Saturday, July 28, 2012

July has been HOT!

Temperature records have been breaking in Atlanta (and in DC while we were there as well).  It has prohibited us from spending as much time outside as we'd like, however, we've still done some good things.

Something we've been working on for awhile:  our neighborhood community garden.  Awhile back, Mercer and I planted some pea and cucumber seeds.  (We planted some other types of veggies too, but they didn't make it.)  The peas fizzled out pretty soon - as it was too hot and they're a cooler weather plant. 

The cucumbers have been extremely prolific.  Additionally, we purchased and planted watermelon, eggplant, bell peppers, and tomatoes.  There are some additional plants that we picked up along the way (early on there was some trading going on).  We've got some sort of hot peppers, a cantaloupe, celery, purple basil, and tomatillos (we think).   We had squash and zucchini too, but they didn't make it.

There was a lot of work in the beginning, but at this point -- it's pretty much just weeding our plot, keeping it watered, and keeping our watermelon tendrils out of our neighbors' plots.  Mercer likes to water the plot (and sometimes us) and harvesting the fruit / veggies, as seen in these pictures.  Here, he is riding home in the waggon on his "watermelon pillow."

We'll be turning it over for a fall garden soon & putting in cooler weather varieties.

I've also been trying to do some other activities with Mercer too.  (People keep telling me that it's the experiences you create that kids remember.)  It's tough to squeeze in activities between work & just every-day life, but I hope he's enjoying some of them! 

We've been doing a bit of hiking, searching for letterbox stamps (or "treasure stamps" as Mercer likes to call them), and making food items from scratch - such as peanut butter and fruit-filled popcicles.

We made t-shirts for the 4th of July.  For the white shirt, we used potato stampers -- which he thought was pretty cool. 

He wore it to the local parade we attended on the 4th.  The other that we made was a red shirt with glow-in-the-dark "firework" bursts.  He wore that one for fireworks on the square later in the evening. 

Last month, we found a scooter at a yard sale.  It took a little while for Mercer to warm up to it, but he latched on pretty quickly.  He's had a few spills, but he realizes that he can jump off and still land on his feet.  He's warmed up to riding this more so than his bicycle that he's had since February.  His bicycle gear has come in handy, though!  He's pretty serious about putting on his helmet, elbow pads, knee pads, and gloves.  (Probably helps that they're all branded with Spider Man logos & pictures.)

Speaking of Spidey... thought that I'd snap a shot of some of Mercer's favorite things these days.  He's into super heros, monster trucks, and Star Wars LEGO stuff.  He's into spinning tops and bouncy balls -- in fact -- we have a game that we've started where we close all of the doors int he hallway & send bouncy balls flying in the hallway & stairwell.  Additionally - on the softer side - Mercer loves watching the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse cartoon and he has to sleep with his Froggy every night. 

He "prays" now at dinner most nights... supposedly something they do at school: 
- Hands on your lap
- Sitting up tall
- Your friends are beside you
- Our food is in front of us
- We are ready to eat.
- An apple to eat. 

(Todd & I think the last one is supposed to be "bon appetite" but Mercer insists it's an apple to eat.)

Another thing he's picked up from school:  he's learning to read!  He's been sounding out letters and actually putting small words together.  It's quite cool~

The next post will be about his first day of "school" which starts next week. 
'Til then - have a good one!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Smithsonian Museums + the National Building Muesums

We went to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.  There was an "oooh" and "ahhh" factor when we first got there, but I think little guy may be a little too young to really get into it like we thought he would.   Seemed like the part he liked the best was where he got to interact with the airplanes (sit in a cockpit & steer) or hang out in the interactive children's area.  They actually have some really cool hands-on science experiments with deflection using water and air movement.  

Later that evening, we went to the city at night to see some of the monuments that we weren't able to see while walking the mall the day before. Alghough dark, we saw the Vietnam Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. DC is really quite busy at night, as there were hundreds of people on the steps of Lincoln's Memorial. 

We spent the next day at Smithsonian's Natural History Museum.  He did enjoy the big animals, however, he raced through the entire museum not wanting to stop and see or learn about anything.  In 4 or 5 years, I can imagine he will be SO into this place!  They have an interactive children's area too.  There were some activities for kids his age, but it seemed that the majority of the activities are meant for a little bit older crowd.  

Look closely... little guy grew moose-ears!
The good thing:  both museums were free to get into.  (What's expensive, however, is grabbing lunch in the museum.)  The next day, we paid to go to a museum even though there's not as much to see.  

We spent the entire day at the National Building Museum.  I popped into this museum several years ago on a work trip, but Todd's never been.  They have exhibits on city planning, historic Washington, construction techniques, and some travelling exhibits on various architects.  We thought this museum would be a hit, however, because of the LEGO exhibit that happened to be there while we were in the city.
Honestly, this is where Mercer spent most of his time.  Todd and I would trade off hanging out with Mercer while the other would go see an exhibit. This way, we got to see what we wanted to -- and Mercer got to play with building blocks all day!  And they also had a children's area.  There are building-related toys in the children's area, of course.  Definitely his best day at a museum.

Out of all of the great things we saw & did in the city... he said his favorite thing was riding the Metro train!  ha.  

I do have to post this story about the Metro b/c it is something that will make us laugh in years to come as we re-read this:  so, Mercer is still learning about "timing" of going to the bathroom -- he's had several "close calls."  We were on our last train ride heading back to Jim & Becki's house.... and all of a sudden he starts to yell "the poop is coming!  the poop is coming!"  As soon as we hit the next stop, we jump off the train and start running down the platform... then up the escalator... and onto to the ticket counter.  The entire time, Mercer is yelling "the poop is coming."  The guy at the ticket counter lets us out and he starts running towards the entrance to the Metro station.  He unlocks a door and Mercer makes it... just in time!  (whew)  

Rose Marie had taken the train from NY to DC the night before. Todd's cousin, Tina, picked her up and hung out all day while we were at the museum.  Todd's sister was sort-of passing through (about 80 miles out of the way) after having taken her daughter Tara to college orientation... so they stopped over too.  Friday evening was spent hanging out with the family (and looking out the window at the "micro-burst" storm that was dropping trees and tree limbs all around the house).

It was a busy vacation.  It was not our relaxing trip to the beach, but we did get to see a lot of family between North Carolina and Maryland:  3 grandmas, 1 grandpa, 1 great-grandma, 1 great-grandpa, aunts, cousins, and an uncle.  We were glad we made the trip!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Our vacation destination this year: Washington, DC

After we stopped in North Carolina, we continued up the road to Maryland.  We stayed with Todd's brother, Jim, and his family for the remainder of the week so that we could "vacation" in DC. 

Each day, we went into the city.  Our first day there, we walked the mall.... and got acquainted with HOW BIG it really is!  We were on foot and did not make it as far as we thought we would.  We did some cool stuff, however.

As soon as we got off the Metro, we went to a carousel / took a spin.  Then, we visited the Smithsonian "Castle." 

We also walked through a Smithsonian sculpture garden.  Mercer and Marley are standing in front of a stainless steel tree.  And we got another shot of Mercer standing inside of a Calder sculpture.  We saw - as we were leaving - that he was not supposed to be "inside" of it, however.  oops!

Afterwards, we walked towards the Washington Monument.  It was closed for damage, however, we played Frisbee on the big grassy lawn adjacent to the monument. 

After lunch, we went to the White House, but were "shoo-ed" away with the hundreds of other people who were peering into the wrought-iron fence.  We figured that someone was going to make an appearance on the lawn & we couldn't be there??

We worked our way over to the World War II museum and put our feet in the water / walked around to look at the states represented. 

We continued to the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.  We probably spent the most time at this monument.  He is carved coming out of a large stone that was "pushed" out of the larger boulder / entry - symbolic of the monolithic struggle he encoutnered.  Most-impiring are the quotes are etched into the wall. 

The monument faces the tidal basin and the Jefferson Memorial is beyond.  Mercer found a little water feature and had to play in it there for awhile. 

Our day ended with a long walk back to the Metro and then an evening at the pool where Jim & Becki are members.

The following day, we visited the Air & Space Museum. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

We stopped in NC last week...

.... on our way to DC for our family vacation. 

This year, in an effort to save some money, we did not book our relaxing trip to Edisto Island beach.  Instead, we opted to take an "educational" vacation & headed to Washington DC to check out museums.  We stayed with Todd's brother, sister-in-law, nephew, and niece just outside the city.

On our way up to DC, we stopped over in NC at my mom's house.  We were there on father's day and spent some time with Great-Grandpa Nunn.   Mercer played with lincoln logs, did cartwheels, and generally entertained grandma and grandpa both.  They are always amazed by the amount of energy that the little guy has! 

Earlier in the day, we spent the day at the NC Zoo.  It's such a beautiful zoo with acres and acres of land for the animals to run and frolic and... to take mud baths.  We spent the most time in one spot watching the rhinos playing and laying in the mud.

Here's Mercer crawling on a rhino sculpture that we had him propped up on when he was just 2 months old (check out the blog post from April of 2008)

We love going to the NC Zoo when we can; we made a special effort to go there this trip because there's a unique exhibit there this summer:  animatronic dinosaurs!  We thought that Mercer would be really enjoy it, however, he did seem to be a little bit scared of these towering 'animals' which moved, snorted, and even spit water.  (Here are a couple of shots of the dinos in motion.)

Little guy rushed through this part of the zoo.  He hung out at the end of the dinosaur exhibit digging in a sand pile for fossils.  It was interesting to see the heights, weights (some of them were 8 - 16 tons each), and some factoids on each one.

We only went through 1/2 of the zoo -- stopping off for photos, to cool off in a misting tree, flying a helicopter, and climbing on and in the artwork throughout the park.

Here's a shot of Todd & Mercer (in an unique father's day pose) and another shot of Aunt Sandra, Grandma, and Mercer.

The following morning, we got to see my dad too!  He and Charlie happened to be in NC at the same time as us.  We enjoyed breakfast with them before hitting the road and heading to DC.

The next blog post (coming soon) will continue our journey north.