Fall Frenzy

Every year at this time, the Jones crew goes into some berserk sort of frenzy when we realize our summer is coming to an end and yet it seems we haven’t done that much.  We probably really have, it just seems like the lazy days of summer all of a sudden seem behind us and we try to cram in every single thing we can before the leaves fall and the snow flies.

This weekend was the beginning of said frenzy, and we felt even more compelled to get in a lot of stuff because D.Jones is leaving for his annual football draft next weekend, and the following weekend he has opening Gopher football festivities.

Saturday morning we decided to get in another summer trip to the zoo since we had joined earlier in the year and its free.  We haven’t explored the Minnesota Zoo too much, though we’ve made a few trips.  They always seem to be relatively short trips to avoid the inevitable overtired meltdown.  Ours, as much as Cooper’s.

This trip we happened upon the coolest playground ever, just past the central plaza of the zoo.  There were tree houses way up in the trees, there were huge spider webs for the kids to climb, there were bridges way up in the sky, strung between tree houses, and there was a fishing boat.  That’s right.  A fishing boat.  Which, to Cooper Jones, was the absolute coolest.  So, for the first good half an hour of our zoo time, we tried to persuade him to get out of the fishing boat and actually do some other stuff, but there he was, crammed into a fishing boat on springs in the middle of the playground, with umpteen other boys exactly his age, fighting over who would get to run the boat’s motor, which really did make realistic motor noises.

I finally bribed him out of the boat by telling him we could go to the family farm on the far side of the zoo property, and he knew what that meant because we’ve been there before.  A John Deere tractor ride!!  He high-tailed it out of the boat and was ready to go….  Nothing temps Farmer Jones like a tractor.  I know my boy.

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For more pics of our day at the zoo, click here.

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Today we decided to brave the MN State Fair.  D.Jones has a history of hating the fair, and usually Cooper and I go with Grammy & Papa during the week, when things aren’t quite as crazy.  Today, though, we decided to go for it.  After securing parking, which was no small feat, we made our way to the gate. 

Things weren’t so bad when we got in, and D.Jones was on a mission to get the required cheese curds.  We made our way to the Food Bldg, but the line was absolutely insane, and D.Jones emerged curd-less.  While Cooper and I waited outside, though, Coops spotted the SkyRide and insisted he had to go for a spin.  D.Jones said he’d take him, and we figured out that they would end up at the top of “Machinery Hill”…full of, you guessed it, tractors!!  Are you sensing a theme with my child yet? 

So, we got the tix and Doug and Coops hopped on, while I made my way to the top of Machinery Hill with the stroller.  I had a pang of regret as I looked up and saw my baby’s little feet dangling from way up in the air with nothing but a measly little bar, and D.Jones deathgrip on him.  Couldn’t we have picked an enclosed sky ride!?  But soon enough, they were hopping off and all was well.  Though, I wasn’t the only one with concerns, because the second D.Jones got off the ride he leaned over to me and muttered “Not fun.  I didn’t realize we wouldn’t be locked in by anything.  Never again.” 

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We spent way longer than the two older of us would have liked, checking out every single piece of machinery on Machinery Hill, and then hit the “Kidway”.  It’s the usual “Midway” section of a fair, but for the little guys, so picture the same weirdo carnies, but a sea of strollers, the highest decibel of screaming still audible to the human ear, and tantrums every where you look.  Good times, right?

Honestly, I forgot about all of that as soon as my baby boy insisted he was going to go on rides by himself.  By himself!?  Aww….my little man, getting so grown up!  So, for the next hour or so, he rode motorcycles, airplanes, dragon roller coasters, race cars, and anything else that piqued his interest.

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I, on the other hand, choked back waves of nausea and cursed myself for doing it two days in a row.  Seems my first pregnancy diet of brown sugar poptarts and chocolate milk is unacceptable to Jones baby #2, and unless I eat small meals of healthy food, I’m in a living hell.  Apparently he or she doesn’t dig cheese curds and mini donuts.

After we talked a crying Cooper into leaving the “Kidway” we decided to wander around and see some other sights…until we actually left the Kidway.  Seems as we spent time on Machinery Hill and at the Kidway, the remainder of the state of Minnesota had decided to also attend the fair.  We walked out in to the street to find this sea of people to wade through…

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We still decided we’d try to make our way to one of the barns to see if we could see some animals, but once we got there, we couldn’t even get near any of the pens.  D.Jones called it and decided we’d head for home.  It was probably the best decision, because little Cooper barely made it to the car, and couldn’t keep his eyes open once he was seated comfortably in his carseat. 

Once we got home, even the noise of the car doors opening and closing didn’t rouse him, and D.Jones ended up carrying my limp little one into the house, while Coops mumbled things like “oh, good job” some other undecipherable murmerings in his sleep.  Is there anything cuter than a dad carrying his worn out little boy to his bedroom?

I’m as exhausted as Coops is tonight, and I’m thinking an early bedtime will be declared at the House O’ Jones, but it was all worth it.  What a great family weekend.  Times to be cherished, for sure….

For more pics of our day at the state fair, click here.

(for those of you who haven’t viewed flickr photo albums before, just click on my link, then click on “slideshow” if you’d like.  And if you want to see the captions, click on “show info” in the upper right hand corner.)

Thomas & Other Stuff

I can’t believe I haven’t written in so long.  Well, yes I can.  I’ll get to that…

First, I should write about a big day for Cooper.  Last Saturday we went with some friends to see Thomas the Train in Lakeville.  Cooper didn’t seem overly excited on the way there.  He mostly talked about getting to play with “little Jack”, our friend’s son, whom he adores. 

However, once we pulled in to the parking lot and got out of the car just in time to hear and see Thomas himself pulling into the area, he was doing some weird, giddy laughter that is usually reserved for really good chocolate.  He was thrilled!

We got our passes and headed over to the line to wait for our turn to go for a train ride.  We ended up on the upper deck for our 20 minute train ride through the fields of Lakeville.

The boys were loving life, looking out the window and pointing out what they’d see for about the first 10 minutes.  The last 10 minutes we tried to keep them from tearing down the inside decorations and screaming down to the lower deck at people. 

Afterwards we headed over to an area that had games and other rides and a football field length warehouse chock full of Thomas paraphernelia to purchase.

It was actually much more fun than Doug and I anticipated, I must admit.

Leaving was rough on poor Coops, though, and he cried and screamed all the way to the car.  To ease his Thomas separation anxiety, we promised that we could meet Matt, Megan and “little Jack” again the next morning to play together at a local park, and that seemed to do the trick.

Some shots from our day…

Thomas rolling in to the station

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The boys with, well, the boys

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Coops & Jack in their train seats

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Photo op with Thomas after the ride

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Playing in the suds

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Coops in the kid car wash

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Now…on to my excuse for not posting much.  Cooper has an announcement to make.

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Since my niece Jenny asked, just to be clear…no, he’s not referring to the show.

Tomato Pride

For the first time ever, this year I attempted to grow tomatoes.  Some tiny little Big Boy tomatoes, or whatever they are called, and then some that are slightly larger than a roma, but not oblong, perfectly round.

I truly just saw some organic starter plants this spring at a local nursery, and stuck them in a pot and hoped.  Sure enough, they are coming in!  Not beautifully, because now I know that I over-crowded them in my pot, but I’m learning as I go.

Cooper loves going out each morning to check on the tiny ones and he devours them before I can even get a chance to rinse them off.  Grammie is always surprised that a 3-year old loves to eat tomatoes right off the vine.  (is it a vine?)

This morning we went out to check and one of our bigger ones was ripe.   Cooper asked if he could pick it and then promptly asked if he could eat it.  He’s only eaten the tiny ones so far.  I said “are you sure you want to eat the bigger one?”  He emphatically nodded ‘yes’, so I said “go ahead…”.

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Perhaps you can’t get a clear view of the face that followed.  Here it is again.  This is closer to the moment that the gag reflex hit.

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Final verdict?  Cooper Jones will only be sampling the smaller tomatoes from now on, I’m pretty sure.

Me?  I’m just so dang proud of these little beauties!

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 *sidenote:  if you love summer tomatoes as much as I do, check out my recent recipe on www.jonesinforfood.wordpress.com.  Delicious~*

Fine Art Treasures

Saturday afternoon my day had stretched on while waiting for D.Jones to arrive from NYC.  Cooper Jones hadn’t napped for a couple of days and the 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. shift was getting to me. 

After one last phone call from D.Jones to tell me he probably wouldn’t even be home until close to 9 p.m. that night, I had to get outta the house. 

Coops and I hit the road for what I was hoping to be a long, refreshing walk with him happily eating his Princess fruit chews in his stroller.

We got about a block when I spotted two girls who were about, oh, seven years old, waving down traffic and then honing their attention on me.  Ugh.  Feeling not so social and not very excited about being hit up to buy lemonade, I had fleeting thoughts of turning around in our tracks and going another direction, but their huge grins and eye contact made me keep going forward.  All the while I was chanting to myself “God, please don’t let it be a lemonade stand!”  Many of you already know about my OCD issues with germs and lemonade stands gross me out in a major way.  I mean, I don’t wanna drink anything that has been sitting around in some pitcher in the hot sun that you made in a questionably clean kitchen.  I have no idea what the inside of other people’s homes are like as far as cleanliness, so I certainly don’t want to pay money for something that is going to make me think I am about to get food poisoning for the rest of the day.  I know, I know.  I have issues.  Tell me something I don’t know.

But, as I neared, I noticed no pitcher or anything lemonade-related.  I should have known.  A lemonade stand in my neighborhood would be so passe’.   Instead, these young entrepreneurs were having a fine art sale!  No kidding!  They had small acrylics on canvas, some pottery, and oddly enough, marshmallows.  

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This was our purchase, as Cooper Jones so kindly held on display for you all, sort of like a huge, oddly shaped and not as pretty, Indian woman’s tilaka.  It’s actually pottery and along with one marshmallow for Cooper Jones, it cost me $2.

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This afternoon I was cleaning house and came upon this.

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In case you don’t recognize this fine piece of craftmanship for what it is, this, my friends, is Cooper Jones’ pirate chest.  He made it during his summer pirate camp, and honestly, I haven’t seen it around much since we brought it home.  So, imagine my surprise when I found it today in the dining room and it appeared to be full of, what else, but treasure!

My mommy nosiness got the best of me and I just had to know what my three year old boy finds intriguing enough to put in his pirate treasure chest!  What, exactly, does he think is “treasure”?

So here ya have it.  You get to take a sneak peek right along with me.

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I don’t know how long he’s been working on gathering this booty, but so far, this is what he’s got.

1.  piece of artwork we purchased on Saturday

2.  yellow piece of I-don’t-know-what

3.  one black bracelet of mine

4.  a plastic crab (lobster?)  What is that thing?

5.  a blue car puzzle piece

6.  A John Deere tractor sticker that is no longer sticky

Tragedy and Heart Warming Action

I am so amazed at the things that I learn and experience online.  Not just what someone cooked for dinner or how to get stains out of carpet, but the inspiring, fabulous nature of people making connections in whatever way they can.  Online I have developed friendships that mean so much to me in real life.  Online I have also found others I don’t know personally who are facing life’s challenges, and those who are inspiring others to action, like today.  Today I clicked on my friend Dawn’s website to see what she’s been up to.  She is always a joy to check in on because even when faced with stuff that’s not so great, she makes it great by her wonderfully positive outlook and her true joy for life. 

Today I was not surprised to see a titled post of “From the Goodness of One’s Heart”.  I immediately thought that Dawn had gone out herself and built, by hand, a home for someone in need or something like that.  It seems like she certainly would, and could do it, but instead, I found a link to this page over at Welcome to the Nuthouse.

Check it out.  Today, instead of reading about someone else’s good deed, you could have a chance to actually participate.  Mark your calendars for the 11th friends…good things are in the works.

Still in the Minneapple

D.Jones has been in NYC for a few days now.  This has left little time for blog updates.   It’s amazing how even just the hour or two of a break I get when D.Jones gets home from work makes such a big difference when day after day I don’t have it.

Coupled with the fact that three year olds are apparently way grumpier than  two year olds, the days have flown by, and also dragged by at the same time as we stick it out in the Minneapple while D.Jones kicks it in the Big Apple.

Today we went on 2 stroller rides, a walk, went to 2 parks, packed a picnic lunch that we never ate, worked in the backyard, went to Target, took a nap (thankfully), did a load of laundry, and now (whew!) after all of that, we are relaxing for movie nite at the Jones house.

We decided on Charlotte’s Web and Wall-E,  Bob the Builder – Skyscrapers.  Surprise, surprise, huh?  Shall I mention now that I was excited to watch a “classic” like Charlotte’s Web and instead found myself bored to tears within about 7 minutes?

It is fun to just wind down with the boy, though, and we turned our living room in to big, comfy, movie party central, with the softest blanket known to man, our pillows, and even pizza and popcorn for our little soiree. 

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A few other moments from our day…

Cooper is very serous about doing proper introductions with the checkout folks at Target, and today was no different.  Today our checkout guy was a young hipster with a nose ring and hair that was way too cool for a checkout gig at Target. 

Cooper, in his not so shy fashion says “what’s your name?” to which the guy responds “Carl, what’s yours?”  Coops says “Oh, I’m Cooper Jones”.  Carl says “Cooper is a cool name.”  Coops pauses for a moment and then says “well…nice to meet you, Jello.”  So random!  Carl and I looked at each other and then both burst out laughing.     Carl even said “Jello would be a pretty cool name.  I’m gonna call my mom and ask why she named me Carl instead of Jello.”  Things are always interesting with Cooper J.

Speaking of which, he has a new obsession with fruit chew things.  Mostly, I think, because they come marketed by Cars and Spiderman and Diego.  Whatever.  I figure they aren’t as bad as some snacks, so I let him pick some out once in a while on our Target trips.  Today I told him he could pick some out and he points to a particular box.  I say “really?”  He nods yes.  Hmm…  Okay.  No prob.  I grab the box he wants, and he hugs it to his chest like this…

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That’s right.  Not Lightning McQueen or Spiderman.  The boy picks Ariel and the Princesses.  He hugged the box to his chest all the way through Target, sometimes weirdly kissing the box and even more disturbingly, muttering “I love pretty princesses.”  Allllrighty then.

Also seen today, a sign I had to share.  We had searched for the perfect picnic spot, only to unload the car, get settled and have Cooper announce “I hafta poop.”  Of course there were no bathrooms in sight at said picnic area, so we loaded back up and headed home.   I was a little annoyed as I drove home, but as we headed down Lyndale, I spotted this, and couldn’t help but laugh.  I wonder what she was selling?   Someone probably scored some serious deals if the guy had any good stuff. 

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