Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Look Mommy, I Color!"

Such a peaceful morning. Cleaned up the breakfast dishes uninterrupted. Took a shower uninterrupted. Did my hair, and might have even been able to put on some make-up, all uninterrupted. Shouldn't it have occurred to me that it was WAY too quiet in the house? I mean, seriously! I should have known he was up to no good. But who could be mad at a face like this?


Worth noting, no red marker made it on the walls or floor, though it did find its way through his shirt and into his belly button. Oh my goodness, he was so proud of himself.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Early Morning at the Zoo

The LA Zoo opens its gates early only 4 times a year, and we didn't want to miss out on the morning feedings today. Our first stop was the gorilla exhibit, and they did not disappoint. I've taken Vinny a couple times now and we have never been able to see the gorillas this active or up close.
Vinny enjoyed counting all the chimpanzees. He can count up to 12 without any prompting now. My favorite is two, with an overly exaggerated ooooo sound. "Senen" is pretty adorable, too. He can't seem to master the V sound, which makes his name hard. He refers to himself as "Ninny," which we are really working hard to correct.
We were excited to see the elusive bear this morning. He, or she, we haven't figured it out yet, is always hiding.
The bear wasn't pleased with the high temps today either.
The best way to cool down is with a treat!
Whew! By 11:30, we were cooked. The thermometer read 100 degrees! We haven't seen those temps since Arizona! Besides, the zoo was hosting a Star Wars event (those poor characters all dressed up in costume had to be miserable!) and the crowds were building. I couldn't believe the line of cars waiting to get into the parking lot on our way out. But what a great way to kick off the day and the weekend! Tomorrow=Day of Rest!

Back to Arizona!

Last week we drove back to visit Anthony's parents (though this trip was really prompted by Anthony's fantasy football draft). We got in late Thursday night, and Vinny handled the car ride like a champ. A sleepy champ, given we left after work Thursday night, but a champ none-the-less. And of course he was wound for sound once we arrived and got out of the car. So what does a grandfather do with his littlest grandson at 1:30 in the morning? Why, eat doughnuts and mee-mee' (m&m's), of course!

It didn't take us long to forget about how hot it is in Arizona. We sure do miss our family, but not the temps! Nothing beats the heat like Mommo and Boppo's pool!
Vinny loves his Uncle Tom!
Anthony might title this picture: "Knuckleheads" James and Justin sure do provide the family with plenty of entertainment.
James has such a patient and gentle way with Vinny, he always has. While everyone else would like to dunk Vinny underwater, James fetched Vinny's Mater, Lightning, and Guido toys which made Vinny laugh.
Meanwhile, Uncle "Antny" tormented Justin and Boppo tried his hardest to put that to a stop. Instead he got punched, accidentally of course.
Now if this doesn't melt your heart, I don't know what will. What a lucky boy, to be adored by his cousins as much as Vinny is.
Justin took good care of Vinny in the pool, too!
Silly boys!
James, someone's got his eye on your dessert...mmm, ice cream!
While waiting for breakfast the next morning, Vinny occupied himself with stickers. It wasn't too long ago, he would never stick anything on his arms (he still won't let me put a band-aid on him). Now look at him!
That is, until it was time to remove the stickers..."owwwwwwooooo!" (insert very dramatic whine here).
The weekend flew by and before we knew it, we were loading up the car again again, ready to head back to California. But as Boppo observed, not nearly as tearfully as two months ago. We had a chance to visit with some friends, stop by the old house (which SOLD by the way!), and get in some shopping. Mommo hooked Vinny up with some clothes to get him through the fall...now that we'll actually experience fall again! I wish we had more time, but thankfully we aren't too far that we can't back there again soon.

Day to Day

Here's Vinny enjoying a cookie after being a good boy at a local restaurant. This just makes me laugh.
Getting pants back on this kid after nap is a challenge, so somedays, we just don't worry about it. He's starting to pose now for pictures, which is good for my shutter speed...but he still won't give up the "cheeeeeese." Who can argue when you are this cute?
It's been hot this week, so we've been playing in the little pool after nap. Vinny is still hesitant about jumping, splashing, and blowing bubbles, but he does enjoy playing with the hose and standing in the water. The same is true about the sprinkler I just bought for him. He likes to watch it and catch some water droplets, and only if it's not "too high Mommy," but he refuses to run through it. He needs his buddy, Evan or his cousin, Blaise to get him going!

Running Around the Americana

There is a huge outdoor mall down the street from Anthony's office called the Americana. It's much like Kierland Commons in Scottsdale, with restaurants, stores, a movie theatre, and a huge grassy area. The fountain in the middle is real pretty, so we stopped to see the little water show after seeing the Smurfs movie.
If you happened to catch a show a while back called "Mobbed" (a reality show about flash mobs, which was most likely cancelled after it's premier) anyway, if you did see it, well, this is the place where they filmed it. The parking garage is worth the visit. There is a piano in the lobby of the parking garage...and the public restroom has an attendant!

Rooster, the Chicken

We've tried reasoning with Vinny, but he insists our neighborhood friend is a "roothar." Who are we to argue, though it really is a hen, confirmed by neighbors. So, we have agreed to disagree, and though the neighbors don't know it, we have named their chicken Rooster.
We go outside every evening to check on her, and boy is she ever comfy in our yard. Please, make yourself at home bird. One night she was scratching up in the flower bed, and we were hoping for some eggs, but no dice.
Rooster, the Chicken update: She is no where to be found of late. Uh oh.

At the Carwash, Workin' at the Carwash, Yeah!

Anthony updated his Facebook status with comment about Vinny spraying him with water, and you can see why...this is also a potential hazard when we ater the flowers, too.

Our Aspiring Arteest

Vinny and I joined my MOMS group for a play date at the local pottery painting shop in Old Town a few weeks back. While all the other boys went crazy for the sharks, Vinny chose the "ladyBUG" with heavy emphasis on the BUG. I wish he talked when I had the video camera on...I just don't ever want to forget how darned adorable it is to listen to him put new words together. Anyway, thanks to his love of the movie "A Bug's Life" or just "Bugs" in our house, the ladybug caught his eye on the table. Though he insisted he wanted to paint a "bwoo ladybug." So off he went.

Step One: Paint the whole ladybug blue.

Step Two: Add accent color #1, Vinny chose yellow. He also decided that accent meant cover the entire thing with yellow, but we'll still call it a blue ladybug.

Step Three: Add accent color #2, green. This time, Mommy couldn't restrain herself anymore and had to intervene. I pulled the green away before he could go too far. Besides, we still had to add some red, go figure. The shopkeeper did compliment me on letting him do what he wanted as art is a free flowing process yadda yadda yadda...sure, whatever...she obviously hasn't seen what happens when Vinny doesn't get to do things HIS way (I don't know where he gets that from). Mr. Independent. His famous line: "No, I DOOOO it!"

After a few finishing touches courtesy of the shopkeeper and some dry time, we went back later that evening to pick up the final product. Vinny is so proud of his ladybug, and I am, too. It's a keeper!


Since back to school is happening all around us, Vinny and I have taken to doing some arts and crafts at home, too. He loves to color, and gets especially excited to paint. We've done finger painting, water colors, and regular old poster paints. He is very careful about not mixing the brushes and I was surprised to see him remember which cup was which. He'd rather mix the colors on the paper, that's all. It was an interesting conversation I had with him about why, when he put the yellow brush back into the yellow cup, it wasn't yellow anymore.

"I paint fast Mommy!"
For a boy, just 2 and a half years old, I am impressed with his ability to stay focused on such tasks as coloring and painting. We sit for at least 30 minutes before he starts to get ants in his pants. As long as he has a fresh sheet of paper and some company, he is content to just be. I wish I could say the same for some of my former students!
Notice the clean hands...though we have finger painted already, Vinny is not keen on messy hands. Wipes are always nearby. :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Twas the Night Before the First Day of School

Forgive me, but this is for me. For the first time in 13 years, my stomach is not in knots, my head isn't filled with student checklists, my dreams aren't of crazy classroom nightmares, my lesson plan book is empty. Tomorrow marks the first day of school for my teacher buddies in Arizona. They've spent the last week in meetings and the last month at least meticulously measuring bulletin boards and arranging little desks. Every pencil is perfectly sharp and bins of table supplies are perfectly stocked. The library corner and teacher desk are perfectly organized. The whiteboard is perfectly white and the books are perfectly stacked. It is my favorite time of year, everything is perfectly, well, perfect...and then the kids come and mess it all up!

So even though I was able to be home part time these last two years, and even though I've had the summer to soak it all in, it hasn't been until today that I feel like an official stay at home mom. I'm not going to be welcoming 30 kiddos into my classroom tomorrow, and part of me is incredibly sad about that. Another part of me is incredibly relieved about that, too. I'm thinking that maybe a break from the classroom might be a good thing. I need to find something, but for now I am going to soak in the idea that I have an opportunity to be an official stay at home mommy, even if for a little while.

But maybe Vinny and I will play school tomorrow...take a look, he's already self motivated for independent reading time! We caught him this morning like this, and he was so engrossed in his book, he didn't even notice me snapping a picture!
Last week Vinny and I did some back to school shopping of our own, only instead of buying hundreds of pocket folders, labels, notebooks, and extra pencils like I usually do, we picked out finger paints, water colors, construction paper, little blue scissors, and ONE glue stick, not 30! I see some creative artwork in our future! In the meantime, I will be thinking of my teacher friends and wishing them a smooth school year ahead.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Just Another Day

Anthony and I discovered this park after going to the Pasadena farmer's market a few weeks back. It's perfect for Vinny, and the views aren't too bad either.

Our First California Theme Park!

My friend and teaching partner Ana came to visit last weekend with her daughter, Gabriella, or "Gah-i-ella" as Vinny calls her. We set sail for a longer than expected drive to Carlsbad, outside of San Diego. IT took us nearly 3 hours, but it was worth it. Legoland was perfect for Vinny, and he could go on almost all the rides...at least all the ones we had time for.

Our first ride was the Safari ride, and while it was much anticipated, it was a let down. 45 minutes of waiting, 30 seconds of riding. Boo.
But check out that Lego giraffe! And there he is waiting patiently for his very first amusement park ride!
He wasted no time driving the jeep. Good thing, too, because the ride was short!
Here we are at the frog pond, trying to shoot water into the crocodile's mouth.
I turned around to see him copying the crocodiles...too cute.
OK, this is brilliant. Every ride had Lego stations to occupy the kiddos while waiting in the long lines! So Ana and Gabriella held our places in line while we built some towers.
There go Ana and Gabriella, pedal powering their way around the track. Cute little car, right?
It occurred to me this was Vinny's first roller coaster! Sorta...
About to go down an ever so slight hill...must put our arms up...Wheeeeee!
This was a really cute ride, worth the wait.
We can't escape Arizona!
Waiting for the airplane ride. Does this kid ever give up his snack trap???
Little boat ride.
My self portrait skills are not good.
We tricked Vinny into going on the pirate ship ride. He wasn't thrilled about it at the time, but it was the first thing he recapped to Anthony the next morning. He no sooner woke up than he said "piree ship Daddy."
While Gabriella and Ana went on the log flume ride, I thought I'd take Vinny to another kiddy ride, but he was sidetracked by the splash pad. This surprised me because normally he wants nothing to do with sprinklers. But not today! He ran around this thing for 45 minutes. Little did I know that Vinny was the star attraction...a family walking by with smiles ear to ear had been watching Vinny and commented that they enjoyed watching him giggle his way through the fountains. The dad was laughing, saying he would have run out of room on his camera taking pictures if he were me! Everyone thinks their kid is cute, so when a complete stranger compliments your kid, it feels good.
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After a change into warm clothes, off we were to take in the last of the attractions before the park closed. Legoland was amazing. So much to do. We didn't see everything, so we will just have to go back. Oh darn.
Vinny loved chumming around around with Gabriella, and I wish the picture above captures them running together through the enchanted forest.
We zoomed through MiniLand, trying to take in as many of the Lego landmarks as we could before it got too dark. Here it looks as through Vinny is pointing out the castle (Excaliber in Las Vegas), one of his new favorite words, but actually his is pointing up to a helicopter flying overhead.
Miniland had all kinds of scenes displayed, including a New England village. Here is what I can only assume is a train station in New Haven??
Though long, the park was well worth the drive. And really, it's not horrible that we didn't get everything in, since Anthony wasn't able to come along with us. Next time!

He's Got the Cutest Little Baby Face: First 2 Months

Vincent's First Few Days at Home

Vincent Joseph is Born

Murphy and Lucy