Saturday, February 27, 2016

STEM Night

Gavin's school had its annual STEM night last night, and it was lots of fun! STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math, and the gym was full of different activities and stations for the kids to explore:

We were both fascinated with the mirage table. Look at each container. It look like there is an object on each  - but there's really nothing on top of them. It's all  a trick with mirrors!

There really is no frog on this bowl. Honest. Crazy, right?!

Stacking magnets:

A cube puzzle:


With his pals Ava and Claire:

Extracting DNA from a strawberry:

Sending straw "rockets" up to the ceiling with a bicycle pump:

 This was one of Gavin's favorites of the night. He connected wires to a battery and light bulb to make the bulb turn on. 

Thanks to the volunteers who helped make this night so much fun!!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Fun With Our Cousins

Every winter, around the Christmas and New Year break, we try to get together with our Wisconsin extended family. Sometimes we are sick, sometimes some cousins are out of town, but as many as possible meet up at a restaurant in Kenosha, which is a good halfway point for all of us.

The restaurant has one of those "claw" machines - Gavin and Erin tried to get toys but were not successful. (I think those things work about 1% of the time.)

Next, Uncle Kevin discussed the technical layout of the sandbox Sean is going to build for his Eagle Scout project. Gavin and Jack looked on:

Gavin hadn't seen technical drawings like this before (I don't think!) and was fascinated.

Next, playing Hangman with Erin:

And then the silliness started. Gavin, Erin, and Erin's dad Dennis got their hair as static-y as possible:

 It was a fun afternoon!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

New Year's Eve

Yes, I am WAY behind. I warned you that I was! Better late than never...

This New Year's Eve, I took Gavin to the Bubble Bash at DuPage Children's Museum. We've never attended this event before because it costs twice as much as regular admission. BUT we haven't gone in 12 months, since they had a frozen pipe and resulting flood that kept them closed for the majority of 2015. We wanted to see the new renovations and see which of our favorite things were still there.


The big duck spilling tank is gone, and now there are several smaller water stations. Gavin and 4 other boys made sure the ducks fell down repeatedly:

This thing below was like a Nerf dart, that would get set up and then a kid would jump on a pedal to make it fly.

Trying to jump hard enough to make a ball fly up:


This, below, is part of the electricity center. Gavin calls it "The Control Panel" and it is his favorite thing in the entire museum. He will spend 30 minutes up there, working all the levers and controls and pretending he is piloting a spaceship on an intergalactic mission (or something). We were delighted that it survived the flood!

More fun with bubbles:

Former Mayor Pradel and current Mayor Chirico were there. Mayor Pradel did the countdown to noon, then bubbles and inflatable balls were dropped. It was crowded but a lot of fun!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Visit with Shadow

Remember Shadow from the Danada Fall Festival? And after we went there, Gavin did a school project about Shadow? Well, I sent a photo of it to his owner, Larissa, and she said it made her day, and if we wanted to schedule a lesson with Shadow over winter break, we could. So we did!

Shadow is boarded up in Woodstock, so it was a long drive and clearly a one time experience. Jenny, the barn manager there (Silver Spurs Equestrian Center) was fantastic and explained everything to Gavin in detail, about grooming and riding.

Shadow gives lessons to children while Larissa is away at school, so he is very gentle and patient. Gavin was rather quiet at first, but he listened to everything Jenny told him and he had a great time successfully riding Shadow:

Getting on (with help from these wooden steps):

Listening to instructions from Jenny about how to stop, start, and steer:

And off they went! 

 There were a couple times Gavin didn't turn Shadow quickly enough as they rounded the ring, and they ended up facing a wall. Shadow would just stop and stand there, waiting for Gavin to give him a signal. It was adorable.

Larissa was able to come over and say hi!

 Feeding time after the lesson. Shadow was trying to investigate Francis's coat pockets for treats. He didn't have any, and all I had was cough drops, but Jenny said Shadow actually likes cough drops so I gave him one!

Shadow looks a little shaggy because his winter coat is grown in. I have never been up close to horse with its winter coat!

When we got home, Gavin said," I LOVE Shadow. He's the best horse ever!" 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Brookfield Zoo

We love Brookfield Zoo, all year round. The day after Christmas was drizzly but we went anyway and had a great time!

(This picture is from a few days before that - I'm including it here because it was the best one from that day. I also have a video which is too big to email. I'll try to post that later.) We had a close-up encounter with Mr. Lion:

These are from the day after Christmas:

One of the great things about Hamill Family Play Zoo os that the staff takes out small animals for kids to pet. This was the first time we petted a rooster:

And they had a cat to pet!! Gavin wishes more than anything that he wasn't allergic to them. I let him pet this cat (named Domino) as long as he didn't touch his face and washed hands immediately after:

We spent a long time by the poison dart frogs. Gavin wanted to study them. They are very tiny and active! If you look closely you can see a green one on the branch:

Playing vet in the "Vet Clinic" at Hamill Family Play Zoo:

Gavin points the way in the Swamp:

In the wolf den. It was dark by the time we got to the wolves, so we saw them roaming around, which was cool! In the day, they mostly sleep.