Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Visit from Grammie & Papa

My parents flew in from Michigan for several days and we had a great time with them. Mom & I went to a consignment sale on Friday and found a fantastic heavy-duty plastic table & chair set that Ben already loves for sitting & coloring.  We went to the zoo, had breakfast with his other set of grandparents and splashed in the fountain, and attempted to see some hot air balloons. There was also plenty of down time at home, reading and playing.

We ran into some bad luck on Saturday evening. We met Jerry & headed to Overland Park for the Great Midwest Balloon Fest. My parents took me to a hot air balloon festival in Michigan several times when I was little and we had a great time. We were really excited to take Ben. Unfortunately, the weather was not in our favor. We saw the handlers fighting with the US Bank & ReMax balloons, but they seemed unable to keep them up with the winds. Both the evening launch & balloon glow (where the balloons are tethered but kept inflated; the propane makes them glow) were canceled and we made it to the shuttle bus (definitely the best parking option!) and then back to our cars just as it started raining.  But Ben liked looking out the shuttle bus window and watching the crowd while he ate his snack for the short time we were at the festival. Hopefully next year we will actually be able to see the balloons take flight!

On Sunday after Ben's splashing adventure (see previous post),  we spent a few hours at the Kansas City Zoo. Despite the cool morning, it turned muggy and hot in the afternoon so we all tired easily. It was a good first trip, though, and was probably about the limit of Ben's attention span. 

The first thing we saw was the new polar bear exhibit. Nikita is about 3 1/2 years old and was born at the Toledo Zoo. He was having a blast swimming around his rock and then twisting up through the water. It was really mesmerizing! Here is Ben watching him dive.

We also watched part of the sea lion show. Ben thought it was funny when the sea lion made noise.

A sweaty Ben & Papa watching the smelly llamas get fed:

I think this bird is a lorikeet. We were amazed at the incredibly vivid colors of their feathers. It was a huge mix, like they had been splashing around in a paint box!

We also saw the elephants (leading to requests of "More ey-ye-font!"), meerkats, lemurs, ducks, swan, and river otter. I think next time Ben would probably like to see some of the apes. The chimps are always so entertaining, but they're at the far end of the zoo so it was way too far for us to walk that day.

Splash time!

Ben had breakfast with his full grandparent complement Sunday at the always-delicious Ingredient at Park Place in Leawood. He was getting restless after eating, so I took him outside to run around. Surprisingly, he headed for the fountains that he's been terrified of on previous trips. I guess they weren't so scary this time! He ended up happily soaked and was not too happy to be dragged away. I know Jerry took a lot of other pictures so we may add more later.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Drummer boy

Ben has been enjoying clomping around the kitchen in his shoes, especially when "Do-Re-Mi" ( or "re-mi-do?" as he says) is on the iPod speaker. It is one of his current favorites, probably due to the YouTube video of a flash mob dancing to it in Antwerp. He had a little meltdown the other night because we refused to let him listen to it a third time while we were making dinner!

The other day he decided to follow me around by clomping on the hardwood and so I turned it into a stop/start game. Video is on our YouTube page here (there are also a few other videos that have been posted in the last few week). I was tired by the time he finally agreed to give up!

Ben has also been in a very musical mode the last few days, singing, dancing and drumming up a storm! He will sit in his crib or high chair and repeat words of favorite songs, like "Twinkle twinkle...star...up 'bove...sky...star"  or "rain, ah ah ah" for the Raffi song "If All the Raindrops." He loves the Remo drum that Uncle Tony gave him and likes carrying it around, hitting it, yelling into the bottom, and sometimes sitting on it (we're working on extinguishing that!). But sometimes he runs into a little trouble carrying it up the stairs, as seen here.

I can't imagine what he will think when he sees Uncle Tony's big drum set in November!

Friday, September 10, 2010


Ben takes his naps on a cot at daycare and they recently started asking the parents to bring in a sheet & blanket instead of supplying them. We decided on this light fleece blanket that Dena made for Ben and he's decided he loves it. He brought it home to wash last night as it's the end of his daycare week, and has been wandering around with it, playing peekaboo and wearing it like a cape.

Ben, in his Team Grandpa shirt, would also like to wish an early Happy Grandparents' Day (it's Sunday) to his wonderful Grandma, Opa, Grammie & Papa. We also wish Opa Herb L'Shana Tova, a good and healthy New Year, as it is Rosh Hashanah.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Visit from Neilam & Jen

My friend Neilam, whom I've known since kindergarten, flew out from California with his girlfriend Jen for Labor Day weekend. We had a great time hanging out, being tour guides, and introducing them to some local food & beer.  Jen was also excited to find out that we had a local Penzey's Spices store (she'd seen our well-stocked spice cabinet!), so we wandered down there on Sunday.

On Saturday we headed to the downtown Kansas City library, which is in a former bank building that's been beautifully renovated. Ben had his hat and Puppy and was ready to go!

Here are Jen & Neilam in front of the neat book facade parking garage.

The recently renovated kids' and teens' section had its own floor with all sorts of neat touches. Ben liked the cow, stuffed tree, climbing cushions and flexible giant Legos.  The entrance is flanked by giant book pages with quotations from children's literature and the steps are painted like books.

We went up to the upper floors and Ben was surprised to see that Neilam had snuck all the way across the library. He ran to the glass divider to try to get closer.

Jen & Neilam in the library's bank vault-turned movie theatre:

On Sunday evening we took a quick walk around Union Station. This was where Dave and I had our first date.

After Union Station, we headed back across the railroad bridge for a great barbecue dinner at Jack Stack. The weather was lovely so we sat on the patio. Ben especially loved it because there were 5-6 trains that went past on the tracks just beyond the parking lot. We all think that Ben ate us under the table at Jack Stack. He had a huge appetite and LOVED the onion rings & barbecue!  After we were finished, he snuck a french fry from Dave's plate and reached for whatever else he could grab!

On Monday, Neilam treated us to some songs on guitar. Ben was fascinated.

Hmm, that looks like fun!

 Look! I'm helping!

Trying to contain Ben a little while so Neilam can finish his song

Jen and Ben listening

We had a lovely weekend with our friends, although too short, as they all seem to be. Ben is still asking about "Nee-yum" and "J-J-Jen" so we will have to print out a photo of them to add to his little photo album.

Random photos

Ben has started going to the door and saying "I ready!" or "bye bye!" when he wants to leave or just wants to pretend. Here he decided he needed his bag of sports balls for wherever he thought we should go.

He still loves playing peek-a-boo but sometimes forgets to dump out the stuff in a container before putting it on his head...

Jen and I made the Nutella Chocolate Chip cookies while she and Neilam were here. They were tasty, but flatter than expected, possibly because of our baking soda? We would increase the salt to 3/4 tsp. and the Nutella to 1/3-1/2 cup next time. They made a yummy combination crumbled over the French vanilla ice cream Dave made.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Long weekend!

We are thrilled to have a long weekend so we can have a little down time. My friend Neilam, whom I've known since kindergarten, and his girlfriend Jen are flying in from California for the weekend. Their plane just touched down so Dave should be meeting them soon! Possibly on the agenda: Jack Stack barbecue, Union Station, KC Public Library & the bookshelf-facade parking garage (Jen is a grad student in library science and Ben & I haven't been there since the children's section was renovated), 75th Street Brewery, in*gre*di*ent for breakfast, and Neilam's favorite subs he can't get in Cali, Jimmy John's. We are also planning on trying a new recipe for these amazing-looking Nutella chocolate chip cookies!

Hope you all enjoy the Labor Day weekend!