With our membership, Axel and I go to the San Diego Zoo about once every two weeks. He loves it, but not always for the reasons you'd expect. I think Axel is beginning to take it for granted that we get to see all these exotic animals all the time. . . see for yourself, here are some of Axel's favorite "non-zoo" activities from the day.
climbing the playground tower with Mason
taking the Skyfari gondola ride - you can actually see lots of animals from above
jumping off the log by the polar bear exhibit, OVER and over again (no time to see polar bears though)
Crab walking in the street
Hugging and "climbing" the tree at the monkey exhibit:
Sharing pretzels with friends, never mind the huge orangutan sitting 3 feet away:
riding Mommy's shoulders when you're too tired to walk back to the car
In the end, I guess we did manage to find time to see one animal
Unfortunately for me, Axel is not a very cuddly kid, he never has been, even when he was a baby. Usually if I ask for a hug he screams "No!" and runs away laughing. But suddenly, a couple weeks ago, he started a new phase where he thinks its fun and interesting to give people hugs and/or kisses. It's very deliberate and more like a game than an expression of affection. I don't really care, I am just soaking up every minute of it!
Here is a concept that would get you pretty close to Axel's ideal amusement park:
Take a medium sized park with lots of grass and tall trees
Have a ridable full sized steam strain circumnavigate the park every 5 minutes
Equip the train station with a generous assortment of Thomas the Train paraphernalia
Have a pavillion in the middle of the park with a 15 person German brass band playing oompa-oompa music non-stop
If you are thinking about building a park like this, don't bother because it already exists: Poway Midland Railroad Park. Today Axel and I made the 25 min. drive to Poway to check out this wonderous place. We were not disappointed.
For those that don't know, Axel talks about trains just about every.....well...all the time. Despite this most of his experiences with trains is of the toy variety. Today Axel saw his first real steam train and his reaction was a mixture of excitement, trepidation and utter bafflement. I don't think he was really prepared for all the noise, steam and loud choo-chooing.
Here is Axel seeing the train at first:
Tickets are $2 for adults and $1 for kids. Here is Axel and me on the train:
It had never occurred to me before today, but traditional Bavarian music fits quite nicely with steam trains. Judge for yourself:
Next weekend Axel is going to be participating in a skate-a-thon. What's that you say? Can he skate? Well, the answer to that question is MAYBE . . . if he feels like it.
I took Axel roller skating for the first time a few weeks ago and he LOVED it. As you can see from the video below, they tighten the wheels on the baby skates, so its more like walking on skates than actually skating. Apparently the rolling comes later, after you master the feeling of balancing on skates.
But back to the Skate-a-Thon: I was so excited to see Axel skate that I immediately signed him up to participate in our team's skate-a-thon to see if he could reach the goal of skating ONE entire lap. . . But the next time I took him in to practice, he refused to even put the skates on. I guess that's just how it is to have a two-year old.
Anyway, he is still signed up for the skate-a-thon, and we still have the goal of skating one lap. But as a proud roller derby mama, I am going to be realistic and recognize that its a real possibility he won't even agree to get on the track for the event. Who knows? We'll all be waiting eagerly for the results of the big race . . . .
If you'd like to sponsor him despite his unruly unpredictable nature, you can make pledge donations online at www.giveforward.com/sdrd. (Be sure to type in the notes section that Axel is the skater you are sponsoring.) The funds we collect go directly to our team's discretionary fund to help out with uniforms, travel expenses, tournament fees, etc. Or, if you happen to be in San Diego on May 27th and you want to come cheer him on in person, spectators are welcome - all the info is at www.facebook.com/events/429352157080409/.
Its time for Axel to give up the pacifier, or as we call it in Danish, the "sut" (pronounced "soot"). In Denmark they have a great tradition of a sut tree, (www.denmark-pictures.com/the-pacifier-tree.html) where all the kids string up their pacifiers on a tree in the community - some even leave little notes saying "goodbye sut, I love you, I am a big girl now so I don't need you anymore".
But here in the US we have no such thing, unfortunately. Instead I have been preparing Axel all weekend by telling him that suts are for babies, and now that he is a big boy, he should give over his sut to the babies who really need it. With the help of our friend Baby Hunter, we made this tough milestone a fun little ritual:
Afterwards, Axel gets to open a "big kid present" as a reward for giving up his sut. (I know, I spoil him!)
We recorded it all on video in case Axel later forgets what happened:
Now that the fun part is over and all the pacifiers are gone, we begin the real work of sleeping and soothing Axel without the help of his favorite crutch. Hopefully this transition will be painless and brief, after all, he is a big boy now, right???
Among Axel's most prized possesions is his "fugle-bold" which translates to bird-ball. This is a soccer ball with an image of two penguins. "Fugl" (bird in Danish) is one of the words that Axel for some reason insists on saying in Danish. Hence the ball was immediately named fugle-bold by him. Interestingly, when pronounced quickly it sounds almost identical to "fodbold" which is soccer in Danish so somehow it all makes sense.
About once a month we have to cut Axel's hair. This is Karsten's duty because: 1) he has experience cutting his own hair, 2) he is clearly the style expert in the family, 3) he doesn't think the US hair-cutters have any ability to cut good hair compared to those in Europe.
Anyway, Axel's hair grows fast and cutting it is quite the chore because he objects to the process. We usually bribe him to stay still by letting him browse YouTube videos on the IPad watching anything he wants. Today he chose to watch trains, big surprise.
First the clippers . . .
Then the scissors . . .
Eyeballing the progress while Axel begrudgingly cooperates . . .
Today we visited the Chula Vista Nature Center. Its kind of like Sea World without the Disneyland vibe, much smaller and much more remote and peaceful. Its a nature preserve so they have some good hiking trails too.
Mason and Axel found Nemo:
Ellis showed Axel the sting rays:
Axel was pretty excited to see the tank with the bubbles, aka jelly fish:
The kids examined a sculpture made from plastics found littered on the beach:
There was time for us to make our own crafts too:
By the end of the day, we saw sea turtles, sting rays, sharks, eagles, clown fish, owls, cool art, and we decorated our own paper turtles. Afterwards, when we got home, what did Axel talk about non-stop?
Ellis and Vincent gave Axel this singing Elmo toy for his birthday. . . at first, I wasn't too thrilled about the cheesy "noise toy", but now, especially since Axel loves dancing (in front of the mirror, to boot!), I am a BIG fan. Elmo - you rock!!
Tuesday is the only day of the week that Axel doesn't go to day care, instead he and I hang out all day together. This can be tricky - if not properly prepared with fun activities and friends, we can end up both very exhausted and tired of each other, but other days, like today, it was pretty damn fun.