The Independence Day weekend began on Friday evening, July 3rd, with a “luau” at our neighborhood clubhouse — a pool party with games, sand art, and a bounce house for the kids, lots of food, and a live band.
Below: a. Rey, goofing off during dinner – b. Rey & Curly Top
Above: a. Dinky (right) and her friend M. – b. Boo, Rey, & some friends in the bounce house
Below: a. from left – D., (a neighbor), Gator, Ant, & Lefty
b. from left – M., (a neighbor), Lefty, Cricket, Curly Top, A., (a neighbor)
Baby’s First Independence Day!
You can’t tell from the photo, but earlier in the day “DeeDee” had been very ill.
She woke up vomiting, and continued for several hours. By evening though,
praise the Lord, she was back to her old self — and enjoying the attention!
The Clubhouse at Sunset!
And Rey’s First Sparkler!
On July 4th we spent the day at the pool with a neighbor family, the Farmers, having a cookout, then spent the evening with the Dunhams, a family that I have “known” online for many years, and have finally had the pleasure of meeting in person! We had dessert, chatted, and watched the fireworks display that our across-the-street neighbors were putting on. Can you believe I failed to get a single photo of the day?! Ugh!
Above: “Lefty” with his birthday cake – July 7, 2009
Lefty, turned 10 last week, on July 7th, so we began celebrating over the weekend, on Sunday, July 5th.
I can’t believe that Lefty is already 10! I know that I always heard that time flies by so much faster the older you get, but I never totally believed it – until I had kids! They are growing up sooo quickly — this one in particular. This is the child who was a newborn when I discovered the internet. I sat, in my early days of surfing the web, in a big leather computer chair while nursing a tiny blond baby and listening to Mozart. That baby is now a 10-year-old water-loving nature enthusiast who can most often be spotted in a stained striped shirt (stripes are his favorite) carrying around an Audubon guide and a pair of binoculars.
Lefty, being the animal lover that he is, always loves to go to the zoo, so we skipped the big party and decided we’d give him a zoo membership for his birthday. So I investigated, and realized that the membership to the Lowry Park Zoo (in comparison to similar local memberships) is, quite frankly, a RIP OFF!
In order to get a family membership to the zoo — “family” being defined as “two designated adults & up to four children ages 3-17″, we would have to pay $125, THEN pay an additional $25 per child, for a grand total of $250! (I, by the way, find these types of definitions of “family” to be VERY discriminatory! A “family” should be defined as the parents/guardians and all children living in the household. Period.) This $250 would not include any of the rides, and the reciprocal zoo program stinks! Not only are there no free zoos in Florida, as part of the reciprocal program, but they wouldn’t admit all of us anyway! Here is the policy:
“Members are admitted according to the membership rules of the other zoo or aquarium, not those of Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo (i.e. if their definition of a “family membership” limits the number of children to four, then that is the number allowed in on your card).
Reciprocal zoos that have free admission to the general public may offer free parking or other benefits, call them to confirm. Also, many of the listed facilities define a family as 2 Adults and 2 Children. Therefore, additional children may have to pay admission.
These facilities are only a reduced admission for reciprocal members. This is only a partial discount (approx. 50%), please call ahead for exact information.”
Um. No thanks!
So I looked into MOSI (The Museum of Science and Industry). MUCH better! They still have discriminatory membership policies, BUT at least their reciprocal program is better — and it includes a free trip to the zoo (anytime during the month of September)!
MOSI’s “family” membership WITH the additional IMAX membership, is regularly $150 for up to five people, and $20 for each additional person. But last weekend they had a sale. The museum + IMAX membership was on sale for $135 + $16 for each additional person (not including the baby, who is free), for a total of $231*. This includes all regular IMAX movies throughout the year, and free entrance to myriad other museums and aquariums, as well as ASTC membership. A much better deal! So, this was Lefty’s birthday present — a year of fun, beyond the zoo.
* The savings nearly began right away, without even visting a single other venue; as the regular price of just ONE trip to MOSI as a family, with ONE IMAX movie would cost a whopping $206.45.
Homeschool Field Trip #1
July 5, 2009
A Visit to MOSI
One of our first stops at MOSI was “Disasterville”, where the children experienced several natural disaster simulators, including wildfire, tornado, and earthquake. And my personal favorite (to watch anyway)…the hurricane!
Above: Curly Top had a difficult time keeping her dress down in the hurricane simulator
Below: There’s a reason my children aren’t on the news!
Our children (and M, our honorary 11th child) as disaster workers
Next was the “The Amazing You” exhibit. I think the pictures speak for themselves…
Well…almost all of them speak for themselves. I do have one thing to say about that faux pregnancy suit that Rob is wearing. I think *every* man should be required to wear one during their wife’s pregnancies. Give ‘em a little taste. ;)
Next we moved onto the “Kids In Charge” building where Lefty played the drums, and the boys took turns watching things happen…and un-happen…and happen again on the monitor. Pretty cool!
I don’t know what it is about play food. I really don’t. The kids just LOVE play food. When I mentioned going to MOSI, the girls asked, “Is that the place with all the food?”. Well, yes. There is a huge Publix grocery store area full of…what else? Play food! This is where the three little girls and Rey spent most of their time.
Gotta love the look on Boo’s face below when she tests out the bed of nails!
Sometime around the beginning of our journey, back in Disasterville, our friend M lost her wallet, which contained money, gift cards, and an ipod. While I hung out with most of the children in the Kids in Charge area, Rob helped Dinky and M look for the missing wallet, to no avail. (It was found and returned to its rightful owner later in the week, minus the cash).
The last couple of photographs were taken as we were in the gift shop waiting for Dinky and M and preparing to leave. Baby Dee was sooo happy! I just love my baby girl!
It is customary in our household for the birthday child to be treated to dinner at the restaurant of his or her choosing. Alone. With just the parents; no siblings. So, after returning home from MOSI, we headed out to Romano’s, Lefty’s choice, for a quiet meal of pasta, a birthday song sung in Italian, and a delicious complimentary chocolate cake!
Above: Lefty celebrating his 10th birthday at Romano’s Macaroni Grill
July 7, 2009 – Happy Birthday, Lefty
On Lefty’s actual birthday, Tuesday, we headed out to the mall for a free movie (one of three that we saw this week, due to the not-so-nice weather), Mr. Bean’s Holiday. Then we wandered around the mall for a while before treating the birthday boy to a kids’ meal at Taco Bell (everyone else ate from Taco Bell’s value menu).
And when Rob finally arrived home from work in the evening, it was present time and cake time!
Lefty after opening his gifts; one being a bottle of Mountain Dew.
(Having one’s own soft drink is a real treat around here!)
But WHO thought the highly caffeinated Mountain Dew was a good idea?