Monday, July 25, 2011

Daddy Ran Another 5K . . .

. . . but he didn't win!

He did shave a few minutes off of his first 5k time though and finished in 25:22! He sure is liking this new hobby.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Let's Go to the Zoo

About a month ago we took Charly on a mini-vacation to Minnesota. On the docket was a Twins game and a trip to the Minnesota Zoo. Charly loves animals and I love the Twins and Kelli went along for the ride!

We timed our departure from Cedar Falls with Charly's afternoon nap, hoping she'd sleep for a good portion of the 3-hour drive. She slept the entire 3-hour drive! She was out cold by the time we pulled onto highway 218 and didn't open her eyes until I put the car into park when we reached our hotel. One thing the girl does well is travel. She's pretty content when we have to drive places.

Call us weird, but one of the things Kelli and I were most excited about was the hotel. We were just extremely curious to see how Charly would act in the hotel. After checking in before the baseball game, I was afraid we weren't going to make the game. She pranced around the room, pounding on the sliding glass door that overlooked the pool, jumping on the bed, bossing us around. She loved it. Here she is planning our route to the zoo the following morning:

I was stressed about taking her to the Twins game. Charly likes to roam. She doesn't really like being carried anymore in public places. She wants to stretch her legs and run. I didn't really know how she would respond to 35,000 people either. We spent one Friday night this summer watching a movie in the park and chasing Charly around while she weaved in and out of stranger after stranger. Plus, we had a camera bag and a diaper bag and her, sitting in the second row of a section 30-40 feet off the ground with not much of a railing. Our arms were full and my stress level was maxed.

The instant she saw the green grass, she pointed and nearly jerked right out of Kelli's arms. "Ball!" she cried. "Ball!" She knew exactly where we were at! She thought she owned the place, running up and down rows of seats before too many fans began to show. Despite my stress, the game with her went fine. She sat on Kelli's lap the majority of the time. She made friends with the lady next to us and she got a little friendly with the young guy in front of her. She loved the train ride in and danced to the music between innings. All in all, it was a great night. The Twins won, battling the Dodgers back and forth for most of the game until Luke Hughes knocked one out over left field, putting the Twins up for good.

She fell asleep so we thought the 8th inning was a good time to bolt, catching the train early so we could get a seat. I hate leaving early but didn't want to be left standing on the train with our arms full. She woke up on the train, was incredibly wet from a too-full diaper, and got a second wind back at the hotel. But finally, between Kelli and I in bed, she settled down and fell asleep exhausted.

The following morning we grabbed breakfast and then Charly and I changed into our swim gear to test out the hotel pool. Charly has liked the water more and more as the summer has gone on. As long as she was in my arms, she was fine. She loved the water guns and the spraying water but when I tried taking her down a slide and lost my balance toward the bottom, she was no longer the biggest fan of the pool. So it was off to the zoo!

We had high hopes for the zoo. Charly absolutely loves animals. She goes nuts for puppies and dogs, she loves cats, and screams while chasing squirrels and rabbits and birds around the yard. We knew she'd love the zoo.

My family went to the Minnesota Zoo a few times when I was younger but it has come a long ways. In fact, when searching Google for the best zoos in the country, the Minnesota Zoo actually popped up on a number of Top 10 lists. More so than the Omaha Zoo, which we had heard was a great one too. The bird cage and the farm had to be Charly's favorite exhibits. They had acres of indoor rain forest where birds actually flew around you. Charly pointed at every single one, even spotting ones hiding in trees that Kelli and I missed. "Bird! Bird!" We let her walk too, as it was early in the morning and not incredibly busy yet.

We trekked outside to a huge farm exhibit. We thought it was a little silly, as we could just head to Allison and find plenty of people willing to let Charly experience some of the same things, but the farm exhibit is fairly new and a lot of money has been spent on it. They have a farmhouse that serves as a deli and ice cream shop and tons of barns housing pigs, cows, chickens, and goats. Kelli and Charly went inside the goat pen and had some fun. Especially when Kelli bought some food for them and was attacked by an army of goats.

Much to my annoyance, we were about two weeks short of the zoos new penguin exhibit being completed. But I picked out a great souvenir for Charly (as you can see below). She actually loves it. It's probably her second favorite stuffed animal right now! We played in the water, found all the Dr. Seuss statues, and I even had a beer (at a zoo!). Who knew they sold beer at the zoo?

Charly is quite the little traveler. It's stressful at times for us because we have to constantly be considering her needs. Does she need to eat? Should she be changed? Is it too hot? Does she need a nap? Will she be scared? Something Kelli and I could do on our own in an hour or two is now a lot of work! But it's totally worth it, providing some experiences for her. I know she'll grow up and probably not remember going to a Twins game or to the zoo with us when she was 16 months old, but we will. We'll remember the excitement on her face and the happiness she felt and know it was worth all the extra work it took to lug around a loaded diaper bag and stroller and baby.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake

Last summer, Kelli desperately wanted to take Charly to a strawberry field. I think it had something to do with sitting in a strawberry field herself, around the time of her first birthday, and recreating that moment with her very own daughter. I thought it was pretty silly actually. Charly wasn't even half a year old last summer, let alone, able to sit on her own very well in a field of strawberries. She wasn't going to get much out of a visit to Heartland Farms thus, it didn't make it on our list of summer accomplishments last year.

This year however, Kelli, Charly, and I along with Ashley and Cruz, drove out to Heartland Farms one hot, sweaty day a few weeks ago, and Kelli was finally able to cross this off her summer to-do list. And this year, Charly was actually old enough to get something out of it. She roamed the field independently and plucked her fair share of strawberries. She wasn't as sure about eating them as she was about dumping them in our box. Eventually, she caught on and ate a few, including a green one. Even Cruz inhaled a healthy number of strawberries, as evidenced by his attire.

It's funny to watch the two of them interact. Charly definitely knows who Cruz is and I think Cruz recognizes her as well. Charly seems to like being around Cruz, as long as she can stay an arm's length away! Cruz gets excited and can be a bit handsy, and our daughter is a delicate little flower when it comes to her feelings. I'm sure they'll share in lots of fun, interesting moments together as they grow older.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

New Neighbors

I had to break the news to our neighbor John yesterday that he had some new upstairs tenants. Kelli and I watched them "move in" all morning! Something tells me they aren't planning on paying any rent either. They look kind of rowdy and we're hoping they don't stick around too long. There's enough college kids in the neighborhood as is.