Monday, July 29, 2013

Our Week at Kinderarts

Last week we took the girls to the Berkeley Summer Programs for a camp for babies and toddlers called Kinderarts. Originally they were supposed to be in separate classes but they ended up combined which was perfect for me. The first 30 minutes are music, a short snack break and then 30 minutes of art for the older kids.

It is always a great week and it has been fun watching Lydia evolve from a 9 month old in class to being the oldest of the group and really understanding what was happening. This year with two kids was a real rest of my skills.

I don't do anything that different than when I only had one. I still throw some wipes and a diaper in my purse and go. There is just an extra step because you have to take out two kids. Last year I would chant we do not leave Vivi in the car, ever. So Lydia also knows. I had fears of that. Other than some snacks we were on the go.

We did have the great luck of having both Eliot and Grandpa be able to come to lend a hand as well which was terrific. Every time (this being our 3 summer) I am amazed at how much my kids learn and do in such a short time.






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Friday, July 26, 2013

Bonnie Brae Park Temple Terrace

Last weekend we stayed in Temple Terrace to take care of our in law puppies. We hung out with some good friends that we don't get to see very often one evening. Because we knew it was going to be a grown up evening we wanted to take the girls to the park.

We ended up only having less than 20 minutes because a huge storm was brewing in the sky and we left just as the rain got started. However we made the most of it.

This park is about the playground for sure and though there aren't many fancy things there are several unique elements like the fire truck below. There was a four post climbing apparatus which when Lydia gets a little older I think she will climb up and over then down.

A few riding toys which are definitely is a fan favorite. There are a few scattered picnic benches and a shelter with more. A bench that says grandparents across the back and a special pole for piƱatas were nice touches. It's designed for a birthday party for sure.

Suddenly in the distance there was the sound of hundreds of drops crashing into the earth. The sky had become darker and I said to Eliot " I think I hear it coming." Just as the words finished out of my mouth, we each grabbed a child and ran to the car. Our fast response minimized our wetness for sure.

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Sawgrass Lake and Nature Preserve Park

After we enjoyed our quite frequent dinner at Tijuana Flats for Taco Tuesday, we decided to go for a walk on the long boardwalks of Sawgrass Park.

Claiming the longest amount of continuous wooden boardwalks measuring over a mile and half, it was a great idea after a rainy afternoon. There was a ton of nature to see. We saw turtles, alligators and butterflies. It was a good park because anything with playground a equip or grassy fields would have been to wet. Lydia could run down the boardwalk safely and see a different view of things.

As you walk you have a couple of trail options. We selected the overlook tower which is the view that you see above. There is an alligator in that photo only partially sunning himself.

It is definitely great for active preschoolers. You can running and jump and stomp and you can hear it on the boardwalk.

The only bad part was its swampish and it had rained and it was getting close to dust so mosquito netted the girls. They had been recently bitten up at another event and I didn't want to add to the wounds.

However we did let them both out. You can see the view in the other direction on the tower has some sort of factory plant in the background also ruins the essence of a nature preserve.

We also noticed a ton of litter that had been tossed into the woodsy and creek areas. Who decides to visit a nature preserve and litter? I'm not sure the motivation or the simple plan laziness of waiting for a trash can but it certainly disappointed us.

At the rest of the park there is a hill (for Florida) with another smaller trail and a nature center with restrooms located in it. There a various displays and I assume some sort of meeting space. There are also picnic shelters but I'm not sure who uses those since there isn't a beach, fishing pier or playground, so why eat and picnic at a park that features walking and hiking?

It was a great hour of our evening. We hope to visit when it gets cooler to check out the other trails. It is tucked away behind a neighborhood off the major road of 62 Avenue N, but worth a peak for sure.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Day 11 St. Louis Arch

After sleeping in for a bit we headed to grab something to eat in the historic district of St. Louis before heading to the Arch. It was slightly a little early for lunch but not wildly. At 11 am I expect there to be the beginnings of a lunch crowd. Well we entered an empty Hannigans at 11 and by quarter till noon we walked out with empty stomachs. Our server came took our order and completely disappeared. We walked out. In the almost 7 years Eliot and I have been together we have never collectively been so irritated or impatient with a restaurant.
Since we had wasted all that time we dashed into Subway to eat and then headed to the arch.
I have to say that I'm pretty happy that we expanded west. Happy that I wasn't born into that era. Happy not to live on a prairie or have 6 kids with variations of the name that sounds like John Boy. And Happy I didnt have to ride in a buggy across America. I like California. Vegas was a hoot. New Mexico is beautiful and Washington was very hip. However I'm always a little conflicted over the taking land from the Native Americans thus I try not to revel too much in our massacres in the west. The gateway into the west, the St Louis Arch is very cool feat of architecture.

We did our long part of driving today. So other than a quick stop for gas and dinner at Cracker Barrel we have been cruising.

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Day 10 Early Park and Early Bed

This morning we wanted to be sure the girls had some time to wiggle before our first leg home through St Louis. We let play in real grass as we packed up the car.

Once we were packed up we walked down to the small park close to the house. We were there for just about an hour. It was a nice neighborhood park and encouraged us to get back home to our park quest.

After the climbing and crawling and jumping we took off. Only a 6 hour drive today. We arrived in St. Louis for dinner time. After getting dressed we decided the girls were tired and just went down stairs to eat in the hotel restaurant called the Bistro. Based on years of experience hotel restaurants are not that great and over prices this one didn't change my perception. We were hoping on going for a walk but it was beyond evident that early to bed was the right choice for the kids.

We ordered dessert through room service and watched premium channel tv. Tomorrow we will explore the gateway to the west.

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Day 9 The Zoo and Vietnamese

The Milwaukee County Zoo considered one of the top zoos in the country a few years back has certainly maintain a great atmosphere.

We took the girls and the Aunties and fed the goats. We had local dairy ice cream and Lydia road a pony named Norman.

It was a beautiful day for the zoo. The weather was 76 and breezy; could not have asked for a more perfect day. One of the great features of this zoo is how close you could get to the animals, because of the winters here there were indoor and outdoor options for viewing. In Florida if an animal is too hot or it's rainy they can tuck inside and not be seen, here if the animal went to nap there was still a way to take a peek.

We saw a lazy red panda that looked like a fox and an orangutan that was huge. There was a dancing polar bear and a very showy tiger as well. Lydia discovered the mold-a-ramas so we now own 3 delightful wax toys.

There was a perfect amount of time to get home and freshen up before heading to Hue an awesome Vietnamese restaurant in the Bay view area of Milwaukee. We got to see Cousin Nick who was a terrific mix-o-logist and had exquisite food.

Vivian loved Vietnamese food and took a try at using her chopsticks.

It was a great night out and at the end we saw Elizabeth Shue! It's been a celeb vacation all over.

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Day 8 Baha'i and West Allis

We took our sweet time getting out of Chicago and drove up the coast of Lake Michigan through Loyola and Northwestern to arrive at the most magnificent treasure, the Baha'i temple. There are only 9 specific temples in the world. A couple years ago when I was doing research for my book I read about this place and it was one of the primary reasons Eliot and I decided on this road trip.

The temple is 9 sided and simply spectacular. Nine is considered the number of perfection and so there are 9 entrances, 9 pillars, and 9 lush gardens around it.

Inside at the center in Arabic it says "O Thou Glory of Glories."

Baha'is believe in the unity of religion. One faith, one god, one humanity. Thus they read from all the major religious text and have also depicted those symbols in their structure.

The surrounding gardens have beautiful flowers.

Afterwards we stop and had lunch and made our way to Eliot's home town of Milwaukee in the suburbs to see where he grew up and some amazing family.

We had dinner at the Painted Parrot and enjoyed an awesome fish fry! Made you want to keep eating and eating.

Once dinner was over we drove through Eliot's old neighborhood and house he was little in. It was really neat to see it. We chatted with the folks that live there now and jaunted through memory lane.

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