Monday, January 30, 2012

Kate's Party

Kate's third birthday party was Saturday and oh-so-much fun! This was the first time Kate has been really aware and interested in her own birthday, the party, etc. She's been talking about it for weeks. "I'm going to be three soon!" "We're going to have ice cream at my party and make a big mess!" We invited the kids in Kate's day care class, and from what the parents who RSVPed said, it sounds like Kate had been talking the party up for quite a while—her friends were so excited to come!

It was a wonderful party, and Kate had such a good time, which is what's really important! As you know, I love to entertain, so let me share the whole shebang!

The Theme
Kate loves ice cream, and at some point a few months ago, I decided that would be a fun party theme. The main attraction therein may have been those cupcakes you bake in the ice cream cones. I remember them from my childhood, and instructions were easy to find online (and on the back of the cone box, in fact!) You just fill the cones about halfway with cake batter and bake like normal! (Fill more than halfway and they'll overflow.) Possibilities on the decorating are endless, but I used an icing bag with no tip to make a simple swirl that looks like soft serve. I think they turned out pretty well!

I made this decoration for the front door. If you look really close, you can see the trim around the "welcome" sign is made with sprinkles. I saw that idea on Pinterest, of using sprinkles like glitter, where you put glue down, sprinkle the things on, and dust off the excess. 

 I made Kate's party hat with no illusions she would wear it for more than a second while we were blowing out candles—and then forgot to put it on her at all! (Tip: I bought the cheapest party hats I could find several years ago—they're Spongebob underneath—and decorate them to suit my theme.)

I made tissue paper puffballs and adhered cone-nee-Spongebob party hats to them to look like ice cream cones. Didn't get a good shot of them, but you can see them okay in this pic:

 And this was the favor basket, filled with ice cream cone bubbles (Target, party favor aisle).

The Outfit
I found Kate this cute ice cream cone top online by Sew Cute Creations, and since it had the tulle ice cream and it was her birthday, after all, I suggested she could wear one of her dress-up tutus to her party if she wanted. She did, and I think she just looked darling! Over-the-top-festive, as is one's prerogative on her third birthday!

What was even cuter, though, was that when the first pack of friends arrived, she basically handed out tutus at the door so they could dress up too! (Warning to new mommies of baby girls: you will get a lot of pink tutus. We have four and didn't buy any ourselves! But they sure came in handy today!)

The Food
The ice cream cone cupcakes were the highlight, I think, and I can't believe they didn't fall off the cake stand. They're top heavy after baking of course, and were falling like bowling pins in the kitchen while I was decorating. (A muffin pan prevents this for the most part, both during baking and decorating.)

Here's my girl about to blow out the candles. Notice she changed shoes in the middle of the party!

We also had an ice cream sundae bar. What would an ice cream themed party be without actual ice cream! Most of the veggie tray went uneaten—I wonder why!

The Fun
The girls played all over the house much of the time, in the playroom and up in Kate's room (where they took every puzzle piece from every puzzle and dumped it on the floor). I almost hated to interrupt the fun to have them eat cake and open presents!

The present-opening marked a new stage for me as a parent, I found. Whereas last year, I still had to help her open each thing, this year she just went for it and I was on the background, barely able to catch what she was getting, much less who gave it to her. Fortunately, my mom stayed in the center of the chaos to keep cards with things and control the craziness a little bit!

And then they went back to playing! I got a kick out of this pic of Becca putting lettuce in the toaster. (I handed my camera off several times, so some of the pics we got were surprises even to me!)

 And just to prove baby sister was there. . .

We didn't get any family pictures or Kate and Claire together, unfortunately. This was an action-packed, fun-filled, crazy little girl party, and we had a blast. Hope all our guests did too!
Happy third birthday, Kate!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Memories of Two

As Kate approaches her third birthday, let me share a few of the quirks and antics of Kate-at-Two that I don't want to forget (and that—let's be honest—I just want to share with you!)
  • The way she said certain words this year, like the C=T sound toward the end of the year here. Claire=Taire, Santa Claus=Santa Taus, candy=tandy, clock=tock, and so on. I also love how the way she says "sparkly" and "broccoli" sound just alike, so when she wears her sparkly gray jumper, it sounds like she's telling everyone "I got broccolis." 
  • The way she slept on the floor of her room more nights than not after we moved to our new house. It's nothing against the big girl bed, really; she was sick of the crib even before we moved, but prefers to migrate around the floor of her room all night, surrounded by blankets and other stuffed flotsam. One night, I heard her screaming, and she had migrated into the diaper pail, knocking it over onto herself and thus waking with a giant plastic thing on top of her! She also has nightmares sometimes where apparently she is being forced to do something she doesn't want to do (isn't that every 2-year-old's nightmare?) and screams in her sleep, "I don't want to! I don't want to!"
  • The incessant repeating of "why?" and "where is it?" It actually became a (really annoying) game as she would say "Where is it? I can't see it!" and "What you say?" over and over when she actually had no trouble hearing or seeing. (Believe me, hypochondriac me wondered if maybe she did have a hearing or vision problem, but from follow up questions, it is clear she knows exactly what was going on, and is just trying to drive me nuts. She succeeded.)
  • In her worst moments, hitting and biting, and having a complete breakdown if we scolded her. Even if we were just giving a mild warning like "be careful," she would get belligerent and say "No talk at me! No look at me!" Those are the moments I won't miss (though in retrospect, they are a little cute). I actually could barely keep from laughing when she would add "any more" to those angry words: "No talk at me . . . any more!" This all hit its peak this summer at 2 1/2, and fortunately is pretty rare now.
  • How she used to not be able to stand getting water on her clothes, insisting on changing. (Once, I even "accidentally" got a little water on something she was wearing, since she'd insisted on wearing things that didn't match.) Then, after starting in Ms. Marian's class at school, she started saying, "It'll dry," and tolerating the wetness. Thank you, Ms. Marian!
  • In that same vein, it's adorable how she'll try to make light of things that I might get annoyed with, like if she's made a mess or broken something, she'll say, "It's okay, Mommy. Don't worry."  Or even, "It's okay. You can fix it with tape." Or, "you fix it with glue," but "glue" sounds like "goo." It's so cute. 
  • She starts most sentences with "Probably" now, even when it's a "definite" something she's talking about. "Probably my dress is blue."
  • How "all" goes at the end of the phrase: "When I finish my dinner all, then I have some candy."
  • Ever since that fun night when we put on our jammies to go ride around and look at Christmas lights, and I played it up how "crazy" it was to wear jammies in the car, "crazy" has become one of her favorite words. "It's crazy!!" 
  • Another favorite declaration lately is, "It's a big mess!" This started with my description of the state of the playroom, such that even before getting toys out, she has said, "I'm going to make a big mess!" And if she sees a lot of stuff in any one place, even if intentional, like the buffet of food I put out on the dining room table for Claire's baptism party and now in preparation for Kate's birthday party, she'll tell me it's a big mess. Thanks, Kate! 
My favorite little quip of hers lately was twice in one week, when we heard announcements over loudspeakers at a gas station and then in the grocery. Kate takes notice and says, "Somebody's talking! Probably Santa."

And another, reflective of the stereotypical child's love of potty humor (which, honestly, Kate hasn't displayed too much): "The red marker is missing. Probably someone threw it in the toilet!" And then she laughs like crazy. For the record, it really is just a joke, not a confession; the red marker has been missing for months and I doubt a Crayola marker could be flushed without us noticing. 

I love how much Kate's vocabulary and imagination have grown this year. I can't wait to see what crazy things she says at age three!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Working Mom Wednesday: Selfish at 5 am

Now that I'm back at work, I may try to do some Working Mom Wednesday posts again. This week, I want to tell you how much I love my morning routine, and how it has been essential for my sanity in the mornings.

Blogger/author Jon Acuff talks about being "selfish at 5 am." For him, this was about getting up to write early in the morning because he dreamed of being an author but had a day job and a family that made it tough to write at any other time of day. He now encourages this in his (third or fourth!) book, Quitter, which is about pursuing your dream job while keeping your day job.

I'm not looking to change careers, but I have discovered the joy of being selfish at 5 am. Well, not 5, but 5:30. I tried practicing my intended routine once while still on maternity leave, and was back in bed by 6:15. 5:00 may be too early for me, but 5:30 has worked out well, enabling me not just to get myself and the girls ready so that we can all get out the door by 7:30, but to have some "me" time as well, that I'm typically too exhausted to enjoy by the time the kids are asleep in the evenings, the kitchen is cleaned up, bottles prepared for the next day, etc.

My alarm goes off at 5:15, because I love hitting snooze a few times (who doesn't?) but I try to get out of bed by 5:30 and shower immediately. I come downstairs to enjoy a cup of coffee, which has just finished brewing from the auto-timed start at 5:30, and putter around on the computer for a while. Yesterday, I worked on Kate's birthday party decorations a little, but usually I just spend this "me" time checking email, blogs, etc. I head back upstairs by 6:30 or so to finish getting myself ready and get everybody else up. If Claire hasn't woken up in the night, then her waking is a variable in this morning routine (as it was this morning, since she slept from 9:30pm to 5:30am—woo hoo!) and sometimes I hit snooze a few more times than I should, but if at all possible, I still try to steal away to have a little time to myself before the craziness of the day begins.

Sure, it's hard to get up earlier than I would naturally, but as I read recently in Girl on Top: Turning Dating Rules into Career Success (just couldn't resist that title!), "I'm tired at seven, and I'm tired at six. So why not get up at six?" It's true. Left to my own devices, I would probably sleep until 8:30 or so. But I never have that luxury, so if I'm going to artificially wake myself anyway, why not do it at a time that brings peace and satisfaction to my mornings? Plus, I have a number of go-to "wake up songs" in my head that I can sing and dance to in the shower to shake the sleep from my eyes (Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" and The Pointer Sisters' "Jump for My Love" are two favorites, as is Matt's once-annoying, super-chipper cell phone alarm, "pa pa POW Good Morning, POW Good morning, pa pa POW, it's a beautiful day!")

I've always wanted to be one of those people who rises at 4am to study, do a devotion, practice flute, actually eat breakfast, etc. (these examples reflect a particular person I knew in college!) and 4am just wouldn't be smart when I don't get to bed until 10:30 or 11—it's important to get 7-8 hours of sleep, if possible—but this new routine works for me and makes me a happier person and a better mom, I think. Like Matt says in his pre-sermon prayer each week, "Lord make us masters of ourselves so that we can be the servants of others." Being disciplined with my wake-up time and morning routine gives me the serenity I need to care for my family in the mornings in a calmer and more loving way.

Now on with my day!
pa pa POW pa pow pa POW good morning... it's a beautiful day!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Stream of Consciousness

I just downloaded the blogger app so I can blog from my phone while pumping 2-3 times a day at work. I always try to find non-computer work to do in the pumping room, but sometimes it is more trouble than it is worth.

I wish I had an office with a door so I could pump while working, but you have to be really high up in my company to get an office with real walls and a door. Otherwise you are in (relatively nice) cubicles with six foot walls. So you can't see each other but can hear everything. On one hand this is more efficient because rather than getting up, calling, or using email, you can just ask in a slightly raised voice, "so did you post the article by that crazy pastor Matt Kelley yet?" On the other hand, you can easily start random and distracting conversations with nearby colleagues.

The slide out keyboard on my phone has a bum V key, so I have to push really hard and at an angle to get that letter. Already in this post, I've nearly written hae, eerything, and conersations. And now that you know that, I will stop worrying about it and you'll just deal with my annoying typos.

As an editor, typos drie me crazy, but I'll deal. Fun fact about me: wheneer I receie a manuscript to edit, I have to put the piece in 12 point Times New Roman, single spaced, or I can't bear to read it. Weird. And did you notice I made sure to get the V in "have" just now because otherwise you might hae thought I was saying I hate to put it in 12 point Times, and that would mean the exact opposite.

Man, my thumbs are getting stiff, but this sure does pass the time. I hate that I'm haing to pump 5 times to make the milk Claire drinks in 3 bottles at school, since one can guzzle more easily from a bottle and my production is a bit out of sync with that.

I was in an inexplicably good mood this morning. We were running a little late since I slept in til 6, and just before heading out the door we realized that Claire hadn't eaten since 4 and I needed to feed her before leaing. How could I get too upset about that, though, since I loe nursing my sweet baby? And since she always sleeps more than 6 hours at night now and sometimes 8!

After feeding her and getting in the car a little late, I pulled to a stop at the front of our neighborhood and a pink slinky rolled out from under the passenger seat. How can that not make you smile?

Kate started gymnastics last night. With how active she is, jumping, climbing, etc., and has such great balance, we've been saying foreer that we need to put her in gymnastics, and finally did. We went to an open house at the gym on Monday, and she loed playing on all the equipment, and loed watching the bigger girls tumbling, but got kind of overwhelmed when the class started last night. There were 13 kids and they all knew the usual warmup actiities and such, so it took her a while to relax and play along. Just as she was timid the first time at ZooTwos, I knew she'd be fine by the second class, and sure enough, about 40 minutes into the 60 minute class, she loosened up and was running and clapping and doing everything (including disobeying!) like normal. (The disobeying was just flopping down on a mat with a couple other rowdy girls when they were supposed to be sitting on a line.) It was really fun and now she can't wait to go back. (And I'll take a camera other than my phone next time!)

Speaking of next week, I have only one week to get things ready for Kate's birthday party, which is a week from tomorrow (on her actual b-day). I hae had the invites filled out for weeks and hae gien out many in person, to folks at Claire's baptism and to Kate's classmates, but the few going in the mail haent made it there yet! And though I usually have the house decorated for the party almost as soon as the Christmas decorations come down, I still haven't decorated. Claire's baptism party is partly to blame, but I didn't decorate for that until 24 hours before either!

I just haen't been able to get anything done at home in the eenings since going back to work! I need this weekend to be really productie, but I'm worried that's not going to happen!

Man, there are a lot of words with Vs in them!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Flashback: Kate's Baptism

In writing yesterday's post about Claire's baptism, I realized I only posted three little pics of Kate's baptism three years ago! I did a little party for her after the worship service on her baptism day too, but never shared. And as I said, I love decorating for parties—so I've got to share, even three years after the fact! (And two weeks from now is Kate's third birthday party, so more decorating—woo hoo!)

Dr. Meeks performed Kate's baptism too, and we had a gathering at our house afterwards. It was a sit-down lunch last time, which was a little bit stressful, so I opted for an open-house, more-the-merrier style this time. I did Kate's in pink and yellow.

 We had to have a card table in addition to the main dining room table to accommodate everyone. (The parsonage in Clarksville had one long dining/living-room combo, so both tables were in the same room.)

 I had monogram cookies for Kate too :0)

Can't believe this little angel is going to be three in a couple weeks!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Claire's Baptism

Our sweet baby Claire was baptized yesterday. Knowing that some friends/readers don't believe in infant baptism—I myself was raised Disciples of Christ and baptized on my own volition at age eight—Matt and I have both written posts in the past about why we believe in infant baptism for our children. I think it's funny how Matt's post is based on early church history and theologians, and my reasons for baptizing babies are rooted in my own experience and reasoning about faith formation. If you know us, it kind of makes sense!

Anyway, our celebration of this blessed event was beautiful, as we promised to help Claire learn about God and be like Jesus. Claire was very smiley and talkative yesterday, so angelic and delightful. She wore the heirloom gown Matt's mom made for him in 1980, which his brother wore also, and then Kate in 2009.

I nursed her through most of worship, and then the baptism service (and renewal of baptism for everyone, since it was Baptism of the Lord Sunday) came at the end. Dr. Doug Meeks, our professor at Vanderbilt Divinity School, came as guest preacher and to do the honors. Dr. Meeks' main message came from Isaiah 43:1, "Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; 
   I have called you by name; 
   you are mine."

The choir sang "God Claims You," from The Faith We Sing songbook. It's like a lullabye and just so beautiful! You plug the child's name into the refrain: "Claire Moriah, God claims you; God helps you, protects you, and loves you too."

After church, we had a little reception at our house. I LOVE to decorate for parties, and did this event in green and pink with flowers, ornaments hanging from the light fixture (70% off at an after-Christmas sale; I thought the pink and green baubles we a nice combo of winter sparkle and springy baby-style), and butterflies (green, sparkly, and an appropriate symbol of rebirth!)

Kate had a great time too, playing with BFF Becca.

 God bless you, Claire Moriah!

The End :0)

(Here are some pics from Kate's baptism, if you're interested :0)

Friday, January 13, 2012

So How's It Going?

Many sweet friends, family, and church members have been asking how my first week back at work after my eleven-week maternity leave was going. I've held off on blogging about it (not that I've had time to!) until at least this first week was under my belt.

The short answer is "fine." I haven't cried. I haven't held Claire's car seat hostage and refused to let Matt take her to day care. I'm fine.

The longer answer on the work side of things is that I've been a little overwhelmed at times but glad to be back overall. I spent Monday just getting my feet wet again, catching up on what's been happening while I was out. I checked e-mail periodically while I was out, so I only had about two weeks' worth to sort through upon my return (and since those two weeks were over the holidays, they were much lighter than they might have been!) Tuesday, I had a few freak-outs as I got deeper back into the swing of things, and by Wednesday my to-do list  was growing faster than I could mark things off of it. Thursday and Friday, I was more or less on top of things, though I still haven't taken back the reins on everything I'd passed off to colleagues while I was gone. (I really would have been overwhelmed had I taken back all my old responsibilities immediately, so thank you, S and B!)

I've been pumping 2-3 times a day, which is much more difficult this time around a) because I don't have a little, rarely-used conference room near my office like I did with Kate and have to walk a ways to get to the designated pumping room (which is nice and clean and has a lock, so that's good) and b) because I wasn't already pumping a million times a day like I was with Kate. I knew this would be tough, since boobies and babies respond differently to pumping/bottles than nursing. So, I'm having to pump 4-5 times a day (i.e. before and after work as well as during) to make the milk she drinks from three bottles a day at day care. I have no spare stash this time—a total change from the chest freezer in the garage full of bagged milk I had last time! I'm trying to get my supply up, hopefully to the point that I can just pump twice a day at work and maybe build up a fridge/freezer stash, or at least to where I can only pump at work and not between feedings at home as well!

On the home front, it's been exhausting, especially since Matt was busy every night this week, so I've been outnumbered in the evenings. This has been difficult because I can't really give attention to both girls at the same time, except for those brief moments where I'm holding Claire and Kate body slams us both with a big cuddle. So, I feel like when I'm doing something with Kate, I'm neglecting Claire (or more accurately, missing Claire, since it's me that it bothers, not her) and when I'm cuddling Claire, I'm ignoring Kate and risking a meltdown or intentional potty-accident if she feels usurped by the baby. I'm craving one-on-one time with each girl. I feel like I'm neglecting Kate more now than when I was on leave, I guess because now my home-time has to be shared by both girls, whereas I had all day with Claire before and more easily turned my attention to Kate when she came home. I do miss my days at home with Claire (and, let's be honest; I miss Matt Lauer and Ann Curry, and Hoda and Kathie Lee), but I'm coping.

I anticipated mornings to be crazy, getting all four of us out the door. They've been pretty good, actually, but only because of my resolution. I've been setting our clothes out the night before, getting up at 5:30, showering, enjoying some "me" time with a cup of coffee (from a coffeepot set the night before to brew while I shower!) tending to the kids when they wake up, getting bottles and lunch and myself and everything ready. . . I'm proud of myself. I've had to be a little flexible some mornings, but Monday went perfectly as planned, which has given me the resolve to stick to the desired routine, and we've gotten out the door on time (or early) every day.

Here's my list by the door to make sure we've got all our bags: a purse, pump bag, lunch bag, two backpacks, and sometimes other accouterments for school.

And your reward for reading all the way to the bottom of this post:
Guess who rolled over on Sunday? It seems to have been unintentional and she probably won't do it again for a month or more, but I left her on her back on a blanket while doing something with Kate in the kitchen, and a few minutes later, I heard Claire fussing, looked over, and saw this!

Yes, of course I grabbed my camera before going to assist her. She's not so crazy about being on her tummy!

I'm so glad it's the weekend—and a three-day one at that!

Saturday, January 07, 2012


A few random things to share:

Yesterday (Friday) was a little rough. Not so well-adjusted as Wednesday's post implied. On my last weekday of maternity leave, I was really mourning the loss of that special Claire-and-me-only time. It's crazy, and it's exactly what I experienced with Kate, but it's like I subconsciously feel like I'll never see my baby again. I told Matt yesterday morning, "I have a haircut and a few errands to run this afternoon." He replied, "oh, do you need me to keep Claire?" I was wearing Claire in the sling at the time and immediately clutched my hands around her and said, "No!! She'll be going with me." That instinctive response indicated to me how strongly I felt like I was losing my time with Claire. During nighttime feedings the past few nights, I've started to get emotional, only to remember, "hey, this part isn't changing at all! Calm down."

I got through Friday, though, and felt much better last night and today. Kate and Matt are here with Claire and I, like a normal evening or weekend (normal meaning "like it would be if I was working Monday through Friday"), and it's okay. Claire didn't up and disappear or anything. I know it sounds crazy, but it felt like I was Cinderella anticipating the stroke of midnight, only to discover with relief that everything stayed the same.

Today, we took down the Christmas decorations. We always leave them up for the full twelve days of Christmas, but it was really starting to feel overdue this time. Kate was a big help, and so Matt and I got the tree and all the other decorations down in record time. Cleaning up all the pine needles that fell was another matter, but Kate's broom and dustpan she got for Christmas was a big help!

I took both girls to the grocery, which was a milestone in itself, as I'd feared such outings immensely when Claire first came home. I didn't know how I'd ever manage to wrangle Kate in a parking lot or in and around the cart at Target or Kroger while toting Claire as well, but without fanfare, I had several excursions just me and the girls over the course of maternity leave—to playplaces, to the library, even to Target—but this was the first to the grocery, a fitting way to end my maternity leave and announce to the world that I really can handle two kids. Kate stayed in the car cart for most of our shopping, which is new, only wanting to get out and walk/hang on the side of the cart for the last five minutes of shopping, rather than while we're still in the produce section.

Since Matt got to have some alone time while we were at the grocery, he kept both girls downstairs for a while this afternoon while I scrapbooked upstairs. This is one of the pages I did. I'd had this layout sketched out for ages, having seen it on some other scrapbooker's blog more than a year ago, and I really like how it turned out.

This evening, we had an "Italian feast" of caprese, bread with dipping oil, salad, and eggplant parmasean. And red wine, of course. Dining this way every night (and sometimes for lunch too) for ten days is how Matt and I each gained about fifteen pounds on our honeymoon in Italy five years ago. At least there was no creamy pasta in this meal. Helpful hint for parents: we tell Kate that eggplant parm is "tiny pizza," and she eats it well. Plus, the marinara we use is Prego Veggie Smart.

Another random: I won this cute monogrammed romper on eBay. I love eBay for kids clothes, and especially for a boutique brand like Kelly's Kids and a monogram, making it un-handmedown-able, I would never pay full price. I even set an alarm on my cell phone so I could check the auction ten minutes before it ended, so that I could up my bid without giving the other bidders a chance to outbid me. Victory!

Lastly among the miscellanea is Claire's checkup stats, which I didn't have when I wrote her two month milestones. Turns out, she is more petite than Kate was, but still very healthy. She weighed 9 lb, 11 oz at her appointment, which was only 12th percentile. Length was 22 in, 27th percentile. Her head circumference was 74th percentile. Kate was always about 50th percentile (perfectly average) in height and weight, and 90th or higher percentile in head.

We told the doctor about Claire's voracious eating habits and frequent gassiness (stiffness, arching her back, lots of spitup, fussiness, etc.) and the doctor said it sounds like classic colic/reflux, and put her on Zantac. I remember our pediatrician mentioning the possibility of putting Kate on Zantac, but I guess it got better with her. Even the little nodes I'd been feeling on the back of her head (which I remembered feeling on Kate too and therefore didn't panic about) were related to the reflux: they are lymph nodes that get enlarged when there is a lot of liquid/agitation in the throat. We've done a couple doses of the Zantac so far, but it doesn't seem to be making a difference yet. The doctor also said a bit of chamomile tea in a dropper could ease Claire's tummy pain, but Claire spit that right out again.

So that's what's up. We'll see if I have a panic attack tomorrow night as I prepare for work the next day, but chances are, I'll be totally adjusted by Wednesday, and that's what I'm keeping in mind.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Family Fun at the Science Center

When Matt and Kate were home with us on Monday for the extended New Year's holiday, we decided to go have some family fun time at Nashville's Adventure Science Center. Kate and I had only been one other time (about a year ago), and Matt had not been since he was a kid going on field trips there!

The featured exhibit right now was "Animal Secrets," so Kate got to examine tiny things with a magnifying glass and try to guess the animal from its skull and a few descriptors.

We got to wear chipmunk costumes and crawl into a tree to learn how little rodents store up acorns for the winter.

Claire was just along for the ride in her stroller, of course. She and I did laps and rode up and down the elevator while Matt and Kate climbed the four-story "Adventure Tower," a complex of science-y activities, steps, and slides that goes all the way to the glass cupola that looks out over downtown and for miles around. They took off into this thing as soon as we had entered the center, and while I kept trying to keep a visual spot on them as they made their way up, I lost them pretty quickly despite taking the elevator to the various floors, and eventually just had to pace around and wait for them to return!

 (I admit the pics above and below are mainly to show Claire's cute hat and Kate's cool dress-tights-boots ensemble. She's so stylin'.)

We also explored the space area and the body exhibit before and after climbing the tower a few more times. I think she spent at least a third of the time we were there in that thing.

So much fun, we'll have to go back again sometime. Don't worry, Claire—we won't let the triceratops eat you!


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