Dream Shard Blog: The Scintillating Adventures of Our Household

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Aug '13

The Happiest Day

Wes started school this week. Carissa starts next week. So as a final Summer Hurrah I took the kids up to Salt Lake City for a fun afternoon outing.

And–surprise!–it was really fun. (Sometimes you never know what toll an outing with three little kids will have on your patience or level of tiredness.)

I took them to the Children’s Discovery Museum at the Gateway Shopping Center. We started by walking across the sky bridge to the mall’s food court and grabbing a bit of Sbarro for lunch.




Then back to the museum! We went there once, two years ago, when Wes was barely four and Carissa one. It was a busy day then (must’ve been a Saturday). But this time, on a Tuesday afternoon when school has just started, it was not busy at all. The main room’s capacity sign read 304, but I think there were maybe 30 people total, kids and parents.

I appreciated that because it made it easier to keep track of Wes. I always worry when I take him places where he’s “loose” that I’ll lose him. But this was manageable.

Oh, the kids had fun! Even Elizabeth. I let her out of the stroller after a short while, and she was one of the kids, climbing and crawling everywhere.

The first area is the ball garden. I think we spent an hour here. The kids could’ve spent all their hours here. There are lots of things kids can do with the balls–holes to drop them in, tubes to watch them travel in. The most popular thing is the vacuum tubes that suck the balls up through a series of tubes and then pop the balls into a giant bucket at the end. I liked watching the kids’ eyes full of wonder as they watched the balls travel. Magical!








After a while I talked Wes and Carissa into moving on to the next area, which is the main discovery area for young kids.

There’s a gas station with a car:



Wes found his way to the construction area and really enjoyed it, even trying on the hardhat:




Carissa was in love with this car and tried to park it close to herself when she was doing other activities so other kids wouldn’t take “her” car. I later had to tell her she had to share, and it wasn’t her car anyway.


Wes really liked the water area. (Although I had to keep an eye on him and remind him he couldn’t climb into the water and to keep his feet on the ground.) Elizabeth liked it too, since there was a lower section that was the right height for her.





There’s an area just for kids 0-3. Carissa and Elizabeth both liked it here. Elizabeth found the walker toy and had fun with that. Carissa has quite the imagination and can make anything, even a mini rowboat on a blue mat, her “house.”






At 3 o’clock there was a storytime/craft activity right next to the water area. Wes wouldn’t be moved from the water but Carissa was interested in the activity (I knew she would be; that’s right up her alley and so not up Wesley’s). She wanted to sit right next to the storyteller. They read a book about a gingerbread man, and then the kids (there were three or four) got to glue crafty items onto a foam gingerbread man. Carissa loved this part and decorated her man until he was truly beautiful. She was the last kid to finish, but she wasn’t done until she was done. I thought she did a good job. The teacher was an artsy person and pointed out how Carissa was making patterns with the colors (red/yellow/red/yellow).





And here’s where I earn the prize for Worst Mom. Because when we came home I decided she wouldn’t miss the gingerbread man and I threw it away. But I forget sometimes how very good Carissa’s memory is. The next day she started asking to see her “brown thing” and I had to finally confess that I put it in the garbage can, and when she went to open the can I had to explain that it was garbage day and did she remember the garbage truck that came earlier that morning? She did, and when she asked where her brown thing was now I had to say, “The city dump.” And I felt like the Worst Mom Ever.

But, moving back to The Happiest Day. At this point it was after 3:30 and I felt a break was in order. The cool thing about the museum is that you can come and go as you please as long as you have your wrist bracelet on, and there’s lots to see and do around the Gateway Mall. So we went to Bon Bon, an ice cream/gelato/crepe place. Because what is an outing without ice cream, I ask you.

It was pretty fantastic ice cream. Wes had chocolate, Carissa had vanilla gelato, and I had a mix of Snickers and Chunky Monkey ice creams. Oh, and Wes finished off Carissa’s when she decided she was done after a few licks.

The ice cream shop overlooks the Gateyway’s splash pad, so we had a water show while we ate.



I almost can’t believe it, but I actually got to do a little shopping. I had a $10 gift card for Old Navy, which was right by the splash pad. Shopping with three kids is usually NOT my favorite thing. But this actually worked. I put Elizabeth in the shopping cart. Carissa sat in a separate cart, and Wes pushed her around. They had great fun trolleying up and down the aisles (where I could see them always), pausing at the mirrors to make funny faces at themselves.


And then the natural thing to do was to let the kids check out the giant splash pad.

We have a couple splash pads down by where we live, but they are tiny in stature compared to the Gateway. Carissa was too timid and careful to get wet, but not Wes. He stood and watched at the side for a few minutes but, not surprisingly, before long he made his entrance to the water. He was the only person enjoying the splash pad, and boy was he enjoying it. Imagine a five-year-old running with arms wide open through the water, face up to heaven, a huge smile of joy on his face. That was Wes. I noticed people in parked cars watching him and smiling.










Wes was soaking wet. Fortunately I brought a change of clothes and some towels in the car, just in case. So we headed back to the parking garage, got cleaned up, and went back to the Discovery Museum for one final hour of play. They liked the helicopter.


Then we headed home. We hit a big rainstorm in our hometown that added even more excitement to the end of our day. The kids, and I, had a wonderful time. A nice end to summer.

Aug '13

Carrisa Turns THREE!

On August 15, 2013 our sweet Carissa Rose turned three. She had a wonderful day. I’d been telling her that soon she would turn three, and then she’d be old enough for preschool, and she’s been looking forward to it. The day before she turned three I told her it was the last night she’d be just two years old. And as she went to bed that night she reminded me that it was her last night as a two-year-old. She has a good memory!

The morning of her birthday I didn’t remind her that it was her special day until the morning was about half over. But as soon as I did, she paused and her eyes lit up as this news sunk in. In an animated voice she talked about how she was three years old now. It’s so fun to watch her excitement.

We pulled out a helium tank we have and blew up a few balloons. That was hugely exciting for Wes and Carissa.


But the Big Event of the day was taking Carissa to Build-A-Bear at the mall. I’ve never been into stuffed animals myself, so I never gave it much thought. But a few weeks ago John and I were at the mall for dinner and noticed little girls coming out of the mall with Build-A-Bear bags and their new stuffed treasures inside. They looked so happy that we thought we should walk through the store before we went home. We did, and we observed the prices (which are naturally not cheap), but we came away convinced that out little daughter would absolutely love the experience.

And thus she did. The way it works is you pick a stuffed animal shell, fill it yourself (with an employee’s help) with fluff, give it a heart, and then you can buy accessories and clothes and print a birth certificate. Wes was quick to find a Hello Kitty one, and as soon as Carissa saw it, that was it. We took it to the fluff machine. The very, very nice employee showed Carissa how to use the foot pedal to fill her Hello Kitty with fluff.



You’ve got to watch this video. It is just so cute to watch her experience this. Also, notice that the employee is missing his forearm, but look how good he is at using what he has.

Bath time.


Honestly, cross my heart, I wasn’t planning to buy the stuffed animal any accessories or clothes. But as soon as her kitty was bathed she sidled up to the accessories wall and said that Hello Kitty needed some clothes.

OK. Why not? It’s her birthday. There were dresses and shirt/short combos, but since Carissa herself prefers shorts that’s what Hello Kitty got, too. I was turning to leave when I heard Carissa say, “Now she needs shoes!” and she was already perusing the selection. So. Hello Kitty ended up with some pretty snazzy wooden sandals.

However, I drew the line at the chair and car. But Carissa sure had fun playing with them for a while.


During this time Wes is mostly pulling these wheeled toys around the store (and out into the mall).


Carissa is happy. Off to print the birth certificate!



There’s a candy shop/ice cream store near the mall that we’d never been to before. We stopped in. Wes had an ice cream cone and Carissa had a huge sucker that the nice employee gave her for free since it was her birthday.



After dinner we headed to my parent’s new place and had a birthday celebration.

Oh, Carissa loves birthday parties! She throws birthday parties for her stuffed animals often, and we knew she couldn’t wait to have a real one for herself. As I buckled her into her carseat to go to the party she said, “I want candles on my cake!” Because her stuffed animals always have (pretend) candles on the (pretend) cake that she makes for them in her (pretend) kitchen.

We sang, she blew, and then we ate!



She ate her cake with such relish, enjoying every bite. She picked out the cake herself at the grocery store the night before. She was so sure she wanted the one with balloons on it, I couldn’t say no.


Then it was present time. Grandpa helped her open (along with all her cousins).



Besides the Hello Kitty, I really only gave her a backpack (which is practical since she starts preschool in a couple weeks). It’s a penguin backpack, since she’s really into penguins these days. But her grandma, uncle, aunt and cousins were uber generous and she received some really lovely gifts like a dress-up fairy costume with accessories, Hello Kitty book with little toy figurines, magnetic dress-up dolls, and the list goes on.


Her grandma provided goodie bags for all the kids, which I let Wes and Carissa open at home the next morning. It was like Christmas! Carissa kept asking if she could play with the toys she had just gotten, and which I had piled on the little kids’ table, and I kept telling her, Yes! They’re all yours! Play with them! The light in her eyes is unforgettable.

So she had a very happy birthday, thanks to the wonderful support of family and the beautiful innocence of being three years old. For a few days after she would say, “I’m still three!” (I think she was going for, “I’m three now.”)

And here’s Elizabeth!


Aug '13

Swim Lessons

Instead of putting Wes into summer preschool I wanted to make sure we had time for lots of summery things. Like swimming lessons. Wesley started swim lessons when he was three at a local home with a swimming pool in their backyard. The classes are taught by the homeowner’s adult children. I like it because the lessons are 45 minutes with two kids per teacher. Wes likes it because he has time to sit on the steps of the pool, splashing and just being in the water while the teacher takes a turn with the other student, plus at the end of class he gets to go down the water slide and jump off the diving board.

I’d say Wes likes EVERYTHING about being in the water. When it was time to get ready for swim lessons in the morning Wes would stop whatever he was doing and miraculously start doing whatever I asked him to do. He just wanted to get in that pool. He especially loves splashing and would yell, “SPLASH!” (“SPWASH!”, actually) on the way to the pool.

Last year, because Wes was in summer preschool he only had time for one week of lessons. This year in June I kept him in for three. Wes was in heaven.

At the start of the first week I observed Wes in the pool, and observed the other kids in the pool, and I wondered if Wes would ever really learn to swim. He loves being in the water, no question, but I didn’t see him making progress like the other kids were. He mostly liked to look over his shoulder as his teacher pulled him across the pool so he could watch the splashes his feet made as he kicked. He also liked splashing bystanders.


In the middle of the second week Wes started putting his eyes in the water. This was progress!


I bought him (and Carissa) goggles, but he would not wear them. Carissa wore them more than he did, and she wasn’t even in the water. They were her accessory of choice.


At the end of the second week I told his teacher I was signing him up for one more and that I hoped that was OK with her. Her response surprised me. She said that she was glad because Wes was one of her favorite students and a joy to work with. I guess I had thought that since Wes wasn’t making a lot of clear progress that he wasn’t a star student.

In the third week Wes started jumping off the diving board by himself. He used to sit on the edge and wait for his teacher to pull him in. This was progress!



As the third week neared an end his teacher said she really enjoyed working with Wes because he was willing to do whatever she asked him to do and was very sweet. (This is true; I saw some kids throwing fits and crying, but Wes–fearless as he is–was willing to do whatever his teacher asked.)

So swim lessons were a success. Wes had so much fun.


Aug '13

August Already

Only August 3rd and here’s what we’ve done.

Elizabeth is almost 9 months old. In the past month she’s started, and gotten reeeeeally fast, at army crawling. I don’t recall either Wes or Carissa army crawling, just crawling. I think Carissa started around 10 months, and Wes was slightly older. Elizabeth gets on all fours sometime and rocks back and forth, and I’ve seen her take a few short legitimate crawling movements forward before falling back to her tummy. She can push herself up to sitting. She likes to play peek-a-boo and can even pull the blanket off her face herself to play. She’s super curious. She wants to touch everything, eat everything, and she definitely puts everything into her mouth that she finds. Daily I’m pulling something out of her mouth. She also seems very social, preferring to be around people and crying if she’s left alone. Her demeanor seems calm and sure. Wesley loves her, and both he and Carissa delight in grabbing her by the feet and pulling her backwards on her tummy, away from things (they think) she shouldn’t be getting into. She also recently acquired two bottom teeth.

Some newer advances include pulling herself to standing, such as on this toy.



Today I found her, for the first time, sitting up in her crib when I went in to get her.



And, today we discovered she can climb steps. ALL of them. And the fun continues.

Oh yeah, I had a birthday yesterday.



This morning I visited and guest-taught at a Zumba class, and on the way home I saw a yard sale. I stopped and now we’re the proud owners of two new Easter baskets and a green tent that looks like a turtle. All for $5.50. Elizabeth didn’t have her own basket, and I know Carissa just likes having the baskets out to play with all year round.

Like so:


(With Pingu, of course. That’s Wes in the background playing in the rocks like he does.)





Ritual bathtime is every Saturday night. All three in the tub. Elizabeth only recently joined the other two in the big tub, which she considers tremendous fun and likes splashing in like a crazy person.

Not going to lie, bathtime is not my favorite time. It is a hard job to bathe three non-independent people, some of whom (*cough*Carissa*cough*) put up a big fuss if any water comes in contact with their eyes/face/ears/body. Lately it’s been starting to get a little better as Carissa gains a little pride in being independent and trying to get the ends of her hair wet herself after shampooing. I just have to be really careful to keep the water off her face. Her hair is a big job to clean. Wes is pretty brave and can dump water on his head himself to get most of the shampoo out.

Nonetheless it’s a physical and time-consuming thing, bathtime. Good thing they smell so good and have such shiny hair afterward.

Wes found my camera as I got things ready.






Can you see her bottom teeth?





When Carissa comes out of the tub we have pamper time. I set her on the counter of my vanity, smooth oil and mousse in her hair, brush it all out, and then blow-dry it. She likes this time. Her hair always turns very straight, which for some reason makes John hopeful it will stay straight forever, but within a half-hour the curls come out of nowhere. Those curls are here to stay.



Another Birthday

Yesterday I turned 32. In the morning I took the kids to a bagel place where I had the most delicious peanut butter and jelly bagel, toasted and schmeared with cream cheese. We sat outside and ate under an umbrella. Then we picked up dry cleaning and headed to a Zumba class for special needs kids (wherein neither of the two teachers showed up, and I and another lady pulled out our mp3 players and made up stuff for half an hour). We ordered pizza for lunch. My sister and two of her kids came for a visit.

This was all great. But the best part of my birthday was about to begin. John and I hired babysitters to watch our kids while we went to Sundance Resort, up the canyon in the mountains. I’ve long wanted to take a “scenic lift ride,” which is what they call the ski lift in the off-season. The weather was beautiful and about about five degrees cooler than in the valley. The lift is $12 per person and well worth it. The views of the mountain range was amazing; there are a lot more mountains up there than you realize when you’re standing in the valley.

I’m scared of heights, which is one reason I wanted to take the lift. It’s good to do something sometimes that scares you. But when we got to the top I was feeling pretty exhilarated!



We hopped off at Ray’s Summit and took a short hike. There are several hikes you can take, including one to Stewart Falls, but we only had time for about a 1-mile jaunt before the lift closed for the evening. Still, it was really a pleasant and fun way to spend the afternoon. We met several families on hikes, saw a couple taking engagement photos, a mountain biker preparing to descend the mountain, and a hiker climbing a tree. But for the most part we were alone, which was so nice and peaceful. Spending time one-on-one with the person I love reminds me how much I enjoy spending time with him and much I still admire and love him.

The hiking trail was fairly easy but it ran along the mountainside, with drops that seemed to go a long way down. Didn’t I mention that I’m scared of heights? So I just kept my eyes to the trail and the mountain scenery.




I wish we had more time and could’ve hiked further. But, alas, the hiking resurrected a a knee injury I have that gets inflamed when hiking downhill. So maybe it was better we stuck to an hour hike.

I loved, loved, loved this time. The evening air was cooling off more as we got back on the lift for our ride back down the mountain. It was peaceful and serene. And high. (Scared of heights!) This might be my hand gripping the safety bar.



Sometimes I may have looked like this.




To top it off, when we got to the bottom John and I bought a chocolate-peanut butter milk shake to share from the Sundance deli. When I saw the total was nearly $6 I felt a little bad, but then I tasted it. Dang.


If there is a chocolate-peanut butter milkshake worth $6, this is IT. I think they used chocolate Haagen Dazs and very little milk.

Sitting there, on the mountainside, with my milkshake and my husband, looking up at the pristine blue sky and forest peaks, I felt things were perfect. It was a happy birthday.