Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tornado Warning

This morning started differently then I expected.  Dark clouds began rolling in so I decided to stay home with the girls until the weather cleared up.  My son called to say he was in the middle of a tornado warning and by time the girls got their blankets to sit on in the basement, we were under the sirens as well.  We spent some time in the basement and were thankful that the clouds passed over and soon the sun came out.  We decided the time would pass easier for the girls and help them to keep their mind off what was going on if we would have a  book.  I'm going to choose a book to put in our safe area, add a flashlight, and we will be ready should we have to go into the basement again.

We took a trip to the library to return books and picked up some movies.  We are stopping at the library almost every day, it seems.  That is because there is so much to entertain children at the library.  There is a limit of five movies, so we picked up five and looked forward to a more relaxing afternoon.

The children said they had a fun day, even though the start was a little frightening for them.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

No Electricity

The day started with the power going off due to one of the many Iowa spring storms.  Granddaughter age 8 and granddaughter age 6 and I watched a movie on my laptop.  Breakfast choice was limited to cereal and a piece of fruit. No poptarts, no toaster waffles.  One of our regular choices, the cereal tasted just fine.  After the movie, we sat near a large window to get what light we could and read until the power came on.  We decided although our choices were limited, we did just fine without electricity and still had a fun day learning what we can and cannot do without electricity.

Getting back to the details from the Blank Park Zoo mentioned in yesterday's post.  I highly recommend getting a membership to the zoo.  With a Blank Park Zoo membership you also have access to over 160 other zoos and aquariums throughout the United States through a reciprocity agreement.  With a zoo membership, we never have to worry about how much time we have to spend while making sure that we see everything.  Each child was able to pick one animal they wanted to see and that was going to be our limit for this trip.  Granddaughter age 10 had brought money from her father to feed the animals, so we started there.

The children were each able to get a cup of food to feed the goats and zebu for $1.00 per child.  There were several kids (baby goats) that the children were able to feed.  Although the goats (adults) were more aggressive by pushing the kids out of the way, attempting to feed the kids kept my grandchildren occupied for quite some time.  One of the staff was carrying a kid for them to pet and by time we were all finished each grandchild had named their favorite kid.  Are you confused yet?  The zebu was a little more intimidating, although everyone eventually shared a little of their food with him.  Another $1.00 to each child for a cup to feed the fish.   After that we went through the Australian section and a quick trip past the big cats and then our day at the zoo ended.  Exhausted, another fun day had passed.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blank Park Zoo

A trip to Blank Park Zoo was our fun on this day.  I had a few errands to run first.  When my husband, Don, and I ran errands on a weekday evening or Saturday, we would make a list, he would schedule the quickest route, and off we'd go.  We never had any problems getting it done.  He always carried a book and would read as I ran in and out of those stores that I didn't need him with me.

Running errands with four children is a whole new world.  It took me this day to learn that valuable lesson.  We had a few books to get rid of so I was excited to find Half Price Books.  I needed to stop at the bank, pick up lunch for granddaughter age 10 and grandson age 6.  This shouldn't take too long.

You all know that you can't leave children in the car reading books, so......All four went into the bank with me.  That took a little longer then I had hoped, but we were finally able to complete our business and exit back into the car.  We parked outside the bank so no parking lot to walk through. I think next time we need to take a book to read while standing in line.  Lines can be very boring for four children age 6 to 10.

Then to Half Price Books. This time, we all carefully walked through the parking lot while I carried a box of books.  Then carefully back through the parking lot to get another box of books and carefully back through the parking lot to the store.  Once in the store, the 15 minutes to review the books (they buy used books) took at least 1/2 hour.  The children were each able to pick a book to purchase and a bookmark, which made the delay easier for all.  This trip would not have been a problem at all had we not been on the way to the zoo.

Then a quick trip to the grocery store to get granddaughter age 10 and grandson age 6 a Lunchables.  Of course this included walking carefully across the parking lot with four children and  back again to the car.  Did I say quick trip?  It was the quickest trip of the day, not necessarily a quick trip.   

Finally the zoo.  By this time we had passed the lunch hour and were anxious to see the animals.  As we were walking in with each child carrying his or her lunch in his or her bag, we were met with the sign "No outside food or drink in the zoo".  Since I was used to the Denver Zoo where outside lunches were OK, I was not prepared for this.  We had even chosen where we would eat as we were driving toward the zoo.  We turned around to eat in the car.  I did ask at the entrance where Blank Park was, the place suggested by the zoo that we eat our outside lunch.  I was directed across the parking lot behind the fence.  Not another walk through a parking lot....The car was much more appropriate at this point. 

We had a fun afternoon at the zoo, which I will share with you tomorrow.  Watch future posts to see how we have solved the "running errands on the way to our fun thing to do today" dilemma.  Do you have any ideas for delicious and easy travel lunches for children?

Monday, June 21, 2010

School Playgrounds

One day last week our fun day choice was to visit a park in North  Des Moines.  We were stopped by construction and not knowing the neighborhood  or the roads, I decided to head home and try another park another day. 

Not willing to give up our fun for the day, passing an elementary school on our way home, we stopped to check out the playground.

Granddaughter's age 6 and granddaughter age 8,  tried everything out at least twice and I was able to take pictures to share with their parents.  Even if the equipment is the same as what the girls were used to, the sizes were a little different and the set up a little different.  The girls enjoyed running from one piece of equipment to another while sharing with me what was different about this one and the one they have at their school.

We were able to spend about 1/2 hour there before it was time to head home to begin supper.  The fun for the day had been salvaged.   The girls were able to say they had a fun day.

Friday, June 18, 2010

More Than Books at the Library

Monday we took another trip to the library.  This time we visited the Franklin Avenue Library in Des Moines.  The Franklin Avenue Library is in the process of building a new facility.  After stopping a mailman walking his route nearby, he directed us to the library currently housed in the Merle Hay Mall.

We weren't there searching for books.  Keith West was putting on his Splashtacular Magic Show.  He was quite a success.  All four grandchildren attended: granddaughter age 10, granddaughter age 8, grandson age 6 and granddaughter age 6.  All four had great time.

Keith started by blowing up a big inflated box which everyone batted back and forth like a giant ball.  The children were laughing so hard I couldn't help laughing right along with them.  His illusions were impressive and he had the whole crowd laughing for most of the hour that he performed.  He brought children up from the audience to help him and his assistant.  I enjoyed watching the children as much as I enjoyed watching Keith.  The youngest child was 3 and the oldest 10.  Keith knew how to entertain the crowd  After the show he gave each person a signed photograph.  He sold  magic wands for $2 and a magic kit for $10.  Kieth told the children he got his start by reading as many books as he could on magic tricks.  Remember to check your local library for entertainment other than books.

What are you finding at your local library along with the books?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Iowa Rainy Days

Thursday and Friday were Iowa rainy days.  The brief rains I was used to in Colorado wouldn't have stopped us from going out.  Iowa severe thunderstorms were better watched from the windows looking out.  We were still going to make Thursday a fun day.  The girls were able to color on their velvet pictures and work in their summer skills books.  We took a movie break after lunch. 

The rain quit long enough for a trip to the library.  The local library had a craft project prepared so they were able to work on crafts for a while.  Although the girls are beginning to tire of going to the library every day, they had fun and were able to get out of the house.  As I was preparing supper, the girls told me the day had been a fun day even with the rain. 

Friday has been labled "quiet day."  We scheduled a day to stay home and get ready for a fun weekend with parents.  For the girls that meant cleaning their rooms and for grandma, that meant finishing up the laundry.  We did take some time to read books.  All three of us had the opportunity to read; granddaughter age 8 and I a chapter and for granddaughter age 6 an entire book. 

Once the rooms were clean, we tried origami.  The box said age 5 and above.  We started with a jellyfish.  That looked easy enough. I couldn't get past step # 5 which was only about 1/3 of the way through.  Was it because I was too far away from age 5?  I'll use that as my excuse.  I told the girls that sometimes when a person has difficulty with a project, the best thing to do is leave the project overnight and try again the next day.  Our other option is to ask mommy and daddy to take a look.  If they don't have a chance over the weekend, I'll try again on Monday. Since Monday is library day, I told them we could also try to find a book on origami to see if that would help us.  We haven't given up.

Friday night I left to spend the weekend with granddaughter age 10 and grandson age 6.   Shopping it is.

What have you done for fun on a rainy day?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Summer Vacation

The much awaited summer vacation has finally arrived.  My granddaughters age 8 and 6 woke up with the question that will become a part of the summer ritual.  "What fun thing will we do today, grandma?"

The first day began with a trip to the library.  Finding out we were 30 minutes early, we went down the street to Hobby Lobby.  What possibilities we found there.  We found a package of four velvet pictures to color with markers.  My 6-year-old granddaughter thought that would be fun because it would be difficult to color outside of the lines with the velvet dividing the parts of the picture.  Looking at all the small areas I believed it could take her several weeks to complete the four pictures in the set.  Granddaughter age 8 chose a picture with the outlines of several horses and her job was to take a pencil and learn to shade the horses.  I believed this could take several days to complete so agreed on their choices. 

A lengthy stop in the sticker aisles gave them numerous sticker letters to make the choice very difficult for them.  They were finally able to each pick a sheet of letters and another sheet of sticker designs for their craft box (or brief case) we still haven't set on the exact name of the case they were each given.   I told them once they put their names on their boxes they could decorate the rest however they wanted.

To make sure we didn't miss anything we continued checking out the store and found books on drawing:  "Things Girls Love" for the 6-year-old and "Sea Creatures" for the 8-year-old.  A "Giant Detect-A-Word" book for finding words in puzzles can be shared by both.   

A couple of wooden girls to color and cloth purses to paint completed our purchases.  Hobby Lobby had so many things on sale, the cost was not very high especially when divided over several weeks that we could use the items. 

Back to the library the girls signed up for the summer reading program.  I was unable to get them library cards as a parent is needed.  I was able to get my own library card, signed up for the adult reading program, and we were even able to get a couple of movies.   I checked out the books and movies and home to review all of our treasures.

By time lunch was ready the girls were already well into one of their movies.  We finished the day with the girls reading from their books, coloring their large pictures, finishing up both of their moves and they even played outside for a while.  That evening they put the stickers on their cases.  We all agreed the first day of summer was a very fun beginning.  How was your first day of summer vacation?

Day two was another trip to the library.  We took back two of the books read by the 8-year-old and the two movies.  We decided the 6-year-old needed beginning readers, which we had not originally chosen.  The 8-year-old needed chapter books which we also had not chosen.  With this extra knowledge we were on track for getting the right books. 

Our next stop was the grocery store to get some lunches for a picnic.  Then on to Jordan Creek Town Center in West Des Moines.  They have a play area inside the mall for smaller children which gave the girls some playtime in air conditioning.  We stopped at Barnes and Noble and picked up a book for each girl to keep her skills up over the summer.  One for a child going into the third grade and one for a child going into the first grade.  The girls enjoyed the opportunity to do some reading, writing and arithmetic.  

We set out a picnic in the grass near the lake at the Jordan Creek Town Center and watched the ducks and their ducklings for a while before heading home.   With the library and stores not opening until 10, that doesn't give us much time before lunch; we will be finding more picnic spots as the summer progresses.

Back home satisfied that we had another fun day.  Since we are beginning to feel the summer heat, the girls spent the afternoon coloring and working in their summer skills book.  Unfortunately, the horse shading didn't take as long as we thought, so another trip to Hobby Lobby and a velvet picture for the 8-year-old to color.  Last trip to Hobby Lobby for this month, I told the girls. 

How is your summer progressing?  Any ideas to keep the children occupied while exploring your hometown?  What are some of your favorite summertime memories?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Last Day of School

Today is the last day of school. I remember the excitement of no more homework or school. It was a scary time as well. Will I be able to keep in touch with my friends? Will they want to play with me? Who lives close enough for me to play with? What am I going to do all summer? When children have a plan and know where all the neighborhood children live, the scary goes away and the excitement returns.

My grandchildren are excited for the summer adventure to begin. Granddaughter age 7 said tonight, “We are having so much fun since grandma came here.” I felt pretty good after she said that. Especially since our adventure has not even begun.

We bought some bags for them to carry their craft boxes in. They have been able to get into their cases and have had fun coloring in their new books with both the colored pencils and the crayons.

We will be heading to the library tomorrow to sign up for the summer reading program. We already have books chosen to check out. We’ll see what else the library has to offer.

They’ve been anxiously awaiting our shopping spree tomorrow. They’ve wanted to put the stickers on their cases, but I’ve asked them to hold off until we bought letters so they can put their names on their cases. Mostly to make it easier for me to sort whose case belongs to which grandchild.

One of the mothers in the neighborhood had a great idea. She invited all the neighborhood children and their moms over after school for ice cream. All the children enjoyed playing together and the moms had a chance to talk. This is a great idea to generate play dates and babysitter trading for the summer. For you working moms, a pizza party, bar-b-que or make your own sundae for desert in the evening could work the same. Just pick that first Friday or Saturday night after school gets out and be the one to start a new neighborhood tradition.