Sunday, August 18, 2013

Endless summer fun

It's unheard of that we would get a 3 week stretch of temperatures in the the 80s in August but it is happening!  So, while we have it we're taking full advantage by hitting a lot of fun outdoor events.  It feels strange to be able to do so many outdoor activities in August.  Emma doesn't tolerate the heat too well so we usually wind up finding indoor fun options in July and August.

We continued our field trip fun week with a tour of the Herr's potato chip factory.  This place is actually farther away from my house than I expected.  And we hit more construction delays and traffic than I expected.  So I wasn't surprised when we showed up at 10:10 for our 9:50 appointment and didn't see any of our friends there.

When we went to the registration desk after much discussion and flipping through papers I found out that my girlfriend had, indeed, changed the tour from Tues. to Wed. due to the crazy rain we had but I somehow missed the message that our tour time was changed as well.  I thought we were too late to enjoy the tour when, in fact, we were about 1.5 hours too early!  What to do, what to do?  I haven't really ever had this problem before as we tend to run on the late side of things.  The factory is in the middle of what appears to me to be nowhere although I'm sure the people that live there would be able to set me straight.  I was banking on that when I asked the girl behind the counter if there is anything to do while we wait.  The one girl was clearly too young so she just laughed at me - I immediately disliked her.  The other girl - God bless her - suggested we check out a park down the road and off we went with a stash of potato chips bought at the factory store.  We found the park easily and were really excited to see that it was actually a HUGE, fantastic park and a great place to visit in and of itself let alone as a time-killer before an appointment.  The girls played and snacked and I snapped a few photos before we headed back for the tour that included a short video, a walk through the pretzel and potato chip operation, and snacks.  We even were able to try hot potato chips right off the production line, which was big hit with all the children.

The park would have been better with our jogging stroller instead of the wheelchair.

I sure would have loved exploring the trails a bit more, but the wheels weren't suitable for it.  Emma didn't mind!

A few of the crew that toured.  The rest headed to the great park before heading home so I missed snapping a complete group photo.

We ended our field trip fun week with a trip to a local garden estate for some Friday fun.  We became members in June and are hoping that the wide paths will be a great place for Emma to practice driving her power wheelchair.  We are ever hopeful even though we are still in appeals on the denial.  Still, it's a great place to explore and since lots of our friends have memberships it's a good meet-up destination.

We have 2 more full weeks of summer vacation.  I wonder what we'll do next???  We have a few more fun adventures planned so stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Local summer adventures

This summer we had a list of things we wanted to do.  There is still about 3 weeks left to our summer and we are working on completing most of them.  I posted closer to the beginning of summer that showed we started it off with a bang and have done some dribs and drabs posts since then.

Now that our summer camps are over, we reclaimed the month of August for family fun!  Horray - that's my favorite kind of fun!  I seriously can't get enough of hanging out with my little ones and I feel like they are growing so quickly.

Last week we went to the science museum.  I am a scientist by training and I really miss playing with things in the lab.  Hanging out there made me realize just how much I miss it and I wonder if there is a chance I might be able to find some part-time work that is only during the school year (lots of us stay at home Mom's dream about this perfect schedule) that includes getting my hands dirty in a science lab.  Doubtful, but I'll look into it.  I might just have to rely on our yearly membership to the museum to fulfill my science side :-)

GLOW was the special exhibit geared to hands on exploration.  There was a section with costumes and you could dress up as fireflies and jellyfish.  We decided to forgo the costumes and stand in the firefly capture jar to check out the view - this made the girls all giggly!
Butterfly room is always a favorite stop for me.  Julia finds it a bit warm but was up for it and Emma is happy to check it out as long as there are other people in the room she can watch.
Digging for dinosaur bones
Fossil Prep lab had a learning session.  They told us about a dinosaur they are currently working on that was found in MT.  How did we never see the fossil prep lab before on all our visits?
Panning for shark teeth.  Cut out for a wheelchair is quite nice, but it falls short in being truly accessible unless you have super long arms.  
Starring in their own dinosaur movie.  

This week we took advantage of the *slightly* cooler weather to visit a park we'd never been to before.  I had won tickets to the carousel and mini-golf at the silent auction fundraiser at Julia's school so Chris met us there the other day after work for some Monday evening fun.  It was a fun place to visit.

The park had the oldest remaining original fountain in the city was up and running, a small-ish playground with an accessible swing and monkey bars, a snack shack, a carousel and mini-golf.  The park is in the historic district so everything was USA themed.  The carousel even had a bald eagle instead of a horse in one slot and that is what Emma rode.  Julia rode a dolphin, although I'm not exactly sure how that made it's way onto the national themed carousel?  The mini-golf had obstacles made out of local historic landmarks and I just loved it!  I have a feeling we'll be back.

When did you get SOOOO BIG???!!!!  Emma is staring right though me to the campers running all over the place!
Sisters swinging next to each other.  Melts my heart they can swing next to each other and it's not something we take for granted!  Emma is also much stronger this summer because she was never able to sit in these swings before without added attachments.  Both girls are nosy as ever and watching the campers again!
Such a cutie pie!  This girl melts my heart.   
Is that a hole in one?????
Emma was interested in mini-golf for about 3 holes.  She reached out for the club and even helped swing and hit the ball.  Surprisingly, she did quite well!  Then she decided she had enough and wanted to people watch everyone on the course that did NOT include anyone in her family.  Her stroller was thus positioned for optimal non-family people watching and she was smiles the rest of the night.  Silly girl!
Girls Rule!
Boys....need we say more??!!!
Wildlife in the city.

We have about 3 weeks before the start of school.  The fun will continue.  How blessed and lucky our family is!!!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Preschool Graduate

Emma's preschool follows a 12 month schedule.  They have the same number of school days as other schools but they spread it out over an entire year.  I didn't think we would like this schedule at first but we LOVE it!  I sure wish other schools would adopt it.  There is still a long summer break and several week long breaks through the year.  I think it really keeps the children (and parents, teachers, therapists, etc.!) from burning out and doesn't require all the review in the beginning of the year.

Her school year is now coming to a close and today her class had an end of year ice cream party.  There were several students graduating to kindergarten and they wore caps and gowns and there was a little ceremony.  It was beyond cute!!!!  I teared up seeing Emma in her outfit walking up to get her "diploma."  She stood so tall, so proud.  She looks so ready to take on the challenge of kindergarten.

She has grown in so many ways during her two years at the preschool and has had an incredible team encouraging her in her daily endeavors.  She is loved by her classmates and her team of teachers and therapists.  It was at this school that Emma found her voice (ECO2 device) and met so many of her academic and developmental goals.  It prepared her to take on the world of kindergarten in a way that I couldn't have imagined when she started school.

Emma's friend at school wanted to dance with her to the music so he took her hands and helped her move to the music.  It was completely unscripted and heartwarming. 
Emma loves an audience and attention.  When her teacher put on the graduation music and it was her time to stroll down the aisle she strolled just long enough to get to see the crowd of people and then she stopped.  Typical Emma!  After a bit of encouragement she continued on to her teacher to get her diploma.  I caught it on video and can't stop watching it.  My girl walked down the "aisle" and received her preschool diploma.  What a milestone for her!

Her class performed a song for everyone.  It was about stars shining and growing.  Emma doesn't really sing so her speech therapist set up a touch lamp for her to turn on and off at certain times during the song.  It was a wonderful way for her to participate!

There was a video slideshow of their year and it was so wonderful to watch.  I never tire of the slideshows - it's such a nice glimpse into the magic that occurs during the school year that we as parents don't typically get to see.

So many people came up to us and told us how much they loved seeing Emma each day.  She always greeted everyone with a huge smile and brightened their day.  She will most definitely be missed, but it's time for her to share her zeal for life with a whole new group of people.  Although Emma has a lot to learn in her school adventures that have only just begun, it is evident to so many of us that Emma is so much more a teacher than a student.  She teaches people to laugh with great abandon on a very frequent basis, to smile in the face of adversity and to inspire greatness in others.

The world needs the brightness Emma gives it and we are all the better for having spent time in her own brand of sunshine.  Congratulations our sweet Emma Bean!!!!