Friday, November 22, 2019

i saw a kiwi!

In the last 10 years, I have slowly accrued a moderate number of American Airlines miles. Since I have no loyalty to any particular airline, and I fly juuuust frequently enough to prevent my miles from expiring, I found myself with about 40,000 miles set to expire at the beginning of December. In the currency of airline miles, that's the equivalent of two round trip tickets to a handful of domestic cities, two nights in a hotel, or 200 years of subscriptions to Better Homes & Gardens magazine (yes, seriously).

A towering stack of unread BH&G magazines would give me anxiety. Flying somewhere would result in additional costs on our "free" vacation (a ticket for Mae, a hotel, a rental car, etc). Instead, we opted for a couple nights in a fairly swanky hotel in the glamorous city of Columbus, Ohio. We checked in Friday evening and opted for a room with two queen beds, so Mae and I could snuggle while Dan sprawled out in his own bed. This arrangement saved me from having middle-of-the-night panic attacks that Mae had suffocated under a pile of fluffy hotel pillows. In the mornings, we feasted on bagels and breakfast pastries in bed while we watched cartoons. In the evenings we watched movies: "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" and "Paddington 2." Highly recommend both for toddlers... Mae was especially entertained by the idea of "hangubbers" falling from the sky.

On Saturday, we went to COSI, a very kid-friendly science museum.

We especially loved the ocean exhibit with the underwater cave area... though I almost had a claustrophobia-induced panic attack watching Mae climb down into the little submarine.

We had fun checking out all the dinosaur bones. Wasn't I smart to dress Mae in her dino leggings? Oops, sorry for cutting your head off in this photo, Mr. Stego.

Mae had fun playing in this dinosaur nest. Dan said, "If someone asked me for a photo that captures my kid's personality, I would show them this."

The art room in the kidspace area had an activity set up where kids could use pipettes to mix red, yellow, and blue water in dishes to make new colors. Mae loved this project, since she is always asking me what different color combinations make. (For the record, pink and pink and pink make triple pink.)

On Sunday, we went to the Columbus Zoo, with my NUMBER ONE goal to see a kiwi bird. I think they are so cute and so ridiculous, and I've never gotten to see one in person. If you are not aware of my love for kiwis, you clearly missed my first blog post ever, in which a kiwi statue almost tempted me to a life of thievery. The kiwi at the zoo was sleeping in a dark exhibit inside a log, but I still got to see it!! Here's me and Mae in a different aviary, right after seeing the kiwi. (Can't stop smiling.)

We also got to see bison and a moose, which were so cool to see up close! Don't worry, this is just a statue. There are no moose rides at the zoo.

We drove home Sunday evening feeling both refreshed and exhausted somehow. This was a much-needed weekend getaway and we had an awesome time!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

creature report

For Halloween this year, Mae decided to dress as Captain Barnacles, a character from one of her favorite TV shows, Octonauts. Captain Barnacles is a polar bear who leads a team of animals to explore the oceans and help out various sea creatures. Since our Halloween weather tends to be quite chilly, I am always on board with costumes that involve sweatpants and hats!

Here's a pic of the Octonauts for reference.

Halloween was (literally) freezing and soooo windy, so I'm glad Mae got a chance to wear her costume the weekend before when we visited the zoo. We visited our favorite animals, including (of course) the polar bear!

I loved that the train was converted into the Hogwarts Express for the month of October. We traveled through the Forbidden Forest and saw many magical creatures!

Our little Captain Barnacles was right at home with the undersea exhibits!

We carved our pumpkin the night before Halloween. Mae was not a fan of the slimy "pumpkin boogers" inside but she did like helping me to design the face. I took a piece of white paper and drew three options each for the eyes, nose, and mouth. She chose the triangle eyes (classic), the pig nose (funny), and the scary mouth (a surprising twist).

Mae didn't want to wear her coat on Halloween (for obvious reasons), so we put on an extra layer of clothes underneath her costume. Dan took her out to Trick-or-Treat for about 20 minutes. Then we swapped roles and I took her out until she froze into a little icicle. At home, I wrapped her in a blanket and let her watch Octonauts while Dan and and I sipped hot cider and handed out candy. We handed out a little less than 150 pieces of candy, with slightly lower turnout than expected (likely due to the weather.) Just ignore our unlit pumpkin here... it was impossible to keep it lit with the wind.

We've enjoyed the Halloween haul, and Mae even shared her full-size Hershey bar with me. She was so excited about it that we had to take it with us on our mini-vacation last weekend. Mae also got in a little "trick" on us this week. We were discussing how many legs different types of animals have, and I asked about Professor Inkling (the Octopus from Octonauts).

Me: "How many legs does Professor Inkling have?"
Mae: "None."
Me: "None??"
Mae: "None. He has tentacles!"

Well... she's not wrong!

For the costume, I ordered the blue sweatpants and t-shirt from Primary. Their clothes are a bit pricey (I used a coupon code), but it's surprisingly hard to find a matching shirt and sweats in a color other than black or gray anywhere else! I also ordered the rubber boots from Amazon. (One of Mae's favorite Octonauts episodes features a Long Arm Squid, so it feels very appropriate that she refers to this blue t-shirt as a "long arm sleeve shirt.")

I made the hat, collar, and belt from white fleece and light blue felt purchased at Jo-Ann. The belt is just a doubled rectangle of felt, held in the back with two strips of sew-on velcro. Mae was very excited about the Octo-compass on her belt, which consisted of scraps of craft felt held together by a combination of sewing and fabric glue.

I made the collar by tracing the neckline of the t-shirt and sketching a collar shape. I cut two identical pieces from the light blue felt and stitched them together. They're held together in the back with a velcro strip. The chevrons are glued-on bits of craft felt.

The hat was the biggest challenge. I tried to freehand the fleece pattern, but couldn't get a good fit, so I used a free pattern from Fleece Fun and added little fleece ears into the side seam. Then, I free-handed the fleece captain hat, but my math/measuring skills were NOT WORKING. I made at least 4 hat brims before I found one that fit correctly on the fleece hat. To make the captain hat, I made two identical felt brims, sewed them together into tubes, sewed them together along the top edge, then turned them inside out, pressed, and topstitched the top edge. Then I made a slightly domed hat portion, cut it into a circle to fit inside the brim, and machined-sewed it to the inner brim piece only, about halfway down the brim. Then I topstitched the bottom edge of the brim closed. The stripes and Octonauts symbol are cut from felt and attached with craft glue. I put a bit of stuffing into the captain hat so it would hold its shape before I hand-stitched it to the fleece hat.

I've heard variations of this joke before, and I'm no exception: I refuse to spend $20 on a Halloween costume, but I'll spent $40 on materials and spend a month making it myself! Worth it.