day trip: impression 5

With cabin fever in full force at our home, and we've visited every toddler-friendly venue in town multiple times this winter, we thought it would be a good idea to get out of town today for a change of pace. We decided to head to Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing. It's a children's science museum that's only about an hour away so we didn't have to rush out the door this morning or rush back for nap time.

The first thing we saw when we walked through the door was a giant mouth. For an almost two year old who loves brushing her teeth, this was a great sign of good times to come.

The fun continued from there with so many great exhibits:

A full oral health exhibit where she could actually brush and clean giant teeth.

An interactive healthy eating grocery store that she could have spent hours in.

Giant tinker toys.

A series of water tables (aka toddler heaven).

And so much more.

This place is seriously awesome for kids. I've found that a lot of children's places have a limited amount of activities for toddlers and this was not the case at Impression 5 at all. Every single section of the museum had plenty for Elia to try out and also a lot of elements that would be stimulating for older kids.

After an excellent morning, we had lunch at For Crepe Sake in the Lansing City Market, which is just minutes away from Impression 5.

Someone enjoyed her crepe.

If you're looking to get the family out of West Michigan for a day, I'd highly recommend a visit to Impression 5. We'll definitely be back!


two to two

In just two months, our firstborn will be two years old. Since the moment we found out that she was on the way, we've heard from seemingly everyone to cherish this time, that it goes so quickly. Were they ever right.

Since I haven't done it in awhile, I thought I'd share twenty two things about Elia, in honor of her twenty-two months.

1. Her favorite food is peas - frozen or dehydrated. Cooked and thawed aren't really her thing.
2. When looking at pictures, she can identify the members of her extended family and name them.
3. She is learning the power of "no".
4. After a week of practice, she now successfully sleeps in a twin bed both for naps and overnight.
5. She hates sweets.
6. Undressing is no obstacle for her, dressing herself is slightly more challenging.
7. Babies, babies, babies. This girl loves babies of all varieties: human, illustrated, or dolls.
8. She has a little laugh that sounds almost fake. She uses it when something is pretty funny, like a picture in a book or something we say. She saves all out chuckles for Mama's tickle attacks.
9. Brushing her teeth is fun to her and the best part is sucking water out of the toothbrush.
10. She's a parrot and will repeat back anything you ask her too. One of Dad's favorites? Go Blue!
11. Reading a book once is never acceptable. Twice is ok, three times is better.
12. She is turning into a cuddle bug. Yes!
13. Accessorizing remains one of her favorite pastimes.
14. Another favorite pastime? Hunting for lint between her toes.
15. She can name most of her body parts and would be happy to help you locate your belly button.
16. Her name for herself is "Yaya" and it's really caught on. 
17. We have a few photo books filled with pictures of her and these are her current favorites. I have a feeling she'd be a selfie queen if she had the skills and tools.

Speaking of selfies...

18. She's learning her colors and so far "buuu" (blue) is her favorite. 
19. She somehow learned that dogs eat bones and thinks they keep the same schedule as her, eating when she eats, sleeping when she sleeps, etc.
20. The concept of sharing is starting to stick and she's particularly good at sharing her chupones (pacifiers) with us. I think it's her attempt to bribe us into a sleepover.

21. She's in to her brother-to-be and has started hugging my belly and talking to him. My heart melts every time.
22. We suspect that she has an imaginary friend. Her name is Nina and she's always talking about Nina's house.

So there you have it, you're up to date on all things Elia. Now that she can communicate more, it's crazy to get a glimpse into how her little brain is working and putting things together, and to see how quickly she can pick things up. We've noticed a few glimmers of the terrible twos over the past few weeks and are bracing ourselves for that but, all in all, she really is the sweetest, most earnest little thing.

Here's to twenty-two months! I can't believe we'll start counting her age in years in just a couple more months. Next thing you know, she'll be headed off to Kindergarten.


be mine

Happy Valentine's Day!

We celebrated the day as a family, the perfect way to celebrate the day of love. My day started slightly later than Todd and Elia's, and they surprised me with my favorite pastry and a valentine in bed.

I'm all yours, guys. Sweet as honey, they are. Sorry, I can't resist a pun.

We decided that we weren't willing to be cooped up on this snowy Valentine's Day so we spent the morning exploring the public museum. This is the first time we've been with Elia and she had a great time interacting with all of the exhibits.

Before we left, we decided to hit the carousel and Elia was so excited to ride her own carousel horse. Towards the end of the ride she even swatted my hand away, my confident little Miss Independent.

She did a little horse-hopping and tried out a giraffe too.

After lunch and nap we got a surprise package from Grandpa L, such fun to open!

Todd made us girls a delicious Valentine's dinner that we all wolfed down.

I had no idea how much I'd been craving steak, I must have needed the iron. So tasty.

We hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day! Lots of love from our family to yours. XOXO.


snip snip

The day has come. Elia's baby mullet was in need of some real attention so yesterday, she went for her very first haircut.

I was nervous that she wouldn't sit still long enough to get a full haircut and we'd leave the salon with something worse than we'd come in with so we opted for a children's salon. 

E did so well that I'm not sure that was necessary but the stylist did a good job and did it quickly. She loved the experience and when she was done she kept showing off her new look by smiling at the mirror while doing this little shoulder shrug move. It was the sweetest thing!

Her final look is pretty similar to her "before" look but is keeping her bangs out of her eyes, a huge improvement.

The salon was conveniently located next to my favorite frozen yogurt spot so we extended our girls' day with a stop there. Elia does not like frozen yogurt or anything sweet so I just got her a dollop of tart yogurt with tons of fruit on top. 

She actually tried a few bites of the yogurt this time but then starting rejecting any fruit that had touched the yogurt, which was all of it. 

Oh well. Sitting in the window swing was fun anyway.

She is getting to be such a big girl! It's so fun to watch her try new things. 

Now, I think I hear someone stirring from her nap so, until next time!


luna de bebé: puerto rico (part three)

Día 4

After a few days of outdoor adventure, we opted to dedicate Wednesday to urban adventures. 

Before we left for PR, Todd realized that the Serie del Caribe (Caribbean Series) would be going on in San Juan while we were there. The Caribbean Series is a baseball tournament that's basically like the World Series of Caribbean baseball. Todd is a huge baseball fan so going to a game was a no-brainer. I was hoping to catch a Cuba game but on Wednesday afternoon Venezuela was playing the Dominican Republic and that sounded just as good. I was only in it for the hot dogs anyway.

We had to buy tickets when we got to the game. Simple. Well, it was simple once we got to the front of the line at least. The lines weren't particularly long but the transaction times were inexplicable. Ours, two bleacher tickets for right now, por favor, was fast enough so we headed to the gate. Turns out the general admission gate doesn't include the riff raff from the bleacher section so we were sent around the side of the stadium to a less glamorous entrance because you're not allowed into the interior of the stadium at all with bleacher seats but they had one carnival style food stand that offered hot dogs. Score.

We bought our dogs and made our way to the bleachers and joined a smattering of other fans to watch the game. The game was fun but the sun was extremely hot and we hadn't received the "bring your umbrella for shade" memo so we only stay for about an hour but that was long enough to see some good baseball action and get a feel for the Puerto Rican baseball experience. 

After the game, we headed toward Old San Juan, a historic part of town that I had really been looking forward to exploring. One of my favorite things to do is wander through new places and Old San Juan is the perfect place to do just that. 

We parked our car and immediately sought out Chocobar, a restaurant that features chocolate in almost every dish. If you know me, you know that I love chocolate and I couldn't pass up a snack there. I ordered a choco frío (cold chocolate) and churros con chocolate. A perfect snack. 

The menu featured all sorts of other things that I'd like to have tried like a grilled cheese and chocolate sandwich, chocolicious mega waffles, and a dessert called the floating brownie. All sounded heavenly.

After Chocobar, we took to exploring the streets of Old San Juan. The buildings are all painted in various colorful shades and the effect is sort of magical. I wish I'd taken more pictures of the building but street parking was prevalent and cars obscured most of the views.

We wandered our way up towards El Morro, a 16th Century fort that served as a lookout point for the city for hundreds of years. The walk from town up to the fort was impressive with green space stretching out before it.

We explored the upper levels of the fort, reading about the history and various uses of the spaces over centuries.

After the fort, we headed back towards the dock, soaking up the feeling of the old city as we went.

After a long stroll we stopped for a drink. Margarita for Todd, virgin piña colada for me. 

Mmm, refreshing.

Our final stop that evening was dinner at Verde Mesa, a local vegetarian restaurant. After several days of heavy foods - Puerto Rican cuisine seems to favor frying as its cooking method of choice - it was the perfect choice. 

Our brussels sprouts were perfectly roasted with a delicious combination of yogurt and eggplant sauces and that tiny loaf of bread was one of the best I've ever had, a delicious crusty loaf with a wonderfully light and soft center. The salmon and chocolate cake were great as well.

Our day in San Juan was definitely one of the highlights of the trip and I'd highly recommend spending a day or two here if you have the chance, there was much more that we didn't have time to explore.


luna de bebé: puerto rico (part two)

I know that it's rude to write multiple blog posts about our Puerto Rican babymoon when the weather back home is so terrible but really, I just want to share our photos and experience with you so please forgive me.

Día 3

Though we did haven't much of an itinerary for the trip, we had definite must-dos. One of Todd's was Cueva Ventana, which you can read about in part one of our babymoon account and one place that we both wanted to visit was El Yunque, Puerto Rico's famous rainforest. We set out after a leisurely morning and drove to El Yunque's visitor center, just over an hour from Dorado.

The park is vast and our goal was to visit some of the more popular spots and get in a good hike. Our first stop was La Coca Falls, which is literally on the side of the road. In fact, while we were taking it in, we observed one carful of people who opted out of stopping altogether and just took pictures as they drove past. Efficient.

After that we drove a few minutes further to La Torre Yokahú, an observation tower from which you can see for miles and miles. The view from the top was stunning and the photos we took don't do the view justice.

Both of these first two stops were extremely easy to access, a benefit for any pregnant woman, especially if you're nearing the end of your travel window.

After the tower, we opted for a trail hike to La Mina Falls. The thirty minute hike promised a swim below the waterfall and, while I opted out of that, Todd loved testing the waters.

The uphill hike away from La Mina left us ready to hit the beach. Fortunately, El Yunque is just minutes away from one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever been to, Balneario la Monserrate, in Luquillo. The beach stretched for miles and the water was the most beautiful shades of dark blue and turquoise, exactly what you think of when you think of a Caribbean beach.

The temperature on the beach was perfect and the water was invitingly warm. The sun and surf were exactly what we were hoping for and after a few hours we headed back to the hotel for the evening relaxed and slightly more bronzed.

Next time: Baseball and Old San Juan

Catch up on part one here.
Read ahead to part three.