Friday, April 15, 2011

Spring Break Saga: Part III

Wednesday was a fun day.  We went back down to temple square first.  Our first stop was the visitor's center and up to the top level so the kids could see the big statue of Jesus Christ.  Lainey was in awe of it really...she kept asking me why Jesus was so big. 

 I'm not sure what Andy was saying right here...but I like how he remembers to use the teaching moments with our children.  He's a good daddy.
 The spring flowers were being so brave!  It was NOT a very warm day, and we were having rain and sleet off and on, but still the flowers were in bloom and of course us girls thought they were beautiful.  I had a hard time keeping Lainey-lou from picking them.
So all of us girls had to get our picture taken with the pretty flowers.  The boys really didn't care so much about flowers. 

 Pretty Rachel with the daffodils...
 and isn't it amazing how quickly a smile can disappear!?  Rachey wanted a picture all to herself...and Brooklynn just wanted to join in.  Too funny.
 Something they've added since I've been there last is computer screens that let you navigate the inside of the Salt Lake temple.  You can touch different rooms on the screen, such as the Celestial Room, and it brings up a picture of the Celestial room with an explanation of what the room represents.  You can do that with the Baptismal font, the Sealing rooms, the First Presidency Council room, etc.  I really like this and it was great to be able to show the kids a little bit about what we do when Mom and Dad go to the temple.  We all really thought that seeing where the Prophet and the Quorum of the Twelve meet together and council in the temple was pretty neat.  Taylor was annoyed with Matthew in this picture...because Matthew just wanted to keep touching all the icons on the screen rather than read and look at the pictures.  So pretty soon after Andy took this picture, Tay just went and got on his own touchscreen...and he went completely through it one picture at a time.  I liked that.

 Here's the gang in front of the temple.  Matthew was being so squirmy!  I thought for sure he was going to fall off that ledge right into the fountain.  I was so surprised when he didn't.
 And so our little tour of Temple Square was done!  It was fun to be there with General Conference weekend coming up, there were busy people everywhere, working in the gardens, and getting all the buildings ready.  You could feel the excitement, and the kids kept saying over and over, "So Mom...the prophet is going to be here on Saturday!"  And I can truly say that that weekend when we made it home from our trip and watched the Saturday sessions, that our kids were much more attentive than they've ever been before.  It was fun to see their eyes light up when they saw the pulpit of the conference center and realize that they were just there.  I think it's a lot like living near Kirtland, Ohio.  Now, just like with the Kirtland Temple...the kids know that the Conference Center and General Conference isn't just a good story, or a place you only see in movies or on TV...it's real.  It's a real place, and they've been there. 


Well, after spending a couple of hours at Temple Square, the kids needed some time to just be kids and play...so we took them to the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum, which was just a couple of blocks away.  Our awesome Boonshoft Museum pass from Ohio got us in there free of charge.  Woo hoo!  Love that pass, I'll keep renewing it for as long as I can!

First thing Lainey wanted to do was play with the balls and air tubes.  Hard to describe, but there were hundreds of these plastic balls with a whole bunch of different openings.  The kids could stick them into the opening, and the vacuum would suck them away and blow them out somewhere else.  The kids loved it.  Taylor figured out that with one of the airways that blew the balls out, that if you placed a ball directly in the path of flowing air, that when the next ball shot out of the tube, it would bounce the floating ball out of the way and replace it...so there would always be a ball just floating there.  Such fun...the older kids figured out the science behind it, and the little ones just saw the magic in it.   

 Brooklynn being a helper...as always!  Busy hands!
 The girls really enjoyed this area as well.  There was a full circle of these xylophone things, with music on the music stand.  Each plate was labeled, and so you could read the music and play songs if you had enough people standing around the circle.  The girls and I played Mary Had a Little Lamb, Twinkle Twinkle, and a couple of others.  This was something they kept coming back to throughout the day.
 Another fun place Brooklynn and I found was the movie and sound effects area.  Here she is drawing a storyboard.  In this area, they had a little stage with stage lights and dress up clothes, and different backgrounds that the kids could pull on and off the stage to make their own plays.  What a fun, creative place!  After Brooklynn was done making her storyboard, she and I went into the sound booths and we recorded our own sound effects to a story.  You hit record and then used boots, bells, crumpled up paper, hinges, etc. to make appropriate sound effects for different stories.  Then you hit play, and you could listen to what you had created.  It was pretty fun!  We did a pirate story. 
 On the next level up was more building and science type activities.  Here they had an entire TV, news anchor set up where the kids could sit behind the news desk and record themselves giving the evening news.  They had teleprompters and everything. 

These blocks that Tay is using were so fun to build with.
 Here's Tay's huge tower...after this block...it crumbled, and made a spectacular crash. 
 Outside on the roof, they had some picnic tables...and a helicopter!  Matthew thought this was SO awesome....at the beginning.  He loved it until the sound effects came on and it started vibrating, then it scared him to death and we couldn't get him to get back into it for a picture.  He is so sweet.  Lainah however...thought all the noise and vibrating was super fun and enjoyed every minute of it. 
 This is as close as we could get Matthew to stand to it after the initial shock of hearing it "start up."  He was really afraid that if he got into it, it would fly away. 
 Brooklynn got out these alphabet foam letter puzzle tiles...and put them together.  Twenty-six spread across the floor.  Only in a children's museum can the kids just spread out and do activities like this.  I love it.  It really made me miss Cleveland's libraries and their children museum!
 Sorry Andy!  What a shot!  This was a magnetic wall where you could design your own pipe system and then put a ping pong ball into the top and watch it go through your design.  Matthew and Lainah thought it was okay for a while...but it was Taylor who stayed here forever!  I think he spent most of his time at this wall designing, and redesigning.
 There's Lainah dropping her ball in!
 Here's on of Tay's designs.  Seeing how much the kids enjoyed this particular activity made me think that we should just bolt up some sheet metal to the side of the garage and then go to home depot and get some plastic plumbing materials...it would keep them entertained for hours!
 Okay...Matthew spent most of his day here at the construction site.  Previous to this picture he was even wearing the orange vest and a hard hat.  He is so hilarious!  He had an entire "crew" of little boys helping him.  One would load the block onto his crane pouch, then they'd tell him "okay, take it up Matthew!"  Then, a boy would be up on top of the platform telling him to "bring it this way" and then that boy would unload it from the pouch and then more boys would get the block and put it where it belonged on whatever they were building.  At one point, Matthew had to go potty but didn't want to leave the crane, so somehow he convinced this older boy (maybe about 7 yrs old) to sit on the crane for him while he ran off to do his business.  What a turkey!  Unfortunately, Matthew ran through the WRONG door.  What he thought to be the bathroom door was the emergency exit, and the second he pushed in the latch, the alarm went off.  He immediately covered his ears and ran to me, terrified!  We apologized to the workers there, who just laughed and said it happens several times a day.  Well, it took me a little while to convince Matthew that it was safe to go to the bathroom.  He was convinced that he really did push on the bathroom door the first time and wouldn't try again because "that bathroom has a scary siren on it!"  When we finally got back to the crane, his faithful friend and "co-worker" was still there keeping it occupied for him.  Too funny.
 Another section that we spent a lot of time at but didn't get pictures of was the water table.  It was huge, and Lainah stayed there for most of her day.  They had cute little waterproof aprons to put on, and she just played and played in the water with buckets, boats, rubber duckies, you name it...

Brooklynn made friends with a little girl and they spent a lot of time together playing in the pretend store.  They were stocking shelves, and using the cash register and making things in the bakery and deli.  It was just a super fun and creative place and the kids all enjoyed it.  Mommy and Daddy enjoyed it too and by the end of the day...
 ...we were all completely exhausted!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring Break Saga: Part II

Monday was a nice lazy day for us.  We slept in, watched a little Disney channel, ate breakfast...and then went back up to Park City so that Andy could do some shopping.  We found some fun things...a few kitchen gadgets in a specialty kitchen store, and some yummy chocolate truffles at a gourmet treat shop along with some new barbeque rubs.  Then we drove up to the Olympic Ski Park and Museum and showed the kids the ski jump and part of the bobsled track.  That was pretty neat, they liked it.  Then swimming and watching movies for the rest of the day.

So Tuesday when the sun came out again, we set off for Hogle Zoo.  Lainey was Daddy's big helper with the lunch making and packing. She was so excited to go to the zoo and see the Elephants. (Elfunts) So funny, but out of all the animals we talked about, the "Elfunts" are the ones she wanted to see the most!
However, she and Brooklynn were pretty entertained by the monkeys too.  This one little guy kept coming right up to them in front of the glass.  The girls thought that was pretty fun.
There was this cocky peacock guy strutting around the zoo.  He was hilarious.  He was just strutting around like he owned the place, would put out his huge fan of feathers, and then turn around and around showing them off.  Then he'd evidently get a little tired and put them down for a few minutes before showing them off again.  The kids were getting a kick out of him that's for sure.

Here he is all fanned out...Sir Peacock
This was his favorite spot throughout the day.  He'd just turn around and around.  Silly bird. Matthew was just giggling at him.

Here's Lainey in front of the Elephants.  There was a mommy and baby elephant she was watching, and there were steps leading right down to the enclosure so you could get really close.  Lainey loved that. There's mama elephant eating hay in the background.  Matthew wondered why they hung her food up instead of putting it down on the ground.  He thought that was pretty funny.

There's mommy and baby.  The kids really enjoyed watching the baby throw mud up on her back. Here's Matthew standing in front of a partial elephant skull.  The one out at the Cleveland Zoo is a full elephant skull and it is huge.  The kids always thought it was so neat to touch it and look at the skull.  My little scientists.

And we had to have a picture with the rhino statue.  We came here years ago when Tay was 3 and Rachey was 18 months and took their pictures by this same Rhino.  Boy has our family grown since then! Mom got in the picture!  The Rhino's back was really slick so I had to hold Brooklynn and Matthew on.  After we did this, there was an electronic scale just behind the Rhino in the gazebo, and you could all stand on it, and it would tell you how your weight compared to Rhinos and elephants.  Our entire family stood on the scale together, and we weighed almost as much as a baby elephant.  I think we were somewhere around 700 pounds.  We had a lot of fun with that scale.  Matthew has gained weight since his last check up...he now weighs in at 57 pounds.  He's 4 years old.  What a tank.  When I first stepped on it, Andy slyly put his foot behind mine without me knowing and pressed down.  The kids all laughed at my huge gasp...NOT funny! And this Orangutan was named Eli.  Taylor and I saw him first and just kind of cocked our heads to one side.  His face was FLAT.  It was the strangest thing I've ever seen.  The rain forest section of Cleveland's zoo had a big family of Orangutan's and not one of them had a flat face like this one.  Eli was pretty funny. We read the info about him and it just said that some males get these big "cheek flaps."  Wow!  Tay and I really just think it's from years of pressing his poor face up against the glass.  Poor guy!

Rachey taking her turn with Eli.  It was so hard to get a good picture of him without getting glare on the glass!
Matthew didn't want his picture taken with Eli.  He wanted to look at him, but didn't want me to take his picture.  But I couldn't help posting it, because his facial expression just cracks me up!  What a funny guy! At this point, Eli crossed his arms and jutted his bottom lip out.  It was so funny, just like one of the kids when they pout.   Here's our little group of Orangutans...minus Matthew who didn't want to put his arms on the wall.  Lainah is the size of a juvenile in height and had about half the armspan.  Brooklynn was about the exact height of an adult female without the armspan, and Rachey was the height of an adult male...without the huge armspan. It was Tay's idea to stand in front of this thing...I told him he'd make a good fun missionary someday.  He already has the knack at funny picture spots.   Daddy could not be outdone by the kids.  Maybe if he puts his face up against our bathroom mirror each night for 20 minutes, in a few years he could compare his cheek flaps to Eli's...maybe not.  Still, it's amazing the armspan they have.  Andy's arms aren't even as long as an adult male's...and Andy is a pretty big guy.  I guess that's a good thing...that his knuckles don't drag on the ground.  He does the sound effects pretty well though. 

Amazingly enough, Lainah LOVED these porcupines.  She stayed in front of them forever.  She showed them to me first and we watched them for a long time, and then she went and got daddy to show him.  The other kids didn't really take much notice of them, but she could have stayed there for even longer.  The other kids were watching some snakes instead.  Too funny.  I think Lainey thought they were some sort of "kitty."  We saw a lot of different looking "kitties" that day.  Bobcats, groundhogs, Lemurs, Armadillos...squirrels...they were all "kitties."
Rachel enjoyed the giraffes the most.  I did too today.  They were fun because they kept going right inside and eating right by the observation deck.  We watched them for a long time.  There was one inside that took one look at Andy with his dark sunglasses and got skittish.  Each time Andy moved she'd startle and move to the corner and then just look at him like she was terrified.  Poor thing!  I tried to tell her that he really isn't as mean and scary as he looks...but she didn't believe me and kept her distance. 

Tay and Brooklynn posing...the kids are growing up. Here was another shot of Sir Peacock.  Apparently he was taking a rest from all the pageantry.  My little camera doesn't do justice to his vivid colors, he really was gorgeous. 

And the kids could not help themselves.  They see a statue, they have to take a picture with it.  I think that if Hogle were to get rid of all the animals and just put in a bunch of statues...that the kids would enjoy it just as much.  I told them I wouldn't climb on this guy...he doesn't look too happy about it. 
Even little Lainey had to get right in there on his lap.  She looks so tiny sitting there!  Gorillas are huge!  When we watched the real gorillas inside, the male was laying down on his back putting his feet in the air, and then grabbing them with his hands.  I should have taken a picture, his hands were enormous.  Massive.  Don't get on the bad side of a gorilla, that's for sure! Tay was holding Matthew up...and we thought it was funny that the first thing he did was grab hold of the ears...which is what he does with Andy. 

Yet another statue...and more pictures with it. 
Taylor is such a goof.  He was "reading" and humming.  What a goof.
Closer look at our goofball.  Rachey taking Taylor's lead...getting all relaxed for nap in the crook of the elephant's trunk.
There was a section that was about the southern desert and cave dwellers.  It reminded me a little bit of Mesa Verde, and I think they tried to replicate it a little bit.  Matthew and Lainah liked it.

Lainah was so funny.  I told her to stop right in the doorway so I could take a picture...and she said, "Okay!" and then leaned against the doorway and posed.  What a funny girl! And at the end of our tour we ended up at the playground.  (Yes, that was planned.)  We let the kids play here for about an hour.  Lainah and Matthew ran up and went down the slide the entire time.  By the time we told them it was time to go, they were pretty worn out. 
Tay and Rachey and Brooklynn explored everything in the play area.  Again, here are the two goofs...posing as groundhogs.  Rock chucks, whatever...Here's Rachey peeking out...and posing, giggling away.

And Tay.  Yes.  Posing.  What was with these two?  They just had me laughing the whole day.After we played at the playground...for the end finale of the zoo we took the kids on the train ride.  We had the train to ourselves...and the older three promptly went straight to the back...

Lainah was so worn out from playing that she was done smiling for the day.  She just snuggled right into me and by the end was nearly asleep. Matthew on the other hand had waited all day to ride the train and had to sit right up front behind the engineer.  He thought it was awesome and kept asking her to blow the whistle...which she did.  He was all smiles.
There they are in front of the cute little engine.
And Matthew had to wait and watch it go again.  He loves trains and I think this was probably his favorite part of the entire day.
Taylor had to have some fun with this huge ball fountain thing before we left.  If you pushed hard enough, you could change the direction of the rolling ball.  He thought that was pretty awesome, and was trying to figure out how it worked. This is the Place Monument is right across the street from the zoo...so even though the kids were exhausted we had to stop in.  Lainah was asleep with Andy and I on the bench...so she's not in the picture. 

Another funny thing was that when we pulled into the parking lot, there was this old limo and bus right here with blaring hard metal rock music playing, surrounded by some pretty rough looking people.  With general conference weekend coming up...we figured they were some protestors come to defile the place with their rotten music.  I took a few of the kids inside to go potty, and asked the ladies at the front desk who these people were, and apparently they are a rock band that is touring the country in their limo and taking a video tour of different prominent sites in the states they stop in.  So at least they weren't protestors....but it still really bothered me that they were allowed to bring their cars past the parking barriers and blare their music so loud and right in front of the visitor's center and monument area.  It was like walking past a street gang in order to take my family to see the monument.  Very uncomfortable, and it got my temper up a bit.  I didn't feel that it was at all appropriate.  If they wanted to take a tour, great...but park where everyone else does, and keep your music down.  Really.    But...we tried not to let it ruin our experience at the monument, and told our kids the story of Brigham Young first coming into valley...and Andy did a very good impression of the deep, tremulous voice of the actor who portrays Brigham in the movie.  The kids laughed and thought he was pretty funny.  "Brethren, this is the place where we will build the Temple of our God!"  All with hard metal rock music in the background.  Wow...what an experience.
That evening when we got back to the condo, we rented the movie "Tangled" and after dinner and our swim...popped popcorn and snuggled up to one of the funniest kids' movies I've ever seen.  We loved it so much, we kept it and watched it three nights in a row before returning it.