Friday, December 23, 2011

Pictures... as promised

As mentioned in the previous post - there were so many pictures of Mercer that were great... too many to cram into the last entry. Now, they are here for your viewing pleasure... Enjoy and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Another milestone birthday

For my 40th, we took a weekend trip to the panhandle of Florida. For years, we've talked about checking out a place called Seaside. It was developed 30 years ago +/- as a "New Urbanist" community. The design of the town promotes density, open space (public green space), and walkability. It's semi-circular in design and it should take no more than 5 minutes to get from the most remote residential area to the center of the town by foot.

We stayed in the center of town - above a retail corridor. It was a great spot and if we ever venture back - I would recommend staying in a similar area...well... if it were a quiet time of year like now. I heard that the first couple of weeks of December are the slowest weeks of the year in this upscale rental community. (This is the reason we could come... it was "off-season" pricing... and even with that it was a splurge) From our porch, you look one way and you can see the public green (complete with lighted Christmas tree) with the beach beyond. Looking the other way, we could see a criss-cross of strung-up lights which created a "ceiling" to the pedestrians below walking through the retail area down to another park.

There is a charter school located on the site. There's all sorts of retail (shops, yoga studios, salons, and galleries.) We've seen a couple of architecture offices located within the development as well. There are several pools, tennis courts, and a playground. Mercer really seemed taken with the tether ball area, as you get to whack stuff there. (BTW - it's very hard to get an action shot when in the reach of the swinging ball!)

We actually liked how quiet it was. We attended a quaint church service with only a dozen other people at the Seaside Interfaith Chapel - a beautifully simplistic chapel. We rode bicycles through the streets with rarely a worry about cars. We walked along the beach and only encountered a handful of people. Speaking of the beaches... they were beautiful. The water is clear blue and the sand is powdery white. A cold front moved through before we came down, but we still walked barefoot in the sand... we just tried to stay away from the water! It did make for a gorgeous sky, though, as seen in the pics that Todd took! We have a lot of good pictures of Mercer on the beach. We will have to post those on the next blog entry!

Pretty much everywhere you turn - there is attention to detail and thoughtful architectural design. The community is very artsy as well, as there are some fantastic galleries and shops here. We probably wandered through all of them at some point as well as attending the local farmer's market. We participated in a number of art activities (several of which were geared towards Mercer). Here, he's making "reindeer food" to sprinkle in our lawn at home at a children's store after reading Olive, the Other Reindeer book at story time. They even treated him to a nutter butter reindeer cookie after all of the fun!

Santa and Mrs. Claus were walking around the shops as well. Mercer blew Mrs. Claus a kiss & I think Santa was a little jealous. Mercer has been singing Jingle Bells pretty much constantly throughout the weekend.

Almost forgot to mention: Mercer said he wanted to get me something for my birthday. When I asked him what, he said "roller skates" then he changed his answer to "Legos."

It was a nice, relaxing family weekend & a gift to spend it with both Todd and Mercer. I'm so glad we took this opportunity to come.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Post-Thanksgving Post

We went to Orlando last week to spend Thanksgiving with my dad and family. The long drive down & back went much better than we anticipated. Once there, it did not take long for Mercer to spot dad's fire truck collection & start pushing all of the buttons / pulling on all of the ladders / and driving them around.... at least the ones he could get to. He also got to try on his grandpa's fire-fighter hat -- which is very heavy, so it's being held up on his head in this pic.

It took awhile longer for Mercer to warm up to their dog, Kinsie, but once he was not afraid to be around her, they became great play mates! Mercer would dance around, kick his legs up, and giggle if the dog would catch a toy that he tossed her way. The leg kicking thing was hilarious.... perhaps this is a new thing he's doing when he gets really excited?

On Thanksgiving day, we ate good food and caught up with most of the extended family.... step siblings , nieces, and nephews. Mercer was pretty outgoing, but got a little shy around Michelle's daughter, Katie. Hmmm.... It was really great to see how Charlie, dad, and the cousins interacted with Mercer and how he interacted with them.

The day after Thanksgiving, the three of us (Todd, Mercer, and me) took a little drive south of Orlando to LEGOLAND. The park opened in October & I think that the word was out about it - as it was very crowded. This is the first time that Mercer has been to a theme park... and... he had a blast. The park was built on the site of a previous botanical garden from what we've heard. There was a section of the park that looked lush - but most of it had been transformed into what images follow. The first thing we did was go on a double-decker carousel... probably let over from the previous park. The rest of the park looked like an iconic lego blue, red, and yellow plastic explosion. Being a new park, it seemed that there are some kinks to work out (mainly with the timing of the rides and the lines) Commentary from people in line behind us was that they could learn from Disney in that regard.

But - we had a good time. There are lego-related things of course, but there are roller coasters, boat rides, jeep rides, and even cars that the kids can drive by themselves. Yes - at 3 - there are cars that they can drive. Notice that Mercer is looking at a girl and ended up running onto the curb. An early lesson he can hopefully remedy before he's driving a real car! The park is ideal for children from 2 - 12. Mercer could ride most of the rides there. Because of the lines, we only got through about 1/2 of what we wanted to try out. (Mercer, of course wanted to ride the giant roller coasters for the older kids, but those had the longest lines of over an hour.)

The park also has an area with rides that are interactive. One ride that Mercer & I did... you go high when you pedal fast. Another "ride" was for the whole family where you have to pump an air-driven fire truck or police car to one end of a short road. Everyone hops out & runs to a water pump where you have to pump and shoot to put out a fire or knock down a burglar. When that's done each family hops in their vehicles & pumps their way back to the beginning. It was actually a lot of fun.

Finally, it is amazing what all can be made out of legos~ there were life-sized animals in the safari area, cool dinosaurs built that stood in front of a roller coaster, and the comprehensive mini cities that are extremely intricate. I don't know when/if we'll be back to that park or explore a different one when we're back down there - but we're very glad we went.

Running behind. I'll have to post soon about some advent activities that we've started. Have a great week~

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mercer at school

Three weeks ago, I got to spend the morning with Mercer at school - helping out at his class making Halloween crafts. It was fun - and actually he did really well sitting at other tables doing things with other people's parents. In fact, he never did make it over to the table I was sitting at. He did ask me to come sit next to him on the rug, though, when one of the teachers was reading a book. (smile)

This past week, Todd went to Mercer's school to have Thanksgiving lunch with him. In their class earlier in the week, the kids made headbands and decorated t-shirts with symbols. They also strung beads to make bracelets and necklaces. Mercer is pretty happy with his jewelry that he made, but doesn't like the headband because it is scratchy. Todd snapped some photos on his phone. This one captures an image of both of his teachers - Ms. Tiffany (in back) and Ms. Neda (at left). He had Ms. Tiffany last year in the toddler room, but she moved up to the 3 - 4 year old class. I think that made for an easier transition.

There are a couple of (free) fundraisers that we're coordinating for his school - basically turning things in and earning points so the school owner can "buy" things with their points. So - if anyone has Labels for Education UPC codes (from Campbell's Soup, Pepridge Farms products, Post Cereal, Emerald Nuts, Bic Pens, etc)... clip them if you don't mind. Likewise if you've got old cell phones or MP3 players that don't work anymore or empty ink cartridges... save them. His school can use the points on supplies and equipment. Thanks!

This weekend, Mercer got a new baseball glove. He and Todd pitched a baseball around a little today. He's got a pretty good arm when he steps into his throw. (Todd's words) He's a little afraid of the ball when catching - but that's to be expected. He's not afraid of many things ater he tries them - so he'll overcome this quickly.

A funny thing little guy is saying: "oh yeah." He crashes some cars together and he yells "oh yeah oh yeah!" He wins a game and he blurts out "oh yeah!"

Saturday, November 12, 2011

11.11.11 was yesterday.

Meant to post to the blog on 11.11.11 but didn't make it. Oh well!

We recently checked out a new park called Chattahoochee Bend State Park. We went on a green building & site tour with the designers. It said kids welcome. We were the only ones who jumped on that. Mercer was bored during the building tour, but he stood out when showing all of the adults how the playground equipment worked. We want to go back to this state park this spring to camp.

There are platform camp sites, the river nearby, and bath houses ~~ it's not roughing it, but it would be a big step to camp away from home.

This last picture is really over exposed, but still captures typical Mercer... walking along the wall - then jumping off & loving every second of the descent back to the ground!

Last week, we had our first parent-teacher conference. Mercer is having a hard time concentrating and focusing on "sit down" activities nor will he take naps after lunch with everyone else. He is, however, doing very well academically-speaking. This week, I popped in during day to watch him play sports with a guy who comes to teach classes at the school. He brings equipment from different sports. When I was there, he had them doing some sort of balance exercise and later throwing around a ball with a lacrosse stick.

We've noticed that Mercer gets pretty frustrated and will burst into crying. (We've heard this from other parent of boys of the same age. Maybe they don't know how to cope??) We are thinking that a sport may help him with control, focus, and getting some physical energy out. We've talked about signing him up for a sport (soccer or t-ball) in the spring when he's 4.

Mercer is very into Mercer Mayer books right now that feature the character Little Critter. We have a ton of the books ~ partially because we like the author's name : - ) but Mercer is actually really into them & the stories. I don't think this made it to the blog previously, but after we brought Mercer home - months later - I was going through some things and found one of my favorite books as a kid... it was a Mercer Mayer book! There must be something appealing to children in the drawings and stories!

He's also getting into Dr. Seuss & Cat in the Hat a bit. This is good b/c I'm a huge fan of Dr. Seuss as well and enjoy reading it to him. Some nights, Mercer reads his books to me. It's pretty cute to hear him make up lines that go with the images and/or recite part of the storyline of the book that he remembers from the times that we've read them over and over again. He's really starting to show a lot of imagination!

Several days ago, Mercer played as if he was taking Todd to school. He did this over and over and over again for at least 15 - 20 minutes. He has also been "making" us food out of thin air and having us eat it. He usually makes pizza or sandwiches. And- he does things that is "all boy" - turning almost any object into a sword, an airplane, or a car & flying it through the air.

He also thinks it's hilarious to say the word poop and to burp (which is usually followed by an excuse me). Yes... he "all boy!"

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

This year, Mercer chose what he wanted to dress up for Halloween: a red car. He was not just any ol' red car -- he was Lightning McQueen from the Cars movie. Well, Mercer "gets" trick-or-treating now. After a neighborhood party that we had, Todd took him to some houses along the street. I'm happy to report that when he got to our house & I held out the bowl of candy, pencils, and raisins... he grabbed a box of raisins. ("Good Choice" I told him -- but he had a lot of candy already, so I don't know that the one box of raisins will counter-act the other sugary treats.) Oh well!

These pictures are actually from the week before Halloween. We went to our church's "trunk or treat" event. Mercer tried out the costume for the first time here. He had to take it off to participate in the bouncy-houses & slides, though. (Yes - he's going head first). He got to wear his costume for a few minutes at school at their fall festival. (I took it up to his school during the event, but his teacher asked me to take it off of because he couldn't sit on the floor with the rest of the kids. Oh well!)

He seemed pretty proud of his costume, though. ~Whew~ it took awhile to make, so glad he likes it! And - now that Halloween is over, I hope he plays in it a lot.

Mercer and I decorated a pumpkin with Mr. Potato Head sort of attachments. (He picked out the pieces that he wanted to use & I helped shoving them into the flesh of the pumpkin - so it really was his creativity that pulled it together.) Todd went old-school and carved a pumpkin for a competition at his office. Happy to say that he won. But - we were even happier that Mercer drew Todd's pumpkin (from memory) the next day at school. I'm sure that when Mercer told his teachers that he was drawing a pumpkin & it only had one eye, they were probably thinking, "um... kid... jack-o-lanterns have two eyes." But - Todd & I both were REALLY impressed. Brilliant!

Have to close with this photo. We were snapping a bunch of photos to get some good ones of him & his costume. Maybe we caught him mid-stream doing something?? (or - he was posing) It's definitely a keeper!