Fall Fun 21

Fall Fun 21

Before I can start writing about winter (it’s December 27th) here is a blog about our Fall.

Millie started ballet classes through Ballet Met. She is a “Mini Mover”, a class for 3 and 4 year olds. Maw, Mill, and I went to Opening Night, a store that sells dance attire, to try on and purchase her dance uniform; a pink cap sleeved leotard, a pink skirt, white socks, and white ballet shoes. (We got a sequin dance bag and a pink scrunchie, too.) While a sales woman was helping Millie try on ballet slippers, Mill was talking her ear off about the catfish in our backyard. The owner heard Mill talking and peaked out the dressing rooms, “I just had to hear who was saying that!” I was mortified. She must have thought we were such hillbillies. We found out that her feet are two different sizes; a half size difference. Millie leapt around the room when she had on her full uniform on and she was glowing.

1 day a week Millie attends dance class. There are 6 students total, all girls. Her teachers name is Miss. Sarah and they have a pianist that plays their rehearsal music. I asked Millie what the piano players name was and very matter of factly she told me, “Issac”. Come to find out his name is not Issac at all. It’s Gabe. The students are encouraged to wear masks during class. I thought this would be an issue for Millie but she never fusses about it and keeps it on. A month into classes, I asked Miss. Sarah how Mill was doing to which she responded, “Mia has a lot of great ideas.” This told me that Millie is probably trying to teach the class herself. She likes having “Mommy and Millie” time together after class when we get doughnuts or run errands. This ballet season has been really special.

We walked over to the high school to attend a Friday night football game. This was Wells’ first football game. Members of the OSU marching band who were GC alumni performed at half time. The kids enjoyed the music and clapped when appropriate. Wells wanted to sit independently between Chris and me, instead of on our laps. Once the game started, Wells wanted to be up and moving. He made a loop; down the stairs, under the bleachers, up the stairs, through the bleachers. He did this probably five times and when he’d hit a straight away, he would run. We bought a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts and snacked on the way home.

Maw took a walk with the kids one fall afternoon and Millie took note of the many houses that were decorated – ours wasn’t one of them. That weekend I took both kids to a farmers market where I pulled them around in a wagon and they got to pick out their favorite pumpkins. Wells loved the mini pumpkins and Millie loved them all. We also got a delicious bag of apples and two bundles of corn for the columns on our front porch. The stalks barely fit in the Jeep; they were probably 7ft long! The kids laughed on the way home as they played with the corn above their heads. They helped decorate the porch and Wells cried when he realized we were leaving the pumpkins outside.

We went took our annual trip to Zassys Vendor Markets and brought Lindsey along with us. The kids tried kettle corn for the first time and they ate it up! Millie flossed to the live music. I bought way too many plants including Millie’s first plant, a pink algaonema that we put on her book shelf. She named the plant, Leafy and sang it Happy Birthday. We came home with way too many kids in the car after picking up Lindsey’s boys.

We took our family Christmas pictures at the end of October. My cousins boyfriend is a great photographer and doesn’t mind coming to us to take pictures. Millie wore a green dress that paired well with mine. The ribbon belt that came with my dress looked perfect around her waist. Wells looked so handsome in his sweater, jeans, and boots. Wells was beyond his nap time so we didn’t get a lot of smiles out of him however, we were able to get a couple shots for the Christmas card. We quickly changed into our Halloween attire and took pictures on the front porch dressed as Wendy, Captain Hook, Tinkerbell, and a lost boy (skunk). We like to get into our costumes and take pictures before Halloween because the night of trick-or-treat is always so busy and the lighting is always terrible. Maw and I tweaked Mills costume and I bought Wells’ from an Etsy shop. Millie was so excited to blow “pixie dust” out of her hands and Wells was excited to throw his slingshot around. Thankfully, the pictures turned out super cute and Christmas cards have been mailed out.

On a rainy night in October, we decided to brave the Circleville Pumpkin Show. Neither Chris or his brother, Uncle Nick (who now lives in Ohio) had ever been to the pumpkin show in Circleville. We parked where we could find a spot, a few blocks away from the festivities, then Chris pushed the double stroller down the city sidewalk as I admired the architectural elements of the quaint houses. Wells wanted to walk around on his own so Chris and I stayed close to him as he explored freely. His smile was contagious; he was so happy to be out on his own. At the end of the night we watched a parade with floats, terrible sounding bands, and tons of beauty pageant queens. A man running for Congress asked Millie her name from his float, she told him and he waved back and used her name; she was on cloud nine.

This was the first year our family has participated in going door to door for Trick or Treat. Millie helped pass out candy her first Halloween. The weather was awful for her second. Her third Trick or Treat was canceled due to COVID. This Halloween, Uncle Nick came over and passed out candy so that we could take the kids to a couple houses. Beggars night in Ohio is the absolute worst, so of course it was raining. Millie dressed as Tinker bell carried her candy bag and an umbrella. Wells, happy to be walking independently, was a drenched skunk by the end of the night. Millie was very polite to the neighbors passing out candy and Wells was mostly interested in their dogs. Most of the candy in their bags was chocolate so we swapped the candy bars out with vegan candies.

Then Millie turned four. (I seriously don’t know how time has moved so quickly. She was wiping her mouth with a napkin the other day and I was like, “How does she know to do that?” I took the day off of work so we could spend her birthday together. We kicked off the day by icing some of the cookies for her birthday party. Then, we went to see a movie and it was the first time Millie had ever been to the movie theater! We had slim pickings on the movie choices but we decided on The Addams Family 2; we watched the first Addams Family the week before so she was excited to see the sequel. We ordered popcorn, pretzel bites, and fries – most of the food was gone before the movie even started. The movie was showing in theater number four, which of course was super special for the newly 4 year old. We had the theater all to ourselves, I guess no one else wanted to see The Addams Family 2 at one o’clock on a weekday. After the opening credits, Millie asked if she could sit on my lap. I reclined the seat back and we snuggled during the entire movie. What more could a mama ask for? It was the best.

The movie ended and per Millie’s request, we got doughnuts at Krispy Kreme. She picked out her favorites from behind the glass and even got a birthday cake doughnut. I let her eat a mini doughnut in the car and after she finished it, she fell fast asleep in her car seat. She had an awesome birthday and couldn’t wait for her cat themed birthday party with her friends and family.

Millie and I watched the musical, Cats together and were both equal parts mesmerized and creeped out. When I asked Mill what party theme she wanted, she was adamant she wanted a Gabby’s Dollhouse party, a children’s Netflix series about cats. Gabby products were difficult to find with Christmas right around the corner so the party was a more generic, “cat” theme. Kitties on the table, cats on the cake, felines in the flowers, and kittens on the plates! I ordered some decor off of Etsy and had the kids decorate kitty faces onto cookies. Millie got so many presents including a ballerina sleeping bag, a backpack full of craft supplies, new clothes, new crocs, and leg warmers.

We saw two spectacular light shows; Conservatory Aglow at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo. The conservatory had animal topiaries wrapped in lights and both kids were amazed to see their favorite animals, the elephants (Wells) and giraffes (Millie). They both enjoyed the rainbow arch, walking through a candy land house, and playing on the ropes in the children’s garden. We knew it was time to leave when we caught Millie laying down on the sidewalk by the wooden xylophone. We grabbed free cookies and a craft at the exit. The cookies were eaten on the car ride home and the ornament craft was created that night but destroyed by morning.

We went to the zoo lights with Uncle Nick, his new girlfriend Megan, and our engaged friends Dru and Katey. Both children fell asleep on the way to the zoo. We barely made it through the front gate before Uncle Nick bought them both flashy, light up wands. Santa was there but because of COVID, the kids couldn’t sit on his lap (I’m not sure the kids would’ve wanted to anyway). Millie was not a fan of the elf that introduced her to Santa. They continued to ask her if she was from the North Pole and she did not like that at all. When Santa asked her what she wanted for Christmas she very definitively said, “A Gabbys Dollhouse” to which Santa replied, “That’s a very popular present this year”. Wells signed, “thank you” to Santa and then blew him a kiss. It was the sweetest thing I’d ever seen and Santa said he’d be giving Wells a very special gift under the tree.

On Thanksgiving, we ate biscuits and gravy while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Chris accidentally turned off the tv during the Rockettes routine! Millie was excited to see the balloons. We went over to my aunts house and saw my dads side of the family. Then, we went over to my grandmas house and saw my moms side of the family. Facebook marketplace helped us find a Gabbys Dollhouse (triple the retail price) and Chris picked that up while we watched football. After a full day of traveling, we enjoyed a vegan Thanksgiving meal the next day.

Sweet Summer Time

Sweet Summer Time

“PSA to parents – you only have 18 summers with your children, so make them count.”

Talk about pressure.

I don’t know where I heard that quote but it has definitely stuck with me. I love that I can spend fourteen weeks of summer with Millie but here we are, two summers deep and I already can’t remember what we did during our first summer together! Thankfully, this blog helps to jog my muffled, mommy memory. Leaving Mill every weekday is rough. I love teaching music and the start of a new school year is always exciting but I miss our snuggle time in the morning, eating lunch together, and I especially miss taking mid-morning naps. So, here’s a post to commemorate our summer (because God knows I will forget by fall).

Millie’s favorite breakfast was a bowl of multigrain Cheerios with almond milk and a side of fruit, usually strawberries or blueberries. She’s gotten really good at using a spoon! Her go to lunch was veggie chicken nuggets (dipped in ketchup), steamed broccoli, and black olives that capped her fingers before they went into her mouth. She breastfed twice a day; before her afternoon nap and bedtime.

It was impossible trying to keep the living room clean. I’ve heard, “You can have a clean house when the kids grow up and leave the house but once they do, you’ll miss them in your house, messy and all.” and my OCD does not care about that for one second. Every time one mess would get organized, Mill would have two more activities out, while playing with something totally different! Then inevitably, it would be meal time and I’d have to walk away from the mess in the living room, just to make a new one in the kitchen! It was definitely one step forward and two steps back when it came to cleanliness this summer. It was best just to clean everything at night, after we put Mill to bed, so we could start fresh the next morning. BTW- she started sleeping in her own bed, in her own room, and through the night this summer..so there’s a win!

Traveling to Texas and Washington DC were easily some of our most memorable adventures this summer. (You can read all about our Texas vacation in the previous blog post.) We went to the DC Zoo with my mom, step-dad, and sister. We drove about two hours, braved the heat, and saw pandas for the first time! Mill loved them. Her paw-paw Kev got her a panda book and stuffed animal panda bear. She’s gotten pretty good at saying their Chinese names, too! On an episode of Daniel Tigers Neighborhood, (that’s a regular show in our house now) there was a quick clip of an actual panda playing in his enclosure and before they said the bear’s name or even the name of the zoo, I was able to identify both. Needless to say, we got a little “panda crazy” this summer.

“Pool?” Mill’s little voice would ask constantly because she loved being in the water this summer. She rotated between a striped, watermelon bathing suit and a hot pink, pineapple suit. To dry off, she used the cutest, hooded Daniel Tiger towel. We set up a small, blowup pool in our backyard, which ended up being more work then fun; it would only stay clean for a day or two before getting slimy and gross, the hose water was freezing, and the pool killed our grass no matter where, or how much we moved it. Next year, we’ll be getting a sprinkler. Mill loved going to her Gam’s pool while we were in VA; she would play with other kids, go under the sprinklers, and go swimming in the deep end with her Aunt Nani. At Zoombeezi Bay, a waterpark connected to the Columbus Zoo, Millie enjoyed going down the water slides (she was too little for some of the slides and would end up with a face full of water). On two occasions, Mill got to play in splash pads. Although she loved it, I was a nervous wreck with the possibility of her slipping and falling on the wet concrete; thankfully, that never happened. She liked playing in her water table, especially on the day that her dad and I attempted to power wash the house; we all got soaked.

We did another session of Zumbini this summer with an instructor that Mill loves. The class was early on Monday mornings and every week, Millie was excited to get dressed and go. Mill surprised me with her dancing and instrument playing; she can play the triangle with great technique and started to twirl and stand on her toes. Frustrating to me, some mothers would bring their newborns with them to class, which of course distracted Mill because she loves babies. She would want to touch the babes and play with them instead of listening to the instructor. And sometimes the moms would get irritated with Mill wanting to see their baby – hello don’t bring your newborn to a toddler class. My grandma made Mill a scarf like they used in class so she could continue to practice her Zumbini dances at home. This girl loves to dance.

Millie loves people, being outside, and anything loud so we decided to take her to our community’s firework show. Her patriotic outfit was absolutely adorable and her pigtails had sequin bows. She rode in her wagon and waved at children we passed finding the ultimatum viewing spot. Mill and her daddy kicked around a soccer ball while we waited for the sun to go down. Once it got too dark to see the ball, I tried my best to explain to Millie the loud booms the fireworks would make. I showed her a fireworks video so she would know what to expect from the show. During the fireworks display, she bounced between mine and Chris’ laps, completely unafraid. Mill was interested in the fireworks for the first three minutes and then asked for baby videos; she loves babies.

We found out in July that we will be having a baby, expected in March! Good thing Mill has taken such a liking to them. Next summer will be different but I’m sure just as memorable.

Millie Met Mo’ana

Millie Met Mo’ana

We are so fortunate to live close to the amazing, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Because I teach and have summers off, Millie and I have been able to go on daily adventures – the zoo being one of her favorites. She loves looking at all the children and is captivated by the fish at the aquarium. During the week, especially on days with spotty weather, the zoo isn’t overly crowded and we have the opportunity to talk with the staff that works directly with the animals.

The Columbus Zoo works closely with Western Lowland Gorilla conservations. I was encouraged upon learning about their success increasing the gorilla population. Stephanie, the gorilla expert, told us the names of all of the gorillas and their ages. She was knowledgeable about their relationships with one another and their individual personalities. She informed me that “Mac”, the silverback in the enclosure, is the grandson of the infamous, Colo. Colo was the first gorilla to be born in captivity and is practically a celebrity in Columbus, Ohio. The large and in charge, Mac, knows he’s handsome, will pound on the glass whenever he feels like it, is a surrogate dad, and is busy raising his two year old, rambunctious son, J.J. J.J. acts like any other toddler; he prolongs nap time, copies everything his daddy does, and plays about the enclosure. The gorillas habitat was observed and approved by Diane Fossey, one of the greatest mountain gorilla conservationists of all time. Stephanie says that these gorillas have it made at the Columbus Zoo, like the animals in the movie, Madagascar.

I learned that the female gorillas take birth control pills once a day, the same way a female-human would. The female gorillas are tested each month to make sure that they haven’t gotten pregnant by mistake. A “board” meets to determine which gorillas can breed according to their DNA compatibility. Because the gorillas at the zoo are promoting the conservation of their species, the board wants the bred outcome to be the best gorillas. Even with this board acting in the role of God, some gorillas do not come as planned.

Kinyani, a beautiful female gorilla at the zoo, was bred and born in captivity. She is deaf. She stays up high in the trees so that she can see the activities below and no one can sneak up on her (For his own enjoyment, Mac will sneak up behind her to smack her in the head.) Her deafness was not planned by the board however, Gods plan supersedes.

Mo’ana, is a seventeen year old, female gorilla at the zoo. She was born and bred in captivity and she has a mental disability. Her body didn’t grow normally so she looks different and she has arthritis. She sits right at the glass of the gorilla enclosure and tries to feed the children hay when they sit across the glass from her. Again, her disabilities were not planned, however her gentleness is a gift from God.

I have always loved gorillas and I felt especially close to them after learning that Colo, the beloved gorilla – may she Rest In Peace, her parents were from Cameroon. I was not familiar with this country until earlier this year when I looked it up; 3% of my DNA is from Cameroon, according to Ancestry. I also learned that Colo’s mother’s name was, Millie.

Twice, I have sat Millie by the glass to interact with Mo’ana. She seems timid as she looks at the gorilla and then turns her face into my chest. She doesn’t cry but she doesn’t smile at her either. I tell her all about the gorillas when we visit their enclosure. I hope that one day she will share the love that I have for these beautiful primates.