Thank you all for sharing in the lives of our three amazing children- Mairead, Jack, and Ben. We hope you visit often!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Parlee Farms

Last week, we met up with a few other mothers of twins (and one mother of triplets!) at Parlee Farms.  We have been a few times before but always in the Fall.  It was fun to check it out in the summer when things were much less hectic and less crowded.  There may not have been any hay bales to jump on, but there were all kinds of animals to look at, and strawberry donuts, too!

Mairead was beside herself with happiness.  Look!  It's a hen!!!  Look!  Goats!!!  She just loves animals and was in her glory as they came right up and ate out of her hands.  The boys really loved it, too.  I was glad to see that Jack got over some of his hesitation and let the goats eat from his hand.  The feed is dispensed through a little 'vending machine' that requires quarters, so all three kids learned the value of a quarter that day.  They just kept yelling, "Daddy!  More quarters, please!"

The boys are talking so much lately.  Sometimes, it's things I could live without like "NO!  I don't WANT to!" but at least they are using complete sentences!  Jack, especially, is on a roll with whole strings of conversation.  The other day, I was trying to fix his toy car and I just couldn't do it. I told him, "I'm sorry, Jack, I just can't fix it."  He stopped, considered the situation, sighed and said, "I needa find Brian, Mommy."  Guess it didn't take him long to figure out who to call when you need to fix something!

Mairead's speech has been great, too.  In fact, this morning she had her first summer session of speech, and her teacher happens to be the same speech teacher she had from September to February this year.  Miss Melissa hadn't seen Mairead in a while so I was so thrilled today when I picked up Mairead and Miss Melissa said, "Wow, what a difference!"  It was great to know that Mairead was able to show her teacher so many of her new skills!  We are definitely seeing some regression over the summer in terms of some stimming and hand flapping, but we sort of expected that with the sudden elimination of routine.  The boys are suffering from routine withdrawl, too, since there is no playgroup in the summer, no Wednesday morning trip to Target, and no ride to Mairead's school every day.  We are definitely keeping the kids busy, but there has been a period of adjustment since school ended.

Mairead's pretend play skills have been amazing, lately.  She is always handing me imaginary animals to pet.  Ben gets upset, though.  When Mairead says, "Look, it's a baby turtle!", Ben says, "I want baby turtle, too!"  I guess he wonders why he never gets to have any of these animals she is talking about.  She has been playing with dolls  a lote more lately, too, which is so fun to watch.  For a while, she was insistent that her two baby dolls do everything we do because they are her "two twin babies." I am loving her growing pretend play and imagination, and it is so cute to see her care for her babies. I think the twin element has less to do with her brothers, though, and more to do with Dora the Explorer's twin siblings.

Jack and Ben have been playing together so much lately.  Sometimes, this results in hysteria because one wants whatever the other one has, but most of the time it is really cute.  I am totally seeing the joy of multiples when they look for one another, or when Ben says, "You ok, Jackie?" whenever Jack falls down.  If Jack cries, Ben will say, "Oh no, Mommy!  Jackie's crying!" He then takes off to find Jack yelling, "I coming, Jackie!" 

The other day, Mairead took Ben's cup at the water table so Ben got upset.  Jack came running through the yard yelling, "What happened, Ben?  What happened?"  He then said, "c'mon, lawnmower, rescue Ben!"  Not sure what the toy lawnmower had to do with it, but ok.

We have been incredibly busy with all of our summer activities, including preparations for the best activity of all- Brian's wedding!  Brian and Christin will be getting married on Saturday and we all just can't wait for the big day.  We are SO thrilled for them and now we are just hoping for nice weather to make the day just perfect.  It will be such a great time to spend with our family as we wish the happy couple a long and happy life together!  I have had a sneak peek of the bride's dress and she is going to be just stunning.  I can't wait!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Friendship Park

Last week, we got adventurous and tried a new playground.  I had been wanting to visit Friendship Park on Old Westford Road in Chelmsford for a while, but waited until I had Dave to help me.  Since he is on school vacation for the summer, we can try new places!  I took a ton of pictures since several of my mom friends (especially MoM friends) have been wanting to try this playground, too!  I couldn't find a street address for this so I entered 'Roberts Field' into the GPS and it found it.

The driveway to the park is just before a little country store.  We actually passed the entrance the first time around because it really isn't marked.  Just look for the athletic fields and the playground is just to the right.  The parking lot is a good 50 yards from the playground entrance, so if you have several kids and/or bags, it's not really conducive to running back and forth to the car.  This is also a drawback if you do the 'potty in the car' thing, since there are no restrooms or port-a-potties. 
The park offers a lot to do.  There is a little sandbox with some trucks, etc.  No shovels, though, so if you child wants to dig, you'll have to bring one of your own.  The sandbox is in the shade and has a few seats for adults to supervise the kids.

There are three or four picnic tables, all in the shade, so it's a great place to have a snack or a picnic lunch.  There is a trash barrel so you do not have to do 'carry in carry out.'

The climbing structures are pretty great.  My kids started on the swings, sandbox, etc, and then when Mairead headed to the structure, Dave said, "Oh, good, Mairead wants to do the fun stuff."  So, even he was pretty excited about it!  There are ladders, bouncy bridges, tires, rope climbs, and several slides.  It's a pretty great set up!  Part of the structure was a little 'old' for my kids, but there was plenty for them to do.  There were a few 7-8 year olds having a great time, so you could bring kids of varying ages.
If you have multiple young children (or just multiples, lol) it could be a little bit tough to do this park alone.  The climbing structure is so big that it's tough to see behind it, around it, or even under it.    Also, there are three ungated entrances: one at the main entrance, one on the side (shown here), and one at the back (next photo).  Granted, if a kid escaped, he wouldn't be in the street, but there is a lot of brush/overgrowth in the back, and that isn't the best place for a toddler.  I happen to have one child who is a 'runner' and I worried about her trying to take off.  But, even if a child did leave the playground area, there is really no where to go but to the fields.  There is no danger of running into traffic, etc.  Your kid would have to travel pretty far to make it onto the fields or into the bushes.

Some kids were playing in the sand pile in the back, but we didn't try it because we didn't want the kids to know there was an 'escape route' back there.

There are a lot of swings, which is nice.  These are in the rear of the playground and the older kids used these.

This chain ladder is one of the things that is really for older kids and more adventurous young ones.  Although, my Ben (2 yrs 3mos at the time) scooted right up there before we could stop him.  That kid has NO fear. 

In addition to the three openings, there is (at this time) damage to the fence right by the picnic tables.  Just thought I'd point it out so that moms know there is an additional way for kids to get out!

Dave and Jack took a nice walk to go see the garbage truck that was emptying the dumpster at the country store.  We do love trucks.

It was pretty hot the day we went so it was nice to have a shady space for a picnic lunch.  This picture shows the boys pre-haircuts, which they desperately needed and have since obtained. 

This is just half of the toddler swing area.  In case anyone is interested, this park does not have one of the large reclining swings for children with special needs.  But Mairead is pretty huge for her age and still fits comfortably into the toddler swings here. 

At the front of the park, there is a small toddler climbing structure with a slide- Jack preferred that slide to the larger ones.
We had a really great time, but I was  glad Dave was with me.  I could have done it alone, but it would have been somewhat nervewracking with all the things to climb and ways to escape.  Mostly, this is a concern if you have kids who are prone to taking off.  If you have kids who are content to stay near you or just stay in the playground area, it would be easier.  The kids LOVED this playground.  Tons of places to climb and explore, etc.

Pros:  Tons of stuff to do.  Climbing structure, slides, swings, tunnels, sandbox, etc.
          Shaded areas
          Picnic tables and trash barrel
          Quiet, away from the road
          Athletic fields could be used to play ball, etc
          Perfect for families with kids of varying ages
          Very clean
          The other families were very friendly
Cons:  Could be tough to handle if you are alone with two or three (or more) young children
           A few 'escape routes' for endeavoring toddlers/preschoolers
           Distance to parking lot is not close enough to easily run back and forth for forgotten items, 
           potty breaks, etc
           No restrooms
           The wooden structure is clean and safe, but aging.  Be on the lookout for splinters.

We had a great time and spent almost two hours there.  I would definitely go again, even on my own.  I would prefer, however, to go with Dave or with some other moms just to keep an eye on everyone.  The best part?  The kids took loooong naps that afternoon!