Penguins at the Zoo

In mid April, we visited the zoo specifically so that we could see the new penguin exhibit at the Cleveland Zoo. It’s a temporary exhibit, so nothing special, but a fun excuse to get out with the kiddos.


We were joined by our friends and the boys were pretty hilarious running around hand in hand (until they nearly ran people over, at which point we put a stop to that)



The penguins were not too exciting. They have a little glass window and one or two penguins walking around on a little shelf. It would definitely have been a let down except we have a pass and weren’t too concerned about filling our day to make our money’s worth.





This also happened to be the day that there was another 2 or 4 year old boy (there were conflicting reports) who fell into the cheetah exhibit! We were all fine obviously, and we didn’t witness it since we didn’t make it up to that area that day, but when we left there was news crews gathering.

It’s been really fun getting out with both kids now that they’re older. Coraline can handle delayed naps and it was finally warming up enough to really enjoy outdoor activities again!

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10/1/02 – 11/11/14

Yesterday, we had to tell Jameson that our beloved puppy was gone. Unexpectedly, he seemed to understand the concept of death already, that she was gone from us and not returning. He was incredibly sad, and immediately requested a new doggie. While I am certain he expected a new doggie to make him feel better, we know that is not entirely the case. It was the easiest question he asked. He also asked if we were with her, another unexpected but easy answer. The hardest part was watching him so sad, since this is his first experience with this kind of unresolvable sadness and grief.

Despite trying hard not to dwell on sickness or old age as reasons we die, he picked up on old age. He’s too young to explain that all of us die without causing fear, though I think he made that association anyway; or that death can also happen unexpectedly; so, we reassured him that Sasha had lived a very, very long time, and that she went to Heaven and can run in the grass there. He asked if tomorrow he will get older, and I told him that he will not be old for a very long time. I may have said that everyone lives for a very long time. It’s hard to find the answers to reassure and make him feel better, but to be truthful without opening up more questions he is too young to understand is nearly impossible. I am sure that won’t be the last of his questions about death and Heaven.

I did make him a book about Sasha, with photos of her as a puppy he has never seen before. It hasn’t really been the immediate hit that I expected, but I think it will be a useful tool when he asks more questions or misses her. Instead, he associated the book with making him sad, and he didn’t really want to read it again. I think he will want to later though.

We visited grandma last night, which was a much needed distraction for all of us. He has a big stuffed dog there, which he called his “pet doggie” and put it in the fort he and grandma made. So many, many sad moments. Some of the worst are associated with routine, of course. Looking for her in the morning when we get up or before bed. Leaving the garage door open when we get home to let her out. Thankfully, Coraline is so young, aside from looking for her very briefly, she has been a comic relief and little ray of sunshine for us. She chose an outfit today of all doggies.

I’ve found that I don’t really know Brian without Sasha, since the two were partners, his buddy, from the day I met him. It’s hard to find words to describe their relationship, since it was much more than master to pup. She will always be his very first baby. Watching him grieve is almost as hard as losing Sasha herself.

It took me a little time to love Sasha, not because she wasn’t lovable, but because she took up a lot of space in our bed, haha. But now, even though we’ve filled our home with additional pack members, the house feels so much emptier. She is such a big part of our life, home and family. And our hearts. Her exceptionally large presence really seems to make her absence even bigger.

We have a sing-song phrase we use with Coraline for naps and night-night time. It can be used for hello and goodbye, too. Monday, Jameson sang it to Sasha, singing “bye bye Sasha, bye bye Sasha, see you after school.” Knowing that she would not be home waiting for us in just a couple days while listening to him sing to her was the beginning of many hard moments. Another was watching Coraline, who has just started in the past few weeks to pull out Sasha’s treats on her own to go give to her. Yesterday morning, instead of a bye bye song, Coraline sang “Night night” to her.

Sasha reached the end of her life at the very old age of 12. She was, and is, the smartest dog I have ever met, a gentle giant with a sweet disposition as long as you don’t poke at her face, Coraline! Sasha loved rolling in the grass, sitting on couches, catching snowballs, eating cookies (the dog treat kind), and giving puppy kisses.

Pillow stealer

I’m sure you’re glad to be chasing bunny rabbits again.

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Farm Park

The time change this week really hit me, realizing that we’re approaching winter! Jameson comments on it being dark, and frequently asks if it’s his bedtime right after school now. It wasn’t that long ago that we were enjoying pleasant fall weather!




We visited the Farm Park for the first time at the end of September. We’ve been talking about it for a long time (at least a year), but finally we decided to go on this perfect weekend. Our first stop was the baby piglets, which pretty much made the trip for me. I love piglets.


Coraline was all about touching all the animals; she has no fear. She’s knows a lot of animal sounds, though she’s still not great with the pig’s “oink”. My latest favorite is her “cockadoo” for the rooster noise.



Jameson, on the other hand, was very stiff about it.



He refused to pet the piglets, but did pet the goat and a couple other animals. Surprisingly, he was even willing to brush the horse! Only once though.




Aside from traditional farm animals, they had an interesting plant and garden center. The kids could make vegetable people or stamp with vegetables. There was plenty of activity for kids of all ages. Coraline wasn’t bored, that’s for sure!



Our last stop was the corn maze, which also delighted me. We’ve avoided corn mazes because they’re typically geared toward older children. This one though was a perfect size for the preschooler and toddler. Jameson was very excited (don’t let his stiff smiling fool you). He went into what I would call “alleys” in the maze, between the stalks and actual paths. We had to go after him once.






Jameson really didn’t want to go to the Farm Park initially. Lately, he’s been all about staying in pajamas at home on the weekends. In lieu of that, he wanted to go to a playground. Convincing him to go out to an activity is occasionally more difficult than I’d expect! But I get it: He goes to school every day, and not being asked to do something for a while is definitely a luxury for him right now. I think in the end he had a good time.

There were even swings at the Farm Park, so everyone won.



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A Day at the Zoo

For some reason we just didn’t make it to the zoo much this summer. We love to go, and I wanted to see the new carousel that opened up. It received a lot of attention for the animals which are all different and have a tremendous attention to detail. Coraline and Jameson both enjoyed it! They chose tigers.



There’s also a new children’s area just outside the carousel. There’s a small wading creek for beavers, and a tunnel made of sticks the kids enjoyed going through. First though, a snack.







I do have a number of photos of animals at the zoo, so I try now to only take exceptional ones or when they animals are close. We decided to feed the giraffes again, which is always fun. I just love to see them close up!



We opted not to go to the very top of the zoo to see the indoor areas and stuck with the main part of the zoo.


This area isn’t one we usually stop at, but Jameson wanted to see what was inside all the little holes. It was for watching birds, and I got a kick out of Jameson trying to use the binoculars. He liked looking through the cards of birds and tried to identify them.





We saw the wolf exhibit, camels, and reindeer next. The kids like to climb of statues, of course, so that is a given.




A packed lunch is always perfect for the zoo when we have a stroller to carry the lunch bag. And then we were off again to see the last exhibits, including bears. Sadly, the polar bear passed away a while ago, so there are brown bears in that exhibit now. It’s just not the same!




I got such a kick out of this sloth bear looking like he was just hanging out, bored in class.


Our last stop was the elephants, which is right by the entrance. We were all pretty exhausted by then, but Coraline did such a great job delaying her nap. Everyone had a great time at the zoo.


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Fair + Visit with Aunt Holly


The kids were a delight at the fair this year. At least for the morning, until tiredness set in. This year we went on a Saturday morning with Aunt Holly who came up to visit us for the weekend. The first thing we always do is runwalk to the pumpkin to take our pictures before there is a line.


I’m sure you’re not really supposed to do this, but we put the kiddos up next to the actual big pumpkins themselves for some photos. They’ll only be this small for a short time right? And pumpkins rot.

And then we saw this magnificent pumpkin that looked like a little chair. So we did that too.



The pumpkins are one of my favorite parts of the fair. Even though it’s Labor Day weekend every year and hot in those final summer days, this just shouts the beginning of fall for me.

Next up is some animals. We do things a bit backward because of the pumpkins. This year, after a few animals, we ate an early lunch and actually had a chance to sit down at a table since we were so early. Cavatelli, another fair tradition, was enjoyed by the kiddos and myself. I only got to have one meatball, haha.


Hanging out with the cows



There’s a little village in the back of the fair with old rehabbed buildings. Jameson really got into those this year. I got a kick out of pointing out an old telephone to him. It was so foreign to him, he didn’t understand. We looked at old carriages, and the old train was also a hit.

I really think he enjoyed this part more than the animals, but the rides were the biggest hit of all.


He did request this year to ride a couple rides, and selected motorcycles and the batmobile. He always has a serious face on rides, but he really enjoyed himself.



Our last stops are typically the tractors and old machines. Coraline fell asleep but woke after 30 minutes, so we knew it was time to wrap it up.



Nap time


There is a popcorn making machine, which we always have to stop at. And then it was time to go! The kids actually did fine in the car on the way home, but we were all pretty exhausted from the heat.


Aunt Holly actually arrived on Friday, and left on Monday, so we enjoyed some more time with her during our Labor Day weekend. I took off work on Friday and we went to Cedar Point. Here’s a couple fun shots of our day. It was pretty fun to enjoy a day child-free (and work-free). We were there almost open to close, so it was a rough wake up the next morning for sure!

The rest of our weekend was quite a bit more relaxed, including a little campout for Jameson and Brian in the backyard, friends, and hanging around the house.

Fun day with Holly!

Wooden coaster

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Circus Comes to Town

A couple years ago, we took Jameson to the circus, a big one indoors. Putting aside wrongs and rights, support or not of circus and circus goers, I’ll just say that I did enjoy the almost vintage feel of the smaller circus we went to a few weeks ago as opposed to the larger.



Jameson didn’t want his picture taken here. We went with our neighbors and their kids, Lily and Peyton. Coraline was simply fascinated with everything that was going on.



Coraline loved watching the animals. She pointed, she shouted “Oooo” and “Woww” numerous times. She was much more fully engaged than I expected her to be.




During intermission, Jameson and I walked around the tent for a bit. They charged for riding the elephants and seeing the tigers up close, which we didn’t want to do. We did buy some peanuts (noted world’s worst peanuts on the front, haha). Inside some of the peanuts were winning tickets for extra large balloons. Jameson won one!

It’s so very.. nice.. that they filled the balloons with air so that the balloon is still intact and full, hanging out in our house for the past couple weeks.


It was so hot that during the rest of intermission we stood in front of the big fans. Coraline was again thrilled. She’s easy to please right now!


All in all, we did enjoy our experience, despite the heat and general mixed feelings about the animals. The acrobatics were good, as was the juggling performances. We even stopped for a family photo at the end.



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Meeting Mickey Mouse, Day 1

We started our very first family vacation by sending Jameson away to Aunt Melissa’s overnight so we could pack the days before; it took us all day (literally) and I’m so glad we were able to do that.

The final packing and getting ready in the morning was also stressful, right up until we were in the car… Actually, right up until the plane landed in Orlando. Jameson did wonderful on the plane. He wanted his headphones on as “earmuffs” like he wears to protect him from loud noises most frequently on the lawn mower with daddy. He also wanted to hold daddy’s hand for about an hour after take off. He wasn’t completely frightened, but certainly not relaxed either. He LOVED watching the Lion King on my iPad.

Champion flyer held daddy's hand at take off and landing! First flight

Coraline had a restless sleep the night before we were supposed to leave, which we speculated due to teething or gas, which didn’t bode well for our trip. Nothing better than a screaming baby in a hotel room all together, or a plane even just for two hours! We were pretty concerned about how the trip was going to go right up to and through the first full day there.

Coraline was a bit more trouble in the plane than Jameson; we were thankful that another passenger moved so we could all sit together so occasionally I could give her to daddy if I needed to get something. She didn’t want to sleep at all. She didn’t cry the entire time or even more than five minutes at a time, but she was restless and cried on and off the entire 2 hour flight.

We made sure to feed both Jameson and Coraline food for take off and landing to get that swallowing motion and protect their ears, which thankfully worked fine. Coraline finally passed out LITERALLY as we were landing, puff crumbs on her face and all.

Passed out with puffs on her face literally as we were landing. First plane ride

We were so worried about the rain then the following day because when we arrived Monday evening, not only was it pouring rain, but the forecast had changed and was now showing rain all day Tuesday and Wednesday too! I was swallowing my disappointment and trying to remember that Jameson wouldn’t care a bit, even if it would make the while trip more difficult and less fun for the adults.



As it turns out, Tuesday was a great day with very little rain. We were so excited to have Uncle Tyler there as “tour guide” and Meemaw and Grandpa as an extra set of hands.

After a rough start with Coraline who had a pretty difficult night, we started my itinerary at Kilimanjaro Safari in Animal Kingdom, and the light almost drizzle and (relatively) cooler weather made it perfect for active animals.





We saw rhinoceros right up next to our truck, and a baby giraffe moved toward us through the tall grass as I imagine would occur in the wild. Jameson was thrilled the truck went through some shallow standing water like a pond.




Coraline even fell asleep in Meemaw’s arms holding her tight like a swaddle though we were jostled and bounced around in the truck.


We did the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail nearby afterwards to see a few more animals close up.



Then headed to breakfast with Jameson’s first character experience! He was tired from getting up with Coraline around 6, but was great meeting the characters. He met Daffy first, then Donald and Mickey. I thought he might be afraid, but he quickly got over fear and was just a little shy but happy to give hugs to a couple of the characters.



Mickey was great with Coraline, coming over to give her some extra attention and pose. We got to see Daffy then again, and he even gave her a hug on his own! Last we saw Goofy just before leaving our table to move on to see a show.




Coraline finally fell asleep in her stroller and my parents wheeled off with her for a bit so Jameson, Brian and I could see the Festival of the Lion King, and then we even got to leave Jameson behind and ride Everest. It was great to be able to ride an adult ride with Brian! I screamed like a little girl.

After some time playing in the playground at the Boneyard while Brian and I rode Everest, we went to see Nemo the Musical, which Coraline and Jameson both were fascinated with. Jameson exclaimed over the shark he saw later. Coraline watched the entire show, enjoying the beautiful colors and music.


We headed back into Dino Land and Jameson got to ride the Triceratops Spin then with myself, Meemaw, and Uncle Tyler which was cute.

Disney ride with Meemaw!


Then Jameson finally got to relax (however a toddler actually relaxes) with some frozen lemonade while Coraline napped and Brian and I rode a couple more adult rides including Primeval Whirl and Dinosaur.

The day was perfect, even with the humidity since the sun mostly stayed behind the clouds. We ate dinner at Kona Cafe in the Polynesian Resort which was pretty rough after a long day with exhausted children, though the food was great. We had a wonderful service experience there when Grandpa’s food was delayed. Meemaw took Coraline out to walk during dinner but she was pretty beside herself.

We were concerned that the entire trip was going to be rough on Coraline, but thankfully she settled pretty quickly after her second tooth broke through the following day. Magic Kingdom here we come!

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Feeding Giraffes

I am pretty behind in sharing our recent adventures because things have been very hectic, both at home and at work. Brian and I are both doing the Couch to 5K program, so the free time at home is being cut further (not to mention time with the kids as well). I’ve found so far that it has been worth it since, as of starting week 4, I am looking forward to running, time to myself, and not spending every evening entirely at home. I still need to be home to feed Coraline for bed, but I think I’ve overall been in a much better mood. I am not dieting yet, but that will come when we are done nursing… which doesn’t look to be any time soon!

So, without further ado, the zoo!

We went with JP, Lisa & Jonathan a couple weeks ago, and Jameson really got into it. Coraline doesn’t know what’s what just yet but she enjoys being outside and is a real trooper.



This time we decided to make our way to the top of the zoo which we rarely do since it’s very uphill. Jameson and Jonathan, of course, don’t mind at all!


The cheetah’s were hanging out right at the edge of the exhibit, so that was a treat.


This time we decided to stay long enough to eat a packed lunch too. We usually pick up a sub and we had some crackers too. It was pretty hilarious at the end, Jameson wanted to eat a peach and we made him wear one of Coraline’s bibs because it was so messy. He thought it was pretty cool and asked us a couple days later to wear Coraline’s bib again.



After lunch, we visited the playground a bit before looping back down and through the bears & giraffes.



We decided to try feeding the giraffe for the first time, which was fast but so fun to see the giraffe so close. It was a great finale to our trip and fun to do something new since we visit the zoo a lot.




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Zoo Trip with Aunt Carol

The animal Jameson told us he wanted to see this time was a polar bear (last time was a zebra). We did see the polar bear, but not until the very end!

First we saw the elephants, and for the first time we happened to be there exactly when they were doing the Elephant Crossing (rotating the elephants from one side of the exhibit to the other, crossing close in front of us!)

The elephants lift up their trunks and open their mouths for a treat when they are finished, which was pretty cool to see.

It was nice that it wasn’t too hot; many of the animals were active. It did get warmer than I originally expected though since the rain held off and the sun came out!

We went with my Aunt Carol which was great since I don’t have a double stroller. It would’ve been hard impossible to push two strollers by myself!

Jameson was very into climbing onto the fences. We would stop, he was request to get out of the stroller and climb up; and when we went to move on, he wanted to buckle himself in by himself.

We stopped here underneath flowering trees for me to feed Coraline, and Jameson was great while we waited. He had an applesauce snack. We also heard the wolves suddenly start howling like crazy, so Aunt Carol took him to go look at them. We usually can’t see them, but apparently they were visible and calling out!

The sloth bear was great. He got up and rotated himself, slinging his head over the log like that as we were watching.

And finally we got to see the polar bear!

We stopped and ate subs at a picnic area which was surprisingly calm since there were schools at the zoo this weekday. It’s so nice to pack up a little lunch so we don’t have to buy anything and just stop when we’re hungry.

After the zoo visit, we played outside with Lily for a while. Coraline slept most of the day this way in her stroller, so later in the afternoon I made her get up and stretch out and play inside for a bit. Aunt Melissa came over in the evening to help with bedtime since Brian had a work dinner. It was such a lovely day to have Jameson home and play.

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Spring Weekend

Finally, spring weather seems to be here to stay!

This weekend, we got out a lot, even with a newborn and toddler. Saturday, we went to the meat market to stock up on fresh chicken and beef, and then stopped at the farmers market on the way back to pick up some apples for Jameson to take to school during the week.

We played outside, and it is so fun watching Jameson be able to run to through the backyard which is finally drying out a little as well.

It was even warmer on Sunday, and we went to the zoo! We met JP, Lisa and Jonathan there (and we were only about 10 minutes late, haha)

Jameson told us on the way that he was going to see zebahs (we were a little surprised at his choice of animals that he was intending to see, since lions and elephants are in more of the shows that we watch!). We did get to see zebras, but first we saw elephants and the lion, which was on his back, sunbathing.

The trip for Coraline was a bit anticlimactic, since she isn’t observing much yet! But I did breastfeed her, in public (with a drape), which I thought was an accomplishment. Much more convenient than bringing bottles, that’s for sure.

She napped most of the time, and was a little angel for the entire trip. I forgot how much easier newborns really are sometimes.

The toddlers went stroller-free, which was great. Of course, we couldn’t have done it without the two strong husbands to carry them when needed. It was so different, looking at Coraline bundled in her stroller and Jameson walking around and thinking that’s only two years away for her. I am regularly reminded of how fast the time goes, and perhaps more appreciative of that fact with her than I was with Jameson.

After some snacks and about an hour and a half at the zoo, we decided to get some lunch.

Lunch was wild! We went to Aladdin’s, and the boys did great with veggies and hummus and pitas, but Jameson clearly needed to go potty and kept refusing. We tried at the zoo at every restroom, and tried again at Aladdins another 3 times. When we spoke logically to him, he said he needed to go potty, but as soon as he saw the restroom, he refused. I am not sure where this fear of public restrooms came from, though I think it’s related to the automatic flushers; Aladdin’s didn’t have them though. Regardless, he started telling us he wanted to go home, and we quickly wrapped it up.

We tried at the public rest area off the highway with similar results. Somehow… he managed to hold it until we got home. I am still not sure how he managed that. This is the first time I have thought that being potty trained has its inconveniences. Not sure how to get him over this fear except to continue trying. Unfortunately, we only have opportunities on the weekends sometimes to get him to go at other restrooms.

Looking for any advice!

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