Friday, July 31, 2009

We All Scream for Ice Cream

This week, we've had day after day of rain. Great for my growing garden, bad for my growing boys. Friday we had to get O-U-T of the house and go on an adventure. I decided we'd head up to the Velvet Ice Cream Factory in Utica. It meets all the qualifications for a great adventure

a.) haven't been this year b.) get to see people makin' stuff c.) plenty of space for running and d.) food (notably in this case, ice cream). Plus, there's a "big wheel". Velvet Ice Cream is a very old Ohio company and they're currently located on the site of an old grist mill. The water wheel is still spinning away and my boys yell, "Look at the big wheel!" every time we go. The first time Mike went with us he said, "Look at the big wheel!" I think it's a guy thing.

Something to know about me is that I never leave the house when I think I will/should. In my mind, things happen a lot faster than they do in real life. Plus, I'm just not a person who wants to go anywhere very early while we're all on summer break. Then there's always the stuff that happens moments before stepping out the door: the poopy baby, one lost shoe, a boy who thinks he's dying of starvation. We managed to make it out of the house around eleven. I knew we'd have to eat at some point and decided to throw our money at the ice cream factory restaurant rather than a craptastic fast food restaurant.

That means, drumroll please, I took four boys to a sit down restaurant by myself. [Wait, let me polish off my tiara before continuing.] We were the most exciting thing to hit that little restaurant all week and thank goodness we had a sweet waitress who didn't quit when she saw us coming. Crayons and paper hats to color kept the two youngest fairly occupied. Winter3 bounded out of his seat minimal times. Spring7 was initially pouty for a variety of reasons but got over it pretty quickly. Fall22months happily waved at everyone who walked past us. All in all, a good lunch. The highlight of lunch came from Winter3, of course. When he saw the waitress bringing our food to the table, he stood up on his chair, gave her a double thumbs up and exclaimed, "Good job!"

After lunch we wandered over to the viewing room part of the factory. Even though there's not a whole lot to see, conveyor belts, workers in hair and beard nets and big tubs of ice cream fascinated the boys. Next stop, the playground...two playsets and tons of space for running. Life is good! On the way to the playground, we passed the pond and a bunch of ducks. At this point, Fall22months breaks out in a fit of pointing and quacking. Winter3 wanted to "go see dem". Um, no, you can see them just fine from a distance.

Ice cream doesn't get much better than when you're at the factory so we had to finish our trip with ice cream. Fall22months and I shared ice cream and each of the bigger boys got cones. Winter3's junior ice cream cone was about 3 times bigger than everyone else's ice cream cone. Since three year olds, summer heat and gigantic ice cream cones don't mix well, we avoided sure disaster by getting an extra bowl to dump the cone into. What a great way to waste a summer day!

Watching "the big wheel"

Like two little duckings

You know when you're in the heart of Ohio's farmland when you find an ice cream cone that looks like an ear of corn.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Out on the Town...Franklin Park Conservatory

The Franklin Park Conservatory is one of my favorite places to visit. It's beautiful and you feel transported to different ends of the earth. Some might say, "Er, are you sure it's a good idea to take your calm, and well behaved albeit perfectly wonderful family of boys to a place with delicate and rare plants and a glass exhibit?" While my boys don't qualify as calm, they're usually pretty well behaved and I've found that most museum workers love to see curious and engaged kids come their way. I will admit that we've been avoiding the area with the bonsai trees. Wisely, I think, as the thought of Winter3 looking at (touching, poking, bending) a very, very old mini tree gives me heart palpitations. The same goes for the orchids. Oh, and the desert area with all the cacti. Hmmm, well that makes it sound like I miss half of the exhibits.

We always spend the most time in the tropical water garden area. The area is enclosed, warm and damp. It's filled with tropical plants, flowers and currently is home to the annual butterfly exhibit. Every day, butterflies hatch (in some sort of conservatory hatchery, I suppose!?) and are released. You might think that Winter3 is a danger to butterflies but since he doesn't exactly sneak up on anything, the butterflies see him coming a mile away. It's really pretty funny. Imagine Winter3, stopping in his tracks, pointing and saying in his loud whisper "Oh look! Der's a buuuteeerrfly" You can almost see the butterfly look over its shoulder and fly off in a different direction, quickly. It doesn't prevent him from having a great time, running on the walks through the plants and flowers, finding waterfalls and chasing his brothers.

My favorite part of this last visit was seeing the
Chihuly installation coming to life. Dale Chihuly is a Seattle based artist (eye patch and all) and his studio is well known for producing fantastic and colorful glass art. The Conservatory owns a large collection of Chihuly glass and this installation uses pieces from the collection as well as borrowed pieces. The glass looks alive when placed among the plants. Truly breathtaking.

Here, I hope I don't have three boys falling head first into the water. I also have to tell Spring7 that he can't take coins out.

Spring7 in the tropical house.

A lush garden of glass orbs.

Shhhh, please don't tell! Fall22months snagged a leaf!

My favorite piece.

All the art work aside, this was the highlight of the trip. A big fan.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It's a Cape not a Cake, of course

Winter3 is a fan of the Wonder Pets. If you haven't seen the show, the Wonder Pets are a group of animal friends including a guinea pig, a turtle and a ducking who are regular classroom animals by day and superheroes by night. Naturally, (well duh) the Wonder Pets have capes. Winter3 was constantly finding cape-ish sorts of things and having me stick them in his shirt so he could perform animal rescues. I decided that this little boy needed a real cape. I'm no seamstress but few can beat me when I'm armed with a bottle of fabric glue and a good pair of scissors.

I more or less drew out a sketch, figured out what we needed to buy and broke the exciting news to Winter3 who was thrilled. My only concern was that he told everyone in the fabric store and even my mom on the phone "Mommy's making me a cake! A Wonder Pet cake!" Hmmm. When I'd correct the cape/cake mix-up he'd say "a cape!" like he'd been saying that all along.

At naptime, I whipped out scissors and glue and went to work all the while saying a little prayer that he would be happy to see a cape and not a cake. This is the final product and he was thrilled.

The Wonder Pets have a letter W on the back of their capes. I suggested a different letter to Winter3 and he looked at me like I was a lunatic. Here, he's inspecting my work.

With cape flying behind him, Winter3 is off to rescue his brother or rescue someone/something from his brother.

He's played with the cape so much it's pilling and probably starting to smell but truth be told, if he really, really wanted a Wonder Pet cake, I'd make him one of those too.