Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Goodbye Grandpa!

On our way out of town, when we left Pennsylvania Monday, we stopped by Grandpa's work to say goodbye to him.

It was so fun! We met his assistant, saw his office, then looked at all his cool trucks and propane tanks. I climbed in a backhoe (or something like that) and learned that some tires are taller than me!

Our trip home was pretty uneventful. When we got to the airport, we walked through the security machine ourselves while Mom and Dad took off their shoes. When we got on the plane, we waved to the pilots and looked out the window so we could see our luggage being loaded on board. 

There were 40 empty seats on our plane, so we had a whole row to ourselves. Not only did we each have our own seat, there was one to spare. I played with my iPod, sang the "Star Spangled Banner," and took a nap. Hazel tried out four different seats. Turner screamed and slept for about an hour.

When we got back to Austin, Hazel and I helped Mom take the luggage and our car seats out to the sidewalk while Dad and Turner went to get the car. 

Although we're having a hard time adjusting to our regular schedule, a few cool things have happened since we came home. Yesterday we went to Costco to fill our empty fridge up with lots of veggies and some soup that Hazel loves. While we were shopping, I was singing the national anthem at the top of my lungs and a lady told Mom she was really impressed that I know all the words.

Last night at dinner, Turner was screaming because he wanted something to eat other than what he already had. Mom and Dad couldn't figure out what it was that he wanted. Then he stopped screaming, pointed at Mom's plate and said, "Ball." That was how Mom learned he wanted her tomatoes.

After dinner, we went upstairs and Mom told Turner she'd read him his favorite book, "Teeth Are Not for Biting." I told her I wanted to read it to him. When we got upstairs, I climbed in Turner's chair with him and read him and Mom two other books too, "Calm Down Time" and "Sharing Time." By the end of it, Hazel was listening too, and I told Mom I was trying to help teach Hazel how to behave. Mom was really proud of my reading and the fact that I wanted to hang out with Turner. I am a great big brother.

Tonight Mom nursed Turner for the last time. She's kind of sad about it, but says she needs to take some cold medicine.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving and the Chocolate Factory

Hazel woke up bright and early on Thanksgiving morning and made sure to say, "Happy Thanksgiving!"

It was a super fun day.  We started the day by playing outside in the yard.  Grandma and Grandpa's yard is so big and there is lots of fun stuff to do.  Hazel and I rode on a swing and pretended that we were on an airplane going to Washington DC.  We also spent a lot of time in the sandbox.  Tuner joined us in there too.

Thanksgiving started at around noon.  Lots of people came over to help us celebrate.  Aunt Cindy and Uncle Larry, Uncle Ryan's sister, dad, and grandparents, Aunt Jane and Aunt Molly all came over for Thanksgiving lunch.  Pop and Mom-mom came too.

Turner and Hazel hanging with Grandpa and cousin Keegan
It was an amazing Thanksgiving feast.  Mom and Dad made us plates with a tiny bit of everything.  We had turkey, stuffing, corn, corn pie, creamed corn, broccoli casserole, mashed cauliflower, mashed potatoes.  Hazel tried each things and exclaimed "I love it!" after each one. It was very good. We couldn't even eat it all.

But the best was yet to come.  After we finished all of our food, we got to eat pie!  There was pecan pie, pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, apple pie, and cherry pie.  But our favorite thing of all wasn't the pie, but the topping on the pie - the whipped cream!  Yum!  We couldn't get enough of it, especially Hazel. She said her favorite pie is pumpkin pie, but mostly she ate whipped cream. My favorite is cherry pie.

We had a good nap after our Thanksgiving feast.  When we woke up, we ate some more dinner, and then went outside to play a little more.  Uncle Ryan lit an even bigger fire in the firepit and we roasted marshmallows again.

Uncle Mike, Aunt Lana, Uncle Seth, and our cousins Keegan and Eve came over too.  Eve is two years old and she and Turner really hit it off.  They were laughing and playing with each other a lot. They played piano together, played with a stuffed bear in a toy high chair, and hugged and kissed each other goodbye. It will be neat to see them together in a few years. Eventually, we all wound down and went to sleep - what a great Thanksgiving feast!

Eating our chocolate bar creations
Friday, we had a special adventure.  Hazel and I read about Curious George and the Chocolate Factory.  So imagine our surprise when Mom and Dad told us that we were all going to a real chocolate factory with Uncle Daniel.

We went to Hershey's Chocolate World.  It was really fun.  First we went on a ride where they showed us how they make the chocolate candies.  We liked the singing cows and the chocolate smells.  They even gave us little chocolate candies at the end of the ride.

Next, we got to practice working in the chocolate factory.  We pushed a button that made Hershey's kisses come down a conveyor belt and we had to catch them in a box.  Then we shook up the box and put it on another conveyor belt.  It was just like in the Curious George book.

But the best part of the whole day was the "Create Your Own Candy Bar" tour. All of us got to wear hairnets and aprons, and go into a real chocolate factory.  Once we were in there, we got to design our own candy bar by picking out the types of chocolate, ingredients, and toppings, and then designing our own candy bar wrappers.  Once we picked everything, we got to watch it go along the conveyor belt, where each machine put our specific ingredients in our candy bars.  It was tons of fun to watch, and then afterwords we got to eat our candy bars.

After we were finished at Hershey's, it was time for some lunch.  We dropped Uncle Daniel off and went to Uncle Steve and Aunt Cindy's Celtic shop, Oxford Hall, to get some lunch.  They made us some delicious sandwiches, soup and salad.  We also got to see their dog Maggie, who we all liked a lot, even Hazel.

When we got back to Grandma and Grandpa's house, we did games and puzzles with Grandma.  Dad tried to finish our Star Wars puzzle, but even he had trouble.  It took him two days.

Saturday was a much more relaxed day.  In the morning, Dad made a pecan pie that was eaten within a few hours.  Turner and I played outside with Bruiser.  I chased Bruiser around a tree for a while, and when I got tired of that, I spent some time telling Bruiser about the traffic on the Gump. 

Making play-doh with Grandma and Grandpa
In the afternoon, Mom went out with some of her friends and Dad went to see a movie with Grandpa and Uncle Daniel while we stayed home with Grandma, Aunt Lauren and Uncle Ryan. I played outside with Grandma and Bruiser and Hazel stayed inside and watched football with Uncle Ryan.  Saturday night, she surprised Mom at bath time when she yelled "Touchdown!"  Uncle Ryan taught some things about football! 

Saturday and Sunday it was much colder than earlier in the week.  I got to wear some mittens, which I really liked.

Reading with Aunt Lauren and Uncle Ryan
Sunday, we stayed home again.  Grandma and Grandpa helped us make our own play-doh.  Hazel watched some more football with Grandpa.  Pop and Mom-mom came over - it was nice to see them again.  Sunday night we had Rocco's for dinner with Uncle Daniel, Uncle Ryan, Aunt Lauren, Aunt Amy and Mianna. I entertained everyone with a song I learned at school called "Joe Scruggs Turkey Song," which is about a kid who does not want his family to eat his pet turkey.

While we were at Grandma and Grandpa's, Hazel befriended their cat, Little One. Sunday afternoon, they took a nap together and Sunday night, Hazel was really excited to learn that Mianna knows how to move Little One around.

Grandpa, Turner and Pop
This reminded Hazel of one of our favorite books, "Olivia." In the book, Olivia spends some time each morning moving her cat. After this hilarious realization, Hazel renamed Little One. Her name is now Gwendolyn, like Olivia's black cat.

When we went to bed, we said goodbye to everyone because we had to leave on Monday.  We were sad to say goodbye, but hopefully we'll see everyone again soon.

For photos of our adventure, click here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Thanksgiving Gump

I really like this swing and playing in the sandbox outside.
We just came home from a really fantastic Thanksgiving trip.  For the past few weeks, we've been very excited about going to Pennsylvania to see Grandma and Grandpa and all of our other family there.  We could hardly sleep Tuesday night.  On Wednesday, we packed up all of our bags and headed to the airport.

Since it was just before Thanksgiving, the Austin airport was pretty crowded. Fortunately, Hazel and I were on our best behavior so we all got checked in and through security pretty easily. I was especially interested in some of the security people doing the extra security checks.  I even walked behind a security desk to see what they were doing. Fortunately, Dad grabbed me and pulled me away before anyone noticed where I had gone.  Our flight was delayed a little bit, but Mom packed lots of fun food and toys, so we had a good time at the airport, especially watching planes out the window.

When it was finally time to get on the airplane, we tried to get a whole row to ourselves. Turner took one window seat with Mom next to him; I took the other window seat, with Dad in the middle seat and Hazel on the aisle.  It was a really full flight though, so eventually someone sat in the aisle seat between Mom and Hazel.  After some shuffling around to make sure everyone had the right seats, the person who took the seat turned out to be a really nice, funny college student who was really interested in kids. He talked to Mom, Dad and Hazel the whole flight and turned out to be great company.

Hazel and I had a lot of fun on the plane. Takeoff was really cool. I really liked my window seat. It was fun looking out the window and seeing all of the clouds and little houses on the ground.  We spent a bunch of time on the plane playing with our iPods.  I got a new favorite app on my iPod that has various people singing one of my favorite songs -- the Star Spangled Banner -- and the song's lyrics and history. Even though I was wearing headphones, I sang the Star Spangled Banner at full volume on the plane. The flight attendant laughed and was impressed that I knew all of the words.

When we landed at the Washington DC airport, we walked a long way to get to our rental minivan.  It was a great car (a Chrysler Town and Country - Dad was pleasantly surprised).  After getting all of our car seats installed, our bags loaded, and everyone situated, we started the drive to Pennsylvania, roughly an hour after our flight landed.

We drove right past the Capitol building, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial.  It was really pretty. Then we hit traffic -- a TON of traffic. We were on the George Washington Memorial Parkway.  There were lots of signs that abbreviated it GWMP.  I read all of the signs and kept laughing and telling Mom and Dad that the Gump was going to be closed for construction.  In fact, all week long I was sure to tell people how much traffic was on the Gump.  After another three hours, we finally got to Grandma and Grandpa's house.

Even though it was late, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Amy, Uncle Tate and our cousin, Mianna, were excited to see us. Grandma had loads of toys set up for us, had lots of fun clothes and pajamas ready for us to wear, and we got to see their giant dog Bruiser again. Turner and I think Bruiser is great. Hazel is a little scared of Bruiser. She's going through a phase right now where she's scared of a lot of things.

Anyway, Grandma had some snacks for us when we got to their house, and then we put on our fun new pajamas. Then Grandma showed us where we were sleeping.  Turner had his own room with lots of toys and a crib.  Hazel and I got to share a room. I had a giant bed. And Hazel was super excited - she got a race car bed, which she ran over to and jumped right in. She later asked how Grandma had been able to drive the race car bed into the house. We were also really excited to learn that Mianna was also spending the night at Grandma's.

Wednesday morning was really fun.  Hazel was the first one up.  She was the first one up every morning.  She came into Mom and Dad's room and announced that she was hungry.  Dad took her upstairs and got her some breakfast.  Pretty soon everyone else was up too.

There was so much fun stuff to do at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  We spent the morning outside exploring the yard with Grandma.  Bruiser came with us too.  There were bikes for me and Hazel, and a cart for Turner.  Turner loved pushing his cart, but Hazel and I weren't interested in the bikes - we had more fun running around the yard, swinging on the swings, and playing in the sandbox.  Then we all went to lunch at Rocco's.  We got some delicious pizza, and then went back to the house.

Hazel and Mianna played together a lot in the morning.  Mianna is really nice.  She played a lot of games with us.  She played Memory with Hazel.  And then they played a drawing game.  Hazel would say an  animal, and Mianna would draw the animal by tracing Hazel's hand.  She drew turkeys, alligators, and birds.  Hazel and Mianna also made pumpkin pies together.

Wednesday afternoon, Hazel went down for a nap and I helped Grandma make a pecan pie for Thanksgiving. Grandma was impressed at what a good kitchen helper I am. That's because Mom gives me lots of practice at home.

Wednesday night, Grandpa came home, and Uncle Ryan, Aunt Lauren, and Uncle Daniel also came over.  We all went to the Famous Hot Wiener for dinner.  It was great.  Mom, Hazel, and I all got delicious milkshakes, which Dad kept taking giant sips of.  Mianna also shared her fries with us, which was really nice.  We even saved our leftovers to give to Bruiser.  It was a really fun dinner.

When we got home, Uncle Daniel lit a fire in the firepit out in the yard and Hazel and I went out with Dad to roast marshmallows and make s'mores.  It was our first time roasting marshmallows, but we had read about it a lot in our Curious George goes camping book so we knew what was going on.  The marshmallows were delicious!  Hazel even roasted her own marshmallows.  It was surprising to Dad, but neither Hazel or I were crazy about the s'mores.  I think we just had enough sweets on the trip.

After we got our fill of roasted marshmallows, Aunt Lauren and Dad gave us a bath and we all went to bed without much fuss - we were pretty tired. And we knew that we had a pretty exciting Thanksgiving day in store for us the next day.  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A fall visit from Oma

Oma and a farmer at the SA Children's Museum

Last week, Dad went to visit Bubbe and to California for work. So Oma came to town to keep us company!

We had a great time. To give Mom a break from the kitchen, Oma took us out to all our favorite restaurants – Fuddruckers, Freebirds (twice!), Bamboo Bistro (for my new favorite, teriyaki chicken) and Dimassi’s Mediterranean Buffet. Oma is good at making sure we don’t go hungry!

A couple of the highlights of our visit were short road trips to San Antonio and Elgin.

Saturday we headed to San Antonio for a visit to the Children’s Museum. It was pretty different from our previous trips there. 

Mitch on a horse

Turner was really into it, for the first time. From the minute we got there, he found things he really liked playing with. He liked the cows and chickens, and when we showed him the pretend grocery store and carts, he went crazy. He stole our cart and ran off with it, and Oma and Mom had to drag him out of there to see the rest of the museum. He also really liked the airplane, toy trains, watching the fish tanks and the toddler section.

Another first was all three of us were really interested in a ball exhibit they have at the museum entrance/exit. Usually we ignore it, but we played there almost as long as we played in the grocery. It was a blast. It was the last thing we hit, as we were leaving, and Mom and Oma had to cut us off because we’d been there almost four hours, longer than we’ve ever been there before.

Kiddie Acres
We next headed out to Oma’s favorite, the nearby military base, then had dinner at EZ’s before Mom and Hazel ran in to the new San Antonio Trader Joe’s. We all were pretty excited about the treats we brought home.

Sunday was our trip to Elgin for a Veteran’s Day celebration. First we watched a short parade, which Oma was happy about. Then we headed to the VFW, which was really entertaining. They fed us, then we looked at a helicopter and Mitch rode a huge horse! Mom was super excited to see Mitch in action. Afterward, Mitch told us you just have to hold on tight. He really liked it.

Mitch on a pony at Kiddie Acres
Another highlight of Oma’s visit was when we headed to Kiddie Acres, a favorite of ours. It’s a small amusement park near our house. Here’s an article about it. We rode all the rides and I rode a pony.

It was really a great visit with Oma, and we’re already looking forward to her next visit.

Click here for more photos from our week.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mom is faster than a race car!

After all of the Halloween candy, it was time for a healthier kind of fun. We did lots of good healthy stuff this past weekend.  Early Saturday morning, we headed out to the Circuit of the Americas, the brand new, not-even-open-yet F1 Grand Prix track in Elroy. But we weren’t going to watch cars race, we were going for a 5K foot race! People raced on the track before its first F1 race, which will be Nov. 16-18.

Mitch - ready to run!
We were greeted by tons of traffic. We left twice as early as we needed to, but were still about 15 minutes late for the race. Lucky for us, they delayed the start of the race by 40 minutes because of the traffic jam, so we still made it in plenty of time.

The track was packed! Rumor has it 5,000 runners showed up – including me! After Mom ran her race with a friend, Dad and I ran the Kids’ Dash. It was about half a mile, and I ran the whole way. They even had a pace car for us to chase.  It was super fun, and I liked that Mom and Hazel cheered for me. We also liked all the fruit, cookies and other snacks after the race.

Mom in the middle of the F1 track
After an awesome post-race lunch at home, we went to a Harvest Festival at my school. We rode on a train, went to a petting zoo (Turner’s favorite, but not Hazel’s), went in a bounce house, did a cake walk, played games, made bead necklaces (which Hazel especially loved), and went inside a human-powered hamster ball. I climbed a rock climbing wall and was excited to see one of my teachers. We planned to do a few more things but we were interrupted by an unexpected rain storm, a funny end to a fun day.

The fun didn't stop there -- Sunday was a fun day too. Dad took Hazel and me out to run some errands in the morning so Mom could pick up after us at home. That may not sound all that cool, but we had a blast. When we got home, we told Mom the best part was Lowes, where we played in all the kitchens.

That afternoon was an afternoon of firsts. Mom and I went for a bike ride together for the first time, which was a blast. We rode to the park together and tried to do the trails, but realized I need to get my training wheels off before we can do that successfully. We had fun anyway.

Then Hazel had a friend over from school for the first time. She brought her Mom, Dad and five-year-old sister with her so we all had a blast. We played in our toy rooms, then headed out to the school playground to enjoy the perfect weather. It was a great afternoon!

For photos of all our recent adventures, including Halloween, click here.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

Happy Halloween 2012!

We had a great Halloween!
We kicked off the holiday two Thursdays ago at a party at Dad’s work. I dressed up as a beagle, Hazel dressed up as a lion and Turner dressed up as a shark. We played some games and got lots of treats. Hazel was really scared by a guy in a werewolf costume, so we cut the party short and headed home, really excited about the prospect of more treats to come.

Our next Halloween celebration was Saturday afternoon. We drove downtown, dressed up again (this time Turner was a monkey and Mom dressed up as a runner, and Dad wore his animal costume) and headed to the Spooky Skedaddle 5K and Festival. This was a combination Halloween festival, 5K race, and fundraiser.  Mom entered the race so we could all have fun there. 

The festival was great. We started off with trick-or-treating and face painting, then ate candy while we danced to some fun tunes. Mom ran fast -- she placed second in her age group! She even won a trophy!  While she was running, we ran into movie star Ryan Gosling, who was filming a movie there.  When he saw Hazel and I chowing down on our candy in our costumers, he told his crew to film us for his new movie. 

After the race, we checked out three hot air balloons and looked at a fire truck. Hazel was pretty scared of all that and it was late, so we headed home, but it was really a blast. 

Speaking of Hazel, she's on page 12 here, in her lion costume.

Hazel and I drew a great
jack-o-lantern pattern for Dad
Sunday we carved our pumpkin with Dad.  Hazel drew the eyes and I drew the mouth, and then Dad carved what we drew.  It was a pretty silly jack-o-lantern.

Last week was one big party at school. Hazel had a party Tuesday, and she dressed up as a bunny. When we picked her up, she was still eating and was covered in spaghetti. Her teacher was nice enough to share cupcakes with all of us.

My party at school was Wednesday. At school, we warmed up for Halloween night by practicing trick-or-treating. We went to about a dozen rooms.

We wrapped up Halloween with trick-or-treating around our neighborhood Wednesday night. We started with a few neighbors, then set out with Mom for my teacher’s house. She told my class she wanted to see all of us, so her destination set our route. We stopped at lots of houses along the way, and after we saw my teacher, did a few more houses. Then we told Mom we were tired and wanted to go home. When we got back, we hit the rest of our neighbors on our street with Dad, ate some candy and hit the sack.

Since then, Hazel has not stopped talking about candy. She is candy crazy. This morning when Mom woke her up, before she was even awake, she said, “I’m trying to decide what kind of candy I want.”

We'll post all of our Halloween pictures in tomorrow's post.