Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pittsburgh wrap-up

The thing that drives me nuttiest about Blogger is that, when you upload pictures, they show up in reverse order. The thing that drives me nuttiest about posting on a Mac rather than a PC is that I cannot just drag my pictures around and drop them where I want them to go. So I'm going to recap the rest of the trip, starting with the end. Because I'm lazy like that.Before we left for March Break, Cindy gave us these travel scavenger hunt sheets. We made a bunch of photocopies and thank goodness we did, because they were a smash hit. Mallory watched a couple movies (the drive was 5 hours each way) but Liam did NOTHING but scavenger hunts - I think he finished 3 in their entirety - and nap. This was quite a feat because while we saw lots on the roadsides at the start and end of our trip... there was a looooong stretch of Ohio interstate in the middle during which we saw pretty much nothing. And still he kept at it.
On our last morning in Pittsburgh, we went to the Children's Museum. It's rated one of the top 10 childrens' museums in the US and it's easy to see why. It's leaps and bounds above our local London children's museum. This is me in front of a wall of raining text.
This next picture is from the zoo. They do have penguins and the penguins do cheer for the hometown team.
What's this? Back to the children's museum. This was a huge Light Bright board that we had fun playing with.
The stairs in the museum... that all say 'ouch' or some variation thereof as you step on them. They were fun!
The souvenirs we picked up on our trip: Mallory got this stuffed penguin, which she immediately named Sidney Crosby. Except that she keeps calling him Cindy. With Cindy having been part of her life since the day she was born, I can't blame her!
Liam got a little Penguins zamboni. You knew it would be something hockey related, right?
The one culinary must-do in Pittsburgh is to go to Primanti Brothers for a sandwich. The sandwiches are big, meaty, cheesy, greasy messes, and they include the coleslaw and the fries INSIDE the bread.
Never fear... Mallory did get her swims in after all! Our hotel had worked out an arrangement with a neighbouring hotel for us to use their pool facilities, and provided a shuttle back and forth. Thank goodness. Otherwise there would have been a mutiny.
Yeah, these pictures are pretty out of order. Now we are back at the zoo, in the shark tunnel. Liam summoned the sharks by flashing his Jaws shirt and showing he was on their side.
This would have been a cool picture with the polar bear, if it weren't for the kid in it. (Not mine.)
One more at the pool, or rather, the hot tub. The kids got a kick out of this - it was pleasantly warm but not really hot like most hot tubs are. I set the timer on the camera and ran to get into this one, and with two seconds to go until the shutter clicked, Liam dropped a handful of foam on top of my head. I know it looks like I am frying an egg up there, but I swear I am not. This helps explain why Liam has such a funny little smirk on his face - he is SO proud of himself!
And with that... Pittsburgh was behind us. This week we started drawing up a fun little list of places we have been and places we want to go with the kids before they start leaving the nest in the next ten or fifteen years. Let's put it this way: there is not enough time or money. Chad currently has us pencilled in for two or three exotic vacations per year. I'd love to live that way... just not sure it's going to happen! Nice to dream about it, though.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Won over

Last fall I desperately wanted to see The Muppet Movie. It probably has something to do with having watched The Muppet Show every Friday night of my childhood. I thought it would be great fun to introduce my kids to the Muppets. They never turn down the opportunity to see a movie... or at least they hadn't, until this one. Something about the Muppets rubbed Mallory the wrong way and she REFUSED to go see it. Liam was only lukewarm. And so we never did make it to the theatre.

But this week it came out on DVD and I said I was renting the movie for a family movie night and that was that. Anyone who wanted to watch it could, and anyone who didn't want to could go to bed early. I guess they took the threat seriously because we all watched it last night. Liam thought the farting shoes and singing chickens were hilarious (of course) but Mallory - she was enraptured with the whole thing. And the first thing she did this morning when she woke up was draw me this picture. Of course it's showing here sideways, because my scanner does that. So in case you can't make it out, this is a picture of Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Beaker, Gonzo, the Swedish Chef, Walter, one of the chickens, and a few more whose names escape me because, let's face it, it's been a while.

She watched it again this morning and I've put it on again right now as a bedtime treat. She's hooked. I win again.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Pitts, again

After the hockey game let out, we went back to the hotel to swim. It is not a Cook Family Vacation unless it involves a swimming pool at the hotel. (This, despite the fact that the kids can swim any day of the week at the Y or in the back yard at home... but I digress.) When we booked the hotel we made very sure that it had a nice pool. Chad went downstairs to check it out while Mallory put on her swimsuit. And then, wouldn't you know it, Chad came upstairs with bad news: the pool was closed for the exact duration of our stay for resurfacing.

After Mallory had a good cry, we decided to head up Mount Washington instead. It was a gorgeous day and the next day was calling for rain so we decided to take in the view while it was clear. Mount Washington has two inclines on it. The one closer to our hotel was the Monongahela Incline, which has been running up and down the mountain since 1870. I expected it to be old and rickety and scary, and was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't. Although I will admit that Mallory was not entirely convinced.It's a good thing she is too little to read some of the graffiti in the car: On top of Mount Washington, there are several lookout platforms with panoramas of the city. The incline ride did not bother me but I could not walk out on this thing without feeling like I was going to throw up.I did make it out there for a picture though... a kind man offered to take the family picture I posted a few days ago, of us in front of the city skyline. That made up for the botched photo in the Consol Center.Pittsburgh sits where three rivers intersect and there are lots of cool bridges and waterfront parkland that I imagine would be really pretty if it were green.

The next morning we were out the door early... we were off to the Carnegie Science Center, one of four Carnegie museums in Pittsburgh. The part we enjoyed most was the sports complex which offered lots of activities and almost no crowds. The kids both tried the rock climbing (in preparation for this summer's vacation!): Liam did not enjoy himself at this museum at all... no sirree... Mallory was fascinated by some of the cool exhibits in the robotics room. In this one, you draw a picture on a touch screen and then a robot arm recreates it out of little steel balls.
My favourite part was the 1945 submarine parked in the river out back that you could tour from the torpedos in the front end to the sleeping bunks in the back. Aside from being very claustrophobic, it was very cool.Back to the sports center again. We competed in many, many computer-timed 50m dashes against each other, and here's Liam taking a ride on the Human You-Yo.

For dinner that night we went to a seafood restaurant and ate buckets of crab legs. Well, three of us did. Mallory opted for macaroni and cheese. Surprise, surprise.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Great expectations

At about 7:30 tonight, Liam came to me with a worried look on his face and asked when we were going to make the rainbows that we eat. He was referring to our traditional end-of-the-rainbow parfaits that we have been making on St. Patrick's Day for the past four years in a row. The thing is, I wasn't planning on doing it this year. You see, we have something coming up soon (personal details whited out)......and I am about all rainbowed-out from that (including rainbow fruit so that there is at least one healthy choice on the menu). Plus, I had been planning on making a sweet treat for St. Patrick's Day dessert, but then a friend who came over for a playdate this afternoon brought a box of Timbits, and I didn't think it was necessary to have more treats in one day.

The moral of the story is, don't start a tradition for your kids and then decide to stop it on a whim. They will notice, and they will not be happy. Lucky for me, we had most of what we needed on hand to whip up some parfaits for a bedtime snack. We were missing the purple grapes, and Liam pointed that out, but I don't think he minded too much.It's not like I planned to skip St. Patrick's Day entirely. We did start the day off with a festive breakfast. We used our leprechaun dishes......and we wore our leprechaun hats......and Liam's foosball pajamas had him looking mighty festive.
This time, I used the gel food colouring to tint our pancakes green, and they turned out much, much greener than they have in years past when I used the liquid colour. The juice was tinted with liquid colour, and a couple of drops there went a long way.

Friday, March 16, 2012


For March Break, we went to Pittsburgh.This elicited a lot of comments from people when we told them where we were going. "Oh, Pittsburgh? Er... what's in Pittsburgh?"That's the same reaction I had when Chad first came up with the idea a few months ago. As it turns out though... there is LOTS to do in Pittsburgh. (And it's only a 5-hour drive for us.) But the main reason we went was to see a hockey game. Liam loves the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Mallory just plain loves penguins. The game we saw featured the Bruins as well and Liam loves Tim Thomas so... it was perfect for us.So we got to Pittsburgh, and the first thing we had to do was get a hat. From a shop outside of the arena, because goodness knows they are cheaper there:Mallory got in on the hats, too, finding a cute little pink and white sparkly version. She does not have a Penguins jersey the same way Liam does, but she does have a penguin shirt, and that's what she decided to wear on the day of the game. It made for a very cute outfit:Mallory watched approximately two minutes of the game, after which we kept her busy with food. She had a pizza, she had a drink, she had some Cracker Jack that she decided she did not like, after which we got her some regular popcorn, which she literally within thirty seconds dumped on the floor. Then she wanted a hot dog. I think we spent almost as much on her food as we did on her ticket. Then, she played Angry Birds until the game was over:Liam, on the other hand, kept track of every shot, every statistic, every player on the team. He was in heaven. He is just adorable, that one. The only thing he did not like was the noise when the Penguins scored. Pittsburgh has some pretty loyal and rowdy fans, and the game was a sellout... so it was loud:And also, it was a high scoring game. The Penguins won, 5-2. It was a great game to take kids to see, because who wants to see a game that ends 1-0? Nope, you'd much rather see lots of goals. You'd just rather not HEAR them, I suppose.Arena lighting is pretty sucky but I think this is my favourite shot of the whole trip:It certainly turned out much better than this one, which a man in the seat behind us took. This is what I'd been planning for months on using as my March Four People Twelve Times entry, so to see that it didn't turn out was pretty disappointing:Also disappointing: we missed the return of Sid "The Kid" Crosby by ONE game. Initial rumours had him pegged to return during the game we were at and we had every finger and toe crossed when we first heard that... but it was not to be.So the game was great... and we still had three more days in Pittsburgh. Lots more to do.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012

This is the song that never ends, it just goes on and on my friends...

Dawn asked what is going on up here, and I'll tell you: it's called catching pneumonia and having your immune system trashed forever and ever afterwards, amen. Seriously, on Sunday night I finished my ten days of antibiotics from strep throat and by Monday night I was puking from a stomach bug. Literally, the day after the meds I was sick again! Chad had it too, but the difference was that his was gone in 24 hours. Mine morphed into a chest cold that had me home from work for a couple of days and I'm still coughing today. I'll bet my boss it totally thinking he made the right decision about hiring me now. Seriously, spring cannot come soon enough! Enough with the germs already!

Anyway, that explains another week in my life with very little accomplished, but I am starting to feel a lot better now. I even picked up my camera on Thursday and Friday. That's always a good sign.Mallory came home from daycare with this awesome milk jug bird feeder, and she dragged Chad out into the back yard to get it hung up, pronto. But after pointing out where it belonged, she didn't even stick around to watch it find its new home.I caught this next one with a looooong exposure in her room at night, after I went to check on her and found her all snuggled up with three teddy bears at once. Cute, cute. It looks kind of green on here though - I thought I had the colour better than that in Photoshop? Hmmm.Liam's class won a pajamas-and-a-movie day on Friday. When you send your kid to school in pajamas, it's OK to send them with bedhead too, right?
Just another silly one of Liam. He is totally cracking me up these days. He has suddenly turned into such a b.o.y. Burps and farts are the funniest things in the world and he walks around the house trying to make noises with his armpit (though so far, failing miserably.) He is always just the happiest kid who can entertain himself with little games no matter where he is. Love him to death.
Mallory's class celebrated St. Patrick's day a little early, so we put together this head-to-toe green outfit for her. Seriously, if I had hair the colour of hers, I would wear head to toe green every single day. STUNNING.And here she is back home from school with her leprechaun hat. Very fitting for a mischievous little girl.

And with that - it's March Break! Bring it on. Lots of fun to come.