Friday, April 25, 2014

2014 Tour de Parque, day 5

Ok, so...we have reached Friday, and today we went to a park Tess has been begging to visit. These pictures are from Wilson Park. Wilson Park is a sprawling place with a city pool, ball fields, and several playscapes, but in this house Wilson Park means one thing,,,the castle.

This is what makes the park unique and worth the visit. This castle is made out of stone and sculptures and bridges, and also sports winding moat/creek.

The creek is what gets me into trouble with the other moms, I'm afraid. You see, I let my kids wade in the water. As far as I can tell, it's not prohibited. The moat is only a few inches deep and very accessible, very much a part of the playscape, you know? It's right in the middle. It is begging to be splashed in. And it is part of why my kids love to come here. We come planning for wet feet (except for Tess, who always manages to get wet to her neck).

The other moms don't seem to let their kids do this, as far I can tell. In fact, they spend a lot of time trying to keep their kids *out* of the water. I would never fight this battle with all my kids. If I didn't want them to get wet, I would simply go to another park. I mean, why fight that battle, you know?

So, when we got to the park, we were alone, but very soon a couple of other moms/kids showed up, and the issue began...their kids wanted to wade like my kids were doing, but their moms told them no, and so their kids fell apart, wash, rinse, repeat, the entire time we were there.

I felt badly, I really did, and I considered telling my kids to stay out of the water, but that's kind of why we were *there*, you know? It seemed pretty unfair to make them stop doing something I told them was ok just because another parent had a different decision. Was I wrong? Tell me, honestly!

In any case, they needn't worry about our intrusion again any time soon. This park is nowhere near us, and wrangling a bunch of little kids around slippery rocks and water is pretty daunting, safety-wise, so we don't come here very often.

Ok, so, this technically would end our Tour de Parque week, but it just so happens that Jack has a baseball game early in the morning with a cool park next door, so....see you then!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tour de Parque, day 4

Day 4 was cancelled due to thunderstorms. Booo, Day 4. We had a good one planned today too, kite flying with friends and everything. I guess I should be glad that we have had such good weather overall. Anyway, we rescheduled this particular park day for an Ascension Thursday picnic with our homeschool group. So, in the meantime,,,I will be honest and say it was a nice break! :) We finally did our home Easter egg hunt between storms in the backyard. The kids did a hunt at my parents' on Easter day and we have been waiting for a Dad Is Home opportunity all week. Also, we have an opportunity to be out at other parks on both Saturday and Sunday this weekend! Bonus Days! This is, of course, assuming the weather holds...Sunday is looking iffy....

Irrelevant picture of Tess and Henry bedded down in the play tent last night. Immediately after the lights went out, Tess decided it was "too dark" and bailed.

Tour de Parque, day 3

Wednesday marked day 3 of our tour around all our favorite parks. Wednesday is a busy day. Jack has therapy from 10 to 12. We have PSR from 4:30 to 6. And, it was Henry's birthday! But, we were determined to carry on. We did donuts and presents in the morning before Jack's therapy, birthday cake afterwards, and then after PSR we picked up Henry's choice of dinner and took it to Cambridge Park.

Cambridge is a long favorite of ours. We used to live in this neighborhood, and so we spent a lot of time at this park. It's at the end of a quiet cul de sac...every time I bring someone to this park, they are surprised,,,they never even knew it was there. It has a trail built by some long-ago Eagle scout that circles a quiet pond, a couple of playscapes, picnic tables...and bathrooms! Always a plus, bathrooms. No fence, but it is in such a little quiet corner that you hardly notice.

It was a nice visit. The kids found new friends to play with, Jack dragged out the scooters that were still in the van from the previous day, and they actually got ridden this time. The weather was perfect, a not-too-cool Spring evening at the end of a warm day. Maria was at the teen Bible study at church, and John was at work, so it was just me and my little people. We stayed until the sun set and then it was time to go pick up Maria.

See you for day 4!

{p,h,f,r} Henry's 4th Birthday edition!

Linking up with the Mommas at Like Mother Like Daughter...

Yesterday was Henry's birthday!!

{pretty} birthday boy. I know he's a boy. But he *is* pretty. Look at those big brown eyes, as I try unsuccessfully to get him to smile nicely for the picture..."please Mom, can I just go play now??"

Happy birthday to my sweet newly-minted four year old. What can I say about Henry at age 4? Henry has always been my sweet-natured, easy-peasy guy. He is uncommonly gentle and kind, shares readily, is almost always cooperative and reasonable...weird, for a preschooler, right? He has fiery and melancholic Tess and often uncooperative and unreasonable Jack for older siblings. The three of them are joined at the hip all day, best friends, and Henry is the sweet peacemaker of the group, so much so that I am always trying to watch that they don't bulldoze him (coughcough, tess, coughcough).

{happy} birthday presents...the pile is bigger than he is! Though we do birthdays bigger than Christmas, it's not quite as excessive as it looks. That's a tonka truck in that giant box. One of the presents is a stack of picture books. And there are some smaller sibling gifts in there.

{funny} attempts to get a decent picture of him blowing out his candles...

As is our tradition, he woke up to birthday donuts and got to open presents right away...
Henry is super affectionate and often still climbs into my lap to snuggle and asking to "play with you hay-uh (hair)". He still loves vehicles of all kinds. He wanted a "camping birthday" today. I'm not sure what exactly he was expecting on a weekday, lol, but here's his {real} picture of his camping cake (h/t Jessica at Shower of Roses). It was a very easy cake to make and came out very well!

Then Mary Claire found it....

The present rundown, just clipped to the bottom of this post for posterity...

Notice the playtent. The plan was to let them "camp" overnight in the boys' room. Only Henry made it through the night in there. The duplos are from Tess and Mary Claire. The train is from Jack. And Maria got him the baseball helmet to go with his new T ball set. Not pictured, a bike helmet from Meme and Papa(my parents) to go with his first bike!!!
Also not pictured (because they were opened a different day), Hot Wheel tracks from Grandmom (my grandmother) and a check from John's parents that we are pooling together with Tess and Mary Claire's birthday money to buy lumber for a playground John is building! We actually bought the kit (all the stuff minus lumber) with their birthday checks *last year*, thinking we would buy the lumber over the summer. Then John lost his job and was unemployed for a few months, and ah, it was no longer the best use of resources, lol. So, we have had the kit sitting in the garage ever since. Now we can finally get the lumber and build it!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

2014 Tour de Parque, day 2

You will be heartened to know that we survived another day's adventures. Mondays are very busy for us, but Tuesdays are better. So, Tuesday we went to Murphy Park. This park is next door to a library in an nearby town...once upon a time this was *our library*. We never lived in this town, but they have a lovely children's collection, and at the time we belonged to a co-op in this town,,,so we frequented this library, and often this park, every week.

Immediately upon arriving at the park, I remembered my issues with it. It is very sprawl-y. And busy. With water. And a busy nearby parking lot. When Jack was a toddler, I spent a lot of time trying to keep him out of the parking lot.

Since I have 1. an autistic son that is prone to wandering, 2. a three year old also prone to wandering, and 3. a one year old that is, you guessed it, prone to wandering, I was very busy and kinda stressed at times.

But, DUCKS! There are ducks to feed. The only place, we know of, to feed ducks around here. So we brought Cheerios and fed the ducks. (I apologize, the duck pictures were taken with my rarely used "real camera", and apparently someone has blown their nose on the lens or something, because the pictures taken with it are all blurry.)

Also, trails for riding scooters and such. So, we brought the scooters and ceremoniously dragged them around the park, but no one ever actually rode them. Of course.

We packed lunch, which of course always makes a park visit much more fun. And friends met us, so that always makes it more fun too.

On the whole, it was more work and stress than yesterday's park, but the boys weren't abducted and Mary Claire didn't manage to drown herself in spite of her best efforts, so it's all good.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

2014 Tour de Parque

I had this brilliant I am already regretting. You ever have an idea like that? An idea for something fun, something you know the kids will enjoy, and you know it will be a challenge to pull off, but you know it will be worth it, so you jump in with both feet, and then like 10 minutes into it you think, "Ummmm.....why was this going to be fun again?" Yep, like that.

So, my brilliant idea is our 2014 Tour de Parque. No, that's not a real thing. At least, not until now. If you google it, nothing will come up. I don't think. Maybe my blog will, after I publish this. But my Tour de Parque idea started when Tess was complaining one day that we never go to any "fun parks". And it's true. We don't make any regular homeschool group park days. With Jack's therapy and our full school days and our other activities, it is all we can do to visit our neighborhood park anymore. And there's nothing wrong with our neighborhood park. But they remembered other parks, parks not so close to our house, that we rarely visited anymore. So, since we are still on Easter break this week, my brilliant idea was to visit a different park every day. A park not close to our house. A fun park.

Sounds good, right? Well, just to clarify the obvious, this idea means that *every day I have to leave the house*. Not just to run Jack to therapy, or run Maria up the road for something, but pack a diaper bag and a meal (or at least snacks) and dress all five kids down to their shoes and put them in the van and drive somewhere every single day for a week. And, of course, even though we are not doing school this week, we still have our usual activities of therapy/PE class/dance/piano/PSR/grocery shopping/baseball/mass. So.

This was the first day. Monday. Johnson Park. One of my favorite parks on this weeks list because it is FENCED IN. Why, oh why, aren't more parks fenced in?? This park is very near Tess' dance class. When Maria took dance a couple of years ago, we visited here every week. I would bring the little kids here while she was at class. But now, one big person drives just Tess down here for class each week, so we rarely go. But Tess asks to go *every time* we drive by. So here we are. Well, everyone but Mary Claire, who was napping with Dad at home.

Pluses--the fence, of course. Big pavillion with sidewalks suitable for chalk drawing. Basketball court for big kids. This bench swing that we are all enamored with.

Minuses- poor drainage. It had been raining earlier in the day and large puddles were still under most of the swings. My kids immediately soaked their feet. Of course. If you look waaaay off in the distance, you can see Henry, ankle deep in water puddled around a tether ball. Sigh.

Also, no bathrooms. Why, oh why, would you want a park with no bathrooms?

So, we came here Monday evening on the way to dance class, after the rain but before dark, and the kids were happy. They are thrilled with our little adventure.

So I guess it's worth it.

How hard can one week be, right?