Summer has been a great time for us to have dates with our sweet little friends!
Last Saturday night we had dinner with Mo, Jessica and Ellie. Abby still calls her "baby Ellie" although she is 2 1/2. The girls had fun running around at the playground at Waterloo after we ate. Abby had a major meltdown because she spilled milk on her "pretty dress". We went to the car to change clothes and she was upset I didn't have another "pretty dress" for her. We may be entering a little fashion interest and girl drama stage. As Abby would say, "oh goody."
On Friday, we had lunch with my friend Laura and her little girl Ella Dane. Abby was such a good "big friend" at lunch. She entertained Ella, brought her toys when she dropped them, and handed her the water cup. She gave lots of hugs and kisses, too!
We also took advantage of the $1 early movies offered during the summer and saw Chimpanzee. It is an HD masterpiece! It is a documentary following a tribe of chimps in the jungle. I would highly recommend it! Abby loved Oscar the new baby boy chimp!
Date night is almost always my choice. I just know what I want to do or eat and Marcus' doesn't ever really care. So, I decided to make our date night on Friday about him. We had some friends tell us about a new sports bar with virtual golf and I made us a reservation.
Here is the great thing, this was my view while Marcus played golf. I could watch him and the opening ceremonies which he was not interested in!
The virtual golf was pretty cool! Marcus decided to play Pebble Beach. The screen worked much like Wii golf in that it adjusted his ball and shot based upon how fast and at what angle the cameras captured his swing. Marcus played a few holes at Pebble Beach and then played a couple of games- trying to break windows in a house, hit a moving tractor in a field, etc.
The Range had yummy food! We shared a green chile hummus appetizer, fried chicken sliders with fries, and apple beignets with cinnamon ice cream for dessert.
While at our date, Abby spent the night playing at The Little Gym. They did free play in the gymnastics area, made gold medals for their own olympics, and after pizza, laid on the angled gymnastics mats and watched a movie. She was mad we were there early to get her!
Pictures of my child sleeping always make me want to wake her up and love her and squeeze her... and then I remember why she needed to go to bed :)
Abby is a serious caretaker these days. She is allowed to bring an animal with her when we leave the house and she always wants to bring a blanket, bottle and food for said animal. She wraps them in a blanket, make them a pillow with it, and feeds them. I'll hear her in the car talking to them in the most loving voice.
So, it is no surprise that she gives them the majority of her pillow, puts Mickey on the soft purple lovey, and wraps her arms around Pluto. We often catch her getting up after we have put her to bed to go get more blankets for her animals. We even had to feel around the bed one night to find her because she had given her animals the pillow and covers and she was wadded up on the far side of the bed.
A few weeks ago Abby graduated to station 3 at swimming lessons. Up until this point, the focus has been breathing underwater and learning to float. So exciting to see her move up and really start swimming now!
This is called a glue fish. She puts both hands (glued together) above her head.
After she is in position, her teacher helps her transition into the pool, all while keeping her form.
And, then she swims!
It was so great to see her progress, but Abby really struggled in class this week at this station. When class was over, I asked her why she was crying and she told me she didn't know how to do swimming. I think frustration is a really hard emotion for this age to manage. So, her teacher and I talked to her about learning at lessons and that she was here to teach Abby.
We have one more month of swimming lessons and I hope to see her master this station!
You might recall back in early Spring, we moved Abby from her dance class to Little Gym and watched her have fun, show interest, and interact better than she had in 6 months of dance class. The past few weeks she has told me she wants to take dance again so when we missed gymnastics to visit the zoo last week, we chose a dance class for our make up class.
It is safe to say, dance still is not her thing. I threatened to leave more than once (even walked her out!), was embarrassed by her behavior, and held her crying for a portion of the class.
Gymnastics, on the other hand, is so much more fun for her! She does what they ask, listens well, and gets so excited when she can perform like they ask. I love giving her thumbs up through the window!
We just have a few more weeks of Little Gym left. In the fall we are trying gymnastics at the YMCA. It costs $50 less per month and has an even bigger program and gym area.
Ever since Abby came along, we are zoo people. We have now visited 6 Texas zoos (Austin, Abilene, Waco, San Antonio, Fort Worth, and Houston) and Houston is our new favorite. It had so much more to it than just walking around and looking at animals! We spent over 4 hours and didn't see everything, but a little rain led to a lot of humidity and we decided the AC of our car was calling!
We passed these fountains on the way out and loved them. So nice to see art in the zoo. I loved the little gnome and the kids playing leap frog.
The zoo has a carousel. Abby was so indecisive about what to ride... she settled on a white puppy.
We bought the one day pass that included a movie ticket. They had a handful of animal-oriented educational offerings. We saw Dora and Diego's 4D adventure. It was fun- the chair rumbled, cold air and bubbles were blown and they even filled the room with the scent of bananas. According to Abby, this 10 minute movie was the best part of her day. Marcus and I loved it because it was so fun to watch her reach for things in the air, duck and laugh hysterically!
They had a petting zoo! Let's be honest, if you are going to include barn yard animals in your zoo, at least let kids touch them! They had brushes so that you could sit and brush the goats. They also had hand washing stations and anti-bac just outside the gate :)
It really was a shockingly nice day in Houston. The high was in the mid-80s. But, so many days Houston is really hot and muggy, so a little water park area was a nice addition. I only wish we had packed swimsuits! Abby had a change of clothes, but Marcus didn't. He ended up riding most of the way home in a t-shirt and his boxers. Oh how we prayed nobody would hit out car!
Marcus really liked the zoo- you'll find he interacts more with Abby at places like this and I just snap lots of pictures! He was wearing his Cougars hat (Washington State where former TTU coach Mike Leach now is) and smiled at the Cougar display.
He also pretended to be a gopher sticking his head up.
Throughout the zoo, they had tons of little displays where you could stop and pose with the animals.
One of our first stops was the fish exhibit. I am always in awe of God's creativity with underwater animals. Amazing colors, textures, designs at work. The jellyfish alone were magnificent!
Gotta love the monkeys! Since they like the shade, there is a tunnel where you can be right beside the glass where they rest in the shade. Look at their feet... gross :)
We went straight to the elephant exhibit to see their 10 AM bathing. The trainers not only bathed them, but fed them, and had them do tricks. The top left elephant could balance on tow legs and showed us his open mouth.
We missed the 11 AM giraffe feeding, but we did get pretty close to them on the bridge in their area. Such a pretty animal!
I have no doubt we will be back in the fall to see the animals again!
We hope to take Abby on her first big vacation and plane ride in the fall to go to a major national zoo, likely Chicago. I can't wait!
Have you been to Reunion Grille yet in Cedar Park? It opened at the beginning of summer and is a fun place for girls night out or for kids. We went a few weeks ago and Abby loved playing in the fountains while we waiting on our table.
I think the enclosed outdoor area is bigger than the restaurant! This is one of three playgrounds. They have a place for live music and lots of outdoor seating, even some near the playgrounds.
They also have these wonderful wooden swings where you can wait on a table of listen to music.
We had the best time! The food is good not great.... I went back with the girls and the King Ranch Chicken casserole was really good! They have gourmet comfort food. They also have an extensive drink menu with yummy fruity options!
If you are looking for them, they are behind the movie theater on New Hope and 183A. I love that we have something new and different in Cedar Park!
Every since we returned from Sea World in May, Abby has asked if we can go on bay-cation again. So, we granted her wish and went to Houston the first part of the week. Marcus had a training on Monday in Sugar Land, so we tagged along. Of course, we had to stop for dinner at Goode's Company BBQ on the way into town. It is good stuff, people!
Monday while Marcus was working, Abby and I went to the Children's Museum. What a cool place! They had so much to do- a library, tons of little play areas, interactive stations manned by volunteers, and a giant "city" called Kidopolis inside.
This was our first stop and we came back to it twice. Using the black dials, the blue square moved, much like a pulley system. When the blue square was resting along the bottom, you could place a golf ball in it. Then, you moved the square until it hovered over a hole which made the golf ball fall out!
We also had fun playing memory on the giant board!
This table challenged you to draw a bridge over the water using small wooden sticks. A little boy figured it out while we played there.... I could not. Future engineer is he!
The next area studied motion and gravity. Abby loved rolling the balls!
We also visited the small area dedicated to the Cajun culture in Houston. Abby went fishing from the boat and we found all the ingredients in the store to make deviled crabs.
In the center area, they had tables of volunteers to interact with the kids. We colored an ice cream cone, learned about chance by rolling dice for a pair, watched beads change colors in UV lighting, and we had our face painted with a big pink heart.
Our final stop was the library where we discovered a doll house. She can find a doll house anywhere!
We shared a grilled cheese for lunch at the museum and then headed to my favorite stop in Houston, the Galleria Mall! I put Abby in the recline position in her stroller, gave her the travel DVD player and enjoyed quiet shopping with a Starbucks in hand :)
She did want to go into the Disney store, so we ran around and looked at everyone! They are finally getting Jake and the Neverland Pirates stuff. I came really close to buying the hooks from Captain Hook.
The new Disney store at the Galleria Mall has a castle inside and all the princess stuff is in it. Very cool store! I am also so proud of Abby because she doesn't ever ask for anything in the store. We can look and play and leave without an argument. I am sure that time will come, but for now, shopping is still peaceful :)
After shopping, we met up with Marcus and had a yummy dinner at California Pizza Kitchen.
On Tuesday, we visited the Houston Zoo. More to come!
This year we went to the Round Rock 4th of July parade with some friends. Marcus stayed home to welcome Mimi for lunch, so we enjoyed the parade without him. What a cute parade- a new tradition for sure!
Here is all of the kids- Blythe, David, Katie with Caroline, Michael, Connor and Abby Lu. They did a great job of sharing candy, staying behind the white line, and not complaining too much about the heat!
The Moms- Heather, Me and Natalie. I met both of these girls when we joined our church in 2003 and I can't imagine my life without them. God gave me the best friends! Heather is super sensible, always does the right thing, and never forgets to follow up on something you said in a conversation. She truly shows interest in your life. Natalie is Abby's second Mom. She is so warm and welcoming of people into her life and her home. I could tell her anything and never feel judged.
The parade was super cute- little kids, vintage firetrucks, candy thrown from flatbed trailers, local bands and more! We just loved it. The most memorable "float" was a group a women walking with 8x10 photos glued to rulers of soldiers who gave their life for ours. The whole crowd stood and applauded them. I would have been a marching blubbering mess.
Between the parade, lunch with Mimi and fireworks with our friends, we had the best day!
Wednesday night we met up with our friends, The Smiestrla's, for dinner and fireworks! Abby and Lilia were in dance class together and her mom Liesl and I became friends sitting through dance. Our husbands hadn't met before, so it was a fun new family to hang out with.
Abby and Lilia were so excited to see each other. Abby was convinced she was spending the night and kept discussing sleeping in Lilia's bed.
After playing in the backyard and a yummy hot dog dinner, the kids got to play with a couple of fireworks in the driveway including poppers, sparklers, and a snake.
Then, it was time for the big show. Their house backs up to a major park in Cedar Park and that is where the city's show is done. It was perfect! We didn't have crowds, had a private viewing area, and we could see everything big and loud!
We were a little scared of Abby's reaction to fireworks. She is still frightened by loud noises. She hasn't seen them before this year. Looking at this picture, I think we were wrong. She loved them, giggled at them, and kept saying "oh my chinny chin chin look at that". Funny girl!
We had a wonderful day and an awesome night! Happy 4th to all!