Saturday, May 19, 2012

American style baby shower!

Being in Japan, there are many things we've not been able to share with our friends and family.  Dima's promotion (soon to be plural!), our church wedding, and most importantly- the pregnancy and birth of our first child.  We have an amazing family here in Okinawa, but missing out on that experience was very hard for me, as having children has always been my biggest goal in life.  My Oki family spoiled me with not one, but two baby showers when I was pregnant with Zach, but not having our families there made things a bit sad.  Our families never even saw me pregnant!  This time was going to be different, and luckily, we happened to be in the states for a wedding while I'm pregnant this time around.  My mother in law planned this baby shower for us, and we invited some of our closest friends to join us in the excitement of another baby boy.  
I'm not exactly a girly girl.  I'm not a fan of the traditional baby showers with the cutesy games like, "Don't say baby" and dirty diapers made of candy. Our baby shower for Zach consisted of our closest friends stuffing as many balloons down their shirt as they could fit.  This was the kind of fun we wanted to have.  In order to share this excitement with all of our friends, we made this a BBQ shower that included the guys.  Nothing cutesy about this party.  Just beer, burgers, and hot dogs.  Now that's my kinda party!  
The agenda?  NONE!  Nothing planned but food, beer, and catching up with good friends and family.  That's it.  The only game we included was a beer chugging contest- with baby bottles!  It was really funny to watch everyone sucking at the nipples, they are surprisingly hard to sip from!  Vanya turned out to be champ, though my mom tried to cheat in the process by switching hers with soda!  She was automatically eliminated.  
We did open our gifts with everyone, and thank you all so much for your generosity.  Baby #2 will surely be spoiled rotten, just like his big brother.  Even Zach was lucky enough to get some cute gifts from his family.  
My mom made this wonderful fruit salad inside a watermelon!

Michelle, Twazzie, Jes, Jennie, Dima and I doing the Oki sign!

My dad, Z and I

My brother, Dad, and I

Dima, Michelle, Twazzie, Ric, and Shelley May

All of my closest girl friends- Alicia, Jenny, Me, Jess, Michelle, and Dana

With those missing- Jenny, Shelley May, Alicia, Me, Z, Jess, Michelle, Dana
Prepping the baby bottles with beer
Liz, My mom, and Vanya chugging their beers (or in my mom's case- soda!)

Dima sucking at the bottle

Zach wishing he could have participated
Time for some cake!

Cutting our cake- this one didn't have any surprises inside!  
Some presents from our wonderful friends and family

A "Best Brother in the Universe" shirt for Zach

Thank you all so much for sharing this day with us.  It has been a delight to see you all, and we are so happy to say that baby #2 is very loved by his family and friends.  We look forward to meeting him and introducing him to you all!

Stepping Stones Children's Museum

Between the rain that followed us everywhere we went to the excessive amounts of traveling we were doing while in the USA, poor Zach needed a chance to have a day all about him.  Don't get me wrong, as a mom, every day is about my son, but today was extra special, as we headed to a new and very exciting place.  
Stepping Stones Children's Museum is the place for children in Norwalk, CT.  The aquarium is just up the street, but without a doubt this is my new favorite place in Connecticut aside from apple picking farms in the fall.  The museum's whole purpose is to broaden educational opportunities for children of all ages.  I may be almost 25, but after leaving this wonderful place I myself feel enriched!  The museum creates such an environment that supports learning in children while giving parents support to get their children excited to learn.  The museum was basically an interactive learning experience.  Everything was hands on, and it seemed the children of all ages were having a blast.  
We arrived with our new stroller (which as you can see, Zach is very fascinated to push) and were happy to learn that Dima, Zach and I would be free because Dima is military.  I sure do love places that support our troops!  Thank you Stepping Stones!  

Our first stop was Tot town, an area full of learning geared towards children from birth all the way to 36 months.  Yes, you read that right, BIRTH to 36 months!  It is very rare that you can find a place geared toward children of that young age.  Even Zach, at 15 months is often too young for many museums.  This place was perfect for his growing mind.  We walked in, and immediately saw a ball floating on top of a cone shaped air flow.  Z could not believe his eyes.  

Zach loves singing "The Wheels on the Bus" with Mommy and Daddy.  It is our go to song while changing him if he's fussing around.  So when we saw that there was a Wheels on the Bus area to explore, we got very excited.  Zach was able to sit in the bus and be the driver.  He could mess with the windshield wipers, beep the horn (over, and over, and over...), and "drive" us all through the town.  

We then played with lots more that Tot town had to offer.  
Little flaps to open with different people and objects behind them in a town.

Super Zach had to put on his cape!

In the Dog house looking for Neko

Looking out our dog house

Yep, that's definitely my kid
My "Doggies"

Drawing pictures

She's a big kid now

The next area in Tot town was my favorite- dress up!  There were tons of different costumes to choose from for both boys and girls and kids of all ages.  Zach was too young to understand it, but we without a doubt took advantage of his age to photograph him.  
My little cow is UTTERLY adorable

Fireman to the rescue!

My wizard

My nay sayer 

Playing the piano.  Unfortunately, Z was a bit too light to make music

Watching his family make music

Our next stop was the Energy Lab, where kids can learn all about the science of energy in a wild, wet, and wonderful way.  We mostly stuck to the water lab in here, but there was much more to explore including a wind tunnel, solar lab, and energy platforms.  In the water lab, we got to learn all about water.  We saw a vortex, funnels, and water wheels and were able to push, bump, and turn water to perform everyday activities.  
After filling this tube up with balls, the kids on the other side pumped and pumped until water pushed the balls out from the ceiling.  

Watching Daddy pump

Lots of fun balls to play with 

You could throw a ball down into this vortex and watch it go through

Hard at work

Learning that water turns to steam

Dima helping a little girl get the water flowing

At this point, we were hungry.  We stopped into the cafeteria, and were pleasantly surprised at how healthy the food was.  There wasn't a single thing that wasn't healthy.  Even the pizza was made with whole grain or gluten free crust and used organic ingredients.  They had snacks such as veggies and hummus, sweet potato tots, and greek yogurts. I was in heaven.  There are very few places in the USA that offer such a unique and healthy variety of foods for growing bodies.  Even I was able to find something to eat, a rare occasion considering I am a healthy and picky eater.  
Zach flirting at lunch time

Our next stop was a construction zone.  This was more for older kids, but Zach was still able to have fun.  He especially loved running up and down the "house" that was under construction.  
My little worker

Missing his hard hat

Dima should really forget being a Marine, construction looks to be his calling!

Me too I think!

Dima made this wonderful arch... let's see what happens
Who saw that coming?

Next was my personal favorite: Healthyville!  As you know, I am fascinated by the science of the human body and health and fitness.  I'm constantly reading about nutrition in my spare time, and love learning all about how our bodies react when fed right.  This was very exciting for me.  I cannot wait to show Zach all about healthy eating and fitness when he gets big!
Dima and Zach inside the human body

Racing my skeleton at 5 months pregnant.  

There were book nooks all throughout the entire museum.  These books were all geared towards the human body and health.  

Broccoli?  Mom, I'm driving!

Dr. Stepanoff

Looking over some xrays.  Looks like a pretty bad break!

Now he's a dentist!  Boy this kid can't make up his mind!

There was a special Blue Man group exibit where we learned all about sound.  This was definitely for older kids, Zach was only interested in crawling through this light tunnel.  
Couldn't figure out this light up floor

There was an entire outside play area as well.  It had big blue blocks to play with.  Zach wasn't too interested in this, but he did love bouncing on this "trampoline" and carrying around a hula hoop!  
Lifting weights

My happy happy boy!

New hula champ on the way!

We headed out then, Zach got his much needed play time here.  I cannot wait to return here whenever I visit Connecticut again.  It was truly an amazing experience to see his face light up while learning at the same time.  They even had a infant area that I can bring Baby #2 to once he's born.  I'm looking forward to seeing both boys explore this great place at different stages of their lives.  

With a baby shower coming up the following day, we decided to hit up Stew Leonard's- the World's largest dairy farm.  They have animals in the front to see (who were all sleeping!) and some really neat sights inside for kids to see while mom and dad shop.  Not to mention, they have some killer samples!  My brother and I grew up shopping at this store, and I love re-visiting with Zach.  The songs are familiar, and I hope Zach appreciates this place as much as I do.  It's a wonderful and interactive grocery for little tikes to see.  
peaches!  We don't get these in Okinawa!

They were fantastic!

Yep- that price is right.  They weren't molded already either!  Very unlike living in Okinawa!

Singing butter

My brother used to be terrified of Bessie, the Stew Leonard's cow.  Luckily, Zach didn't inherit that from Uncle Ric!  

What a great day we had.  I love watching my boy's face light up as he sees new things.  I am absolutely loving this age, he is so much fun and I cannot wait to bring another baby into this world to share in Zach's fun.  I know that they will be buddies and they will learn and grow together.