The next day MIL, SIL, and Aunts Lizzy and Brittany and I went out to the Talking Teacup for Opal's first tea! It was fun and yummy - a nice surprise is that the flavor of tea we had the last time we were there two years ago that they said was being discontinued must have been re-continued in the interim, so we got to have that. Lizzy treated herself to gluten, though I don't think her stomach was happy about it later. Opal sat on my lap the whole time and I think she enjoyed herself as much as an eight and a half week old baby possibly could, which she showed me by crapping her pants early in the meal then just chilling. You know, like we all do at tea parties.
Mother daughter tea time
The highlight of the next day was a trip with Grandpa Teddy to the Indian buffet, which I hadn't been to since the in-laws were visiting newborn Zebulon. This time toddler Zeb enjoyed chana masala and rice and was in very good spirits the whole time. Opal decided to finally sleep through a meal for once, only requiring constant rocking in her car seat.
That winter storm Nemo everyone was worrying about pre-visit dumped just enough snow for Daddy and the kids to make a snowman. Zeb is still talking a lot about all things wintery and holiday, like Christmas trees with stars on top and Santa and snowmen. It was the cutest thing, for a while post-holidays in January he'd say "Merry Christmas and happy New Year!" every night when he got tucked in for bedtime in his crib. It hurt your heart a little it was so precious. Anyway, he finally got to make a much-anticipated snowman (that fixation may be due largely to a snowman stacking toy he got the holidays before last). Unfortunately we never raked the leaves in the backyard and there was only an inch or two of snow on the ground, so the snowman was extremely leafy and gross. I named him Leaf Erickson.
The leaves must have provided unusual staying power because he's still not completely gone, despite several days with rain and temperatures well over freezing. He started leaning over and collapsed pretty quickly, but as of last Friday there were still two big leafy gross balls of snow left. Wolfie had the day off from school and Grandma Ellen was over and it was in the low fifties, so we managed to play in the backyard for a while that afternoon with Zeb and Woog while I held Opal.
That night, when Grandma tried to leave, she couldn't find her car keys. She and Nic both looked for a while but it was late so she ended up sleeping over. The next morning, still couldn't find them. We'd promised Wolfie a trip to the zoo, specifically the reptile house, but Zeb's carseat was locked in Grandma Ellen's car, so we decided to leave him back with stranded Grandma Ellen and take the two big boys and Opal (first non-meal non-shopping non-doctor excursion for Opal!). Then at the last second we found the keys - they were buried in Leaf Erickson! Either Zeb must have dropped them in there the previous day while we were playing or Grandma Ellen dropped them herself when she went to retrieve her scarf that Leaf stole. At that point we decided to leave Zeb anyway because it was just going to be way easier to leave him back, and the two older boys would be able to enjoy the zoo much more.
Like I said before, Wolfie's always got some sort of fascination/obsession. When he was a toddler it was pointing out every construction vehicle and fire engine, then the firefighting thing evolved into pointing out all the fire extinguishers and sprinkler systems and alarms like a little fire inspector. He also had a thing at three for bagpipes and bowling. He had a thing for plants and gardening. A few months ago he was most passionate about sea creatures, especially random gross ones like anemones and jellyfish, thanks to Octonauts. He's still into them (as a former whale fanatic, I'm vicarious-living-through-your-kids proud that he brought home a book on whale watching as his library book this week), and he's also into tornadoes, but his major passion right now is snakes. We don't know where it started - Nic thinks it might have been from a book in the kids' room at church, but it could have also been some random nature show under Grandma Ellen's watch. At first, like many of his recent obsessions, it started as OCD-ish obsessive anxiety about them around bedtime (example - another church book talked about army ants that can eat people <sidenote, wtf terrifying church books>, which took root with Wolfie and led to him scared whining and crying about ants at bedtime for about half an hour that night). But Wolfie must be treating himself with exposure therapy, because after a while these fears are turning into topics of research and fascination. It's pretty admirable I think, I wish I could do that with my fears!
The visit to the zoo last weekend turned out great. It was the perfect day for someone with a zoo membership who just wanted to see indoor stuff. It was so cold and crappy that barely anyone was even there, and even with most of the people inside in the animal houses they were still as empty as I've ever seen them. We ended up going to the rare animal house (home to the giant elephant shrew, my definite favorite at the zoo now that former favorites the capybaras and curl-crested aracaris are gone, insert sad face) and the small animal house as well as the reptile house. Philly Zoo is really outstanding for its animal houses, I don't think I've ever been to another zoo that has anywhere near as many or as good as the ones here. Both boys really enjoyed themselves, despite Eli initially refusing to go because of the possibility of going to the unbearably stinky monkeyhouse and seeing a gorilla eat its own barf again.
Wolfie in his winter coat which makes him look like a South Park character
Fun snake fact - did you know you can tell the freshness of dried sea snake meat by sniffing the anus? Hint - you don't want there to be a smell. These are the things that stick with you when you're looking out for facts for your kid.
Wolfie is super impressive with his reading skills lately. I think he's going to be advanced when he enters kindergarten later this year. His teacher is always giving great reports of how he's the best kid ever, like I'm not exaggerating, she has literally said multiple times that he's her favorite and the best and a perfect Montessori student and she wishes she could have a classroom full of Wolfies. We really are so lucky to have him, even if he's nuts and throws his underpants on top of doorframes for no reason from time to time.
Eli's reading is super great lately, too. Like he's just full-on reading library books to himself. He's been really into space lately. He doesn't get obsessed with stuff to the same degree that Wolfie does, but he does have his interests too of course. You just have to pay closer attention. At the beginning of the school year he was super into volcanoes and Hawaiian shirts after our vacation in Hawaii in August. He really seems to love travel the most so far of all the kids. Of course, Zeb's only two and Opal hasn't even been out of Pennsylvania yet, so we can't really say yet who is going to be the biggest travel buff, but it's great to see Eli enjoying it so much already! Most of his journals from kindergarten last year were about upcoming or recently taken trips, like the New England cruise and Hawaii. Anyway, he brought home a ton of space books this week and read a Magic Schoolbus book out loud to the younger boys. He's been reading to his siblings more often recently with less prompting, it's very encouraging. Finally, they're starting to take care of each other - we'll have a self-contained system in no time!
Fresh file pic - serving 1970's professor glare face drama
Zeb has been a good boy lately. His nose has been in perpetual faucet mode and he's been screaming his demands, but that's okay, he's still a jolly fellow for the most part. He's been yelling "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN," I don't know where he got that from but it's cute. Also he enjoys holding a Mr. Potatohead chef hat full of ears and screaming "money!" with intensity. He really likes addressing questions to Opal when I'm holding her near him, like asking where every single person in our extended family is over and over, or asking her what he's holding. It's very cute. After the snowman he liked to ask questions about its eyes and hat and scarf and nose, and he'd ask "where's the carrot?" By then it had been eaten by animals, so I told him a squirrel ate it (in baby Opal voice, of course), but he kept asking over and over, so finally I told him he ate it, then I asked him where it was and he said "I ate it."
They all love those boots
Anyway, I hear Opal squirming and whining from a rare not-on-Mommy nap (she is refusing to not be attached to me even more than usual lately). It took me days to slap this post together so I guess her ten week pic from last night will have to wait until another day since it's still on the camera. She's been so cute and watchful lately, here's another smile pic of her real fast: