some sports pajamas he discovered. Despite my fashion advice, he was determined to incorporate the jammies into his ensemble.  Never mind that it's 86 degrees outside and one of these garments included footies. They featured baseballs and that was much more important.

And here he is in all his glory, Captain Fantastic enjoying his snack after there-was-no-naptime. Big truck shirt, check. Pajama pants, check. Sports cape, check. The kid's got style.

And even though Anders didn't need the extra sleep today, this guy sure did. Love his little leg rolls...

Now if only I could figure out a way to get myself a nap.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

{Holiday: Mother's Day}

I am grateful. I'm grateful to my mother for loving me well, with a love which I now realize took an extraordinary amount of work and patience, a selfless love that was too often unappreciated. I'm thankful for my mother-in-law who continues to faithfully serve her family and who raised my husband to be the man he is today, the man I love so dearly. And I'm grateful to the three guys in my life without whom I would not be a mother. It is the greatest privilege and greatest responsibility I have ever known. 

We had an awesome Mother's Day weekend.  I opened my gift on Friday night, the Sakura Bloom sling I've been pining for since Aksel joined our family. I know, it probably sounds lame to a lot of you. Why not jewelry? Or a spa giftcard? I hear you, I do. When we were first married, I was definitely one of those people who did not exactly appreciate a 'practical' gift.  A blender for Christmas? I don't think so. An iron for my birthday? Don't even think about it. But then I realized there was no money tree in our backyard, and even practical items can be expensive! Don't get me wrong, I love jewelry. I love a trip to the spa.  But this year, all I really wanted was this sling. I've already used it several times in the last few days, and I am loving it! Okay, rant over. On Saturday morning, we had the opportunity to serve our community as a family, along with several coworkers, at the Trinity River Audubon Center. It is an absolutely beautiful nature preserve, but it also turned out to be an allergy nightmare.  Plus, our guide kept repeating warnings about poison ivy and snake sightings.  Umm, hello, we are free labor.  Are you trying to scare us off? Luckily, the rest of my Saturday was spent sans poison ivy and snakes. I read magazines, took a nap on the couch, and enjoyed a delicious steak dinner at home with my guys. Sunday morning we woke up bright and early (which is the same as every morning with a newborn and toddler in the house) and headed out to The Original Pancake House.  Man, there is something about those pancakes.  What is the secret ingredient that makes them taste so good? Does anybody know?! Later in the day I received a sweet card from my boys, my incredibly thoughtful sister brought me a beautiful bouquet of hydrangeas and lilies, and we wrapped up the evening by picking my parents up from the airport for a week-long visit!  Now that is a successful weekend in my book.

Another request I had for Mother's Day was that Andreas take some pictures of me with the kids. I'm much more comfortable behind the camera, but I cherish photos of me with the boys.

Andreas complied and got a few good shots, a seriously difficult task when dealing with a rambunctious toddler.

Sadly, Aksel wasn't all that agreeable. Rather than post a picture of me with my baby screaming, I opted to post a picture of me and the back of my baby's head.  This way at least I can pretend it was a sweet moment.

So thank you to everyone who helped make Mother's Day 2013 such a blast.  I love you all!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

{Week in Review}

This week's weather was nuts, even by Texas standards.  Record low temperatures left me scouring the internet for new indoor activities.  One of the ideas I came across was 'painting' baking soda with vinegar (dyed with food coloring).  I'm all about projects that require minimal cleanup and can be accomplished with materials I regularly have on hand (Do you hear that you Pinterest moms making glow-in-the-dark sensory baths to teach your gifted 3-year-olds about the solar system with glow sticks you frugally and cleverly procured at the Dollar Store?! Stop upping the entertainment ante!  What?  I'm not bitter...)  Anyway, if you aren't familiar with the reaction, think back to that school assignment with the erupting paper mache volcano.  When you add vinegar to baking soda, it foams and fizzes. This occupied my busy toddler for almost an hour.  We parents may shell out $3 at the mall carousel for five minutes of respite, so considering baking soda costs $0.50 a box, I'd call this activity a winner.  As if that weren't enough, I felt extra accomplished when I dumped the entire mess down the sink and told myself I was cleaning my disposal through natural methods (ignore the food coloring, people).

Anders loved the bubbles.  He kept saying 'woooooow'.

And what would a blog post be without a photo featuring the 'cheese' face?

In other news, Andreas has been having serious back pains lately.  After stretching, strength-building, and numerous visits to the chiropractor, things still weren't improving much.  He had even started sleeping on a pallet on our bedroom floor because he was so uncomfortable in our bed.  So, we bit the bullet and bought a new mattress.  With nowhere to store our old mattress, it has taken up temporary residence in the nursery, much to Anders' delight.

In his opinion it's the perfect place for jumping, spinning, and somersaults,

for kicking and hitting balloons,

and even some light reading.

Sometimes things get a little chaotic around our house and Aksel can't take the excitement.  On Saturday morning while Anders and I were playing closeby, Andreas lulled Aksel to sleep on the aforementioned pallet.  Doesn't he look cozy?

Over the weekend, the weather finally warmed up enough to make going outside a pleasant experience.  We took the opportunity to go on a family date to the new Klyde Warren Park downtown.  With ample green space, a lending library, chessboards, playgrounds, croquet, food trucks, a doggy park, fountains and live music, I think the designers covered all their bases.  We certainly weren't the only ones with the idea, but we easily found a patch of lawn to call our own.

Aksel hung out in the stroller while I people watched, trying to casually study the food each vendor had to offer and not look like stalker.  I mean, call me old-fashioned, but if your food truck advertises sushi and sno cones, I'm going to need to see people enjoying your fare firsthand before I try raw-fish-on-wheels.

And I think we can all agree that playing soccer is more fun with a Ziploc of goldfish in one hand and a cityscape rising in the background.

It was a gorgeous day, and we'll definitely be back again.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

{Week(s) In Review}

Today I've got an April roundup, as promised.

The month started out with a birth day, which is pretty much the most exciting way to start a month in my opinion.  My C-section was scheduled for 5pm, which meant I wasn't allowed to eat after 9am. With that in mind, my mom, Anders, and I settled in at The Original Pancake House so I could shovel down eat a hearty breakfast.  Anders wasted no time digging into his silver dollar pancake plate (which they provide free by the way - score!).

The day seemed long - so, so, so long.  But finally, Andreas and I were prepped and ready at the hospital.

Fast forward and we were in the operating room.  It's so surreal the first time you see your child.  I've only ever experienced C-section deliveries, but I imagine the same is true of a vaginal birth or an adoption.  They are among my very favorite lifetime moments, those first glimpses of our babies with Andreas at my side.  Clearly our parental love is unconditional, because it ain't pretty, and they sure don't look as happy to see you as you are to see them.  Sidenote: I think birth is a beautiful and natural thing, but I blurred out Aksel's man bits because, hello, this is the internet.  

Our first picture of the three of us...

Wait, double take.  Left: Aksel; Right: Anders.

The days that followed were full of family and short on sleep.

We had lots of friends come to the hospital to congratulate, support, and love on us too...but I didn't get any pictures of them.  You know who you are.  We love you!

I spent plenty of time at the hospital enjoying baby cuddles.

When we came home, Andreas' parents and sister had decorated for Aksel's arrival.  A poster and balloons welcomed us at the door, and there were gifts for big brother to open so he was celebrated as well!

There were new books to read and new pinwheels to spin.

The days that followed were full of more baby cuddles for me (and Andreas).  And let's not forget the nursing.  Lots and lots of nursing.

Between newborn snuggles, Andreas' parents and sister doted on Anders like he was the most interesting and entertaining person in the world.  They took walks, read books, explored the yard, tracked bugs, played soccer, and much, much more.  Signe (my sister-in-law) documented several of these activities on her blog.

Andreas' dad and sister could only stay the weekend, but my mother-in-law was able to stick around for the week to lend a helping hand.  Thank you, Jesus.  Amen.  There is nothing like the support of friends and family.  Seriously, thank you guys for loving us so well.

Anyway, back to my mother-in-law.  She engaged Anders with fun activities throughout the week (in addition to cleaning and providing more baby cuddles).  One such activity that I actually managed to capture was playing with the Play-Doh Elmo Shape & Spin Playset.  Whew, say that five times fast.

Aksel hung out...

...while we rolled snakes...

...and made headbands.  Psst, don't tell Anders they're the same thing.  He's still impressed with my one Play-Doh shape if I call it by different names. 

Farmor and her grandkids.

I haven't taken many pictures the last couple of weeks in April.  It's been a steady rotation of nursing, changing diapers (x2), and running errands, so there hasn't been much to speak of, or blog about, as the case may be.  But we are getting back into the swing of things, so I'm sure there's more to come!