Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

One our second day in Philly last May we went to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, which might not immediately strike you as kid friendly.  Unless you know that one of ER's biggest obsessions is with anything Egyptian and that she's been wanting to see a real mummy.  Well see one she certainly did!
She probably gets it from me, as Ancient Egypt is one of my favorite time periods and she likes to flip through and look at the pictures in my collection of books on the subject.  I haven't had a chance to see so many artifacts in one place since our visit to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum & Planetarium, several years ago when Brad was still in graduate school in California.

I was very impressed by Lower Egyptian Gallery, with the third largest known sphinx.  Flanked by columns from New Kingdom pharaoh Merenptah (r. 1213-1204 BCE) palace, you feel very small and insignificant next to them.  I can only imagine what it feels like to walk in the really big archaeology sites!  With all the unrest in Egypt, sadly this will be closest I come to that experience for quite some time.  Next to that section is Amarna: Ancient Egypt's Place in the Sun, what I was most looking forward to and enjoyed the most.  It was cool to see in real life pieces I've seen photos and illustrations of in books on my very shelves!
Upstairs is the Upper Egyptian Gallery, where the Egyptian Mummy exhibit is along with many examples of statuettes.  I thought ER would be scared when presented with an actual mummy because she is one serious 'fraidy cat!  She was really into them, and peered at them through the glass asking a lot of questions and there was no need to beat around the bush, she was quite aware they were dead under there.  Once again it was a little surreal reading the descriptions and seeing all most famous Pharoah's names on them. 

I was pleasantly surprised by how extensive the Egyptian collection was and all the specimens they had.  Brad's brother Jeff and Jody hadn't been to the Penn before nor had it really been on their radar.  Perhaps it's more well known locally than I realize, but I'd say it's definitely a gem in the city.  It might even be a hidden one in some respects, as I suspect with so many museums in the Philly area it's hard for them all to appreciated.  This one might not make the top of the list of sites for visitors with a short stay.  I'd love to go back one day and really spend the time lingering over all the artifacts.  We missed large chunks of the museum, that I'd love to see one day.
I could have spent hours pouring over every little thing at the Penn, but once we left the Egyptian displays someone was reaching the end of her tolerance for the museum.  Actually, she was really good overall, there's just a point when a four year old is done for the day.  Prioritization was necessary so we picked a few more we really wanted to at least walk through.

We had a quick glance at the China Rotunda and did a little exploring of the Mediterranean galleries.  I'd really have liked to linger longer in the Greece Gallery but we did get her interested in the Rome Gallery enough to have a good look.  By then my feet were swollen and beat from standing too long so I sat in Iraq's Ancient Past and waited for everyone else to wander through the Canaan and Israel Gallery to me. 
On our way out the rain had stopped and we took a couple of photos in the Stoner Courtyard.  You know, cause we had to make sure everyone knew we were tourists!  By the way, personal photography is allowed in the Penn.  I checked before we went :)  Also, the food is pretty decent for museum food.  I had to get a snack because of being pregnant to avoid low glucose levels.  The chicken wrap I had was reasonably priced, had big chunks of white meat, and came with a salad.  I know that's kinda random, but it's nice to know the details like that when traveling with kiddos, don't you think?

Tomorrow is my weekly A Crafty Soiree post but on Friday I'll share the last little side trip we did while in Pennsylvania on our way home from the conference at the Great Wolf Lodge.  I'll give you a hint, it certainly was colorful!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Adventure Aquarium

Today I'm continuing my week of Pennsylvania highlights from our trip back in May, when we also went to the Reviewer's Retreat at the Great Wolf Lodge, with the Adventure Aquarium.  It was the first of two day trips with Brad's brother Jeff and his wife Jody, our hosts during our time in Philadelphia.  Brad and I have been too a number of aquariums the Maui Ocean Center, in Albuquerque, the Shedd in Chicago, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium but never seem to tire of them. 

In my opinion nothing can compare to the last, but this one still ranks as a very nice moderately sized one with several hands-on opportunities that kids will love.  I think these were the best part of the aquarium.  We touched a shark, star fish and other invertebrates at the Creature Feature, tiny jelly fish and a few other things in the Interactive Inlet, and could've touched the sting rays but ER kept pulling her finger's out of the water when one approached.

There's three levels, each dedicated to different regions with the requisite large tanks with floor to ceiling views and hallways lined with smaller tanks for a more up close and personal view.  An unrushed visit will easily provide enough entertainment for a few hours.  The only thing that could've increased our enjoyment, would've been if we hadn't had to share it with several unruly field trip participants.

Besides the focus on ocean life there is also Feather Ridge and the adjacent Hippo display, that was the other highlight of the trip.  When we saw the hippos, it was nearly empty and the two female hippos were feeling friendly and came right up next to the glass.  It gave one the feeling of standing right next to them, which in a way, one was.  The girls definitely dwarfed ER, they gazed into each other's eyes for several seconds and was a very neat experience.
Besides all the amazing sea life, ER got her face painted as the Pearl Princess by the Rotunda.  Pretty amazing, isn't it?  I was impressed by how fast it was applied and the detail, not too surprised what design she picked.  If there's a blue option, ER will take it!  Thanks to Aunt Jody & Uncle Jeff for making it happen.
One of the last exhibits we walked through was the Shark Realm, with the 40 ft. shark tank being by far the most impressive part.  I this this picture of Brad is so neat.  It looks like the shark is suspended right above him, almost as if there was no glass between them.  ER did not particulary like this one, as "spooky" music is played and it's on the dark side.
Adventure Aquarium will come up if you do a search for "Philadelphia Aquarium" but in actuality it's in Camden, New Jersey just off the Ben Franklin Bridge.  So we were able to add another state to the list that ER's been in.  It's also along the river front, such a pretty setting, that's Center City of Philly behind us.  I don't think I've done much in NJ but go to this aquarium, hmm....I'll have to ask my mom if I've ever been there before because I honestly can't remember!
Thanks for playing tour guide Jeff and Jody!  While I still feel a little odd about being in Philadelphia again and NOT heading to any of the historical sites, that's the teacher in me, this was by far much more interesting to the four year old on the trip.  I'm so glad Brad did some preplanning and found it for us online.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Hershey's Chocolate World Revisited

It seems like everyone we know went on their summer vacations in August.  Our "summer" trip was back in May, because I wanted to be able to enjoy site seeing before I got too heavily pregnant or had a newborn.  Since we've been hearing about some really fun trips, it seemed like a good time to catch everyone up with some of the adventures we had on our road trip to Pennsylvania.  We managed to pack a lot of fun into our time, that also included a family visit in Philadelphia and a blogger conference, Reviewer's Retreat, in the Poconos Mountains at the Great Wolf Lodge.  I'll be posting out day trips all week long, with the exception of Thursday which is the weekly A Crafty Soiree party post.

Last time we went to see Brad's older brother Jeff and his wife Jody we broke up the long hours of driving with a stop at Hershey's Chocolate World.  We might have been tempted to skip it this time, because it's an hour out of the way.  ER however, had different ideas and specifically requested we go.  It made quite an impression two years ago because when asked about what we did in Philly that time, she always begins with the ride through the chocolate factory first!
So that's what we did first thing, went on the ride through the "factory".  As we did, it occurred to me that this educational amusement park like version was infinitely preferable to actually walking through a factory.  It's entertaining, informative, has singing cows, and you get to sit through it - nice for this pregnant mama!  I was 28 week along at that point. I've been to on another candy factory tour, it was a forty minute walk, and while interesting, the Hershey version is much more fun and kitchy. 
Naturally the tour ride ended conveniently close to the market place shops, were no matter what age you might really be you all feel like a kid in a candy store and essentially you are!  There is a dizzying array of candy, sweet treats, delicious hot chocolate drink mixes, and souvenirs ranging from t-shirts, hats, and even lip balm.  There is just something awesome about seeing candy piled up in each direction that you can't not have a smile on you face.  We each picked out something to enjoy in the car and some things to take home for family.  ER also insisted on getting another plush Hershey Kiss.  She got a smaller silver one on our first visit and added a larger pink one this time. 
Unlike last time, this visit we didn't just take our treats to go and stopped at the ice cream and milkshake shop.  ER got an extra chocolaty sundae with chocolate ice cream, chocolate sauce, and because there wasn't enough on it yet...chocolate chunks.  She declined to share with Daddy!  I also got a sundae and it was decadent, seeing how I am diabetic and I was feeling nice, I did give Brad the last couple of bites.   Good thing I had insulin to cover those carbs, cause if you're gonna indulge this is where you do it!

We left afterward, but in looking more closely at the Hershey's Chocolate World website, I've noticed we've overlooked several fun sounding attractions.  I also met a PR representative at the Reviewer's Retreat and she mentioned Create Your Own Candy Bar, that we'll have to try next time.  Since ER loves to bake and decorate cakes and cupcakes so much by dumping decorations on top, I'm sure she'd get a kick out of that!  The Dessert Creation Station also sounds like fun and so does the 3D show. 
I think part of the reason we haven't taken advantage of the other fun opportunities there, has been that both times we've been to Chocolate World it's been a brief stop and to be honest it's really easy to be distracted by the piles of candy!  It's been not much more than an extended, albeit super fun, rest stop on our way from MI to Philly. 

Brad and I have already discussed that next time we go to see his brother and sister-in-law we'll have to have them come over and stay at the resorts so we can also go to Hershey Park, which definitely warrants more than a couple of hours.  By now, there will be plenty for ER to do and we're thinking it'd be fun for my husband's family join us there and for Hershey Park to actually be the destination for a family trip.  What do you think, have any of you ever been?  If so let me know what you did and your recommendations!


Friday, August 26, 2011

Baby Traditions: Weekly Photo

Each week during ER's first year, I took a photo of her always on the same pink chair and always with her special friend Mr. Lion.  While at times it was tedious to do it, at the end of the year it was wonderful to see how much she'd changed.  Keeping the background and prop static really helped illustrate that.  My mom always looked forward to the weekly picture, and by ER's first birthday it was weird to not be taking a weekly photo.  I plan to continue it with LB.  That's his two week photo above, I think I'm going to change to our couch because that chair's fabric is a little busy but you get the idea.

I thought it would be fun to show you the pictures I took of ER.  I love looking back at all the facial expressions and seeing my favorite itty bitty outfits!  At the time we lived in New Mexico and our family in Michigan, so these photos were also a good way to keep in touch with the Grandparents and extended family.  I also used them to make a more detailed photo book, placing the weekly photos together by month and adding details about milestones and important events together.  It one of my favorites.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Crafty Soiree #52

Hi Crafty Friends!  This week I managed to get my post up ON TIME ☺, thanks to some help from my super sweet co-hostess Malia at Yesterday on Tuesday.  She sent me the html all ready to go, complete with features to share too!  Not only is she the nicest to me, but she'd also love to do something really nice to for one of you too. 
Check out the the Fossil Key-Per Wallet she's giving away. It's the best of both worlds-- vintage charm and modern design. Enter here. I hope you win!  And now, here are three features Malia picked out for me. It's all about Cute Kids Stuff.  - gosh she knows just the kind of thing to catch my eye!
Rain Gutter Bookshelf from Sweet Cheeks Tasty Treats
This A+ t-shirt from The 36th Avenue is... A+!
Would you believe this playset started as melamine bookshelves?
Check out Jellysfish Jelly for the scoop.

Ladies, for being our features this week, we're happy to offer you our special Crafty Soiree Ribbon! It's yours to proudly display! Don't forget to check out today's Crafty Soiree post at Yesterday on Tuesday, we both pick three participants to feature each week so you might have been featured by Malia. But you'll have to visit her to find out!


Now it's your turn to link up! The linky will be open for a week, so you have plenty of time to join us! Here are some guidelines for our guests:
  • Link up to 4 creative projects!
  • Add your links to the specific posts and not your blog's homepage.
  • Add my Crafty Soiree button above or link back to me in your posts, so others can find us and join in!
  • Please comment on the post linked up in front of you. All partygoers love meeting new friends... don't just stop there...if you see something that catches your fancy-- stop by and say hi!
  • Please consider following the hostesses, me and Malia, we want to get to know our guests
  • Most importantly... enjoy yourself and have fun!
Don't forget, A Crafty Soiree is hosted on two blogs, so when you link up on one your link will automatically show up on the other one too! Please note, by linking up to A Crafty Soiree, you're giving permission to feature your project and photos in the future, with proper credit of course☺


Monday, August 22, 2011

Every Man Kit Release with Quick Page Freebie

Earlier this month Louise at Adorible Digital Designs came out with a fabulous new kit, that's a very timely release for me.  Every Man is perfect for celebrating all the important guys in your life, and as you all know, we just happen to have a new little guy to love in addition to the Daddy we already do!  I used it to showcase a really special photograph, the first one of Brad with both his babies, LB was just two days old.
I have to admit, my collection of digital kits suitable for masculine pages is almost nonexistent.  While it's been possible to eek out a few pages by pulling elements from various kits it's so much nicer and easier to scrap with a kit that coordinates so well.  There are plenty of elements to choose from, my favorites are the denim embellishments and the stitched stars.  I think my husband will really appreciate the pages I make that feature him...and no pink!
I love the blues and greens as well as all the word art, that along with the coordinating alphabet have a real varsity type feel to me, lovin' that!  Louise has put together a great kit, there are stars, flowers, stitching, journaling tags, and word art perfect for quick tittles.  I'm so glad she also included words like Uncle, Granddad, and Nephew so that it really is for all the men in your life.
I also made this fun multi-photo page with Every Man to celebrate all the roles Brad has had so far...son, husband, and now Daddy times two.  I've turned it into a FREEBIE QUICK PAGE for all the Adorible Digital Designs fans!  Use the link below to access it; then right click and save to your own computer.  Your version will have four empty photo spots and an empty center journal spot ready for your own special touches.

Click Here to Download

Please remember to respect the designer - for personal use only, and leave us some comment love if you download the Quick Page.  I'd love to know what you think!

Before you leave, I also wanted to let you know, these awesome clusters made with Every Man are also available.  They are so cool and I wish I could take credit for one of them, but the Creative Team didn't make them this time.  They would be great to use to whip up a quick mini book. There's also a Blogwear Set you've gotta check out!  I think it would look great for fall.  Every Man is so versatile, I know it'll be one kit you use over and over.


Disclaimer: I am a member of Adorible Digital Designs' Creative Team and receive access to kit, to create promotional items.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Crafty Soiree #51

Sorry this is so late! I got my stiches out today and completely forgot about getting the linky code into a post until I came home!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Baby Gear Must Have: Car Seat Canopy

Okay so this isn't strictly a "must have" for those on a budget but a car seat cover is certainly one of the nicest things to have, as I'm discovering the second time around.  With ER we just tucked a blanket over her or lay one over the carrier and tried to keep it in place the best we could.  This is SO much better!  It protects the Baby from the weather and gives him a nice warm place to slumber while we're out.    I like the peace of mind it also gives me, when we're in stores and someone is sneezing or coughing nearby, because with it on I feel it's less likely that those germs will get to him.

Ours is from Kit Carson Blue and Brenda was just a pleasure to work with.  Her original listing was for a canopy without snaps but I really wanted some way to take a peek at him, without possibly waking him up by lifting the whole thing up.  Plus it's nice to be able to open it but still have little more protection from the elements on the side.  Brenda happened to already have a pattern for the snap design on hand and was happy to make some modifications for me.

I also had my heart set on the cover being made out of this super cute discontinued fabric from Riley Blake.  It's extremely hard to find.  I'm so glad she was able to get some to make ours, and the lining is pretty adorable too.  The whole thing has a super cute jumbo rick rack border, and you know I {heart} rick rack!  Brenda was so nice to work with and her car seat cover is very high quality and beautifully made..  I highly recommend you check out Kit Carson Blue.


Monday, August 15, 2011

A New Name: Introducing LB

Up until now, I've referred to the new addition to our family as the "Baby" or by the belly name ER gave him, "Baby Bob".  Since we do not use children's real names on this blog, my husband and I have been pondering what to officially name him for Katie's Nesting Spot.  We've finally settled on LB, which stands for "Little B".  It's an affectionate nickname we already use at home because his first name, like his Daddy's, begins with the letter B.   


Friday, August 12, 2011

First Baby Adventure: Blue Light Special

Life is never dull once you have children, and it wasn't long after we brought the baby home that we had our first bit of excitement with him.  At his first well baby check the following Tuesday our pediatrician suspected he was jaundice and ran some labs.  That night she called and let us know that he did indeed have too much bilirubin in his blood and was jaundice. 

Babies of Asian decent have a higher liklihood of being jaundice, but the doctors at the hospital had been so happy with his color that I'd kind of thought that it wouldn't be an issue this time.  ER had been a little jaundice but hadn't needed any treatment.  I didn't realize that levels peak between 3-5 days old.  While he'd been a nice pinky shade at the hospital by his first doctor appointment, he was most definitely yellowish.  I totally saw it once, the doctor was on the phone telling me,  She told Brad the next day that he was aglow when we brought him in, so she wasn't surprised by the results. 

The intervention most of you are familiar with or have heard of; I'm sure there are some of you who have been through the same thing.  He needed phototherapy treatment for a few days.  Later that night we had a biliblanket delivered to our door and the second visit of the day from a home care nurse, the first was for me earlier that morning to remove staples.  The biliblanket is kinda neat and I'm certainly glad they have portable versions of the lights so we didn't have to take him back to the hospital.  It does look kinda crazy to see your baby all glowing bright blue.

I'm happy to report that the treatment worked and he didn't seem to mind it at all.  We think he liked being so warm and toasty.  It was just a bit of a hassle dealing with the cord when trying to feed and the machine was noisy for mom & dad.  The worst part was that his poor feet had to keep getting poked as he needed to be tested four days in a row.  They warm the foot and then have to fill a small vial, he cried whenever poked but then calmed right down.  I think that part was hardest on Mommy thinking about it back at home.  Brad got to take him in each day, as the complications from my incision made it hard for me to move about and get to the doctor.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Crafty Soiree #50

Hi Everyone! Can you believe it's August already, I just realized today how little summer we have left. I think I'm a bit more sentimental than usual this year, because my daughter will be off to kindergarten in September.  It's hard to stay put and recover, with the sunny skies outside.  Since I can't for several weeks, I hope some of you are heading to the beach for me!

Please visit my co-hostess Malia to see last week's features, as I continue to take a little maternity leave from blogging! Thanks for taking time to swing by and link up!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dinosaur Burp Cloths

Remember the Diaper Wipes Case?  Using the same fabric set from that project and the tie onesie from yesterday, I sewed up some cute burp cloths.  It was an easier project than I expected, a great beginner project since it involves all straight stitches. 
I had planned on starting this project months ago, I've had the cloth diapers to use for it all washed and ready but then kind of lost my motivation.  Then a couple of weeks ago Ali from Away We Go posted the burp cloths she made on my weekly linky party A Crafty Soiree, link #27 with the tutorial on Petite Lemon.  All of a sudden I was in the mood for sewing again!
I decided to use jumbo rick rack, which was the only glitch, as I found it to be a little harder to sew on than straight edged ribbon would've been.  I still think they are super cute and now have a colorful stack of burp cloths, lovingly made for Baby Bob by me :)


Monday, August 8, 2011

Tie Onesie

I wasn't able to get quite as many projects done before the baby arrived, as I'd have liked, but did mange a few in the weeks before his birth.  I'm excited to finally share what I was up to with you!
Tie onesies are really popular right now, and I've seen some in cute boutiques that can cost as much as twenty-five dollars!  As much as I wanted one, I knew there had to be a way to make it myself for a lot less.  A quick Google search brought up the tutorial at Crap I've Made, a blog I've read many a time.  A PDF of the tie pattern is even provided, making it easy to make. 

I can't wait to see him in it, it'll be awhile before he grows into it.   You may have noticed it coordinates with the dinosaur wipes cover I also made for him.  I'll show you the burp cloths I also made with the fabric later this week. 

They are all made with a fat quarter pack, I bought with a 40% off coupon at Jo Ann Fabric's and Crafts.  There were five different coordinating fabrics to play around with and I'm enjoying picking projects to use it with.  I didn't intend on a dinosaur theme for baby, but I also got the cutest scrapbook collection from Little Yellow Bicycle called Babysaurus.  I plan to use that for a month by month first year album.

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