I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I am loving Charlie the Toddler. He amazes us at every moment with new phrases and understanding of things that we never imagined a two year old would understand. He knows his colors and has started to identify shapes. He will sit down to dinner and tell me an entire story that, although I can’t get every single word, contains full sentences, names of his school friends, and very clear memory of his day. The other day, he wanted to say something while his dad and I were talking and he actually said, “Excuse me.” I almost fell out of my chair. Also, he is an adventurer and we have been lucky enough to go on some of his journeys. Here are a few of the favorite spots we’ve visited so far, this summer:
1) Any children’s museum anywhere. Charlie has always loved the Please Touch Museum here in Philadelphia, but last week we visited some friends in Massachusetts and took advantage of a free day at the Children’s Museum of Holyoke. It was smaller than Please Touch but packed to the gills with fun things to do! As you can see from this week’s picture, he loved the water table. Also at the top of the play list were the real forklift, the doctor station with actual x-rays and lightboard, and the play fire station (but that was mainly for the two stuffed animal dalmations that he tried to take home with him). The biggest plus about these places is that they tend to be air conditioned – a good thing if you’ve exhausted all the other cool options on a hot summer day.
2) Water, water, water. For a kid who doesn’t get totally jazzed about our weekly swim class, he sure does love pools and sprinklers in a non-educational context. This summer, we have been exploring the spraygrounds of Philadelphia’s public parks and Charlie is 100% in love. One of our local rec centers just installed a brand new sprayground that I think might be a weekly thing for us. What I love about these versus the pool is that I don’t have to get wet if I don’t want to. Charlie is not swimming on his own yet, so a trip to the pool always means that I get in, but he can run around a sprayground like a banshee without me. Although a few times, I’ve tagged along because…why not?
3) Random construction sites. Philadelphia is going through a bit of a building renaissance right now. On a drive across the city, almost every block has a new house going up or an existing building undergoing renovations. Charlie’s favorite morning activity is to go outside and inspect the three houses being built on our block. I’ve actually had to build this activity into our morning schedule. This morning, we watched the guys pour cement. Riveting. No, really, for him it is riveting. He has started to identify the different trucks and machines. He talks about which truck is bigger or smaller, what color they are, and how the buildings have progressed. It really is neat to watch him follow the developments.
4) The local urban farm. As I’ve mentioned before, we are members of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Each week, we go to a fantastic urban farm that is just a few blocks from our house and pick up our share. This is the first summer where Charlie gets excited when I say we’re going to get the veggies. He helps me count them, tells me what color they are (noticing a theme here?), identifies the items he knows best and asks me about the ones he’s never seen before. Most importantly, he gets to visit the pig, chickens, and now goats, who live on the property. We haven’t quite mastered the connection between counting the vegetables and then actually eating them for dinner, but it’s all a process.
5) My family’s lakehouse. While he hasn’t been too fond of actually swimming in the lake, Charlie loves exploring the nature around my family’s lake front property in Northwestern New Jersey. There is a frog pond that he enjoys searching for green hoppers. We’ve spotted deer, little newts, fish, snakes, all kinds of birds, and even a bear (from afar). Mostly, though, he’s enthralled with his uncle (my brother) and “Grandy” (my dad) who he’ll talk about seeing for the entire week before we go and the week after. That’s the part that makes me smile the most, I think. It’s nice, though, to get him some run-around time in the fresh air and grass – even if the mosquitoes are the size of small birds.
Where have you been exploring with your family this summer? Share your stories in the comments!