Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo. How about You, You, You?

This excursion dates back a ways but still it’s worth archiving.  You and I had a “family pass” to the zoo so we could have gone time and time again this summer.  Still, we only got there two times total.  Maybe your mom and dad will give us another chance next summer.

Here’s what we learned this year:

1.  Go early to get a great parking spot but don’t forget to dress for chilly temperatures.

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Ok, so I forgot to bring your hat.  I thought it was going to be so much warmer.  So then, I had to buy a hat there and guess what?  They didn’t have kids hats 😦 .  So there you are wearing who knows what but at least your ears were warm.

Then, I felt bad and had to buy you a giraffe!  What can I say?  Grandmas can do that sort of thing. I chose the giraffe because it was actually an animal that you could see from the stroller.

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We walked and walked but found very few animals that you could actually see.  Still, you remained calm and just enjoyed watching people for awhile.

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But at a certain point, you just looked up at me with those questioning eyes as if to say “Grandma, why are we here?”

2.  Know ahead of time if there are actually things that a baby can see from a stroller.

And then we found something that you could actually see…the fish tank!

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IMG_5489You LOVED the fish tank.  I think it reminded you of your crib toy: so much so that watching these fish almost put you to sleep.

We found some other animals that you could see but we learned that zoos don’t really cater to stroller height.  So, you can just imagine that I was a little dubious about taking you to yet another zoo, this time in Mexico.  But this time, we found the secret.

3.  Find a Petting Zoo

IMG_2660 IMG_2663 IMG_2665We found animals that you could reach out and touch!  Ok, well it freaked Grandma out but, lucky for you, your mom was along and she held the bird up close to you and you got to touch an alligator and a snake!  You loved it all!

Now we can’t go to Mexico every time we want to touch animals so we are going to have to find a petting zoo close to home.

4.  Not to worry, baby boy.  Next time we go to the zoo, Grandma will be more prepared.

Loving A Walk In The Woods – For Different Reasons

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It was a beautiful fall day.  I decided it would be great to take you to my favorite place these days, the woods behind my apartment.     This photo looks like I sent you sailing down the hill on your own.  Not to worry, you were braked.

As we walked along, I tried to point out the things that I loved.  You were not necessarily impressed.  So, I decided to get you out of the stroller so you could actually FEEL the textures.

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IMG_6107You were interested, a little.  You humored me anyway.  But then, a stranger wandered by and you waved to him.  I caught that in a photo and when I looked back at it, you looked more like you were begging for someone to rescue you from this pile of dried stuff.  So, needless to say, we moved on.

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It was time for a break anyway.

We strolled on until I found a spot that I thought you would love.  You did! But not for the reason I thought.

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I thought you would love the view.  I mean just look at the beauty of the trees and the pond.  You, on the other hand…

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loved the wood chips!

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Ok, fine.  I let you play while I enjoyed the view.  We both had a great time.

We ended the walk at one more site that I love and your reaction was a surprise…you enjoyed this location but…

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IMG_6153once again, you weren’t looking at the beautiful view.  You could have cared less about where you were, you were happy…

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being with me!

I love you, little man!

Walking, Walking, Walking

What do you do with a baby all day long?  Sure, you would sleep a good deal but you were also awake for many hours during my “shift”.  So…what to do with a baby who can’t walk.

Well, that’s what strollers are made for, right?  And, I’ve known since my kids were young that fresh air is good for all of us.  And exercise is good for grandmas.

So, we hit the road (er, sidewalk) often.

Early in the spring, we would walk to mom’s work.  She would know we were there with a photo of you taken from right outside her office and sent to her via text message.  Your little face made her smile every time.

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And we would go to the swing park as soon as you could sit up by yourself.

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But the first summer, one of our favorite places to go every Tuesday was the food carts close to mom’s work.  She and some of her friends would join us too.  One day was a really hot day and our favorite food cart wasn’t there (Roll MKE) so we had to settle for other things.  A fruit smoothie seemed perfect for the day and oh my, you loved it!

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It was a magical messy event!  We all loved it! IMG_1905

Over the summer, we walked and walked.  As the fall season came upon us, I wanted to be outside as much as possible.  Walks to the lake were a big, big hit because at the end of the walk was a whole store of kites.  So, the blanket went down and we just sat there and enjoyed the warmth of the days and the beauty of the kites.

IMG_5348Love, Love, Love IMG_5349            The next post will capture all of the great outdoors that we found this first year.  You definitely had lots of experiences.  We need to get all caught up on year one before I start blogging about our current day to day activities.

Living Through Your Eyes

IMG_5678  What are these things?  I like them.

IMG_5677 Can I touch them?  Is it ok?

IMG_5681 What?  You want me to pick one out?

IMG_5683 Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Moe.

IMG_5682 I can’t decide!

IMG_5675 I want both of these, ok?IMG_5686 Now, who is going to help me carry them away?

These are photos taken in October 2014 capturing your first experience with pumpkins. How can you not love watching a baby experience something for the first time?  The key, for us, the day we went was to relax and let you really experience it.  So many people were hovering around and lines stood to make their purchases.  You simply sat in the middle of all of these pumpkins and just enjoyed them… and we enjoyed watching you.  While we watched your joy, we relaxed.  It turned out to be a beautiful day.

No TV. That’s The Rule.

Even before I started taking care of you, I was given the house rules.  Number one was “No tv.”  Lots has been written about this subject with the major belief that a child does not learn from a television and actually ends up with language and motor delays if too much time is spent simply sitting and watching a screen.

So, when you were teeny tiny, we filled the quiet space with music.  You and I listened to Pandora’s Kid Radio every day. Do you know that they play the same songs over and over and over again?  My favorite was “You Are My Sunshine.”  Your favorite was “Rockin’ Robin”.  I think you liked that one because Grandma would dance all around acting silly with that song.  It wasn’t long though and you were bouncing a little too.

Who Needs TV When You Have Music?  Since you started crawling, the music has moved to little push button toys.  You and I would go for walks and find ourselves at Walgreens, often.  What can I say?  I’m a sucker for teachable toys.  That means that you have more than one of those little push button musical toys.  Now, from those, I think your favorite song is “If You’re Happy And You Know It, Clap Your Hands”.  You used to clap your hands and stomp your feet along with the song.  Now, you just bounce up and down to the song while you play with other toys. The best of these toys was one that’s like a baby CD player.  It has 4 different discs so I don’t have to listen to the same songs over and over again.  That’s a bonus.

Then There Are All Those Books And Building Language!  The other thing we do together, several times during the days, is read books.  Some days the number tops 25.  Well, they’re short books you know.  I love this time together, though, because you sit on my lap.  You sit there engrossed with the pictures, pointing to the things you want me to name.  You even started making some of the animal sounds. Animal Alarm is one example of your cute attempts.  Early on, I could read “Are You My Mother?” everyday and you would sit and smile at specific pages every time.  Then you fell in love with a Thomas the Tank Engine I Can Read books because it had push button sounds along the side.  Now, at a year, your favorite day after day book is an Elmo’s Favorite Places book that has little doors that you can open.  Each page is based on a different theme: farm, sea, bedroom, and the alphabet.  It’s fun to see if you can find specific things on each page, time after time.  It’s easy to see that your receptive language is growing and growing but so far the only “word” you say is dada.  You do, however, also know the signs for “more”, “all done”, and “drink” and you shake your head “yes” and “no” with meaning.

And Motor Skills!  Such simple things entertain you.  Crawling lead you to the steps leading to the upstairs bedrooms.  Ok, mom and dad could have put up a gate to keep you safe or we could all work at teaching you how to do steps.  I’m not so busy.  Let’s do it!  Up and down the steps with me right behind.  In the beginning I felt like I could see your brain working as you tried to figure out whether to slide down from step to step on your butt or to turn around and slide down on your belly.  Now, you make a game out of doing a little of both.  You come down those steps faster than me and even though you might be able to do it all by yourself, I stay very close.

When you’re not by the steps, you are playing with the same toys day after day.  I keep them new and interesting by pre-sorting them into baskets:  all musical toys in one, balls in another, containers with lids in another, and things that can be used to build (or knock down) towers in the last one.  You love dumping everything out, tossing it around, and examining each thing like it’s new all over again.  What I have seen so far is that you do different things with the items week after week.  I spend my time picking things up behind you and keeping it continuously interesting to pull things out again.

Add Eating and Napping and We’ve Filled An Indoor Day Without Screen Time

Although you love pushing buttons and have turned the tv on by pushing those little things on the remote, you do not watch television.  We do, however, watch one or two 3 minute videos on Youtube called “Barefoot Books“.  They are cute short stories with a small amount of animation and the words scrolling along the bottom of the screen.  At 11 months, I added an app called Parker and Pixel.  This is, again, a book but it allows the child to interact with the story so that the sequence of events changes every time you watch it and it teaching a child how to touch the screen.

One year has passed and the No TV rule stands strong.  Well, except for football games on Sundays with dad.  (insert smiley face)

You Can Call Me Grandma

It has been a year now since I took on this awesome new name.  Oh, I know I’m not your only Grandma.  That’s ok.  We can share the name.

You and I spend lots of time together now.  I get to take care of you three days a week.  I imagine that you think it’s me coming every time you hear the doorbell ring.  I know, for certain that, when you see me, you give me the biggest smile and my heart melts a little each time.  I decided that now was a good time to start to document the things we do together because you have just started walking…a little and I can see already that we are going to have to have a plan!  That’s the teacher in me, I guess.  You see I wasn’t always a Grandma.  I was actually a teacher so I sure hope you like to learn new things because I still like to teach.

I am going to start this blog with some things we have enjoyed together already and then I will update it has you and I grow and learn together.

Time for the fun to begin.