This post is going to be sort of a grab bag of amusements and observations, since going back and doing a day-by-day recounting of everything we've been up to since two Fridays ago ain't gonna happen. I know, I've (selfishly) been choosing sleep and reading over blogging, lately. Sorry! Also, I'm likely to throw chronology out the window, so buckle up and watch out for that verbal whiplash. Here goes.
We will begin with the Sunday before last, which was the 21st of November. Our friend Alice invited us to check out The Apple House, which is a restaurant / gift shop / purveyor of local products, located about an hour away. It was a pretty drive, out Route 66, and I made the comment to Tom that the view was probably even more spectacular a few weeks ago, when the autumn leaves were at the height of their colorful glory. You really don't have to drive all that far to escape the city and the burbs and end up in rural Virginia. And I was surprised and reminded about how close everything is, over on this side of the country, when I saw a sign indicating we were only 20-some miles from entering West Virginia.
So, The Apple House. Very tasty BBQ, scrumptious apple doughnuts, excellent visiting with Alice. After lunch, Tom suggested we find a park nearby, so we could let Soren run around a bit before our long(ish) drive back home. We'd passed signs for a state park, but we were hoping for more of a local playground type thing. Obviously, we didn't know much about the area, so we consulted the GPS, which informed us that "Owl Park" was only a couple of miles away from the restaurant. So off we went, with Alice following behind us in her car.
Mistake #1: After leaving the restaurant, we turned the direction indicated by the GPS (rather than following the clearly marked signs) in order to get back to the freeway. But the GPS seemed to think there was an on-ramp in the middle of an overgrown field. Maybe there had been, several decades ago, but not recently! So, you know, fine. We were getting the scenic tour instead. No big deal; we weren't in any major hurry. The GPS informed us it was "recalculating" and we continued on down the road to the town of Front Royal.
After making our way along a big loop, with delays for road construction, we were directed down a little, residential-y road, followed by (unless I'm remembering incorrectly) a dirt/gravel road, with overgrowth and a couple of dilapidated houses/trailers on either side. At which point, the GPS cheerfully informed us we were "arriving at Owl Park." There was even a little green patch on the GPS screen, labeled as Owl Park. But no. Like the nonexistent freeway on-ramp before it, Owl Park was either a figment of the GPS's imagination, or it had been reclaimed by the kudzu years and years ago.
(I was going to retrace our route on Google Maps and include a shot of "Owl Park" for your amusement, but of course, Google Maps has no idea what the heck I'm talking about when I ask it to search for Owl Park near Linden, VA. Because it doesn't exist. And I don't remember the name of the little residential street we turned down. But perhaps I'll consult the GPS a bit later and see if I can at least give you some idea of where we were.)
Anyway, we pulled over, got out of the car to have a laugh with Alice, who had been wondering where in the hell we'd been leading her (a nearly ten-mile loop in order to get to a park that was supposedly only 2 miles away, and then ending up where we did...). We decided to give up and head back to the freeway. We were just completing our circuit, having turned down the road that would eventually run us back by The Apple House, when we passed...a brand new playground. (Linden Park, not Owl Park) Probably not much more than a mile from the restaurant. Ha! So we stopped and laughed some more and let Soren run and play a bit. All in all, not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
In the past week, Eleri has figured out how to remove her own shirt (as long as it's not one of the sort that snaps between her legs). Between that and Soren's tendency to run around pantsless for a few minutes after he's used the restroom, it's been like Spring Break: Toddlertown around here lately. ;)
We had the playschoolers over here on Friday (19th) and Monday (22nd). I don't know if it's the cooler weather or what, but they were just wild, both days. I'd worked pretty hard to come up with lesson plans (you can read more about that in the two linked posts), but I really think it might have been easier to get a herd of cats to perform Swan Lake than it was to get seven 2 and 3 year olds to sit still or pay attention to anything for more than about 4 seconds at a time. Don't get me wrong; I'm not expecting a lot from them. I don't have any grand ideas about them sitting sedately while I lecture at them about the topic of the day. But I know that they are capable of slightly less insane behavior than the full-tilt running/screaming/climbing that was going on. Hell, even when I had them over here in September they were more manageable. This time, at one point, I couldn't even get them to all stand still quietly or long enough (10 seconds, really, is all it would have taken) to explain the (active!) activity I'd planned next. So I'm not sure what's been going on lately, or how to fix it.
Another thing I've noticed lately, regarding playschool, is how super excited Soren is about everything in theory and yet completely disinterested in practice. When we hosted, he went on and on for days beforehand about how his friends were coming over, and they were all going to play playdough, and it was going to be so much fun. Then they got here, and he went off to his room to sit by himself. Or yesterday, when I dropped him off at I's house for playschool, he was all jazzed about going, but as soon as we got there he just went off by himself. I tried a couple of times to guide him back into the room with the other kids, but he said, "No, I don't want to play playdough. I don't want to be wif my friends. I want to play trucks."
Now, I don't want anyone *cough*FarmerMegan*cough* to think that I'm freaking out about any of this. I know that 2 and 3 year olds are going to be little maniacs. It's the fact that they've gotten more out of control lately than they used to be that's got me a little perplexed. Not worried. Perplexed. And perhaps a tad chagrined, but that's only because I'm excited to teach Soren and his buddies about stuff and to watch them explore new things. I know it'll get better. I'd just like for it to not continue getting worse and more out of control. And as for Soren and his somewhat antisocial-seeming behavior? Not worried in the least. When it's just him and A, they play together happily for hours. I've just thought it was a little funny how he's been all talk lately about one thing, and then when it's time to do that thing, he's like, "Meh, I'd rather do this other thing instead." Hehe.
Speaking of A, we celebrated Thanksgiving with his family over at their house this year. They have established the tradition of deep frying their turkey, so that was what we did. We got kind of a chuckle out of the fact that, without its legs secured, the turkey kind of...relaxed...in the deep fryer. We were calling it the bird of ill repute.
Toddlers in the process of potty training frequently behave like sorority girls; when one heads to the bathroom, they all go, like a little flock. Whoo-hoo! Party in the bathroom! At one point, during a play date last week, the actual toilet and both the bucket toilets were all in use simultaneously. Factor in the two moms also involved in the bum-wiping, hand-washing process, and that was one crowded bathroom.
Last Friday (the 26th), after about a week of cold symptoms that weren't getting any better, I trucked both kids back to the doctor's office. At least two other kids in the playgroup had, in the last few days, been diagnosed with bronchitis, and both my weasels were starting to sound a bit wheezy, so I'd reached my personal limit on waiting out the cold symptoms. As it turned out, Eleri had another freaking ear infection (though only in the left ear, this time). We did a nebulizer treatment on her in the office, for the wheezing, but it didn't seem to really do anything. Soren was pretty funny, telling the doctor very earnestly about the cars outside in the parking lot, and how he was going to see his daddy later, and how he likes to ride in the car and play at the park. Hehe. The doctor just kind of kept chuckling and telling Soren he was very smart. When we were leaving, Soren very cheerfully said, "Bye! Thanks very much! Have a good day!"
One other amusement from our doctor visit - the kids are now less than 9 pounds apart in weight. Eleri measured 22 lbs, 1 ounce, and Soren is (still!) just 31 pounds even. We've really got to get that boy to eat more. ;)
This past weekend I had a really good ride out at the barn. It was quite chilly, probably about 45 degrees, and very windy, and Chaka was mad when I arrived to take off his blanket and get him tacked up. But once we got out to the arena and started moving around, we were really clicking. Even the instructor was remarking to someone who was watching our lesson, "Look at Chaka! Can you believe how great he looks?" So that was awesome.
Later on Saturday afternoon, Tom went out and picked up a Christmas tree. I'm usually in the "Christmas decorations/music/etc. have no business being displayed before December 1st" camp, but for whatever reason, I don't seem to mind starting so early this year. Soren had a great time decorating the tree with Tom on Sunday, while Eleri and I watched from the warmth of the living room. :)
One more thing and then I'll wrap it up. Yesterday was Tom's birthday. After we picked up Soren from playschool, the kids and I went to the grocery store to get supplies for Tom's birthday dinner and cake. We managed to score one of the fun double-seater shopping carts, with the steering wheels, and Eleri had a blast riding in the cart with Soren.
(Never mind that she looks a little terrified in this picture. I swear she was having a great time.)
Once we got home, I put Eleri down for a nap, and then Soren and I set to work making Tom's cake. Soren helped me pour the water and oil into the bowl of cake mix, and then he even snagged and cracked one of the eggs into the bowl before I could stop him. Hehe. Once all was baked and assembled, he helped me a bit with the decorating. I've never exactly been known for my masterful cake decorating skills, but it seems like I at least used to have some level of competence. Not so much, anymore. ;) Oh well. It was still a delicious treat (chocolate cake with raspberry filling and lemon icing).
Now we're mostly up to date! The kiddos and I are headed out in a very short while to check out the model train exhibit at Union Station. Looks like it'll be really neat!