Pretty soon, another chapter will come to a close. This season of staying at home with a toddler and an infant felt like a long one, but now that it’s almost over, I’m (of course!) a little sad. I officially got hired to teach ninth and tenth grade English at a local Christian school. I’m excited about getting back into the classroom, because I’ve REALLY missed it. And I’m grateful that my new school has a Christian preschool/daycare that my boys will be attending (for a great discount!). Jake, for one, will be super excited to make some new friends and really have a full day, because the one downside of staying at home with mom is that it can get BORING. 😛 But I’m not sure how my little Teddy Bear will handle the transition! I remember what it was like putting Jake into daycare when he was 15 months old, and it was a ROUGH, emotional transition, so I’m expecting the same from Teddy. Ultimately, though, I think it will be great for all of us to go to school together. And we will still have school holidays and summers off, so it’s not like I’m never going to stay home with them again.
Just browsing back through the photos on my phone makes me realize that we have had a really full summer! Full of all sorts of big outings and tiny adventures. Here’s a look back at some of the things that we’ve done:
We did this festival last year as well, and honestly, we were disappointed to see the size of it cut in half this year. There weren’t nearly as many vendors or attractions for the little kiddos (I heard a lot of other festival-goers around me complaining, so I know it wasn’t just me!). But Jake and Teddy didn’t know the difference, and obviously, Teddy didn’t get to attend the festival last year (because he wasn’t born yet)! Jake was terrified of the pony ride last year when we tried it–thankfully, the pony’s handler gave us our money back when he started screaming and wanting to get down. 😀 But this year, Jake is a big three year old and he has been much braver about things like this, so I was so proud of him for riding the pony! And the second picture is of my little Teddy, crawling through the tunnels and playing on the playground with the big kids. Though, I do have to keep a careful eye on him so that he doesn’t go tumbling down a ladder or eating mulch. 😛
Probably at least once a week we visit a different Greenway around town. The Halls Greenway is the closest (a two minute drive), and the one we’ve frequented the most (pictured in the bottom right photo), but I’ve tried to switch it up. Bottom left photo is us in downtown Knoxville near World’s Fair Park, in our standard configuration: Jake on his tricycle and Teddy in his stroller. The two top photos were our visit to Ijams Nature Center with our friend Tiffany. We love the wooden walkway along the Tennessee River!
Another favorite place to take Jake on his tricycle is Safety City. We discovered Safety City for the first time last year, and because of its weird schedule (it’s only open on Tuesdays and Thursdays during June and July, and throughout the school year for field trips only), I never had a chance to take Jake. Justin took Jake one time only a couple of weeks after Teddy was born, and I remember being really weepy about missing out on the fun because I had to stay home with the baby (but I was all hormonal and emotional about EVERYTHING at that point). But this year I finally had my chance to go!
Safety City is maintained by the city of Knoxville and it’s actually a miniature version of Knoxville, with tiny buildings and streets and traffic signals. The purpose is to help kids learn about being safe on the road (staying in the right lane, stopping at red lights and railroad crossings, etc). Every child MUST wear a helmet to ride their “vehicle,” (a rule that made Jake miserable), and pretty much any childrens’ vehicle is allowed (bicycle, tricycle, big wheel, razor scooter, power wheels, etc). It is such a cute little place, and it’s the first place we went to try out Teddy’s new Radio Flyer tricycle that he got for his birthday! In the pictures above, you can see Jake in front of a miniature version of the Sunsphere, and a miniature version of UT stadium and football field.
We also had the chance to visit the Knoxville Zoo one day this summer with some friends, and the boys had such a great time! Because all of our kids were aged three and under, most of their favorite things at the zoo weren’t even the animals. We had fun at the splash pad, riding a little miniature train, playing with the statue animals, and even doing a penny press in the machine. 🙂
On the 4th of July, we decided not to venture out to see the fireworks downtown. (It’s SO hard to keep Teddy awake after dark, especially since it doesn’t get dark here during summer until around 9:30). So we stayed home, but we were not disappointed! Our neighbors were lighting off mortars right and left, and we were basically in the middle of a battlefield! The picture on the left is Jake sitting in a lawn chair on our back porch (with a bowl of popcorn, of course!) taking in the action.
Our friend Tiffany was looking online for things to do in Knoxville while she was visiting us, and she found out about this field of sunflowers that we had never visited before! We drove there, and it was absolutely stunning! Sunflowers in every direction. Jake and Teddy loved it!
The top right photo is Teddy at his very first baseball game, watching the Smokies. I can’t say that I enjoy attending baseball games with very young children (or let’s be honest, that I enjoy baseball games PERIOD), but the Smokies stadium has a lot of fun activities for children, so I was able to keep them entertained on the playground and in bounce houses while Daddy watched the game. 🙂
Who doesn’t love a visit to Chuck E. Cheese? I think the reason that we visited that day was because heavy rains were in the forecast, so we were looking for something fun to do indoors. It was between this and the trampoline park, and Chuck E. won! Though the quality of the pizza is, obviously, pretty mediocre, the arcade is reasonably priced. Most arcades anymore want to charge 75 cents to a dollar per game, which really forces you to pick and choose what you want to play. I put $10 in the machine, and I was surprised when it dispensed like 50 tokens. I was even more surprised that each machine (with the exception of a moving T-Rex shooter game) only cost one token to play. Jake was easily able to play every machine/ride in the room two or three times–he had a blast! And when the children at a nearby birthday party all started fist-pumping and chanting, “Chuck E. Cheese!” Jake joined right in, almost like he was at a rock concert shouting, “One more song!” But of course, when Chuck came to visit our table, Jake panicked a little and almost dove under the table to hide. Teddy was intrigued by the giant mouse, though. 🙂
This event was every little boy’s dream come true! Police vehicles, emergency vehicles, and fire trucks were all represented at this event, and the children were invited to climb inside and push all of the buttons. Jake sat in a police car and played with the walkie talkie and the lights, and he also climbed around inside of a fire truck and set off the siren on an ambulance. It was such a great event! They had free face painting, so Justin waited in a really long line for that while I waited in a long line for free hot dogs and popcorn. When we finally got to the front of the face painting line, Jake for some reason became afraid to have his face painted and began refusing/panicking. So we tried to paint Teddy’s face (a tiger face!), but this is about as far as the artist could get before she had to stop for “liability reasons” because Big Ted was too squirmy in the seat. So our child had a partial tiger face for the rest of the day, LOL. But we would definitely do this again–the boys loved it!
These boys love the library! Now, do they actually love reading books at the library? No. Do they like attending storytime? No, they are little storytime terrorists. They ruin it for all of the other kids. Something about being inside the hushed walls of the library makes Jake want to scream and shout and run in circles and lose his mind. We have been chastised by a librarian before (okay, mainly I was being chastised since I’m the mom of the two out-of-control children) and nearly kicked out. But still, Jake frequently requests to visit the library. And in his defense, he likes to check out books and sit quietly at home to read them. But inside the actual library, there’s no chance of him sitting still (or Teddy)!
We attended this event just this past weekend. Justin drove past the sign for it on a golf outing with his company on Friday (I know! Tough life 😉 ) and he suggested that we go. It was widely advertised that entry to the Festival would be completely free free FREE! So we were disappointed that attendees were asked to pay for literally everything after arriving. Yes, we were able to walk around the festival for free, but if Jake wanted to color a butterfly at the craft corner, we would need to pay $5. If he wanted to help release one of the butterflies, we would need to pay $10. And let’s be honest, if we’re going to pay $5-$10 at an outdoor festival, it had better be for a plate of nachos, right? 😉
So we didn’t stick around too terribly long at this festival, but we did want to see the release of the butterflies. I think I was picturing the release of a flock of doves in my mind–I thought it would be a swarm or cloud of butterflies in the air all at once. But really it was just several butterflies going in separate directions–they don’t really flock together. But the butterflies did land on plants and objects close to the ground, which was exciting for the children and the nature photographers alike. One actually landed on the handle of Teddy’s stroller for a few seconds (pictured above). But the children with their Gatorade-soaked cotton balls were a little aggressive in trying to get the butterflies to land on their arms, so our butterfly on the stroller didn’t stay long (and I don’t blame him!). At one point, I thought that a monarch was about to break a couple of legs because a kid was being so aggressive with it (where are his parents?!). Jake, thankfully, was not aggressive with any butterflies. He saves it all for his baby brother. 😉
Looking back at all of these photos makes it hard to let the summer go! But I’m looking forward to fall and a new stage of life ahead. Yet again, I’m transitioning to another new normal! 🙂